Awkward Press

Independent publishers of imaginative fiction and daily meditations on the ridiculousness of the universe.

Clay Is in Richmond Noir

April 21, 2010 By: Category: Friends

Hooray! Clay is going to be in one of Akashic’s famous Noir anthologies! Details:

I was fortunate enough to have a new short story of mine selected for Akashic Books notorious regional noir anthology series. You can read all about my hometown in “Richmond Noir” with my story the battle of belle isle, which Virginia Living Magazine called “…a hard blow to the reader’s solar plexus.” Can’t beat that!

Plus there’s a forward by none other than Richmond ex-pat Tom Robbins!

You can pick up your own copy here: Akashic Books

Or at Amazon: Richmond Noir

To celebrate the release of “Richmond Noir” here in New York City — a handful of authors will be reading their stories at the uh-mazing KGB Bar next Thursday, April 29th. Come out if you can! Books will be on sale!

Thursday, April 29th — 7 PM
“Richmond Noir” Reading
at the KGB BAR
85 East 4th Street (btn 2nd and 3rd Avenue)
Second Floor
Featuring readings from contributors Clay McLeod Chapman (rest area), Tom De Haven (It’s Superman!), Conrad Ashley Persons, Hermine Pinson, and David L. Robbins (Broken Jewel).

Hope you can make it. If not — buy the book! Southern fried noir… It’s about time!

Take care,

Go to the party! Buy the book! Be a mensch!

The Monstrosity Exhibition: Lost Terrors of VHS Sleeve Cover Art

April 19, 2010 By: Category: Horror Films You'll Never See, Movie Reviews, Movies

The Monstrosity Exhibition: Lost Terrors of VHS Sleeve Cover Art
written by Clay McLeod Chapman

Black Christmas

Video World was tucked off into a topiary-barricaded alcove of the Stony Point Shopping Centre, a swift five-minute Schwinn sojourn from my front door.

No bigger than a boutique, this early-80′s video store was infinitesimal in comparison to the cancerous sprawl of the Blockbuster Video chain that had begun to malignantly metastasize its way through America’s suburban strip malls, eventually putting all the mom-and-pop operations like Video World out of business. I was fortunate enough to push through my preadolescence before the big blue-and-yellow Blockbuster awnings started cropping up all across my hometown. Walking into Video World was like immersing myself in a Betamax Shangri-La. Every last inch of wall space, from floor-to-ceiling, was lined entirely in video cassettes. At 8 years old, I had officially found my home-away-from home. Each 4 by 7-and-a-half inch VHS cassette contained a different story, just waiting to be told – and I made it my mission to watch them all. Or as many as my allowance would allow.

Hidden at the rear of the store, buried behind comedy, family, drama (but before you reached the “private room” of adult films at the very, very back) – there remained a single row of videos off-limits to children. Little boys and girls were not allowed to rent the videos from back here at the shadowy edge of the forest.

The horror section.

A kid like me couldn’t help but feel a shift in the atmosphere upon entering the aisle, suddenly surrounded by so many R-rated movies. The carpet seemed to darken, stained somehow. Even the air had a miasma of decrepit breath to it, thicker than the air in the childrens section. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be here, which only made me want to explore even more – go deeper, take just another couple steps in, see if I could make my way past the A’s, past the B’s, even the C’s, until I was utterly immersed in the aisle, enveloped in images of terror from all around.

This – this was where fear resided.

Every kind of fear you could think of, or not think of, was right here – captured on magnetic tape and sealed inside its own cardboard box – little gift-wrapped packages presented in a tableau of carnage.

Deadly Spawn. Faces of Death. Def-Con 4. Xtro. The Stepfather. The Driller Killer. The Stuff. Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. I Spit On Your Grave. The Dead Pit. Black Roses. Headless Eyes. Magic. Black Christmas. He Knows You’re Alone. Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Cellar Dweller. Mother’s Day. The Prowler.

So go ahead, kid – I dare you. Slip a video off the shelf.

Pick any horror film and take the cassette into your hand. Rub your finger over the cardboard cover with its softened edges. Feel how fuzzy and worn the corners are?

Now look at the cover.


