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  • Tag Archives Stephen King
  • Too Late: Notes on The End of Humanity

    One of my favorite stories. All credit where it is due, the concept was taken from the Clive Barker novel “Mister B. Gone.” I’ve always liked breaking the fourth wall, and the concept of audience participation in all forms of media, but I especially love it in prose form.

    There’s a nod to the Stephen King novel “The Dark Half,” in it, when there’s a bunch of sparrows on top of the house at the end. I’ve always liked tons of birds or bats flying around, seems terribly evocative for a horror story.

    I enjoy meta fiction. This would be classified as such, i.e. a horror writer ends up in a horror story. Again, that’s a King thing.

    I guess films like “The Exorcist” obviously influenced me, as well as stuff like “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Omen.” I’m blanking on anything else recently. I’l update this if I remember any.

    What I tried to do with a lot of the stories in “Too Late,” was to have a monologue of sorts. I picture the character starting out alone in a setting: a prison, an old house, a table in an apartment, setting isn’t as important as the character. I wanted to have people telling you about things that went wrong in their life that they can’t change.
    I know it’s not en vogue lately to have pretty standard horror stories that work as character studies, but I don’t really give a shit about trends. These were stories I wrote over the course of a ten year period. I wrote many more, but I never seemed to like all of them all that much. And i think it’s because my favorite stories are the type that I grew up with. Granted, my newer work is a lot more experimental and tries to differentiate itself a bit more. But the types of stories in “Too Late,” are my foundation, and I hope that years down the line people will still give the chapbook a read, and realize that I started writing simple horror stories.

    I look forward to seeing where the future takes me with my fiction, and I hope that you’ll join me. Thanks.


  • Too Late: Notes on Dust

    I’m a huge fan of westerns, despite my lack of familiarity with the genre. Haven’t read a ton of them, though. I’m a Dark Tower dork, and The Gunslinger is probably my favorite thing Stephen King has ever written, so there’s a heavy dose of that in there.

    In terms of films, stuff like The Proposition, and The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford, The Quick and The Dead, and Unforgiven come to mind. Just the aesthetic, the color scheme, it’s evocative.

    Proposition

    Comics: The Dark Tower comic.

    Show influences are stuff like Tales From The Crypt, can’t think of any specific episodes though.

    Hank Williams III had a healthy influences on me with this story too. Particularly this song.

    Westerns, man.I like them… the way you can have these morality plays with gunfights and settlers all at the same time. It was a natural thing to incorporate some kind of supernatural element in there.


  • Too Late: Notes on Jumpin’ Jack

    This one, jeez. Sometimes you write stuff, and don’t really remember what prompts it. With this one, I’d written a story set in Whispering Pines (the haunted woods in my fictional universe, in central Massachusetts) already for the Reddit board No Sleep. I’d written one about aliens which had done well, and this one later, which barely anyone read.

    To begin with, it’s an old black guy. I wanted to write as an old black guy. So I did. That’s probably the King influence again. I’ve always had an affinity for stories about old guys recounting sketchy things from their younger days.

    Recently, I reread Ligotti’s “The Frolic,” and while the only similarity is a child killer, I feel that “Jumpin’ Jack” shares a similar tone, and feel, though it’s less cosmic horror, and more folk horror.

    There is an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, “The Tale of Watcher’s Woods.” Had an impact on me as a child, and helped get the mythology of Whispering Pines going. Probably some Blair Witch in there, too.

    The Tale of Watcher’s Woods

    Watcher's Woods


  • Too Late: Notes on Stranded in the Storm

    There’s this one road that leads from Sudbury (where I grew up) into Lincoln, and much like the road in the story, it is serpentine, and hazardous. One time I got a flat around there, and had to change the tire off to the side of the road. It’s right across the street from a few trails leading up a hill, so it’s quite woodsy. This was the genesis of the idea, I’d driven on this road and skidded out a bit, and it had scared the shit out of me. So, just add a supernatural creature, a snow storm, and there you go.

    I was inspired by the film Ginger Snaps, as I enjoy writing about menstruation as it relates to the werewolf mythology.

    gingersnaps

    A lot of the language, of predator chasing prey, was recently inspired by the works of Laird Barron, but in honesty, I wrote the story back around 2010 or 2011, before I’d read any of Barron’s work. So, most likely, I can trace it to Stephen King, and stories like “One For the Road.”

    I’m sure this story would drive Stephen Graham Jones nuts, because he expressed on this episode of Miskatonic Musings how much he hates supernatural werewolves.

