Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
Review: Children of No One by Nicole Cushing
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Sunday, June 28, 2009Free fiction: Prosthetics
Yes, yes, I know I'm slack. Super busy here at Manji Towers, and I'm awaiting a few things that I wanted to blog about this week. So, expect (hopefully) a normal post next weekend, including a review of Shaun Jeffrey's The Kult, the first in a series of discussions about foreign markets (including an interview with a top German writer!) and the latest developments of Necrotic Tissue magazine, as we'll be back into a new reading period.
Which reminds me...if you haven't already, check out the interview of Necrotic Tissue Chief Editor R. Scott McCoy on The Odd Minds radio show at www.blogtalkradio.com/theoddminds . He talks of the magazine, the Malpractice anthology, his own great works...and yours truly even gets a mention at the end. Thanks Scott!
In closing, in apology for me being so weak this week (that's some bad hat, Harry), have some more free fiction:
There lies horror in the losing of a limb. Aside from the searing pain, loss of blood and crunch of bone, one loses a part of themself. But what if there's more to lose in the treatment? Which is the more horrific? The loss of a limb...or the gaining of a new one?
Ladies and Gentlemen...I give you...
Dr. Bowman met Jim’s eyes. He seemed nervous, but remained smiling.
“You ready?” she asked, taking his hand. She sat next to him on a plush sofa.
“I…I guess so,” he said.
“Good. Don’t try too hard. This should come naturally. Now…squeeze!”
Fingers clamped down on the doctor’s hand, and she cried out, pulling back. Jim held on, staring down.
“Jesus,” Bowman moaned and squirmed her fingers. She worked them free from the iron grip. Pain blared in her hand, like she’d trapped it in a door.
She slid free and massaged the skin, smoothing out the agony.
“Any harder and it would be me that needs a new one!”
“I’m sorry,” blurted Jim.
“It wasn’t your fault,” said Bowman. “It’s a new technology and needs a little fine tuning. Let me take another look.”
She held the prosthetic, now a tight fist, and ripped a Velcro strap free. The gloved hand fell away, revealing the fleshy stump beneath. She swallowed and pulled the glove off.
Jim snorted. “You must see this kind of thing everyday, yet this,” he held up the deformed hand, “this disgusts even you.”
“It’s nothing,” she said. “It’s the prosthetic I’m disgusted with.”
Jim’s injured hand turned her stomach. He’d been on the receiving end of meat slicer accident. The machine had taken most of his right hand, cutting from the base of the thumb up to the knuckle of his little finger. The injury itself didn’t sicken her, but the puckered pink flesh at the trauma site did. She knew she had a bad attitude, especially for someone in her position, but the disgust remained. She preferred nice, tidy stumps, not blood and scars.
“You don’t have to worry much longer,” she said. “Once I get this fixed, it’ll be like having your old hand back.”
Jim sighed. “I appreciate your…enthusiasm, doctor. But you can’t understand what this feels like to just…well, lose a part of you in a split second.”
Bowman pried the fingers of the hand open.
She reached down to her ankle and hiked up her trousers a few inches. Beneath, the silver head of a bolt glinted, embedded in pink plastic. She lifted her foot from the floor, and the hinge moved.
“Whoa,” said Jim, clutching his injured hand.
“Car crash,” said Bowman. “Twelve years ago. My leg was crushed, and they amputated below the knee.” She tapped her shin. It sounded hollow. “Why I got into this area of medicine.”
“I’m sorry,” said Jim.
Bowman smiled. “No problem.”
“But you don’t even have a limp!”
She winked. “That’s how good we are here at Bloom Memorial.” She studied the hand. “Ah, I see what happened. A fuse has blown.” She reached into the inner workings and snapped the offending part free. “Our engineer is in today, so he should be able to fix this right up.”
“You don’t build them?”
“Steve builds them and I fit them. Our system works.” She stood. “Make yourself comfortable, Jim. I’ll just be a minute.”
“Right,” he said, looking a little more reassured. “Thank you, doctor.”
Bowman crossed the pastel-toned patient suite and through the door at the rear. The temperature seemed to drop ten degrees on entering the workshop. The windowless room oppressed from the thick carpet and pleasant views of the patient suite. Underneath the bare bulbs, various limbs hung from rows of shelves. Legs stood in racks like umbrellas. Hands sat in rows, robot spiders waiting to be used. It reminded Bowman of puppet maker’s workbench.
“Steve?” she called. Her voice echoed. “Steve are you back there? I need a new fuse for a TN500.”
