Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Exterminator - Flash, bizarro fiction

I’m the best. That’s why they call me.

I knock. Ed opens the lid and ushers me inside. This is the second time I’ve paid him a visit.

“Thank you so much for coming out on a Sunday.” Ed says it like I’m doing him a favor.

“Thank me by paying me when the job is done.” It’s meaningless, but I say it anyway.

“You are one rude octopus,” he says.

“I’m not an octopus, you hippo,” I reply. “I’m a squid. Now show me what you’ve got.”

He takes me to the refrigerator.

“I keep hearing them in there. Every morning I find empty bottles and open snack wrappers strewn all around. Yesterday, I found a tiny dirty magazine out there, still open to the centerfold.”

The fridge is empty, but I hear it, too—tiny voices slurring and swearing. I was afraid of that.

I grab his droopy hippopotamus ear and drag his head down. The sound is louder there.

“What are you doing?” he screams.

“My job.”

It takes a minute, but I find the seam. Then I unzip his head. Five tiny little green-clad men are in there, laughing and kicking his tiny hippopotamus brain around like the terrible guests they are.

I slowly zip the head back up. Better safe than slimed.

“What was that, Joe?” Ed looks worried now. He damn well should be.

“Do you have whisky?”


“Pour a shot.”

He does, spilling some on the counter with his clumsy hippopotamus hands.

I take the glass and smell it. It doesn’t burn any less now than it did when I used to swim in the stuff. I don’t miss the restaurant. Not even a little.

“You know, you are the spitting image of your—”

“Don’t mention my lazy brother, Ed. Do that and the deal is off.”

He wisely shuts up.

I place the dripping whiskey shot in the fridge and close the door.

“Now, do not open this door.”

“For how long?” he asks, already afraid of the answer.


It is exactly what he doesn’t want to hear, but that is not my problem.

“I’ll take my payment now.”

He pulls out his oversized hippopotamus wallet and flips through, finding an arm. Then he digs in his pockets and locates a leg.

It takes a little shoving, but I fit them in my coin purse with the others.

“What happens now, Joe?”

“If you’re lucky, nothing. Bury the fridge in your cellar with the others, but keep it closed.”

“And if I don’t?” He wants to open it more than he wants to tap dance, and that’s a lot.

“Then one day somebody else will call me to exterminate a big, dumb hippopotamus wearing an ill-fitted green leotard. Is that what you want?”

His eyes cut away from mine.


“Do yourself a favor, Ed. Find yourself a nice girl or a tree and settle down. Have some babies or maybe some soup.”

Ed smiles. He closes his eyes and purrs like hippopotami often do.

I hit him across the head with a mackerel. He falls, dead.

I step back out of the shoebox. My client is there with all fourteen pairs of hands clasped in anticipation.

“Is it over?”

I nod, handing her the arm and leg.


She hands me a shrimp.

“This is too much,” I say.

“You are the best. I definitely received my invertebrate’s worth.”

I toss the monstrous thing on the back of my bicycle. It’s nice to be appreciated. I try to leave before she kills the mood.

“You know,” she says, “you look just like your brother.”

Great. I look just like my lazy, good-for-nothing, sleeps for eons in other people’s basements, cult of followers having brother. She not only killed the mood, she ran it over, helped it up, then dropped a grand piano on its cold, moldy corpse. If she weren’t a customer, I’d squirt ink in her eye.

“I leave you with a piece of friendly advice, Countess: Don’t open that fridge.”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Author Interview: Martin Millar - On lonely werewolf girls, vampire slayers, and the peril of wrestling Elizabethan playwrights

Recently, I had the extreme good fortune to interview one of my favorite authors, Martin Millar. What follows is a rare treat. He was able answer my thirteen questions in a way that makes them seem as though they were actually intelligent, worthwhile queries. Though this is solely due to Martin's quick wit, I do not hesitate to take full credit for the quality of this interview.


MT: First, an easy one. Which of these Internet created holidays do you prefer, "Talk Like A Pirate Day" or "Speak in Third Person Day"? And please demonstrate how one might ask for directions to the rest room on your chosen day.

Martin: Speaking in the third person would probably take less effort than talking like a pirate. All these 'Arrhh me hearties' would wear me out. Third person wouldn't wouldn't be that difficult to manage - 'Could you please show Martin to the rest room? He's in need of some freshening up.'

MT: The title of this blog is Werewolf Kibble, which is a reference to the things werewolves eat, such as tacos, ham sandwiches, small mammals, disagreeable vampires, and the occasional bowl of miso soup. I make no secret of the fact that Lonely Werewolf Girl is my favorite werewolf novel. While everyone else in the literary and film industries is neck deep in vampires, what is it about werewolves that captured your interest?

