One of the aspects I love so much about Halloween is the ambiance that comes with it. I adore the cotton spider webs, the glow of Jack-o-lanterns, the witches, the goblins, and everything else that makes my favorite holiday so dark and spooky. It goes without saying that this is the time of year when horror authors shine their brightest.I remember going all out one year in my outdoor decorations, making gravestones out of floral foam, buying dry ice to put in a cauldron on the porch, covering the entire front of the house with spider webs and plastic spiders, carving terrifying faces on the pumpkins, and compiling a track of midi horror songs. The display was so scary I answered the door to more than one parent who had to come to the porch in place of his or her child, who watched from a safer distance with friends or other family members.
When it comes to my choice in Halloween movies, I want just as much atmosphere. Give me Gothic castles, full moons, rolling fog obscuring dark nights, creepy music, and supernatural monsters. There’s something about watching Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, or a good, old-fashioned Hammer film that really sets the mood. I also enjoy the themed episodes of my favorite television shows and the spirit of the horror authors’ community coming together to supply the unsuspecting reader with thrilling new stories to read.This year, I’m happy to help Coffin Hop Press promote its Halloween benefit anthology, Death by Drive-In, the proceeds of which will be donated to the literacy program Lit World.
While I’m not a contributing author, I support the cause and am happy to be a part of this year’s Coffin Hop. Nearly a hundred horror authors are banning together to support Death by Drive-In and make your Halloween especially creepy, giving away books and other goodies—and giving you all sorts of chances to win. Go to www.coffinhop.com for a list of other participating authors.For my part, I’m offering one reader a signed copy of my Gothic horror novel, Finding Poe, and another an electronic copy of Death by Drive-In, so make sure to leave a comment for your chance to win. I chose Finding Poe because I feel it's the embodiment of all I love about Halloween: it’s atmospheric, dark, creepy, and twisted. Inspired by the best works of Edgar Allan Poe, the story speculates how his own writing—most notably, his unfinished, untitled short story most of us know as "The Lighthouse"—may have contributed to his untimely death.
More about Finding Poe:
When reality and fiction collide, there's no telling what horrors might ensue.
In the wake of her husband's haunted death, Karina must sift through the cryptic clues left behind in order to solve the mystery behind his suicide—all of which point back to the elusive author, Edgar Allan Poe.
Karina soon finds that reality, dream, and nightmare have become fused into one as she journeys from a haunted lighthouse in New England to Baltimore, where the only man who might know the answers to her many questions resides.
But will she find her answers before insanity rips her grip on reality for good? Might a man she's never met hold the only key to a truth more shocking than even she could have imagined?
Finding Poe was a 2013 EPIC Awards finalist in Horror.
What do you enjoy most about Halloween? What are your favorite movies to watch and books to read during the spookiest month of the year?
Today, guest author Robert S. Wilson is here to discuss some topics close to my heart. I'm a big fan of his work, so it's an honor to have him here. Thanks so much for stopping by! Take it away, Robert!
First of all, I’d like to thank my host for having me on her brilliant fantastic blog. Now, with that said, you must all now listen to me… or maybe you’ve already clicked the X and went on to a different site in another tab. No, if you had, you wouldn’t still be able to read this—so…
For the purpose of making sure you know just what the hell it is I’m talking about, let me give you some background. In September of 2011 I published a novel called SHINING IN CRIMSON: EMPIRE OF BLOOD BOOK ONE. Yes, a vampire novel, but not just a vampire novel, a dystopian vampire novel… To be more accurate, a religiously dystopian vampire novel. Now for those of you who are still with me and haven’t rolled your eyes out of your head, I’d like to talk about SHINING IN CRIMSON and separation of church and state.
I think many would agree that separation of church and state is a necessity. However, often in this country some people only think about separation of church and state in regard to their own religion, giving them a distorted idea of what it is and what it should ultimately be.
