October 07 , 2017


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Meet Jason Tennant, a writer of violent horror novels whose career is mired firmly in a maddening swamp of frustration somewhere north of nowhere and south of success. He is a midlister, those thankless souls who labor in the shadows of sometimes better, sometimes luckier writers, and it's starting to take its toll.

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The Toll

An ageing millionaire wakes on Halloween night to find himself buried in a coffin with only a bell and a lamp for company, a bell meant to alert those above ground that he is alive. But Miles Camden is not quite ready to ring that bell. To him, it's an admission of defeat. No, he has not gotten to his station in life by conceding to the games of…

Meet Kent Gray, wildly popular author of a string of so-called "sex-fi" novels. He's wealthy, handsome, and the object of Jason Tennant's professional jealousy.

Welcome to Baltimore, Maryland, and the Aurora Science Fiction & Horror Convention, where these two men, midlister and bestseller, will meet for the first time, and the midlister motto "Better Read Than Dead" will be put to the ultimate test.

With an introduction by Jack Ketchum

Winner of the Black Quill Award

"a perfectly written novella that will hold you under its spell until the final pages." - Horror World

"Jack Ketchum provides the introduction to this novella, and that's a telling name. It says that we're getting raw and rather unpleasant humans, and putting them in the same room with sharp things and bad feelings. It says we're getting real characters – maybe too real for a certain segment of the reading population. But if you’re the sort of person who does not look away when you see blood on the pavement near a car wreck, and furthermore, the sort of person who sees red when you read CNN propaganda for the multi-media gorging elite, then 'Midlisters', while it will also have you seeing red (many shades) will probably be a book you'll enjoy greatly. In the teeth-grinding, terrorizing way one enjoys such reading." - The Agony Column

"Burke paints the life of a horror writer vividly, bringing you into Jason’s world with all of its twists and turns. His attention to detail and atmosphere, and his development of Jason Tennant as a character, makes this a fantastic read." - Monster Librarian

"Tennant’s confrontation with Gray, which the story builds to from the beginning, takes a different-than-expected direction, and leads us right into the book’s explosive climax. It’s a compliment to Burke that he’s able to take a handful of clichés – obsessive fans, professional jealousy, and murder – and twist them into a tale that feels fresh and new." - Dark Scribe Magazine

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