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: Hollow House by Greg Chapman
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Sunday, November 29, 2009Sexy guitars, albino lesbians and threatening elephants...it's a shit business.
Has my absence from the internet been noticed of late? Us writers tend to be a reclusive sort (unless we're trying desperately to pimp our books), but I try to be readily available. There's been a few things happening here at Manji Towers that have kept me away from my corner of clowns (not you, my decor). Here's a brief rundown:
YOUR PARENTS ARE HERE. LOOK BUSY.
My parents arrived here from England a week ago and they've been living with us, seeing the sights and doing the Aussie thing. I think they're quite enjoying it. Hell, we've all enjoyed it, except that this weekend, my father and I caught...something. We have no idea what it was or where it came from, but we got it BAD. Perhaps it was food poisoning (despite not being able to work out what we both ate exclusively - unless there was an incubation period). It preceded one of the most agonising nights of my life, and wanting to simply to be shot in the head to escape the constant vomiting, stomach cramps and hallucinations! And to make matters worse, the next day we were booked to stay in a flash hotel in Como, Perth. That would require a 3 1/2 drive in the hot sun! Wasn't fun, but thankfully, Sherie did ALL the driving, the little star. Luckily, we felt better the next day and had another fun-filled day at the zoo. Which brings me to the elephant...
DUMBO? DON'T LET HIM HEAR YOU SAY THAT...
I'm sure that if I asked what the scariest animal at the zoo was, you'd perhaps say lions (no...sleeping), snakes (no...sleeping) or koalas (no...sleeping...but the stink was pretty scary). Elephants? No. Elephants are quite friendly and cute and have curly trunks and big floppy ears. The elephant we watched feed was all these things, but still...
As it was so hot, the keepers had encased the elephant's food in a block of solid ice. Was about the size of a big cardboard box. This elephant strolled out, had a butchers and delicately laid his foot (and it was a he...it had 5 legs. Reminded me a little of myself...what with the big nose) on the block. And this was the scary part. Quite nonchalantly, and with what appeared no effort, the elephant OBLITERATED the block. It just exploded. My dad shouted "Imagine that was your head!" Yes, the elephant has a new found respect with this writer now. I was going to write an Australian nature runs amok novella called ROO! or maybe Stink of the Koala...but maybe I'll set it in Africa and call it Half Ton Head Stompers. Wait, that was the biography of the WWF tag team The Natural Disasters, wasn't it?
So the zoo was good, and then we went swimming in the hotel pool afterwards. I've rediscovered the joys of swimming, and hope to again this week here in Manji. One thing though, Spas are dangerous, the hotter the more dangerous...erm...er.
MMMMMMMMM...LICK MY HUMBUCKERS!
Wondering why the sexy guitar is the headline pic this week? That's because my parents also arrived with some special cash that was to be passed on to me. Rather than pay the bills or rent or buy the groceries, this money was to be spent on something more concrete. Since the concrete shop was closed, I opted for a fancy new guitar and amp set up. For those of you that knew me about a year ago, you'll remember that I had to sell all my music equipment to fund my move to Australia. I'm starting from scratch. But this investment allowed me something I've never had before: choice. I could basically afford any guitar in the shop. I opted for the sleek and sexy Gibson SG in black. Not only will I get much enjoyment from playing, but I see this as an investment if things get desperate. Having an 'Angus' (AC/DC) guitar as the man in the shop called it in Western Australia isn't a bad choice, and I've already been cranking out Back in Black on it. The amp I got is a beaut too (fuck, that sounded Australian). A Peavy with more settings then the Hubble Telescope. The distortion is mental, and I have flange and reverb and more...everything I want. I love it and want to marry it. Between Sherie and the new SG, there's competition for the sexiest thing in the house. (I'm sorry, hunny, my six-stringed siren!)
ALBINO SPACE LESBIANS ABOUT TO LAND IN YOUR TERRITORY
The boys over at Skull Vines Press (www.skullvines.com) have been working their asses off of late. Besides cranking out the top quality fiction, including Black Jack Derringer by Karen Koehler and the newly acquired Abyss Walker series by Shane Moore (wow! And did you know there is an Abyss Walker inspired antho currently seeking admissions through our very own Stygian Publications? www.stygianpublications.blogspot.com) work is also continuing on the acclaimed series Tabloid Terrors, with the third installment out very soon.
