"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

Worm on a Hook

NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER

Well, I finally went and did it – I published my new book Worm on a Hook. I want to be a little vague, but basically it’s a horror story about a group of friends who rent a cabin for Memorial Day weekend and run afoul of a seemingly-invincible killer back from the dead. And then, I promise you, it’s on. The goal was to find overlap in the conventions of traditional slasher movies and the ’80s and ’90s action I love, and meld them into one ass-kicking novel. I’m very proud of the results, and I think you’ll not only enjoy the story but get a kick out of spotting the ways I apply concepts from reviews and Seagalogy to my own storytelling.

I hope to find this one a bigger audience than I’ve managed for Niketown, so forgive me for going into promotions mode for a bit and leaving this as a sticky post above the new reviews. I’m available for podcasts and interviews – email me at outlawvern@hotmail.com for inquiries. And if you read it, let me know what you think!

NOTE: If you’re outside of the U.S. your local version of Amazon should have it too – try searching for “worm on a hook vern” to find it.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 5th, 2020 at 10:21 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

71 Responses to “Worm on a Hook”

  1. Aaaaaaaand ordered. I was considering the Kindle version, but went with the physical copy. Should be there by Friday. (Don’t expect an opinion soon. I’m a slow reader when it comes to books.)

  2. I ordered it! Looks like a perfect October read. Hopefully I can actually do that and send in my book report.

  3. And congratulations on novel #2! In 2020! A feat of excellence!

  4. Just ordered my copy!

    When can we expect the Audible version!?

  5. Copped. Fuck yes

  6. Ordered my copy from the widget so as to maximize the kickback. That cover is a thing of beauty.

    Full disclosure: I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this a few years ago. It’s taken all of my willpower not to blab about it until now. It is jam-packed with awesome and I can’t wait to see how the final version came out. If somebody just filmed it as is and managed not to fuck it up, it would probably be my favorite movie ever. This crowd is gonna love it.

  7. Ordered from your link. Can’t wait to read it.

  8. Congrats, Vern! I plan to order it when I get home and cycle it into this year’s Halloween reading list.

  9. Well it’s either this or re-read IT for the 10th October in a row, so I just picked it up on Kindle!

  10. I really liked Niketown (and also Seagology and Yippe Kay Yea), and obviously I enjoy this site quite a bit. So, do you feel like you’ve gotta be into horror much to enjoy this, or will appreciation for your voice carry the day? Because I mostly don’t like horror believe it or not and will be less tuned into the things you’re probably commenting on in the book.

    But then again I don’t particularly like Seagal movies either (or watch very many of them) and I laughed my ass off with Seagology.

  11. heartfelt congrats, Vern! way to show 2020 that you weren’t going to take this shit lying down. was just wondering if there was an alternative sight to purchase from as Amazon won’t ship it to Australia??

  12. Hell yeah! Congratulations!!

  13. Ben: I think you’ll be okay. It’s got as much action/thriller in its DNA as it does horror. Think of it as an action movie with a slasher in it, like SILENT RAGE or COBRA, not a slasher movie with some action in it. Also it’s got Vern’s humor and personality to it. I don’t think you have to be a horror guy to enjoy it.

  14. Cool. I’m definitely reading this.

    Vern, which way can we order it and get the most money to you?

  15. Hey Vern,

    Check your email.

  16. Ordered! Looking forward to reading, congrats Vern

  17. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 5th, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Congrats!! Just ordered a physical copy as well!

  18. Thanks everybody!

    Ben – I’m not sure what you’ll think, but no, you don’t have to be familiar with the horror genre. I wouldn’t say I’m commenting on it but I’m definitely trying to follow certain traditions, some of them obvious even if you don’t watch much horror (like setting it on a holiday).

    Mixalot – It’s on the Australian Amazon too:

    https://www.amazon.com.au/Worm-Hook-Vern/dp/B08KH135C9/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=worm+on+a+hook+vern&qid=1601969934&sr=8-1

    Now, if anybody’s objection to Amazon is moral unfortunately I don’t have an answer to that yet – they own the service I used for self-publishing. I want to have at least an ebook available elsewhere, but there were unanticipated formatting issues with that.

    Marc – Thanks for asking. The best possible way is to go through my links (like in this post or on Twitter) because then I get royalties + tiny affiliate percentage. But it’s a small difference.

