William Blackwell

Dark Fiction Author

Tag: horror

Black Dawn Preorder on the Horizon

Maybe there is a black dawn on the horizon given the complicated, stressful, and often overwhelmingly problematic world we live in. But, the Black Dawn I refer to here is my new release, slated for May 15th. That Black Dawn is intended to help you escape from the stresses of your everyday life and lift you into a world of limitless possibilities.

But first a few words of caution. It contains profanity. It’s rather raw-edged and racy. It’s also shockingly real—chock-full of actual accounts of  brutal murders that have occurred in the Dominican Republic, many while I was there doing book research. Of course the names and the characterizations have been changed to protect the innocent. Like some of my previous works, Black Dawn is a chilling journey into the dark underbelly of the Dominican Republic, an underbelly where murders often occur and murderers often walk away scot-free.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. A year in the making, the new-and-improved second edition involved extensive research on dream teleportation, the ability to physically teleport to other destinations while you’re sleeping. Although you might be tempted to dismiss it out of hand, teleportation—sleep-induced or manufactured—has been studied extensively by scientists and scholars and even the Unites States military.

Imagine the possibilities. You want to visit your friend in Mexico, hop into a teleporter and, boom, you’re there.

No airport hassles. No plane ticket. No plane.

Black Dawn weaves together elements of teleportation, the seedy side of the Dominican Republic, Voodoo, murder, and mystery into one hell of a ride. At least that’s what reviewers say.

Review excerpt:

Overall I found Black Dawn to be a very exciting and fast-paced read. Blackwell perfectly merged fantasy, science, and religion so seamlessly that at times you couldn’t distinguish between them. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of fantasy and action. I loved the characters, Saul especially as he goes through a huge transformation. I love how Blackwell constructed several different unique storylines and merged them brilliantly by the end of the novel with many twists and turns that you never see coming.

And one more for good measure:

Blackwell serves up a supporting cast to enhance the narrative as well as time travel, mystery, and murder. The ending may be a forecast of our future.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Saul Climer is a down-on-his-luck alcoholic. Dwindling finances, the isolation of country living, a souring romance, and a lurid love affair with the bottle all drive him into a pit of depression and reckless abandon. As he’s dragged deeper into the black void of despair, he realizes his chilling nightmares are not only becoming more vivid, he’s actually dream-teleporting and witnessing brutal murders.

At the end of his rope mentally and physically, he learns he might be next on the killer’s list and, panic-stricken, submerges himself even deeper into a steady stream of alcohol.

Waging a war with internal and external demons, he discovers there’s more to his precarious precipice than meets the eye: Voodoo spells, calculating killers, and possibly a government cover-up.

Pitting human vulnerability against the courage it takes to risk life, limb, and heart, Black Dawn is a pulse-pounding journey that is both terrifying and uplifting.

And here’s the good news. For my loyal readers and followers, I’m launching an ebook pre-order of Black Dawn, slashing the price to $0.99 from now until the May 15th release date, after which it will increase to $3.99.

Order it now. Order it dirt cheap. Click below to get your deeply discounted copy of Black Dawn at your favorite digital bookstore:

GET BLACK DAWN NOW AT YOUR FAVORITE BOOKSTORE

Still on the fence? Okay. Read a few sample chapters (BUY link also at the bottom of this post) before you decide:

 

Black Dawn Prologue

In a celestial sphere of existence unimaginable to most mere mortals, the gatekeeper of the crossroads between the living and the dead sat cross-legged with his head bowed. Through the all-encompassing thick gray mist, the powerful Voodoo spirit couldn’t see them. But Kalfu knew they were there. A jury of his peers. There to judge him. To punish him. Maybe even banish him from the spirit world entirely. He cringed. Although he was master of the malevolent spirits of the night, there were others more powerful.

And they knew.

Kalfu allowed himself a slight raise of his head. It would be a severe breach of protocol to hold his head high during these proceedings. He was not there to be worshiped or revered. Through his peripheral vision he saw a small glowing white dot appear, perhaps fifty feet ahead. The dot grew to a full moon. Gray misty streaks swam across it, painting elongated eyes and a garish grin. Bondye, The Supreme Being, spoke: “You have transgressed your boundaries, boundaries that are paramount to keeping the natural order and peace on Earth. You have been meddling in the affairs of humans to such a degree that you threaten the very balance of this natural order. Our governance over the earthly world does not allow wanton pleasures of the flesh with humans for self-serving reasons. With your blatant lasciviousness and debauchery, you crossed the line. And for this you will be punished.”

Next to The Supreme Being, another small dot materialized and glowed ominously. It slowly formed a skull with empty black eye sockets and cotton batten stuffed into the nose cavity. A lit cigar dangled from the mouth, blue smoke twirling up, barely visible in the suffused gray light. The Baron Samedi, the spirit of resurrection and the dead, said, “Not only has Kalfu wantonly fornicated with humans, but he has also interfered with my role in the natural order, Your Highness. He has been telling me, according to his whims, who shall be resurrected and who shall not. It is not his decision to make.” The Baron glared at Kalfu directly. “Stay out of my affairs. There are others more qualified than you to judge. Nobody died and made you God around here.”

Head bowed, Kalfu remained silent.

A thunderous boom echoed through this otherworldly dimension of reality.

Bondye’s eyes met the Baron’s. “You watch your tongue in my presence,” he snapped. “Unless you too wish a severe reprimand.”

Kalfu tried but couldn’t contain it. A small smile pursed his lips. He wiped it away quickly with a flick of his serpent-like tongue.

“I beg your forgiveness, Your Highness,” the Baron said. “I’m sorry.”

Bondye’s eyes darkened and shrank to tiny slits. They drilled into Kalfu. “You dare smile at such a time? You mock these proceedings? Are they such a joke to you?”

His head still bowed, Kalfu said, “No, Your Highness. I beg your forgiveness.”

Another glowing white dot emerged and magically enlarged, transforming into a face not unlike The Virgin Mary. It was Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love. She eyeballed Kalfu scornfully. A lone tear snaked down her face. A white hand appeared and brushed it away. “You are not the council concerning love and lust on Earth,” she said. “I’ve seen multiple transgressions. The earthlings, in consultation with spirits like myself, make their own decisions in these matters. You are an intermediary between the spirits and humanity. You stand at the spiritual crossroads and merely grant or deny permission to speak with the spirits. But you have abused this power. You have made yourself judge, jury, and executioner.”

There was a brief silence before Bondye spoke. “We are not here to discuss specific details of Kalfu’s transgressions. He knows what they are, we know what they are. There is no question he is guilty. We are here to mete out punishment. And to decide on the severity of the punishment we need to know why Kalfu committed these intolerable breaches of spirit protocol. We need to know if he is repentant for his sins.”

Bondye stared daggers directly at Kalfu. “Can you atone for your sins? Are you remorseful? Are you capable of ever becoming a dutiful and law-abiding spirit? Why would you commit such sins?  Speak now, for this is your one and only chance at redemption.”

Kalfu raised his head. He knew there was no point in denying the accusations. This wasn’t a civil or criminal court where you were presumed innocent until proven guilty. This was a jury of his peers, far away from the boundaries and limitations and laws of Earth. He had already been found guilty. In the strange and mysterious world of Voodoo, his peers could see his transgressions, usually as they happened. They didn’t need proof.

