May 03, 2011

The Darker Side

I'm a pretty sociable person, so, when I first arrived at the American Film Institute, most of my classmates just assumed that I wrote comedies.

And then we had our first cold reading session, where we essentially bring in a bunch of actors to sit on stage and just read your script as if they were in some sort of radio program.  The piece that I'd submitted was a short film script called "Recipe for Disaster", which is all about a pair of mob accountants who're trying to kill their mob lawyer buddy over dinner before he can inadvertently reveal to their bosses that they've been embezzling.  The murder plot involves a pot roast, plyers, and a potato peeler, and the characters all gleefully bounce around each other like something out of a 50's sitcom.

When it was all said and done, one of my classmates looked at me, shook his head, and said, "You're sick."

Like Garth Brooks said, I blame it all on my roots.  As I've said about 6 years ago in my blog post about Eli Roth's Hostel, I love horror, starting with my Dad's fascination with "monster movies".  October is probably my favorite month of the year for movies, because all of the new horror flicks premiere while all of the old ones get their just due in constant rotation on cable TV.  I remembered being terrified of the little vampire boy outside the window in the TV version of "Salem's Lot", which, for my money, is still Stephen King's scariest novel.  I used to burn through King novels like mad in high school.  I think I read "It" in a week.  And THEN I discovered Clive Barker and HP Lovecraft, where horror wasn't just bound by what you could see and touch and feel.  There were other things, and other worlds too terrible to imagine.

My favorite Lovecraft stories always seem to have a moment where the main character sees.... something, and says "and in that moment, I went insane."

And, in those moments, I'm reminded of John Carpenter's commentary on the Saw movies:  he finds them all incredibly funny.  And, frankly, so do I.  Just like Re-Animator, or the moment when the alien head grows legs and tries to run away in The Thing.

Did I mention that I have a soft spot for Metallica, too?

Like King said, I've had all of these ideas bouncing around in my head, and frankly, why wait to see them in film form?  They're stories.

Which is why I've decided to just write.  Like Poe and Shelley and Bram Stoker and all of those other storytellers who predate the moving picture.

So, I've concocted this gruesome little tail that begins with a pair of hitmen killing each other.  It's called "I'll See You In Hell", and, if you're curious about the plot, remember that my favorite Clive Barker movie is "Hellbound: Hellraiser II".

 If you'd like to read it, you can buy it and get it in electronic format from my friends at  See?
My friends, not only would I appreciate you buying it and sharing it with your horror loving friends (and I mean that seriously, because it's not for the faint of heart), but it would also be a massive help if you did the following:

  • Go to the page for my short story on and click the "Like" button.
  • Rate it (five stars, please)
  • Comment on it (which would probably require you reading it, but that's up to you).
  • share it on your own Facebook page
  • and, for those of you with Twitter, watch for my tweet and re-tweet it.
  • And, if you're feeling REALLY helpful, go to my author page at and do the same (like, post to Facebook, tweet, etc.)
And for those of you who don't have Kindles, don't worry: you can download it to your computer or your smart phone as well, too.

This is the first in a series of short stories I'm writing for the Kindle marketplace, the vast majority of which are  going to be horror, sci-fi, and genre pieces, so keep an eye on my author page, Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, Macroscope, for the updates.

Thank you all for being such a good audience over the years here at Macroscope.  I hope some of you will follow me down this new path.  It may be scary, but I'm pretty sure it will be worth it.

I Write

Just the other day, I encouraged one of my students to start posting daily on Facebook so that she can become more comfortable with sharing her work with the public.  She called her first post "I am a Writer", and frankly, I was a bit inspired by her affirmation.

That phrase is something that I've said for years to justify or explain away my behaviors and proclivities.  Why I can't wait to tell, basically, anyone anything.  I suppose, at a level, it's a love for the sound of my own voice, regardless of the medium, but it I think it's also something deeper.

My uncle died when I was about 6 years old, and after the funeral, I had a bit of a morbid curiosity for the program, his obituary in particular.  As I read about his life, I began to imagine what those moments were like: growing up in Cambridge, MD; joining the Army; getting married and starting a family.  I had the entire scene in my head.  For reasons that are really beyond me, I was compelled to draw these images and, essentially, make a picture book companion for this obituary.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Wow, I had know idea his craziness started that early."  And, if that's the case, boy, you're really in for something on my next post.  But more about that later.

I shared this picture book with my folks, and my mother, bless her heart, photocopied it and started sharing it with her coworkers.

My very first publisher.  :-)

I've always written.  It's in my DNA somewhere.  I come from a family of storytellers.  Some who like to hold court in the middle of a crowd, holding sway like a gladiator at the center of the colosseum.  Others who like to lean over tables and tell secrets in quiet.   But the story is always an act of sharing.  Sharing feelings, news, affections, horrors, tributes, rebukes...

Film, to me, is just another form of writing.  But there are other forms that are more essential, more primal.  No one ever needs to give you permission to write.  Not the public, not a publisher, certainly not a movie studio or producer.  To paraphrase Talib Kweli, if you can talk, you can write.  And that's not just a statement on capability.  That is your birthright.