Archive for August, 2017

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with…Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Last Writes with..., Sword & Sorcery with tags , , on August 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

Welcome to a Special Edition of The Occult Detective’s Last Writes.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoToday’s guest-of-honor is none other than Stephen Zimmer, an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

ouroboros

 

Before we get down to the business at hand, I thought I might share with you my thoughts on Stephen’s Rayden Valkyrie series.

HeartofALion_Cover

Heart of a Lion is a fast-paced sword & sorcery tale starring Rayden Valkyrie, a strong-willed warrior with a sense of justice and fair play. The author really shines when he delves into her character, highlighting her strict code of honor.

Written in a very visual style, but leaving plenty of room to breathe, Heart of a Lion reminded me of a cross between Lin Carter’s prose and Sam Raimi’s sensibilities.

It certainly had a throw-back feel, like the novelization of a Saturday Matinee cliffhanger serial with Ray Harryhausen effects.

The second book in the series, Thunder Horizon, was a stronger outing. Rayden is still ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800the same ass-kicking warrior woman you fell in love with in Heart of a Lion. You can really tell the author is inside her head. He gets her.

The big difference here are the supporting characters. While handled with skill in the debut novel, in Thunder Horizon, this cast really comes alive.

There are some real spine-tingling moments throughout, and the author deftly navigates between these larger-than-life fantasy tropes and rich, textured human elements.

He makes you feel for every character and that’s an incredible accomplishment.

With another book in the Dark Sun Dawn Saga still to come and a tv pilot in post-production, we have thankfully not seen the last of Rayden Valkyrie.

Speaking of “last”… it’s my pleasure now to draw your attention to Stephen’s responses to our morbid curiosities — It’s time for…

last-writes-3

The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

 

Last meal you’d eat: Would have to be a pizza, true New York-style, with at least a pepperoni topping.  Most likely double pepperoni and banana peppers, mushrooms, and olives.  But New York-style pizza is a life-long favorite of mine.  Thankfully here in Lexington we have a pizza place (Brooklyn Pizza) that does it very, very well.  I’d go with that as my choice!

Last book you’d read: Lord of the Rings trilogy compendium.  These books have had a life-long impact on me from the first time my mother read them to me at age 7.  I always see new things in the story every time I read it, and at this point I’ve read these books many times over.  They would be an appropriate final read before making the big transition.

Last movie you’d watch: I’m going to sound very single-minded, but I have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy again.  I was so impressed with how well Peter Jackson captured the look and feel of the books.   There are major differences between the books and the movie, but the core spirit remains intact onscreen and that is what is most important to me!

Last song you’d listen to: This is a very difficult choice as I am a huge music fan.  But I’d want to end things on a positive note, so I’d have to go with a Kiss song, as I’ve been a Kiss fan since the days I was exposed to Lord of the Rings novels!  While “Rock and Roll All Nite” is not my favorite Kiss song, it does sum up the magic of Kiss and as a last song would be fitting indeed!  It’s a pure expression of living life with zest and would be a great way to cross over!

First person you’d like to meet on the other side: I cannot choose one of my folks over the other, so this is co-awarded to my father and mother.  No question they are first on my list as far as who I want to see in better realms beyond.  I miss them every single day.

ouroboros

 

I’d like to thank Stephen for allowing Occult Detective to be one of his whistlestops on his whirlwind Rayden Valkyrie Blog Tour Celebration.

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To follow along on the tour, click HERE for everywhere Stephen’s been and where he’s headed next. You can also follow Stephen via his social media presence:

Twitter:  @SGZimmer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7
Website: www.stephenzimmer.com

If you dig heroic fantasy and strong female protagonists, then I urge you to order Heart Like a Lion and Thunder Horizon. They will more than scratch that itch, believe me.

BOBOD
My occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, and both novels in the Cairnwood Manor series — Shadows Over Somerset and Keepers of the Dead — are available via Amazon and other online retail outlets in both ebook and trade paperback.

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Godspeed Grandpa

Posted in Liber et Audax on August 22, 2017 by Occult Detective

grandpashirleyYesterday, as the moon had just begun to blot out the sun, my grandfather, O’Neal Shirley, crossed from this world to the next.

He was 89 years old.

He should have left us a few years back, but you see there’s something about my grandfather you may not know — he was the toughest, hardest working, and strongest man you could ever hope to meet.

Death was in for a fight.

Grandpa Shirley had toiled in the fields all his life. He grew up poor in rural Arkansas and struggled to build a life for his family, eventually settling in rural Indiana.

The Shirley surname comes from ancient Saxon, meaning ‘a clear place or pasture’. It was a fitting name for him.

