Celebrating Veteran’s Day

Flashbangs and Fiction

As I celebrate Veteran’s Day, I find myself wondering what it means for other people.

 

 

My family has a long line of patriots.  Some of my fondest memories involve spending time with both of my grandfathers.  It wasn’t until death’s hand waited patiently over my grandfather’s bare head that he felt he could share stories from WWII.

I was forever changed.

 

Veteran’s Day is, for me, a day to remember, a day to respect, and a day to renew my own sworn duties to protect and uphold.  I have a few quotes that I would like to leave.  Each of these mean something specific to me.

 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” -Jose Narosky

 

“Better than honor and glory…

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Stalking the Damned – at the crevice with Tyr

 

Our sojourn into desolation has begun to leaves its mark on our tainted souls.  The strangely sweet light from our conversation with Leslie cast its last rays across our path some time ago, throwing us into oblivion.  Oblivion.  Its darkness offers no false hopes and covers all with its empty embrace.  It is this bitter embrace that compels our ambitious pursuit of the Damned.

 

 

The crunch-tumble-crack of our feet scuffing across the rubble-choked passage seems loud until a harsh scream pierces the obscurity and drowns our own noise.  Gloomy visibility grows before us, its presence more of an imperfect darkness than the presence of light.  A large form looms over a crevice.  The source of the scream is held aloft in the large form’s mighty grip.

 

 

Where our hearts may have once beat with compassion for the doomed being, they now pump excitedly with impish fascination.  Unintelligible supplication turns to futile shrieks as the large form tosses the victim down the crevice.

 

 

I turn and speak to you in hushed tones.

 

“This is Tyr.  Tyr Kieran.  He is as dichotomous as the moon itself.  Tyr can be a facetious consort, or he can be the hand of your doom.”

 

 

He turns, knowing we are watching, and strolls across broken ground to stand before us.

 

 

“Tyr,” I begin, “we seek to know the Damned.  Might we ask a few questions?”

 

 

A thoughtful nod and devious grin tell us to continue.

 

 

Tyr, your part in Pen of the Damned is as unique as that of the others.  Please share with us something that identifies you as an individual writer.

 

Welcome, Damned associates. It is nice to speak with you.

What makes me unique? I’d like to think my writing style/voice is unique, but probably the most obvious difference is my Interactive Fiction Projects. The goal is to offer viewers the chance to read a novel as it’s written. I post freshly composed segments across social media, twice a week. The benefit, and interactive opportunity, of this method is that everyone, including the author, is on the same page at the same time. Readers can leave comments and discuss the recent post before the next is conceived. I am currently on my second such project. When the tale reaches a finale of sorts, I will hold a contest to name the book.

If you’re interested in joining the Interactive Fiction Project, follow the posts on my blog (http://www.tyrkieran.com/blog/) or Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/writer.tyr.kieran) and leave comments.

 

 

You say that you do not have a long history of reading and writing, yet your work is well crafted and pulls at your reader.  To what do you attribute your skills?

 

I appreciate the kind words, Zack. Thank you.
Here’s my dark, dirty little secret: I didn’t like reading very much as a kid, or even through young adulthood (with the exception of Poe. Who doesn’t enjoy Poe?). I read the occasional comic, poem, or short novel, but I can’t claim a long list of reading experience. So, naturally, when I started reading for pleasure, I eased into it with the light reading of… Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Not the smartest starting point, but I loved them anyway.

To what do I attribute my, so called, ‘skills’? A good ear, I guess.
I craft based on what sounds right, whether it be sentence structure, dialogue, or description. Beyond that, I alter my stories to fit what I would enjoy as a reader. 

 

 

You’ve said that you have a strong sense of humor.  Even though this may not come out very often in your writing, what kind of an impact does it have on what you do?  Or does it hold no sway over your writing?

 

What, you can’t tell? Ha, just kidding. Yeah, it doesn’t show very often in my writing, but it certainly has its place, even in terrifying fiction. I’m certain humor will play a role in my longer works as either character traits, tension relief, or misdirection. To date, my stories were short and didn’t require comedic assistance.

