Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gaydar Nation Likes The Very Bloody Marys!

From Gaydar Nation:
Valentino is having a very bad time of it. A police officer by trade in San Francisco, his boss and mentor has disappeared, he’s hunting a trio of twinks wandering the city terrorising it, and his lover has been killed. Oh, and did I mention Valentino is also a 200-year-old gay vampire who drinks blood with vodka?!

Yes, you don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to work out this is no realist novel, but a synthetically surreal universe of faeries (the cmythical creatures not the camp caricatures), ghouls and all kinds of things that go bump in the undead of the night. It’s a world of Buffy The Vampire Gayer, if you will.

Despite being set in the steep-stepped hills of San Fran, this isn’t the familiar sunny, picture postcard place of the travel brochures, but rather a dark and murky netherworld where all is not what it seems.

The novel opens with Valentino searching desperately for his guv’ner, Pogue. With no clues in sight, the case seems cold and then tragedy strikes. Returning home one evening, Valentino watches in horror and disbelief as his lover, Julian, crumbles to dust before his eyes. Sick with grief, anger and revenge, Valentino goes full-throttle to find Julian’s killer and make them pay.

In The Very Bloody Marys, M. Christian has created a wildly weird world of vampiric pains and pleasures yet still manages to somehow root it in reality, largely because he never loses sight of the fact the characters need to have genuinely authentic emotional lives no matter which fantastical environment you plonk them in. He makes them fully-drawn, involving, standalone characters pulsed by the thump of the human heart, which is ironic considering we’re technically dealing with the undead here.

In fact, the whole narrative has flesh and blood as it races along at amphetamine pace. Scene after scene rolls by with such breathtaking speed you feel like you’re on one of those fairground death rides called something hideous like Decapitation or Rigor Mortis. Despite the breakneck paciness, Christian doesn’t lose control of his characters or story; he’s always in command of the reins so the read has a consistent rhythm that nicely carries the action along.

It’s not all bish-bash-bosh, either. Christian can be incredibly lyrical, especially when describing Valentino’s love for Julian. Just look at this description: “Oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian ? beloved, adored, venerated companion, compadre, mate, playmate, partner, betrothed, idol, best friend, love, lover ? oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian.” Don’t you read that and wish someone had written those words about you?

Christian’s m├ętier, though, is conjuring up powerful visuals that give this noir mystery a definite cinematic flavour that’s one part 1940s movie thriller and two parts po-mo sci-fier, which makes the novel ripe for the film adaptation treatment. And, let’s face it, that should bring a gratifying thud of kerching to the ears of any author.

Atmospherically potent and stylishly polished, Christian marries suspense, terror, black humour and romance intelligently and wittily making The Very Bloody Marys a smart and fun addition to the bloodsuckingly camp vampire genre.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jack Handey on Criticism

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.

- Jack Handey, comedian (1949 - )

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bunny Ears

If you're a Sirius radio listener tune into Playboy Radio and hear three of my stories - "Water of Life," "Everest," and "Blow Up" - being read. I'm trying to round up mp3 files of them all, and if I do I'll be posting them here as well.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Gun is Prodigious

Here's a bit of fun: the start of a short novel I may or may not finish. Hope you like!

My Gun is Prodigious
By Zagreel Weegeen, Third Hatchmate of the Lydra Hegemony (translated by M. Christian)

"Are you a non-public dick?" the female spoke, walking into my professional space on her aesthetically appealing locomotive appendages.

Even though it towards the end of my human mating cycle, I still found her be fertile and more than suitable for procreation, what with her well-developed milk glands, crimson-painted oral display, and blue-toned visual organs.

"That's what the portal mentioned," I uttered, not wanting to let her achieve sexual superiority this early in a potential courtship display. "What can I accomplish with you?"

She continued her courting ritual by coating her eating and breathing orifice with saliva, and bending her locomotive appendages to 'sit' her padded anal orifice down on my sitting device, folding her lower appendages to show me a generalized view of her sexual apparatus. "I need your assistance," she spoke, exhaling powerful chemical attractants.

