Monday, June 22, 2015

Riding The Centipede: The Nuclear Menace, Rudolf Chernobyl: Creating A Monster.

As much as I love all of the characters in my debut novel, Riding the Centipede, I know Rudolf Chernobyl will draw the most attention.  Sure, the hallucinogenic drug ride Hollywood runaway, Marlon Teagarden, takes should reverberate with real intensity, those chapters are purposely vivid and quite mad.  Without private investigator, Terrance Blake, a man barely holding on, the novel is nothing: he is the glue.  Jane Teagarden lends dollops of passion, her love for her lost brother unwavering. Writer Peter Solon, oh, dear, Peter Solon brings the Weird in heavy doses.  Marlon's star-studded 'girlfriends' (Marilyn...and Rita, Jacqueline, Sean, Lena Olin--oh yes--[an aside: in my first novel {unpublished, as you already know, and called, The Corner of His Mind, which you didn't know until right now}, Lena Olin made an appearance as well; hmmmmm...] Rachel...Naomi...).  And William S. Burroughs...well, let's just say, when we meet up with him, all bets are off.  And that's not all of the characters, but you get my drift.  They all matter, but when you write a character who is of nuclear origin and pretty damned insidious, well...

Well!  Let's not mess around.  How about a sample from the first Rudolf Chernobyl chapter?  Turning off my mind, letting the bizarre roam freely, that's how I created this monster draped in the skin of a man.  Another origin--see previous blog post--this one for a character. Really, though, it's just the opening of a door. Once you get to his follow-up chapters, that's when the real fun starts.  But I had to start somewhere. I mean, HE had to start somewhere, so here's a little history.


Oh, one more thing: the book is out on the 29th of this month which, as I type this, is about a week away.  The paperback and Kindle versions are ready for pre-order.  Just click on the highlighted words in the previous sentence and you can set yourself up for this wild ride.

Anyway.  Rudolf awaits...


The only light in the room came from the man’s glowing, mismatched eyes. The left pupil was a black ink stain abyss, a swirling wasteland devoid even of the promise of starlight. The right pupil was gray as ash, the remnants of hope long dashed. Riding the rim of each pupil, flares worthy of the Sun writhed with furious intensity. The veined white of each eye illuminated the room in a blinding brilliance that ebbed into a sickly, jaundiced hue, depending on his focus, until the man closed the lids and the room went dark.

The eyes may be the windows to the soul. These windows were pitted with cracks, as if pebbles had been tossed for attentions never attained. Furthermore, what resonated within the man in no way resembled what paltry beings usually defined as “soul.” His allegiance was to a higher force bereft of humanity. At least in its purest distillation.

He rubbed his thumb, pointer and middle fingers together, an instinctive practice he used when conjuring the past. Sparks crackled at the tips of his callused fingers.

As he concentrated, he pried the memories from the clutches of time, refurbished as if recent. The initial stage of the ritual delved into the few minutes prior to his conception and included details about the participants as if he were jacked into their thoughts and memories. The room smelled of burned plastic and animal musk, of damp, aged ruins and electrical currents that tweaked the mind as well as the nostrils.

The fragmented mind-field was a flurry of clipped imagery: gagged and bound, a thin woman, flesh stretched taut over a blade-like pelvis, the hollow between her tiny breasts. A man carved out of the same tainted material, though a wiry strength accentuated the muscles of his back, his buttocks. Hours of physical exertion defined by semen, sweat, excrement, misery, torture. The genetic material each contributed the product of generations mired in futility and rife with mental deficiencies. The man in particular spawned from a long, corrupted squiggle of a line of nefarious design, his father and the fathers before him: cruel, sadistic, evil. Though they were all infused with deep intelligence, they were all psychologically broken—a Ming vase shattered into thousands of tiny pieces, chips and shards and miniscule slivers, with no desire or means to mend what’s bred in the bone.

The seated man tilted his head back, remembering the annihilation of the ovum, the vile, dissonant echo that accompanied his conception. A reverberant pulse filled his resting body as water fills a balloon. His core stiffened. His penis stiffened. Passions wrought in immorality were at the root of his being.