I think it’s also safe to say that a large population of Christians in this country would prefer that the United States would be—and some believe that it has always been—a Christian nation. Now for those of you who believe in diversity and are considerate of others’ beliefs and so on, so forth, please do not think that I am labeling all Christians as such. I know many Christians who enjoy our nation’s diversity of religions, philosophies, culture, and lifestyles. I also know quite a few who do not. Every group of people has them, don’t they? Bitter, self-righteous, narrow-minded folks who won’t stop the “good fight” until every last person is converted to their way of thinking.
As an agnostic and a skeptic, I’ve also seen this exact sort of behavior among the free-thinking. Though I respect and understand their views on logic and reason, people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are behind a very recent movement of what I call militant atheism and skepticism that I personally find deplorable for the same reason I find it deplorable when people of religion try to push their religion on me. So even when religion is not in the picture, idealism can become a sort of religion on its own. But as an agnostic, I chose to convey my thoughts and feelings about separation of church and state through a Christian-like religion in my novel.
And yet at the same time, I also chose to reveal some of the things I enjoy about this particular religion—the imagery, parables, and so on. But most importantly, I want you, the reader, to understand that what I set out to truly illustrate with this dystopian novel—regardless of what religion or lack of religion was chosen to be at its center—was a mirror image of our own society with one of its basic foundations—the proper separation of church and state—not just taken away, but more accurately, ultimately discarded by choice.
Some of the following back story is very clear in the book and some is only hinted at. Early on, a charismatic megalomaniac by the name of Joseph Caesar secretly started a campaign to overthrow the United States by starting a single Christian militia. He convinced his followers he was a prophet of God, that America was corrupt with sin, and the only way to fix this would be to cleanse the nation of that sin by any means necessary. The militia quickly grew to a formidable size, branching out into different factions in each of the fifty states and within a short period of time, it was large enough to be a formidable threat. And so, Joseph used his new army to wage war against the “evil” secular United States government and anyone who would stand in the way of his promised true Christian America under God.
But in the heat of the bloodshed, Joseph’s power becomes so complete over so many of his people that when he reveals himself to be God incarnate and twists Christianity into a new kind of religion that sets him at its center, his allegiance and charisma not only continue to endear him to them, but this new revelation thrusts him into the ultimate form of power. And when the United States falls to Joseph’s knees, those who oppose him—secular, followers of other faiths—especially Christians who refuse to convert—become targets hunted down and murdered in public display.
Oh and did I mention there are vampires? Haha. Yeah, in the midst of all this war, the vampires, sick of hiding and ravenous from so much bloodshed, begin attacking soldiers from both sides of the war. So, when the smoke clears the people have two rival fears: the newly self-appointed Emperor, Joseph Caesar and his army as well as a now openly public society of terrifying supernatural bloodthirsty vampires. In a quick attempt to funnel both streams of fear together, Emperor Caesar makes a deal with the vampires—a blood pact—of mutually beneficial peace. In exchange for a city of their own and a regular supply of blood—the blood of criminals and sinners—the vampires must stay within their own city limits and leave the public alone. Not only does this protect the people, it instills even more power onto Joseph Caesar, the new ultimate judge of what is right and wrong.
So, when the novel begins, the people of the former United States of America are ruled by The American Empire of Almighty God, an imperial empire ruled solely by its religious leader and self-professed living deity, Joseph Caesar. To be clear, within the confines of this story, THERE IS NO SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. Imperial church attendance is mandatory on Sundays. A morality law is instilled and upheld in that those who are caught in violation are sent to the newly formed city of Necropolis: City of the Dead—formerly known as Las Vegas—where the vampires wait to be fed.
Now, ultimately vampires aren’t real and we Americans, for the most part, live comfortably in a nation protected by a foundation of separation of church and state. And many other countries also enjoy this freedom. But what if it were to suddenly disappear? What if the majority of any democratic nation were to suddenly decide it wasn’t needed? Or what if, in real life, a single religion or idealism decided to wage war in order to relinquish it? For some separation of church and state is a necessary evil that allows them to believe what they want, without fear of intrusion from the government. But separation of church and state is and does much more than that. It protects us all from a much larger evil than vampires. An evil constantly lurking and waiting for a single momentary opening to slip in and dissolve our freedom to believe and practice our beliefs as we so choose. Do we maybe take that for granted… sometimes?
