Help me welcome self-published children’s author, Linda Hales. Linda has published several books, her latest being “Sunshine And Her Big Blarney Smile.”
I’m inviting you to our spectacular virtual event:
SURF ‘N BOOKS BEACH PARTY
June 15 at 77 Sunset Strip Beach
Lots of great prizes: books, a Kindle eBook reader, a “Going to the Beach” basket…
Copyright © 2013 Clayton Bye
I am a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 9 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and hundreds of reviews, I am in the process of publishing my second anthology of excellent short stories by some great talents from around the world. The first book featured general fiction, while the current offering is horror, through and through.
The Speed of Dark – Available at http://shop.claytonbye.com/
I Will Love You To Death
John B. Rosenman
Young people in love—ah, our hearts go out to them, do they not? And when it’s a young woman, a pretty young thing with bloom in her cheeks, why, we get sympathetic goose bumps, don’t we?
In “Jesse’s Hair,” one of my two stories in Chase Enterprises’ The Speed of Dark, I tried to play with this young woman in love theme so it would fit the strangely disturbing horror theme of the collection as a whole. How could I do it? Well, for starters, I made Suanna, the love-starved Southern gal six foot one inch tall and three hundred and twenty pounds.
What’s that you say? That’s not strangely disturbing; it’s just gross. Hmm, are you really sure about that? Are the human oddities on TV’s Freakshow really that different from you and me, from what we complacently refer to as normal? Do they not have the same desires as us, feel the same need to love and be loved in return?
What happens to any of us when the need to be loved is continually denied? What happens in “Jesse’s Hair” when Suanna is publicly humiliated, and the young bucks and rednecks howl and go “Oink! Oink! Oink!” and “Su-eeee! Su-eeee! Su-eeee!”, comparing her to a fat pig in disgust?
Poor Suanna. She has so much love to give, only no one wants it. I wanted to show how any one of us, if denied love, can be twisted into a grotesque, hideous, perverted monster. In love-struck Suanna’s case, endless rejection creates a brutal female rapist and murderer who always takes something from the man she loves to remember him by even as she sets him on fire.
Let’s talk about perversion and fetishes. Suanna becomes maniacally perverted and develops a dangerous fetish. She becomes fixated on something connected with each man she develops an instant attraction to—it could be a belt buckle or a nice pair of hands—and she wants to take that item with her as a keepsake to remember him by.
How many of us are similar, only dialed down a bit? Aren’t most of us perverted or askew in our own way and have our secret fetishes? C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. It could be a pair of lady’s stockings, perhaps something we’re ashamed about and fear being made public. We know we’re a little bent inside and wish we could be normal, whatever normal is.
Suanna is far worse. As the story makes clear, she’s become one of society’s deadly predators who is “broken . . . by life” and who futilely hopes some man will see her inner beauty and capacity for love and heal the “sickness that festers in my mind.” No such luck. For Suanna, the tragic murder train rolls on.
I hope I make readers care about Suanna’s heartache and misery. While they won’t condone what she does, they may come to understand and sympathize with her. Admittedly, she’s a hard heroine and protagonist to sell, but that kind of task is the type of thing that horror does best, especially when those around her are so cruel and obtuse. Just think of the mistreated, misunderstood monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
As you read “Jesse’s Hair” and other stories in The Speed of Dark, be on the lookout for humor, for horror and humor, sometimes sick humor, often go together like love and betrayal, piety and falsehood. Why? For one thing, horror often portrays extreme, supremely sinful, strange, or abnormal acts and emotions, which tip so easily into laughter. Why again? Perhaps the best answer is that horror and humor are emotionally volatile and often attract each other, like a lit match does dry tinder. Horror and humor complement and intensify each other, fire up the blaze together—as I hope you’ll agree after reading the following perversion of a typical romantic scene:
Excerpt from “Jesse’s Hair”:
They stop on a bluff overlookin’ a lake. Mr. Moon dapples it, glistens on their bodies as they kiss and grope.
Hoarse breathing: his.
I dismount, hearin’ the sound of clothes comin’ off in a hurry. By the time I get close, she’s already mounted him. I see her tits jiggle and her face strain up at the moon like she’s prayin’ to it.
Let me tell you: pretty girls don’t look so nice when they’re grindin’ away with their little minds intent only on pleasure. Whorey Dorey even squeals a bit like a pig, and I mouth silent echos in the darkness.
Oink! Oink! Oink!
Quickly, like I’ve done five times before, I strip off my clothes and lay them in a pile. The crucifix on a chain that ma gave me for communion when I was twelve, I leave on top like a marker. Barefoot, I skirt the car, come up behind her. They’re reachin’ a crisis, so they don’t hear me open the door and climb in. Drivin’ my hand like a meat chopper into her neck, I catch Dora as she collapses and flip her over into the back seat. Then I mount Jesse.
Wet Dreams,” another of my darkest stories, is available from Muse It Up Publishing at the link below. In dreams lie our deepest, most secret selves. Do any of us ever really know what lurks in the hearts of those who lie beside us at night? Are we really ever safe?
