Genre & Character

 

Cradle medium

I’ve dabbled in many genres: erotica, drama, science fiction, fantasy, and my one-true passion – horror. I find I enjoy the writing process most when I blur the lines of genre, mix them up, and give a new bloody heart to them. Over the years it took to write The Angels of Autumn, I found a kind of giddy elation in twisting elements, weaving a story of murder, revenge, small town bigotries, and horror with a budding gay romance. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but Sirens Call Publications saw the potential and published it. I remain very grateful. The slow yet steady responses from readers have been very encouraging. People definitely seem to be getting it and understanding my perspective as a writer.

I love to write hardcore horror stories inspired by the foreign genre movies of the late seventies and eighties, but with contemporary themes. My protagonists tend to be LGBT. I’ve gotten great feedback for a transgendered character I created that wasn’t hindered by any stereotypical trope. She was emotionally complicated, brimming with confidence one moment and then uncomfortable the next, independent and commanding but tempted endlessly by the false boost of alcohol. She was profoundly feminine, yet sexually forceful. She was a vivid and complex character.

I wanted Radley in Cradle to be similarly drawn, not a stereotype, but a broken soul plunged into the depths of darkness by the loss of his partner. There is beauty in melancholy, and an intimate intricacy in the horror of it. I expose Radley in all his flawed glory and detail his misery with unflinching honesty. His story is not just about his emotional turmoil, but also about the gruesome fiend that haunts his house, one spoken of in whispers around town. And then there is Scotty, another broken soul but one twisted by abuse and neglect. He’s fascinated by the legendary ghoul in Radley’s house, a fascination that haunts him as much as the phantom haunts Radley. The two worlds will converge in shocking ways.

I strive to be different, and Cradle is definitely an unusual creation I’m very proud of. It doesn’t play by any rules and is unapologetic in its depictions of horror, sadness, and familial disregard. I pull no punches. I hope people will love the tragic beauty of it and appreciate the disturbing nature of it. I can’t wait to hear what readers think.

****

The Angels of Autumn and Cradle are both available on Amazon!

 

Signature Images

 

Cradle medium

I’m all about what I call Signature Images.

Provoking the imaginations of readers, inciting them to imagine in glorious detail the scenes on the written page, is the sacred duty of the writer. I take it very seriously. Not only should we intimately portray the thoughts and emotions of the characters, but we should construct their circumstances vividly, essentially granting the wish of the reader and provide for them a fantastical escape from the mundane world. This is certainly what I look for in authors, dream weavers who can whisk me away into their wonderful worlds.

Whenever I write, I dwell on the visual aspect. Sometimes I’ll spend hours on a single paragraph, days on getting passages just right. The words must be a conjuring, a spell cast over the reader to invoke the images contained there on the page. There must be literary equivalents of grandiose set pieces in movies. And I must surprise myself in order to surprise a reader.

It took several years to write my novel The Angels of Autumn. It had to be perfect. I had to get everything just right. From fanciful hallucinatory sequences to nightmarish monsters expressed in graphic detail, I wanted to give myself the chills as I wrote them. When I did, I knew the scenes would do their job. I remember clearly seeing those moments in my imagination, brought to extraordinary life in a small Pennsylvania town.

Cradle had to have signature images as well, the bizarre first encounter, the evil phantom in Radley’s house, psychic visions of crooked creatures in the snow, and the lurid charm of the forest. It’s a decidedly adult fairy tale, extremely grim and intensely emotional. What would a young man do when plunged into the worst possible relationship scenario? Would not the very nature of it force him to retreat into the shadows carving out an existence born of heartache? I imagined the darkest possible side of promises undone and presented it with some delightfully lurid signature images to the brave and curious reader.

****

Both The Angels of Autumn and Cradle are available on Amazon!

Creating a Unique Pseudo-Sequel

When I wrote The Angels of Autumn it was a purge of sorts. I’d dragged my partner and son with me across the country, leaving behind a plethora of friends and people that had become family in a major metropolitan area to an incredibly small backwoods town. I did this under the delusion of family loyalty. I wanted my son to grow up with cousins, an aunt, an uncle, a grandmother. I’d forgotten they weren’t much of a “family,” not in the true sense of the term. They were glorified strangers, and treated us as such. Their lies, bigotries, and disregard grew exponentially into something quite unforgivable… death itself. I’d also forgotten just what kind of place my “hometown” was, and it wasn’t a healthy place for a gay couple with a child to be… to say the least. Moving there was the mistake of a lifetime. Angels was my own personal exorcism.

Angels had very distinctive themes, not the least of which was bigotry, homophobic bigotry specifically. The reality of what my partner, son, and I faced in that small town became the seething undercurrent of my novel, albeit in a more fantastical way. Because it was such a personal journey writing Angels, a particularly vivid world, so much of myself woven within its characters and the darkness they become entangled in, it is my favorite creation. I knew I wanted to revisit the shadowed world of it, but not in any traditional sense. There were other demons to confront, explore, and purge on the printed page.

