Tag Archives: weird fiction

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

When it comes to reading, I always appreciate the weird. I’m drawn to tales that are on the fringe, stories that are difficult to place within traditional genres. Weird fiction—as a result, calls to me. There’s something about those category-defying stories that make me feel at home. Perhaps you also enjoy stories like this? (If you read and enjoyed my books, I’d wager you did.)

It’s been a while—Halloween, actually—since I’ve given book recommendations. So, let’s rectify that today. Below I’ve shared five authors who write fiction that’s a little hard to pin down. As of this year, whenever I share books, all links will now go to IndieBound instead of Amazon—be sure to support your local bookstore. Also, where possible, I am now linking to each author’s official website. So be sure to give those a visit as well.


"Trail of Lightning" by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse

Recommended Book: Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)

What begins as a gritty desert-focused modern fantasy following a Navajo monster hunter quickly expands into something more—Roanhorse takes the contemporary threat of environmental catastrophe creates a refreshing post-apocalyptic setting in which she places her southwest desert setting. What you end up with is a world that reworks your standard monster-hunting tropes and takes them into fresh and wonderfully strange territory. A fantastic read.

Also by Roanhorse: Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2), Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (Short Story)


Fonda Lee

Recommended Book: Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)

Transcending your standard genres and weaving an intricate wuxia tale of criminal clans in a pseudo-1980s city, Lee goes in places no other fantasy has before. A story of family, crime, and honor, complete with magic enhanced abilities and kung-fu style action. Here you’ll find complex characters, a visceral world, and a high body count. A perfect blend of genres to create a unique and utterly refreshing experience.

Also by Lee: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga #2), Exo


"All the Birds in the Sky" by Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders

Recommended Book: All the Birds in the Sky

A strange and often surreal tale that weaves together a helping of science fiction, a dash of awkward romance, a smattering of academy fantasy, and a hefty serving of the downright bizarre. It’s hard to truly pin down this tale of love during that awkward twenty-something malaise—it’s been called magic realism, it’s been called fantasy, and it’s something right in the middle. Polarizing it might be, but it’s solidly unique.

Also by Anders: The City in the Middle of the Night


"Winter Tide" by Ruthanna Emrys

Ruthanna Emrys

Recommended Book: Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy #1)

Often it’s easy for series rooted in Lovecraft to slip entirely into the horror genre. However, Emrys takes a different approach. Here she creates a forlorn experience that reexamines the atrocities and ramifications of American internment camps and the Cold War through a slightly stranger lens. History and horror are woven together here in a fascinating (if not polarizing) tale of human nature.

Also by Emrys: Deep Roots (The Innsmouth Legacy #2), Imperfect Commentaries


"Chapelwood" by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest

Recommended Book: Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches #2)

Taking the historical account of Lizzie Borden and coupling it with Lovecraftian Horror, Priest manages to create an engaging and wonderfully weird series in The Borden Dispatches. While her first book is delightful, her second is divine. The characters are more established, the plot tighter, the world richer, and the events within more distressing with every page turn.

Also by Priest: The Toll, Brimstone


If you’ve spent any time here, you’ve undoubtedly you’ve heard me sing the praises of one of these authors before. But, perhaps they’re new to you, and hopefully, you find something here to enthrall you, and you’ll discover a new genre-defying world to explore. Have a suggestion of your own? Is there a favorite genre-busting author who’s work you enjoyed? Leave a comment below and let me know!


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Introducing: Gleam Upon the Waves

Draft Zero

It’s been a good weekend.

Gleam Upon the Waves, Draft Zero
Gleam Upon the Waves, Draft Zero

The tracker has been filled, but there is still a long trail ahead. Find out more about this book and read a synopsis over at this post.

Right now Gleam is sitting right around the same length as Red Litten World, but I expect that to change in the edits. But edits can come later. Today I’m going to have a quiet celebration, then take a few days off from writing, after that I’ll be diving right back into it.