He applied a properly repentant frown. “I want to apologize to Your Highness, Erzulie, and the Baron for my crimes and transgressions. I am deeply sorry and wish I could turn back the hands of time so those things would never have happened. I realize by straying from my duties I interfered with the duties of all of you. I overstepped my bounds in the spirit world. I know the severity of this and am deeply repentant and remorseful. As my excuse, I can only say Satan got inside my head and I was no longer conscious of my actions. But the Devil has been exorcized from my being and I am once again in full control of my faculties.”

“Are you absolutely sure about this?” Bondye said. “You won’t leap off the cliff of temptation again? Because if you do, you will plummet to a fate worse than death. Of that I can assure you.”

“No, Your Highness. I promise you, if it happens again, you can banish me from the spirit world forever.” Why the hell did I say that?

“What makes you think I won’t banish you indefinitely now?”

“I pray you won’t, Your Highness. Please don’t. I promise to stay the path of righteousness.” There, that sounds better.

There was a brief silence as Kalfu waited.

The gray mist turned black, pitch black, enveloping the rising sun. Black dawn, sentencing time. A time for punishment. A time for retribution.

The scene was familiar to Kalfu. He had witnessed this darkness before. It was not the first time he had been disciplined, nor would it be the last.

A thunderous boom clapped through the heavens and reverberated into silence. Finally, Bondye spoke. “I hereby strip you of all your spirit duties and sentence you to three years of pain and suffering in the underworld. One year for the affront to my unquestionable power and absolute divinity, and one year each for your affronts to Erzulie and the Baron. You claim the Devil made you do it? Well, you can cavort with his minions in a torturous existence until you atone for your sins…”

“But, Your Highness, that’s too—”

“Silence your lips, sinner,” Bondye snapped. “Would you rather I banished you to Hell for all eternity?”

“I’m sorry, Your Highness. Forgive me, please.”

“At the end of three years, you will come before the council. We will decide then if you’re worthy to resume your role as spirit of the crossroads between the living and the dead. In the meantime, I will appoint an interim gatekeeper. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Your Holiness.”

“This meeting is over. Disperse.”

Bondye’s image vanished in a flash, leaving only a faint shadow of his former presence, silhouetted against a black curtain. Then the Baron’s glowing white skull shrank to the size of a pin before vanishing entirely. With a popping sound, Erzulie also disappeared.

Spiraling down a dark tunnel into the bowels of Hell, Kalfu grinned. They don’t have a clue what’s coming. Not a fucking clue.

 

 

    Chapter One

Nothing, nothing, nothing. But no, that was something, Saul Climer thought as he turned his chainsaw off and set it down on the forest floor. He looked to where the noise had originated. A tree bluff close to the ocean. Some small bushes. He had heard a hollow rattling noise first, then a loud hissing sound, like a snake. He wiped sweat from his eyes, adjusted his black baseball cap, and stared at the chainsaw for answers. How could I hear anything over that?

Instead of moving toward the noise, he scanned the clearing for something else: his Alpine Lager can of beer, still half-full if memory served. He lumbered toward it, gingerly moving his right shoulder, sure that he had torn a rotator cuff during a fall in the forest a few days ago. Beer had gotten the better of him and his brush-clearing efforts had become haphazardly dangerous at best and downright reckless at worst. The following day he’d been hungover, and while examining his efforts at creating a usable clearing near the Atlantic Ocean on his Prince Edward Island acreage, he’d noticed a few downed trees outside of the orange spray paint of his proposed perimeter. By law on the Island, local authorities wanted to see about 50 feet of tree bluff separating clearing from water’s edge, a buffer against erosion and other environmental concerns.

He reached the beer, lifted the can, drained the contents, and looked back at the patch of bush where the disconcerting sound had originated. The bush was still. All was quiet, but for the chirping of birds, the odd skittering of a chipmunk, and a gentle breeze hissing through the trees. Familiar sounds. Forget it, you’re drinking too much. It’s the beer, nothing else. For the moment, he forgot the noise, approached his well-worn 1979 green Ford pickup truck, opened the cooler, cracked open another Alpine, and thirstily swilled a third of it. It was his seventh, but who was counting? Certainly not Saul. He belched loudly, chuckled at the resounding echo, and peered at the sea through a clearing. The sun had just set. The glassy smooth water reflected perfectly the brilliant cloud colors above. Pink-orange layers illuminated the bottom half and misty purple-gray layers blanketed the top portion of the sky.

Beautiful. But it means nothing with no social life. Deadbeat. Loser. Stop.

Saul set his Alpine on the hood of the pickup, rotated his aching shoulder—I should get that checked out—ahh, fuck it—and surveyed his progress. With the help of a hired hand, a man much more skilled than he with the chainsaw, he had measured a clearing, about 75 feet wide by about 150 feet deep, marked it with fluorescent orange paint, and cut all the trees inside the circle, allowing for the obligatory tree bluff separating clearing from ocean. The idea was to create a usable beachfront area, accessible via a winding road that he had cleared the previous year. He had to admit he was pleased with what he saw, aside from the drunken foray where he’d mistakenly breached the no-go zone. Half of the felled trees were neatly cut and stacked into an organized wall of wood at the back of the clearing. Smaller branches were positioned in the center of the clearing inside a makeshift fire pit that now smoldered due to inattention. He had maybe another thirty felled trees to cut up and stack, a few more slash burns to go (burning off the useless stuff) and then he’d be ready to call in the bulldozer to remove the stumps, pile them somewhere away from the clearing, and smooth out the red dirt, making it traversable by vehicle and on foot.

“Looking fucking good,” he said to no one. He took another swill of beer and staggered toward a plastic lawn chair positioned fireside. It was July 1st, Canada Day, and the weather was a pleasant 16 degrees Celsius. He set his beer on a large log coffee table, perhaps two feet in diameter. He’d fashioned it from an older long-dead Maple tree. He had three such coffee tables positioned around the fire and had even oil-stained the tops blue to prevent further rot and ruin.

He checked his watch: 8:44 pm. Good. Still time for some more cutting, and getting this blaze going good again. He gathered small branches and threw them into the fire, then located a five-gallon plastic container of gas and doused it. Flames leaped seven feet in the air with a whooshing sound.

Saul felt searing heat on his face and suddenly realized he was standing too close. Too late. He smelled something foul and familiar. Burning hair. His hair. “Shit-fucking shit,” he said, stepping back a little too quickly. He tripped on a small branch and face-planted into the dirt.

He uttered a muffled gasp and started rolling toward the blaze that was now burning full-tilt, threatening to engulf his drunken moving body. A few feet from the fire, dizzy and disoriented from the fall, he put his right hand firmly on the dirt and stopped. Hot pain shot up his arm from the injured shoulder.

“Fuck sakes, you idiot. Get out of here.” He started crawling away from the blaze as the wind picked up, showering his moving body with hot embers. He kept crawling on all fours, finally reaching a safe distance some thirty feet away. He stopped, rubbing the aching shoulder until something foul assaulted his nostrils. Burning hair. And burning clothes. He looked down. His steel-toed shoe was on fire. Flames licked up his right pant leg.

Screaming bloody murder, he pounded the shoe and pant leg flames out, and examined the damage. The shoe was charred black, but had not burned through to the foot—although part of his sock was burned in a ragged V-shape that clung to shriveled leg hairs. About six inches of the pant leg had burned away. Wincing, he examined the leg. It was red and swollen, singed and burnt. Beginning to blister.

He removed the shoe. Although his foot was hot, most of the sock was undamaged. He put the shoe on, tied what was left of the laces, and gingerly touched the injured leg. A patch of about eight inches continued to swell and redden.

