Ghost Brothers of Darkland County; Telling Tales of Terror, Garden Part of Damnation Books Halloween Fifty Percent Off Sale

It may not be my favorite show ever, but there was a lot to like in GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY in its premiere last night in the Indiana University auditorium in Bloomington Indiana.  Bloomington Indiana?  Yes, that’s the area composer/lyricist John Mellencamp hails from, although librettist Stephen King (who is, however, also an amateur musician himself) may be of more interest to horror readers.  Billed as a “Southern Gothic supernatural musical of fraternal love, lust, jealousy, and revenge,” it was reportedly reworked from more of a straight musical theatre format when it previewed in Atlanta last year to what band leader and musical supervisor Andy York has described as a radio show.  Think something like Nashville Tennessee’s Grand Ole Opry (though in this case perhaps moved a bit farther south into Mississippi delta country) with performers seated on stage, moving to a center stage spotlight in turn when it’s time for them to perform.

And so, in a way, they do as individuals and small groups, their songs going in increasing depth into their own stories, all the time circling the main plot having to do with a family tragedy that occurred in 1967 — and threatens to be recreated forty years later with a new generation.  Then add, stage right, the Zydeco Cowboy acting as a sort of chorus/narrator, Greek tragedy style, and, stage left, “The Shape,” as also narrator and deus ex machina although, in this case, more devil than god.  And, maybe a little bit reminiscent of the film CABIN IN THE WOODS, certain roles and motifs must come into the story, even if sometimes seeming a little forced (although in a good way), because . . . well . . . that’s the way folk legends of this sort work out.

Then a final note, while the audience gave it a standing ovation, I didn’t hear people walking out humming favorite tunes.  Because that’s not the way that part works, but rather it was a case of the music building up on itself, bringing the audience into the mood, until, as a whole, the entire thing seemed to blend together in a way that ultimately seemed to be just what the story required.

For a quick change of subject,  Damnation Books has announced they’re “celebrating October with a 50% off promo code good on our website all month.  Enter 31Halloween2013 at checkout.  It’s good until November 1st at http://www.damnationbooks.com.”  Not being told otherwise, I assume it’s good for all titles, including TELLING TALES OF TERROR:  ESSAYS ON WRITING HORROR AND DARK FICTION (cf. January 7 2013, December 13 2012, et al.), edited by Kim Richards with, as the blurb tells us, “Introduction by James Dorr.  Essays on writing horror and dark fiction by authors Kim Richards, Paula Johanson, Bob Nailor, Ivy Reisner, Mitchel Whitington, Carol Hightshoe, Cinsearae Santiago, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Kathryn Meyer Griffith, Lisa Morton, Sephera Giron, and Jason Gehlert.  Includes advice from current publishers.”  So, yes, it’s self-serving, but I recommend this for writers above a beginning level, interested in advice in some depth on particular aspects of horror writing such as suspension of disbelief, use of the occult, point of view, dialogue, setting and mood, etc., ending with a roundtable of specific insights by the publishers who might be buying one’s stories.

Then, as an example perhaps of horror mixed with science fiction, the sale also presumably includes my own (ahem) novelette THE GARDEN.  For more on it as well as TELLING TALES OF TERROR, press Damnation Books’s website address, above, and take it from there (the way the site is set up, I find it easiest myself to search directly for a book’s title rather than trying to narrow it down by genre, etc.)

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