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Short Sips 2 Now Available!

Short Sips Vol 2 from Pill Hill Press is now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  It features many fine short horror stories, including my own ‘TOOTH AND BONE.’

This story was conceived in a dentist chair during a harrowing series of painful and bloody purification rituals.  I passed the rites and returned to my tribe inspired to write a horror story and find better dental insurance.

Recently, my lovely wife gave me a certificate for a professional massage.  Lying in a dark room, face down with a stranger, my mind wondered to the macabre as it is wont to do.  Tickling my mind was a particularly ghastly segment on a Discovery Channel show about parasites that can infest the human body.  As the stranger dug into my muscle and sinew a new idea began to take root in my brain.  I urge you, go see the dentist before reading my story.  And get a massage, you deserve it.  But do it soon.  Once I write my massage story you may not find them so relaxing.

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Welcome to the Bell Club

Tales from the Bell Club (KnightWatch Press) is now available in print and on Kindle, featuring my short story The Wager.

The Wager is a horror story set in the late 1920’s, about a pair of scientists who explore the bottom of the ocean and find death and madness.  I had a great time doing research into the historic Santa Monica and Venice Beach pleasure piers, the local Tongva Indians, 1920’s speech, famous explorers William Beebe and Otis Barton and their record setting invention the bathysphere.  I thought I’d list some foot notes here that captured my imagination.  Spoilers ahoy!

EXPLORER WILLIAM BEEBE

I relied heavily on the real life explorer William Charles Beebe and HALF MILE DOWN, his first person account of breaking the ocean depth record.  Beebe was the most famous American naturalist in the world.  He described things that no one had ever seen, sometimes risking his life in the process.  I would say that my character ‘Charles Beebe’ was a dark reflection of the historical figure, but in truth the real person was all too tragic.

Beebe was a brilliant academic, popular writer and larger-than-life celebrity.  His religion was a mix of Presbyterianism and Buddhism, and he used his eyes to worship the natural world and its inner workings.  He believed that “Boredom is immoral.  All a man has to do is see.  All about us nature puts on the most thrilling adventure stories ever created, but we have to use our eyes.”

His wife, Blair Niles, was a stalwart companion, accomplished writer and fearless explorer in her own right.  She was his assistant and co-writer on their travels around the world, sometimes to places where no white woman had ever been before.  The Explorer’s Club refused to admit females, and so Blair helped found the Society of Woman Geographers.

Despite her loyalty and talent, the couple divorced on the ‘grounds of cruelty’.  Blair’s eyes began to fail, and she could no longer assist her husband with his work.  He started to shun her, not speaking to her for days at a time.  Once he reputedly stuck a pistol in his mouth and threatened to kill himself to terrify her.  I wonder if her vision loss made her corrupt or unworthy in Beebe’s religion of sight.

THE TOWN

The fictional beach town of San Simeon is based on Santa Monica, California.  This story is the first of many I have planned for my own anthology in this setting.  I am fascinated by beach towns and piers, probably because I grew up in a small shoreline town and vacationed with my family ‘down the shore’ in Delaware.  The origins of San Simeon, named after the saint of lost children, will be detailed in future stories.

The ‘pleasure piers’ in this story were all real, harking from an era when all of America flocked to bustling carnivals suspended over the sea.  The entire coast was crowded with mad cap piers extending into the ocean.  Prohibition may have been in effect, but who needs a drink when you can tumble down a wooden dragon slide in a burlap sack?

It was a giddy and surreal playground, mostly untouched by the great Depression.  When oil was discovered the area got another boost.  Soon oil derricks filled the sky like the piers stretched into the ocean.

THE STRANGE SHIP

The bathysphere, the strange submarine invented by Beebe and Barton, appears in one of my other stories as well, along with a summary of its invention.

THE ABYSS

As the intrepid explorers sink down into the ocean they literally penetrate realms of darkness that no mortal has ever witnessed.  Their transgression results in tragedy and madness, which is why you’ll find a few references to ancient gods, titans and myths sprinkled through the story.

When his partner is lost in the abyss, Charles, tormented by the loss, attempts to bring him back.  I wanted to foreshadow this by naming their ship ‘Orpheus’, but chose ‘Izanami’ instead.  The Japanese myth of the death of Izanami-no-mikoto is similar to the tragedy of Orpheus, but I find it more disturbing.

HORRORS OF THE DEEP

There are countless strange creatures in the sunless depths of our oceans.  Beebe described real animals with translucent skin, glowing bodies and giant teeth.  My favorite ugly is Astonesthes Abyssorum, which is Latin for “Eater of the Stars of the Bottomless Pits”.

There are also unnatural beasties at the bottom of San Simeon Bay.  You may spot a reference to my favorite Crypto, El Chupacabra.