Outside of my writing, I always strive for the humor in any situation, simply because it’s more fun than getting stressed out and life is too goddamn short!

 

 

How do you gain your inspiration for your writing?  Do you have tricks to tease ideas out of your dark imagination, or do you have a head full of stories?

 

The world we live in is a wonderful and terrible place. Everywhere I turn, I see inspiration. From there I use the ‘what if’ technique. For example, I once saw an unidentifiable insect carcass that made me think, what if that thing was alive? What if it tried to get inside of me to lay eggs? What if the larvae incubated in my teeth? And what would it be like when they hatched? That sparked a story concept. From there, I tried to ground it in reality (I prefer to make things plausible no matter the subject) when looking for an origin for those creatures. The ‘bacteria or organism from a fallen meteor’ premise was done to death and felt like a deus ex machina copout. So I found a plausible origin and the result of all that was my Pen of the Damned short “In The Name Of Science” found here: http://penofthedamned.com/2013/04/16/in-the-name-of-science/

 

 

Let’s say you have a chance to play the role of any antagonist in a movie.  Who would it be and why?

 

Wow, excellent and difficult question.

I would be a Kevin Spacey from Seven type villain. I’d do my homework, exude inhuman amounts of patience, and make sacrifices for the end goal—methodical and ruthless in setting plans that, no matter the actions of others, would hit the mark and make my message heard. Why? I love creating subtle threads within my stories that surface at just the right time to deliver a message. I take pride in hiding clues in plain sight and using subtle misdirection to pop surprises.

Also, I bet I’d be the type of villain that’s delusional, believing that his actions are for the greater good. Why? Despite my dark thoughts and evil tales, I like to think I’m one of the good guys. Albeit, one with a devious streak.

  Thanks for the chat, my inquisitive friends. I must be off now. There’s quite a few people that need a dose of dark medicine, plus, I’m overdue to feed the ATM more kittens. Best of luck to you as you travel on through the murky depths of The Damned!

Farewell until our paths cross again.

 

 

Farewell Tyr, and thank you for your time.

 

And thank you, dear reader, for stalking the Damned.  We will continue our descent into the Damned abyss.  But, for now, please feel free to take your time and get to know the offspring of the Damned.

 

Tyr’s work with Pen of the Damned can be found via the following link, as well as the work of the other Damned souls.

 

http://penofthedamned.com/author/tyrkieran/

 

 

Zack…

 

 

 

Stalking the Damned – under the sway of Moon

This most recent leg of our journey has been arduous.  We’ve reached unfathomable depths, traversed through impossible darkness, and have now found ourselves standing before a bizarre sight.

 

Light.

 

The timeless ebony of this gulf pierced by light.  Is it wholesome?  Perhaps some kind of benevolent sign of watchfulness?  Or, my friend, is it akin to the flicker of a bio-luminescent glow under the crushing weight of the sea — bait to seduce and enchant the unknowing into voracious maws?

 

 

 

She is upon us, and the light is her own.  Her movement casts bounding shadows as she gracefully inches closer.  This, dear companion, is Leslie Moon.

 

 

Leslie, thank you for your time.  We are searching out the elusive troupe that is the Pen of the Damned.

 

Each individual in the ranks of the Damned has been different, providing the readers a darkly succulent and toothsome literary bite.  Each soul is marked with its own set of skills like a unique Rorschach inkblot test.  You are, by admission, a quirky Christian who writes horror.  Do you find this presents challenges as an author of horror, or does it offer an interesting perspective on the macabre?

 

Great question Zack. Depending on the day, I could answer this question many ways.  It is today so this is my answer: Each writer has an inkblot as you refer to it that forms their foundation. Life, culture, beliefs all play into that foundation. I think for some the foundation can be a springboard for others it can be a mire. It is true that in the core of my foundation is faith. it is that faith that allows me (like a springboard) to feel, express and experience. Pen of the Damned writes primarily about the dark sector. For some that sector is real. I have seen and lived in some pretty dark places and met some pretty “dark” people. For a long time I could not write about that place but I have enough light days(now)  that I can write about a world that I have lived in. Blaze had made a comment that many Christians have to resolve the darkness. The darkness doesn’t always resolve itself. I like a happy ending, but “happy” in fiction and non-fiction is not always possible.