"What kind of assistance do you require?" I uttered, skeptical of her choice of me as a mating partner. I was not a unsuitable candidate for mating, for I had shared my sperm sacks with many suitable female members of my species, but I have also through many human years of direct experience have educated myself that such a brazen presentation of sexual characteristics is typically deceptive. Still, I did find simply physical pleasure in the female's direct exhibition of her secondary sexual characteristics.

"A person unknown to me is going to attempt to end my physical existence," the female spoke with tones of no alarm, her attack or defend pheromones not present. "I require you to prevent this from occurring."

I was a male of no great lineage, but with ample direct experience with many human interactions, but had never audibly received any like pronouncement from any human during my many orbits of the local solar body in occupation of a non-public investigator. I expressed my confusion by lowering my hairy eye-protecting lids and moving my upper body-structure closer towards the female, and speaking: "I am confused by this. Why would anyone seek to cause you bodily injury?"

This female person then exposed her white incisors, demonstrating to my vision that she found my confusion enjoyable. "Mister Weapon, you do not think that someone would not want to terminate my physical existence?"

Despite the female's obvious attempts to confuse my human thought processes through perceiving her sexual characteristics I was still compelled to complete the mating ritual, and deposit my sperm in her egg receptacles: "Female, you do not appear an individual who would have anyone on this small planet pursuing the end of your life processes."

The female produced a 'cigarrette' and ignited it with a mechanical device. The tube of plant fibers filled my moderately-sized professional space with the reek of carcinogenic long-chain molecules. "Mister Weapon, I am a female of pleasant company, a staunch pursuer of only high-class breeding material. Nonetheless, someone proximately very soon will try to terminate me."

Her profession of only desiring a high-quality mate for reproduction made me display my own 'teeth' as the content of her words stimulated my organ of humor. "Female, I presume not on your standing within our human culture. But I cannot comprehend why a person would cause you to die."

She placed the tube of carcinogenic materials back in her oral cavity, drawing in the poisons with a long, slow intake of atmosphere. "I possess great funds, or as I should better state in English, my male parent possesses immense quantities of property and currency. I suspect that this might be the reasons for the attempts to cause my physical self to stop functioning. My parental is William Cash."

I attempted to control the muscles surrounding my air and food intake as well as the ones around my optical organs but I suspect that I was unsuccessful in the attempt against the connotations of the name of her male parental. I doubted that any human in the Metropolis of Los Angeles didn't know the identity label of Cash. His personal signet was on many of the Angeles structures of notoriety, as well as being prominently featured on many of the documentations of control in the big city. I knew little of the structure of this creche, but I had become informed through various information sources available to me, such as the ink of pulp media of 'newspapers' and primitive radio reception technology that the parental of the female member of my species roosting before my optical receivers was nearing the end of an average human lifespan. If her physical essence should cease to function effectively due to a natural progression of deterioration, then this female progeny would be the recipient of that impressive accumulation of human monetary units.

Even though it disturbed my emotional equilibrium to have such a mortification for the ending of another entity's physical existence, especially one that appeared to my human senses as desirable to pass on my genetic legacy, it remained a viable possibility. "Do you, female of the Cash legacy, have any suspicions as to an individual or group of individuals who would be willing to cease your self for reasons of your parental's immense property and currency reserves?"


Friday, December 07, 2007

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: The Best of the Best of the Best

(the following is part of an ongoing series of columns I did for The Erotica Readers & Writers Association on the ins and outs and ins and outs and ins and outs of writing good smut)

Here's a quote that's very near and dear to my heart:

"From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was fifty I had published a universe of designs, but all I have done before the age of seventy is not worth bothering with. At seventy five I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am eighty you will see real progress. At ninety I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At a hundred I shall be a marvelous artist. At a hundred and ten everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokosai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.'"

That was from Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese painter of the Ukiyo-e school (1760-1849). Don't worry about not knowing him, because you do. He created the famous "Great Wave Off Kanagawa," published in his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji - a print you've probably seen a thousand times.

