Interviews with Eidolon – Lucky

Although the day was sunny, she’d led me to one of the cafe’s darker corners, the small rectangle of scuffed wood between us holding our tea, a carousel of sugar packets and my elbows.

Hers stayed by her side, her hands, I imagine, folded neatly in her lap.

“Call my Lucky,” she said when I first approached her days ago.

Even though we lived on different streets, I’d seen her in the neighborhood, back straight, head held high, chin up. Her stride perfectly even and smooth. Regal.

Older, Asian and simply dressed, she carried with her a feeling of calm and, I suspected, a lifetime of stories. Not too surprising considering most who found themselves living in this part of town only did so after a lifetime of stumbles, reversals and outright disasters.

This short strip of cracked and crumbling concrete known as Eidolon Avenue was a place where you died or came to hide. There were no futures to be found here.

So I’d approached. Suggested an interview. Nothing big. Really just something to stretch those wannabe-journalist muscles in me, my brain eager to distance itself from homework and move closer to real life people with real life tales to tell.

It’d be one question, I’d explained. A simple one that, on the surface, seemed easy to answer but, once looked at, considered, turned over, pulled apart, became more complicated than it first seemed:

What’s your biggest regret?

Lucky grinned, her thin lips lifting at the corners, the wrinkles around her eyes deepening. Her gaze left mine to scan the narrow room. Drifted toward the two waiters lounging by the register. The ding-ding of the door as a man in a business suit strode in. The other couple who’d claimed their own dark corner, their voices whispers, their heads low as they lingered over coffees, thick porcelain plates picked clean and shoved to the side.

“My biggest regret,” she then said. Her eyes returned to me. I sat up straighter. Wanted to sip my tea but feared seeming impolite. She stared, pondering the question, I suspected. Sifted through the decades of her life to land on that one thing she wished she could change more than anything.

“Yes,” I watched her, hoping I hadn’t started off too bold. That the question wasn’t too nosey or offensive. “The first thing that comes to mind, if that’s okay.”

A nod from her. And then a pause, her hands lifting, fingers laced, to rest on the table. Her knuckles looked arthritic and swollen. Painful. The fingers thin and tapered, the nails clumsily manicured, the skin as pale as delicate paper criss-crossed with a faint map of light blue veins.

As if sensing my stare, the fists darted beneath the table and out of sight to rest again on her lap.

“When I was young-” she said before stopping. Her eyes watched the cup of tea steaming in front of her. The one she’d yet to sip. She shook her head. Her narrow shoulders lifted in a sigh.

“I’m sorry.” I leaned forward, my elbows still propped on the table. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t-”

Her raised hand, palm forward, silenced me.

“When I was young,” she said again, the hand slipping below to reunite with its twin, “I had a choice.” She looked at me. “I chose wrong.”

“What was the choice?” I said, the words spoken before Reason and Manners could stop them.

“I drank the tea.” Another grin. “Everything that followed – the devastation, the heartbreak, the callous cruelty, the evil, the theft of my beloved Samuel – all of that came because of seven sips of tea.”

“Evil,” I said. “You mean, like, ‘evil’ evil, right?”

“This was in Shanghai,” she said, the question ignored. “There was a woman, a very powerful woman. One with shocking, dangerous secrets. A woman of great wealth. I worked for her. Scrubbing floors that didn’t need to be scrubbed.” A long pause, the tea waiting in front of her. “I worked for her and she ended my life.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re young,” she said, giving the room another quick glance. “You’ve yet to see how dark life can get. Of how surprising it can be.” She watched the couple bickering. She pretty and meek, he handsome and brutish, both young, the shadow of their far corner stealing their words. “You’ve yet to see how a ‘yes’ or a nod or simply doing nothing can give birth to events you could never expect and never imagine. You’ve yet to see how horrible people can be.

“Even the tiny old ones who walk quietly and give you small smiles,” she said, smiling as, with a ding-ding, the door opened and the guy in the suit left, to-go coffee in hand.

Although I smiled in response, I felt my skin crawl. Felt my bones grow cold. My flesh grow heavy. In her eyes, just below the surface, I saw a different woman than I’d first assumed. One perhaps chained to her past in ways I couldn’t imagine. I saw the flicker of a dangerous flame. The sense of something deeper. Unimaginable. Of things seen that can’t be unseen. Of consequences and painful regrets. Of anguish and silent screams and pain without end.

“Have you been evil?” I heard myself saying.

“I chose,” she said. “I drank the tea. More sips than needed, I remember. The job done in three, I took seven. Seven quick sips. But in the moment – only a girl, really, hungry, orphaned, alone, my family having thrown me to the streets like a useless dog – in that moment I believed there was no other choice. That my options were few. Even nonexistent.

“In that moment I wanted what Madame had, what she promised. Her power, her wealth, her freedom.”

“If you sipped the tea?”

She nodded.

“And did you succeed?”