Martin: The first thing I thought of was the title, Lonely Werewolf Girl. The phrase was enough to get me interested. It started me wondering what a lonely werewolf girl might be like. It also struck me that, in obvious contrast to her loneliness, I could also write about a lot of other werewolves in a social setting, namely a clan, which was ideal for setting part of the book in Scotland, which I was also pleased to do. The book very quickly became a large saga, because of the amount of characters, and I liked that too.

I think werewolves have the capacity to be more human than vampires, which for me is more interesting. But really, the driving force was mainly that I thought I could write a good book about werewolves, whereas I'd have a difficult time coming up with anything original to say about vampires. I doubt I could come up with a better vampire than Spike.

I've never really seen why werewolves would necessarily be savage killers, unable to control their emotions when they change into werewolves. That doesn't really seem to follow along logically to me. I thought it quite likely that werewolves could manage to fit in with the rest of society, which most of my werewolves attempt to do.

MT: I have it on good authority that you are both a Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Spongebob Squarepants fan. Please rank these characters in order of who you would most want on your side in a barroom brawl:

Angelus, Patrick Starfish, Faith, Larry the Lobster, Squidward Tentacles, and Joyce Summers.

Martin: Faith - she's really tough and maybe we could go on a date afterwards. In fact, Faith was sexually aroused by fighting, and once practically dragged Xander into bed after she'd been involved in some violence, so she'd obviously be a good person to be in a fight with. Faith was so attractive. As, of course, is Eliza Dushku.

Angelus - Also tough, though I wouldn't want to be friends afterwards. I never really loved Angel as a TV show.

Patrick Starfish - he's practically invulnerable. I've seen terrible things happen to him in the cartoon and he just bounces back every time.

Larry the Lobster - He does weight training, but I don't think he's got the stomach for a fight.

Squidward - I sympathise with his intellectual leanings and artistic endeavours, though I can't see him being that much help in a fight.

Joyce Summers - Does have some hidden toughness - she did hit Spike with an axe on one occasion - but she was never that attractive a character.

(But really, we're missing the best option from SpongeBob - Sandy the underwater Squirrel. She's really tough)

MT: Through a twist of space and time, imagine you met William Shakespear in a pub one evening. After the inevitable wrestling match (It is a known fact that Shakespear had a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu and liked to demonstrate his wrestling prowess in an attempt to impress the ladies whenever possible), which of your books would you suggest to the Bard for a rainy weekend read?

Martin: I'd be wary of wrestling an Elizabethan playwright, it could be dangerous. Christopher Marlowe ended up being stabbed through the eye. And in those days, in the shadowy theatrical and literary world, you never knew who might be a government spy.

I'd suggest to William Shakespeare that he never, ever looked at any of my books, so as he'd never know how inferior my writing was to his.

MT: What is the next book in your own "to read" pile?

Martin: Epictetus - Discourses and Selected Writings. Epictetus was a Greek stoic philosopher in the 1st century AD.

MT: The characters in Lonely Werewolf Girl and Curse of the Wolf Girl listen to an eclectic mix of music. If I were to sneak a peek at your current music playlist, what would I find?

Martin: T Rex, Slade, David Bowie - various English glam artists from the 70s. Also I listen to classical music on the radio.

MT: A friend told me that an open can of Guinness will draw leprechauns out if you have an infestation of the little buggers. Have you found this to be effective?

Martin: Well, this is more of an Irish question than a Scottish one, I have no real expertise in Leprechauns. Guinness may work in Ireland, but it would be an alien substance in Scotland, and might produce unforeseen consequences.

MT: If you could write a tale featuring any character at all, what character or characters would you write about? (Doctor Who episode, Batman comic, Sherlock Holmes story, Bleach story arc, Great Expectations sequel, etc.)

Martin: I'm having trouble answering this. Nothing comes very strongly to mind. I think I may have outgrown the enthusiasm I once had for many characters. Although I would still like to write a Buffy story.

To answer a slightly different question, if i was a writer at another time, I'd like to have been an Athenian playwright at the time of Aristophanes.

MT: In 200 years, a literature class is studying the collected works of Martin Millar / Martin Scott. What is the title of that course?

Martin: Minor Scottish Authors

MT: In Lonely Werewolf Girl, the title character is rude, brooding, self loathing, insecure, and neurotic, yet she still comes across as quite lovable. What was your inspiration for Kalix MacRinnalch, exiled daughter of the werewolf ruling family?

Martin: All of the rude, brooding, self loathing, insecure, and neurotic women I've had relationships with.

But seriously. She is just a figure from my own imagination. She has no real inspiration. However, most of her problems, neurosis and addictions are based on those of various people I've known.

MT: I love Anarchy in the U.K. by the Sex Pistols and I love the U.S. rock band Motley Crue. The Motley Crue cover of Anarchy in the U.K., however, makes me want to jam chopsticks in my ears. Why is that?

