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Guest Blog:What Does Young Adult Fiction Mean?

bwaToday we are excited to bring you a guest blog post from our very good friend and author Bryan W. Alaspa! Take it, Bryan!

So, you’re a writer and you want to write young adult fiction. You are convinced that you have the stories, series or idea that will be the next Harry Potter, Divergent or Hunger Games. Great – but now what?

It’s a funny thing, but statistics show that more adults read stuff labeled “young adult” than the supposed demographic. As for what that demographic is, well, that varies too. Generally your tween years is when you get most of your young adult readers.

What does it mean to write that kind of fiction? The first thing you need to know is that your audience, even if they are tweens, do not want to be talked down to. They are very plugged into the world and they know that bad things happen. People die. People murder other people. Kids get killed. People have sex. So, eliminating all of that or using words you think a “kid” will appreciate will completely take them out of the story and toss your book aside.

I read an article once where Stephen King said if he had a chance to meet JK Rowling (he since has, but I don’t know if he ever asked this question) he would ask her about the Harry Potter books: When did you decide to stop writing them for kids and just to write them.

J.K.-Rowling-Author-of-the-Harry-Potter-books-14385093_2450_ver1.0_640_480If you have read the series you know that happened. That first book just has a “kids” feel to it. It’s great adventure, but you can kind of tell this was meant for a younger audience. But, as the series went on, that sort of fell away. Ms. Rowling just told a tale with all of the violence and horror that fighting an evil creature like Voldemort would entail. It just happens that her characters are kids.

So, my advice would be to write the story that you have to tell. Author Judy Blume has been writing books for kids for decades and yet she has tackled very adult themes head-on in most of them. That should be your tactic, too.

My first YA novel was a supernatural romance called Sapphire. It had teenage protagonists and the style was a bit different than my more “adult” novels. I made the violence a tiny bit tamer, not going into such graphic detail. I even implied sex at one point, but did that in the way a PG-13 movie will show the coupe kissing and then slowly drift over to a curtain blowing gently in the wind and then fade to black.

In my most recent novel, The Lord of Winter, there is violence. There is a very scary villain. People die. That happens because for the amount of action and destruction that happens in the novel for it not to happen would not be realistic. The key is that I focus on the characters and don’t dwell on the blood and gore like I might in a horror novel.

Kids have to deal with adult things all the time. We are more plugged in today than ever before. Teens have iPhones and tablets and they see the terrorists, the 24 hour news coverage of shootings. They deal with the fact that a white dude with a beef can get easy access to a gun and walk into their school to try and work out his issues by killing a few dozen of them. So, to create a story that doesn’t live in that kind of world is lying to the reader. You don’t want your story to be dishonest.

Never talk down to them. Tell your story. If it’s a good one, they’ll listen. If it’s a really good one, hopefully they ask for more.

BWA

CinderBLOG: Pinned by Pops

A few days ago my latest short story CINDERBLOCK released as an ebook. It’s unusual in a number of ways, most obvious being that it’s a horror story set in a sporting environment. As far as I know and with few exceptions, the closest horror has gotten to athletics is Jason donning a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask in Friday the 13th Part 3.

By now, it’s clear to most of my social media associates, readers and imaginary friends that I have a more than passing interest in martial arts and all forms of unarmed combat. Most horror writers are deeply peaceful folk who actually abhor violence, and while I share that perspective, there are few things I enjoy more than watching a good match between trained combat athletes, and on a good day, stepping onto the mat myself.

pops1

Billy “Pops” Wicks  c.1950s

One of CINDERBLOCK’s principals is an old Polish fight trainer named Doc Lubinski, who is not unlike Burgess Meredith’s Mickey in the Rocky films. This is what people who spend too much time thinking about storytelling refer to as an archetype, which is a way of saying “stereotype” without sounding demeaning. But as a martial artist I’ve certainly had a few Doc Lubinski types expressing encouragement and enraged disappointment at my own humble efforts. By far, the most influential and colorful is Billy “Pops” Wicks, to whom the story is dedicated.

Pops, the son of Norwegian immigrants, took up wrestling in his teens and soon found himself working in traveling carnivals as the guy who takes on “all comers” while a top hatted barker riled up “marks” -local boys who wanted to impress their gal. Of course, the mark would never reach the Promised Land that lay under the skirts of their preferred farmer’s daughter. or if they did, it was out of sympathy. Pops’ job was to toy with them long enough to make it interesting, then to force a submission.

This style of wrestling is called Catch As Catch Can, more recently shortened to catch wrestling. I discovered it and Pops through another of his students, Pancrase* veteran Johnny Huskey.

wrestlers_in_greek_times_500x432As one might expect of any man from that rough post-depression era, Pops is salty, outspoken, and generally annoyed with how goddamn candy-assed contemporary fighters are. Unlike Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters, catch wrestlers are expected to stay off their backs when competing or fighting. So emphatic is Pops about this that he has been known to jab young pupils with straight pins if they don’t work out of the bottom position. Believe me, no matter how big or skilled your opponent is, you’ll find a way to escape if you see an angry-faced Norwegian man coming toward you with a straight pin. The pin you see, is to remind you that you’re being “pinned.”

Eventually wrestling changed, and Pops joined the movement toward choreographed action. If a wrestling star got a bit unmanageable among his peers and promoters, he might just find himself booked against Pops, which was a fast track to either humility or hospitalization

p and pops2

**Left to right: Patrick, Pops, Matt

But my main point is that Pops loves wrestling, and he loves his wrestlers. To me, his very direct approach and reliance on simple yet brutal techniques is reminiscent of the legendary Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do fighting philosophy. In fact, Lee trained for some time with Gene LeBell, himself a catch wrestler, and a good many catch techniques are found in Lee’s Tao Of Jeet Kune Do.

When my first novel PROGENY was released, Pops excitedly bought and read it. If I may be a bit personal here, that was extremely gratifying for me, considering my own father died before its release. Pops exemplifies what a great teacher of any skill should be -a man who teaches boys how to be men, how to be honest, how to do everything as well as you can. There wasn’t time for the story’s Doc Lubinski to get a very wide arc in CINDERBLOCK, so it was important to me that his love for his pupils was apparent, that the reader would understand how much his boys, both the dead and the living, meant to him.

The boxing gym in CINDERBLOCK might itself seem sort of a cliche. But any inner city kid will tell you, that’s where you find them. The athletes of whatever culture that is most persecuted in any given historical era will gravitate to boxing, and because they have little other choice, they will excel. During Lubinski’s time it would have been the Polish, now it’s black and latino kids. The story’s protagonist O.C. is that kid who could easily have gone the wrong way, if not for “The Old Pole,” as I like to call him.

