Wednesday, August 23, 2017

So That Happened: Immersive Re-read of Stephen King's It

Took me 2 1/2  months the way I did it, reading it alongside other, slimmer books, but I finished a re-read of It, every word with far more care and contemplation than I probably gave it the first time around when I was a young and busy reporter.

It was great to re-visit those dark, dank sewers and contemplate the characters and the horror and the awe.

It reminded me how much depends on a bike named Silver and a sense of wonder, a bike as grand as that sense of summer in the tennis shoes in Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. 

I'm glad to have re-visited and to look at it with fresh, more studious eyes. Above all--and there are some great scares--I'm glad to come to a new appreciation of the structure. Like the book that probably influenced it, John D. MacDonald's The End of the Night we get notice fairly soon up front of the ending, or at least some of the details, but for the whole story of what happened in 1958, we have to go on the concurrent journeys with the characters to learn all the details and how the ultimate defeat occurs.

Thats about all I have to say at the moment. Nothing more profound. Just that it was a great way to spend my reading life this summer.

I'm looking forward to the new film, even though it can't hope to treat the structure in the same way the book and even the miniseries did. The sewers, the house, the clown all look like interesting interpretations of a modern myth. Fun times.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Half A Decade Teaching Horror, Mystery and Suspense!?

The actual and official anniversary of my teaching gig's June 1, though it was in August that I stepped into the classroom for the first time five years ago.  It's hard to believe it's been so long.

It's been an interesting time. In a good way. My former comics editor and friend Roland Mann landed first at Full Sail University teaching in their MFA program for creative writing. Then he called me. I wasn't looking for a teaching job just yet though I'd completed an MFA, but Captain America was on the home page. Full Sail grads had worked on the production. I decided to re-think my timeline a bit. As my friend would put it later, "You're going: `I want to work at the Captain America school."

When I first learned a few months later I'd been hired to teach a focus of horror, mystery and suspense in a new creative writing BFA program, I was still working as a corporate communications writer and web content coordinator.

I gave a month's notice and started preparing in my head by keeping Lovecraft stories open in one tab on my computer.

Between completing final tasks and assignments at that day job, I ventured into Antarctica again via At the Mountains of Madness and scoured horror web comics, movie sites and headed to the theater for Cabin in the Woods, The Raven, and The Hunger Games. 

Tom Waits "Walking Spanish" became an earworm, an anthem for short timer's syndrome.

Tomorrow morning there'll be laundry
But he'll be somewhere else to hear the call
Don't say good bye he's just leavin' early
He's walking Spanish down the hall...

When I first settled at my desk in my new gig in Orlando, I realized I had to codify what I'd done instinctively in writing fiction. I poured over things like The Philosophy of Horror by Noel Carroll and revisited Danse Macabre by Stephen King which I'd bought and read when it came out.

I did the same with mystery and thriller fiction and theory reading essays by Dorthy L. Sayers and academic essays on mystery greats. My formative years included Chandler, Ross MacDonald, John D. MacDonald and Hammett as well as Lovecraft, King, Poe, so the course mixture was a good fit for me. My freshman English professor once told me I might someday offer something interesting to the academic world with my specialized knowledge in detective fiction, the focus of most of my papers for his class.

As things cranked up in Orlando, it was a grand time, those months putting the building blocks together for a course. I had to modify my thinking a bit as I began to meet late teen and early twenties students steeped in gaming an anime. I had to learn to show the influences of Stepehn King on Elfin Lied and Raymond Chandler on Death Note, and break down the tropes in Silent Hill and Left4Dead. But it's been a great ride.

Settling into the job and immersing myself in genre anew opened up a fresh wave of creativity for me also. I've written two new novels now and a host of short stories plus some scripts short and long. I didn't realize how much the corporate world had stifled me.

We had a fun five-year celebration this week just past for all of us who've been on board since 2012, and I got a pin. Full Sail began as a program for sound and music editors, mixers and engineers, so you earn a guitar pick for five and move into other mediums on successive milestones.

It's been a fun half decade. We'll see where things go from here. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Dark Hours Full Cover

Since it's usually wrapped around the book, you don't  get the full view of cover art. Here's the whole thing for Dark Hours.

The building really captures the spirit of the old gothic library I envisioned for the novel.

Order from Amazon.

Order from Barnes and Nobel.

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