    Bigfoot’s Love Slave

    I like them, though. I like the idea that maybe it’s like they turn into a hell beast or something, some sort of possession that makes very little biological sense.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one story from John Langan in “The Wide Carnivorous Sky,” “The Revel.” I think it’s one of the best werewolf stories ever written. But, yet again, I read the story after I had written “Stranded in the Storm.”

    The funny thing about ruminating on where your ideas come from, is they come from so many places sometimes, and you write one of these, and then you’re driving and you go “oh, damn, I was inspired by (insert story name) too! i should have added that!”

    One of the fun things about most of the stories in “Too Late” is I can see myself expanding any one of them into a longer work, jumping off from where the story ends. And this story especially, and a certain character at the end, might get her own novel someday. Who knows?


  • Too Late: Notes on Fickle Mortality

    Fickle Mortality is the first story in the chapbook Too Late, and tells the story of an unnamed killer on death row for murdering people to use their skulls to decorate for artistic, and other nefarious purposes.

    If I remember correctly, I wrote this story in 2011, and I don’t think I even tried to shop it (a reoccurring theme) and instead threw it up on this blog. In terms of the atmosphere, I was heavily influenced by old King stories, and a few Barker ones, which of course took place in prison settings.

    Strictly looking at the prose, jeez, I guess there wasn’t one thing in particular. I’m heavily inspired by film, and it seemed to be a wonderfully cinematic approach. The story is written in the first person, and is, in essence, a monologue. Since I recently discussed it on The Rants Macabre episode, Killer Pilots ,I must have drawn from the pilot for Tales From the Crypt, consciously or not.

    How could I talk about a story where a woman paints skulls without mentioning it’s obviously aesthetically drawing from the Day of the Dead ceremony, and while I don’t picture the skulls the narrator paints as similarly designed, the comparison is obvious.

    day-of-the-dead-skull

    Not to get into spoiler territory, but the image I had in my head for something near the end of the story seems to have been influenced by this album cover (although it’s not nearly as cool).

    pathsofpossession-cover

    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll edit something new in if I think of it.

    As always, if you want to purchase Too Late, it’s available through Amazon, and Createspace, and follow the links below.

    Too Late on Amazon

    Too Late on Createspace


  • Around the Corner: An Essay on Stephen King

    Almost two decades. It’s weird to think that much time has passed since my mom bought me that hardcover of Nightmares and Dreamscapes Christmas of my twelfth year. Before this of course I was reading nothing but those Goosebumps books. They were all the rage with the middle school set back in… Jesus, was it really 1996? Did such a year really exist all those years ago? Did Pogs really exist? Were OK Soda, Sifl and Olly on MTV after school, and video stores really around? The memories are like old photographs from outdated cameras. Those pictures you used to have to shake to get a clear visual of. The ones you had to wait to see how they turned out.

    I remember it was hard to read. Not just because it was one of the very first adult books I’d ever delved into, only shortly after I’d read The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton. I mean it was literally hard to read, as the hardcover was heavy for my little twelve-year old forearms to lift.

    The First King

    I read most of that hardcover of Nightmares with the scarecrow on it on a trip my parents took from our home state of Massachusetts down to South Carolina. My grandparents had a time-share there, and to save money on airfare, my dad decided to drive down.

    I remember being in the back of a mini van, reading by a flashlight. Reading about the Ten O’ Clock People. I have no idea why, of all the stories in the collection, The Ten O’ Clock People is the one I remember most vividly. Perhaps, because it seemed so adult to a twelve-year-old. People on cigarette breaks from their adult jobs, except they were seeing these weird monsters that passed themselves off as human. In that strange way memory works, like those pictures you have to shake that sometimes didn’t come out, the only thing I really remember understanding from the story back then was that quitting cigarettes was hard, and that batmen could in fact be seen if you smoked cigs, and then tried to quit.

    Why I don’t remember about Dolan’s Cadillac as strongly is utterly beyond me. I was in a car reading it, you’d think that would be the one that stuck out. But I digress.

    To be frank, I remember the weight of Nightmares and Dreamscapes more than I remember the content of the book itself. Like the first time you learn to do something, how what you often remember is the first time you were proficient at it. Not how you finally learned how to stay up on that bike without training wheels, but rather the time you rode down the street to go get pizza with some friends.

    The first King book I really remember the plot of was ‘Salem’s Lot. I was huge into vampires, my mother having those Vampire Lestat books all over the house, and she waxing poetic on Dracula, and her no doubt reading me stories of vampires. So, when I went into a text by this really cool author who wrote about monsters and scary adult stuff, and it was about vampires, you can bet I was over the damn moon.

