Fiends–Closet Treats-Episode 04

Yup, I rock.  Episode 04 is out early.  This episode is bumped by Jason of Shadow Cast Audio.  Be sure and subscribe to the podcast for weekly horror goodies.  And yes, I am narrating their episode next week.  Should be fun.

Leave comments for this episode please.  Cheers.

 

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Fiends–Closet Treats-03

Here ya go, Fiendlings.  Just a little early for your enjoyment.  Episode 3 of Closet Treats.  Download it and getcha some!

 

 

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Fiends–Closet Treats-02

My fiendlings.  Today is Day 3 of "The Valentine's Day Massacre" Weekend.  Today I offer up episode 2 of my new podiobook novel, Closet Treats.  Hope you enjoy it. 

Download Now

 

 

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Fiends–Closet Treats-01

My fiendlings.  Today is Day 2 of "The Valentine's Day Massacre" Weekend.  Brought to you by: me and my sick and twisted brain.  Today I offer up the premiere episode of my new podiobook novel, Closet Treats.  Hope you enjoy it.  Episode 2 drops tomorrow.

Download Now

 

 

Written and performed by Paul Elard Cooley featuring original music written and performed by Andrew Richardson.
You can find Mr. Richardson's podcasts and music at: http://www.fabkebab.com
This presentation is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley.
Visit shadowpublications.com for more free stories as well as my rant casts.
Contact me at:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Valentine's Day Massacre: Day 1: Tattoo Q&A

Here you are, my fiendlings.  We kick off Day 1 of the Valentine's Day Massacre Weekend with, finally, the Tattoo Q&A show.  It's WAY overdue and I apologize for it.

This was recorded in the living room of my good friend Brett Cullum.  Please enjoy it and if there's anything I failed to cover, well, tough shit, you should have sent in your questions.

Cheers.

Download Now

Essay–Genre Bashing

Download Now

 

Horny housewife novels.  Senseless slaughter fests.  Space operas.  Braindead action.  Tolkien ripoffs.  Genre bashing.

Yeah, you heard me, genre bashing.  I don’t care what kind of genre is your favorite, I guarantee you you’ve bought into the stereotypes of certain kinds of literature and movies.  God knows I have.

I was talking with Michelle Bekemeyer this morning about genre bashing.  When I told her I was holding back from bashing her genre of Romance, she gave the FiendMaster a rather friendly warning.  In other words, she didn’t snarl at me, but certainly thought about it.

Now why on earth would I have something against romance novels?  Well, hmm…why would I?  Oh, yeah.  Jackie Collins.  Danielle Steele.  Whatever horny housewife novel of the week is currently making its way to Lifetime.  Formula, my fiendlings, is the death of anything.

There are books out there, no shit, check’em out, in every “writing” section of every bookstore that can teach you the formula for writing horror, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, or romance.  Or you can just look at the most popular pulp books, read them, and instantly know what you have to do to make a brain-dead audience buy them.

Unfortunately, many of the presses out there want exactly this.  It may be a mediocre written book, but if it follows the formula to a tee, then they’ll push it.  Why?  Because it’s been successful.  This is one of the major problems I see with the publishing industry in general.  I also think it’s one of the many reasons they’re dying.

So back to genre bashing.  I haven’t read Twilight.  Any of the books.  There are a large number of reasons for this. First and foremost, I am fucking sick to death of vampire fiction that brings nothing new to the table.  I am fucking sick to death of yet another teenage coming of age tale.  Just sick of it.  It’s tired plotting, no matter how great the writing might be.  Just fucking tired of it.  But I’ve also read enough reviews from people who’ve read it or seen the flicks, and I, well, I have no interest in mysoginism obscured by urban fantasy.

Well, how’s that for genre bashing?  Regardless of what you think of Twilight or the fact I’m making judgements without having experienced it, the media buzz around the series has killed any objective opinion I might form.  I got into Harry Potter (the books) because a friend of mine told me it was a very fun, fast read.  I read it.  A fucking Scholastics book at 30 years old.  And I loved it.  Every single word of it.

And I went on to read the entire rest of the series, even though the first three books followed the exact same formula.  Seriously, they were all the same story. And then, as the books were aimed at older audiences, the plots became more complex, the emotions more serious, and the backdrop much darker.  Perhaps this is why I don’t re-read the first three books, and instead start with “Goblet of Fire” and work my way through.  Those books hold a reflection up to our world instead of just trying to create the same old fantasy horseshit.

I’ve no doubt someone will argue with me about the Twilight series and say I’m not giving it a fair shake.  My wife hasn’t read them and she tells me to quit bashing the series until I’ve tried it.  Sigh.  At some point I’ll have to go to the library, check out the book, and hurt my mind with it.  Or, who knows, maybe I’ll find mysoginism fun.  It could happen (NOT).

Let’s move on.  So @michbek writes romance.  She’s combining literary sensibilities, a la Jane Austen, into her romance.  Fantastic.  I’ve read several Jane Austen’s books.  Hate to say it, folks, but The FiendMaster liked ’em.  They are great tales (even without zombies).  So yeah, it can be done, and done in a refreshing new way that people can enjoy them.  Re-invigorate the genre, I say.  There is no shame in this.  None at all.