Oh! If you haven’t read any of my books, you should rectify that.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

The Bell Forging Cycle

Buy My Books, Leave Reviews, and Tell Your Friends

I’m nearing the end of draft zero for Gleam Upon the Waves, (note the significant update to the tracker in the sidebar) and as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Bell Forging Cycle as a whole. I’m immensely proud of the series so far, and I think you’ll be surprised where it’s about to go.

I don’t do nearly enough self-promotion these days—mainly because I find self-promotion boring and I like to keep the stuff I post here as interesting as possible. But occasionally I feel it’s important for me to remind everyone that I write rad books and you can buy them pretty much anywhere. It would be swell if you did. It supports me, my work, and the series.

To make it as easy as possible I’ve included direct links to purchase below.


Book I: The Stars Were Right

The Stars Were RightPaperbacks: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Powell’s • BAM! • Direct
eBooks: Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • Google Play • Direct
📖 Click here to read the first chapter!

Book II: Old Broken Road

Old Broken RoadPaperbacks: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Powell’s • BAM! • Direct
eBooks: Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • Google Play • Direct
📖 Click here to read the first chapter!

Book III: Red Litten World

Red Litten WorldPaperbacks: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Powell’s • BAM! •  Direct
eBooks: Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • GooglePlay • Direct
📖 Click here to read the first chapter!

If you’ve bought and read my books, please take five minutes and drop me a review on Amazon or Goodreads—positive or critical. Reviews help me out a lot, and they help out your fellow weird-fiction readers as well. It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do to aid a writer, novel, or series you appreciate.

Be sure to spread the word by telling your friends about my books as well. (Heck, send ’em a link to this post.) Post about them on social media. Share links on Reddit. Talk about them on your blog. Word of mouth is the best way to assure the success of the stuff you love. That goes for me and my work as well as anything else you appreciate.

If you have already read, reviewed, and spread the message of my series: thanks! You’re helping make these books possible and you’re the reason I’m able to write the next book in the series. I’m excited to wrap up Gleam and get it in your hands as soon as I can, it’ll be worth the wait.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Introducing: Gleam Upon the Waves

Introducing: Gleam Upon the Waves

It’s been far too long so let’s make this official. If you’ve followed my Project Tracker, you’ll have noticed that I’m now halfway into writing the fourth novel of The Bell Forging Cycle. It’s high time I announce it.

Waldo Bell will return in: Gleam Upon the Waves.


Hired to work security for a political envoy, Waldo Bell and the crew of the Bell Caravans find themselves en route to Empress, the capital city of the hermit-nation of Victory. But things are never as simple as they seem. Sinister forces are circling; stuck in the middle, Wal will learn that darkness runs much deeper than he ever thought possible, reality is not what it seems, and a new apocalypse is much closer than anyone anticipates.


I’m targeting Gleam Upon the Waves to be about the length of Red Litten World. The story itself will be standalone, but we’re now at a point where reading the previous books will be helpful. If you read Red Litten World, you understand that there are a lot of moving parts now.

A teaser site has been live for a while but, you can see it here and read the epigraph. You can also check out my inspiration board over on Pinterest. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the plan is to work on this until it’s out. Y’all have been more than patient, and I’m excited. I think you’ll enjoy it.

I’ll see you on the trails, roaders. Things are going to get weird.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

100 Years of Cosmic Horror

It’s Cosmic Horror’s 100th Birthday

In November of 1916, Howard Phillips Lovecraft published his first short story, The Alchemist, in the United Amateur Press Association. While his commercial work would come later, there is an argument to be made that November should be considered the birth month of cosmic horror as a genre.

Lovecraft wasn’t the first to write weird fiction; even Lovecraft had his influences. Writers like Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, Robert Chambers, and Edgar Allen Poe were all writing of the strange and macabre before ol’ Howie. Most cosmic horror fans will acknowledge their impact, but I think we’d all agree that it was Lovecraft’s writing that became the definitive work of the genre. Lovecraft’s mythos has gone on to influence a myriad of people; it was his stories that encouraged others to delve into writing and working within the genre. His writing helped forge the genre into the beast it is today.

