Ed Ahern, a Featured Spotlight

If you haven’t heard of the On Fire anthology, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Ed Ahern.

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How do you deal with writer’s block?

Type the crap out of it until it runs clear.

How long does it usually take you to write a story?

First draft: Four to six days depending on life interferences.

How do you research your stories?

Online, mostly. I also write retold folk tales, so I buy very old folk tale books, find a story I like, and then research it a bit on line.

What are you doing to market yourself?

I’m the heretic in the room. I dabble in Facebook and Twitter, but suspect that much of social media is just posturing for one another. I write about writing on Twitter, and that seems to attract more followers than pimping my latest pub cred. I also make a dedicated effort to get stories and poems reprinted on the unproven theory that the more readers encounter (and hopefully like) my stuff, the more likely they are to read more of it.

 

“The Birthing” by Ed Ahern

Matt shuffled closer. As his shock abated the anguish of his cauterized finger drummed against his throbbing collarbone.

Still screwed. This whatever-it-is is bigger than me, and I’m too crippled to fight. Find a branch or a rock? Meanwhile, kiss Girra’s ass.

The fire burned in a shallow pit, but Matt couldn’t see any wood or charcoal, just burning dirt. “Please, sir, how did you get that to keep burning? And how did you do this to my finger?”

Girra’s belly swayed as she stepped toward him. “Another nattering chimp. My names mean nothing to you?”

“No.”

“So stupid. They are the names your kind gave to fire gods. Elementals. The fire burns because I will it so. Just as your finger burned. Just as you will burn.”

“But you appear human.”

Sort of.

“Ah. We are the essence of flame, eternal, never seen except as candle or conflagration. But your kind creates billions more and different kinds of fires, forcing us to breed. And to breed we must appear to take animal shape. For my Birthed to best acclimate to your fire, I have taken your shape. But we are hermaphroditic. I procreated with myself.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Witless. Do you know of Plato’s cave?

“No.”

“In a cave much like this one, an ignorant man—that is you—sees fire-cast shadows and thinks the shadows are beings. But they are not. What you think you are looking at is shifting shadows of an entity you will never comprehend. Be resigned to ignorance.”

Something shifted in Girra’s belly, and fire light seeped through the skin. “But if I am ignorant and cannot harm you, why must I die?”

“So that your kind remains blind to us. Your race hasn’t believed in elementals for two millennia. We prefer it.”

 

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had a hundred seventy stories and poems published so far. His collected fairy and folk tales, The Witch Made Me Do It was published by Gypsy Shadow Press. His novella The Witches’ Bane was published by World Castle Publishing, and his collected fantasy and horror stories, Capricious Visions was published by Gnome on Pig Press. Ed’s currently working on a paranormal/thriller novel tentatively titled The Rule of Chaos. He works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.

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Did You Know…About the Leprechaun?

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Traditionally, the leprechaun is depicted as the dwarf-like man, dressed in green with buckles on their shoes, an apron, and a high-crowned hat. They bury their gold and treasure and are quick, so if you catch one, you’d better keep him in your sight if you want him to hand over his riches. But careful, he’s a trickster and will do everything in his power to keep his gold for himself.

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As the “national elf” of Ireland, he often represents Irish hospitality, telling stories over a roasting fire and sharing his poteen, but he is anything but innocent and nice. A dark and gloomy creature and not very good company at that, the woes of the world have soaked into him. Selfish little creatures, they’re not much for sharing and kindness. In fact, they’re rather spiteful. Because of this, Irish households left offerings of milk, cheese, and twists of tobacco on their doorsteps to keep them from wreaking havoc on their homes. An offering of whiskey often had the reverse effect, however.

Further back, leprechauns were thought to be descendants of fallen angels, and they maintain their Irish origins from words such as: luch (mouse), lúth (agility), and lurga (ankle), thus creating the myth that they were tiny and fast, like the mouse, with rather large feet.

More interestingly, lore depicts several types of leprechauns, like the grogochs, pechts, tallas, cluricauns, Sheela-na-gigs, or dwarves in Norse mythology. The grogochs were opposite what many think of leprechauns today, slow, dim-witted, and dirty with no desire for riches. Instead, they sought gratitude for their labors and had good hearts, but more on them in a different post.