Narrowing his eyes and balling his fists, he stood up, staring at the fire. “You can’t beat me, you fucking thing. You can’t, so get used to it.”

He tested the foot and leg. They worked just fine, although the burned calf smarted like a hundred hornet stings. He gathered up a few bigger logs and tossed them in the fire, keeping a respectful distance from it. He quaffed his seventh beer, opened the cooler, and cracked Alpine number eight. He took a long pull, then raised it up. “Happy fucking Canada Day, motherfuckers.”

He had no idea who he was talking to. Himself? Maybe forest critters? Maybe the seals that occasionally swam in the little bay bordering the waterfront? Maybe the trees? But who the words were meant for didn’t matter to Saul right now. He focused bleary-eyed on the flickering orange flames, licking higher as the gentle breeze transformed into a more formidable wind. He decided that the chainsaw work, at least for tonight, was done. He had just about toasted himself extra crispy in the bonfire, and wasn’t about to tempt fate by cutting timber that was slowly turning black with the blanket of nightfall. He absently rubbed his right eyebrow, simultaneously realizing two things: the eyebrow was almost singed bare, and there was a small cut above what remained of it—a result of the face-plant onto God’s red Earth.

He wiped wetness away from his eyebrow and examined his hand. A little blood. Must not be that deep. Who fucking cares.

Canada Day, the country’s birthday, he thought. Over a hundred and fifty years old. A lot to celebrate for some people, but not me. Since returning from the Dominican Republic two months earlier, Saul couldn’t help but compare the island of Hispaniola to Prince Edward Island. Too many laws here. Not enough there. But where would you have more fun? Not here, certainly not. Go to practically any Canadian beach and read the signs—Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?—No dogs allowed, no open fires, no alcoholic beverages, no vehicles of any kind, no lifeguard on duty, no inflatable objects permitted in the water, no barbecues, no camping, open during these hours, closed during these hours.

“Why the fuck don’t they add no swimming allowed, laughing and having fun prohibited, and all people prohibited on the beach? What about no walking or talking?” Saul said. Some Canadian laws and bylaws were completely nonsensical. He had been to many public parks across the country where NO SMOKING signs adorned the greenery. The city council in Calgary, in its infinite wisdom, had passed a bylaw declaring that all cats must be on leashes. What? And smoking in bars was restricted on outdoor patios, but permitted in tiny, specially designed rooms inside the establishments. What the hell was that? City bylaw officers towed vehicles on private residential driveways in certain municipal districts because of invalid license plates. Goddammit, it was private property.

That was just the beginning, but Saul didn’t want to think about it anymore. Too damned depressing. Since returning from his Dominican adventures, he’d been unable to curtail his alcohol abuse. In Costambar, where he’d stayed, alcohol was just part of the culture, particularly among expats. What do you do when you’re at a beach bar, enjoying a nice breeze and the gentle lapping of ocean waves, not to mention the varied and entertaining mix of foreigners and locals alike? Drink water? Yeah, right.

So Saul had stayed with the booze, something that was now part of his everyday existence. And he had rationalized it in just about every way possible. I’m just easing myself back into Canadian culture. A drink a day keeps the doctor away. I need it to get over the culture shock. I can stop anytime I want. I don’t need a drink. I want a drink. Alcohol makes the world go around. Society can’t function without a few good drunks.

After some time, the rationalization stopped, but the drinking continued as it had in the DR. There, it was eat breakfast, hit the beach, and start drinking. Carry on, with a tour of no less than ten and no more than twelve bars, until maybe three or four in the morning. The next day, if you weren’t too hungover, you started all over again. Why the fuck not? What else was there to do there?

But what else is there to do here? At 59, Saul was dead broke. He had blown what little savings he had in the DR—the savings were left over from his job as a public relations officer for a large oil company, a position he’d held for five years before being laid off due to an economic downturn. He’d left the company two years earlier and relocated to Prince Edward Island, intent on becoming a great Canadian bestselling author. After spending fifty thousand dollars on renovations and taking two tours of drunken debauchery in the DR, he went to work on The Final Hour, a post-apocalyptic tale about savages surviving in a wasteland created by humankind’s stupidity. Four months later, he’d completed an 80,000-word, full-length novel. But, while doing edits and rewrites, he’d grown to hate the manuscript. He thought its best use would be either as ass wipe or kindling for a bonfire. Focusing on the latter and more sanitary option, one drunken night, he actually tossed the manuscript into a raging blaze. The paperclip-bound pages landed on the edge of the fire, and just then a freak thunderstorm erupted. Looking at it as some kind of divine intervention of fate, he’d collected the manuscript, threw it in a file box, and tucked it up in the attic. Out of sight, out of mind.

Maybe The Final Hour wasn’t the problem. Maybe it was the money. Financial stress, the root of all evil. While writing, his cash reserves had dwindled. First he was in the black. Then he was in the red. And as the colors changed, so did his moods. He kept second-guessing his talents, believing he never had any in the first place. And how can you pretend to write a book if you can’t even support yourself?

Then he hit rock-bottom.

The money going out had far exceeded the money coming in. He refinanced his only material asset, the Prince Edward Island home, into a $120,000 line of credit, which now sat at $19,000 remaining. He was living on credit. This road would eventually dead-end. He’d crash into a concrete wall, or maybe crash and burn in the bonfire one night, whichever came first.

So he had a plan, however weak-minded it might be. He wanted to finish the beachfront clearing and slap a FOR SALE sign up. He had to try and bail himself out of his debt-ridden, alcoholic existence. He might scratch together fifty thousand dollars after legal fees, which would go toward a new-and-improved life in the DR. The beachfront clearing and beach access were key to getting a good buck for the property. Typically waterfront property rose at ten times the rate of rural real estate sans waterfront.

He sat silently, watching the fire, and felt the pain, emotional and physical. He felt dizzy and disoriented from the face-plant and his self-diagnosed torn rotator cuff ached. The arm felt weak and he had even lost partial sensation in his two middle fingertips. Gotta be a torn rotator cuff. Gotta be. His calf stung from the bonfire barbecue and now even a rear upper molar was starting to smart. A Dominican dentist had done a root canal on it and fashioned a crown. The fucker must have missed a canal, he thought, gliding his tongue over a spongy, sensitive, probably infected gum.

Saul finished his beer, crushed the empty, and tossed it next to a log pile. He staggered to the cooler and grabbed another one. Alpine number nine. He cracked it open and took a deep pull, reflecting on the tooth. I better get that looked at. He had read somewhere that if left unchecked, gum infections could actually spread straight to the brain and kill a person—though documented cases of tooth infection death were pretty rare.

Lost in reflection, Saul sat still for a while, contemplating all the ways he might die. The sky grew black as the moon rose over the horizon, the stars twinkled, and the coyotes began to howl off in the distance. But Saul was oblivious, as his thoughts now turned to his emotional pain. It was all because of her, he thought. Wasn’t love the root cause of all emotional pain?

After the usual tours of drunkenness and debauchery in the DR, he’d met twenty-nine-year-old Joella Rosario in a supermarket cafeteria. Although Joella had a basic command of English, Saul had a very good grasp of Spanish. Generally, they communicated in Spanish and the language barrier was practically non-existent. And in the beginning, it appeared there would be no barriers at all.

