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Halloween –A Good Time To Remember Ray Bradbury

by
Seb
Kirby

Halloween in a good opportunity to
remember Ray Bradbury. 
Though he’s been thought of more as a
science fiction writer in recent years, right from the start and throughout his
writing career, Ray Bradbury was interested in the macabre, the bizarre and
the unusual, all seen through the lens of his uplifting poetic imagination.
Ray Bradbury
Attribution: photo by Alan Light


The true story he recounts in the
Introduction to Volume 1 of his collected short stories sets the scene. He
takes us back to 1932 when, as a twelve year old, he met a remarkable performer
who was part of a ‘seedy, two-bit’ carnival that came to town:

‘Mr Electrico sat in his electric chair,
being fired with ten billion volts of pure blue sizzling power. Reaching out
into the audience, his eyes flaming, his white hair standing on end, sparks
leaping between his smiling teeth, he brushed an Excalibur sword over the heads
of the children, knighting them with fire. When he came to me, he tapped me on
both shoulders and then the tip of my nose. The lightening jumped into me, Mr
Electrico cried: “Live forever!”’

Making excuses to go back there the next
two nights, the twelve year old got to know the entertainer who told him he was
a defrocked Presbyterian minister out of Cairo, Illinois. Then, Mr Electrico
came up with the really surprising news. They had met before, he said, on the
battlefield of the Ardennes in 1918.  “And
here you are, born again, in a new body, with a new name. Welcome back!”

Ray Bradbury concludes that he had been
uplifted by not one but two gifts from Mr Electrico – the gift of having lived
once before (and of being told about it) …and the gift of trying somehow to
live forever.  He continues: ‘A few weeks
later I started writing my first short stories about the planet Mars. From that
time to this, I have never stopped. God bless Mr Electrico, the catalyst,
wherever he is.’

As a young boy myself not much older than
Ray Bradbury was then, I began reading his stories. His science fiction stories
came later for me; what captured my imagination first was the macabre mystery
of the stories in ‘The October Country’, ‘I Sing The Body Electric!’ and the
story that turned into a novel, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. In these
stories he draws on the surreal imagination set off by that carnival encounter
back in 1932, producing quirky, challenging encounters that stretch the
imagination. But this is a forgiving horror. As in all of his writing there is
an optimism that rises despite the most difficult of odds and cuts through the
darkness.

So, have a good Halloween!  Banish those monsters!  Ray Bradbury will be with you every step of
the way.

Sadly, Ray Bradbury failed in one thing –
he didn’t find a way of living forever as Mr Electrico had demanded. He died
last year, aged 91. But he lives on in his wonderful stories, written in that
clear, inspirational voice that is a model to so many authors today.

Here he is, talking about his writing and
his hope of inspiring others.








Introducing
TAKE NO MORE



Nothing like a murder to get the blood flowing




When James Blake discovers his wife has been murdered in their London home, he is determined to find her killer. 



Julia, a conservator – a protector and preserver of fine art – has left him with just two clues: the words help me on her mobile phone and a strange attachment of Michelangelo’s Leda and the Swan. 




As the prime suspect of his wife’s murder, James flees England and sets out on a trail of deception and danger across the sweeping landscapes of Venice and Florence into a dark underworld of corruption, a trail that will lead him to the killer – and the shocking truth behind the mystery.



Seb Kirby was literally raised with books – his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK, and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.


He’s been an avid reader ever since.


Other inspirations include Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and The Trial, George Orwell 1984 and Animal Farm, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley …

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and, coming soon, Forgive No More, and the science-fiction thriller, Double Bind.

Extract from TAKE NO MORE below
Gianacarlo met Emelia on the corner of Via Ricasoli and Via degli Alfani, quiet streets just a short walk away from the Academia. He had not told her why he had suggested that they meet there.

She had been crying, he could see that. ‘You all right?’

‘Not really,’ she said. ‘Why are we meeting here?’

‘There is something I want to show you.’ He took her arm and walked her along Via Ricasoli towards the Academia.

They didn’t make it easy for locals like Emelia to see inside. Most days the museum was besieged by tourists waiting for up to an hour to get in. But Giancarlo had a pass and that meant they could just walk in past the lines. Emelia did not complain but it was clear that she was apprehensive about where he was taking her.

‘Why here? Why here?’ was all she would say. 

Gianacarlo moved them on through the entrance hall and, in a few short minutes, they were standing in the Gallery of Slaves, the long corridor-like space that housed Michelangelo Buenorotti’s unfinished sculptures – partially completed figures trapped in the huge blocks of stone from which it seemed they had failed to escape. They had been donated by Michelangelo to Cosimo Di Medici after they had been turned down by the Vatican for Pope Julius III’s mausoleum.

