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2016 in Review

Now comes the time at the end of each year where I give a little roundup of the things I’ve accomplished in my writing career over the course of the last 12 months.

I’ll start with books I’ve published. 2016 was another year where I had 3 books out. The first of which was released in January, a collection entitled COMPANIONS IN RUIN from Sinister Grin Press (https://www.amazon.com/Companions-Ruin-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B01BN7INXE/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_24?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491480&sr=1-24&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q). There were three editions: the trade paperback, an ebook, and even a limited hardcover. I’m in love with the stark, haunting cover, which they took from an image in my story “Sentinel.”

My next book was published in October, a digital only collection called CURTAIN CALL (https://www.amazon.com/Curtain-Call-Other-Dark-Entertainments-ebook/dp/B01MF8HW19/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491551&sr=1-5). The 10 stories compiled are some of my favorites among my pieces, and the thing that truly blows my mind about this book is that it was released from Cemetery Dance. Talk about a dream come true!

My last book of the year was released just earlier this month from Crystal Lake Publishing. WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, a novel I co-authored with my friend Aaron Dries (https://www.amazon.com/Where-Dead-Die-Aaron-Dries-ebook/dp/B01N1LYOGP/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491589&sr=1-3). It is a zombie tale, but I think one that is very unique and fresh, using zombies as a launching pad for a very emotional and raw story.

I also had a digital short called “The Refugees” out as part of Steve Dillion’s Refuge series, raising money for the Sanctuary Australia Foundation, a humanitarian organization aimed at helping refugees (https://www.amazon.com/Refugees-Refuge-Collection-4-5-ebook/dp/B01N09Q06H/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491637&sr=1-18&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q). I actually used some fears brought up in this year’s nasty political campaign to build the story, tying in some thoughts I had about the unfortunate resilience of prejudice.

2016 was a good year for me in terms of having short fiction appear in anthologies as well. In August, Crystal Lake put out TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL. 3, featuring my story “The Pigmalion Pigs.” (https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Lake-Vol-3-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B01KBTEKKA/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491589&sr=1-8) I think that’s a fun, strong recent story of mine, and I was really happy for it to be available for folks to read.

September saw the release of DRIVE-IN CREATURE FEATURE from Evil Jester Press (https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Creature-Feature-Eugene-Johnson-ebook/dp/B01LJY0FQO/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491715&sr=1-15&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q). An older story of mine, “The Benefactor,” was included in this anthology. I was thrilled to be in a TOC with so many talented authors—Clive Barker, Jonathan Maberry, William F. Nolan, Elizabeth Massie, Christopher Nolan, and Joe Lansdale just to name a few. I was particularly delighted to be in a book with two of my heroes, Barker and Lansdale. Hell, my story was right next to Lansdale’s!

In October, Spectral Press released THE 3rd SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES, and included my tale “Sins of the Father.” (https://www.amazon.com/3rd-Spectral-Book-Horror-Stories-ebook/dp/B01M8P34D3/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491745&sr=1-9) This was a story I’d originally written in hopes of appearing in a themed anthology. Didn’t make the cut and I’d worried there was no real place for it elsewhere, so I was glad to have it appear here.

Just this month, Thunderstorm released a charity anthology to benefit the HWA Relief Fund called DREAD STATE, full of political tales (https://www.amazon.com/Dread-State-Political-Horror-Anthology/dp/0692809686/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491745&sr=1-1). My contribution was a humorous satire called “Take Me to Your Cheerleader” that pokes fun at politics but also at our shallow culture in general. The TOC of this one includes a reprint from Ray Bradbury himself. I never dreamed I’d share space with the late great Bradbury!

I’ve done a lot of writing this year too. Always writing. I completed three novellas this year, two solo and one with a friend. The two solo novellas are entitled BOOK HAVEN and #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain, and with my friend Shane Nelson I wrote a twist on the deal-with-the-devil tale called THE PRICE OF SUCCESS. I also wrote a lot of short stories, as I will never lose my passion for the short form. Here at the end of the year, I’m just getting started on a new novella, THE UNHOLY EUCHARIST.

I also had the opportunity to do some fun events this year. In January I hosted a Literary Scavenger Hunt at Grindstaff’s in my hometown of Gaffney. Three teams competed, and my friends Traci and Michael walked away with the prize pack of books and a gift certificate to the store. It was a lot of fun, and I did a reading from my books FORT and COMPANIONS IN RUIN while I was there.

In April, I was invited to take part in a discussion forum at Clemson University on Queer Writing in the South. It was an interesting panel to be on, and I was honored to have been asked to be a part of it.

In August, I did another Literary Scavenger Hunt, this time at Joe’s Place in Greenville. Like the previous one, we all had a lot of fun, and this time it was my friends Megan and Amanda who were victorious.

October saw two different events for Halloween. I did a reading at Joe’s Place, and I was also invited back to Clemson to take part in their Halloween festival. I read selections from my two Halloween collections and felt very old.

In November, I was invited to attend the Tuesday Woman’s Club meeting in Gaffney. I gave a talk about my work, specifically focusing on my novels THE QUARRY and THE SUMMER OF WINTERS and how the town of Gaffney helped inspire and shape those tales.

I appeared on the news a handful of times throughout the year to promote several of those events, and ask always the folks at WYFF News 4 were incredibly generous and lovely.

On a personal note, the biggest thing to happen to me in 2016 was that Craig and I got married on our shared birthday, October 30th. I don’t think anything in my life has ever made me happier.

2016 has seen a lot of social and political upheaval, and I’m not trivializing that, but for me it has also been a year of accomplishment, joy, and laughter. Even in the darkest times, we have to find the things that bring us happiness and embrace them.

Here’s wishing everyone out there a Happy New Year!