Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

It so happens I do enjoy long walks on the beach. Probably not with you, but then I don’t really know you, do I? You could be a perv, or a serial killer, or a Trump supporter. I’m sure you’re nice, but I just can’t take the chance. You could be…

Wait, where was I? Oh, right, I hadn’t actually started yet. Well, here’s the thing: this post is not about walks on the beach, long, short, or otherwise. It’s about interviews. Or, more to the point, an interview with me. The folks over at Serious Reading were kind enough to post the interview and if you click on my serious face below you can read it.

 

mott author

 

I considered doing an interview with Frivolous Reading, but that would require you to click on my silly face below. But don’t do it. Do NOT click on silly face. Ironically, I’m serious about this. Don’t click on it.

 

Mott silly

 

Told you.

Anyway, an interview is an interview is an interview, and the best part about this one is those Serious folks also posted a review of my novel A Fractured Conjuring, which you can read by clicking on the image of the book below. Go ahead, it’s safe.

 

A Fractured Conjuring - Concept 2 Variant - Large

 

That’s all I have for you at the moment.

Oh, and in case you got frivolously caught up in all the seriousness and forgot to click Serious Me, here’s another opportunity. Click away.

 

mott author

 

And if you are so inclined, you can find the rest of my books over at those madcap guys and gals called Amazon. Click on my logo below and check it out. Then you might want to go soak that clicking finger–it’s had a tough day.

 

Martin Logo

This is too awesome not to share – check it out!

 

OPEN CALL FOR SUBS: SEMI-COLONIC IRRIGATION – an anthology

Source: OPEN CALL FOR SUBS: SEMI-COLONIC IRRIGATION – an anthology

In many ways 2015 was one of the darkest years of my life; in many other ways it wasn’t. I suppose that’s what we call balance.

Toward the end of the year, as my personal life began to brighten, I repaid the Universe by seeing the publication of one of the darkest books I’ve ever written (or read). In December of 2015, Black Rose Writing published A Fractured Conjuring.

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For reasons not entirely clear to me, it has been called a “brilliant, disturbing, and important work.” Well… “disturbing” I understand. This book has been disturbing me for years; disturbing my sleep, my peace of mind.

But how does a thing like this come to be?

I can’t help but wonder what people will think when they read the book, if they will think me depraved or simply mean-spirited. Some will ask questions as to why I thought it important to write such a thing.

And I will be at a loss for an answer. Because I truly don’t know.

I’ve maintained for years that this writing game is somewhat beyond my ken; an idea comes out of nowhere and then…grows. Characters supply their own dialogue; unforeseen people and events spring out of the ether and onto the page. When I explain this, the average person (the normal person who maybe does not lie awake listening to voices telling them there’s really no point in trying to sleep) looks at me askance, cocks an eyebrow, making it clear they don’t believe me. I can only shrug.

To the nightmare at hand; to A Fractured Conjuring. How did this particular nastiness happen?

A simple road sign:

Kimberlina Road

On a road trip to (of all places) Disneyland, my eyes spotted this sign. I’ve been on this trek countless times over the past twenty years, and have likely seen this sign on every one of those trips. But this time…that sweet name got stuck in my head and began to fester. I had no history with the name, no connection to my past, no sense at all why it grabbed hold. But I couldn’t shake it loose. I somehow knew this was going to be the name of a character in a book, and that this character would have important things to say, or maybe to teach me. I had zero sense of the story itself, only that it would be dark. And maybe big.

As the days and weeks passed I began to feel that the story could possibly span millennia, covering massive ground both temporally and geographically. I have no idea why I thought this—I didn’t have a story, only a feeling.

It’s hard to adequately describe what it’s like to have a story growing inside you, but somehow doing so outside your influence. It’s…well, disturbing.

More than a year went by before I set a single word to paper. I did so only then because I thought I might have an idea what the opening pages looked like. I got 6,000 or so words in before I stopped and laid it aside. I was scared. Not of what I was writing, but that I would mess it up. The feeling for this story had been infesting my brain for better than a year—how could I possibly do it justice? So I ran from it. I did other things. But Kimberlina stayed with me, a grimy child’s ghost fingers tugging at the hem of my shirt, telling me I had work to do, her story to tell. Didn’t matter that I didn’t know what that story was.