Joella was different than all the others. Timid, sensitive, quiet, honest, with a good sense of humor, and he believed she actually loved him. Her body was perfectly proportioned, Saul thought. Small, perky breasts and the most beautiful little ass he had ever laid eyes on—not to mention her long, slender legs. She had blemish-free mulatto skin, small facial features, a bright, infectious smile, and nice white teeth. And that she had three kids didn’t bother Saul either, though he was childless.

She’d been a breath of fresh air. Being with her, every day had gotten better and better, with no arguments worthy of even mentioning. It had taken him four months, but he’d found the proverbial needle in the haystack, one of a small percentage of the women in the Puerto Plata area who wasn’t a predator, didn’t have a money agenda, and didn’t have five foreigners simultaneously sending her money via Western Union. He had found the single most important thing in life, the thing that eluded so many. He had found true love. He should have been happy.

But no.

Like many things before the Joella relationship, he had fucked it up. Not royally, perhaps not irreparably, but fucked it up nonetheless. During their three-month intensely passionate and happy union, he’d lied to her, saying he was a prolific and commercially successful novelist, and was always working on a project or two. They talked about the future and how one day they could live together (the kid issue had not been factored into this equation) in near-perfect bliss and harmony, totally and happily in love. In the DR, of course.

He had left on a good note. But when he returned to PEI, the lies started pounding him like so many headshots from a mixed martial arts fighter. He felt guilty. Soon the guilt festered and infected his mind. What had started off as daily phone conversations slowed to once a week, once a month, and then nothing at all. The river of love ran dry, at least on his tributary. Her texts and calls went unanswered. And she, like any rational person, began to lose interest.

Her last text: I know you don’t love me anymore, if you ever did, because you won’t even return my calls. I hope you enjoy your life and I’m sorry if I caused you any grief.

That had been two weeks ago, and Saul couldn’t even bring himself to respond. The phone had grown silent, at least as it concerned Joella communication. How could he face her after so many lies? He had told her initially he would be returning to the DR after two months, the amount of time it would take him to write another bestseller, take care of some unrelated business matters, and then it would be bye-bye Canada. Forever. But now it was two months and maybe a week, and aside from his physical injuries, increasing daily, he had leapt into a black alcoholic abyss of self-pity, depression, even self-loathing.

Wallowing in this emotional black hole, Saul retreated into the comfort of his imagination. At least he had that. He closed his eyes and began to drift off. He called up an image of Joella. She materialized, nude apart from a pink G-string, dancing around his bed in his DR apartment. Saul lay on the bed, grinning, knowing, waiting. The lighting was subtle and romantic. Gray with spears of yellow. The air conditioning hummed. The bedside candles flickered.

Bob Marley sang, I wanna love you and treat you right; I wanna love you every day and every night; We’ll be together with a roof right over our heads; We’ll share the shelter of my single bed.

Joella gyrated, raising her arms in the air, snapping her fingers, her perky breasts bouncing in flawless harmony with the beat, shaking her impeccable derriere rhythmically like only Dominican women could do. Saul was becoming more aroused by the second. It was the best day of his life, bar none.

He dozed off and the mental image transformed into a bizarre dream. Joella was dancing, inching closer to the bed, then retreating at the last second, just out of reach. Saul was pleading: “Come here…I wanna love ya.” This went on for a few minutes before the landscape changed. Joella vanished and another woman appeared—a Russian seductress, clad in black dominatrix boots, panties, and a matching black vinyl bra that barely concealed voluptuous breasts. She held a whip and flicked it teasingly at Saul as he lay…Where? The same bed, the same apartment? The dream fast-forwarded and transformed into a love affair montage. He and the dominatrix were doing things together: taking walks in the park, having wild sex, whispering sweet nothings to each other, the whole gamut. Then a giant gloved military hand appeared, snatching them away, taking them into protective custody. A steely-eyed general announced the end of the world, but promised to deliver them to salvation. They were on a large ship in a swelling sea. It overturned and left Saul and the nameless Russian woman floating helplessly in the ocean, clinging to a flotation device. Small, smiling children on canoes appeared and started shooting arrows at them. They were somehow rescued again and suddenly on the streets of a large city. Massive explosions penetrated the sky and a brilliant fireworks display began destroying multiple buildings, a vividly spectacular display of death and destruction.

It was the heat from the explosions that Saul first became cognizant of. It started at his leg, then raced up and flashed through his entire body and into his head, causing multiple, intense hot flashes. He opened his eyes and saw red. He felt intense, searing heat, and smelled the sweet smell of burning flesh. His flesh.

He screamed in agony. And as he pounded out the flames licking up his body, a lone thought entered his troubled mind: Maybe it’s a good day to die.

 

End of sample chapters. Having a good time yet? I thought so.

Pre-order Black Dawn now at your favorite bookstore:

GET BLACK DAWN NOW AT YOUR FAVORITE BOOKSTORE

Thanks so much for your support.

New Release Black Dawn Coming Soon

Over a year in the making, new release Black Dawn is coming soon. Weaving together extensive research on teleportation, Voodoo, and the dark underbelly of the Dominican Republic, the ebook will be available for pre-order April 10th for a mere ninety-nine pennies. Black Dawn will be officially released May 15th, at which time the ebook will be priced at $3.99.

Stay tuned for future blog posts, which will contain pre-order links to your favorite digital bookstore. Order it early. Order it cheap.

Without any further preamble, read what reviewers are saying:

Overall I found Black Dawn to be a very exciting and fast-paced read. Blackwell perfectly merged fantasy, science, and religion so seamlessly that at times you couldn’t distinguish between them. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of fantasy and action. I loved the characters, Saul especially as he goes through a huge transformation. I love how Blackwell constructed several different unique story lines and merged them brilliantly by the end of the novel with many twists and turns that you never see coming.

And one more for good measure:

Blackwell serves up a supporting cast to enhance the narrative as well as time travel, mystery, and murder. The ending may be a forecast of our future.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Saul Climer is a down-on-his-luck alcoholic. Dwindling finances, the isolation of country living, a souring romance, and a lurid love affair with the bottle all drive him into a pit of depression and reckless abandon. As he’s dragged deeper into the black void of despair, he realizes his chilling nightmares are not only becoming more vivid, he’s actually dream-teleporting and witnessing brutal murders.

At the end of his rope mentally and physically, he learns he might be next on the killer’s list and, panic-stricken, submerges himself even deeper into a steady stream of alcohol.

Waging a war with internal and external demons, he discovers there’s more to his precarious precipice than meets the eye: Voodoo spells, calculating killers, and possibly a government cover-up.

Pitting human vulnerability against the courage it takes to risk life, limb, and heart, Black Dawn is a pulse-pounding journey that is both terrifying and uplifting.

For your reading pleasure, here’s the prologue:

 

Black Dawn Prologue

In a celestial sphere of existence unimaginable to most mere mortals, the gatekeeper of the crossroads between the living and the dead sat cross-legged with his head bowed. Through the all-encompassing thick gray mist, the powerful Voodoo spirit couldn’t see them. But Kalfu knew they were there. A jury of his peers. There to judge him. To punish him. Maybe even banish him from the spirit world entirely. He cringed. Although he was master of the malevolent spirits of the night, there were others more powerful.

And they knew.