 

 

 

You also write for children.  I remember reading some pretty scary stuff as a kid and I absolutely loved it.  What type of literature do you write for the younger crowd?  Have you toyed with the idea of writing something relatively scary for children?  If so, what?

 

To date the works I have written for children have had a moral or a teaching element. I have a segment in my blog called Life’s Lessons that are like proverbs or Aesop’s Fables. As a teacher (for 15 years), I like using fiction to make facts magical and memorable. There are some fun ways to make history alive for children. I recently wrote a piece that a commentor said was like Goosebumps. Writing horror is a new challenge for me writing dark historical fiction for children would be a greater challenge. I always love a challenge.

 

 

 

You are a multi-talented woman.  Beyond your writing, which includes some fantastic poetry, you are quite the photographer.  Your ability with poetry points to how crafty you are with words and meaning, and your ability with photography is a pretty good indicator of how powerful your imagination and visualization are.  How do you use these skills with your writing?  How do they help?

 

First Zack thanks for the very nice complement. I’m humbled by your comment. I have always been a visual person. Stories come alive in my imagination easily. Poetry and art tend to work well together. If I see a picture or image (or capture that image) the poem usually writes itself. My first published pieces (when I was in a teen) were drawing and poet duos. With a work of fiction, I have to live the story  in my head. 

 

 

 

Do you have one creative product, whether a poem, story or picture, that you are the most proud of?

 

Yes I have a book that I wrote with a friend who lives in UK. We wrote it for children as realistic lessons that could make the Bible come alive and make sense. Not only was it a lot of fun to write, but we had people involved on both sides of the “pond” giving us input and help with editing. There’s a story about a tunnel, a sword, two hikers, a compass, and a sheep. We have sold this book on three continents by word of mouth only. We have as many adults who have enjoyed the book as children. The book will never be a best seller however it has made the Bible make more sense to many readers and the stories have been re-told and the books passed on. The book also inspired a non-profit and  a radio show out of North Wales that I wrote children’s shows for which then led to my writing scripts for an international ministry for a number of years. Who would have known one little book could open so many doors.

 

 

 

What do you like the most about writing with Pen of the Damned?

 

When I started reading Pen, I was impressed by the caliber of writing. I thought “If I could write dark like…”  I was surprised when Joseph asked me to join and I promise you I still feel like the novice running to keep up with these exceptionally skilled writers. Needless to say they keep me striving to write past the pinnacle of my ability.

 

 

 

Is there any literature or a life event that you can point to and say “this is where my ability and/or desire to write was born”?

 

My life as a child was where my ability to create stems from. I am the product of an artistic genius who makes creating in any art form look easy. It’s hard to be a mere mortal when studying under a genius. I look back at all the work I produced/ performed/published/sold before I was sixteen (not to mention after) –  in my eyes I am not exceptional. My teachers pushed me toward art school  with the hope for a art history art degree so I could work in the art world. I was afraid that I would never reach the caliber of the other art students I had met so I declined art school. Were I to look back on my life, I’ve been on three creative journeys: the first striving as an artist, the second striving and performing as a musician, the third and  as a poet and a writer (the photography is a throw back to my younger days.)

 

 

 

Do you have anything knocking around in the corners of your mind that you are dying to write about, or is there a project you are working on that you would like to mention?

 

If you could climb the ladder in my imagination, you would be knocked over by ideas the flying about. I have several that I am working on with a co-writer. The first is a fantasy where the dragon is a hero. The MS is going to editing as we speak. I’m hoping my mother will illustrate this older elementary fantasy. This fiction could be done by the end of 2013. 

The other is an historical fiction series that will require travel to put the story together.  I stayed in the region where this story would take place and I’ve already heard the story (yes in my head). The characters who lived during this 100 year span of volatile  want (need) it to be told.  

There are several  projects that involve my mother and my son (an artist and photographer) that we hope to produce. I’m still researching producing books about art history. 

