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Joe Bob Briggs is known for hosting The Last Drive-In on Shudder and AMC+. From October 6th-8th, hundreds of his fans (known as mutants or the mutant family) descended upon the West Wind Drive-In Theater in Las Vegas. They all came together to experience the Third Annual World Drive-In Festival. This is my Jamboree story.

Poster for The Third Annual World Drive-In Movie Festival and Jamboree
A promotional poster by Unlovely Frankenstein for the Third Annual Jamboree.

The City of Sin

Flying into Las Vegas from the midwest feels like entering into an entirely different dimension. Flashing lights and chimes from dozens of slot machines greet you as you step off of the plane. I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitious, so I plunk twenty dollars in the first machine I see and win five dollars.

After picking up our rental car and checking into our hotel, all plans of adventuring in the big city went out the window. We order room service and I scroll through the platform formerly known as Twitter. Watching everyone arrive for the Jamboree filled me with a mixture of excitement and dread.

Jamboree Jitters

I didn’t know what to wear. What if people didn’t like me? Will I overheat and pass out? My husband hands me a drink and tells me to stop spiraling. But according to my therapist, I’m the best at spiraling. After a few sips and even more deep breaths, I veer back towards excitement.

Waking up at 6:30 AM is not ideal while you’re in town for a movie festival that runs from 2 PM – 2 AM. Alas, my east coast circadian rhythm doesn’t give a shit about what is ideal. Though waking up early on Friday did give us a chance to gather our needed supplies from a local store called Wal-Mart. 

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Flying in meant we had to bear the additional expense of purchasing a cooler, folding chairs and an FM band radio. We also bought blankets and pillows to create a cozy viewing area in the back of our rental SUV. I knew we would want these items to have the best possible experience, but I also knew we would have no way of bringing most of the items home. For a trip that already cost us thousands in terms of the hotel, festival tickets + add ons, rental car and flights – it stung.

Ticket prices for the Jamboree itself are reasonable, especially if you purchase them early. However, it’s hard to ignore that many mutants were priced out of attending this year due to the location. My husband and I combined our birthday, anniversary, and Christmas gifts for our two-day experience. The ability to camp onsite helped to lower costs for many attendees, but camping on a blacktop without shade or showers is not my particular idea of fun.

They Paved Paradise, Put Up a Drive-In Lot

However, pulling into the West Wind Drive-In makes its location choice very apparent. Growing up, the drive-in theater I attended had one screen. The three screens at my college drive-in are dazzling. The West Wind has six screens. And we took over five of them. (The sixth screen was playing Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie with a double feature I was unable to determine. I can only imagine what those parents were thinking.)

With a combination of Jamboree volunteers and West Wind staff scanning tickets and directing parking, arrival was smooth and easy. We spotted filming for Charles Band’s Barbie & Kendra Crash Joe Bob’s Drive-In Jamboree immediately, and would continue to see them filming the rest of the weekend. I’m definitely looking forward to watching it when it comes out, and hopefully it has its world premier on The Last Drive-In.

Approaching a gathering of people in the camping area, I was nervous. Meeting people in real life that you’ve only previously known online is intimidating. For about half a second. When you’ve bonded with anyone over a love of movies, there’s never a shortage of conversation topics. There’s also apparently never a shortage of trinkets. I was given pins, stickers, and a friendship bracelet ala Taylor Swift spelling out the word “breasts.” I felt somewhat bad only being able to offer name tags in return, but it turns out those are valuable currency.

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A photo taken at the Jamboree showing the author's wrist and a friendship bracelet that reads "breasts."
My “breasts” bracelet courtesy of a member of the mutant family.

The Jamboree Line Experience

Waiting in line for our photo opportunity, we heard the sweet dulcet sounds of Mutant Karaoke. The entertainment was appreciated as Joe Bob and Darcy were roughly an hour late for photos. Thankfully the line formed under the shade of the concessions building, so the wait was not unbearable. Meeting Joe Bob and Darcy, although very briefly, was incredible. I’ve already framed the photo.

Our next wait-in-line experience was for the Welcome BBQ dinner. Unfortunately, this line was not shaded and I cursed myself for not buying an umbrella to bring. We went through the line and were given plates of food and sent on our way. The food was good, but I’m pretty confident in saying that it wasn’t worth the $50 per person price tag. The concession stand is reasonably priced and fast, so we could have fed ourselves dinner for $30 total without the long wait.

If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old!

As John Brennan and the Bigfeet took the stage, my husband and I made our way back to our vehicle. We were blessed with a good spot that had a great view of the stage and one of the screens. A bad parking spot didn’t exclude anyone from a good view, as the first few rows of parking spots in front of the stage were cleared for chairs. 

