It took a few extra days, but I can now confirm that the Greater Evil paperbacks are available for sale.
It's Tuesday, the day when books enter the world of readers so that may be enjoyed, judged, and then nicely arranged on the shelf in the reader's sorting of choice.
Today is a special Tuesday for me because I have a book that's going off to join the crowd of other fictional adventures. *sniffles* Why, just a year ago this little book was a mess of notes and rage, then it came together, made up its mind about what it wanted to be, and now it's ready to go off on its own. BEST OF LUCK TO YOU, BOOK!
The Greater Evil, the sequel to the apocalyptic dark fantasy Death's Good Intentions, is now on sale in a variety of ebook formats. You may choose from a few favorites like Kindle, Nook, GooglePlay, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Greater Evil is not yet available in paperback but that should be rectified by the end of the week. I'll keep you updated!
For the next week, Book 1: Death's Good Intentions will remain free across the most popular ebook formats before getting a price bump. So if you want to grab them both at the cheapest price ever, now's the time!
I do hope you enjoy this book. Please tell me what you think in a review! And remember, the story doesn't end here. I'm hard at work on Book 3, currently titled Behold Star Wormwood, which promises to be the strangest entry of the story so far.
I have a book coming out on Tuesday. It’s a dark fantasy political thriller. Huh what? If that wasn’t a thing before then it is now! Listen: the book has a scene where a demon kills a couple dudes and sticks one guy’s decapitated head in the hollowed out torso of the other dude. The book also has a political prison, the smothering of the first amendment, and a look at how evil convinces us it is a force of good by suggesting that it’s doing all of this with our best interests at heart. So yeah, a dark fantasy political thriller. Can you dig it?
When I wrote the first draft of The Greater Evil, I knew it was my most obviously political book. I hadn’t exactly gone into it with that intention, but when you make the Antichrist the President of the United States politics are going to figure into the story somehow. That’s a given.
But that’s not to say that my other books haven’t been political. (I’ve come to think of Brain Mold as a horror story about the American health care system.) All art is political, on some level or another. The suggestion that art shouldn’t be political is in fact a political statement, because what you’re really saying is that you don’t want art that has a viewpoint contrary to your own.
The majority of The Greater Evil was written before the crazy 2016 election year. And since that time, I’ve detected some strange similarities between the dystopia I dreamed up for my book and the world we seem to be hurtling towards today. None of it was intentional. It was not meant to be a commentary on the happenings of today but rather a vision about how evil (disguised as something upstanding and just) would seek to obtain power through law and order. There’s that blah-blah disclaimer at the start of the book about how all similarities to real people are coincidental and I feel the need to stress that fact (which is kind of sad, if you think about it). My book’s villain President Carpenter is not based on any individual either living or dead. I threw bits of good and bad history into a pot, added my imagination, and the resulting stew is the character. The men who are aligned with Carpenter and those who oppose him are not based on anyone or anything, either.
Unintentional or not, the book has some extra purpose to it now beyond telling a story about monsters and madmen. It’s now my fictional stone to throw at the idiotic giants who loom over us all. And I’m more than okay with that. Because ya know what? I am freaking the freak out about what is happening in the world today.
I believe we should help each other, I believe we should practice basic human decency, and I believe that we’re stronger and wiser when we bring different voices into the conversation. The current US administration represents the opposite of those beliefs. I alternate between anger and terror whenever I think about how they’re handling world affairs. (You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook for less reserved reviews of their job performance.)
I’ve heard that celebrities shouldn’t talk politics. Well, I think that’s bull. They’re people, too, and in America our people are allowed to share their opinions. Now, I am not a celebrity, but I am writing fiction for your entertainment, so I guess some of that ‘shut up’ advice applies to me, too. But I’m not listening. I think it’s important to speak out for what you believe in, especially in times of darkness and uncertainty. Not everyone wants to hear it—some will vehemently disagree with you and even those on your “side” are not always open to further discussion on all subjects. (Speaking personally, I’ve made more friends while discussing the issues over the past year than I have lost because we did not agree.) And anyway, I cannot be one of those people who switches it off, pretends not to see the corruption and hypocrisy, and says nothing about the maddening absurdity of it all. I may lose some potential readers for being outspoken. Hell, I may gain some readers. I don’t know, but it can’t be helped either way.
I respect those who speak their mind and I gravitate towards those who inspire me. I don’t really take away anything from those who remain silent. So, I speak up when I can, I get angry when I can’t help it, and I stand up when I find the courage. I’m trying to do some good in my own way.