Robert S. Wilson is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor and the author of SHINING IN CRIMSON and FADING IN DARKNESS, books one and two of his dystopian vampire series, Empire of Blood. His short fiction has appeared or will be appearing in the following anthologies, magazines, and publications: A QUICK BITE OF FLESH, [NAMELESS] Magazine, HORROR D’OEUVRES (a website from DarkFuse), BLEED (a charity anthology for kids with cancer), FEAR THE REAPER, THE BEST OF THE HORROR SOCIETY 2013, EVIL JESTER PRESENTS COMICS and more. His cyberpunk/horror novella EXIT REALITY was published in February of 2013 by Blood Bound Books.
SHINING IN CRIMSON: EMPIRE OF BLOOD BOOK ONE is now completely free to download and read from the following websites: Smashwords.com in all eBook formats, BN.com for Nook devices, the iBooks store for iPad users, and Wattpad.com. Coming soon to Kobo.com, Sony, and more.
Robert is currently holding an Indiegogo fundraiser to raise funds to finish the third novel in the Empire of Blood series: RISING FROM ASHES. There are plenty of great perks in exchange for donating for new readers as well as long-time fans of the series including eBook, signed personalized paperbacks and limited hardcover editions of books one, two, and three, as well as an omnibus edition of all three novels together, signed Empire of Blood bookmarks, the chance to name a vampire or other important characters in the upcoming novel, a few one of a kind signed personalized manuscripts, and more. Donations of any size are welcome. Even the smallest donation will be a huge help toward writing and publishing expenses to get RISING FROM ASHES out by January 2014!
Today, I have the honor of hosting the very talented M.R. Gott, who adds a wonderful cerebral edge to his horror. I enjoyed his thoughts on using graphic imagery without exploiting or promoting violence, and I'm sure you will too. Thanks for stopping by!
Graphic, But Not Exploitative
A contemplation on depictions of violence by M.R. Gott
It is my view based upon a great deal of evidence we live in a violent world, too violent I would argue. Our fiction reflects our world and helps us step back and analyze this reality, and as such is prone to contain a reflection of the violence we see in our world. The question as I writer I ask is, how to do so without glamorizing, exploiting or glorifying violence?
To help illustrate this point I’m going to describe a popular film and book series, a work I believe to be staggering in its genius. This work depicts scenes of a fetus being dropped in a boiling pot, children being sadistically tortured and murdered, parents murdered before the eyes of their children and an array of other violent actions. Did you guess what series I’m referring to? It’s Harry Potter, and that’s in children’s literature. (Though adults such as myself still enjoy it)
The reason this is not seen as exploitative is the essence and idea of the story being told. Rowling has stated the work is about tolerance, she even outed Dumbledore. There are real emotional significances to the violence. Harry mourns for his slain family members, and there is a sense of impact and loss when character die or are killed. And of equal importance the violence is meant to be scary, readers were worried Harry would not survive the final book.
And this is the justification I use for the violence in my own work as a Horror author. While others in the field often cringe at this label I embrace it. I find it liberating. It frees me to address any ideas, without fear of offending my audience. When a reader picks up a horror novel they are signing a contract with the author that they are willing to go for a dark ride.
Within the horror trappings of my novel Where the Dead Fear to Tread, the story is about informed fatalism. The main protagonist is a vigilante killer, a cliché if there ever was one. He murders those who traffic in child slavery, not a great deal of sympathy from my audience.(Or so I would hope) Where my killer, William Chandler is different however is that he goes to the funerals of those he has murdered, to memorize the grieving features of the mourning family and loved ones, and understand the weight of his choices. He watches their children cry in loss, struggling to understand. William understands that violence leads to sadness, even the violence he does in the name of a cause he believes wholly justified. In order to keep his own sense of humanity he forces himself to understand these consequences. Painful as they may be.