    I still remember the cover was a pale vampire, with fangs out, and neon purple outlining his face, against the black. It was the Signet edition. I remember being really creeped out by the town, by the Martsen house. My family had moved from a house on a busy street in another town, to a larger house on a quiet street in a very rural town. The move no doubt had a lot to do with the resonance the novel had with me.

    By that summer I was verily King obsessed. And, it was time for my family to go on our yearly summer vacation to the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.

    I grew up in Massachusetts. Yes, we’re a state in New England, but well, we’re not like Maine. Maine is a way bigger state. And, most importantly, Maine has some woods you can really, truly get lost in. Maine has small towns sorta like Jersusalem’s Lot. Not that they’re full of vampires, but they are very small.

    There’s a different vibe to the state. Things move slower. Or, maybe people from Massachusetts are just really hyper. Who knows? Point is, you can’t spend any time in Maine without hearing something about Stephen King. Hell, I’d argue you can’t go anywhere in New England without hearing something about him. But, back in the 90s, you really couldn’t escape his looming shadow.

    For the first time, in that summer of my twelfth year, I noticed there was a picture of Stephen King in the lobby of The Samoset Resort. He had those signature coke bottle glasses on, the frames of which seem to be a favorite among serial killers and computer programmers if you go through pictures of either from the late 80s and 90s. For some reason he also had a mustache, a green button up shirt, and green cowboy boots. I’m not making this up, if you ever happen by The Samoset Resort in Maine, go check.

    At some point that year my mom told me her friends used to be neighbor’s with the Kings in Maine. They told her how he owned a pink Cadillac he kept in the driveway, and how there was a black iron fence with bats on the top outside the house.

    My grandfather on my mom’s side grew up in Maine, too. We’re pretty close, gramps and me.

    So, you see, all of these things, my relatives and my mom’s friends from Maine, our yearly vacation to a resort in Maine King had, it turned out, visited, and my budding young imagination, everything combined that summer to put me in the prime head space for The Gunslinger, the first book in The Dark Tower series.

    The Gunslinger hit me like a slap to the face. I was never one of those kids that liked cowboys before this. And suddenly here’s this story about a desert, and a mythical cowboy with hands fast as lighting. Here’s this story about a man in black, a magician who wants to set The Dark Tower to toppling, destroying everything. For the Tower is everything, friends. It holds up our very existence on it. And here’s me, reading about a boy named Jake, who wakes up in Roland’s universe. Jake, who was alive in New York City, until he was pushed into traffic and died.

    I became Jake that summer. And King himself was Roland. I was following the path of the beam; a path this man who grew up not so very far away from where I grew up wrote about. And I got the sense that King was never very far off, you understand? It sounds very silly, but it almost seemed that summer like I was meant to read The Gunslinger.

    I finished The Gunslinger, and needed to read more of the books in the series. I needed to read more Stephen King. I became down right fanatical.

    It all started with that one book my mom probably bought me for Christmas because she wanted to encourage me to read. I’m sure she didn’t think that two decades later, I’d have two tattoos on my body dedicated to King’s fiction. I’m sure she didn’t think I’d spend so much time and energy reading so much Stephen King.

    You see, the power of Stephen King has always been that he has put himself into his stories. King has never been afraid to get personal with his fiction. But I would argue another layer of the onion, once peeled, is that for people in New England, especially in the 90s, King was like a rock star, like an actor, like a famous athlete. King was always around the corner, you understand? He always seemed like you might see him at a Red Sox game, or see him getting an orange Crush at a gas station at a rest stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. So, when you get someone who is so honest with their fiction, throwing so much of themselves into it, and then you come to find out he likes to ham it up in credit card ads, and likes to see his picture in the magazines, and likes to cameo in some of the adaptations of his work into films, or mini series…

    I still feel like he’s just around the corner. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, to be honest. And, I’m also not sure if I should be thrilled, or a little irked out by this feeling. After all, this is also a guy who wore serial killer glasses for many, many, many years before finally switching them up. This is a guy who, when he was about the age I was when I got Nightmares and Dreamscapes, used to collect newspaper clippings of killer Charles Starkweather.

    Deep down, down where the memories sit in an album on a shelf in my mind, I know the important thing is the feelings his fiction evoked in me; is the way the fiction, and learning about the man made me feel about myself. The importance of Stephen King in my life, particularly in the 90s, was, and has always been, that he’s made me realize the power of the imagination, and the power of image. The reason King’s fiction was so pivotal, and say, Crichton’s was not, is that Crichton never seemed like he could have been someone like me.

    Almost two decades, man. So many words. So many books. That’s a lot of time. That’s a life time for some.

    You might be wondering, so what? So a horror nerd got a good PR team, and you ate it right up, so what’s the big deal, who cares?