Art is political. So are artists. I had briefly considered changing pieces of the book so as not to draw any direct connections to our world today, but I wrote these things because I was afraid of them then, and I’m even more afraid of them now. The Greater Evil has a little something to say. And so do I. We’re not changing to make one part of the readership happy, because they probably weren’t going to like the book in the first place.
With all of that said, I do hope you enjoy the book. It’s dark, weird, and sometimes a little too familiar, but it also features unlikely heroes who choose to resist when the world would rather they remain silent. I’m proud of the novel. It’s my most mature, thoughtful, and angry piece of fiction so far… But of course it still features a few monsters. Because, hey... it’s me.
Unless dust bunnies are self-aware and feeling inspired, art is not created in a vacuum. Though I take pride in coming up with original ideas, I also must acknowledge that the things which I’ve enjoyed or learned from have a part to play in the things I create. Example: I would’ve never written In the Shadow of Extinction had I never seen a Godzilla movie before.
Today I mean to show some love to the primary influences for The Greater Evil and how they helped shape my book into what it is.
Picking up about a year after the finale of Death’s Good Intentions, The Greater Evil tells the story of the Antichrist sitting in a position of power in the American government. Most the public believes him to be a hero, while a small resistance group who knows the awful truth strikes out at him from the shadows. Though all my books are political on some level, The Greater Evil is my most expressly political work. It’s a book with monsters and madmen – my favorite ingredients for fiction – but it’s also a book about how evil, disguising itself as law & order, can twist our world into a dystopia to the tune of roaring applause.
I’ve always been fascinated by the French Resistance fighters. The idea of a country changing what it stands for and turning on its people is a frightening concept. That some brave French fought back is inspiring. I love the Jean-Pierre Melville film Army of Shadows, which tells a story about this particular subject. I’ve watched the film many times and continue to take inspiration from it. How the ends justify the means… until they don’t… and how the most threatening thing to the Resistance were its own members cracking under pressure and turning on their friends. It’s a masterpiece. I took some inspiration from Army of Shadows both in terms of how a welcoming city became a scary place and how a group of people fought from the shadows at powers far bigger than them.
My introduction to dark fantasy probably began with reading the Hellblazer comics. Even now, Hellblazer remains a favorite comic of mine, and I return to it often. In addition to Hellblazer’s John Constantine, I’m also fond of Hellboy. Constantine and Hellboy are some of the most unlikely of heroes you’re ever gonna find – Constantine is a rogue magician and an asshole while Hellboy is a demon who was born to end the world in some fashion. And despite their dark pasts and uncertain destinies, they’re exactly who you’d want in a fight against a horde of the damned. Death’s Good Intentions hero Trey Decarr, the man also known as Death, was born out of this idea. He’s more of a jokester than Constantine and more human than Hellboy, but the inspiration is there. Decarr has been chosen to be Death, the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, but he turns against that destiny and chooses to do his own thing. I think Hellboy and the Hellblazer could relate.
John Carpenter remains a major influence on all my work. Escape from New York, which turned Manhattan into a maximum security prison, was a film I watched more than once while writing this book. The idea of taking an American city that we celebrate and turning it into an 80’s freakshow is very cool. And while I never turn any US city into a crazy prison in The Greater Evil, I found inspiration in the idea of wanted men and women navigating a hostile America with the walls closing in.
Also Mortal Kombat. Yeah, what? I like video games and Mortal Kombat is an old favorite. Fun fact: a good portion of the first half of The Greater Evil was the backbone for a Mortal Kombat screenplay that popped into my head one day. And I knew that writing a screenplay adaptation I had no rights to write made no sense, so I repurposed some of the story for my Death’s Good Intentions sequel. And it worked because, like Mortal Kombat, The Greater Evil is a dark fantasy full of powered individuals fighting an end of the world sort of conflict. The most obvious hint of the original concept in The Greater Evil is that the evil sorcerer Vasco learns a new spell for shapeshifting. Like Shang Tsung? Yes, like Shang Tsung.
The Greater Evil also shares some… unsettling similarities to the things we’re seeing in the news today. I’ll talk more about that in the coming days. But for now, let me just say this: Trump was not an influence on this book. The great majority of The Greater Evil was written before the 2016 election year. I didn’t base my characters on any real life figures and the fight I fictionalize was not meant to resemble the fight we find ourselves in today. The novel accidentally has something to say about 2017. That wasn’t intentional. It just sort of turned out that way.
This time next week, The Greater Evil will be available for your ebook doodads that Star Trek totally told us would be a thing someday. It should also be available in paperback on the same day, but there’s a chance that it might take an extra 24-48 hours.
Please consider pre-ordering it at your favorite online bookseller!