Silence greeted her.
“Damn. You on your lunch?”
She headed deeper into the room, passing more body parts. She had no idea what the building had been used for previously. The hospital had seen their work, offered positions at the facility and given them the use of the building, set within the hospital grounds. The workshop contained a small washing area and the remains of a small ward. Various bits and pieces had been left behind, the larger objects covered by sheets. Bowman had nagged Steve about shifting it all.
She approached the washing area. Steve had emptied the cupboard under the sink, and a black, leather bag stood next to the rusted metal sink. Bowman glanced at her reflection in the streaked mirror.
She opened the bag and peered inside, catching a hint of metal. She reached in.
She pulled out a scalpel, studied it and dropped it back. It emitted a small clunk, striking other instruments.
“Steve! I told you to get rid of all this!”
She turned away.
“Guess I’ll have to find the fuse myself.”
She walked down the old ward, scanning the cluttered shelves and work areas. Saws, drills, hammers and other vicious objects littered the place.
“Health and safety nightmare,” said Bowman, wishing for the comfort of the patient suite. She stopped. “And what the hell are you doing with this?”
A metal chair lay against the wall. Its seat, complete with head and foot rest, had been formed from a sheet of bent aluminium and polished to a dazzling finish. It sat on a short column, also fashioned from metal. An intricate pattern adorned its surface.
Looks like you’ve been renovating this. But why?
Something tapped her left foot. She looked down.
A fuse rolled and stopped.
Bowman picked it up.
Must have knocked it off something…Bit of luck. And it hit my left foot and not my right!
The wet fuse slipped within her fingers, and she wiped it on her blouse. The tiny cylinder vibrated in her palm for a second.
“Odd.” She examined it closer. Nothing out of the ordinary. “Must just be me.”
She glanced at the chair and shivered. She’d never claimed to have any sixth sense, but the chair inspired goosebumbs on her arms and back. She wondered if anyone had died in it…
Right, Steve. As soon as your belly’s filled, you’re getting rid of this chair. That bag too.
Turning her back on the piles of junk and the hideous chair, Bowman headed back through the workshop. She stopped, her heels scraping on the floor.
Something. Something behind her.
She glanced over her shoulder.
Nothing moved. The chair sat in the old ward, like a still life painted by Giger.
We need more lights in here. Place is getting to me.
Shaking her head, Bowman strode through the workshop, thankful as she entered the patient suite.
“Here we are, Jim,” said Bowman, joining her patient back on the sofa. “Sorry about the delay. Steve’s on his lunch, but I managed to find a fuse.”
Jim shifted forward, perching on the edge. “We trying it again, then?”
“One more time, at least to check the fit. We’ll make an appointment for next week so we can start your rehab properly.” Bowman flipped the prosthetic hand over and clicked the fuse into place. The fingers twitched, and Bowman nearly dropped the attachment. “Must have some discharge,” she said and ripped open the Velcro. “Don’t worry. You won’t get a shock!”
Jim offered a nervous smile and slowly held out his severed hand. Bowman slid the fixture over the torn skin and fastened it tight.
“There we go.”
Jim frowned. “It feels strange. All tingly.”
“That’s normal,” said Bowman, frowning. She glanced at the clock. Aware of her next appointment, she decided to cut the chat. “Just like before. Try to make a fist.”
“Okay,” said Jim. He closed his eyes.
“Ready?” said Bowman. “One…two…three!”
Thin blades shot out of the metal fingertips with a sharp ping!
“Did it work?” asked Jim. He glanced down.
The hand shot up, fingers closing in a claw. The five blades punched through Jim’s throat, and blood shot across the sofa.
Bowman screamed and jumped to her feet.
Jim gurgled, wide-eyed and falling back. Crimson poured down his chest, blossoming on his white shirt. The fingers embedded in his flesh jerked and flicked, trying to dig deeper. Jim clutched it with his good hand.
“Oh god,” Bowman moaned, retreating. “Oh god!”
Jim pulled the hand away for a second, but not to be denied, it surged forward in another frenzied attack. The force knocked Jim’s head back.
Bowman fled to the front door.
The sounds of Jim’s thrashing and the whirring from the hand stopped behind her.
The doctor froze, her hand on the door knob. She peered over her shoulder.
Jim lay back on the sofa, his body still. His head had tilted back, revealing the carnage beneath his chin. Blood trickled down his front from pulsating tissue, which hung from his throat like glistening candy shoelaces. The remains of a crushed, mangled tube poked out of the pulpy mess.