  19. It’s also on German Amazon, god knows how that works. I picked it for reasons of fast delivery over the US one, otherwise I would’ve used your afilliate link, but “In these uncertain times” I always expect that my mail gets lost in the shuffle before it even leaves the States.

  20. thank you kindly!

  21. Congratulations! Can’t wait to read it.

  22. Instant purchase from me. Looking forward to it, Vern.

  23. Ordered. Sounds terrific!

  24. FUCK YES. I’m looking forward to the ebook as there’s no way to get a physical copy now. Is Niketown available on ebook in a way where you get some extra money from the purchase?

  25. Ordered two! One for me, one for the homies. Probably won’t be the last copies I buy either. I’m so excited! Kinda wish you were a full time novelist, you have this Charles Willeford quality that I adore.

  26. Hell yeah! Christmas has come early. Will order a copy soon.
    I look forward to reading this. Absolutely loved your Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer book.

  27. Hearty congratulations Vern! have your Yippee Ki-Yay and SEAGALOGY sitting on my shelves and expect your latest to join them soon as I’ve placed my order on Amazon. Well not that soon, as I’m way over the other end of the world in Malaysia so maybe 2-3 weeks before I get my hooks around this worm.

  28. Wow! Max congrats!!

  29. Congrats, Vern! Easiest decision to order something in a while. Just finished Niketown and really enjoyed it so I am looking forward to this joint.

  30. Bought it through your link so you get the sale AND the affiliate credit. How meta is that?

  31. Sounds great, Vern. Paperback ordered!

  32. Just ordered my copy. This is going to be so rad (do the kids still say that?).

  33. Can’t wait to read this! I bought Niketown earlier this year for one of my pandemic reads (read it right after The Grifters, which made a nice pairing) and enjoyed it, so I get to have 2 great Vern yarns this year!

    Does anybody else hear Michael Wincott in The Crow’s voice when they read the title? Just me?

  34. Oh hey, I got a new book in the mail today! Can’t wait to dig in!

  35. Just bought a copy from your widget link thingy, I’m stoked to inhale it with my eyeballs. Thanks for serving us all this top shelf excellence, Vern!

  36. Congratulations! Ordered the paperback copy. I’ve just finished Brian De Palmas first novel and can now enjoy some autumn evenings with WORM ON A HOOK. The story sounds great, the cover art looks terrific and I’m a huge fan of your writing style and taste. I hope we can expect some genre typical sequels!

  37. One successful order and delivery here in the UK.

  38. Pacman2.0 – how did you do that? I can’t get it through UK Amazon at all!

  39. I like the little aside about him needing “a more professional website”.

  40. Thanks mate! The link worked a treat. I have no idea why I was just getting a ‘this title is not yet available’ banner instead. Anyway, looking forward to reading this next weekend.

  41. You’re welcome, enjoy!

  42. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 10th, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Yay, my copy from German Amazon just dropped on the mat!

  43. About halfway through, so no (serious) comments on the novel yet, but I was really hoping to see a bunch of characters with names like Subtlety, and PacMan, and CJ, and Winchester, and Majestyk, and so on. I am crying real crocodile tears over this.

  44. You have to read between the lines. Clearly, my analog is the Budweiser frog.

  45. I’m still stuck in chapter 1, but it’s 100% my fault. I just don’t find the time to read. At least when NIKETOWN came out, I had to commute daily on a train and had lots of dead air inbetween.

  46. Just finished it not 5 minutes ago. I’ve actually had a weird block about reading long form prose fiction since all the lockdown/Covid business. Non-graphic novels just haven’t been able to pull me in, I’d get 30 pages in and drop them even if they were great.

    Worm on a Hook broke that run so hard.

    I won’t go into why as it’s really one of those things where probably the less you know going in the better, but I flat out adored it and I’m certain I’ll read it again.

    Vern, congratulations on an excellent book and thank you for breaking that very long spell for me. All future Vern novels are now automatic preorders.

  47. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 17th, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Just wanted to mention I finished the book today as well and it’s a hell of an enjoyable read. Well done, Vern! I’ve got some spoiler-free notes, will just list them below.

