Sunday, October 18, 2015

Episode 25: Feeney, Barron, Mesling - Ill-Considered Expeditions

We've managed to bring you one last episode before Halloween descends, good followers of The Bare Knuckle, and it's a whopper. It is, of course, a Radio Gothic special. In fact, this format has become so consistent around here that it's almost not worth mentioning anymore. In episode 25 you will hear three tales of terror and adventure, all appearing in the recent April Moon Books anthology, Ill-Considered Expeditions.

First we give you Paul M. Feeney's "The Room at the Top of the House." The less you know going in, the better. Just let it catch you off guard, and see if you detect a whiff of Brian Lumley in the air. Feeney lives in the North East of England. His first published short story, "The Weight Of The Ocean," was released by Phrenic Press in 2015 as a Kindle only. To date he has had a few more short stories accepted by small publishers for anthologies both forthcoming and currently available, and has recently released his first novella, The Last Bus, through Crowded Quarantine Publications in a limited signed and numbered paperback run. He has also recently completed his second novella, Kids, which is in consideration at a handful of small presses. He continues to turn out short stories at a snail's pace, while planning more novellas and contemplating the dreaded first novel. You can find him on Facebook where he constantly uploads pictures of book purchases he promises he'll get around to soon, and videos of himself murdering metal classics.

Next up: "Hell Island," by Matthew Barron. This one lives up to its name, folks, so don't expect a lot of lifting of the spirit. Character driven, fast paced, and bone chilling, "Hell Island" is sure to keep you glued in place from beginning to end. To give you an idea of what kind of mind is behind this fictional concoction, Matthew spends his days mixing and analyzing human blood as a medical technologist in Indianapolis, Indiana. His diverse fiction has appeared in House of Horror, Roboterotica, and Welcome to Indiana. He recently released an urban fantasy graphic novel called Temple of Secrets and produced his first play. His sword-and-sorcery book, Valora; dystopian novella, Secular City Limits; and kids book, The Lonely Princess, are also available. For more information, visit

Finally, if the blood hasn't drained from your body by the time Mr. Feeney and Mr. Barron have had their way with you, narrator Pete Mesling has his own terrifying tale of misadventure to impart. "In the Chillest Land" whisks you away to the towering Alaska Range, where a pair of mountaineers comes face to face with nature at its most brutal ... and most perplexing. On a side note, Pete has contributed a post to the annual Halloween Haunts blog series sponsored by the Horror Writers Association. Have a look at his post here.

Now climb aboard, one and all, and hang on to your hope. You're going to need it before we're through with you.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "In the Chillest Land" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Halloween Haunts 2015
The Horror Writers Association is once again posting a series of daily Halloween-themed blog posts leading up to the horrible holiday. Stay tuned for a ghastly contribution from your woe-inspiring narrator, Pete Mesling, on Oct. 8! [UPDATE: Pete's post is now live and can be found here!]

Friday, September 4, 2015

Episode 24: Garton, Strand, Mesling - Best New Zombie Tales Trilogy

In the immortal words of Christian Slater, greetings and salutations! And welcome to a Bare Knuckle landmark. Not only is this our longest episode to date, but it features the longest story we've ever provided for your listening pleasure—which, in turn, is why it's our longest outing (it's kind of a Möbius strip of an episode).

The story in question is Ray Garton's distinctly enjoyable—if you're as warped as we are—story, "Zombie Love," and you'll quickly learn why it would have been an easy decision to include it on the podcast at twice the length. As with all three stories in episode 24, "Zombie Love" appeared in the Best New Zombie Tales Trilogy from Books of the Dead Press. It's a delightful blend of the witch and zombie sub-genres, but to say more would be to rob you of the pleasure of discovery. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is proof that the best way to scare a reader is to make him or her care about the characters. In other words, get ready for a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Next up is an excellent flash piece from the inimitable Jeff Strand. This one goes by the name of "Immunity," and owing to it's brevity, the less said here the better. If you're familiar with Strand's work, you know to be on the lookout for scares mixed with laughs. "Immunity" is no exception.

The final selection for the episode is Pete Mesling's "The Worst is Yet to Come." Being your woe-inspiring host and narrator, Mesling always manages to shoe-horn one of his stories into the podcast, but we're confident you won't be disappointed. The fright factor is high with this one. Join Mesling on his cautionary journey through the hidden terrors of the prairie, where you are left to decide for yourself which is worse, monsters from beyond the grave or the very real monsters that live among us.