Martin: It just wasn't a suitable record for Motley Crue to cover. I think it was too far away in style and culture for them to understand it properly. Motley Crue singing about girls in LA is fine. There, they know what they're talking about. But Motley Crue trying to do justice to a record which really depended on it's 70s background of poor London council estates, strikes, inflation, and so on, filtered through the Sex Pistols' childhood in a country still affected by the post war poverty of the 50 and 60s, and then filtered again through the early 70s English music of The Faces, pub rock, and glam rock, was a big step too far for Motley Crue to manage.

Actually, Motley Crue make a spirited start in their version, but quickly run into trouble because they can't resist adding in flashy guitar solos. This is something you really can't have in 'Anarchy in the UK,' it destroys the whole concept of the record. After listening to Anarchy in the UK for the first time, you're meant to feel that you can immediately start your own band and make music, even if you don't know yet how to play an instrument. That feeling vanishes if the record is blighted with complicated guitar solos.

By extension of the above, listening to Anarchy in the UK can also make you feel that you can also go and write your own books, something it did for me.

MT: What is next for you on the writing front?

Martin: A Graphic novel set in ancient Greece, and probably a third werewolf book about Kalix.

MT: (In lieu of writing a response let the record show that I just did a backflip with a double twist at the mention of a third Kalix book. Hooray and ouch.) In closing, here is your chance to either reinforce or dispel a widespread stereotype about Scottish cuisine. Have you ever consumed a deep fried Mars candy bar and, if so, is it as wonderful as I imagine it would be?

Martin: No, I'd be scared to try it. I moved to London a long time ago, and while I remember Scotland as keen on it's deep fried fish and chips, I don't think the mania for frying such things as mars bars had arrived when I still lived there. I understand that anything can now be deep fried in Scotland, from chocolate to pizzas, but I've never tried any of this. It all sounds like a very bad idea to me, but I am ridiculously picky about the things I eat. My relationship with food is strained at the best of times, so I couldn't go around risking dangerous items like deep-fried mars bars.

MT: Thank you very much, Martin. On a scale from Angel Season 4 to Buffy Season 2, I rate this interview a Buffy Season 2 all the way.

Martin Millar is a critically acclaimed Scottish writer from Glasgow, now resident in London. He also writes the Thraxas series of fantasy novels under the pseudonym Martin Scott. He won the 2000 World Fantasy Award for the first book of the Thraxas series.

Connect with Martin on Twitter, his blog, and his website. Also, don't forget to pick up Lonely Werewolf Girl and Curse of the Wolf Girl.

If my endorsement isn't enough for you, see what a gentleman named Neil Gaiman has to say about Martin in the introduction he wrote for The Good Fairies of New York. Apparently, Mr. Gaiman dabbles in writing, too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Afterlife: A bizarro tale of life, love and the hereafter or something.

I lived a good life. Never hurt anyone. Minded my business.

I ate. I swam. I spawned.

Then, I died.

I can’t remember the details. The old memory isn’t so good, even now. I know I have crossed over, but I’m not sure where I am.

The water is cool and clear. There are no men with poles and hooks lurking about, so that is a huge plus. The stream is flowing and I have plenty to eat.

There is only one explanation for this: I am in Heaven. Salmon Heaven!

I will swim and eat forever. I bet the spawning grounds are just over the hill, too. I am going to fertilize eggs until I go cross eyed. Then I’ll eat and do it some more. This is exactly how I want to spend eternity.

I don’t see the bear until he has me in his paws, snatching me from my paradise.

“Wait,” I scream.

The bear holds me inches from his drooling mouth, puzzled.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

“There has been some mistake. You shouldn’t be here.”

The bear scratches his head.

“What do you mean?”

“This is the afterlife, yes?”

“Obviously,” they bear replies.

“I was swimming along, minding my business and heading to fertilize some eggs and you snatched me right out.”

“That I did. What’s the problem?”

The bear is obviously mentally deficient, so I spell it out for him.

“There are no bears in Salmon Heaven. I am not asking, I am demanding: Put me back in the water and leave at once.”

If I had a foot I would stamp it on the ground for emphasis. As it is, I slap his paw with my fin. The effect is the same.

“Mr. Salmon, there has obviously been some mistake.”

“Obviously,” I reply indignantly.

“I concur that, in Salmon Heaven, there should be no bears. You should be free to swim and fertilize eggs to your tiny salmon heart’s content.”

“I’m glad you see the issue. Now if you could just—”

“However,” the bear retorts, “you are not the injured party in this dispute.”


“Though you are correct in your assumption that the likelihood of a bear being in Salmon Heaven is virtually nil, there is a fundamental flaw in your thinking.”

“And what might that be?” I ask. The bear fancies himself a thinker, this should be amusing.

“You, sir, are not in Salmon Heaven. I have been sitting in this spot for nearly twenty years eating your delicious brethren. In a few minutes I will make my way over the hill and spend the next twenty years mating and the following twenty years hibernating as I have done for as long as I can remember. Therefore, I can say with utmost confidence that this is, with no doubt whatsoever, Bear Heaven.”