It was 4:27 a.m., 26 April, 1986.

He salivated as he pictured the man starring in the mad play in his head stuffing a urine saturated rag into the woman’s mouth. He didn’t delight in the thought of the foul taste, but he thrilled at the depth of sadism he assimilated from the man.

The woman was simply a means to an end, a born victim, human refuge, a whore, a junky. The man was a junky as well, but he was a functioning addict. He could fit into society without notice. Nobody ever thought much about him as he worked the swing shift janitorial job at the plant. Though he understood much more about how things worked within the plant, he chose to immerse himself in his insidious lusts rather than the higher aspirations his intellectual gifts would have allowed him to pursue.

He didn’t aspire to be human. He fixated on the black malignancy that corroded his every ideal.

As the seated man with the sparking fingertips continued along the diseased path of his origin, his memories splintered, as they always did.

Loudspeakers filtered into the womb, voices tonally different than the harsh tones of the man, or the muffled grunts of disapproval from the woman. Those voices he felt as much as heard. The other sounds were surging floodwaters and fluttering jackhammers and a flailing salmon pawed by a grizzly bear—the body in revolt—and then silence. Days of silence.

During this time, he sensed something within the speck of fleshy self, the idea of his being: radiation.

Some moments roam outside the realm of possibility, outside the laws of nature—what a comical assumption, nature adhering to any arbitrary laws—and miracles that join those moments as they roam.

A smile illuminated the darkness.

What meager aspirations and understanding humans had when it came to the immeasurable potential that was life. Humans believed they understood it, but they constructed their theories within a limited mindscape. Their egotistical certainty disgusted him. They were rather pathetic.

This much the seated man knew. He was evidence of what a concoction of radiation, region—hence, nature—human potential and unyielding desire could be. He was a hybrid of flesh and foible: radiation infused with radical intent; with whim and impossibility.

He was a miracle.

Behind his sealed lids, the luminosity from his smile creamed the black to orange, a distant fire. He tamped it all back, pulling on the reins. After years of training, it was easy to control that which resided inside him. Easy, yet necessary, for his existence relied on restraining the chaos within, only tapping into it when required.

Radiation with a sentient foundation. Radiation with a nuclear heritage. Radiation acclimating to its birth with a whisper of phantom consciousness and a dream of life as melded with the fertilized egg.

Converging on a moment, crystalline and clear as the immaculate merging of sea and sky into a lush, electric blue horizon.

Not a radiation to destroy, but one to create, to carry on with his and, hence, its creation.

In the now dead womb of the woman, radiation blanketed him with soothing, tingling warmth, and a desire for improbable survival.

For life.

The radiation accelerated his formation. Neurons and electrons bristled impatiently while axons and dendrites jolted into corporeal conspiracies, into a jitterbugging frenzy. Hotwired channels within the sticky web of fresh tissue that was his being prompted a profound topographical transformation fused by revolutionary synaptic hardware, enhanced muscularity and heightened gray matter development.

Yet, within, his roots—demons cackling for attention, strapped with subversive, generational binds—would always play tag with his potential.

Bony, talon-like fingers scratched at the viscera as he took it into his toothless maw and absorbed all he needed from it, and then continued on, until he tore a hole out of the womb, out of the stiffening carcass.

He didn’t cry as the stale, infected air entered his lungs for the first time. He only yearned for more.

It was dark but his vision glowed much as it does now, in the vast art gallery that covered the walls around him, only with less control.

All of the fundamental elements of the third and most prominent participant in his creation had taken hold. The man and woman of flesh were only a means. Radiation from the exploded fourth reactor at the power plant nearby served as the most vital ingredient. The itchy trigger finger squeezed hard, prompting mischief of an inconceivable audacity.

