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Winner of the Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll Award for Best Thriller Novel of 2018
UNCOVERING MERLIN’S TOMB
A globe-trotting quest for the treasures of the historical Merlin.
From the Preditors and Editors Readers’ Poll Award-Winning Author Jon Black…
Carvings have been unearthed in the Middle East. They bear impossible names–Arthur and Merlin, albeit in a native transliteration. How did these names come so far? Do they imply the existence of a historical Arthur and Merlin? The scholars do what they always do. They arrange a press meeting.
But scholars aren’t the only attendees. After heavily-armed mercenaries steal the stone, Dr. Vivian Cuinnsey is forced to work with Jake Booker, a self-professed treasure hunter. Can he be trusted? Or is he just one more force after Merlin’s treasure for personal profit?
From the Middle East to the caves of Israel to German record rooms to Oxford’s secret underworld, chase Vivian and Jake in their pursuit of Merlin’s greatest treasure.
My debut novel, based on the short story of the same name in the award-winning anthology After Avalon, interweaves two narratives, one of 6th century historical fantasy, the other of 21st century pulp, to examine what became of history’s most famous wizard following Camelot’s fall. Encounter the ancient world, supported by extensive research, from Britain to Israel, Arabia, the Silk Road and China. Then come back for intellectual puzzles and two-fisted action from the bustling streets of Samarkand to the dusty libraries of Oxford.
Read Bel Nemeton’s prologue.
Winner of the Critters’ Readers’ Choice Award for Best Thriller Novel of 2020
A GLOBE-TROTTING QUEST FOR THE HISTORICAL KING ARTHUR’S SWORD
When Dr. Vivian Cuinnsey found Merlin’s tomb, she thought the adventure was over. But now her Merlin exhibition is attacked, drawing her back into danger. There’s just two problems. First, Jake Booker, treasure hunter and her former partner, is held captive by zealous students convinced he is stealing antiquities. Second, someone else wants Arthur’s sword.
In the present, Vivian and Jake are up against mercenaries, musty academics, and a mysterious swordsman in a two-fisted, and two-brained, adventure.
In the past, Merlin and the young King Arthur seek out the blade that will unite Britain. A dragonblade. A magical blade that will draw them deep into hostile Pict territory, where nothing is safe and allies are hard to come by.
From crusader tombs to elite fighting rings to the roaring roads of the Autobahn, chase Vivian and Jake in their pursuit of King Arthur’s blade.
Caledfwlch (Old Welsh, caled-FWOOK), the second novel in the Bel Nemeton series brings readers back to the 6th century Merlin and 21st century protagonists Dr. Vivian Cuinnsey and Jake Booker. For the 6th century, I had the privilege of working with Discovery’s Forged in Fire-winning bladesmith Chris Farrell on the look, metallurgy, and forging of Arthur’s sword … and the headache of trying to create a facsimile of Pictish worthy of readers’ suspension-of-disbelief based upon the very little known about that language. The 21st century was an opportunity to play with additional exciting locations: St. Petersburg’s greatest museum, the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean, an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Tokyo, a remote Scottish manor, the storied libraries of Cambridge, a Sufi monastery in Turkey, the island stronghold of the last crusader order, and (no spoilers) the resting place of Arthur’s sword.
Winner of the Critters’ Readers’ Choice Award for Best Horror Novel of 2019
CAN SOMEONE TRULY COME BACK FROM THE DEAD?
That’s the question confronting Dr. Marcus Roads, physician and investigator for the Boston Society for Psychical Research, in this Jazz Age supernatural mystery. Gabriel Gibbs, a jazz trumpet player, was murdered in New Orleans two years ago. Now, Gabriel is back … with a gleaming silver trumpet and preternatural musical talent.
Marcus’s superiors task him with a high-stakes investigation. Is it really Gabriel? Or is someone (or something) claiming to be him? From tracing the musician’s origins in the tragic Mississippi Delta community of Pilate’s Point, Marcus follows in Gabriel’s footsteps through New Orleans and into the mysterious deep bayous. Ending in Harlem at the height of its Renaissance, Marcus searches its streets for his ultimate goal: a face-to-face encounter with the trumpeter whose life threatens to consume his own.
The latest work by award-winning novelist and music historian Jon Black, Gabriel’s Trumpet simmers in the music and musical scene of the 1920s. Having walked in the same footsteps as his characters, Jon vividly brings to life the great locations of America’s Jazz Age, putting readers right in the action alongside Marcus as he struggles to answer two questions…
WHO, REALLY, IS GABRIEL GIBBS?