…And I am helping several exceptional crime writers try to get their works out as their editor.

 

 

 

Zack, I want to thank you for your encouragement and the time you have taken to do this interview. If I could say one thing to writers (of any genre). The creative world opens up a treasure trove for discovery. It is the writer’s commission to use the treasure to entice the next generation. The written word has the ability to inspire the imagination and unearth learning in a way that media cannot. Write from your heart and see the world that unfolds for you and others.

 

 

 

Thank you, Leslie.  You are an exceptionally busy woman.  I appreciate the time you gave to us.

 

 

Here is a link to Leslie’s blog.  You will notice, both on her blog as well as on Pen of the Damned, that she goes by Moondustwriter.

http://moondustwriter.com/

 

 

Here is a link to Pen of the Damned.  Follow the link, dive into the content, but know that you will have a hard time escaping the talented grasp of the Damned.

http://penofthedamned.com/

 

 

 

Zack

Stalking the Damned, palaver with Blaze

Our passage through darkness continues as we stalk the Damned.   I take you on this journey with iniquitous excitement, knowing full well that that we might not leave this sinister realm.

 

We pass into depths full of woe and fright, of Mephistophelian delights where Cthulhu still walks with the Elder Gods.  Close your eyes if you wish.  Take my cloak for guidance, but know it is far too late for safety.

 

The descent takes us down a path filled with smoke, heat, and the growing sounds of another being.  Rounding a corner, we find a large figure standing back from a hellish fire.  His face is unreadable in the red glow,  but the malice and cunning in his eyes makes us falter in our steps.

 

“This is Blaze”, I whisper in your ear.  “Let me speak for both of us…”

 

 

Blaze, we would parley with you, as we are stalking the Damned.  You have a number of stories with Pen of the Damned, some of which are “Ashes to Ashes, Blood to Blood”, “The Enforcer”, and “The Steps of Fear”.    Your stories range from creepy to absolutely visceral.    You once said “I feel we need to challenge the barriers to what lurks in the unknown.”  Could you expand on that, and did you ever have any experiences that gave you an affinity for things that lurk in the unknown, or that gave you an affinity for the unknown itself?

I’m an older writer, Zack, and with that comes a great deal of life experiences. Unfortunately for me, the bulk of that experience seems to have been rooted in things that are not pleasant. Death, failed relationships, pain, disease, and even a life as a child that was anything but pleasant. However, these experiences and my empathy for the common woman/man who gets his ass knocked down at every opportunity give me a purpose in life. I am compelled to write about the Dark. The Dark is real. Someone else can write about glory days of daisies and sweet dreams. That crap is foreign to what lurks inside my soul. On a positive note, I never run out of things to write about.

As far as knocking down barriers to what lurks in the unknown, not enough is written about new conceptual possibilities. Too much of the same dog and pony show. It is time we kick those barriers apart and delve into truly horrible scenarios floating through the minds of those who are tormented beyond return.

“The Steps of Fear”   http://penofthedamned.com/2012/09/11/the-steps-of-fear-2/ is a story that (like your others) really pulled me in.  Do your ideas hit you in a flash, or like you have mentioned before, do they sit in your head for a while as they ferment?

Like most of my stories, “The Steps Of Fear” was festering inside me long before I wrote it. The longer these tales reside within me, the Darker they become. Add in infidelity, a total distrust for the psychiatric profession, which I view as a bunch of non professionals and ill educated morons, and you have “The Steps Of Fear.” Okay, I’ve pissed off the whole world of psychiatric “professionals,” but I don’t care. They need to step up to the plate and do their jobs. Other ideas hit me in a flash, but some are rot-gut, deep-rooted horror all the way.

What is your favorite part of being a member of Pen of the Damned?

My favorite part of being a member of The Pen Of The Damned is that they put up with my bullshit. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t lie; I merely tell it like it is and they say, “Okay, Blaze is writing some wonky crap again.” Plus the ten of us are pretty Damned talented people and work at the craft. Notice the word WORK. It’s not merely pretty words for us. We spew the venom on the pages before us.

 

 

Do you have a favorite author, or is there a particular author who influenced your writing?

My favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe. No one else can compare to him. I enjoy reading all the great authors; Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, Spillane, and so many others, but there was only one Poe. The man was a God. My style is mine now that I’ve stopped the ghostwriting thing, thank God. I do not wish to write in the style of anyone other than myself.

 

 

You have been a ghostwriter for over 75 novels.  That is one hell of a feat.  Your dark mind must be full of characters and back stories.  Can you tell us about any of those novels, or could you give us advice on how to reach that literary level?

Because of the legal ramifications, I can’t really say anything about the past novels I’ve written as a ghostwriter, other than the fact my last one was used by an author who accepted the Stoker for it. True, my name was not to have been acknowledged as being the true author, but as far as professional integrity goes, had it been me, I would have refused the Stoker. I refused to write any more of them. These guys are on their own as far as I’m concerned now. Thus, I have very little regard for awards for any of the arts. Beauty for our readers is in the eyes and minds of each individual who reads our tomes. Some people love blood, gore, and splatter. Others don’t.
All art is discretional. We can’t please everyone. As far as reaching my “literary level,” it’s merely one word after another. No science to that. Let your “Story people” write your tale for you and throw the damned outlines out.

 

 

What do you enjoy about dark literature?

Dark literature is a no holds barred way to pen the truth. Sure, horror writers embellish the tales, but at the very core of our stories, there is always the truth. Do you want to be truly scared? Read “The Pit And The Pendulum” and feel that blade coming at you. That story goes to the very soul of what humanity fears the most.

 

 

Is it easier for you to compose and write the part of a protagonist, or the part of an antagonist?  Why?

Most of my new stories are written in first person, present tense, and as such, the protagonist’s view is portrayed. No fly on the wall crap for me any more. However, I also believe that the visual within the soul of the protagonist certainly displays the beasts in their most evil state. However, I have written tales where I wrote first person tense for both, merely alternating chapters to capture their inner thinking. So, to answer the question, I can, and do, write either part with relish.

 

 

What is the next piece of meat on your dinner plate?  What does Blaze how in store for us?

My next piece of meat consists of a huge steer running across a vast field. I have novels coming out this year, tales in anthologies, short stories, and collections of shorts. I also have a long non-fiction story which I will present as fiction so I don’t have to change anything. Most of the folks are dead anyway. I have some YA stories coming and some poetry: you guessed it; it’s Dark. While I have novel series comprised of horror/action/psychological meanderings, I also have some others that are simply Dark, psychological horror, like in “Ashes To Ashes, Blood To Blood.” That tale was so totally original that it blew my mind away. I disgusted some people with that one, so I got the results I wanted. Yes, I write of conventional monsters, albeit in unconventional ways, but I wish to write about new monsters as well. There are some in my soul ready to jump out on the page now. One of these bad boys is in an upcoming novel series. I’m rather proud of the conceptual imagery of these tales. I won’t say anything more about them other than the first one is titled, “The Devil’s Tongue.” Thank you for this interview, Zack, and remember that you will be the protagonist in my next tale for The Pen Of The Damned. Oh, yeah, baby!

 

 

Blaze, thank you for your time.

http://penofthedamned.com/author/blazemcrob/

 

 

We’ll leave you to your craft as we make our way to darker and more infernal regions on our hunt for the Damned.

Zack…

Stalking the Damned

Come with me on a journey, an excursion into murky depths as I stalk the abyss for the Damned.  We will commune with those who write for the Pen of the Damned.

 

I give to you, dear reader, a word of caution.  This odyssey is not for the faint of heart.  The abyss is home to beings that savor fear, feast on distress, and have mastered the realms of terror.  To go is to risk madness, terror, or an eternal sojourn among the bedeviled.  If you go, you must go freely, of your own will.  You accept?

*dark grin*    Let’s go.

 

Hold my cloak, don’t open your eyes, and tread lightly.  The abyss hold secrets you don’t want to know.

 

We approach a powerful corner on the path to deeper chasms.  This is the lair of Thomas Brown.  He has an old soul, and brings a calm potency to Pen of the Damned.  Open your eyes.  But don’t let your guard down.

