A Thought for Every Thursday – Three Questions for the Dead

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

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This week we’ll dig a little deeper.

…with a spade.

…in the dirt.

Answer me these questions three:

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Necromancy

 Suppose you’ve lost a child or a beloved spouse.

But you have a device capable of resurrecting them.

The only cost to using this device: you have to kill someone else firsthand.

Use it?

Or throw it away?

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Infinite Murder Machine

 If your child (or someone equally important to you) were in mortal danger, exactly how many people would you be willing to kill in order to save them?

These people aren’t actively trying to hurt the one you love, but are obstacles to survival.

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Closing up Shop

You’ve been assigned an almost overwhelming task.

Your current religion or belief system notwithstanding, you’ve been asked to create a new afterlife for all of humanity.

This afterlife will apply to everyone who dies from today until the end of time.

Describe in detail the post-death experience you’d create.

Will there be different afterlives for different people?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Let the Bodies

Let the Bodies

A creepy J Edward Neill short story

Now available for Kindles and e-readers. Only $0.99

When one person goes missing…

…every day…forever… 

…poor little Mia doesn’t stand a chance.

Or does she?

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Let the Bodies is the sequel to Old Man of Tessera. It’s a standalone story. You don’t have to read one to enjoy the other.

For those who want to get into the prequel, check it here:

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J Edward Neill

Hollow Empire – Final Episode!

Vadim, Nadya, Cassidy, and Murgul walk the line between life and death.

Will they join the rest of Vhur in death…

…or survive with the hope of finding peace in the Hollow Empire?

Includes bonus chapters for Isidora and Little Lys.

Season 1 – Final Episode – Now available via Amazon and Smashwords.

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Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

John McGuire & J Edward Neill

Hollow Empire – Episode 5 AND Complete Softcover Edition!

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. 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 them. For soon must come the Night of Knives.
 
With elegant cover art by Amanda Makepeace

The softcover edition of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Complete Season One – Episodes 1-6

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Or pick up Episode 5 – e-version

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Both available now!

 

New Release!! – Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Episode 1

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Six weeks. Six episodes. Six chapters per episode…

Ladies and gentlemen, Episode 1 of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives is now available on Amazon for only $0.99Hollow Empire is co-authored by J Edward Neill and John R McGuire, the creators of Down the Dark Path and The Dark that Follows.

Join Vadim, Nadya, Cassidy, and Murgul the Maggot as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the world’s deepest, darkest plague, the Lichy. Hunted by aristocrats, chased by outlaws, sought after as supper for the vicious, zombie-like Iritul, the four survivors must fight for every moment of their lives.

For otherwise, they’ll join the rest of the world in its grave…

On the fence about Hollow Empire? Think post-apocalyptic medieval dark fantasy opera. Yeah. All of that. It’s deathy, dark, and terrifying, sprinkled with a bit of horror, a dash of western, and even a little extra superhero on the side.

We’ll be releasing one episode per week, each for $0.99. Get in on this. You won’t regret it.

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Season One/Episode One – Now available for e-readers everywhere…

J Edward Neill

Making Monsters

Sarcophage

 

 

 

He was three-thousand winters dead, as deaf to Andelusia’s bleating as a coffin full of bones. His very presence was evil, his breaths curling like smoke from beneath his iron mask. As he dragged her through Midnon, his passing withered moths and turned bowlfuls of red apples to ash… – Reference to Mogru, Servant of the Warlock – Dark Moon Daughter

 

 

Few things in a writer’s life are as satisfying as creating a villain everyone can root against. Trust me. I know. While there’s plenty to be loved about the nuanced, tragic villain, (see here) sometimes a story calls for a simpler brand of evil. I’m looking at you, Zombies, Terminators, Orcs, and Godzillas. I’m inviting you to the dance, Nazgul, Octoroks, Balrogs, and all the skeletal guys from Evil Dead. Strip away elegance, reason, and humanity, and you’re left with bad guys worth despising. Authors need these kinds of monsters sometimes. Readers crave them. After all, the main antagonists require cannon fodder. They need spawn. They need an evil army with which to take over the world.  

The picture above is an Eileen Herron sketch of Mogru, one of many soulless villains in my latest fantasy novel. I can’t say I’ve ever had as much fun as I did when writing about this particular monster. For as much enjoyment as I gleaned from penning other villains, Mogru took the cake. He’s soulless. He’s indestructible. He’s a skeletal Terminator, only he prefers six foot-tall swords rather than machine guns. How can he be stopped? Well…he can’t be. Writing about every crackle of his bones and every hapless good guy he carves to tatters was pure pleasure. Every writer needs a Mogru. Every reader will find him easy to hate.

So how does one carve away just the right amount of personality to craft a wickedly good monster? It’s delicate work, to be sure. Take away too much, and you’re left with a cardboard, video-game cutout of a bad guy. Add too much flavor, and you’ll be stuck with a Jar Jar Binks or a BeBop and Rocksteady. What you’ll need, and what readers appreciate, is the just enough/not too much approach.  If the minion must talk, keep it brief and sharp. He’s a minion, after all; his master should do most of the talking. If it’s a monster you’re making (and it is; that’s why we’re here) describe it, but not too in-depth. Our imagination should make the horror in our minds, not two pages of extrapolation about whence he came. More than anything, focus on action. Use words as the monster’s weapons. The skeletal knight shouldn’t walk, he should shamble along, dragging his rusted sword through the muck. The dragon shouldn’t simply fly, but soar through halos of smoke belched from his foul gut. The maggoty goblins should slither and skulk, wandering the glooms in search of children to devour. See what I mean? Hell, just writing those three little sentences made me want to make a new monster.

Some of my favorite baddies in literature/film:

White Walker

 

 White Walkers (The Others) – Game of Thrones (The book and the show) – We don’t get much of them, but the tastes we do get leave us salivating for more. Raising the dead, living in the frozen wastes…you’ve got to love their deathy style.

 

 

Alien

The Xenomorph – Alien & Aliens – They’ve no personality, which makes them perfect. They’ve nothing to love, nothing to live for save to spread across the galaxy. Loathsome. Horrifying. Killing one is nothing, since there’re thousands more coming.

 

 

 

Nazgul

 

Nazgul – Lord of the Rings – Scaring the shit out of Middle-Earthlings everywhere. We know just enough about them to terrify us, but not so much as to burn away their mysteriousness. Definitely easy to root against, though I admit getting teary-eyed when Eowyn butchered the Witch King.

 

 

There you have it, my shout out to all the lesser evils of the world. What’s a master without a minion? What’s a wicked wizard to do without an undead host to serve him? If nothing else, monsters give the good guys something to do. And thank the stars for that, else their heroic lives would feel woefully boring.

It’s dark now. I’ve a rare moment alone to work. I think I’ll sculpt a new villain. You’ll see her soon enough.

J Edward Neill