Kalfu allowed himself a slight raise of his head. It would be a severe breach of protocol to hold his head high during these proceedings. He was not there to be worshipped or revered. Through his peripheral vision he saw a small glowing white dot appear, perhaps fifty feet ahead. The dot grew to a full moon. Gray misty streaks swam across it, painting elongated eyes and a garish grin. Bondye, The Supreme Being, spoke: “You have transgressed your boundaries, boundaries that are paramount to keeping the natural order and peace on Earth. You have been meddling in the affairs of humans to such a degree that you threaten the very balance of this natural order. Our governance over the earthly world does not allow wanton pleasures of the flesh with humans for self-serving reasons. With your blatant lasciviousness and debauchery, you crossed the line. And for this you will be punished.”

Next to The Supreme Being, another small dot materialized and glowed ominously. It slowly formed a skull with empty black eye sockets and cotton batten stuffed into the nose cavity. A lit cigar dangled from the mouth, blue smoke twirling up, barely visible in the suffused gray light. The Baron Samedi, the spirit of resurrection and the dead, said, “Not only has Kalfu wantonly fornicated with humans, but he has also interfered with my role in the natural order, Your Highness. He has been telling me, according to his whims, who shall be resurrected and who shall not. It is not his decision to make.” The Baron glared at Kalfu directly. “Stay out of my affairs. There are others more qualified than you to judge. Nobody died and made you God around here.”

Head bowed, Kalfu remained silent.

A thunderous boom echoed through this otherworldly dimension of reality.

Bondye’s eyes met the Baron’s. “You watch your tongue in my presence,” he snapped. “Unless you too wish a severe reprimand.”

Kalfu tried but couldn’t contain it. A small smile pursed his lips. He wiped it away quickly with a flick of his serpent-like tongue.

“I beg your forgiveness, Your Highness,” the Baron said. “I’m sorry.”

Bondye’s eyes darkened and shrank to tiny slits. They drilled into Kalfu. “You dare smile at such a time? You mock these proceedings? Are they such a joke to you?”

His head still bowed, Kalfu said, “No, Your Highness. I beg your forgiveness.”

Another glowing white dot emerged and magically enlarged, transforming into a face not unlike The Virgin Mary. It was Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love. She eyeballed Kalfu scornfully. A lone tear snaked down her face. A white hand appeared and brushed it away. “You are not the council concerning love and lust on Earth,” she said. “I’ve seen multiple transgressions. The earthlings, in consultation with spirits like myself, make their own decisions in these matters. You are an intermediary between the spirits and humanity. You stand at the spiritual crossroads and merely grant or deny permission to speak with the spirits. But you have abused this power. You have made yourself judge, jury, and executioner.”

There was a brief silence before Bondye spoke. “We are not here to discuss specific details of Kalfu’s transgressions. He knows what they are, we know what they are. There is no question he is guilty. We are here to mete out punishment. And to decide on the severity of the punishment we need to know why Kalfu committed these intolerable breaches of spirit protocol. We need to know if he is repentant for his sins.”

Bondye stared daggers directly at Kalfu. “Can you atone for your sins? Are you remorseful? Are you capable of ever becoming a dutiful and law-abiding spirit? Why would you commit such sins?  Speak now, for this is your one and only chance at redemption.”

Kalfu raised his head. He knew there was no point in denying the accusations. This wasn’t a civil or criminal court where you were presumed innocent until proven guilty. This was a jury of his peers, far away from the boundaries and limitations and laws of Earth. He had already been found guilty. In the strange and mysterious world of Voodoo, his peers could see his transgressions, usually as they happened. They didn’t need proof.

He applied a properly repentant frown. “I want to apologize to Your Highness, Erzulie, and the Baron for my crimes and transgressions. I am deeply sorry and wish I could turn back the hands of time so those things would never have happened. I realize by straying from my duties I interfered with the duties of all of you. I overstepped my bounds in the spirit world. I know the severity of this and am deeply repentant and remorseful. As my excuse, I can only say Satan got inside my head and I was no longer conscious of my actions. But the Devil has been exorcized from my being and I am once again in full control of my faculties.”

“Are you absolutely sure about this?” Bondye said. “You won’t leap off the cliff of temptation again? Because if you do, you will plummet to a fate worse than death. Of that I can assure you.”

“No, Your Highness. I promise you, if it happens again, you can banish me from the spirit world forever.” Why the hell did I say that?

“What makes you think I won’t banish you indefinitely now?”

“I pray you won’t, Your Highness. Please don’t. I promise to stay the path of righteousness.” There, that sounds better.

There was a brief silence as Kalfu waited.

The gray mist turned black, pitch black, enveloping the rising sun. Black dawn, sentencing time. A time for punishment. A time for retribution.

The scene was familiar to Kalfu. He had witnessed this darkness before. It was not the first time he had been disciplined, nor would it be the last.

A thunderous boom clapped through the heavens and reverberated into silence. Finally, Bondye spoke. “I hereby strip you of all your spirit duties and sentence you to three years of pain and suffering in the underworld. One year for the affront to my unquestionable power and absolute divinity, and one year each for your affronts to Erzulie and the Baron. You claim the Devil made you do it? Well, you can cavort with his minions in a torturous existence until you atone for your sins…”

“But, Your Highness, that’s too—”

“Silence your lips, sinner,” Bondye snapped. “Would you rather I banished you to Hell for all eternity?”

“I’m sorry, Your Highness. Forgive me, please.”

“At the end of three years, you will come before the council. We will decide then if you’re worthy to resume your role as spirit of the crossroads between the living and the dead. In the meantime, I will appoint an interim gatekeeper. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Your Holiness.”

“This meeting is over. Disperse.”

Bondye’s image vanished in a flash, leaving only a faint shadow of his former presence, silhouetted against a black curtain. Then the Baron’s glowing white skull shrank to the size of a pin before vanishing entirely. With a popping sound, Erzulie also disappeared.

Spiraling down a dark tunnel into the bowels of Hell, Kalfu grinned. They don’t have a clue what’s coming. Not a fucking clue.

GET IT AT YOUR FAVORITE BOOKSTORE NOW

 

The Dark Menace progress

I’ve destroyed the writer’s block demon and am moving forward with substantive revisions on The Dark Menace. It didn’t hurt that I took three days off over the weekend and had the opportunity to clear my mind by spending time on my awe-inspiring beachfront property. The beautiful scenery never ceases to invoke a sense of peace and inspiration.

I think it also helped that I had a terrible nightmare the other night in which, armed with a chainsaw, I found myself attacking and indeed slicing and dicing demons with it. It was deeply disturbing but I believe the nightmare acted as a cleansing mechanism of sorts, my mind’s way of taking out the trash.

In any event, here’s a synopsis and a sample of The Dark Menace:

Noah Janzen is plagued by nightmares and numerous sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Shadow People and the Hat Man.

Determined to prevent his nocturnal demons from interfering with his successful career and newly formed relationship with Angela Rosewood, he meets her in a local pub. But when he sees a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat eerily watching him through a window, he freaks out and flees.

He soon learns that a hat-wearing psycho has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela suspects Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.

Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of physicist and sleep specialist, Doctor Neil Samuelson. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic doctor informs Noah that an old woman has been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.

As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man escalate, Noah suspects Neil has accidentally opened up a portal from another dimension, unleashing a torrent of  ghostly evil entities, hell-bent on terrorizing and destroying humanity.

He’s thrust into an epic battle to preserve his relationship and sanity and find answers to a strange and mysterious real-life phenomenon that has haunted and terrorized thousands of people around the world for centuries.

