Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Interview about Blood Hunter and Gnelfs

Sonya Clark was kind enough to offer me an opportunity to discuss the e-book release of Blood Hunter and Gnelfs recently.

The interview is now posted on her site.

Sonya is the author of a fantasy novella called Bring on the Night that's now available as an e-book.

I really enjoyed recalling the origins of both novels and talking about writing even a little about my reporting days.

Drop by and see it if you can.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Was Dora Suarez: Poignant, Brutal Thriller

Books on cult fiction and many reviews warn about the late Derek Raymond's I Was Dora Suarez, an entry in his Factory series of police procedurals. They seek to alert readers to scenes and references not for the faint of heart nor weak of stomach.

The novel includes all of the shocking references that get spotlighted including the possibly mythical felching, but they're milder than reviews would lead you to believe, and they are there either in character or serve to represent the profane, brutal world in which the unnamed narrator, a police detective sergeant, and the unfortunate Dora Suarez reside.

Raymond strives to find beauty in darkness and decay and paints the backdrop in willfully extreme tones.

Narrator hero and victim
The narrator's tough, just back to police work after what amounts to a suspension, and is prone to violence. He's satisfied with his rank and has no desire for advancement, but the discovery of the book's brutal opening deaths sets him an investigation that will rattle him like no other.

In an almost third-person narrative, that opening describes the dual murder of Dora Suarez and her unfortunate landlady who is thrown through a massive clock.  

Soon the detective is uncovering layers to Dora's life, and a look into her diary makes him understand her soul even as he delves into those darkest corners to which she was exposed.

Deep fascination
His fascination with Dora and her freshly washed hair at the time of her discovery is deepened by his exploration of her thoughts and dreams. Dora is damaged, but her spirit is unquestionably human.

Discoveries drive obsession as the detective and a partner intensify their search for her murderer.

The book drags in a few passages, but those are easily surpassed, and the ending, as the detective closes in on the hideously monstrous culprit provide an intense payoff both on a genre entertainment level and emotionally.

I Was Dora Suarez may not be for those tender-hearted souls who can't take tough fiction, but for those who can face a dark tale with a heart and soul, it's an interesting excursion.

I understand other entries in the Factory series eschew procedural conventions in interesting ways, and so I'm looking forward to sampling more Raymond, as I continue a quest for reading that straddles the literary and genre universes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guest Blogging on The Road

I'm literally guest blogging on The Road today. It's a brief meditation on Cormac McCarthy's subtle use of horror in the novel.

Check it out over at Elder Signs Press.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's On the iPod/iPhone?: Big Finish's (Sherlock) Holmes and the Ripper

I was pleasantly surprised recently to discover:

a.) The Big Finish Podcast 

b.) That Big Finish is doing Sherlock Holmes stories

c.) You can now download from the Big Finish website

d.) Downloads are less expensive than CDs

I've been under a rock two years, so I'm still catching up on a lot of things.

 Of course when I gained all this knowledge, starting with the podcast, a natural choice for a birthday gift request was "Holmes and the Ripper," an installment based on a stage play by Brian Clemens of The Avengers fame and scores of other TV shows and movies.

The story's core stems from the conspiracy theorized in Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution by Stephen Knight, so it bears similarities to From Hell, the Jack the Ripper miniseries and the earlier Holmes flick Murder By Decree. Chronologically, release-wise, the play falls it the middle. It pre-dates From Hell and the graphic novel on which it's based but followed 1979's Decree by about nine years.

I suppose the conspiracy is too delicious dramatically to be abandoned, even though it's widely discredited.

Familiarity with the source material doesn't minimize the enjoyment of the production, because it's gloriously and freshly executed with a full cast, incredible music and a music suite track that's a dark mind ride unto itself.

Nicholas Briggs is wonderful as  Holmes, pining over Irene Adler--The Woman--yet  up to the challenge of conspirators and mystics in pursuit of the truth behind the Whitechapel killings. Interesting use is made of Scotland Yard Commissioner Robert Anderson, who, I believe, gets a lot of examination in Ripperology.

"Holmes and the Ripper" manages action, chills and excitement, sparking the imagination with its brilliant mixture of sounds and pauses. It's a great starting point for the Big Finish universe.

A note on the download - The download is not like an Audible or iTunes audiobook. You receive the CD tracks in a zip file, which means importing to iTunes and making a playlist. It's relatively painless.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Red Tree - A Study In Quiet Horror

Now and then a novel comes along that's so subtly eerie it generates fear that seems to affect your central nervous system. The Haunting of Hill House is that way, as are some of the novels of Charles L. Grant.

