I was really impressed

…says a new review over at Morton’s Mayhem for Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast

Always nice when readers take the time to let me know they enjoy what I do.

Clickity-click-click-click the link and take a look!

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Eidolon: Favorite Read of 2016

Following on the heels of Horror Novel Reviews including Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast in its Best of the Year list, Zakk over at Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness has now jumped onboard, naming Eidolon one of his favorite reads of 2016.

Fingers crossed that Eidolon Avenue: The Second Feast will be out late-2017/early-2018.

I’m working on it.  👊😎👍

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Eidolon: One of the Year’s Best

I’ve just learned Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast was voted one of 2016’s Best over at Horror Novel Reviews.

This is a huge honor and, as it’s my first “Best of” list, something I’ll treasure. ‘Cause, hey, you only get your first time once, right?

What a great way to pep up a grueling day! 😜

Eidolon Avenue front cover-WARNING

apologies…perhaps

I don’t know about other writers, but when I find I’ve written something a bit rough or cruel or viciously brutal— this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen — I feel more than a smidgen of guilt.

Not necessarily because of the experience the Reader will go through — they did sign up for it, though, so… — but more because of what I put the characters through.

Interesting, isn’t it?

For better or worse, I feel deeply for people who exist solely on the page. But that’s what I suspect gives my work emotional resonance: these people are real to me. Very real.

They are telling their stories. And, for better or worse, those stories follow me. Poke into my thoughts months, years, after being told. The consequences of what I create keep me awake at night.

No, seriously. That happens. A lot.

Almost a year after its initial release, Click, the third story in Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast, is one of those stories I can’t get away from. And it’s not just because of how brutal it was, but because of the innocence of the victims and the dangerous psychosis of the killer.

I’ve said this before, but I simply could not get my head around the absence of empathy and the glee he took in the act of hurting another.

You see, with my immortal Martuk, he does bad things, but there’s always a reason. So, at the end of the day, readers may disagree with what Martuk does, but they understand on a visceral, very basic level why he did it.

With Martuk, you hate him, you love him, you fear him and, most importantly, you understand the Why of his What.

But with Colton in Click?

He was pure evil. Evil and insanity. And, yes, there were reasons. A litany of Whys to his What. Wounds that drove him. Ancient scars that still bled.

But none of that excused what he, the Character, insisted I, the Writer, create for him.

I remember writing the story while sobbing — like, really SOBBING — because I HATED what was happening. Hated it. Made me sick to my stomach. Forced me up and out to take long walks just to escape it for a much needed breath of fresh air.

But it was the story that needed to be told.

You know, I still get emails and private messages via social media raking me over the coals for Click. Questioning my sanity, my kindness, my heart. Questioning what kind of monster I am to put on the page someone as horrible as Colton.

And I get it. I do.

Which is probably why I’m feeling the need to write what’s turned into an open letter.

But, listen, those of us who invest ourselves totally in our work sometimes don’t have the control over the final product people think we might. Sometimes our characters want to tell stories that we vehemently disagree with. Sometimes they grab us by the arm and drag us, kicking and screaming and, yes, crying, much deeper into the dark than we ever wanted to go. And when we stumble free, back into the light, after the story’s told, we find ourselves changed, wounded, even scarred.

But that’s the deal we made to do what we do. Life isn’t always pretty and perfect. Sometimes vicious people do atrocious things with no rhyme or reason. As someone who writes horror, it’s my job to capture the barest hints of that so that my readers can exorcise, vicariously, their own demons. I guess. I don’t know.

All I know is that I relish returning to the relative normalcy and sanity of my dearest immortal Martuk as I dive into Shayateen, his third and perhaps final book.

Still, though, I do wonder if there should be apologies…perhaps.

Looks like I still have some psychological knots to untangle.

An Anniversary painted darkest black

Anniversary. Apartment 1D. The fourth story in Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast.

After the grand scope of Lucky, the gut punch of Bullet and the nightmare of Click, I desperately needed a change of pace. And so out came Marta and Benji and Mr. Peabody. Out came levity and a bit of humor. Characters who share truly horrible experiences with a sense of aw shucks fun. The focus of the story more condensed than the others with the action taking place at a kitchen table during a meal, the narrative driven by dialogue.

Having cut my teeth on screenwriting, I’ve found it helps to shift from prose-driven stories to dialogue-driven stories once in a while. It snaps the senses of the reader, throws the rhythm a bit, and keeps them engaged and on their toes. Plus I suspect they enjoy it when a writer surprises them by landing a playful left hook.

But, as with everything on Eidolon, there’s a twist. And with Marta and Benji, considering it’s their 50th Wedding Anniversary and they’re celebrating it by finally getting their decades-long murder/suicide pact right (with Mr. Peabody’s help) I needed to take the carefree lightness and levity of the story and not only turn it on its head, but paint it darkest black.

I needed to take everything good about Marta’s love for Benji — and Benji’s love for her — and, by revisiting what’s been said, alter the context, revealing the reality to be something entirely different.

Then I needed to allow the building to exact its price. And, in Anniversary, the cost for what’s been done is chilling and haunting and, in the end, sad.

Again, after the grand scope of Lucky (1A), the gut punch of Bullet (1B) and the truly living nightmare of Click (1C), Anniversary, for me, hit the right blend of fun and frightening.

And it was a blast to write.

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