Tales from Space 3 Excerpt

Here is a excerpt from We’ll Meet Again, the tale of how Anore Wrought managed to not only steal the cure for the weaponized plague that was killing her husband Victor, but rescued long-time friend and ally Nick Goodfrey from his captivity with rival Sindo Corporation.

You can find the whole story in Tales from Space: The Great Corporation War, available in 2018 from StarkLight Press.

This excerpt copyright 2017 Anthony Stark.

 

He came at her out of the darkness in the wide hallway, emerging from blackness like a wraith from out of the realm of the dead. Beside him emerged four other Sindo Corporation assassin-guards, all armed. They were unsurprising- he shocked her to her core. Anore was prepared for a fight, knew that the Sindo knew she was about to attack one of their three flagships for the files Wrought Industries needed so desperately. Sindo was, of course, expecting her to try to get the files- they contained the cure for the deadly engineered disease Sindo had given to Victor Wrought.

Anore Wrought was an exemplary fighter, with fast instincts and deadly accuracy; she had been ready for up to ten assailants trained in Japanese martial arts. Four attackers was dealable, but as she eyed their leader with his almost nonchalant stride and the small, cruel smile that played on the corners of his mouth, Anore was unsure if she could beat this fifth foe.

“Nick,” she addressed their leader, watching his face for some sign of recognition.

He held up a hand, and the assailants stopped. Cocking his head to one side slightly, he grew still, regarding Anore Wrought, the second in command of the single greatest foe to the Sindo Corporation.

He gazed at his opponent with even eyes. “I am not called Nick anymore,” he informed her. “I am now Raine.”

“You are Nick Goodfrey,” Anore looked at him, her eyes willing the android to break with his Sindo programming and remember her. His face was implacable, as she had seen it before, yet there was something wild, almost mad there now that sent a shiver through her, along with a sour spray of shame. He looked the same, yet the drawing of the artificial flesh around his eyes made him seem at once vicious and terrified. The way he had taken to holding his mouth contributed to this effect, with that small, mocking smile held there like a mask. His jaw had grown somehow, giving him a more imposing aspect, making Nick look as though he had gone from a wistful teenager to a hardened adult during his tenure with Sindo. It also added to the sense he was now more dangerous. Sindo had either dyed his hair or replaced it, from its original pale blond to a dark chestnut, almost black. The new color made him seem larger and augmented the sense of menace about him. His blue eyes stood out like topazes, framed by the dark crown he now wore.

Sindo had given him standard assassin’s garb- a dark, slim-fitting long coat with pants and a high collared shirt. Nick’s was deep blood red, the color of Sindo Corp; it signified him as the leader of his group. He wore highly flexible assassin’s gloves that Anore knew would allow him to increase his already formidable grip. He carried on his belt, only part hidden by the coat, a pair of long knives and a garrot wire.

“Nick,” she repeated.

Ignoring this assertion, he took a step toward her; his assassins obligingly stayed in their spots.

“You have come for the files encoding the antidote to the weaponized illness plaguing Victor Wrought,” Nick declared. He tilted his head to one side, his blue eyes glinting in the dim light of the hall. “Did you find what you sought?”

“He’s dying, Nick,” Anore explained earnestly, dropping her stance and holding her hands wide. “I have to try to save him.”

Nick’s jaw worked at this and his eyes flared vicious, horrible light. Anore froze, lifting her guard once more, swallowing hard. What had she said- was Nick so angry at Victor still?

Slowly, his mouth cracked from side to side, until he started to silently laugh with a broad, open-mouthed smile that alarmed her to her core. She had never seen him maniacal before, not in all their years together. After a few moments of silent paroxysms, he started to laugh out loud, wracked by a terrible mirth that made him bend forward slightly, his eyebrows raised. He laughed in her face, his eyes wide, his eyebrows high. Behind him, his henchmen laughed as well.

After an interval that held Anore galvanized in place, Nick regained his composure, straightening to his full height and running his hands down the hem of his coat to settle himself. Still smiling broadly, he inclined his head; the first gesture that she recognized as his own.

“Of course,” he said maganimously. “You couldn’t leave him for dead, could you?”

So it was hatred for Victor, Anore thought to herself. Forgetting her outnumbered state in hostile territory, she looked, exasperated, at Nick. “It’s not like I want to save his life,” she said. “It’s just- not fair.”

Uttering a sharp bark of the same laughter that had chilled her to her core, his eyes flashed again. “No,” he agreed. “Terribly unfair, what we did to him… and how could you let something unfair stand? You, champion of right and good.”

Anore squinted at this, unsure of what Nick was implying. “I don’t think I’m champion of anything, Nick,” she replied quietly, watching her android closely.