He survived by sheer will, living on the remains of the mother, then gumming insects and rats, suckling them as surrogate breasts in his eager mouth; and sucking on torn wires and cables, draining them of whatever was left to fuel his being.
Okay, enough of that. Can't post the whole chapter.  But there he is, Rudolf Chernobyl, conceived and born the day of the Chernobyl disaster...and within range of the nuclear plant.  See what a warped imagination let loose can...birth.
A monster.
But there's more to Riding the Centipede than Rudolf Chernobyl.
You'll see...


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Riding The Centipede: A Little Bit About Its Humble Origins...

It's not the novel I thought I was going to write. That much I know.  That's probably all I know.

It started with a rejection. Yes, the rejection of another novel triggered two things: first, to reevaluate what the publisher publishes and realize in my research that Autumn in the Abyss would be a more appropriate fit--yes, so now you know the publisher in question is Omnium Gatherum--and secondly, how to follow-up with a novel that might work for OG.  A comment in the feedback for the rejected novel, something to the effect of, "it's a bit straightforward," made me say out loud, "Oh, yeah?  I'll show you straightforward," which, of course, is meant in the opposite here.  And, of course, "straightforward" is a perceptual thing as I don't see the novel as straighforward... 

Anyway, now for the short version of how Riding the Centipede came into being, because I could go on and on and perhaps with interviews or what-have-you that may or may not follow, I can get into more details.  Even later blogs.  But for now, short and sweet.

On my yearly-until-my-Italian-girlfriend-and-I-are-permanently-together-summer-visit-to-Rome, I usually want to dig into a big writing project.  But I had no idea what it would be.  I rarely do, actually, and simply let the ideas flow. I remembered a page and a half of something I had written a few months earlier with a couple guys heading out to hook up with William S. Burroughs, who's not dead, and they do a deal where they inject their blood into him and it incubates in Burroughs for a couple hours, then they draw it out and shoot up and it all turns kinda wild and hallucinatory.  Yes, this is the kind of stuff I think about. 

Why not take this idea and see where it goes?

But I needed more well-defined characters and the hows and whys of the tale.  I started mulling over it all and that's when private investigator, Terrance Blake, and Hollywood runaway, Marlon Teagarden, decided to make themselves known.  Blake, a man in Johnny Cash black, including a black hat and a bleak outlook on life shaped by events from his past.  But as with any good novel, growth and/or transformation is a part of his deal. 

And Marlon? He's a lost boy/man on the run from his past...or simply insane.  A junky with subversive literature woven into his gray matter madness.  He would be the one on the way to Burroughs.

So, that's it, let's get started, I thought. I figured Marlon's tripping through the dark frontier of drugs would be a kind of road trip where each leg of his journey would include bizarre characters, a David Lynch twist on things. 

Then Rudolf Chernobyl showed up. 

Originally called Chernobyl Bob and the Ratchet Hounds--dogs made of metal and of a nuclear foundation, which was also to be a part of Chernobyl Bob's make-up (well, the nuclear part IS a part of Rudolf's make-up, ahem...)--I cut the hounds out, perhaps to show up in another tale, while the character decided to let me know his real name: Rudolf Chernobyl. 

Something insidious was being born.

Though I was about a week into the first draft of Riding the Centipede--yes, that title came early; it was there and I snatched it from the mist and made it mine--and I was, for the first time, writing a tale with two perspectives--one third person, one first person, making it even more complex--this damned fella, Rudolf, decided (insisted, really) he wanted in on the action.  I swear, there was a moment when I knew, I just knew, he needed to be involved the whole way and not just as a stop along the way.

Sometimes I think writers, and perhaps artists and musicians, any individual driven by creativity, are given gifts.  Something is shown to us that, if we are willing, we grab onto it and hold on for dear life.  Rudolf was my gift here.  Me, writing a tale with what might qualify as a Horror Icon kind of character--think Pinhead, Freddy Krueger--was never anything I thought I would do.  Yet one must be open to all the possibilities, no matter how they might seem not to fit what we (think we) do.  A Horror Icon? Yet he was The Most Fun to write, I swear.  He does...bad stuff...haha...