Grandpa was a horseman and farmer and I bailed a lot of hay and cleaned a lot of stalls for that man. He pushed me hard, but pushed himself harder.

I have so many fond memories growing up on that farm as a child. It was hard work, but it was honest, and looking back on it, a lot of fun.

It seemed like every farmer in the area had a “Neal Shirley” story, usually centering around feats of strength or some sort of MacGyver-ish hack for fixing broken down equipment that just sort of came natural to him.

Whether it was of him tossing hay in a field barefooted or fixing a busted belt with bailing twine, the general gist of it all was that he was as tough as nails.

He was a good man. He may never have quite understood me, but that’s okay. He loved me and I him, and that’s what mattered.

My favorite picture of us together is from Converse’s Old Fashioned Days, just a little over 50 years ago, on August 12, 1967. I was 17 months old. He would have been 39.

grandpashirley2

Godspeed, Grandpa. You taught me far more than I think you realized and I love you for it and so much more.

Dark Grows the Sun

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on August 21, 2017 by Occult Detective

 

The giantess old in Ironwood sat,
In the east, and bore the brood of Fenrir;
Among these one in monster’s guise
Was soon to steal the sun from the sky.

There feeds he full on the flesh of the dead,
And the home of the gods he reddens with gore;
Dark grows the sun, and in summer soon
Come mighty storms: would you know yet more?

 —Völuspá (The Poetic Edda)

Today, we here in the continental US will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun for the first time in 38 years. In Indiana, we’ll only get 90% coverage, give or take, but still, it’s something rare and special to behold.

Nearly every culture has their own myths and folklore concerning an eclipse, most often some form of legendary monstrosity descends to eat the sun; be it dragon, bear, demon, or, in the case of the Norse, two wolves.

The coming of Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods, is signaled when the children of Fenrir, Sköll and Hati, fated to pursue the sun and moon across the sky, finally take down the sun and devour it.

skollhati

The eclipse resonates with us, filling us with fear and awe. It is a spectacle; an event that captures the imagination. It is one of nature’s most dazzling displays and one you’re sure to remember for a lifetime.

Do I believe it to be a harbinger of something more than just a rare celestial occurrence? Well, I suspect there is the potential for increased paranormal activity during an event such as this, that the veil between this world and others can most certainly be pulled aside, creating a portal to these parallel dimensions.

Needless to say, my curiosity is piqued. I was 13 the last time something like this came around. That was a magical time for me. I expect a kind of magic this time around as well…

So enjoy the majesty of it all, but keep your wits about you and be safe above all else.

BOBOD

My occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, and both novels in the Cairnwood Manor series — Shadows Over Somerset and Keepers of the Dead — are available via Amazon and other online retail outlets in both ebook and trade paperback.

My review of Old Style Conjure by Starr Casas

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error with tags , , , on August 17, 2017 by Occult Detective

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Though I was born and raised in the wilds of northern Indiana, my roots run deep into the soil of the South. My parents were both born in Arkansas and my family traces our lineage, on both sides, throughout the “Land of Opportunity”.

My maternal and paternal grandparents migrated to the rural Hoosier community I call home in the 1950s, an area where dozens upon dozens of other Arkansas expatriate families decided to hang their hats.

I was surrounded by family and friends who all hailed from those southern climes and they brought with them rich and colorful folk stories and traditions handed down for generations. Coupled with that, my nearest neighbors as a child were Mexican migrants, who had their own flavor of folklore from the southwest. It was a heady influence of cultures that fueled my own interests in the paranormal and the occult.

Immersing myself in Mama Starr’s Old Style Conjure: Hoodoo, Rootwork, & Folk Magic felt very much like a homecoming of sorts.

The author, well-versed in the tradition, has a distinctive writing style the evokes the spirit of the South, comfortable and relaxed, but not without a bit of spit and fire.

The historical context of the craft is well-represented and woven throughout giving the work that sense of it being passed down from an elder rootworker to a novice conjurer, which is just the case.

With minor exceptions, the spellwork here is fully developed and practical, hammering again and again the connections between ones ancestors, the Bible as source, purity of intent, and justification for taking action.

In many ways, I am reminded of the pow-wow magic of the Pennsylvania Dutch (of which I’m more intimately familiar), but while the roots of pow-wow run back to Europe, conjure is firmly grounded in African-American slave culture.

The magic presented here is powerful stuff. It’s not the sort of mojo I keep in my bag of tricks, but I am fascinated by its deep, colorful history and its continued presence in the modern world.

Conjure is the magic of the people and it works. If you’ve an interest in pursuing these works, I can recommend no better place to begin.