Every character needs a foil and William’s is Kate Broadband, a police officer who is tracking William’s carnage. She is also being seduced by the allure of William’s efficiency, because she does not see the bereaved families, only the ones William reunites. And while his actions tear him apart she begins to romanticize him.
The violence in Where the Dead Fear to Tread is explicit and graphic. I work to ensure my readers understand the impact of every bullet that enters a person’s body, and the damage that a bullet does when it rips through a human being. I want you to grimace with every cut and flinch with every bruise. I want you to find the violence in my book scary, because violence is scary and any work that depicts it otherwise is exploitative.
Then again, I could be wrong. I’m just a guy who writes scary stories.
About the Author:
His work has been called, “bleak,” and “insightful,” as well as “frantic, horrific, brutal, and without doubt the darkest thing I have read in years - maybe in my life.” And that was pretty much what he was going for. M.R. Gott is the author of Where the Dead fear to Tread and the sequel Where the Damned Fear Redemption, and a contributor at Ravenous Monster. While crafting these upbeat, life affirming tales, M.R. enjoys dark coffee, dark beer, red wine, and fading light. For more on M.R. Gott and his works please visit wherethedeadfeartotread.blogspot.com.
Why the Minotaur? It started with “what if?” What if the story of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur was a fabrication? Suppose the great Greek hero Theseus was not so great? I guess it's the cynic in me that can think this way. I have always had my suspicions that conspiracy fills the great halls of our capitols, with Washington DC leading the way. I decided that human nature has not changed much over the centuries and that the Minotaur affair could have been as much a cover up as Watergate.
And, as a result, a story was born. Within the secluded walls of the Labyrinth a drunken Theseus tries to defeat the not so fearsome Minotaur. He fails in the most miserable fashion, but then strikes up a deal with Quint, which is the Minotaur’s proper name, the half bull half man hero of our story. Theseus gets the glory and the Minotaur gains his freedom.
The book began as a short story, a retelling of the Minotaur myth from this new perspective. But, I was stuck with what to do with Quint after his escape. So, I kept him alive. I created a long life, filled with our hero's interaction with some of the great characters and events of history. But, how can a writer keep such a monster hidden over thousands of years of history? Make him fit in, of course. Put him in situations where a half bovine creature appears to be perfectly natural. Sound easy? Not really, but it works remarkably well and the end result is the Minotaur’s memoir, the “Minotaur Revisited.”
What’s the point? History happens in real time. There are witnesses to actual events, yet the story changes. Politics, prejudices prevailing winds all add their own peculiar slant to an event. Each slant may alter the record of events until history becomes whatever the recorder wishes it to be. But, now there is the Minotaur, an actual eyewitness to some of the most momentous events ever reported. The response to his story will leave the reader shaking his or her head; pondering this world and our modern, “enlightened” times.
Could I have used a different myth? Of course, but the Minotaur myth unfolds in a place without any witnesses, thus lending itself perfectly to my conspiracy theory. I have taken my hatchet to a few other myths and stories over the years. On my blog, heardintheor.blogspot.com. I wrote an article, “Conversation with the Minotaur”, which sheds new light on the myths of Pandora and Hercules. Then there is “After Horton”, another article which tells what happened to the characters in Dr. Suess’ “Horton Hears a Who” after they nearly destroy an entire civilization.*
I hope that readers will take a look at my stories. They will truly be entertained and, perhaps, will stop and think about this world which surrounds us.About the novel:Legend states that the Minotaur was confined to the Labyrinth, slain by Theseus and then laid to rest by thousands of years of Greek mythology. But, the truth is far different. Read the Minotaur’s own words as he recounts his full life as god, king, warrior, matchmaker, midwife, monk, sage, father, mother, husband and, most of all, witness. The fierce Minotaur lived to see and be a part of the best and worst of humanity during a life spanning thousands of years. Part bull, part human, the Minotaur struggled to find his place in this world and, in the end, left his unique mark on history.
