Long, long ago I went to one of the first two World Horror Conventions. Among the things that happened there – I bought Kathe Koja’s novel SKIN, which she autographed for me… and I bought a sculpture that I could not really afford, but could also not resist. It’s called “Resonant Kiss” and was created by the inestimably talented Lisa Snellings. At some point, I wrote this poem inspired by it…shared for the first time here:
By David Niall Wilson
Inspired by the sculpture of the same name by Lisa Snelling
8:14 February 12, 2002
She sat rigid,
Legs curving gently as
The arched spine of the chair
pressed to her back.
The light was dim – and deep,
It seeped about her, curling with
The smoke of three dozen candles
flickering . . . dancing . . .
No music, and yet, they danced.
The sound floated softly on the breeze,
swirling in through a window,
Dropping from somewhere far above,
or rising from below.
He played for her each night,
and each night the sounds resonated
within her soul….
Each night she felt him nearer,
Binding with the subtle ties
of sound, and passion
brushing through her mind to
Erase thought and
Replace it with heat.
The feather brush of fingers,
flying note to note to skin to soul
and steady, rhythmic strokes
of soft bow strings
Teased her relentlessly
With whispered words
Just out of reach,
And a face that wavered
On the periphery
And her head dropped back,
Long hair draping over the chair,
nearly to the floor,
Her eyes closed to the lonely night
Her world an echo of notes,
In the arms of the night.
Somewhere far above,
he caressed the curved neck of his instrument,
eyes closed and fingers lingering
against the vibration,
bow flinging his heart to the sky
He acknowledged her sacrifice,
clasping the wooden frame of his magic
Tightly between his thighs,
and dreaming – –
of her eyes.
The Smooth Level, and Beyond
Thoughts on The Throat, by Peter Straub
Author’s note: I wrote this a long time ago. I will always regret not having read the trilogy in order the first time through. I have subsequently read Koko and Mystery in order, and then The Throat again, and it only strengthened the sensation that these are books running parallel paths on different levels. A casual reader will get a great adventure from the trilogy. A careful reader will get so much more. It works equally either way it’s approached.
Something that has itched at the back of my thoughts for a long time is the concept of different levels. You find these levels in everything you do, and writing is no exception. I studied the cello when I was younger, play the guitar now, and the levels are never more evident than when viewed through artistic accomplishment.
This in mind, I always believed that the level to shoot for in writing was what I called the smooth level. This is the level where you have developed a smooth, professional writing voice, the point where the words flow easily, where the technical becomes automatic. At this point, I once believed, only the plots separated different authors. If you subscribe to the theory that writers are only conduits of creativity, reaching the smooth level is like fine-tuning a receiver. Once you have a clear signal, you can switch channels, but the signal is the same.
Now I see that what I saw as an end in itself is, in fact, only another beginning. The smooth level is as far as many successful writers will ever get. Commercially speaking, it is not necessary to go beyond this level. Artistically speaking, if you want to be a great writer, you have to expand. Creativity is never stagnant. Complacency is the great killer of brilliance.
Recently I read The Throat, by Peter Straub. As I read, I began to realize that when you write like Peter Straub, the plot is secondary. I don’t mean that his plot was bad, quite the opposite. I thought the story had ended in KOKO, and at that point had not even read Mystery (the second book in the trilogy). I mean that the quality of the writing, the insights he offers into himself and his characters, are enough to carry it, plot be damned.
When I finished the book I had that familiar sensation of wishing there was more to read, and satisfaction that the story had resolved itself well. Not only did it end as I expected it to, but it managed to do so and still surprise me several times in the process. This brings me back to the subject of new levels.
The protagonist of this novel, Tim Underhill, is a novelist. He writes him self into his characters, in this case that of a molested child. Of course, in his own real world, Underhill is facing that same character in a sort of parallel time-flux relationship that causes him to question his own sanity and that of al most everyone around him. All of Underhill‘s novels have been about aspects of his childhood, taken on tangents or magnified, but built solidly on the minds, words, and deeds of characters that might have been himself.
