COFFIN HOP 2013


Hello, Travelers,

After a long hiatus from my blogging, I’m pleased to return with the announcement that I’ll be participating in this year’s Coffin Hop blog tour. I look forward to eight days of Halloween themed mayhem with a slew of very talented indie authors. Be sure to stop back soon to support me as well as the other greats worming through the blogosphere.

Until then, fare thee well, friends.

COFFIN HOP 2013.

Damned Words 3 by @PenoftheDamned


Hello Travelers,

Today I bring you Pen of the Damned’s third poetry ensemble. For those unfamiliar, each Damned writes a short piece about the same picture, leading to a wide array of views on the same situation.

In this scene, a looming archway. Stone. Empty. Dark. Surrounded by trees and sunlight, yet foreboding, as if it arose from the dirt, unbidden and unaided, and none have had the gall to cross its threshold.

Dare you, Traveler?

Damned Words 3.

Blog Convergence Alert


Hello Travelers,

 

As some of you may know, I’m a bit of a gamer. Also, I tend to overthink everything. This means that, in addition to game reviews, I like to psychoanalyze the characters and/or talk about the political/socioeconomic implications of those games.

I do have a blog on gameinformer.com, but I’ve found it is very taxing to keep up two independent blogs- as such, I’ll be posting the ‘best of’ one to the other. I’ll be doing this slowly so that your inboxes don’t explode with electronic entertainment innuendo, so if you like games (especially demonic/zombie themed games) you can find some (possibly disturbing) thoughts on your favorite horror games here soon.

…and if you know any bloggers who like games, send ’em here! It is, after all, one of my dreams to someday work on games, so exposure is always nice (exposure is nice anyway, and I return the favor!).

Thank you, my friends, for any commentary and support.

My top five women in horror gaming


Hello, Travelers,

As busy as I am, I couldn’t help stopping by to give a quick post in tribute to Women in Horror month. I’ve decided to blend this a bit with my passion for gaming, so here are my top five women in horror gaming.

 

Jill Valentine, Resident Evil 5
     As much as I didn’t like the game, I couldn’t help but like this revision to the Valentine character. She was strong, capable, deadly and didn’t need to say a word (which, in terms of Capcom characters, is a huge blessing), whereas in the original Resident Evil she was effeminate to the point of being handicapped (two extra item slots and a lock pick?). Sure, roughly fifteen years passed between those games, and Valentine received superpowers in the meantime, AND she was fighting for the bad guys in RE5 because she was afflicted with a mind control toxin, but any woman who isn’t afraid to throw down gets two thumbs up in my book.

 

Nicole Brennan, Dead Space 2
     The beautiful nightmare that was the apparition of Brennan was one of the most intriguing examples of insanity I’ve seen in a game. There was enough of the original Nicole to keep both the player and Isaac Clark thinking there was hope, but she was demented enough to make you fear her. Assertive, confident and sociopathic to the end, Brennan was a character that I loved and hated in equal measure (for all the right reasons). Combine this with the heartbreaking backstory of her death and you have one of the best female pro/antagonists in a horror game.

 

Kirie Himuro, Fatal Frame
     Otherwise known as the Rope Shrine Maiden, this woman’s will to live was so strong that it wound up destroying ancient magic, unleashing hell and turning a mansion full of people into a ghost-filled nightmare (and how can I not love the fact that she unleashed Malice, the premise of my first novel?). However, she makes this list for her afterlife, rather than her human life.
     I can honestly say no woman has ever scared me as badly as the first time you fight Kirie, her ethereal form floating closer as you raise your camera, the trusty device that has sent a myriad of souls to the grave, and take a picture… but nothing happens. Unfazed, she lunges towards you to rip your soul from your body. Her infinite hands and indomitable power lands her securely at number 3.

 

Alex Roivas, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
     A Lovecraftian adventure for sure, this woman finds herself reading a book made of bones and animal skin, reliving the lives of everyone who has held the book as she (and the people who have used it) slowly lose their mind. The final player in a 2,000 year game to destroy the world, she has a few short days to master a millennia of spells, incantations and information, uniting the souls of the damned and ancient artifacts from all over the world at her ancestral home in Rhode Island.
     For one, the fact that she stays sane when the game makes the player think they’re going crazy is impressive. Her upper body may explode while walking through a doorway, statues turn to watch her, the walls drip blood, but she presses on, even as the game pretends to lower your volume, restart or even delete your save files (I’ve never had a game play me until ED:SR!).
     However, if the player is determined enough, she slays THREE gods in what had to have been the most mind-blowing epilogue I’ve experienced in my two meager decades of existence. Resilient, relentless and level-headed in the worst possible situations, Alex Roivas is my second favorite woman in horror gaming.

 

Heather Mason, Silent Hill 3
     She is as vulnerable as Kirie is strong, and even more broken. Heather Mason, the third incarnation of Alessa Gillespie, is on my top five for finding the strength of insanity (if anyone’s interested, I’ll upload my post on why Mason is out of her mind). Not wasting any time questioning why the world has gone to hell, or where the monsters are coming from, she leaps into action ready and willing to slay whatever comes her way. After finding her father murdered, she realizes she has no choice but to embrace the madness around her. As she seeks vengeance, she brings down a cult, vomits a baby and kills a god. Let’s face it, few women have had so colorful a life, but the fact that her character can so perfectly embody strength and weakness at the same time is what earns her the number one slot- she isn’t just a powerful character, she’s real.

 

Well, Travlers, thus ends my top five; I hope you enjoyed it, but feel free to agree, disagree or comment below. And, before you say anything, Alda from F.E.A.R. didn’t make it because she’s a girl, not a woman (and I didn’t like F.E.A.R.). Fairwell, friends- I’m off to celebrate the real women of horror in what ways I can!