To me, The Red Tree achieves similar results, with its sense of unease and its gradual, ambiguous journey into the supernatural. It's a true don't-read-this-too-late-at-night experience.

As I followed Sarah Crowe, the protagonist and chief narrator, through her strange experiences, the little creaks and groans of my house, and the sounds of insects or pine needles thumping the window made me look twice or turn on an extra light.

It's the kind of terror that's hard to achieve, but The Red Tree author Caitlin R. Kiernan does it so well Crowe's journal seems like the real chronicle of experiences--both mundane and incredible--hammered out on a battered manual typewriter.

Crowe, we learn early, is from a small Alabama town, but she's more recently lived in Atlanta and achieved a degree of  literary success . The death of her lover, Amanda, has driven her to an ancient house in Rhode Island. There, in the basement, she finds not just that old typewriter but also a manuscript by the house's former resident, a suicide.

While she's supposed to be writing a contracted novel, Crowe begins to delve into the abandoned manuscript and to peruse the red oak on her rental property, subject of the dead author's narrative which explores the tree's myth and twisty tales of New England legend. The tree, for hundreds of years, has exerted a strange influence, and the interspersed passages from the abandoned manuscript add wonderful eeriness.

Rustin Parr's been here
The tree is tied to bizarre ritual killings, strange disappearances and stories of shape shifting, all of which enthrall Crowe even as she begins a troubled affair with the house's new upstairs tenant, a beautiful young artist fleeing her own troubles in Los Angeles.

As strange experiences for both of them escalate, lines between the strange and the surreal blur and Crowe slowly reveals the truths behind her flight from the South, and questions about whether or not she's a reliable narrator build.

Don't come to the book expecting visceral, brutal horror. Come expecting soft chills that become shudders and eventually rattle and shake you. It's whispering horror with one of the best explorations of writer's block I've read since The Lime Works.

Also available in a Kindle Edition

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Teaser For Dennis - Monster Film Short

Dennis is a new monster film short written by Phil Duncan and directed by Kyle Aldrich. They're a couple of my MFA classmates.

The official teaser is now live, and you can get a taste of the style and, uh,  flavor. It really is a masterful script, clever and with a lot of depth.

The Official Dennis Teaser from Phil Duncan on Vimeo.

You can "Like" the offiical Dennis page on Facebook for more information, updates on release dates etc.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A lesson in self promotion

I hate self promotion.

I'm a shy, retiring and modest type, so I don't like having to proclaim my own virtues, but for the new e-book editions of my novels, such as Blood Hunter and the upcoming Gnelfs, I'm mustering my courage and tenacity and doing interviews and what I can to get the word out.

It's pretty much a necessity. I've noticed about a million books out there. Most are written by James Patterson, but not all, so you've kinda gotta wave your arms and shout.

All of this is making me recall a lesson in self promotion I got at the opening session of a science fiction convention a few years ago.

John Steakley, author of Vampire$ was there. Maybe he was toastmaster, I don't recall precisely. But a microphone was handy, and The Scary Book graphic novel was just out at the time, so that's what got a mention when I was introduced.

"What was the name of that again?" Steakley asked, picking up a mic.

"The Scary Book," I answered when he tipped the mic toward me.

"The Scary Book, you say?"

"That's right."

"I don't think they heard you in the back. What was it? The Scary Book?"

"Yes, The Scary Book."

I was probably a little red by then.

"OK, The Scary Book."

He enlisted someone else to say the title, and this went on for a while. When it all wound down, and the mic was no longer in front of us, Steakley leaned in and said: "That's what you gotta do. Just keep mentioning your title."

So if you pass me somewhere in the various corners of the web, and I'm mentioning Blood Hunter, or the upcoming e-edition of Gnelfs, you'll know that's what I'm up to.

For those of you who don't own Kindles, by the way, Blood Hunter is available in .pdf and other handy formats on the publisher's website. That's Crossroad Press. Just click here.

And if you're a writer, remember Mr. Steakley's advice, because in most fan circles if you mention Armor or Vampire$, they know who you're talking about.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A brief interview with me

A brief interview with me is up on Kip Poe's blog. It's a discussion on writing habits.

You can check it out here.

Kip has a book of short horror fiction called Closing My Eyes Helps Me See Clearly that's available as an e-book.
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