About the author:David Gelber, a New York native, is the seventh of nine sons and one of three to pursue medicine. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1980 and went on to graduate medical school in 1984 from the University of Rochester.
He completed his residency at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, followed by three years as attending surgeon at Nassau County Medical Center in Long Island, N.Y. Gelber has since joined Coastal Surgical Group in Houston, Texas.
Gelber has been a surgeon for more than 20 years, but over the last few years he began to pursue his passion for writing, initially with his debut novel, "Future Hope" (Emerald Book Company, January 2010). The novel speculates about future Earth and what the world might have been like if man had not succumbed to temptation in the Garden of Eden. "Joshua and Aaron" is a sequel to "Future Hope" and follows the battle of wills that transpires between unsung hero Joshua Smith and satanic Aaron Diblonski.
Dr. Gelber has added two books about surgery, "Behind the Mask" and "Under the Drapes", both of which provide the reader with a view of the world of surgery rarely seen by those outside the medical professions.
"Last Light" is an apocalyptic short story which starts off asking the question: "What would happen if nobody ever was sick or injured?"
"Minotaur Revisited" is an entertaining romp through history seen through the eyes of Quint, the famed half bull half man monster of Greek Mythology. It was in October 2012.
Gelber was raised in reformed Judaism, but joined the Presbyterian Church 15 years ago. He is married with three teenage children, four dogs and 24 birds of various species. His interests include horse racing, mechanical Swiss watches and, of course, writing.David will be awarding a $100 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter at the conclusion of the two tours. For more chances to win, go to Goddess Fish Promotions.
Publisher description: The Speed of Dark is a 334 page horror anthology. These short stories are strangely different and disturbing. 27 stories written by 19 talented authors from around the world, this was a by invitation only anthology. It is sure to provide the horror fan with hours of fantastic reading.Includes stories by E.J. Ruek, Cynthia Ainsworthe, John B. Rosenman, Ken Weene, Clayton Bye, Micki Peluso, Lyn McConchie, Eduard Garcon, Marion Webb-De Sisto, Tonya Moore, Tim Fleming, Casy Wolf, James Secor, Tony Richards, Mary Firmin, Minna van der Pfaltz, Megan Johns, Gerald Rice, and yours truly.
You can pre-order The Speed of Dark here.
Mirages: Tales from Authors of the Macabre just received a lovely new
5-star review on Amazon. Reader Dave-Brendon says,
I'm really glad that I got an opportunity to read this anthology, because it's one of the best collections of dark, unsettling tales that I've ever read. I won't say that it was a pleasurable read -I'm not sadistic or masochistic- but it was definitely an eye-opener, and supremely memorable.
And here's what he had to say about my contribution:
The Descent Upstairs by Leigh M. Lane is a tale that I'll probably remember for a long time - I certainly wouldn't want to be pushed as far as the poor woman in this story was. Sort of makes me think that the fantasies we have regarding how to deal with people who irritate us and enrage us could be dangerous fantasies to have...
You can read the full review here. |
We all know the proverbial scenario; girl falls in love with boy, cowboy rides off into the sunset and the bad guy is defeated, followed by much rejoicing in the land. But, is a happy ending an essential ingredient for a great book or movie?
Lindsay Doran, film producer and missionary for mood-elevating movies got to the heart of that question in a recently published article. Many of her conclusions relate to the world of books too. While she didn’t want to create a rigid formula for a great movie, she wanted to challenge the Hollywood notion that a movie is only art if it ends badly and that you’ll only win an award if you write about misery.
One of her chief findings was that what audiences care about most are relationships and the positive resolution of them, so not so much the character winning, but sharing that accomplishment with a significant other. An example of this would be ‘The King’s Speech’, in which he conquers his stammer then shares the victory with his wife, daughters and the cheering crowds.
