Curses and horror go hand in hand. Whether it is something that ensures you live forever as a rotted corpse or it foretells how you are going to die, they become all-consuming for those afflicted. A disease of the soul, which ensures nothing else can be well and good until it has been lifted.
And that might be the worst part, trying to figure out how to remove it.
Writer – Justin Gray
Illustrator – Laura Rimaszombati
Kickstarter Campaign ends on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 10:00 AM EST.
A remote fishing village – surrounded by vast seas and faced with a magical heritage, he never knew existed, Arthur Blackfrost will discover some folktales about his island home are true… and could be the key to breaking a centuries-old family curse or… make it much worse.
After his father abandons his family, a young fisherman named Arthur inherits a curse that has plagues his bloodline for generations. On the eve of the annual fishing tournament, Arthur begs the spirit of the ocean for help. What happens next changes the lives of everyone in Gull Harbor and unravels the mystery of the Blackfrost Curse.
When I clicked on the Kickstarter Page, I was struck by Laura Rimaszombati’s artwork. In the introduction, Justin Gray invokes stories like Coraline and Corpse Bride, and while this artwork isn’t that, it has a fantastical feel to it right away. It reminds me of various pieces of art and nothing at the same time. And seems perfect for the type of story Justin Gray has laid out in the Kickstarter.
Overall, this is a pretty straightforward Kickstarter when it comes to Pledges. You can get the book in digital ($10 level) or paperback/softcover ($20 level) or hardcover ($30 level). There are also opportunities to double down with Arthur Blackfrost and and all-ages novel The Adventures of Penelope Hawk ($40 level). The one higher end Reward Level ($120) has not only the hardcover of Arthur Blackfrost but a “box full of Hardcovers and paperbacks predominately from DC Comics” – which is one way to start up your Justin Gray collection!
I feel like you just need to look at the images and ask yourself if you want a dark fantasy graphic novel to sit on your shelf. Something with great looking artwork and a compelling story? Is that something which might interest you? 🙂
To find out more about Arthur Blackfrost, check out the Kickstarter Page here.
John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!
Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?
Click here to join John’s mailing list.
He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com
I’ve got a game for book lovers to play this Halloween.
Every Monday through every Thursday until All Hallows Eve, I’ll be offering random Kindle books for free.
The catch, I’m not telling exactly which ones will be free on which days. You’ll just have to guess.
Each book will be free one day of each week. With six books to choose from, some days will have two freebies.
Here’s the books:
Trick or treat!
In a drowned village, on a dark shore, in a city of white stones, an ancient evil stalks.
It has no name, no face, and no desire but to see the death of everything…
Down through the ages it exists, sleepless and void, a relic from the world before humanity.
One dead. Every night. Forever.
Until nothing remains.
Hecatomb – ‘heka’tom/ (noun) – An extensive loss of life for some cause.
The name of my terrifying new novella.
The Hecatomb includes 4 short stories, each connected, each taking place in the same world.
It’s up to readers to decide the order in which they take place.
Hey there, my favorite people in the world.
I’m talking about book readers. Obviously. 🙂
Several times over the last two years, I’ve taken a few risks. I’ve offered free paperback copies of my best books in exchange for honest reviews via Amazon. I pay for the paperback and I ship it on my dime. While it’s true most people take the book(s) and run away, a few have turned out with great reviews.
Meaning this program is totally worth it.
So…as of today I’m issuing a standing offer. I just ordered two big boxloads of my most popular titles, and it’s my intention to give them ALL away in exchange for honest Amazon reviews. If I run out of a particular title, I’ll buy another boxload. That’s how serious I am.
What do you have to do?
- Pick a book from the list below you’d like to read and review
- Either email me here, Facebook me here, or Tweet me here
- Leave an honest review via Amazon within 30 days
- Earn my eternal love and respect. 🙂
It’s free and easy for you. The books are all new high-quality paperbacks. I ship at no charge. If you’d prefer to read on your computer or tablet, I can also send full-formatted PDF’s. I’m flexible that way.
