I guess it can’t be called a completed piece because it just got workshopped in class, but it is almost completed, I believe. This was a departure from my usual fantasy and sci-fi writing, which I don’t do very often. I went ahead and tried to write a story that is one we’ve heard quite often: woman gets into a relationship, relationship is abusive, woman runs. But I wanted to do it with a new twist, and out came a story called “Of Ghosts and Sky.” It’s a departure for me because even the tone sounds different, turning it into something else that I haven’t really written before.

Completed (almost?): “Of Ghosts and Sky”

Word Count: 4,777

Pages: 16 (double spaced)

It’s a good feeling to get something different out there. I can’t describe exactly where the story came from, but when my roommate read it she said she nearly felt a panic attack coming on. Apparently, my work still does the heavy feeling of anxiety/horror well, even when I’m not aiming for overtly horrific, and that’s what I wanted to bring across. So I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve. It’s not finished, of course – my workshop in class said I had some things to adjust to make it more effective, but I think that with some changes it can be a really effective story.

Speaking of doing effective stories: I am working my way through Stephen King’s non-fiction book, Danse Macabre, his analysis of horror in not only literature but television and film. It is right up my alley as part of my studies at college have been film and television as well as literature. I’m hoping that it gives me a better appreciation of what to look for to create more effective horror. It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of what kind of psychology and themology should be going behind every story, and where the horror in a story really comes from. I really love his analysis of classic monster/horror books such as Frankenstein and Dracula as well as his recommendations about things to go out and ready/see. I am certainly tracking down a copy of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House after everything he said.  I can’t believe the mess they made of the movie by comparison to what the book describes… though should I really be surprised?

I now have a list of stuff I need to go read, but I’m tearing my way through this book as best I can. I seriously recommend.

This is going to be the part of my blog where I support the process of reading.

I can’t tell you how many people I know who do not read for a fig. There’s a great deal of difference, of course, between reading the way that I do (book fanatic as I am) and a regular ‘reading for fun’ pace. What I’m talking about is the general loss and lack of appreciation for reading good books that a lot of people have. My friends, bless them, are a great and creative bunch but some simply do not have any interest in picking up a book and seeing what is between the covers. And I do not understand why.

My early life was prone for giving me a love of books. I learned to read before most other kids my age, and was an only child so I spent a lot of time with books in my hand as opposed to with other kids my own age. That appreciation never really went away, even when I encountered teachers who did their damnedest to make the reading process the most boring thing I’d ever seen. Reading to me was still a portal, a gateway, into things unseen and unexplored, just a breath away. Words became magic to me.

To friends of mine, people I know, they are cumbersome things that get in the way of information. They believe that reading something online, an article, talking about it, that’s enough. But getting down between the covers of a book? That’s either too boring or takes too long or is too difficult.

I don’t understand it. To me, that’s like saying a good kiss is too much tongue work, pardon the vulgar (if you find that vulgar). Is it too much work to cook a stellar meal you’ll enjoy? I never understand how the words can be such a passkey for some to adventure and such a prison of information for others. Myself, it is my bread and butter, my lifeblood, that spill from me like drops of rain.

And from plenty of other people too! These posts, marked appropriately, will be about what I’m reading right now and my impressions of the authors, the stories, everything. So let’s begin with…

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

It shows the mark of a great writer that you can take a concept like time travel, extra-dimensional travel, monsters and haunted houses, demons and wizards, westerns and drug use, and put them all in a series of books that spans places unknown and alike at the same time. Nobody doubts that Stephen King is a prolific and popular writer but this series also proves what many people might scoff about: Stephen King is one of the greatest writers of our time.

“The Dark Tower” series spans an unimaginably complex and beautiful story about the gunslinger, Roland, on his way to confront the Tower at the heart of the universe. From the very first lines of the story, you get caught up in the style and flavor of the text as Stephen King writes, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” There is no way to resist following. It came across to me like a compulsion to keep reading, to find out what this was about, to know more. It takes seven books, but King has completed the series recently, so follow it I will.

I’m already on book three and nearly finished with that one at that. I started this run last Monday and polished off the pages at a good clip. While the first book, I admit, takes a few pages to get into, once you’ve gotten used to the style of writing King uses to mark the gunslinger’s world as different from ours, it’s easy to get into this story of an epic hero on his quest for immortal answers. I can’t wait to see more of what King came up with in later books. The funny part is, carrying this book around has given me an idea of how many Stephen King fans there are out there, because no matter where I go there always seems to be someone who has already read the series or is right smack in the middle, just like me.

An addendum must mention, however, the graphic novels done by Marvel Comics, which tell the story of Roland’s childhood and quest to manhood. They are both epically beautiful and though the world of Gilead and Mid-World looks different in my head than it does in the comics (Jae Lee’s art, while beautiful, is not what I envision), the comics are so beautifully illustrated that there is nothing to do but gape at the tight lines telling the story of a hero’s trials. So far they’ve done two graphic novels, “The Gunslinger is Born” and “The Long Road Home” and they’re just about to get into “Treachery”, the third run. I can’t wait to see it, as all of this is new information to me anyway.

So that’s it from The Dark Tower series. Tune in next time when I talk about “The Exorcism of Annelise Michele”, the true-life account of an exorcism that went wrong which inspired the modern horror film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.