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Most often invisible, leprechauns were noted by clouds of smoke or dust, creating the tradition of throwing one’s shoe into it. This would force the leprechaun to drop what he was carrying, like a load of gold or a human—most often unbaptized babies—he was carrying off to the faerie world.

This relates to their profession—the cobbler or shoemaker. They were known to create new shoes for faerie balls or were merely those who repaired and restored old shoes worn from frivolous dancing. This stems from a time when shoes and boots were expensive and seen as highly-prized pieces of clothing. Thus, the leprechaun was seen as an artisan, a central and much-beloved figure in the faerie world, for they loved to dance.

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However, shoemaking was not the only occupation the leprechaun took, like builders and stonemasons—sometimes credited for building the ancient Irish mounds—metalworkers or smiths, distillers or musicians, and bankers.

Leprechauns adapt well to their surroundings, finding places to hide and live, like old churches, ruined castles, and ancient fortresses, or they might dwell in human artefacts, abandoned beehives, the eaves of barns, old boxes, or discarded kettles.  Essentially, they seek shelter from the elements in already constructed places rather than forming their own.

Often seen as solitary creatures, they actually formed clans—the four best known represented the four provinces of Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught—each with their own special skills and talents. Other than some sweeping generalizations about the groupings, not much is known about the way they classified themselves, but what we do know is that the leprechaun courts often held judgements against humans, especially those who slighted a faerie, and there were no appeals to sentences, such as absolute bankruptcy, twisted limbs or spine, illness, and occasionally, a long and painful death.

It might surprise some, but there is a wealth of knowledge about leprechauns, their origins, and their society beyond the gimmick we see on St. Patty’s Day. If you want to know more, let me know in the comments below.

Until then, look forward to further peeks into my shelf of mythological books…okay three shelves. Shh, don’t judge me.

 

Want to know more about my take on the leprechaun? Sign-up to be get your ARC copy of “The Shoemaker’s Apprentice,” my short story about Boden’s journey home.

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Long ago, the death of his little sister broke his family apart.

After a close call left him blind in one eye, Boden must return to the home he fled as a young leprechaun.

For hundreds of years, he has feared facing his family and punishment for his sister’s death.

Boden needs to make up for his mistakes before he can fight a war for the woman he loves.

Find out what secrets are unleashed in THE SHOEMAKER’S APPRENTICE.

 

 

Source:

Curran, Bob. “The Truth About the Leprechaun.” Wolfhound Press, 2000.

Rohit Sawant, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of the On Fire anthology, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Rohit Sawant.

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What are the genre(s)of the stories you write and why?

I’m all over the map in that department and don’t really confine myself to genre, although majority of what I write has a dark slant. I can hardly tell you why that is, but it’s just what I’m drawn to. I’m over-imaginative by nature, which feeds my work as a writer and can be a good thing, but not-so-good in other areas of life, and I end up nursing these paranoid notions, and tales of horror and suspense act as a release valve by creating a cocoon where I can explore the nagging what-ifs that would otherwise wind up my nerves like guitar strings.

I also enjoy scaring people.

What is the title of your next story and what will it be about?

I have two stories coming out in late 2017. One of them is a Sherlock Holmes piece titled “The Clash of the Miracle Men” for an anthology by Belanger Books, which will be released as a two-volume set, called Sherlock Holmes in the realms of H.G. Wells. It blends the Holmesian universe with Wells’s short story “The Man Who Could Work Miracles.” The other story is “The Pack” and will be featured in Franklin/Kerr Press’s post-apocalyptic horror anthology Down with the Fallen.

How do you research your stories?

I avoid research until I’m done with the first draft, the only exception being if it’s a story element without which I absolutely can’t move forward and even, then I do it minimally, and just make things up as I go along, even if it’s complete BS. Research forces me to take a step back and think, and thinking is the last thing I want to do while getting the story down, because all that accomplishes, for me anyway, is opening the door to self-doubt, and I don’t want that. When I’m revising, however, I’m in a space where I can approach it objectively, so swapping out some of the stuff you made up with researched material is much easier in consequent drafts.

 

From “Bunsen Burn and Beaker Bubble” by Rohit Sawant

The dregs of vinegar in a beaker held Anette in a trance. Part of her self-debate from last night bubbled over in the back of her mind.

Throughout class, she avoided Don. As the students left, she heard him say, “Who the fuck writes with an ink pen?”

And someone saying to leave him alone.

She wished she could knock his head against the wall, repeatedly.

