the official website for the writings of
My latest novel. A first person account of the zombie appocalypse, from its beginning to its end.
"It takes something special to interest me in a zombie novel, and this really is something special. Relentless, unsentimental, and with a plot that moves like a freight train. You want bleak? Read this…an excellent novel from an excellent writer." Gary McMahon
"Rob Moore has done it again; turned a conventional theme of zombies and all the genre cliches that go with it into something that rises so far above the ordinary that it takes your breath away (no pun intended!). This book has depth. It is not only a visceral tour de force, but has the advantage of Moore's extraordinary imagination being brought to bear, introducing characters and situations that you care passionately about. Without giving too much away, the climax to the story astounds the reader by its spectacular, heartrending audacity. A brilliant achievement." Trevor Denyer
My second short story collection, I Smell Blood, is now available as a trade paperback and e-book download. Almost 100,000 words of fiction, including eight stories and my short horror novel, Kid. Please go here for details.
Critical acclaim for I Smell Blood
"Disturbing. Nightmarish. Terrifying. And above all original. Ralph Robert Moore's new collection is unlike anything else I've read all year. All decade. It's also bloody good. I Smell Blood, Ralph Robert Moore's second short fiction collection, reinforces his reputation, amongst those in the know, that here we have a genre-storytelling giant in our midst…this is a surefire cult hit which deserves wider recognition…Moore manages to distill the best qualities of horror writing and produce something which is unique…conventions go out the window, and through it, something far more beastly crawls…Moore lends you his eyes (or lets you hop into his head, a la Kid) and it is a very, very dark place indeed…Moore here tackles deep themes. Beyond the white picket fence themes. Sex games, gender relationships, obsessions…the deepest horror here are the things which human beings are capable of doing to other human beings."
"With eight stories and the short novel "Kid", the new collection…combin[es] horror and gonzo invention in a winning combination, with an unadorned prose style that…drives the narrative forward at a cracking pace and allows for moments of surprising tenderness.
…Finally we have the short novel "Kid", weighing in at approximately a hundred and twenty pages, and the undoubted highlight of this collection…The novel's eponymous hero is a young man with the ability to head hop, to enter and insinuate himself into the mind of another and eventually seize control of his body…there's plenty of explicit sex and violence, with the scenes in which a man's face is removed particularly horrific…crime lord Knuggles is a master stroke of invention…the man oozes menace, and I cringed in anticipation of something terrible taking place every time he held centre stage…A particular highlight is the dazzling and vividly cinematic shoot out at a restaurant when the kid takes on another head hopper, each of them controlling a selection of stooges.
..."Kid" was a wonderful finale to one of the best collections I've read this year, delivering exactly the kind of uncompromising thrills and spills I've come to expect from this writer."
"Ralph Robert Moore's second collection confirms the excellent qualities displayed in his previous book "Remove the Eyes", namely a powerful imagination, an extraordinary degree of originality and a great storytelling ability… A highly recommended book."
One thing that is very evident from the moment you start reading [I Smell Blood]: these stories are far from predictable…The characters here inhabit surreal worlds grounded in reality but full of outrageous surprises.
"Visibility" [is] a tale so rich in character and atmosphere that it takes your breath away….["Afoot"] drills deep into what motivates people to want to break away from a society that confines our base instincts... The novel, "Kid", is a faultless mix of sure-fired observation…that hinges upon a plot that combines a dark and morbid supernatural ability with a crime mystery…Once more, the author has created a fascinating ensemble of characters…
Moore's work is consistently fascinating, original and devastating. His characters speak to you from whatever hell they inhabit, with clear, unambiguous voices...[I Smell Blood] is a worthy successor to "Remove the Eyes."
My first short story collection, Remove the Eyes, is available as a trade paperbook and e-book download. Please go here for details.
Critical acclaim for Remove the Eyes
"Tired of the usual suspects? Bored with the same old genre clichés? Then follow my advice and read Ralph Robert Moore, a hell of a writer whose work is provocative and refreshing, never ordinary, always imaginative and graced by a compelling narrative style…Moore has all the features of a great writer: he conceives original plots, creates credible characters and makes them speak plausible dialogues, and, most of all, is a terrific storyteller. Try him, you won't regret it."
"…[Moore's] work is not quite like that of anybody else. He is a true original, someone who has taken on board the lessons of genre and mainstream, then harnessed both to his own ends, and if you are looking for something different, then I can't recommend this collection highly enough."
"Unusual, erotic, frightening and stunningly good…This collection showcases the wide and versatile range of [Moore's] work. From the horrors of the internal demons that infest the wonderful "The Machine of a Religious Man" to the powerful and erotic, yet despairing "Rocketship Apartment", these stories capture the extremes of human experience. The writing is tight and uncompromising. The dialogue provides depth to the narrative, drawing the reader into shocking and unusual scenarios that stun, remaining in the memory long afterwards."