The hand had vanished.
“Oh shit,” said Bowman and covered her mouth. The carpet seemed to tilt, and her vision blurred. She blinked the patient suite back into focus.
“No,” she cried. “Oh no…”
She yanked the door handle.
The hand dropped from the ceiling and onto her arm. Bowman jumped away from the door and beat at the prosthetic. It clung on like a metal tarantula, crawling for her shoulder. The blades had retracted.
Bowman tripped on a rug and toppled onto her knees. Her leg cracked, and the fake limb came free. It hung loose within her trousers.
The hand crept along her collarbone, impartial to her thrashing.
She screamed and grabbed it. The metal throbbed within her grasp.
“No!” she yelled, prying it free.
It held onto her blouse, refusing to budge. Bowman’s fingers slipped, and the metal hand darted to her face.
She snatched it with both hands and pulled.
A finger, containing tiny pistons and wires, hooked towards her mouth. The tip brushed her lips.
“Get...the fuck…off me!”
The hand emitted a loud click and fell away. Bowman threw it across the room just as the detached finger slipped into her mouth. She clenched her teeth together, clamping the loose digit that squirmed like a swollen maggot. It curled, and the tail end flicked against her nose.
Bowman fell forward and coughed. She pressed against the probing finger with her tongue. It pushed further in, metal squeaking against her teeth. Bolts of pain shot through her tight jaws. She grabbed for the probing digit.
It slipped all the way inside and jabbed the back of her throat.
Bowman gagged and wailed.
The finger seemed to grow, and a sharp point pressed into the roof of her mouth.
Realisation fuelled her panic, and she hooked the metal with her fingertips. They slid over the saliva-slick intruder and failed to find purchase.
The flesh at the back of her throat parted, and the finger dug up toward her head…
Dan: Is that the end of the story? Be pretty bad if it were. I struggle the most with endings, but give me some credit! Like Dr Bowman, there's a piece missing. Pick up a copy of Malpractice from http://www.necrotictissue.com/ and step into Bloom Memorial Hospital to enjoy Prosthetics in its full, splattered glory!
Sunday, June 21, 2009IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? NO, IT'S...AMAZON?
IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? NO, IT'S...AMAZON?
Remember the situation last week regarding Shutterbug? Here's what transpired...
After waiting a week for Wild Child Publishing to pull Shutterbug from the 3rd party sites, and getting nothing no reply, it was time to take matters into my own hands. Don't worry, friends, I'm not one for vigilante action! All the sites were selling through a site called Mobipocket, so it was this site that I contacted regarding the little problem. Mobipocket, as it turns out, is a subsidiary of Amazon. Obviously the book giant owns EVERYTHING! It's the Tesco of the publishing world (but does Tesco own Amazon?). Anyway, Amazon got back to me.
It was the publisher's responsibility to deal with this, however, as the book was being sold without rights or permission, the Amazon Legal Department stepped in. They removed the book from sale (yay!) and said they would take action should this happen again. Beware publishers! Amazon has a cavalry! It busts heads and takes names!
So I'm a happy bunny that I have Shutterbug back in full now. Convenient, as it looks like the new screenplay might be Shutterbug, for a film thriller or TV drama. My screenwriting colleague is currently reading the novella I believe, and drafting an outline. I'll hopefully have more information, and details about my screenplay magnifico, next week, should we sort out an agreement. Exciting times and looking forward to this one!
WHO SAID YOU NEED TOE SKIN TO BE A GREAT WRITER?
Last week, it was a personally signed copy of Mama's Boy by Fran Friel. This week, it's The Kult by my good friend, Shaun Jeffrey.
"To Dan" he writes "without whom this book would still be the masterpiece you see before you. In fact, without whom, it's probably better. Lol."
Joking aside, I started it this morning and I'm only about 13 pages in. I don't want to be writing this blog. Why? Because I want to get back to the sofa and read on! I stress over the opening chapter of my novels, but Shaun has hit it bang on. I'm hooked. It reads like Shaun Hutson - maybe its something about the name? - at his peak (although I havent reached a death scene yet. Fingers crossed for the same amount of torture and splatter!). Will post more about it next week. For now, here's the blurb:
People are predictable. That's what makes them easy to kill. Acting out of misguided loyalty to his friends, police officer Prosper Snow is goaded into helping them perform a copycat killing, but when the real killer comes after him, it’s not only his life on the line, but his family's too. Now if he goes to his colleagues for help, he risks being arrested for murder. If he doesn't, he risks being killed.