Hokusai says it all: the work is what's really important, that he will always continue to grow and progress as an artist, and that who he is will always remain less than what he creates.

Writing is like art. We struggle to put our thoughts and intimate fantasies down just-so, then we send them out into an often harsh and uncaring world, hoping that someone out there will pat us on the head, give us a few coins, and tell us we did a good job.

What with this emotionally chaotic environment a little success can push just about anyone into feeling overly superior. Being kicked and punched by the trials and tribulations of the writing life making just about anyone desperate to feel good about themselves - even if it means losing perspective, looking down on other writers. Arrogance becomes an emotional survival tool, a way of convincing themselves they deserve to be patted on the noggin a few more times than anyone else, paid more coins, and told they are beyond brilliant, extremely special.

It's very easy to spot someone afflicted with this. Since their superiority constantly needs to be buttressed, they measure and wage the accomplishments and merits of other writers putting to decide if they are better (and so should be humbled) or worse (and so should be the source of worship or admiration). In writers, this can come off as someone who thinks they deserve better ... everything than anyone else: pay, attention, consideration, etc. In editors, this appears as rudeness, terseness, or an unwillingness to treat contributors as anything but a resource to be exploited.

Now my house has more than a few windows, and I have more than enough stones, so I say all this with a bowed head: I am not exactly without this sin. But I do think that trying to treat those around you as equals should be the goal of every human on this planet, let alone folks with literary aspirations. Sometimes we might fail, but even trying as best we can -- or at least owning the emotion when it gets to be too much - is better than embracing an illusion of superiority.

What this has to do with erotica writing has a lot to do with marketing. It is an illusion - and a pervasive one - that good work will always win out. This is true to a certain extent, but there are a lot of factors that can step in the way of reading a great story and actually buying it. Part of that is the relationship that exists between writers and publishers or editors. A writer who honestly believes they are God's gift to mankind might be able to convince a few people, but after a point their stories will be more received with a wince than a smile: no matter how good a writer they are their demands are just not worth it.

For editors and publishers, arrogance shows when more and more authors simply don't want to deal with them. After a point they might find themselves with a shallower and shallower pool of talent from which to pick their stories - and as more authors get burned by their attitude and the word spreads they might also find themselves being spoken ill of to more influential folks, like publishers.

Not to take away from the spiritual goodness of being kind to others, acting superior is also simply a bad career move. This is a very tiny community, with a lot of people moving around. Playing God might be fun for a few years but all it takes is stepping on a few too many toes - especially toes that belong on the feet of someone who might suddenly be able to help you in a big way some day - making arrogance a foolish role to play.

I am not a Christian (despite my pseudonym) but they have a great way of saying it, one that should be tacked in front of everyone's forehead: "Do onto others as you would have then do unto you." It might not be as elegant and passionate as my Hokusai quote, but it's still a maxim we should all strive to live by - professionally as well as personally.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The View From Here: It's the End of the World As We Know It ...

(the following is part of an ongoing 'column' I did for Suspect Thoughts, and, no, it's not supposed to make sense)

"... this is an announcement from Apocalypse Management - your last word in the end of the world reporting. Next Blurmsday, the usage of superfast bacterial computers in the design of advertising jingles will result in the creation of a meme, or memory virus, so potent as to destroy all cognitive abilities in the listener, resulting in an irresistible compulsion to purchase the product indicated and spread more copies of the meme through careless humming and even outright singing. Spreading around the world as fast as it takes to sing "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner -" the information lifeform will eventually supplant all rational thought, wiping out our species as sufferers become unable to even feed themselves ...."

I started to reach for the dial but hesitated when a rhyme for "encrusted" suddenly came to mind, so I jumped back into my poem - pausing only when getting stuck on "delirium."

