The novel Deep Blue finds its origin in the novelette by the same name published in an anthology titled Strange Attraction. In Strange Attraction, all the stories were inspired by the “Kinetic” Art of Lisa Snelling, each author choosing one of the characters on an intricately detailed Ferris wheel sculpture. I was honored to be among authors such as Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe in presenting our separate visions of what lay buried behind her art. From the images presented, I chose a harlequin, hanging by a noose from the bottom of one of the Ferris wheels seats. I took the image, made it the wallpaper on my computer, printed it out and carried it around with me, and let it sink in. I could have written any number of stories that would have sufficed, but somehow I knew there would be more to this work, and so I waited.
The publishers of the anthology, Vince and Leslie Harper, invited me to have dinner with them one night when my mundane job took me to Washington DC. We met for Mexican food and went together to see the movie PI which, at the time, was newly released. On the way to meet the Harpers, I walked down into a shadowed subway, and I was assaulted by some of the most haunting saxophone music I’ve ever heard. It bordered the blues, walked down old jazz roads, and I never saw the musician. That set the mood for what was to come.
I reached the restaurant without further incident, and we spent a pleasant hour scalding mouths and stomachs with jalapenos and washing them down with beer. Then came the movie. I won’t go into detail about PI, but I’ll say it’s a black and white film, very surreal, filled with symbolism, and it left me visually and emotionally stunned. I parted company with Vince and his wife, found my way back to the subway and my hotel, and called it a night.
The next day, a friend of mine and I set out to visit The Holocaust Museum. I have always wanted to see it, but I was not prepared for the intensity of the images, the displays, and the words I would find in that short hour visit. I purchased a book of poetry written by the victims, and left with so much bottled up inside from those two days that I thought it would be the end of my sanity.
That night, I started to write. I started to write about The Blues, and how deep they might really get. I wrote about pain, not my pain, but the pain bottled up inside the world, as the pain had been bottled up inside me, and I wrote a way out. That was Brandt, his guitar, and his blues. The story, like the pain, refused to be bottled up in just the few lines of that novelette, and so I released it into the novel you now hold.
Everyone comes to their crossroads eventually – the defining moment of life. As Old Wally, one of the novel’s main characters tells us – “Crossroads, or the crosshairs.” Forward or back, but you can’t stay stagnant – that way lies madness. I give you . . . Deep Blue.
We have been slowly and tentatively making our way into the world of print books at Crossroad Press. I like a physical, page turning book as much as anyone, and though we are careful folks who want our business around for the long haul, we want to put some of those page-turning books into people’s hands at a reasonable price. Here’s what we have so far
Not going to put descriptions here…click the links!
We have tons more on the way…including this last…a preorder for our very first hardcover novel – HALLOWED GROUND – by myself and Steven Savile. You can preorder this also wat http://store.crossroadpress.com – there are several options including signed, international, and others…get your copy reserved now.
Wanted to take a few minutes to work out in writing something that has bugged me about our society for a long time. The subject? The notion that every single thing in life has to have a new version, new features, constant updates, and flashy bling. We’ve worked ourselves into a hole by letting advertising and marketing rule our lives to far too great an extent.
Take a look sometime at the soap and shampoo aisles in the grocery store. Tell me that it is BETTER now that there’s no such thing – for instance – as just shampoo or conditioner. Even the simple, more generic brands come in fifty shades of bleah. It’s shampoo people. Phones…how many features do they need? Shoes, shaving cream, bread (really, we have to break it down by grain, and how many calories are in each unhealthy slice?)
Here’s what happened, I think. We had a simple industrial society, making good things, and then, making them better. Then we started hiring advertisers and spending unholy amounts of money on campaigns to sell. We found ourselves in direct competition with the guy across the street with one more feature than we had, or a flavor we didn’t think of, or a burger bigger than ours…and we dumped MORE money into marketing and advertising, less into actually caring about whether we had the better product, and the war was on.