Future attendees should include some hearing protection in their packing lists, as the sound from the stage was very loud. Luckily, I always carry ear plugs with me so the sound was not an issue for me. John Brennan and the Bigfeet put on an energizing and entertaining show as a skunk must have wandered around the parking lot.

Charles Band then took the stage and announced they would be filming the final scene of their aforementioned movie during their allotted time. As someone who has never been a part of a film’s production, it was really cool to get such a behind the scenes look at the process. I won’t spoil the ending, but this is sure to be a very amusing film.

A photo of the cast and crew of Barbie & Kendra Crash Joe Bob’s Drive-In Jamboree on stage with Joe Bob and Darcy.
Filming for the final scene of Charles Band’s Barbie & Kendra Crash Joe Bob’s Drive-In Jamboree

You’re Just a Filmmaker

The night truly began as Joe Bob took the stage to wild audience cheers and applause. He discussed the importance of filmmaking before showing his famous speech to “aspiring” filmmakers he made while hosting One Cut of the Dead (2017) in the second season of The Last Drive-In. The speech is incredibly inspiring and I recommend watching it if you haven’t already done so. It was the perfect lead-in to a celebration of truly independent filmmakers. 

The film festival then kicked off with David Liban’s feature Publish or Perish. The film covers exactly what lengths a professor will go to receive tenure and is more dark comedy than outright horror. It does an excellent job of building tension and leaves the audience asking “Can he really get away with this?” up until the very end. 

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The second film of the night was Buddy Cooper’s Mutilator 2, the long awaited sequel to his 1985 film The Mutilator. Cast and crew were onsite at the Jamboree selling merch and interacting with fans, building the excitement before airing. The movie fully delivers with a bloody and funny meta-horror experience.

Keep Them Coming

Sean Haitz’s Cannibal Comedian rounded out the feature length films, with a movie about -you guessed it- a cannibal comedian juggling his roadside human meatball stand and his burgeoning career as a comedian. Two vehicles featured in the film were on location at the Jamboree along with the cast and crew, which I did not realize until they appeared on screen. The movie is laugh out loud funny and delivers when it comes time for the kills.

The night finished with eight short films, several of which are now available on YouTube: 

  • Above the Staircase written & directed by Dennis Sema
  • Baby Fever directed by Hannah May Cumming and written by Hannah May Cumming & Alex Hartwig
  • The Casting Couch directed by Matt Thiesen & Justin Lee and written by Milly Sanders
  • That Damned Yellow Raincoat written & directed by Jason Huls
  • Hideous Heart directed by Nicholas Camp & Don Thiel and written by Nicholas Camp
  • Satanimation directed by Gregory Garrett Boone & Jason Hooper and written by Jason Hooper
  • The Mages of Rage and the Desecration of the House of Mimicry directed by Jason Sheedy and written by Brett Brooks & Jason Sheedy
  • We Forgot about the Zombies – written & directed by Chris McInroy

Well-Deserved Awards

All films shown as part of the film festival were introduced by Joe Bob with his signature drive-in totals and awarded a Drive-In Academy Award, also known as a Hubbie. The award is inscribed on a vintage Chevy hubcap and was given in-person on stage to those who were able to attend the Jamboree. I hope those involved in making these films felt the love the audience poured into them as we felt the love they poured into their craft.

A photograph of the Hubbie award given to Tom Atkins. It shows a Chevrolet hubcap with added inscriptions that read "Lifetime Achievement Award Tom Atkins"
and "Joe Bob's Drive-In Jamboree July 10, 2022."
The Hubbie Award given to Tom Atkins at 2022’s Drive-In Jamboree

After midnight, sound ordinances require a switch from stage sound to radio. My husband and I did our best to stick it out for as long as possible, but the soft droning of the radio and the softer pillows piled in our backseat told us it was time to head back to the hotel.

Deal Me in Again

Despite arriving at roughly the same as we did on Friday, our parking spot on Saturday was unfortunately at one of the screens facing away from the stage. Thankfully, we were able to set our chairs up near friends near the front of the stage. We wanted the best possible view for the live taping of The Last Drive-In and ended up being right in front of the central teleprompter. Someone moving our stuff was a concern, but as we checked in throughout the day it remained in the same spot. 

Since we had not purchased add-ons for Saturday, we had more free time to shop at the merch tables. Every vendor was super friendly and there was a good variety of items to choose from at multiple price points. All of the tables were also under shade which was greatly appreciated, despite Saturday being slightly cooler than Friday.

