Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Going to the UK, then France, then back here for just one night, then off to NECON, with a detour to visit my most awesome ex-boss, Jack Doody of Villanova University! So I'm out and about for a while! Wish me luck!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Slow Monsters

Great list!

And of course the shambling hordes win! I also was rooting for Godzilla.

Invited Guest!

I have received only my fourth request to be a guest at a con, and only the second to offer to pay my travel. This one's in Redcar, North Yorkshire, England, at a new SF/H film con, 666Gorefest! Ah, the sweet irony that when I talked about theology, no one wanted me to come speak, and on the rare occasions when they did, the teensy matter of remuneration never came up, and now a convention with 666 in its name wants to fly me to Europe!

What She Said!

Wow, this lady is my soul mate:

Not to compare my meager accomplishments to hers, but this is exactly how I've felt since transitioning to fiction writing and away from academic, peer-reviewed, dessicated, objective scholarly prose.

Always feels good not to be the only one!

I'm Huge in the UK!

I don't usually check Amazon UK, but google alerted me to new activity, and I saw some of the reviews there:

I'll be honest - I really like the 3 star review of the guy who doesn't like the second half. I think the problem with the timeline is serious, and the didacticism is heavy sometimes. I like to think these are the problems of a first time novelist, and these kinds of criticisms help, but only the response to the sequel will tell whether I've learned enough from them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Anthology Guidelines

I'll be editing a new zombie anthology for the good folks at Permuted. Please check out the guidelines:

Looking forward to going back to the editing gig!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Job Satisfaction

I was looking over my writing, before sending it out to more agents for them to consider. And I realized - I like the way I write. If someone else does, and they even want to give me money for it, that's extra spiffy and special, but I just plain like reading what I write, and that can't be taken away. So, unlike the majority of people who've ever lived, I get to do what I like, and sometimes get paid for it. That's pretty neat.

Flash Inferno

Chris Dockins, a friend from middle school and illustrator of my first novel (written and illustrated when we were ten, and recently unearthed among my father's meager possessions), sent this:

Officially, without a doubt, the most adorable rendering of the Inferno evah! If it were any cuter, it'd be the Precious Moments version (and wouldn't be so much fun). It was created by his former pastor's son.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Great Interview in Fear Zone

I appear to know what I'm talking about:

Thanks Derek!

Dante's New Popularity

Just stumbled on this article about Dante:

Very cool and perceptive analysis. I definitely think that Dante's imagistic writing is specially suited to our day, in a way that Milton (despite similar subject matter) is not, because Milton is so focused (and talented) with the ideas and especially with the WORDS. This also accounts for why Dante stands up to translation so well - you might not get it exaclty right, or you might debate the merits of a translation of Inferno, but no one forgets the hideous images he paints.

The second point, that Dante is a sadist, and that didn't sit well with the Enlightenment readers, I'd nuance a little: I think Enlightenment readers perceived him as a sadist, which is another way of saying they were unrealistic prudes and milquetoasts. One hope of the postmodern world, I think, is that we have outgrown some of those Enlightenment prejudices, and may find room for more traditional (even violent or primitive) expressions of spirituality. Again, if we can keep enough of the Enlightenment restraint to make such a regression survivable and not murderous, I see it as a good development, a kind of new, healthy, partly carnal spirituality.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend of Horrors - The Final Day!

Almost no customers, but I had a nice chat with the lovely and talented Sarah Langan. And then, at the very end, when people were drifting off and his line of autograph seekers was finally thinned out, I made my big move to actually speak to George himself. And I was successful! And I even gave him a copy of Gospel of the Living Dead, with which he seemed quite pleased! So I'd count the weekend a huge success overall!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend of Horrors - DAY TWO

Crowds really picked up. Sold lots of books. Saw Nick Cato, Greg Lamberson, and Gary Frank. And from a distance, the great George Romero! So, a successful and very long day!

Weekend of Horrors - DAY ONE!

A little slow. Talked to Ken Foree, who volunteered a free copy of one of my books to a pretty girl. Caught up with Jonathan Maberry and Greg Lamberson after not seeing them for months. Tried to keep the lads of Class-B from fighting. Hoping there's more traffic today. But even with as few visitors as we had, I sold almost enough to make up the price of the table already!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fangoria Weekend of Horrors

Is this weekend, down at the Crowne Plaza Meadowlands Hotel.

