I’ve known Jeff Strand for years. We both grew up in the specialty press ranks. We both had some success with small press mass market publishers. I’ve collaborated with him (THE MAD & THE MACABRE: KUTTER/REMAINS). We’ve both gone crazy with the eBooks. In many ways, our careers have paralleled each other’s. He’s since outpaced me in many regards, largely due to his skill as a writer and his amazing ear for dialogue. His comedic skills, as you all surely know, are beyond comparison. But in my opinion, it’s his more “serious” works that truly showcase his skill. Case in point: PRESSURE.
I first read PRESSURE in early 2006 (I think), when Earthling released the stunning limited edition. I knew Strand, but we weren’t really buds yet, you know? So I didn’t buy the book out of any personal obligation. (I bought it because of the killer cover and the description. This was back in the days when I had a whole lot more money to spend on pricey books.) When I read it, I was blown away. I was surprised by the sheer ferocity in parts, the humor in others, and the way Strand set up the penultimate scene (those of you who’ve read it know which one I’m talking about). (Then Leisure came along and dropped it down a deep, dark hole.) After that, I became one of his biggest fans. So much so, in fact, that I started reading his manuscripts before publication, one of which was DWELLER.
DWELLER‘s different than PRESSURE in a lot of respects, but better for it. Strand gets to show off his ability to create human characters, one of which isn’t human at all. It’s a great, touching story of a boy and his monster and the inevitable consequences of their relationship. I think this had the potential to be his breakout release (just check out the reviews and you’ll see). The problem was it hit the shelves at a time when Leisure was bottoming out and it got lost in the ensuing battle between Dorchester, its authors, and retailers.
Now these books have new life in digital form. I hope you all will pick them up and give them a read, if you haven’t already. And then I recommend writing to Strand and telling him to quit messing around and get back to work! (And be sure to check out the website for Lynne Hansen, who did the amazing covers!)