Next Summer, Terror Blooms in Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

What kinds of horrors keep Stephen King up nights? If you’ve got the guts to find out, read the work of Paul Tremblay.

Tremblay’s novel A Head Full of Ghosts “scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare,” King said. That goes a long way toward explaining why Tremblay has been anointed one of the new masters of horror, and why his work has picked up Bram Stoker and British Fantasy awards, among others. His stories and novels deal in subtle terrors that grow less so as the world cracks at their point of intrusion. They eat at you for weeks and months after reading, stuck into your memory like a barbed needle.

Though perhaps best-known for recent novels like Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and The Cabin at the End of the World (“Tremblay’s personal best,” per King), Tremblay has also won acclaim for his short fiction, republished in numerous “year’s best” anthologies. Next summer, fans and new converts alike can experience the sustained tension of Tremblay in short form in his next book, the collection Growing Things and Other Stories.

Around here, we’re big fans of the bad feelings the author has given us over the years (he’s appeared more than once on our annual lists of the best horror novels of the year), so we’re pleased to share with you today more details on the book, as well as an exclusive excerpt, taken from the story “The Thirteenth Tower.” Find it below the cover image and official summary, and prepare for a chilling summer: the book releases in July 2019 in hardcover from William Morrow.

The critically acclaimed author of The Cabin at the End of the World—which Stephen King heralded as “Tremblay’s personal best”—returns with Growing Things, a collection of short fiction showcasing his signature blend of psychological suspense, literary fiction, and horror.

In “The Teacher,” a Bram Stoker Award nominee for best short story, a student is forced to watch a disturbing video of a terrible event within a day care, only for the video to torment the lives of her and her classmates. Four men rob a pawn shop at gunpoint in “The Getaway,” but start to vanish, one-by-one, as they speed away from the crime scene. In “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks,” a meth addict kidnaps her own daughter from her estranged mother as a giant monster may or may not be terrorizing the town.

Growing Things also features stories with ties to Tremblay’s previous novels. In the metafictional novella “Notes from the Dog Walkers,” the blogger Karen Brissette (last seen in A Head Full of Ghosts) deconstructs the horror genre while also telling a story that serves as a prequel to Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. “The Thirteenth Tower” follows Merry from A Head Full of Ghosts, who has published a tell-all memoir years after the events of the novel. And the title story, “Growing Things,” loosely related by one character to another in A Head Full of Ghosts, is told here in full for the first time.

Growing Things is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination–a nerve-rending collection with much to offer Tremblay fans new and old.

An excerpt from “The Thirteenth Tower” follows.

To state the obvious, you look different. It’s no surprise twenty years later you’re no longer the precocious eight-year-old we all watched and rewatched in your six episodes of The Possession, the refurbished, extended twentieth-anniversary edition now streaming. Still, it’s shocking to see what you look like now as an adult. When the tell-all was announced only three weeks before the book could be purchased, we pored over the publicity shots of the adult you: Your super dark hair! No curls! And, gasp, you are not wearing glasses! Some of us have had a difficult time with the no-glasses thing. We read your horror blogs and columns and we discussed and dissected your pseudonym Karen Brissette and what it means and how you’ve changed and who you’ve become.

The new images won’t erase the old, Merry. They never will. You have to know that.

This morning I waited in line for ten hours to be one of the first into Hall C for your Q&A. The stage was huge and too far away from our seats so none of it seemed real. Could you even see any of us? Being on a stage is still a filter between you and your audience, between you and reality. That not-real vibe wasn’t helped by you and the Entertainment Weekly reporter (he of the big white teeth and handsome hair) being projected onto the jumbotron. I tried not to watch but it was distracting and insulting, frankly, like we could only understand or consume your message if you were on another fucking screen. I was so disappointed in the setup and it’s part of the reason why I’m in your hotel room now.

Many people have ascribed scurrilous motives for publishing a book that is ostensibly about the exploitation of your sister (including, obviously, the attempted exorcism) and the particulars of your unwitting role in the gruesome death of your family, and then making these glad-handing promotional appearances, but I’m not one of them. I trust your judgment and I truly care about you, Merry, and simply want to know more about you.

I thought it a savvy move on your part to begin the interview by announcing you’d donated your Comic Con appearance fee to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We were yours pre-announcement and then we were really yours, not solely because of the generous gesture, but because you were so visibly uncomfortable and ill at ease. I don’t know if you’re aware, but when you mumbled through saying that the donation would be in your sister’s name, you literally squirmed in your chair, shifting your sitting position, folding and unfolding your legs. In that moment you were our Merry again.

Is that weird of me to say? Well, I know it’s weird of me to say, but how does hearing it make you feel?

You don’t answer me. We’re not in Hall C now and we’re standing across the hotel room from each other.

Preorder Growing Things and Other Stories, available July 2, 2019.

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