Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Opening Their Hearts and Blogs

This is a fun little piece I wrote for a recent Guest Author appearance on Felicia Chien's blog, Livin' Life Through Books. The YA Book Blogger Community is quite astounding really. So many of them open their hearts and blogs to Indies. Even if they're buried under TBR piles and can't do a review, they will often find some other way to help promote self-published authors. These Guest Posts, Interviews, and Giveaways take time and energy, so my thanks and gratitude go out to each and every blogger who has graciously featured Delta Legend in some way on their blog. 


I was in my 30's the first time I killed (a character, that is). Oh, I'd written a play or two where characters met their end, most from natural causes. But it wasn't until I wrote a spec screenplay for a Teen Horror that I actually had to, well, off somebody. 

        Her underwater screams reach the surface in a burst of bubbles and blood.

The screenplay of Delta Legend turned out to be a big-budget beast no production company or studio in their right mind would touch, especially at a time when Teen Horrors were being shot on shoestring budgets. (Insert clip of teens running around in the dark woods holding flashlights under their chins.) We don't have a clip? Fine. 

Flash forward ten years and I'm in the early stages of converting the screenplay of Delta Legend into a novel, which now falls more under the realm of Urban Fantasy. Suddenly characters who were little more than bit players are far more fleshed out. You get to know them on a deeper level with all their endearing little idiosyncrasies. You get attached and then, oh yeah, gotta kill 'em. Well, not me personally, but the "thing" responsible for all the mayhem. So, while there's no blood on my hands, I'm still the one orchestrating their untimely demise and frankly, it took me a while to actually do the dirty deed. But kill them, I did.

Without warning, the kayak was aggressively bumped from below and overturned. It remained upside down for only a moment however, as the seasoned kayaker promptly managed to right his vessel—an impressive feat since he was now headless. His arms made one last reflex-action attempt at paddling before he went limp and his decapitated body slumped over. Blood gushed from the meaty wound of the neck stump and mixed with river water as it flowed down over his life vest then spilled onto the front of the boat.
The kayak, with its horrific cargo, continued to slowly drift through the water—a sporty, though less animated version of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. 

Trying to come up with new and creative ways for people to die is certainly an interesting day's work. Being that I have a natural tendency for comedy, at first it seemed weird that one moment I was creating a funny bit followed shortly thereafter by a gruesome scene. I soon came to realize, however, that some of the greatest Horror is a magical blend of carnage and comedy. It takes you on a roller coaster ride; one minute you're laughing and the next you're screaming, or at the very least gasping. And after having the bejeezus scared out of you, you really need the release of laughter. Not to mention that nervous laughter as you anticipate what surely must be waiting around the next corner. Horror and humor is a delicious combo on the level of chocolate and peanut butter. I've been a fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups ever since I was a kid, but who knew I'd develop a taste for carnage somewhat late in the game.

A large metal homemade crawdad trap soon arrived at the surface with more than just crawdads on board. A section of Huestus lay wedged in the basket; his head, neck, right shoulder and arm were intact, though freakishly separated from the rest of him. Half a dozen crawdads clung to his waterlogged skin, picking from the spongy flesh. One of his eyes was a squishy, milky-grey, but the other was perfectly flawless and stared back at his finders with glassy intent. 
Ray pulled on a pair of latex gloves retrieved from his pocket before beginning the morbid task of removing crawdads from Huestus. He then carefully placed the crustaceans in a bait bucket borrowed from the cabin cruiser—bizarre evidence indeed. 
Leaving the dock, Calvin shook his head and admonished his great-uncle. “What’d I tell ya ’bout eatin’ those things?”
Samuel instinctively wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve.

And Huestus was a character I really had a soft spot for. Ah well, what are ya gonna do? Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go grab a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and off somebody else. Don't worry, it's no one you know... yet.