 

 

Thomas.  Thank you for giving us some of your time.

You write with Pen of the Damned.  How did you get involved?

 

Hello Zack, and thank you for having me on your blog. I first contacted the group after stumbling across the site and reading several of their weekly stories. I was impressed with the quality of the writing and sought to share a piece of my own on the site. It was then that I learned the nature of the group, the set-up, the Damned concept. Joe and Nina contacted me shortly afterwards with more details and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

 

What has been your favorite experience with Pen of the Damned?

 

In terms of a single experience, I think my favorite was my initial post. The story aside, it felt so good to see my writing showcased as a member of the Damned, displayed alongside other such fine writers of dark fiction. I’m proud of the story, too, which I feel introduced my voice and recurring themes in my writing well to the group and readers alike.

 

 

Pen of the Damned is predominantly short fiction.  Do you prefer to write short stories or novels?

 

I do prefer shorter fiction, particularly flash fiction; vignette-style pieces that really convey the spirit and tone of a scene. Either that, or novel-length writing, where I can immerse myself in a theme or atmosphere. Middle-ground short stories are where I am least comfortable, my inclination being to either expand them, or convey them in flash.

 

 

Thomas.  What influences your style of writing?

 

Naturally, I think the biggest style influences are other writers. You read and you absorb, even subconsciously, what works and what doesn’t – or at least, what works for you and what doesn’t. These quirks, these literary idiosyncrasies, find a home in your own voice, until you find yourself with techniques and a voice all of your own. Specifically, Tennessee Williams’ short stories influenced me, and the English translations of Andrei Makine’s fiction, by Geoffrey Strachan. Neither are horror writers but they are responsible for owning two of the most affecting literary voices I have ever read. If I could one day write fiction with half the impact and atmosphere of these two, I would feel very proud.

 

 

 

You have a blog  http://tbrownonline.wordpress.com/ .  On your blog, you have mentioned that music is an inspiration, and that sometimes movies can be inspirational as well.  Do you have any other founts of inspiration?

 

I’m inspired by things I see and feel, mostly. I watch people and I listen to them, and if something resonates in me then I write about it. I don’t write horror because I want to write horror; I write horror because it is the best medium for expressing the things I want my writing to explore; namely people and human nature. I’m not talking about murder and bullying and ghosts. I try to look deeper: life and death, isolation, human sadness. Sometimes these take beautiful forms, other times they are ugly. Such is life, I think.

 

 

 

Thomas, your writing has been described as being “spare”, “haunting”, and “taut”.  What is your secret with making a piece of short fiction such as “Crowman”, or your short story sequence in “The Storyteller’s Anthology” so powerful and well-written?

 

It carries on a little from what I’ve just mentioned. By examining the root of a human issue, I am able to identify with it, empathise with it and stay true to it while I write. This produces writing after the kinds of adjectives described above. Sometimes this comes at the expense of narrative or plot, but for me a story’s impact comes from the feelings it touches, the images it creates and how these make the reader feel.        

 

 

You have a novel that is slated to be released on the 17th of June.  It is called “Lynnwood.”  I have read the following comments about the novel; “an escalating power of dread that is rendered deftly…”, “It was a creepy story.  I kept thinking along the premise of the book “It” by Stephen King with an English twist.”   Tell us more.  Whet our palettes.

 

Lynnwood is a story about living and about hunger. One the one hand, we are the people society has shaped us into and on the other hand we are flesh and blood and a whole host of hormones and hot, heady urges, telling us to run and shout and gorge ourselves on food. Lynnwood takes a typically civilised place, filled with perfectly proper people, and explores what happens when these two aspects come into conflict. It is about old fears and darkness and the Gothic notion of forests as wild, revealing places. I think Lynnwood holds more than few surprises for its readers and I’m very excited to share it in June.

 

 

Thank you Thomas, for spending time with us.  I am excited to open the pages of Lynnwood and dive into the story.  We will leave you as we continue to stalk the Damned.

 

 

Here is a link to Thomas’ facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thomas-Brown-Author/118365181569278

 

 

Thank you, reader, for wading into the depths with me.

