MIKE BOCKOVEN

Book Release Day One Year Later

Oct
09

Usually I’m not one to pay attention to the “Facebook Memories” updates that site pitches me on an almost daily basis, but this week I was thankful. It reminded me that one year ago, my first novel came out.

I almost forgot.

It’s not like I don’t think about the fact I published a book in a year. On the contrary, I do that on a daily basis. And it’s not as if I don’t interact with people, online and otherwise, about the book. That’s a daily or every other day thing. And I sure as hell have not become “numb” to the idea. The fact that I have a book that’s sold thousands of copies and has a 4 and a half star rating on Goodreads is a blessing I recognize, respect and pinch myself for every day. Every day.

I almost forgot because the “big” day wasn’t really that “big”. It was fun. I remember that. It was a Thursday and when it came out I went to work, posted a few things to social media, came home, had dinner, went to bed. No big deal. The day after I went to Omaha with a friend of mine, saw a couple movies, did a couple of interviews (including a great one on All About Books through NET Radio) and went to Barnes and Noble and saw my book. Even that was great but it didn’t feel like I had crossed any sort of line.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – about perusing art and the reasons for it, and realized I had three or four great moments in the process of writing my first novel. There was when I finished the first draft and had crossed the goal line of “writing a book”. When I got an agent, that was a big deal. When that agent sold the book and I was introduced to my editor, that was a big deal. When I saw the book in its finished form for the first time, that was a big deal. I fought back tears that time.

But the release date was more of a reason to celebrate than a reason to feel accomplishment, I suppose. The accomplishment was already there, now everyone could read it for themselves. Again, not a small thing at all but something I would have forgotten if I hadn’t been reminded, but it did give me a chance to do something I hadn’t done up until today – go back and think about how my life has changed in the past year.

In the past year I’ve sold my second book that we’re in the process of editing. I’ve written two halves of two books and am working to finish them up. I had a third novel finished, polished and rejected and it didn’t sting as much as I thought it would. Turns out I’ve got more in the tank. They turned “FantasticLand” into a kick ass audio book that I loved listening to. I met my agent and my editor in person and learned they are good folks. I’ve got a big project in the works I’m contractually bound from not talking about. I’m working on short stories and other venues fo my work. I’ve dropped in and out of writing as a habit and am back into the thick of it (thank God. This summer almost killed me at my day job). I briefly trended on Reddit.

Most of all I’ve had the thrill and honor of talking to many, many people who read FantasticLand. This level of feedback is unprecedented in my career and I used to work at a newspaper. I’ve read reviews that thought harder about my novel than I did, frankly. I’ve read reviews that didn’t like it but made good points. I’ve read flat out negative reviews that were well thought out. I was reviewed in Fangoria.

In other words, I’ve had one of the best years of my life because not only was my book a success by most metrics, but I believed, for the first time in my life, that I might be able to make this writing thing into something bigger. It doesn’t feel like a lark anymore, like pursuing art for art’s sake, though that’s a noble enough endeavor in its own right and I would have been happy if that’s all this turned out to be. To me, this sounds like a beginning. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me.

I can’t express enough gratitude for everyone who read FantasticLand, left a review, contacted me, told their friends, posted about it or just gave it a read. It’s an honor and it’s been the main reason this year has been so special. A few of you have written me and said “I can’t wait for the next book.” Neither can I.

Monsterama 2017 or Why I Drive 2,200 miles to Watch Monster Movies

Sep
15

I’ve done this four times and every time I do there’s a moment on the way there where I think to myself “why do I do this? Why do I drive over 1,000 miles and spend money I don’t have to go from Nebraska to Pennsylvania just to watch “The Horror of Party Beach” for the fourth time?” Then I find myself in the Riverside Drive In, spinning around like Julie Andrews in The Sounds of Music and I remember, oh yeah. THAT’S why I come here.

Because it’s worth it.

I am a fan of monster movies. I am friends with people who meet me at special monster movie events. And there is no better place that I’ve found in the entire country than to watch a monster movie at the Riverside Drive In in Vandergrift Pennsylvania.