    I gotta’ be like one of those hippies from Woodstock in my response. You had to be there, man. I can’t really explain it to you.


  • What I’d like to See in Comics

    Seansouthernbastard

    First and foremost, I am far from an expert on comics. I don’t read any of the major DC stuff, save for the issue of Batman here and there, or something related to Batman. When it comes to Marvel, unless it’s a story about The Punisher, or something related to Stephen King, it’s a safe bet I won’t read it. I mainly read horror comics, and independent comics. And while I obviously seem like a pretentious douchebag right now, I assure you that I merely bring up my interests so you know what kind of perspective I’m coming from.

    Safe to say I represent the fringe of comic fans, the ones who have no idea what The Avengers are up to, or who Superman has laser-eyed recently (Does he use the laser eyes still? I’ve only seen him on Justice League cartoons on Netflix recently.) Regardless, when I walk into my local comic shop, or get an email about a comic, the first thing I want to know is the plot. If it sounds like something I haven’t read a billion times yet, I usually give it a shot.

    Most of the comics I’ve stuck with end up being because of an interesting plot, a cool way of laying out the plot, or a compelling character.

    And actually, when it comes to comics I end up dropping, I imagine it’s for the same reason I’d stop reading a super hero story. Blood and guts and cool monsters, or, alternately, great action, and cool villains simply aren’t enough. And when I say it’s not enough, I don’t mean I won’t read those comics anyway. There are plenty of comics I’ve read for cool monsters and blood and guts, or rarely for great action and cool villains. No, what I mean is, the comics I end up going back to, the ones I recommend to non-comic fans or other comic fans, are the ones where there are compelling characters, and a well crafted story.

    Alan Moore has an interesting book “Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics,” in which he discusses some of what he feels are issues with comics currently.

    “Admittedly, it would be fairly easy for the industry to survive comfortably for a while by pandering to specialist-group nostalgia, or simple escapism, but the industry that concerns itself entirely with areas of this sort is in my view impotent and worthy of little more consideration or interest than the greeting card industry.”

    One series I’ve really enjoyed in 2014 was been “Clive Barker’s The Next Testament.” Haemi Jang’s art, and the color by Vladimir Popov certainly helped, but primarily it was the story by Clive Barker and Mark Miller that moved me to keep reading this series. “Next Testament,” tells the story of what is essentially a hybrid of God and the Devil mixed into one rainbow colored being known as Wick , that is brought to our modern society after being unearthed by a rich man named Julian Demond. The story is haunting, grotesque. And while the human characters can often come across as very stock, Wick is fascinating. You can’t wait to hear what he has to say next, and his words are given weight by the fact he can also destroy a city in the blink of an eye. Yet, I’d love this character even without any powers. Wick just has this powerful gravitas to him you can’t help but be intrigued by.

    There have been a few other comic adaptations, things like the adaptation of “Stephen King’s Dark Tower series,” and “Clive Barker’s Nightbreed,” or “John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China,” which I’ve enjoyed. I like all of these series, but I hesitate to recommend them in an article about what I’d like to see going forward in comics. And the reason is simple: what I would like to see more of in 2015 and beyond, are original stories, be they horror or otherwise. Original stories as in original characters not from a film, or book series.

    Moore’s has a few good quotes pertaining to comics as a medium when related to film, and literature.

    “Rather than seizing upon the superficial similarities between comics and films or comics and books in the hope that some of the respectability of those media will rub off upon us, wouldn’t it be more constructive to focus our attention upon those ideas where comics are special, and unique?”

    I’ve found some of my favorite comics in 2014 were about, at least by comic standards, fairly simple and not mega-huge larger than life plots. Take “Southern Bastards,” an Image title about a corrupt southern town written by Jason Aaron, with art by Jason Latour . It’s one of my new favorite series, and I can’t wait to get my little wiry hands on each new issue. And straight up, “Southern Bastards,” is a simple story of corruption, and people searching for justice. Yet, the series is able to hit dramatic notes and hit me with the feels harder than anything else I’ve read this year. And it’s an original story, not based off any existing book or film, with a first arc primarily revolving around an old man and the town he grew up in!

    “The Fade Out,” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips was far from a diverse cast, as it takes place back in what I think is the fifties in Hollywood, but this falls under the category of a different type of story leading to originality. I liked it too, because I’m a sucker for period pieces on Hollywood, or really any kind of story on Hollywood.

    One series in 2014 which really surprised me was “The Field,” with story by Ed Brisson, and art by Simon Roy. It’s only a four issue run, but it managed to pack enough mystery and shock, and most importantly memorable characters to make me plow right through it. A man with amnesia, and a world that has apparently gone bat-shit insane.

