News and New Releases

Well, I hope you all had a fright-filled Halloween and Samhain season this year. Halloween is a relatively new event in New Zealand cultural history and so the scares don’t come out en masse as they do in the USA. When I was a kid, my pals and I would make absurd effigies of ‘Guy Fawkes’ on November the 5th. We’d stuff an old pair of overalls with rags and rolled-up newspaper and then push it around in a heavy-steel wheelbarrow, chanting “Guy! Guy! Money for the Guy. If you don’t have any money, then a smile will do. If you don’t have a smile, then God bless you!” Depending on who it was we’d usually give them this spiel, but if we didn’t like them we’d throw in a few other choice lines to give the chant a bit more pep. People would give us apples and lollies (candy) and sometimes loose-change and we’d all huddle round as the sun was going down and count our loot. If we had enough, we’d race down to the corner store (we call it a ‘dairy’ over here) and buy a swag of ‘Double Happys’ – powerful red crackers that looked like mini dynamite sticks – and then stash them away for the days and weeks after Guy Fawkes when you couldn’t buy fireworks anymore. The night would usually end in a grand finale at the local school field where the parents and kids would gather around a large bonfire. Some of the kids, myself included, who had  ready access to their father’s old work overalls would throw the ‘Guy’ on the pyre while the adults let off the sky rockets and other various fireworks. Anyway, no-one does Guy Fawkes like they used to anymore. Most of the fun fireworks are all banned now and the ones available are overpriced and boring so Halloween is starting to take the reigns as a viable alternative for most of the young New Zealand kids nowadays. Anyway, the season has now passed and we are staring down the barrel at Christmas again. Is it just me, or do the years seems to go by more quickly as you get older?
         As usual, I am a bit slow with my announcements here on this blog and in my newsletter and it is something I am fully committed to improving in 2018. Why not now you may ask? Well, apart from the news I am to share with you today, things are going to change for me as a writer. I have a new shift in focus and I have pledged to myself to prioritize longer works over my usual short fiction explorations. I have just recently published two new collections of select short fiction that has been published in other anthologies and magazines over the past couple of years. The first publication is DarkDeaths: Selected Horror Fiction, available in kindle ebook and print exclusively from Amazon. 



Here is the book description from Amazon:

William Cook’s second collection of macabre stories, Dark Deaths: Selected Horror Fiction, deals with horror found in the real and the imagined. In this diverse collection, the reader can expect anything from blood-thirsty aliens, a satanic locomotive, possessed dolls and that most monstrous species of human – the serial killer. Dark Deaths is a complimentary volume to Cook’s first collection, Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales [FREE if you subscribe - see link to the right >]. Many of the stories collected in Dark Deaths have previously been published in various anthologies and magazines with five brand-new and previously unpublished tales, written especially for this new collection. Included with the stories are Mr Cook’s own macabre illustrations that accompany each tale.

From the preface:

“In Dark Deaths: Selected Horror Fiction, I hope that you find something that resonates with you, the reader. Perhaps one of the stories might make you check the locks on your doors before turning in for the night? Maybe one of the tales in this collection will make you contemplate something you may not have thought about, or wanted to think about, before? You might think twice about keeping the doll that sits in a box in the attic, or take a second look at the guy across the road who sits in his upstairs window watching passersby. Whatever the response, my goal is to get you involved with the story – for you to suspend disbelief, if only for a short while as you read these tales. Be warned, this is a mixed bag – a distillation of stories written over the course of a number of years – whimsical childhood nightmares sit among the bloodied remains of serial murderers and revenant spirits. Each story is a dark death, an epitaph of sorts, as I lay them to rest in this collection.”

- William Cook
New Zealand. October, 2017.


So far Dark Deaths has been getting great reviews and I am really pleased with this collection and the high standard of the formatting and presentation, including illustrations and graphics. I have recently started using a fantastic formatting program called ‘Vellum.’ I first heard about Vellum from fellow author, Iain Rob Wright via his brilliant free self-publishing course – ‘A-Z of Self-Publishing: Self-Publishing Mastery.’ Previously I have had to pay quite a bit of money for formatting to a professional standard and I am pleased to say that Vellum has allowed me to publish my own work to an equal standard of quality with no formatting issues at all. It cost an initial outlay that may be prohibitive for some on a tight budget but after reinvesting some royalties I have already recovered my costs and the feedback so far has been great. If you have been thinking about self-publishing, this tool is well-worth the investment in my opinion. Anyway, onto the next publication released this month.
            SerialKiller Thrillers: Fictional Serial Killer Stories, is a companion volume to the first in my ‘serial killer’ series – Death Quartet. The print edition will be ready to purchase end of November and will include both volumes in an omnibus edition of sorts. I plan to include original illustrations of my own creation with the print edition. 



Here is the book description via Amazon:

Serial Killer Thrillers is the second volume of fictional stories about serial killers by William Cook. Please Note - this volume collects the stories from the first volume, Death Quartet, and brings them together with new stories that have been included from other collections. Serial Killer Thrillers presents Cook's 6 most disturbing serial killer stories in this single volume. Stories included are 'Creep,' 'Singles' Night,' 'Blinded by the Light,' 'Legacy,' 'Pretty Boy' and 'Time After Time' (formerly 'Playing the Game'). 

Tempered with lashings of the supernatural and the psychotic, Serial Killer Thrillers adds to Cook's growing body of psychological horror fiction. Although the stories in this volume can be found elsewhere, this freshly edited and arranged collection brings together the best of Cook's short fiction. 


          I have one more collection I hope to publish before December and that is called Babylon Fading: Collected Bizarre Tales. As the title implies, these stories are not my usual fare of psychological and supernatural horror, but of the ‘Bizarro’ variety. Most have previously been published in well-respected anthologies and will be collected in this edition for the first time. Time permitting, I hope to also release a collection that collates ALL of my published and publishable short fiction to date. It will be quiet the tome with close to 400 pages of short fiction available in print and ebook. Title and release to be announced – stay tuned.
            So that’s it for now. Please check out the new books and grab a copy for you and someone you love today. Both books are priced to sell and I have them at a special low price up until Christmas. Also, please take a moment to leave a fair review. I’m sure you understand that indie authors like myself, survive only by the skin of our teeth and only then with your support. Take care and until next time, good reading to you.

Best





William

Guest Post = Land of the Long Dark Cloud - Writing Dark Fiction Down Under by Dan Rabarts

Hi all - as you may or may not have noticed I have not been posting much lately. Largely due to the completion of my Masters thesis, my fiction writing and posts have been on hiatus. Now, I am back but this time I thought I'd try something a bit different by opening up my site to some fellow authors. The first guest post I present to you is from fellow countryman and all-around good guy, Dan Rabarts. Dan is a writer of the dark stuff along with excursions into fantasy and further afield. Here he offers us an interesting perspective on his recent work as it relates to possible sources and origins of inspiration, found in the locale and characteristic anomalies of life in New Zealand. If interested, I myself discuss the 'dark' aspects of New Zealand literature here in a recent interview with fellow writer and Dan's co-author, Lee Murray.

