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Home page: http://www.davidniallwilson.com
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My new collection, The Call of Distant Shores, is out now in digital. You can buy it already at Crossroad Press & Smashwords, and it will be live in the next 24 or so hours at Amazon & Barnes & Noble. I thought I’d post the Author’s Introduction here…
A lot of authors of dark fantasy and horror will cite H. P. Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, Hugh Cave, and Manly Wade Wellman as influences on their writing. Clark Ashton Smith is another name you’ll hear, and in this volume, you’ll find my tribute to that great talent, as well as a number of others that dip into the wells of darkness and magic – a world I’m familiar with from endless hours of reading, dreaming, and spilling my own words onto the page.
I have never considered myself a huge fan of Lovecraft. Pulp writing, in general, appealed to me when I was much younger, and in the middle years of my writing career, I pushed it aside. I was, of course, deluding myself. When someone pointed out to me that I actually had a body of work loosely fitting this sub-genre of horror / dark fantasy that was probably enough for a book, I laughed. Then I looked. Then I stopped laughing. What I found was that these writers – these storytellers I grew up with and believed I’d left behind me – were responsible for a huge chunk of my output as a writer. There are elder gods, ancient evils, and everything that attends them walking the corridors of my creative consciousness, and that reader was correct. There was more than enough to make a book.
I also note that, of all my works, most of my favorites, and some that have garnered critical notice, are among the stories you are about to read. “The Call of Distant Shores,” the title piece of this collection, is one of my most popular stories to date, and Cockroach Suckers, which is more recent and set near my current home town in the fictional Old Mill, North Carolina, could not be more Lovecraftian without being set in New England.
Anyway…there are a lot of words ahead – a lot of images – a lot of nightmares. I hope you’ll enjoy them, and I dedicate them to those authors who have gone before, paving the way for an ever-widening realm of new worlds and deep-rooted fears.
Welcome to my nightmares.
-David Niall Wilson
SUNG TO THE TUNE OF ROCKSTAR – by Nickelback
I’m tired of writing for publishers who never give in,
I’m a genius, they don’t see it and I just can’t win
this famous writer gig ain’t turned out how I thought it’d be…
I want a mega-best-seller on the New York Times list,
with some killer cover art no one could ever resist,
and a glass-fronted shelf for my books so everyone can see…
I want a new bookcase full of old first editions
and a Mont Blanc pen with some gold ink in it
and a hot librarian to keep it polished up for me…
I want to sign some books, and trade ’em for money,
and a bunch of author groupies who will call me honey,
and my whole life’s work made available fully digitally…
I want to trade this life for fortune and fame,
I’ll even comb my hair and dress up lame,
Cause we all just wanna be Kindle Stars
and write a pile of bestsellers from the stools of bars,
Every new ereader’s gonna have my books,
and I’ll be on the menu of all their Nooks
And I’ll hang out in the coolest blogs,
with their kid’s bat mitzvah’s and their cool loldogs,
every avatar you see will be my cover art,
while they’re waiting for the day when the blog tour starts…
and we’ll cruise You Tube and the Web-TV,
Fill everybody’s monitor with videos of me,
hit the Twitter and Facebook and the online mall,
everybody has my address saved in Paypal…
oh yeah, I wanna be a Kindle Star.
Sung to the tune, you know? Maybe I’ll get the guitar out someday and record it … Meanwhile, you can go to AMAZON.COM and the DNW LINKS and make it happen for me…
Now in digital, books I and II of The DeChance Chronicles. For those who were around for the first iteration – Vintage Soul, which was originally the first book, is now Volume II, following Heart of a Dragon. Chronologically, it’s the correct order, and a lot of the complaints I had about not developing Donovan and his supporting cast I think I answered in Heart of a Dragon...it seemed the proper shift. Volume III – Kali’s Tale- will be written sometime in the next year, if I can keep my schedule properly aligned.
Anyway…here are short synopses of both books. Heart of a Dragon is on sale from now until May 25th as I discuss it for my “Book of the Week” on my Official Facebook Page. Vintage Soul has just been released at $2.99, also in digital. Both are in production as audiobooks, and both will be in trade paperback by the end of the year.
Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator.
When Anya Cabrera, a Voodoo Houngan in San Valencez California’s Barrio, tampers with the ceremony that draws the Loa to possess the faithful, Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, and private investigator is contacted immediately. Donovan helps to maintain the balance of supernatural forces in the city – and that balance is in serious danger.
The Dragons, a local motorcycle gang, live under a shaky truce with a neighboring Hispanic gang, Los Escorpiones, who are now aligned with Anya. The two groups face off in a battle that becomes more than the Dragons expected. Los Escorpiones are faster than they should be, and stronger. When they are stabbed, or shot – they get back up and keep on fighting.