    In the interest of time, I glossed over a lot of the unique stylistic reasons in the art and the writing of the series listed that made me enjoy them so much. Rest assured that they knock it out of the park.

    In general, I’d like to see comics include different kinds of characters, from all walks of life. The series I enjoyed and listed certainly don’t contain any wildly unique characters. I’ve heard amazing things about the series Sex Criminals, but I haven’t read it yet, so can’t speak on it.
    The most important thing in my mind comics can do is to stop trying to rigidly tell “comic stories.” I was talking with the owner of my local comic shop one time a year or so back. I’ll paraphrase, as I don’t have an eidetic memory. I was telling him something to the effect that I wasn’t into traditional comics, and expressed how I wanted to start trying to write comics. Told him how I wasn’t into superheroes, really, so wasn’t into traditional comic stories. He sort of gave me a look, and proceeded to say some things I’ve taken to heart when it comes to comics. He told me that comics are a medium, and not a story type. He asked me, if I’d say I wasn’t into traditional movie stories, or into movie stories. I responded something like, no, I’d say I’m not into this type of movie, this specific genre, or I’d say the name of the movie. He helped me put things in perspective. Told me, there is not specific type of comic or comic story. That any story can be told in a comic, in the same way you could tell a story in a movie, or in a book.

    You can tell any story you want in a comic. You don’t have to write a comic in the hopes that it’ll become a movie, or get the respect of a novel. Comics are great because they are what they are; they can tell visual stories, but with the power of the written word. Comics occupy the sweet spot between visual art, and text based art such as short stories, or novels.


  • Carrie: In Road Houses they take you!

    carrie

    Just finished up the Carrie episode of my new Stephen King themed podcast with Todd Chicoine of Asylum House Images, which is entitled There Are Other Worlds Than These.
    I was struck by the amount of times Margaret White talks about how “they,” will “take you,” in “road houses.” And, of course, Todd made a bunch of Swayze jokes.

    Carrie gives me hope as a novelist, because frankly, it isn’t amazing all the way through. Todd also told me it’s King’s fourth novel, and let me fact check… yup, according to the wiki (which are always one hundred percent accurate), it is in fact his fourth novel, but his first published. Well, cool, that means I get a pass on three more novels, until I have to release one semi-good one.

    The story was originally started as a short planned for the now defunct men’s magazine Cavalier. Most of them went the way of the Dodo, but back in the 70s, and beforehand, they’d let you send in stories, which they would pay you a decent amount for, and publish. King had many early stories published in men’s magazines. Apparently it was also started as a dare, because a lady told him he couldn’t write about women.

    Surprisingly, neither Todd or myself had ever read Carrie before, despite our obsessive dweeby proclivity to devour his published works. When the episode goes up, I’ll link it somewhere above this post, but I figured I’d write something brief about the novel, since it’s still fresh in my mind.

    There are four films based on Carrie. I watched the 76 and the 2013 before recording the podcast episode on Carrie, to cover my bases. However, I have never seen the made for television version of Carrie, or The Rage: Carrie 2. I might watch them, at some point?

    And no, Carrie has nothing to do with that other lady from Sex and the City.

    Oh yeah, and Cemetery Dance is releasing a fancy pants special edition of it soon.


  • Full Dark, No Stars; The Secrets that Haunt Us

    So this is my first review of a Stephen King book. Won’t lie, it is fairly intimidating to write this. I’m such a huge King nerd, it’s hard for me to say anything negative, even about his worst works. I read all the way through Insomnia, and though it’s clearly his worst work, I still kind of enjoyed it!
    Thankfully, I have nothing but good things to report on Full Dark, No Stars. I recant all my bitching about how Stephen King has stopped writing horror, and become strictly a drama kind of guy. This collection of two novellas, and two short stories (or is it three novellas, and one short story?) is King at his bloody finest.
    I’m a big fan of themed anthologies, and this sucker has the theme of dark secrets. Most of them have to do with murders. If I had any critique of new Stephen King, it is that he seems to write less supernatural horror fiction. Still, there is the shortest story (possibly the only short story, but I’m too lazy to check if the last tale is novella length or not), Fair Extension, which is supernatural. And the first story references ghosts, so it has a supernatural tint to it. First story, 1922 seems like a flipped version of Dolores Claiborne.
    Won’t spoil the stories for you, but suffice it to say, they are all twisted and black as pitch. King is one blade that hasn’t lost its edge with age.
    Oh, and I realize this is a year late. My bad. I only got it last Christmas, and though it’s not an adequate excuse, look, I’m only one guy here!