Horror for Horror’s sake: Not

Having just watched the original Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein I realized great horror is timeless. More importantly the tales of the undead shed light upon the human condition, our humanity or lack of it. Ironically enough, the Frankenstein monster turns out to be more human than its creator or any of us for that matter.

Great horror does more than just frighten and entertain the reader. It should also enlighten. I have written four extremely dark and gruesome novels, all with truckloads of gore and imagery that is hard to shake. But is that the story? No, far from it. All of my writing has a firm foundation in friendship, honor and the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do for you. Without it the story falls apart. My protagonists are not pillars of society, but rather part of the evil that writhes through the pages. They eat, burp, shit, doubt themselves and basically have all the frailties of everyman. The antagonist, my monster, is more the darker side of humanity than some slime dripping creature with insane teeth. Greed, ignorance, envy, power and hatred are far more haunting than what lurks beneath your bed.

The horror hits home when the reader sees himself reflected in evil. We all have a little of it in us and once you get a glimpse, a certain morbid curiosity compels you to keep reading. Like a zit in the morning mirror, you have to look close, taking in the disgusting details before the final squeeze. Splat! Yes, we are that freaky as people.

My characters are human thrust in to a super human situation. It is who we are, not what, that makes the leap of believability of my novels that much easier. Of course it doesn’t hurt that first few pages set a cruel hook and you won’t be released until the final pages are finished. The pace is wicked and action non-stop and gore, over the top. But it is not horror for horror’s sake. The violence and blood-drenched scenes serve a purpose. But remove them and you’ve torn the heart out of the work. It is the nature of the beast.

The readers of horror novels are probably the best judge of what works and what doesn’t. Thus far the ‘anoxic zone’ series and my new breakaway novel, ‘Out of Stone,’ have received the nod of approval from readers and reviewers around the world. I will admit to being criticized a few times for excessive violence and the use of disturbing imagery. I stand guilty on all accounts. Only the readers can sentence me for what I have done. At this point I can live with the verdict. They would like some more.

Tired of pablum horror? Sink your teeth in to something that might bite back!
Check out the links below.

www.promotehorror.com/2013/04/out-of-stone.html

 http://www.blackwaterbooks.com

Aloha john g

OUT OF STONE: Reviews and feedback

 

With my latest novel Out of Stone in print for the last few months, fans and professional reviewers are having their say about it. Though not one to pat myself on the back, I have to say I’m pretty stoked about what is being said.

Nick Buchan, from Australia, wrote an excellent review – check it out at: 

www.nickbuchan.com/horror/out-of-stone-john-g-rees

Out of Stone was the first independently published book Nick took the time to critique. I’m happy to say he wasn’t disappointed.

 

Image

  Yes, Out of Stone is perhaps my darkest work yet. My father-in-law, Jack, had a rough time with it. Okay – he’s 80 plus years old and not exactly my demographic, but disturbing prose and imagery knows no age limit.

  Having built a strong group of readers with my first three novels, it was with some trepidation in getting the fourth out there. My writing pushes the envelope and you never know if you’ve gone too far.

  Out of Stone is also my second book that has a woman as the main protagonist. Halocline was the first. In fact, a character that we meet in Halocline is the lead in Out of Stone. Funny how things work out. Though related to the ‘anoxic zone’ series, Out of Stone is a stand alone novel. It is not necessary to read the previous novels to appreciate this one. But it does help and you will get a few more of the jokes and inside dish.

  When writing Out of Stone, it seemed, at the time, to be a lighter work. Less violence, drug use, coffee, and cigarettes does not mean less of a story. Oh, there is more than enough of the above to satisfy anyone, but I really tap into the darkness on this one and that’s when it gets freaky. In an attempt to lessen the rampant gore, I found pathways into the fiendish nature that lies within us all. When you see a little of yourself in the evil I have created, that means I have done my job. Having your mind blown is more frightening than having your head blown off.

  With the first edition of Out Of Stone available in paperback and all of the e-pubs, we at Black Water Books can take a breath, but only one because the work of writing and publishing is never-ending. With reviews coming in, we will be doing a second edition in the next few months, incorporating some comments into the cover and, having found a few errors in the first edition, re-editing the novel. It happens. No one is perfect and my readers deserve the best I can deliver.