“But you are… good,” he said. “Most assuredly. The Wrought Corporation fights on the side of the angels, isn’t that so.” The corner of his mouth curled up into a crueler smile. “Victor certainly believes this- and you are quite convinced of your own moral authority.”

“I- we,” Anore stumbled, wounded by the spite dripping from his words. “We are good people, Nick- we are trying.”

“Well,” Nick said glibly, that same brutal smile playing at the corner of his lips, “If you are the good ones, then, that would make me… the Enemy,” he pulled up his gloves. “Wouldn’t it? You must return to Victor and save his precious life, to combat the unfairness of it all… and I must stop you.” He cocked his head to one side and raised his hands. Beside him, his henchmen took up their guards once more.

“Because, my sweet heart, you see- I am a villain.”

He twitched his fingers, and all four assassins set upon her. It was a desperate flurry of a battle, and Anore, shocked by the viciousness in Nick’s voice, the sheer wrath in it, lost precious seconds recovering. His assassins had her pinned up against the wall, having pummeled Anore despite her blocking of nine out of every ten blows with expert reflex. Their weapons were strong and relentlessly aimed, however, and she found herself sliding up the bulkhead of the ship, her limbs pinned. She watched, helpless to move, as Nick approached her.

“Let’s see,” he mused, eying her up and down, “where would I be, if I were a crystal drive?” He began to search her. Anore gasped at the strength in his hands, so determined compared to the old, gentle, subtle touch Nick had once possessed. Her eyes widened, shocked, at the unabashed sexuality of his touch as he searched her. He kept his eyes locked on hers as he ran his hands over every inch of her body.Nick had either learned that sexual domination was an effective tactic to use on prisoners, or had developed in extremely predatory ways for his time at Sindo Corporation. Either way, Anore had never been handled by Nick Goodfrey so roughly before, and it stunned her.

He ran his hand up her legs, feeling expertly and brusquely either on side of her thighs, then gripped her with fingers like iron, just hard enough to hurt, between them. He smiled thinly.

“We’ve searched everywhere else,” he remarked. “You’ve hid it in one of your holes- which would you like me to search first?” He ran his finger back and forth between her legs idly as he asked.

Anore crashed her head into Nick’s; one of the assassins lost their grip on her shoulder and she started to wrestle her left arm free. The thrashing destabilized the other three, and she started to slide down the wall.

It might have worked as an escape tactic, had Nick not hardly reacted to the blow to his head. Raising upright almost immediately, he saw Anore begin to slide down the bulkhead and, moving in, grabbed her with one hand and lifted her again to her position slightly above him. His hand was immutable around her neck and she started to choke. She stilled her thrashing- his hand could pop her head right off her spine, if it so desired.

“Nick!” she gasped around the purple spots rising in her vision. “Please-”

Smiling viciously, Nick graciously lowered her to the ground, his grip loosening just enough to let her breathe. He pumped his fingers into her carotid arteries, however, twice to show that he could not just suffocate her, but cut off her blood flow as well. Her eyes tearing, she looked up at him.

Pressing himself up against her, pinning her against the bulkhead with his weight most effectively, Nick raised his other hand to her mouth. His eyes never leaving hers, he pinched her jaw with his fingers until her mouth opened. Inserting his index finger, he swept her mouth. He even searched the back of her throat, which he did with a lingering gusto.

Gagging, Anore clamped her jaws down around the android’s finger. One of her molars chipped on the assassin’s glove that covered the digit. Nick laughed at her, his finger still in her mouth, tickling the back of her throat in vomitous circles.

“You don’t think I would be stupid enough to put my finger in your mouth unprotected, do you?” he chided. “How very little you think of me.”

Anore glared at him, trying not to gag. He paused, his smile fading slightly. He drove a second finger into her mouth and, after a moment and a near miss with vomit, pulled a small crystal out of the back of Anore’s throat.

“How disappointing,” Nick remarked, dropping Anore as the assassins grabbed her and re-pinned her to the bulkhead. He tossed the drive up in the air and caught it, winking at his prisoner. “I was so looking forward to searching the other two.”

He turned away from her, pocketing the crystal drive. Without looking around, he gave his final order to the assassins.

“Kill her.”

Anore’s eyes widened. She spat out a mouthful of blood from her tooth; it tasted like composite from the glove.

“Nick!” she cried. “Goddamn you!”

He stopped, and turned, looking at her with a face that was now more pinched than she had yet seen it. His huge blue eyes gazed at her, glistening.

“Already done,” he replied.