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I also conquered a small piece of my nerves to introduce myself to Yuki Nakamura, who is behind production design on The Last Drive-In!

Article author Kait is seen standing under a white tent next to Yuki Nakamura at Joe Bob's Jamboree.
I am hot and sweaty and I never know what to do with my hands.

We also had more time to spend with fellow attendees on the second day. The mutant family is a diverse group of people who are all brought together by their love of Joe Bob and horror, but they also have something else in common. They’re cool as fuck. We met so many kind and funny and thoughtful people who welcomed us right into their spaces without hesitation. It made all my earlier fears and anxiety seem so silly.

Let’s Get it Started

Pre-show entertainment on Saturday included a very entertaining Mutant Rap Battle. The one and only Gringo Fantastico took the stage alongside a handful of other talented mutants as they gave it their all to win copies of Troma films. The contestants are all crowned winners and walk away with movies in hand. 

John Brennan and the Bigfeet then took the Jamboree stage again, this time with a special surprise just for The Last Drive-In superfan Eric Butts. The band learned an original song written by Butts and brought him on stage to perform it with them. Dave Sheridan (known for his character Officer Doofy and in character as Blow Job Briggs) joined them and they put on a performance I will never forget. Seriously, who knew a song about Waffle House could be so damn catchy?

Viva Las Vegas

I will also never forget Joe Bob taking the stage to kick off the live-episode filming with a “mutated” rendition of Viva Las Vegas. Hearing his musical stylings is always an unexpected treat. I think he narrowly missed out on a career as a prolific lounge entertainer. With energy levels at all time high – we were officially part of a live studio audience.

A photo of Joe Bob singing Viva Las Vegas on stage at the Jamboree.
Joe Bob takes the stage to perform the opening musical number.

I will be providing an in-depth review of this episode when it airs on Shudder next year, but I can say with absolute certainty that audiences are in for a treat. It is astounding to me how similar watching the taping felt to watching an episode at home. Joe Bob and Darcy are naturals on stage. Darcy has mentioned how anxious events like these make her, but you would never guess from watching her.

Roger and Julie Corman are the featured guests of the Jamboree, with both receiving their own Hubbie awards. Julie receiving separate honors for her contributions to film was a thoughtful gesture by Joe Bob in a night that could have easily been all about her husband.

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Can You Say That on TV?

The interview takes place during the first showing of the night, Corman’s 1959 film A Bucket of Blood. It is an entertaining take-down of beatnik culture in black and white and felt like a perfect film to experience at a drive-in. The interview is full of fascinating stories, and the story-telling goes to 11 when Bruce Dern appears as a surprise guest.

A photo of Joe Bob interviewing Roger Corman on stage at the Jamboree.
Joe Bob interviewing Roger Corman.

The second film of the night is 1983’s Deathstalker. Joe Bob seems delighted to be showing this movie, and I have absolutely no idea why. It’s a sword and sorcery movie and whenever I try to describe it all that comes out is “It’s a movie about attempted rapes.” It was entertaining enough, although I was more entertained by audience reactions.

The night did not end when the live-taping ended, though. Once stage sound was cut and switched to FM, the drive-in played The Wild Angels (1966) about the Hell’s Angels. As well as The Trip (1967) about an LSD trip. Surprise guest Dern appears in both of these Corman films, making them a logical choice to finish the night. We seize the opportunity to sneak out during The Wild Angels.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on what accounts you read, we were not present for Sunday shenanigans at the Jamboree. Sleepaway Camp day featured a cast reunion and Chris Jericho alongside an all-night marathon of the full series of movies.

Jamboree Camaraderie

So, what do you call a gathering of hundreds of members of the Mutant Family? A group of crows is a murder. It’s tempting to borrow that name for a group of people who relish in watching on-screen death. However, after spending two days baking under the Las Vegas sun at the 3rd Annual World Drive-In Movie Festival (also known as Joe Bob’s Jamboree), I’d like to propose something entirely different: a camaraderie. I’ve seen first hand the solid foundation of trust and friendship, so no other word makes sense to me.

(One experience I did not have, due to sheer nerves, was meeting Joe Bob and Darcy outside of my purchased photo opportunity. This does not mean they were not available, as they spent countless hours meeting mutants and signing autographs free of charge. I know many people were absolutely thrilled at the chance to have a few moments of dedicated time with the hosts of the show that brought us all together.)

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Kait (she/her) haunts the cornfields of the Midwest after being raised in a small Indiana town built on sickness and death. She consumes all sorts of horror-related content and spits their remains back onto your screen. You can follow her on Twitter at @ KaitHorrorBreak, where she live tweets The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and posts other spooky things.

