Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cover Reveal: SLASHVIVOR!

Coming soon from the twisted minds which brought you THE BREADWINNER trilogy and HUNTER OF THE DEAD...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Toxic Culture

By now you've doubtless read this article from Vulture, or had the opportunity to.  If you haven't, the short version (of the article - I can't really swear to its veracity) is that the YA Twittersphere has become a particularly feculent swamp of ultra-liberal orthodoxy punctuated by occasional witch hunts.  Per this article (again, I'm not really reporting from experience) a certain breed of YA writers and readers have taken to eating their own, attempting to ban books which deal with issues of social justice before even reading them.

I'm not going to weigh in on the particular concerns of this article.  Obviously, if true, it's concerning.  If you're the type of person who watches "Star Wars" and thinks that George Lucas is an advocate of blowing up planets because one of his characters did so, you're obviously missing the point.  But this article also raises a number of specters which I do feel qualified to address.

In the wake of the nightmare of Trump's election a lot of political commentators made hay out of the idea that this was the fault of liberals.  In short, that what conservatives call "Social Justice Warriors" had become so demented in their pursuit of insane goals that they had essentially pushed correct-thinking people into the arms of the Trumps of the world by default.

It hardly needs to be said that this is a specious argument, but, all right, I'll say it.  If the concern is that there is a left-right political division in this country, and the kooks on the far left have made liberalism a toxic brand, what of the kooks on the right?  Am I to judge the average center-right Midwest voter in this country on every statement made by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, or the nut jobs who threaten to rape every woman on Twitter for speaking her mind?  My point is, if Democrats have an SJW infestation that pushed independents into the arms of Trump, it's equally valid to say the right has a Rabid Puppy problem that pushed independents into the arms of Clinton.

All that is nonsense.  But it's equally nonsensical to argue that there are not liberal kooks out there.  Yes, there were people who didn't understand how economics work and thought Obama was just going to give them free welfare.  Yes, there are people who think every white male is a rapist.  Yes, every insane-sounding, negative accusation against liberalism that Fox News or the current (ugh) president has made has manifested itself in a few people.  In a country of a third of a billion I'd be more surprised if it didn't.

I, personally, have a very complicated relationship with liberalism, progressivism, and the Democratic Party.  I consider myself none of those.  I am very much a leftist, which is how I usually describe myself in polite conversation, though I have no objections to socialist or even communist if that's what you prefer.  I've always thought of myself as militantly leftist, which leaves it hard for me to find common ground with the keyboard jockeys and hippies that make up a great deal of what we call the left in this country, despite our common (to an extent) cause.  I'm also a pragmatist, which leads me to my ultimate miserable condition of accepting that anything that turns this country, gradual though it may be, a tick to the left is desirable.  And so I find myself voting with the hippies and the SJWs, repulsive though I may occasionally find their behavior.  Much in the same way I imagine that every intelligent, conscientious conservative in this country finds him or herself making common cause with redneck mouthbreathers and Klansmen.

The solution a certain segment of people take great pride in is declaring a pox on both our houses, and pretending like one side saying "Murder All Kittens" is exactly as extreme and crazed as the other side saying ,"Don't Murder Any Kittens."  I think these extreme moderates (if that's the right word for them) are just as guilty as the evil party for enabling them with their false equivalencies.  (In case you missed it, those were the types I was skewering with the White factions in EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED.)  And to be clear here, yes, the evil party is the conservatives.  Pretending otherwise in the last twenty-odd years is an exercise in self-delusion.  It means pretending that Obama is exactly as terrible as Trump, that Clinton is exactly as terrible as George W. Bush, and that Kennedy is exactly as terrible as Richard Nixon.  One party has given us decades of misrule and the other has given us decades of flawed, but pragmatic governance.  Shrugging and calling the two equal is the same as saying "I guess murdering 50% of all kittens is just how things are now."

During my interview on The Horror Show a few weeks ago, Brian described me as "woke" which is not how I would describe myself, but all things being equal, a fair assessment.  I have to say one thing for the extremities of the SJW Twittersphere: I think the introduction of the term "white privilege" will be remembered as one of the most potent teachable moments in the last fifty or a hundred years of race relations.  It certainly helped me to understand a worldview I didn't even understand I was missing.  (Conversely, I think "microaggressions" will be remembered more as a dead cul-de-sac of learning.  But I digress.)

I'm happy to be described as "woke" if it means conscientious, not perfect, but attempting to be a good ally and a good citizen.  Brian went on to ask if I was worried about attacks from Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies since my latest novel, THE HEMATOPHAGES, featuring a deliberately all-female cast.  I answered that I had considered that, but cared very little.  In truth I was more worried about upsetting the SJWs (much as I loathe that term, for all its dismissiveness towards actual conscientiousness) for not being "woke" enough.  I was concerned that there would be blowback that I hadn't written my female characters whatever enough for the particular concerns of whoever.  There's something scary about being eaten by your own, about becoming the witch at the center of a hunt by your peers.

