David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan L Howard’

Notes to writers what I do not Know

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2017 at 5:32 pm

Dear Mr Kim Newman,

I am very glad at all the Anno Dracula books, even though years ago I had to work hard to track down the original so now I have two, and I keep telling myself no, you don’t have to have the paperback of Johnny Alucard to go with the others just because the hardback doesn’t fit in. But how come I keep thinking of you each morning at breakfast?

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Dear Mr Jonathan l Howard,

Is Carter and Lovecraft ever going to be released in paperback, please, so I will buy it?


Dear Ms Emma Cline,

Re: The Girls,

No there is no review here because – well, you don’t need it, but plus, I stopped reading. Not because it is bad, but because it hurt. You reach a certain age and you are trying out your coffin for size, and you think you have left things far behind. Not that I was ever a teenage girl, or an American, or a member of a Manson type cult, but my goodness, your descriptions of adolescence – the longing, the not understanding, trying to fit in, the ugliness, the smells, the skin, the rawness, the whole chemical bath your brain is swimming in – the description hurt bad. Flashbacks. Thoughts best left buried. Triggers. I’ll be coming back to it, but just for now Ms Cline I am sorry but I have to give The Girls a rest.


Dear Mr HG Wells,

How are you? Here’s an admission. Until recently, I had never read you. Don’t get me wrong, I thought you were very good as Malcolm McDowell in Time after Time, and I read John Christopher’s Tripods books when I was a boy (which I thought of as the sequel to War of the Worlds once the Martians raided a pharmacy and popped some penicillin), but I had never read The War of the Worlds. Just read it, and loved it. You created a great retro feel (much better than Cowboys & Aliens. I mean, James Bond, really, what were you thinking? Not even one chest burster!). OK, I knew the ending, but so what, how many endings are surprises these days? I loved the country scenes, the connectedness to nature, and then the move to urban horror as the enemy advanced on London. The essay attached to the Penguin edition harped on about light and sunsets, but it was the clinical imagery that I was most intrigued with. All these sf classics still unread, when I should be being measured for my shroud. Perhaps not yet.


Dear Mr Don Winslow,

Thanks, just got around to reading The Cartel, so glad I did. I think the first book of yours I read was The Winter of Frankie Machine, then The Power of the Dog, leading me to your back catalogue. Such different styles and different approaches, a great range from humour to horror and back again. I found The Cartel very powerful and horrifying, the savagery (yes, read Savages as well) unleashed by the uncontrollable desire of North Americans for recreational drugs. You worked me up, Mr Winslow, especially with the inevitable end of one character – his screams and cries and attempts at oblivion did not take away from his courage one bit.


Yours most sincerely,

Your obedient servant,

David Stevens







Most hits …

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2014 at 6:30 am

Thanks to Jonathan L Howards tweeting for the most hits ever here:

Next covers the books get, I want on the backs: “Warning: Contains High Levels of Smart Arsery”

Happy to be of service, especially when one considers the ways people are usually of service to his character, Herr Cabal. If you haven’t read him yet, start with Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. And if you haven’t listened to Devo, what is wrong with you?

Toil is stupid

A spud’s work is never done.

Speaking of Necromancers, though not Herr Cabal. I had to flee to the upper floor of a branch of the American Book Centre (my spelling, not theirs) in the Netherlands, as the ground floor was being dominated by the extremely loud voice of a dishevelled mother choosing to share every thought fart she might have with the rest of the store. ‘Look at the cover, Bobby, this is not suitable for a 12 year old. Necromancer? What’s a necromancer? “A powerful wizard raising the dead to help him …” That is just not suitable Bobby.’ ‘You said I could have a book, Mom.’ (His spelling, not mine.) ‘This is not suitable, Bobby. No, we will have to go home and google this author on line.’ ‘But Cindy got a book.’ ‘We need to google Bobby. Look at this, it is not suitable for a 12 year old. Its about necromancy.’ And on it went, until they reached the counter, where she said to the assistant, ‘My son wants this book and it is just not suitable for a 12 year old, look at the lurid cover, its about a necromancer.’

‘I would have read that when I was 12, and I would have loved it.’

A pause. Everyone in the store mentally applauded (well, me and my 19 year old at least, I checked with her later).

‘But we’re from the States.’

(As was the book. And a good portion of the other people in the store.)

It can be difficult for all parents. I didn’t object to the lady’s plight, or her desire to research further, it was the noise and the assumption that everyone agreed with her. (And the fact that Bobby was missing out on a promised book, especially when Cindy had hers.  Marcia was asleep in a sling around her mother’s neck. Names have been changed to protect my bad memory.) There were no ‘Young Adult’ books when I was a young person. I can recall many days in the school library, where we would move from John Christopher’s Tripod books straight to a Pan Book of Horror where a slasher was slicing  prostitutes wide with a can opener. Literary works were not of much interest to us, so we went from ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ to thrillers and the latest bestsellers such as ‘The Andromeda Strain’ and ‘Jaws’. I deliberately did not read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ because of the other people who read it at school, and I suspect I would have been the same with Harry Potter if he existed then. The 70s blockbusters I read were definitely not age appropriate, though many of them were childish in so many ways. As a father I empathise with the lady in the store, but the fact is, there is much wider range of age appropriate material, about things kids are actually interested in. And as a 12 year old, I would have gobbled up books about necromancers too, if there were such things then. (My great love was vampires, but I can recall only a handful of books I found worth reading in those days – Dracula, Salems Lot, and I am Legend – and I am still happy to re-read those. As a boy, I would not have approved of sparkly vampires or paranormal romance, and while I would not encourage anyone to read such things, neither would I deny them, they are just not, and never were, things that interest me.)

I am happy when my children read, I am happier when they talk about their reading with me and discuss the things they like and don’t, and I am happiest when they stop reading in order to write, whether stories, songs, fan fiction, poetry, blogs, whatever.

Johannes Cabal, Devotee

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Despite myself, despite (or because of) the smart arsery of the humour, I have enjoyed the three published volumes of the adventures of Johannes Cabal, Necromancer. Each time I have said, ‘Enough’, only to go crawling back for another serving. Noticing the third edition was published in 2011, more than enough time to have allowed the publication of several dozen more volumes (I expect others to write much more quickly than myself), I checked various sources, including the author’s website. Firstly, I discovered the next book is due out later this year, and it will involve war and Johannes’s vampire brother, who does not sparkle in the sunlight, so good all round. Secondly, checking out his spotify mix tape thingy on his site, I discovered that Jonathan L Howard is a great Devo fan. What greater recommendation could there be? Devo songs. Devo covers.  At least one Devo cover cover. I recommend his books (and his mix tape) to you.