  As this is being written, new reviews have popped up on Amazon.

www.amazon.com/Out-Stone-john-g-rees/product-reviews/0983192073/

Each touched on different aspects of the novel; all of them positive and a few so ‘spot on’ it is scary. These should help inspire you to pick up a copy and the story itself won’t let you put the book down. It is that good!

  Again thanks to everyone who helped to make Out of Stone a nightmarish reality.

  The only way to really understand what I’m saying is to read the book.

  Check it out at www.blackwaterbooks.com/Out_Of_Stone.html

Aloha, john g

 

 

 

OUT OF STONE: the New Novel

Having spread my soul wide open to the cutting edge of the editor, endured the ruthless attack on the manuscript, I have survived. A little shredded perhaps, humbled to be certain, yet more or less intact. My new editor, Martin Coffee, did an excellent job cleaning up some horrendous grammar (you want a real horror story you should see my uncorrected proofs – now that’s scary), kept the characters where they belong, righted my wrongs, and got most of the jokes. You can always tell whether someone is really reading your story or just correcting. Not put off by the vulgarity and some of the over the top graphic descriptions, Martin Coffee read it. He also liked the story, a lot!  So much so it has inspired him to read my previous works. ‘Right on, Martin!’

  Receiving your edited manuscript back comes with a frightening thrill. Incorporating the changes and editorial suggestions brings the work into its full dimension, cleans it up, and in general makes the novel ready for you to read. Editing is a milestone in the publishing process. It is the end of one phase and the beginning of another.

With this publication we are pursuing some of the tricks used by the big publishers. Advance copies of the novel have been sent to top horror reviewers in the country, Colleen Wanglund and Jeff Padget. These folk know good horror when they see it and they won’t let some palsy imitation sneak through. For me they are an acid test that could wind up in my face, because they tell it like it is. I hold confident. Their reviews will be part of our promotional package and be published in the book with their permission.

The story line holds, the action intense, character development full, and enough blood and mayhem to make one of my readers, R, miss some sleep. She can no longer read the story before bed. I like. R is vastly intelligent and highly critical and will have no qualms about giving me shock treatment if I have pulled any punches. R will also have her thoughts about the story published along with Colleen Wanglund and Jeff Padget.

Very soon the manuscript will be sent to Danil Mugaliev for final formatting into book form, for both hard copy and e-editions. We have worked with him on anoxic zone, Halocline, and Black Tide and look forward to his expertise and suggestions. It was his idea to use the syringes for chapter separation in anoxic zone. A very clever man.

Speaking of, we will also be using Mohamed Sadath for our cover design as well this time. His creativity on all three covers of the previous books has been outstanding. He’ll have his work cut out for him this time.

Front cover design, title, back cover, bio, publish, easy, right? Yeah, right. It’s a challenge and a half to get a professional looking product out there. As a self-publisher, you do all of these things yourself. Of course you have to farm out some of the work. You cannot edit yourself. That’s a given. Formatting and cover anyone can do, but if you want it great, get a pro. Your limitations are few, budget and imagination. Hell, I just wrote a book so the imagination is there. The budget is what it is. We do the best we can with what we have.

The working title of the new novel was Sechra, Tears of Stone. It works. It’s a great title. Unfortunately, Tears of Stone, has been used to death, literally, figuratively and any other way you can imagine. So it gets round filed. After due consideration and googling every stoned combination of words, the publication title will be ‘OUT OF STONE‘. The significance of the title will come clear when you are reading .

Black Water Books hopes to have hard copies and e-editions available in early 2013.

Not using any song lyrics this time should hasten the process a bit, haha. Sorry, it’s an inside joke but I’m sure some old British rocker might consider my comments (on using a couple of his song lines) slanderous.

We are very excited about getting, OUT OF STONE, on the way to being a published work.

If you haven’t read my previous works, get ready!

THE FOURTH NOVEL: Into The Depths Of Hell

The initial edit completed as well as the follow-up rewrite for my new novel; working title –Tears of Stone –and is now being formatted to send to my editor and readers. Having sailed into uncharted waters with my first three books, anoxic zone, Halocline, and Black Tide, and setting new standards for gore and violence, the fourth could to be no less than a horrific ride into the gaping mouth of hell.