Old Martinez, a local sorcerer and medicine man who has helped maintain peace in the Barrio for longer than anyone else can remember stands with The Dragons.. A young man he has been slowly mentoring, Salvatore Domingo Sanchez, joins him. Salvatore, is an artist, and he dreams of dragons. When Salvatore begins to paint the dragons from his dreams on the leather jackets of the Dragons of the Barrio, the balance begins to shift.
Can Donovan, his lover and partner Amethyst, Martinez and Salvatore find a way to stop Anya Cabrera from unleashing a demon army on San Valencez – or will their efforts release an even greater danger into the city? HEART OF A DRAGON is the story of an artist, ancient evil, dragons, voodoo and men. It is a story of courage, brotherhood, and other worlds.
When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved, three hundred year old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover’s nose, Donovan is called in to investigate.
He soon finds that there is much more to the case than a simple abduction when an unknown intruder invades his home and steals a very rare, very ancient manuscript. There will be no ransom for the kidnap victim, and if Donovan doesn’t prevent an ancient, forbidden ritual from reaching its culmination, far more than a single vampire’s undead existence will be at stake.
Calling on his lover and partner, Amethyst, and an odd assortment of contacts, informants, and connections, Donovan follows the ghostly trail of the kidnapper through a winding maze of intrigue-always a step behind-through magical battles, murders, and confrontations with a rogue band of young vampires intent on beating Donovan at his own game.
Vintage Soul is a dark urban supernatural mystery with a hint of romance. Set in an underground society, a city within the city of San Valencez, California, it opens portals to the unknown darkness that surrounds us. Fast-paced, strewn with clues, investigation, and magic, this is a book sure to slake the appetites of fans of mystery and the supernatural.
Follow the conversation about Heart of a Dragon this week on FACEBOOK.
I’m having a sale, of sorts…an ongoing, cyclic promotion of my many, many books. Over on Facebook, on the Official David Niall Wilson page, I’ve started talking about one book a week…what made me write it, inspirations, techniques, the history of where I was and what I was doing at the time – for the anthologies like Defining Moments it’s a sort of extended story-notes section. Along with these promotions, I’m putting the books I talk about on sale for only .99 for a short time. Right now you can get Defining Moments & On the Third Day for .99 through the 15th, and The Not Quite Right Reverend until the 20th.
The hope is I’ll pick up some new readers along the way, and that some of those getting the good deal will take a few moments to go to Amazon, B&N, and other places to leaves me a review, or stop by the Facebook page and talk about my work. The two things about being a writer I enjoy the most (in this order) are people reading what I’ve written, and talking with people who’ve read what I’ve written…of course, the writing itself is a close third.
This week’s book is “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature,” first published by Bad Moon Books. You can hear all abou
t this one, or buy and read it now for .99 – OR – in this particular case, I’ve also put the unabridged Audiobook on sale – narrated by the amazing Mr. Joe Geoffrey – for only $9.99 – that’s a big savings, and he did a great job.
Here’s an audio sample to give you an idea: Sample of the Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus Audiobook
I hope you’ll all take some time to come by, see what’s going on, and join in on the discussion. Also, I’m editing the novel HALLOWED GROUND for publication soon, and writing another titled THE PARTING – so there’s plenty of variety…and 100 percent more sale.
I’ve started a new promotional “plan” wherein I’m talking about one of my books a week on Facebook, here, and Twitter. In conjunction with this, I’ve decided that – whatever the book of the week is – I’ll put it on a ten day .99 sale during the time I’m talking about it.
The purpose of this entire promotion is to raise awareness of my work. I hope the stories, histories, anecdotes and notes on my writing process will intrigue people and make them want to read the books. I also hope that, the lower price will entice some people who are not familiar with my work to give it a try – and to generate more feedback, discussion (and hopefully reviews) for the books as I progress.
That said…here are the various links to where you can get ON THE THIRD DAY and DEFINING MOMENTS for .99 between now and the 15th. I added in On the Third Day, which was last week’s book, because the idea of the lowered sale price only just occurred to me last night – and I want that book to have a shot at new readers too. Here are links that give you a search of all my available titles at each of the following sites. The price at Amazon takes a day or so to catch up with the change I made…everywhere else the .99 is already in effect. You’ll have to scroll through my titles to find the two that are on sale at each site:
GO! BROWSE! BUY! READ! Join me on FACEBOOK to discuss Defining Moments this week – or to discuss my writing or any of my books any time.
Back when DEFINING MOMENTS was about to be published, I sat down and wrote an author’s preface to the collection. The preface gives a bit of insight into each story included in the book. At the time, I didn’t know the book would get me another Bram Stoker nomination (two actually) or that one of the stories would actually win me the award for short fiction – which I am very proud of. At the time, it was a collection of words – stories chosen by editor / publisher Robert Morgan. Here’s what I had to say back in 2006…
* * *
I’m happy to have the opportunity to write an introduction to this collection, because it gives me a chance to talk about the stories that were chosen, why they were chosen, and where they fit in the great puzzle that is my life’s work. The process of creating this book was interesting, and I think the selections were very nearly perfect. Having over a hundred and thirty stories in print it isn’t easy to whittle that number down to thirteen, but we attacked them a pile at a time, and with Robert’s help, I think the representative pieces will do very well indeed.