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, A Killer Comes Home

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Episode two of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was more true crime than supernatural. It was the horrific, dark tale of a serial killer who escapes from jail and comes back to his hometown for revenge. And boy, does he find it.

The story

This story begins with a man coming out to his front porch to find a mysterious package wrapped in newspaper. He opens it to find a rotting, maggot-ridden head that he certainly didn’t order.

The head was placed there by a killer named Allan Legere. In 1986, Legere brutally murdered a couple in their homes during a robbery. For this, he was sentenced to life in prison.

However, he escaped from prison in May of 1989. Enraged at his old hometown, he returns there and starts a brutal killing rampage. He wants revenge on the people who wronged him. At least, the people he believes wronged him. Rather than focusing on the police who arrested him, or the judge and jury who convicted him, he decides to go after the journalists who reported on the case.

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Of course, he also murders a whole bunch of old ladies for some reason. And a priest.

Annette Holland in Suburban Screams.

Legere is still alive, and still in prison. But as he’s escaped once, many people believe he might do so again. And if he does, he’ll almost surely try to pick up right where he left off.

This tale is told from the point of view of the journalists, Rick MacLean and David Cadogan. Both men have been deeply impacted by this incident. They are still shaken. And still very, very angry.

What worked

This episode was far better than the first, right from the maggot-headed start. The gore was intense. The story was horrifying. And it’s made even more horrifying, knowing that it is, for the most part, true.

The thing that made this episode stand out is that it feels so much like several beloved horror stories. I would suggest that this story inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween, except that that movie came out in 1978. The events in this episode took place from 1986 to 1989.

To realize that a person could cause so much pain, and take so many lives, is possibly the scariest thing most of us can imagine. And while this story is, sadly, not unique, it is certainly worse than most.

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What didn’t work

After watching this episode, I can only really think of one complaint. There is a scene with the first victims, two elderly ladies. The first woman is home alone when someone begins hammering on her front door. We are meant to believe that it is the killer, but it ends up being her sister with a lovely salad. But if the two sisters lived together, why was she knocking to be let in? I can only believe that this is meant as misdirection to the point of being a jump scare. And this feels cheap. Especially when the rest of the episode was more on the level.

Is it True?

While I do think parts of this episode were, let’s say dramatized, I do think this happened. There are just too many facts that would be far too easy to look up. To my dismay, the part that is easiest to look up is the horrific deaths of many innocent people.

This was a much better episode than the one that preceded it. The story is compelling and frightening. It is well told, both from the survivors being interviewed and the actors recreating the moments of horrific history. I’m hoping that the rest of the season is more like this episode, and less like the first.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Kelly

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Launched in October of 2023, Suburban Screams is the latest project by acclaimed horror master John Carpenter. It’s a true crime/unsolved mystery series covering events that have terrified people living in, you guessed it, the suburbs.

The story

Our first episode, titled Kelly, is the story of two roommates named Dan and Joey. The actual Dan and Joey tell the story from their own perspective, interspersed with dramatic reenactments. This did feel very much like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

One night when Dan and Joey have their girlfriends over, they decide to play with an Ouija board. Since they don’t have one, Dan makes one on a pizza box, complete with a planchette. This is, of course, when things go terribly wrong.

Still from Suburban Screams, Kelly.

Honestly, I have never heard anyone say, “I had a great time with that Ouija board, I’m really glad we did that.”

The couples make contact with a spirit named Kelly. This is very upsetting to Dan’s girlfriend May, as she had a cousin named Kelly who went missing and is presumed dead.

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Dan then finds himself haunted by Kelly. He throws up water, finds his kitchen chairs stacked on the table, and is followed around by a haunting song. Dan feels like he won’t find peace until he helps Kelly find peace.

What worked

There was a lot to enjoy in this first episode. Specifically, I loved the horror visuals. Dan’s vision was very creepy, as an example. And I loved the shots of the body floating down the river. These images were eerie and upsetting.

The storytelling from Dan and Joey was also well done. While I have my doubts about the validity of this story, these two men believe wholeheartedly in what they’re saying. I certainly believe that they experienced something disturbing. Either that or they are some fantastic actors.

What didn’t work

That being said, some things rubbed me the wrong way in this episode.

I’d like to start with the herbs Joey burned during the Ouija session. It looked like sage, or maybe sweetgrass.

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As some of you might know, I am a practicing witch. So I do feel the need to point out that if you want to open a door and invite spirits in, you probably don’t want to be burning sage or sweetgrass as those are going to negate any spiritual activity. This was for sure the action of someone who does not know what the hell they are doing. It just irritated me.