Doc is not based directly on Pops so much, but is my attempt to compress my understanding of the coach/pupil relationship into capsule form and make it believable enough to fuel the story proper. What I know of Mike Tyson’s relationship with Cus D’amato is also in there, maybe some Mister Miyagi, and of course — Mickey. 🙂

*Pancrase: A Japanese MMA promotion pre-dating the UFC that emphasized submission grappling over striking.
Wiki Billy Wicks

PCG’S QUEASY QEUE: HALLOWEEN EDITION!

Well of course we watch horror films year-round. Duh! So as Halloween season approaches, with its pumpkin spice candles and orange lights and hay bales I, as a severe adult OCD, look for films with those same attributes to build Halloween atmosphere en route to the Big Night. You don’t qeue up “Schindler’s List” on Christmas Eve. You go with “Miracle on 34th” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Right?

Likewise, not just any Paranormal Activity sequel will suffice in the Greene domicile as October counts up. At the very least, some attempt at creating an autumnal atmosphere is first and foremost. (That is –until this very year; I’ll elaborate soon.) When our victims-to-be pile into a van and head off to, say, an abandoned mine to spook each other on what happens to be October 31st, I’m not necessarily interested.

This list and its comments are based on (A) connection and relevance to the holiday of Halloween and (B) whether I’ve seen the film or not (remember! I am NOT a professional film critic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
So, if you’re on the hunt for horror films set on Halloween, (or within a few days) that are NOT John Carpenter’s famous blockbuster or any of its sequels, the following list, based on my personal satisfaction with it exists solely and entirely for you, my fall-loving fiend. Enjoy.

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THE MIDNIGHT HOUR: ABC’s movie of the week from some October back in the eighties was this entertaining, even lovable TV party, with its Michael Jackson Thriller references, fun cast, great makeup FX and an ending that is surprisingly both wistful and downbeat.

HALLOW’S EVE: Not to be confused with the far superior ALL HALLOW’S EVE, (see below) this little ditty features god-awful improv disguised as acting and abominable clichés disguised as characters. A low budget is no excuse anymore; these guys could afford Danielle Harris so they should have been able to scrape together a few more bucks for a script doctor, at the very least.

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT: The premise is a documentary crew investigating “edgy” independent Halloween haunts, descending into an ever seamier world of menacing and shady carny types. Sounds intriguing, but of course, it’s “found footage” which just doesn’t work at feature length anymore. So let’s be nice and chalk it up as a loss due to its dead format.

LADY IN WHITE: Nice atmospheric tale of a writer remembering that time he was locked in his school on Halloween night and encountered the ghost of a murdered girl. Nice sense of place and atmosphere.

ALL HALLOW’S EVE: A low budget horror anthology consisting of three tales set within the framework of a babysitter finding an unmarked videotape in the treat bag of one of her young charges, then foolishly watching it. The tales offer something a little unique, compared to more recent anthologies, and this will soon become a perennial favorite if you are of discerning tastes.


MISCHIEF NIGHT: Ol’ Doc Loomis (Jr.), Malcolm McDowell plays a neighborhood watchman who visits a wispy young housesitter to remind her to lock up tight, but you know how that goes. It’s not long before she’s playing cat and (vicious) mouse with a masked killer – but their fight doesn’t go as you might expect, so, recommended based on sheer originality.

MISCHIEF NIGHT: You’re not seeing double; this is the second of two films made within a year of one another and a good example of Generic Title Syndrome. (See also The Ritual x3) Emily has psychosomatic blindness, which won’t do her any favors when a crew of masked murderers show up to re-enact “You’re Next” on her hapless ass. Plenty of suspense, but nothing filling.

TRICK R TREAT: You cannot go wrong with this intertwined anthology of tales featuring the huggable Anna Paquin and original Hannibal Lecter Brian Cox. Little Sam becomes a new and fitting icon/mascot for the Eve, tormenting Cox’s character while Paquin’s confronts what appears to be a masked vampire.

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HOUSE OF FEARS: Six teens sneak into a haunted attraction for some lulz, only to have the house’s characters seemingly become possessed by an evil force. Simple and fun, with suitable holiday thrills. Kind of like DARK HOUSE; not the Vic Salva one, but the other one with Jeffrey Combs, but maybe a little better.


DEATH ON DEMAND: Here then, is the bottom of the barrel: a slasher that manages to fail on every single level. Director Adam Matalon, a reality TV “director,” brings that fad’s cynical and soulless mentality to this unpleasant, condescending hate letter to horror fans, referencing Halloween only as a much-needed hook for suckers like me.
HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES: Rob Zombie’s films are a lot like his music in their multi-layered manic, carnival ride sensibility. Also, he’s deeply enamored with films from that magic stretch of cinema from between 1974 and around 1985, when most horror had a certain “outlaw” quality. While I’m not a fan of HOUSE’S sequel THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, I submit that this is a great Halloween-flavored flick with a little harder edge than the others on the list, and the rawness of a debut director’s labor of love.

DONNIE DARKO: This trippy and thoughtful psych thriller has more going for it than can be absorbed in one viewing, so fortunately there are two edits, the more recent of which I haven’t seen – an oversight I intend to correct. As for Halloween setting, how’s this: our protagonist has visions –through which he is guided by a super-creepy ghost in a rabbit suit -of the apocalypse occurring on that very night. Not so much a party movie, this is one for when trick or treating is over.

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HALLOWEEN NIGHT: Wrongly convicted of murder, a man is institutionalized, then later, it’s Halloween and he’s out, and some youths are having a Halloween party where he used to live, and he has gone LITERALLY insane, so everyone must die. I can’t say it’s particularly surprising or memorable, and doesn’t really feel “Halloweeny.

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988): Director Kevin S Tenney scored a hit with this fun, trippy haunted house flick (actually, it’s set in an abandoned mortuary) about teens partiers summoning a demon as part of a Halloween party. Yes it’s dated, but makes for some good holiday cheer.

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2009): The remake from Adam Gierasch (who also co-wrote with Jace Anderson) amps up all the elements of the original with enjoyable results, favoring non-stop action over atmosphere and character development making for a fun party movie.

TRICK OR TREAT: (1986) More of a parody of the then-rising hysteria over heavy metal and backmasking and Carrie rip-offs than an actual horror movie and pretty much Halloween OT, so save it for eighties night, which will probably be its own official holiday eventually.

SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER: Director Jeff Lieberman hurls social commentary like hatchets, in a Halloween-set tale about a young videogame fanatic who can’t tell the difference between game and reality, (past the reasonable age for such an issue, mind you) so he winds up helping a mute serial killer. This and a few other glaring flaws will undercut your enjoyment, but it still manages to be entertaining and scary.