I want to comment briefly on each of the thirteen tales, in no particular order, so that I can lend perspective to each piece and hopefully show how and why I came to write them. I don’t know if this is helpful to the reading experience, but I know that I’m usually fascinated when another author reveals their process. Here’s a bit of mine. (more…)
The moon hung high in the sky and lit the empty streets with a white, hazy glow. The radiance was painful to Father Prescott’s eyes, so brilliant that it cut through his senses and prevented focus on anything but the dirt of the street before him and a brighter light ahead.
He stumbled forward, though the sensation was of floating, not walking. The street was longer than he remembered, longer than it should be. He felt the weight of their eyes. They stood in doorways, between the homes, in the windows of stables and on the steps of the small adobe schoolhouse.
They followed him with their collective, accusing gaze. Every face was chiseled into a frown of disapproval, or of hatred. They stared at him like the liberated characters in an ancient painting of loss or damnation. They stared at him and he moved on, fighting to look away from their bitter faces, only to face them again in whatever direction he turned.
Ahead the light grew in intensity until it shone like a small sun, or a captured star. It sparked from the base of the chapel, leaped brightly to the sky and washed away the encroaching figures. Father Prescott wanted to hurry forward. He wanted to move into that brighter light, away from the eyes and the stares and the ancient pain that dogged his steps, but his progress was not his own to control.
As he drew nearer, he saw the statue. It pulsed like neon, or white hot metal, molded into the form of a man. Rays of light slashed from a gash in the side of the figure’s skull. Something beautiful and overpowering poured from that small hole and Father Prescott wanted to drop to his knees before it, but he couldn’t. He was held, prevented from drawing too near to the statue itself; prevented from escaping those who closed in now on all sides.
Shadow forms, their features clear, but their bodies obscured, melted into the light. He had the impression that they were pressing their features into the exterior of that light, pressing inward but unable to penetrate the glow.
He tried to cry out, tried to call to them, but he had no voice. He tried to raise a hand to his lips, but found that he couldn’t move his limbs, except in that inexorable march forward.
He came at last to a point in the road parallel with the leading edge of the chapel. The light surrounded him on all sides, and there was a SNAP of energy. He stood within the light, firmly rooted on the ground and able to walk.
The statue gleamed and glittered, flickering now with multi-colored beams of light. The radiance still emanated from the gash in the figure’s head. Father Prescott drew closer, and knelt in the hard packed dirt of the street. The eyes of the statue glared at him in dead, unfeeling anguish.
He noticed, a leather thong had been hung about the throat beneath that glowing head, and from this a pouch dangled. There was no radiance where the pouch touched – it was the single shadowed thing, and Father Prescott recognized it with a gasp.
It was not possible, he knew. This pouch could not be hanging here, and it was so long ago that any of this had happened and yet…
He reached out gently and tried to cup the leather bag in his fingers. It was slick and rubbery, and where he touched it, it grew damp. Frowning, Father Prescott pulled the thing away from the throat of the beautiful, glowing statue, but as he did so, something dripped from the interior of the bag onto his fingers, and from there to the ground at his feet.
He jerked his hand back, but it was too late. The sack began to leak, slowly at first, and then in a steady stream that poured over the white figure, washed down the statue’s body and leaked into Father Prescott’s skin. It spread rapidly upward, like a coffee-stain on paper leaking from the center outward until the entire statue grew dark – all but that hole in the side of its head. Where the dagger should be. Where the light poured out.
Father Prescott cried out and reached toward that light, tried to catch it in the palm of his hand, and failed. The brilliant illumination filtered through his fingers and splintered, fragmenting in all directions and then – very suddenly – went dark.
~ * ~
Father Prescott sat bolt upright on his cot. His skin was clammy and the sheets clung to him damply. His entire frame shook in the aftermath of the dream – vision?
It was still dark, hours before the sun would peek over the jungle and slip in his window. He drew the rough blanket at his feet back over himself, rolled into a ball, and pressed his back solidly into the stone wall of the room.
There was a rustle in the back of his mind. Something unfolded that was as familiar as his own voice, but spoken in another’s. It echoed through his mind, as he lay shivering and waiting for the dawn.
Just four words.
“I believe in God.”
The late afternoon sun filtered through the heavy blinds of Bishop Michaels’ office, striped the walls and angled just over the heads of the two men seated on either side of the ornate mahogany desk. Tapestries hung on the wall, and the deep pile carpet was thick and soft. The wooden furniture was polished to a high gloss and the sunlight gave each surface the aspect of mellow, glowing flame. Nothing in the office was new. It whispered of ancient times, and power.