A plan came to her like a soft whisper sung in a serpentine tongue. She went to the staff room, fetched a book of stories by Edgar Allan Poe from her bag, and returned to the lab, locking the door behind her.

With the next period off, she had to act before she changed her mind.

In a medium-sized beaker, she added one part spit, two parts water, and placed it on a low flame. A solution of potassium chloride filled the beaker next.

Riffling through some assignments, she found Don’s. She ripped a string of paper from it lengthwise, and fashioning it into a knot, dropped it into the simmering mix.

Her online book club had planned a reread of Poe for his death anniversary. Viewing the table of contents, she flipped through the book, tore a page, and set it to the flame. She held it over the beaker to catch the ashes and repeated until an entire short story burnt. Her skin grew clammy as she recited incantations, her heart beat thrice as fast.

She finished less than fifteen minutes later, the beaker’s contents displaced.

 

 

Also, be sure to check out an excerpt from Rohit’s story, professionally-read by Zach Brewster-Geisz!

 

Rohit Sawant’s fiction has been published in a Kill Those Damn Cats – a Lovecraftian anthology, After the Happily Ever After, Flash Fiction Magazine, and is set to appear in forthcoming anthologies by Belanger Books and Franklin/Kerr Press. He lives in Mumbai, India, enjoys sketching, films, and his favorite Batman is Kevin Conroy. You can find him at his blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.

Misconceptions of Satire

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I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: “That’s not satire. It’s not even funny,” and I want to know where the hell this belief came from. No one mistakes Bradbury as funny, Wells as funny, Swift as funny…okay, maybe Vonnegut is a bit humorous.

I like to think that satire includes humor, but to say that it’s all inclusive is ridiculous. Satire’s intent is to comment on society and exaggerate it to make a point or facilitate an argument. We’re meant to question ourselves, our behaviors, and our world.

Granted, after a discussion with my husband, I concede that all satire does have a sense of dark humor—as in, that tickling moment when you know exactly what the author is referring to—but that’s not to mistake the story or content as funny.

Most satire creates moral outrage through this level of awareness, using various literary elements, such as irony, paradox, colloquialism, anticlimax, obscenity, and violence. But the most essential is creating vividly painful and absurd people and situations to prod readers to see the truth that many habitually ignore.

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We often see this used in narrative and parody. Like my favorites: South Park, Archer, The Simpsons, and the majority of adult cartoons, and maybe cartoons all together, but I’ll refrain from declaring that as an absolute truth. And dystopic fiction, like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Giver, I could go on, and on, and on…

Satire is essentially sarcasm. It’s funny to those who get it, so it cannot make us laugh every time. Cognitive dissonance aside, we don’t often like to watch others tap into our faults.

Well, those are the broad strokes. Good thing I’m a sarcastic asshole because satire is most certainly my thing.

Think you know enough about vampires and pop-culture monsters to laugh at my books? Get the prequel for free on Kobo, Nook, or the Transmundane Press Store (in .mobi, .epub, and .pdf).

It’s up on Amazon, too, but for 99 cents since they don’t like me giving things away for free. But if you want to donate the dollar, I suppose you could do that, too. Or report their greedy need to control the market…you know, either way.

Want to know something more about satire? Want me to examine a specific text or technique, feel free to drop suggestions in the comments below.

Jean Roberta, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Jean Roberta.

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Are you a full-time author? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time author if you could?

I teach English full-time in a university. I plan to become a full-time writer after I retire in a few years. I’m grateful that instructors of a certain age are no longer forced out.

What is the title of your next story and what will it be about?

In 1998, I wrote an erotic lesbian novel, Prairie Gothic, set in the local queer community before the internet became part of dating culture. It was briefly available as an e-book from a British publisher that went bust in 2006, then collected virtual dust in my “Documents” for ten years.

During my sabbatical year (2016-2017), I completely revised the novel, while keeping the time-frame. The new version has 22 chapters, and has been accepted by Lethe Press for print publication in 2018. It will have cover art for the first time!

Prairie Gothic traces the developing sexual relationship between Kelly, a newly “out” university student, fresh from her home on a farm, and Vivienne, an older woman with a past. Vivienne’s unfinished relationship with Ruth, her first female lover, complicates things, as does Kelly’s resistance to hearing Vivienne’s life-story. Eventually, the complications are resolved as a web of political corruption involving Vivienne’s father is brought to light in the wake of a spectacular murder trial. The novel shows that there has always been a queer, and specifically lesbian culture, even in past eras and places far from any large coastal city.

