Apr 242015
 

Daredevil

Marketing aside, word of mouth is what pushes new books, movies, and TV shows. It’s why I took a chance on Hugh Howey‘s dystopian novel, Wool. And why I finally streamed Babadook on Netflix the other night. Word of mouth (in this case, social media) prompted me to check out Daredevil. So I started watching the first episode, thinking it would most likely be weak and cheesy. But I should have known better.

It totally kicked ass.

I should have known better for a couple of reasons: One, because Stan Lee is involved, and Stan knows a thing or two about how to tell a story. Two, because Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock, the blind defense attorney and true identity of Daredevil. Cox also portrayed Owen Sleater, “Nucky” Thompson’s (Steve Buscemi) right-hand man on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Cox was compelling and convincing in that role, so it stands to reason he’d do a good job as the sightless superhero as well. Of course, the acting can only be as strong as the writing. But, as I said…Stan Lee.

Another reason why Daredevil is such a good show, is that it’s based in reality, for the most part. That’s one of the tools for the suspension of disbelief. They start off in the real world of homelessness, urban blight, bigotry and hate. All the elements that make up the wonderful world of Homo sapiens. It’s dark and gritty. It’s authentic. So, when they introduce a crime fighter who got his super powers from a radioactive spill, you buy it.

And when it comes to villains, you can’t do much better than Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio. D’Onofrio brings a deep, almost childlike sadness to the role, which, in the episode that introduces him, makes Fisk’s violent attack on a Russian hoodlum all the more frightening.

Oh. And the fight scenes. Epic. One is six minutes long and takes place in a cramped hallway.

So. Go watch the show. Do a Netflix binge, even. You can thank me later.

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 April 24, 2015  Posted by at 1:19 pm writing No Responses »
Mar 232015
 

The Girl Next Door cover“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ~ Franz Kafka

That quote by Kafka comes to mind when I think of Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. It’s how Ketchum tells his stories. He pulls them up from the gut and presents them without apology to the reader, saying, “This is what it is.” Under the harsh white glare of a fluorescent light, he turns over the rock and shows you the thing that squirms and writhes beneath. It’s usually painful, ugly, and hard to look at. Yet you can’t look away. Because as readers we seek the underlying truth inside the lie that is fiction, and a good writer understands the importance of telling that truth.

Jack Ketchum is such a writer.

The Girl Next Door is a gripping novel, a glance into the dark corners of the human psyche. It’s the story of a typical American neighborhood in the 1950s. But that neighborhood, and one family in particular, harbors an unspeakable secret. Ketchum shows us that, even—and sometimes especially—in the ostensibly idyllic world of Elvis, ice cream trucks, and Schwinn bicycles, things aren’t always what they seem to be at first glance. That there can exist a dark underbelly which people prefer not to think about, much less openly acknowledge, because it doesn’t fit into their mundane world of washing the family Chevy on Saturday morning and watching Ed Sullivan on TV on Sunday night. And the fact that these people turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to such evil is the very thing that allows it to live among them.

In the book’s afterword, Ketchum talks about how wickedness makes him mad. And doesn’t anger stem from fear? That’s what makes this story (which is inspired by actual events) such a suspenseful read. Ketchum is writing about what scares him, and what no doubt scares you.

I know it scared the hell out of me.

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 March 23, 2015  Posted by at 12:40 pm writing 2 Responses »
Mar 182015
 

At the dentistYou know when you’re having a really shitty day, and you think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m not getting my teeth drilled on…?

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 March 18, 2015  Posted by at 3:38 pm writing No Responses »
Mar 172015
 

Deathbed coverHere’s my new short story, Deathbed. It’s the dark account of a man who must travel to his hometown to visit his abusive father and stepmother one last time. Is it technically horror? Probably not. Is there horror in it? Oh, most decidedly. Check it out. Even review it if you’re so inclined.

Secondly, I thought it was time I give you an update about my plans and schemes.

Most recently, I submitted my new horror story, Ugly, to Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. It’s flash fiction, which is what they requested, but it felt a bit constraining to squeeze it down to just a thousand words. I had more I wanted to say about little Alice Unger. No matter, if PMMP accepts it, great. If not, I’ll flesh it out some and decide where to go from there.

Speaking of short stories, I’ve published eight so far (including No Such Thing As Monsters, which I’ve made free to subscribers). My hope is to publish a collection once I reach thirteen. In fact, that’s the working title: 13. It’s just got that cool creep factor, ya know?

Last, but most definitely not least, is my novel. It’s about a young man named Will Dunham, who is granted the ability by an ancient entity to travel to parallel dimensions. This talent is bestowed on him because another man, Rafe Hollis, has been given the power of chaos and discordance by another, darker entity, and Rafe begins to use it to wreak havoc by creating ripples that cause a disturbance throughout the multiverse. Will soon realizes that he has to stop Rafe before he destroys Will’s own world, and indeed, all the worlds in between. Hint: the theme has to do with music.

