Piccirilli, Tom 1965- (Thomas Edward Piccirilli)
Piccirilli, Tom 1965- (Thomas Edward Piccirilli)
Born May 27, 1965, in New York, NY; married Michelle Scalise, June 12, 2004. Education: Suffolk Community College, A.A., 1985; Hofstra University, B.A., 1987.
Home—Bay Shore, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
Reader for various publishers, including Baen Books; coeditor for Pirate Writings magazine; fiction editor for Epitaph and Space & Time magazines. Has also worked part-time for a moving company.
Bram Stoker Award nominations, Horror Writers Association, 1990, for best first novel Dark Father, 1999, for best short story collection Deep into That Darkness Peering, 1999, for novel Hexes, 2000, for novel The Deceased, 2003, for best poetry collection This Cape Is Red because I've Been Bleeding, 2003, for best short fiction for "The Misfit Child Grows Fat on Despair," 2004, for best novel A Choir of Ill Children, and 2004, for best long fiction "Fuckin' Lie Down Already"; Deathrealm award for best collection, 1995; Bram Stoker Awards, Horror Writers Association, 2000, for poetry collection A Student of Hell, 2002, for novel The Night Class; World Fantasy Award nomination, 2000, for Deep into That Darkness Peering. A Choir of Ill Children was named one of the year's best fantasy novels by Locus magazine, 2003.
Dark Father (horror novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Pentacle (short stories), introduction by Jack Cady, Pirate Writings (Bridgewater, NY), 1995.
Shards (mystery novel), Write Way (Aurora, CO), 1996.
The Hanging Man & Other Strange Suspensions (short stories), Wilder (Greenfield, MA), 1996.
(With Edward Lee and Gerard Houarner) Inside the Works (short stories), Necro Publications (Orlando, FL), 1997.
The Dog Syndrome & Other Sick Puppies (short stories), Dark Dixie (Marietta, GA), 1997.
The Dead Past ("Felicity Grove" mystery series), Write Way (Aurora, CO), 1997.
Sorrow's Crown ("Felicity Grove" mystery series), Write Way (Aurora, CO), 1998.
Hexes (horror novel), Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Deep into That Darkness Peering (short stories), illustrated by Chad Savage, introduction by Poppy Z. Brite, afterword by Richard Laymon, Terminal Fright Press, 1999.
Epitaphs, Mystery Guild (New York, NY), 1999.
The Deceased, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Night Class (mystery novel), Shadowlands Press (Centreville, VA), 2001.
A Lower Deep (novel), Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Grave Men (novel), Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Gerard Houarner) Bastards of Alchemy (short story chapbook), Necro Publications (Orlando, FL), 2002.
(With Ed Gorman and Keith Minnion) Cast in Dark Waters (novella), Cemetery Dance (Baltimore, MD), 2002.
A Choir of Ill Children, Nightshade (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Bentley Little, Douglas Clegg, and Christopher Golden) Four Dark Nights, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Mean Sheep (horror stories), Delirium Books (North Webster, IN), 2003.
Fuckin' Lie Down Already (limited edition novella), Endeavor Press (Annapolis, MD), 2003.
Coffin Blues, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2004.
November Mourns, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Dead Letters, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Headstone City, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.
The Midnight Road, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Ken Bruen) The Fever Kill, Creeping Hemlock Press (Independence, LA), 2007.
Hellboy: Emerald Hell, created by Mike Mignola, Dark Horse Books (Milwaukie, OR), 2008.
The Cold Spot, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2008.
A Student of Hell (poetry), Skull Job Productions, 2000.
Welcome to Hell: A Working Guide for the Beginning Writer, Fairwood Press (Auburn, WA), 2000.
This Cape Is Red Because I've Been Bleeding (poetry), illustrated by Caniglia, Catalyst Press (New York, NY), 2002.
(Editor) The Devil's Wine, Cemetery Dance (Baltimore, MD), 2004.