Give the below article a read and check out Dan's books via the links - you won't be sorry, he really is the real-deal and his stories will resonate with you long after you've finished reading them.


Also, please make sure to subscribe to this blog/website to stay tuned for the next post (if you subscribe now you also get a free digital copy of my collection, Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Fiction) - links to the right or click here.

Without further ado . . . here's Dan. 



Land of the Long Dark Cloud - Writing Dark Fiction Down Under

By Dan Rabarts


You can’t get much closer to the end of the world without falling off the edge, Barry Ferguson thought, watching the mist that cloaked the fiords roll down from their dizzy heights.

Thus begins my short story All That Glitters, part of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences world, created by Kiwi Pip Ballantine and her partner in writing and life, Tee Morris. The MoPO world is a collaborative work, worthy of note here because at one of my earlier stops in this blog tour I discussed the value of collaboration, and as an extension of the MoPO novels, All That Glitters is part of a series of short stories, the Tales from the Archives, written by the authors and other invited writers, making it something of a shared world writing community project, another topic I've discussed on this tour. The characters are the creation of Grant Stone, another tremendous Kiwi writer and also a collaborator of mine, and I've been lucky enough to write stories with these characters twice now. Thanks Grant, and Pip and Tee.



But we're here to talk dark fiction, you say, and rightly so. What does All That Glitters and MoPO have to do with dark fiction? Bear in mind that everything is connected. What we write, how we write it, the things that inspire and prompt us, the things that drive us to completion. Two of the biggest things that drive me forward are the New Zealand and Australian writing communities themselves, yet, despite the positive verve this community creates, so much of what we in the Antipodes create is dark and brooding, or harsh and sun-scorched, or both. Why?

All That Glitters is set at the very bottom of the South Island, towards the end of the era of the Otago Gold Rush. The story revolves around a missing daughter and a father's grief, and the ends he will go to in order to overcome that grief. It's a story of desperation and madness. It's a story that doesn't end well. Some of the story's intent was to capture the sense of distance and desolation found not only geographically but also across the spectrum of New Zealand society, particularly in the cultural divisions that shaped us from our earliest days. But I'll come back to this in a minute. Surely New Zealand isn't all bad?

If you believe the marketing, New Zealand is all about summer and pavlova and jandals, pristine landscapes and sporting successes and little guys taking on the world with number 8 wire and a uteful of warratahs. Yet our film and literature, both speculative and otherwise, tread heavily into the dark side of the scale. If the impression of New Zealand as a subtropical paradise free of the worries that plague other parts of the world is true, then why should our creatives see so much darkness to write about?

Perhaps we're asking the wrong questions. Perhaps we need to be asking why New Zealand has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the developed world. Why we have so many families living below the poverty line, and kids going to school without shoes or lunch. Why we continue to celebrate our sports stars even after they're proven to be violent offenders. Why we can't swim in most of our rivers and streams because of agricultural pollution. Why we've had a one-in-fifty-year storm every other year for the past fifteen years.

New Zealand is experiencing the effects of climate change both in the extreme weather events that have been affecting our part of the world over the past few years and also in the influx of climate refugees making their way here from low-lying island nations because their homes are disappearing under rising seas, a crystal ball into our own fate if things continue the way they are now.

It's hard to underestimate the impact of living on an island at the bottom of the world as a factor that influences our creative output. You might be sitting on a boat in Wellington Harbour enjoying the sunshine and a cold beer, with a massive faultline running along the hills that sweep around you on three sides, knowing that if you turn your gaze to that open water to the south, you're looking towards Antarctica, right into the mouth of the tsunami deluge path. Travel a few hours north and drive past Ruapehu, an active volcano right in the centre of the North Island which last erupted less than ten years ago; around Lake Taupo, the remains of one of the biggest volcanic eruptions on the planet in the last 5000 years; drive on until you reach Auckland, our biggest city which also happens to sit on a massive field of dormant—not necessarily extinct—volcanic cones. So screw that, you say, let's go south instead. Because the east coast is closed to most traffic after last year’s massive Kaikoura quake which reshaped the coastline beyond recognition, instead let's follow the Alpine Fault that runs the length of the Southern Alps and which could slip and rip the South Island in half any day now. But that won't happen, you think as you drive through the chaos of Christchurch as it rebuilds after the 6.3 earthquake of 2011, in which 185 people died. Couldn't possibly happen.

We live on the brink. We can't just keep that all inside.

New Zealanders have, for decades, defined ourselves by our close-knit isolation. We've wrapped ourselves up in a Swandri coat sewn with She'll-be-Right thread, hugged our fears close to our chests, and told ourselves how much better off we are being so far from the rest of the world and their troubles, their wars and their nuclear nihilism and their existential terrorism and their acid rain. This far away, it can't affect us. Denial is a useful blindfold. But those fears creep out, and so we come back to the point: Dark fiction as a symptom of all these things, the weeping that suppurates from the wound we've tried to stick a band-aid over and ignore.

Writing is therapy, particularly for those things over which we have so little control. Writing is an act of bringing the unseen, the unspoken, into the light. And so we have a generation of writers for whom these fears are real, and these fears inform our writing. Lee Murray and I recently collected these into an anthology of work drawn from both New Zealand and Australia, capturing the sense of desolation that we endure down here at the bottom of the world, titled At The Edge. The anthology includes climate-change apocalyptic science fiction, like Paul Mannering's The Island at the End of the World, identity apocalypse fiction like AJ Fitzwater's SJV-winning short story Splintr, and the question of whether the horror we are living is just a waking nightmare or a reality, in Michelle Child’s Narco. From Australia, there’s a greater focus on that great burning just over the horizon which is global warming on a desert continent, with Jodi Cleghorn’s The Leaves No Longer Fall, and the impact on the individual of being a citizen of a regional superpower when the nuclear sabres start rattling, in Tom Dullemond’s One Life, No Respawns. With At The Edge, we set out to create a series of snapshots of how this long dark cloud hangs over us, and the shadow it casts across our lives.







Lee and I went on from this project to write Hounds of the Underworld (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2017), the first book in the Path of Ra series, a near-future crime-noir horror mash-up which gathers that same sense of impending troubles and uses it to build the world that may be waiting around the corner, a bleak neo-apocalyptic landscape where life carries on much the same as it used to, because She’ll be Right, even though civilisation is breaking down incrementally, the environment choking on our legacy of irresponsibility, global politics a distant spectre of potential disaster but beyond our control, something unspeakable lurks just beyond our vision, and always with the little voices in the backs of our heads saying how we can surely twist a little bit more for ourselves out of this, can’t we? That selfish drive which tells us once again: It couldn’t possibly happen. Let’s just keep taking we what need for us, and to hell with it all. Why should we be the ones to change?