Here’s a clue for everyone out there. If your insurance agency spends more money on commercials than ANY OTHER INSURANCE AGENCY … they are NOT going to be cheaper. If your car is the most advertised model in the universe, it doesn’t mean it’s better, it means it’s overpriced to pay for all of that advertising.
Another clue…every show on TV is not MUST SEE, and regardless of what they tell you, the critics don’t love it before it’s even aired – at least not to the point they are ready to proclaim it the next best thing and mean it. They are paid.
We are a country filled to the brim with ingenuity, but most of it is buried in the idea that we have to compete with the advertising budget of the Joneses to sell..I hope that’s not true.
This phenomenon branches out into other areas too. Look at TV shows that jump the shark. If every year when sweeps comes around your heroes have to save the universe, or the big bad has to be bigger and badder, you are on a collision course with either becoming ludicrous and hated, or ending your show. If you have a formula that works, and is loved, don’t botch it up by trying to be the most popular thing for one week. The X-Files was famous for this, as was Buffy – hell, they even said on Buffy one time (I believe it was Spike) “Where are you going?” “To save the world….AGAIN!”
Time to take a glance inward I think. I’d trim off some of those desperate marketing and advertising dollars, staffs, and campaigns and shoot for being the better product. In the long run, it works. Change is not always good…if you don’t believe that, think back to “New Coke”. People want what they like, not what you think you can convince them to like…and if you have something they like, don’t stop making it in the hope of a big “score” because big scores are always buried in the overall steady “win” of quality. Always.
To my best Father’s Day presents:
I wanted to take just a few moments to thank the five people who have made Father’s Day such a joy for me. I know I’m not a perfect father…but I try my best. I love my kids, and I love the woman I share my life with…some thoughts.
Thanks Bill. You’re the one who looked up to me, even when it seemed like you weren’t. You’re the one that followed my love of computers, learned to do web sites, and now, you’re following my footsteps into the US Navy. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, but I’ve always known I can count on you, and I hope you know, the same will always be true for you. Love you buddy, and you’ve made us proud.
Thanks Stephanie. You were my first daughter…and though I missed some of your life, I shared a lot of it. The first time we met, and I had to leave, I’ll never forget that you cried … and how it felt to know you cared. You’ve grown into a lovely young woman, talented, artistic, and always positive. You’re the smile in the family when – at times – everything else frowns. I’m proud to be part of your life.
Thanks Zach. You’re the one who has most shared my love of reading, and of places and things not real, but that seem better. You’ve grown up honest, and kind, and even though a big chunk of the years we should have shared got stolen, I’ll never forget the first half hour of your life, when I held you in the hospital and the stupid nurses forgot I had you. You’re doing great in school and looking to the future, and I couldn’t be prouder of you. Looking for you to turn the world of Physics on its ear…or at least to write the next great epic fantasy.
Thanks Zane. If Stephanie is the smile in the family, you’re the laugh. Like with Zach, a huge piece of the time that we should have shared got messed up. Through all of that, you remained a good kid, and grew into a talented artist, photographer, and guitar player. You and Bill shared that love with me too – the music. There are great things ahead of you, and I’m glad I still have some time to be part of it. You know I’m there when you need me…always will be.
Katie…we are all blessed to have you. Smart, pretty, and so loving – you’re the one that loves everyone here unconditionally…the one that is happiest when you are with your brothers, your sisters, your mom, and with me. You are like the knot that ties us all together, and you have an AMAZING group of brothers and sisters to look out for you through your life.
All of you…there isn’t anything I’ve done in my life more important than helping offer you guys up to the world. It’s what I’m proudest of – it’s what I hope I’ll be remembered for – it’s the thing that keeps me going. Your mom and I spend more time than you could imagine thinking about you, worrying over you, wishing and working for your futures.
Thanks for making this –and every Father’s Day – magic for me.