Contributor of short stories to books, including Hot Blood: Stranger by Night, edited by Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, Pocket Books, 1995; Hot Blood: Fear the Fever, edited by Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, Pocket Books, 1996; White House Horrors, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, DAW, 1996; Hot Blood: Crimes of Passion, edited by Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, Pocket Books, 1997; The Conspiracy Files, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Scott Urban, DAW, 1998; Best of the American West II, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Berkley, 1999; Future Crimes, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, DAW, 1999; Star Colonies, edited by Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg, and John Helfers, DAW, 2000; October Dreams, edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish, Cemetery Dance, 2000; Bad News, edited by Richard Laymon, Cemetery Dance, 2000; Songs of Cthulhu, edited by Stephen Mark Rainey, Chaosium, 2001; Desperadoes, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Berkley, 2001; Museum of Horrors, edited by Dennis Etchison, Leisure Books, 2001; New Mythos Legends, edited by Bruce R. Gehweiler, Marietta Publishing, 2002; Dead Cats Bouncing, edited by Gerard Houarner, Necro Publications, 2002; The 2nd Coming: The Best of Pirate Writings, edited by Edward J. McFadden, Padwolf, 2003; and Deconstructing Tolkien: A Fundamental Analysis of the Lord of the Rings, edited by Edward J. McFadden, Padwolf, 2004. Also contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Cemetery Dance, Deathrealm, Talebones, Pirate Writings, Terminal Fright, Lore, TransVersions, Silver Web, Not One of Us, and Hardboiled. Author of introduction, Deadliest of the Species, by Michael Oliveri, illustrated by Kenneth Waters, Vox13 Publishing, 2001. Book reviewer for Mystery News, Horror, New York Review of Science Fiction, and the Barnes & Noble Web site.
Tom Piccirilli writes novels in the noir mystery and horror genres. Mostly publishing through small presses, he has not yet achieved best-seller status, though he has received wide critical acclaim and several awards, including Bram Stoker Awards for his poetry collection A Student of Hell and the novel The Night Class. "I'm a big fan of bad horror movies, Beat poetry, and Fifties noir, especially the Gold Medal books," he related on the Nightshade Books Web site. Piccirilli has turned his love of things creepy and bizarre into a successful writing career.
In his debut novel, a horror tale titled Dark Father, Piccirilli recounts the story of two brothers, Samuel and Daniel, bastard children who do not know the identity of their father. The brothers grow closer following the demise of their mother, a fearful woman who had been keeping a terrible secret. The brothers' strange psychic powers come to a head after a bitter quarrel over a young woman. When their father returns, the brothers learn the facts about their birth.
Piccirilli has also been widely praised for his short horror stories. A series character in the genre emerged with the author's first collection, Pentacle. While an essayist for the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers felt that the author was too heavy-handed in addressing themes of "religion, morality, and the afterlife" in Dark Father, the critic felt that Piccirilli had found a better format for addressing his ideas in the short stories of Pentacle. The main character in all the tales collected here is an unnamed necromancer whose companion is a familiar called Self. Together, this unusual team faces witches, monsters, and death. In the last story of the collection, "Eyebiting and Other Displays of Affection," the challenges the necromancer faces almost kill him, and "he knows that Self is the only one who can save him," related the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers contributor. "Suddenly, however, he realizes that their relationship has changed: he can no longer define who is the master and who is the servant, just as it's impossible to pinpoint which of them is good and which is evil." The critic admired Piccirilli's blend of suspense and horror in stories that are described as "both lyrical and lean." The necromancer and Self return in the novel A Lower Deep, in which he faces the greatest challenge of all: temptation. Confronting a coven of witches who plan to interfere with the second coming of Christ, the necromancer is tempted to help them when he is promised the return of the woman he loves from the dead if he cooperates. "This tale is not for the fainthearted," warned Brianna Yamashita and Jeff Zaleski in Publishers Weekly; "there's enough bloodletting and hellish savagery here to give even the most hardened horror fans the creeps."
Piccirilli received plaudits for his twisted tale A Choir of Ill Children, a bizarre story of horror that features conjoined triplets who share a frontal lobe and speak with one voice as if they were an oracle of some kind. Dodi Coots, the daughter of a conjurer, takes care of the triplets' physical needs, while their older brother, Thomas, manages the expensive antebellum estate in the swampy Pott County where they live. To this strange mix the author adds Thomas's friend Drabbs Bibbler, an African American who speaks in tongues, has epileptic fits, and likes to walk around in the nude, and film student Sarah, who arrives to make a movie about the triplets and ends up falling in love with one of them. Plenty of supernatural goings-on occur among the strange cast of characters, including the mystery of the fate of Thomas's supposedly dead father. Peter Cannon and Jeff Zaleski, writing in Publishers Weekly, praised A Choir of Ill Children for the author's ability to create "a world where what happens on the outside is a pale reflection of what goes on inside." And a Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "lyrical, ghastly, first-class horror."