Ray Garton has been writing novels, novellas, short stories, and essays for more than 30 years. His work spans the genres of horror, crime, suspense, and even comedy. His titles include Live Girls, Ravenous, The Loveliest Dead, Sex and Violence in Hollywood, Meds, and many others. His short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and have been collected in books like Methods of Madness, Pieces of Hate, and Slivers of Bone. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, and at the 2006 World Horror Convention he received the Grand Master of Horror Award. He lives in northern California with his wife, where he is currently at work on several projects, including a new novel titled Monster Show, which, if all goes to plan, will begin a trilogy.  Visit his website at

As for Jeff Strand's biographical data, I will only point you to the bio he's penned for his own website: You are strongly encouraged to read it all the way through, as it is the funniest bio you are likely to encounter from a horror writer.

And that brings us to Pete Mesling, The best place to stay up to date on his projects is He's got some neat stuff in the pipeline, so do have a look. Follow his blog if you'd like, and while you're at it, why not subscribe to his newsletter! All music in episode 24, by the way, was composed, performed, and recorded by your humble host and narrator. There's plenty more where that came from.

Until next time, friends, beware.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "The Worst is Yet to Come" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Episode 23: Bruni, Mesling - Aoife's Kiss

That's right, we're back! Thanks for noticing. We're pretty sure you're about to find the wait worthwhile, too. Episode 23 is a Radio Gothic Experience, featuring two stories from the December 2008 issue of Aoife's Kiss, both narrated by Pete Mesling. Yes, we've done a little excavating to bring this one to you.

First up is John Bruni's "Virtuoso," a tale of rock and roll, friendship, and heartbreak. There's usually a primary reason that we like a story. Maybe it's the poetry of the language. Maybe it's the charm of the characters. Maybe it's the author's voice. And sometimes ... Well, sometimes it comes down to the strangeness of the goddamn thing. That is certainly the case with "Virtuoso," which is not to say there aren't other reasons to dig it. There are. But odd wins the day with this little gem.

Bare Knuckle narrator Pete Mesling follows up his reading of Mr. Bruni's tale with a reading of his own "The Singular Talent of Nisqually Joe." If there's a lesson in this one it's that unearned success is built on a rickety scaffold at best. But the thing is ... there really is no message to be had. No hope, no guidance, no advice. Just wonder and terror in more or less equal amounts.

If you enjoy this episode as much as we've enjoyed putting it together, consider yourself in high cotton.

John Bruni, by the way, is the author of Tales of Questionable Taste and Poor Bastards and Rich Fucks through StrangeHouse Books, as well as STRIP (formerly of Musa, now with Riot Forge). He expects to have two more books out by the end of the year. He lives in Elmhurst, IL.

You can learn all you need to know about Pete Mesling at his website: Subscribe to his blog and newsletter while you're there!

Thanks for tuning in, folks. You make it all worthwhile. Catch you next time.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "The Singular Talent of Nisqually Joe" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Episode 22: Wilson, Prentiss, Mesling - All-American Horror of the 21st Century

Welcome to another exciting Radio Gothic special, folks. If you're new to the drill, this is where we bring you an episode chock-full of some of the best fiction from a single anthology. The common denominator in these episodes is that the anthology in question invariably sports a story by your woe-inspiring host, Pete Mesling—and that story invariably finds its way into the podcast. We figure it's the least we can do for Poor Pete.

This time out, however, Mesling takes up precious little of your time. His tale is a very short one, which makes room for the heavy lifting of two genre stars: F. Paul Wilson, of The Keep and Repairman Jack fame, and Cemetery Dance author Norman Prentiss. Wilson's "Night Dive," Prentiss's "The Albright Sextuplets," and Mesling's "The Tree Mumblers" are taken from the Mort Castle-edited volume All-American Horror of the 21st Century, the First Decade: 2000 - 2010, and if this episode isn't enough to prompt you to pick up a copy, you might just be beyond help.

To be perfectly honest, Mesling had hoped to expand this episode by an additional story, but a logistical problem got in the way. Still, we'd be remiss if we failed to point out that David Morrell's "They" is one of the most chilling tales of terror to come slithering into print in a good long while. It bears echoes of Ambrose Bierce, but it's thoroughly original. Make sure to read it if you ever get the chance (hint: All-American Horror can be ordered here; and there are many other jewels between its covers, make no mistake).

We don't want to put too many barriers between you and the enjoyment of the narrated stories that await you. Mesling provides some additional information about each of them in his narration. But we don't want to leave you without any biographical information on the included authors. So to that end ...

F. Paul Wilson has published north of forty novels and numerous short stories translated into twenty-four languages. His latest, The Dark at the End, involves his recurring character, Repairman Jack.