Followers will know of my albino space lesbian story, the artwork of which was hot off the pencil of series co creator Jerrod Balzer (don't sniff the end of it) this week. This picture is the most I can reveal without being heavily censored. You guys have got to pick this up. The other...ahem...artwork made me cry out in surprise at half six in the morning. I can't wait to see what else is in this book! More details to follow.
In other writing news, due to the lack of time, the current novel still lies untouched, but a new short story has been started and I sold another pro poem, this time to the collection, These Apparitions: Haunted Reflections of Ezra Pound by Bandersnatch. Again, more news to follow. I enjoyed this immensely. One of my more literary pieces. On the flipside, Big Ole Face Full of Monster has died, which is a shame. They had my horror/humour story which now needs a home. If you like a general splashing of man fat with your horror and fancy buying this one, drop me a line.
That's enough rambling today. Time for some reading and then an early night. To Bedfordshire!
Sunday, November 08, 2009Blood. Mucus. Amniotic fluid. Urine. The beauty of childbirth!
I asked Tobin if I could blog about him. He had to think about it for a bit...
This post had to come. Ah, to use hindsight! I'm finding all things writing-wise pretty hard of late, just due to the lack of sleep. You can confirm this with Sherie. I'm such a grouch after a bad night's sleep. But I had a nap over lunch and have my massive clown mug full of coffee, so let's hit this.
A lot of people know the news already, and thank you sooooo much for all the messages left on Facebook (105 likes and 108 comments, not including all the wall comments). It was something really nice for Sherie to read through when she got home. We also want to thank Greg Hall for announcing the news on last week's Funky Werepig radio show.
So what happened? Here's the last few days of this epic saga:
(imagine this next bit in scrolling Superman/Star Wars opening narrative with dramatic music by Harry Manfredini)
THE STORY SO FAR...
After proving all his 'you're shooting blanks' friends wrong, hack shlock writer Dan and his lovely horror poet partner Sherie became pregnant in February 2009. Following a few ups and downs, including 23 week premature labour (tres bad) and labour in week 35, we find the family still pregnant and bored one hot and sunny Australian afternoon...
With me so far? This was Halloween by the way. Many people, me included, believed that fate had ordained our child to be born on All Hallows Eve, what with our horror history. This was almost the case.
My other job, the one that pays more bills (have you bought any of my books? Then it's your fault. I hope you feel good about yourself ;0) ) is teaching at Bridgetown High School. Nice place with only about 150 kids. No knives or windscreens smashed yet, which is always a plus. And they always seem to have freshly baked goods for free in the staffroom. Yeah, on that score every kid can be handed a katana and choice of semiautomatic and I'd still go in. Our eldest two kids at 5 and 4 sometimes get a bit emotional when they see me in my suit and tie and know I'm going to the high school, so we thought it would be good for them to visit the place when it was closed at the weekend, have a nosey around and see where daddy works.
The school has a dirt road that runs from the bottom of the school drive to the edge of the library, and this was the first place I drove up on my first day. Anyone who knows Bridgetown knows of the hills. Lost of hills. Lots of steep, high hills. Like Wales. Anyway, I wanted to show Sherie this bumpy road that I climbed up in a dodgy old Nissan Patrol 4x4. The road had been regravelled (is that even a legit word?) and we walked down.
You know that moment when the ground starts to slide away beneath your feet and you try to regain your footing but, deep inside, you know you're going down and there's nothing you can do about it?
I fell forwards, ducked into a roll and ended up someways down the hill, a little scratched and bruised. The kids were very concerned. Sherie was very amused and wanted me to do it again to film it with her camera phone. Ahem. Judgement reserved on that little gem. I was just glad that the young couple from the school we saw wandering around didn't see it, and the incident didn't enter the student grapevine:
"For the last time, face the front!"
"Okay, Sir. Jeez. Don't fall down a hill over or anything..."
Could Sherie's hysterical laughter have been the start of it all?