New Zealand has a part to play in the world, in terms of politics, science, sports, literature, and everything else. But to the rest of the world, we are rarely more than a bit player, a cameo appearance, a novelty. A footnote. We wow the world with nine hours worth of The Lord of the Rings and then milk it for decades by charging people to take a bus ride to look at a farm and drink a beer, and we celebrate winning at obscure sports that no-one else really plays, like rugby and yachting, and we beat incessantly against the futility of it all. Many of us pack our bags and take our dreams elsewhere, because when you’re little more than a footnote, a fleck of dust in the eye of the world, opportunities to shine are rare. Which leaves us with the dark.

And so I come back to All That Glitters, and the collaborations that have driven projects like MoPO, At The Edge, and Hounds of the Underworld. All is not lost, because we do not stand alone. We have an army, and our voices are loud (thanks Devilskin). Our isolation draws us together, like moths that gather around a campfire lit to drive back the night. Together, we are the light that illuminates the darkness of our own creation. And so I leave you with these lines that (almost) wrap up All That Glitters, lines that just might be asking a very different question than they appear to be; the question of who we are as New Zealanders, as creatives tucked away in the shadowy deep dreaming corners of the planet, asking ourselves what we’re doing, what we need to be saying, how do we say it?:

As they rounded the headland and Cromarty came into view, a darkness lay over the town. The great pillars atop the battery stood cold and silent.

“Have we solved the case, sir?” Ferguson said at last, as he began to lean this way and that to steer the floating cart towards the dock.

“I’m not even sure we know what we came here to solve anymore, Ferguson. This town has its ghosts, and soon enough I suspect it will be a ghost itself.”


Sometimes, our fiction tries to predict the future. Sometimes, we get it right. Sometimes, we really hope we will turn out to be wrong.

____



Dan Rabarts is an award-winning short fiction author and editor, recipient of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent in 2014. His science fiction, dark fantasy and horror short stories have been published in numerous venues around the world, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, StarShipSofa and The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. Together with Lee Murray, he co-edited the anthologies Baby Teeth - Bite-sized Tales of Terror, winner of the 2014 SJV for Best Collected Work and the 2014 Australian Shadows Award for Best Edited Work, and At The Edge, a collection of Antipodean dark fiction, which won the SJV for Best Edited Work in 2017. His novella Tipuna Tapu won the Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction as part of the Australian Shadows Awards in 2017. Hounds of the Underworld, Book 1 of the crime/horror series The Path of Ra, co-written with Lee Murray and published by Raw Dog Screaming Press (2017), is his first novel.


Find out more about Dan Rabarts at dan.rabarts.com.



Dan Rabarts, New Zealand Horror, Sir Julius Vogel Awards, Australian Shadows Awards, New Zealand Literature, Dark Fiction in New Zealand, Lee Murray, William Cook, New Zealand Books


New review for Blood Related - check it out!



Recently I received this great review for my serial-killer novel, Blood Related. Check it out and grab a copy if you like. Happy reading šŸ˜Š

Review: Blood Related by William Cook


William Cook is a painter of impressions and moods, artfully rendering complex, authentic characters and weaving a twisted, darkly psychological narrative.

In his exploration of the minds of a pair of prolific serial killers (those peculiar creatures of popular morbid interest), Cook introduces us to the Cunningham  brothers – products of a long hereditary line of aberrant, pathological behaviors. For Caleb, our central narrator, killing is more than a habit – it is an obsessive art form, personal and highly selective. His brother, Charlie, on the other hand, is a human wrecking ball – careening from victim to victim as he plans grandiose mass murders like a one man terror squad. Both present acute symptoms of varied psychoses – suffering delusions and hallucinations, suicidal ideation, and displaying a generally tenuous grip on reality. In this way (much like the character of Quentin P. in Joyce Carol Oates’s Zombie), Caleb serves as an unreliable narrator in the tradition of Poe, accentuating the twisting, fever-dream nature of the narrative.

Cook takes a carefully measured approach to scenes of extreme violence, which speaks much to his talent. Too often works of horror are overloaded with grue, overpowering the narrative and thus breaking aesthetic distance, putting the reader off the text. The imagination must be free to run, and Cook appreciates this.

If you’re looking for a truly haunting ride into the primal depths of the psychopathic mind, Blood Related is for you. Be sure to leave the lights on.


BUY THE BOOK HERE.

Review Written by W.J. Renehan

Special Holiday Season Promotion and 2016 recap

Hi all - well, what a year huh? I can't say that 2016 was a particularly good year on a global scale, as I'm sure most of you would agree. In fact the mounting evidence that the West is in a state of decline seems to be more evident now than ever before with world events taking some sad and bizarre twists. Despite all the doom and gloom and the changing face of international politics and global relationships, 2016 was, if not anything else, scarily interesting to say the least. The silver lining is that events certainly provided lots of fodder for potential stories. 

My own year has been very busy, with the re-release of a few titles and the inclusion of a few stories in various anthologies. As a result of expired contracts and rights reversion, I am nearly pure 'indie' with most of my books now finding a home under my publishing imprint, King Billy Publications. 

https://kingbillypublications.wordpress.com/
Book sales have been steady and, all going well, I should be on track to be able make a full-time living as an author in 2018 - thanks largely to you, dear reader. Next year will see the arrival of lots of new titles including a range of children's books that I have been working on with my talented 8-year-old daughter, Sienna. I am very excited about entering this market as it has always been a goal of mine to write books that appeal to kids, much as the books I read when I was of a similar age appealed to me. Such a magical reading age.

Anyway, the silly season is upon us and I have priced ALL my kindle titles to a low price of $0.99. Hopefully there is something there that you haven't read. Maybe you'd like to consider buying a paperback copy of one of my titles for someone this Christmas? If so, my top pick would have to be Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror - with over 450 pages of solid horror from established masters and rising stars of the horror genre. All my paperback titles are also priced at the minimum over the holiday period. Just click on the book cover images below to go to the Amazon page to purchase.

https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fear-Anthology-Macabre-Horror/dp/153486427X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
 
My poetry collection Corpus Delicti: Selected Poetry has just been re-released in a new edition for paperback and kindle and collects over twenty years of my best poetry in one volume. (See bottom of this post for a free ebook deal on this title for new subscribers) Know a poetry lover who might like a stocking stuffer? 

https://www.amazon.com/Corpus-Delicti-Selected-William-Cook/dp/1540632180/ref=la_B003PA513I_1_31?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481155204&sr=1-31&refinements=p_82%3AB003PA513I


Finally, either Blood Related (a psychological thriller/horror novel about twin serial killers) my most popular title, or Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales, are both available in paperback (and kindle) and would appeal to purveyors of dark fiction.

https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Related-William-Cook/dp/151511547X/ref=la_B003PA513I_1_6_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481167589&sr=1-6

https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Thanatos-Collected-Macabre-Tales/dp/1495994333/ref=la_B003PA513I_1_15_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481167626&sr=1-15


Finally, click on the image below (or cut 'n' paste this link into your browser address bar - http://tinyurl.com/WilliamCookXmasSpecial) for your direct link to my Amazon author page where you will find all these discounted treats in one place.