This is the significant point, I believe. You can read this novel on the surface level, enjoying the hunt for an elusive Green Beret gone serial killer and be thoroughly entertained. On a completely different level, the story is not about serial killers at all. It is about Underhill himself, his search for meaning in life through his characters, his development of those characters through personal insight and the unlocking of sealed images from his past. It is about relationships between people and places, and the subtle differences between their reactions to shared events. There are stories within stories here. It reminded me of a picture I saw once in a tattoo parlor. In the foreground was a large, detailed hand, wielding the same tattoo gun, only smaller, and inking the same design onto a smaller back, on and on ad infinitum. On different levels, the details of The Throat strike different chords.
The true beauty of this book, from a writer’s point of view, is that it is the miracle novel. It doesn’t so much cross the genres as it spans them. It is satisfying on each level, more so as you delve deeper, and it will stick with you.
How much of all this comes from Straub’s own past is questionable, as such things always are. No one will ever know, probably. Someday I may be lucky enough to be able to ask. If the answer is not much, then I’ll have to believe that the brilliance of his character Underhill is only another step upon which he could launch his skills to an even higher level.
There are other points to be made, of course. While all this talk of art and levels is a nice diversion, a look at how the consciousness of an author can be raised over a period of time and a body of work, it is still questionable if it matters. While writers might make these leaps from level to level, it is likely that the readers will make no such jump. Fortunately, just as there are writers at every level, there are readers to be satisfied on each as well. The Throat reaches out and grips you by its name sake—and this is what writing is all about.
Horror is such an odd genre that it’s sometimes difficult to explain to someone what it means to be a horror writer. Many horror writers, in fact, live in denial, making up new words to describe their work and backing away from any community that wears too much black and mentions the word zombie more than once a week.
There are some signposts, however, that can differentiate the horror writer from the rest of humanity. You can apply these to yourself, your work, or to that odd neighbor or co-worker you haven’t quite figured out. While this list is in no way all-inclusive, you may find it useful in day-to-day life.
Ten indicators that you might be, or know, a horror writer.
- You / he / she can’t watch a happy or sappy movie without grinning and wondering out loud if it wouldn’t be better if the fluffy bunny was eaten at the last second by a ravenous zombie, or if it wouldn’t be cool to have the girl in a love scene sprout horns and cackle maniacally.
- You have considered owning a hearse, or, barring that, putting dark curtains in the back windows of your Gremlin and painting it black. This symptom may be exacerbated by a desire to dangle fake dead body parts from windows, gas tanks, and trunks.
- You have on your person or in your vehicle, any sticker, paper, or other article with the name Cthulhu on it. Particularly in election years, when exhortations to not accept the lesser evil are prevalent.
- You collect news clippings and Internet bookmarks that, if you were NOT a horror writer, would appear to be outlining a horrible life of crime.
- You can name more than four serial killers and know the movies their lives inspired.
- You have heard of The Miskatonic Institute.
- You hear your aunt or mother-in-law talk about how they love to craft and you burst into laughter and look over your shoulder to see if any Great Old Ones were observing, or if Fairuza Balk is floating by.
- You can quote from any of the Child’s Play movies, and would do so in public.
- You know who Michael Myers, Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Hannibal Lector and Carrie are, how many numbers there are beside the names of each in the annals of film history, who played them, and have ever owned any item shaped like one of them, or a part of their body.
- You consider a room or house that is supposed to be haunted as a plus when planning your vacation.
2021 did not turn out to the the full turnaround from 2020 – big surprise – but things are happening. My newest novel, Jurassic Ark, will be out in December in eBook, trade paperback, trade hardcover and audio (narrated by Mr. Joshua Saxon). I am currently editing the stories for a follow-on anthology to Voices in the Darkness (which you should all read) titled “The Canterbury Nightmares,” bringing some diverse voices together with fiction reacting to the end of the last administration, and the semi-opening of the world after the pandemic. More info on that downstream.
I have been taking bits and pieces of my life, one at a time, and revising how I address them. This blog will be one of those. I know it’s not necessary to write in a blog every day, but I’m committing to at least once a week. Without that, it hardly seems to serve a purpose.
The new novel is Jurassic Ark, a book I expected to simply be a satire, like Remember Bowling Green: The Adventures of Frederick Douglass was a few years back. As it turns out, the book had other ideas. As I researched that old story, adding in some tidbits from Jewish folklore, everything shifted. The original intent was a jab at creationists and that guy Ham who opened the Noah’s Ark theme park (with pictures of dinosaurs). 6000 years ago. Men and dinosaurs walking the earth… and that’s where I started. The cover art is provided by Bob Eggleton, and the design by David Dodd. The book is up for preorder at Amazon in eBook and Paperback, and will follow on all sites soon.
