Monday, May 15, 2017

Behind the Mask VBT

Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.

Excerpt from Torch Songs by Keith Rosson:
Scorched Madam, seared Madam, melted Madam Glass, the townies file past her while she sits on her tin throne, a line of men and women and their children all wide-eyed and awed and lusciously sickened, lusciously frightened as they shuffle past her little roped-off section of the tent, as she sits in her sequined gown and gazes for hours at a spot above their heads, her eyes hidden behind their dark lenses, the goggles riveted through scarred flesh to the orbital sockets of her skull, moored to the very bone, Madam Glass.

“Good Lord,” says a man in line. He spits, and a dark thread of tobacco juice arcs to the straw floor. “Gal straight got smacked with the ugly stick. All melted and shit, Jesus.”

The woman with him, heavyset and holding a cup of soda emblazoned with the carnival’s logo, says, “Looks like someone’s dinner what got left on the stove, is what.”

His eyes crawl across Madam on her chair, horrified and enrapt. “Her face, you mean?”

“Yeah, her face. All over.”

“Makes me want a chili dog, honestly,” says the man, and winks.

The woman laughs, swats him playfully on the arm, and casts a wistful, almost sad glance at Madam. “Does it hurt?” she asks.

Madam sits silent on her throne.

Madam gazes at a point on the far wall.

Madam stoic. Madam charred.

“Ah, she ain’t gonna answer you, Eileen,” says the man. “They just supposed to sit there and look messed up, is all.”

“Let’s go then,” the woman sighs. “I wanna go ride on that ride where they throw you upside down and whatnot. The Frightenator or whatever it is.”

They move further down the line, past Madam (though with their necks craned back, taking one last deep sip at the ruined river of her face), and then they are on to the monstrosities beyond her: Ernie the Lizard Man, and Two-Mouth Tina, and the Raptor, and Mister Fog. Oddities all.

More people; a ceaseless, trundling line of people. Madam Glass on her beaten tin throne, a wax dummy, half-melted for all the liveliness she gives them. All the movement. They can’t see her eyes behind the dark lenses of the goggles, of course.

That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

If they could see her eyes, if she looked at them, it would all be over, wouldn’t it?

Keith Rosson, thanks so much for stopping by. So, tell us a little about yourself.
Weeeelp, let’s see. My debut novel, The Mercy of the Tide, came out in February 2017, and my short story, “Torch Songs,” just came out in the Behind the Mask anthology (both by Meerkat Press.) I’m the author of numerous other short stories as well, with appearances in PANK, Redivider, Cream City Review, and others. Twice nominated for a Pushcart, Finalist for the Birdwhistle Prize for Short Fiction, an ardent supporter of libraries, cassettes. Unabashed font nerd. How’s that?

How did you get started writing?
Well, I was a voracious comic nerd as a kid – Marvel, DC, Image – and then was a fan of punk fanzines when the teenage years struck. And always, always reading stuff like Stephen King, Koontz, stuff like that. By the time I was an adult, I was a fierce reader of whatever literature I could get my hands on, for the most part.

What was the inspiration for your book?
My story “Torch Songs” was written specifically with the intention of hopefully placing it in the Behind the Mask anthology. Luckily it made the cut. But beyond that, there was my usual impetus for writing: showcasing that sometimes bad things happen to people – sometimes normal folks, sometimes folks with a something extra about them – and it’s just a matter of seeing what they do with it, how they deal with hardship.

What’s the one genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to?
Honestly, I’d love to write a literary zombie novel, but it’s a pretty played-out field as this point, and I don’t think I’ve reached the point personally where I could write a solid enough story yet. Few more years of writing other stuff, maybe.

Are there any genres you won’t read or write in? Why?
Eh, mostly through lack of exposure or fear of failure. I mean, I’m not really interested in romance or western or bizarro fiction, but will freely admit there are total monsters in those genres who are undoubtedly much better writers than me. It’s just a question of interest: I love literary fiction, but I also love monsters and robots and ghosts. If you can combine the two in an intriguing way, I’m sold.

What are you up to right now? Do you have any releases planned, or are you still writing?
Right now I am doing the worst possible thing I could be doing: editing one novel while writing another. It’s lame. Thankfully, I’m almost done with my run of edits on my second book, Smoke City (Meerkat Press, 1/18) before my editor and proofreader begin cutting it to ribbons in workman-like fashion. After that’s done, hopefully I’ll be able to tackle this next novel with a little more focus. Currently in the middle of its second draft, i.e., a loooong way to go before it’s ready to show anyone. After that, I plan on writing short stories for about two decades, because they take a lot less time.

Alright, now for some random, fun questions. Favorite color?
You know, I don’t really have a favorite color. Have a few color combos I really like: orange and white. Red/yellow/black.

Favorite movie?
Dang, I see movies so rarely, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve watched seasons 2-7 of The Office approximately 14,000 times.

Book that inspired you to become an author?
There was no singular epiphany, but I was a kid that grew up on Stephen King novels, and I don’t think I can refute the fact that his stuff has greatly influenced me.

You have one superpower. What is it?
As someone who is just now grudgingly getting back into shape after a particularly arduous and wet winter here in the Pacific Northwest, I’d like to be able to run for two miles straight without stopping. Wait, that’s not a superpower? People can do that? You’re kidding, right? Oh mannnn, I guess I better step it up. (Pun intended, sorry.)

You can have dinner with any 3 people, dead, alive, fictitious, etc. Who are they?
Dead: William Gay, author of The Long Home and Provinces of Night. Alive: Tim Armstrong of Rancid. How weird would it be to eat spaghetti with that dude? Fictional: Mel Vaught, the character from Kayla Rae Whitaker’s stunning debut novel, The Animators. That would be a weeeeeird dinner, but a heck of a memorable one.

Last question: Which of your characters are you most like and how/why?
That’s a tough one. I can relate to Madam Glass (the main character in “Torch Songs”) in the way that she has to daily reevaluate her life, how she constantly runs up against her old (eeeevil) ideas. But since I’m not a super villain, I generally relate much more to the human characters in my novel, The Mercy of the Tide.

That’s all from me, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by!
Hey, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In addition to the Rafflecopter entry above, the publisher is also offering one copy of the book (choice of epub or mobi) to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop. The drawing will be held 5 days after each’s stop’s date, and you must leave a comment to win. So don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour to increase your chances of winning!

Author Bio and Links:

Keith Rosson is the author of the novels THE MERCY OF THE TIDE (2017, Meerkat) and SMOKE CITY (2018, Meerkat). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He's a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says 'G'day mate!' to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel's body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse. 

Stephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr. Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she's helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction,, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.

Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind" was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at and

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World.  She's written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories.  She's a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R.R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop.  An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado.  Visit her at

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.

Buy Links:
Book Page    |    Publisher    |    Amazon    |    Barnes & Noble    |    Powell’s


  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Exciting and fascinating excerpt.

    1. MomJane, we also published Keith's debut novel, The Mercy of the Tide, and he can really create atmosphere :)

    2. MomJane, congrats! you are the winner of the random drawing for a Behind the Mask ebook! Contact us at to claim your prize

  3. I've got to get my hands on a copy of The Mercy of the Tide, because I'm reading Torch Songs right now and loving it. Such a visceral atmosphere, right from the first sentence!

  4. Great excerpt & interview. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Darn it. I'll have to get a copy of Mercy of the Tide now.

  6. What is a good book that you have read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  7. Thanks for the interesting interview. I never became a big Stephen King fan...too vivid horror images for me, lol.

  8. I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!