Please go here for more details and ordering information.
My novel Father Figure, a bestseller for its publisher in trade paperback, is now available for free in PDF format. Click here to go to a page where you can download the complete text of the novel.
"It is easy to see why Father Figure has become an underground classic over the years. It is a dark, extremely disturbing but completely gripping suspense thriller with a strongly erotic subtext...Moore is an extremely talented writer with a gift for pushing the reader's emotional buttons...certainly liable to become a cult classic, and deservedly so."
From an editorial review
Critics' Comments on Specific Stories
"For me, the masterpiece of the collection is The Rape by Ralph Robert Moore, a multi-viewpoint – in every sense of the word – examination of an apparent rape (or is it) that sizzles with tension and inventiveness."
Terry Grimwood, in Whispers of Wickedness, reviewing The Rape, published in Sein und Werden.
"…once again the editors have confirmed their extraordinary literary taste and excellent editorial instinct by selecting twenty stories which, for the most part, are up to the high expectations of 'Darkness Rising' aficionados…In some instances, I suspect, the stories are so good as to surpass even the best from the previous volumes, much to the delight of everyone fond of solid, compelling short fiction...[four of the stories] are really outstanding..."The Woman in the Walls" by Ralph Robert Moore is quite amazing. Despite the tell-tale title (believe it or not, that's the core of the plot!) the story is so original and full of surprising twists it remains absolutely memorable."
Mario Guslandi, in The Agony Column, reviewing The Woman in the Walls, published in the hardcover anthology, Darkness Rising 2005.
"This is a very strong tale, which will take a hold of you at the beginning and grip until the end. It tells of a farmer and his family and the tragedies which fall upon them, and of the dedicated employee who does anything the farmer asks of him. I found this tale to be very emotional, yet creepy and violent. Moore puts us, the reader, right into the story as if we are driving it, and we are."
Chris Cartwright, in Whispers of Wickedness, reviewing The Machine of a Religious Man, published in Midnight Street, Spring 2005
"…as it's always the case in any anthology, some stories in "Read By Dawn" are positively awful, some just ordinary, and only a bunch are worth mentioning. The latter group, in my opinion, amounts to a dozen, which is not bad at all in a volume assembling twenty-seven tales …The Little Girl Who Lives in the Woods by Ralph Robert Moore is a very dark, cruel tale about the hidden truths of human existence, blending the reality of spoiled innocence, loneliness, violence and hunger for love."
Mario Guslandi, in Horror World Review, reviewing The Little Girl Who Lives in the Woods, published in the anthology, Read Before Dawn, 2006.
"Another mind-blowing story is Truth Be Told by Ralph Robert Moore, and it is probably the story that most fits the ‘artifice’ remit. A couple – Franklin and Sarah – are talking. He questions her about her encounter at work with another woman, and his questions gradually lead her on to more and more pornographic descriptions of the encounter. It is obvious from her changing stories that much of what she is saying cannot be true. Is she taking her cues from Franklin’s (leading) questions? Is this some sort of a game that they play regularly? But there is a narrative outside of Sarah’s, and it is moving on and taking the reader somewhere disturbing. A quite remarkable story."
Jim Steel, in Whispers of Wickedness, reviewing Truth Be Told, published in Sein und Werden, Volume 1, Issue 4, 2007
If you're here, it's probably night. You can see a window from where you sit, and the window is dark. Who really knows what's outside?
I write. If you read, we've just made a connection.
SENTENCE is the forest you fall asleep into.
Like most authors, I'm more comfortable between covers, but the truth is that's getting harder and harder to achieve these days. Markets have become increasingly timid in this family values age. Plus the table of contents of most periodicals nowadays is decidedly tipped in favor of the falsehoods of nonfiction over the disturbing truths of fiction. Length is another alarm. Many small-circulation magazines, understandably, want to represent as many writers as possible in an issue, and therefore are less likely to accommodate the girth of a well-fed novella.
Back in the thirties, when fiction magazines were as popular as television is today, young writers could move to the cement and grass of the city and be on newsstands two months later.
We bemoan the loss of those days of opportunity, but the truth is we now have more magazines than ever before, only they're called websites. Thanks to cyberspace, anyone can put out their own magazine. No more backroom arguments with printers, no more getting down on your knees in front of advertisers, no more embarrassment trying to extract your right index fingertip from the white string knotted atop the bundle of the latest issue.
