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DID NOT FINISH by Simon Wood

Rough Cut by Brian Pinkerton (Bad Moon Books)

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Lupo's World ~ A Blog

"We, the lost children" by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

June 30, 2012

Tags: Writing, Tom Savage, Thomas Ligotti, pulp, writing careers

Valentine - The Novel
We, the lost children
By Benjamin Kane Ethridge

I discovered Tom Savage back in the late 90s during the dismantling of all book sections in Wherehouse Music stores. The liquidation made for incredible deals. One or two dollars on paperbacks, maybe five for a hardcover. I was in bookworm heaven. I discovered many new authors through this windfall, and because Iíd come by them so easily, I felt bonded to the titles, a pirate with his chest of ill-gotten doubloons.

Tom Savage, not to be confused with the Western author of the same name, was a mystery and thriller writer. Hollywood made a movie I never watched (the reviews were enough to sour my desire) based on his superb slasher-thriller Valentine. Itís my favorite book of hisó well, an eyelash away from The Inheritanceó but the point is, I read all of Savageís works and enjoyed them to the core.

I was floored in particular by Valentine though. Great suspense. Great structure. Great twists and turns. Great book. It was so well done I let all my family and friends borrow it. Man, how they read this book and quick! My girlfriend, later to become my wife, read it in two days and she doesnít ever read fiction. Ever. Did I mention ever?
The paperbackís spine was in absolute shreds.

Seeing how this novel was gobbled up reinforced to me that a writer can pull even the most unlikely audiences into his or her den. So what happen next completely puzzled meÖ

Despite Savageís word wizardry and power, just around the turn of the millennium he abandoned fiction. Now, I donít know if I can make that statement completely in earnest, but according to Amazon all I find is a trail of childrenís textbooks with an occasional 1990s murder mystery peeking out between the titles. This was confusing to me and, thinking more on this, I decided perhaps my infatuation with Savageís writing was the reason for this confusion. He must have been a very well kept secret that I had the rare privilege in knowing.

Nope.

I looked online and found countless forums of fans, not legions to be sure, but the man had a following. People who loved his stuffó loved it the same way I did. So why did he leave? Did he do it just for money only? Textbooks pay mightily more than fiction, so thereís that. But thatís a boring reason. Money? Bah. Hey, but speaking of boring, maybe it was that. Maybe the departure from fiction stemmed from boredom or lack of ideas? His book Scavenger, though effective when held against most thriller writing, was not classic Savage. Yet, even for a dud, it was pretty good.

Whatever the excuse, nothing jives for me. A decade has passed now for cripes sakeÖ wouldnít you think Tom Savage would want to write another novel for his adoring fans?

Itís very possible Iím still mired in my own idol worship, a victim and perpetrator of the ďlove meĒ syndrome many writers have. We crave people to enjoy and adore our stories. The writer who writes only for herself is a loathsome beast in our eyes. Share. Why donít you share, Miss Stingy?! When they politely answer, ďNah, no thanks,Ē itís an awfully slippery idea to wrap our minds around.

But it doesnít stop with Savage. Another of my favorite writers, Thomas Ligotti, has also merrily skipped down the trail, leaving that shadowy storyteller forest behind him, no care to even glance back (I assume forever, but hope Iím wrong).

The transgressions of our literary heroes, at least in regard to what is or is not on the page, can crumble the heart at times. Itís taken me a while to find out why; the love-me factor mentioned earlier is a prevailing step in that direction, but not the cut and dry answer.

Barring death, which still forces unimaginable dreams of what might have been, we can come to accept why new books cannot be born. However, with those writers whose hearts still beat and whose lungs still breathe air and whose fingers are still perfectly capable of pushing keys on a keyboardÖ I personally see this evasion as a form of cruel punishment, and surely Iím not the only one.

We need (please, please) these artists to come back with more of their art. But why does it matter? Why canít we shrug and say, ďWell, Iím just happy with what I have?Ē What real difference does it make?

You will seldom find a child content spending a decade with wonderful parents, only to be later turned out to the cold world, alone. And my gripe with AWOL writers is exactly the same. We the readers have been orphaned. Feeling childlike again, full to bursting with wonder, these storytellers were the surrogate parents to our imaginations, if for a short time. Now, with their most careless escape, we wander the real estate they claimed in our hearts, hoping to find more territory. Because, well, we must find out how the untold stories really end.

It screws with us.

It screws with me, anyway.

What can a reader do about this, though? Grin and bear it? Grit our teeth and pout? Neither will help. There are many other authors to discoveró but really now, that relationship will be different, wonít it?

Anyhow, melodramatics aside for a second or two, if Tom Savage ever does write another thriller, I have a plan. When and if I walk past the new novel in a bookstore, I will stop, glance at the blood speckled cover and huff. Where were you when I needed you? I will continue to shop, head held high, nose tilted at a proper angle.

And then, later, I will subconsciously find my way back to the bookshelf and pretend to be surprised. As soon as I determine nobody is looking, I will snatch up the book and crush it over my heart. Breathe in the fresh pulpy air.

So glad to be home again.