    – Stoneback is a fantastic creation, cool name, great backstory, sick kills! If this ever gets turned into a movie I’m thinking Spencer Wilding might be a good candidate (bad guy from GREEN STREET 3). Big dude, knows martial arts and is used to acting under lots of monster make-up.
    – You really excel at writing believable and natural sounding banter between the characters, and making them seem real in general. This is great, because it makes their death scenes hurt extra (especially since they’re all brutal as hell!)
    – Loved the badass main character/hero. I could muse about casting here as well but that might be a spoiler.
    – Also, although he’s probably not old enough, while reading I was seeing Woods in my mind as being portrayed by Richard Brake.
    – I’m sure I missed some, but the many references to movies, action/slasher movie tropes and your own stuff made me chuckle several times.
    – Only minor negative point: I think the pacing could probably have been improved a little by cutting down the number of hero/Stoneback confrontations that happen before the climax, as there was a bit of a repetitive rhythm to them. Hero tries something new, doesn’t work, fight gets interrupted in some way.
    – Also, this may be me, but during the climax the hero yells out something I feel they could not have possibly known about – unless I just missed something. Anyways, it’s really minor stuff, the book was a blast!

    I really hope someone takes you up on that podcast/interview thing, because I’d love to hear more about what went into writing this thing, how the little details came together, what research you put into it (weapons, MMA, location, tons more I imagine) plus how you handled the self-publishing, arranged for the cover etc.

    This book is honestly inspiring me to do something I’ve been trying to push myself to do for the past 14 years: go back to writing. I used to write lots of stuff, then self-published a sci-fi fantasy novel in 2006 and, demotivated by the lack of response, never went back. Worm on a Hook in a lot of ways is similar to what I’d like to be writing myself, and gives me that feeling that I should just stop overthinking shit and start typing some words.

  48. Thank you, Undefeated Gaul! I would love to discuss all that with someone. I really haven’t had a detailed conversation about the book other than with the two people who read it and gave notes before publication. I’ll be excited to do it.

  49. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 18th, 2020 at 2:05 am

    Well I don’t have a podcast or even a website/blog, but I’d happily have an e-mail conversation about this stuff. I’m genuinely interested in how you got it all together. I don’t know if you go into much detail on the Zebras in America podcast, but I’ll be sure to check out that episode as well!

  50. Finished it yesterday, and it was a blast. It was my second time reading it, but the first time I had my editor hat on and that tends to take the fun out of it when you’re sitting there weighing the pros and cons of every adverb. This time I just got to enjoy it. Much like someone above mentioned, I’ve had a hard time getting sucked into a book lately, probably because the ongoing slow motion bus crash that the world has become has completely fucked my attention span. That wasn’t a problem with WOAH. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to wake up in the morning and actually be excited to have a book to read. It was fast-paced and always on the go, helped immeasurably by perfectly bite-sized chapters that kept you wanting to read one more and an ingenious story structure that kept introducing new elements right when the hack-slash-repeat format of the main plot might be starting to get monotonous. The characters all delineated themselves well without the author having to tell you what they were like; their motivations and behavior were enough for the reader to form his own opinion. I particularly enjoyed the glimpses we got into Stoneback’s head, which is something we never get from a slasher film unless the slasher is a monologuist which, thank god, Stoneback is not. I thought his gradual transformation into a not-quite-mindless killer was believable and well done. And of course the action and gore was a hoot. I’d watch this movie a hundred times.

    When I recommend it to people, I think I’ll describe it as “If FIRST BLOOD was a slasher movie and the killer and the victim were both Rambo.”

  51. Thanks Majestyk! The short chapters are on account of my own poor reading habits. I always find it easier to get through a book when I can keep saying “Oh, just a couple pages and I’m at the next chapter.” And I’m glad people are noticing the FIRST BLOOD stuff. Maybe it’s obvious, but Stoneback making a poncho out of a tarp was one homage to it. At one point I took detailed notes on Rambo’s journey through the movie and wanted to make Stoneback’s exactly parallel it, but then I decided that was too much.

  52. caruso_stalker217

    October 18th, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Just finished this and really enjoyed it. Here are some stray thoughts and observations before my lunch break wraps up:
    Never seen a pre-title action sequence in a book before. Awesome!
    I appreciate that the douchebag 20-somethings are actual sympathetic people and not just cannon-fodder. Like a greatest hits of my favorite Friday the 13th characters, except some of these ones get to live!
    (Seriously, why do all the cool people get offed in those movies and we get stuck with some lame-o Laurie Strode clone? Or Tommy Jarvis??)
    Cool protagonist, too. (no spoilers)
    Your sacrifice completes my sanctuary of 1,000 testicles.

    There are a few criticisms too but also other nice things that I’ll save for my Amazon review.

    VIVA VAL VERDE

  53. I must ask…have you seen the Bruce Willis commercial for Die Hard batteries? Argyle got old. But the commercial is pretty good.

