This is a big moment in the life of my old blog The Devil’s Exercise Yard, and also a couple of my old books: Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism and Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination.
To start with, the blog. For more than a decade, the Devil’s Exercise Yard and I have been doing what I like to think is an admirable job of half-assery, operating on Google’s Blogger, with an accompanying website on Google Sites. There was tons of content, some semi-regular updates and a much more flattering author photo. But even then at the dawn of the 21st century, it had all the graphic charm and functionality of a photocopied fax to a pharmacy.
Well no more. This year, with the help of Jeremy Tolbert and Clockpunk Studios, I’m wrapping up The Devil’s Exercise Yard at Google and resurrecting the Devil’s Exercise Yard on a tricked-out WordPress platform, at davidnickle.ca. The site’s adorned with artwork by my late father Lawrence Nickle, and some more by me, and some but not all of the content from the old site.
It is also going to be home to my catalogue (hopefully growing) of books and stories… which leads me into the next part of this inaugural blog post: Eutopia and Volk.
In 2019, I obtained the rights to my backlist of novels and story collections from ChiZine Publications, and in short order hooked them back up with a new outfit, Open Road Integrated Media. Open Road has been around for not quite as long as The Devil’s Exercise Yard, but the company has been far more innovative (not, admittedly, a very high bar to clear, but they have been extremely innovative). The company focusses primarily on e-book marketing, and built its list initially by gathering back-list titles, many of which had been sold to their original publishers before electronic rights were a commodity. It is amazing the calibre of works a publisher can accumulate, offering authors and their estates more-than-reasonable royalty rates and the promise to market their back-list the way other publishers market new titles.
So if you want to read e-books of Fritz Leiber or Poul Anderson or Octavia Butler, Pat Conroy or Harlan Ellison or Graham Masterton – Open Road’s catalogue is where you’re going to go.
Over the next few months, almost all of my books will be in that catalogue – and we’re getting a start with Eutopia and Volk, my debut horror novel and my latest respectively. The two books make up the Book of the Juke, a long horror story that starts at the birth of the American eugenics movement in 1911 America, and finishes with the rise of National Socialism in 1931 Germany.
Both books are up for pre-order at all the usual places, with an official release date of Aug. 4. They are the same books, but with new and to my eye extraordinary cover art, and just a bit of a polish from sf-publishing veteran Betsy Mitchell, who’s Open Road’s Strategic Advisor for Science Fiction and Fantasy and the editor overseeing my books.
More will be coming soon. My novels The ‘Geisters and Rasputin’s Bastards, and my short story collections Monstrous Affections and Knife Fight and Other Struggles are due out in the fall. For now, they’re all e-books, with the possibility of being available in print on demand down the road.
I’d like to see them in print. We’ve finalized all the covers, and you have to trust me when I say they’re each every bit as stunning as the work that Open Road’s art department did for Volk and Eutopia. They’d all look good on someone’s shelf.
But for now, they’ll look very good on the screen of a tablet. And I’m very happy to see them coming available again at all, after what’s happily turned out to be a relatively short time in the wilderness.