Eventually I got back to it. I barely remember my first efforts at conjuring this child, but I know that those early efforts never made it into the final book.

This is the part where I get around to telling you how the final book came to be, right?

Wrong. Because I still can’t tell you that. I still don’t know. When I wrote The End, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Is it really? The end of what? Where did it begin?”

One of the main characters in A Fractured Conjuring is writing a book she knows nothing about—not too hard to figure out how that came to be—and as I was proofing the final copy, I came across a line I hardly remembered writing:

Still, she couldn’t keep away from it, and she didn’t feel so much like she was writing the story as it was somehow writing her.

And this:

What Chloe knew for certain was that she couldn’t leave this new project alone. It unnerved her; it wouldn’t leave her alone.

And that’s as close as I can come to explaining how this particular book came to be.

Oh, and then this happened:

FC Best of 2015

A book one reviewer called an “important” book.

Another reader, so unnerved by the story that she read it multiple times in an effort to understand, wrote this in an afterword she penned for the book:

“Martin Reaves…had the temerity to tackle an ugly, horrible subject, and he treated it with kindness and cleanliness. Yes, cleanliness.”

The same reviewer who it called it an important work ended his review with this:

“If you have never felt like your soul has been taken away from you at some point in your life, I wouldn’t recommend reading it.”

How does one create something so volatile that it can be recommended, then un-recommended in the same review?

How does one write a story he has almost no memory of plotting and have it hit a target he didn’t even know was there?

I have no answers.

And Kimberlina has only begun to speak.

 

A Fractured Conjuring is available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Review: Voiceless

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Book Reviews
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Voiceless
Voiceless by Trent Zelazny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***Slow Burn, Intense Heat***

Voiceless left me Breathless. Think that’s hyperbole? Read this book and prove me wrong.

The last 100 or so pages were so intense I’m surprised the Kindle survived my sweaty grip. I barely breathed through the last 60 pages. The slow build to the barn-burner of a climax was nearly flawless. Voiceless may be one of the most perfectly paced novels I’ve ever read.

One gets the sense after reading a Trent Zelazny story that he couldn’t possibly do it again; no one could plumb the utter depth of hopelessness again and again without eventually reaching the bottom…could they? No, they couldn’t. But Trent Zelazny can and does. Because he has lived this pain. I’m not saying his work is autobiographical (although I sometimes wonder), only that he is intimately acquainted with genuine misery and is not afraid to tell us what it looks and feels like. Not many writers can do that without coming off heavy-handed. But nothing Zelazny does is heavy-handed. He leads us quite gently through the dark hallways of depression and self-loathing; through doorways and into rooms clotted with anxiety and a panicky sense of mental instability. And we go willingly because we want everything to be okay. We want the ending to show us a glimpse of hope. Sometimes it does; more often it does not. No matter the outcome, we are wiser for the journey. And maybe we see our own world a little more clearly, with a little more of that elusive hope. I think, through all the angst-littered pages, that’s what Zelazny wants. For us to have a better time of it than those who inhabit his pages.

But first we have to walk those gloomy hallways with his often damned protagonists; to take their clammy hands and see how bad it gets before it can get better.

Read this book. Read all Zelazny’s books. There is no one doing what he does, the way he does it. No one.

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Damnation Alley
Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a second trip through Damnation Alley for me. I loved it the first time and loved it again. Roger Zelazny is far more than a Sci-Fi writer; he is a literary craftsman. There are moments of true transcendence here. Highly recommended.

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To Sleep Gently
To Sleep Gently by Trent Zelazny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*** Zelazny Wins Again ***

Trent Zelazny’s gift is a little frightening. The highest praise I can lavish on any writer is to admit that I cannot say why he is so good from a technical standpoint. Zelazny’s skill lies in the ability to make his presence as an author damn near invisible. We are not reading, we are witnessing.