AND WHAT IS THE TRUTH BEHIND GABRIEL’S TRUMPET?
Reveling in the music, musicians, and musical scene of the 1920s, Gabriel’s Trumpet gave me the opportunity to unleash my passion for music as well as my experience as a music journalist and music historian in bringing to life this far-flung supernatural mystery. Another joy of Gabriel’s Trumpet was the opportunity to feature historical figures as part of the narrative: poet Langston Hughes, chronicler of the weird Charles Fort, photographer E.J. Belloc, recording engineer Ralph Peer, larger-than-life pianist Willie “The Lion” Smith, and many more. In his quest, Dr. Roads must overcome challenges from rival investigators, gangsters, hostile backwoods rustics, and perhaps even a supernatural entity or two. Worse than any of those (to the shy Marcus Roads, anyway) he may even have to join a group of jazz pros in an jam session.
SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS
Pizza Parties & Poltergeists now available from 18th Wall Productions in print, kindle, and other eBook formats. Featuring my short story “Pioneer House.”
AWARD-WINNING CURATOR NICOLE PETIT PRESENTS THE MOST TUBULAR LOOK INTO THE SUPERNATURAL WORLD OF THE 1980S.
You know where the monsters are. Whether at the Megaplex or the Arcade, they’re sealed behind the screen. Aliens or maniacs in masks, sinister stars or four committed ghosts, you know how to handle these: hide your face from the screen, or bring a lot of quarters. But for all of that, the truly uncanny lurks just out of sight.
Possessed Betamax tapes take over an Australian town. A teenager finds the horrors behind the scenes at her local mall. A special effects technician finds himself haunted. Take the fates of characters in your own hands as you pick a path, guiding a girl through a lifetime surrounded by transforming toys. Still more lurk in the shadows.
Pizza Parties & Poltergeists features all new stories by Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni, Tina Marie DeLucia, Natalie Potts, Mark Wheaton, Christine Makepeace, Kara Dennison, Josh Reynolds, Jon Black, Cayce Osborne, and Joshua Wanisko.
Voted Best Short Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story of 2021 in the Critters Annual Readers Poll, “Pioneer House,” is a loose love letter to Lovecraft’s “Strange House High in the Mist.” Told through the eyes of Essie Parr, an archetypical ‘80s small-town Texas girl who dreams of escaping the narrow confines of her small town and the life that seems foreordained for her there, “Pioneer House” is story of her closest friend, Gavin Sadler. One of those sublime creatures who is in the world but not of it, possessing an uncannily broad vision even as child, Gavin finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Pioneer House, a local landmark wrapped in mystery. As the structure becomes Gavin’s true passion and obsession, their destinies grow inexorably intertwined. The third of my Junzt County stories, look for a collection appear in 2023 from 18th Wall Productions.
From the publisher of the #1 bestselling THE MONSTERS WE FORGOT anthology series comes a massive 175,000-word collection of unforgettable horror stories straight from the Lone Star State.
Want to know what happens when you cheat a brujo?
Or how to bargain with Death herself?
Have you heard the truth about the monstrous jaguar that prowls the Texas border?
Or the horrifying story about that legendary fighter’s final match?
What about the massacre at that old Catholic church?
Or what happened to the settlers who disappeared all those years ago?
Do you know why ghosts love hurricanes?
Can you guess the real reason the richest mine in Texas shut down for good?
Or the name of the monster that’s been killing people in Austin for centuries?
Haunted hotels, undead billionaires, ancient demons, ghostly dogs, backwater serial killers, and eldritch gods… You’ll find all of these and more in HORROR USA – TEXAS
Lock the doors, turn on the lights, and settle in – it’s time to learn the true meaning of terror, Texas-style.
“Darker than Black” takes place during the West Texas oil boom of the 1930s. The story follows ‘Harvard,’ a one-time college man forced by hard times to take up the life of an oilfield roughneck. When the drill bit on Harvard’s rig breaks and has to be replaced, dredging up a mysterious artifact that definitely should not be a mile underground, things on the drill site go bad…and quickly get worse. In seeking to unravel the mystery and protect his crew, Harvard uncovers a dark history stretching back to the land’s earliest occupants and beyond.
From the publisher of the #1 bestselling THE MONSTERS WE FORGOT anthology series comes an unforgettable collection of spine-chilling horror stories straight from the Evergreen State.
Want to know why we call Washington State the serial killer capital of the world?
Did you hear about the immortal killer they keep locked away up in Snohomish?
