Monsterama 2017 or Why I Drive 2,200 miles to Watch Monster Movies


I’ve done this four times and every time I do there’s a moment on the way there where I think to myself “why do I do this? Why do I drive over 1,000 miles and spend money I don’t have to go from Nebraska to Pennsylvania just to watch “The Horror of Party Beach” for the fourth time?” Then I find myself in the Riverside Drive In, spinning around like Julie Andrews in The Sounds of Music and I remember, oh yeah. THAT’S why I come here.

Because it’s worth it.

I am a fan of monster movies. I am friends with people who meet me at special monster movie events. And there is no better place that I’ve found in the entire country than to watch a monster movie at the Riverside Drive In in Vandergrift Pennsylvania.

Twice a year the Riverside Drive In (which is actually very near the banks of a river, believe it or not) hosts all night monster movie festivals. The one in the spring, known as April Ghoul’s Day, I’ve been to once as they tend to show 70s and 80s exploitation and horror movies and it gets cold as balls once the sun goes down. For scheduling and not freezing to death reasons I prefer Monsterama in September, where the flicks are in black and white, the temperature only dips into the 40s and my friends from across the country gather.

I’m not going to go over the movies one by one (someone remake The Tingler, skip Atomic Age Vampire) but I will throw a few random things I love about Monsterama at you:

-The snack bar decorates for the occasion complete with Frankenstein’s monster, spider webs and more
-The food is kitchen quality and the staff works their butts off
-The occasional horror “celebrity” like Tom Savini and Doug Bradley show up. No one this trip, but still cool
-They play amazing vintage “come to the snack bar” interludes between movies
-They start with the national anthem that includes an animation of the space program as part of what makes America exceptional
-When the fog rolls in early in the morning the image “ghosts” and you can see it on the fog. It’s hard to explain but absolutely mesmerizing to look at
-Some of my friends make the most amazing, out of left field comments. It’s a classic “you had to be there” thing but it’s part of makes my life worth living.
-The drive in is situated in this incredible natural bowl. To sneak in you’d need repelling equipment and the consequence of the layout is the audio echoes in a truly spooky, awesome way.
-They sell Coke made with sugar in glass bottles out of a vending machine. You actually have to pop the top on the machine or go thirsty.
-Monster movie fans are a uniqe breed. The stereotype is they are deeply introverted, always-on-the-internet sorts who might lack social graces. I’ve met people like that. I’ve also met serious professionals, extremely generous folks and wonderful salt of the earth types who have nothing in common but the love of rubber monsters and bad dubbing. These are my people and I love them.

Yeah, it’s a long trip. Yeah, it’s a lot of gas and I don’t take care of myself very well over the 4 days I go and it’s rough on my family and I don’t get any writing done. But it’s a great trip and if you’re anywhere near the Riverside Drive In, it’s well worth your business.

Introducing “Pack”


My second novel comes out in a few months. Here’s the cover!

I am biased, obviously, but the best adjective I can come up for it is badass. It could sit on a VHS horror movie shelf at some mom and pop video store in the late 1980s. It could hang with all the horror covers at your local book store. It gets better the more I look at it. I love it and hope you do too.

But, I hear you asking, what’s the book about? Here’s the catalog copy:

From the author of FantasticLand comes a supernatural thriller set in a sleepy Nebraska town that mixes the novels of Ann Rice and the pulpy, bloody works of Donald Ray Pollock.

Cherry, Nebraska, population 312, is just off the highway between the sticks and the boonies. It’s where Dave Rhodes and his friends have lived all their lives. They own businesses, raise families, pay taxes, deal with odd neighbors and, once or twice a month just like their fathers before them—transform into wolves. It’s not a bad life, but when one of the group members goes astray, it sets in motion a series of events that will threaten to destroy the delicate balance that has kept Dave and his clan off the radar. Between a son getting ready for his first transformation—called The Scratch—a wife with sordid secrets, a new sheriff who knows nothing of the creatures in his midst, and a mysterious man in a bow tie with a shady agenda, the middle of nowhere is about to get very dangerous. 

Interspersed with historical documents and newspaper clippings, and court documents that reveal the past of Cherry, Nebraska, a past informed by spirits, the devil, and crooked cops. In the vein of Donald Ray Pollock and Glen Duncan, Pack is at its heart is the story of family’s survival in an unforgiving world. Mike Bockoven’s second novel moves at breakneck speed with prose that hits like an injection of battery acid. Raw, real, and funny, Pack exposes the horror and tenderness that festers in the forgotten corners of the American Dream.

So, that’s what I’ve been working on. The book comes out in March or possibly later. I hope you’ll keep an eye out for it. I appreciate your support so, so much.


How’d The Audiobook Work Out?


Today I finished listening to all 10+ hours of the FantasticLand audio book. Assorted thoughts below:

-I paid $8 for the book on Audible. That’s a steal. Not to toot my own horn (but to definitely toot the horn of the people who produced the audiobook), but there’s about a million worse ways to spend your entertainment dollar than on an $8 audio book. Maybe this comes from the kid who bought all 22 audiotapes of “Wizards and Glass” for over $50 a few years back, but the price is pretty great.

-Something seemed arrogant about listening to my own book on audio. I acknowledge this and we should move on.

-Any worry I had about the voice actors reading the book were dispelled early. Read by Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels, they both do wonders with some of my less developed characters and really sink their teeth into the better written chapters. Their voices are distinctive, their delivery is conversational and they did an awesome job. At one point, Dawe seemed to cry at the end of one of the chapters and we had a fun Twitter conversation about it.

-I realized that, almost without noticing it, I created a near equal number of male and female parts in FantasticLand. This was not planned out before hand and just “worked out”. Hooray for accidental gender equality.

-As the author of the book, I probably have a clearer picture of who I expect these characters to be and, of course, the audiobook is a little different in places. Some of the chapters, I swear, lined up with what I intended to a scary degree and others didn’t, but as artists I completely respect and applaud the places Dawe and Daniels went.

-Nothing makes you hyper aware of plot holes and poorly written passages like listening to your own audiobook.

-I need to listen to more audiobooks in general. As it stands I’m a podcast man, with my feed always jammed with stuff I want to listen to but I loved the experience of listening to an audiobook and will try to do it more. Any reccomendations are welcome.

-I hope this happens to my next book. I really do.

You can find the audiobook for FantasticLand on audible.com.