With To Sleep Gently he offers up what seems to be a simple caper story with noir undertones. Our hero is Jack Dempster, a career criminal fresh out of the joint who is immediately roped into a heist. Of course the heist is a near sure thing, and of course things fall apart. None of these plot elements is anything new. But as with all Zelazny’s works the story is not about what it’s about. The ill-advised theft and the bumbling crew are set dressing for what Trent Zelazny really wants to tell you, and that’s how life is not always a friendly mistress. The author also has something to say about the past and how a decades-old indiscretion can haunt you forever.

There is so much depth here, so much pure, gut-wrenching angst. Which simply means this is one more in a long line of brilliantly executed stories for Trent Zelazny. He is, as always, writing at the top of his form.

Read his work. Everything you can find. With Zelazny, it’s all A game. If he has a B game, I haven’t found it yet.

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Review: People Person

Posted: September 24, 2013 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

people person
People Person by Trent Zelazny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

** A Wink and A Shiv ***

Don’t turn your back on Trent Zelazny…ever. The boy just doesn’t play fair.

His latest offering (to my knowledge) is People Person—a nasty little slice of business that you will read in one sitting, right before taking a long walk to clear your head…and try to avoid watching the neighbors, whether or not you consider yourself a people person.

Jeffrey Carlisle is a people person, and a heck of a nice guy. The story opens with Jeff staring into an empty ditch, looking for clues as to the whereabouts of his long-missing sister Jessica. The ditch is as empty as Jeffrey, offering no solace or respite from a life steeped in almost mind-numbing drudgery.

There’s not a lot I can tell you about this story without spoiling it—it’s a novella and what transpires in these few pages happens at once slowly and quickly. In many ways nothing at all happens…until it does, until you are comfortably pacified.

But here’s the thing: Zelazny somehow manages to make the mundane compelling, which may be the ultimate testament to his brilliance. That’s a rare gift. Show us a man repeating the same scenario over and over, walking around his kitchen, peeking out at the neighbors…and make it riveting?

There is of course more to this story than a lost man’s boredom and aimlessness, much more. But it is our duty to live with Carlisle—to feel his loss, to wander lonely stretches of road, to wonder why bad things happen to good people. We must walk a mile in his shoes, and as the story unfolds try to deny how well those shoes fit our own feet.

Bravo, Mr. Zelazny. Again.

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It takes a while for one to claw through the hurricane to its eye, but I’ve managed to turn the trick.  It’s something of a coup that I have dragged Mark Leftridge into Mott’s Ruminations for an interview.

Mr. Leftridge is one of the most all-around talented people I’ve had the pleasure to meet.  He is among the finest drummers currently smacking the skins, but that’s just for starters.  He writes and teaches all styles of music at all levels.  He’s never met an instrument he couldn’t coax into melody…and now the bastard is writing books.  Well, not so much now as repeatedly.  If my count is correct he’s currently slinging words into novel #5.

Some people just don’t know when to quit.  But enough of me, let’s get to it.

 

Mark, let’s start with an easy one.  How did you get into writing?

Quite by accident I’m afraid.  I was working on song lyrics, on a cold October evening in 1992 and I had written the line “They hadn’t seen the sun in 27 days.”  I liked the imagery it sparked in my mind, but I had no follow up line.  I had read of a songwriter’s trick that said, to write about the line, then glean from your paragraph your intent.  Paragraphs became pages and pages became chapters and 65,000 words later I had written The Bachnahl Corridor.

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What is your first piece of work to be released?

A Tangled Web We Weave was released last year (my latest).

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What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Loaded question to be sure, but since it’s a Writer’s Blog, I’ll say this, and oddly enough, it happened just recently.  I began writing in 1992, but it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I discovered WHY I write.  That answer, to that question, was a truly significant moment.  Has nothing to do with career goals, money or professional success – it’s just one of those priceless epiphanies that reveal themselves so rarely on the road through life.

Can you describe that feeling?

Writing has been part of my life for the last 20 years of my life and the four novels that I have written had always seemed completely strange and different from each other, yet I was compelled to tell them.  I’ve learned that each book was me trying to solve or make peace with things in my life at the time as I was moving through life.  To re-read my books in the knowledge that my first [The Bachnal Corridor] was about my awareness of politics and its place in my world, then Parenthood in my second [When the Hangman Weeps], the end of my Rock band (the year I turned 30) in the third [Safe Sects], and this latest book [A Tangled Web We Weave] was my thoughts on what makes a friendship.  Suddenly the book jacket descriptions, that have NOTHING to do with my epiphany, have a theme.  The books follow my life and the things that I was sorting out at the time – a truly amazing diary where characters question me and push me to answer the hard questions.  It was all so innocent as a story, a book, a novel, but such an open and honest look into a person I once was.

