Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead

stealing propeller hats - big

This collection of “zombie” fiction is available at the usual haunts, but you should probably get it from Powell’s, because I signed a couple when I was up there. I also signed a bunch of Stephen King books, too, so check all your books for my signature.

Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and I came up with some fun promotion for this book, sometimes involving social media, sometimes involving the madmen over at This Is Horror. Here is our first contest, where I tried to come up with the Hardest Zombie Trivia Question Ever. I think I got close?

Here’s the Facebook page for the book, where I post all things zombie, and here’s the PMMP Newsletter, where you can read some early blurbs and find out who won that crazy contest. See that? Despite what some readers were claiming, the answer was not impossible!

I also did some readings to promote the thing, including my first trips to San Francisco, Alcatraz, and Pegasus Books in Berkeley (hat trick!), where I had a blast at Lip Service West, a reading series hosted by Joe and Justine Clifford.

lip service west

I also did some interviews here and there, like this one at Scrivener Soapbox. And then once the controversy surrounding the Hardest Trivia Question Ever finally died down, I hung out with the This Is Horror crew again to talk about the uncommon but sometimes fruitful intersection between comedy and horror (and zombies). And over at LitReactor, along with some other job-related banter regarding The Strange Day Jobs of Five Fiction Writers, I talked about the time I almost, not quite, but sorta, but not really, but if you want to get technical, yes, drove repossessed cars. I wrapped up the year reading a selection from Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead, an exclusive story found only in this collection, which may or may not have been recorded in the worst New Jersey bar of all time. I know, I know, that’s all of them, right? Anyhow, click here to listen to “…and I’ll Scratch Yours (or The One Who Had None),” just in time for whatever Christmas happens to be coming up.

Hey, maybe you’ll get a new back-scratcher under your tree if you’re bad, like I was (author photo by Dyer Wilk)…

author photo

Reviews have started landing, and I’ll post them if I can continue to remember to blow the dust off this site. But this first review right out of the gate was killer:

Publishers Weekly gave Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead a Starred Review. They said, “The collection’s ironic B-movie sensibility taps into the ongoing obsession with zombies and what they represent: the thin line between the human and the monstrous, and our desire to be scared. Decay, both existential and physical, has never looked so good.”

Someone got excited and took a picture:
publishers weekly

 Other notable reviews…

  • Over at Hellnotes, Tim Potter (we’ll miss ya, buddy) said it was “a great set of entertaining genre stories that any zombie fan dive into and enjoy one bite at a time, but also a deep, well thought out commentary on the history of the subgenre” and that “the featured novella, “Zee Bee & Bee,” was “the crown jewel to this stellar collection of fiction.” He also warned that “the collection ends with the rules to a zombie-movie drinking game that you must absolutely never, ever consider playing.” Believe him.
  • A reviewer at Slap Happy Fun Time “felt at times this was exactly what the zombie genre needed.”
  • I thankfully dodged the label of “normal” at Shotgun Logic. “No, no, he’s definitely not… Keaton is shambling to a whole other tune than all other authors of zombie fiction.” More praise: “With surgically deft strokes, Keaton cuts to the raw beating heart of humanity in this collection. The title-inspiring novella “Zee Bee & Bee” in particular reads like a B-movie cult classic as imagined by David Lynch and penned by Hemingway.”
  • Some guy in Minnesota wasn’t feeling it at The Examiner, but he did admit I “brought a critical eye to the genre, as well to the world in general in each of these tales.” I include this lukewarm review here only because Minnesota is my wife’s home state and she wants to retire there. We’ll see, but strike one, Minnesota.
  • The book did better in Texas, where The Monitor was all about it, calling it “a must-have” and saying, “It’s refreshing to come across a collection like Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead, the latest from the unique mind of David James Keaton. These nine stories (and one novella) brilliantly and with gonzo abandon infect every zombie cliché with literary insight before killing, burying, and unearthing the resurrected remains for our delight.”
  • The review at Sci-Fi and Scary had more of that Minnesota chill about it though (as well as a bizarre Kanye West insult), but said many of the stories were “interesting, unique, and showed a true talent for dark humor and unsettling imagery.”
  • Oh, this was very cool. I’m a huge fan of the book, film, and play Pontypool (Changes Everything), as well as the bonkers novel People Live Still in Cashtown Corners (also soon to be a major motion picture), so we were very excited to get a blurb from Tony Burgess himself. He said, “It is impossible to have more fun reading than this. Z-fic that is steeped in the gonzo tradition on pages that flap when you turn em. I dig it.”
  • There was a great review at Dead End Follies, which caused me to Google the word “oneiric”… “David James Keaton’s best work if not his most consistently brilliant effort to date… he has a creative vision that carries over all of his work, something most authors don’t have. The universes David James Keaton creates have one foot in stark reality and the other in the oneiric realm of barroom stories and urban legends.” Those feet don’t lie!
  • Some love in a review over at This Is Horror, who said, “Just when you think that the zombie trope has been done to death, a fresh voice arrives to once more propel it along.”
  • The second part of the double-feature review at Ginger Nuts of Horror alongside my novel Pig Iron said, “In all honesty there is no one who writes quite like David James Keaton” and declared the collection a “Greatest Hits Record,” which makes the review more of a double album that a double feature, I guess?
  • The sadists at Dark Comedy Productions put me on The Rack to torture me a bit, then, satisfied I’d earned their eyeballs, they reviewed the book. Katrina Monroe said I “dipped my (now broken) toe in the zombie story trope pool, but most of the stories in this collection approach the undead from creative angles” and that the book was “creative, well-told, and a joy to read.”
  • I’m not sure what this list is all about, or who compiled it, but someone put “Zee Bee & Bee” at number 270 on a list of the 500 Best Zombie Books.
  • And the San Francisco Book Review gave it five stars and raved, “Whether set within a ‘normal’ zombie lifestyle or at an apocalyptic moment, David James Keaton’s storytelling is a well-balanced mix of downright creepiness and dark humor. With the exception of “The World’s Second Shortest Zombie Story” (which is a whopping three sentences long), Keaton’s plots are replete with colorfully defined casts, unexpected twists, and surprise endings… a perfect read for zombie enthusiasts.”
  • When the dust cleared, it was a cool little surprise to land “What’s Worst,” my consistently despised story from Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead, in the Comet Press Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 1. Publishers Weekly had a completely reasonable reaction to “What’s Worst?” and said it was one of the most (less) “tactful,” logical (“scatological”), and fortuitous (“gratuitous”) stories in the collection! They make a lotta sense.
  • The year finished up with the collection making a surprise return to Dead End Follies for the Best of 2016 list. Benoit Lelievre called it, “A master class in purposeful provocation.” So it’s like the literary equivalent of a book flicking your earlobe.

If you’re looking for a new Bingo (Zingo?) board, below is a collage of all the individual story illustrations you’ll find inside Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead. Artwork by the amazing Luke Spooner, a.k.a. Carrion House.

spooner party
Notice the last two are both illustrations for the drinking game. This is because we asked Luke to draw a “zombie shotgunning a beer,” and his first drawing came back wonderfully literal-minded, with a zombie actually blasting the beer with a shotgun. We quickly realized that they must not “shotgun beer” in the UK. But the better question is why do we do this in the U.S.? Or maybe we’ve been doing it wrong for years.

I’ll post some pictures of the shot glasses and drinking game promos that we came up with once I get some… oh, shit, here they are…

propeller hat swag

So, that’s it for now, folks. Until then, my crazy cat with thumbs will be playing Twister on these things.

twister cat


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