Crystal goblets surrounded a carafe that rested on a sumptuous buffet along one wall. The leather of both chairs creaked with each slight motion, and the air hung thick with silence.
Bishop Anthony Michaels sat in his dark, comfortable chair, and regarded the young priest across the desk from him over steepled fingers. The Bishop was the epitome of decorum. He had light blue eyes and a ruggedly handsome face. His hair was dark, graying at the temples – a look that was very distinguished when taken in conjunction with the carefully pressed vestments and the manicured nails. No hair was out of place. No crease or fold of material was out of order. Ordered, in fact, was the word to describe it all, ordered and proper. Immaculate.
On the desk before him sat an array of documents. Some were clipped from newspapers, others were photocopies and faxes, and all were arrayed like a silent army readying itself for the attack. The Bishop didn’t look at them, but the tips of his fingers rested on the papers firmly.
Seated across from him, Father Quentin Thomas leaned in toward the Bishop’s desk. He had tousled brown hair, matching eyes, and a trim, athletic build. He was not as “immaculate” as the Bishop, but perhaps a bit more honest. His eyes had a dark, haunted aspect that spoke of weariness beyond his thirty-four years.
“So,” Bishop Michaels said at last, “what you are asking me to believe, in essence, is that you have experienced The Stigmata.”
It wasn’t a question, but a statement, as though the older man were gathering his thoughts.
Father Thomas replied, his voice quiet and strained.
“I’m not sure what I’m asking you to believe. I’m not even sure what I believe.”
“There is certainly no doubt what these — people — believe.” the Bishop replied, flipping the ordered papers into a jumbled mess with a quick slash of one hand. “People are easily manipulated, Quentin, as I’m sure you have come to know in your own right. The question is, to what are they being led?”
Father Thomas didn’t glance at the papers. He knew well enough what they were. Letters to the Editor. Headlines from “The Rooftop,” a local tabloid newspaper. Faxes from Quentin’s own parishioners, and from The Vatican, and a small paper clipped pile of requests from the local television station. All of them wanted the same thing. Answers.
Bishop Michaels slowly swiveled his chair and gazed out the large, curtained window into the blue sky beyond. He rubbed the fingers of his left hand along the bridge of his nose, and then curled them under his chin. He remained that way for a few moments, and then he spoke.
“I have been a part of the church since I was a young man, Quentin. I have seen a lot of things over those years, and borne witness to a great many – experiences — that I can neither explain, nor understand.”
Father Thomas sat forward expectantly, hanging on the Bishop’s words. His hands trembled.
Then, without warning, Bishop Michaels spun back to face Father Thomas, slammed his hands down onto the desk and scowled at the younger priest.
“I have never heard anything like this.”
He hesitated to let his words sink in. His expression slipped from its austere, almost fatherly aspect to an expression of deep disdain. He continued, biting off each sentence as if he was having a hard time passing the words.
“Your hands itched. You felt something trickle down your forehead in the heat of Easter Mass. You had a stitch in your side – and your feet hurt. Do I really need to tell you, Father Thomas, that these hardly constitute a miracle? You’d be hard pressed to find a priest in Mother Church who has not experienced each and every one of these symptoms during a Mass.”
Father Thomas sat back as if he’d been slapped. His eyes were wide in shock, and his mouth fell open, though it took him several attempts to form words.
“Surely,” he said at last, “you don’t believe I would make something like this up? I know you heard what I said. I did not have itchy palms; I bled in front of my congregation. It ran down my arms – my face.”
He fell silent for a few moments, and then he went on, the tone of his voice far away and bitter. He choked back anger – or tears – but when he spoke, it was controlled.
“I came to you for help.”
Bishop Michael’s countenance remained icy, but he leaned forward over his desk. His hands gripped the edge of the wooden surface so tightly his knuckles were white spots of tension.
“Then I will grant you that help,” he replied. “Make no mistake; I will put this nonsense to rest.”
Father Thomas sat still as stone. His face was trapped halfway between confused anger and hope. He had never seen the Bishop so angry, never seen him lose his calm demeanor, even for a moment. He didn’t recognize the man facing him across the desk, but he very much wanted to be able to trust him.
Bishop Michaels caught that glimmer of hope, and stomped on it quickly and viciously.
“Don’t mistake me, Father Thomas, I see through you. I don’t know how you did what you did, or why. I don’t know what you think you saw or felt, or what you sold to those appointed to your care, nor does it concern me. If I had the slightest inkling that you had experienced a miracle that inkling died when you told me, not more than a few minutes ago, that you don’t even know what you believe.
“I know that there is something to this, but I know equally well that it is not a miracle from God. Miracles, in this day and age, are rare, and very precious. I will not have you making a mockery of them in a parish under my control.