Please share this post with your pals and remember to subscribe via the image below if you haven't done so already (all new subscribers get a free digital copy of my collection Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales). Cheers.

http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/subscribe-now.html


Best wishes for the holiday season (and beyond) to you and your family. I hope you have a safe and happy time over Christmas and a fantastic start to the new year.


Best regards


William  


Christmas Ebook Promotion, #xmasgiftideas, #amreading, #bookpromo, Discounted Horror Books, William Cook Books, Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings 

Free Fiction! Dead Memories - a short story

https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/halloween-horror-free-read-2016-best-horror-stories-on-the-internet/

This story recently won 'Runner-Up' in the Parlor of Horror's 2016 short fiction awards and is also part of my collection 'Dreams of Thanatos' - now available to all new subscribers for free - click on the image at the end of this post to download your copy.

Dead Memories

 
1.

I had a dream on the anniversary of her death. In the dream, I heard her unmistakable voice calling me, then I saw her and she was so real, I could almost touch her again. Everything about her hit me deep in the chest, I sat bolt upright in our big empty bed. My breath gasped, sweat beaded itself on my cold skin. I could still hear her voice in the dark. I rationalized there were only two possible reasons why I could hear such a thing. I was either hallucinating, or what I heard was her ghost whispering in my ear. Then she was gone again.

I lay down and listened, my breath held in my chest, afraid to break the silence. The dawn light bled through the cracks in the blind as I strained my ears, listening. Listening for her sweet voice, playing her words over repeatedly in my weary mind –

‘There’s no turning back.
There’s no turning back now.’


I longed for her touch, the feel of her soft cold skin, her beautiful words carried on her sweet breath. The memories came flooding back – projections of my need. As I began to drift back into sleep, I thought of the way she played me with her brown eyes, teasing me, imparting so much desire . . .

The radio-alarm went off, waking me violently. I checked the time and acknowledged the precious two hours of sleep I just had, turned the screeching alarm off and got out of bed. I passed her photo in the hall on the way to the bathroom. It was the only photo I had of her on display: an enlarged black and white shot of her sitting on a beach in a lotus position, gazing mystically into the sun, long black hair out behind her in the breeze, framed by a silver expanse of ocean in the background. All the other photographs had been secreted in an old suitcase in the attic; some memories were just too painful to look at in such quantity.

I went to work, exhausted. Throughout the day, I thought about the morning’s events. Waking up with her pristine voice whispering in my ear from behind, thinking she was beside me in bed – it was so real. Must be stress, I reasoned with myself. Loneliness does strange things to a man’s mind.
 

Ghosts don’t exist. Do they?

The day finished quickly and I gladly closed the office door and loosened my tie with a yawn. Outside, the day had turned to night. On the way home I heard a song she used to love on the car radio. I passed the streetlight down the side road where we kissed beneath for the first time, then the church where we married. I stopped at the bottle store before turning into my street and our empty house.

2.

The voice came again. The same words, her voice seemed closer than before, I could almost feel the skin of her soft lips against my ear. I woke with expectation – she wasn’t there, just the dim light cast across the sheets and a hangover from hell, twisting its evil blade between my tired eyes. As the days fell into each other, her disembodied voice seemed to talk louder. The same words – 

‘There’s no turning back now.’ ‘There’s no turning back . . .’ adding emphasis that began to take on an ominous air – 

‘There’s no turning back . . . now. There’s no turning back, for YOU’ and so on.

My nerves were stretched to capacity. My mind was tumbling over itself, trying to bridge the gap between reason and a slow-turning madness.

The voice was
unmistakably hers, the intonation painfully real. Her name was, is, Alicia. We had been together for seven years before she left. We had a passionate relationship to say the least. A veritable love and hate fest, with more making up and breaking up than we both needed. We had met at the office and soon fell for each other. A drunken bout of knee-trembling sex against a photocopier in the stationary room after a work party, heralded the official beginning of our tumultuous relationship.

I didn’t want to think about the inevitable disintegration of our passionate affair, but it eventually happened and that was that. As Alicia said, there was no turning back now. We were young and had aged well together, into our fifth year, we even started talking about marriage and children and then she got a new office manager. I heard the talk among my colleagues. At first, I thought it was mere gossip, as office talk usually is. Then I saw his eyes undress her as he sauntered past her desk across the way. A coy look as she pretended to shuffle papers, her eyes caught in his swagger.

She started working late. I asked around discreetly and no one else knew of any overtime available. Then she ‘transferred’ to another floor, promoted as she put it. The evenings became a waiting game. I tried to impress with the usual chattels of love – the flowers, gourmet meals, expensive perfume. In short, I tried to purchase her affection as I had exhausted all other means of reconciliation. When she did arrive home, she was always freshly showered and well mannered, courteous almost. A peck on the cheek that made Grandmother’s kisses seem like incestuous advances. Her back turned toward me perpetually. A ‘not tonight’ was the standard response to my romantic overtures, every night.

Good old Mr Forgiving tried to get on with things, forget her indiscretion and lies and pretend that she still loved me. I knew she didn’t love me at all – not even a fraction of desire was left in her cold heart. I started to think things – what could I do, how could I get her back? The migraines kicked in and I started to drink heavily. It seemed to block reality out, for a while, and then she didn’t come home one night. But that was over a year ago; that was then, this is now.

3.

Things started slipping. I called in sick three times in one week. When she spoke in my ear, no longer whispered now, in those frenetic waking hours – I started ‘feeling’ the words. After two goddamn weeks of visual and auditory apparitions I started feeling her. I felt her tucked against me at night, relishing each second, stuck between the ecstasy of the moment and agony of the inevitable realization that she wasn’t actually there. Her full tanned breasts against my back, soft lips brushing my shoulder, hands soft so soft like silk caressing. Supplicating my disbelief. and her photo – I can’t explain it, but she seemed to move within, animated, changing pose each morning – one day staring at the sun, black and white – next, a different tilt of the head, her hand rested on her leg just so, next . . . and then she was there. Not quite, but I could see her. Some copper coils of her hair on the pillow next to me, a fleeting glimpse of a smooth-brown shoulder. Then she’d fade away again.