PROLOGUE

The muffled scream echoing eerily from the hallway leading to Noah’s bedroom didn’t alarm Barbara Janzen enough to stir her from her couch-potato, channel-surfing position. She reached into the glass bowl cradled on her lap and shoveled a mouthful of potato chips into her mouth, unaware of a few chips that slid down her gray sweatshirt, one lodging in the crotch of her sweatpants, a few others spilling onto the sofa. She grabbed the remote, adjusted her bulk, and turned up the volume. The crotch-pinned chip crunched into powder. Oblivious, she flicked the channel quickly six times and finally stopped at Bride of the Monster, a 1955 B-grade cult horror film. She leaned back and grinned, exposing crooked, decaying and nicotine-stained teeth.

“Mooommmmy… heeeeeelp me!”

She craned her neck, scanning the dimly lit hallway. The shrieking cry for help echoed off the walls and then the house grew quiet and still. She frowned slightly. Damn kid, she thought. Always having nightmares about monsters. There are no monsters. Only on TV. Raising the volume a second time, she refocused on Bela Lugosi’s cult classic, a movie she thought would take her away from the bleakness and despair of her own existence.

Five minutes later, she was lost in the movie.

The front door swung open so violently it crashed into the wall, rattling a window and knocking a cactus plant onto the floor, shattering the clay pot and spilling dirt on the beaten carpet. The cactus miraculously stood upright, a prickly phallus defying all odds. A long-haired motley-looking man dressed in torn denim stepped inside and grinned.

“You drunken idiot,” Barbara said, her eyes narrowing. “You scared the shit out of me. Look what you’ve done. What the hell’s wrong with you?”

Through glazed eyes, the man gazed at the TV, then at Barbara. He took a long swill from his Molson Canadian beer can, chucked the empty outside and slammed the door. “Honey, I’m home.”

Barbara paused her movie and put the glass bowl on the coffee table, along with the remote. She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. Her first instinct was to erupt like a volcano and she struggled to control the rising flow of lava. It wouldn’t do any good to argue with Garrett now. Not in his current condition. He could be extremely confrontational when he was drunk. And not just verbal abuse; a few times he’d come close to striking her. Besides, he’d just called her ‘honey,’ a word he rarely used when speaking to her, even though the term of endearment was alcohol-induced.

She rose and approached him quickly, helping him off with his jean jacket and leading him over to a tattered La-Z-Boy chair. She plopped him into it.

He melted into the chair, slouched his head to one side, and focused on the screen vacantly. “You watching that crap again?”

Not wanting to rouse his ire, she ignored the comment, grabbed a dustpan and broom from a nearby closet and kneeled down to the mess he’d made. She swept up shattered remains of the clay pot, deposited them into a kitchen garbage can, and returned with an empty glass and a dish cloth. She swept some soil into the glass and, using the dish cloth as an improvised glove, carefully picked up the cactus plant and inserted it into the dirt inside. In the kitchen, she added a little water to it and placed it on a kitchen window sill, out of the way of future intoxicated paths of destruction, she hoped.

She cleaned the carpet as best she could and stood up to evaluate her effort. It would need a vacuum to get everything, she knew. But the vacuum was broken, and had been for more than a week. She sighed heavily, returned to the couch and plunked herself down.

She looked at Garrett. His head lolled slowly to and fro, eyes opening and closing.

“I should get you to bed,” she said. “You’re wasted.”

His eyes opened. “Barney’s got a new hottie. Sweet little thing she is…”

“Barney’s always getting new girlfriends,” she said. “He wears them out faster than you do a pair of socks.”

She searched his bloodshot eyes for a response, but they were closed now. She watched Garrett for a minute or two as spittle began dripping from his open mouth. He emitted a loud nasally snore, the first of many to come. She debated trying to help him to bed, but quickly changed her mind. No sense waking the fool now. Let him sleep it off in his favorite chair.

She resumed watching Bride of the Monster with a sigh, thankful that she hadn’t married this loser. He couldn’t hold down a steady job, drank like a fish, and relied on government hand-outs to survive. And his demeanor and disposition were far from that of a model citizen. But, just like all the others, he’d probably be gone in a month or two.

Five minutes or so into the movie, even over Garrett’s snoring and the blaring TV, Barbara heard a loud crash, followed by another ear-piercing scream. This time she did react, standing up so fast, she tilted her chip bowl, spilling its crunchy contents all over the sofa and carpet.

Garrett stirred, inhaled a nasally snore and muttered something incomprehensible—the beginning of his night-time symphonic somniloquy.

At the far end of the hall, the bedroom door burst open and Noah sprang out, crashing head-first into the wall and falling on the floor. Although she didn’t rush, Barbara walked purposefully down the hall, stopped in front of her son, and knelt down. His long brown hair was sweat-matted to his head. A small cut above his left eye leaked blood down his face. His mouth was open in a large O of shock and his green eyes were wide open, fixated on the ceiling and frozen. Holding his arms stiffly at his sides, he appeared to be in a state of catatonia. She grabbed his shoulders and shook him.

He blinked, opened his eyes, and looked at his mother. “The Hat Man,” Noah said, the color draining from his face. “Help me, Mommy, help me… he tried to kill me.”

The Hat Man Returns

My research has taken me into the fascinating world of lucid dreaming and sleep disorders. I’ve delved into nightmares, night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleep talking, sleep walking, even sexsomnia—a condition in which a person actually has sex in their sleep and wakes up with no recollection of it.

I‘ve uncovered some shocking and terrifying stuff.

Take, for example, the case of a Vancouver man who, after passing out at a party, was charged with sexual assault. He was later acquitted after the defense proved that he was a sexsomniac and therefore not responsible for his actions.

Then there’s the infamous case of the Toronto man Kenneth Parks, who was charged with murder after police discovered his mother-in-law bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her home. There was no question Parks had committed the murder. But was he cognizant and therefore responsible for his actions? The defense was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Parks was sleep walking at the time. The result. Acquittal. Not guilty, by reason of sleep walking.

These true stories are frightening in their own right. But it was during my research on sleep paralysis that another, perhaps even more disturbing phenomenon, emerged. Sleep paralysis is a condition that occurs during that transitional stage between waking and falling asleep whereby a person becomes completely immobilized. During these episodes, people may hear, feel, or see things that are absolutely terrifying and panic-inducing. They might be awake and aware of their surroundings, but otherwise completely frozen, leaving many to wonder if they’re actually dying, or even traveling out of their bodies. Some have reported soaring through visually stunning colors and passing through a time warp and into another dimension.

During sleep paralysis, some people see the mysterious Hat Man, a darkly cloaked shadow man with a wide-brimmed hat. Widely documented, some believe he is a powerful evil force who actually exists in another dimension.

Seeds of The Dark Menace, the working title for my work in progress, began to grow. “What is this Hat Man?” I asked myself. “Is he a sleep-paralysis induced figment of one’s imagination? Or is he real?”

Theories abound on the existence and agenda of the Hat Man. Many people report seeing him in their waking lives. Some claim he’s a guardian angel of sorts while others are convinced he’s the devil come to harvest their souls. He has been connected to alien abduction, preying on fear, and striking you when your defenses are low and you are down and out. Some claim he’s trashed their houses and tried to strangle them to death in the middle of the night.

According to Heidi Hollis, author of The Hat Man, The True Story of Evil Encounters, the Hat Man is not only real, but he is the devil.

She writes, “Victims worldwide have reported seeing this man peering into their homes, their bedrooms, their baby cribs, their cars and even—their souls.”

Some have been able to defeat him by calling out the name of Jesus, or having their homes blessed, while others simply just beat the crap out of him. Some simply order him out of their homes.