There is value in a story with a feel good factor; it’s a quick fix, literary or visual form of Prozac. Indeed, laughter trumps any drug but personally, I think the temporary lift in mood is soon forgotten. For a story with a lasting impression, there are other elements involved. Remember, in ‘Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince’, Dumbledore dies. In ‘Titanic’, 1500 passengers go down with the ship and then Jack doesn’t make it either. As author Nike Marshall astutely puts it, ‘happy endings can be cliché and diminish the impact of the story. Less than happy is more believable’. Appropriate is a key word, concluding a story with a satisfactory, even less than ideal event or series of events. As author Emerald Barnes surmises, ‘Some stories don’t have the option of having a happy ending’.
As readers, we can engage with the lives of the characters and the conflicts, challenges and successes they encounter. We relate to other people to learn how they deal with these difficulties, as if it’s a kind of virtual reality simulation. This is one of the reasons soaps are so popular. The way a book ends is also a reflection on how we’d either like a situation to conclude, or a healthy scepticism in knowing ‘that’s life, what will be will be’.
‘Life is made up of pleasurable and horrific experiences and there’s nothing wrong with a book or movie telling a story that shines a light on our failures’.
--Denise DeSio, author of ‘Roses’s Will’
As human beings, we like closure, to be able to shut the door on something, to file it away as a success or failure. This may be one of the reasons why cliff hanger endings in serials can be risky in the book world, because we don’t like situations in our own life to be unresolved. Therefore, it’s important to strike a balance between wrapping up one phase while creating a lead to where the story will take the reader next. Season finales in TV series craft this well.
In the writing world, it’s always stated ‘show, don’t tell’ and this can tailor a beautiful conclusion where the reader is given the satisfaction of finality, yet their imagination is given the licence to create what happens next. As science fiction author, Glenn Scrimshaw puts it, ‘the legend of King Arthur works so well at that; a bitter sweet ending but the promise of Arthur’s return when needed.’
What everything is leading to is, in fact, the emotional involvement of the reader in the final moments of a story. Look back at the sadness of the death of Dumbledore, a character that readers were very attached to, or the tragedy of the huge loss of life in ‘Titanic’. As author Carlyle Labuschagne states, ‘I like drama and feeling like my heart is about to explode with sorrow’.
What we really want as readers, therefore, is a powerful climax after the build-up as opposed to a puft! The engagement of powerful emotions can leave a far greater impact on a reader than a chocolate box ending. There is something so compelling about tales of misery, because we all experience loss, even abuse in our lives or those close to us. Through a story, we can release that sadness in a positive way and observe how characters deal with their challenges. I believe there’s another factor at work too, it’s a quality called resilience’. A character who survives loss, abuse or tragedy may be far more inspiring than the traditional, commercial hero because it sends a powerful signal that infuses us to endure - ‘Whatever life throws at me, I’m still here. Bring it on!’
About Seven Point Eight:
'The Truth Will Set You Free'
In the second installment of the Seven Point Eight series, the legacy of the OOBE project weighs heavily on the conscience of Dr Paul Eldridge. Tahra Mamoun needs to muster all her courage and venture back into the alternate dimensions of reality. Through a series of challenging, surreal and frightening experiences, she comes to comprehend the destructive power she can yield and must face her own demons in the process.
Paul continues his quest to understand the ancient knowledge of the cosmos, while dark forces seek to hijack his research to further a secret agenda. With their lives in jeopardy, Paul and Tahra confront their enemies against an international backdrop featuring the pyramids of Giza and the peaks of Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Sam and Ava endeavour to uncover their past, even though it may irrevocably change their lives.
In a tale of courage and tragedy, love and betrayal, their lives are interwoven around the demons of one man, Max Richardson, who'll stop at nothing to achieve his objectives.