What are you doing to market yourself?

I belong to the ten-writer blog “Oh Get a Grip,” where I post something on the topic of the moment every other Friday. I also post something about writing or sex once a month in the blog section of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. I also write reviews and post news about my latest publications on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

 

From “Mysteries of the Dragon” by Jean Roberta

Would an actual dragon be more intimidating than wildfire? The young man doubted it. He spent years searching for an intelligence, a human-like will, in the earth, the trees, the water, the air, the sky, and most of all, in fire, the greatest enemy he knew. The most violent human could be bargained with, but as far as the young man could tell, fire was deaf to such tactics.

Perhaps, the whole world consisted of opposites, including substances that could neutralize each other. Enough water could quench a fire, but without a nearby river, could other substances suffice?

In a small chamber of his mentor’s house, the young man tried setting fires in metal containers intended for such experiments and dumped quantities of dirt on them. The results were interesting, since the quantity of earth seemed less relevant than the composition of it. Certain fibrous crystals and shiny metallic flakes in the soil cooled the fire, but soil composed mostly of dead leaves had no such effect.

Could a wall of the right material stop a fire?

“Could we not gather the Block-Stone and the Dragon’s-Coat to build a wall? And even work them into a suit of clothes, with gauntlets to protect the hands? Fire does more harm than an invading army, so why shouldn’t we prepare for war?”

“My son,” said Doctor Peak, “your plan is ambitious. You know we cannot gather a crew of helpers for the work because it would be too dangerous for anyone else to know you’re here. These blessed materials alone are not enough to conquer fire. They can only give us more time to fight or escape. Worst of all, most of our countrymen are too priest-ridden to think for themselves. They have set themselves to accept the worst of what the Dragon inflicts on them, thinking it just punishment for the evil in their hearts.”

The young man glowed with hope. “You don’t believe in Fireheart, do you?”

“I do not.” The scholar’s solemn tone was matched by his gaze. “At least, not as others do. Does fire have a will? That could be argued. It prefers certain foods and shuns others, and it breathes oxygen, as do we. Does it hate us for our sinfulness? I see no reason to believe so. It simply wants to thrive, as do we all. If we can protect ourselves from it, we have every right to use whatever we can find for that purpose.”

The student felt the relief of an orphan who has found his home. “You have wisdom, Sir, but I have youth and strength. Will you help me?”

“Gladly, my son.”

 

Jean Roberta lives on the Canadian prairies, where the vastness of land and sky encourage daydreaming. She teaches literature, composition and creative writing in the local university. Her diverse fiction (mostly erotic) has appeared in many print anthologies, and in the single-author collection Obsession (Renaissance). Her gothic fantasies include “The Water-Harp” in Underwater (Transmundane), and “Roots” (in the “Treasure Chest”). Follow her on her website, blog, or Facebook page.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.

Victor Hawk, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Victor Hawk.

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As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The frog has been my totem animal since I discovered him in college. Somehow, I began a series of narrative confessional poems collectively called Frogless Lines. Somehow, they won an award, and here I am on this odd little journey.

What are the genre(s) of the stories you write and why?

I seem to keep circling back to an odd noir/western thing. I can’t say why, but it’s fun.

What interesting thing did you learn while writing your last story?

That the singular thing which pulled me through the story’s finish didn’t matter at all to anyone else. In fact, my readers found it a distraction.

 

From “Clover” by Victor Hawk

“Will you help me?” she said.

I snapped my cigarette onto the ground. Turned on one heel.

My yard was empty. Just dry brown Bermuda grass, rusted chain-link fence. An acre of empty. I can’t say I was surprised. My yard is fenced. Gated. Secure. After Angie, I had made changes.

Some to the yard.

“Here.”

It had to be the wind in the eastern red cedar. My neighbor’s tree. My neighbor’s wind. A limb across the chain-link twist. The wind should be here. The tree shouldn’t. Look at any aerial view of Oklahoma City, and the trees you’ll see are people’s. They’re the trees of fencelines, drainage ditches. The normal flow of lightning fire and prairie grass has been disabled, disrupted.

Bermuda grass thrives in the fire department zones.

“Here.”

