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Lupo's World ~ A Blog

"We, the lost children" by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

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 I’d 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. It’s my favorite book of his— well, an eyelash away from The Inheritance— but the point is, I read all of Savage’s 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 doesn’t ever read fiction. Ever. Did I mention ever?
The paperback’s 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 me…

Despite Savage’s word wizardry and power, just around the turn of the millennium he abandoned fiction. Now, I don’t know if I can make that statement completely in earnest, but according to Amazon all I find is a trail of children’s 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 Savage’s writing was the reason for this confusion. He must have been a very well kept secret that I had the rare privilege in knowing.


I looked online and found countless forums of fans, not legions to be sure, but the man had a following. People who loved his stuff— 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 there’s that. But that’s 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 sake… wouldn’t you think Tom Savage would want to write another novel for his adoring fans?

It’s very possible I’m still mired in my own idol worship, a victim and perpetrator of the “love me” 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 don’t you share, Miss Stingy?! When they politely answer, “Nah, no thanks,” it’s an awfully slippery idea to wrap our minds around.

But it doesn’t 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 I’m 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. It’s 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 keyboard… I personally see this evasion as a form of cruel punishment, and surely I’m not the only one.

We need (please, please) these artists to come back with more of their art. But why does it matter? Why can’t we shrug and say, “Well, I’m just happy with what I have?” 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 discover— but really now, that relationship will be different, won’t 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

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Diving into Uncharted Territory: Audio Books by Armand Rosamilia

Diving Into Uncharted Territory: Audio Books By Armand Rosamilia

I read things, whether in print or with my Kindle. I always have and I always will. I love books and read 3-5 of them a week if I have time, and can't go to sleep unless I've read for at least an hour a night no matter how late and no matter where I am.

Before last February I swore I'd never buy a Kindle and had no desire to read inferior eBooks. I was old school, damnit, and I'm in my forties and too old to change now. Then Kim bought me a Kindle and I fell in love and can't imagine life without it.

I swore I'd never listen to an audio book as well. What use was that when I still had good eyes to relax and read with? I didn't want to hear some strange voice reading to me. I wasn't four anymore and needing mommy to read me a bedtime story. I was a big boy and could now read to myself.

But, as an author, I'm always looking for new ways to connect with readers. It seemed like every eBook I added to Kindle someone wanted the link for the B&N version or SmashWords or Lulu. So I spread my work around to appease the masses (said tongue in cheek, I promise).

Then someone asked if I had any of my books available on audio. I answered, truthfully, not yet, but I was working on it. As in, as soon as you asked me the question I started working on it.

I spent days and nights researching the various ways to get a quality audio book together, and decided right away I had neither the voice nor the equipment to do it myself. I needed a… wait, what did they call them again? Oh, yeah, a Narrator.

So I signed up on a site and posted a sample chapter of my Dying Days zombie novella, figuring it would be a perfect place to start. Besides, that was the book the reader asked about, so I was hoping I'd have one sale from it.

I also put out a blanket call on Facebook and Twitter in case anyone was interested in narrating it and had a good voice. If I could throw some work at someone I already knew, so much the better, right?

Then I started getting narrators interested and sending me samples of the work. As soon as I started listening I realized something: I had no idea if they were good or not. I'd never listened to a book in my life.

So I bought three of the cheapest horror and/or thriller audio books I could find and listened to them and heard what I liked and hated about the narrators and style.

I decided what made sense for Dying Days would be a female narrator since our main character, Darlene Bobich, is a female. That made sense. I had several to choose from and a couple narrators were pretty good, but one above all else intrigued me.

Amanda Lehman. I loved her sample and knew her voice well. The reason? I grew up across the street from her. How weird is that? We both grew up on Orchard Avenue in Belford, New Jersey, directly across the street. I hung out with her older brother as a kid and we all played kickball and football and manhunt at night.

I hadn't seen or spoken to her in probably twenty years. She'd married a guy I knew that was always cool, played bass, had long hair, a crazy dry sense of humor and loved Queensryche as much as I did. Alexis was the man, and the handful of times we hung out we had some fun. Heck, somewhere is a demo tape of me screaming into a mic doing Metal/hardcore crap with Alexis putting it all together musically.

Amanda was a few years younger than me, and I even remember her parents bringing her home from the hospital when she was born. Now, here she was, dropping the F bomb reading my story and making it come to life.

Out of everyone in the world who could potentially read Dying Days, she'd grown up a kickball throw away. And I couldn’t be happier with her reading and look forward to her diving into Dying Days 2 at some point as well.

Funny how life is sometimes stranger than fiction.


All six of us - Todd Brown, Mark Tufo, Ian Woodhead, Armand Rosamilia, John O'Brien and Dave Jeffery - hope you'll keep following us on the Summer of Zombie blog tour, and comment as we go along.

And… one lucky commenter for each blog will receive a Free eBook or Print book from one of the authors! Simply leave a comment with your e-mail address and we'll pick a random winner each day! Simple as that!

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