  54. Ordered your new book and a copy of “Niketown”. Looking forward to reading them

  55. Got it a last week, started to read it with my son yesterday.

    He’s thirteen and dyslexic, so it’s pretty hard to find books that engage him- we typically start three or four novels before we find something that he wants to stick with . I’m happy to say he’s well and truly… hooked. I’m sure no one has made that joke ever.
    When we finished the prologue and got to the title: “Just like in a movie!”

  56. Wow, thanks for telling me that. It did not occur to me that anybody would read it with their kid. That makes me so happy. I needed that.

  57. Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this, particularly the villain’s origin story (origin stories are always the best part). Also, an island beer festival sounds fantastic, as long as a hulked-out, disavowed, genetic-monstrosity, kill-monster doesn’t show up.

  58. This might sound a little counterintuitive, but I just want to take a second here to sincerely appreciate that Vern has pinned this ad for WORM ON A HOOK at the top of the page. First, because I have been meaning to buy this book for weeks but have been really busy with work and if that wasn’t at the top of the page every time I came here I would have forgotten about it. (I bought it yesterday and can’t wait to read it.) Second, because this is visual proof of how proud Vern is of his work, and that makes me really happy to see — not that Vern hasn’t made work he should be proud of in the past, but that he has built the confidence to own this one in a different way. I think it speaks to how Vern has grown over the years and I’m here for it.

  59. Thank you for saying that. I was just worrying about if I should unpin it before people get too sick of it.

  60. Yeah, keep it pinned, Vern! I’ve been looking forward to WOAH for literal years and it still took me a few weeks to get a copy.

    The book, by the way, is an utter joy. From beginning to end. (I described it to a friend as “sort of like early Steven King meets Steven Seagal” and she replied, “My two favorite Stevens!”) You deserve to be so proud. The goal you set out to accomplish is met in spectacular fashion, and then exceeded, and then exceeded again. Effortlessly engaging, sincerely told, and knowingly hilarious. It’s put together with expert craftsmanship and loving detail, and while I’m not half the scholar of badass studies that you are, I’d say it represents, embraces and furthers the traditions of badass storytelling with unmitigated success. And on top of all that, it’s clearly your singular work for how well and how naturally it communicates a profound understanding of human behavior and an abiding respect for the difference that can be made by a person’s attitude. It couldn’t have been written by anyone else.

    *mild spoilers follow*

    One of my favorite things about it was how everyone (aside from Florence) had some aspect of themselves that was unlikeable. I liked seeing how that played out as a part of their arc. It never exactly defined anybody, or outweighed their humanity, but it was still a huge part of who they were. And if they were aware of it on a factual level, they were always unaware, sometimes fatally, of its true obnoxiousness. It’s funny, super relatable for how people tend to be, and it also keeps you guessing in a slasher story.

    Doesn’t look like anyone mentioned Gianni yet. He is worth a few words here, as his speech about grief and pain made me weep openly. It was a show-stopping moment. Funny too– of course it’s funny to have the drunken idiot drop the heavy wisdom before returning to his regularly scheduled idiocy– but am I reaching here when I take not only what he says, but the fact that it’s him saying it and not a more likeable character, as a nod to the ridiculous cosmic joke that is our life? Like: you never know who you’re going to learn something from, or have a moment of connection with, or who’s going to surprise you. It might be a fucking idiot! And yet the past and future idiocy of that same idiot is made no less idiotic for that moment of connection. It rings so incredibly true, and I loved it, both as a moment in and of itself but also (really, especially) as a part of a story about a back-from-the-dead killing machine whose only weakness is maximum firepower. Gianni also earned what was probably my biggest laugh of the book with his throwaway misidentification of Holy Mountain as Taken 2. He is, I believe, what today’s young people refer to as “a real one,” and I was delighted to see him die.

    Obviously the book is cinematic as fuck, in the best way. I’m an obsessively visual reader and there were many moments where I felt like I was reading a loving description of a shot in a movie. Like, the image of Florence zooming up the inclined rock on the motorbike and swiping the machete in midair at Stoneback’s neck while he swings the hook at the bike and makes a shower of sparks when he connects?? Jesus christ! Dynamite! And there were many others. Stoneback’s various damage-incurred transformations had me thinking about old McFarlane Toys designs (but I only just made that connection as I was writing this).