So what is he? A guardian angel, a figment of the imagination, or a powerful evil force?

That’s exactly what Noah Janzen, the troubled lead protagonist in The Dark Menace, my work in progress, intends to find out. Noah is plagued by a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes horrific images of the feared Hat Man. To his horror, he learns he also suffers from night terrors, sleep walking, sleep talking and even the dangerous and little-known condition called sexsomnia.

One morning he wakes up in his pickup truck in the middle of a grassy meadow with no idea of how he got there and no memory of the night before. It isn’t long before he learns two sexual assault charges have been filed against him and one of his enemies has been found brutally murdered. As the noose tightens around him, his life begins to unravel. He’s thrust into a battle to prove his innocence, preserve his precarious relationship with his girlfriend, and confront The Dark Menace he believes is responsible for all the carnage—the soul-harvesting, evil Hat Man.

While everyone around him thinks he’s plunged off the precipice of sanity, Noah believes the Hat Man is not only real, but actually exists in a dangerous and deadly other dimension—one the Hat Man affectionately calls “the dead zone.”

The Dark Menace, a fact-based “fun thriller,” will be released sometime this summer or early fall. I’m excited about its possibilities. Due to the creative process, plot elements are subject to change. Here’s a tantalizing teaser for your reading pleasure:

The muffled scream echoing eerily from the hallway leading to Noah’s bedroom wasn’t enough to stir Barbara Jansen from her couch-potato, channel-surfing position. With one hand, she reached into the glass bowl cradled on her lap and shoveled a mouthful of potato chips into her mouth, unaware of a few chips that spilled down her gray sweatshirt, one lodging in the crotch of her sweat pants, a few others spilling onto the couch. She grabbed the remote, adjusted her bulk, and turned up the volume. The crotch-trapped chip crunched into powder. Oblivious, she flicked the channel quickly six or seven times and finally stopped at Bride of the Monster, a 1955 B-grade cult horror film. She leaned back and grinned, exposing crooked, decaying and nicotine-stained teeth.

“Mooommmmy… heeeeeelp me!”

Have you seen the Hat Man? If so, drop me a line. Good or bad, I’d love to read about your experiences.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you in the tenth dimension. Don’t worry. It’ll be a riot.

 

Moonshine Madness

I’m fortunate enough to be in the peacefulness of the country on Prince Edward Island. I live in a 130-year-old-home on forty-five acres that includes a beautiful forest, almost 1300 feet of oceanfront, and a spectacular beach. The area is rich in history, ghost, pirate, and moonshine folklore. Needless to say, my surroundings and the abundant legendary tales have inspired many horror novels.

After I moved in about five years ago, it didn’t take me long to discover that my home was home to one of the biggest moonshine manufacturing and distribution facilities on the Island. I found old ornate bottles, copper tubing and other evidence of moonshine stills; even full bottles of the home-made hooch hidden deep in the forest.

Prohibition on PEI, a temporary wartime measure, was enacted from 1918 to 1920, but alcohol was actually illegal here from 1901 to 1948. During Prohibition, John, the now-deceased previous owner of my home, manufactured and sold moonshine—not only throughout PEI, but also transported it to the United States via the waterways.

As I got to know the neighbors, I heard many stories about John. Although everyone knew moonshine was one of his biggest tickets, and word had it he frequently indulged in drink, nobody had a bad word to say about him. “He would give you the shirt off his back,” one local said. “He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met,” said another. “He endangered his own life pulling my father out of a ditch during a nasty snowstorm.”

Soon I got to know Bob, John’s affable son-in-law, who had married John’s daughter and lived in the old house for a number of years before the young couple could become financially independent. Bob would drop by periodically out of the blue (it’s what they do here), and entertain me with colorful stories of his past. On a hot sunny day we sat on the back porch swilling moonshine. Fascinated by Bob’s stories, I listened with rapt attention.

One day, he said, he was returning home from a moonshine delivery (John was generous enough to incorporate Bob into the family business) and was having trouble staying on the road. Entertaining clients, he had sampled more than his fair share of the fine and potent hooch. Finally, he did manage to find his driveway, but had a little trouble navigating the entry to the double-car detached garage. He crashed the truck through the wall of the garage, partially destroying it.

“I managed to get myself out of the garage, uninjured, and get up to bed,” Bob said. “But I left the damaged truck embedded in the garage.”

And waking the next morning with a hangover fit for a moonshine delivery driver, Bob was sure he would get a well-deserved tongue-lashing from John.

“But do you know, John never mentioned a word to me about it,” he said, between sips. “Not a word. He wasn’t even angry, or at least if he was he never let on.”

Bob’s demeanor grew serious as he relayed another story, one that would send a cold chill up my spine. He and John had made arrangements with another party for a moonshine delivery. They meticulously packed and transported the order to the waterfront, about three-quarters of a mile from the house, where they were to meet the moonshine buyers in a boat. Something went wrong that resulted in the two parties exchanging gunfire.

“It got a little ugly,” Bob said, his creased complexion whitening. “That’s all I can tell you.”

I was silent for a long minute, wondering: People were shooting at one another? That means someone could have gotten killed. If someone was murdered, where were they buried? Who’s buried in the back-forty? My back-forty.

With an unsteady hand, I drained my shot of moonshine and stood up, telling myself repeatedly that discretion is the better part of valor. Did I really want to know? “What a beautiful day,” I said. “Let’s have another drink and talk about your lovely wife, Betty.”

Handing me his empty glass, Bob’s face brightened. “Such a lovely woman,” he said. “God rest her soul.”

Ginger Nuts of Horror interviews yours truly

Ginger Nuts of Horror is the United Kingdom’s largest independent website dedicated to the world of horror. It’s loaded with reviews, features, news and interviews, all horror-related. Recently, they decided to interview yours truly, since horror is my main genre, and I do have a UK following. Enjoy.

Q: Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

A: Sure. Encouraged by some friends, I started writing novels about six years ago. Before that I worked for over fifteen years as a real estate agent in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Prior to that I held many jobs, but my passion has always been writing. I worked as a journalist for a couple of rural Alberta weekly newspapers and was always writing creative blurbs on scraps of paper in my spare time. Much of these story ideas were inspired by my nightmares, which I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A: I live on 45 acres of oceanfront property in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Weather permitting, I love to enjoy the outdoors and can often be found grooming my numerous sites with my trusty chainsaw, Mister Stihl. I love nature and my backyard is a giant outdoor playground. When I’m not writing, I also enjoy reading, online book promotion (maybe I don’t really enjoy it, but I have to do it), horror movie, documentary and news watching, and socializing with my friends in an attempt to solve all the world’s problems. We usually do, by the way.

Q: Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

A: I’m influenced constantly by everyday events, people, places and things. Often while I’m writing a novel, I find ways to incorporate news of the day into my story line and this often adds a dramatic twist to the novel and takes it in an unexpected and exciting direction.

Q: The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?

A:  The horror genre is intended to scare, disgust, or startle readers.  Many horror readers just love to be frightened and it has almost a cult-like following. But horror often crosses into other genres such as thriller, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fiction, suspense, murder mystery, etc. I would like to see the definition of horror broaden to not only scare the hell out of readers, but also be a medium to entertain, educate and influence. Although my novels contain many macabre and grisly scenes, and I try my damnedest to shock and frighten my readers, I also try to impart a positive message somewhere in a book, a golden nugget of my moral code; something readers may take away that may help them on the pothole-laden path of life. My road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

Q: A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

A: To say the least, we now live in dangerous and uncertain times. In the next few years, I think you’ll see more horror writers reflecting that in their work. From a horror writer’s standpoint, we now have more real-life material than ever to draw from.