In celebration, I figured it’d be fun to explore the current universe of cosmic horror and look at some of my primary sources for Lovecraftian fiction on the market today. This will be just a tiny sample of the ever expanding universe of weird fiction. If you have recommendations of your own, leave a comment!

The Bell Forging CycleThe Bell Forging Cycle

Why not start with my books? (Buy ’em here.) Don your keff, lace up your boots, and enter my dystopian genre-bending vision of the Territories. A world where humanity is no longer alone and strange creatures inhabit vast multi-leveled megalopolises built upon the backs of drowned cities. A place of violence, where killers stalk narrow streets, and shadowy cults work ancient rituals to awaken forgotten elder gods. Standing in their way is one soul, a road-weary caravan master armed with an antique revolver, a droll wit, and a hardened resolve. Read an excerpt at any of the links below.

The Stars Were Right • Old Broken Road • Red Litten World

Cosmic Horror Small PressCosmic Horror Small Presses

Weird fiction is still alive and well, recently Penguin re-released a limited edition paperback, and a quick search for “Lovecraft” will usher forth all sorts of collections. However, some of the most exciting work in cosmic horror can be found among the small presses.

  • Word Horde

    Publisher of original novels, substantial collections, and some great anthologies, Word Horde, is one of my favorite small presses. The quality of their end product is great, Ross Lockhart and the team there does an excellent job in seeking out new talent and releasing it into the world.

  • Lovecraft eZine Press

    Born from one of the titans of the weird fiction community, the Lovecraft eZine, this cosmic horror press publishes modern mythos and releases some solid anthologies.  Very much worth checking out.

  • Dark Regions Press

    Specializing in horror and dark fiction since 1985, this indie publishing house serves up all manners of terrors from some fairly big names. If you want something collectible, make sure to check out their special hardcover editions.

  • Hippocampus Press

    This small press focuses on collected works from cosmic horrors greats, men like Ramsey Campbell, Lovecraft himself and Clark Ashton Smith. They also delve into nonfiction as well, featuring work from scholars like S. T. Joshi.

Cosmic Horror PodcastsCosmic Horror Podcasts

Some of my favorite podcasts focusing on Lovecraft and cosmic horror.

  • Miskatonic Musings

    While Lovecraftian fiction is often at the center of discussion, this podcast covers a wide variety of horror in general as well as other strange and often weird tangents.

  • People’s Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos

    This podcasts focuses on deeper dives into specific categories within the Cthulhu Mythos and cosmic horror.

  • Northwest Horror

    While not specific to Lovecraftian literature, the crew at NWH does excellent work exploring the ever expanding world of horror. (They also occasionally host a trivia night in Portland, OR. So if you’re ever in the area, check ’em out.)

  • The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast

    Chris and Chad take on a new story each week and get into the nitty gritty details. They also have some excellent readings available on their site.

  • The Black Tapes

    This serialized docu-drama follows Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand as they investigate a series of strange recordings, the titular Black Tapes.

  • Limetown

    Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women, and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. What happened to Limetown?

Other Cosmic Horror NovelistsCosmic Horror Novelists

This list could get long, so I will keep it to novelists of whom I have read and who’s books I’ve enjoyed. If there’s someone I missed (highly likely) or a writer that you’d like to recommend (also highly likely,) leave a comment! Links attached to the author’s name will go to their website or blog; book links will go to Amazon. (But you should buy from your local indie shop.) Also, don’t forget to leave a review!


This has been just a tiny sampling of the world of cosmic horror as it exists today. The genre hasn’t gone away. If anything, we see its influence grow more and more in all forms of popular culture. It has reached beyond books and into movies, table-top games, toys, comic books, television shows, and video games. The fundamental terror brought by the fear of the unknown and the creatures that lurk in spaces beyond is something that draws readers even today. So join me in wishing Cosmic Horror a lovely one-hundredth birthday! It’s been a great one hundred years, and here’s to a hundred more!