Then I discovered that there are a lot of deep issues in a story where one family is going to survive, if you believe them, and everyone else will drown. Also, faith is one thing, but when that faith starts turning into reality all around you, how do you react to that? And in the original biblical tale you hear almost nothing about the women.
I’m not going to put any spoilers here. There is magic, sorcery, romance, and adventure in this book. There are dinosaurs and giants. There is a crazy man in a forest at the base of a mountain building a very big boat. I hope you will all love it. If you are very quick you can download it for free from NetGalley (through the 30th of September) for review. If you would like a review copy but miss that deadline, contact me.
The anthology, probably much like the last one, is not going to make me rich. However, it is calming me, and giving me a sense of achievment. It is doing something in the face of a still crazy world that might reach people and make a difference. The Canterbury Nightmares is a title I’d had in the back of my mind for a very long time. I finally found it’s purpose. I’m not really at a point where I have a detailed update, but it’s coming in 2022.
Short stories – I am currently writing a cross-over story featuring Donovan DeChance and the kids from my young adult superhero novel HOODS. It involves missing children, ritual magic, and hopscotch. I have started what might be an Old Mill short story, or might be the next Cletus J. Diggs novel – “Dismal Gothic,” and I still hope to finish the novel Tattered Remnants in the near future.
Crossroad Press has been very, very busy this summer, with a full spread of new, original releases, some reprints, and our first starred review upcoming in Publishers Weekly for Michael DiMercurio’s Submarine thriller (and it’s a monster of a book) Dark Transit.
Until next week… send people to the newsletter link here. Share the books. Talk to me.
When I realized at some point in early 2020 that it was not going to be a good year for me as an author, I decided to take a different route to achievement. I decided to edit an anthology. First I’ll post the links (It’s available everywhere in eBook, Hardcover and Paperback and in Audio from Audible, iTunes and Amazon) The very cool cover was painted by an old friend of mine, Steve Smith, who also created some of the artwork that adorns my arms and back. This book includes authors I admire : Kathe Koja, Nadia Bulkin, Elizabeth Massie, Cassandra Khaw, Nick Mamatas and Brian A. Hopkins (who wen told “go long” on the wordcount turned in a short novel…) The eBook is on sale for a short period at only $2.99 due to a new release promotion through Bookbub. If you pick up the Kindle edition at that price, you get a big discount on the audio because the book is “Whispersync” ready. (That means if you listen to it on a Kindle, or a device that does eBooks AND audio, you can stop the audio and pick up reading at the same place in the eBook. Pretty cool. Our audio is narrated by Gigi Shane, Joshua Saxon, Seylan Baxter, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney, Edward Gist & Laurie Catherine Winkel. “Wilson (A Midnight Dreary) brings together six strong speculative shorts that impress with imaginative concepts and powerful writing…” Publisher’s Weekly.
This was my shot at 2020 (Middle-finger-salute) and was a lot of fun because it’s been years since I edited anything. I have copy-edited and proofed, of course, being a publisher, but the days of The Tome – my small press magazine, are decades behind us.
Voices in the Darkness
A Foreword by David Niall Wilson
It has been a long time since I set out to edit something like this. When I first started writing, I launched a small press that did well for about thirteen issues. I’m certain that I learned more from editing, publishing, and interacting with the many authors, poets, and artists that graced the pages of The Tome than I could thank them for. Editing, though, is hard. Finding what you want, reading things that you don’t, picking through the words and sentences and images, not just to enjoy them, but to try and polish them. It’s an art form very different from the writing itself. I thought I was done with it. And to a point, I guess, I was.
Voices in the Darkness was not an open anthology. I thought long and hard about creating this project. Like a lot of others, my own creative output has been sort of stuck in the mud of 2020, but I wanted to create something memorable. I wanted something to hold and be proud of. I did not give this book a theme, I just told the authors involved that I wanted to publish something special, and that I wanted them to be part of it. I wanted it to be a middle finger flipped up at 2020. I also wanted a book that would make people think, something to entertain and confuse and touch readers.
