facing the sinister unexpected

From here on out, whenever I’m asked why I insist on combing horror with history, I’m pointing people to this guest post I wrote for the release of Proseuche.

But the humanity of who we are is the same. That’s a constant. The petty thievery of politicians. The lies husbands tell wives, and wives tell husbands. The dreams children dare to dream about their future. The frustration we have with Them, whether that Them is the wealthy or politicians or annoying neighbors.

And the monsters. We can’t forget about the monsters. Even those that look and talk and act like us. Those are the same, too. The fear of the unknown. The pit in the stomach one feels at the sight of a deep, dark shadow. Though separated by millennia, the quiet terror that makes our hearts thump when faced with a sinister unexpected never changes.

This is why horror works so well in a historical context. This is why I’m driven to take my dark fiction out of the comfort of this contemporary Here and Now and toss it to the wolves of 3rd century Antioch or 1st century Jerusalem.

You can read the rest over here. Enjoy! :)

Who am I without my ghosts?

Blog tours can be tough.

On the one hand, you’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to introduce your work to (hopefully) thousands of new eyes. On the other hand, you find yourself navigating the same questions in the same interviews time and time again. Or struggling to convince your tired brain — which is probably still in shock from writing eighty thousand words and then turning right around to edit and rewrite those same eighty thousand words — to come up with an awesome, amazing, incredible Guest Blog Post.

Well, I don’t always hit a homer, but this is one of the few times I swung for the bleachers and won. Here’s an excerpt:

For a moment, I’d forgotten who he was, this Martuk. Had forgotten about his birth in the sun-blasted Zagros mountains one thousand years before Christ. Had forgotten the centuries he’d seen. The bloody chaos he’d caused and the agony he’d endured. Reminded myself that this was a man who’d had a long life, a long immortality, even before something as unremarkable as a cup of coffee even existed.

I gave him a moment. “If I may, why the second book?” I said. “Why Proseuche? Was it something as simple as the story continuing?”

“Nothing’s that simple.” He finished his espresso in one final swallow, his finger raised to order a second. A small nod from me, and a second finger lifted to indicate two. “Writing doesn’t excorcise the ghosts. It emboldens them.”

“So why write?”

A moment of silence followed by a brief shrug. “Who am I without my ghosts? In this world that changes yet remains the same, they are one of my few constants. Their anger, their rage. Their fear and regret and sorrow. These things, I know them. They are familiar. Even here, even now, they walk with me.

“They are amaranthine. A word I now love, by the way,” he said with a grin. “Endless and forever and constant.”

Lesson? When in doubt, take Martuk out for coffee where he’ll most surely talk about Proseuche.

The World I Live In

You know that thing where I talk with SF Signal about the launch of Proseuche and what it’s like to write about an immortal in a genre full of sparkly vampires and stumbling zombies?

Yeah, that. Here’s an excerpt.

I don’t live in a world where sparkly vampires sigh like lovelorn teenagers, their emotional angst all but defanging them.

I don’t live in a world where zombies with endless appetites lurch and stumble, their ends often coming with a surprising thwack of a shovel.

No, where I live is truly monstrous. It’s dark and forbidding. A place where innocent lives have grisly ends and ghosts still sob. The world I live in is one of betrayal and mistrust. Where the line separating enemy from friend is cloudy and constantly shifting. A land where those who walk and talk like you and me share nothing of our humanity. The world of my immortal Martuk (as in “two” with a hard “k” at the end … Martuk) is one where monsters hide in plain sight, and the blood on their hands is steeped in consequence and regret.

Surviving the War of the Page

An excerpt from an interview over on Horror Novel Reviews where I talk about staggering creativity, an enviable imagination, and Venti Caramel Half-Caf N0-Whip Mocha Frappucinos.

Oh, and Proseuche. Of course.

So, really, that’s why I’m here. Because you do what I do and you know how difficult and frustrating it can be. Especially if you’re that falling tree in the forest that no one hears. So I’m standing before you for a nod, a small smile. Maybe even a handshake. One survivor of the War of the Page welcoming another comrade to its ranks, if you will.