I was going to call the novel Threads, but there’s already a wildly popular movie about nuclear war with that name. So I’m kicking around ideas again. If you come up with any, I’ll be glad to listen.

The title wasn’t my only setback. I’ve been stumbling into plot holes and hampered by uncooperative (and once or twice, even unnecessary) characters from the word go. I know now it was because I tried to write a pretty complicated story without an outline. Bad mistake. I’m a “pantser” at heart, because I like to watch the story unfold as I write it. But sometimes you’ve just gotta map the damn thing out. I’ve since gone back to the drawing board and done a chapter sketch. It’s not an in-depth outline, but I was already so far into the book that I just needed to regroup a little. And I think I’ve finally got a handle on it.

So that’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by. And remember, if you want to show me some love, read my stories and give them an honest review on Amazon or Smashwords.

Keep it weird, y’all.

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 March 17, 2015  Posted by at 9:41 am writing 7 Responses »
Mar 032015
 

To Catch A Fly coverMy new short story, To Catch A Fly, is available now pretty much everywhere eBooks are sold. This is a dark crime story, told from the point of view of the criminal himself, a hard case named Eddie Becker.

In this story I attempted to get inside the head of a psychopath, to walk around for a while in his skin. I asked myself, “What makes people like that do the things they do? What impetus pushes them over the edge? Or have they always been that way, with that impulse surging just below the surface like a dark rushing river?”

I ask myself if we all have that possibility inside of us. I think the answer is yes.

This story is a nod to The Catcher In The Rye, though I don’t think I knew that while I was writing it. That’s how it is, I guess. Some things are there just beneath the topsoil of our waking thoughts, like that dark river. All you have to do is dig a little. And sometimes you don’t even have to dig.

Sometimes those things just bubble up on their own.

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 March 3, 2015  Posted by at 1:54 pm writing No Responses »
Feb 242015
 

Here’s a look at the new covers for Stranded and No Such Thing As Monsters. Same great stories inside, but with scaly new skins on the outside. And speaking of No Such Thing As Monsters, jump over to the sidebar and grab it for free while you’re here.

Keep it weird, y’all!

Stranded cover            

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 February 24, 2015  Posted by at 1:25 pm writing No Responses »
Feb 172015
 

Tunnel Through Time coverSo stoked! I found this YA sci-fi classic by Lester del Rey the other day. I read it for the first time when I was around ten or eleven, and it was one of those books. If you’re an avid reader you know what I mean—the ones that you completely lose yourself in, and for the rest of your life your thoughts drift back to them again and again.

Those gems are rare, even when you read a lot, like I do. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of books I’ve read and loved over the years. But there are only a handful that manage to hit that elusive sweet spot. Three others that come to mind right off the bat are The Stand by Stephen King, Time and Again by Jack Finney, and Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. I’m not sure, but I think, as important as story is, sometimes it also happens to be where you are and what’s going on in your life at the time that makes certain books stay with you.

Like I said, I was around ten or so when I read Tunnel Through Time. I lived in Indiana then, far out in the country. Our TV was on the fritz that summer and my dad was laid off so we couldn’t afford a new one. I hated my dad being out of work, not because of the lack of money but because he was always around, and he and my step-mom fought constantly, especially after they’d had a few drinks. A lot of the time I just escaped into the deep woods that surrounded our house back then. (I went back once, a few years ago, and all those trees had been cut down for lumber, or farmland, or whatever the fuck. Progress, huh?)

But sometimes I retreated to my room and read (or wrote). Around one of those times, I found this book, or it found me. It’s about this boy named Bob Miller whose father, Sam, is a physicist and inventor. The father and son get along famously. And when Sam’s friend, Doc Tom, gets trapped in the past in a time travel experiment, Sam trusts Bob and Doc Tom’s son, Pete, to go after him.

I remember lying on my bed reading this book while summer rain fell outside my window. I don’t know if that’s a true memory or not, and it doesn’t really matter. I remember it that way, and that makes it mine.

I love this book, and for much more than just the story, though I love that too. It’s my own little time machine that I can take back to a time where I found a magic hiding place, a good place where no one could find me in the midst of that not-so-good place.

Love, trust, and escape, not to mention wild adventure and dinosaurs. What wasn’t to love for a little boy who would have given anything to be anywhere else but where he was?

No wonder I love books so much.

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 February 17, 2015  Posted by at 4:31 pm writing 2 Responses »
Jan 292015
 

Deadfall Lane coverDeadfall Lane is a creepy little horror story.

When Pete Denning is faced with the prospect
of losing the most important thing in his life—
his son—he loses his mind instead…

And then finds himself trapped in a waking
nightmare with no way out.

 

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 January 29, 2015  Posted by at 9:13 am writing No Responses »