Katherine Ludwig


We here at Despumation Press are deeply sadden to hear and relate that Katherine Ludwig passed away this afternoon. It was announced via her Facebook page:

Dear Friends of Katherine, we want to share that K passed today a little after 1pm at Cayuga Medical Center. She passed very quickly and peacefully, surrounded by family and friends. She would want you all to know how very much she valued your love, friendship and support.

As you know, we’ve been working on The Healing Monsters benefit anthology that would jointly assist both Katherine and Dustin LaValley with their respective medical bills. That will continue to go forward. We’re grateful to add that, in the last couple of weeks, Katherine was able to contribute a piece titled Raised to Be a Good Boy–we’re honored to be able to put that out for you all to enjoy.

Personally, as metal-related editors, we salute Katherine as a true pioneer and comrade. Speaking for myself specifically, as a woman, she paved the way for me and I’m acutely aware of that fact. I can only hope and strive to be as well respected.

Good-night! good-night! as we so oft have said
Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days
That are no more, and shall no more return.
Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;
I stay a little longer, as one stays
To cover up the embers that still burn.


Call For Submissions: Novelettes, Novellas, and Novels

MetalBookBindingThat’s right in 2015, we’ll be gearing up for 2016. We will be opening up to submissions for novelettes, novellas, and novels starting April 1st and ending June 30th. We’re letting you know now so that if you’re working on something that fits our criteria, then you’ve got a deadline to work towards, as opposed to just crapping something out at the last minute. No one wants that. This is for a projected publication in early 2016.

We are looking for literary fiction full of metal characters, settings, and storylines—longer works that take place in the world of heavy metal. We want complex characters with a purpose, plots that move forward steadily, subtext, and language that is engaging and artful.

We are also looking for straight up literary fiction that isn’t metal. Same characteristics apply.

(We are not looking for genre fiction at this time, but will be open to it at a later date.)

We will only be putting out one or two books a year, which is purposely few. We intend to be very selective, and once a manuscript is accepted, the author should expect a long, close, detailed working relationship with us. Lots of attention.

The Guidelines

-No wacky fonts. The editor prefers Baskerville or Georgia. 12pt min. 1.5 line space. Use italics, not underlining. We expect professional submissions–do not send us your first, unread, unproofed draft.

-Novelettes: 10K-18K words.

-Novellas: 18K-40K words.

-Novels: 65K-90K words.

-Please include page numbers. Also, your name, title of the piece, approx. word count, and contact info on the title page.

-Docx or doc only, thank you.

-Simultaneous submissions are okay (just let us know if a piece has been accepted elsewhere), but please nothing that has been published previously.

-Send to: editor@despumationpress.com (electronic subs only)

-Subject line: Novelette Sub, or Novella Sub, or Novel Sub. Please indicate if your MS is metal, or non-metal lit fic.

Again, the open submission period for novelettes, novellas, and novels is April 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015.

Also…swing on by our updated guidelines for our journal sub dates.

The Healing Monsters TOC!

Here's a little sneak preview of the cover art, by our very own Sean Frasier.

Here’s a little sneak preview of the cover art, by our very own Sean Frasier.

Every time we stop and take a look over this TOC, we’re like, “Really?”

So, we announced last month that we’d be putting out a benefit anthology, chock full o’ metal and horror–and metal horror. Today, we present you with the full, final table of contents. I think you’ll agree, this is a pretty impressive once-in-a-lifetime line-up here of writers, musicians, and editors. And we couldn’t be more excited to be facilitating this volume of awesomeness in honor of the horror and metal communities’ own, Dustin LaValley and Katherine Ludwig. Without further ado, in no particular order…

Mathias Jansson (Despumation 1 & 2)

Lewis Dimmick (This Music)

Stephanie Wytovich (HYSTERIA, Mourning Jewelry)

Karyn Crisis (Gospel of the Witches)

Jessica Pimentel (Alekhine’s Gun, Orange is the New Black)

Mike IX Williams (Corrections House, EYEHATEGOD)

John Palisano (Nerves)

Dustin LaValley (Human WreckageDespumation 1)

Jesse Bullington (Brothers Grossbart, Despumation 1)

Adam Cesare (The First One You Expect)

Billups Allen (Razorcake)

JR Hayes (Pig Destroyer)

Andrew Bonazelli (Decibel)

John Boden (Dominoes, Shock Totem)

K. Allen Wood (Shock Totem)

Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)

James Newman (Ugly As Sin)

Sean Frasier (Hipster Massacre, Decibel)

Larissa Glasser (Hekseri)

Shane Mehling (Decibel)

Marc Ciccarone (Blood Bound Books)

John Edward Lawson (Tempting Disaster, Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Dutch Pearce (Decibel)

Matthew Widener (Cretin)

Brian Serven (Backstabbers Incorporated)

Ryan McKenney (Trap Them)

Shawn Macomber (Fangoria, Decibel, etc.)