Twice a year the Riverside Drive In (which is actually very near the banks of a river, believe it or not) hosts all night monster movie festivals. The one in the spring, known as April Ghoul’s Day, I’ve been to once as they tend to show 70s and 80s exploitation and horror movies and it gets cold as balls once the sun goes down. For scheduling and not freezing to death reasons I prefer Monsterama in September, where the flicks are in black and white, the temperature only dips into the 40s and my friends from across the country gather.

I’m not going to go over the movies one by one (someone remake The Tingler, skip Atomic Age Vampire) but I will throw a few random things I love about Monsterama at you:

-The snack bar decorates for the occasion complete with Frankenstein’s monster, spider webs and more
-The food is kitchen quality and the staff works their butts off
-The occasional horror “celebrity” like Tom Savini and Doug Bradley show up. No one this trip, but still cool
-They play amazing vintage “come to the snack bar” interludes between movies
-They start with the national anthem that includes an animation of the space program as part of what makes America exceptional
-When the fog rolls in early in the morning the image “ghosts” and you can see it on the fog. It’s hard to explain but absolutely mesmerizing to look at
-Some of my friends make the most amazing, out of left field comments. It’s a classic “you had to be there” thing but it’s part of makes my life worth living.
-The drive in is situated in this incredible natural bowl. To sneak in you’d need repelling equipment and the consequence of the layout is the audio echoes in a truly spooky, awesome way.
-They sell Coke made with sugar in glass bottles out of a vending machine. You actually have to pop the top on the machine or go thirsty.
-Monster movie fans are a uniqe breed. The stereotype is they are deeply introverted, always-on-the-internet sorts who might lack social graces. I’ve met people like that. I’ve also met serious professionals, extremely generous folks and wonderful salt of the earth types who have nothing in common but the love of rubber monsters and bad dubbing. These are my people and I love them.

Yeah, it’s a long trip. Yeah, it’s a lot of gas and I don’t take care of myself very well over the 4 days I go and it’s rough on my family and I don’t get any writing done. But it’s a great trip and if you’re anywhere near the Riverside Drive In, it’s well worth your business.

Introducing “Pack”

Sep
01

My second novel comes out in a few months. Here’s the cover!

I am biased, obviously, but the best adjective I can come up for it is badass. It could sit on a VHS horror movie shelf at some mom and pop video store in the late 1980s. It could hang with all the horror covers at your local book store. It gets better the more I look at it. I love it and hope you do too.

But, I hear you asking, what’s the book about? Here’s the catalog copy:

From the author of FantasticLand comes a supernatural thriller set in a sleepy Nebraska town that mixes the novels of Ann Rice and the pulpy, bloody works of Donald Ray Pollock.

Cherry, Nebraska, population 312, is just off the highway between the sticks and the boonies. It’s where Dave Rhodes and his friends have lived all their lives. They own businesses, raise families, pay taxes, deal with odd neighbors and, once or twice a month just like their fathers before them—transform into wolves. It’s not a bad life, but when one of the group members goes astray, it sets in motion a series of events that will threaten to destroy the delicate balance that has kept Dave and his clan off the radar. Between a son getting ready for his first transformation—called The Scratch—a wife with sordid secrets, a new sheriff who knows nothing of the creatures in his midst, and a mysterious man in a bow tie with a shady agenda, the middle of nowhere is about to get very dangerous. 

Interspersed with historical documents and newspaper clippings, and court documents that reveal the past of Cherry, Nebraska, a past informed by spirits, the devil, and crooked cops. In the vein of Donald Ray Pollock and Glen Duncan, Pack is at its heart is the story of family’s survival in an unforgiving world. Mike Bockoven’s second novel moves at breakneck speed with prose that hits like an injection of battery acid. Raw, real, and funny, Pack exposes the horror and tenderness that festers in the forgotten corners of the American Dream.

So, that’s what I’ve been working on. The book comes out in March or possibly later. I hope you’ll keep an eye out for it. I appreciate your support so, so much.

-Mike