It starts tomorrow at 1pm, so come on down! I'll have a table in the dealer's room, with all purchases from me signed for free, natch, and a free gift with any two book purchase! I'm sharing the table with the much more handsome and talented Jonathan Maberry, and the very charming and up-and-coming lads and lasses of Class-B!

Corporate Sponsorship!

I just signed the paperwork - I am the Official Horror Novelist of the Hudson Valley Horrors Roller Derby! -

Be sure to come out and support the team! Their upcoming home matches will be on June 28 and August 24! The October bout will also be at home, with date TBA! The three remaining home bouts will now feature raffles of books by the team's official horror novelist! Yay!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First Blurb!

The first blurb for D2L2 just came in, from famous zombie author Dave Wellington, author of the Monster Island/Nation/Planet trilogy:

"A thinking man's zombie novel. Paffenroth has looked beyond the initial bloodshed to what happens after the end of the world. He explores deep philosophical issues while never letting the horror fan go hungry for gore."

Thanks! Sounds like what I was shooting for!

Robert P. Kennedy - World's 2nd Greatest Zombie/Dante Scholar!!

Dr. Robert P. Kennedy of St. Francis Xavier University of Antigonish, NS, Canada, came up with the simple but brilliant idea of starting each chapter with a quote from Inferno! Brilliant! Why didn't I think of it! Well, I'm taking it and running with it! Thanks!

The First Circle - The Lustful

So, Dante and his friends have made it to the people who correspond to the first circle of hell - the lustful. It's the first scene built directly on the corresponding Inferno scene - they meet a doomed woman who has committed adultery and is unrepentant for it. It was a scene that didn't require as much embellishment or change, since there really was nothing supernatural or other-worldly about the Inferno original. What I did tinker with was how to work in sexual language, not just for describing sex, of course, but for describing the woman's suffering. This is what I came up with for the central part of the scene:

The chuckle changed into full-on laughter, then hideously transformed into deep, barking coughs and wretching. The heaving bent her over the table, repeatedly banging her head against it as it wracked her whole body. She would lurch forward, then draw up slightly, as one moment her body would try to expel its diseased fluids, then the next moment it would try desperately to get breath and life back into her drained, broken frame. When the convulsions finally stopped, she remained facedown on the table for a moment before sitting up. There was a puddle of bloody spit and bile on the table, and for a second, a long, pink thread stretched from the table to her bloody mouth, before she spat, licked her lips, and then wiped them on the blanket.

Her eyes glistened, so wet and red that Dante could barely look at them, for fear they would begin to ooze out all over her cheeks, draining what was left of her into a pool of mortality and sadness. “I didn’t know I’d think that was all so funny, now, at the end,” she continued. “But I suppose it is. My husband walked in on us. And he most definitely was not alive when he did. It’s funny, the dead usually make so much noise, you can hear them coming. Well, it’s probably my fault, I was making a good bit of noise, too.” She started to laugh again, but held it down this time, lest the convulsions finish her completely.

She shrugged. “Well, even if he had been alive and snuck up on us, Pavel and I would still both be dead now, I suppose. My husband was a big man, a hunter, very strong, very angry, very violent. Pavel was on top, so he got him first. Got him from behind. Tore his neck open with his teeth. Blood all over me.” She ran her fingers through her long hair, pausing and tugging when they caught on the knots of dried blood. “I’m sure most of this is his. It gave me a chance to get away. I got a knife, but he was on me before I could stab him. Bit me twice. Horrible, burning pain, into my heart, down to my stomach, with my big, gross, dead husband tearing my breast off with his teeth, making me as dead and loathsome as he was.”

For those of you who prefer one-eyed roosters (get it? cocks? teehee) being spit at by pubescent girls, you'll have to let me know how this use of expelling fluids and bending people over stacks up.

The other thing I did was add one, teensy, little embellishment. Since I have a woman, Bogdana, along for the ride, and they were talking to a female sinner, it made sense for them to interact, rather than just let the boys pass judgment on a woman. And since Bogdana is (basically) a much more earthy, carnal version of Beatrice, it let me cast her as the voice of Divine (but Incarnate) Love rendering its judgment on a sinner whom It still loves, but who doesn't reciprocate. But, I'm being a tease, since I'm not going to post that part of it.