The cigarette butt smoldered on the dry grass. I practiced a bug crush with the toe of my boot. Stamp and twist. Pivot on the z axis. You can’t be too safe in September, the week before the state fair. Everywhere dry as dust and straw. Every day on the overpass, you can see white smoke somewhere on the horizon. The news channel said the whole state was burning up one yard at a time.

Angie liked to catch me smoking, liked to blame me for breaking things.

“Here.”

So, I made sure the smoldering butt was out and good, and in the process, I just about kicked her with my heel. She was that close to where the cigarette landed.

I can’t say I was too surprised to find the head of a woman sticking up out of the ground. I mean, really. Angie and I lived for twenty years on Star Trek reruns. What else are we going to do in Oklahoma? If it weren’t for fantasy, we’d have had no marriage. It wasn’t much of one even so, I suppose, but like my friend Jack says, any marriage that lasts twenty years is worth a house, a whole house, and nothing but the house, so help me God.

 

“Clover” is Hawk’s first short story publication. He left engineering in 2005 to pursue his teaching and creative writing interests. His poems have appeared in small literary presses over the years, including The Davidson Miscellany, Wind: A Literary Magazine, Cold Mountain Review, Word River, and New Plains Review.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.

Interview with Fannar Einarsson: the IMP

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Welcome, Fannar. Thank you for coming in to answer some questions.

A pleasure. I live to serve.

Not used to that one, but I’m still glad to have you here. I hear you have an interesting power that takes a hefty toll.

Indeed. The manipulation of elements can be quite draining. I freeze water. It, in turn, freezes me. It wasn’t always that way, bit it is now.

A birdie told me that you and your brother have a bit of a feud. Can you tell me about that?

He’s the reason my powers hurt me as much as they do. Because he skirted his responsibilities and needed someone to save him.

What role do you play in the council?

I run the Northern Division of the Internal Magick Protection units. Checks and balances. Ensuring protocol is not only followed but fair.

Did you always want to be a part of the council?

<He laughs.> No. I messed up pretty badly when I was younger…had a lot of making up to do.

I hear you have an interesting collection, what’s it of?

You hear a lot of things.

I do. It’s like a magickal power.

I have a couple thousand preserved snowflakes. It’s a bit of a niche, took a lot of practice to perfect, but it helps to channel our most basic natures.

Can you tell me about Alvilda?

She was special, but she had a self-destruct button. Too much energy to contain. <Emotions warred through his face.> She changed the way our mound runs now, about what we prioritize, about how we teach our children.

I’m glad to hear she has a legacy.

Me, too.

What was the first bit of magick you learned?

Keeping my food from burning my mouth. Took a long time before I got to eat warm food again.

Samurai or Ninja?

Ninja. It’s better to be fast than strong, and every fairy will tell you the same.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be and why?

I’d be able to feel warmth again.

I hope you do, someday. Well, that’s it. Thanks for placating me, and I hope you come back to visit soon.

 

Want to know more about Fannar? Check out his official character page or watch him work in “The Mark of the Phoenix.”

Daniel M. Kimmel, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Daniel M. Kimmel.

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What motivates you to write?

It’s innate. I can’t imagine not writing. Of course I’m looking to communicate and get a reaction of some sort (usually laughs for my fiction), as opposed to those who write strictly for themselves and don’t care about their audience.

What audience are your stories intended for?

Fans of science fiction with some shading over into horror and fantasy. What the stories have in common is humor. So one story is about a vampire who reacts to a spice other than garlic, and the next one might be about an alien invasion who no one on Earth really cares.  If I can make you laugh out loud, I’ve done my job.

Who is your favorite character in your current story and why?

While I tend towards likeable or, at least, somewhat sympathetic protagonists, I often find the secondary characters just as interesting if not more so. In my recent novel Time on My Hands, I came to like Cort, a guide to time travellers to the far future because of his childlike enthusiasm. When he meets the narrator, the inventor of time travel, he blurts out that he once played him in a school pageant.  He was only supposed to be in one scene but I liked him so much I brought him back for an encore later in the story.