"On Trasday, the Unisecurian Cult of Transubstantiated Bliss will mark the 102nd ascension of their martyr, Long Lone Love, by embarking on a divine war against all unbelievers. In a global bloodbath, they will kill over 90% of the world's population in a single week, mostly through the slow, painful process of "fractionating" where the victim is methodically sliced away, starting with the feet. The carnage will only stop when the Cult realizes that only either a cruel and evil god would allow such butchery - even of unbelievers and heretics - or that there is no divine presence at all, and that man himself is the sole moral authority in existence. Facing this existential crisis, the cult will commit a hasty and often extraordinarily messing mass suicide - leaving the few survivors of both the Cult and non-believers to die of starvation and disease."

Stanza finished, I rested a bit - sipping my quickly cooling mug of Buggery Brew, absently mulling over my work ... did "incidentally" really work in line two? "Prurient" definitely needed work, as did "iron monger" in the fifth line ....

"Purseday will see the complete destruction of reality itself, when the Think Big Project - an unique cooperative effort between world-renown philosophers, religious leaders, particle physicists, mathematicians, French Chefs, and garage mechanics will result in the realization that the substance of our existence is nothing but a complex symbolic hallucination of a specific ant colony in Brazil. Before this colony can be protected against outside interference, a housewife in Sao Paulo will dose the nest with several cans of extra-strong Riddo brand insecticide. As the individual ants perish, increasingly fundamental components of our world will fade, replaced by conspicuously blank sections of geography, vocabulary, anatomy, and societal structure. The few survivors, unable to stand because of missing limbs, speak because of missing limbs, or breathe because of missing lungs, will cling together until the last of the ants dies."

In one brief moment, what I saw as my best work to date died in a rolling wave of self-criticism: what the hell was I thinking? None of it worked. It was crap - no, worse than crap, it was pure Reader's Digest. Not even worthy of lining a beefly cage. I picked the sheet up, intending to dramatically tear it into shreds when ....

"The moon will hit the earth next Scarnsday. Surprisingly, however, there will be survivors. Unfortunately, they will kill each other off in a series of wars over who was to blame for the moon falling in the first place. On a side note, man will be succeeded by cockroaches, which will settle the issue by simply claiming that 'man' - nonspecific race, nation, etc. - was to blame, leaving it at that."

Ummm ... you know, I though, this isn't THAT bad. If I tweaked the second stanza a bit, tied in the imagery of the graveyard from the 13th line, fourth stanza, and then switched the eighth and the second ...

"Those who believe that men have only a certain numbers of orgasms will have their theories validated next Vernsday when a cosmic alignment will cause men to experience all of their unspent orgasms over a period of 12 minutes. The subsequent erectile ruptures will totally decimate the male population of the planet, causing only a small number of women to become despondent but will completely revitalize the flagging sex device industry. Women will manage to survive and create a near utopia - until befalling to an ancient disease that had been kept in check for through male urination on toilet seats."

Momentarily frustrated, I again reached out to turn the damned thing off - but bumping my wrist against my still partially full mug and almost spilling the orange drink all over my desk shocked me silly. Not wanting another near disaster, I took a break from the page to carefully walk the cup to the sink and throw the rest of the cold brew away.

"... in quite a shock to believers of Molloth, the ancient starman will not come from his Cold Home on Sirius 4, but will rather send his brother, Vellum. Vellum, who is not as well known or popular as Molloth - who, it is said, helped the Egyptians with the pyramids and copy-edited the 10 Commandments - will borrow money, lay around watching TV all day, and criticize everything we've done. When humanity will have had enough, and will ask him to leave, he will become argumentative and claim that humanity is a bunch of jerks who never liked him, always preferring Molloth, that "goody-goody jerk." Vellum will then drink too much and pick a fight with humanity - which will loose. Vellum, feeling superior, will then return to Sirius 4, telling Molloth that humanity started it all - and, besides, had it coming."

I stood at the sink for a long time, having long finished washing my mug, just letting the cool water splash over my hands. I knew I should be getting back to work, but didn't - after all, it would all be over soon anyway.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Still more ebay fun!

Here's your chance to pick up some great anthologies (many of which being out of print and/or rare) that just happen to have stories in them by yours truly. Check them out here. Keep coming back, by the way, as I'll be posting even more in the next few weeks.