“Oh my.”

“It’s pretty obvious.”

“Quite obvious, yes.”


“Well, you can imagine my embarrassment.”

“I’m sure.”

“I am very sorry for my rudeness, Mr. Bear.”

“Think nothing of it,” he says. Bears are really quite civil once you get to know them.

“I suppose there is nothing left but to get on with it.”

“Quite right. I do apologize, but this might hurt quite a bit.”

“No apology needed. I am the injuring party here. Carry on.”

To his credit, the bear eats me as gently as such a thing can be done.

I can’t remember the details. The old memory isn’t so good, even now. I know I have crossed over, but I’m not sure where I am.

Now I am swimming once again.

Another stream, another chance. This surely the right place.

A human stands up ahead wearing those silly rubber pants they are so fond of, but he doesn’t worry me. I am far more interested in that delicious egg suspiciously drifting in the water in front of him. Any other time, I might be worried. Luckily, I am in Salmon Heaven.

I think I’ll take a bite.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nonfiction: December 9, 2008

Note: This is a departure from my usual satirical rambling, book and movie spotlights, and author interviews. My father passed away on December 9, 2008. This is what I remember about that day and his funeral.


“We did all we could. There is only so much the human body can take.”

The doctor kept talking but I zoned in and out after that. He was a nice guy. Friendly yet professional. At some point as he explained how kidney failure and the resulting toxin buildup in the blood—along with the half-dozen health problems Dad had—eventually caused his heart to just stop. That’s the real life definition of that fancy term “cardiac arrest.” After he said that, he laughed. I think I laughed and nodded, too. The doctor is the fast food chef of health care, and my Dad was a hamburger that couldn’t be salvaged.

I made the two hundred and sixty mile trip to Providence Hospital in a little over three hours when Mom called the night before. I cried the entire time because once I got there I would have to be the rock, and rocks don’t cry.

They let me in to see Pop after hours. His blood pressure was barely registering and he was already on a ventilator. It was the third time that I remembered him being on a ventilator. In the back of my mind I figured he’d wake up and snatch it out of his throat as he had done once before. Or, maybe that never happened. The mind goes to weird places when faced with something it doesn’t want to accept.

We were supposed to go into the intensive care unit and see him early that morning, but they asked us to wait outside for a few minutes. While we waited, a calm voice announced over the intercom that there was a “code blue” in intensive care. That’s more hospital talk for “somebody just died.”

By the time they let us back, the group of nurses and doctors who tried to save him were walking out, joking about what kind of crap they would be serving in the lunchroom. Dad was laying there, hands by his sides and eyes closed. His bed linens were neatly drawn up and tucked under his arms and sides. He would have looked like he was asleep, but nobody lies that still and straight.

Mom cried. I hugged her. She kissed Dad on the forehead and I did the same. I remember thinking he had only died a few minutes earlier but he was already so god damned cold.

We went to a little room by intensive care where they take people when a loved one has just died. A couple of nuns came to sit with us until the priest arrived. When he got there, he asked if he could say a prayer and we said we’d like that.

Some time in there, the rock broke and I cried a little. It didn’t last long. I couldn’t let it. I had to track down my brothers.

I called my older brother. He and Dad had their problems and he and I weren’t that close anymore either. I left a voicemail on his cell phone asking him to call me right away. Then, I called his office. The receptionist would give me no information whatsoever other than to say he was out of the office. In his rather public position there had to be some buffer, so I tried not to get offended, albeit unsuccessfully. I told her I was his brother and asked if she could convey a message. Her tone actually seemed to grow a little colder. Finally, she unenthusiastically decided she could give him a message. “Tell him his brother Mike called and our father just died,” I said. I can’t be sure, but I think I at least ruined her day. I really hope I did.

I called my eldest brother after that at the last cell number I had for him. Either it was out of service or I had the wrong number. We would later find out that he was getting ready to leave the country on a work assignment and coming to Pop’s funeral would have been a real inconvenience. I guess a phone call would have been just as inconvenient. He did send flowers though. Who sends flowers to their own father’s funeral? He does, I guess.

My older brother came as soon as he found out. It was good to see him and he was a big help. We talked like we did years before. We haven’t spoken since after the funeral.

The day before the funeral, we found out that one of the pastors we hoped could speak wouldn’t be able to attend. After a brief discussion, I decided to speak in his place.

I made a bunch of notes but never took them out of my pocket. I talked about how Dad was the most honest person I had ever met. He’d tell it like it was even if the truth wasn’t pretty, which was often the case. He served in the Navy during the Korean War and became a state trooper a few years after he returned home. To the day he died, more people knew him as Lieutenant Murphy than Tom.