True Horror


It seems that, no matter what one does or why, there is always someone waiting to question it. For some acts, this is understandable, but there are many for which it doesn’t seem to be.

For instance, I read often. Not as often as I’d like, but that’s not the point. When I tell people I typically read horror or sci-fi, they act like I have two heads. This is tragic, considering how great some such stories can be. 

Or, in writing, people tend to regard you as strange when you say you write about monsters, murderers and other such mayhem. 

That’s not even grazing the topic of video games. The conservative observer seems to look upon gaming as an industry only filled with Grand Theft Auto and Dead Space, though there are far more choices, many of which are blood-free and family-friendly. 

Odds are, if you like horror, those who don’t will regard you as a bit disturbed. I guess some people find Cthulhu scary (I think he’s cool) and are genuinely scared of Necromorphs (I’m always ready to throw down). 

However, despite the fact that these are all artistic mediums with no greater agendas, dark and alternative media is almost always the first thing to take the blame for real-life disaster. No matter how many times you say “It’s fiction!”, people are still ready to cast stones. Though there is a giant glowing line that separates fact from fiction, a select few aren’t able to see it. That isn’t the fault of the artist, novelist or game designer, that’s the viewers issue.

But no amount of finger pointing is going to change the past. Needless to say, my most sincere thoughts and prayers are with the surviving family and friends of the victims of the Connecticut school shooting. No one deserves to suffer through this kind of atrocity. 

Now, I may not know much more than the press does about the shooter, but I know this:

-He applied for guns legally and was denied.

-He’d had conflicts with his school district and mother in the past.

-He had a diagnosed psychiatric illness.

 

So what this says to me is that all of the people arguing over gun control are missing the obvious point: a person- a single, solitary, and seriously fucked up individual- killed a large number of children because he was SICK, not because he had a gun. 

We’re wasting time and resources talking about ‘what gun should or shouldn’t be sold’ when the real issue is having our educational and legal systems so overburdened that we aren’t able to recognize and handle the warning signs when a person starts that downward spiral into madness.

Does Dracula keep you up at night? Do thoughts of bugs eating you from the inside out get your skin crawling? Are ghosts haunting you, forcing you to look over your shoulder every step of the way?

Let me share what scares me: the politicians who think that guns are the problem, the schools that can’t do anything until it’s too late, and the fact that this has gotten so bad that most precincts are adopting an open-fire policy as soon as the call is made. 

The fact is that evil IS. Evil isn’t the man pulling the trigger. Evil isn’t in how many people died or how. Evil is the cold, brutal fact that if someone wants to kill someone else, there really isn’t anything stopping him (or her). Whether by gun, knife or fist, death is death and evil is evil. 

That’s precisely why we have to work together on this. It’s become a necessity to report anyone who even seems to be demonstrating a violent mental illness. Preventing catastrophe isn’t about what one person can do, it’s about what everyone has to do. 

I shudder to think of what might happen if we don’t. 

The Idea


I am but a slave to the idea of an idea.

Some stare in blank-eyed rapture at progressive screens of nothing, cheering for the endless rattle and hum of a world without, fighting mercilessly for mercy. In a world where absolution can be bought online from any Dr. John Smith, ideas have all but died.

Others still know of the idea. Endlessly repeating upon themselves, they create and recreate the same material, through the same medium, with no hope for escape- nor do they want it. Sooner would they devour themselves, like Uroboros, than face a world where they must create. Ideas, to them, are the screens of the others, flitting by at the speed of light because they do not wish to see one single instance of beauty. Desiring all, devouring all, yet creating nothing.

I am priviledged to stand among the creators; the architects of new worlds that are constantly recreating themselves in the image of a tomorrow that was dreamed of yesterday. They know that it is not ideas themselves that build worlds, but the notion that the idea itself is not a fixed structure. A building is stable; the idea of it is flimsy and wavering. An idea is open to change, to being reshaped.

 Yet the idea demands respect. It demands attention. It claws at the inside of the mind, screaming for release until you drop to the ground and cry to the heavens that either it must die, or you do.

 Such is the life of a writer, and more than the writer, the idea of the writer, for the writer’s idea of itself is, perhaps, the most foul-tempered mistress of them all.

 A writer is asked, “What do you write?” To answer, we must ask, “What have you written?” To answer that, we must examine content. Word count. Audience. Purpose. Meaning. Life. And, ultimately, the writer again.

 Writers write what they know, or so they say, so who is the writer? Is he a scary person? Is she lovable? Is he good with kids? Is she an ex-convict? Based on this description, this title, what has the writer experienced?

 Given this answer, what do they write of? How does the idea of what has happened to them affect the idea of what they are to write?

 And so he writes a horror novel. Wait, scratch that, thriller. No, horror. The idea of the book continues to change, and as such, does the writer. He decides upon thriller, but is it for adults? Yes. No. Yes. No. It’s for everyone. It’s for children. Screw it, it’s never getting published anyway, why bother?

 Now, the writer is no more; he has given up, curled into a ball and become crushed by the inevitable implosion of his mind, caused by a single idea: The idea of his identity.

 And thus, I press on, press against the crushing walls of the idea, forcing myself into existence as a writer solely through the expression of will.  I fight the idea for control of myself. Even as it curls around me, even as this constrictor sticks its tongue out and gets a taste of the meal to come, I am content knowing that, in my destruction, I am free to exercise the identity I have carved in the flesh of my idea.

 Because the idea is mine, and I am its slave.