 

Take a deep breath before we plunge further into the dark abyss of the Damned.

 

 

Zack…

Shisha + baba ghanoush = one hell of a time

Shisha and baba ghanoush.

shisha

Probably doesn’t sound like much of an equation, but you better believe it is.  Please let me do some explaining….

A shisha is a hookah.    In case you have the visual of the caterpillar in “Alice in Wonderland”, sitting atop an enormous (and most likely hallucinogenic) mushroom, this is nothing like it.    There is an amazing mix of tobacco and additives (apple, mint, there are many options) that are placed under a hot coal at the top, drawn down through the water at the bottom of the device (add ice to the water), and then pulled out through a hose.    Sound strange?  It’s not.  The aroma alone is enough to keep you going back.  But, it is much more than that.

The shisha is, from what I can tell, and from what I have experienced, an integral part of ancient cultures – not just one.  I have recently spent time with a very good friend of mine.  We talked about the art of the shisha while we ate baba ghanoush (a kind of eggplant spread) in a local tavern.

The conversation drifted to my friend’s time spent on the family vineyard outside of Casablanca, playing Ronda (a card game) with family and friends, and then we talked of Tangier and Marrakesh.  At this point it should be mentioned that I left out the most important parts of equation I mentioned earlier – culture and time.

I love culture.  When I sit and bask in the wonders of an ancient culture, I do whatever I can to absorb it, see what parts of it mesh with me as a person, and adopt parts of the culture that will make me a better and well-rounded individual.  The night before my departure, I was sitting at a small table with a few other people, taking and passing the shisha (fold the mouthpiece down to the hose before you pass it to the next person), and I realized that I needed MUCH more time than I had to absorb this culture that I was growing to love.

It takes time to see, absorb, reflect upon, and understand a culture that has developed over as many centuries as this one had.  I didn’t have the time.  But I did what I could in the time I had.  What was the result?  I’m a better person for having a greater understanding and admiration for the beauty that is diversity.

This world is shrinking, and I fear for the treasures that are ancient cultures.  Globalization does not and SHOULD not mean homogenization of cultures and people.  A palette should be full of different colors.

So, my friend, I fold the shisha hose and pass it to you.  Take your time, savor the aromas of this planet, and experience life outside of your comfort zone.

And always remember, Shisha + baba ghanoush = one hell of a time.

Zack…

The Next Big “Horror” Thing blog hop

THE NEXT BIG THING “HORROR” BLOG HOP

 

Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop – a creepy edition.

 

Please allow me to properly explain what this is, and give the respect and thanks due and owed to the author that tagged me for the blog hop.

 

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them.  I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy.  On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books, as well as a link to a group of some talented, dark and sinister, slightly demented, and blood of my blood authors [Pen of the Damned] you can explore and get to know.

 

 

First of all I want to express my gratitude to fellow author K.B. Owen for inviting me to participate in this event.  You can click the following links to learn more about K.B. and her book.

Website:  K.B. Owen, mystery writer http://kbowenmysteries.com/posts/the-next-big-thing/ .  Check her site for the latest info about pre-ordering her upcoming book.

 

 

In this blog hop, I have answered a few questions about myself and my work-in-progress.  I have also placed a link for a pretty Damned good group of authors whose ability to create angst with a single stroke of their Pen might leave a few of us hiding under the bed.

 

There is a big difference between this blog hop and many others.  I’m not passing this on to a few specific authors.  Nope.  In my portion of this blog hop, I am going to pass the ball to the enigmatic group “Pen of the Damned”.

 

Pen of the Damned is a collective site for the work of the group’s members.  The group takes turns writing and posting stories.  The work is great.  Not all of the members have active blogs, so the dynamics of this blog hop are different.  But the individual and collective writing of the authors in this group is fantastic.

 

I’ve bloodied my feet and tormented my ghoulish mind in the difficult journey to hunt down these Damned souls that are, without doubt, heinously wicked traffickers of horror.  But I didn’t want to place anybody on the spot.  In the end, I decided to leave only the sanguine passing of my steps at their door, hoping they would respond in kind, rather than thinking  “Tis the wind and nothing more.”

