Port Chester novelist Lisa Mannetti already has one Bram Stoker award sitting on her living room mantle. Now, she's hoping to add another.
Mannetti and other horror authors are looking forward to this June's Stoker Weekend, a convention that combines book signings, readings – and a weekend-ending banquet when this year's winners will be announced.
Mannetti's been busy since her first novel, The Gentling Box, earned a Bram Stoker award and a place in the top 10 lists of many horror fans. She's released Deathwatch, a collection of two related novellas, and 1925: A Fall River Halloween, a story about the infamous accused killer Lizzie Borden.
The first of Deathwatch's two novellas, Dissolution, and 1925 are both up for Stoker awards in different categories this year. Fans can watch a spine-tingling trailer for Deathwatch here.
Dissolution might strike close to home for local readers because of its location – Hyde Park, NY, a town little more than an hour's drive away, known best for its river-front vistas and as the former home of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
But in Mannetti's hands, 1890s Hyde Park becomes the scene of a disturbing scenario: after getting kicked out of medical school for drinking, would-be physician Stuart Granville packs up and heads to Hyde Park to tutor two young girls.
When he arrives, he finds out the job description omitted some key details – including the fact that the girls are Siamese twins, and their father chose Stuart as their "tutor" because he intends to surgically separate them. As Stuart adjusts to this new reality, readers learn the characters may not be the ones pulling the strings, as a malevolent presence pervades the spooky Hyde Park home.
Why Hyde Park? Mannetti lived there briefly before returning to Port Chester, and where others see a quaint little town along the Hudson River, Mannetti saw the perfect setting for "starkness and isolation," where bone-chilling winters and a disturbing reality would create a hostile environment for a naive young Southerner.
"It's another one that was fun to write," Mannetti said cheerfully.
And, like Mannetti's other work, the prose style proves genre fiction can be just as lyrical as works pulled from the literature section.
"Mannetti calls forth so many different, beautiful images through her air tight descriptions, but also manages to hit on every single nerve in the reader's psyche," one reviewer wrote. "There are points in this novella that are just so gut-wrenching and brutal, that one has no other option but to feel them with their whole being."
Local horror fans and bookworms are in luck – this year's Stoker Awards are in Uniondale, Long Island, within driving distance for a weekend trip. Along with the opportunity to meet authors like Mannetti, the Stoker Weekend also offers workshops and panel discussions for would-be writers and fans. Click here for more information about the 2011 Stoker Weekend.
Correction: Stephen King has been nominated for this year's Bram Stoker awards, but is not expected to attend Stoker Weekend. The story text has been changed to correct an earlier error.
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