Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Moonlit Daydreams

Moonlit Daydreams
Rebecca Carter
Available through Amazon in trade paperback or Kindle e-book, Lulu in paperback, on Smashwords as an e-book, and on Barnes & Noble's website as a Nook e-book.

Good evening constant reader. In a nutshell, if you like off the beaten path, into the darkened woods stories, that are short, to the point and visceral, exposing an interesting mind at work, then this book is for you.

Rebecca Carter has carved out a nice little niche for herself in the story telling world.
She spins five tales of oddness, that seem to begin out of no where, and end up right where she wanted you the reader, to be.

Story first is "Of the Children", a fevre dream of a story, about a scientist and her creation gone horribly wrong.
You see, Dr. Shaver and her science figured out how to make raptors ultra intelligent, and they were used to replace our military. Yes, you read that right. in the dinosaur, not the bird. Then came the outbreak...and chaos as the entire world is affected...and infected...including the raptors. And the raptors are smart enough to know they were used and are coming home to their creator.

Story second is "Hunger". We are the silent observer to Sarah's workaday world of frustration - working customer support is always fun, but there's something not quite right about Sarah. We follow her through a night out, and an incident which results in Sarah getting sick and having to resort to pig's blood and milk to feel better.
An unfortunate tale...where Mike meets Sarah and will wish he never had. Sarah isn't like everyone else - she's a vampire.

Story the third is "Midnight Strolls", where we the reader get to accompany Honna out on her prowls for prey. We have kidnapping and brutality from the female perspective, and it gets quite twisted and nasty. It seems chloroform is a girl's best well as a taser, shackles, knives, and that perennial favorite, duct tape. Oh and did I mention the gas soaked cotton balls down the throat?
I could go on, but you really should read this nasty nice piece of work for yourself.

Story the fourth is "Love", where one man's show of love, true love and caring, is one woman's one way ticket.

Story the fifth is "Special", the tale of one "special" young woman and her painful transformation into a werewolf. Think the transformation scene in the film An American Werewolf in London, times 10. Carter's detail makes you feel precisely what's happening.

Five little gems, short and to the point, but full of good writing. It's like you happened to stop by and pause a moment and look into the lives of these characters at very precise points in time and what points they are.
These are fully realized shorts, don't misunderstand. But if these are the sprouts from the seeds of Carter's imagination, good grief, imagine what the forest would be like!

For more on Rebecca Carter:
Rebecca Carter on Facebook

Friday, December 9, 2011

13 Questions with...Chet Williamson

1. You’re hosting a dinner party. What is the menu, and do you cook it yourself, or do you call a caterer?
I’m a lousy cook, so I’d either ask my wife to prepare the meal, or have it catered. And I have to confess to not being much of a foodie. But if the sky were the limit, I’d probably tailor a menu around one of the menus of The Zodiac Club, a private dining club that was the inspiration for my cannibalistic story in Al Sarrantonio’s anthology, 999, but non-cannibalistic, of course…

2. What is your beverage of choice?

Water lately, but I love craft beers and good wine.

3. Physical book Vs an E-Reader. Your preference and why?

I don’t own an e-reader, and really have no desire for one. If I traveled more, it would be convenient, but I love the feel of a real book in my hands. Also, I don’t feel that I own anything when I buy an e-book anymore than I own something when I buy an MP3 sound file. But a physical CD or a physical book? There you’ve got something!

4. What kinds of books make up your personal library?

Oh man. I have a house filled with books, and though I try to glean, it’s tough. Looking at my shelves here in my office, I see one shelf of books on Shakespeare, Thomas Harris’s novels, the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, another long row of books on & by Lovecraft, a large section on Yeats (I’ve been working on a play about him for ages), a shelf full of Andrew Vachss’s and Joe Lansdale’s novels, a ton of reference books, some Philip Roth, Robert B. Parker, early Fedogan & Bremer books…it just goes on and on. I have literally several hundred boxes in the basement (with two humidifiers running constantly). Right now I’m reading Terrill Lee Lankford’s novels – Lee directed the Christmas With the Dead film I was in this summer, in which I get eaten by zombies.

5. How and when did you catch the writing bug?

I loved to tell stories when I was a kid (the stock boy in my grandfather’s little two-aisle grocery store used to tell me Poe stories in the scary store cellar), but I didn’t start writing seriously until my twenties, and came to it as the result of being an actor. I started writing shows, and when I realized I was writing full-scale stories I graduated to short stories and finally novels. I picked horror because that’s what I’d loved reading ever since I picked up issue # 5 of Famous Monsters of Filmland and those great Ballantine paperback horror anthologies published in the early 60’s.