Choose from these titles:
* * *
Need a few pointers on writing a review in 60 seconds or less? Click here.
Down the Dark Path – Book II
The darkest of all dark fantasy epics…
FREE this week for Kindles across the underworld!
In Book II, Andelusia journeys to Mormist, and the rain begins to fall.
As the Furyon shadow deepens, Emperor Chakran unleashes his greatest weapon…and his most terrifying servants. The war to destroy Graehelm sweeps across the mountains. Andelusia must decide: Flee certain death. Or remain by her lover’s side.
Little does she know that her choice will tip the balance of all things. And not for the better.
If you take the plunge into the shadow, please leave an honest Amazon review.
If you’re seeking Part I, look no further.
The Darkest of All Dark Fantasy Epics…
…now shattered into four mini-novellas.
Down the Dark Path, Book One in the Tyrants of the Dead series, has been trimmed into four inexpensive, easy-to-consume softcover novellas. Each bite-size book is a nice, neat 200 pages and comes with a slick new matte cover.
Book One begins: When Andelusia Anderae leaves home in search of a better life, she falls into the company of a mysterious traveler. He promises to take her to Graehelm, but she soon learns that he’s much more than he seems. His message is for none other than Graehelm’s Councilors, who will decide whether to resist the Furyon Empire…or whether to join the Furies in waging war against all lands. And so begins her journey…
And of course, if you still like your books huge (and usable for knocking the Moon out of the sky) the original edition (Kindle and Softcover) is still available.
Start walking the Dark Path today…
Three of my favorite things.
As I near the release of this, and thus slam the door shut on a too-long writing project, I sit in a rotting leather chair, my feet propped on a destroyed-by-cats ottoman, and reflect on my existence. I should be happier, I think. I should shimmer like Twilight’s vampires and bounce like Barney the fucking dinosaur after a line of coke. Throw a party, I tell myself. Celebrate it. Relish it. Savor it.
I’m not in the mood.
It’s not that I don’t feel a sublime sense of satisfaction. Or oceans of relief. It’s just that tonight, with the wind battering my windows and my candle sputtering its final breaths, I feel a little bit pointless. Self-satisfaction, I tell myself, is for the narcissistic. Get your ass back to work, my brain commands. Right. Now. And I will. There won’t be a party. Or a fist pump. Or even a celebratory glass of wine.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?
If I finish a book and only a few thousand people read it, does it matter?
As I gloom in my writing cave, I’m reminded of a poem from the 70’s. The Deteriorata is a prose-form poem written to both mock and celebrate 1927’s Desiderata. It pretty well summates my feelings, my ‘F it’ mood, my devotion to sarcasm, cynicism, and indifference, and my awareness that a few quick breaths from now, the fleeting afterglow of publishing a million words will vanish into the air. As though it had never been.
Here it is:
You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here
Go placidly amid the noise and waste
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep
Rotate your tires
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys
Know what to kiss, and when
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do
Wherever possible, put people on hold
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time
There is always a big future in computer maintenance
You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back
Remember The Pueblo
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate
If you need help, call the FBI
Exercise caution in your daily affairs
Especially with those persons closest to you –
That lemon on your left, for instance
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch
Hire people with hooks
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee
You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back
Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate
(Tony Hendra, National Lampoon Radio Dinner, 1972)
And so I’ll close up shop tonight, contented but not. I’ll eat some Ramen, knock back a Scorsese film, and plot new beginnings tomorrow. There’s no glory in finishing one book…nor six…nor likely a hundred. There’s no party long enough to satisfy me nor a woman cold and cruel enough to fascinate me.
It doesn’t matter.
I’m not giving up.
They move from star to star, swallowing every planet in darkness, building black towers on every surface, and turning oceans to deathly broth.
I think it surprises people when I create a piece of dark art (literal in this instance). I’m known for my love of nature and animals, but those that truly know me are aware of my fascination with the dark. From about the age of 9 I would scour the tv guide for classic horror movies. And as someone who’s survived cancer, I’m no stranger to darkness. Here are several more examples from my childhood (pre-teens) if you’re not convinced!
