Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Lake Publishing’

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Todd Keisling, the author of Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors – which is out now through Crystal Lake Publishing– and a ton of other great books. I will be reviewing this in the future, so I won’t get into the book too much, but trust me when I say this is an outstanding book you will want to add to your collection. I reviewed Ugly Little Things – Volume One a few years ago (review) and ended up listing it as one of my top collections of the year. This edition features those stories along with other entries in the Ugly Little Things series and Keisling’s outstanding novella, The Final Reconciliation and I’m positive it will end up on this year’s “Best Of” list. Todd stops by The Horror Bookshelf to share 11 facts about the collection that will give readers a look behind the scenes at what went into crafting this collection.

Before I turn over the blog to Todd, I want to thank him and Erin of Oh, For the Hook of a Book Publicity for having me on the tour!

Ugly Little Trivia: Eleven Facts about Ugly Little Things

By Todd Keisling, author of Ugly Little Things

1: Many of the stories were written while I was suffering through a period of intense depression. The title Ugly Little Things refers to all the dark, nasty things that lurk inside all of us. The stories were my way of facing those demons, giving them names, and exorcising them. Several of these stories seem haunted to me because of this, like little totems representing a particularly dark point in my life.

2: The title Ugly Little Things was originally the title of a story in the collection. That story eventually became “The Harbinger” in order to avoid confusion.

3: The ULT “sessions” began in early 2013 and stretched through the end of 2016, but ideas for several of the stories go back nearly ten years. The aforementioned story, “The Harbinger,” originally began in 2007 as a Lovecraftian mythos tale set in West Virginia; “Saving Granny from the Devil” had multiple beginnings going as far back as 2009; and “House of Nettle and Thorn” was originally conceived in 2004 when I was still in college, with a working title of “Papercuts.”

4: Charles Boid, the antagonist of “Human Resources,” is a recurring character in a couple of unpublished tales involving his communion with an eldritch being that lurks in a digital domain. He may receive a proper story in the future, but for now, he pops up here and there as he pleases.

5: The opening scenes of “When Karen Met Her Mountain” were taken directly from a dream I had.

6: A limited-edition hardcover of the first four stories was printed in 2014 with the title “Ugly Little Things: Volume One.” There were only 45 in total. Henry Rollins has one of them.

7: I am my own worst critic and fully expect everyone to hate what I write. When I gave my wife an early draft of “The Final Reconciliation,” I did so with the warning that she probably wouldn’t like it. As fate would have it, that’s actually her favorite story of mine. Go figure.

8: Sometimes, I see my stories as images in my head. They’re mini-movies, their characters acting and speaking on their own behalf, and I’m just there to record things as they happen.

9: I’m currently at work on a novel titled “Devil’s Creek” that takes place in the hometown of the band from The Final Reconciliation. It’s also has some ties to “The Harbinger.”

10: Many of the events in “Saving Granny from the Devil” actually happened, including Granny seeing a man in black from her living room window.

11: Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors isn’t a book of “feel good” stories. They’re dark meditations on the human condition, and if you aren’t careful, they’ll cut you in the most delightful of ways. You’re going to have a bad time. You’re going to hurt. And I think you’re going to like it.


Todd Keisling’s Official Website

Crystal Lake Publishing’s Official Website

Purchase Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors Synopsis

Short Story Collection by Todd Keisling
Includes the Novella, The Final Reconciliation
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing




The eleven stories in Ugly Little Things explore the depths of human suffering and ugliness, charting a course to the dark, horrific heart of the human condition. The terrors of everyday existence are laid bare in this eerie collection of short fiction from the twisted mind of Todd Keisling, author of the critically-acclaimed novels A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man.

Travel between the highways of America in “The Otherland Express,” where a tribe of the forsaken and forlorn meet to exchange identities. Witness the cold vacuum of space manifest in the flesh in “The Darkness Between Dead Stars.” Step into the scrub of rural Arizona and join Karen Singleton’s struggle to save her husband from a cult of religious fanatics in “When Karen Met Her Mountain.” Visit the small town of Dalton in “The Harbinger” and join Felix Proust as he uncovers the vile secrets rooted at the heart of Dalton Dollworks. And in the critically-acclaimed novella “The Final Reconciliation,” learn the horrifying truth behind the demise of the rock band The Yellow Kings.

With an introduction by Bram Stoker Award-winner Mercedes M. Yardley and illustrations by Luke Spooner, Ugly Little Things will be your atlas, guiding you along a lonely road of sorrow, loss, and regret. This is going to hurt—and you’re going to like it.


Praise for Todd and Ugly Little Things

“Todd Keisling is a born storyteller, drawing the reader into artfully constructed narratives that scout the darker end of the literary spectrum with skill and bravado.  A pleasure to read, his stories linger well after the last page has been turned.  Excellent stuff.” – John Langan, Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Fisherman

“Keisling writes in the shadows, his words like that first long drag on a cigarette after work. I couldn’t help coming back for more, and before I knew it, that one story, that one cigarette, turned into the whole pack.”—Stephanie M. Wytovich, Bram Stoker award-winning author of Brothel and The Eighth.

“In Ugly Little Things, Todd Keisling ventures deep into the dark abyss of cosmic horror. What he finds there—or what’s found him—will terrify you. This varied collection is tailor-made for fans of existential dread. Prepare to face the void. Try not to scream.”—Brian Kirk, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of We Are Monsters.