At bedtime that night (we were tired so didn't even watch a horror film on Halloween. Yes, and I call myself a horror writer) Sherie visited the bathroom and noticed a trickle of fluid from where it shouldn't be (not her arse. Sicko). But don't waters gush when they break? We left it and the same thing happened in the morning. I took her to the hospital and our super doctor (remember from the last post, he won't rape you) did a few tests. Waters had broken...albeit slowly. Baby's head was so deep in the cervix, it was effectively plugging in the amniotic fluid. Now was the race against time. Waters had broken at approximately 9pm the night before, and the doc said that after 24 hours the risk of infection is high. He wanted bub out by 9pm. It was now lunchtime.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Only kidding. Think I can remember this shit after another week?
A nurse stole my chocolate cake with custard while we were in ultrasound. I'm not going into detail on this. It...it still hurts.
There were no contractions, so nothing to push baby out. Hmm, a worry. Sherie was induced, which involves hooking her up to a drip of stuff called Syntocinon (SYNTOCINON! How we love thee! Think I'm going to get a bag of it and frame it on the wall). The drug contracts the uterus, and she was given 1ml per hour and this was gradual increased to 5ml per hour. Sherie went into contractions, but they were bearable. In fact the midwives were gobsmacked that she was dealing with the pain so well (we have video footage of her laughing her way through a contraction. I shit you not) and they were worried that she might not be human. But then...close to 11pm...they started to ease off! This was 35 weeks all over again!
While we walked laps around the hospital to try and get something going, our doc was stressing. The C word (not THAT C word. I mean the C section word) was in his head, and this required a trip up to Bunbury in an ambulance. With nothing much happening, he spoke to the docs up there, who (thankfully) advised we stay in Manjimup and crank up the Synto. Sherie was then put on 6ml...and the 12ml! As they were about to up the dose to a whopping great 24ml an hour...the fun began.
All joking aside (what, me? Yes.) you've got your men that start bar fights in Manji on a Friday night. You have men who work a grueling 10 hour shift in the mill. You got guys into weight lifting and martial arts. Pussys. The lot of 'em. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the sight of your loved one in full blown, last half hour labour. Whenever I write a torture scene in a novel, this is what I'll be thinking of. She's one tough cookie.
Sherie, my beautiful, determined angel, has been through labour 3 times with this baby and even at the end game, didn't have any pain relief. She just clenched her teeth and pushed. And roared. There was lots of roaring. Reminded me of the 'there is no Dana, only Zool' scene from Ghostbusters, but obviously there was no floating three feet over the bed nonsense.
Dr T (before he was qualified, he wouldn't get on no plane, sucka) was called and 17 minutes later, he was at the business end, ready to catch like he was backstop at the world series.
"Three more pushes and baby will be here," he says.
"Three?" screams Sherie in bewilderment.
"Yes, three," says I. He'd said it quite clearly.
Sherie pushed and I was busy holding her hand and doing the whole breathing thing (the asthmatic fish one). I saw something out the corner of my eye...and there was baby in the Dr T's hands. Sherie didn't need the other two pushes. Uterus of steel, that one.
Tobin Ian Russell. Son of Harlequin and Torana. Born 2nd November 2009 at 2.03am. 4lb 12.
Room looked like an abattoir and smelled like one too. Birth is not pretty. They checked him out and he was great (though bawling his head off) in fact, both doc and midwife gave him a rating of 10/10. The first baby at Manji to receive such a rating. Top of the class already!
I held him while Sherie showered and got cleaned up. Photo were taken and we retired back to the hospital room. Surprisingly comfy beds for new dads.
The rest, as they say, is history that's not as interesting as the history retold here. Jeez, that's a long saying.
Everyone is home and doing fine. Tobin is a night baby (whoohoo! ...sigh) so sleep is now a commodity. I can change nappies like the Ferrari pit team changes tyres. The bodily fluids are still flowing, which leads to stories about bodily fluids (including one about a woman in Bridgetown who uses breast milk for everything. DON'T eat the cookies). Things are gradually settling, and hopefully, The Forgotten can get finished soon. I know a few people are waiting for the completed manuscript.
That's it. Thanks for reading through. It's probably the best story I've had the pleasure to tell. It's all down hill from here, writing wise anyway. Next week will be more writing orientated, I promise.
Oh, and baby Tobin has a thing about piss. He saves it until we change him. He managed to get his big sister in the mouth this week and tried to get me today, the little terror! More urination updates coming soon...