The Spirit of Samhain
In honor of the one year anniversary of Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders, I am posting my blog from the Horror Writer's Association's Halloween Haunts 2017. I am including the text here and a link to the HWA site. Below the story is a recap of my books in print.
Passing through the cemetery gates, I felt a strange calm juxtaposing to the hyperactivity of the city streets. The graveyard surpassed my expectations. It was huge — a vast expanse dating back hundreds of years. Autumn made itself known through a change in the air, a crispness, a different light from the overcast sky. This is the season of the witch, leading up to All Hallow’s Eve — once known as Samhain from the forgotten rites. All of my life I have been drawn to this time of year. The path underfoot was wide and lined with tombs. Leaves were beginning to change in hues of orange and red.
My mind drifted to the past. When I was a teenager, there was a cemetery where me and my punk friends hung out. Located off a freeway behind a seedy motel, it too was vast and filled with acres of the dead. We used to tell ghost stories, freak ourselves out, and enjoy the Gothic coolness in altered states. In present day, I heard a rustling sound that stole me out of my memories. My heart beat faster as I looked around. No one was in sight. Farther down the path, I saw a high brick wall in the distance and wondered about the urban area behind it.
A train passed with a melancholy horn. Nostalgia and mortality plagued my heart in memory of my mother, now in a grave far away. She died from an incurable brain cancer in 2009 and I still miss her. Another memory comes of a Halloween night when I was barely eighteen. Halloween 4 had opened in theaters the week before and I had ordered an authentic and scary Michael Myers mask from the back of a Fangoria, horror film, magazine. I enlisted my friend, Lee, to play a prank. Dressed in a dark blue mechanic’s jumpsuit and the mask, he banged on my mother’s door after dark. I was near, around a corner, and saw the blinds move in time to duck.
“Who’s there?” Mom asked, like a horror film come to life.
Lee knocked again, louder, and stared.
“David, is that you?” The blinds moved again. “Stop playing around.”
Passing trick or treaters avoided the porch and went on to the next house.
Lee knocked even louder.
“Wait… you’re not David. Who are you?”
Hearing the terror in her voice caused the hair to stand up on the back of my neck. The moment was awesome.
“I’m calling the police!”
Lee raised a butcher knife from behind his back.
My mother screamed an ear shattering scream.
The blinds snapped back. I went to the door and unlocked it, freaking my mom out more. That was when I realized she had been watching the original Halloween on television by herself when we pulled the prank. Lee and I could not stop laughing. Shaking of the fear, she finally laughed with us too.
The smile left my face with another rustling noise in the cemetery. I stopped.
Was someone watching me?
The wind blew, covering the noise as it crossed the branches above. My heart raced.
Was I going to be attacked by the living or the dead?
I felt alive. The rustling came once more. Turning, I saw something move from one tombstone to the next out of the corner of my eye. I walked back towards the front, trying to remember the way. The rustling was closer the last time. Ready for fight or flight, I look around as a squirrel scampered out of the leaves and climbed up a yellowing tree. Relief washed over me. I had managed to freak myself out, like long ago when I was a kid, in the days before Halloween.
Recap of Year One:
Lot's of milestones last year as I transitioned my back catalogue onto my own imprint, DS, and entered the world of self-publishing.
January 13th, 2017 marked the debut of my horror collection, Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders. A punk compendium of queer fiction and horror filled with taboo breaking tales of the streets, asylums, dark rites, and what lies beyond. Experience The Carny Cage, a prison story, with Dirk, whose life is like the carnival ride The Zipper locked up and spinning out of control. Follow Dean on his journey, Where the Road Roams, to find his brother and piece together the past in a fragmented and cut-up tale. Break taboos with a mysterious hitcher in, The Deadfall, as he takes a ride with a van full of coeds into the wilderness where they descend into terror beyond the limits. Witness the Death Tarp. Daniel goes beyond death to return as his shroud, a panel of the AIDS quilt, in a supernatural tale of disease and revenge. Invoke the Dark with a goth youth and his companions as he opens the gates of hell with dark rites. Discover the secret of Under the Moonbow through intense therapy sessions as Maleki, tattooed with the story of his past, schemes to be free of Ponoko Asylum and the covenant with his captor, Dr. West. All of this and more await you inside Anarchy.
July 26th, 2017 saw the release of Wild Boys - A Peculiar Western Novel. The Old West, a time of high adventure, outlaws, and the way of the gun, is traveled by alternative anti-heroes in this peculiar western. Dusty Calhoun is out for revenge after losing all to violence and fire. He lives for vengeance until he rescues Jake Willowford, a cowboy with a familiar face, and plans to use him to infiltrate the Blakely Gang, or die trying. Jake is separated from Dusty and must find his way back with the help of an outlaw, Frank Ward. On the run from One-Eyed Walker and his posse, they endure the dangers and desires of the wild west. The ride will lead them back or to the end of a rope. Consequences are dealt in a spirit quest in the Badlands. A wayward prostitute, Misty Waters, a randy cowboy, Troy Carter, and a message from a traitor set into motion the final ride of the Wild Boys, leading to a climactic shootout where the trail ends.
September 27th, 2017 was the return to horror with Escape from Dolphin Street. Jason dreams of skateboarding away from his dead-end life in suburbia to find his missing brother. Cutouts from the local newspaper inform him of a gang of misfits and a strange place on the streets where anarchy rules. Jason wishes he could overcome his weakness, stand up to his bullies, and be true to himself. Fighting his insecurities, he realizes his one chance to escape and learn the truth is to cross the line and make contact with Adam, a punk he has a crush on. Jason jumps at the chance to go when his only friends, Kelly and Tanya, decide to runaway to escape an abusive home and an unwanted baby. On the streets, they encounter the vicious gang led by Liev, a pseudo skin adorned with a tear drop tattoo, and consisting of his followers: strange, trench coat wearing Knappy armed with a blue lightning stun gun; butch Hex along with her red haired firebrand, Syd; and a hulking, mute giant simply called Hound. The street punks taunt them with mischief, violence, and animal sounds. Thus begins a sadistic game of sharks and dolphins, of predator and prey, as the runaways are hunted down through the street surf. Amidst the chaos, Jason must choose between the safety of his friends and his desire to find his brother as he is drawn to Adam and the dark world of Dolphin Street, an abandoned area where the punks go. There are no rules on the streets, only a living nightmare leading to an abandoned house and the crawlspace underneath — a horror he may never escape.
December 21st, 2017 marked the last of the first wave with The Trouble with Furries. Daniel is young, confident, and fascinated by the wolf, feeling that the animal is a reflection of himself. After losing his mate, he craves a new Alpha and finds Patrick, a handsome thirty-year old who gets him a job at Club Trade. There, his curiosity is peaked when he meets a sly blond, Chad, donning a red fox tail. The threesome form a pack as Daniel embarks on a journey of self-discovery — one of coming out as a furry, in an underworld where beasts rule. Tracking down a blue wolf fur suit, Daniel has no inhibitions and feels free when wearing it. His hedonistic lifestyle takes its toll and he finds himself more of a lone wolf than a pack animal as he delves deeper into the dark side of furrydom. Ultimately, he must decide his true nature — man or the wolf within.