Arnzen, Michael A. 1967-

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ARNZEN, Michael A. 1967-

PERSONAL: Born May 17, 1967, in Amityville, NY; son of Andrew D. Arnzen (a salesman and musician) and Janet L. Dauman (a nurse; maiden name, Terry); married Renate Müller (an artist), July 26, 1992. Education: University of Southern Colorado, B.A., 1991; University of Idaho, M.A., 1994; University of Oregon, Ph.D., 1999.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA 15601. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Freelance writer, 1987–. Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA, associate professor, 1999–; Paradoxa: Studies in World Literary Genres, member of editorial board, 1998–. Military service: U.S. Army, 1985–87. U.S. Army Reserve, 1988–89.

MEMBER: International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts, Science Fiction Poetry Association, Horror Writers Association, Modern Language Association of America, Society for Cinema Studies.

AWARDS, HONORS: "Best writer" designation, Small Press Writers and Artists Organization, 1992; Horror Writers Association, Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a first novel, 1994, for Grave Markings, and for superior achievement in alternate forms, 2003, for Goreletter; International Horror Critics' Guild Award, 1994, for Grave Markings; voted best fiction writer, Genre Writers Association, 1995.


Chew and Other Ruminations (poetry), Mastication Publications (Pueblo, CO), 1991.

(Editor) Psychos: An Anthology of Psychological Horror in Verse, Mastication Publications (Pueblo, CO), 1992.

Needles and Sins (short fiction), Dark Regions Press (Concord, CA), 1993.

Grave Markings (novel), Abyss Books (New York, NY), 1994, hardcover edition, Delirium Books (North Webster, IN), 2004.

Writhing in Darkness (poetry), two volumes, Dark Regions Press (Concord, CA), 1997.

Paratabloids (poetry), Ozark Triangle Press (Owasso, OK), 1999.

Fluid Mosaic (short stories), Wildside Press (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2000.

Dying (poetry), Tachyon Publications (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems, Fairwood Press (Seattle, WA), 2003.

100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories, Raw Dog Screaming Press (Hyattsville, MD), 2004.

Freakcidents (poetry), Shocklines Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Also author of the electronic newsletter Goreletter,, 2002–. Contributor to anthologies, including Imagination Fully Dilated; Horrors!; 365 Scary Stories; High Fantastic: Colorado Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy; and Palace Corbie. Contributor of essays, poetry, and short stories to journals, including Narrative, Science Fiction Studies, Paradoxa: Studies in World Literary Genres, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Internet World, Deathrealm, Grue, Dreams and Nightmares, Mystic Fiction, and Read Me.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael A. Arnzen won both a Bram Stoker Award and an International Horror Critics' Guild Award in 1994 for his first novel, Grave Markings. In 1991, after publication of Arnzen's first collection of poetry, Chew and Other Ruminations, he gathered the frightening work of others to create Psychos: An Anthology of Psychological Horror in Verse. Don D'Ammassa of the Science Fiction Chronicle noted that many of the poems were "chilling." Arnzen's later poetry collection, Paratabloids, borrows headlines from the Weekly World News for each poem's title.

In an online interview with, Arnzen commented that a remark attributed to well-known horror writer Robert Bloch has become his writing motto: "Horror is the removal of masks." The awards garnered by Grave Markings would seem to indicate that Arnzen fulfilled the challenge of his motto. According to reviewer Ed Bryant in Locus, Grave Markings depicts "pain, obsession, and identity." An internally tortured tattoo artist, Mark Kilpatrick, steps into the world of darkness in reaction to a childhood with a violent father and a mother who sexually abused him, by inscribing his pain onto the bodies of unwilling others in the form of full-body tattoos. Although originally released in paperback, the book was reprinted ten years later in a special leather-bound, hardcover anniversary edition by Delirium Books for the book collector's market. That same year, 2004, Arnzen won the Bram Stoker Award in alternative forms for his free e-newsletter, "Goreletter."

Arnzen once told CA: "The horror genre has always been about fear, but for me it is also about two other things that people often forget: comedy and excess. In my fiction, I try to take patterns from everyday life and pursue them to their logically absurd ends. Nothing scares me more than the human capacity to rationalize behavior, no matter how abnormal or dangerous, and so my fiction inquires into psychological issues more than the supernatural (which is really the flip side of the same coin). More often than not, my monsters and villains are an attempt to make people who take themselves too seriously look either laughable or dangerous.

"As ironic as my work can be, I still try to take the plots and themes of my stories very seriously—I think writing and reading form a very intimate meeting of minds, and I respect my reader's desire for originality and surprise. Horror fiction is one of the most radically experimental genres of popular culture, in my opinion: it's anti-realistic as much as it is fantastic, and there's plenty of room for poetry and philosophy in the genre. I enjoy the freedom it gives me to play with wild and crazy ideas, letting my unconscious roam free on the page. If I can scare myself or make myself crack up, I know I've tapped into something worth reading."



American Book Review, September-October, 1995, p. 26.

Locus, February, 1995, Ed Bryant, review of Grave Markings, p. 38.

Necrofile, spring, 1993, pp. 14-15; winter, 1995, p. 22.

Science Fiction Chronicle, August, 1992, Don D'Ammassa, review of Psychos: An Anthology of Psychological Horror in Verse, p. 50; February, 1995, p. 30; August, 1995, p. 49; September, 1995, p. 26.

ONLINE, (January 29, 1999), interview with Arnzen.

Dark Echo Horror, (July 12, 2004)

Dream People, (July 12, 2004).

Goreletter, (July 9, 2004).

Internet Speculative Fiction Database, (July 12, 2004).