The anticipation drove me delirious – I lost my mind, my heart pumped desire and love to every cell. Whatever she was, ghost or hallucination, I hungered for each second – a panacea for the sad soul. If her memory was just an indentation in the bed where she slept, I could’ve lived with her this way if it weren’t for the words – ‘There is no turning back for her NOW’ screaming in my brain, like a loudspeaker next to my ear, almost painful.

I tried to shut it out to no avail. The migraines increased, nausea, bursts of white spots before my black ringed eyes. I couldn’t shave, the sound of the razor sent blasts of pain ripping through my spine to brain. I took a month’s leave from the office – they gladly gave it to me – “You need a break Harry. You’ve been working too hard lately. Rest up. Take a break. Come back when you’re better, ok?”


Sometimes I’d like to kill those patronizing bastards, just walk in one day in Gucci suit and tie, axe in hand. Walk into the office – “Good morning Miss Secretary, Mr Boss . . . I’ve come to kill you!” Chop chop chop chop chop . . .
 

Then she was there one morning – “My love, my love. There’s no turning back for us now” she said, completely naked. Her burning eyes glowing hypnotically. Her hair coiling like twisting black snakes, framing her beautiful deathly countenance. I tried to touch her. She reached into me, cupping my pulsing heart in her taloned hand. I could feel it. She withdrew and walked into the bedroom. I followed. She wasn’t there . . .

I couldn’t eat. I looked in the mirror, my gaunt pale unshaven face stared back at me forlornly – eyes blackened, pupils dilated, trembling . . . my heart quivered delicately under my rib-cage, then missed . . . a beat. It felt like it, my heart, was encased in ice. I felt sick to my stomach. Where was she? I decided that it was the sleeping that did it – maybe I was reciting a spell I had lodged deep in my subconscious mind – dreams or something that kept conjuring her up every morning. Invoking the muse at every breath, so to speak.

4.

It had taken exactly one year and twenty-one days after our break-up, or should I say her ‘disappearance,’ before I realized I could not go on without her any longer. I mean she was with me all the time, all day and night now – naked, following me around the house, hovering above me on the ceiling – whispering to me indescribable things, obscenities of the vilest nature. She had started to taunt me, yet my love grew stronger as if with a will of its own – then she started to slap me – ferocious backhanders that rattled my teeth and left droplets of nose blood on the white walls.


Half of me wanted to leave, just run as far away as I could. Pack the car and put a match to the godforsaken house as I escaped, but the other half – the stronger half, wanted to stay – couldn’t leave. Besides I knew if I tried to escape, I’d look into that rear-view mirror and those black cold eyes would be boring into my soul, her white forearm draped around my neck, her blue lips mouthing the words – “There’s no turning back now . . .”

That day I ordered in a couple of one-liter bottles of gin – I’d discovered booze could block her out for a while. I began to drink sitting with my back against the bedroom wall, watching as she undulated like a snake on the yellow duvet on the bed. Her once tanned now white body arched, her full breasts swelling with her movements, her hand pressed deep between her thighs – pink tongue darting across her full lips. Moaning. I gulped the gin quickly – ten mouthfuls, my jaw clenched and then it was easy. Half a bottle, she began to fade out like bad TV reception. Each drink twitched, erased another part of her lithe form – I couldn’t take any more. I knew I had to be rid of her once and for all. Rid of everything.

5.

I stumbled to my drunken feet, pulling drawers out, cupboards open, photographs letters clothes newspaper clippings onto the floor. I looked over my shoulder, her head and torso moved on the bed. Her arms, legs, pelvis – gone. I stared at what was left of her, tears spilling down my face. She mouthed her silent words again – “There’s no turning back.” Her eyes glazed, hair disintegrating, writhing crumbling like black maggots, her skin peeling into nothing. My head was spinning. I threw everything in the bathtub, all the photographs, letters, clothes, newspaper clippings – fire – I opened the window. Smoke blew out.

I shuffled down the hallway past her photo now completely metamorphosed from the original. She was facing me, arms outstretched like Christ. Her blank eyes pleading. The sun behind her a ball of blazing fire. Wild hair dancing blackly around her gaunt white face. I took the photo and threw it through the bathroom door into the fire with the other memories. I’m sure I heard her scream, but it wasn’t a scream of pain – rather, a triumphantly defiant roar. 


I sat down on the toilet next to the burning bathtub and put my head in my hands. Flames ran up the plastic shower curtain dropping molten lumps of fire like napalm on the linoleum. Flames licked the walls and the black smoke billowed from the bath – I saw her again, I couldn’t hear anything except the roar and burn of the blazing fire – the smoke melded together, transformed into her unmistakable snake-like coils of hair twisting and swirling, reaching for my gasping throat. Long black fingers of smoke in my eyes, in my ears – forcing my mouth open in wrenching breaths, reaching deep into my burning lungs. My heart felt like cracking ice trapped between my rib-bones. The flames burned red and blue but no heat – just intense cold – so cold. I shivered, inhaling my last breath of her love – her fading words hissing in the black smoke, echoing in my dying ears – “There’s no turning back now. There’s no turning back . . .” 


https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/halloween-horror-free-read-2016-best-horror-stories-on-the-internet/




2016 (C) William Cook
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Guest Author Interview: Mort Castle



Mort Castle is a veteran of American genre-fiction. Mr Castle is a respected horror author, editor and writing teacher, a prolific short fiction author and a novelist. Among other awards that he has won he is a three-time winner of (and nominated eleven times for) the Bram Stoker Award. Today I present to you a great interview with Mr Castle and it is truly an honour as a fan – my favorite works of his are the collection ‘Moon on the Water’ and his novel ‘The Strangers.’ As his bibliography testifies I have a lot of reading of Mr Castle’s work still in front of me (rubs hands with glee). Please make sure to check out his books and grab some copies off Amazon - you won't be disappointed if you are new to Mr Castle's work (just click on the book cover images below). Here is he, the horror maestro himself, Mr Mort Castle:

Q: How have you managed to maintain your literary career for as long as you have? Do you have any tips for other writers starting off on their careers in terms of long-term strategies to maintain a career as an author?

A: Oh, man, it's perseverance. You don't give up, period. There were some very bleak times, times of serious "career reversals," when I wished I could just pack it in. Was supposed to be editor of Horror, The Illustrated Book of Fears, which would be the country's largest circulation B&W comics horror magazine; that fell through at the last minute when the distributor reneged, saying he had had a moral revelation and was convinced the magazine would encourage mental illness and criminal behavior. Had movies come close and never happen. Book contracts blow up at last minute. Markets disappearing (go take a look at today's convenience stores for the behind the counter men's magazines that used to pay my mortgage!)