A FAREWELL TO WES CRAVEN

freddy-krueger I was once lucky to catch a midnight showing of A Nightmare on Elm Street for which there was no advertising other than word of mouth. At the theater, deal was that you got in if you wore pajamas and the showing was free; just a few days before Hallo-You-Know-When.
The joint was packed, and no doubt some spirits were sneaking about, if you can detect the low notes of the tune I’m playing here…
But this wasn’t Rocky Horror. The only participation the film’s tight narrative would allow was terror — and it was palpable. When the nightmares began, and the claws scratched steel, we all went nuts as a unit, and not via the tossing of toast, or recitation of random lines – but by screaming and holding onto one another, acquainted or not.
It built from there. When Tina was dragged across the ceiling by the invisible force of a laughing Freddy – rewind that: yes, I said dragged across THE FUCKING CEILING, the joint collectively popped in a figurative orgasm of terror and release and youthful madness that must’ve shaken the entire multiplex. Those screams, well, I should say that singular collective scream, was shrill music to me. This, I realized, was a work of genius.
Story goes that a few studios rejected Nightmare because they felt that audiences wouldn’t care about events occurring in a dreamworld, versus “reality.” Seems to me those guys don’t really understand exactly what a film is meant to be, anyway.
wes-cravenCraven did. Like many of us horror freaks, Wes Craven came up in a religious household, banned from watching any films that weren’t from the Disney stamp pad. But of these, he favored Fantasia, itself a celluloid dream composed more of disjointed imagery set to classical music than a single narrative. It seems likely he was deeply affected by the Night on Bald Mountain sequence, with its towering devil figure (based on Bela Lugosi!) and Stygian landscape.
LastHousePosterLast House on The Left came to me as a copy on VHS, which only added to its raw, cheap, snuff feel. A few years ago, the horror market became riddled with movies reflecting the shock and horror of torture murders committed and posted online by terrorists. Some of these “tort-sploitation” (“torture porn,” as you’ve probably seen me say, is not a legitimate term) films were rather effective, others not so much. But back in 1972, there wasn’t much of a precedent. Craven and his producer/partner Sean Cunningham were responding to the Vietnam war, a conflict equally as polarizing as our current campaigns and the first war to reach us with the immediacy of televised evening news.
Thus, it is an angry statement from passionate young filmmakers. No ghosts or living dead or vampires, this might have been a standard police thriller if not for the POV’s discomfiting submersion into the events concerning our victims, not to mention their tormentors. This gang, led by a sick bastard named Krug (sound vaguely familiar?) lures and assaults a pair of teen girls looking to score some weed.
But it doesn’t end there, (SPOILAGE ALERT!) as you probably know. Karma directs the crew to the very house where one of the vics’ parents live; and that necklace the degenerates stole from the girls as a keepsake is awwwwfully incriminating.
What follows next is, among other things, death by ferocious fellatio, death by sloppy dentistry and as far as I know, the first ever cinematic butchering of a human being via chainsaw, beating TCM to the punch by two full years.
It’s not an easy watch, even through the filter of cheap filming techniques. Its harsh impact upon one’s psyche is pretty much permanent, and it’s effectiveness as a cathartic release depends on the viewer I suppose. It’s probably a leap to think that the average viewer would detect the anti-war theme at work here, but then, that’s why it’ll never be called preachy. That’s where Craven excelled, and that’s why the tricky backdrop of the dreamworld gave him great opportunity for creating horror that works equally well on both visceral and subconscious levels.
There’s a lot of hate for 1988’s Shocker, and most of it is well-deserved. Studio control on this and a handful of other Craven flicks was far greater, and the creative results predictably suffer. Wes never conceived that the Nightmare films, and more significantly FK himself, would become iconic beyond nearly any previous horror film, and naively signed away rights to the character. It’s nice to think that, if he hadn’t, the watering down of the dream demon wouldn’t have been nearly as pervasive. No Fat Boys videos, no eye-rolling comic quips in the sequels.
scream-4-20110411013136680However, if Shocker is any indication, Wes wasn’t above going for the commercial appeal; it’s pure paycheck. You can’t really blame him. But there is no denying that Shocker is –firstly- a cynical attempt to create another Freddy, only with Craven retaining creative control of the character, and secondly, maybe, just maybe, a bit of that Last House righteous anger showing itself in the form of a statement against commercial horror – in the form of very very commercial horror, sorta like Korn’s “Yall Wanna Single, Say Fuck That” single.
I think I’ll choose to believe the latter, because I know that ANOES and Hills Have Eyes and New Nightmare and even the Scream films were all sincere, and all impressive works, and I know that no director hits a homer at every bat, and because four or five great movies is damn sure a lot more than most directors will achieve.

RE-ATTACKING OF THE KILLER QUEUE, PART W

pcg promo1You kids, with your skating boards and your methamphetamines, you seem to like my occasional, poorly considered capsule movie reviews, so…

monsters-dark-continent-poster-newMONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT
Gareth Edwards, director of the original MONSTERS, as well as 2014’s GODZILLA re-stomp, produced this one presumably from afar, handing the reins to Tom Green, who is presumably not the Canadian comic. A bold attempt at recreating the more intimate approach to monster films that more or less worked last time, but unsatisfying.

THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING!
This doc chronicles the efforts of a handful of Muslim comedians to erase common misconceptions and bridge social gaps between Muslim Americans and, well, us not-Muslims, I guess. Interestingly, it turns out that the comedians’ fellow Muslims are the hardest nuts to crack. Funny and poignant.

GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS: UNDEFEATED
Apparently, this series has morphed from an edgy drama to a more or less formula-driven gang fight slugfest, only in the UK gangs are called “firms” and they wear sweaters and hushpuppies. The fight scenes are poorly edited and shot, so star Scott Adkins’ skills are not on display as they should be.

Fists of LegendFISTS OF LEGEND
Not to be confused with the Jet Li vehicle FIST OF LEGEND, this Korean martial arts drama steers clear of the usual Rocky variation to posit a story of middle-aged desk jockeys trying their hand at the competitive fight game. The narrative often flashes back to high school, when so many men place a high value on their fighting prowess, and subsequently live in their own shadow, and this device manages to be both poignant and exciting.

AFTER
More or less an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, so it’s unable to sustain the mystery of the premise for its running time. The initial build up is great but the last act doesn’t hold up.