But how do we move past our prejudices?  I don’t want to read anymore about dwarves, elves, wizards, and etc set in some epic fantasy world.  I’m done with it.  For the most part it’s always the same old shit.  Everyone feeding off everyone else.  Epic fantasy died for me with Terry Brooks, and good riddance to it.  I have great respect for the writers that write it, but it’s very seldom I find anything new in the genre.  And worse, epic fantasy tends to try and wow you with the world rather than with writing and characters.  That kind of shit drives me nuts.

I don’t care how great the universe a book has if the characters are wooden stereotypes.  Oh, he does this because that’s what elves do.  Or he does that because that’s what dwarves do.  So?  Break the goddamned stereotype.  Make it interesting.  Have your elves be cannibals.  Have your dwarves be massive sex perverts.  For god’s sake, do something new and cool with it.  Alas, that’s not what the market wants.

Horror has a lot of the same problems.  The idea I have to come up with a really cool killer that’s different from everything else out there is obscene.  I don’t come up with killers.  I come up with characters.  If they happen to be monsters, that’s great, if they happen to be serial killers, that’s cool too.  But I’m more interested in who they are than what they do.  I just am.  I guess that means I might be forever relegated to the back-shelves and never see the light of day in the traditional publishing world, but those are the kinds of stories that interest me.

I love, simply love, the Dresden Chronicles.  Yes, the novels tend to follow the same formula, but Harry is such a fantastic character, the plot is secondary.  I’m much more interested in how he reacts to the world around him.  He’s a great character because he’s still trying to figure out who he is and what he cares about.  He’s the gray walking the line between polar opposites.  That excites me about characters.  That makes stories and series interesting.

Science fiction, like fantasy, suffers the same world building malaise.  Without characters, these stories mean nothing to me.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning genres here.  I love science fiction, when it’s done well.  I love fantasy, horror, thrillers, etc, when they’re done well.  But for me, I rarely find much written these days that interests me.  At least on the bookshelves.  I find the podiofiction that my compatriots write so much more fascinating than the dribble coming out of the publishing houses.  Perhaps that’s because we’re allowed to really experiment and commit ourselves to some rather unconventional tales.

So, genre bashing.  It’s not fair, but we all do it.  We all engage in bashing genres because of their stereotypes.  While this is a horrible travesty to commit against some very good stories out there, it is inevitable.  Too many cliches, too many of the same movie or book being made, too many of the same television show, leave all of us with some sort of expectation that’s difficult to live up to or live down.

I’m not a hypocrite.  I engage in it as much as the next person.  But before we commit ourselves to hating on a genre for the sole purpose of hating on it, perhaps we should consider that just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s what we want to read or see.  Experiment.  Take a chance on something new, something that may not be as popular.  You might very well find a story that surpasses not only your expectations, but elevates itself beyond its own genre.

This has been a presentation of Shadowpublications.com, written and read by Paul Elard Cooley, and is copyright 2010 by Paul Elard Cooley and licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribute, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives 3.5 license.

Music provided by Nine Inch Nails from their ghosts production.  Please visit their site.

For free horror and urban fantasy fiction, essays, and reviews, please visit shadowpublications.com where we don’t believe in happy endings.

 

Fiends–Breakers

When I checked my email through TOR, I found the order embedded between geologic layers of spam.  Even on a pirate bay account, the massive sedimentary layers of junk threaten to crush useful information into useless bytes.  You’d think that the same spammers who use pirate bay’s servers would be a little more courteous.  But this is what I have to do deal with.

The order was simple.  Male.  White.  Twenties.  I’m used to getting more explicit instructions; every now and then, I get an order that’s anonymous.  Usually there’s a name attached.  A dosier.  Bare information about the delivery.  Sometimes, I just get told anyone will do.  When there’s a screening process, it makes life much easier.  The Breakers do the research, I get the order, and the mission is on.

A breaker goes on a mission.  Welcome to the machine…

Download Now

Essay: A Monster's History?

Download Audio Version

We love monsters.  Whether it's the foot pounding destruction from Godzilla or Hannibal Lecter staring into our minds with his red eyes and cold intelligence, we love them.  Horror movies make millions and millions of dollars every year, regardless of how shitty most of the films are.  Stephen King belches, and hundreds of thousands of copies of his latest fiction fly off the shelves.  We have shows like True Blood and Dexter, where the monsters are portrayed in a very sympathetic light.  The fantasy of the monster somewhat crumbles under the weight of these narratives.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hypocrite.  If you're listening to this, chances are you have already sampled some of my Fiends collection, so you know that I take every opportunity to give my monsters their own voices.  The narrator in Momma, casually explaining his philosophy to his mother, or the artist in Canvas waxing poetic about his own insanity.  I don't think I try and paint these as sympathetic characters, however, although do try and get to why they think the way they think.