 

From “The Burning of Atlanta” by Daniel M. Kimmel

This movie was going to be his claim to fame. Frank O’Leary was no Scorsese or Tarantino, no Spielberg or Nolan. He wasn’t exactly a hack. His films got good reviews as often as not, and while he hadn’t won any Oscars, he had several nominations to show for it as well as nominations for the Golden Globes, the Director’s Guild, and the People’s Choice Awards. His mantelpiece might be bare, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

His problem was that he had no personal vision. He would be brought into projects developed by a studio or some actor’s production company, and they knew he would turn out a solid film on time and on budget. Several of his films had been big hits, although it had been a while since the last one. Audiences didn’t have a clue who he was, and the announcement that he was attached to a project wouldn’t go beyond the trades. Who cared about “A Film by Frank O’Leary?” Even the film buffs would be hard pressed to name his last big hit, even though it had topped $200,000,000 worldwide. Unfortunately, most of that came from overseas as the film had tanked in its U.S. release. It was his bad luck to have it released the weekend the President of the United States was removed from the White House in a straitjacket. He couldn’t blame the public. Even he was glued to his television set. It was the biggest spectacle since O. J. Simpson went for a spin on the highway.

Still, you’re only as good as your last picture, and his last picture had been a box office disaster domestically. The young pups running the studios understood what the problem was and didn’t blame him for the film’s failure. The fact that it had more than earned back its production costs overseas didn’t hurt. He now had the chance to get back on track.

Firebug was a thriller that would mark the film debut of Jon Petroni, a pop star whose last three albums had gone platinum and had a fan base in the millions. He was the so-called bad boy of the tweens and teens, which meant he did the same insipid love songs that popular singers had done for generations, but he had a few tats and a ring through a pierced nipple that got prominently displayed in every video he did. Fourteen-year-old girls thought he was hot, and those of both sexes over the age of eighteen had more elaborate fantasies of what they would do if they had some alone time with him.

He had an exclusive recording deal with Galaxy Entertainment, and their film division looked for a project that would take him to the next level. In Firebug, he played a disturbed young man who sets fires, leading to a massive manhunt for the arsonist. However, the script made him a sympathetic figure in that it showed his actions were due to his being abused as a child and that he tried to avoid anyone being hurt: his goal to destroy property, not people. As far as O’Leary was concerned, it was all claptrap. If he had developed the script, Dante, the character Petroni played, would be a psychopath, and the hero would be the investigator who brought him to justice. There would be a fiery climax all right. It would be Dante burning in the electric chair.

However, when they brought O’Leary onto film, the script had already been developed. Dante turns himself in after setting a fire of such force that it shocks him into the realization that what he’s been doing is wrong. O’Leary never heard of such a thing. Arsonists did not suddenly have dramatic changes of heart. But it would let Petroni not only repent but sing the title song over the closing credits. Galaxy execs thought it had a real possibility for an Oscar…for best song. No one thought that O’Leary would do anything other than his usual competent job.

And that’s where he fooled them. He may not have had a great personal vision, but he did have an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, and he knew all the great movie fires and how they were created. Before filming began, he called his production team together and told them he wanted to go beyond anything that had ever been done.

“I don’t simply want to see a building in flames. I want to see a conflagration. I want the audience to feel the heat of the fire coming off the screen. I want to create an inferno so destructive that they’ll have nightmares for weeks and months to come. Remember the way people freaked out over demonic possession when The Exorcist came out? That’s what I want for us. A fiery furnace so intense that people will jump at the lighting of a match.”

One thing to ask for it. Another thing to get it.

 

Daniel M. Kimmel is the author of Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and other observations about science fiction movies, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide, and Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.

Did You Know… About the Phoenix?

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The phoenix is a well-known symbol for rebirth, renewal, and resurrection and is often depicted as a long-lived bird that experiences a cycle of fiery end and birth from the ashes. Traditionally, only one is allowed to exist at a time.

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In Egypt, the Bennu was the sacred bird of Heliopolis and was associated with the sun or as the soul of the sun god, Ra. His cry marked the beginning of time at the world’s creation. Also, the manifestation of Osiris, the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration, Bennu appears with the atef crown.

In Greece, the red-gold phoenix (or phoinix) emitted rays of pure sunlight, lived for five hundred years, and feasted upon Arabian balsam and frankincense. Upon its death, a new and fully-grown phoenix emerged, having been encased in a myrrh egg of the parent.

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The phoenix has reign over all other birds in China and is a symbol of feminine grace, the sun, and the south. Sighting a phoenix indicates a wise leader has ascended and begun a new era. As the representation of Chinese virtues, such as goodness, duty, propriety, kindness, and reliability, they believed that this mystical bird was sent to assist mankind’s development.