1. The Labyrinth – My favorite character was Jareth, The Goblin King, of course. I wanted Sarah to stay with him, to hell with the crying baby!
2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – I was secretly thrilled by the possibility that Luke would join his father.
3. Giger’s Xenomorph – I’ve talked about this obsession numerous times. I have movies, comics, and my own fan art.
I love monsters and villains. I have a life-size God of Mischief hanging out in my studio. So, yeah. When J Edward asked me if I was up to the challenge, I needed only to look within, find that inner darkness and breathe it into my painting.
Hollow Empire – Night of Knives
Episode One (of Six) is now FREE via Amazon!!!
In the aftermath of a horrific plague, the nation of Vhur teeters on utter annihilation. Its cities lie in ruin, its king hides in his tower, and its people rot in their graves. Surrounded by death and suffering, four survivors struggle to live their separate lives.
But the lords of Vhur have different plans in mind…
…for soon must come the Night of Knives.
Get into the darkness…
Follow it all the way to the bottom…
The complete softcover version is available here.
J Edward Neill
A few weeks ago, I geeked out and created a dream cast for a film version of Down the Dark Path. Upon reflection, it’ll probably take two movies to bring DDP to life (but definitely not three – a la Peter Jackson’s catastrophic dissection of The Hobbit.) No matter. Reality isn’t a problem.
The whole exercise proved so engrossing and fun that I’m taking it a step further. Therefore, if only in my dreams, I’m bringing Dark Moon Daughter – Book Two in the Tyrants series, to the big screen. Ultimately, I plan to write a real-life screenplay, but that’s years away, and by the time I get it greenlit, my current cast of stars will likely be halfway in their graves.
Given complete and utter freedom, and without concern of money or actors’ schedules, my roster for Dark Moon Daughter is:
Emmy Rossum – Repeating her performance of Andelusia Anderae, the ridiculously good-looking Lady Rossum will have to dye her hair black, wear raggedy dresses, and wield world-melting magic. It’s cool. I’m sure she’s up to the challenge.
Tom Hiddleston – Forget Loki. Forget anything even remotely comic-booky. In Dark Moon Daughter, Tom will be asked to play the angsty, tormented, and sinister Warlock. He’ll wear dozens of different costumes. He’ll narrate off-screen. He’ll conquer entire nations without so much as touching a sword. Bad men require great actors. Tom is unspeakably good for this role.
Robbie Coltrane – You’ll know him best as the furry, hulking good guy from Harry Potter. But I think Robbie is perfect to play the corpulant, lethargic, and piteous King Orumna. Imagine him filling up a throne, stuffing his gullet with wine, mocking everything and everyone who attends his court. It’ll be beautiful.
Daniel Radcliffe – While we’re on the topic of Harry Potter actors, I stumbled across another one well-suited for Dark Moon Daughter. Daniel is thin, pale, and dark-haired. He’s the quintessential Thillrian, meaning he’s perfect to play Ghurk Ghurlain. Yeah, ok…he’ll have to smear his face with Undergrave dust and read most of his lines in the dark. And yeah…he’ll be far from heroic. But being a Thillrian nobleman ain’t what it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re forced to dig to the bottom of the world.
Jessica Brown Findlay – Who better to skulk the hallways of the fortress Midnon, crooning her miserable songs? What lovelier face to seduce the noblest hero? Downton Abbey’s JBF, especially the pale, haunted version we see here, was born to play the role of Ona. Treacherous yet impossibly honest, young yet guileful, the actress suits the role….or is it the other way around?
Richard Armitage – And now for the serious stuff. Richard has always struck me as slightly aloof, slighty cold (in his acting roles, not real life.) It’s also known that he’s a skilled swordsmen, as proven in The Hobbit and his Guy of Gisborne role in the Robin Hood tv series. Given his skills, I’d cast him as the interminably cruel, utterly irredeemable Grimwain. He’ll get tons of screen time…and the chance to be the baddest bad guy who ever lived. You don’t have to talk much, Richard. Just get to butchering.