 

 

After you read this fantastically entertaining morsel, (this is meant to be a nearly subliminal message) and get the sudden and overpowering desire to buy my book, please check out Pen of the Damned  http://penofthedamned.com/

 

In the meantime, please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions.

 

Here is my Next Big Thing

 

 

1: What is the working title of your book?

 Realm Crossing

 

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is the sequel to my first book – Smite the Damned.  As I was nearing the end of Smite the Damned, I already had a pretty good idea of where the sequel was going.  For me it was a natural chain of events born from the events in the first book.

To be honest, Realm Crossing was much more fun to write because I was completely engrossed and captivated by the story unfolding in my head.  I can’t wait for people to read it.

 

3: What genre does your book come under?

This is such a hard question for me.  I’m not sure how to classify it.  It’s dark – be sure of that.

I know, I know, I didn’t answer the question.  I would say it falls under paranormal thriller and horror.  There is blood.  There is death.  There are people and beings that I want you to fear, loath and detest, but there is also the struggle of the imperfect.

 

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Jesse Williams (The cabin in the woods) would play the protagonist.  I think he would be perfect for the character of Keith Da Silva.  The dude looks like a match.

The role of the primary antagonist would have to be a very beautiful female that could bring hell itself to its knees.  She would have to be cold in a sensual way, and leave you feeling as scared as you are excited.  I think Charlize Theron would do a great job with this, or I would go with Francia Raise or Anna Paquina.

(Now all we need is the movie deal)     😉

 

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“A beautiful demon’s consort threatens to cripple Keith’s struggle against the damned.”

 

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

My book is self-published.  Why?  Thanks for asking.  Well, simply because I chose to write in my extra time rather than try to get picked up by a publisher.  Maybe I will revisit the idea after I get a few more books under my belt.  As for right now, I LOVE writing.

I have three more novel length ideas that I have written down and will start working on as soon as I finish this trilogy.

 

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me about 4 months.  Most of my writing is done while I commute to work, so my time is limited.

 

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That is a tough question.  I don’t have a good answer for you….

I would love feedback on this question from my readers.  What is it similar to?  Hmmm..  You are going to buy the book since I enchanted you earlier with my amazing skills in subliminal messaging, so I will wait and see what you think.   *sinister laugh*

 

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My head is constantly full of stories and scenarios.  If I have access to a pen or a computer, I have something to say.  The inspiration comes from a fair amount of exposure to the darker elements of society, as well as exposure to things that go bump in the night.  When you combine that kind of exposure with the literature I grew up reading, my imagination puts the story on a mental rack and starts to turn the wheel.

 

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

How about a little excerpt from the book?  Since my readers will most likely be interested in something dark, or something outré, I will leave you with a taste of one of the demons to be found in this book……

 

A dark form started to emerge from the tar-like substance in the ground.  Black hair clung to the head of what appeared to be a woman.  Her face was dark.  She had full lips and cavernous eyes.  The demon rose sedately from the liquefied earth.  Two muscular arms pulled stray hairs away from her face as she stepped out of the hole.  A second pair of smaller arms stuck out of her elongated torso.  One of the smaller arms held a bowl made from the top half of a skull, while the other gripped an ornate dagger.  The demon’s full breasts appeared dark in the night air, glinting from the moisture of the substance she just emerged from, and swayed heavily with her authoritative movements.  She wore a yellow loincloth adorned with bones of various sizes.  Her strong legs and bare feet looked soft but calloused.  Her beauty and macabre appearance were a mesmerizing dichotomy that was impossible to not watch.

Baal bowed slightly to her, and then turned to face the chained spirits.  “I give you the demon Kali, the Dark Mother of Death.  She is the Destroyer.”

 

 

Thanks for reading this.  As I mentioned earlier, check out Pen of the Damned.  This talented group of writers deserves to be read.  Check them out.  My thanks again to Kathy, as well as to Joseph Pinto and a few other authors at Pen of the Damned that expressed interest in this blog hop.

http://penofthedamned.com/

 

 

Zack…