I mentioned that he wasn’t fond of drawn out sermons or prayers, noting a funeral we attended when I was a kid. Halfway through a painfully long and sorrowful prayer by the presiding pastor, I heard someone start snoring. A split-second later, I realized it was Pop and elbowed him in the ribs. Those in attendance got a kick out of the story.

I thanked everyone for coming: all our friends and family, my friends and co-workers who shut our company down for the day just to make the trip, the Alabama State Troopers who had never met my dad but still felt compelled to make the trip to salute the fallen brother they had never met, the pastor who had come with my aunt to visit Dad in the hospital numerous times just because that’s what she did.

The Alabama State Honor Guard attended the graveside service. A trumpet player played Amazing Grace and seven troopers gave him a twenty-one gun salute. The local Freemason lodge performed a graveside service as well. Because we live in the digital age, the Honor Guard has a video crew that taped the service. Mom gave me a DVD a few weeks later. I still haven’t watched it.

The last time I spoke to Dad, we got in a fight over politics. We still said our I love you’s before we hung up, but we both were a little exasperated with each other. As was often the case, it eventually turned out that he was right and I was wrong. He wasn’t perfect, but he did the best he could and I loved him for it.

I’m not sure why I wrote this. I made peace with dad’s passing long ago. Maybe I just needed to see it in black and white, or maybe I still have a demon or two to exorcize.

Thanks for reading. 
Now, back to your regularly scheduled leprechaun bashing, booze, and werewolves.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse by DeAnna Knippling & Dante Savelli - A zombiefied choose your own adventure style spatterfest

Zombie Apocalypse is a throwback to the Choose Your Own Adventure books I grew up with. Instead of simply reading the story, you are given choices at certain intervals that allow you to direct the actions of tough guy slacker hero, Tobe, as he tries to protect his friends and fight off the zombie horde trashing his parents’ restaurant and, apparently, the rest of the city.

The story throws you directly into the action. Within the first few pages, zombies arrive and Tobe has to make multiple life or death decisions. Does he bash in the head of his former classmate turned zombie or does he run and hide? 

Of course I chose to bash away. For me, it was a … NO BRAINER!


I crack me up.

Virtually every choice you make leads to either the wet, gooey destruction of zombies or the death of friends and innocent victims. Like it plainly states on the cover, “No happy endings!”

Blood, zombie parts, and evil black ichor fly off of 190 fun and disturbing illustrations that play out the various scenarios presented in the text.

You might lead Tobe to become the champion of a rag tag group of survivors or you might see him infected by the undead, himself. If you’re lucky, you just might survive long enough to find the source of the zombie virus and save the day, but I doubt it. The ending is all up to you.

I highly recommend this fun and creative, yet disturbing trek through the Zombie Apocalypse.

Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse receives a rating of 5 Bruce Campbells!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar - Seemingly, the test tube book baby of several of my favorite writers.

If Douglas Adams and Anne Rice had a little werewolf book baby that was later raised by Neil Gaiman, that baby would grow up to be Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar.

The sheer size of this book intimidated me more than a little. It weighs in at well over five hundred pages, yet I tore through it faster than most three hundred pagers. Why? Because the action and humor never lets up.

Kalix is easily the loneliest and most depressed little werewolf ever. She is also the exiled princess of the royal werewolf clan MacRinnalch of Scotland. Despite her wispy frame and emo exterior, Kalix is among the most powerful werewolves in existence. She wanders the streets of London, drowning her numerous sorrows and avoiding death at the hands of werewolf hunters or family members who seek to shore up their claim to the throne after their father's death.

She is befriended by a pair of human students, Daniel and Moonglow, who are sucked into the world of werewolf political assassinations, high fashion espionage, and rock and roll.

The cast of characters numbers in the dozens. There are treacherous werewolf aristocrats, noble outcasts, would-be rockers, powerful warlords, fashionista fairy queens, seedy supernatural relic dealers, and a cross-dressing werewolf warrior-prince. The vast majority of these players are morally ambiguous. They each experience flashes of good and moments of pure evil that keep the story moving. Their goals may be simple, but their motives, alliances, and actions are anything but.

Though the book is quite lengthy, the text is broken up into chapters of usually two to three pages. This structure is ideal for reading in five or ten minute stretches if you are like me and are forced to resort to guerrilla reading sessions as time permits.

Lonely Werewolf Girl is my new favorite werewolf novel. I’m trying to get away from stars, but if you need one for this review, I give it the Super Mario Brothers invincibility star as follows:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Inappropriately short bizarro story: The Defender

“How long do we wait?”

“As long as it takes.”

Steve doesn’t like my answer. I didn’t expect him to. He’s a rookie.

Hours go by. Maybe days.

Steve fidgets. He walks across the ceiling. He complains about things.

I don’t listen. I don’t move either. Too distracting.

