“Horrifying, grotesque, stomach turning”

“A horror like no other. Cringed the entire time I was reading it. The way Winn paints a scene is amazingly graphic and riveting. You will find your self rubbing shadow pain from your limbs and brushing away unseen creepy crawlers as you read this.

Horrifying, grotesque, stomach turning. Another great book from Winn.”

From a new five star Amazon review for Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast.

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“ever deeper into the abyss”

“Jonathan Winn has penned a fantastic book full of sharp, stylistic darkness. EIDOLON AVENUE manages to be both literary and transgressive, drawing the reader ever deeper into the abyss. A cornucopia of horrors abound within, some subtle and many overt, but all are displayed in a manner befitting the tales.”

For more of this new five star review of Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast click here

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“This was beautiful horror”

A few choice words from a new review for Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast:

“incredibly strong…rich in emotion…soaked in Eastern Magic and ghost stories…powerful and poignant…horrific and satisfying…a visceral, visual collection…

This was beautiful horror”

You can read the entire review over here.

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The Tale of Forever Dark

As with everything I write, I set out with very specific goals when I sat down with Forever Dark, my story in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 2.

To begin with, I wanted to create an immediate experience. A continuous unfolding with the reader actively discovering the narrative landscape alongside the Main Character. Trapped in the unfamiliar, I wanted there to be a sense of displacement or occasional confusion (as there is in life) while waiting for “the next realization” to occur or “the next thing” to present itself. I wanted the Main Character and the reader to discover this new, frightening world together.

Second, I wanted the prose to veer between lyrically poetic and abruptly visceral. In Forever Dark, my goal was to weave together a shifting narrative with an unpredictable prose, keeping the reader engaged but off-balance enough to encourage them to barrel forward, paragraph after paragraph, in search of a Safe Space.

A Safe Space that might not exist.

I also wanted — and the writing of Forever Dark predated Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast as well as any knowledge there was a thing called Crystal Lake Publishing — to try my hand at something with a bit more gore. To move away from the Martuk the Holy-type of terror that lives in the dishonest safety of the imagination for the Forever Dark-type of fear that pivots around the obvious wounding of the body.

But it couldn’t be an active gore. It had to be the aftermath of an unseen event. A silent something that shadows everything, that has given birth to everything, but is never spoken of. I wanted the mysterious Hows and Whys of a mangled hand or a bleeding mouth to engage the reader’s imagination and their sense of curiosity, but not give them any answers.

At least not right away.

Finally, my goal was to move out of my comfort zone as a writer. Stretch my wings a bit and see if I could do all of the above at the high level I demand of myself.

Hopefully I did so. That Forever Dark had the great honor of placing 2nd in Crystal Lake’s contest — and thus earning a coveted spot in the Table of Contents — indicates I came closer to my goals than not.

And I hope, should you take a look (and do so knowing the process behind my writing it), that you enjoy it.

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(artwork for Forever Dark by Aaron Dries)

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a necessary death

I’m in the dark.

I’m not apologizing for it. And I’m not asking for help. I’m simply stating where I am. And where that is is in the dark.

A dark so pervasive, so insistent, so oppressive and inescapable, that there is no light. Those small things that would usually pierce the darkness – the smiles of neighbors and passersby, the kind words from those very few, true real life friends I have – just don’t right now. They get lost somewhere around the edges. Familiar echoes in the distance I kinda sorta hear, but don’t. Not really. Appreciated, yes, but quickly lost. That’s how dark it is.

But I still move through life. I’m pleasant, I can laugh, I can smile, I can brighten your day and mean every word of it. And I do. But it’s not resonating for me. It’s just too dark.

But why? Why am I here? What’s the reason? Because there’s always a reason.

It’s the eerie calm before the great storm. That massive, mysterious, life-changing tsunami I see rolling in from the horizon. It’s exhaustion. And taking stock of years languishing on everyone’s TBR pile, always “next” and always passed over. It’s knowing no matter how carefully I construct a sentence or coax out a rhythm on the page, or how delicately I balance the inherent song in someone’s dialogue and meticulously build those narrative beats page by page, it’s all for naught. I’m writing for an audience of one. It’s reaching far and wide to be better and stronger, to make progress, to achieve, somehow, and coming back empty handed. It’s admitting that no matter how good I am, it’s not enough. And it’ll never be enough. It’s the necessary realization that sometimes people are not who I hoped they’d be. Not who I so needed them to be. That I saw what I wanted to see and heard what I wanted to hear. Again. It’s the admission that, despite whatever gifts I have, I am expendable and easily forgotten.

None of this is bad.

This dark is a much needed hollowing out of all that no longer fits. It’s the Universe forcing me to relinquish that which is inauthentic and illusory — people, situations, dreams, goals, loves — mourn those deaths, and then, when I can see again, fill the empty space with something better. Or nothing at all. I don’t know. The Me I am right now, right here, is being systematically shredded into oblivion so that at the end, when the light returns, I have to rediscover the Me I really am. Or at least the Me I could be. And that person might be radically different than who I think I am now.

I’m not sure. It’s too dark to see.

And so I’m writing this. Instead of doing something to give vent to my frustration, something sudden and irrevocable to bring escape or peace, I’m calmly, rationally facing the monster and calling it what it is. Hopefully lessening its hold by looking it in the eye. Because writing this little note is all I can do right now. If I take a step to try and leave this shadow, the shadow expands five steps. If I take a second step, it grows ten more. If I do any of the active, take-charge things I usually do to shrug away the dark, the dark grows stronger. So all I can do is stand still and let the light find me. Just stand quiet, take responsibility for my mistakes, own up to my self-delusions, follow the threads back to where I blinded myself with good intentions and hope, cut those cords, release those goals, people, dreams, loves, and then wait until the black loses its hold, turns grey and the shadows begin to lift.

Then, and only then, can I step forward into a world I may not recognize, but which I will make mine. Somehow.

Until then, I’m in the dark.