Jeremy Wagner (The Armageddon Chord, Broken Hope)

Dean Swinford (The Inverted Katabasis, Despumation 1)

Right? I love it when a plan comes together. Shawn and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s gotten involved and contributed a piece. Readers, keep an eye out. We’re looking at a March 2015 release, which is closer than it seems. We’ll be making progress announcements and such. Spread the word–this is a benefit project! All proceeds go to the medical funds of LaValley and Ludwig, so, let’s get the word out. No time like the present!

Workin, Workin, Workin…

Hey there Readers,

This is just a note to assure everyone that we haven’t disappeared. I realize it can get pretty quiet around here. Rest easy knowing that we’re working. We’re working on the second issue of Despumation, and we’re working on the Dustin LaValley/Katherine Ludwig benefit anthology (co-edited by myself and Decibel’s/Fango’s/Rue’s own Shawn Macomber, who’s been tireless in his efforts).

Expect things to pick up a bit around here, what with cover reveals and final TOCs a-comin.’

Furthermore, Despumation Press, in general, will be undergoing a few changes in the coming year, so feel free to start anticipating that with bated breath, or what have you.

In the meantime…

The Healing Monsters: A Benefit Anthology


LudwigAs some of you may or may not know, Metal Maniacs co-founder and former editor, Katherine Ludwig, has been battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and dark fiction writer, screenwriter, and metal/hardcore enthusiast, Dustin LaValley, has been struggling with some very serious Crohn’s/IBD issues. These things cost money, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall the last time I had the cash to just throw at some monster threatening your life, trying to bribe it to go away.

A little while ago, Shawn Macomber (Decibel, Fangoria, Rue Morgue, etc.) approached me with the fantastic idea of potentially putting together a benefit anthology for these two individuals who’ve given the metal and horror communities so much. Although we hadn’t planned quite yet to start releasing books apart from the usual Despumation mag issues, how could we say no to this? We couldn’t.

We’re far enough along at this point to announce it and put the word out. As in stands, we’re looking at a January 31, 2015 launch date. As of this post, we’ve received pieces by Mathias Jansson (Desp 1/2), Lewis Dimmick (This Music), John Palisano (Nerves), Jesse Bullington (The Folly of the World), Adam Cesare (The First One You Expect), Dutch Pearce (Decibel), Dean Swinford (The Inverted Katabasis), John Boden (Shock Totem), Billups Allen (Razorcake), JR Hayes (Pig Destroyer), Andrew Bonazelli (Decibel), James Newman (Ugly As Sin), and of course, Dustin LaValley. And we’re expecting more, which I will announce here as they come in.

The result will be a collection of poetry and prose that is sometimes metal, sometimes horror, and often both. Everything, words and art, have been generously donated, for which we are supremely grateful. All proceeds above production costs (which we’re trying to keep as low as humanly possible) will be split evenly between LaValley’s and Ludwig’s respective medical funds. Keep your eyeballs here for more information…

Interview with Michael J. Riser

Didi was there, strapless and heeled, rapidly approaching strung out. After another hit of something. Todd knew it even in that moment: this was the catalyst, that need in her eyes sucking him in, sucking him off, in desperation until the walls came apart, until the dripping silhouette came out of what was behind them. He knew he was tripping balls, but it spoke to him, gesticulating with long, shimmering appendages, opening him to the greasy world alive in its guts, the guts of the building. It took him by the hand, tore him away from himself, and he watched it leave with his sanity into that tar-black space, zipping the walls back up behind them like big white body bags.

And then he made promises to Didi. They left, and she let him do things.

Sweet Didi. His favorite vegetable.


Despumation: Can you explain a little about how “Cradlesong” was born from Meshuggah’s “Bleed?” Like, a bit about that process?

Michael J. Riser: Bit too early on a Sunday morning to think. Man. If I had to narrow the scope enough to give a concise answer, I’d start by saying my reasons for choosing “Bleed” were twofold. Firstly, I’m a glutton for punishment, and it seemed like a really difficult song to try to cram into the interesting framework Despumation is after. Secondly, “Bleed” has been something of a personal anthem for me in the wake of a lot of turmoil, and I think I wanted to walk outside of that, create something that wasn’t personal. The song’s speed and brutality naturally suggested a certain type of psyche to me when coming up with a main character, and that was more or less where I started. I wanted something off-kilter and a bit crazy. Lucid enough to tell a story, but that reflected the speed of someone thinking with no filter. I think the red string was inspired by the music video, and the story’s “villains” by the album art to some degree, but I honestly don’t know where the rest of it came from.