THIS IS SPINAL TAP
You’d think a metalhead like me would’ve caught this one before now, but… Some of the best comedians of the era take on the roles of deluded and drug-addled rock stars. Plenty of clever improv, but its humor is swiftly becoming dated. So…catch it now!

hardwareHARDWARE
If you’ve never seen this moody, sometimes artsy sci-fi horror you’re missing one of the most horrific and disturbingly beautiful entries from the 80s post-apocalypse roundup. Scarier than ALIEN, odder than THE THING, it’s definitely worth a watch.

SHAOLIN MARTIAL ARTS
Not to be confused with Jet Li’s MARTIAL ARTS OF SHAOLIN, this Hong Kong fist-fest from legendary director Chang Cheh stars Fu Sheng and Kuan Chun Chi and some amazingly intricate choreography — along with occasional shocking brutality. The plot is strictly assembly line; fighters from a defeated clan travel to train under masters of a specific style that will overcome the strengths of their enemies, sort of like paper-rock-scissors, but there are surprises to be found.

HIGHSCHOOL HELLCATS
high-school-hellcats-movie-poster-1958-1020143957Back in 1958 this was probably a controversial film, despite clearly being a message of warning to any young ladies giving consideration to such acts of depravity as wearing slacks to school, sassing off to their parents, or breaking into the old abandoned movie house for gossip sessions. Sure, you can watch it and have a laugh at the naivete’ — but you might also find yourself wishing YOU lived is such a time…

BILL BURR: YOU PEOPLE ARE ALL THE SAME
You’ll recognize Burr from his stint on Breaking Bad, and if you’re like me you’ll find his comedic observations and delivery sincere and pitch perfect.

catchCATCH HELL
Ryan Phillipe plays a sheltered but not necessarily spoiled actor who is kidnapped and taken into the swamps by a pair of Cajuns looking for revenge. Nothing overly complicated here, but if you think Phillipe is just an overrated pretty boy with no range you’ll be surprised.

toxicTHE TOXIC AVENGER PART 3
Everything that made the first two entries feel like fresh frenetic trashy fun now feels forced and dated. Positively chatty compared to its action filled forebears, and not even that funny.

TORMENTED
Takashi Shimizu of the GRUDGE films has never quite fulfilled the promise of that franchise but his work is always trippy, creepy and fascinating. This one, loosely connected to his previous film SHOCK CORRIDOR, takes its time, isn’t very bloody, and aims to be more cerebral than is the trend, so settle in.

DRAGON EYES
Cung Le, a former MMA and San Shou champion, stars in this low budget actioner with Peter Weller and Jean Claude Van Damme, as an ex-con vigilante sent by his prison mentor (Van Damme) to oust (kill) the crime faction that has infested it. Weller chews scenery of course, but it’s the fights that we want, and while Le’s skill set is far better suited to actual fights, as opposed to movie fights, he’s a powerful and personable presence and this is a good early vehicle for him.

Remembering Christopher Lee and Dusty Rhodes‏

They couldn’t haven’t been more different — but the two icons who passed away last week both had an immeasurable impact on yours truly, and surely on others of my generation.


cl1Christopher Lee was a distant relative of Charles The Great, whose life he would chronicle in a symphonic power metal album called Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.  Texas-born Virgil “Dusty Rhodes” Runnels was the son of a plumber.dr2

Lee became in a sense, Hammer Films’ answer to Boris Karloff when the upstart London-based production company re-visited the classic monsters originally brought to cinemas by Universal. Hammer’s monster cycle began in the fifties, peaked in the 60s and finally tapered off in the 70s. During this span, Lee turned in unforgettable performances as Frankenstein’s monster, The Mummy,Rasputin, Sherlock Holmes, and most famously Count Dracula. It was in this role that I discovered Sir Lee (he received knighthood in 2009) one fateful sunday afternoon.

As a young fellow, I had made it a mission to see all the Universal monster films. Bela Lugosi, and occasionally John Carradine, were Dracula to me, with their menacing cape-waving, underlit overacting.

cl3But Christopher Lee was the next gen model, you see. He lunged onto the screen with blood-filled eyes, hissing past jaguar fangs and chasing Peter Cushing about a cathedral-esque castle, vicious and defiant to the end as Cushing’s Van Helsing improvised a cross out of candleholders and swashbuckled the shit out of the heavy drapes that were the only barrier between the malignant Count and fast forward decay.

