Archive for July, 2018

METAL IS THE LAW (OR THE BOOK OF HEAVY METAL…OR, YOU GET THE GIST)

 

Over the last couple of months there has been a dominant theme occurring in the books I’ve been involved in, and if you’ve been following in any capacity you will already know what that is. Of course, I’m talking about heavy metal.

I’ve been known to appropriate a couple of phrases from various reviews and refer to my work from time to time as grindhouse splatterpunk horror driven by heavy metal, but that doesn’t always mean the musical element is in the content, but moreso the spirit. In this case however, the heavy metal is well and truly alive in the content of these latest few books.

Firstly, the tail end of June saw the long-awaited release of a new battle anthology (and the last one I aim to be part of for some time, with a concentration on other projects being more in my plans) Punk Vs Metal. Here I use the term long-awaited not so much to refer to hordes of readers eagerly anticipating its arrival, but more in reference to the incredibly patient authors involved. As anybody is well aware, metal and punk music aren’t exactly mainstream chart-busting types of genres, so consequently any book dealing with them is likely to be a niche one, not something targeting a massive cross-section of the public.

The long-awaited part is due to the fact that those involved with Punk Vs Metal had to wait longer than one might anticipate for this book to finally see the light of day, courtesy of a pile of factors impacting on it and delaying release. Initially the whole punk versus metal as a battle anthology notion came about in early 2017 or thereabouts when a whole host of competitions were being bandied about, and while teams were decided on back then as well, the various members chosen for each side didn’t remain constant. There were line-up changes, drop-outs, replacements, and a whole bunch of shit going on that made progressing with the book a difficult task. What was more, PvM was originally going to be one of those battle anthos that followed the same trajectory and template of all those that came before it. By this I mean a panel of judges would go through the stories round by round and vote on them, with winners in each round, culminating in an overall team winning at the conclusion. The delay on all of that was such that eventually I took control of the book and decided to cut the whole judging part out of it, not merely so the authors involved didn’t have to keep waiting and waiting for some shit they’d been waiting for far too long as it was, but for a different approach to the battle antho template. After all, going into a book such as this with a preconceived notion of who is going to win, or having already been told who the judges voted as winner, tilts readership in a sort of bias or predetermined mindset, whether intentional or otherwise.

Therefore PvM is the only battle antho where judges aren’t involved and the results of which story wins in each round, or which teams ultimately wins, is determined solely by the readers themselves and nobody else.

It was a fun idea for a book, and there were some top notch authors writing for it, but in all honesty, after all was said and done, it was just a relief to finally have the book out there and be finished with it.

One upside to take away from it was the fact that my story in PvM is something that I now plan to do more with. If you’ve read the book and encountered my tale, Clans, then you’ll know what it is all about. If not, well you will discover all about it when I expand it into what will either be a novella length work, or (less likely) a full length novel. In any case, it is something that I’m debating turning into an ongoing series, as the tale itself revolves around a city where there are no wars or conflict between races, or anything of that nature, but instead ongoing conflict between people who swear allegiance to various musical genres. The Metal clan and the Punks of course are the prime characters in this particular story, but should I choose to expand the universe more, the other clans mentioned in the tale, as well as others that don’t feature will also come into play at some stage.

Again, if you have read this story, the first thing you might have taken away from it is that it isn’t horror at all. There are probably a few bits in there that could loosely fall under the horror banner, but for the most part, it’s more of a love story than a horror story. A twisted musical metal-infused love story set amidst a backdrop of warring clans, but one nonetheless, and one that tends to hark back to my early days of writing when I worked daily on a long-running urban story featuring youth gangs.

So, with that said, be sure to keep an eye out for the expanded, extended, uncut version of Clans, coming along sometime in the future, and then potentially, more books in the same universe. There will be horrific moments in there of course, but their base genre will not be horror.

In the meantime, check out PvM, and feel free to drop a review detailing your thoughts on the stories within, let us all know who won, and decide once and for all whether metal prevails over punk, or vice versa.

punk vs metal proper cover

What happens when a team of writers who swear allegiance to punk are pitched into brutal, no-holds-barred story war with a squad of scribes pledging loyalty to metal?

http://smarturl.it/punkvsmetal

The second book, which came out at the start of this month (July) was the novella, Havoc Vulture. This one is also very metal oriented, revolving around a group of teenagers obsessed with the black metal genre, first excited about the prospects of an infamous black metal band coming to their town, then deflated by the knowledge the powers-that-be running the place have quashed any hope of the performance proceeding.

Like many of my books, the original intentions for it were rather different to how it turned out. Initially I was planning to write a series of short stories each titled after the names of some of my favourite black metal tracks, and release them all in a themed collection. (Story content would have nothing to do with the songs themselves of course-these would be horror stories merely inspired by the various titles e.g Blizzard Beasts or something of that nature would be pretty self explanatory, but nothing thematically to do with the Immortal song’s content). While I still might delve into something like this down the track a piece, the first story I started writing was Havoc Vulture, and though the initial story-line remained the same as I’d pictured it, it became evident that it was going to span into a novella rather than just a story.