Desp: Talk a little about your process overall—your writing process. Any little rituals that get you started? Night, morning, middle of the afternoon? Do you plot ahead, or let it ride?

MJR: I’m a relentless non-plotter. The spontaneity of writing is a big part of why I do it, so boxing it in and trying to make it overly formal has a tendency to ruin my motivation and kill momentum. I’m not too ritualistic about the practice, but I always like to devote a decent amount of time to it. I hate sitting down just for a few minutes, so I want to make sure I have a big chunk of time to devote. I want to lose myself in it.

Desp: What was your first metal experience that you remember—the moment that got you into it?

MJR: That’s a tough call. I’ve had a lot of metal “firsts”, I think because metal itself is so wide and has grown so much from what it once was. My folks were involved and concerned parents, and weren’t too comfortable with me listening to rap and metal, so a lot of what I could get away with as a young man was religious. I know this will make people cringe, but I listened to a lot of Christian bands from the Florida hardcore scene, some better than others. I think Cleveland’s Six Feet Deep was far and away the most pivotal band for me, though, and really showed me what metal music was capable of. That was when it clicked for me, when metal turned into something more than just another musical interest. “The Road Less Traveled” is a perfect picture of a young person struggling with the world’s darkness and the darkness in himself, while simultaneously grappling with his belief system, people’s opposition to it, and his own moments of doubt. It was the first metal album that ever made me weep openly. I still think it’s a deeply emotional classic, even though I’ve distanced myself from religion.

Desp: Give us your favorite metal band, and your favorite writer.

MJR: My favorite metal band remains Meshuggah. After years of thrash and death metal, Meshuggah was something new. I classified other bands as being in a similar category at the time, yet Meshuggah didn’t really sound like them. There was something so base and primal about the listening experience. I remember being introduced to them by a guy I knew as Damascus who hung out with me at PlanetQuake (he played bass for Drive, a band that used to play with God Forbid before anyone knew who God Forbid were). They sat around in my playlist for a while before one day I heard Gods of Rapture, and that atmospheric solo at the end, and just suddenly realized how important what I was listening to really was. Meshuggah has been a heartfelt obsession ever since. Their music has come with me through pretty much all the major events of my life. It’s cathartic, wonderful, and thought-provoking, and I think I’ll always love both it and the guys who make it.

That said, Isis is amazing and comes in so close behind Meshuggah that they have to be mentioned. Panopticon remains the most heartbreakingly beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. To the point where I honestly almost can’t listen to it anymore. In fact, Isis would probably be my favorite band if their music didn’t so perfectly crush me every time.

My favorite writer is Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson). I was an active member of the LCSNA for years, and have a somewhat embarrassingly large collection of related books. I also own first edition copies of the original Sylvie and Bruno books, which are over 120 years old now. Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite still-living writer. Listening to him read is one of the best experiences I think you can have.

Desp: Name a song you’d like to see covered by a writer for Despumation and explain why.

MJR: This is a rough question. I want to answer it, yet I don’t, because part of me wants to write every single song I come up with. I’d love to see something done on “An Autopsy” by The Faceless, because it seems like it has so much unwritten potential. Neurosis’s “A Sun That Never Sets” would be fascinating. Anything ISIS would be a win too, but that’s almost too easy with such ridiculously rich material. “Not in Rivers but in Drops”, “Holy Tears”, “Hand of the Host” … the list could go on forever.

Desp: What are you working on now? Books/stories/academic works coming out?

MJR: To be honest, I’m not working almost at all. School has taken up the vast majority of my time this semester, and my Japanese studies are eating up the bulk of the rest of it. I still have plans to finish Plague Thieves, the novel-in-progress of the last 3 or 4 years, and I’m still looking for a publisher for Peristalsis, my novella. I had hoped some folks who’ve published me in the past were going to put it out, but they’re a small press, still just getting started in publishing larger works, and they were just too busy to give me a probable timeframe. Since I’ve been too busy to get off my ass and peddle the thing, it’s still waiting. Which is a shame. I dearly love that story.

Interview with T.J. Tranchell

“I fucking hate that song. ‘Nail You Down.’ What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Paul wrote the lyrics for it. God, I should have stopped him. I thought he was going to write one of those sex and Jesus songs. Holy Christ was I wrong.”

“Yeah, but you wrote ‘Barbed Wire Condom’ and ‘Acid Suppository,’ among others. Paul’s written less than a dozen songs in Nail Shitter’s entire career. Why didn’t you just take the title and run with it?”

Tranchell picDespumation: Where did “Nail Shitter” come from?