I love you all,
For those following the Palin historical fiasco over Paul Revere’s ride, just a quick note. Paul Revere rode off got distracted, and was captured by the British … but he got all the credit… another guy, William Dawes, ALSO rode out yelling “The British are Coming” with a much different outcome…he actually completed the job. Such is the fickle finger of history. I was rustling about some old parchments and suddenly – I felt the presence of Benjamin Franklin…I grabbed my ball-point quill and began to scribble…
There once was a fellow named Dawes,
Who rode off on his horse for a cause.
But a guy named Revere
Hollered HEY! OVER HERE!
And made off with the fame and applause
BF (poorly channled by DNW)
This story exists because of and – thus – is dedicated to … in no particular order – Brian Keene, Justine Musk, Rain Graves, Mari Adkins, Bailey Hunter and the rest of the Twitter Crowd who believe in rainbows and unicorns…and Zombies. Enough said.
VANACE AND THE CURLY STICK
by David Niall Wilson
The sun was high in the sky, filtering down through the leaves to send light dancing over the leaves and dirt of the forest floor. Vanace paid little attention to this, as he was busy keeping himself upright, having just awakened from far too little sleep and far too much wine the night before. He had at least another mile to go before he’d reach his bed, and even the large, spiral-shafted walking stick he’d found along the way was failing to right his balance for more than a couple of steps.
It was an odd piece, and on any other day, he’d have stopped to examine it at length. The tip was very sharp – so sharp, in fact, that it seemed as if it should break each time it struck the ground. It did not. It buried itself a few inches, even when he accidently stuck it into the root of a tree, and it pulled free effortlessly. In a forest prone to magic, this should have set off warning bells, but on this particular morning all warning bells would have done was make Vanace’s head hurt, so it was as well there was relative silence.
There had been other signs. The clearing where he’d found the thing had been darker even than the lightless forest. No moonlight had penetrated there. He thought he remembered that there was a stone buried in the center of that clearing – a headstone? Who could remember such things? He’d nearly impaled himself on the walking stick in the dim half-light of morning. Only dumb luck had brought his boot against the thing’s base and broken it free of the earth before he staggered onto it.
There was a rustle in the trees behind him, but at first Vanace was unaware of it. There were others in the woods, there were always others in the woods. Most of them were harmless, and almost all of them knew better than to get within spewing range of a drunk.
The sound behind him grew louder, and he was very suddenly engulfed in a cloud of horrifying stench.
“By the Gods,” he muttered. “What in the five blazing blue levels of hell is THAT?”
Vanace plunged the tip of the walking stick into the loamy earth and used it to pivot back the way he’d come, leaning heavily on it for balance. He peered into the shadows and squinted. He was not sure whether he should hold his nose or keep both hands on the walking stick, and he was nearly certain that if the smell of whatever was following him continued, he’d be leaving a large quantity of used wine in the forest.
“Who’s there?” he said.
There was no answer, but a pair of flickering blue eyes watched him balefully from deep within a small copse of trees. He leaned closer, but this served only to cost him in his balance. Only an incredibly lucky half-spin around the walking stick, and dropping to one knee, saved him from falling face first.
The thing in the shadows stomped the earth. Hard. Leaves and dust flew, and at the back of his addled mind, Vanace felt the first stirrings of sobriety…and fear.
“I said, who is it?” he repeated, filling his voice with bluster he didn’t feel. “I haven’t got time for games, and – by the blue fairy herself – you need a dunk in the river. You’ll attract buzzards smelling like that.”
He regretted these last words as soon as he spoke them. Whoever, or whatever, was there was not particularly friendly, and he was in an uncharacteristically bad condition for fighting, or running. Possibly better to make nice and hope it would go on its way.
Branches parted, and something large pressed out into the open clearing. At first he thought it was a large, black horse. Then, as the shoulders came into view, and he caught the drooping, rotting flesh dangling from the left side of its jaw, Vanace found his feet and staggered back.
The dead thing still reminded him of a large black horse, though something was – wrong. Ribs stuck out through ruined flesh on the sides of its chest. Though the blue light flickered in its eyes, the sockets around that light were empty pits. What might once have been a glorious mane hung in ugly patches. The thing stood on legs more bone than flesh, decayed sinew and muscle hanging in strips. Insects buzzed around it.