Hooray for Clay

October 22, 2009 By: Category: Events

Here’s the thing about Awkward Press: we’re just three guys trying to scrape by on our looks and our desire to bring a little bit of entertainment into the world. When one is a founder of an independent publishing company, one does not expect to find oneself being lauded by the New York Times. Unless one is co-founder Clay McLeod Chapman, that is, who is currently sweeping the New York stage with the latest incarnation of his storytelling series The Pumpkin Pie Show. Two days ago, the Times wrote a rave review of Clay’s show, in which they say:

These are weird, creepy tales, but they are more than that. At his best, Mr. Chapman uses the macabre to explore the humanity of his characters and reveal an almost spiritual side to the horrific. Lovecraft once wrote that “the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown,” but in these stories, set in a banal, melancholy, lonely landscape, the unknown can also seem sublime.

Congratulations, Clay! You’ve earned it! As for the rest of you lot, if you’re looking for something to do to celebrate this year’s festival of Halloweenery, procure your tickets posthaste!

Shameless plugging

September 09, 2009 By: Category: Events

Mom will be so proud of me

Mom will be so proud of me

So. Jeffrey’s going to be mad at me for this, but I’m using our blog as a vehicle in which to plug a reading I’m doing in New York. Forgive me for this, but a story of mine — titled “birdfeeder” — has been selected for The Best American Short Plays 2007/2008 anthology, published by Applause books. The book itself is now available in both hardback and paperback. It is a huge honor to be a part of such an intimidating roster of writers as John Guare and Neil LaBute.

Applause is proud to continue the series that for over 60 years has been the standard of excellence for one-act plays in America. Our editor Barbara Parisi has selected 14 plays, including short works by Daniel Gallant, John Guare, Neil LaBute, and Clay McLeod Chapman.

Buy it here!

There will be two FREE reading events celebrating the release of the book here in New York City, both well worth your time. I’ll be reading my piece at both events…

at the Barnes and Noble (Lincoln Triangle)
1972 Broadway (Broadway and 66th St)

We welcome included writers to discuss their work and actors to perform excerpts from the featured plays.

MONDAY, SEPT 14th — 7 PM
at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 East 3rd Street (btn Ave B & C)

Featuring readings and performances by the playwrights.

Hope you can make it out … Pick up the book if you can!

Take care,

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

July 28, 2009 By: Category: Publishing

Only Moz knows my pain.

You're the only one who knows my pain, Moz.

This is hard.

You might not know who I am. You may have come to this site because I found you on Twitter through other independent publishers that you have chosen to follow. (Yes, I’ve been doing that, and I’m not proud.) Or you may have known me for 25 years, as have most of the (two) people who seem to be posting comments.

My name is Jeffrey Dinsmore. I helped start a publishing company called Contemporary Press. You have probably never heard of that, either. Shortly after 9/11 (I think … I’m a little foggy on the details) my friend Jay came up with the idea of starting a modern pulp fiction publishing company. I jumped on board, as did five of our other friends. We threw a couple hundred bucks into a pot and started writing books. My stipulation before joining CP was that I be allowed to write a book called Johnny Astronaut. I didn’t know what Johnny Astronaut would be about, but I knew I had to write it. I wrote it under a pseudonym, which makes perfect sense if you read the book. The author becomes a character. It’s very meta. My own family didn’t get it and most of them never bought a copy. They knew I wrote it, but they didn’t want to read it unless my name was on it. That’s very meta, too. Today, Johnny Astronaut is out of print.

I wrote another book called I, An Actress: the Autobiography of Karen Jamey. I personally am more attached to this book than the other one, but a lot of people I know didn’t really care for it. There are 1,000 copies of I, An Actress available. You should buy all 1,000 and blow our distributor’s mind.

CP was fun. We went to publishing conferences. We were blurbed about in GQ. We got a kick-ass review in The Believer. We lost our shirts. We never had an office. We did all our business on Wednesday nights at a bar. We threw parties in New York featuring musical performances by soon-to-be semi-famous bands like We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen, and the Oxford Collapse. I put my heart and soul into CP, and it broke into a million pieces. Both my heart, and CP. We still owe our distributor money. We were really good at drinking, but we were not so good at business. We were also not so good at proofreading, as a visit to our now dark website will prove.