I decided on six stories before I asked anyone. The invitation I wrote invited authors to go long on the word count to be sure we reached a good length for a book. Just like everything else in this crazy year, we reached that goal in strange and unexpected ways. Once I had my structure, I had to choose the creative minds to bring it to life.
The first four came easily. I know what I love to read, fiction that, while usually based in one genre or another, is hard to define. Stories that are often considered to literary for a mostly dark fantasy project. I had just finished listening to the amazing audiobook of Kathe Koja’s novel, Skin, one that I consider a big influence on my own writing. I put her on my short list. There are several stories by Elizabeth Massie that will never leave me, the most powerful (to my mind) being “Smoothpicks,” which appeared in Deathrealm magazine long ago. That was number two. Over the years, I’ve written a lot of collaborations. Some of the best of those were written with one of my oldest friends, Brian Hopkins. Among the stories we wrote were “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” and “La Belle Dame, Sans Regret”. I approached Brian, who has not been writing for years, and asked him to do a story. Little did I know he would launch into an epic historical fantasy, more than forty-eight thousand words… and I knew it was perfect when he titled that story “La Belle Époque”. It’s really a short novel, published here for the first time.
Nick Mamatas is an author I know for stories that wash over the genre walls like smoke. My first (and still favorite) of his novels was Move Under Ground, a perfect mesh of Lovecraft and Jack Kerouac. I was very pleased when he agreed to be part of this, and very pleased at his homage to the original “Mack the Knife.”
At this point I still had two slots and was out of ideas. The problem was not that I did not know enough perfect authors, I know so many I could fill volumes… maybe a series? But the more I thought about the year, and what was going on in the news, and in the world, the more I realized that I wanted this book to be diverse. I wanted stories that would be unexpected to me. I reached out to award-winning anthologist Ellen Datlow, and she gave me a short list of possibilities. On that list I found Nadia Bulkin and read her collection She Said Destroy: Stories and was mesmerized. Nadia became the fifth author. The final slot went to a lady who is best-known for being an award-winning game writer, but whose fiction keeps popping up in best-of anthologies and on awards lists. That author is Cassandra Khaw, and her story “I’d Rather Wear Black” was a perfect addition to the book.
There was no theme, but one developed. Several of these stories are historical in nature. Brian, Beth, and Nick will be taking you on journeys into the past. The other stories, those in between, are shorter, but powerful in an entirely different way. Kathe, Nadia, and Cassandra went more surreal. The stories are shorter, darker. Kathe’s story, as so many of hers do, is going to be a different story for nearly everyone who reads it. Cassandra’s is going to make people remember past relationships, and think about others… Nadia experiments with telling a true crime story through fiction and will possibly make you reconsider your thoughts on life, and death. Beth’s story revisits a theme that I know to be her biggest fear. Long ago she wrote a book review for me, for The Tome, of Harvest Home, by Thomas Tryon. In that review, she said her biggest fear was one person gaining total control over another. “Baggie” hits this from many angles and will likely give you bad dreams. I love this book.
The final piece is the cover by West Coast artist Steve Smith. I’ve known Steve most of my adult life. He’s also a tattoo artist of amazing ability, and several of his works walk through life with me daily. He painted the book’s cover, has been reading the stories as they come in… it make think of books, an stories—a voice—lost at sea, washed where the waters will take them. If you are reading this, they have been delivered to you. The tiny red object floating in the wake is a gate. Turn the pages and see where it takes you.
Very happy to have one of our Crossroad Presss authors, Melissa Scott, included in this year’s Pride Month with a StoryBundle has become an annual tradition, one in which we present a different and wonderful collection of LGBTQ+ books and authors each June.
This year, I’m curating the Pride Month Bundle for StoryBundle and it is an amazing lineup. We have novels and novellas as well as an anthology and a single author collection, each one a unique and terrific read. As always, at StoryBundle, you name your own price—whatever you feel the books are worth and you can designate a portion of the proceeds for our selected charity, Rainbow Railroad. Rainbow Railroad is a nonprofit that works with LGBTQ refugees, helping them to leave dangerous situations and safely resettle in new areas.