Given I have a tendency to write quickly, this one took a little longer to complete than I would have liked, but I suppose writing time on it sandwiched between editing for others and working on an assortment of other projects at the time accounts for that.

It is a horror story, of course, venturing into the extreme territory, but the ages of the main eight protagonists (sixteen) got me pondering over something.

There’s been a lot of conjecture of late-and probably not just of late-over what exactly constitutes young adult as a genre. Personally, I was always of the mindset that for something to be considered young adult it was essentially a book with a young adult readership as the target audience, and therefore something where the subject matter and content would be suitable for such an audience i.e light on violence and sex and that sort of thing. However, I’ve seen an assortment of interpretations floating around social media and so forth with people suggesting that the ages of the actual characters might play a part in a book being deemed young adult. I’ve never seen it that way, certainly not with a book that could be loaded up with content that is far from suitable for a young adult (ages variable) crowd to be delving into, even if the protagonists or main characters are teenagers or whatnot. Yet, apparently there’s a school of thought that deems any book featuring those of a certain age to slot into that young adult genre, regardless of the kind of content.

Therefore, since all of Havoc Vulture’s main characters are sixteen (and young adult age), and others that make appearances aren’t much older, and any adults don’t spend enough book time to have any real bearing, should I be pushing a book that is bordering on extreme horror as a young adult work? Definitely something to mull over. There’s some grey areas there, and despite these strange suppositions that it would be construed as a young adult book, I’m going to go with my original stance on that particular blurring of lines genre and suggest otherwise. Merely having young adult characters in your book isn’t always going to indicate it’s going to be suitable for that particular audience.

Nonetheless, if young adult readers do want to read Havoc Vulture, then I’m not planning to dissuade them. There’s plenty of messages in there they can walk away with.

Copy of HAVOC VULTURE

Freedom’s Way doesn’t see many heavy metal concerts. Certainly not those of the black metal persuasion.

There’s a good reason why they tried to stop this one.

Vulture are coming, whether they’re welcome or not.

http://smarturl.it/havocvulture

Finally, keeping with the metal theme, is my most recent book. From the Vault came out a couple of days ago, and while it isn’t a novella or anthology focused on heavy metal or featuring metal or anything along those lines, it is a collection of poetry which was originally written as lyrics for metal songs.

Since I make mention of the origins of all these lyrics/poems/whatever one wants to refer to them as in the book introduction and afterword, I won’t repeat myself too much again here, but all of the forty pieces that are included were written way back in the 90s. All of them were written as lyrics; some of them actually had music written as well-some in full, others in bits and pieces. Unfortunately much of that has been lost along the way, and I’d be lucky to remember how to play half of it in any case, but all the lyrics themselves I’ve kept intact for decades.

Going back to that point above where I say I generally write things fast, all of these pieces are no exclusion that rule. I’d say almost all of these pieces, as well as a large number of others I have that I’ll consider for future collections (potentially themed) were penned very quickly. At least one a night is the general standard, while there were multiple occasions where several were completed in a single night. Bar changing a word here or a line there, they didn’t get changed; I didn’t spend a lot of time tinkering around with them or agonising over getting them just right. They spilled out onto the page as they were-hand-written of course, since I wrote everything by hand once upon a time-and that’s how they remained. I’ve always written just about everything like that, and continue to do so to this day, which is part of the reason I write fast. Often the final result isn’t exactly as I’d envisioned it, but different ideas steal in to replace ones I had originally, so it balances out well. Half the time I write lines, paragraphs, scenes etc. in my head while I’m doing other things, and by the time I get around to typing or writing them out, the core elements might remain the same but the actual wording becomes somewhat different. That usually wasn’t the way with writing these lyrics; I’d sit down with pen and paper and write, and what came out then and there generally accounted for the final product.

Anyway, From the Vault: A collection of dark poetry and lyrics is out now, and doing well, and for only a dollar you too can read some of the things I was writing well over twenty years ago (in addition to novels and stories, which I was also writing way back then). At some stage I might write up another post that focuses solely on that particular book and goes into a little more detail on some of the works, and stories or reasons behind them, but we’ll save that for another day.

FROM THE VAULT(1)

Words from the past. From the dark. From the vault.

http://smarturl.it/fromthevaultdark

In the meantime, feel free to check out any of the aforementioned metal-themed books-Punk Vs Metal, Havoc Vulture, From the Vault-and headbang your way through some horror. As I mentioned earlier, I know very well that metal is really something for a niche audience, hardly something targeting a mass mainstream readership, but hey I’m in this writing game because I fucking love writing, and that’s the bottom line. I’ll keep writing all kinds of shit, but rest assured, I’ll always be dropping a few stories in there revolving around heavy metal, or inspired by heavy metal; that’s never going to change.

Now Go Forth and Headbang. And Horrify. And be Horrified.