I’m a huge fan of sequels, I prefer them over remakes, but they have an unfortunate tendency to be unnecessary rehashes of the original storyline. I didn’t want to find myself snared in any kind of formulaic trap. I kept the themes of Angels in all their heartbreaking, disquieting glory, it is a horror story rooted in sublime human tragedy after all. As my beautifully broken Kincaid was the star of the first trip to the cursed Wren Township, he would usher in another equally beautiful and equally broken soul into the otherworldly realms of that terrible small backwater county where monsters hide behind human faces.

The sinister antagonist of Cradle is a fiendish mirror to the monsters of Angels, though arguably far more disturbing in its cruel nature. Not an identical twin, but a sibling from the same abyss roused to torment my newest characters, Radley and Scotty. Their journey into the shadowy world of Wren County is as disturbing as Kincaid’s, but not indistinguishable. I explored other themes as well: isolation, child abuse, and neglect, to craft a horror story beyond the envelope of what many might perceive the genre to be neatly tucked into. There’s nothing neat or tidy about Cradle, it’s fearless in its depiction of distressing deterioration inside and out. The Cradle is a kind of Hell on Earth where even the innocent suffer.

****

Cradle is available now from Amazon.

Honoring, Yet Defying Genre Standards

I don’t just write horror, I am an unapologetic and rabid fan of the genre! From Stephen King to Dario Argento, from Linnea Quigley to Jamie Lee Curtis, and from Dr. Orloff to Freddy Krueger I have a burning affinity for it all, a love which I am told is often very evident in my writing. I know the genre inside and out, a scholar of sorts as familiar with the psychological archetypes that make up the horror pantheon as I am the writers and directors creating them, the characters representing them, and the actors portraying them. I love everything about horror, frankly I always have, and I love being a genre writer.

Everyone knows the dominate three archetypes of the genre, the virgin, the doomsayer, and the fiend. I get a thrill from honoring yet defying these genre standards.

In Cradle you’ll find my deeply flawed, but no less heroic, protagonist from Angels, Kincaid, in a supportive role. He’s best friends with the new male lead, Radley, and becomes the genre’s archetype of the “doomsayer” as presented by me, of course. He’s not old, eccentrically weird, or unkempt in some way… homeless, impecunious, or crazy. Yet one might argue he fits those descriptions in charmingly idiosyncratic ways.

Just as in Angels, Kincaid represented the “virgin” and yet was actually the antithesis of that stereotype—not female and not actually virginal, Radley is the defiant protagonist in Cradle, again not female and not virginal. His journey into the darkness is ushered in the wake of Kincaid’s dire warnings which Radley has failed to heed. If only he’d listened to the forewarning, chose to follow his friend’s advise and not ventured to that damnable small town or taken up residence in the cursed abode known as Habersham House… if only. If. Only.

The horror he encounters, that monster that goes bump in the night in the shadowed rooms of Habersham House, stalking his prey, once again defies the archetype of the genre’s “bad guy” while representing it perfectly. The demonic presence preys on innocence, even warping it in a disquieting conclusion that disobeys our often far-too coveted modern horror statutes. Sweet and twisted the journey. Put your thumbs out and hitch a ride with Radley to the deepest, darkest vales of Crepuscule’s Cradle and spend the night at Habersham House!

I like to distort the classic prototypes and make them my own, both preserving the traditional horror pantheon and skewing it in my favor. In Cradle, I’ve done just that.

Review: Heartshot

 

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Heartshot

Quantumcat Animation

Sleepy Creek Films

4 Stars

 

Thomas Nicol directs a unique script he co-wrote with Joseph Taylor, based on a story by Mike Byers. It took the prize for Best Short at the 2013 Portland H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. This dystopian-set narrative of a drug addict’s endeavors to procure his choice narcotic is a gruesome treat, and more than worthy of its accolades. Some clumsy dialogue aside, it’s well written, competently directed, and features pretty decent acting. For this level of filmmaking the special effects are impressive, particularly the unicorns.

Clocking in at thirty-three minutes, Heartshot is a mean-spirited story, I won’t lie about that. The exact details of which I won’t spoil here, but suffice it to say it delivers a gut punch when you realize what this guy is using to bait the mythological beasts. Isn’t that what horror is all about, horrifying? Thomas Nicol has delivered

There are artifacts, ghosting, and excess noise throughout the presentation, whether they are a result of the digital filming or the disc formatting, I’m not sure, but they are distracting. These flaws, however, are not so off-putting that you won’t enjoy the movie. I highly recommend it.

I believe the DVD-R is now out of print, but the film is available on VIMEO for three bucks. The disc contains commentary tracks from the cast, crew, and writer, featurettes about the digital and practical effects, and a bonus short titled “A Bear in the Woods,” which is just plain quirky, but in a good way.