The 2020 Pride Bundle includes two works by creators from New Zealand, in honor of this year’s Worldcon. A.J. Fitzwater, author of the joy-filled collection The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper, is a Sir Julius Vogel Award finalist this year, as is editor Andi C. Buchanan, whose ground-breaking special issue of Capricious SF Magazine, Capricious: The Gender Diverse Pronouns Issue, is also included in the bundle.
Like your queer fiction to have elements of the Southern Gothic, perhaps a touch of horror and mystery, coupled with sumptuous writing and compelling characters? You’re sure to enjoy A Spectral Hue by Craig Laurance Gidney and Catfish Lullaby by A.C. Wise. Looking for beautifully written stories set in historical settings with a fantastical edge? We’ve got you covered with Melissa Scott and Lisa Barnett’s Armor of Light, Floodtide by Heather Rose Jones and Will Do Magic for Small Change by Andrea Hairston. Want adventures set just beyond the worlds we know? Come along on some glorious adventures with Grilled Cheese and Goblins by Nicole Kimberling and the novellas The Counterfeit Viscount and The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus by Ginn Hale. And finally, for something a little different, join author R.R. Angell’s cadre of queer college students as they play an unusual game set in virtual reality with an AI who’s more than she seems in Best Game Ever.
Not only is this year’s bundle an intriguing mix of stories, it’s star-studded too! Our bundle’s authors and editor have won the Astounding Award, the Otherwise Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards and several Lambda and Spectrum Awards, as well as being finalists for awards like the Nebulas. So there we have this year’s Pride StoryBundle – lots of variety, lots of new voices, a fun mix of new and classic tales, adding up to 11 great reads for a great cause! – Catherine Lundoff
* * *
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
- Best Game Ever by R. R. Angell
- The Counterfeit Viscount by Ginn Hale
- A Spectral Hue by Craig Laurance Gidney
- Capricious: The Gender Diverse Pronouns Issue by Andi C. Buchanan
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus seven more more books, for a total of eleven!
- Grilled Cheese and Goblins by Nicole Kimberling
- The Armor of Light by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett
- Floodtide by Heather Rose Jones
- The Hollow History of Professor Profectus by Ginn Hale
- Will Do Magic For Small Change by Andrea Hairston
- The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper by A.J. Fitzwater
- Catfish Lullaby by A.C. Wise
This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, .mobi) for all books!
It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.
Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
- Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
- Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
- Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
- Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Rainbow Railroad!
- Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.
Blast from the past posts from before the Weasel crawled into the Hadron Collider … I wrote this a VERY long time ago… sometime around 2005…
I’ve been reading essays by several other authors recently, mostly at the new site www.storytellersunplugged.com, (2020 note – I am considering revamping and renewing that site) and I’ve noticed a trend I can appreciate. More and more I see people taking the old tired clichés that you hear from veteran writers and bending them closer to the truth.
Write what you know. Sure, that makes sense. It isn’t always important that you know everything about what you are writing, but you need one of two things to pull off credible fiction: A solid background in your subject matter that allows you to paint images with words that others will share, in some way, and appreciate, or a natural ability to put enough power behind the words that, even should a reader know you are full of crap on any given subject, the prose carries them past it anyway. At it’s best this talent leaves readers with a vague notion they just missed something, but unwilling to turn back to search for it if it means giving up on the next part of the story or novel.
That isn’t what I mean, though. What I mean is, it isn’t enough to write what you know if you want to leave a mark. If the subject leaves no marks on you, then it’s unlikely to do much better with a wide readership. Write what hurts you. Write what really scares you. It’s been said many times that writing is therapeutic. I don’t believe this is true unless you apply it to the issues that torment you. This can be taken too far, of course. If it’s too painful, that pain will transfer, and your readers may not appreciate it.
A work that was like this for me was a very powerful novel titled “KINK” by Kathe Koja. Oh. My. God. Digression warning – but I WILL get back to this.