Q: What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?

A: As corny and overused as it sounds, horror master Stephen King influenced me a lot. I love The Stand, his Bible of post-apocalyptic fiction. Dmitry Glukhovsky, author of post-apocalyptic thriller Metro 2033, inspired my Assaulted Souls series.  I loved Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and, as lame as it sounds, I think all the horror films I watch influence and shape me as a writer to greater or lesser degrees.

Q: What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?

A: Stephen King’s son, Owen King, is definitely gaining traction, particularly with the recent release of Sleeping Beauties, a father-and-son collaboration.

Q: How would you describe your writing style?

A: Raw, gritty, real, clear and concise. Trained as a journalist, I’m not a fan of overly descriptive, verbose or flowery prose and edit my own words ad nauseam for clarity and brevity. I love Earnest Hemingway’s simple writing style; it communicates to audiences from all walks of life—from elementary school children to scholarly doctorate degree holders.

Q: Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

A: The first novel I wrote, a strange hybrid of inspirational fiction and horror, is called Brainstorm. After many long months, I finally finished it and was unsure of its future. I sent it to Winslow Eliot, my editor, and said: “If you don’t like it, I’m trashing it and giving up novel writing.” I waited anxiously for a response. Finally, one came.  One of the first things she said was, “Wow! What a truly amazing story of courage and personal transformation. I was deeply moved by this novel.” If it weren’t for her inspiring words, I wouldn’t have written seventeen novels. She confirmed that indeed I do have talent and encouraged me to pursue my calling.

Q: What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

A: Sometimes the editing process is a real grind for me. Before I even send a manuscript to my editor, I do at least three editing passes of my own, in addition to having a beta reader provide feedback. Then after Winslow performs her masterful surgery, there are usually at least two more edits and a final proof-read before it goes to press. By the time I’m done with it, I’m more than ready to move onto the next project.

Q: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

A: I’ve read excerpts from non-fiction books about women who’ve been abducted, held captive, tortured, and sexually abused. While I have written about abduction and torture in a fictional context, I could never write a novel on this topic based on a true story. I would be too afraid if would further scar victims of such heinous crimes.

Q: How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound or the meaning?

A: I love symbolism and sub-text. I pick names very carefully based on sound and symbolism.

Q: Writing is not a static process. How have you developed as a writer over the years?

A: I’ve become far more disciplined. I aim for 2000 words a day and don’t leave the office until I’ve accomplished that. I used to write a lot at night but I found that when I went to bed, I couldn’t turn my brain off and would be getting up every few minutes and writing down new ideas. Often I’d find myself at the keyboards churning out words deep into the night. Sleepless night is not a way to maintain a steady and productive writing schedule. Now, while drinking gallons of coffee, my fuel, I write first-thing in the morning and don’t shower, eat, or talk (unless it’s to myself or one of my novel characters) until I’ve reached my daily writing quota. I also make sure all social media and the phone is shut off during this creative time.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A: William Shrunk and E.B White’s The Elements of Style. Also Stephen King’s On Writing; an AP Style Guide; a good dictionary and a good thesaurus.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

A: I believe great writers are born talented. However, bad writers, with practice, can become good writers. A writer friend once told me, “Writing is not rocket science. If you want to become a good writer, read a lot and write a lot.”

Q: Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?

A: I’m one of the worst examples in terms of self-promotion. I’d rather start a new novel than try and sell one of my existing ones. But this year, out of necessity, I’ve actually developed a marketing plan. I’m slowly developing an email list of my fans. I blog regularly, have a fixed time for posting and interacting on social media, and am constantly searching for that evasive book-promotion secret that will set me apart from that sea of mediocrity.

Q: To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favorite child to write for and why?

A: In my new horror release Freaky Franky, Franklin Reiger is one of my favorite characters. What make a horror novel interesting is when characters are not black and white. Shades of gray make characters interesting and help readers identify with them. Freaky Franky is more than an evil character. As a child, he witnesses the deaths of many close family members, and eventually believes he’s cursed. Everyone around him dies and perhaps reluctantly he decides to give a few of them a little nudge. But, guild-ridden and regretful, he embarks down a landmine-laced path for redemption and rebirth.

Q: What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

A: A Head for an Eye, The End Is Nigh, and Freaky Franky are among my favorites. Maybe they’re biased, but my editor calls Freaky Franky one of my best works and my publisher says it is my best work.

Q: And are there any that you would like to forget about?

A: Inspired by true events, Brainstorm chronicles the lives of an epileptic man and his mentally challenged wife who have so little but give so much. Although my editor’s glowing praise of Brainstorm brought me to where I am today, when I read it I can certainly see how much my writing has evolved and improved over the years. If I decide to rewrite any of my back-list, Brainstorm is first on the chopping block.

Q: For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

A: It’s a tough question as I have many favorites. But, since I’m under duress, I’ll take Freaky Franky. If I believe my writing improves with every novel (which, I do), then Freaky Franky represents the most recent culmination of that evolution.

Q: Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?

A: I have many favorite passages. This excerpt is from The End Is Nigh, a recently released post-apocalyptic thriller about an unlikely group of people who retreat to an underground shelter as a blazing inferno decimates the world.

“It wasn’t just the flames that made Ralph see red as the trailing SUV skidded to a stop about thirty feet from the inferno. Nor was it the dark red blood dribbling down his face from Steel’s sucker punch and Crass’s boot to the nose. No. It was something else. The agitation had started with Penny’s betrayal of the whereabouts of his friends—slowly unleashing the uncontrollable fury of the intermittent-explosive-disorder monster lurking inside him. Then it was the rejection demon intertwined with the green-eyed monster of jealousy that had begun to unravel the ties that bound him to a semblance of sanity. Frankenstein’s monster had begun to unravel. He first noticed it during the interrogation, but had dismissed it as tricks of his imagination. A look Penny had exchanged with Steel. A look of affection. Nothing. My mind playing tricks on me. But on the way to Sandra’s house, he had seen it again. Not once, but twice. And, to rub salt in the wound, he had also watched her exchange a weird look of affection with Crass.”

Q: Can you tell us what you are working on next?

A: I’ve become fascinated with the mysterious landscape of dreams. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing blog posts on nightmares, lucid dreaming, night terrors, sleep paralysis and other sleep-related phenomena. I can feel a great story idea gelling that involves many aspects of dreams. The idea has a ghastly shape, but has yet to solidify into a discussable form. When the mold has form, I’ll give you more.

Q: If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?

A: The evil cat. Why don’t they make the cat the good guy for a change?

Q: What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

A: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is well-written and contains great character sketches. Also some very meaningful social commentary. Found Dean Koontz’s Shattered somewhat lame in terms of action and character development, although it is well written.

Q: What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

A: People ask questions such as: “Are you making any real money? How’s it going with your new book? Do you ever think you can really rise out of that ocean of obscurity?” And, although I’m not one to arbitrarily begin discussing writing without being prompted, I sometimes wish they’d ask me why I write. I write for many reasons: to feed my writing addiction (there are worse things to be addicted to), to please myself, and to educate, influence, entertain, and scare the hell out of my readers.

To learn more about Ginger Nuts of Horror visit their website:

http://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/five-minutes-with-william-blackwell