Cheers!


Did I miss something? Have a favorite writer, podcast, or small press house that I missed?Leave a comment and let us know!

A Weird Fiction Cover Design Intervention

On Twitter this April, I went on a rant about cover design, specifically targeting indie authors and small press houses within the Lovecraftian and weird fiction genres. Both are genres of which I am proud to be a part, but as of late I’ve found myself disappointed when it comes to the quality of the book cover designs. Fellow author S. Lee Benedict suggested I expand on this topic here, and it’s a good idea…

...and here we go.

This isn’t the first time I have written about cover design; you can read my previous post, ‘Building A Better Book Cover’ over here. Cover design is something of a passion for me. I’ve been a professional designer for 16 years working on everything from software, branding, advertising, book covers, and a variety of promotional materials. I believe good design is important, and I know it’s important to fans and readers.

So, here’s our situation. I feel like Lovecraftian and weird fiction literature needs a cover design intervention. Honestly, that statement could apply to much, much more than just those two categories; but these days I am closest to those genres, so they get the brunt of my focus. I’m not fond of publically shaming. So, don’t expect me to call out specific examples of bad design. However, with a little searching, you can easily see what I mean.

It’s not that indie authors or small publishers start out with a desire to make awful covers. Sit in on any self-publishing panel at a convention and every author will readily admit it’s worth spending the money on an illustration for your cover. And, many books with terrible covers start with a great illustration. They’re on point for tone and mood, and often a good step in the right direction, but they completely miss the mark when it comes to typography and design. Strange font choices abound, bad effects mar legibility, and bizarre distortions plague the shelves. At best it’s boring, at worst it’s completely illegible. (And it tends to skew towards the latter, unfortunately.) It’s like someone put all their effort into illustration and completely forgot that paying attention to the cover’s typography and design is just as important as having great art. Those three concepts are the pillars of good design. Everything in a book cover plays off of one another; bad typography can forever mar a beautiful illustration.

“…paying attention to the cover’s typography and design is just as important as having great art.”

If indie authors and small presses were more honest with themselves, they’d know when a cover is done vs. done right. It’s not hard to compare; solid examples are everywhere. And it wouldn’t take much to improve; basic typography operates under a set of rules, and a few typography classes at a local college would go a long way to learning the ins and outs. If that’s hard to swing, sit down with a Skillshare class. Jon Contino, the illustrator who did the lettering for my books, offers a Skillshare class on Illustration and Lettering: A Hands-on Approach to Label Design that is excellent. If you’re looking for books on the subject start with The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. It’s commonly called “the Typographer’s Bible,” and it’s a good (if not dense) place to start. Also, look into Ellen Lupton’s fantastic Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students; it’s a practical guide on the rules of typography and how to break them effectively and creatively,

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

As I mentioned in my post, ‘Building a Better Book Cover,’ Chip Kidd, one of the greatest book cover designers living today, has said, “A book cover is a distillation. It is a haiku of the story.” I love that quote. He’s not wrong; bad cover design does a disservice to the writing it represents. It detracts when it should enhance, it lies when it should entice.

But there is a silver lining! I know quite a few authors who have taken the time and put in the effort and have made strides in cover design. Word Horde is a great weird fiction press that does wonderful work, and Laird Barron’s novels often have fantastic covers. Recent strides have been made by larger print houses as well; Victor laValle’s Ballad of Black Tom (Tor) and Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft County (Harper) were recent standouts in the genre. So well designed covers in weird fiction are out there. Publishers, designers, and authors should study what those books do right and strive towards emulating their successes.

Weird fiction book covers

I believe weird fiction is one of the most exciting and imaginative genres to be writing in today. It pushes at the edges of speculative fiction as a whole and continues to broaden its reach. It’s only reasonable to desire that the covers of the great work being produced should live up to the potential within the pages. We all want these books to continue to attract new readers for decades to come, and a well-designed cover goes a long way to doing just that.