I'd be happy, you see, to have scorn heaped upon me by Vox Day, Alex Jones, the infantile (ugh) president or any other right-leaning son of a bitch who wants to come at me.  Hell, I'd wear it as a badge of honor.  I'd probably put it in my blurbs.  "Kozeniewski is a leftist piece of shit" - Ted Cruz  Right next to the outpourings of support from my favorite authors and filmmakers.

But one of my own attacks me?  One says I'm not "woke" enough?  Says I'm not a good enough leftist?  Says I'm a faker, one who doesn't deserve to make common cause with them?  That would hurt.  That would cut deep.  That would cut at my identity.  A lot like I imagine it would for the YA writers who find themselves on the outskirts.  Just a thought.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fuck Nazis

I had another post all written and scheduled for today but that...that's just not going to happen right now.  Apparently I have to talk about Nazis.  In America.  In 2017.

I thought this was taken care of.  I thought this had all been dealt with.  I thought the Greatest Generation - my grandparents' generation, that is to say, and for some of you out there your great-grandparents' generation - had stomped Hitler's vision into rubble seventy-two years ago.

But no.  They're back.  The Nazis are back, and they've put representatives in the White House and they're marching in the South.  It's ridiculous.  It's ludicrous.  It's insane.  But it's happening.

I feel like I'm living in some kind of dimestore '60s novel.  You know the kind I mean.  The kind where some vaguely European-accented mad scientist smoking hand-rolled cigarettes out of a bone holder pulls back the curtain at the end and reveals Hitler's brain has been inserted into a gorilla robot.  The kind where the villain says, "Yes, we sunk into the shadows, hiding, waiting, until you were no longer looking for us."

Because that's what happened.  We mobilized our nation and helped cobble together an alliance of half the world to smash the fascist war machine three quarters of a century ago.  But when the overt threat was gone, it slunk deep into the recesses and dark places where we weren't looking, where we weren't paying attention.  As we spent eight decades making it impossible to be overtly racist in civic society in the United States, the racists gathered like rats in the sewers, establishing their Storm Fronts and their alt-rights and building an invisible empire that puts the KKK to shame.

And the invisible empire has struck their first blow with Trump.  Trump was always the preferred candidate of the Nazi underground, which is what the alt-right really is.

In fact, let's set all that linguistic business to rest quickly.  The right in this country has had a tortured relationship with truth for at least the last twenty, some might say forty years.  And it has had an especially Orwellian relationship with words.  I've watched Glenn Beck torturously try to convince me that the Nazis were also communists - and that the American left is both Nazi and communist, as though any word with a negative overtone can just be heaped at the door of one's political opposition.  I've watched Trump rebrand the truth as "fake news" - in order to distract from the actual fake news which got him elected.  I've had to watch the right vehemently reject all the extreme positions on the right end of the spectrum - Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism - as having nothing to do with them, as though they didn't need to worry that that was the dark end of their path if they weren't careful and prudent.  As though only liberalism could ever possibly lead to bad things.

There was a time where you just had to admit, "Look, I lean right, but I'm not some crazy fascist" the same way you might say, "Look, I lean left, but I'm not some crazy communist."  Those are just the two ends of the political horseshoe.  But the right entirely refused to accept that reality, to the point where they're now trying to convince us that the alt-right is just a fun, sexy young conservative movement.  But it's not.  It never was.  "Alt-right" is the sexy new brand for "Nazi" because it just sounds better and has less baggage.

But don't fool yourself.  Don't agree to do the mental gymnastics necessary to try to differentiate between one identical brand of awful and another because they don't want to be associated.  These people are Nazis.  They're jingoists, militarists, racists, misogynists.  The lyrics are a little different, but the melody's identical.  They hate minorities and minority religions, they heap all the social ills of society at the footstep of one convenient scapegoat and they'd be happy to go to war with anybody and everybody to distract you from it all.  The alt-right, regardless of what they prefer to be called, are, and always have been, Nazis.

Steve Bannon is a Nazi.  There's a Nazi in the White House, for Christ's sake.  They act offended when we call them what they are because they'd prefer not to admit that's what they are.  But don't let them off the goddamned hook.  These people who marched in Charlottesville were carrying swastikas right alongside their Confederate flags.  But it's all about heritage, right?  I don't even have the time or space to delve into that right now.  I'm too busy dealing with the Nazis.  In control of America.  In 2017.

Jesus.  And I thought George W. Bush was bad.  The best thing - the absolute best thing - I can say at this point about Donald Trump is that he may just be an unwitting puppet.  He may not be Hitler; he may simply be Hindenburg.  Certainly, he knew the KKK and the alt-right and the racists and the shitbags and every vile breed of hateful person in this country supported him, and he refused to denounce them.  Still hasn't denounced them.  Still, as of yesterday, is making false equivalencies.  Sure, Antifa's the real problem.  BLM is the real problem.  Not the fucking Nazis who said they would vote for you, and when you were elected, started rioting and mugging Muslims and immigrants, all while shouting, "Welcome to Trump's America!"  But no.  It's the counter-protestors who are the real problem.  Of course.  Of course they are.  Because if they didn't have anything to counter they wouldn't exist.  But they're the real problem.