Mo*Con - The Sequel

I think I have Maurice's promo for Mo*Con IV:

- Will the Mo*Conners be able to flee back to their godless, heathen Blue states, escaping the rising deluge sent by a loving God against the God-fearing Red states of the midwest?

- Can Philben make a comeback (get it? nudge-wink) and use his big balls (get it? nudge-wink) to overcome (get it? nudge-wink) and rise (get it? nudge-wink) to get on top of (get it? nudge-wink) the Nitwit Bowling League?

- Will Brother Doug and Dr. K-Paff be able to cast out the terrible demon Resiewdub, who has taken over poor Kyle's body? They will need to make a quest for the world's largest stick of incense, the sacred mana of Le Chateau Blanc, and the lost manuscript of The Dragoning!

- Can Paul Puglisi make a rock so big Mamatas can't lift it?


- Will the Sinister Minister recover in time for Sunday's sermon? Or at least for next Easter?

All these questions and more will be answered, in MO*CON IV - THE RECKONING!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back from Mo*Con!

A great trip! High points include:

The amazing bowling game between the three charter members of the Legion of Nitwits! Their athletic prowess was astonishing, as was their ability to eat bad, bowling alley nachos! Somewhere a picture of the scoreboard should become available! We can only hope!

Getting drunk on Absenthe with Doug and Kyle! Wow! That stuff is something else!

Spirituality panel! I was a little bit out of it (see above), but since I usually meet horror people who can't understand why I'm Christian, and Christian people who can't understand why I read and write those awful horror stories, it was nice to be in a group where neither of those two viewpoints was taken for granted.

Other recaps:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Off to Mo*Con!

Off to my first Mo*Con with the Sinister Minister, Reverend Maurice Broaddus (

Staying tonight with my esteemed colleague, Dr. Eric Plumer, of the University of Scranton, then on to Doug Warrick's ( on Thursday, then at Mo*Con on Friday. (All this planned back when gas was "only" $3/gallon; I guess now flying would've been cheaper, but I'm looking forward to the visits along the way!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Night of the Living Bread

A smart and talented lad who heard my lectures last summer at the Cornerstone Festival put together this witty piece:

Keep spreading the Good News, whether inspired by the Good Shepherd or the Living Dead!

Another Group Blog

By the members of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers:

Friday, June 06, 2008

Relationship of Church and State

Being raised in a rationalist, modernist, secular home (my father was an atheist and an engineer), I never thought much about this problem. But I now see that it is a big (and probably gorwing) part of political rhetoric - from the religious right, from the secular left, and now even from those Christians who believe their leftist politics are not only compatible with their Christian beliefs, they believe that their Christian beliefs demand that they oppose the war and that they work against racism, environmental degradation, and economic exploitation and oppression. And, of course, in bygone eras, the issue was much more on famous thinkers' minds, as one sees in the enormous City of God by Augustine.

So we come, once again, to Dante, whose works are shot through with the problem of how to be a Christian in a secular state, or whether or to what extent the state should be Christianized. And although I haven't thought much on the problem, I see it come up in my rewriting of Dante, like he's guiding the imagery, just because I know his words so well.

So I got to brag on this one image. I have one particularly odious little city official standing near the church - not IN the church, not far away from it, but NEAR it. Maybe TOO NEAR it. So when the church spire collapses, it falls right on him and squishes him. Get it? Too close to the church, close enough to abscond with its authority and corrupt it, but not close enough to get any protection or guidance from it. Man did that work out well!

New Survey

Finally, a question on the Internet about a subject that really matters!

Brought to you by my friendly acquaintance and master of the Internet smack down, Nick Mamatas.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Evening Constitutional ("Walk" for you Young'uns)

Just took mine. It's a good way to step back and think over what one's written, and let some ideas form for the next chapter. It's also a great time to daydream about how incredibly HUGE the current project could become, and man can it snowball quickly! In about ten minutes, I went through

"Boy, it could go on to be a film! It'd be the first real attempt at an adaptation of Dante!" (And I love Dante, and that'd be cool!)


"And George Romero would direct it!"


"No, wait! George Romero and Zach Snyder would put aside their differences and co-direct it!!"


"And then there'd be a comic book adaptation!"


"And Allan Moore would come out of hiding to write it with Frank Miller!" (And Miller would realize what a POS 300 was and he'd apologize to me and promise to let me destroy all copies of it on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas on MTV, using a flame thrower and a steam roller.)