 

 

the scent of the page

There’s nothing quite like holding a real, honest to goodness book in your hands, you know? Especially when the story’s as good as Proseuche is.

So, if ebooks just ain’t  your thang — no worries — Proseuche IS available in print. Just head on over here and click your way to bookshelf happiness.

Proseuche_Print_Cover_5

It’s alive … IT’S ALIVE!!!!!

Well, it’s happened. The day I sometimes worried would never come is finally here. The release of the book a recent review called “amazing … breathtaking … creepy”.

Of course I’m talking about Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to Martuk … the Holy.

Got a nook? It’s here. Need it in every format under the sun? Try here.

And just for fun, here’s the cover again:

Proseuche_Cover-FINAL

 

amazing … breathtaking … creepy

A small snippet from a new review of Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche:

 

“… on a purely horror-fan level, the evil scenes in particular are amazing. Lush descriptions, beautiful detail. Not only was I reminded of illuminated manuscripts, I was reminded of oil paintings, those old and classic manuscripts that, even in their depiction of terrible things, are as breathtaking as they are creepy.”

 

Amaranthine ghosts

Excerpt from Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche (release date July 22, 2014), the sequel to my award-winning debut novel Martuk … the Holy

 

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

were the first words his assassin said.

Weeks ago he had spied the man, a stranger, lingering in the silver light of morning.

Weeks ago, the sun waking behind a canopy of grey, he had wrestled the keys that turned the locks that opened the door to this, his church.

Weeks ago, he had sat in the confessional, the dark-haired Penitent hidden by the lattice-work screen separating them.

Then,

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

The words had come, halting and thick with exhaustion. The heavily accented English breathed by a soul in torment.

The priest hadn’t known what to say.

The Church believed one thing, he another.

For years he’d closed his eyes, all those shadows sitting in the pews rising from memory to haunt him. Echoes of faces, of arms and chests and torsos and slender shoulders. Their necks long as they bowed their heads in prayer. Even still, he was haunted by the gentle warmth of phantom breath against his cheek as he worked in his office, alone. Still, the feeling of all those eyes on him persisted, like a stain or the lingering scent of cherished memory. Eyes watching him, following him. Souls eager for him to see them, to know them and remember them. To love them. Their footsteps echoing his as he walked the nave jingling the keys that would turn the locks to bolt the doors of this, his church.

“Yes,” he had finally said in English as well, his voice a whisper lest this blatant insurrection be overheard. “Yes, I do.”

“It’s amaranthine,” had come the response, the voice low, the words mumbled. The vowels and consonants lost in the advent of quiet tears.

“It’s what?”

He had lost the word. Had caught the “it” in what was said, but wasn’t sure about the rest. Knew there was a second word. An odd word. An unfamiliar word. A beautiful word. But he didn’t know what it was. It was a word he thought he might know, but hadn’t really heard.

“I’m sorry?” the young priest had said. “I didn’t hear you.”

He had grown desperate to help this stranger. To give him comfort. To offer something, anything, to ease his pain and bring a glimmer of hope to his heart.

This, this man, this agony, this need. This is why he did what he did. Why he had sacrificed so much. Why he’d given his life to Our Heavenly Father and the Church.

“I didn’t hear you,” he’d repeated, his voice sounding weak.

The stranger’s hand had rested on the screen then. The dark shadow of a palm, a thumb, four fingers, all splayed flat against the thin strips of wood. Reaching for him, perhaps. Seeking comfort, maybe even a friend. The flesh of the palm smooth. A hint of an ancestry not solely European in the skin. A discreet, subtle darkness there. Middle Eastern, perhaps.

The priest had wanted to press his palm to the screen. Return the gentle gesture. Had felt the overwhelming urge to lift his hand to that of the one who struggled, whose heart wept. This soul who was so desperate for companionship that he’d offer his touch despite the lattice-work between them.