Norman Prentiss won the 2009 Stoker Award for Short Fiction. His first book, Invisible Fences, appeared in 2010, with other appearances in Postscripts, Black Static, Best Horror of the Year, Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror and in three editions of the Shivers anthology series.

A hearty thanks to them both for allowing us to feature their stories on The Bare Knuckle Podcast. Do be sure to click through to their websites for more information.

Well now, what are you waiting for? Plug in and tune out. It's time for some scares! We'll be here when you come crawling back for more. Believe it.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "The Tree Mumblers" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Episode 21: Seinfeld, Rivers, Chappelle, et al. - A Radio Laughingstock Experience

It's been said that comedy and tragedy occupy obverse sides of the same coin. Fitting, then, that we should take on a survey of stand-up comedy over the past three decades or so, seeing how our focus at The Bare Knuckle is so often on the darker world of terrifying fiction.

The long and short of it is that we've put together a laugh riot for you with our very first Radio Laughingstock episode, so make sure you're buckled in tight as your host, Pete Mesling, takes you on a tour of the comedy landscape of yesterday and today. You won't agree with all of his assessments, but you're likely to laugh at all the right moments.

You'll want to be prepared for some coarse language this time around, incidentally. Many styles of comedy are represented, and that includes the raunchy and off-color as well as the clean and family friendly. This one's not for the kiddos.

Obviously, it's not possible to include everything worthy of consideration in a single episode, so the comics you'll hear from in episode 21 have been selected from a much larger preliminary list. Here, in fact, is that list, which Mesling has chiseled away at to reveal the angel in the marble ...

Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Joan Rivers, David Brenner, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Paul Provenza, Tom Dreeson, Jim Gaffigan, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Mitch Hedberg, Maria Bamford, Louis C. K., Chris Porter, Jay Leno, Doug Stanhope, Chris Rock, Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, David Cross, Sarah Silverman, Don Rickles, Henny Youngman, Jon Stewart, Red Foxx, Peter Kay, Robert Klein, Bill Maher, Jimmy Walker, Denis Leary, Alan King, Shelley Berman, Jeff Foxworthy, Greg Giraldo, Andy Kaufman, Tommy Cooper, Dick Shawn, David Steinberg, Ricky Gervais, Johnny Carson, Craig Ferguson, Sam Kinison, Sandra Bernhard, Rodney Dangerfield, Jim Carrey, Kathy Griffin, Roseanne Barr, Bobcat Goldthwait, Steven Wright, Jimmy Kimmel, Howie Mandel, Richard Lewis, Ellen Degeneres, Freddie Prinze, Louie Anderson, Drew Carey, Steve Martin, Paula Poundstone, Stephen Colbert, Gallagher, Billy Connolly, Kevin Hart, Mel Brooks, George Burns, Jonathan Winters, Bob Hope, Richard Jeni, Tim Allen, Phil Hartman, Dennis Miller, Gilbert Gottfried, The Smothers Brothers, David Letterman

It's also worth mentioning that Mark Malkoff's Carson Podcast figures into this episode, as does The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Carson's influence on the world of stand-up comedy is impossible to overstate, and if you have any interest in learning more about the value of his contribution to the form, consider Malkoff's podcast your Carson 101.

Oh, and as for the eight-minute montage that kicks off the episode, here's the run-down: Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers (1/2), Bill Hicks, Joan Rivers (2/2), Mitch Hedberg, George Carlin, Robin Williams, and Jerry Seinfeld.

There you have it, folks: a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the impetus for The Bare Knuckle's first-ever special devoted to the art of stand-up comedy. Trust us, there's enough fun in store to keep even the most sullen Knucklehead in stitches. So don those headphones and massage those laugh muscles. God knows, you're going to need them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Episode 20: Morgan, Martin, Mesling - Stomping Grounds

Welcome to a rather special episode of The Bare Knuckle Podcast, ladies and gentlemen. If you aren't already familiar with the fiction of Edward Martin III or Christine Morgan, we have the distinct honor of introducing you to their work. Tune in as your woe-inspiring narrator, Pete Mesling, reads Morgan's "The Humming" and Martin's "The Knot," as well as his own chilling tale, "On the Strangest Sea."

What these three yarns have in common is that they all appear in the recent Stomping Grounds anthology of monster fiction from April Moon Books. (If you haven't already, snag a copy at a once; here's a review from Albedo One, if you need further persuading.) Any sense of wonder, dread, or delight that you derive from Morgan's and Martin's narrated stories is owing to the skill with which the pieces were crafted. For blame should any deficiencies present themselves, I would direct you to the narrator himself.