Old Style Conjure: Hoodoo, Rootwork, & Folk Magic by Mama Starr Casas is available wherever books are sold or you can weave your own brand of magic and purchase it directly from the publisher by the simple manipulation of the keyboard at your fingertips. Just click HERE to begin your adventure into the magic of the folk.

#SpookyDaze ahead

Posted in Horror with tags , on August 7, 2017 by Occult Detective

spookydaze[1]

I’ve loved Hallowe’en since the first time I slid into a Ben Cooper mask.

For me, Hallowe’en has always been all about magic, mystery, and the macabre.

When I think of Hallowe’en I think of ghost stories around a campfire, plastic pumpkins filled with candy, corn mazes and hay rides, and late night strolls through my favorite cemeteries.

Knowing my passion for all things All Hallows, my friends at Cozy Daze have invited me to help promote their newest venture — Spooky Daze — and I jumped at the chance.

Very soon, Spooky Daze will be offering an amazing line of products, including life-size polyresin statues of iconic horror figures, Hallowe’en-themed furniture, spooky lighting, scary decorations, and more.

frankThese items make for great photo-ops and eye-catching displays, guaranteed to draw people in, whether you’re running a haunted attraction or Hallowe’en event.

And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to have a 7′ Frankenstein in their house. I’m making room in my den even as we speak.

I’ll post a link to their site as soon as they’re up and running. Believe me, you’ll want to check it out.

84 days till Hallowe’en… Are you ready? I know I am.

12 Movies to Inspire Your Magic(k)

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre on August 7, 2017 by Occult Detective

Yesterday, druid author John Beckett published a blog entitled 12 Movies to inspire your Magic. In the post he states “if you’re feeling a bit too mundane and you need some magical motivation, give one of these a try“.

While there are several fine movies on his list of inspirational works, I would only include two from his article in a list of my own. One would come from his initial 12 and one from his “not for this” section.

So let’s have a go, shall we, and in no particular order:

Excalibur: A brilliant choice by John. He’s spot on about the brilliant performance by Nicol Williamson as Merlin. And Helen Mirren’s Morgan La Fey is equal to the task.

merlin

The Wicker Man: John finds the depiction of paganism off-putting here, despite being a fan of the movie, but I beg to differ. What you see is living, breathing paganism at its most human. No, I’m not suggesting we return to sacrificing our fellow man to the gods, but the moral of the story is clear and compelling.

Wicker-Man

Now for 10 that didn’t make Mr. Beckett’s list but make mine —

The Devil Rides Out: This brilliant adaptation of the Dennis Wheatley classic stars Christopher Lee in his finest performance.

devilridesout

The Ninth Gate: A lot of people were turned off by this Johnny Depp thriller, but I found it engaging.

Ninth-Gate-Corso

Night of the Demon: An often overlooked masterpiece adapting M.R. James’ Casting of the Runes.

Nightofthedemonposter

A Dark Song: This recent film blew me away. Yes, the ritual’s a bit dodgy but the spirit and intent are masterfully done.

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Simon, King of the Witches: Seldom seen by most people I talk to, but this one blew me away at the drive-in in the 70s. Definitely a cult classic.

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The Love Witch: Anna Biller pulled out all the stops for this 70s horror movie homage.

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Necromancy: Orson Welles, just before the end, drunkenly chews the scenery in this low budget thriller. Hard to find, but worth a look.

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Lucifer Rising: Kenneth Anger’s powerful ritual trapped in celluloid, evocative and transformative. For the record, I prefer Jimmy Page’s soundtrack.

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The Song Remains the Same: Speaking of Page, this film, while far from perfect, captures real magic at work.

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And now for something completely different:

Ghoulies: Yes, Ghoulies. I know it’s a Gremlins rip-off, but the ritual scenes and Detective’s Michael Des Barres was really quite something.

Des-Barres

Three from Seven

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice with tags , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Occult Detective

I’ve had three books published by Seventh Star Press — two in the Cairnwood Manor series (Shadows Over Somerset / Keepers of the Dead) and the first in my Tales of the Liber Monstrorum (First Born), with the second (Descendant) soon to follow.

I am, understandably, proud of each of them. They are, oddly enough, all very different. Shadows is something of a Gothic Horror, while Keepers is far more Fantasy/Adventure. First Born is a mixed bag of traditional Occult Detective tales and Urban Fantasy, while Descendant will have elements of both of those with a bit of Police Procedural for good measure.

One thing I can promise about each and every one of them is this — I did my level best to spin a good yarn.

I hope you agree…

The Cairnwood Manor Series

sosShadows Over Somerset
Trade Paperback / Ebook

kotdKeepers of the Dead
Trade Paperback / Ebook

Tales of the Liber Monstrorum

Cover 01 First BornFirst Born
Trade Paperback / Ebook

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01 sigil magick

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