I had to turn it off. I wasn’t ready for this kind of hardcore horror. Of course, those Hammer classics seem pretty tame these days. In fact, looking back, I can see that the intensity and terror that impressed me that day had more to do with Lee, and his and Cushing’s chemistry of course, than with the special effects, wonderful as they were. This was the opening of Dracula, Prince of Darkness, which was really just the finale of Horror of Dracula, recapped. Thus, my introduction to Lee was in one of the most harrowing scenes from the entire series.
At some point, my father loaded us all up and carted us off to the very same drive-in where I had been so thoroughly warped by Psycho for a viewing of Scars of Dracula. I remember the immense dread of the opening moments, knowing that very soon, I would be forced to face once again the unbearably assured and evil countenance of Count Dracula. In my mind, Lee had become the vampire, you see.  Now, in what passes for adulthood, when I hear the name “Dracula,” the first image in my mind is an amalgam of Lugosi and Lee. Frank Langella, perhaps?
I was so delighted to see Lee turn up years later in Tim Burton’s films. Burton must surely bear the same love for Lee and his contemporaries Cushing, Rathbone, Price etcetra that I do. Lord of The Rings, Star Wars — my dark god; what else could an actor hope for?
According to wikipedia, Lee was offered the role of Doctor Loomis in the first Halloween, a role that ultimately went to Donald Pleasence, and later expressed regret at dismissing it.
cl2But how about some metal? Lee, whose distinctive bass voice got him work on the soundtrack for The Wickerman (also one of his most celebrated acting roles) was sought out by Italian power metalers Rhapsody of Fire for the duet The Magic of The Wizard’s Dream. Buoyed by the reception and success of this single, Lee went on to work with Rhapsody on several more releases and with other bands, including Manowar and Inner Terrestrials, before embarking on a solo career with the aforementioned Charlemagne album, then a pair of Christmas albums and an EP of covers that included My Way and The Impossible Dream.
When questioned about his new musical career, Lee did not quibble: ” I sing symphonic heavy metal.” Considering the musical genre’s bad rep here in the U.S, one can only imagine what sort of contempt stuffy Brits might hold for it; but Lee didn’t care. Because, well, he’s metal.
Christopher was a  bad ass not only in the entertainment world but in the truest sense, during World War 2. His passing leaves a void not soon -if ever- to be filled. If you’re young enough that you’re not that familiar with him, I highly recommend a little exploration. You will be amazed.
dr3Virgil Runnels, like most pro wrestlers, was re-christened upon entering the business, becoming Dusty Rhodes. He started as a “heel” in Texas, but eventually, and perhaps against the odds, became one of the most popular “babyfaces” to set foot in a ring.
By the time Rhodes turned up in the National Wrestling Alliance and on my radar, I was already familiar with the man who would become one of Rhodes’ greatest in-ring rivals: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. These two bleach blonde big mouths were a perfect yin and yang. Flair’s “jet flyin’, limousine ridin'” heel character perfectly set up the opposing antithesis of Rhodes’ drawlin,’ jeans wearin’ blue collar brawler.
I can’t say I was initially a big fan of “The American Dream,” as Rhodes was billed. Comic books influenced me, I suppose, to favor superheroes; musclebound, larger-than-life figures with great powers and great responsibilities, not so much everymen in cowboy boots and bad grammar. But even at a young age, I could well appreciate the man’s charisma.
For whatever reason, there was a time when a good half of all wrestlers bleached their hair like Gorgeous George and spoke in weird, pseudo-soul patois, rhyming and jiving, wearing oversize floppy hats. Eventually, all but Rhodes left this habit behind, making him seem like a sort of chubby guy with a speech impediment. Could that have only contributed to his “I’m just another cowboy” appeal? Rhodes was never at a loss for words -or confidence. His promos, or promotional commentary, wherein wrestlers speak to the camera and address an opponent or an upcoming match, were filled with colorful and instantly memorable phrases like “pain, blues and agony!” and ” We go’ get funky like a monkey!”
Once, that no-good scoundrel Tully Blanchard got in the head of Dusty’s on-screen paramour, Baby Doll and made her turn on the poor guy. Adding insult to injury, they flaunted their sexual relationship in public to humiliate The Dream, spewing innuendo and hanging all over one another like high schoolers. How did Dusty handle this effrontery? Speaking to a ringside interviewer he said coolly “It’s like an ol’ shoe, ya unnerstand. I done wo’ it out.” If Rhodes hadn’t gained my loyalty before that, he had it forever thereafter.
dr1Given his physical appearance, it’s not surprising that Rhodes didn’t exactly have a luchador-esque move set. His most famous technique was the “bionic elbow” in which The Dream would spin his hands around one another briefly (to gain momentum perhaps?) then drop the point of the elbow like a hammer onto the top of an opponent’s skull, drawing a huge crowd pop as the guy collapsed like a two hundred fifty pound bag of wet meat. If Dusty climbed to the second rope before essaying this sick finisher — watch out.
He wasn’t a particularly technical wrestler either, meaning there were few complicated submission holds or high impact slams in his repertoire. But, as a testament to his knowledge of crowd pleasing twists of plot, Dusty would occasionally turn Ric Flair’s dreaded Figure Four Leglock on the Nature Boy, drawing shrieks of pain from Flair and huge cheers from the audience.
Dusty joined the mass exodus to Vince McMahon’s rival WWE (then WWF) promotion sometime in the eighties, and as was so often the case, found himself turned into a cartoonish joke and “putting over” (glorifying) the company’s established talent. But once his contract was over, Rhodes returned to his former role in NWA (which had become WCW) and assumed further duties creating storylines and training new talent. I can’t say for sure, but I would be willing to bet that it was Rhodes who was responsible for such Texas-flavored specialty matches as the bunkhouse stampede, a sort of battle royal, the Texas cowbell match (ropes tied to both participants, with a cowbell attached, perfectly legal to use) the barbwire match and the Texas strap match. (Drag your opponent to all four corners, feel free to whip him with the strap along the way.)
Dusty made it back to the WWE for a while, in a creative capacity, perhaps redeeming himself for his 80s run. Both his son Dustin and his grandson Cody followed in Rhodes’ footsteps, achieving substantial fame.
I wonder what it would be like, if Dusty ever met Christopher Lee? I doubt they would have any kind of bromance, but you know, they could surely have an interesting conversation. Somebody should make a movie about that. It’d probably be at least as good as Mecha-Shark versus Manaconda.
R.I.P. to both of you, with thanks for shining so brightly in your separate night skies.

THE ABDUCTORS – Some hostages just don’t seem to know their role.

“Kidnapping. Easy as pie.
Especially when there are no loose ends. But not every job goes down without a hitch.
Some hostages just don’t seem to know their role.” abductors cover1 A few years ago I was part of a film called “A Dance For Bethany” which told a tale of human trafficking in the far off land of… America. That’s right, white slavery, human trafficking, forced prostitution, whichever you wish to call it, is a very real and very local problem that affects a lot more of us than you might think. Missing children, an issue which unquestionably crosses over with human trafficking, is characterized by similarly depressing statistics. With this in mind, writing “The Abductors” was intended to be a cathartic experience, and in many ways it was. Few loving parents can even put themselves in an imaginary scenario in which their own child is endangered. We want our children to retain all innocence, yet somehow be vigilant and aware of potential threats. We want to shield them from the world’s cruelties, yet we know we cannot hover over them every moment. Maybe some of us want the “bad guys” to have such a terror of an (unavoidable) end result for their misdeeds that it sends the temptation scattering like roaches in sudden light. To write this story I had to spend more time than would ever be comfortable inside the heads of characters who have no qualms about harming children. I had to take breaks and remind myself of my sense of justice, and to see the story’s big picture. I had to accept the fact that, yes, non-writers would judge me for “going there” in any kind of detail. Then there was the “baptism by fire” so to speak; actually putting the story in front of someone and getting a reaction. The first recipient was a producer looking for something short and gritty to shoot for festivals. I sent him The Abductors, and his response was “This is just depressing and horrible. Why would you write something like this?’ Mission accomplished? Not sure. At least it garnered a reaction. But as much as I like for my writing to be “brutal” I am also a fairly optimistic guy at heart, and I like to convey a longview that reflects that in the end. Oh well. Eye of the beholder. At any rate, I have, with help from my wife and my writing buds Allison Dickson and Rob Miller, completed a tale of child endangerment, and oh so much more, that I hope will get under the skin a bit, yet crawl away to its appropriate nesting place immediately afterward. So in case it isn’t glaringly obvious, all of this is to say I am “okay,” I DO love kids and fluffy kittens and all of God’s creatures; I am one of the good guys. I would hope never to deliver to you the reader a tale that isn’t in some way edifying. I have children of my own, and a nephew and lots of little pals I’ve made around the nation, you see, and if anyone were to ever hurt any of them, my own darker nature would prevail, and there is no power on earth that could prevent a horrific fate for that person. If there is nothing else to be taken from this tale, let it be that.
 