When I read that book I was standing on the quarterdeck of a US Navy ship in a drydock. It was sort of sad; the ship was on its last stretch of inhabited time, and I was nearing my last stretch of time as a sailor. The sea and I go way back, and despite the crap one must allow to be shoveled over their head to be part of the US Military, I sometimes miss it. There were nights standing out on the deck of the ship (you weren’t supposed to go out there at night, but we went out to smoke anyway) where we’d stand, talk, watch the stars, watch the phosphorescence that the ship’s screws churned up, think up song lyrics or write poems in our heads. I had quite a creative group of sailors on the ships where I served. There were artists, musicians, and mixtures of both; there was even another writer, though I don’t know what happened to him. If Mike “Hand Man” Walsh reads this – or anyone who knows where he can be found – I’d love to know if he kept at it. Last I heard he was fixing boat motors for fishermen in Alaska, though he’s originally from Seattle.
Anyway, the damned POINT Wilson. It’s this. I was on watch, alone, late at night, and I decided the time had come to read KINK. I finished the novel that night, standing there in the dark with only a small fluorescent lamp to see by. More than once I cursed at the book, slammed it shut and walked out of the guard shack to pace up and down the deck and think – not about the book, but about situations where I’d been lied to, hurt, ridiculed, made a fool of, and felt EXACTLY as I felt for the characters in the book. It’s about relationships. It’s about trying to add a third party into a near perfect two-party relationship. Triangles form. Angles dissolve. Nothing is ever quite as it seems, and you spend your time wondering what really is, and is not happening. It leaves marks.
I had been through quite a lot at that point in my life. I was also writing. I did the Star Trek novel during that period (CHRYSALIS – Voyager #12) and I wrote the first and second book of my Grails Covenant Trilogy. The thing is, I wasn’t writing what I know at that point. Not like I should have been. The Star Trek novel got panned in some areas for being too literate – going too much into the heads of the characters instead of delivering straight action. You see, I was TRYING to write what I needed to write, but Star Trek wasn’t the place for it. I wasn’t writing anything like what I found myself reading that night. I felt like I knew Ms. Koja in a way that was remarkable. I don’t feel that such a piece of fiction could be written except through personal pain. I don’t even know that it would have the same effect on just anyone who read it, but man…I wore out some shoe leather pacing up and down the non-skid deck of that ship alternately telling myself no way was I going back to read THAT book, and rushing back to feverishly force myself through more pages hoping things would get FIXED. I wonder what Kathe (she’s a lovely lady, and her husband is an unbelievable artist. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I’d recommend (first) Skin – which I also loved).
There is no fixing a thing like what happened to those characters, but their situation did improve, eventually, and move on, which life also does. What happened in the book, and the women who shredded my heart early on in life that left me unprepared to face it so brutally, aren’t the subjects here today. Not really. The point is that book was powerful. The experience of reading it was powerful.
What do you know that others don’t? What do you know that left marks, and that you can find a way to share? The magic formula, of course, is to find a way to populate a book with characters of that magnitude of “reality” without giving up the notion of entertainment. If KINK had a flaw, it was that the experience of reading it left me drained and unhappy. Not because it was a bad book, but because it did what it set out to do so very freaking well, thank you. It couldn’t happen without the author opening windows that must have been painful to open. It couldn’t happen by accident. I would hate to meet the person who could just imagine emotion like that without having experienced it, because no therapy in the world would help such a person, and no one could protect those he or she loved. Living through it helps you build walls, I suppose, and writing about it helps you put in some windows, doors, and get fresh air in your lungs. But it isn’t easy.
So, the next time you sit down to write, don’t think about the market you’re after. Don’t wonder how you can put new life into old vampires. Don’t try to figure out what would be “really cool and gory” or what will fit some niche you see open before you. Sink in a little deeper and look for the marks. You’ll find them all over the inside of your memories; I can almost guarantee it. See if you can pry one of them loose, or a bunch of them, and arrange them in words that make sense.
I won’t promise the piece will sell right off the bat, or at all. I don’t promise you’ll get accolades. I do think, however, that if you are going to make a mark in the bigger world of literature, the mark has to start somewhere deep inside, and when it surfaces, it will bring things with it you have to be willing to face through the eyes of whatever protagonist you inflict it upon. I believe you’ll find such writing is the most rewarding, and the reactions it receives from readers are the most memorable.
Of course, I believe a lot of strange things. Some of them I write down.
If you want to experience the book that had such a lasting effect on my work, you can buy KINK by clicking the co re image below.