Now then, a few words about our illustrious guest contributors ...

Edward Martin III is a writer and filmmaker scrabbling together a semblance of home in the Pacific Northwest. He's surrounded by looming evergreens with sullen boughs, mountains that ponder the nature of death, and a relentless sea that dissolves everything it touches. Also, there's a cat, primarily to offset all that rich delicious goodness. Edward's first novel, Through the Night, is being adapted to a feature film, and he is currently in production on several new films. His two most recent movies are The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (an animated adaptation of the Lovecraft novel) and Flesh of My Flesh (a bizarre zombie horror set in the too-near future). Find him online at

Christine Morgan works the overnight shift in a psychiatric facility, which plays havoc with her sleep schedule but allows her a lot of writing time. A lifelong reader, she also reviews, beta-reads, occasionally edits, and dabbles in self-publishing. Her other interests include gaming, history, superheroes, crafts, cheesy disaster movies, and training to be a crazy cat lady. She can be found online at

As for Pete Mesling, a good place to familiarize yourself with some of his published work is on his Author Central page at Amazon. He also recently opened the portcullis on a new Twitter profile and a Facebook page, so please feel free to show him some love there, as well as at any of your favorite Bare Knuckle outposts (see top of page). In this episode, Mesling mentions that Neil Baker and company over at April Moon Books have acquired a story of his that he considers to be something of a thematic companion to the one he reads for you here. It might also be worth noting that both stories take their titles—"In the Chillest Land" and "On the Strangest Sea"—from the same Emily Dickinson poem. Look for the former in the upcoming Ill-Considered Expeditions anthology.

That's it for now, Knuckleheads. Tune in next time, when we take you 180 degrees from the world of terror to survey the last several decades of ... stand-up comedy! You won't want to miss it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Episode 18: Satan (The Interview) - A Radio Confab Experience

Greetings, loyal fans of The Bare Knuckle. Episode 18 consists of an interview that Pete Mesling conducted before vanishing into thin air. How odd it is to actually type that out, but it's true. It was a difficult decision to publish the interview without Mesling's guidance or approval, but given the apparent authenticity of the subject's identity, we think you'll agree that there is some urgency in making this public, even if only for its value as a cautionary tale.

We will, of course, post updates here as we learn more about Mesling's whereabouts and condition. With any luck, he'll be back in the saddle with another rousing episode of the podcast in the near future. If so, maybe he'll be able to tell us how he managed to secure the interview of a lifetime, and how he became so convinced that he was talking to the real McCoy ...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Special Announcement: New Book Featuring Fiction by Pete Mesling!

Be sure to get your hot-off-the-press copy of this dreadful little volume, and learn why Pete Mesling's story, "On the Strangest Sea," might just do for the ocean what Jaws did for the beach. Beware!

Episode 17: Stephen King (and Pete Mesling) - A Radio Gothic Experience

Stephen King fans, this is your episode. It's also a great opportunity to hear your host, Pete Mesling, read several of his own short stories. And if that weren't enough to tickle the most unflappable fancy, all the music in episode 17 is also the original work of your host. This is a good one, friends, without a doubt.

The Stephen King content is brief but poignant. Mesling reads what amounts to a short essay regarding King's novel 11/22/63. It's not a review, and it certainly isn't literary criticism, but it's fun and born of obvious admiration for King's work.

One quick note about the second story that Mesling reads, and then we'll cut you loose to enjoy the episode. "Second Sight," as the story is called, was written for a contest of sorts, hosted by none other than legendary writer/artist/filmmaker Clive Barker. The task of contestants was to compose a story under 2,000 words based on one of Barker's original paintings, Men of the City. Barker himself judged all entries, promising to select what he found to be the finest tale. Your woe-inspiring host did not, alas, win the contest, but he's pleased with the story he wrote for it and wanted to share it with listeners of The Bare Knuckle.

As for the winner of the contest, as well as two runners up, you can learn a little about them and read their stories (not to mention feast your eyes on Barker's curious painting) here. In brief, the top prize went to T. J. Brown, with nods of enthusiastic support to Mark Gunnells and Cornelius Morse.

You might not see (or hear) a new short story from Pete Mesling for a while. He's knee-deep in the process of writing a novel, but he does tend to emerge from time to time to tackle the shorter form. In other words, you never know, but don't miss this opportunity to hear him read some fresh work, as well as the road-tested tale of terror that kicks things off. (If you like "The Worst Is Yet To Come," incidentally, you can own the e-book in which it appears for free—as of this writing.)

Catch you next time ... and Happy New Year!