Do what to do if you meet one of the tortured spirits still trapped at Northern State Hospital?
Or how to handle the haunted doll at Pike Place Market?
Can you guess the horrifying truth of what really happened to D.B. Cooper?
Or what’s really hiding in the Olympic Rainforest?
Haunted theaters, flesh-eating trees, bloodthirsty phantoms, and inhuman families…
You’ll find all of these and more in HORROR USA – WASHINGTON.
Lock the doors, turn on the lights, and settle in – it’s time to learn why Washington is the scariest place of all.
“Rapture of the Birdman” follows Ana. Experiencing a midlife crisis and going through a divorce, she takes a vacation to Washington State as possible preparation for following her original dream of moving there. Hiking a remote trail through Washington’s pine forests, she finds herself trapped in a space-time anomaly filled with wonders, dangers, and general weirdness. “Rapture of the Birdman” was an opportunity to bring together some of my favorite quirky elements of the state’s folklore and history, including one of its most enduring mysteries – the fate of hijacker D.B. Cooper.
Most monsters hide in darkness. Ours don’t have to.
Do you know how to summon the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age?
Would you like to know the truth behind California’s devastating wildfires?
Or why that famous actress stopped making movies?
Ever heard about the ancient horror that that creeps—and feeds—through the canals of the Central Valley?
Want to know what’s really going on at that abandoned theme park in the San Bernardino Mountains?
How about the cursed roads of the High Desert?
Or why all the pets in town are missing?
Twins with godlike powers…
A breathtaking mural that hides a horrific secret…
Bioengineered abominations prowling the rail lines…
Possessed sports cars…
Immortal movie stars…
These are just some of the horrors you’ll encounter in the Golden State, where the sun always shines… and sometimes blinds.
We have it all: enchanting forests to the north, dazzling deserts in the south, beaches, mountains, movies, music, and so much more. Our beauty will bewitch you, our glamour will excite you… and our horrors will forever haunt you.
Lock the doors, turn on the lights, and settle in – it’s time to learn the true meaning of terror, California-style.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Eats its Children” was a chance to put my background in music journalism and music history to good use. Kyle Acevedo, an LA-based music journalist, sees the chance to make his name after discovering a lead on an obscure band from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and an entirely unknown music venue along the Salton Sea. An artificial, and accidental, inland sea in southern California, the Salton Sea has always held a powerful fascination for me. After a brief heyday as a tourist hotspot in the 1950s and ‘60s, economic decline and environmental catastrophe set in – and a lot of bizarre “off the grid” types moved in – which is precisely as Kyle finds it during his journey to learn more about Sherri & The Skylarks and the mysterious Renewal Room.
The Rabbit Hole: Weird Stories, volume 2 now available from The Writers Co-Op in print and kindle formats. Featuring my short story, “The Sacrifice.”
This second volume of The Rabbit Hole is every bit as flumbiferous as the first.
Which is just as Alice likes, because weirdness abounds and the warren never ends. Are you out for revenge? You’ll need the right app. Or perhaps you’ve done something foolish? Never mind – it can be undone. Would you like to be in a video game? That too can be arranged – at a cost.
All this and more in 29 stories to leave you pondering realms beyond our perception. Unless, perhaps, they’ve been there all along but we just weren’t looking the right way.
29 writers, 29 ways into weird.
“The Sacrifice” is the only sci-fi story I’ve written. Even then, I couldn’t keep away from heavy weird tales/cosmic horror overtones (or, perhaps, undertow). In the mid-21st century, the world’s oceans have begun behaving in anomalous and dangerous ways: vanishing ships, micro-tsunamis, and other strange phenomena. A team of the world’s top oceanographers rush to examine a deadly event of the shore of Cape May, New Jersey. Told through the eyes of the team’s AI expert, the group must come to terms with personal and professional rivalries and conflicts between scientific and military leadership before discovering the terrifying the truth behind the anomalies…and what it will take to propitiate the angry waves.
In this anthology of macabre 1950s tales, the Horror comes in High-Fi and the Terror in Technicolor
Between poodle skirts and white picket fences, there should be only one place to meet a monster: at the local drive-in. Captured by technicolor, these creatures of the night are banished by hanging up the speaker.
But there are other forces at work in the night. The ghost of a wooden roller coaster haunts the theme park that tore it down. Hot-Rodders race a particularly hellish speed demon. An American P.I. in London braves the fog to find a man chasing lights in the sky. A small town boy detective takes on three impossible, eldritch cases. There’s no telling what’s out there, beyond the drive-in’s screen.