Tears of Stone(working title) revolves around a young character we meet in Halocline. Twenty years have passed since the revolution that created a free country. Freed from the yoke of Megacorp and a tyrannical, cruel and insane despot, the country grew and prospered. Slavery and slaughter during the revolution however left the country with nationwide epidemic of PTSD. Most dealt with it. A few unfortunately, did not. This opened the gates of hell once again. A metaphor, for they had actually never really been closed.

Our protagonist, against the odds, survived the barbarically horrendous revolution, at which she had a front row seat. What was witnessed in those early years hardened the tender areas of youth. The seeds of hatred fell upon the fertile soil of her mind, giving her strength to endure the madness.

In a twist of fate the girl is saved from the nightmare her young life had become, but not before her hatred had taken root. Her life on the run from the madness of the revolution was replaced with one of privilege, education and art. Through her art, the girl turned woman, and was able to relieve herself of some of the memories life had bequeathed her. Notoriety and fame would come from her ability to carve stone, touching her life, changing it forever.

As her talent blossomed so did the darkness that so early in life reached out for her. The hatred, anguish, and horror at seeing her family and community brutally tortured, slain, and placed in chains, wanted to live amongst men. This thing, this hatred, this evil would use the girl it bonded with so long ago to bring it to life.

The first few pages set the hook of the story. Then, until the end, we get deep into our characters’ heads to understand the nightmare their lives have become. More than one antagonist exerts pressure on the tale. Hatred, evil, greed, revenge, are my usual nemeses. Once again they rear their ugly heads to wreak havoc on mankind, being truly the sources of all that ails us. Our tale takes us on a ride into the macabre, literally. If you have read my previous works you know how wild things can get. And they do get a tad outré. Not to disappoint my readers, the action and intensity is up to par. My wife, Mara, after doing the initial read, aside from being grossed out, said that ‘this may be the best thing you’ve written.’ I’m good with that, because she is right. Though Tears Of Stone is a stand alone read, the story is related to anoxic zone, Halocline and Black Tide, therefore reading one of the previous will shed some light on a few of the inside jokes and characters. Hold on as I take you where few readers have gone before.

Back to the Islands (RoadTrip 2012)

Aloha! 7843 miles later from Oakland, CA to Southwest Harbor, Maine and back again it’s good to be home. I wish to thank you all for thinking of me, sending your good wishes and great good love to keep me going and get back on the horse when the times got tough. The route was planned and then navigated by my riding partner Kale, whose forethought, wisdom and vision made the ride a truly remarkable tour across this great country of ours. From July 7 till August 3rd, full moon till full moon, clad in Aerostitch one-piece Roadcrafters, we traveled without regard for the time, yet with great regard for each other and the land that passed beneath our wheels. Long hours in the saddle gives one time to think, not think, ponder, dream and open one’s heart to the road.

Kale understood the route far better than I, for he spent countless hours doing research in preparation. The fearless leader, with a GPS mounted to the left side of his handle bars, iPhone at the ready, he led the way on a BMW gs 1200r with a twisted throttle and eyes on the far horizon. I followed, not for lack of experience. This is the third tour and I ride daily on the Big Island, but for lack of any sense of direction, I could get lost in an empty parking lot. Living on an island, you can always find your way home if you keep going. The hours were long and we generally didn’t reach camp until after the sun went down. Asses sore, arms and hands in need of stretch and rest; tired, hot and reeking odor – our smiles stretched as wide as the miles that had rolled under the rubber that day. When I say hot, I mean really f*#@!ing hot. From Cali to Maine the sun glared with anger upon the land. We were only passing through. My heart went out to the good folk that lived their lives beneath the overheated summer sun.

For the most part, the route followed the old highway system, Route 6, envisioned by Eisenhower in his youth as a young army officer. Years later, after becoming president, he implemented this vision into reality by uniting our country with a highway system. The road, like the chosen destinations were, as Kale’s father put it, ‘austere and remote’. This is one of the reasons there was no blogging during the ride. There simply was no internet service available. That in itself was a unique experience that more of us should try. Cell phone service was as sketchy as a service station.