    Too soon to ask if there’s any plans to seek a life for this thing beyond the page? If it was adapted into the first (?) female-lead MMA-star movie that wasn’t just a straight actioner, I’d be telling everyone I know to see it!

  61. Thank you, psychic_hits, that’s so nice of you. I really appreciate what you said about the characters being flawed, especially Gianni, because I knew there was a big risk of falling into that trap of unlikable slasher movie characters. But I felt like he could be the type of guy I sometimes knew when I was younger, who’s an asshole and embarrasses you all the time but you still kind of like him. The entire character was inspired by a drunk guy I saw yelling “Show us your boobs!” at some roller derby skaters leaving a bout. My wife kind of told him off and he gave a condescending apology that had something to do with people in the world needing to relax and love each other. (I just confirmed that she remembers this too and I didn’t imagine it.) But yeah, I thought having a very human and sincere bonding moment with someone like that would be meaningful. I’m so glad you liked it.

    And yes, of course I dream of it becoming a movie, and I know my top choices for director and star. Hopefully my copy of The Secret isn’t on the fritz.

  62. I’ve just finished reading WORM ON A HOOK and can only say that my immediate reaction is a big grin on my face and a warm feeling of deep satisfaction. It was a pure joy to read this book. I loved it so much that I wouldn’t be able to give a clear-headed analysis or point out flaws at the moment. For that I have to read it a second time.

    The characters, the dialogue, the love for the genre, for writing and storytelling in general, the amount of insight to the characters and the distribution of information – everything clicked for me. It was a wonderful rollercoaster with the perfect mix of inventiveness and homage, tragedy and crazyness, heart and fun, real humanity and pure cinema.

    After reading your reviews for many years I am still in awe of what you have to offer as a storyteller. I can’t wait to read your next book.

  63. I got the book for Christmas and just finished reading it. Great stuff, the stuff with the HOLY MOUNTAIN DVD cracked me up twice.

  64. Got my copy and finally finished the library books i had ahead of it. Already 100 pages in and loving it.

    In my head Hardwood is Tom Atkins circa 1985.

    Even though its not the case, I’m gonna go ahead and assume Adam’s surname is an homage to me. (Or Psycho Granny).

  65. Yes, Tom Atkins – exactly the type I had in mind. I pictured a fictional guy in my head but I’m sure he morphed into Atkins on occasion.

    There *is* a reference in Adam’s name, but it’s a completely nonsensical one coming from an ’80s cartoon involving a planet of themed musclemen.

  66. Vern – congrats again on the book. I finally got around to reading it over the holidays and enjoyed it quite a bit. I did hold off on commenting until I re-read Niketown; it’s been a few years but I remembered enjoying that one a lot more and on second read that is definitely the case. I liked WOAH but loved Niketown. A lot of that is probably down to personal preference – I’m not much of a horror/slasher fan and I gravitate toward crime/mystery, especially in books. I am very curious about your process though – like was one of the books harder/longer to write? Do you like either of them better? Did you write them one after the other or were you working on both at the same time? Also, who does the covers of your books because they look fucking awesome. Like if I randomly saw these at a store and didn’t know who”Vern” was I would probably go ahead and buy it just for the cover.

    To me, reading WOAH felt more like a screenplay and was very straight ahead, whereas Niketown went off in lots of different directions, kept me guessing and had a great overarching theme to it. I don’t mean that as a criticism, I enjoyed WOAH and don’t have anything negative to say about it, I just think Niketown is a much more impressive work. So anyone hear that hasn’t read it yet (if that’s somehow possible) definitely needs to check it out.

    One of the things that made me laugh in WOAH is when a guy is rummaging through the recycling for a weapon and stops to think “What are you doing – cork isn’t recyclable”. And then I laughed again because of course cork is recyclable. And then like half an hour later…”Hey Alexa is cork recyclable?” Learn something new everyday. Next you’re going to tell me that a ROAD HOUSE sequel actually exists!

    Oh and maybe a dumb question – in Niketown, there are two detectives named Wood and Harris. Was that deliberate or a happy coincidence? Were you watching THE WIRE when you wrote it?

  67. Mine arrived here to Finland today from German Amazon, very excited to get this going

  68. I admit I still haven’t read it and it’s because I can’t find it anymore. No worries, it’s somewhere in my bedroom, but in one of many huge piles of books, CDs and DVDs. Kinda started housecleaning mid-November but wasn’t able to finish it for several reasons.

  69. CJ, I’m sure it would be fine if you bought another copy!

  70. *fingerguns at The Winchester*

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