“I also have no idea what we are going to do about these,” he swiped his hand through the pile of papers, and the frustration behind his anger shone through clearly.
Father Thomas remained rigid, as if all flexibility had been lost to his limbs, but he managed to respond, and he managed to do so in a clear, level voice.
“It is nearly Easter, Excellency,” he said simply. “All that I have asked of you is that you attend, and, if something like what occurred a year ago should return to me, that you should see, and advise me.”
The Bishop smiled then, but it was not a pleasant expression. He pushed off from his desk, fell back into the heavy leather of his chair, and laced his fingers together, holding them against his chest.
“And what is it that I will see, Quentin?” he asked smugly. “Will there be lots of blood? Will I hear angel choruses in the background? Will there be souvenir programs handed out at the door, do you think, or will I have to purchase that? What would be the price, I wonder? Will the walls tremble? Will I get to be on national television and cry ‘Praise Jesus’ like some white-suited flame-tongued televangelist?”
The sarcasm hung in the air like a bitter cloud.
Michaels hesitated, just for a second, and then said, “I will be there. Count on it.”
Father Thomas stared at the Bishop for a moment of unbelieving silence, and then lowered his head. He nodded slowly and turned, his shoulders bowed. He had come expecting something; he didn’t know what it had been, but not this. The Bishop’s reaction had shocked him to his core. He exited without reply, leaving the heavy wooden doors open behind him.
Bishop Michaels watched the doorway until all trace of Father Thomas disappeared, and the soft brush of robes and vestments ceased to echo. The afternoon had grown late, and the light that streamed in through the windows had fallen away. The shadows lengthened slowly, stretching out from all corners of the room and following the light.
On the edge of the old wooden desk, the Bishop’s grip tightened again. His nails threatened to dig into to the polished surface, and his hands trembled so powerfully that the shivers ran up his arm and shook him back to his senses. Almost absently, he reached out and gathered the scattered papers back into a neat stack.
He stared at the doorway where Father Thomas had disappeared and fought back the anger that threatened to boil out of control. He didn’t glance down at his desk, because there were loose objects on that surface, and he didn’t trust himself not to throw them. There were beautiful, ancient things surrounding him, on the desk, the shelves, hanging from the walls, and he was on the verge of devastating it all, rushing around the room to smash the Tiffany lamp into an ancient Sumerian vase, or to yank the hand-woven rug from beneath the table that held his cut-crystal.
When he had slowed his breathing enough to trust his hands, he released the desk and reached to the bottom right hand drawer. There were two tumblers there, and a small flask. He pulled one tumbler and the flask free, and poured two fingers of amber liquid. He stared at it, frowned, and then tipped the flask again, doubling it.
When the heat of the brandy began to seep through his nerves and calm him, he poured again, and reached across the now shadowed surface of his desk for the ornate black phone.
~ * ~
On a nightstand across the world, another phone rang. The shrill sound drove itself through the darkness and snatched the room’s occupant from the warm, comfortable arms of sleep.
Cardinal Sean O’Brien, thick, swarthy, and not at all happy at the prospect of being awakened before his appointed hour, rolled in his bed and pulled the pillow more closely over his head. It did no good. The phone was loud, insistent, and came with none of the amenities of American phones – like an answering machine.
Groaning, O’Brien rolled over and slapped ineffectually at the nightstand, nearly overturning the glass of water he kept by his side at night. As he came fully awake, his fingers regained their dexterity, and he managed to snag the receiver from its cradle with an irritated grunt.
“Yes?” he said.
The sound of someone breathing was the only answer for a long moment, then, Bishop Michaels’ voice crackled over the line.
“Sean?” he said. “It’s Tony. I . . . I’m sorry to call. It’s so late. I should just let you . . .”
O’Brien sat up and ran his hand back through what remained of his hair. He was alert now, and he detected something odd in his old friend’s voice. Something he knew he should recognize, but that did not come to him immediately.
“It’s fine, Tony,” he said. “You never were one for ceremony, in any case. What is it?”
“I’m not sure,” Bishop Michaels replied. There was a slight slur to his voice, and suddenly Sean knew what it was he’d heard. Tony was drinking. It had been a long time since he’d last helped his friend with that particular demon, but once the circuits connected in his mind, Sean knew.
“It’s San Marcos, and Father Thomas. You remember I told you about the – disturbance last Easter Mass? Since then things have gotten a little crazy here, Sean. The media is up in arms . . .”
Sean thought quickly. There were a number of ways this could be headed, and he didn’t like any of them, but if he chose wrong, he would be no help to his friend.
“So,” he said softly, “I take it you still think there’s nothing to it?”
“How could there be, Sean?” Bishop Michaels asked. He sounded as if he were pleading, as if he needed someone to either back up his opinion or set him straight quickly.