But that's not really the point here.  I want to talk about our incessant need for origin.  If you go back to the earliest mythologies, you invariably find that some deity shat the universe out its ass and then for some reason thought it was a good idea to put us on this planet.  Although they believe different flavors of this idea, billions do believe exactly that.  And the religion doesn't matter.  I call it myth because a myth is universal, not because I'm degrading religion.  Before you get pissed, just think about it.

And this relatively universal tale highlights our obsession with origin.  We as human beings have a curiosity.  We want explanations.  Whether it's the first Greek philosophers describing the gods responsible for all that their science could not explain, or the incredibly gifted and intelligent scientists who are today smashing atoms and unraveling our genetic code, humans are obsessed with discovering how they came to be.

This drive, I believe, leads many story-tellers with the urge to write monsters that have a past.  Buffy always had her library to describe nearly every creature she ever came in contact with.  Stephen King stories usually end up with one or more characters researching and finding out where their monsters came from.  We have tons and tons of serial killer novels, Thomas Harris' works might be the best example, where the killer's story is laid before us to explain what they are and how they came to be that way.

In many ways, I enjoy these tales.  They give the monster a personality, even if seen from afar.  But I always feel as though it cheapens it.  HP Lovecraft wrote some stories that hint at obscure mythos, but don't explain them.  For several characters, they witness horror and the supernatural, but they don't understand what they're seeing.  And in many ways, neither does the reader.  Yet we're still chilled by these visions perhaps because we aren't given the backgrounds.

Sometimes monsters just are.  Sometimes characters don't have the ability to discover what it is they're facing, only that they are facing it.  The don't have some magical tome to tell them a creature's weaknesses and habits.  There is no bible of information for them.  Even the internet may fail to provide clues.  Ha, there's a shock.

We may never get into these monsters' minds.  We may never hear them speak, only witness their actions.  Our understanding of their motives is cut down to only the most primitive comprehension by what they do, not what they are.  These are the monsters I think we fear the most–those beyond explanation. 

Horror movies are the most guilty of providing strained and forced sub-plots to explain what these monsters are and why they are.  I very rarely see a film where things just are.  There doesn't have to be a backstory.  You want a sequel, bitches?  Have the next damned movie give the backstory from the monster's perspective!  John Gardener's "Grendel" is a great example of this, telling Beowulf from the monster's point of view.

The Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises (pre Rob Zombie) scare us and are popular because they focus so much on the murder and mayhem, but not about the deep thoughts of the antagonists.  Those monsters have no personality.  At all.  They don't speak.  They don't dialogue about their evil plans or why they kill.  They simply are.  If the fucking plots of those flicks weren't so tenuous and predictable, I might really get into them.  But, sorry, I've grown up.  I want protagonists that are three dimensional, regardless of how boogeymanish the monsters might be.

So do we need backstories in horror?  How about fantasy?  Short stories are a great example of when backstories just cease to be.  By and large, they are skimpy at best.  You must infer most of it.  Phillip K Dick in one of his stories tosses out "The Negro Protection Act," but doesn't explain what it is.  You are left to infer what that means and how the world is different from our own.

Tossing out these little tidbits leave readers to use their imaginations and don't take away from the pace of the characters as they try and live their lives, regardless of the trials they face.  Think back to when you were a child.  Did the Tooth Fairy have a backstory?  What of Santa Claus?  What of the boogeyman?  There are no backstories that I can remember, except those made by television and film.  Our parents didn't explain these make believe creatures.  Only that they existed (or don't).  A child doesn't give a shit about how the boogeyman came to be, only the fear that the fucker is in the closet and ready to pounce on them.

Our most base childish fears come from not knowing what it is.  Only that it is.  Knowing something's backstory can defang it.  It can destroy the dread that is.  This isn't to say there aren't stories that do it well.  I'm simply saying you don't have to have a backstory for the monster.  Sometimes they just are.

Zombies are always tracked back to a plague, a virus, or some kind of alien gas.  Shit, these days Vampires don't even need a backstory at all to explain why they're vampires or how vampirism works.  We just know.  There are exceptions, of course, but rarely do we even give a damn.  Unless the main character is some kind of scientist trying to figure out how to save the world, it's often unimportant why things are, only that they are.

I've written monsters who tell their stories, or their stories are told by others.  But some of my monsters will just exist.  Just plain be there.  Be terrifying by their existence, not by how they grew up, were made, or born.  They just are.

So the next time you pick up a horror novel or watch a horror film, think about this.  Look for the sections where the author or screenwriter spends their time focusing on the why and not the what.  Ask yourself:  does it need to be there?  If it does, then the writer did their job and did it well.  If it doesn't, then chalk it up to our morbid need to explain all that is around us.  Meanwhile, some of my creatures will be tearing out your fucking throat and they won't tell you what they are, or where they came from.  Their sharp talons drawing the blood and rending the flesh from your bones will be the only explanation you need.

INFOCAST 01-14-2009: Tee Morris, Daybreakers, and RANT!

Download Now

Information about Tee Morris and Sonic Boom, Daybreakers Review, and WUZ UP!

To help out Tee Morris and his daughter, please donate via the Chip-In account or paricipate in the auction as a donor or bidder:

Promos included in this episode:

Closet Treats IS coming.  Very very soon…