“With Kult, Shaun Jeffrey hits one out of the park with this creepy, character-driven thriller that starts with a jolt, stays in the fast lane, and plunges into the darkest territory of the human mind. It’s a bumpy ride through nightmare country.”
--Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author of PATIENT ZERO and PUNISHER: NAKED KILL
Wet your appetite? http://www.leucrotapress.com/Jeffrey.html
A RECKLESS MISSUSE OF THE WRITTEN WORD
Workwise, this has got to be one of the most uplifting and 'artistically free' weeks I've had. Whilst normally the subtle traits of terror and how a reader relates to the characters are order of the day, that has all been thrown wantonly aside, for it's time to bring on the filth!
Mother's Boys (far from the cleanest novel) first round edits are now complete (do I hear a woot? Woot. Thank you kindly) and I'm now awaiting feedback before I tinker and sub. Publishers are already listed (but all further suggestions are welcome!). Most of the week has been spent on a Brian Rathbone short, Brian Rathbone: Seed of Evil. This is by far the most...soiled short story I've written, with copious amounts of a certain creamy bodily fluid spraying from between the words. You might need a box of Kleenex tissue ready for this one.
And finally, my desert of submissions has found an oasis. I got, well, an amber light to prepare a short for an upcoming anthology (secret details until it's a green light!). This will truly allow me to spread these cheap, dirty, fetid wings of mine. Think sex, violence, and lots of...
Hang on. Don't want to let the cat out of the bag. Start eating now, because when this story is written...it may be a while until you eat again!
HAS ANYONE SEEN THE WALKIN' DUDE?
We're approaching the middle of winter now. While this brings on the wealth of winter food (meat pie, mash and winter veggies. Hot sponge and custard! :P) it also brings...disease! Bad colds have swept through Manji Towers. It's like Stephen King's The Stand in here now, with the audio track of a doctor's waiting room. It's hard to write when you feel shitty and dribble snot on the keyboard.
But on the bright side, we felt the baby kick for the very first time this week! Sherie: "Now you believe me that I can feel it moving! I'm not crazy!". I have two step children who I count as my own, but this is my first child. It was a magical moment, and we can only get more and more of them. This is called the quickening, which makes me think of Highlander and a great album by my favourite band, The Vandals. Funny how the mind works!
Oh, and if you haven't had enough of my warblings this week (are you nuts?) then check out my ongoing interview at www.britishhorrornovels.proboards.com. It's the spin off discussion forum from the excellent Facebook group and is run by the nice guy who has quirks, Ian Woodhead. There's also on going interviews with Shaun 'skinned toes' Jeffrey, Rakie 'likes overgrown male dancers' Keig and Conrad '21 years like the Duracell bunny' Williams.
Till next week...
Saturday, June 13, 2009Scandal and Stokers
Ah, this blogging on a weekly basis is much better. Behold the accrued news!
THE SHUTTERBUG SCANDAL
No, no. This isn't a new book and not a spin off from my 2007 novella. This is the 2007 novella! The rights for this book were revoked at my request in January this year, and the publisher removed the download from their store. However, following a delayed advertisement in issue #60 of Cemetery Dance, I decided to look into things.
The book is still available to download through third party sites! I managed to purchase a copy to be sure my eyes weren't playing a really nasty trick.
If any of you were considering purchasing a copy, please hold back until I rectify the situation. The publisher is selling this book without holding any of the rights and any profits go to them. They are yet to respond to my emails. Watch this space for how things develop (Shutterbug pun there. Sigh...).
POTENTIAL NEW PROJECT
It's been a long time coming, but 2009 might see the start of some of my works being converted into screenplays ready for the big pitch. Discussions are underway with a screenplay writer (fresh off a Stephen King project) and an agreement currently being drafted. The stories selected for the potential conversion are Relish, Belvedere's House, Roots and (the ever troublesome!) Shutterbug.
GET STOKED FOR THE STOKERS 2009
It's that time again, and this weekend sees the Oscars for the horror writing community, the Bram Stoker Awards.
If you're as excited as me over this, make sure you watch the proceedings LIVE on the 13th June from around 8pm (PST) at http://www.stokers2009.com/. Again, the best of luck to my friends:
Tim Deal at Shroud for Beneath the Surface (Superior Achievement in an Anthology)
Fran Friel for Mama's Boys and Other Dark Tales (Superior Achievement in a Collection)
- A signed copy of which I received this week and am enjoying!