What about your current (or most recent, as applicable) work stands out as compared to what came before it?

I’ve been scuffling with the word Legacy as of late.  I come out swinging this time, rather than couching it in some technological thriller like A Tangled Web We Weave or even Safe Sects to a degree, this is about a family and their history and making peace with the imperfections of that.

(if WIP) Can you share some of it with us?

Sure.  Here you go:

“You working in the studio, uncle Todd?” asked Evan as he watched his uncle’s eyes return to focus on him in the here and now.

        “Well, I’m in the studio, but work doesn’t seem to be getting done.”    “What are you working on?”

        “I was up all night with a chord progression and a melody in my head, but I can’t get it to lay down on tape – digitally speaking.” He inhaled then exhaled loudly, rubbing his tired eyes with his calloused hands. Stopping suddenly as an idea landed from the ephemeral cloud swirling in his sleep-deprived head. “Evan, could you come in and see what you can do with it? I can’t get the feel, I’m out of ideas.”

        The boy’s eyes widened, “Shouldn’t you get my dad or grandpa?”

        “Oh I know what they would do with it after all these years of working with or around them, but this is different. I want something else on this. C’mon, give it a try kid, I’m desperate.”

        Evan took his seat behind the kit steadying his headphones as his uncle sat behind the glass of the control room setting up for the session.

        “So I’m thinking I’m gonna try and catch lightening in a bottle. The click is at 140 beats per minute, come right in on the very first beat. I’m playing even eighth notes, so it’s not shuffled or swung or anything. Ok?”

        Evan nodded to the voice in his headphones.

        “You’ll get two measures of click before you’re in.”

        Evan gave a thumbs up sign.

        “Alright, here we go then.”

        The computer-toned blip counted off the 8 beats, Evan’s bass drum and crash cymbal landed simultaneously on top of the opening chord. His recoiling eardrum chased the blip of the click-track into the chaos of a throbbing bass, distorted guitar and keyboard patches that chugged fiercely into the song. His brain was searching for the patterns, listening ahead in a way, to predict what lay just a few blips ahead. Find the rhythm, the syncopation of it and determine what of that pattern should he accentuate to establish the groove. He began to separate the unison parts, chasing the instruments that were panned throughout his headphones; bass, left of center, 6 string acoustic, right of center, a synth pad beyond that and an organ playing hard to the left. The organ part was voicing the chords differently, landing between the gaps of the rhythmic pattern; It wasn’t wrong per se, but it was pulling at the groove. Ignoring it he pressed on through the song. He was subtle in the verses, lifting the choruses, reacting to changes as they appeared. He had unlocked the string of chords and by the second verse had settled into the arrangement of them. The blip disappeared into the music as he listened to his performance in it, always the audience as well as the artist.

Do you feel that your writing style has changed at all since you began writing?

I hope so!

What do you think has bettered your skills? What do you think has hindered you?

I’m the worst guy to answer this question because I write, but I’m entirely self-taught.  I don’t study the craft, or do workshops or read with an eye on how I would do it better than the guy I’m reading.  I just do it, learning from the last one I wrote and improving on myself from the last.  The fact that people read my books and enjoy them is a bonus and I appreciate that they get me and what I’m trying to do in a novel.

As for hindrances, same answer as above.  90% of writing is re-writing? Screw that!  Next story. Make fewer mistakes next time.  I can’t suffer over a story for months or years, crawling over it comma by comma, line by line.  Plot holes I’ll fix, but punctuation and all the rest is my editor’s job.  That won’t be a popular answer among writers and authors that read your blog, but writing to me is an intensely selfish act that I suppose I take to extremes.

Which of your characters stands out the most to you, and why? (feel free to share an example)

4 novels – too many characters that I have deep feelings for and those feelings change daily.  Chris Mohr from When the Hangman Weeps is a stand out.  Though he’s just an 8 year-old boy he has the strength and insight of a wizened old man.