In the black heart of the pit dwells an ancient, formless horror.  The slumbering entity spawns monsters, shakes the earth and lures people down to their death.  Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will find it reminiscent of the protoplasmic gods Abhoth and Ubbo-Sathla.

ENDING WITH A BANG

We never learn if Charles Beebe’s plans to strike back at the beast of the abyss ends in success or failure.  There was originally a post script about the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake.  An estimated fifty million dollars worth of property damage resulted and 120 lives were lost.  This didn’t mesh with the first person narrative format so I left it out.  One day I will tell the fate of San Simeon and the tragic explorer who gazed upon its hidden horror.

GET THE BOOK

There are 13 other chilling tales in the collection, including an amazing story by Edward M. Erdelac.  Buy the Kindle version here and the print version here.

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It’s Alive!

RESULTS MAY VARY, my very first short story to be accepted for print publication, is now available at Amazon in the Static Movement Press anthology SCIENCE GONE MAD.

This story takes place in a very dark near future of bio-terrorism and paranoia.  My early drafts revealed more about the world that was later omitted as unnecessary exposition.  But seeing as how this is my secret crypt, you’ll find all sorts of interesting things on the cutting room floor.

I do so love to laugh.  It keeps me young!

Puns!

 

The evolution of terrorism in China (specifically the breakaway Uyghur Muslim separatists) has lead fanatical yet highly educated scientists to engineer Genocide Bombers.  The first attack occurs at the Olympic games in Hyderabad, India.  Four million die, the United States joins China in their struggle against terrorism, and we become the next targets.

It’s a tense situation: entire cities are quarantined, people live in fear of deadly plagues and the government is ready to firebomb any location they suspect is compromised.  Our hero is bored and lonely in his sealed apartment, and looking for a distraction before he goes stir crazy.  When he orders an experimental party drug from a darknet website his life gets stranger than he could ever imagine.

I often listen to music to set the mood while I write, and I listened to a lot of Philip Jeck for this one.  These are deep, moody and often disturbing soundscapes.  Ah, Dystopia!

 

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Staring into the Abyss

I am happy to announce that my short story ‘The Wager’ will appear in Knightwatch Press’ upcoming anthology TALES FROM THE BELL CLUB.

My entry takes place in the late 1920’s in the haunted southern california town of San Simeon.  My main character is based on my favorite mad scientist, William Beebe,  and the invention of his suicidal science vehicle the Bathysphere.  What did they find lurking beneath the black waters of San Simeon Bay?  I’ll reveal more when the book hits the presses!

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Frightmares

Here is the link to buy Frightmares, the flash fiction horror anthology from Dark Moon Books that features my story ‘Stranglers in the Night.’

This story was inspired by the Hillside Strangler case.  In the late 70’s there was a horrific spree of murders in the hills of Los Angeles, California.  The police would eventually capture two serial killers, cousins, who were working together.  During the trial one of the cousins instructed his girlfriend to continue killing women to make law enforcement officials believe that the real killer was still on the loose.

The concept of overlapping serial killers was new to me.  When I thought how each serial killer is usually given a single placename moniker, like the Boston Strangler, the Cincinatti Strangler, or the Honolulu Strangler I realized there was a lot of potential for confusion.  It would behoove them to coordinate.  As a matter of fact, the F.B.I. divides serial killers into 3 different categories: ‘Disorganized’, ‘Mixed’ and ‘Organized.’

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Interview with Author Edward M. Erdelac

In celebration of the 33 days of Hallowe’en here is an interview with Horror author Edward M. Erdelac, author of the Lovecraftian / Jewish Weird Western saga MERKABAH RIDER as well as the zombie tales DUBAKU and NIGHT OF THE JIKININKI and the delicious Vampire /Werewolf/Pirate combo platter RED SAILS.

We sat down in cyberspace recently and had a nice chat; presented here for your ED-ification (I already regret that pun.)

When did you think you wanted to be a story teller?

Probably around eighth grade. Sister Marie read us Call of The Wild and around the same time I read the novelization of Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives by Simon Hawke. First two books I ever read without any kind of art in them and I was amazed at what you could do in a book. When Buck for instance attacked the Indian camp at the end of Call and ripped all their
throats out (a nun was reading this too us remember) I was totally blown away. Uh…spoiler.

I’m glad that made you choose to be a story teller and not a nun.  When did you decide to be an author?

That summer after eighth grade I took a trip to Kentucky with my dad and read The Lord Of The Rings and Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Solomon Kane stories. I also got heavy into Stephen King, especially his short stories, and started filling notebooks full of stuff. I think the invention of the word processing program is what finally made me decide I wanted to write. I had written little stories and things for school and always done well – I got accused of plagiarism for a poem about Mars in second grade. But I always hated typewriters and white out.

Stephen King was big for me, especially the anthologies.  IT was the longest book I had ever read at the time.  When did you start writing for reals?