Written in the style of a TV series, Seven Point Eight draws together quantum physics, psychic powers, alternate dimensions, time travel, past lives, ancient wisdom and conspiracy in a soap opera for the soul.
It’s the ideal read for lovers of sci-fi, contemporary fantasy, paranormal, metaphysics, ‘Lost’, ‘Fringe’, ‘Touch’, and Dan Brown books.
About the Author
Marie Harbon has worked in both the retail and fitness industry. She has a degree in sport and fitness, and taught group exercise for several years, delivering aerobics and Pilates. For two years, she delivered BTEC sport courses and has also instructed dance and sport with children.
Marie is a member of Nottingham Writers Studio, Her future plans include not only completing the 'Seven Point Eight' series, but involve writing YA, children's and adult books, short stories, novellas and scripts.
Aside from writing, Marie is a self-confessed fabric geek and purveyor of beautiful, often ostentatious bags, bustiers and clothing. She lives in the town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, which is in England.
Website - www.marieharbon.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/marie.harbon
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SevenPointEightChronicles
Twitter - @marieharbon
Marie will be awarding a free copy of Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle via Smashwords and a 12 ebook swagbag including, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal and YA titles to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
The more blog tour stops you comment at, the better chances you have of winning. You can check out Marie's other posts here.
I could spend a few hours looking for photos that fall within public domain, but in this case, I believe content is more important than any possible pictures or files.
I sit at my desk, struggling to catch my breath, in awe over the literary brilliance that went into the first episode of Fox’s new series The Following. I have read pre-release reviews on the show, and they have been as varied as the speculations portrayed in Poe’s art. Denver Post television critic Joanne Ostrow writes, “[The Following’s creator] seems to be treading a familiar path but with a more adult sensibility. [Kevin Williamson has] left the vampires behind, kept the scream-worthy horror and added some smart plotting.” In stark contrast, The Washington Post’s reviewer, Hank Stuever writes, “…I realized: ‘The Following’s’ fundamental problem is neither its gore nor its brutality; it’s the display of arrogance. Tangled up in easily avoidable clichés of the genre, this is a show that is entirely too pleased with itself and its pretentious concept. It’s not that we’ve become numb. It’s that we’ve become dulled."
“Pretentious” is often a term used by those who are too ill-educated or unsophisticated to appreciate the brilliance or depth of a particular work. Stuever clearly doesn’t know his Poe, nor can he appreciate the literary merit that has gone into the series pilot. As both a well-read student of Poe and an artist, I can say with certainty that Stuver has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s poorly misinformed, a fact easily discerned by anyone who has any background in the genre.
It is with great irony that I begin with the response to the antagonist’s first novel, which he himself calls “literati pretense.” He understands the gap between art and perception, and the writers take this concept to its own level. Clearly, its naysayers have no clue of the brilliance they review. While they cover the ramblings of a madman, unaware of the literary implications, the most important being the realization of one of Poe’s greatest fears: falling into the chasm of insanity. Poe also often used the theme of the (often insane) “unreliable narrator” to express ideas far beyond the scope of his characters. Anyone who has studied Poe will know that the themes explored by The Following explores themes only barely touched by many of Poe’s works. “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Raven” are three stories mentioned by name, but beyond story titles and thematic implications, the mere mention of these stories says something important about the series and where it is going.
Starting from importance, “The Tell-Tale Heart” hints at the physical issues implicated through other characters’ dialog. Retired FBI agent Ryan Hardy obviously has some kind of health issue related to his heart, an issue that will surely reveal itself in greater detail in episodes to come. Ryan is also a clear parallel to Poe’s deductive amateur detective Auguste Dupin.
The symbolism included in the series premiere is as important as any other aspect one might analyze. Hardy’s discovery of not only Carroll’s part in the continuing murders, but the connection to Poe’s works in his followers, suggests “The Murders of Rue Morgue,” as well as other prominent Poe works. The significance of “Rue Morgue” demonstrates the implication of Carroll’s ability to reduce his followers to the mental state of an orangutan—capable of great destruction but unaware of the effects of their mayhem.