Jonathan Maberry for Zombie CSU (Superior Achievement in Nonfiction)
The Skullvines crew for Attack of the Two Headed Poetry Monster (Superior Achievement in Poetry)
Further details are available on the above link. Go on, guys!
It's been quite dull in the writing world at the moment. Currently editing another novel (last one, finally) ready for submission. Big thank you to R.Scott McCoy at Necrotic Tissue for helping out with advice for this one. We need to tidy it up and cut 10k words from somewhere. And Scott suggests more gore and violence! What a guy...
Manji Towers is full of sickies at the moment. I feel like the last survivor of a zombie infestation. The kids are the colour of the floaty vampire kid from the original Salem's Lot and have coughs and as they call them...spews. Our three year old did the ultimate 'I fucking told you so' by half filling a bucket with browny red vomit while I was accusing her of faking. (Forget the Stokers, I'm up for Father of the year 2009).
My partner is into week 16 of the merry world of pregnancy, so she's... Well, she's lovely as always and still rushing around and looking after us all (she reads this). We spent the morning doing financial sums and budgeting, etc. I think blood will be shed if either mentions tax, income or expenditure for the next week. Looking into the purchase of a pram, cot, etc this week, and Mr Grumpy Horror Writer is actually quite excited about this.
The ghost of Manji Towers, I think, is a child. With both kids sick and asleep in bed last night, something was running around in the lounge room and opened the door to the kitchen (it squeaks). Is this inspiration for my writing. No. It's annoying when it wakes you up at nearly 1am!
I think that's my lot for another week. Going to go wait by the mailbox for my copies of Necrotic Tissue #7 and Shaun Jeffrey's new novel, The Kult!
Wednesday, June 03, 2009Feelings, Stoker Awards and the Ghost of Manji Towers
Twenty five new followers in a week! If you want to follow this blog on Facebook, please click the widget on the right beneath the book covers. Ta muchly!
You know, I've not posted anything over the weekend and kept thinking of all this stuff I wanted to discuss on here, yet now I have the time, I'm drawing a total blank. Shame.
For about two weeks, I had a really good feeling. I get it from time to time, and it raises me out of grump, as my partner calls it. It feels like something really good has happened but you haven't realised it yet. Like the first few seconds of Christmas morning when you were a kid.
"I'm sure there was something important about today...hmmm...oh! Christmas! Fuck yes!"
I like to think (and is there any better example of a writer's wishful thinking?) that something of mine has been picked up and I haven't received the email yet. I'm currently shortlisted at Midnight Echoes, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and Bucket 'O' Guts Press, as well as all the other 'out theres'. As another day closes without any emails (obviously apart from 'Joe Bloggs wants to know which root vegetable best suits your personality on Facebook'), that feeling ebbs a little until, yes, I'm the grump again. Bah!
Not that it's been all doom and gloom in the writing world. Three friends are up for Stokers this year: Tim Deal, Jonathan Maberry and Fran Friel, and I wish them the best of luck. One of my most despised writers is also up for one (despised because he recommended that I quit writing after reading one line. One line!). There's no justice. Looking forward to receiving my signed copy of Mama's Boy direct from Fran next week too!
There's been no writing done here at Manjio Towers this week. It's been family and dvds all the way (and a day out to Bridgetown Park on Monday - bank holiday. Can't believe it was the first day of winter and I felt a little sick it was so hot! Well, it might have been the heat...or all the Cheezels I ate...or the spinning thing I went on at the park...). This week's movies were Snow Buddies (shit), City of Amber (didn't watch. I was reading instead), Ben 10 (shit), Dinotopia (partner watched 6 hours of this crap, but it had Freddy's daughter from Freddy's Dead in it), The Cottage (partner didn't like but I do), Slither (better then I remember. Has that great line "Now that is some fucked up shit" delivered to perfection!), MIB 2 (great as always) and Spiderman 2 (tonight's little treat). Listing them here helps me keep track when we discuss movies after hours at the Werepig.
Writing wise TODAY, have to start the line edits of Mother's Boys (eerily like Fran's book title, don't you think? But this was written in 2006/2007). God himself (R.Scott McCoy) has offered to take a look when I believe it's good enough to be sent out. What a guy! Let the subterranean battle between gang-bangin' party boys and deformed genetic freaks begin!
Oh, and finally, Sherie heard the shuffling feet of the ghost of Manji Towers this week. I'm not going crazy!