Book Reading at Flight Coffee

This past weekend, I had a great time sharing a few passages from Intraterrestrial with a fun crowd at Flight Coffee in Dover, a local third wave coffee shop which has become one of the top community hot spots on the NH seacoast.  It’s an awesome location, with equally awesome coffee—which, for a self-proclaimed “coffee vigilante” like myself, is a key factor in any great book reading.

Big thanks to everyone who came, and hope the rest of you had an equally cosmic Earth Day weekend!


Late Night at Leaven

I was invited to be one of the guests for Patrick Gale’s “Late Night at Leaven” live show last night, along with comedian Josh Day and Emmett Soldati, the owner of Teatotaller Tea House. It was a great time all around, with lots of laughs, and some excellent drinks courtesy of Leaven, a small gastropub in Somersworth.


Nicholas Conley – author – Pale Highway


I enjoyed a dark coffee stout right from the tap, which was certainly a highlight, though perhaps the biggest highlight of my night was the unexpected moment where they played Pale Highway’s book trailer right before my interview, right on the big screen TV, and with an attentive crowd watching. Quite a thrill!

The show will at some point be online as a podcast, complete with word games, interviews, and more.


Nicholas Conley – Author – Pale Highway

In other news: I’ll be on the radio again soon! This time, I’ll be interviewed for the program Don’t Dis’ My Ability, a disability-themed show that runs on Tuesday from 3:30-4:30PM Eastern Time. New Hampshire residents can tune into WSCA 106.1 FM, while others can check out the website and listen live when it airs.

But if you miss it, don’t fear! A complete video podcast of that program will also be posted online sometime afterward, and I’ll share the link when it is.



FAQ About My Next Book

Hello there, everyone!

So I’ve received a number of questions about about my next book, set to come out in 2015.  While I can’t say too much yet, I’ll take this opportunity to do a little FAQ and shed (some!) light on the proceedings.  Let’s begin:


Okay, so what’s the title?

Top secret!  For now, let’s just call it Novel #2.

Is it a sequel to The Cage Legacy, or possibly connected in some way? 

No.  Novel #2 is completely separate from The Cage Legacy.  At the moment, it seems to me that The Cage Legacy is a complete story, and I don’t necessarily see any need for a sequel.  That’s not to say I’d definitely rule it out, as one should never say never, but at this moment I don’t plan on writing a second story in that world.

How similar is the tone/style/storyline?

Similar in some ways, wildly different in others.  The psychological focus is very much the same.

So can you say what this story is about?

Of course not, it’s too early for that!  But answers will be coming soon.

Okay.  But really, what’s it about?


What genre?

Science fiction.

Is it YA?

Not this one, no.

Who is publishing it?

My publisher for this book is Red Adept Publishing, a press based out North Carolina.  Red Adept has made a name for itself in multiple genres, with such books as Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski and Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan.  The novel Thought I Knew You, by Kate Moretti, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller in 2012.  Needless to say, I’m both proud and humbled to be accepted into the RAP gang.

Anything else, sir?

That’s all for now!  More answers in the future, so stay tuned!


KIN, by Kealan Patrick Burke: The Story After the Story


With some degree of variation, almost every slasher movie ends with the same scene.  It’s a scene that we’re all too familiar with.  A climactic moment that has been permanently etched upon our collective subconscious.  It’s a a common trope, a sequence that has become so familiar that even those who’ve never watched a horror movie know this scene by heart:

Once the carnage is done and all of her friends have been killed, the lone survivor – always a girl, usually a virgin, usually covered in blood and either sobbing or desensitized – stumbles away from the defeated killers, and she finally escapes from the horrific place she’s been trapped in.

That’s how all slasher stories end. It’s how they always end.  The basic formula has varied little since Tobe Hooper’s classic ending to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and one of the more recent movies in that franchise – the 2006 prequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning – pulled out a surprise ending by deliberately subverting the audience’s familiarity with this famous sequence.  Still, for the most part, slasher movies tend to follow a pretty steady formula.  Sure, sequels happen, but these sequels will usually repeat the same formula with little connection to the prior entry, and usually with a brand new cast of teenagers for the killer/s to slaughter.  Lather with blood, rinse, repeat.

There’s a lot to recommend about Kealan Patrick Burke’s excellent 2012 novel, Kin.  It’s terrifying, moving and uniquely put together, with masterfully-worded prose and a storyline that absorbs the reader’s full attention like a sponge.  But the immediate thing that sets Kin apart, from the very beginning of its opening paragraph, is its take on the famous bloody girl running away sequence.

Unlike most slasher films, which end on this sequence, Kin makes the intriguing choice of setting that sequence at the very beginning. 


Burke’s novel opens up with Claire Lambert, the only survivor of her friends, who after being tortured by the Merrills – a psychopath family with cannibalistic tendencies, ala Texas Chainsaw‘s Sawyers – escapes from their clutches half-dead, naked and bloody. She stumbles into the road, where she is picked up by a boy and his father – a father all too aware of the potentially dangerous consequences of his actions, but unable not to help. Now, tensions are ramped up. The Merrills know they have to get out of town fast, but first they have to quickly kill anyone who could testify against them.