I have now had the DISTINCT honor of publishing the unabridged audiobooks for both , SKIN, STRANGE ANGELS, and the horror classic THE CIPHER – all by Kathe Koja. You can find these and all her audiobooks at:
At the time I first wrote this, they were wrapping up filming on the only produced film I’ve scripted. I wrote this from the outline provided by director and star Rosanna Jeran … and now the movie can be downloaded from Amazon. It’s a weird one – more like a very long music video- and it’s possible I broke the “F-bomb” record in the dialogue… but there are a lot worse ways to spend an hour and a half…
My novel Deep Blue had just come out in paperback from Five Star back then – now you can get it in eBook, Audiobook, or print…
(Originally published online at Chizine.com in the column : From the Shadeaux)
Here is the deal… I have 37 books here in my office and many more at home. I will pick 37 winners at the end of this in a random drawing. You can get multiple entries by following simple guidelines. Everyone who is a member of The Dead Poe Etc. Society by the last day of the contest will have at least one entry just for being there. Everyone who is entered (even if not chosen for print edition from those available) will receive at the least an eBook. That’s right. Everyone will be eligible to win “something” and a lot of you will win signed books. I want the books to be read by readers who care – who will tell others, and review and share them. I’m hoping this group will become the core of that. Here is how it will work.
I am going to run this contest from the moment I post it until May 15th. The ONLY WAY to enter is to provide the proof required for each entry mentioned in the rules below. ALL entries must be submitted via e-mail to David@crossroadpress.com with the SUBJECT LINE: DNW Books This will drop them automatically into the right folder for me to add them to the spreadsheet and will be able to count the entries per entrant. It is fine to e-mail more than once if you go back and acquire more “points”. Here’s how to enter.
- Be a members of The Dead Poe Etc. Society – 1 Entry
- Follow me on Bookbub by clicking this link, going to my profile, and either following (if you are a Bookbub subscriber, or subscribing and then following. If you can take a screenshot of this that is best. I’m happy to take people’s word for this, but the last giveaway I did, 42 people said they followed me, and the number of followers only went up by 12 … so… This one is important because once you get a certain number of follower, they send out more automatic notes if you get a featured deal or new release promotion.
- Sign up for my NL – 1 entry. (2 entries if you subscribe to Crossroad Press as well (same link).
- Share the link to my NL on any social media platform 1 entry per platform (Tag me in the post)
- Share the link to my Bookbub page and suggest people follow on any social media platform – 1 entry per platform. (tag me in the post)
- Review any of my books on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, Kobo or Audible – send link – 5 entries per review. (Honest – not asking you to say nice things unless you mean them).
- Share the link to this contest page in a Facebook group involving books and read that I’m not already a member of: 1 entry
- Share this contest page link on your own Facebook page – 1 entry.
- Share this contest page link on Twitter – 1 entry.
- Share this contest page on Instagram – 1 entry.
PRIZES INCLUDE BUT NOT LIMITED TO: 1 eBook for every member of The Dead Poet’s Society on the 15th of May, 2020 – any of my titles, including books that are just anthologies with one of my stories.
PRINT BOOKS: All of these can be signed, or personalized.
Freedom of Screech anthology edited by Craig Spector with my story “The Tree” (A Cletus J. Diggs Story)
Three copies of the original 1st editions of Vintage Soul
One copy of the newer hardcover of Vintage Soul with the Bob Eggleton cover
Two copies of HOODS: the Beginning
One copy of HOODS: The Beginning Advanced Reading Copy
Two copies of the 1st Edition of The Mote in Andrea’s Eye
Two copies of the collection The Call of Distant Shores
One copy of Beyond the Second Veil
Two copies of The Parting – the first full length O.C.L.T. novel
One copy of DEFINING MOMENTS, my Bram Stoker Award-nominated collection
One copy of a children’s anthology called “Stories That Won’t Make Your Parents Hurl” with my story “Cat Candles”.
One copy of Kali’s Tale – Book IV of The DeChance Chronicles
On each of two versions of the paperback of Darkness Falling
One copy of of A Midnight Dreary
Four copiles of Maelstrom
One copy of the 1st Edition paperback of Deep Blue
One copy of The Orffyreus Wheel
One copy of On the Third Day
One copy of Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe
One copy of This is My Blood
One copy of Sins of the Flash
Two copy of the first book in the Grails Covenant Trilogy – To Sift Through Bitter Ashes
Two different versions of the trade paperback of Ancient Eyes
One rare copy of the B&N print edition of Ancient Eyes that we never mass-produced.