Also, maybe don’t throw open a door indiscriminately to the spirit world. Just saying.

I also didn’t love the acting by Ben Walton-Jones, who played Dan. While it wasn’t a terrible job, the character felt overacted. I don’t know how he had room for that pizza, since he was chewing the scenery most of the episode.

Honestly, this episode felt a little underproduced. When I saw John Carpenter’s name, I was expecting something with some real production value. Great acting, great effects, great music. None of those were in effect here. I’m not sure where their budget went, because it didn’t go to any of the things it should have.

Is it true?

So that brings us to the big question. Do I think this story is true?

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Well, it is verifiable that Kelly Lynn Fitzpatrick was a young woman who unfortunately was found dead in 1999 in Quebec. The rest of the story, so far as I can find, is up to speculation.

Do I believe someone could contact the dead on an Ouija board they made out of a pizza box? Yes, I do. Because Dan made it with his own hands it might have worked better than a store-bought board. But do I think he was haunted to this extent by the spirit of Kelly?

Well, I would say that I believe this about as much as I believe the story of the Amityville house. Something certainly happened here, but I am sure that the details shared in this episode of Suburban Screams are highly overblown.

In the end, while I did have fun watching this episode, this fun was tainted. I would have enjoyed it more if it was presented as a fictional story loosely based on real-life events. Because that is almost certainly what it was.

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3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Fallout, The Beginning

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We’ve now reached the end of Fallout, season one. As I mentioned during the last review, I was heartily concerned that this show, like so many others, was going to drop the ball at the finale and ruin an entire season.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. This episode was everything it needed to be and more.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin our story with Maximus returning to the Brotherhood of Steel compound. He has a head, which he is claiming is the real head of Wilzig.

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I don’t know why he thought that was going to work.

Of course, it doesn’t. The elder cleric is about to kill Maximus until Dane says that they hurt their foot.

Because of this, the Brotherhood is sent out to get the head. Or rather, what’s inside of it. They head to the city run by Moldaver. This happens to be the same place Lucy and The Ghoul are headed.

Still from Amazon Prime's Fallout.

There, Lucy does manage to find her father. What she ends up finding is so much more than she wanted to find.

What worked

The first thing I have to discuss is how seamlessly the storylines of the series combined.

Each of our four main characters has been on their own journey. Lucy is trying to save her father. Maximus wants to become a knight. The Ghoul wants to find his family. Norm wants to know what’s going on in Vault 31.

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I sure wasn’t expecting all of these stories to come together in the way that they did. And to preserve the ending, I don’t dare say more. I will only say that yes, all four stories tie in perfectly with one another. By the end, two characters end up having the very same goal.

As I hinted before, I did not see the twist ending coming.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

Yes, we might have guessed some things from the last episode. We of course guessed that Lucy’s dad was involved in some nefarious and probably sci-fi way. But the way this story twists at the end is nothing short of serpent-like. Which is why I cannot go into too much detail here. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to experience it blind.

Finally, I can give the Fallout season finale the most important praise I can ever give a finale. It did its number one job, getting us excited for season two. We have answers, but now we have new and more exciting questions. And even better, we have a desire to see vengeance done.

What didn’t work

Now that the season is done, though, I can bring up something that bothered me through all eight episodes.

I don’t buy Lucy and Maximus’s relationship.

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Maybe because it’s rushed. Maybe because the two actors don’t have a lot of chemistry. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure even now either character could tell you a single thing about the other. There is just no spark between the two. So their love story feels tacked on. I honestly feel like their love story could have been removed from the show entirely and it would have no negative impact.

I also didn’t buy Dane’s confession. This is a minor spoiler, but it comes up early in the episode. Dane confesses that they hurt their foot so that they wouldn’t have to go into the wastelands.

And at first, I kept expecting Maximus to thank them later. I honestly thought that they were just lying to save Maximus’s life. But no, as it turns out, they were not.

But it just doesn’t make sense. The motivations don’t jive. I honestly think it would have been better for the story if they had lied to save Maximus’s life.

At least then there’d be one other Brother of Steel who had some nobility.

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In the end, this first season of Fallout was everything I could ask for. So far as I can tell, it was everything fans of the Fallout franchise could ask for. There wasn’t a bad episode in the bunch. Honestly, the only real complaint I had was that the season was so short.

I’ll be counting down the days to season two, and I hope you’ll be joining me then. Because war, war never changes.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

If you like my work, you can check out my latest science fiction/horror novel, Nova, launching on May 17th. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon.

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