Fuel was by far the more important of the two.

For those of you whom I had hoped to visit, while spinning the wheels of a new BMW f650 gs, you have my apologies. Blame the road. She was making all the calls. To everyone I did meet – Mahalo – your presence and kindness were comfort to this skinny ass across the endless miles.

There will be more written in the coming weeks concerning the motorcycle tour. Thank you all. Man, it’s good to be home.

ImageMahalo and aloha, john g

p.s. Versatile riding apparel, like a friend is never truly appreciated until it is needed. Ride safely; protect your self.

DREAM THE DREAM OF DEATH

In two days the dream becomes a reality. The ‘anoxic zone’ series of my horror books will be made available to you in a major Kindle way. A tidal wave of death will flood the mind, washing away any preconceived notion of what horror is. Isn’t it about time you lost some sleep due to the macabre imagery of what you’ve read or forgot about your favorite show because you can’t put down the book?

Lower pricing now and on the 28th of January FREE ‘anoxic zone’ downloads on KDP Select by Amazon! Both ‘Halocline’ and ‘Black Tide’ will be next up! Free downloads and grave bottom pricing!

Here’s your chance to get your hands on some of the most gruesomely disturbing literature ever written. Don’t miss it!

In another time I would have gone to prison for writing this stuff.

DIVING INTO THE –ANOXIC ZONE SERIES- A THREE BOOK EPIC

The excitement boils. My novels will be hitting KDP Select promo in tandem – with ‘anoxic zone’ already online and its first free download set for next Saturday, Jan. 28th.
My three books will be shuffled into view weekly, beginning with ‘anoxic zone’, until our time is up. Free downloads and epubs at incredible pricing. This is a great opportunity for the public and us in releasing the novels to a worldwide group of readers. For those that have read my books this is a chance to pick them up cheap for your Kindle. And for you those of you who haven’t, well…
NOW’s the time to read the best of outre’ horror that is available on the market today! It’s a wicked ride. Make a pot of coffee and hold on!!!

www.amazon.com/anoxic-zone-ebook/dp/B004GEAGYQ/

DIVE BACK INTO THE NIGHTMARE!!!

Black Tide

Black Tide is the third bloody note in john g rees 'anoxic zone' & 'Halocline' symphony of horror!

This time you dive back to the beginning. The beginning for Jake Strom that is. More than a prequel, BLACK TIDE is a freaquel of things to come.

Black Water Books has just published the third book, BLACK TIDE, of my ‘anoxic zone’ series. It is available in print and eBooks at this time through my site, Blackwaterbooks.com, Amazon, B&N, and others, in its initial edition, not available in Europe. That will happen when we get our final permission from Roger Waters to use a quote from one of his songs. Poor Europe will have to wait!

Okay, I’m stoked, who wouldn’t be? BLACK TIDE is a worthy addition to ‘anoxic zone’ and ‘Halocline’. With enough mayhem and gore to satisfy even the bloodthirstiest of readers, BLACK TIDE rips corporate reality a new one. Jake is up against the darkest horrors of our imagination… ourselves and what we have become.

No punches have been held in the writing of Black Tide. The language is as visceral as the characters’ circumstance. Be ready for a dive into hell from which there is no return.

Yet, you do, again and again.

The New Book

Wow, it really is hard to believe. ‘BLACK TIDE’, my third book in the ‘anoxic zone’ series will be out in November. BLACK TIDE is a deranged effort resulting in a prequel that is as twisted and dark as anything I’ve ever written. Just as the title works on several levels so the story rises up around you in a black tide of greed, pain, and hatred that threatens to pull you under. Once again Jake finds himself a victim of his own karma and circumstances beyond his control. The wheel turns crushing him between the gears of Megacorp, the bottom line, and his own beliefs.

Speaking of the title, I must admit, BLACK TIDE was not my first choice even though it works so well you’d think it was. Perhaps all authors go through the same thing, finding the perfect title. My first choice was ‘the Jonah’. Okay we need some background here. Two things come to mind.