Steve follows my advice and calms the fuck down after all of creation starts shaking. He wants to ask me what is happening, but the look on my face stops him. I am master of the eight-eyed stare.

Darkness envelops the vast basin. Horrible sounds echo. Wailing follows roaring which, in turn, follows the sounds of crashing and folding of materials we cannot comprehend. The darkened sky opens and evil rains down.

We watch, protected by the ivory shield above us.

Below, the dam breaks, sending an endless flood of water to wash away the impurity that fell from the sky. The endless flood stops, proving me wrong again.

The sky clears. Rather, the great behemoth that covered it moved on.

“What the hell was that?” Steve asks. He’s nearly crying. Damn rookies.

“That was Earl. He’s the reason we’re here.”

I leap down the edge of our perch and wait. Steve is tentative. He stares down at me for a very long time. Then, he follows. He’s learning.

“Okay, it’s about to happen. Just observe.”

Steve obeys.

We sit in the shadow of the white mountain and wait.

We can’t see the top of the sheer structure in front of us, but a seam appears right down its middle. Half of the wall moves silently out, creating a gateway into the darkness.

Five fingers reach through and push the opening wider. The thing isn’t as big as Earl, but it is easily ten thousand times my size.

The hideous beast steps out from the shadows on two legs. Its two circular eyes dart around, looking for something to steal or looking for me. We have played this game before more times than I can remember.

The thing grows bold, sneaking out of its hiding place to wreak havoc.

Steve quivers.

“What do we do?”

“Just watch,” I say. Damn rookie.

I move with all of my considerable speed right for the monster’s path. I stop and stare.

The thing freezes. It wants to kill me. It wants to lift its armored foot and crush me into paste.

“Blimey,” it roars. “You little fuckers piss me right off.”

I don’t reply. I am master of the eight-eyed stare.

“I could do it you know,” it bellows, “just one stomp is all it would take. I’d end you and have the place to meself.”

“We both know that won’t happen.” I sound like what I am: the defender who protects the behemoth.

The thing jumps up and down, moving dangerously close to me in the process. Despite the shaking ground, I do not move. It’s all just posturing.

When it tires of its fit, it slinks back into its cavern defeated, and closes the gate behind it.

Steve rushes to my side.

“What was that thing?”

“That is Earl’s adversary. We protect him from that.”

“Is it the only one?”

“No. There are many that we know of. That is why we need you. You must protect the land below. We hear another is encroaching and I cannot be in all places at once.”

He trembles. I know the look. He’s so damn scared he wants to curl up and play dead.

“Steve, relax. It’s not that bad.”

“Not that bad?” He’s frantic. It’s a lost cause. I’ve lost him already. “I can’t do this.”

He runs as fast as all of his legs will carry him. Instead of staying in the shadows like I taught him, he runs right through the center of the field of squares.

“Steve, don’t.”

Neither of us feel Earl’s approach. He moves with a speed that frightens me, still. His own gargantuan foot crushes Steve before he even sees it coming.

Poor Steve. Maybe he was the lucky one.

Earl sighs with relief and removes Steve’s remains before retreating back to the vast plateau on which he sleeps. He feels better, which comforts me a little.

Sometimes I wish I could warn Earl about the leprechaun, but that’s not how it works. I’m a defender. I defend. I don’t tattle on my enemies.

Despite Earl’s great power, he is surprisingly fragile. I don’t think he could take it. He needs me. He needs my people.

Now, I need to find another rookie.

Bizarro soup for the fractured soul: Fungus of the Heart by Jeremy C. Shipp

Fungus of the Heart is a collection of stories by Bram Stoker Award nominee, Jeremy C. Shipp. The tales take place in worlds similar to our own, but offer a twisted reflection of the reality we live in.

Undead ambassadors lurk just outside the suburbs. A powerful protector will kill anyone he has to kill to see his lost love, or will he? A ghost works as a human whisperer. An anthropomorphic walrus and a dead bear mend the hearts of the world one poacher at a time.

Each of the thirteen tales is unified by the theme of heart.

Fire, water, wind, and earth are thankfully absent.

Maybe the author had a definite meaning for these stories. Maybe he didn’t. It doesn’t matter.

This is the world of Bizarro fiction.

When reading this book, you will see what you want to see: yourself, your neighbor, your dog. Reading the same story twice will produce two distinct experiences and emotions. No one will have the exact same journey as anyone else.

If fiction that follows the conventions of “normal” stories is the only thing you want to read, then stay away from this book. If you read it, you will be confused, challenged, and possibly even entertained.

The author has a website with a link to several of his short stories free online. Go there. Test the waters. If you don’t run away screaming or stamp away in disgust, then you probably want to read more. Fungus of the Heart is a great place to start.

