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Top 10 Book Covers of 2013

It’s finally done. It was a lot of work, collecting suggestions, scouring the 2013 release lists, deciding which covers to include, narrowing it down and finally, coming up with an actual Top Ten list of Book Covers for 2013. This is the first year I’m doing this, but I hope I can make this an annual thing, which I suppose will depend on how many people agree with my choices and thus decide to follow my blog and read my rants and generally feed my ego.

By far the hardest thing was to track down who the artist was in the majority of the cases. I failed to do so in one case.

A few words about the list: I included only novels, novellas and anthologies. So no comic books or magazines. I didn’t include any books published in December 2012, though beginning next year, I will start from December 2013 for the 2014 list. I tried to link to each book’s Amazon page, each artist’s portfolio and each publisher’s website. I didn’t always succeed in finding them. I (of course) didn’t include any of my own covers.

If you find an omission, please let me know.

21. Sci-Fidelity

Artist: Matthew Woodson
Author: Alex Sargeant
Publisher: Black Hill Press

Ryan Singer sits on the edge of that terrible time in everyone’s life when they realize they’ve either already started their career or need to. Ryan tries his best to navigate this world where awkwardness, New Media, science fiction, love, drugs and intrigue all slam together with hilarious and tragic consequences.


52. Cruel

Artist: Chris Walker
Author: Eli Wilde
Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing

When he was a very young child, Evan Jameson believed in angels. He thought they were watching out for him, protecting more than merely his innocence, he thought they were supposed to stop bad people from doing bad things to him. After his family moved house and he went to school for the first time, he started to believe in monsters. Seeing them each day as they cruelled their way through his formative years, he realised angels were not looking out for him after all. And God too, He seemed to be looking out for someone other than Evan. Despite the sun searing images of his childhood nightmares into his mind like a laser etched from hell, Evan managed to hide them from his conscience, never gazing upon them until he was older and his first child was born. Even then, it was not until he felt the first urge to cruel his baby son that he began to search for reasons why. What he revealed when he gazed into his dark past, was not only the reason why he could become a monster, but also the reason why he awakened each day wanting to end his life.


33. Mountain Home

Artist: Joanne-McKenna Howard at Small Dog Design
Author: Bracken MacLeod
Publisher: Books of the Dead Press

Lyn works at an isolated roadside diner. When a retired combat veteran stages an assault there her world is turned upside down. Surviving the sniper’s bullets is only the beginning of Lyn’s nightmare. Navigating hostilities, she establishes herself as the disputed leader of a diverse group of people that are at odds with the situation and each other. Will she – or anyone else – survive the attack?


44. The Lost

Artist: Jeff Himmelman
Authors: Anthology
Publisher: Gallileo Games

The Lost is stories of hope, tragedy, and the people the world turns away from. From a young woman struggling with addiction to a streetwise Santa looking out for his friends, these stories range from literary to magical realism. The Lost is an anthology of stories that confront issues of homelessness and the people our society ignores.


65. Jane

Artist: Nimit Malavia
Author: P.F. Jeffery
Publisher: Chômu Press

Thousands of years in the future, the division between the sexes is entrenched, turning to warfare. Many technologies are lost and much history forgotten, but gynogenesis (by which two women may have a child) is becoming the scientific foundation for the Empire of Her Majesty, Berenice I. Amidst the haunted marshes of outlying Essex, the routine and romance of homes and offices in the Surrey heartland, and the crumbling feudal heritage of Lundin town, the action unfolds like the panorama from a stagecoach window.

Jane is a sixteen-year-old civil servant under Her Majesty. Sent to audit the spoils of battle, she falls for Captain Modesty Clay, precipitating a maelstrom of events that force her to grow up fast, and in which she catches the eye of the Empress herself.


76. Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly

Artist: Erik Mohr
Author: Stephen Graham Jones & Paul Tremblay
Publisher: CZP

Mary’s life is going fine. Except for being a freshman in high school. And having anxiety attacks. And her dad having no job. So, introduce one boy who can fly, kidnap the little brother she’s supposed to be babysitting, and drop a military quarantine on her town and that should make her anxiety completely disappear, right? Wrong.


97. The Last Night of October

Artist: Luke Spooner
Author: Greg Chapman
Publisher: Bad Moon Books

Seventy-year-old Gerald Forsyth dreads Halloween. Every year, on October 31st, a lone child has knocked on his door – a nightmarish reminder of a tragedy from Gerald’s past.
As each Halloween came and went, Gerald has been able to keep his door locked and the monstrous memory at bay, but the ravages of emphysema have left him a disgruntled and feeble-minded old man.
When a new hospice nurse named Kelli arrives unexpectedly to replace his regular nurse on Halloween night, Gerald is caught unawares and before he can warn her, Kelli is inviting the threat into his home. The horrors that unfold will be no trick and the only treat the child will accept is the old man’s soul. Before the night ends, Gerald will have no choice but to bring his dark secret into the light.


