First of all, took a slight break to get Occasional Beasts: Tales out into the wild.
Yes, you can order your copy Now!
Now, let's get back to the story notes blog posts.
I'd gotten an invitation to write a tale for an anthology dealing with a Lovecraftian spin on fairy tales called, A Mythos Grimmly. The fantastic weird fiction writer, Joseph S. Pulver Sr., had suggested me to the editor/publisher, opening the door.
With the invite at hand, I had to pick a fairy tale to mesh with something Lovecraftian. Since they didn't want overlapping fairy tales, and the list was already getting filled up, I mentioned this to my girlfriend, Alessandra, and she immediately said, "Bluebeard." I was like--what? She explained the plot, I researched it further, and knew that, yes, "Bluebeard" would be the fairy tale I would use to construct my tale. I knew I would modernize it, but the foundation would be derived from that fairy tale.
The only problem was, I could not figure out how exactly to weave these elements together. I mulled over if for a while. I had received the invite while in Rome; I didn't get to it until later in the year. The idea for how to shape the tale came to me on one of my walks from the house in which I rent a room to the Quik Stop, as I am wont to do, a little fresh air, perhaps pick up a bite next door at the pizza place on one side or the donut shop on the other. I remember walking away from there, back to my room...when an image hit me like a sledgehammer.
The image was so harrowing I, a horror writer, pushed it away. It was too harsh, too grotesque, too cruel an image. What was it? It was a graphic depiction of somebody pouring gasoline on a woman's face...and setting it on fire. I tried to push this horrific image away, but it persisted...until I got toward the house and the room...and something was taking shape.
Yes, out of the ashes of something that made me truly uncomfortable, the tale rose up like a Phoenix, forcing me to look at it, forcing me to use it. Why? Because it was a gift, in a way, charred and skin-curling and all, and it was the trigger that sent the tale along its path.
Here's that opening sequence, the aftermath of the attack:
Waking in fire.
I feel eternally in flame.
My breath rises from singed lungs, climbing my esophagus, exiting in clipped bleats from a throat scarred by smoke. I feel I am gagging just to breathe. I feel I am drowning in fire.
I am drowning in fire.
Somebody says, “Calm down, Miss. Calm down. I’ll get the doctor.”
I am in a hospital. As my eyelids flutter open, my vision is blurred, though the room is dark. Perhaps my perception is skewed by the darkness; a cloying, pervasive darkness. Yet, I sense I’ve not used my eyes in a while.
How long? I do not know.
The skin of my face and neck sings a song of severe distress. My brain takes the flood of input and swerves toward shutting down, but I stall it. I hold my breath and stall everything. Though my nerve endings attempt to scatter, seek refuge in the internal sanctuary of blood, viscera, and possibly soul, it is to no avail. This song must be endured. This pain. This experience.
Even with the chorus rising up in chattering, masticating timbres, gleefully gnawing on the chaos-filled realm of gray matter that is my brain, my mind—these spiraling, absurd thoughts—I am able to raise my left hand to my face, to feel the soft, coarse texture. Gauze, not skin.
Then, I remember:
Well, whatever she remembers, you'll have to read the tale to find out. You'll also have to read the tale to see how something Lovecraftian fits into the mix.
Here's a hint, but it doesn't tell you nearly enough. Yes, that's one take on the Necronomicon. I've got another one for you. But for now, yes, this one's pretty cool. I believe it was created by Richard A Poppe.
Remember: Occasional Beasts: Tales is out now and I consider it perhaps my finest book to date. A variety of weird horrors await. Don't keep them waiting, they'll get agitated, and then, hell, they may show up at your door when you least expect them and...
It won't be pretty.
Invite them in. Purchase your copy now!
Up next, beauty is in the eye of the beholder in one of the strangest tales you'll ever read, "Beautiful."