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Brett Peters from Safe Sects found a way out of his own smothering grief by trying to help someone else and the devotion of Thani Atiq from A Tangled Web We Weave is pretty incredible to me.

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Do you have a writing mantra?

Make it real.  Plot, Dialogue or Characters have to feel real to me and the information that they acquire in a story must be plausible.  No apparitions appearing, found lottery tickets etc. I leave that to Scooby Doo episodes.

Is writing your hobby or your job?

Both? Neither? Therapy seems a more appropriate term these days.

What do you do when you’re not creating the next masterpiece?

I’m a musician by trade and have enjoyed a 30+ year career that has taken me to many amazing places in the world and allowed me to meet many of my heroes.  I see myself as a drummer – a drummer who writes.

Do you like sports? (if so, which ones?)

I am a baseball devotee.  I watch as many as three games a day on a day off.  I have the fervor of a zealot for the game.  I watch Major League, Minor League, even Little League (there’s a park a block from my house); it makes no difference to me, I love the game like that.

Do you have a favorite musical artist? Who?

Rather than rattle off a lengthy list, I’ll simply say that Rush was/is the band that shaped me as a musician, a reader, a lyricist and a writer.

What book are you reading right now?

I just got the new Carlos Ruiz Zafon book, Prisoner of Heaven, and the Crichton novel that was finished by Richard Preston after his death.

When do you anticipate your next work to be released?

Our Bridges Made of Sticks should be released in time for Christmas 2013.

Where can we find you online?

www.markleftridge.com or Facebook of course, LinkedIn, Amazon, Smashwords, Google me if nothing else, I’m not hard to find – unless I owe you money!

* As a final note, Mark has just finished a jazz Christmas album with jazz guitarist Peter Morgan.  Check out Mark’s fine drum work here: California Christmas.

A huge thanks to Mark Leftridge for stopping by!

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Author Interview Special Edition – Trent Zelazny, American Writer.

This blog could simply say, “Trent Zelazny’s Too Late to Call Texas is available for pre-order on Amazon.”  And that would be enough, should be enough, to send you scampering to the link to place your order (incidentally, every time you see an underlined word or phrase in this post, it will take you directly to the Amazon page for the book—you can even click on any of the images herein and also be whisked away to the Land of Amazon.  Why not zip over there now?).   What?  You need a reason?  You don’t know who this Zelazny character is?

Ahem.  If I may.

I’ve likened Too Late to Call Texas elsewhere as “Shakespeare- tragedy-meets-Tarantino brutality.”  Not since Jack Bauer have so many characters been in so much danger.  The body count is high, the feel-good quotient low.  But this is what Zelazny seems to know and do best, which is to deny us relief, shun our pleas for leniency.  If you’re looking for sunshine and roses look elsewhere.  On the other hand, if you like tragedy (Shakespeare) and ugly, in-your-face grit (Tarentino), then look no further.  Zelazny knows this territory, maybe too well.  And he’s not afraid to grab the reader by the scruff of the neck and say, “Pay attention, this is what despair feels like; what it looks, and smells and tastes like.”  I find all of this immensely refreshing.  We are being told and shown the truth.  The prose is so good, the voice so damned convincing, that we don’t care what the story’s about. We’ll follow these characters down any festering hole they stumble into because Zelazny makes it impossible not to believe.

We talk about this writer’s or that writer’s latest offering, and how that writer is “working at the top of his form.”  Well, I’m not sure Zelazny has a lower position in his form.  He seems to do what he does so effortlessly…well, it’s scary.  And encouraging.  If he doesn’t slow down, we have much to look forward to.

I don’t know the man, so I am going out on a limb in saying Zelazny is not slanting for any particular market, he is stilling some very aggressive personal demons.  If I ever get to meet him, I’d like to talk with him long over coffee and beg him never to stop writing.  At least until the demons have had their say.

I’ve raved about Trent Zelazny before, will continue to do so, and this latest work only proves my previous rants.  This boy can write.  You should be reading his work.  Zelazny may well be the rightful heir to the dark landscape of fiction perfected by Cornell Woolrich—Yes, he is that good.