Guest Blog: YA Author Bryan W. Alaspa

Bryan W. Alaspa on WRITING YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

First off, I wanted to thank Patrick for letting me guest write on his blog. I love Patrick’s work and I cannot wait for his next novel to come out. We have discovered that we share a lot of common interests and I think his work is going to become rather legendary among thriller/horror fans.

I have been writing for some time now. I first started writing when I sat down at my mom’s electric typewriter in the third grade and spent days banging out a three-page, single-spaced, no-paragraphs short story that was, essentially, a rip off of Jaws. I had been fascinated with that novel and movie even though I had yet to read it or see it. I just thought sharks were super cool.

I wrote all the time after that. Short stories, mostly, and all of them were in the realm of horror. I did a few sci-fi things, but they also had a horror bent. This was even before I discovered the likes of HP Lovecraft and Richard Matheson. I ate up horror movies constantly and began reading ghost stories and thrillers meant for kids and then for adults. I began reading adult horror starting in 6th grade when I grabbed my dad’s copy of Stephen King’s novel Cujo. I was hooked after that and began devouring horror and thrillers like a starving man.

Writing for me has always been something that I just sort of did. The stories were just there. I knew that I was writing for adult readers sometime in high school when I began adding a bit of sex into the tales and the gore and language increased. I wrote my first novel, by hand, in my senior year of high school. It was awful, of course, but it was a start and my first long-form storytelling.

I didn’t even consider writing Young Adult stories until a few years ago. It wasn’t really something I had decided to do. I was simply sitting in my living room watching a television show about ghosts and the story idea came. As I started writing it, with the main character being a young man in high school, I realized that I was not using quite as many swear words as I normally did and that the story just sort of lent itself to the description of YA. That became my romantic ghost story known as Sapphire.

I discovered that writing for a younger audience was interesting and not that much different than writing for adults. When writing for teenagers these days, you have to realize that they deal with many of the same things, ask the same questions, have the same fears and desires as adults. They just haven’t dealt with all of those feelings and their emotions are a bit wild. You cut down on the sex a bit (although teens deal with that, too) and get a little less graphic. You also cut down on the swearing a bit and –voila!

TLW-Cover-Final-195x300It was the aspect of dealing with teenage feelings that led to my new novel The Lightning Weaver. It tells the story of a teen girl who discovers that she has vast powers. Of course, at first, she doesn’t’ realize how to control them or understand who or what she is. She soon discovers that she is part of a race of humans known as Elementals. They can control one of the four elements, although some are more powerful than others. Imagine being a teenager with all of those confusing thoughts and feelings and wanting to fit in and then you discover you have vast powers you can barely control. Imagine you find out you aren’t really a normal human being – but some offshoot of humanity. Imagine you find out that there’s now a war coming. How would that make you feel?

It is something that I wanted to explore and then imagined three others of equal power and of the same age. What would bring them together?

Once again, I did not set out to create these stories as young adult stories, they just turned out that way. As I began writing, I realized that this was a YA series, fit for those in their teens. At the same time, I don’t attempt to “dumb down” the story. If you try to talk down to your audience, just because they’re teens, you’ll lose them.

I haven’t become just a YA author. I still write for those a bit older, but I still believe that the same basic point is to tell a compelling and well-told story. If you do that, whatever audience you choose will find you. The story is always king.

You can buy a copy of Bryan W. Alaspa’s  new novel The Lightning Weaver,  in ebook and print editions here: http://bryanwalaspa.com/books/the-lightning-weaver-the-elementals-part-one/

Qeuey Quirkiness from PCG

pcg promo1

The latest from PCG’s Quirky Queue

specialidSPECIAL ID
Donnie Yen, the most prolific Asian action star working, is doing what they all do, which is to transition from pure martial arts films to grittier action dramas. This one delivers the goods in almost every department (though it could use a bit of a trim IMO) and as a student of both realistic combat techniques and great action choreography, I was pleased to see how Yen’s always spectacular choreography has continued to not only improve, but work nicely with the story. For example, it’s not unusual to see MMA style techniques in action movies these days, but Yen really knows how to set these up within the framework of a given fight’s psychology.

machineTHE MACHINE
This low budget sci-fi actioner holds up pretty well against its more expensive brethren thanks to good performances from a likable cast. Loved the score for this one, reminiscent of The Terminator though it was.

come backCOME BACK TO ME
A good concept, dark enough to be shocking at times, but more often rather pedestrian thanks to what seems like rushed directing. Like I know anything. But anyway, the cast, looking like soap opera stalwarts, rises to the occasion throughout, making it a decent watch.

raptureRAPTURE-PALOOZA
The end times prophesied by St. John in the book of Revelation are here! And while the tribulation of those left behind, or whatever, is indeed horrendous, it’s also a rich mine of comedy gold. Those little scorpion/locust things are a major annoyance (as well as a hilarious homage to The Outer Limits’ Zanti Misfits) but they pale in comparison to cursing crows, fiery comets and The Beast himself, as portrayed by Craig Robinson.

clueCLUE
‘Member this one, from 1985? Based on the popular board game (when was the last time that happened?) this one drops some 80s B-listers into an old dark mansion with a scoundrel who is blackmailing them, and of course the bodies hit the floor. The multiple endings have all been clumsily edited into the digital version for Clue completists (?)

sherlockSIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE’S SHERLOCK HOLMES
The Asylum, progenitors of “mockbusters” like SNAKES ON A TRAIN and TRANSMORPHERS, offers up its take on Sir Doyle’s famous detective, hoping you’ll accidentally rent it instead of the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. smash. You could do worse though, as there is plenty of eye candy and decent enough acting.

deathDEATH ON DEMAND
How do you take a cast of attractive, frequently nude actors and make their sex scenes utterly repugnant? How do you turn the tongue-in-cheek subtleties of a self-conscious slasher script into a humorless embarrassment? How do you make gory, harrowing death scenes boring beyond belief? Apparently, you hire a reality show director, and let him ply his cynical trade, unhindered. To be avoided.

6bullets6 BULLETS
Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a retired mercenary drawn back into the game when the American daughter of an MMA contender is kidnapped by sex traffickers. Not as much martial arts as that synopsis might imply, but still plenty of satisfying action, and JCVD’s grown kids are certainly coming into their own as performers.

jonesMR. JONES
Though it’s a little found footagey, this bizarre effort transcends that gimmick in short order, becoming a trippy meditation on the power of art versus the comfort of mundane existence. Not for everyone but those who “get it” will love it.

townTHE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
Drive-ins of the 60s and 70s seem to have been the targets of the films created by Charles B Pierce, who helmed this 1976 proto-slasher that is probably too deliberately paced for young whippersnappers. I know it was for me; though there are a handful of moments that stand with the best of the early slashers. A good sense of time and place (Texarkana, post-war 1940s) is the film’s greatest asset, making it well worth a watch.