But let me rephrase that: I didn't give up. I don't say that's a game plan for everyone. There are people who have given up after little or no success at publication who were probably right to do so. Certainly they are better off than the self-deludeds who slap their borderline literate twaddle onto an epub platform and call themselves "independent author."

Hell, I gave up on my violin playing when I realized that with intense effort, I could someday be mediocre. (Stuck with guitar and I'm not bad!)

Q: After nearly fifty years as a professional writer do you still have ‘eureka moments’ when you think of something fresh and new to write about?



A: If you make that "something that grabs me," then yes, indeed. I don't know that I'd be writing at all if I didn't find / create those concepts that make me say, "I ought to write this." If I weren't doing that, if I were just grinding it out and saw it as "more of the same of the same of the same," I'd have no business writing, using up my remaining hours doing assembly line work and trying to inflict the result on readers who, I hope, have come to expect more of me.

Q: Your writing usually deals with dark themes – is there anything that really scares you and are there things you won’t write about?

A: Yes, and I'll leave it go at that. But I will add ... There are scares and horrors and worse that I had as a younger person that I came to write about—later. Later being when I had acquired the technique to tackle the concepts and had enough distance from them so that going deep inside the bad places didn't leave me a weeping, quivering puddle of nerve endings on the floor in ye olde foetal position.

Q: You also script stories for comic book adaptation – how different is it writing comic books stories as opposed to straight fiction and do you have any tips for aspiring authors who want to break into this market?

A: Comics, man, I love comics. Leaned to read because of Batman and Little Lulu. Comics scripting calls for writing that is totally visual. Without word one on the comics page, someone looking at a good comics story will get a sense of what happens ... what happens next ... what happens now ...

Comics scripting forces me to be a visual writer and that has made me a better writer. Indeed, if I get hung up in a story or a scene from a longer work, I can usually get un-hung by scripting it.

To break into the comics "market," such as it is ... There is no stigma attached to self-publishing in comics. That's because self-publishing has a solid history launching major critical and / or / both commercial successes. So ... do a good "self-" publication and then become part of the comics community. Yes, you really do need to go to conventions.



Q: ‘Writing Horror’ has proved to be invaluable resource for my own work, is there a book or resource that you’d recommend that has helped make you a better writer?

A: The book, and we all know it: Strunk and White, The Elements of Style. A wonderful old and out of print book that took published works and showed the writers' drafts to get it right: On Writing by Writers, edited by William West, with fine models provided by Ray Bradbury, Phyllis McGinley, John Updike, John Ciardi, Paul Gallico, Kay Boyle, Robert Penn Warren, Lucien Stryk, Hayden Carruth, Stuart Chase, W. Earl Britton, and Paddy Chayefsky. Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Finally, I re-read Hemingway's complete short stories every so often and still learn economy and precision from the Master.

Q: As a teacher, what is the most important piece of advice you could give to the new generation of horror/fantasy authors trying to get a foot on the rung of a career as a writer?

A: I’m going to repeat myself here; I’ve said this a lot in the past few years. (Hey, I don’t know all that much so I get maximum usage out of whatever knowledge I do have!)

So, the advice that has earned me the title of curmudgeon … This is simple: Learn to write. The so-called indie movement, the “free rein” authors (most of them call themselves “free reign” or even “free range”) are boasting of their self-publications. Never has it been so easy for so many to be so self-deluded—and to aid others in becoming no less deluded.

Worry less about “platforms” and “social media” and “emerging technology”. You’ve got to have a product before you can sell it. I cannot believe there’s so much bad stuff out there, but that’s because now we get to see the bad, proudly displayed on websites, in bad electronic magazines edited by editors who can’t edit, featuring stories by people who can’t write, aimed at aspiring bad writers who want to write for bad electronic magazines, and get self-published on Kindle, Swindle, Shnook, Hobo, Yoyo, and Hoohah …

Writing is a craft and a craft can be learned and a craft can be taught. There are good schools with good writers as teachers. There are great workshops like Clarion and Borderlands. There are good editors. There are good publishers. And when you find someone who says, “Yeah, you’ve got the possibility,” then you can learn from that individual or institution.

Of course, you could learn on your own, with extensive reading, plenty of writing, etc. But a mentoring program of some sort makes it easier and quicker. You bet such mentors as the poet Lucien Stryk and that lovely gentleman J. N. Williamson knocked years off this guy’s learning curve.

Q: Alongside your work as a novelist, you are also a prolific exponent of the short story form, can you recommend any specific markets that are essential publishers of this type?

A: I strongly recommend anthologies edited by someone about whom you can say, "Yeah, he knows what he's doing." That cuts down on your marketing decisions right there.

The well known so-called "little magazines" (not an oxymoron) are also a good bet. If you can score with Tin House or Bombay Gin you are in the best TOC company there is.

And you are better off with one story appearing in Ploughshares than three dozen stories in North Jerkly Journal or Beautiful Buds and Bad Begonias, the readership of either not being the length of the table of contents.

And contests. Beginning writers, there are many worthwhile contests. The Writer's Digest annual contests are the real thing—and can lead to all sorts of notice and publication.



Q: Do you have a favorite author or authors of short fiction and if so, why do you consider their work noteworthy?

A: Hemingway remains the master, for reasons noted above. There are so many fine short fiction writers that I could name dozens who are on my must read list. Dan Chaon, because he has Bradbury's sensitivity to life without being at all imitative. Bonnie Jo Campbell, who richly understands the suchness of things. Alice Hoffman, who is a magician with words. John McNally—and I'm waiting for the moment when he becomes the "Everybody look!" writer he is meant to be. Lee Martin, for his Midwestern heart and common sense. Ron Hansen ... for proving that you don't have to preach to write moral fiction and that "thoughtful Christian" does not mean secular humanism disguised with a cross (and please, Ron, you have to write more short stories). Julia Keller—maybe this era's Shirley Jackson, if she weren't so busy writing great mystery novels and winning Pulitzers for non-fiction.

And I'm just getting started.

Q: As a horror author how do you view the state of contemporary horror fiction and do you think that the genre still has room for new writers and original ideas/stories?

A: The good is great: Newer writers like Sarah Langan and Livia LLewellyn, the old(er) masters like Dan Simmons, Straub, and of course, King. Not a one of 'em content to turn out potboilers. More than a few others.

The middle—pretty bad, most of them not able to meet even the minimum competency tests for midlist paperback originals of the 70s and 80s. A few notable exceptions who will rise.

The bad—too bad to be true. Swamping Kindle, Shnook, Createacrap, etc. Possibly reading each other, but that's about it.



Q: Many of the your stories place characters in deep existential crises, does any one philosophy inform your work and do you think that horror offers a cathartic experience to the reader?