Sockhops & Seances features stories by Kara Dennison, Sophie Iles, Jaap Boekestein, Richard Sheppard, James Dorr, Josh Reynolds, Joshua Wanisko, Jackson Kuhl, David M. Hoenig, M. Lopes da Silva, andJon Black.
Of all decades, the 1950s is a seductively perfect match for horror. A liminal period when the shadows of the past fell especially darkly and heavily across the era of Eisenhower, Edsels, and Elvis while, at the same instant, a future brimming with both danger and promise was talking shape so clearly that you had only to reach out and touch it. It was decade defined by sometimes violent contradictions: a love affair with freedom amidst straight-jacketed social conventions, the blossoming of youth culture in a world run by gray-haired old men, and a celebration of the trite and trivial against the backdrop of an atomic Cold War that could have destroyed everything.
“Totmann’s Curve” is a fast-paced tale of ghosts, teenage hot-rodding, and evil sorcerers worshipping dark entities, set in the 1950s Texas Hill Country. After the tragic deaths of two teens during an illegal road race draws police attention, the local hot-rodders are forced to move their activities deeper into rural parts of the county. But the roads they start racing have a history of their own … and the pretty blonde ghost causing fender benders is only the beginning of the troubles. Something in the hills isn’t happy about the kids being there.
Can good-natured all-American hot-rodder Sam Granger, his gearhead friend Joe Tegeler, egg-headed cousin Eleanor, the ghostly dreamboat Helene, and the rest of their gang figure out what’s going on in time to save the Saturday races … and their own skins?
Read an excerpt from “Totmann’s Curve.“
The Chromatic Court
Have You Ever Been Haunted by a Work of Art?
A fascinating horror/dark fantasy anthology exploring the connection between color, art, and the powerful entities of the Cthulhu Mythos from Peter Rawlik, featuring all new stories by: Glynn Owen Barass, David Bernard, Jon Black, Simon Bucher-Jones, John Linwood Grant, Micah S. Harris, Rick Lai, MaTT Loughlin, Paul StJohn Mackintosh, Christine Morgan, Logan Noble, & Joseph S. Pulver Sr. Illustrations by Johannes Chazot. Design by Sophie Iles.
My story, “The Green Muse,” is set in fertile artistic and literary scene of 1910s Montmartre, The Green Muse chronicles the journey of Drieu Gaudin, a novice reporter at Paris’ top arts and culture newspaper. His editor, a man of very traditional artistic sensibilities, assigns Drieu to report on the murders of several Cubist painters. Seeking to unravel the mystery behind the artists’ bizarre deaths, Drieu is challenged not only by one of Frank Belknap Long’s most celebrated creations but by encounters with the Parisian avant-gardes’ leading lights: Picasso, Modigliani, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Max Jacob.
Drieu’s quest leads him through twisting back alleys, into avant-garde salons, among the tombstones of the city’s great cemeteries at midnight, and to forbidden collections at the Bibliothèque Nationale … before confrontation a native son of turned sworn foe as well as the foul and bizarre inhabitants of space/time’s remotest corner in showdown over existence of the City of Lights itself.
Read an excerpt from “The Green Muse” and see Johannes Chazot’s illustration of the story.
A ROLLICKING RIOT OF CRIME-SOLVING FUN!
Adventurous Mysteries in the Tradition of Old Hollywood
Silver Screen Sleuths is an anthology of historical fiction mysteries … with a twist. Set against Hollywood’s Golden Age of the ’40s and ’50s, the protagonists are real movie stars.
- Errol Flynn crosses swords with men who take his star-power a bit too literally.
- Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, and Henry Fonda have a double date with murder in the legendary Coconut Grove.
- Shirley Temple pays a diplomatic visit to East Berlin as plans for a German super-communication device are stolen, and a little girl is caught in the crossfire.
- A paranoid director tasks Vincent Price with discovering why a dead man was found in his temple set.
- George Zucco’s latest low-budget western is interrupted by murder – and the ancient cult that may have committed them.
- Margaret Rutherford tangles with ghosts and Nazis at a stately manor home where all may not be as it seems.
And in my story, “A Scandal in Hollywood,” (winner of the Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll award for Best Misc. Short Story of 2018) Basil Rathbone is forced to step into the shoes of his most famous role, playing a game of deduction and death against a madman convinced Rathbone is Sherlock Holems. The stakes? The survival of Hollywood itself.