Because of the connections with death and revival, Christianity adopted it as an early symbol and analogy for Christ’s death and resurrection three days later. The phoenix was often used on early Christian tombstones.

 

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As a spiritual totem, the phoenix is the keeper of the fire of all creation. Ultimately, they are symbols of strength and renewal and regarded as the representation of the seasons, coherence, longevity, imagination, and protection.

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Typically, the phoenix is seen as the coming together of two, one male and female, or as the yin and yang and signifies the inherent need for balance in the world. The female phoenix totem—or the yin—denotes an energy characterized as passive, psychic, deep-thinking, the moon, darkness, and winter. The male phoenix totem—or the yang—deals with assertion, bold action, warmth, light, and summer. Because of this connection, a pair of phoenixes was often given as a wedding gift.

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Presently, the phoenix embodies a renewal of energy to keep us fighting the good fight as we all struggle with tough times and negativity, as Aderyn does in my story, “The Mark of the Phoenix,” where he fights to do good and keep people safe after being sentenced to die.

The phoenix reminds us that we can endure.

 

Want to know more?

Check out my guest post on Transmundane’s blog, “The Cycle of the Phoenix.”

 

Sources & Other Information:

Wikipedia, Ancient Origins, Mythical Realm, Greek Mythology, Labyrinthina, Theoi, Whats-Your-Sign, Sun Signs.

Megan Dorei, a Featured Spotlight

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If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Megan Dorei.

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How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a pencil. Before I actually learned how to write I drew stick-figure stories with crayon, then stapled them together to look like books. Stacks and stacks of them. A third of the structure of our apartment was made of makeshift paperbacks.

How do you choose your character’s personalities and names?

Occasionally a character will come to me before the story, but most of the time it’s the opposite. Molding a character has a lot to do with the plot, what it will require of them, how it will push them. It’s probably my favorite part of the process.

What marketing techniques do you find most effective?

Unfortunately for me (a self-proclaimed hermit), networking is a great one. It always makes me nervous trying to find a balance between plugging and spamming… Plus, you know, the whole human interaction thing.

 

From “Chrysopoeia” by Megan Dorei

Holding her breath against the beef-thick air, she readied to head back to her booth when two men came in from outside. Familiar by their finely-tailored suits, though she didn’t recognize the faces. Bearing the insignia she’d helped create on their lapels. She stopped so suddenly, she bounced back a step.

Of course, they were looking for her. She was stupid for not thinking of this.

Her mind raced with the same bleak friction as one who runs despite an approaching dead end.

No way out the front entrance.

Assuming the back door was through the kitchen, she would have to make it past the men either way.

No windows in the women’s bathroom, and probably none in the men’s.

Saliva thickened to flammable jelly in her throat. The Flame burgeoned at the bottom of her belly, stretching to hook a claw into her esophagus. She shuddered with the fruitless effort it took to cage it.

As the men surveyed the diner, recognition lit their faces. Her heart slunk into her belly and was devoured by flames.

She knew of one way out.

Their hands twitched to their belts in synchrony, and the guns tucked there flashed like eager stars, the cold fire Ayden harbored in her own chest. But the rest of her was alive with heat, desert fumes that writhed just beneath her skin, and she ached to let it out, she burned.

“Ayden, get your hands up.”

Resentment sparked. They called her by her first name like they knew her, like they were old friends…

Her body clenched, and the men were too late to pull the trigger. The screams of the diners cut off in a nebula burst. Incineration. It rushed out of Ayden’s pores like volcanic spew, blistering, bittersweet agony that shook her to her bones.

Spent, she fell to her knees. The flames towered above her, triumphant beasts licking the ceiling. The bewildering heat didn’t burn her—a dire vessel with the coals set free. Too cold to burn.

 

Megan Dorei is a part-time housekeeper who spends her free time writing, thinking about writing, and listening to music to reinvigorate her writing. She is a horror devotee, beer enthusiast and lover of all things retro. She has been a contributing author to Sirens Call Publications’ Bellows of the Bone Box and Mental Ward: Stories From the Asylum, Storm Moon Press‘ Big Damn Heroines, Dark Moon Digest #14, Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy: Dystopia Utopia, and most recently in Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2017. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her fiancée and a ghost that insists on hiding their remotes.

ON FIRE is available now: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and the Transmundane Press store.