Besides his many horror stories, the author has written a number of noir mysteries that have also garnered praise. Shards, his first, is the story of a New York crime novelist named Nathaniel, who is in turmoil over the suicide of a disturbed young woman named Susan. When Nathaniel learns that there may be some link between her suicide and his brother, who is serving prison time for murder, he feels he must probe Susan's death. Rex E. Klett, writing in Library Journal, recommended Shards based on its convoluted plot, emotional intensity, and "memorably detailed" writing. Piccarelli's award-winning The Night Class blends mystery with horror. Here, student Call Prentiss, after returning to college from Christmas break, learns that a young woman has been murdered in his room. Deciding to investigate the death on his own, he discovers that the victim faked her transcripts. As he digs deeper, grotesque secrets at the university are revealed; and as he gets closer and closer to the truth he begins to suffer the wounds of the stigmata.
November Mourns is an eerie and ghostly take on the murder of a young girl. Shad Jenkins is in prison, just days away from completing a two-year sentence, when he is visited by the ghost of his younger sister, Megan. Unbeknownst to Shad, Megan's body has just been found on an old mountain road, her corpse pristine with no clear indicators as to what caused her death. When Shad gets out of jail, he sets off to determine who is responsible for his little sister's death, with the intention of serving his own brand of justice, but he soon discovers that everyone he considers to be a likely suspect has a strong alibi for the time of the murder. He sets out into the mountain woods where her body was discovered in hopes of learning something that might lead him to her killer, but the region where she died is the longtime subject of rumors of strange, otherworldly happenings, and Shad's refusal to believe the warnings he receives puts him in a precarious position. A writer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "this loose and episodic horror novel tantalizes with hints of awesome mysteries that defy complete understanding."
Headstone City tells the story of Johnny "Dane" Danetello who has just been let out of prison. Back on his home turf in Brooklyn, he has a contract out on his life, but even more disturbing, he can see ghosts. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the book "alternately funny, sad and thrilling."
In The Fever Kill, Piccarelli introduces readers to Crease, an undercover narc with an entire trunk full of baggage. His father, a long-dead drunk, killed a young girl during a kidnapping many years earlier, and it is Crease who is still haunted by the child's ghost. In addition, he is stuck in an unhappy marriage, supporting his disappointing son as well as several adopted children that have come to them by way of his wife's family. His job puts him in contact with hard, harsh people, and as a result he is desperately clinging to his good-guy image. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked that "the gritty narration, graphic violence and pulp gravitas should make fans of Jim Thompson and Charlie Huston feel right at home." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "occasional bursts of hotter prose … liven up the very familiar plot."
The Cold Spot tells the story of Chase, an orphan at ten following the murder of his mother and the suicide of his father, who grows up serving as the getaway driver for his con-artist grandfather, Jonah. After years on the grift and working as a petty criminal, Chase meets a sheriff who gives him a new lease on life, as well as the chance to uncover the truth about his parents' deaths. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the style of the book "highly economical yet bracingly intimate."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Reginald, Robert, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Fantasy & Science Fiction, May, 2003, Charles De Lint, review of This Cape Is Red Because I've Been Bleeding.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of A Choir of Ill Children; October 1, 2007, review of The Fever Kill.
Library Journal, August, 1996, Rex E. Klett, review of Shards, p. 117.
Publishers Weekly, August 30, 1999, review of Deep into That Darkness Peering; December 18, 2000, review of The Night Class; September 17, 2001, Brianna Yamashita and Jeff Zaleski, review of A Lower Deep; September 30, 2002, Peter Cannon and Jeff Zaleski, review of Four Dark Nights; June 30, 2003, Peter Cannon and Jeff Zaleski, review of A Choir of Ill Children; May 9, 2005, review of November Mourns, p. 52; January 2, 2006, review of Headstone City, p. 40; October 22, 2007, review of The Fever Kill, p. 39; April 14, 2008, review of The Cold Spot, p. 43.
Science Fiction Chronicle, October-November, 2000, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Deceased, p. 61.
Nightshade Books,http://www.nightshadebooks.com/ (May 4, 2004).