--------------------------------------

Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010) and BOTTLED ABYSS (Redrum Horror 2012). For his master's thesis he wrote, "CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film." Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn't writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin's defending California's waterways and sewers from pollution.

Say hi and drop a line at ben@bkethridge.com

In Service To My Masters by David Benton

May 28, 2012

Tags: Writing, time management, David Benton, horror, rock music, Mysteries & Mayhem, A.G. Kent

In Service to My Masters by David Benton

Time.

Some days (weeks, months) managing it can seem almost impossible. Once you reach a certain age maintaining all of your responsibilities becomes a daunting task. This is true for everyone I know. Juggling home ownership, kids, pets, career, bills, and relationships can be a real drag. Even tackling only some of the aforementioned items can feel like a daily quest to the summit of Mt. Everest. But for those people who were blessed (cursed) with a creative bent, the day to day drudgery becomes compounded by the sting of the Musesí whip.

Unfortunately Iím one of those people.

Like most, I struggle endlessly with very little monetary reimbursement or notoriety for my efforts. Yet somehow in the spaces between the day job, keeping track of my kids, making sure my pets donít feel neglected, mowing the lawn -- and even occasionally eating and sleeping -- my hands always find a computer keypad or a fretboard to rest upon. Music and writing are my task masters (sometimes I even get a chance to blow the dust off of my air brush!), and they punish me with mental anguish when I donít heed their call.

I had thought that writing horror fiction and playing hard rock would be a perfect marriage. After all, they go so well together. But I find that music and writing are very different art forms, each requiring a different set of skills and switching gears can be difficult. Music (in performance) is an art of moments, each beat sweeping away the last. One momentís triumph or tragedy is instantly replaced by the next set of notes. Writing, on the other hand, requires more careful consideration. Words have to be crafted in such a way that conveys a vision from writer to reader. Both, when done exceptionally well, can carry a real emotional impact. And the effort to do both well eats a lot of time. Itís time that I really donít have to spare, but somehow I fit it in by shifting everything to accommodate it.

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person Ė and that being the case Ė I oftentimes find myself wishing the demons were less demanding. If only I could be happy just going to work and coming home to relax in front of my TV! Then I could find a career and worry more about my pay stub and less about whether or not I could get a month off to go on tour. Then I could get an even bigger TV! My neighbors wouldnít complain about my lawn because I was at rehearsals or working off a writing deadline and didnít have a chance to cut the grass. I could be at my daughterís recital instead of playing a show halfway across the state (or world). But of course, then I wouldnít be me.

You might wonder why Iím complaining. After all it was my choice, right? The answer to that is: NO. To steal a line from Charles Bukowski: You donít choose writing, writing chooses you. And the same can be said for music, or art, or dance, or theater. You donít choose, you are chosen. Much like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind building a replica of the Devilís Tower out of a pile of mashed potatoes, I am compelled, obsessed, and in need of an intervention. In fact I stopped playing music for four years. I sold all of my gear. I thought I was done. But the hooks were already set too deep. I came back to it. It was waiting for me (waiting for me to write the opus that the aliens are feeding into my brain).

I find that even moderate success comes with a staggering price tag. And that the cost must be paid not only by me, but also by everyone close to me, whether by choice or circumstance (sincerest apologies to my friends and family who have to put up with my madness).

You see, being an artist (writer, musician) isnít something that I do; itís something that I am. Being creative is more akin to being tall, or nice, or talkative than it is with having made a career choice. I can decide if I want to be a bricklayer or cheesemaker, a doctor or lawyer. But, much like being Indian, or Egyptian, or French, creative is something that you are or you arenít Ė there is no choice.

Iím not driving the bus, you see. Iím being driven. You gotta let that boy boogie, Ďcause itís in him and itís gotta come out!

If I could choose, I would choose a life that was moreÖsimple.

And then come those black-hearted Muses with their whip, putting me to taskÖ

--------------------------------

David Benton is currently the touring bass player for the heavy metal novelty band Beatallica, as well as playing in the Milwaukee area with the hard rock trio CHIEF. His horror fiction collaborations with W.D. Gagliani are collected in the Mysteries & Mayhem ebook and in the mid-grade novel I Was a Seventh Grade Monster Hunter. More work in both fields is always on the horizon.

Selected Works

fiction - horror/crime thriller
A Nick Lupo novella, set between the novels Wolf's Gambit and Wolf's Bluff. Find it on Amazon!
What do you do when two enemies come at you at the same time? Pit them against each other! Lupo keeps trying to get out, but they drag him back in...
Bram Stoker Award nominee that began the Nick Lupo series...
Is now back in ebook and trade paperback editions from Samhain Publishing!
Nick Lupo #4!
The stakes are high when Wolfpaw finally reveals what it wants from Nick Lupo. And why.
Fiction - Horror/crime thriller
"In Wolf's Bluff Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell ... fast, vicious and thoroughly satisfying."
-- Jonathan Maberry
Fiction - Horror/crime Thriller
Wolf's Gambit is the sequel to the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap. It's now published by 47North, an Amazon imprint.
Fiction - noir crime Thriller
Savage Nights is a tough, pulls-no-punches, hard-noir thriller that's not for the faint of heart.

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