First Jonah Mettler was a good friend of mine. It was and still is an honor to have known him. We worked together at a biotech firm fitting pipe and putting mad scientists ideas to work. It had its rewards. The most important being able to work with one of the finest craftsmen I have ever met. This guy was good. During the course of working with Jonah I learned more about myself on a personal level and the way things work on a nuts and bolt level, which created a highly creative work atmosphere. His work ethic is strongly represented in Jake’s character. It was one of the things that drew me to him in the first place. ‘Man this guy loves his work.’ Regardless of what the project was it was guaranteed you’d have the time of your life as long as you worked hard and did your best.

I seem to judge a lot of men by their work ethic, or lack of one. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But to relax well you must first work hard. For how would you know what rest is if you had not been busy doing its opposite? To understand comfort it is good to ride a hard bench for a few years. And as the theory goes, the less rest and comfort you receive the more you appreciate it.

Well Jonah was like that. Perhaps I loved him because he brought out the best in me. His parents were neighbors and when Jonah died I was able to share back all that he had given me.

It was my relationship with his family that brings us to point # two. If you have noticed, the titles used in the ‘anoxic zone’ series have water related titles, naturally. In keeping with that tradition, ‘the Jonah’ fit right in. Maritime usage has ‘the Jonah’ being a bad omen. The original Jonah was thrown overboard for having killed an albatross and thus damning the vessel. It is also the beginning of the tale of Jonah and the belly of the whale wherein the mariner has an epiphany of sorts and the whale barfs him up.

Having Jonah and Jake together at the start of the novel serves to warn the reader of the darker things to come. Jake will spend his time in hell by becoming that darkness, that evil that resides within us all, bringing me to the point. Jonah’s family are avid readers and I did not want their son’s name staring them in the face each time they looked at it. You see, Jonah’s death was not without a certain amount of darkness attached to it. So it is out of love and respect that ‘BLACK TIDE’ was chosen. Without love and respect you end up with the world I write about.

Even the macabre has its upside. This is what I would call the ‘feel good’ book of the year. Feel strange too, disturbed, shocked at what I do with your imagination with intense imagery, but feel good?  Definitely. Chances are you will love your life even more by the time you turn the last page. I mean how could you not, especially after what I do to the characters. This story has all the grit and gore of the first two taking you into the depths of Jake’s, if not your own soul. He struggles to survive when all that makes life worth living is taken away. Jake refuses to let go of his self, when doing so would have been far easier. The agonizing effort at redemption is not without its cost. By himself he could not have done it. Not without the help of some ‘friends.’ A little love goes a long way. Then again I could be wrong.

BLACK TIDE by john g rees

 When your number comes up and Megacorp comes to take the cream of the crop will you be ready to do what it takes to save yourself? Are you willing to forget your own issues and help others with theirs? It is the only way to keep the madness at bay and balance the scales.

Who am I ?

When was the last time you’ve dived into the dark side of your self? Granted for a lot of folks their dark nature is best left locked up tight and kept that way. But it’s still there, for all of us. The other side of our personal coin. One side is the face we show the world. The other lies right behind the eyes, unseen by any except those brave enough to look.

An old friend once commented on the bio picture I chose for the back cover of Halocline, my second book. He said he could see the story of my life in that one shot. Victories, failure, love, hate, loyalty, betrayal, pain and happiness, all in the eyes of his childhood buddy. Though we hadn’t seen each other in 35 five years or more he read me like a book. I just thought it was a cool bad ass sort of head shot. Shocked and ashamed at what he saw  so quickly, it was too late to pull it from publication.

In a few short words, without judgement, he peeled away the skin of illusion. I saw myself the way he saw me, not the way I see me. It was an eye opener. All published authors go through this and stand naked before the world each time they make their work available. I never realized until my first book went to my editor what fear was. Being in a life and death situation comes close to what it feels like. And that’s just the beginning. Every time you read a book or story not only do you get to enjoy a good tale but you get to know the author as well because it’s damn near impossible not to, as an author puts all of their self  into the writing.

In retrospect the photo I chose was appropriate as it shows, like my writing, who I am, the light and the dark. Thanks Don.

On another note, Black Tide, the third book in the anoxic zone series is coming along nicely, with just a few ‘hurry up and wait’ issues. We did a photo shoot for the cover at Ho’okena beach last weekend. Our diver worked hard and we got the shots we needed. Looking forward to a November release. Aloha!