A Sneak Peek at the Liber Monstrorum Cover Tests
I’m not completely sold on Born Again. I may change it completely, or add Connors and Company, standing around the demonic bassinet… We’ll see.
Here’s a sneak peek at the cover mock-up for First Born, the first in the Liber Monstrorum Chronicles, which is the next book of mine that will be published with Seventh Star.
This prequel to Descendant will contain a novella, several short stories, and a couple of interesting surprises. Details to come.
In the meantime, there’s this:
There was in Athens a house, spacious and open, but with an infamous reputation, as if filled with pestilence. For in the dead of night, a noise like the clashing of iron could be heard. And if one listened carefully, it sounded like the rattling of chains.
At first the noise seemed to be at a distance, but then it would approach, nearer, nearer, nearer. Suddenly a phantom would appear, an old man, pale and emaciated, with a long beard, and hair that appeared driven by the wind. The fetters on his feet and hands rattled as he moved them.
Any dwellers in the house passed sleepless nights under the most dismal terrors imaginable. The nights without rest led them to a kind of madness, and as the horrors in their minds increased, onto a path toward death.
Damned as uninhabitable, the house was at last deserted, left to the spectral monster. But in hope that some tenant might be found who was unaware of the malevolence within it, the house was posted for rent or sale.
It happened that a philosopher named Athenodorus came to Athens at that time. Reading the posted bill, he discovered the dwelling’s price. The extraordinary cheapness raised his suspicion, yet when he heard the whole story, he was not in the least put off. Indeed, he was eager to take the place. And did so immediately.
As evening drew near, Athenodorus had a couch prepared for him in the front section of the house. He asked for a light and his writing materials, then dismissed his retainers. To keep his mind from being distracted by vain terrors of imaginary noises and apparitions, he directed all his energy toward his writing.
For a time the night was silent. Then came the rattling of fetters. Athenodorus neither lifted up his eyes, nor laid down his pen. Instead he closed his ears by concentrating on his work. But the noise increased and advanced closer till it seemed to be at the door, and at last in the very chamber. Athenodorus looked round and saw the apparition exactly as it had been described to him. It stood before him, beckoning with one finger.
Athenodorus made a sign with his hand that the visitor should wait a little, and bent over his work. The ghost, however, shook the chains over the philosopher’s head, beckoning as before. Athenodorus now took up his lamp and followed. The ghost moved slowly, as if held back by his chains. Once it reached the courtyard, it suddenly vanished.
Athenodorus, now deserted, carefully marked the spot with a handful of grass and leaves. The next day he asked the magistrate to have the spot dug up. There they found–intertwined with chains–the bones that were all that remained of a body that had long lain in the ground. Carefully, the skeletal relics were collected and given proper burial, at public expense. The tortured ancient was at rest. And the house in Athens was haunted no more.
— Pliny the Younger
“(Zed’s) someone who can go toe-to-toe with John,” said executive producer Daniel Cerone of the new character. “We wanted a more dynamic relationship, as opposed to someone who is a teacher/mentor and a student. It just didn’t feel as fertile and rich of an area as just a strong man and a strong woman who are both very different.”
So, how will they handle Lucy Griffith’s departure without scrapping the pilot episode? It appears they’ll be refilming one small scene and then writing in Liv’s exit in episode 2. Are the producers hinting that her exit will be in a pine box?
“One of the hallmarks of John is his friends drop like flies,” Goyer explained, making a point to praise Griffiths’ job in the pilot. “They almost all die around him. It’s the price of doing business. He is this classic noir character who often ends up alone, and we thought it was consistent with the character.”
This series just took a major turn for the better, I think. It’s really starting to feel like Hellblazer. Killing off Lucy in the second episode would underscore that in a major way.
I like it.
THE PATHOS OF GENRE
by Douglas E. Winter
Based on a speech delivered to the
Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards Banquet
June 6, 1998
Not long ago, a likeable, intelligent editor for one of the major New York publishers asked me to read the manuscript of a first novel she was publishing. She hoped that I would offer some suitable words of wisdom for the book’s cover — a “blurb.” I agreed to read the novel, whose title and premise were enticing, but I withheld any promise to deliver a quotable quote. When I turned to the manuscript a few weeks later, I was mesmerized, caught up in an intense and certifiably weird masterpiece.
I wrote to the editor and offered a lengthy and enthusiastic paragraph, reporting that this was no ordinary book, but probably the most original and unnerving first novel that I had read in years. In concluding, I noted that here, at last, was what readers had been waiting for: A new horror for the nineties.
I soon received a gracious call from the editor, thanking me for taking the time to help her with marketing that most problematic of commodities, a first novel; but then came a curious request. She wanted to use my impassioned remarks on the back cover of the book, but she wondered: Would I mind if she edited them slightly? Would I agree to eliminate . . . one word? The word, of course, was horror.
When Jack Williamson and William Peter Blatty — the men honored at the 1998 HWA banquet for their lifetimes of achievement – sat down to create their masterworks, the word “horror” did not describe a kind of book. But since the early 1980s, we have been besieged by this word. Horror. For better — and, more often, for worse — “horror” has come not only to define, but also to dictate, a kind of fiction. The writer whose bestselling novels brought new credence to the literature of fear was labeled the “King of Horror.” Publishers eagerly branded their products as “horror” through cover copy and publicity; some went so far as to use the word as an imprint. Magazines proclaimed their devotion to it. Entire shelves and sections in bookstores and libraries wore the name.
A World Horror Convention was born. Writers gathered, like lost sheep, into a Horror Writers Association.
The word, the word: The horror, the horror.
In this sudden quest for identity, for a way of labeling whatever impulse had given readers and filmgoers the particular appetite for chaos that marked the fading 1970s, the coming 1990s, the moment was what mattered: for writers, notoriety and income; for booksellers and publishers, sales. Few considered the long-term consequences, and those who raised their voices were ignored, shouted down. We witnessed, in the name of “horror,” a curious entropic journey in which readers, writers, editors, publishers, and booksellers ventured into a seemingly limitless frontier, but soon circled the wagons, claiming a known and seemingly solid ground, around which signifying fences — brand name writers, book cover art, even book titles, icons, styles — were erected to define, describe . . . and confine. Horror. The Horror.
A fiction whose fundamental impulse was the unsafe – the breaching of the taboo, the creation of physical and metaphysical unease — was being made safe for mass consumption. Soon a “horror” existed that was as recognizable as science fiction, the western or the romance — and thus as capable of reproduction, marginalization, and, indeed, denigration.
And why? Because a fiction whose hallmark was the unexpected had become, as a genre, a fiction of the expected.
Genre is the bastard child of expectation . . . anticipation.
Look! The Internet is abuzz with Constantine news. I’m sure you’ve seen it popping up all over — Lucy Griffiths’ Liv, the doe-eyed ‘chosen one’ who was to serve, I surmise, as the audience proxy into Constantine’s world, is out! And… the part is not being recast. In fact, the creators are dipping into the comic for a suitable femme foil for our swaggering con man…
Allow me to introduce to you Zed, John’s ex-lover and a bit of a pagan priestess with considerable talents of her own. No actress has been cast as yet, but I’m eager to see who (or what) they conjure up.
Normally, changes like these would be troubling coming from a series debut, but I am, instead, optimistic.
This change aligns Constantine even more with the source material.
That has to be a good thing… Doesn’t it?
Though, to be honest, I was hoping for another Z to show up. Zatanna’s got to become a series regular at some point. She just has to. Fishnets are ratings gold.