The thought had been ludicrous, of course. He knew that. Had known that his imagination had gotten the better of him. Could hear the criticisms from years ago, those venerable Fathers and Sisters and Mother Superiors who had warned him that his too tender heart would be anything but a blessing.

“It is not your pain,” Father Bautista had urged, the old man looming like a great mountain, his voice a deep rumbling from his chest. “They come for guidance. For Penance and Reconciliation. For peace, for hope. To cleanse themselves of their sins. Remember, it is not your pain.”

And yet …

“Listen well, my boy,” had come the voice of the Mother Superior whose name was lost though her doughy face and thick hips and those stubby fingers laced together so tight the knuckles turned white would never leave him.

“This is not good, what you create in your head,” she’d said, her voice cutting and sometimes cruel. “Listen to their words, and only their words. Do what is needed of you. Trust Our Heavenly Father to do the rest. Do not create a world of loneliness and need for these Penitents that may not exist.

“This world, it is not yours.”

But if those who’d teased his tear-stained cheeks, those Fathers and Sisters and Mother Superiors, if they could hear this stranger, hear the voice thick with loneliness, see the palm, patient and waiting against the ancient wood, wouldn’t these ghosts from his past feel what he felt now?

He smiled.

Yes, he believed in ghosts.

The priest’s hand had left his lap, the fingers flexing as they stretched and slowly, tentatively, rose.

There had been a sigh then from this soul in torment waiting on the other side. A glimpse of a head bowing. Of shoulders slumping. Of the hand still smooth against the slats of woven wood.

But a sigh, yes, deep and heavy.

A sigh of someone who had not known sleep for many moons.

Of someone who waited, alone, his patience ebbing, his fear growing.

The priest’s hand had stopped, hovering near the shadow of the stranger’s palm, and then retreated. Scurried to the safety of his cassock, the fingers instead choosing to wind ’round the slender cloth of the stole falling from his neck to rest against his chest.

Their voices had been too strong, his ghosts. Their belligerence had clouded his mind. Their admonitions too great. His shame at being too kind, too loving, of weeping too easily, too onerous to bear.

He had cleared his throat, shaking away the past as he blinked once, twice, a finger swiping away a tear and then wiping his nose as he cleared his throat again.

The sudden banging of the door had startled him.

He had left, this man, this stranger. The hand gone as his footsteps echoed through the nave and rushed down the aisle to push past the heavy wooden doors and disappear into the crowds navigating Boulevard Saint-Germaine.

The priest had sat back, the stench of failure, of regret, catching in his throat and stealing his breath.

“Père, pardonne-moi …” he’d prayed, willing away the image of that bowed head and thick dark hair. Of the hand resting, lonely and alone and friendless, against the screen.

“Forgive me.”

That night the dreams started.

a darkness with teeth

With the July 22nd release of Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche drawing closer by the day, I thought you guys would appreciate a bit of a back cover blurb. Yeah? Yeah.

Enjoy.  :)

 

And cradled in her kindness, I dove back into the blood soaked memories of this, my life.

With those words, the immortal Maruk’s tale continues.

From modern Paris, he speaks of his life in the religious chaos and pagan magic of 3rd century Antioch. Of his friends, a man haunted by grief and regret, and a woman with secrets as thick as the woolen of her constant cloak. Of days marked by the greed of Rome and the ambitions of those driven by dangerous delusion.

He remembers wandering souls who returned with their own stories to tell. Who shared their own memories of blazing deserts and a darkness with teeth. Of being imprisoned in a myth built by the lies of others. And then Martuk recalls a magic so dark it summons demons from a cloudless sky and rips the sleeping dead from their slumber.

The past revisited, Martuk ends his tale with a confession. A modern-day betrayal so cruel, the rest of his life everlasting threatens to be one of searing regret and never-ending shame.

This sequel to Jonathan Winn’s Martuk … the Holy is a tale of stumbling humanity and shocking brutality. Forgiveness and release. Death. Immortality. And the tenuous hope for blessed redemption.

This is Martuk … the Holy … Proseuche.