I was writing stuff a lot before ever since high school really, including screenplays all throughout college, but my first pro sale was
for the Star Wars website in 2008. The first story I ever sold for any money at all was Killer Of The Dead in Murky Depths Magazine in the UK. I think that might’ve been 2007.

Do you have any pre-writing rituals or anything to get your mind in the zone?

Nah, with three kids at home my only ritual is put the kids to bed or down for a nap.

How about your writing process?  Do you outline?  Do you know the end before you begin? 

I usually start with a concept and usually the ending is in my mind. I’ve known how Merkabah Rider ends since the beginning, for instance. For longer works I do sometimes write the sequence of events out in a paragraph or two, but I don’t plaster my wall with note cards or anything really formal.  My stories tend to involve a lot of research, so I immerse myself in books from the library if I don’t have them at home. I guess that counts as prep, but it’s dispersed throughout weeks sometimes. When talking about other historical periods, I like to pick up firsthand accounts from the period when I can to get a feel for the way people talk.

I agree, firsthand accounts are invaluable, and it certainly shows in your dialogue.  Are you willing to let the
characters tell you what happens next?

Definitely. This is gonna sound weird, but most of the time I feel like I’m just recording stories, not coming up with them, like they’ve already occurred somewhere.  The research and plotting just uncovers the details, puts the sometime disparate impressions I get together into the coherent story in my mind. I’ve written things with a character I only intended to come in for one scene and they’ve wound up being a major supporting character, so yeah, it does feel like they have their own agenda sometimes. I guess that’s organic or naturalistic writing or whatever, but they feel real to me. If they didn’t, if I didn’t believe in them, I don’t think they’d ring true for the reader either.

I feel the same way about research.  I know I’m the one piecing the elements together but sometimes I feel guilty, like I’ve stumbled upon these amazing stories that no one has noticed before. 

Now you work with Editors, but you had to edit your first stories yourself.  How important is perfecting the story to you?  Do you serve no wine before its time or do you believe in the doing your best first draft, giving it a quick polish and then pushing it out of the nest to make room for the next project?

Going back to the notion of just sort of plucking the story out of the universe, I don’t tend to mess with the plotting very much. I think that’s why I’ve had problems with screenplays. I hate the three act structure. I don’t believe good stories actually fit into that. Good movies, maybe. I guess I don’t know. But movies are more artificial than books. There are a lot of different contributors on every level, a lot of different interpretations, just a lot of rigmarole going into them. I don’t really obsess over stuff once I’ve written it. I’ll go through it, yeah, and an editor is really a God-send, but I feel like I’m in a race most of the time. I’ve gotta get on to the next thing, get the next story out before it fades (or more likely before my kids wake up).

On the subject of movies, in addition to screenplays you wrote and directed a western, Meaner Than Hell.  Do you think cinema or prose have more to offer the Western Genre?

If you mean which has more to offer, well, as much as I hate to say it, movies sort of are the new literature of the world. Go on Amazon and look up the number of reviews for True Grit, both the movies and the original novel by Charles Portis (“Whaat? It was a novel?” or even “Whaat? It’s a remake?” I hear far too much). There are a 167 reviews of the novel. A really great amount for a book. There are 265 or so for the John Wayne movie, and 357 for the Cohen Brothers remake. Movies are just more prevalent than books these days.

But if you mean does either format have anything new to offer, I think there are always stories to tell in every genre. I’ve been
shopping an all-Mexican western around for years now. I think right now in film westerns have taken a turn into the hardcore realistic, which is great for western nerds for me (and yet I can’t sell any of my western screenplays, so I guess it’s really not that great), but not so great for the popularity of the genre itself. People want shoot ‘em ups. They want the westerns they remember,
the westerns of tough guys talking all kinds of great shit and fast draws and yippee-kay-yi-yays, not the revisionist westerns Hollywood’s favored ever since Unforgiven. Look at the popularity of Tombstone over Wyatt Earp. Wyatt Earp is really a better, more realistic movie, but Tombstone has great lines, great deeds. That’s what people wanna see when they go to the movies. Real life is depressing, even back then. As much as I hated the idea of Johnny Depp as Tonto, I respect Gore Verbinski. Rango is all kinds of fun, a great western. I think he could do up The Lone Ranger right. But I wish he’d call me to write
the script.

Prose-wise, it is really hard to get an interesting western published. Most of the publishers who handle the genre only want right wing good hat bad hat stuff or six gun romances. They just don’t want anything really different. And the big guys, well, they don’t look at anybody new obviously.

Of all your stories which character or book would you most like to see as a movie?

I would love to see Takashi Miike expand and direct Night Of The Jikininki, my feudal Japan zombie story from DEADCORE, the anthology Comet Press did.  I enjoyed 13 Assassins. I wish I knew how to get it to him.  I watched Kurosawa and Sword of Doom and read Kazuo Koike relentlessly while writing that.