You might ask what's the point of this.  What's the point of writing yet another blogpost, yet another thinkpiece about what happeend in Charlottesville?  We've all read dozens of them since yesterday, and if you expand the definition to include thinkpieces on Trump we've all read thousands of them since November.

Sure, I could be preaching to the choir, or worse, talking to an empty chair.  But the odds are that if you're reading this, and you're American, there's a one in three chance you voted for Trump in November.  And if you are, maybe you drank the Kool-Aid and it's impossible to reason with you.  But I think most people are reasonable and most people are not Kool-Aid drinkers.  So this is addressed to you, the person who voted for Trump who nevertheless keeps an open mind.

You may have been wrong.  I've spent the last ten months being told that I was wrong.  That I didn't "get it."  That there were coal towns in West Virginia and steel towns in Pennsylvania and little lost rural communities in Ohio and Kentucky where poor white people were living lives of quiet desperation, and Trump offered them, perhaps for the first time in their adult lives, a life preserver.  I've been told that I missed all that because I was a coastal elite, that I didn't "get" the sense of loss and fear and anger that most Americans felt, and that that was what drove people to the polls for Trump, what ultimately, improbably, saw him sitting in the Oval Office.  I was told that it wasn't about racism, or sexism, or any of the negative things that I associated with Trump based on his behavior.  It was that people were ignoring all of that and seeing someone who was finally speaking up for the little people, and that it was an irresistible siren's song.

So now I want to turn that around.  Maybe you are that person living by the shuttered coal mine in West Virginia, the rusting steel mill in Pennsylvania, or the dying farm in Ohio.  Maybe you voted for Trump not out of animus, but because he had promised you something.  Maybe you ignored what the media said about him, listened to his words, believed his promises, preferred to believe that the better angels of his nature would drive him, and that the rest was just noise.  Now I'm telling you to consider, just consider, that perhaps you were mistaken.

Maybe this is a man who has happily accepted the support of Nazis, the KKK, the militia movement, all the miserable dregs of society who you hate and hate being associated with because you're poor and rural and white.  Maybe this is a man who has refused to condemn the hate groups, not out of political expediency, but because he's okay with them.  Maybe this is a man who doesn't mind racism and sexism, as long as he's in control.  Maybe this man is the demagogue that all along you were warned about, but decided with your reason and your heart instead that he was something more, a good man who was being smeared, not unlike Jesus, perhaps.  Maybe he's the kind of man who won't think twice about blasting Muslims, Democrats, the media, the government, and other instutitions of millions or billions of individuals, but just can't quite bring himself to condemn in even moderate words a single hate group.

You, and by you I mean those of you on the other side of the political spectrum from me, have asked me to reconsider my position, to slaughter my sacred cows and consider underlying currents that I either ignored or didn't even know existed.  Okay.  I have.  I've granted you that courtesy.  I've considered what it must be like to be poor and white and it seems like you have no voice, that everyone's speaking for some other marginalized group, but, fuck, your group is just as marginalized and you're just fucked because of who you are.  It must suck.  It must really suck.  I'm not sure it would've changed my vote, but I think it probably would've changed the tone of the election, and I think it'll probably change the tone of future elections.  You won't be forgotten again.

But now I need you to extend me, and by me I mean the people on the other side of the political spectrum from you, that same courtesy.  Consider that maybe you voted for the wrong guy.  A shitty, shady guy who was actually every bit as bad as the media said he was.  That by voting for him, you were tactily allowing Nazis in the White House...and on the streets of towns like Charlottesville.  Nazis who your grandparents or great-grandparents (or, hell, maybe it was you yourself) fought against 72 years ago.  They're back, and your vote, whatever else it did and whatever else you think it did or might do, emboldened them.  You helped give them that tiny, infinitesimal grain of support, and now all those grains of sand have come together to form a landslide.

Racists use to wear hoods to hide their shameful behavior from scrutiny.  Now they walk boldly among us, march loudly and shout in torchlight parades, and mow down the people who oppose them with cars.  And Trump is silent, because these are his people, his supporters.  You don't need to be silent, though.  And your vote is your voice, come 2018, 2020, and beyond.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Red Lion Street Fair or Bust!

Hey everybody!  If you live in the Baltimore/Central Pennsylvania area, you should definitely stop by the 41st Annual Red Lion Street Fair tomorrow between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.  I'll be there with Ryan Griffin and Andrew Craven.

You'll be able to find us at booth N17, near the intersection of Broadway and Main Streets, Red Lion, PA 17356.

All of my novels will be available for purchase, including the recently much sought-after HEMATOPHAGES.  As always, autographs are free, but books are $10.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Want a free, autographed, personalized copy of HUNTER OF THE DEAD?  It could happen!  Enter the giveaway below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski

Hunter of the Dead

by Stephen Kozeniewski

Giveaway ends August 17, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway


Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…
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