About John B. Rosenman
John, a retired English professor, has published 300 stories in Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road, Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, etc. He’s also published twenty books, including SF novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), and Alien Dreams and A Senseless Act of Beauty (Crossroad Press). MuseItUp Publishing released three SF novels: Dark Wizard; Dax Rigby, War Correspondent; Inspector of the Cross. Kingdom of the Jax, a sequel to Inspector of the Cross, will be published in May 2013. MuseItUp has also published The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes (winner of Preditors and Editors Annual Readers Poll), More Stately Mansions, and the dark erotic thrillers Steam Heat and Wet Dreams. Two of John’s major themes are the endless mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise.
https://www.facebook.com/john.rosenman, http://twitter.com/Writerman1, http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E, http://s631.photobucket.com/albums/uu31/jrosenman/, http://www.humanmade.net/john-b-rosenman, https://m.pinterest.com/johnrosenman/pins/
Read an interview at: http://www.milscifi.com/files/inter-JBR-BS.htm
Buy link, Muse It Up Publishing: http://tinyurl.com/83a2ezn
Buy link, Crossroad Press: http://tinyurl.com/bnxozdm
Do you like adult horror? If you do, then please check Leigh M. Lane’s post at http://johnrosenman.blogspot.ca/ It’s titled “Deconstructing the Unreliable Narrator,” and it concerns her story “Plastic People” in THE SPEED OF DARK, a collection of strangely different and disturbing horror stories. Leigh and John both have two stories in the collection, and there are 19 authors and 27 stories overall. This is haunting and creepy horror for adults. The tales makes you think and have multiple levels, examining the very nature of reality which contrary to popular belief is not always as simple and cut and dried as you may think. Please drop by, read Leigh’s reflections, and leave a comment.
Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I shall be participating in a small blog tour. Small but potent. With writers like John Rosenman, Ken Weene, Lisa Lane, Micki Peluso and James Secor, it will be like eating a rich dessert. Not just because of the discussions and the excerpts, but due to the new material they’ll be bringing to the table.
Today is all about my new, short horror story collection, The Speed of Dark. This book contains 27 strangely different and disturbing tales by 19 fantastic authors who had the courage to take on the challenge of breaking out of the accepted mold of what “horror” is right now. We eliminated Bizarro, quite frankly, because these authors see themselves as a new genre–and they may be right. Where did we end up and what are readers saying? Let’s hear from some of them now…
1. This was a horror anthology I was mightily pleased to have read. I’ve read some horror stories that are of the “gore” variety, which can honestly bore me sometimes. While everyone has their own tastes and preferences, it is “psychological horror” that gets to me, that I find a lot more dark and disturbing than explicit violence (i.e. the motivations and psyche behind brutal and/or cruel acts).
Perhaps the greatest thing about anthologies is that they feature a wide variety of authors–different voices, different styles, though the stories in this case are linked together based on that psychological horror dimension. The anthology is very aptly titled after one of the stories (“The Speed of Dark”, by Clayton Clifford Bye)–in terms of concept and pacing. That story in particular is a great short story, in the sense that the writing flows in an effortless, succinct kind of way where all the pieces (the story has something to do with “food” *ahem*) come together really neatly.
There is a lot of scope and dimension in these short stories, all of which are accompanied by a short summary at the beginning of the story (I always like that with anthologies, so that I have a rough idea of what each story is about before I get into it further). I enjoyed stories like “Jesse’s Hair” (by John B. Rosenman) and “Little Girl Lost” (by Lyn McConchie) for that same reason (the handling of macabre themes in a very stylish, understated way–actually this goes for the entire anthology; I’m just naming those two right now because I especially enjoyed the themes in those two stories!).
Do consider adding “The Speed of Dark” to your digital and/or paperback library, if you’re looking for a good dose/exploration of original–and relatable–psychological horror. – Jess Scott
2. The Speed of Dark is an anthology of short tales of horror by Cynthia Ainworthe, Kenneth Weene, Clayton Bye, Micki Peluso, Mary Firman and more than a dozen other great writers. It’s one of those hard-to-put-down books that keeps you up all night reading…and trembling. From the computer generated green terror in Retrovirus, to the dreadful secrets in the cellar in Taking Care of Mother and the unexpected fate of the man in room 600 in Hansom Dove, readers are sure to find that each of these macabre stories will keeping them wanting to read one more before, if they dare, turning off the lights. – T.R. Heinan, author of L’immotalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen
3. And, yes, they’re right about the sub-title which says Strangely Different & Disturbing. It’s not that different from some horror anthologies that I’ve read, nor did it disturb me to a huge degree. But yes, some of it was still a bit different and slightly disturbing. The trouble with much recent horror that I’ve (unwillingly) read, is that those who write it go over the top. They bring in monsters, lakes of gore, dismembered bodies, and graphic sex. I like my horror low-key, understated, and more about the human condition. In The Speed of Dark I got two things. One was excellent presentation with very good editing, and the other was well-written work that in most cases wasn’t overly graphic, but which was interesting, involving and rarely over the top. Much of it was quietly creepy and therefore very effective. And the editors were intelligent, where an author presented two suitable stories, they didn’t insist on taking only one, and then, finding they needed more work, filling out the anthology with poorer-quality tales. Instead where they were offered two good stories, they took both, so that in a number of cases an author had two stories appear. And I noticed that when they happened those authors’ work was often the work that I really liked. So – I’m not going to comment on every story, but that said, I didn’t find any stories that I felt were inadequate. Some I didn’t like that much as a personal preference, but I thought that all of them were well-written and of real quality. I’ve seen a previous award-winning anthology from this stable, and that one too fitted everything I’ve said here. This outfit could be one to watch.
