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I wrote a novel.

Every time I release a book, I say the same thing: "I can't believe it."

I said that all the way back in 2015 with A Trojan Feast: "I can't believe I wrote a book!" Then in 2016, the same, amended to "another book." It keeps happening over and over.

But now, I've done something I never thought I would do—in fact, I never thought I could do it, especially not at this level. But I have. On August 28, 2023, my first novel, Them Old Ways Never Died, will be available for purchase. If you're reading this before then, you can pre-order the Kindle here. Paperbacks will be available when the Kindle releases.

I know it must seem silly that someone like me (who not only writes books, but long ones, at that) might have ever thought that tackling a novel was impossible. I had lots of reasons, however. I still maintain that what I mostly do is gather information, synthesize it, and re-present it in a new way, with commentary. That's a far cry from coming up with an entire story whole cloth.

All that being said, I always knew that, yes, I could probably shit out a novel with the best of 'em—but would it be something I was proud of? That was the question that bugged me. I always knew what I would write about (the paranormal, duh), but was I capable of writing something that not only scratched the itch of my inner 15-year-old supernatural geek, but also had something to say about the human condition?

Because I made a pact with myself, long, long ago. I wasn't going to write any fiction if it didn't have something more going on "under the hood," as it were. My favorite motion pictures (especially my favorite horror films) do this well; yeah, there's a creature, but the story is really about something different. Love his work or hate it, Jordan Peele always has something more to say. Even if you don't literally encounter the antagonists of his films, everyone has encountered them figuratively. (Except Nope. I'm still picking apart what he was trying to say there. I caught some of it, but the message isn't as clear as in his earlier work.)

So, with that mandate in mind, I never thought I could write a novel. Until this past December, when I received a wash of ideas—I'll stop short of calling it a "download"—that I thought would be worth recording. After workshopping it several months, I put together a plot and some characters that seemed to flesh things out nicely.

They also had a life of their own, something else I wanted to experience. I'm friends with enough authors of fiction to have heard their stories where they "met" their characters (if not in the Alan Moore sense, at least in the form of intuitions and dreams).

This was something I wanted to experience firsthand—an interaction with the imaginal. I treated this novel of like a magical experiment in that regard. Like a good little quasi-Jungian, I'd always parroted that old adage: "People don't have ideas, ideas have people." I've never experienced that in any profound sense, at least until now. But I'll be damned if some of these ideas didn't just come to me from out of nowhere, especially in those liminal moments between wakefulness and sleeping. It was wild.

Here's what some lovely people have to say about Them Old Ways Never Died:

“Josh spins an enchantment rooted in 19th century Ireland, transplants it into 20th century Appalachia and then brings it to fruition in the 21st century. His narrative voice, filled with shadows and music, draws the reader into the story stealthily, dancing us into a spinning circle where past and future meet and we find that what we thought we knew about our reality wasn't real after all. Worth reading and re-reading."

- Barbara Fisher, '6 Degrees of John Keel'

"Them Old Ways Never Died is a magisterial tale of redemption, realised through the prism of folklore but revolving around the skewed, secularised perspectives of the 21st century... The past informs the present, and the time-jumps deftly shed light on the disoriented life of Rick, as he attempts to navigate his way through broken relationships, alcoholism, and the ever-increasing presence of non-human intelligent entities. It is a story cemented in reality and ventilated by the Otherworld—it is sinister, disquieting and eldritch, but also an exquisite paean to the human spirit and the beauty of absolution."

- Dr. Neil Rushton, author of 'Dead but Dreaming'

So... enough waffling, Josh. What's this damn thing about? Here's the official synopsis of Them Old Ways Never Died:

Rick Coulter only wants three things: to repair his relationships, forget his past, and perform his music. After isolation forces him into a self-destructive spiral, he comes to suspect that his remote Georgia home might not be as empty as it seems. The mountains harbor something secretive and ancient—something beyond human. Enlisting the aid of old friends and new acquaintances, Rick embarks on a journey of discovery carrying profound implications for his past and future. With terrifying clarity, they realize that, while far from their heyday, the ways of old are alive and well.

Yeah, I know. It's vague. That's on purpose. But if you've followed my work long enough, you know damn well who the antagonists are in Them Old Ways Never Died. You probably have a decent grasp on the themes as well. I won't list them here—half the fun is watching them bubble to the surface—but I will say that there were numerous times when I said to myself, "Oh, dang, I really wanted to incorporate X/Y/Z into the book" and, upon reflection, realized that I already had. That is what I mean when I say that I belong to these ideas, rather than vice versa.

Most importantly (to me), I tackled Them Old Ways Never Died in a manner that I feel is respectful and authentic both to folklore and modern paranormal scholarship. Also, dammit, it's just kinda fun.

I have a lot more to say about this, but for the time being, this will suffice. I cannot wait to share these characters and ideas with all of you.

As a parting shot, there's the cover above—by the incomparable Miguel Romero—and here's the trailer, which I think captures the mood exceptionally well:




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A Trojan Feast

Can small, almost mundane details in accounts of anomalous events—be it encounters with UFO entities, faeries, or Sasquatch—reveal anything valuable about the nature of these unusual events?

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