Emelia stood and stared. Giancarlo did not say a word. She knew immediately why he had brought her here. Yes, he thought that her life was that of little more than that of a modern day slave, no different from the life of those souls trapped in those blocks of stone. She caressed the form of the Awakening Slave, running her hands over the cold, hard stone, feeling how the body shape had been worked out of the hidden structure of the stone, feeling the tool marks left behind as Michelangelo’s chisels struck with such precision all those years ago. And she began to cry.

Gianacarlo was concerned that the gallery staff would have them removed for touching the sculptures but in the event, no-one came.

‘So you brought me here, to show me this, to tell me that my life is no better than this?’ The anger in her voice matched the tears in her eyes. ‘Is this some new way you have found to drive me further down?’

‘It’s not designed to make you feel worse about yourself _______’.

‘Then why bring me here to tell me something that I should already know? Don’t you think that that is humiliating? Nothing to lose, eh?’

‘That’s not what I’m trying to say.’ He tried to hold her but she pulled away.

‘And I am so much the slave that I wouldn’t understand any of this if you hadn’t brought me here?’

‘Look up,’ Giancarlo said. He had managed to place his arm around her and was pointing her towards the statue of David in the circular gallery beyond. ‘What do you see?’

Michelangelo’s statue of David, fully three times life size, rising high above the surrounding tourists, looked back.

‘We trap ourselves. We make slaves of ourselves,’ he whispered. ‘We make our own chains. The powerful look on without a care, inflated by the pride made possible by our entrapment.’

‘And the David looks down on the gallery of slaves, and it’s been like that for as long as anyone can remember,’ she said. ‘Where is the hope in that?’

She looked at him and he could see the anguish in her eyes. ‘And you are no different. You use me and abuse me just like them. Why should I care if the sight of art gives you an excuse to seek to ease your conscience?’

‘It doesn’t have to be like that,’ Giancarlo said. ‘I’d never have known you if we hadn’t both been as we are, here and now.’

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I Evil

by 
Bryan Cassiday

I, Jefferson Bascomb, the “Chosen One” who reigns over Alcatraz Island in Sanctuary in Steel, do believe that the main character in a work of fiction can be evil. Look at William Shakespeare’s play Othello. The play is named after the character Othello, who is ostensibly good, but the fact of the matter is, Iago steals the show. The most evil character in the play is Iago and he is the one who controls the action with his conniving subterfuges. The play should, in point of fact, be called Iago.

I, Jefferson Bascomb, am a character in Bryan Cassiday’s zombie apocalypse thriller Sanctuary in Steel. The good guy in this creepy book, and I cringe in disgust when I think of his goodness, is Chad Halverson. He wants to be the star of the show, but, in actuality, he is not. I am. I control the action. I control the entire island of Alcatraz and permit him to stay on my island. It turns out that was a mistake, but I did not know he was a troublemaker.

I am not as evil as people might think after they read Sanctuary in Steel. Would an evil man order fair trials to be held for infected zombies? I presided as judge over these trials, and if a zombie who committed crimes, such as murders and robberies, was found guilty, he was sentenced to do time or to pay for his crime with his life. If I’m so evil, why would I believe in equal rights for zombies? 

Of course, I do admit I raped women on the island and tortured and mutilated defendants if they were found guilty of murder. But they deserved it. I also used the residents of the island as bait for the zombies when I tired to implement my escape from the island. Those sacrificed were burned alive in a fire that consumed Alcatraz prison. I had to escape, didn’t I? After all, which is more important? Hundreds of innocent residents or yours truly? That’s a no-brainer.


I must admit I always side with the zombies in zombie apocalypse books. Zombies are persecuted in these books by the so-called heroes, like CIA black ops agent Chad Halverson, who go around shooting zombies in the head. Who is the real hero in Sanctuary in Steel? Halverson, who shoots every zombie on sight, or me, who demands a fair trial for each and every zombie? So what if zombies tear people apart limb from limb and scarf down their brains? The zombies are infected with plague so they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not their fault they got infected. 

The way I see it, the truly evil character in Sanctuary in Steel is Chad Halverson. I know I rape, torture, and betray the residents of Alcatraz, but the only zombies I killed were ones that had committed crimes.

So, there you have it. I, the supposed villain of Sanctuary in Steel, am really the hero. We bad guys frequently get a bum rap, and, in that respect, I’m no different from my fellow villains, like Iago.
As for the scariest book I ever read, that would be David Moody’s Hater. In that book the good guys are really the bad guys, and vice versa. The reason that’s so scary is because it’s true.       