And at that point, you just have to stop, 'cause it's just getting way out of control.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Baptism of the Dead

No, not the Mormon rite of vicarious baptism for those who have died unbaptized. But I was writing another scene that snowballed into having the various layers of Christian myth and symbol that I like it to. They're crossing a river, at a ferry boat crossing of course, since that's how Charon takes people to hell in classical mythology and in the Inferno. And they're fighting zombies as they go. So of course, the zombies are dying and falling into the water. So I don't need to tag it or orchestrate it - the baptism imagery is right there, just based on the setup (which I didn't set up in order to have that imagery!) - ! I love how that works!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Voodoo vs Plague Zombies

Nice little write up, with links to the full articles, on this important distinction:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

No Sidesaddle

As I suspected, although sidesaddle was for "proper" ladies, there are records and pictures of women riding astride from the medieval period. I really didn't see how else to put a woman on a horse and have her have control over the animal, or ride behind a man w/o falling off. So, go gals!

On Updating Dante

Here's what I find fun about this kind of writing.

I am fascinated and amused when I can weave in the details of Dante's life into the narrative, but that seems more like a gimmick. Also, given the few details we have, I've pretty much run through them all by chapter 6. (He was an apothecary, and I haven't mentioned that yet, but the main details are done with)

BUT, what I'm really interested in is stuff like this. He gets to the first group of people he's going to meet on his journey. That should correspond to the indecisive in the Inferno. In the Inferno, the indecisive are punished by being stung by wasps. Okay, so I have to think of a way to get wasps flying around in "real" life. Not too hard. At that point in my version of the story, Dante is being chased by an invading army (sent to exterminate the zombies and anyone else who gets in their way), so one of the flaming catapult projectiles they're lobbing in to destroy the town hits a big tree, ignites the tops branches and knocks some off, and sets off a wasps' nest that was there. Bizarre coincidence, sure, but not physically impossible (cf the stupid ant sequence in the new Indiana Jones).

Okay, so I've taken care of one physical detail to get what happens in the chapter to match up with the punishment in the original. But that's kind of just props or scenery, really, and is more like checking off details on a list than composing a story. So I have to think, how do I get these people to represent indecision? I thought you could have them bickering amongst themselves, but that seemed a little too slapstick at this point in the story. So I thought, wait, Dante usually only interacts with one or two sinners per circle, who are epitomes of the sin. So who's the greatest indecider of all time (who's not named in Inferno, but most commentators identify him as the one who "made the great refusal")? Well, Pontius Pilate, of course. But if I'm going to put a Pilate character in my story, I'm going to need a trial and a Christ character. And the trial's going to have to be outside, so the tree can get knocked down and the wasps can get out and attack everyone. So from that one detail - wasps - we have a whole scene (and a pretty good one, I think) of the trial and execution of an innocent built up around it.

That to me is the fun part of this kind of writing.

Roller Derby

Yes! Went last night for the first time, helpfully enabled by my online friend John Goodrich ( to see the lovely and talented ladies of the Hudson Valley Horrors (

I have to say, in all honesty, this was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Why? Because everything about it was so incongruous, out of place in cynical, high-tech, homogenized America. Here were 28 women, who were consistently referred to as "girls" throughout the evening, who know how to rollerskate incredibly well (a skill that was already pretty unusual when I was in high school), with a pretty wide age range (I'd say late teens to mid 40s), dressed up in scandalous outfits, with suggestive names (Lolita Le Bruise, Mary Tyler Morphine, Erin Go Braless, etc.), but who are totally serious and focused when they're doing their sport (no faking or hamming it up, which was more what I expected), all of it taking place in a roller rink (another rare institution) that looked like it was built in 1948 and never had anything fixed or painted since, in front of a crowd that might have reached 500 by the end of the evening, with an even wider age range (newborns to 80 year olds). I mean, where can you see such a thing?

When I see some odd subculture like this making a go of it and finding an audience, I am always encouraged that there is hope for our bland, tasteless, Disneyfied world, where we all consume the same Sony/Disney/Viacom infotainment, we all eat the same McFood, and we all dream of the day where, if we work really hard, we might be able to afford a McMansion and think and believe exactly as everyone else does. Something like roller derby really is a celebration of individuality, difference, and originality, whatever you think of its aesthetics.

UPDATE: And a comment from the lovely and brutal Nuf Ced, and I have friended all the players on MySpace!


Triumph of The Walking Dead