A: My philosophy? Expressed by the poet William Wantling in the one novel he wrote, a book called Young and Tender: "Let them know we were here and here hard, without believing in the Lie or adding to it."

Cathartic? Nah. Illuminating, maybe. Reassuring, maybe, in that it reminds you we're all gonna have to do some hard time. But cathartic? If that were so, I'd have been thoroughly cathed and never would have kept on writing horror. I could have written about lemonade and happy bunnies.

Q: As a writer how important is physical fitness to you and do you have a regime that keeps you fit? I.e. Do you write standing up or sitting down and do you do exercise before/after writing to prevent health issues common to a lot of writers (e.g. weight issues, heart problems, stress etc)?

A: Ah, quit smoking years ago. Hardest "health achievement" ever. Physical fitness? Just getting back to it after months of severe tendonitis made walking dreadful. Way overweight, but I like my stuffed pizza and pasta and ice cream.



Q: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, it is truly an honor. Do you have any parting words you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events?

A: Yeah, I was just recently a winner in the annual Leapfrog Press fiction contest with my story collection Knowing When to Die. This makes me literary as hell and I'm sure I will now be awarded countless zillions in government grants like so many others who have done most of the creative work in writing grant proposals.

Projects? Working on a long comics script for "The Golem," based on the 1920s film, for Graphic Classics, one of the absolute best lines of comics today, published and edited by Tom Pomplun. Lots of most enjoyable research.

Just licensed Argosy magazine for development with my sometimes literary tag team partner Sam Weller. Got big plans, but veddy, veddy hush and hush for now.

And then, with my partners in 4 Maples Productions, working on an anthology television series. We've got an Emmy winner attached and we've partnered with a well known production firm ... More news as I (hope to) have it.

Parting words? From the best rock n roll band ever: Creedence Clearwater Revival: Keep on Chooglin'!


Mort Castle's Links 




Thank you for reading this interview. If you haven't already, please take a moment to subscribe to this website (here is the link:free instant book download for all new subscribers) so that you can catch all the latest news and interviews. Until next time - stay tuned, thanks for reading and please share this post with your pals.


*Author photo credit: Michelle Pretorious.

Guest Author Interview: Brian Evenson


Today it is my distinct pleasure to bring you this recent interview I did with the talented author, Brian Evenson. I recently read his early collection Fugue State and thought it a fantastic book. Here’s my review, which doesn’t really do it justice – I encourage you to read this and any of Brian’s other superb books (click on the book cover images below to be taken direct to the Amazon book page):

“Brian Evenson's Fugue State is a very surrealistic, slip-stream kind of collection soaked with dark themes and nightmarish allegories that make the reader think! A bit of a rarity these days. I especially liked the way the stories encouraged a second reading. Stand-outs for me were 'In the Greenhouse', 'Life Without Father', 'Fugue State' and 'The Adjudicator.' Will definitely be reading more from this fine author.”

https://www.amazon.com/Fugue-State-Brian-Evenson/dp/1566892252/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Without further ado, here is my interview with Brian.


BRIAN EVENSON is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press, 2016) and the novella The Warren (Tor.com, 2016). His collection Windeye (Coffee House Press 2012) and novel Immobility (Tor 2012) were both finalists for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the American Library Association's award for Best Horror Novel of 2009. The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press, 2006) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection), Dark Property, and Altmann's Tongue.  He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship. His work has been translated into French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Slovenian. He lives and works in California, and teaches at CalArts.


Q: You have recently been in Transylvania teaching at the Horror Writer’s Workshop, did you get an opportunity to explore the countryside and were you inspired by your experience?

A: We did.  The Horror Writer’s Workshop was held just outside of the town that houses Bran Castle, the basis for Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, so I spent some time there, also explored some of the nearby towns and medieval villages and fortresses, places like Sighisoara and Brasov, took my son to a decaying Communist playground complete with scary cartoon figures, passed through a gypsy village in which on a Sunday morning everyone was carrying a broom, spent time in the forest, etc.  It’s an amazing place, and it reminded me a lot of what parts of Europe used to be like 30 or 35 years ago, back when I visited as a kid.  I do think I got a lot out of it and that it’ll figure in my writing in various ways.

Q: What of your childhood experiences determined your future works of fiction in thematic terms? I.e. How/what aspects of your childhood influenced your love of genre, reading and, ultimately, writing?

A: My parents were both big readers, and I think that rubbed off on me.  They read a lot of mysteries in particular, but literature as well, and some science fiction (Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, C. S. Lewis).  I think that, the pleasure they seemed to get out of fiction, was more important to me as a developing reader than anything else.
            When I was young, I read mostly genre, most SF (Wolfe, Moorcock, McCaffery, etc.) but when I was in my mid-teens my father introduced me to Kafka and my mother introduced me to Poe.  That ended up opening a whole new world to me, made me realize that literature was maybe something different than what I’d been led to believe it was, that it didn’t have to be boring and could be very odd.  For a long time after that, a decade or more, but then I suddenly started finding it again and began remembering what I liked about it.  And I also realized at that time that a lot of what I was trying to do with my own writing was to figure out a way to combine literature and genre.



Q: Many of your stories invoke a sense of unease and disquiet in terms of both the effect of characterization and imagery, is this a stylistic device that you employ to psychologically and imaginatively impact upon the reader, or do you think that it is more of an organic signatory aspect of your work?

A: I see it as organic, as something that I admire about the fiction I read that I liked the most and that became part of my literary DNA.  I like work that makes me uneasy as a reader, that throws me off balance, and I think from the beginning of starting to write I was trying to understand how those stories worked and how to do it myself.  But I also see it as operating more instinctively than being something I set out to do with a specific set of tools and, honestly, my stories that work the best manage to accomplish the unsettlement in a way that I can’t quite replicate or can’t quite understand why it does work.  I love those moments in my fiction:  the moments that really work but that I can’t explain to myself.  At this point, it’s organic:  I don’t think about it any more. I only have to think about it when I want a part of a story to not move in that direction...

Q: Your work seems slippery in terms of genre definition, what genre/s do you most feel at home with (writing) and do you have trouble placing your work in your intended market/s?

A: Initially, back in the 90s, I did have some trouble—people had a hard time deciding what to do with me.  When I was first publishing, one of the first reviews my first book got at a large newspaper suggested that I was talented and I’d be worth reading once I got over the dark stuff and started writing “normal” stories. But as time has gone on most have decided they’re okay with me being a little slippery, and that the darkness in my work is crucial and non-gratuitous.  That’s partly because they’ve gotten used to me and partly because I think the nature of the relation of genre and literature has shifted over time:  what editors and reviewers used to think of as a Trump-style gigantic wall most now see as something that can be easily and productively crossed.