You can now pre-order THE GREATER EVIL, my dark fantasy novel about an evil regime taking power in the US government and the unlikely allies who must come together to stop it. CLICK HERE TO DO THAT THING.
The plan is to release the book in mid-April. More pre-order links for sites such as Google, Nook, iTunes and such coming soon. Plus a giveaway. Stay tuned!
Until then, remember that Book 1: DEATH'S GOOD INTENTIONS remains a FREE ebook download in the time leading up to the sequel's release.
So that I could try out what it was like having a book in the Kindle Unlimited catalog, my horror novella Rakasa started out as an Amazon exclusive. But after six months I've decided to opt out of the Kindle exclusivity and Rakasa is now available for multiple ebook devices from various online bookstores. The choice is yours!
Barnes & Noble's Nook
and of course it still remains available for Amazon's Kindle.
Goodreads members in the US can enter for a chance to win one of three signed paperback copies of my dark fantasy novel Death's Good Intentions. But hurry, this giveaway ends February 25th, so be sure to enter soon!
2016 was a sucker punch. It showed up, full of promise and smelling a bit like a brand new car. The New Year understood that most of us had a less-than-super 2015. We arrived with baggage, which 2016 kindly took off our shoulders with a gentleman’s smile. Then, right when we were starting to feel comfortable in the new year, 2016 surprises with a throat punch. The Starman left the Earth and it was downhill ever since.
I’m going to remember 2016…
I will remember 2016 for the notable celebrity deaths, many of which felt like a personal loss to me as a fan.
I will remember 2016 as a crazy election year with hundreds of villains, very few heroes, and a twist ending that the audience did not deserve.
I will remember 2016 as the year when fascism became popular again. I will remember how a presidential candidate legitimized hate and how white supremacists crawled out from under the fridge like roaches no longer frightened by the light…
What the hell is happening?
I will also remember 2016 as the year when I became involved. I’d been aware of politics and social fights before but this year I was donating money and time to the fights I believed in.
And I will remain involved. Because 2016 truly was a sucker punch. We didn’t have our guard up, didn’t expect it to reward dirty play, didn’t see the worst coming until it was too late to prevent it. We must—I must—be ready for the next blow. Whether that means defending the powerless or holding the villains accountable for their misdeeds, we must do something.
The world does not fix itself.
2016… to be fair… also had some good moments. I will remember going to a Puscifer concert with my brother, going to the MST3K reunion show with my Mom, and driving an hour or more to see the new Godzilla movie (skreeonk!). I wrote less than I would’ve liked but I did edit a bunch this year, putting on the finishing touches (?) on two novels, The Greater Evil and In the Shadow of Extinction. In addition to that, I self-published my horror novella Rakasa, which has been pretty well received by readers and reviewers.
Next year… hmm.
It’s difficult to be overly optimistic about 2017 when you know that the Time magazine Person of the Year will now be backed up by a nuclear arsenal (I’m trying hard not to type his name—for my health). But I know that there are more good people in the world than there are bad people, so that gives me hope.
For me, 2017 will be a year when I try to get back on track. I’m going to write more and read more. I’m going to watch more movies because damn it, I need an escape. I’m going to go for more runs and drink less booze, work towards a healthier body and mind. I’m going to self-publish and I’m going to further explore traditional publishing as I plan to become a hybrid author. I’m going do my very best to kick all kinds of ass creatively.
And I’m going to be ready for a fight. Bring it on, 2017. I’m ready for ya.
Happy New Year, gang.
How can I feel my 2016 list of the year's favorite films is complete without having seen the new films from masters like Scorsese, Verhoeven, Jarmusch, and Chan-wook Park, just to name a few? Answer: it isn't. However, as a film lover, I feel like ending the year without any such list would make me feel like the yearend traditions are incomplete. So, here we go, missing pieces and all.
My Top 15 films of 2016...
15) OUR LITTLE SISTER (Hirokazu Koreeda) – Splendid family drama about three sisters taking in their half-sister after their father’s death. Gentle, sweet, and wise.
14) THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (Taika Waititi) – Shit! Just! Got! Real! New Zealand adventure comedy that’s impossible to dislike.
13) ROGUE ONE (Gareth Edwards) – Takes The Empire Strikes Back’s place as the darkest Star Wars film chapter. The Empire has never seemed more threatening.
12) THE JUNGLE BOOK (Jon Favreau) – Amazing effects, fun adventure elements, and a true sense of wonder. May not replace the animated film but it’s a fine adaptation.
11) THE WITCH (Robert Eggers) – Creepy, arthouse horror tale with strong attention to period. One of the best, most confident directorial debuts you’re ever likely to see.