Dave Bautista – He won’t get any lines. He won’t even get to show his face. But someone with a terrifying presence needs to play the horror Mogru. Imagine this dude decked out fully undead, fully armored in obsidian plate mail. He’s just a tiny droplet of the awful magic the Ur intend to release. And based on his skill shown in Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave can add just the right amount of thuggery and fear to Mogru’s dread-inspiring role.
Guillermo del Toro – He’s not an actor. I don’t want him to be one here. I only need him to be a part-time producer…and the costume designer for both the deathless Uylen and the horrific Sarcophages. His work in Pan’s Labyrinth inspired me in many ways. Need ya, Guillermo. Money is no object.
And of course, the roles these fine actors played in Down the Dark Path will need to be reprised:
Henry Cavill – Garrett Croft
Chris Pratt – Rellen Gryphon
Daniel Southern – Saul of Elrain
Joanne Whalley – Sara Gryphon
So who’s up for helping me finish the screenplay?
Let’s do this.
J Edward Neill
Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy
Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives
…my favorite time of the year.
Because I’m crazy, I’ve decided to discount several of my novels. From today until Halloween at midnight, the Kindle and e-versions of Down the Dark Path AND Dark Moon Daughter have been reduced to an epically low price of $0.99 each. Both books are normally $6.99. Yes. I’m out of my mind. I know it.
So for those on the fence about investing in the darkest fantasy series ever, please push over your tombstones, crawl out of your graves, and get some. Here. Now. Today.
And for readers with non-Kindle e-readers, head on over to Smashwords and use these coupon codes to get either book for (yeah, you guessed it…) $0.99!
At 12:01 AM Nov 1st (Halloween’s unfortunate demise) prices will return to normal.
But if you’re caught up…
In Episode 3: Vadim stares down a hard, hard truth. Nadya faces the Gallows Boys. Cassidy and Isidora race for Othis. And poor Murgul the Maggot learns just how Luka healed all his children.
Pick it up. Our grimmest episode yet…
You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
Okay. That might be an exaggeration, but you’re still about to see raw sketches and studies that until now only a few have been privy. Last November I met up with John R McGuire and J Edward Neill to discuss a project they were writing together, post-apocalypse fiction set in medieval times, aptly named Hollow Empire. This was to be a big project and it began like all projects do with a lot of brainstorming, sketches, and research. I read small portions from story, explored images of medieval town and cities, and began envisioning the world they had created. One aspect key to the cover was a city in partial ruins. Here are three sketches from the early stages, click through to see larger images.
From there we ended up going with the first sketch after we discussed the need for graves. Many graves.
I still like this sketch quite a lot, but as I began painting I realized it just didn’t work. Sometimes that happens. Thankfully, I felt comfortable enough to approach John and J Edward with my concerns. Before doing so, I began reworking the idea and incorporating elements from those early first designs. I also took inspiration from the medieval ghost town of Craco. If it looks familiar you’ve probably seen it in a film or documentary. Craco was abandoned after an earthquake in 1980, but it had already been on the decline due to poor agriculture, landslides and flooding. When I approached the author duo again, I presented them with two quick studies, the original idea and my Craco study.
Lucky for my muse and I, we were all on the same page. They too went for my Craco idea and I spent the next four weeks developing that world. One feature I was happy to see return was the gravestone from one of the original sketches. Sometimes things stick with you and for whatever reason I couldn’t shake that gravestone from my mind. This is the final painting without the extra bits.
This week marks the first entry in my new ‘What if…?’ series. If only to agitate, exhume, and pontificate, I plan to explore popular books and movies with purpose to pretend remake each of them as if I’d been the author, director, producer, etc. I’d like to think most creative types have asked themselves, “What if I’d written that? What if creative control had been mine?” Well…what if…? Let’s do this.
My only disclaimer: this is for fun. I intend no heresy. Well…maybe a little.
Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien. The first and most powerful of all fantasy series. Take a glance at how many books, movies, tv shows, and friggin’ cosplay conventions are LOTR-derivitave. This is where modern-day fantasy literature began.
What if I had written it? What if…instead of a sometimes high/sometimes dark/sometimes strictly narrative fiction novel, f’n J Edward Neill had sat down and written it entirely as a dark fiction trilogy? What if, what if, what if…?
Let’s start with what feels obvious to me. In LOTR, you’ve got some seriously terrifying bad guys. You’ve got nazgul, orks (rumor is J.R.R. wanted to spell it with a ‘k’) a balrog, evil wizards, fell beasts, etc. But more than any of them, you’ve got Sauron, aka a flaming eyeball in the sky. In J Edward’s version of LOTR, Sauron gets a full third of the narrative. He gets dialogue (perhaps from the Witch King’s perspective). He gets backstory (front and center instead of in the appendices). I don’t have a giant list of scenes I’d cut out to make room for more Sauron, but no matter. I’d add a fourth book if needed. The easiest way to darken up Tolkien’s masterpiece would’ve been to add 700% more Dark Lord, and that’s where I’d start.
The second way I’d cast a shadow over LOTR: more good guys need to die. Let’s start with Gimli and Legolas. Their unexpected friendship is a metaphor for all the strange alliances required for the good guys to have any hope of defeating Sauron. And so…one of them must die. My money is on Legolas. And my choice of death is via nazgul, at the Black Gate, right in front of Gimli. Let Legolas’s diminutive friend watch him go down in a blaze of glory, and let Gimli forever cherish their friendship after a nice, long spell of mourning. It’s possible (maybe even likely) that my desire to see Legolas go down has something to do with Orlando Bloom. No matter. It’s a war (the last and greatest of all Middle-Earth wars). The good guys get off too easy.
Who else needs to die? Frodo Baggins. I know. I’m sorry. Slap me silly. Kick me in the shins. I get that Frodo essentially dies when he sails away from Middle-Earth, but I’d have done it in a much more literal sense. Whether by falling into the crack of doom with Gollum, death by sheer sadness after losing the One Ring, or being speared with Sauron’s departing shadow, I’d have snuffed Frodo at the very moment of the Ring’s destruction. With every hobbit making it back to the Shire, the good guys get off too easy again. “You didn’t seriously expect him to survive Mordor?” someone could’ve asked Gandalf. “No. It was only a fool’s hope,” he would’ve answered again. And it was. We should all be punished for our foolishness, not just the poor, misunderstood antagonists.
A few quick-hit ways to continue darkening the series up:
Tom Bombadil: gone
Nazgul: win a fight or two (instead of constantly losing)
Minas Morgul: we get a glimpse inside
Gondor: utterly annihilated
Witch King and Gandalf: fight (with the Witch King fleeing back to the battle)
Moving right along. To really F with the reader, and to maximize the good guys’ suffering, I’d have ramped up the battle at the Black Gate. Tolkien made it well and truly dire. I’d had written it direr. I’d have butchered the good guys almost to the last man standing before the One Ring is destroyed. Legolas: dead. Gimli: wounded. Aragorn: wounded. Gandalf: holding the horde at bay for just…one…moment…longer. Leave the good guys with maybe a few dozen brave souls, and no more. I’d have wanted the reader to wonder, “He won’t really kill them all here? Will he?” Maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I would.
In ending the series, and with an eye toward leaving the reader with a subtle feeling of dread, I’d let Saruman live. Sure, Grima can try to kill him, but I’d give the original White Wizard a pass. He can creep off to the north, broken staff on the mend. His heart will be filled with vengeance, anger, and always the memory of Sauron’s voice in his head. Tolkien’s version works perfectly for a happily ever after ending, but any dark fantasy worth its salt needs a shadow of a threat to remain, therefore reminding the reader that conflict always was and always shall be.
There you have it. Don’t get me wrong: LOTR is perfect as-is. I wouldn’t really change a thing. It’s all just speculation. And by speculation I mean; painting rooms black and making hearts jump.
Tune in for next week’s What if…? segment, during which I rewrite 50 Shades of Grey as a horror novel. Just kidding. Maybe.