6. What is your writing routine?

Not nearly as disciplined as it used to be. In the olden times when I worked on clay tablets, I would set myself a page count every day, and not go to bed until I was finished. As I get older, it’s hard to find material that I consider worth working on, so I’m much more slapdash now, and as a result I write less.

7. If you ever encounter writer’s block, what steps do you take to get past it?

I encounter writer’s block nearly every day, primarily a self-doubt that what I’m doing is worthwhile. I just stumble on, hoping that something will appear, and it usually does.

8. Do you have a hidden talent?

I’m a fairly decent classically trained singer, and do a lot of theatre. I’ve been having some voice problems as the result of having screamed too damn hard while being chowed down on by zombies this summer, but I’m hoping that will clear up soon. Might take some extreme measures, but those are the risks of the business.

9. What was your best subject in school?

English, of course. Except for diagramming sentences…

10. As in any entertainment, there are current trends. How much do these “current trends” influence what you write?

Not much. I’ve found that if you try to write according to trends, by the time your work comes out the trend is over.

11. Mac or PC?

PC. I started with a Tandy 1200HD in 1986 and have been PC ever since. The only Apple items I have are my 120-gig iPod and my iPhone.

12. Where do your ideas come from?

God, I wish I knew. I’d make them come more quickly. Usually, though, it’s from something I’ve seen or experienced, so I need to get out and travel more. Occasionally it’s from something I read in the papers or see on the news. There was a very small story in the newspaper just the other day that struck me deeply, and I think I’ll be able to get something out of that.

13 What advice would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Write for yourself, first and foremost. If the work isn’t commercially successful, then at least you’ve enjoyed the process. The markets are more difficult now than they’ve ever been. E-books have changed everything. Along with the positive aspect of making your work more accessible, there’s also the negative aspect that everyone’s work is accessible as well. There’s so much more competition out there for the e-book dollar that it’s ridiculous, and it’s incredibly easy for one writer, no matter how good his work, to become lost amid the mass of work that’s available. Unless you’re a brand name, we’re all part of the long tail, and that amounts to smaller sales and readership, and less money. You have to be more of a publicist than a writer these days, and everyone’s doing the same thing. How to get your head above the waves that are engulfing us all? If I knew, I’d do it. And on that somewhat pessimistic note, I close. Happy writing anyway!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
Chet Williamson
Available through Amazon in hard cover, mass market paperback or Kindle edition & as an e-book or audio book (read by the author), and on Smashwords as an e-book.

A brief word of introduction: Chet Williamson is no stranger to horror fiction. As such he is what I would consider an established author with a readership. He did me the courtesy of speaking to me on Facebook (he and Joe R. Lansdale, to be precise), and through the conversation, it became apparent I needed to read Ash Wednesday ASAP. I ordered it off Amazon and read it in 3 days. 
3 days.
I never read a book in 3 days.
But I did with this one. I read it while waiting in the car, while in the tub, while waiting for something to cook in the kitchen. When I had a spare moment, I was reading.
Get your hands on a copy of Ash Wednesday and see how a horror novel is written.

"Goddamn, Chet." 
I thought this more than once while reading this novel, about a town called Merridale, and the bizarre thing that happens there. 

One night, all the dead of Merridale show up, glowing blue, where they died. If it was crossing the street and getting hit by a car, if it was sitting in the den watching TV, if it was in the hospital - where ever they took their last breath, and in what ever state that was, that's where and how they appear. For no discernible reason. 

How the denizens of the town handle this phenomenon is vast and varied. 
And if you think the dead coming back as zombies is scary, you ain't read nothing yet. No, these dead don't do anything, per se. But the chain reactions they start are quite enough. People lose their faith and their sanity. Some become greedy, some become cowardly. In some, long buried histories come raging to the fore to finally be exposed to the light of day. 

And I quote: "He closed the ten-yard gap then, walking dreamlike to the banquet table to gorge himself on the physical evidence of his guilt. The guilt opened now, like a bloom fully mature, its five blue petals gleaming in the sun..." 
Chet Williamson writes brilliant prose like the above example, turning something odd into one of the most brutal things to happen to a community. 

They don't write them like this very often. 
Mr. Williamson needs to write more like this. A lot.

For more on Chet Williamson:
Chet Williamson
Chet Williamson on Wikipedia
Chet Williamson on Twitter
Chet Williamson on Facebook