10) 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Dan Trachtenberg) – A kinda-sorta sequel to the kaiju found-footage thriller Cloverfield. Or maybe it’s a spinoff? Or maybe ‘Cloverfield’ is just a new Twilight Zone-like label for high-concept thrillers from Bad Robot? I don’t know how to explain how it figures into the new, expanding Cloverfield-verse, but I do know this: 10 Cloverfield Lane kicks all kinds of ass. After a car accident, Mary Elizabeth Winstead wakes up in a bunker with a stranger played by John Goodman. Her captor/savior tells her that everything she knew is gone and she cannot ever leave the bunker. It’s a claustrophobia thriller full of awesome, unexpected twists which I shall not spoil here. John Goodman is especially good in one of the most intimidating performances you’ll see this year.
9) KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (Travis Knight) – Kubo and the Two Strings is really quite wonderful. Sad I missed this in theatres because not only did it deserve better box office but it probably would’ve looked amazing. Funny, original, and beautiful to look at. It's magical. The best animated feature of the year.
8) THE CONJURING 2 (James Wan) – If you ask me, James Wan sits pretty high on the list of today’s masters of horror. He brings wicked camera moves, old school sensibilities, strong character work, and jump scares galore to his best films. The Conjuring was a bit of a surprise hit a few years back and the sequel is even better. A haunting in England draws the expert supernatural hunters played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga across the pond to investigate. Not only is it easily one of the best horror movies of the year, but it’s probably one of the best horror sequels of all time.
7) CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (Russo Brothers) – After a tragedy that cost the lives of numerous bystanders, political sanctions decree that superheroes must now act under certain guidelines. Not all agree, and so begins a civil war between the two mindsets, pitting former allies against one another. For Marvel’s heroes, things fall short of being completely apocalyptic, but it’s certainly a very messy divorce. Newcomers Black Panther and a younger, snappier Spider-Man keep things fresh but it’s the old favorites trading blows that make Civil War one of the best films that Marvel has made to date.
6) BLUE JAY (Alex Lehmann) – Blue Jay is so very, very good. Former high school sweethearts (Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass) meet by coincidence and decide to share a coffee and reflect. She’s living a successful life, he’s visibly depressed. As time unfolds and they get more comfortable with each other again, a more joking atmosphere takes hold, but the scars of their breakup remain hidden just beneath the surface. Expertly performed little indie that runs the gamut of emotions, from awkward to sweet, from funny to devastating. I loved it.
5) THE INVITATION (Karyn Kusama) – A group of friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time meet up for a special dinner date. Things get weird when unexpected guests arrive and begin sharing some very personal (and occasionally disturbing) details about their lives. It becomes clear that the strangers and the dinner hosts are now part of a cult and they hope to convince their old friends to join. What’s interesting is how our hero perceives the situation. He’s an unreliable narrator, I suppose, one who brings a great deal of baggage and preconceived notions to the dinner. Can we trust how he sees the situation? Are things really as weird as they seem or are we just experiencing our hero’s anxieties? The Invitation is one of the smartest suspense films I have seen in a long time. It’s never clear if this is a horror movie or if the horror movie is happening inside of the overly anxious and socially awkward main character’s head. Well done.
4) EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (Ciro Guerra) – In this epic about the past, present, and future, two adventures explore the Amazon jungle, one dealing with first contact with tribes and then the next following the clues of that first journey. The search for a special plant seems innocent enough, and indeed all characters seem to have the best of intentions, but the film is unflinching in its depiction of a modern world impacting ancient tribes. Anything you study you also change. Embrace of the Serpent is a strange and magnificent film experience. Seek this out if you're a fan of Werner Herzog's classics Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, or if you're drawn to Heart of Darkness-like journeys.
3) ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve) – Aliens arrive and the nations of the world race against the clock to communicate with our visitors in order to discern what they want, where they came from, and why are they here. An amazing film – and a hopeful one, where catastrophes are prevented by listening to each other instead of by acts of force. It’s a perfect rebuff to the adversarial nature of 2016. It is a movie about love and loss, but also a movie that is very, very sci-fi. It's brilliant and I loved it.
2) HELL OR HIGH WATER (David Mackenzie) – Chris Pine and Ben Foster star as brothers who rob banks and Jeff Bridges is the lawman who is tasked with bringing them to justice. Tense, thoughtful, and unexpectedly funny. It could almost be a spiritual sequel to No Country for Old Men. Or maybe it's more the anti-No Country for Old Men? Either way it'd make for a helluva double-bill. What I like is that, in addition to being a solid crime drama, its scope basically tells the story of a crumbling country. Like a sad love letter to America's old West which we've moved on from, sometimes happily, sometimes because we had no other choice.