I’d love to see that too!  What’s the second?

I think my straight no-ghoulies western, Buff Tea.

 Back to books – Your first MERKABAH RIDER books are sets of novellas that will culminate with a full length novel.  How did you choose this format?  What do you like about this approach?

At first I wanted to release them as novellas, and Kim at Damnation Books was all for it as well, but then my first novella Dubaku came out and it was an indie press, and you know, they do what they have to do, but personally I’m a used bookstore kinda guy, so when I saw the price for a 48-page story, I was a little put out (especially when one reviewer on Amazon voiced my same concern – that it was a little too pricey for the length). I figured nobody would take a chance on them individually, so I suggested putting
them altogether. I was introduced to Robert E. Howard in the Zebra paperbacks with the Frank Frazetta covers, so I just figured I’d write them like that – like you were reading a collected book of something previously published in Weird Tales or something. I miss not having all the cool covers I envisioned for each one, but I think the format works OK. At conventions I’ve been to a
lot of times the selling point is these are in novella ‘episodes’ that you can pick up and put down. People don’t have as much time to read, and they’re resistant to unknown authors with good reason. There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s not so great. Plus, the audience I guess it’s written for knows the Zebra books too, and they get it. I’ve read reviews comparing MR to them, and
that’s awesome that it came across for those people, because it’s exactly what I intended. Stephen King is right; writing can be a kind of telepathy.

You dig deep into different cultures and time periods.  What is your favorite time period or culture besides the rough and tumble melting pot of the wild west?

I think the nineteen thirties were a pretty awesome time period. There were still totally unexplored frontiers on earth, there were clear cut bad guys rising to power, things were bordering on the optimistic. It’s a time period I’d like to visit in my writing at some point. I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture, but lately I find myself skirting around Hindu and old Chinese mythologies a lot. Two cultures I know next to nothing about but am interested in. Would love to do a wuxia book some day.

It’s almost Halloween, so tell me your favorite 3 monsters.

1. Wolfman/Werewolf

2. Creature From The Black Lagoon

3. Kaiju (giant monsters or giant animals – Godzilla, Gamera,
Daimajin, I would include Them! and Night of The Lepus in here too).

You and those damned Lepi.  What monster do you think is under rated?

Creature from the Black Lagoon. Someday I’ll write something with that guy in it. He’s got such a great, singular look. When I was a kid he was my absolute favorite. They’ve got these diving sets for kids where the mask and the flippers and the gloves make you look like the Creature, with webbed clawed hands and a fin on your head. I bought one for my son awhile ago but he grew out of it. Wish I’d had it as a kid.

I almost bought that even though it wouldn’t fit me!  I envy kids almost all of their toys nowadays. 

And now for the eternal question: If you had to be a vampire or werewolf, which would it be?

Werewolf. The biggest curse of being a vampire is having to drink only blood for eternity. I’d miss beer and Chinese food. Werewolves get all that and they get to run naked in the woods and they can smell a pizza from a mile away. They seem to have awesome stamina as well. I guess it’s all the running. Great cardio. I don’t see any drawbacks there.

I suppose they’re running off all the pizza!  What is the scariest thing in the world to you?

Death.  Non-existence. The possibility of having your consciousness obliterated. I don’t believe that’s what happens, but there’s
always a possibility. I guess that’s not technically in this world….I don’t know…cancer. Your body failing on you.

That brings us astrologically to our final interrogative…Crab emoticon: Best emoticon, or Bestest emoticon?

I think it deserves its own appellation. I vote Bestemicon.

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There you have it folks!
Please click through the links in the story to check out the items mentioned or go to Ed’s website for a chance to win giveaways all month long!

Author Ed M. Erdelace’s Blog – Delirium Tremens

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On the importance of flossing daily

My short horror story TOOTH AND BONE will appear in Short Sips, the second volume of Coffee House Flash Fiction from Wicked East Press.  The story details the unfortunate meeting of an unscrupulous dentist and a patient in dire need of the dental arts.

I’ve spent a lot of time in dentist chairs, and that is where this story was conceived.  I was going through a particularly vigorous deep gum cleaning when I thought, “How strange it must be to put your hands into a total stranger’s mouth?”  The story came back to me recently as I was having a root canal performed (for a second time).  I kept the thinking about it when I lost
the crown on the fresh root canal.  By the time I went back for the new crown I owed nearly $2,000.

The dentist had a long list of other things that needed to be done.  And things that needed to be redone.  This may have colored the tone of the final story a bit.  It’s not a happy story, but I hope you’ll think it’s a fun one.

My dentist says that if you ignore your teeth they’ll go away.  I say watch where you put your fingers.

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