Yet the whole novel was The Most Fun to write, because it was a challenge in every way.  Two perspectives, why not three? Two third person, one first person...and one of them 'might' be unreliable?  Juggle that, John Claude... (And what about the process?  Perhaps more on that, soon. Because every novel shows you how it wants to be written and this one was no different.  A specific path was forged.) (What? Yes, there are two other completed novels and another one that only needs the ending written.)

Anyway, that's a bit out the origins of Riding the Centipede.  More info and samples soon. I'm just getting started.  I've barely touched on Burroughs, and what of Marlon's sister, Jane Teagarden, and the mad writer, Peter Solon, and all the other characters along the way? Well, you'll learn about them soon enough.

While I am here, might I suggest you pre-order a copy or three?  The paperback is up for pre-order nowm while the digital will be up in a day or three of this blog post.  Release day is June 29, 2015.

Are you ready to ride the centipede?

Here's a photo of me holding the notepad with the first notes and character sketches.  Yes, that's Italy behind me. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

And So It Begins: Riding The Centipede Pre-Order Info, Cover Art, Back Cover Blurb...

I'm going to be blogging a lot more with the imminent release of my debut novel, Riding the Centipede.  The new tentative and more firm release date is June 29.  We got started with the editing at least three weeks behind, so that May 25 release date is now in the rear view mirror, and we're looking toward the swiftly approaching horizon.  Still some editing to wrap up, our read-through...then, finally, we can send some copies out for review. I'm already getting in touch with potential author blurbs and reviewers.  Again, we're behind, but we also don't want to make the reader wait, so catching up is what is in motion.


Dig the Mad Beautiful cover art put together by my publisher/editor, Kate Jonez.  Yes, that IS Marilyn Monroe riding a huge centipede.  She is an obssession for one of the characters, a 'girlfriend' of sorts, and even has a couple of brief a way.  Only a minor detail in the whole of the story, but captivating in this, um...depiction, haha... Ah, but the details reveal more, hint at more that will make sense once the book is out in the wild and you can read it and luxuriate in the madness, the dark wonder.  Or something, heheh...  Anyway, the outfit she's that scales like from a snake? Well, there is a character! Not giving it away. 

How about the biggest teaser, the back cover blurb.  True story: About a week before I was going to send the manuscript off to Omnium Gatherum, I knew one of the things they request is a blurb of sorts, something that might be used in promoting the book. So, too early one morning in late November of last year, I was at the job waiting to get to work.  Sitting there, I pulled out my trusty notepad and thought, okay, what is this book about?  Who are the main characters?  I scribbled my blurb in perhaps five, ten minutes, and set it aside. Besides a couple of necessary details, that was it. No fret, no worry, just get it down and let it be.  I think it works quite well. Sets you up for the wild ride within the pages.  So, here it is: 

Private Investigator Terrance Blake spends most of his days shadowed by an event from his past, while dismantling the lives of those driven by the masochistic need to confirm the lies they deny are cold, hard truths, until Hollywood socialite Jane Teagarden calls him for only the third time in years with news on the whereabouts of her runaway brother, Marlon.

Marlon Teagarden has been a ghost for ten years, traveling through the underbelly of society as a means of blotting out a past allegedly rife with child abuse, until he is chosen to Ride the Centipede, leading to the ultimate experience, courtesy of literary translator of languages and drug-infused visions from inner and outer space, William S. Burroughs.

Just your average road trip chase through the dark frontier of addiction and alternative realities gone sideways.

Not quite.

Also along for the ride, at the behest of a mysterious employer, is a nuclear-infused force of corrupt nature, “some kind of new breed of human and radiation, a blotch, an aberration, cancer with teeth.”

Allow me to introduce you to Rudolf.

Rudolf Chernobyl.

Let the games begin…



Now, the important news: Riding the Centipede is available for pre-order Right Now.  Just click on the title in the previous sentence.  That's for the paperback and, yes, there will be digital versions too, of course. Really, go there, give my baby some love.

There will be more info over the next few weeks and months. 
Are you ready to ride the centipede?
The it is: