Posts Tagged ‘death’


gypsy

This morning, we lost one of the lovingest, fiercest, itty-bitty, little forces to be reckoned with since pets were domesticated.

Gypsy’s Vixen ala Mode–aka Gypsy, aka Mrs. Loud, aka Little Houdini–passed away suddenly at approximately 7:20 this morning, after a short and unexpected bout of weakness, labored breathing, and sudden fatigue.

Gypsy was unusually small, even for a toy poodle, but her spirit was as big as any Great Dane’s. She enjoyed giving high-fives, rubbing her head on things, eating cheese with her daddy, cuddling with her mommy, and minding everyone else’s business. She had the temperament of a hunter, often seeming to be unaware of her petite size, and frequently getting in over her head because of this oversight. But she always prevailed.

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Gypsy also loved having her head kissed, getting belly rubs, running like the wind, and giving hugs. Despite her sudden illness, she endured long enough to pass away in her favorite place–her mommy’s arms. And at 8:30 this morning, we took Gypsy to the place she knew as home, and buried her with her green flannel pet pillow and her favorite black and white blankie.

We adopted Gypsy in 2000 from a resident at the Heritage Eastridge rehabilitation and retirement center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her owner was progressing in age and having trouble caring for her. Although he called her Patricia, we changed her name to Gypsy partly because of the fact that ours was the fourth home she’d had in her short life, and also, we named her after the Fleetwood Mac song, Gypsy, which we are both fans of.

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(Gypsy with her mommy–her favorite place to be)

She is survived by Sven, her brother and companion of almost thirteen years. He will miss her dearly and her absence from our family will leave a hole that will never be filled.

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(Gypsy goofing off with her daddy)

We love you, Gypsy. We will always miss you and always love you. Rest in peace, Sweet Eyes.

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As we get closer to the release of Beautiful Monster (September 1st, 2012!), I begin thinking more and more about the sequel. Mimi A. Williams (Kim Williams-Justesen~ my mentor and co-author), and I decided shortly after the manuscript was accepted for publication, that we’d like to make this a three-part story. Whether or not this will be of any interest to the publisher or not, we don’t yet know, but if the only reason we do it is for ourselves, that’s reason enough for us.

We’ve outlined the second novel, which we are planning to call Beautiful Liar, and I have written the first scene of my first chapter. As I get going again, there’s only one thing I’m not looking forward to: seeing the world through the eyes of my deranged main character, Sterling Bronson. Sterling came into existence as the result of more than a year’s worth of intensive research on serial killers, sociopaths, narcissists and a variety of other psychologically disturbed social deviants. I know Sterling well, and this is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, knowing him makes him easier to write. On the other hand, he disturbs me.

Writing fiction seems to be a lot like acting in many ways. When you’re inside the mind of your characters, you really become these characters, and when you’re writing a true monster of a man, as is the case with Sterling, this is not always a pleasant thing. For one thing, you subject yourself to the possibility of nightmares. I have had many disrupted nights of sleep because of Sterling, and I was glad when we finished Beautiful Monster because of that. Now that we’re going again, I have already dreamed of him twice. In one dream, he was just standing on a bridge looking at me, nothing serious. In the most recent dream, however, he was digging up the floorboards in a house to show me all the bodies he had hidden there. For the sakes of the more sensitive readers, I won’t go in to details, but the point is, Sterling is back to his old self again, and eagerly showing me the worst side of his nature.

I’m not complaining. In fact, I feel truly blessed that someone finally believed in me enough to publish one of my books. And that it didn’t take the statistical seven to nine years of rejection after rejection is something I’m truly grateful for. There’s just a small part of me though, that wishes it had been a different, more pleasant novel of mine that caught the eye of a publisher. I didn’t write Beautiful Monster with any real expectation of it ever being published. I thought it was too graphic and too offensive to ever get picked up… but, go figure, it’s the one that made the cut. Again, I am neither complaining nor apologizing. I’m just not looking forward to seeing life through a maniac’s eyes again. I don’t like wondering what kind of mentality is required to take a human life. I don’t like wondering what someone’s flesh, under the blade of a knife, would look like as it separated from itself. I don’t like thinking about the last words a person might utter as their life is being taken away from them. I don’t like the fact that in order to believably write this character (again), I need to really understand the wicked twists and bizarre kinks of his mind.

But I’ll do it. I’ll do it because I want to tell this story. I’ll do it because, despite the horrors this character is composed of, I’ve somehow come to like him, and I want to see how his story plays itself out. I will do it because I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to prove myself, and if I treat it like a hobby, everyone else will treat it like a hobby, and I don’t have time for another hobby. I’ll do it because it’s my job. And… I’ll do it because if I don’t, I’m afraid of what Sterling might do to me!


On the phone the other night, a friend of mine asked me what it was like meeting some of my heroes. I thought about it a moment and answered very honestly, “It’s pretty dang cool.” It is cool, and among some of the very coolest people I have been fortunate enough to get to know is one of my first and greatest sources of inspiration, the horror novelist Tamara Thorne.

Tamara Thorne is the author of more than a dozen horror novels. She also had works published under the pseudonym Chris Curry. I came across her work in the ’90s at my local library, and immediately fell in love with her style, twisted humor, and morbid (in a good way) vision of the world. It was around this time that I began to seriously contemplate writing my own novels, and by the time I read her novel Moonfall, I was sure this was what I wanted to do.

Needless to say, you can imagine how excited I was the first time I spoke to her. In the beginning, I kept a respectable distance for fear of frightening her away. I hadn’t yet learned to keep my gushing reflexes under control, and had serious anxiety that I might say something unseemly like, “I’m your number one fan…” or something (I managed to refrain from telling her this until I was sure she didn’t think me a stalker!) ~ but in the beginning, I was totally starstruck. The first time I received a personal e-mail from her, I couldn’t quit reading it ~ and when we first exchanged phone numbers, I would think of things to text her just so I could relive that giddiness when I received the “Message from Tamara Thorne” notice on my phone when she texted me back. I still get a little giddy when I get that notice! Suffice it to say, I’m still a bit starstruck. To be able to casually chit-chat with horror-lit royalty like Tamara Thorne is, for me, one of the coolest things ever.

I’ve spent a good deal of time talking to Tamara. She’s told me a lot about her writing journey and her experiences in the industry. When she told me about how she and some of her fellow horror-author comrades observe a personal tradition in which they create characters based off of each other and kill them as a kind of tip-of-the-hat gesture to one another, I was fascinated. As she and I got to know each other better, I asked her if one day, I could put her in one my books and kill her. She said, “I would be honored, and one day I’ll kill you in one of mine, too.”

That, for me, is probably the closest I will ever come to a sense of having “arrived,” and I couldn’t have dreamed of a classier, more appropriate way for it to happen.

For more on Tamara, check her out at:  twitter.com/tamarathorne or: http://www.facebook.com/tamara.thorne

Q: Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite, and why?

A: It depends on my mood.  Haunted was the most fun to write because it’s pastiche, even though the characters don’t know it.  I felt like a kid in a candy store while writing it.  Overall, though, my favorite novel is probably Bad Things.  Not only did I plumb the depths of my own childhood terrors, but I got to write about elementals — I love Green Man mythos.

Q: Do you ever look at any of your books and wonder how you did it?

A: Every time.

Q: What’s the story behind Chris Curry?

A: Curry’s my maiden name and I would’ve been Christopher had I been a boy.  At that time, I wanted to hide gender, so Chris Curry fit the bill.

Q: When did you decide writing was what you wanted to do?

A: There was no decision; it was just a fact of life.  I was in the primary grades around the time the Beatles recorded Paperback Writer.  It was a dirty story about a dirty man and his scheming wife didn’t understand — but I did, because I wanted to be a paperback writer. . . paperback writer. Paper-baaaaack wriiiiterrrr.

Q: What motivated you to write Moonfall (I love that book!)?

A: My editor.  He’d gone to Catholic school and wanted some sweet revenge on the knuckle-rapping nuns.  I remember cooking it up the night we went to see Les Miz in New York.  We kept whispering back and forth about it during the play.  I really had a good time with that book.

Q: Describe how it felt the first time you got an acceptance letter.

A: It was for an unpaid shameless pun story for an itty bitty small press magazine.  When I got the news, I laughed, I shrieked, I giggled, I crawled on my belly like a snake.  That one still outshines even the big ones.

Q: What was it like seeing your first book in print?

A: Surreal.  It still is.

Q: Besides Chris Curry, what other names have you written under?

A: Just a few: Sue Sydell, Phil Anders,  Eugene Nicks, and Anakin Flyswatter.

Q: Have you ever cried while writing something?

A: I’m far too macho to ever admit to crying, but I do have Romancing the Stone moments that are dear to me.  Remember when the movie starts, Kathleen Turner’s character is finishing her romance novel and she’s in a frenzy of emotion as she types that last page.  I get like that.  Biggest was Bad Things.  It was exhilarating, freeing.  Next biggest was Haunted’s orgy of romance at the end — there was an intentional Ghost and Mrs. Muir vibe going on.  But all of them get me in the end in one way or another (I’m prone to gleeful giggling.)  If they didn’t, I’d have to write a new ending.

Q: Your talent for dialog is, in my opinion, very impressive. Does it come as naturally to you as it seems?

A: Um, yes.  I just listen to the voices in my head and transcribe what they say.

Q: Do you have a muse?

A: Mel Brooks and a gallon of gin.  Also, I reread a little Ray Bradbury now and then.  His beautiful poetic prose has inspired me since I first read him in second grade.  I also like to recall the opening/closing dialogues from The Haunting of Hill House.  “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”  Oh, how I love that paragraph. Talk about painting a picture with words.

Q: When you first started writing horror, how did the people around you react?

A: I only remember my son, in junior high, being really embarrassed that his mother sold a horror novel.  (He got over it.) Before I was published, I didn’t talk about wanting to write with anyone but Bill Gagliani. I just wrote – so did he, and we critiqued each other for years.  It worked; we’re both published.

Q: What kind of imagery sparks your imagination?

A: There are three images that always get my heart beating a little faster.  One is the image of a slender, pale hand appearing softly, slowly  from underneath the bed (or chair), or this same phantom hand holding back a curtain to peer out of a haunted room.   Another is low-level levitation.  When I read Graham Masterton’s brilliantly witty horror novel, The Manitou, and then saw the movie by the same name, I found the old lady floating along a couple of inches off the carpeted corridor about as spooky as anything I’ve ever cringed delightedly over.  Finally, plumbing horror.  Who doesn’t love that?  Whether it’s a shower curtain that’s not quite closed or a gush of blood from a faucet, whether it’s a ghost floating under water ala The Changeling, or the watery scent of the drowned ghost in Peter Straub’s If You Could See Me Now, it just works for me. 

Q: What do you like to read?

A: Anything but directions.  I love a good haunted house novel more than anything, but I don’t stick to the genre.  I like Nelson DeMille’s thrillers and big fat science/adventure thrillers of all sorts.   (One of my favorite novels is Jeff Long’s The Reckoning. Anyone who likes horror is in for a treat.) I always enjoy Stephen King, Peter Straub, Douglas Clegg and Robert McCammon as well as historical fiction like Andersonville, and narrative non-fiction like Erik Larson’s Devil and the White City.  I teethed on Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson and had no idea that Roald Dahl even wrote kids’ books until I was an adult;  I just loved the nasty little short stories he turned out.  I read lots of science fiction before I stumbled upon The Haunting of Hill House in the library when I was eleven.  That set my course.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?

A: Changing the ribbon in the computer.  Also, for the first few years, I always worried about my next plot forming, but after reading Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, I lost that fear.

Q: Have you ever killed a character and regretted it?

A: Well, not exactly.  As my dear friend and mentor, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, told me, sometimes characters insist on rushing into a burning barn to save the horses even though you’re screaming at them, “No, you’ll die!”   So, characters have died when I’d have preferred to keep them around, but I’ve never done in a major one unless he absolutely insisted.  Gotta listen to the characters; they always know best.

Q: Have you ever killed a character and enjoyed it a little too much?

A: Oh, no.  It’s fantasy, so when I kill a character, no matter how much I enjoy it, it’s never too much.  My favorite editor once told me that horror writers are the pussycats of the writing community, undoubtedly because we get to indulge our dark sides on a regular basis.

Q: What do you think are the three most important qualities a good writer must have?

A: You need to develop great observational skills. Learn to listen more than talk and do it without judgment.  Learn to shut off your own inner critic while you work.  You must write to please yourself, nothing more.

Q: Of the books you’ve written, which one are you the least satisfied with, and why?

A: The Sorority, because the schedule was tight and I couldn’t edit the way I normally would.  It was a big book in three acts published as a trilogy and each third was put to bed before the next one was done, so I couldn’t go back and change things the way I normally would — there are always threads the subconscious knows about that don’t reveal themselves until I’m almost done with the entire book.   However, I get to make my changes before Sorority comes out as an omnibus for Halloween 2013.  Whee!

Q: What do you consider to be your “Masterpiece?”

A: Hahaha! Masterpiece? I’ll get back to you when I know.  I’ve had a couple of books I’ve absolutely “had” to write — Thunder Road and Bad Things — and I have another must-write that I’ve barely begun, but that doesn’t necessarily mean one of those will be my “masterpiece.”  Actually, if I thought in those terms, I’d never be able to write anything!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Converting several titles to e-book form. Boy, is that work! There’s nothing like proofreading scans of your own work.  Scanners do strange little changes so you have to pay attention to every word — and you know you’re still going to miss some! On the more-fun side,   I’m planning Candle Bay’s sequel. I hope to start serious work on it the minute I’m done with the e-books and revamping my website this summer.

Q: Do you think that women horror writers are underestimated?

A: Hmm. I obviously used to think so because I used a genderless name.  Nowadays, I don’t think it’s much of an issue, but it’s not something I ever ponder. I just write what I’d like to read. Gender isn’t an issue for me.

Q: Have you ever collaborated with another writer, and if so, what was that like?

A: My BFF, children’s writer (author of the Scary Stories for Sleepover series) Q. L. Pearce and I are currently doing some collaborative work; we have half an adult novel on the back-burner and we’re working on a YA [young adult] vampire novel right now. It’s a pleasure to work with Q because we’re so well matched in our interests, attitudes and personalities. Because we normally write for different readers, we expand each other’s interests and audiences. That said, I do think you must be very cautious about entering into collaborations. Don’t do it on the spur of the moment. Know your collaborator well and be sure they understand professionalism. Be realistic and work out what you’re going to expect of one another in advance.  In most cases, a simple contract is a very good idea.

Q: What is your proudest moment in writing?

A: When my editor told me I made him cry.

Q: What inspired the Sorority Series?

A: Oh, cool!  I’m glad you asked.  Arthurian legend and my mother’s stories about a northern California mountain town she lived in as a girl being moved higher up the mountain so a reservoir could be built on the original site.  That story, alone, thrilled me, but the epilogue was even better: On their honeymoon, my parents swam over the drowned town.  My mother saw the tops of the pines beneath her in the water and was too spooked to go deeper.  Instead, she sat on the banks while my father repeatedly dived and swam around the old church steeple.  As for Arthurian legend, it’s simply something I’ve loved since I was little.  The antagonist throughout the trilogy is Malory Thomas: invert the name and look it up.  And they’re searching for the ghost of Holly Gayle.  Say that one out loud. . . Sorority is loaded with horrible puns –that’s the most shameless one of all.

Q: How do you feel about e-books?

A: As long as they don’t destroy old-fashioned books, I’m all for them.  I think the format may help a lot of us earn a little more money than we’re used to.

Q: What is the best thing anyone has ever said to you about your books?

A: Kids who write to tell me they hated reading before they found my books and people who write to tell me they became writers because of me. Makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

Q: What do you like to do aside from writing?

A: I collect hub caps and turn them into wind chimes.  I also make Cthluhu figures out of dried apples and squid.  I also make these things by special order. Finally, I love local history, visiting ghost towns, and staying in haunted hotel rooms. Because if you’re going to shell out over $100 for a room, it’d better have some entertainment!

Q: What makes you laugh out loud?

A: The book CAT by Kliban. The Colonel Angus SNL sketch. Blazing Saddles Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Airplane! and Idiocracy. The song stylings of Tom Lehrer.  Also, just thinking about setting off a fart app in a crowded elevator. Oh, the things I could do if I could control the giggle fits.  I never should’ve stolen the soul of that 10-year-old boy.

Q: What do you think the most important rule of good storytelling is?

A: Write what you love.

Q: Of the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite and why?

A: Oh boy, that’s a toughie.  There’s nearly always a secondary character – or even an intended throw-away character – who suddenly comes to life and does all sorts of unexpected things.  The Prophet James Robert Sinclair in Thunder Road.    Professor Tongue in Sorority.  Theo Pelinore and the Cox brothers in Haunted.  A major character who really fascinated me was Carlo Pelegrine in Thunder Road.  I dreamed him up one night (literally) and he was the missing piece the book needed.  In the dream, he was a serial killer called “The Peeler.”  In the book, well, same thing.  Only he’s reformed. Possibly. Oh, and Dakota O’Keefe in Bad Things.  S/he’s a cross between Tim Curry’s Dr. Frankenfurter and my idea of what a best friend should be.

Q: Which of your characters do you most relate to and why?

A: Two of them, for very different reasons.  First, Ricky Piper of Bad Things.  I gave him most of my childhood terrors concerning the dark.  It was an intense write.  The other would be David Masters, the ghost-chasing uber-skeptical horror writer in Haunted.  I gave him all my thoughts on the paranormal and he’s not buying anything unless it happens to him. Even when it does, he continues to explain it away until, well, you know. . . the ectoplasmic shit hits the fan.  In real life, I’ve experienced some things which probably aren’t explainable by current science, but like David, I just end up wanting more.  But those are tales for another day.

Q: What do you usually do for Halloween?

A: I like to put on a costume — a grim reaper, dead clown, something nice like that and go out amongst the trick-or-treaters and scare the snot out of them.  Last year, I was Zombie Gimli and got to walk bow-legged all night gibbering about brains and running at children. I was in Austin and had George Bush’s head on a stick, so there was an attractive air of danger.  Best night of the year.

Q: Where do you see the publishing industry in five years?

A: There’s a lot of reinvention going on.  I agree with Del Howlison of Dark Delicacies Books in Burbank:  e-books are the new mass market paperbacks. I don’t think *real* books will disappear.  People will gravitate toward what they like and publishers will try to fill the niches.  Maybe there will be a lot more boutique publishers.  I think there will be — already is — a closer connection between the writer and reader thanks to technology and social media.  I love how easy it’s become to interact with readers via Facebook.

Q: Do you do outlines?

A: Only if they buy me a drink first.  Generally I have a page with a beginning, middle, and end on it with a few side notes.  I like to know where I’m going so I don’t have to worry about it.  Chances are, the characters will take it somewhere else, but sometimes they agree with me.  I tend to do a lot of plotting while dreaming/lucid dreaming.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: I think about and research a book for a year or three beforehand — I like the slow simmer approach.  The research amps the instant I complete the current book.  Very often, I dream at least part of the book.  Lots of times, I know a book is ready to write because I’ll have had the whole thing pop into my head, like a big gestalty blob, for a few seconds.  This tells me it’s time to sit back and let my subconscious take over.   It’s almost ripe.

Q: If a person you loved dearly told you they wanted to be a writer, what warnings and/or words of wisdom would you give them?

A: Half would be the same advice my mother gave me: have another skill, too.  The other half is write what you love, what you love to read. Don’t think about selling, just have fun.

Tamara’s novels, Haunted, Candle Bay, Moonfall and Eternity will be out in e-book format this summer, and in September, new paperback editions for Haunted, Candle Bay and Moonfall  will be available from Kensington Press . Also, look for e-book versions of Bad Things, The Forgotten and Thunder Road which will also be released in e-book format this fall.


    

     I like to kill people and as of this moment, I have killed eleven of them. Not real ones of course, but fictional ones. I don’t know that I would enjoy murdering a real person. I don’t think I would be very good at it for one thing, and for another, it just seems too messy… but give me paper, a pen and a storyline, and it’s all I can do to let anyone get off of the page alive.

     I don’t know what it says about my psyche, that I so enjoy murdering make-believe people. Believe it or not, I don’t have any unusual fixations with death or violence, but it would be interesting to see what a psychologist might say about it. My best personal guess is that it derives from a childhood spent watching horror movies and reading gory books. Then again, I have to wonder what drew me to that kind of story in the first place~ so it becomes a kind of what came first, The chicken or the egg? ordeal. I don’t know the answer to that, and for the most part, I’ve given up trying to figure it out, but sometimes, something makes you stop and wonder why you are the way you are.

     I was at a writing event with my friend Joe a few weeks ago, and as we introduced ourselves, we were asked, “So, what do you write?” Joe’s answer was quick and confident, but when I was asked the same question, I hesitated. “Ummm… horror, I guess,” was my answer. This awarded me some chuckles and some confused looks. “I don’t ever set out to write horror,” I said, explaining myself, “but that’s just the direction it always seems to go.” They nodded their heads in understanding and I realized I was among others who understood the strange phenomenon of fiction writing; that I was home so to speak, and it made me wonder how much of what we write is a conscious decision and how much of it just is what it is.