By connecting the murders with the unfinished work, Poe’s “Lighthouse,” the writers make a point about the power of words. Poe died after writing three pages of “The Lighthouse,” and yet Carroll is able to harness the power Poe has left behind and use it against his fellow man. There is repeated reference to “The Black Cat,” as well as reference to the often poorly understood “The Cast of Amontillado.” By referencing the lost clues that might reside behind closed walls, the story's authors offer deep commentary on what is versus what is perceived, an offshoot of Poe’s strong themes of the unreliable narrator. When Carroll refers to Hardy as “the flawed hero,” he speaks not only of the ex-agent who has lost sight of his greatest nemesis’ intent. This, of course, plays upon the literati philosophy of author intent. The gay couple draws attention from the babysitter, the babysitter represents the “unfinished work” portrayed in Poe’s unfinished short story “The Lighthouse,” and Carroll’s antagonistic leads play against Hardy’s predetermined views about the serial killer and the power he holds over all he’s affected.
The only other thing made clear is that Carroll is intent on creating a Poe-inspired masterpiece of his own by riding the coattails of the Gothic horror master. Whether or not he will succeed lies in the hands of The Following’s writers. I suspect they have a decent idea of what they’re going. Whether or not the general audience will identify with the brilliance the writers are tapping into remains to be seen.
It Takes a Village
I get asked one question in interviews and while talking to readers a lot. What advice do you have for other writers? My answer is usually to keep trying and never give in to haters. That really is the best advice I can ever give. If you give up, you will never accomplish anything.
There is another little bit of advice that is just as important. What is this magical little bit of advice? It takes a village. Yep. It’s that simple. Just remember that you can’t do it on your own.
When I first started thinking about a Zombie A.C.R.E.S. project, it was a comic series idea and not a book. After having issues with artist after artist, I decided my best path was to bring Zombie A.C.R.E.S. to life through short stories. My thinking was since writing is such a solo project (except for the characters and voices in your head), I won’t have to rely on an artist or anyone else to bring my dream to fruition.
Man was I wrong.
I have said many times that last year and a half has been trial and error, with error being the more prevalent of the two. One of the biggest errors I have made was trying to do everything on my own. Sure, writing the stories was mostly me, but even that was a group project at times.
Even today there are some things that I try to do on my own, but I have to step back and ask myself, ‘Is this going to result in the best final product?’ In many cases the answer is no, so I proceed to find someone to help populate my village.
AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga)
In a world where corporate greed is allowed to run wild, Roslun Global has become the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. As head of this juggernaut of a company, Richard Roslun wields unheard of global power. To obtain and hold onto this power, Roslun is willing to do anything, including killing innocents.
When Richard Roslun realizes what he must do to save everything, his sights become set on a young girl named Alice. When Alice’s mother returns home from work with an infection, all hell breaks lose in Alice’s fragile world. Alice and her sister Georgia are hiding as death is literally banging on the front door when the unthinkable happens.
A second outbreak tests the love between Sam Ashe and and his fiancé Heather. Sam is a horror geek who has always been obsessed with zombies. When his fantasies become a reality, the man inside him will have to rise to the adventure ahead.
Fate brings Sam and Georgia together in the mission to save young Alice. Will love be enough to fight off the undead and stop pure corporate greed?
Find AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Paperback, and many other online retailers.
About the Author:Joshua Cook was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, late in 1977; and this where he has spent most of his life. There have been short bursts throughout his life where he has spread his wild oats to other parts of the United States, though.
Briefly Josh lived in Arizona and a brief – dark – time in Indiana and Ohio. Finally he landed in Washington state. He now calls Washington home where he lives with his girlfriend and dog.
This is where he created the growing fan favorite web site ZombieACRES.com, which spawned its first book in 2012. After many years of writing non-fiction, news, and various other articles, Josh decided to poke around in fiction – and loves it.