Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday! Today, I’m going to talk about a couple of books–and authors–I recently discovered. At the end of the post, I’ll invite y’all to share anything new–books, music, movies, TV–you’ve discovered recently.
Dark Blessings by John Paul Allen
John Paul Allen has been around the horror scene for a few years, but he is a recent discovery for me. I bought and read Dark Blessings, which is a collection of seven short horror stories.
These are some scary, thought provoking stories. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was that John introduced each story with a little summary about how he got the idea and why he wrote the story. He told some pretty personal and revealing tales about himself. His revelations gave the stories in the book more emotional weight.
Dark Blessings is good sampling of John’s work. I enjoyed “Pit Stop at Hoo Hoo Hollow,” in which a con artist couple get a nasty lashing with the karma stick. “Prader Willie” was a disturbing tale about learning empathy for those less fortunate with an ending I won’t soon forget. Each story in this collection spooked me in a different way.
A couple of these stories are available separately—in case $3.99 is too big of an investment. They are:
When eleven-year-old Marissa Ruiz first entered foster care she was warned. Don’t let them get too close to you. Don’t let them get you alone. Don’t let them tuck you in at night. She was prepared for anything until the white van pulled up and she met The Shepard who soon taught her the ways of The Church of the Weeping Mary. The Mother gives you life… The Mother gives you hope… The Mother gives you purpose. Some pray for eternal salvation… some simply pray to survive one more day (summary from Amazon.com)
“House Guest” (free on Kindle right now)
Chastity Bream doesn’t dance anymore. She also can’t walk, speak or think. She’s fed through a tube, turned twice a day and left alone in her bed. That is except for him – the one in her closet, who comes out to tend to her needs. And his. (summary from Amazon.com)
Now, I introduced this section about John Paul Allen by saying that he’s been around the horror fiction world for a while. His debut novel, Gifted Trust, was published in 2003. It received a good deal of attention—both positive and negative. John is in the process of re-releasing a heavily revised version of Gifted Trust, which will be available soon from Biting Dog Press.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read some of John’s revised version of Gifted Trust, and it’s a great read. I love the kind of horror that makes me fear being alone after dark.
With the intent of buying Les’s craft book on voice, I looked him up on Amazon and saw his newest novel was titled The Bitch. That was the extent of my quest to learn more about the craft of writing fiction.
Check out this summary:
The Bitch explores the dark choices that Jake, as a two-time offender faces to save both his life and his soul—life imprisonment if caught for the third time under the federal ha-bitch-ual criminal law—known to outlaws as “The Bitch.” Choices that may cost him everything and everyone he loves. What are the limits of loyalty? What is the spiritual process by which a savvy hair designer deteriorates into a mass murderer? A work in the cold existentialist tradition of Sartre and Camus, and the transgressive fiction of Celine, The Bitch struggles for answers and, on finding them, a way out. (from Amazon.com)
I was pretty interested. But, then, the mini-bio about Les grabbed me even more:
Les Edgerton is an ex-con who spent two years in prison for burglary at the Pendleton Reformatory in Indiana. Since his release, he has earned a B.A. from Indiana University and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. This will be the thirteenth book he has published, with several more forthcoming later this year and next, including a short story collection, an existential noir novel, a new black comedy novel, and his memoir. His career for many years as an outlaw and criminal lend an air of rare verisimilitude to his crime novels. (from Amazon.com)
Some of you may remember my post about Mr. Blue (aka Eddie Bunker). What I really love about Eddie’s novels is that the situations in Eddie’s novels are reminiscent of a life Eddie himself lived. His novels didn’t often have happy endings, but it all felt so very real. Because I love Eddie Bunker’s novels, I believed I’d like Les Edgerton’s The Bitch.
I downloaded the sample of The Bitch from and zoomed through it. There was no question of whether or not I’d purchase the rest of the book. Once that book was on my Kindle, it was on. I read The Bitch non-stop until I finished it. And then I hated that it had to end…even though I was getting absolutely nothing done other than reading fiction.
The Bitch made me think about what is right and what is wrong and what you end up doing anyway. The point-of-view character, Jake, had an engaging voice. Even though he was a bad guy in a lot of ways, he was also a good guy. That type of character—the anti-hero—interests me.
Les has written other books in the crime genre, which I fully intend to read next time I’m in the mood for that genre. If reading about Les or his books has interested you, his work is available at Barnes and Noble, at Amazon, at Smashwords, and on his website. To check out Les’s blog, click here.
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