“A Scandal in Hollywood” is a pulpy mystery (and tongue-in-cheek homage to Sherlock Holmes) driven by extensive research into the colorful and complex Rathbone.
Speakeasies and Spiritualists also presents eight stories inspired by the spiritualists’ Jazz Age milieu.
Psychic investigators on the trail of the trail of a jazz musician who seems to have crawled from the grave. Amateur, livingroom seances going very wrong when mixed with grief for those who died in the war. Strange men warning out of Florida storms. Dream Demons stalking Chicago, feeding off bar-dwellers, and floors painted with mystic stars.
My contribution to this anthology, “Gabriel’s Trumpet,” was voted “Best Short Story (all other genres) Published in 2017” in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. “Gabriel’s Trumpet” is steeped in the music and music scene of the 1920s, following a paranormal investigator as he tracks a musician, allegedly returned from the dead, across the Mississippi Delta, Jazz Age New Orleans, and New York at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Along the way, he faces off against rival investigators, dangerous locals, uncooperative authorities, and perhaps even a supernatural entity or two. Drawing upon the era’s rich background, look for cameos by historical figures including Langston Hughes, Charles Fort, Walter Franklin Prince, and E.J. Bellocq.
Read the opening of Gabriel’s Trumpet.
FEATURING STORIES BY M.H. Norris, James Bojaciuk, Peter Rawlik, Josh Reynolds, John Linwood Grant, Jon Black, Donald J. Bingle, Aaron Smith, Brendan Foley, and William J. Martin. Cover by Johannes Chazot.
Look for a novel-length treatment of Gabriel’s Trumpet from 18th Wall Productions in late 2018.
Descansos, or roadside memorials, mark an interrupted journey, the place where an intended path came to an unintended end. While born of grief and loss, descansos memorialize love and represent the terrible beauty we all contend with as creatures who, by living, are condemned to die.
My contribution, “So Lonesome I Could Die” brings together Texas Gothic and the classic Ghost Story for a musically-themed tale set in the Depression-era Hill Country. It is the tale of musical prodigy Johnnie Gruene (as the story notes, “if you’re not from around here” that’s pronounced Green, like the color) his mysterious origins, big chance for fortune and glory, and enigmatic fate.
Read an Excerpt from “So Lonesome I Could Die.”
“King Arthur is dead. Camelot has fallen. Britain drowns in Saxons. These are the stories of what came after.”
My contribution to this anthology, “Bel Nemeton” chronicles the fate of Merlin following the Battle of Camlann and the fall of Camelot. The tale unfolds both through the eyes of the wizard himself and from the modern day perspective of a professor of Celtic languages and her treasure hunter companion as they follow clues from a most unusual archaeological discovery in the dusty expanses of Central Asia.
Read an excerpt from Bel Nemeton.
“[Bel Nemeton] is like an intellectual ‘Tomb Raider'” – Television Crossover Universe
This all-new anthology from award-winning curator Nicole Petit, features stories by Colin Fisher, Leigh Ann Cowan, Amy Wolf, Thomas Olivieri, Jon Black, Patricia S. Bowne, Claudia Quint, David Wiley, Christian Bone, Patrick S. Baker, and Elizabeth Zuckerman.
Look for a novel-length treatment of Bel Nemeton from 18th Wall Productions in late 2017.
GURPS Encounters: The Harrowed Hearts Club available from Steve Jackson Games.
The local tavern gets an update for modern times in GURPS Encounters: Harrowed Hearts Club. Quickly design your own establishment (including features and details), then fill it with interesting staff and patrons. Add paranormal elements to the club with appropriate powers and random supernatural events. A sample club history and four encounters make this a ready-to-use resource for GURPS Action, GURPS Monster Hunters, GURPS Horror, and other modern or near-modern settings. Each encounter includes the key events and actors, plus insight into how heroes and campaigns might best approach it. There’s always time for another round of adventure, compliments of the club!
Though I’ve written for gaming periodicals in the past, The Harrowed Hearts Club marks my debut gaming supplement. In bringing it to life, I’ve drawn deeply on my background as a music journalist and music historian. The supplement’s first part combines tools and resources for GMs to design and populate detailed, realistic, and unique nightclubs/speakeasies/music venues, etc. The second part contains four adventure seeds (encounters) reflecting a variety of genres, power levels, and historical periods.
Read the Blind Mapmaker’s review of GURPS Encounters: The Harrowed Hearts Club.
“It’s quite clear that Jon Black knows his stuff”
— Review at The Blind Mapmaker
c. 2016 Jon Black