Introducing…
Sanctuary in Steel
Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
Black ops agent Chad Halerson of the CIA’s National
Clandestine Service escapes plague- and zombie-ravaged Santa Monica with dress
designer Victoria Brady and sets sail up the smoldering California coast.


Along the way, Halverson and Brady rescue the idealistic
Dr. Parnell, the cynical reporter Blake Reno, and the UCSB coed Brittany Pine,
who is in a state of shock induced by the loss of her boyfriend to the walking
dead.

Seeking sanctuary from the walking dead in Alcatraz
prison, Halverson and his band of refugees discover that all is not as it seems
on the island haven at the Rock.

In fact, they may have more to fear than the walking dead
in the person of Alcatraz’s reigning “Chose One,” the charismatic
proponent of law and order Jefferson Bascomb, who believes zombies have the
right to a fair trial.

Bryan Cassiday

Bryan Cassiday writes horror books and thrillers.  He wrote the Chad Halverson zombie apocalypse
series, which includes “Zombie Maelstrom,” “Zombie
Necropolis,” “Sanctuary in Steel,” and “Kill
Ratio.”  

The fifth Chad Halverson
zombie thriller “Blast Shelter” is being released in November
2013.  Bryan Cassiday lives in Southern
California near the beach, because zombies can’t swim.

How gruesome is too gruesome?

Horror-writing tips
by
Mary Twomey
In my
opinion, if the horror serves a purpose, then it’s the right amount. If you’re
just being gross to shock us, let’s get real for a minute. We live in the
post-Tarantino era. Most of us just sigh at the tedium of violence for shock
value.
How can you tell the difference? Ask
yourself the following questions: Does the vicious bloodbath serve a purpose?
Is it there to move the plot forward?
Does it give us a greater insight into
our hero or our villain? If the answer to at least one of these questions is
yes, then the gore serves a purpose, and therefore, should not be cut. So long
as your novel or movie has the appropriate filters attached (i.e. – “contains
adult content”), then censoring yourself will do your audience a disservice.
There is a big difference between gore implied and horrors witnessed.
It’s important to keep your reader in the
moment.
That’s why I try to avoid flashbacks and past tenses in my more
disturbing scenes. Let them experience the terror as your characters do. The
best horror books, in my opinion, spend equal amounts of time describing the
blood and guts as they do the emotional reaction to the crime scene. If it’s
all action and no heart, eventually we will grow numb to the thrill of the
scare. If you plant a visceral response by letting us in on how your characters
are negatively affected by every slash, then you’ve got both a visual and an
emotional story. In my book, that adds up to a home run.

One of my main characters is a man named
Baird.
For me, it was important to make Baird unbearably cruel, while placing
him in an impossible situation.
I don’t want a character everyone hates without
question. That’s too easy. I want my Severus Snape – someone the reader feels
torn about. Baird is responsible for raising his sister in an incredibly
violent and racially tense environment. To keep her safe, he turns her into a
serial killer so they can pick off the bad ones before an attack comes upon
them. He trades in her childhood so that she has the possibility of living to
adulthood. Baird is unmerciful and unkind in every circumstance, but there’s
always the lingering thought that he’s doing all of it to keep his sister
alive.
The death scenes are gory, but to truly hate the monster that Baird is,
they must be brutal. The horrific ways he teaches his sister to murder cements
his “no apologies” policy.
In the end, the battle becomes not to stay alive,
but to hold onto the shreds of their humanity as they turn into unflinching
killers.




Introducing
The Way

In a world not divided by race, creed or color, but by blood type, Blue Anders finds herself on the wrong end of fortune’s mercy. Born with a lesser blood type, Blue is raised in The Way, a work camp for A-bloods.





Amazon.com
Amazon.UK

In my experience, there are always at least two aspects to every horror story. There’s the bloodlust, and the resistance to such things. In The Way, the main character, Blue, has a problem. If someone she loves is threatened, she blacks out and goes on a killing spree to protect what’s hers. When she wakes up, she’s horrified when she realizes the scope of the damage she is capable of. She struggles with her destiny of violence, and fights with her brother who reminds her daily that she is not a person, but a weapon. The Way follows Blue through the world of the Vemreaux as she learns to make peace, as well as fight.
Because of her damning A-blood type, Blue is a slave, living in a work camp called The Way. The B-bloods are the ruling class, and Blue must learn to live amongst the elite after being raised in the dregs of society. She attempts to control her aggressive urges as her brother makes plans for her predetermined future.


Mary
E. Twomey
lives in Michigan
with her husband and two adorable children. She enjoys reading, writing,
vegetarian cooking and telling her children fantastic stories about wombats.