Tag Archives: Isabel Kunkle

Hickey of the Beast

A couple years back, I posted about a really fun zombie story by Isabel Kunkle, who I’ve since had the pleasure of meeting. I’ve just discovered that Izzy’s new book, Hickey of the Beast, is being serialized by Candlemark and Gleam, an intriguing e-book publisher.

Here’s the description:

Bad dreams? No big deal. After all, Connie Perez is starting her first year in the prep school her mom runs. Anyone would be a little stressed, right? When she starts dreaming about strange creatures and places that don’t make sense, she doesn’t think much about it: there’s other stuff on her mind. Then she starts noticing that the people she dreams about get sick right afterwards.

Then everything gets weird.

There’s something bad on the campus of Springden Academy. Something that feeds on students and warps their minds. And, as Connie and her friends try to figure out what’s going on, it starts to look like she’s the only one who can stop it.

Freshman year was hard enough without having to fight evil after class.


You can sample the first chapter here.

I enjoy Izzy’s writing, but I’m also interested in Candlemark and Gleam’s approach. They’re selling a basic subscription to the serial for $5, but then they offer a variety of bonus packages. Many of them include bonus stories, but the Plutonium package takes the cake: for $25, you get the subscription to the book, the bonus stories, an iron-on patch, and a custom one-shot tabletop RPG scenario written by Izzy. You can choose whatever RPG system you want.

I bought the Plutonium package just to make Izzy work 😉 — but seriously, I am not sure how sustainable that is. I love the concept of subscriptions with bonus features. I think that’s very clever, and probably the way you have to do things these days. On the other hand, I hope the custom RPG has some sort of formula that makes it easy to put together. It seems underpriced to me.

Authors already have to work very hard for very little money, unless they’re JK Rowling. I am a little worried about setting a precedent for that degree of personalized attention for the price of your average hardback.

As far as logistics of distribution go, I found Candlemark’s system a little confusing. They’re linked to PayPal, which is good, but require you to make your own account for their site, which I don’t love doing. If I didn’t know Izzy, I might not have gone through with that. After I bought the book, I received a confirmation e-mail right away, but it actually took me a while to figure out where to read chapter one, and I’m not sure how or when I’ll get the rest of my stuff.

My verdict on Candlemark’s approach is that I’m totally intrigued, but I think it needs more polish. I love the idea of bonus material, but I worry about placing too much burden on the author.

But enough geeking about e-book distribution! Go read the first chapter!


Fun With Zombies

Today did not have enough fun in it. As a result, I am linking to Isabel Kunkle’s story in Spacesuits and Sixguns, “Higher Education,” which does have fun in it, especially if you think zombies are fun, and if you like the idea of making holy water out of Sprite. Here’s a sample:

Green Sweater opened the door, stepping to one side. I pointed the bottle, tried to aim at the Thing rushing toward me while not actually looking at it, and wrenched off the top. The Sprite hit It in the eye, the main eye, the one as large as my head, and it smoked and turned cataract-white. The Thing didn’t die, though, like the bat had; it just reared back and thrashed around until Drew stepped past me and hit it between a couple of its other eyes with the fire axe.

I have pretty eclectic tastes in most art forms, and will read a pulp story with just as much (if not more) relish than a literary story. This is solidly a pulp story. I can’t philosophize about its deeper meaning — I’m honestly not sure it has one. But I am very convinced that the author had fun writing it, and I know I had fun reading it. Sometimes, especially considering my nonfiction day job, that’s what I need to come home to in the evening.