Some people say, but if you put your fiction on the web, it'll be stolen. Let's examine that. What could be stolen is either the story itself, or its ideas. A story can be stolen printed or posted, but it should be fairly easy to establish, in either case, the author. If you want, include in your text an anagram that, when held up to light, identifies you like a watermark as the author. Ideas can be stolen-- a simile, a description, a joke-- but that will happen regardless of the medium in which your baggage is left alone on the airport floor. The truth is, fear of plagiarism is fear of readership.
We have an enormous range of talent out beyond the electricity. Talent that can share on the Internet. There are dangers, but to be plagiarized is never fatal. What is more important is to be read. Because if it's in a box, and no one but you knows about the storms raging through the paragraphs, the footsteps plodding soggily down the sentences, water dripping off the rims of words, that's the biggest shame of all. A fizzle. Because the real achievement of writing is not the writing. The real achievement of writing is someone else reading the writing.
I've been published in America, Canada, England, Ireland, India and Australia, and translated into Lithuanian. My fiction has been called "graphically morbid". My writings are not for everyone. Are they for you? Find out.
You can either go to one of the links in the upper left of this page to read the complete texts of many of my short stories and other writings, published and unpublished, as well as lengthy excerpts from my novels, or you can go to Words Walking Nude, a collection of about fifty short excerpts from my work, to see if you like my style, and what I have to say.
Art is an invitation to go inside someone else's mind. To see our world as they see it. SENTENCE is my mind.
I'm glad you came. I just lit a cigarette. I just poured Merlot. I hope you enjoy your exploration.
Webmaster Ralph Robert Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Entire contents Copyright © 1997-2013 by Ralph Robert Moore, All Rights Reserved.
For a complete chronology of site updates, please see HISTORY.
Established January 1, 1998.
"All was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed-- just as cheese is made out of milk-- and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels."
when you're young, you're kind
june 1, 2013
When I was a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house.
My maternal grandparents.
My father's father died when I was quite young. Maybe five. I only remember a few moments here and there with him. His bald head, spectacles glinting while I sat on his lap, his extraordinary gentleness. He was German, worked in a factory that made clocks. I do remember asking my mother once if I could bring him cookies. A small child's greatest gift. My father's mother, Irish, had some form of dementia. Even as a kid I recognized that. I could have conversations with other adults, but whenever I tried having a conversation with her, she'd just mumble, watching her long nails dig at the kitchen tabletop while she sang old Irish songs. I was a little scared of her. But not much. As I got older, my father would take me to visit her in her apartment (she lost her house after my paternal grandfather's death.) It was in what was referred to back then as a project. A large, impersonal concrete complex for poor people. Her rooms were fairly spacious, especially considering they were for one person, but there was a sterility to the whole thing. Years later, when I was a teenager and had a job and a car, I used to visit her every once in a while, and bring her groceries. I forget now what I'd buy for her, but I seem to remember they weren't staples like flour or canned soup, but rather treats I knew she liked, but couldn't afford. When you're young, you're kind. I never mentioned my visits to her to my father, but apparently he found out about them during one of his own visits to her, and saw the treats himself in her kitchen cabinets so knew she wasn't imagining it. A son and his father can often be at odds, especially a first born son, and we certainly were at odds plenty of times, but I do remember one time while I still lived at home where he asked me about my visits to his mother, thanked me, and seemed genuinely moved (and surprised).
But I was much closer to my maternal grandparents. I suspect that happens a lot.
They lived on Steamboat Road in Greenwich, Connecticut. At the rear of their backyard was Long Island Sound. Their backyard literally ended with a small, sandy private beach at low tide, and a gray wood boat dock. Great environment for a little boy. Once the tide rolled out, I'd go out in the mud flats with a large stone, smashing it down in the black mud. If that smash produced water squirting up, I'd dig, pull out a clam.
My grandmother had Parkinson's. She needed an aluminum walker to get around in her home. The sweetest, kindest person I ever knew, growing up. One time, as an experiment, I squirted her flowered dress with a water pistol, probably while I was wearing a cowboy hat, just to see if she would get mad at me. A kid's flirtation, testing an older generation's tolerance. I felt ashamed doing that, even as my small finger compressed around the yellow plastic trigger, but she didn't get mad. Just tilted her old head at me. "Bobby…" And an incredible cook. My grandfather was a functioning alcoholic. All the years I knew him, he'd always dress in a black suit, flask of whiskey in his back trouser pocket. Taking little nips throughout the day. Screwing the cap back on, returning the hardness of its woman's shape with an awkward look, head turned around above his shoulder, eyes directed down, as he shoved the flask into his back pocket.
But this Lately isn't about them, really. It's about their neighbors.