1) GREEN ROOM (Jeremy Saulnier) – When I saw Green Room for the first time in July, it became my “favorite” film of 2016. I put favorite in quotes because damn, this is a mean movie. It’s incredibly well-made, creating suspense in the first 10 minutes and then not letting you go until the end credits, but it’s also so very dark and violent. As with most movies that I put on the yearly top spot, I have to revisit them a couple months later to see how they stand up. And oh boy, Green Room is just as intense the second time as it is the first. I might’ve known what was coming but I remained on the edge of my seat anyway. Actually, it added something more the second time, as I knew what would happen and was left hoping it wouldn’t this time, because our heroes do not deserve their fates.
If you don’t know what Green Room is about, the film follows a young metal band on a failed tour across the country. In need of gas money to get back home, they take a gig at a skinhead bar, not because that’s their scene but because they’re desperate. After the band witnesses a murder, the bar employees lock them in the green room and both sides are left in a state of unease as they plot against the other. The band just wants to get away and the bar’s owner wants to contain the situation, by any means necessary.
The movie feels unexpectedly topical as the bandmates are forced to contend America’s most deplorable in order to survive. Green Room isn’t a political movie – at least not blatantly political – but the choice to make white supremacists into horror movie villains seems very appropriate for 2016. And while I know that the film is fiction, I also know that places like the bar in the movie do exist in our country… and man, I hate that.
The villain, quietly played by Patrick Stewart, is one of the most chilling you’ll see in movies this year and the young star Anton Yelchin gives his most layered performance of his tragically short career. Green Room is also further proof that director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) is the real deal. This movie may be too brutal for some but it’s a thrilling experience for the rest of us.
And there ya go. My Top 15.
I’ll continue to seek out the films I might’ve missed but I won’t be updating the list here. However, I will be updating my Top 50 of 2016 list on Letterboxd, if you’re curious to see more.
All in all, it’s been a fairly excellent year for film.
Celebrities die. They’re mortal like the rest of us. But some had managed to convince us that perhaps they would live forever, that by achieving greatness they’d become immortal. And indeed, the legendary accomplishments of David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Harper Lee, and more will live on long after they’ve left the mortal plane. This year has given us too many gut punch moments where we’ve read the name of a favorite person trending online and immediately feared the worse.
There are some who criticize those of us who might mourn the passing of a celebrity. I think it’s partly because ‘celebrity’ has become an ugly word, one associated with wealth, paparazzi, and red carpet glamor. I prefer to think of people for what they did, what they brought to the world, what they fought for. David Bowie was a musician and a champion for individuality. Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer of all time and a man of strong political convictions. John Glenn walked on the friggin’ Moon, ya’ll. They were celebrities in that they were celebrated personalities, but they were also people who did great things.
Some 2016 deaths mean more to me than others. That’s not to say that any life is worth more than the next, but simply that certain people connected personally with my life and others connected less so. That is why I mourn their passing.
I love David Bowie’s music and I think the man behind the music was endlessly interesting and mysterious. I became a fan of Bowie sometime between his 2003 album Reality and his 2013 album The Next Day. I believe that ten year gap was the longest in his career. So, I discovered Bowie’s out of order, and made up my own mind about what albums I liked the most (Heathen is so underrated). It was a great delight when Bowie then released The Next Day and Blackstar. It was then a huge blow when Bowie died so shortly after Blackstar’s release. I’m still sad and have listened to Bowie only sparingly since his death.
I’m writing this just hours after the passing of Carrie Fisher. She was a warrior who fought her demons and the Hollywood image critics, she was a marvelous writer and actress, and she managed to keep her wicked sense of humor in tact throughout it all. The world will miss her unique voice.
And hitting closer to home, the biggest loss in my 2016 came when we lost my Grandpa Warner. He was a wise man of particularly strong faith. He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He would just engage you in conversation that was on a level that few would ever reach. He was also a very loving family man. I will miss him very, very much.
There are no set rules for mourning. It’s human to grow attachments to other people, particularly if their lives have connected with you in some way. When those connections are severed, there is a real feeling of loss, whether you knew the person or not.
RIP to all you great people we lost this year. We love you and miss you.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
Blog notice: mostly this blog is for sharing my thoughts and talking about my books. From time to time I will also comment on books, films, music, sports, and/or videogames. During these times I may use images of the creative works under discussion. I'm posting the images under the "fair use" allowance, for purposes such as criticism, comments, reporting, teaching, and research. If you have any issue with images used on this blog, please contact me and the images will be removed.
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