18. You

Artist: Superbrothers
Author: Austin Grossman
Publisher: Mulholland Books

When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he’s finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach. But mostly, he needs to know what happened to Simon, his strangest and most gifted friend, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after Black Arts’ breakout hit.

As the company’s revolutionary next-gen game is threatened by a software glitch, Russell finds himself in a race to save his job, Black Arts’ legacy, and the people he has grown to care about. The deeper Russell digs, the more dangerous the glitch appears–and soon, Russell comes to realize there’s much more is at stake than just one software company’s bottom line.


89. Earth Thirst

Artist: Cody Tilson
Author: Mark Teppo
Publisher: Night Shade Books

 The Earth is dying. Humanity — over-breeding, over-consuming — is destroying the very planet they call home. Multinational corporations despoil the environment, market genetically modified crops to control the food supply, and use their wealth and influence and private armies to crush anything, and anyone, that gets in the way of their profits. Nothing human can stop them. But something unhuman might. Once they did not fear the sun. Once they could breathe the air and sleep where they chose. But now they can rest only within the uncontaminated soil of Mother Earth—and the time has come for them to fight back against the ruthless corporations that threaten their immortal existence.

They are the last guardians of paradise, more than human but less than angels. They call themselves the Arcadians. We know them as vampires. . .


1010. The One-Eyed Man

Artist: John Jude Palencar
Author: L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Publisher: Tor Books

The colony world of Stittara is no ordinary planet. For the interstellar Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, Stittara is the primary source of anagathics: drugs that have more than doubled the human life span. But the ecological balance that makes anagathics possible on Stittara is fragile, and the Unity government has a vital interest in making sure the flow of longevity drugs remains uninterrupted, even if it means uprooting the human settlements.

Offered the job of assessing the ecological impact of the human presence on Stittara, freelance consultant Dr. Paulo Verano jumps at the chance to escape the ruin of his personal life. He gets far more than he bargained for: Stittara’s atmosphere is populated with skytubes—gigantic, mysterious airborne organisms that drift like clouds above the surface of the planet. Their exact nature has eluded humanity for centuries, but Verano believes his conclusions about Stittara may hinge on understanding the skytubes’ role in the planet’s ecology—if he survives the hurricane winds, distrustful settlers, and secret agendas that impede his investigation at every turn.

Timecapsule Interview: Jack Ketchum 2005


This interview was probably done sometime in 2004-2005. I was 21 years old at the time and I ran a fanzine called CARNIVAL MACABRE. I interviewed Jack Ketchum for it, but ended up selling the interview to DARK WISDOM, for those of you who remember the now defunct magazine. I didn’t know it was included for years, until I figured it out and contacted the folks over at DARK WISDOM, who graciously mailed me copies and paid me for the interview. They’re nice people.

Anyway, I’m including it here without edits. It probably ain’t great, but Jack had some great answers.

Jack Ketchum has been one of my favorite writers for quite a while now, since reading ”Girl Next Door” in the Greek translation(by Oxy Publications) and was blown away by it. Up until then, my diet consisted of supernatural horror novels( you all know what I’m taking about, it’s what I like to call ”mainstream horror”), and this book opened up a whole new world to me. A much darker world, so to speak. I can only be thankful for that and present you with an interview with the man himself.

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk — a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself. His short story The Box won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA and his story Gone won again in 2000, and he has written eleven novels, the latest of which are Red, Ladies’ Night, and The Lost. His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on the Wheel of Sex, and Peaceable Kingdom.

George Cotronis: How much of the real ”you” is in your books? Were any of them inspired by personal experiences, or have some basis in reality?

Jack Ketchum: Sure, I draw on personal experiences a lot. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is almost a memory-play of what it was like to grow up in New Jersey when I did — minus, I hasten to add, the plot. SHE WAKES used a lot of what I saw and did in Greece. In PEACEABLE KINGDOM there’s a story called AMID THE WALKING WOUNDED which was about my nosebleed from hell and another called THE HOLDING CELL which was about my first — and only, thank god — DUI arrest. I could go on. But beyond that most of my stuff is reality-based. Something I’ve read about or heard about second-hand that triggers a story.

GC: As a horror writer, you attempt to scare us. What are you afraid of? What was your biggest childhood fear?