“This is California,” Michaels continued, “not the Holy Land, or even the Vatican. Oddballs and lunatics are regular citizens here – and the Church has had its fair share. I’m sure I’m on the speed dialer of every tabloid reporter and crackpot in the city.”
Cardinal O’Brien leaned back against his headboard and focused. He knew that Tony wanted something, something he could provide, but he wasn’t sure if it was help – or just a set of ears to listen, or a wall to bounce this off of. It was critical that he figure it out, because if the slur remained in the Bishop’s voice, they’d have to send someone in – and Cardinal O’Brien did not want to see his old friend in that position.
“What can I do,” he asked at last.
“I’m not sure,” Michaels replied, his voice weary. “I’m not sure if I can do anything, either, but I intend to try.”
“How,” Sean asked.
“I wanted to give you a heads up, Sean,” Michaels said wearily. “I intend to attend the Easter Mass at San Marcos this year. I’m going to film it – cameras directly on Father Thomas. The media will be excluded, of course. I’ve called in favors from the local police. They’ll be lined up in the parking lots and on the road, probably even bring in helicopters, but they won’t get into the church.”
“Is that wise,” Sean asked. “How will the parish react? Do they support him? Are they afraid? We wouldn’t want to seem intrusive, or harsh.”
“I’ll keep it all as low key as I can,” Bishop Michaels said. “I will do everything in my power to make it seem routine, as if maybe we want to have the film for training, or a documentary. I’ll even pretend to believe, if it can help us through this and on to normalcy. Something. I won’t come across as the ogre, but I have to set this to rest.”
The line went silent for a moment, and Cardinal O’Brien broke that silence.
“What if you can’t?”
“That’s what you’re there for, isn’t it Sean?” There was a light chuckle at the other end of the line, and Sean relaxed slightly.
He stared off into the shadows of his dark bedroom. His mind was drifting, and he was thinking about other churches, other places, and other times. He shook his head, realizing the line had remained silent for too long.
“Try to keep an open mind, Tony,” he said softly. “Call me, one way or the other, the minute the services have concluded.”
“Of course,” Bishop Michael’s chuckled again. “That’s why I called you now, Sean. If this thing blows up in my face, I know you’ll be there to wipe it off – but if it doesn’t, I expect full credit for my good deeds.”
They both laughed for a moment, then O’Brien’s tone grew grave once again, and he asked.
“How have you been, Tony?” He hesitated, and then added, “You sound a little more tense than usual. Maybe you should pack up your things and pay a visit to Rome – unwind a little.”
There was silence, just for a second, and then Michaels chuckled again.
“When this all blows over,” he said, “I might just do that. It’s been a very long time.”
“That it has,” O’Brien agreed in mild relief.
“Get some sleep, Sean. I’m sorry to have woken you so late. I spoke with Father Thomas, the priest I mentioned, earlier this afternoon, and it just wouldn’t let me go, you know?”
“I do,” O’Brien replied. “More than you know, Tony. Sleep, now, that has never been a problem for me. May God be with you, old friend.”
“And also with you,” Bishop Michaels replied.
There was an audible click, and then the dial tone blared to life. Cardinal O’Brien sat for a while, holding the receiver in his hand as the tone buzzed angrily through the silence. Then, as if waking from a light doze, he stared at it and placed it back onto the cradle, returning the room to silence.
He thought briefly of another man, a younger man. The Cardinal reached up without thought and pressed against his nightshirt with the palm of one hand. He felt the familiar bulge of soft leather, and he stroked it as he thought. Father Prescott was in South America, but he would be returning soon. If things progressed… Still, that was something to think about only if necessary.
He lay back, stared at the intricate pattern of shadows on his ceiling, and off to sleep.
I have become alarmed over my short period as a publisher by what seems to be a significant lack of concern on the part of my fellow authors toward their own work. Most of us are good at keeping backups of the work in progress, getting through the edits, and getting a book to print, but what is SORELY lacking is an understanding of the importance of “maintaining” those works. Seriously. You spend all that time – all those hours of your life – creating a novel…and you don’t even have a file copy of it? The only thing you have is some old paperbacks in the garage, or maybe a file on a floppy disk your last two computers wouldn’t even read?
This is important, so listen up – particularly in this new age of digital magic, where old words can come back to life and reach out to new readers. If you don’t keep a copy of your book, no one will. It takes very little time and effort to make an archive copy of your books, and being text, they really take up very little space…here are some things to consider.
Keep only the latest draft of books. Don’t allow for the mistake of an older version making it back into circulation – or bypassing copy-edited versions in the publishing process – unless there is a reason to preserve the earlier draft – like a removed chapter, or a shift in plot required of you by a publisher.
Keep a file copy of every book and story you write on your computer. Get something like a Dropbox.com account and put a copy there too (Tell them I sent you, I’ll get free space). ALWAYS have the words available to you quickly and easily.