Although I knew that the project I am currently working on with Kim Williams-Justesen was going to be horror from the beginning, I still didn’t expect it to be quite so gruesome. And as for the one I wrote before it, I had no intention of it going so dark. It will be interesting to see what shape my next project takes on as I don’t see any way it could possibly fall under the horror genre. Still, I somehow get the feeling that a little bit of that will creep into the story, with or without my consent. The question then is, do I allow nature to run its course, or do I steer the story in a milder direction? Is horror just a part of my writing voice that I need to accept, or is it  something I need to learn to control? And is that even possible? Again, I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I will soon find out.

     In the meantime, I’m having a hell of a good time shedding fictitious blood by the bucketfuls and will be sad when my current project, where murder and violence are expected, is finished.  To me, there is true art in (fictional) murder, and everything from the shower scene in Psycho to the contemporary and far more complex murders in the Saw movies, make it clear to me that I am not the only one who feels this way.

Facebook Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/thejerodscott?ref=hl

And P.S. ~ The beast has been unleashed.

Beautiful Monster is now available in eBook and paperback editions at Damnation Books: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727742
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Monster-ebook/dp/B00948Q0DK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347132178&sr=8-2&keywords=Beautiful+Monster+Jared
and Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beautiful-monster-mimi-a-williams/1112783047?ean=9781615727759


     Plowing through my collaborative novel with my mentor/writing partner Kim, I’ve recently come across some interesting issues.  I’m writing about a guy who lures beautiful women into his home, murders them, and then stores them in a mine he calls, “The Gallery” in some far off canyon.  The problem is that, as far as the death scenes go, I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I did a google search of all things death related and of course, found only meager pieces of valuable information buried deep in the trenches of nonsense, morbidity for its own sake, and things I couldn’t even be sure were true.  I should have expressed my uncertainties on this topic to Kim earlier on.  As it turns out, one of her good friends of about twenty years just so happens to be a mortician. (On a disturbing side note, he is also a professional masseuse, but that, hilarious as it is, is neither here nor there.)  When I told Kim about my uncertainties, she recommended we meet with this guy.  I, of course, was all over it.

     Because of scheduling conflicts, we were unable to meet with the man in person, so instead, we set a time, called him, put him on speaker phone and took very scrupulous notes.  What first struck me about this guy was his incredible sense of humor and lighthearted approach to the subjects of death and dying.  I suppose that on some level, I bought into the cliché that in order to be a mortician, one needed to possess that introverted, far away, brooding disposition, complete no doubt, with an eerie glazed over look in the eyes.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This guy was completely normal (well, except that he’s a mortician/massage therapist anyway).  The point is, I felt comfortable with him immediately and had no hesitation to ask him even the most hideous questions concerning the macabre topic of death.

          He left the conversation wide open to us, answering whatever questions we had, no matter how intimate, about the dying process, rigor mortis, decomposition, and even, for story purposes,  what effects a snug plastic wrap job would have on a body.  I was repeatedly stunned by his easy way of describing to us the goriest details of this sensitive topic.  Many people are not comfortable with those details, and so for their sake, I will forego them and simply say that yesterday, I learned more in under an hour than I have in just about any classroom I’ve occupied in the past.

     I’m glad we asked.  As it turns out, there were a couple erroneous pitfalls that blew holes in the story which really needed to be fixed.  Consequently, I will need to tweak the murderous methods of my main character to match reality, but I’m glad I found out now rather than later. 

     I blogged not too long ago on writing research and the fascinating places it takes you, but my experience yesterday, I must say, trumps even the kink parties and church hopping.  The reason I say this is because the things this man told me went far beyond necessary informational material for me.  It’s death, after all.  It’s personal, and I was D, all of the above! (startled, mortified, relieved and baffled) by the things I learned.  And this is just one facet of writing that I love.  Granted, I had terrible dreams last night and was plagued throughout the day by images of things I’d never before conceived of, but that is, in all its terrible glory, the beauty of writing.  The mortician, or as I called him, “The Stiff Stacker,” turned out to be an invaluable resource, one that, given the general direction my writing tends to go, I will undoubtedly utilize in the future.  Kim and I are setting another date with him, in person this time, do further discuss the horrible truths of this topic.  I figure as long as he doesn’t look like John Wayne Gacy, I will be okay.

   And by the way, before I got off the phone with him, I did say to him, “I have a personal question for you.  Tell me… do you see the morbid humor in the fact that you are both a mortician and a masseuse?”  He was quiet for just a moment and then, “Yes,” he said, “as a matter of fact… I do.”