The first story set the tone for this anthology beautifully. What About Mum by E.J.Ruek is horror, not because of anything in-your-face, but from the gradual realization of what this is about as you read it. It ends with a newspaper clipping that ties up the story consistently and neatly, and makes sense of some of the final loose ends. It’s a story you may come across in the newspapers regularly, but the author makes you see it for yourself. Jesse’s Hair by John B. Rosenman is again delicately intrusive. It begins in such a way that you sympathise with the protagonist, understand her pain, and wish people would be a bit kinder. And then you find out what the years of abuse have created. Which is brutally realistic because this type of low-level bullying can produce effects out of all proportion. Retrovirus by Clayton Clifford Bye was clever. It took an aspect of our computerized society and moved it into a new space and a new form of the ‘post holocaust’ sub-genre. Micky Peluso’s Death of the Spider is both horrific and sad, while Lyn McConchie’s Little Girl Lost is savage in a way that makes the reader like it. I was prepared to be horrified at the topic until I was almost at the end and realized what was happening, then I smiled, I do like evil to get its comeuppance. Unbreakable fetters of Admantine by Jim Secor is an interestingly surrealistic tale, it winds and confuses but ultimately satisfies. While Across the Tracks by Tony Richards has some of the same factors although with a very different background and protagonist but with an ending that is equally as effective.
Clayton Bye’s title story, The Speed of Dark is plain creepy, a little sickening when you see where this is going, and very well handled as a theme. Taking Care of Mother by Mary Firmin is unpleasant, it has something to say about society’s attitudes towards those marked in our minds as either ‘less fortunate’ or ‘the dregs of society,’ and just how wrong we can be in some of our assumptions. It may also be a warning about being patronizing. Lyn McConchie’s Sowing On the Mountain is all too realistic in some ways, and delicately drawn fantasy in others. And yet, the fantasy element is sketched in so lightly the reader is uncertain as to whether it really existed, an aspect of the story that enhances it considerably. And the final story, Plastic People, by Lisa Lane chronicles a descent into the darker places of the mind and is exactly the right note on which to conclude. All in all the editors have done a fine job on this anthology which only confirms my impression of the previous one the publisher had out. Take a look at the site, http:shop.claytonbye.com Buy this anthology, and maybe copies of the previous one as well. I think it would be money well spent.
- Glenda’s Bookshelves
4. As children, we’re frightened of the things that hide in dark places. As adults, we learn that it’s the things hiding in plain sight of which we really need to be afraid. This anthology underscores that fact.
Some of the stories in “The Speed of Dark” are terrifyingly mundane, making me want to check over my shoulder to make sure the sweet old lady next door isn’t hiding some horror inside her house. Others make me want to laugh, but the kind of laughter that happens when you realize you’re the last person in the world to get the joke, and you’re the punch line. And still others make me wince, as conventions of comfort and polite society are ripped away, exposing ugly truths you suspected might have been there but were never really quite sure.
All of them, however, make me glad I have a large watchdog, a phone in every room, and a bedside light to keep the shadows away while I read.
Not for the faint of heart, I felt violated by a few of the pieces, repulsed, as, I believe, was intended. The writing is sometimes so beautifully lyrical and descriptive, however, it makes it hard to put the book down. Shame on me for appreciating the clever turn of a word.
And these authors are wordsmiths, whether or not you’re a fan of horror. There’s a beauty here that mocks the subject matter – or maybe it’s the other way around. Things this eloquent shouldn’t be so vulgar, should they?
I received this book for review purposes, and I’m grateful to have been one of the lucky ones. No matter what I think about the ugly, fantastic side of human (and inhuman) nature, “The Speed of Dark” is a winner.
- Kimberly Morgan
I had a reminder this past weekend of the power of Contrary behaviours. After listening to a lecture on the need to recognize the every breath we take moves us that much closer to a definite–our death, a young man whom I met on a bus showed me examples of the same. He vibrated with life, eating up each moment as if he had an endless appetite. Mention his children and his face would light up like an angel’s and out would come the pictures to be shown to all within earshot. His life was not extraordinary, yet he related pieces of it with relish. But what he was most interested in was the moment, which was our conversation. The young man listened and exchanged ideas and answered questions with a gleam of joy in his eye and a smile on his face. For me the afternoon just flowed on by.
Can you imagine it? Living each second with your mind and your soul? No robotic moments. No boredom. In fact, each moment would be a creation, something done on purpose and with purpose. The constant march toward death would cease to matter, waning before the glorious life you have chosen.
Choice. Creation. And a life of contrary moments. I wonder…