JK: When Jeff Gelb was preparing FEAR ITSELF — a very fine anthology by the way — he asked us all to write what scared us personally, not what we thought would scare somebody else. I raised my hand like a kid in class and said, “is anybody doing snakes??” Hence the story of the same name again collected in PEACEABLE KINGDOM. I refer you to that one for early childhood fears — and I used a number of personal experiences there too. But I was also afraid of practically everything as a kid. From The Bomb to the bully up the goddamn street.

GC: Most of the stuff you write is rather heavy, or right down depressing for some. Are you always in that state of mind? Going around holding a gun to your head?

JK: Hey, wait a minute. I write some pretty funny shit as well sometimes. Think of the stories in BROKEN ON THE WHEEL OF SEX for instance. Though now that I think of it, most of that, funny or not, is probably basically depressing too. I guess the answer to your question is another question. What the fuck kind of world are you living in that I don’t know about?

GC: Pretty much the same world. It was a question my friends asked me when I made them read your books. I now have no friends. I know that you have a lot of influences and a wide scope in reading, but who would you say where the writers or books that influenced early on in writing?

JK: Good god, they’re legion. Very earliest influences off the top of my head would be comic books — pre-comic-code weird stuff and Classic Comics especially — then short stories by Bloch, Bradbury, Matheson, Sturgeon, Lovecraft, Derleth, Dahl and among the novels, DRACULA, JEKYLL AND HYDE, FRANKENSTEIN, anything by Mickey Spillane, PEYTON PLACE, HARRISON HIGH, A STONE FOR DANNY FISHER, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, THE AMBOY DUKES, plays by Tennessee Williams, Shakespear’s tragedies (I read them with the Classic Comics on one side of the desk and the text on the other early on), Edith Hamilton’s book on Greek myths, Roy Chapman Andrews’ ALL ABOUT DINOSAURS and anything else I could get my hands on the subject, e.e.Cummings’ poetry, and cheap sensational paperback lit of every kind. Oh, yes, and MAD, CRACKED, and FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. That do for starters?

GC: You don’t usually write supernatural horror (except for SHE WAKES). Why is that? Would you say that the horror that comes from humanity itself scares us more than things that go bump in the night?

JK: There are people who do bump in the night better than I do. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I mean, there are people who write supernatural much better than I do. So I tend to leave it mostly to the masters. Though SHE WAKES and some of my stories occasionally go there my forte seems to be reality and what scares me therein.

GC: How important is music to your writing? Do you listen to music when writing or is it otherwise involved in the process?

JK: I can’t listen to anything while I’m writing. Even my cats distract me. I’m envious of painters and other writers I know who can. I need silence and a blank wall. A phrase of music will often pop into my mind and I’ll use it in a piece but if I’m actually listening to music at the time, all I can do is listen. Maybe it’s because I was a singer once. Music still grabs all of my attention even if it’s terrible.

GC: Being criticized constantly regarding your subject matter must be hard. How much exactly does it affect you?

JK: I’m really not criticized constantly. Not at all. If that’s going on somewhere I’m not hearing it. For the most part people seem to get what I’m driving at. What criticism I have had hasn’t effected me much at all. It’s not that I’m particularly brave. It’s just that the only way I know how to do a piece is the way it occurs to me to do it. Then I just let it go where it goes.

GC: Of all your books, which one do you think is the hardest on the reader? More shocking?

JK: From readers’ comments I’d say three. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, OFF SEASON (UNEXPURGATED EDITION in particular) and RIGHT TO LIFE. Those are the ones people have said to me, sorry I can’t go there, most often. But also STRANGLEHOLD aka ONLY CHILD because of the child-abuse factor.

GC: What, in your opinion, is most important, or what technique do you use to strip the reader of his mental defenses and scare or provoke similar strong emotions in him?

JK: I first try to scare myself. If I can do that successfully it usually seems to translate to the reader. But it’s the same thing with portraying any emotion. First you gotta move yourself. Then you get that feeling under control so it’s not just wild babbling and state it well — that’s learned technique — it’s a mix of feeling and self-control.

GC: Are you writing anything lately? What projects are you involved with?

JK: I just finished a story for Nanci Kalanta’s Horrorworld site which will be out in November — my first short story to be debuted on the net — and I’ve recorded two stories on CD, FOREVER and FATHER AND SON, for Borderlands’ DARK VOICES series. As we speak I’m roughing out a nonfiction piece for Asian Cult Cinema on Takashi Ishii’s NEW FLOWER AND SNAKE. Then there’s this novel thing hovering in the background.

GC: How come you were drawn to horror fiction in the first place? What was your first brush with it so to speak?

JK: Where I grew up, the woods were dark at night and filled with fear and pleasure…