“I was powerful, for a time. A long time.” Her voice was quiet. Almost a whisper. “And I was feared. Legendary for my cruelty, not that there should be pride in that.” A small laugh. “And I was wealthy. Even loved, briefly.” She breathed deep. Exhaled slow. “But freedom? Never. My choice was a cage, you see. A lock with no key. A hunger,” she said, her words becoming a rush. “A need, an unstoppable obsession with no end, a thing I needed to do, I had to do, I was forced to do-” She stopped. “Forgive me.”

She nodded, her head ducking chin to chest in the smallest of bows, as she slid from the booth.

“No, please. I’m sorry,” I said, angling from the booth to rise as well. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“In the blink of an eye, they piled up, the bodies, one after another.” She took my hand in hers. “It happens so fast.” Her hand let go of mine. “And for that, there is no redemption, no matter how many times I confess.”

And she turned, leaving the cafe with a ding-ding as the door closed behind her, her cup of tea forgotten on the table, untouched.

***

Learn more about Lucky in Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast

“a great read…powerful and jarring” – Cemetery Dance

Ten Horror Novels That Will Stick with You – Horror Novel Reviews

Eidolon Avenue front cover-WARNING

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fearless and noisy, quiet and desperate

A quick excerpt from an interview I recently gave to Joe over at Crystal Lake Publishing. One of those times when I surprise myself by sounding smart, accomplished, wise…sane. 😱

Enjoy! 😃

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

JW: Although Eidolon Avenue stands head and shoulders above anything I’ve ever done, without doubt or hesitation Martuk… the Holy, my first book, is what I’m proud of and captures perfectly the surprising journey I found myself on at that time: someone discovering, page by page, that he could really write!

For someone who’d never written a short story or an article or any piece of prose fiction to sit down (without an editor or even an experienced beta reader—I was new, remember, and knew no one in the writing community) and slam out an 80,000 word novel is beyond audacious.

Is Martuk perfect? No. But it’s ambitious. A sprawling epic covering two thousand years. It’s fearless and noisy, quiet and desperate. It’s wounded and yearning, violent and hungry. Martuk may lack the polish of its sequel Proseuche or Eidolon Avenue, which is on a different level entirely when it comes to the writing and storytelling, but what Martuk has in spades is the passionate, carefree excitement of a writer finding his voice.

And that, right there, is worthy of applause. In fact, sometimes I find myself wondering ‘Where the heck did that guy go?’

You can read more over at Crystal Lake Publishing.

the hungry shadows of deepest dark

Occasionally, just occasionally, someone will pepper me with questions for which occasionally, just occasionally, I’ll offer somewhat cogent, intelligent, dare I say “witty” answers.

This was one of those times.

What attracted you to writing horror?

In my opinion, horror lets you write your own rules. I can create a haunting something out of a forgettable nothing in horror. A speck of dust, a loose thread, a glance in the mirror. In other genres, those everyday things are just that: everyday things. In horror, at least for me, they’re jumping off points for the total unraveling of a life, of one’s sanity, of one’s grip on reality.  For me, they’re the necessary first step into the hungry shadows of deepest dark.

For the rest of this fascinating — occasionally, just occasionally — read, head on over here.

You’ll also see why I believe my friends Paul Tremblay, Lucy Snyder, Josh Malerman, Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Brian Kirk, Lisa Mannetti and Chesya Burke are writers to watch and read and get to know.

Because, as I also said,

in my opinion, the more I dig, the more I realize we’re in a bit of a Golden Age when it comes to fantastic writers.

Yeah, I know, right? Good stuff!

So, take a look, have a read and enjoy. 🙂

Jonathan-Interview(Sept16)

Jonathan Winn is a screenwriter as well as the author of Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast (Crystal Lake Publishing), the full-length novels Martuk … the Holy (A Highlight of the Year, 2012 Papyrus Independent Fiction Awards), Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche (Top Twenty Horror Novels of 2014, Preditors & Editors Readers Poll), the upcoming Martuk … the Holy: Shayateen and The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by Martuk …

In addition to Forever Dark, his award-winning short story in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 2, his work can also be found in Horror 201: The Silver Scream and Writers on Writing, Vol. 2, all from Crystal Lake Publishing.

 

First of Five

And so it begins.

In a rare confluence of events — think a massive meteor shower pummeling the earth while a rare comet circles the heavens around a total Solar Eclipse as we discover a Kardashian with actual talent — I’m going to have five book releases over the next three months.

I know, right?

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First up, Horror 201: The Silver Scream

The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.

Horror 201: The Silver Scream, the follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award nominated Horror 101: The Way Forward, delves into the minds of filmmakers to see what it takes to produce great horror films, from the writing and funding process, to directing, producing, and writing tie-ins.

It’s a tome of interviews and essays by some of our favorite artists.