I don’t give stars on my reviews anymore. If I did, I’d give this one a Vega, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Author Interview: S.D. Anderson - author of The Devil's Angel and computer faith healer

I have been friends with fellow author S.D. Anderson for several years. Because she has grown somewhat comfortable with me, she foolishly agreed to this interview in the wake of releasing her first full-length novel, The Devil's Angel.

What follows is not for the faint of heart. Be advised, the C-bomb is dropped more than once.

MTM: First, an easy one: If you had to pick one and only one X-mas party to go to, whose party would that be: Vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, leprechauns, feral gerbils, or the Cthulhu cultists?

SDA: HAHA! Can you believe that I had to look up Cthulhu Cultists? Shows you how sheltered I am! Anyway… First choice would be Vampires of course. I find it hard to believe that zombies would be good hosts, and leprechauns and gerbils make me want to do bodily harm to small children and Robert Pattinson. And well… Demons and Werewolves would be a distant second.

MTM: Your new book, The Devil's Angel, is now available all over the internet and at the little shop where I purchase my sideburn wax. How long have you been writing in the dark world of vampires, werewolves, and demons?

SDA: Do you really buy sideburn wax? HAHAH!

I found my love for the dark stuff almost 6 years ago, which was also when the birth of the lead character came about. Wow, can’t believe it’s been that long already. ;)

MTM: I predict the next hot fiction genre to be zombie love stories. Can you pitch me a hot synopsis for a zombie tale about two star-crossed, shambling, angsty, flesh-eating teens that I can plagiarize and use to finance my unhealthy obsession with potted meat from around the world?

SDA: I know it doesn’t really fit with the genre I’ve chosen to tell my stories in but I am not a zombie fan. I would be the worst person to pitch an idea on it because for me I have to at least enjoy it or see it as something I would like to have happen… zombies irk me for some weird reason. I mean if I wanted a guy that was falling apart, smells bad, and mumbles incoherently I can think of a few exes I’d go back to first. HAHA!

MTM: As we all know, the devil rarely leaves his winter home in Newark to mingle with the rest of us. What is it about the prince of darkness (not Ozzie, the other one) that captured your interest?

SDA: Great question and one I love answering. I believe it mainly stems from me being the black sheep in a religious family and wanting to see how far I could push the envelope. I tell people this book is my rebellion. Saying Lucifer or talking about the Devil was akin to saying Voldemort in my house growing up (Yea, yea, shout out to the HP fans hehe). But for the same reason that people love vampires, I love the mythology about Lucifer. Now I am not saying I have dark altars in my house or anything but I love what society has created him to be. I find it sexy as hell and very intriguing because the truth is no one alive today really knows. I wanted to portray him in such a light that you love to hate him but you know without a doubt women would sell their souls to him without a second thought.

I get into debates with my father and one of the biggest debates is religion because I tend to take opposing sides for the hell of it. The biggest kicker to me and what I love throwing at the fanaticals is this: If God made everything, and we are in fact made in his image, then does it stand to reason that he created Evil? Think on that one. It’s like the chicken and the egg, there is no wrong or right answer.

MTM: A fan sent me a picture of a tattoo from a passage in my book. Actually, it was just the copyright symbol on a really old guy's elbow, but still, I was honored. Are you looking forward to being so popular that fans have excerpts from your book tattooed on their bodies?

SDA: I have said for awhile that I don’t really want the fame. I don’t want to not be able to walk down the street without someone stopping me etc. I know without a doubt that I would become a hermit because I don’t do well with crowds and people bugging me haha. But that being said, yea that would be cool. When I write dialogue or something like that, there are several lines that ring loud to me and would be something even I would get tattooed because in my head they are epic quotes.

MTM: I have started asking everyone this question. Sam Elliott’s wooly mustache or Hugh Jackman’s wolverine lambchops? (Don't worry. There is no wrong answer here, but two talented actors' facial hair may be at stake.)

SDA: Hugh Jackman hands down. You have to think about kissable factor. Well not you but from a female perspective. I don’t want to be kissing something that furry. Sideburns are better. And let’s face it. Hugh Jackman is a babe. I need to go watch Wolverine again. *bites fist*

MTM: What book or books are you reading right now?

SDA: Actually I am not reading anything at the moment. I have two that I am planning on starting here within the next few weeks once I get publishing out of the way. They are Grey Dogs by Ian Sandusky and My Partner’s Wife by Michael Glenn Yates

MTM: Finish this scene: "Edward Cullen bumps into Devrynne Kaine, main character from The Devil's Angel, and spills his tomato juice on her new evening gown."

SDA: She would of course grab him and glare at him in fine bitchy fashion and then whoop his ass. Finishing line would be something along the lines of… “Only fairies sparkle you moron.”

MTM: I sometimes read passages of my writing to my Schnauzer and ask him what he thinks of it. I always take his silence to mean that it is the best prose he has ever encountered with his Schnauzer ears. What are some of your guilty pleasures?