“Stay back,” Vanace said. He pulled the stick free of the ground and pointed the sharp end at the creature now stalking him, stepping back and trying to plant himself solidly. He cursed inwardly as his legs refused to accept his order to balance properly.
And then he saw it. Dead center in the thing’s forehead was a notch of bone. It protruded from the skull like a gnarled root, or a chipped fence post. Something was missing. In his hand, the long, spiraled stick suddenly felt oily – and wrong. It grew hot to the touch, and he noticed for the first time how old it was, and how odd. The thing stopped as he pointed the stick at it. It pawed the earth and pulled it’s ruined lips back to reveal startlingly intact teeth.
The horn was magnificent, but Vanace had no chance to admire it. As the thing grew closer, he found it increasingly difficult to keep his grip. Without really knowing how he knew, he was certain that if he let go, it would be the last thing he ever did. He gripped the horn with both hands and held it before him, keeping it aimed at the thing’s head.
“I didn’t know!” he cried. “How in blazes could I know? It was just sticking out of the ground…”
If the unicorn heard, or understood him, it gave no indication. It snorted, and foul air rushed from its nostrils, shooting the shells of long-dead bugs into a cloud of debris. It stomped its foot again, and Vanace felt sweat drip down the back of his tunic and trickle down his spine.
He took a step back, and the beast followed. As it moved, shivering its flanks, debris and insects poured out holes in its hide. The closer it drew to the horn, and to Vanace himself, the brighter the blue flames in its eyes blazed.
Vanace knew he should try to run. It might catch him, but then, it might not. It’s body was falling apart. Something in the blue light drew him. Instead of breaking for home, or trying to lead it into the sunlight, he took a step closer, and then another. The horn had grown heavy, like a broadsword, and it was getting more and more difficult to keep his grip. Struggling with every ounce of his strength, he fought the compulsion urging him forward.
It was futile. The closer he came to the thing, the heavier and hotter the horn grew. The tip dipped, lowered, and as he came within a foot of the putrid, decayed thing’s face, it dropped the last foot and drove into the earth. Vanace pressed the base of it forward, angling it toward the unicorn’s corpse. It bowed its head, and, just as it seemed the horn would topple over and drop to the earth, the thing rammed its head into the horn. The base fused with the broken knot on its head. The two did not come together cleanly. It was skewed, pointing off at a broken angle, though solidly planted.
And in that instant, Vanace’s muscles were his own. He turned, waved his arms wildly to keep from falling, and staggered toward the edge of the clearing. The unicorn blew another cloud of insect parts and dust and let loose a rattling, hissing sound that might have been the ghost of a scream. Vanace reached the trees, just as the point of the horn pierced the flesh of his back and drove forward through his heart. Still he tried to run, but though his feet found purchase, and his legs churned, the unicorn paced him, driving it’s horn deeper, and deeper, until at last, spent and broken, he felt the bit of those dead, bony teeth rip into his skin. He tried to scream, but only a gurgle of blood and day-old wine rolled from his lips.
~ * ~
Katrina ran through the forest, searching for Vanace and muttering under her breath. He’d been out late again, and she’d known he would not make it home, but now most of the day had passed, and she was worried. He’d never stayed gone so long. She followed the track of the stream, a shortcut to the tavern he frequented. About halfway to her goal, she stopped still as stone.
In a clearing, across the stream, a unicorn stood, tall and handsome, black coat gleaming in the sun. Its horn was long and spiraled, and oddly it shot out at an angle from the creature’s brow, rather than sitting straight. It turned and started at her, and though the beauty of its visage drover her half mad with unfettered desire, she was unable to choke back a rising scream.
Dangling from that horn was a bit of cloth she knew very well. It was the tunic she’d sewn patches onto only three days before. It belonged to Vanace, and now, as the unicorn crossed the stream slowly, holding her with its gaze, she saw that it held something eles.
The thing watched her with her husband’s eyes…and it was hungry…
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.