“Todd Keisling’s promise delivers with Ugly Little Things. The only time you will dare to look away from the page is when you stop to look over your shoulder. He’s earned his right to sit on the shelf alongside King, Koontz, and Ketchum.” –Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbags and What We Reckon.

“Todd Keisling’sUgly Little Things contains 11 tales that sing with lyricism while they move the reader with suspenseful, clever, humorous and often wonderfully elegiac developments. The author has a keen, lucid understanding of suffering, which lends each plot-line extra heft and depth. These stories contain tenderly and humanely rendered characters who are drawn towards various forms of uncanny annihilation. After reading this excellent collection, I’m eagerly awaiting whatever Keisling produces next.” –Jon Padgett, author of The Secret of Ventriloquism

“One of the few perfect story collections I’ve ever read. Todd Keisling will keep you guessing page after page. He also has a knack for surprise endings you will not see coming!” – Armand Rosamilia, author of the Dying Days series

“Keisling always gets down to the essence of good storytelling. His no-nonsense approach arrests us, showing us worlds and characters that expand our imagination, leaving it tainted with horrors only the author can deliver. These stories are a testament to one of the bravest and scariest new voices in horror fiction.” —Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky.

“Herein lie stories told in the traditional manner of spooky tales told round the campfire. Read this collection on a dark and stormy night and don’t answer the door if someone knocks.” —Kristi DeMeester, author of Beneath.

“A soundtrack to darkness, Ugly Little Things is hauntingly inviting and absolutely horrific. Keisling deftly weaves together a web of genre-bending terror in this must read collection.” – Michelle Garza, co-author of the Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue


About Todd Keisling

TODD KEISLING is the author of A Life Transparent, The Liminal Man (a 2013 Indie Book Award Finalist), and the critically-acclaimed novella, The Final Reconciliation. He lives somewhere in the wilds of Pennsylvania with his wife, son, and trio of unruly cats.


Twitter: @todd_keisling



Want to Feature?

If you’d like to feature Todd in an interview or guest article, or review Ugly Little Things, please contact Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at




Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing

Length: 424 Pages

Release Date: February 23, 2015

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Michael McCarty has crafted an absolute must-read in Modern Mythmakers. Collecting 35 interviews in the horror and science fiction fields, McCarty has given fans an inside look behind the scenes of the creative process of writers and filmmakers with interesting tidbits about some of the most memorable works in both genres.

The preface of this book, written by McCarty himself, explains why this book is such a vital read for horror fans. McCarty may have been able to sit down and meet some of the biggest names in horror, but the reason he set out to embark on this project was a simple one that I am sure all of us can relate to – he simply loved the works in the genre and wanted to share that passion with others. He recalls interesting tales of meeting with First Blood author David Morrell and Kurt Vonnegut. He lays out his experience and the art of what he tries to achieve with his own interviews. It’s inspiring and shows what is possible with meticulous research, determination and hard work.

Some of the interviews contained in the book are a bit older, pulled from McCarty’s archives, but there is also new material that has been added to this addition, particularly in the sections focusing on Ray Bradbury, Joe McKinney, Christopher Moore, William Nolan, and David Snell to name a few.

I enjoyed this book because it not only offered me insight into some writers and filmmakers I already knew and loved, but introduced me to some new authors as well. Also, I have always been interested in reading interviews with my favorite musicians, authors and other types of artists. Sure, I liked uncovering details behind some of the works I loved, but I always found the most intriguing information comes from the candid moments where the subject of the interview opens up.

 McCarty’s interview questions are fairly straightforward, but he has a talent at getting the interviewees to open up and share interesting tidbits of information. The book opens with an interview of Forrest J. Ackermen, who was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland for 20 years and racked up numerous prestigious awards for his work. I thought it was interesting to learn that he is the one credited with coining the term “sci-fi”. It is one of those words that was seemingly ingrained in my mind for an early age and I never really questioned the origins of the term. It also loved hearing his thoughts on the evolution of science fiction since he first became a fan in the 1920’s and his humorous personal stories about Ray Bradbury.

Speaking of Bradbury, in his interview, readers are treated to information about the process behind one of his most memorable works and arguably one of the most memorable works of fiction ever written Fahrenheit 451 written in the basement library of UCLA on a rented typewriter and wrote the book in 9 days.

Ramsey Campbell offers personal anecdotes about unexplained events in his home that led him to question his stance on the existence of ghosts. John Carpenter offers up insight into the creation of Halloween from the story itself to one of horror’s most enduring icons Michael Myers aka “The Shape”.

There are also some interesting little known facts presented throughout such as Neil Gaiman’s interview where he offers up a humorous story about Douglas Adams and how Bentley Little is connected to Spongebob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg. Probably one of my favorite things that I read was reading Peter Straub’s thoughts about the writing process behind The Talisman and Black House. It is easy to take for granted how easy it is to collaborate with super fast internet and near instantaneous access to information, so it was interesting to read about the creative efforts that went into writing those books and the practical hurdles they had to overcome.

I highly recommend Modern Mythmakers to fans of science fiction and horror looking for the behind-the-scenes information and possibly a jolt of inspiration. Sometimes as a blogger it can be hard to sit down and write, but reading these interviews and hearing these artists talk passionately about their work and what drives them, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Michael McCarty Official Website

Crystal Lake Publishing Official Website

Purchase Modern Mythmakers on Amazon