A young couple who moved in next door after that house's occupant died. For a year or so, there were no changes. But then the following Summer, we noticed he spent a lot of time in his back yard, sawing wood. Hammering. The next Summer, he had built a large, long wooden support structure of tresses, and on top of that structure he balanced more nailed wood, bent into immense hoops. By the third Summer, everyone visiting my grandparents realized the guy with the long dark hair and beard was building a boat in his backyard. Not just any boat, but a huge boat, like an ark.
It was preposterous. No one had ever done that before, and certainly not next door to my drunk grandfather. My grandfather used to go out into his own backyard, late in the afternoon, dressed all in black, swaying like drunks do, staring up at the hull as it got filled-in with wood. It really pissed him off.
I was getting taller. The magic of this ark getting built intrigued me. A boy's adventure.
And then, it seemed like the neighbor stopped build the ark. Summer after Summer, the skeleton of the hull would sit out there, in rain and snow, but no more wood was added. Was it over? Had he failed? Was that what adult life was? Trying, failing?
One Sunday, while my family was visiting my grandparents, my father already antsy to leave, my mother said to me about him once that he didn't like to stay in any one place long, there was a pounding at my grandparents' front door. Alarms through all the adult family members in the house. At the sink, washing the dinner's dishes, in the living room, watching Ed Sullivan. It was left to my grandfather to open the front door and confront the poundings, since it was his house.
A long-haired woman, black hair, came rushing inside. "You must help me!"
The fuck? It was like the start of a TV show. She was sobbing, pulling her hair, so incoherent it took me, a little kid ordered to stay on the sofa in the living room, a while to realize she had a foreign accent. The men, my grandfather and my father, stood directly in front of her, blocking further access into the house, the women, my mother and my grandmother, close behind. At one point, while the arguing in the front hall was still going on, my grandmother came back into the living room, to make sure the kids were okay. "What's she saying?" I asked. My grandmother wasn't too sure how much a child should know. "She says he beats her." "The guy who's building the boat?"
One time when we were all gathered at my grandparents', I was reading the Greenwich Times as I always did, trying to gather as much information about the world as I could, and there was a story with a word I didn't know. I asked my grandfather. "What does 'rape' mean?" He said nothing for a long time. "You should ask your father." "What does the word 'rape' mean, dad?" Everyone looking at my father, waiting to see how he'd answer. "It means when a man hurts a woman.")
After an hour of loud conversation, the adults convinced her she had to leave. They wouldn't help her. Closed the front door on her, even though she was still pleading. Never get involved in a fight between a husband and a wife. If you do, and yell at the husband, the wife will change her colors and start defending him. Losing proposition.
We never saw the wife before, and we never saw the wife again. Did she stay? Did she go? One of those thousands of unanswered questions from my life, your life.
I went to high school. Still dropped by often at my grandparents, to help them out. My grandmother got worse. Started trembling, from the Parkinson's. I'd be talking to her, and a line of drool would fall out of the corner of her lower lip. I always acted as if I hadn't noticed, taking a sudden fascination in something behind her as her arthritic paw reached up, wiping, embarrassed. Eventually, she couldn't climb the stairs anymore. My grandfather put her in a small room off the kitchen. The crammed-in bed took up most of the space. One window, but he kept the blinds down. Death was sitting in the front parlor by then, where the TV was, polite and patient, almost a member of the family, slanted sunlight through the tall, old-fashioned windows. Nothing would be sudden. It would be gradual, year by year, straw by straw, which, in some ways, is kind. Isn't it?
I bought a house in another town. Stopped visiting as often. But one time I did, going out into the back yard to mow their lawn, which had gotten a bit overgrown, I noticed a lot of work had been done on the ark. The hull was all boarded, and a tall wood structure built above the deck. When did that happen?
After another year, I decided to leave my family, my state, and move to California. I drove back down to Steamboat Road one day to say goodbye to my grandfather. My grandmother had died earlier, in a hospital bed. I was the only family member she recognized during her final days.
And the ark was gone.
"Yeah, he launched a few months ago." My grandfather looking at the empty space where the ark had stood throughout my childhood, his slow alcoholic decline.
In every child's life, there's a ray of sunshine slanting down, telling you what to do. The ship had sailed. Leave. Leave your family. Leave your mother and father. Leave your siblings. Leave your history. Sail out into the world, untethered, free, frightened.
Here come the waves. Here come the green waves, giant swells ready to drown you and save you.
Last night I was standing in a room I realized I had been in at least once before in my life. There was a TV so I turned it on. Isn't that what you do with TV's? A male narrator talking: "…but Joyce had one more trick up his sleeve. Sometimes he'd write a story with x number of characters, then go back and rewrite the same story over and over, each time leaving out a different character. Whichever variation worked best, that would be his story, at which point he'd refashion it to turn it into a murder mystery about that missing character."