That’s right, film legends and authors such as Wes Craven, George A. Romero, Ray Bradbury, Ed Naha, Patrick Lussier, Stephen Volk, Nancy Holder, Tom Holland, John Shirley, William Stout, and John Russo want to share their expertise with you through informative, practical, career-building advice.

These are the folks behind movies and novelizations such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Dark Shadows, Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, Buffy, Resident Evil, The Stand, Sleepwalkers, Masters of Horror, The Fly, Critters, Tales from the Crypt, Child’s Play, Fright Night, Thinner, The Langoliers, Ted Bundy, Re-animator Unbound, Halloween, Apollo 18, The Eye, Night of the Living Dead, The Crow, The Mist, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Horror 201 also entertains. You’ll see a side of your favorite authors, producers, and directors never seen before – combining fun and entertainment with informative career-building advice.

Horror 201 is aimed at arming generations of authors, screenwriters, producers, directors, and anyone else interested in the film industry, from big budget movies to the independent film circuit, as well as the stage.

The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.

Whether you’re an accomplished author or screenwriter, writing as a hobby, or have dreams of writing screenplays or making movies, Horror 201 will take you on a behind the scenes tour of the Horror movie industry from Hollywood to the UK and Australia.

Horror 201 covers:

  • Horror as culture
  • Scare tactics
  • The evolution of the horror film
  • Viewer desensitization
  • Watching your story come to life
  • Screenwriting advice
  • Dissecting screenplays
  • A production company case study
  • Tricks of the trade
  • Writing tips
  • Advice on Producing
  • Advice on Directing
  • Information about funding and distributing a film
  • Entertaining tidbits and anecdotes

happy-face-GOT

But wait, there’s more!!!!!!!

Horror 201: The Silver Scream is perfect for people who:

  • are looking to delve into screenplay writing
  • want to write their first screenplay
  • are fans of the horror movie industry
  • like to follow the careers of their favorite directors
  • are planning on infiltrating a different field in horror writing
  • are looking to pay more bills with their art
  • are trying to establish a name brand
  • are looking to get published
  • are looking for motivation and/or inspiration
  • are seeking contacts in the film industry

Amazing, right?

How about a cover?

Horror 201

Honestly, I love how the red of the car echoes the red in the title and the red in that other car. And the silver of the screen? With the woman screaming? To me, it’s ever so slightly reminiscent of —

shut-up-and-take-my-money

So, one release down, four to go. And what are those other four books?

An essay in the second volume of Horror 201: The Silver Scream; Forever Dark, an award-winning short story in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 2; an essay in Writers on Writing, Vol. 2; and Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast.

All between now and January.

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It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Okay, but, still, how cool is this!

Will update with links as the rest of these roll out.

 

Modern Mythmakers

Joe Mynhardt over at Crystal Lake Publishing shows us once again why he’s quickly becoming One to Watch with his new release, Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers

Check it out:

Modern Mythmakers is a collection of 35 interviews from horror and science fiction’s most influential writers and filmmakers, including Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Richard Matheson, John Carpenter, John Saul, Joe McKinney, the Night of the Living Dead crew (including John Russo, Kyra Schon and Russ Streiner), Elvira, Whitley Strieber, Christopher Moore, and many more.

Line-up: Foreword by Alan Dean Foster; Forrest J. Ackerman; C. Dean Andersson; Adrienne Barbeau; Ray Bradbury; Ramsey Campbell; John Carpenter; Dan Curtis; Elvira; Rusty Fischer; Neil Gaiman; Mick Garris; Laurell K. Hamilton; George Clayton Johnson; Jack Ketchum; Dean Koontz; Herschell Gordon Lewis; Thomas Ligotti; Bentley Little; Graham Masterton; Richard Matheson; Joe McKinney; Christopher Moore; Night of the Living Dead Crew: John Russo, Kyra Schon, & Russ Streiner; William F. Nolan; Ingrid Pitt; Linnea Quigley; Fred Olen Ray; John Saul; David Snell; Darce Stoker; Peter Straub; Whitley Strieber; Timothy Zahn; Afterword by The Amazing Kreskin.

“Interesting interviews, masterfully compiled…” – Horror News

“Modern Mythmakers is a horror-fiend’s dream – a bubbling cauldron of genre info straight from the mouths of the madmen and women we fans worship.” – Kristopher Triana, author of Growing Dark and head of Tavern of Terror

“I was struck by the skill with which Michael McCarty conducts himself. He should have his own nightly talk show or at least a radio program dedicated to his work.” – Zero Signal Magazine

“… beware the dark, and what lurks in the minds of those you read and watch in the wee hours. Highly recommended.” – Hellnotes

“Modern Mythmakers is a healthy-sized bowl of horror-themed Wheaties coated with inspiration that’ll fuel your writing and filmmaking passion. And for the straight up fan boys and girls, it’s full of spoonfuls of trivia regarding classic horror and science fiction film and literature.” – Horror Novel Reviews

And here’s a gander at the really cool cover. 🙂

Modern Mythmakers full cover - small