Most of us, the fans and creators of horror, are outsiders. At least to some degree. We'll all had people look at us funny for the things we read and watch. We hear whispers about us from co-workers. Most of the time our own families do not completely understand us. Our friends and associates outside the community sometimes make offhand comments to our faces about our peculiar obsessions. And those are the good things.

Sometimes, it's worse. We meet people who feel threatened, angered, that we enjoy fiction that celebrates suffering and violence. People that think there must be something seriously wrong with us. That we're dangerous.

James Newman's upcoming novel, Animosity, explores this subject in a frightening way.

Andrew Holland is a horror writer. He's a good guy. Not perfect, but he's one of us. Most of us would probably buy his books. We'd converse at the online forums with him. Probably have a drink with him at a convention.

Andrew's neighbors don't quite see him as completely normal, but they tolerate his unusual profession. They're happy to have a successful writer on the block. The corner market proudly stocks signed copies of his books. He is more or less accepted in their ranks. Until the unthinkable happens.

Holland is out walking his dog early one morning, when he makes a ghastly discovery. A young girl has been brutally raped and murdered. That's when things begin to change.

The change is slow at first. Holland isn't greeted as warmly by his neighbors as he had previously been. Suspicions spark and then grow. The authorities declare that he isn't a suspect, but the seeds of fear and paranoia have been planted. Before you know it, it's Lord of the Flies in the Suburbs, but instead of children lost in the wilderness, it's Andrew Holland's friends and neighbors coming for him with a lynch rope.

Actually, it's a lot worse than that. Animosity is a grim cautionary tale about what can happen to outsiders who dare to dress, read, worship, watch, behave differently from the herd. It's more brutal than I'm accustomed to reading from Newman, and I can tell that this subject is one that is close to his heart. I think it touches a nerve in him. Just as I think it will touch the nerves of other horror fans.

I've been reading James Newman for a long time. Since before Holy Rollers was published as a chapbook from DarkTales Publications. I think Animosity is easily the best thing he's done to date. He plays rough with this one, kiddies, so be forewarned. Be also forewarned that this book will almost certainly sell out. You do not want to miss it.

Animosity also heralds the comeback of Necessary Evil Publications. This small press has been on hiatus for some time, and I'm happy to see them on the way back. We can never have enough quality presses in the business, and NEP has done books by the best of the best: F. Paul Wilson, Tim Lebbon, Brian Keene, John Little, James A. Moore, Gary Braunbeck, Simon Clark, Kealan Patrick Burke, Brett McBean, Michael McBride. Animosity is forthcoming from NEP, and it is my wish that it will be the first of many more fine books to come.

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