When you upgrade or change operating systems or Office products, convert your old files to the new format and save them again. If you wait too many versions, you may lose formatting, or not be able to open the file at all. When you update the copy on your computer, update the backup copy as well. It REALLY won’t take that long.
When you turn in a manuscript, and the publisher comes back to you for edits, and you create that final, clean copy – SAVE IT. Don’t save just your working copy that will have to be copy-edited all over again. Also save .pdf proofs if they are sent to you. This way you have the cleanest manuscript possible if you need it again.
It doesn’t matter if you are writing licensed, work-for-hire fiction, short stories, poetry, lyrics, or the Great American Novel. Make sure that once you do the work, you don’t LOSE the work.
I have become a lot more aware of this as I work to bring back the nearly lost books of a number of Crossroad Press authors. It’s good that technology and an IT background have allowed me to scan, recompile, and resurrect these old manuscripts. I hope that the authors I’ve done it for have taken the files and saved them – but if they haven’t? I have. Other publishers and companies are charging what I consider exorbitant amounts of cash to do what we do for our authors free of charge…if those authors had maintained their books and files and stories, there would be no such service necessary.
If you are an out-of-print author, and looking to get your old books back into the hands of readers…drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – drop by our store, http://store.crossroadpress.com and see what we’ve already done…
Care for your words…
This is another excerpt from my Live Journal back in the day. One of my friends – someone I lost back then, D. G. K. Goldberg, she of the sharp wit and love of NASCAR, sent me some questions one day as a sort of “challenge,” or “meme,” or whatever. I answered them…this is what I said. I’m saddened to see that some oriental spam-bot website has assumed control of the url dgkgoldberg.com – but in actuality, I can imagine what she would have said/written about it, and smile…
Current mood: amused
Current music: Still Nick Cave…
Questions From dgkgoldberg and answers from Me
This is a five question “challenge” sort of interview spawned in the live journal of dgkgoldberg I decided to post her questions and my answers here so everyone could share in the nonsense. Besides, I almost never get interviewed….
1. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started writing?
This is obviously a trick question assuming that I know things now. I can hardly even figure out where to START an answer, because if I’d known any particular thing, all the other things that led up to me knowing the rest of what I know would be skewed. I guess that if there was one thing I sort of hoped to be true at the beginning, but know to be true now, it’s simply that I am good enough to do it. The writing, I mean. When I started outI was not good enough – I was the best who ever lived and would soon eclipse everyone. Now I know that the truth is simply that I have some things to say, and a way of saying them, that people are interested enough to read, and in the end, it’s better than eclipsing things would be. If you cause an eclipse, one side of you always gets burned.
2. What is the one item for resale that you would most like to come across and resell?
There are a lot of things that would fall on the most like to find column, but the hard part is making yourself resell. I think if you are talking actual items that really exist, I would like to find that last existing copy of The Declaration of Independence that is still missing. Why? Not because it’s the most valuable thing I could find, because it isn’t, though I’d be rich for the rest of my life after selling it. The reason is because I’d like to hold it in my hand, read the words inscribed there for myself, and then – when I got the chance to return it to the country and to whatever weasel-snouted politician is currently called Mr. President to his face and a laughingstock on the Jay Lenno show, I’d get the chance to commentate. I have a lot to say about the Declaration of Independence, the rights of Americans, and the country in general, and I think if I found and resold that particular piece of parchment, I might get the chance to make those comments, and actually have a few people hear them. It would be spitting in the wind, but at least – for a change – it would be my spit.
Barring that, there are some lost films that no copies of have survived that it would be cool to locate in a frigid vault somewhere.
If you allow the fanciful, I’d probably take something simple like The Holy Grail, or Jesus’ actual remains – both of which would be worth enough to bankrupt the Catholic church. I remember what happened when a guy found that body in a novel called “Another Roadside Attraction,” though, and it might be more trouble than it’s worth.
3. What is the one thing that if you came across it at a yard sale you would most fear?
Hmm. A lot of things would bring downright terror, but the question says specifically at a yard sale. Again, you open two doors with one question. Should I be artsy and interpret this to mean anything real or fanciful, or should I interpret it as straightforward and pertaining to something one might find at a yard sale.
Cursed objects would bring me that fear, particularly if the person ‘s item was up for sale because the curse took them out. Let’s do this with a bulleted list, all organized and some junk:
· A painting of myself, beginning to molder right where my hair is thinnest on top? · A cheesy romance novel with #1 Bestseller at the top, a raunchy pirate bending back a buxom maid with my byline on it in a dusty box of books I didn’t write, dated 3001? · A sealed, carved box with a label that says “If found, please return to Pandora”· Any relic or holy object that proved the narrow-minded Christians have been right all along.· Any relic or holy object that proved Christians were, without a doubt, absolutely WRONG, because it would be like a train wreck. I would have to buy it, and I would have to make it known, and they would kill me, as they have so many others – not to protect their faith, but to protect their power.