T.J. Tranchell: The first time I tried to write this story, it was not metal at all. It was punk. The band was supposed to be a Sex Pistols tribute band called Piss Rocket. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get anyone else in the story to care about the band. About a year and a half later, I spent a summer as an intern at an alt-weekly newspaper in Seattle. Part of my job was to go to two or and three shows a week and write reviews. I had been doing the newspaper thing for a while and fell in love with rock journalism. I took the experience as a working rock writer and someone who would go to the seediest dives for metal shows (because the rest of the staff preferred hipster bands) and turned that into “Nail Shitter.” The name came from the saying “shit fire, save matches.” I thought of a handful of things that might be worse than shitting fire and settled on nails.

The fun part of the story is that there is a good amount of truth in there, as I believe all fiction should have. I won’t tell you which parts are true, but there is a band that wasn’t famous when I first covered them but is now topping charts.

Desp: You’re a student. In what ways do you try to make your educational experience more metal?

TJT: Modern academe is such that if you can speak and write intelligently, the doors are wide open for subject matter. Much of my scholarly focus in on the horror genre and metal is a big part of that. So if I wanted to discuss the ways in which Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is more than just a retelling of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem of the same name, I’m allowed to do that. Even if I wasn’t, I would find a way to make it happen. It’s tougher at the undergraduate level to forge your path, but I’m halfway through my Master’s degree in Literature now. As long as I can show some theoretical validity for a topic, I pretty much get to do whatever I want.

As an undergrad, I supplemented my metal collection by being a college radio DJ for a year. I did an early Saturday morning show called the Ear Infection. College radio is still mostly free-form, so if I wanted to play Cannibal Corpse at 7:30 a.m., I would.

Desp: First and last metal shows, and the best part of both…go!

TJT: I grew up in rural Utah, so I didn’t get to a real metal concert during my formative teen years. I relied on bootleg cassettes from friends and as much metal as would seep through on the hard rock station. So the first concert I would classify as metal that I went to was AC/DC’s 2001 Stiff Upper Lip tour. The cool thing was that it was the first time the band had played Salt Lake City since 1994 when three people were trampled to death at one of their shows. Being there for their return was amazing.

After years as a journalist, I’ve only managed to get to one rock show in the last three years. It was exactly metal but it was Alice Cooper and Halestorm. Halestorm is great if you are looking for something more on the hard rock side of metal. The last legitimately metal show I went to was Mötley Crüe and Stone Sour at the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota. That was for work, too. That week, I saw those two bands, Guns ‘N Roses, Alice in Chains, Cheech and Chong, Bob Dylan and Pee-Wee Herman. Not entirely metal, but at those rally shows, bikers show their appreciation by revving the motors on their bikes. I can’t think of too many things that are more metal than that.

Desp: Give us your favorite metal band, and your favorite writer.

TJT: I’m more into 1980s metal that skirted between glam and thrash, so don’t take away any of my metal cred for this. I love Savatage. Soaring vocals, rock opera pretensions, sometimes a message…it just gets me. And I love that some members of the band and their producer morphed into Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The idea that PBS-watching grandmas and 13-year-old boys in Metallica t-shirts can go to the same show gives me hope for our society.

My favorite writer is Stephen King, but there are so many writers whose work I admire. Edgar Allan Poe is huge for me. Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson are right up there, too. I like to think that I can mix in aspects from all of these people into my own work. As I continue in my education, I’m finding myself more and more influenced by feminist theorists such as Tanya Modleski and Laura Mulvey and female writers such as Shirley Jackson and Joyce Carol Oates.

Desp: Name a song you’d like to see covered by a writer for Despumation and explain why.

TJT: I’d love to see someone do an all-out horror story centered on Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa” or anything from Mercyful Fate/King Diamond. The challenge would be to not just copy the narratives already in place. The writer would have to take what’s there and go deeper, maybe even darker, if possible. The imagery is so rich in “Melissa” that I find it impossible not to weave stories around it.

Desp: Yes. YES. What are you working on now? Books/stories/academic works coming out?

TJT: Unfortunately, I don’t have any imminent publications. I had a good streak last winter and I have a few stories out now that I’m hoping to place. As for works in progress, I spent the summer revising my first novel (keep your fingers crossed) and started an anthology with Seattle area writer Michelle Kilmer called GIVE: An Anthology of Anatomical Entries. We’re in the process of selecting stories now and readers of Despumation will be happy to see some familiar names.

I recently started co-hosting a Stephen King-themed podcast with two New Englanders called “There Are Other Worlds Than These” and am almost ready to submit a King-based paper to a popular culture conference.

The biggest project right now is my Master’s Thesis. I’m in the planning stages now and will be cranking it out during the winter quarter (my university is still on a quarter system rather than semesters). It’s a horror novella and once it’s done and I get my degree I will start shopping it for publication. By that time, I will also be looking for a job and/or an MFA program, so if anyone out there wants to pay me to teach college English or to continue my studies, let me know (western states or low-residency preferred).