I have plenty more at home, and if someone wins and is adamant about wanting a different thing, I can work that out…these are just what I have here.
I’ll start by pointing out that I have added a new excerpt, short story for your reading pleasure. Considering all that is going on currently, it seemed appropriate to post my story “The Masquerade,” written as E. A. Poe in the pages of the novel A Midnight Dreary, my most recent addition to The DeChance Chronicles. You will find it on the Short Stories and Excerpts page (linked above) or can simply click HERE to go to the story.
Works in progress are many and varied. I am outlining the second book in the HOODS young adult superhero series. We will introduce a new hero in this one, and another currently relevant sort of villain for the group to tangle with. These books are fun. The first one has not taken off as I’d hoped, but I will continue because I think they are great stories – and the reviews actually garnered have agreed.
I am also a good ways into two longer projects – Jurassic Ark – the story of Noah and his family, building an Ark in a time when men and dinosaurs roamed the earth together… it started as a sort of sarcastic jab at Creationism, and turned into a deeper, more interesting story. I am also working on a Thriller titled “Tattered Remnants” that is one of my all-time favorite projects. The first chapter of it appeared (alongside Stephen King) in the most recent installment of Cemetery Dance’s SHIVERS anthology series. It has hints of Thomas Harris (back when he was good) and of Dexter (both the novels and the series)… and is set (of course) in San Valencez California, home of Tommy Doyle, the Psychos ‘r’ Us detective, the band from Deep Blue, Donovan DeChance, the heroes in Hoods, and many other stories. It’s a city with more than it’s share of darkness.
My first novel – This is My Blood – will re-release any day in unabridged audio, voiced by the talented Skye Stafford. I’m hoping this relaunch will bring new readers and listeners to the story that has brought me the most recognition… if not, I’ll enjoy listening to it again and visiting with Mary Magdalene and the crew.
The current obessive project is titled Into Nothing … it’s a complex beast. It’s going to be a novel in ten parts (Ten or so) … each part will also have a TV drama style screenplay written as I go, and will contain the lyrics for at least one song by the band Into Nothing – formed in the novel. It’s based around a vision that a young dishwasher, would-be song-writer named Jesse experiences when he blacks out in his apartment. Part two will be based on my Absinthe story “The Milk of Paradise,” but told from the perspective of one of the characters in the story, and not the main story itself. I have finished part one – song one – and am about 16 pages into the screenplay. I will keep you posted.
I also have as story in the next upcoming SHIVERS anthology – “Hickory Nuts and Bones,” that I love… and that Richard Chizmar sort of poked me into writing. Keeping busy. If you are an audiobook lover, keep this link handy. This is a link to free downloads of my Audiobooks from Audible.com – there are limited quantities – you can select to show those with available US or UK codes. These get reloaded from time to time, so if the one you want has no codes, don’t get discouraged, and the site has a LOT of titles with available codes, so if you can’t get one of mine you may find something else you like: FREE AUDIOBOOK CODES.
This is a quick note to show off the new cover art from Cortney Skinner for Heart of a Dragon – Book One of The DeChance Chronicles … the book is currently on sale for only .99 in eBook format. The rest of the books in the series will be getting re-branded covers to match the new style… looking for that new audience… spread the word… .99 to take a chance on a new series…
I’ve added the prologue and first chapter of my Thomas Harris like thriller SINS OF THE FLASH to the page. This book has started, out of the blue, to gather a new audience, and I wanted to take advantage of this by providing more details. It was written while I was stationed on the USS Guadalcanal. The villain is a serial killer of a type that is very different – the killing being almost subordinate to his actual obsession. His art. This is a dark, very adult thriller that also introduced detective Tommy Doyle – the “Psycos ‘r’ Us” detective from San Valencez, California (which most of you will recognize from my other books. Tommy also appeared in several short stories, and his cousin Patrick, who served as an officer in nearby Lavender California, is one of the main characters in my horror novel Maelstrom.
I hope you’ll pass this on to thriller / horror / serial killer novel loving friends and family. I’m working on updating the trade paperback now.