Stay tuned for the next Quirky Queue! Coming soon!

The Last Supper by Allison M. Dickson

TLS Front CoverThe world ended not with a bang, but with a grain of pollen on a puff of wind. People called them serpent weeds, and they consumed all the crops and eventually entire cities and civilization itself. A power rose from the ashes calling itself the Divine Rite, and they asserted a deadly new order in this ravaged world. Putting survivors to the test in a most literal way, they devised a yearly test called Justification. Pass and you can live. Fail, and you receive your Last Supper. This is the only life John Welland ever knew. But after his wife receives her final feast, he gradually immerses himself in a new rebellion, with a group of underground revolutionaries fighting to escape the Divine Rite’s reach. But the farther they travel across America’s haunted landscape, the more surreal and alien everything becomes. Not just the weeds, or the creatures with extraordinary powers, but John himself.

logo-consumerPublishers weekly says of THE LAST SUPPER in a starred review: “Marrying speculative, realistic, and fabulist traditions to dystopian formula, Dickson’s paean to individualism both breaks and strengthens the heart. Welland’s character receives “no comfort as he comes face to face with his own tragedy.” The Kafkaesque world of warped normalcy and cruel politics brings intimacy to the classic theme of self-definition in the face of oppression.”

Today I have the honor and pleasure of interviewing the incredibly talented Allison M. Dickson.

PCG: Well, you’ve gone and written yourself a post-apocalypse. What are we to do with you? What brought you to this vision of dystopia? Are you a prophet?

AMD: I think the real prophets of the dystopian genre were Huxley and Orwell, and I definitely don’t profess to be playing in that ballpark. But back in early 2008, when I started this story, I was pumping hot Orwell-loving Libertarian blood through my veins, and I was also concerned (and still am) about the eroding wall between church and state. While my individualist streak has mellowed a great bit over the last few years (a crashing stock market and resulting recession, which affected my husband and me greatly, had something to do with that), I came back to the story intent on making it more about perversions of nature. I want to be clear that I am not using my book to take a stance on GMOs or religion. I think there is a place for them in this world. Rather, I wanted to write about the potentially bad things that can take place when corrupt individuals gain control of certain technologies or belief systems. I think that latter bit is what brought me to this particular vision of dystopia.
ENTER TO WIN THE LAST SUPPER!! through 12/21/14

ENTER TO WIN THE LAST SUPPER today through 12/21/14

PCG: We all know it’s coming, but there are a good trillion or so ideas of just what it will be. Which fictional -or sincerely predicted- endorama stuck in your skull during your formative years? How much of that influences this here shit-hitting-the-fan-tasy?

AMD: I had the good fortune of being a teenager in the 90s, when things were relatively peaceful and people were far less afraid of the world. Then 9/11 happened, and we all know the rest. Though we do a good job of rattling our sabers at one another, I imagine if humanity were really to face extinction, it would be at the behest of forces well beyond our control. Asteroids, viruses, climate-driven catastrophes, supervolcanoes or some other Permian-esque event. I cut my teeth on The Stand. I ate up books like The Dark Tower series, where reality is coming apart at the seams. I guess if any of that stuff influenced THE LAST SUPPER, it’s those things, only with a bit of a helping hand from people. Nature will have its way one way or another, but I think a human hand will tip the first domino. Or perhaps already has.

beginning_of_end_poster_01PCG: Ever seen that 50s sci fi flick The Beginning of The End? Reason I ask is because its Big Bad is an army of enormous locusts. There’s an enormous locust on your cover, so for me, there’s a bit of a retro vibe. Would you keep a giant locust as a pet, if it was reasonably manageable? Or are bugs too grody for ya?

AMD: I haven’t seen that movie, but now I feel driven to watch it, because I’m fascinated by locusts. You know, I’m not the biggest fan of bugs, but it’s weird how some drive my phobias and others don’t. I actually love grasshoppers and the like! Cicadas are pretty cool too, and praying mantises. They have the most fascinating exoskeletons, and they seem very intelligent to me. Keep one as a pet, though? Nah. I’m happy to admire them from afar.

PCG: Okay, down to brass tacks. You wrote a short story in 2008 that eventually expanded into this novel. King did much the same with his story Captain Tripps, which sparked The Stand, as well as Jerusalem’s Lot. Do you feel that starting with the short format is a good measure of a story’s viability as a novel?

AMD: Actually, it’s interesting how novels start out, because I know you have developed a lot of your novels from screenplays you’ve written. I have developed quite a few longer projects from short stories, though it isn’t a strategy I actually set out to use. STRINGS evolved from a short story as well. When I write a short, my intention is always to just let it be that, but sometimes you get to the end, and a few weeks or even months or years later, you find there’s still plenty of thread left to spool out. I do think using the short format is a great way to map characters and get a basic trajectory started, but a decent expansion depends on what kind of story you have written. Starting with something more open-ended is vital, I think. I tried to turn “Dust” into the novel, but there was too much finality in the original story. I did stretch it out and add an additional 6000 words for a special edition recently, but that’s as far as I ever got. STRINGS was very easy to develop, because it basically picked up right where the short story left off.

PCG: Without becoming too political, this idea of food changing in some way so that it becomes uncontrollable or deadly may not be too far off the mark in the near future. Are you trying to warn us? You’re a cooking hobbyist, so would it feel like loss for you to have the luxury of cooking and experimenting with recipes disappear?

AMD: As I was putting together the final incarnation of the story, I was in the middle of reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which spoke a lot about how our food supply has changed so much over the decades, and I think a good bit of that seeped in. Be that as it may, though, I’m not sure if my intention was to warn people about that with this story. If I write too much with a message in my head, it has a way of stilting things. THE LAST SUPPER is more about self-discovery than anything external. The oddities of the world in which John Welland finds himself are more of the vehicle for him learning the great and terrible things he’s capable of. As for losing the ability to cook if some of the events of this story came to pass, I think I can adapt. Being of limited means most times, I thrive on finding solutions and alternatives when options are few. And the good news is in the Supperverse, the fermenting of various fruits and grains lives on. As long as that remains possible, I know I can survive.

ENTER TO WIN! THE LAST SUPPER today through 12/21/14

ENTER TO WIN THE LAST SUPPER today through 12/21/14

PCG: Which character in The Last Supper has the most you in it? Do you intentionally choose a character to represent your feelings and opinions going in, or does that happen organically –or at all?