Q: What is it that you are trying to communicate to your readers? I.e. When someone finishes one of your stories what do you want them to come away with from the experience?

A: I don’t want to communicate information at all.  I do want readers to go through an experience with my stories, to have an intensive experience.  I want my fiction to be something that sticks with readers, that they continue to think about after they’ve finished the story.  I want them to feel slightly changed by it.

https://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Horses-Brian-Evenson/dp/1566894131/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Q: In a recent interview with BookForum (Jan, 2016) you mentioned that you “go for intense ambiguity, where you just don’t know what the stable ground is.” In the context of your stories that this is applicable to, why is it that you deliberately write this way and what do you hope to achieve by using this type of literary device?

A: I think so much of fiction that is written takes most things for granted.  But I think so much of our experience of the actual world (or at least so much of my experience of the actual world) involves misperceiving and misinterpreting things, muddling forward by getting things mostly right.  For me, being put in a position where you remember that, where what you think you know becomes a little less insistent, a little more tentative, opens you to a different experience of reality, one that is much more interesting.
            An ex-girlfriend of mine used to get very frustrated with me because her perception of color was slightly different from mine.  She used to see things as grey that I saw as green, or maybe the reverse—I’ve been out of that relationship long enough that I’ve mostly blocked it out.  She would show me pieces of clothing in varying shades of grey or green and then tell me I was wrong about what color they were.  But, honestly, whatever I said, I was still going to see the color that I saw.  We could agree on liking a shirt but not on what color it was.  So, either you have to insist on your color being the “right” color (as my ex-girlfriend did) or you have to be willing to realize that there’s no right answer to perception, that perception is different from person to person, but that experience of misperceiving or having your perception challenged is a very common one, one that swirls underneath the surface of seemingly solid things—and that what’s actually there, might be even different still from what either of us perceives.

Q: As an academic how do you distance yourself from writing academically (in the style of) when it comes to writing fiction?

A: I think it’s fairly natural to shift from one to the other, in the same way that you might talk differently to a minister than you would to your friend in a death metal band.  It’s enough of a different speech genre that it doesn’t tend to get mixed up.  Having said that, I do have some stories that play with the language of academia, like “The Wavering Knife.”  There are writers who can mimic that voice for fictional purposes and use it to excellent effect.  John Langan, for instance, is exceptionally good at it, as is Thomas Ligotti.  When you do it, it makes for a different sort of reading experience than you usually get from either academic writing or fiction—the tension between the two modes ends up doing something productive. 

https://www.amazon.com/Wavering-Knife-Stories-Brian-Evenson/dp/1573661139/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Q: Your work has previously been compared to the likes of Poe and Kafka, do you see yourself as following in the trajectory of gothic fiction and, if so, do you have any allegiances to a particular strand of the gothic genre, or are your thematic and stylistic concerns influenced by other literary traditions?

A: I do see myself as tied to the gothic, and early on thought of myself as being part of a kind of New Gothic school—there was an issue of Conjunctions magazine called “The New Gothic” that made me think there might be a place for me in the literary world after all.  I tend to read pretty widely and eccentrically, and I think that a lot of different strands end up coming together in my stories, so probably the experience of reading them differs depending on what traditions you’re most steeped in.  So, for instance, in a story like “The Second Boy” I’m playing with campfire stories and ghost stories, sometimes particular ghost stories, and stories about doubles, sometimes particular double stories, but also carrying on a conversation with Isak Dinesen and Roberto BolaƱo.  And since what I allude to in BolaƱo is actually a conversation he’s having with another writer there’s a further level of complication if you know BolaƱo and his influences well.  And if you know the Dinesen story I’m dealing with, you’ll see how I’m turning it against itself.  You don’t have to know any of that to enjoy the story, but what you do know and sense and feel will inflect your experience significantly.

Q: Whatever genre banner your stories fall under there seems to be a prevailing preoccupation with interior psychological landscapes and the relationship between perceived realities and ‘other’ possible states of existence. Does this concern stem from a personal sort of existential questioning and/or is it more of a literary technique that you employ to add to the depth of the story?

A: It stems very directly from concerns of my own.  That questioning of reality is tied to my own fears and doubts and suspicions, and I think that’s what makes it work in the stories:  if it’s unsettling for readers it’s at least in part because it’s unsettling for me.

Q: When you write a story, what is your process? For example, do you outline or jump right in? How many edits do you usually make when writing short fiction and do you use a similar process when writing longer works?

A: I’ve done different things depending on the story and on where I’ve been in my career. I used to jump in and just write the story straight through, but as soon as I began writing stories that were longer than a thousand words or so that became difficult.  I almost never outline a story, but I do jot notes as I go, and if I stop for an hour or for the night I often will write a few lines about where I intend to go.  If I’m working on a longer work, I do sometimes outline, but the outline can change quite a bit by the end.  With novels I’ve done both, but find it much more productive to outline—it allows me to write much quicker and keeps me from wasting a lot of time in dead ends.
            In terms of edits, I tend to try in my first draft to establish a structure, but then will edit a piece anywhere from 3-4 times to a dozen times after that.  Usually the structure stays relatively the same, but parts will shrink or expand and individual wording really gets honed and perfected in the later drafts in particular.

Q: When you write a story from a particular philosophical slant do you try to align it with universal human principles (common to the majority of your readers) in order to solicit a certain type of response? I.e. Do you measure your own intent with an understanding of your reader/s and how they might perceive your work?

A: I do think about the reader and how they might perceive the work, but I write in a way that has enough openness in it that I think different people can have slightly different experiences with my work. I like that about it.  But I do hope that the majority of people have the kind of experience that makes them continue to think about the story after they put the book down.

Q: Finally, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Are you working on any new projects that you can share details of?

A: You’re welcome.  I have a new novella, The Warren, coming out in a few weeks.  Other than that, I’ve been working on stories and am on the way to a new collection (probably still a year away at least from having something finished).  I also have some ideas for a novel, and am just getting going with that.



Please make sure you check out Brian’s website and Amazon author page (links below) for more information about his available titles.

Brian Evenson's Website:  http://www.brianevenson.com
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/BrianEvensonAmazon




If you haven't already, please take a moment to subscribe to this website (here is the link: free instant book download for all new subscribers) so that you can catch all the latest news and interviews. Next interviewee is with Mort Castle, in case you've been living under a rock, he is a brilliant author and a massive figure in the Horror world. Until next time - stay tuned, thanks for reading and please share this post with your pals.

  Interview With Brian Evenson, Interview with Brian Evenson 2016,  Brian Evenson Interview, Brian Evenson, A Collapse of Horses, The Warren, Gothic Literature, Author Interview, Interview, Horror, Surrealism, Publishing, Writing, Fugue State

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