SDA: Oh lordy… Adam Lambert is probably the one I’d get teased for the most. My daughters got me hooked on him and I will admit to being very taken with the man. Aside from that it would have to be my TV shows… Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. I’m a total fangirl at heart. Oh and Billy The Exterminator. Hate bugs but love that man!

MTM: You may already know that I am something of a profanity enthusiast. I have discovered that when one woman intensely dislikes another, they often use the term, "cunt," which I find both fascinating and heart-warming. What is your favorite curse word and why?

SDA: Ooooh. You said the C word!!! Nickel in the swear jar! HAHAHA! I only use Cunt when I’m extremely pissed at someone, and it is still very rare. The one that I use the most is probably a tie between Cockwhore and Douchnozzle. I use those quite liberally. Love the way they roll off my tongue. Cockwhore came about by accident. I was pissed off at someone from back in the hayday of my Myspace roleplayer days and was on the phone venting to my sister about it. Meant to say cock sucking whore and that came out instead. We both giggled hysterically over it and I’ve used it ever since. Douchnozzle was said on an episode of Supernatural and I’ve used it not so lovingly to refer to an ex ever since.

MTM: I am quite fond of first person point of view in writing. Then, I also like to scream at mailboxes and dare them to cross me, which they almost never do. Could you tell me about why you chose to write The Devil's Angel in first person and what it is that draws you to that style?

SDA: Mailboxes huh? So you’re threatened by stationary objects… *makes mental note* Moving on hahaha…I remember reading books and they were ALL in third person. I found it hard to relate to it. Then I came across one of my first 1st person written books and loved it. I connected with it because I like getting lost in a story and it allowed me to do that. When you’re reading along it’s hard to keep all the He’s and She’s and They’s from becoming a jumbled mess of confusion. First person is easier because it’s allowing the reader to read it as if they’re in their shoes.

Now I can write in third person, most if not all of my stories have started as third person until I get a good grasp on the character and can connect with them. I’ll just be in the middle of a chapter and without realizing I will switch to 1st person. That’s when I know it’s time to go back and redo the beginning and that the connection has been made.

MTM: As you know, I have a lifelong feud with the leprechauns. To my great satisfaction, I found out that the company that produces the print version of my novel uses real leprechaun tears in their ink. Were any leprechauns harmed in the making of The Devil's Angel? (please say yes)

SDA: Well here’s the deal. They creep me out. They are wicked little beings that are usually up to no good. Stupid little pots of gold no one can find… rubbish I tell you. HAHA. No, unfortunately, no Leprechauns were harmed in the making of the Devil’s Angel. Perhaps I can plot their demise in the sequel? *insert maniacal laughter here*

MTM: With the release of The Devil's Angel, you are one step closer to the goal all writers share: world domination and all the free turkey jerky and Guinness we can consume. What is the next step of your plan? If that information is top secret, what other projects are you working on?

SDA: You can keep the Guinness. Hehehe. Um… world domination wouldn’t be cool… I’d be terrible because the power would go to my head and I’d inevitably start making people worship me and wear really bad mullets. *shudders*

I am actually working on multiple things. I stayed with the first book and that was all I worked on because I was afraid that I wouldn’t finish if I didn’t. Now that I have one under my belt it’s a lot easier to jump around to whatever I’m in the mood to write.

The first and foremost is the sequel to this book called The Devil’s Apprentice. It takes place about a year after The Devil’s Angel ended. It’s the middle of at least a three part series about Devrynne’s life and the people in it. The third one is called The Devil’s Downfall (detecting a pattern here?) and it takes place 18 years after the end of the second and is not so much tied with the main story of the first two so I’m writing it as well. Mainly in pieces that don’t tie into the focal points on the first two.

Also I have been playing around with something completely out of the paranormal/horror genre, something a little closer to personal for me called Address in the Stars. I find it hard to work on this piece because it is tied very closely to things in my life that are still a little too close for comfort, so it is slowly coming along.

There is another small one that is just taking shape that has no title yet and is not in the paranormal/horror realm either. This is another taboo/rebellion piece as well because of what it’s about that deals very closely with a woman who decides to have a child for her best friend who is a gay male. It focuses very closely on relationships within the woman’s life being severed because of her choices that goes against her family’s religious beliefs.

The other big piece I’m working on is called The Curse of Katia DuFresne. It is centered around a supporting character from The Devil’s Angel, Cash Montgomery. Whether this will turn into a full length novel is unknown. I’m aiming for novella but as you can tell I do so love to ramble so it could be the full length novel by the time it’s done.

MTM: I look forward to reading it. I also look forward to using cockwhore and douchenozzel as liberally as I can this holiday season.

Big thanks to S.D. Anderson for enduring thirteen questions worth of my disjointed thought process. Her new book, The Devil's Angel, is available now.

Don't be a douchenozzel. See it. Read it. Live it.

Connect with S.D. Anderson