AMD: I think it’s so impossible separate yourself or your personal knowledge completely from your characters, at least if you’re writing honestly. Even if those characters are terrible people, they aren’t truly three-dimensional until you put that spark of humanity in them and let them be complex, and that usually happens when you imprint something of yourself onto them, even if it’s something subtle that only you can see. I try to refrain from letting characters be my mouthpieces for my views – that’s Heinlein territory, and it was cute when he did it, but it can be tiresome when authors do it to excess. But John represents the part of myself that is on a constant journey of self-discovery, and all the pain and fear and guilt that goes with it. Genevieve represents my more feminine sensibilities, but also the no-bullshit side. Turpin, the old man, represents the part of me that knows the score deep down, even if I’m not ready to face it.

Scenes from THE LAST SUPPER

Scenes from THE LAST SUPPER

PCG: There’s a pretty elaborate world built here that delves into different versions of bio-domes, banned literature, as well as hardcore social upheaval. Was the idea to keep it as close as possible to the direction our society could very well go, given recent events, or did you want to delve a bit more into fantasy? Of course, this question assumes that those are a matter of relative perspective.

AMD: In the earliest version I wrote of this story, it had none of the fantastical elements, and I think I had intended to keep it more about a reality-based upheaval. But eventually I started weaving in the fantasy and mystical elements and it just took on a life of its own. I have often felt that sci-fi is a genre of possibilities, which is why I don’t like to strictly define SUPPER as sci-fi, but more of a mixed bag of sci-fi and fantasy. A bit in the same way Star Wars is, I guess.

PCG: As a personal aside, I’m divided between looking at your blog entries about TLS and just letting it surprise me. STRINGS was page after page of surprises, and I really liked that. I don’t expect that TLS will be as intense, at least not as relentlessly so. Are there any nightmare moments for us hardcore horror sickos?

AMD: Good question! While there are more harrowing and sad moments in the book than downright frightening, there is one good nightmarish scene that takes place in a basement. Aren’t basements pretty much the scariest of human inventions? I think so. They’re basically like graves beneath our houses that we put our junk in.

PCG: So The Mystic Oracle tells me there has been some interest in bringing some AMD to the film world. How much can you tell us about that?

amd consAMD: Well, I had the good fortune of having a gentleman name Jim Terr take heavy interest in my Consumption Trilogy for film development, and I got to sign my very first film option earlier this year. So far he’s done a staged reading of a script he developed, but he’s also hoping to pitch it to some big wigs in the film industry. As you probably know, getting things like this to catch on in Hollywood is like trying to light a campfire with wet matches, but it’s just been fascinating (and a little scary?) watching people act out my work, and I remain hopeful something will spark. People can watch the reading if they want to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DognYowCidI

PCG: 2014 has been a good year for you! Celebrate with us a bit, your accomplishments and coming soons, that we might worship.

AMD: Well, in addition to seeing TLS enter the world, Strings had a great run in its first year. I also completed my suspense novel KUDZU back in June, and that earned me representation by my agent, Stephanie Rostan. Hoping we see big things happen with that one in 2015. I also sold a story to Apex Magazine (my first pro-rate sale), which will be appearing in the January 2015 issue, and I had the great fortune of having two of my stories appear in anthologies (Wrapped in White and Wrapped in Black) by the lovely Sekhmet Press! I also hit the comic con circuit in my area this year with my good friend and Colt Coltrane artist, Justin Wasson, and it’s been great meeting local people and watching them take interest in my books – Justin is hard at work on the cover for the next Coltrane book releasing in March 2015! Finally, I was just offered a position to teach a writing workshop in January of 2015 at a local arts center. Hoping it goes well enough that I can get more workshop gigs, either at the center or at writing conventions. So it’s been a fantastic year, and a lot of seeds have been planted that are set to bloom next year, and that’s always the most exciting part. It keeps me going.

PCG: Other than Yerz Trooly, which author could call you tomorrow, ask to collaborate, and send you into an absolute giddy headspace of uncertainty and terror and anguished joy?

AMD: Actually it’s funny you say that, because I would totally love to collaborate with you on something one day. Other authors would be Chuck Wendig or Joe Hill. I don’t consider my style identical to theirs, but I think we could complement, challenge, and energize each other, and it would be a pretty awesome product at the end.

PCG: What kind of music or other ambiance, do you employ during the brutal rapture of creating?

AMD: Brutal rapture is a great choice of words. It really depends on the project. When I’m working on Colt Coltrane, it absolutely has to be jazz. But I have a selection of movie scores I like to choose from with varying moods. The Red Violin is a big favorite, as is the score for The Fountain. A recent favorite has been the Hans Zimmer score for Interstellar, which is just so awe-inspiring. When I was writing Kudzu, I listened to Carolina Drama by The Raconteurs almost religiously. I also listened to a lot of forlorn sounding bluegrass, like You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive by Ruby Friedman.

PCG: So, back to the apocalypse: how long do we as a race have? What can we do to stave off the screaming and the suffering and the zombies and the seas of blood?

AMD: Honestly, I think we have longer than we think we do. That’s usually the case. Human, being cursed with knowledge of their own mortality, love to meditate heavily on death and mass extinction. Of course that doesn’t mean millions of us won’t die in the rising seas and wars perpetuated ugly fights over greed and dwindling resources, but that has been the story of human existence since its inception. I guess if we don’t find a way off this rock or learn to adapt harmoniously, we probably have another 5000 years or so before we either die out or the earth opens up its maw and swallows us. But who knows how human we’ll actually be in even 500 years? I imagine we might be some plasticized hive mind by then.

PCG: Far as you know, are there more sojourns to Dystopia in your future?

amd tlsAMD: The Last Supper is actually a planned trilogy. Hopefully the first book is successful enough to warrant the second book. If it isn’t, I’m actually satisfied with where this story ends. Either way, I always have hellish futures swirling around in my brain. And equally hellish present days. Anyone looking for a case of the shiny happies within my pages, regardless of genre, will be sorely disappointed.


amdAllison M. Dickson writes dark contemporary fiction, covering both speculative and realistic realms. Her debut psychological horror novel, STRINGS, released to rave reviews in 2013 and has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists several times. She is also the author of an abundance of short stories as well as the 1940s sci-fi noir Colt Coltrane series. Readers can look forward to her upcoming dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, later in 2014. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH with her husband and two rapidly growing children, or crawling some dungeon in search of good loot. For more information on how to reach Allison or to read her blog, visit http://www.allisonmdicksonbooks.com.

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