As all of this goes on, Kin also introduces two parallel storylines that eventually tie into the main narrative. In one, a waitress with a dark past is brought back to her old life by an unexpected visitor. At the same time, a soldier—fresh out of Iraq and plagued by PTSD—finds out this brother was one of the victims of the massacre that Claire escaped from, and he readies himself to engage in a vengeful war against the Merrill family.

Kealan Patrick Burke, author of Kin.

Kealan Patrick Burke, author of Kin.

Kin begins where other stories end—after the slaughter, after the war, after the pain has already been inflicted—and it tackles the questions that any such violent incident would undoubtedly raise.

Seriously, what happens after the girl gets away from the psychopaths? What happens to the homicidal, cannibalistic family that accidentally let her escape, now that she’s surely going to tell the cops? What happens to the girl, who would have to be pretty damn traumatized by this point? What happens to her family, who now has to take care of her? And what happens to the innocent people who picked her up and saved her? If the family wants to get rid of all the evidence, are the father and son also at risk?

By asking these questions and placing this post-slasher scenario inside what is essentially a Southern Gothic novel, Kin brings new depth to a tired genre. It shakes up the format, explores characters that could’ve been stereotypes, and brings a full scope of emotions to the proceedings; yes, this novel is scary and yes, it’s violent, but it’s also a novel that isn’t afraid to create characters that the reader deeply cares about. It’s a book that can both grab your heartstrings and then rip them out in the next moment.

At its core, Burke’s Kin is a novel about the pain, stress, anxiety and devastating grief that follows a traumatic event. It shows what happens after the scars are inflicted, and how the pain of trauma has a residual effect that trickles down through one’s life and impacts one’s loved ones. Every violent action has consequences, and Kin pulls back the curtain on the aftermath.

“Hard-Boiled Heart” to appear in Isotropic Fiction Magazine!

My new short story, “Hard-Boiled Heart,” will be published in a future issue of Isotropic Fiction, an excellent speculative fiction magazine available in digital form on

“Hard-Boiled Heart” is the strange tale of a young man born with a bizarre chest deformity, who one day unexpectedly becomes a worldwide sensation.  I’d say more, but hey—I should let the story do the talking!  When more information about the upcoming issue of Isotropic Fiction becomes available, you’ll find it here.

Top 10 Blog Posts

So, in celebration of this blog finally reaching 50 (50!) posts, I figure that now is a good opportunity to look back on the posts that have, over time, proved to be my favorites.  Since Writings, Readings and Coffee Addictions began, I’ve blogged about a pretty big variety of topics, so narrowing it down was difficult…but it’s always fun to look back and reminisce.

So, starting from #10 (and with pictures!) here are my top 10:


10. MBTI Typology – a recent post, but a lot of fun.  What I really enjoyed about this post was less the post itself, and more so the comments, interactions and replies from you guys.  Learning about other people’s types generally makes for a good time.


9. Why David Lynch’s “Dumbland” is Smarter than it Looks – David Lynch is one of the most interesting, bizarre filmmakers around, and so writing about his work is always a unique experience, to say the least.


8. Transhumanism in Deathlok: The Demolisher – Since this review was posted, Deathlok has jumped into the spotlight, thanks to his role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.  Still, I think that Marvel’s original cyborg is one of the most underrated characters in comicdom, and the 2010 limited series, Deathlok: The Demolisher is one of the best takes on the character yet.


7. The True “Hero” of Breaking Bad – When the Breaking Bad finale came out, it was pretty much the only thing anyone could talk about – and with good reason.  This was my take on the series’ climax.


6. Page 133 – One of my first posts, and still one of my favorites.  A short look at the writing process, writer’s block and how to push through it.


5. Spider-Man 2: Because We Found the Rubber Band – Though the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks excellent, I don’t think there will ever be another Spidey film with the depth, quirkiness and heart of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, still one of the most unique comic book films ever made.    


4. Chapter One, Page One – And here it is…my first post!  I remember struggling to figure out how to start, and once I was hit by the idea of just writing about the two voices debating back and forth in my head, well…all the pieces fell into place quickly afterward.


3. Confronting the Self-Cannibalistic Creative Monster – As creative individuals, we all know this voice and have dealt with it in our own ways.  I just gave mine a name.

Art by Bernie Wrightson.

Art by Bernie Wrightson.

2. The Writer’s Role in Society – Easily one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written, this is an in-depth look at what motivates the writer to create, where the writer’s crazy, crazy passion comes from, what drives us and finally, what our role in the world really is.


1. Why I wrote The Cage Legacy – Definitely the most personal post I’ve ever written on this blog, “Why I wrote The Cage Legacy” is the story of how The Cage Legacy was created, where the idea came from and the struggles I went through in its years of development.  Out of every blog post I’ve ever written, this one was by far the hardest to write – and also the most worth it.

And so, there we are – the top 10.  As usual, if you guys have any thoughts/opinions/replies/concerns about my mental well-being/et cetera, always feel free to comment!