4. Which writer who has not been alive in your lifetime would you most like to spend an evening with?
It I only get an evening, I would have to go with Byron. I love his poetry, and only the dim among us don’t know he has inspired everyone up through Stephen King. He wrote about vampires, and he provided us with lines like, “She walks in beauty, as the night…” while instilling Polidori with dreams of Dracula, and Mary Shelley those of Frankenstein. He played Cricket though he was lame, and drank like a fish (thankfully before there was any driving to be done, and in any case, he was rich enough to BE driven). I think the night would be memorable, and if he can send others off with the inspirations that became classics, why not myself?
Many who know me would have guessed the Marquis de Sade, who, while a horrible author of porn and nonsense, was also a brilliant man, but I suspect he wouldn’t have been much fun at dinner, and I’d hate to think what sort of entertainment he might provide.
5. If you had to be a character in a book and live it out as it was written who would you be and in what book?
I could cheat again. I could say Judas Iscariot from “This is My Blood” – my own novel, because I would be the real hero of the gospel, and being a vampire-born-of-fallen-angels would still be alive to tell the tale, but that would be wrong.I think I’d have to say I’d like to be Roland of Gilead in King’s Gunslinger novels. He’s a hero, and a desperado, an asshole, and a legend. He had abilities and memories that others can only dream of, and his destiny? To save not only this world, but all worlds…or die trying. He has loved, been loved – yep. Roland of Gilead for me.
Of course, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at being Harry Potter, though his life tends to suck at times. (Don’t’ they all?).
This is the entry I made long ago about Bunting Miles’ tombstone, which does, indeed, still live in our living room, propped up against the NEW fireplace. It’s an interesting story. We have since learned that he was probably a laborer, a black man living in a portion of Norfolk that used to be called something else. We have not been (quite) able to track relatives. He is welcome right where he is, if he traveled with the stone. We’ve had some odd, ghost-like goings-on near where the stone has been placed for years…anyway, here’s what I wrote a few years back:
|deep_bluze (deep_bluze) wrote,
@ 2004–03–05 08:41:00
|Current music:||Bauhaus – 1979-1983 – Volume II|
I own a tombstone. It isn’t MY tombstone, but it does live in my living room (perhaps not so well named), propped against the fireplace in the main living room where all our most precious, gaudy, and should-be-living-in-a-Victorian Whorehouse furniture, gold gilt, dark velvets, old wood are kept. And Bunting. Bunting Miles, to be precise.
Years back, my good friend Richard Rowand came to visit. Richard was then editor of a sci-fi mag called STARSHORE – four glorious, full-color national distribution issues, one of which carried “A Candle in the Sun,” My first really big sale, the story that was reprinted in Karl Wagner’s Year’s Best Horror (despite his threat never to print anything with a vampire in it) and later became This is My Blood, my first critically acclaimed work (that no mass-market place will touch, despite the great PW review). But that’s neither here nor there.
Richard came to visit me in a house I’d just bought at the time (long gone down the drain of bad marriage and bankruptcy). He brought a house-warming gift. Sort of.
He brought me a concrete tombstone. It is so old the material threatens to crumble slowly away. It is marked, simply, Bunting Miles – who died in 1867 ( or it could be 1857, I will put up a picture, eventually). I have searched the net. I have contacted the freaking MORMONS who have a great database for this. I have consulted libraries, the 1870 census, have discussed it at length over food and wine and whiskey and I cannot find a trace of this man. I do not know who he is, where he came from. I have his tombstone. Every year I put lilies on it and drink a glass of cognac while I’m watching them wilt.
The tombstone came in a load of fill dirt. The fill dirt was delivered to Richard’s neighbor, and when he went to spread it, there was the stone. The dirt came from either Portsmouth VA or North Carolina. It was delivered to Virginia Beach. The neighbor, knowing Richard was “Strange,” brought it to him. Richard’s wife, who is NOT strange, consigned it to his garage, and later on, just wanted it gone. Thus it passed to the next strangest acquaintance up the chain. Me.
The fact is, it probably leaped and bounded its way to the top of the strange pile, because I kept it. I have tried to find its original home.
I’ve had it suggested that this was the marker of a freed black slave, or a native American. I have had it suggested the fill dirt actually came from the ballast in the bottom of a cargo ship and could be European. Many scenarios have been offered. At one point I was nearly certain I’d nailed it down to a freedman who worked a farm in Virginia who actually worked for an ancestor of mine, but that fizzled.
I intend, when time permits (soon I hope) to put a link from www.deepblues.net called the Hunting Bunting page with all pertinent info in pace. I’d love to bring him home.
If not, there’s probably a book in the hunt somewhere…