A rush of panic ran through her, and she hit out blindly with all four limbs at once. She found the grip on her loosened, and Anore grabbed a stick from one of the assassins and started swinging madly. Nick watched from a polite distance, his head cocked to one side. The assailants struck her again and again; her ankle was possibly broken, her ribs bruised or fractured, her cheek and skull cut and bleeding. Yet, in the end, Anore walked out of a pile of four bodies and took a staggering step toward Nick Goodfrey.

He raised an eyebrow. “Excellent work,” he commented.

“Thank you,” she spat out another mouthful of blood. Wearily, she sighed, wincing as her ribs pinched her for it. Beleaguered, Anore took a guard stance. “Come on, then, let’s do it.”

She was surprised to see Nick’s brow furrow with concern. For a moment, his face softened, and the fell light left his eyes.

“I don’t think this is a fight you can win, Anore,” he advised her softly.

“I have to try,” she replied, coughing slightly.

His face grew cold again, and his jaw clenched.

“Why? Why try for him? Why is it him you save?” His voice cracked. He looked her up and down. “You yourself are in imminent danger.”

“Because,” she said slowly, thinking about it, really thinking about why she was doing all this for Victor. It wasn’t love, that was laughable. It wasn’t a paladin-esque sense of justice, no matter what Nick thought. It was… it was…

“Hope,” she said at last. “Hope.” She looked up at him from her hunched half-guard and smiled around her bruises. “Nick, do you remember the last thing you did as you were getting ready to leave- when Victor sold you to Sinclair?”

Nick had been walking slowly toward Anore, ready to initiate the fight at her slightest motion. He stopped now, looked at her sidelong, eyes narrowed.

“I waited at the airlock,” he said, unsure.

Anore, her eyes alight, grinned. “No, not just that,” she wagged a finger at him. “You started to sing. I was trying not to cry, and I couldn’t find a way to get Victor to take it back… and I was starting to cry, and you sang me a song.”

Her voice faltering, her breath coming in gasps, she began to sing:

“Let’s say goodbye with a smile dear,

Just for a while, dear, we must part.

Don’t let this parting upset you,

I’ll not forget you, sweetheart,”

She had to pause between lines, and closed her eyes once with pain and memory, not caring that Nick could use those brief moments to strike.
As she started to sing, Nick’s face gave a great twitch, and he paused in his slow advance. His hands lowered slightly, and as Anore watched, they started to tremble.

“Hope, Nick,” she said. “You gave me hope…you sang it over the radio. I think you must have kept singing it even after we got out of range, because the signal faded in and out, and I could hear it.”

His eyes were shining preternaturally, and he smiled slightly, genuinely. “I sang it until your ion drive signature faded,” he said. “I can’t- I can’t remember the words of it, though.” He looked in Anore’s eyes, unsure, confused, heedless of their mortal situation. “What was the song?”

Anore’s brow furrowed in sorrow. Nick had always had such a memory for songs. What had happened to him here? She wondered.

Slowly, gingerly, she started to sing, her arms moving from a guard to an embrace.

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when,

But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

Nick’s brow worked, and tears spilled down over his cheeks. Shocked at the sight of tears on the android’s face, Anore watched them trail down his face in wonder. When he had left her, Nick was unable to cry. Yet here he was, weeping, quivering all over as though slowly freezing. She started to smile, nodding, and beckoned him to her, still singing. He began to stumble toward her, his head bobbing slowly in time to the words as though trying to understand or remember them.

“Keep smiling through, just like you always do,

Till the blue skies chase those dark clouds far away.”

His eyes were locked on hers, his mouth quivering. As though fighting through some great curtain of Shadow, he started to sing. His voice was wan, and sorrowful, but sounded more like Nick Goodfrey than anything he had yet uttered.

“And won’t you please say hello to the folks that I know,

Tell them I won’t be long,” he said, stepping to Anore further, raising a hand gently toward her face.

“They’ll be happy to know that as you saw me go, I was singing this song,” Nick continued, starting to recall the words more strongly. As he did, he started to smile in a way that filled Anore’s heart with a poignant happiness that made her throat clench.

“We’ll meet again,” she continued, and this time Nick sang the rest of it with her. His hand touched her cheek, and he looked at her in wonder, as though seeing her for the first time. His brow furrowed, and he faltered in the singing, as though he wanted to ask why she was injured.

Anore sang louder, more earnestly. She only had him by the slimmest thread of this song, and if he shook that loose, she might not get another chance to escape. She took him in her arms, and held him tight. To her surprise, Nick melted effortlessly into her embrace, resting his head in the crook of her neck like a small, exhausted child. His breath puffed coolly on her sore skin as he sang with her. His arms wrapped themselves around her; behind her, Anore could feel Nick pull off the assassin’s gloves one at a time and drop them on the floor. His bare fingers pressed against her shoulder blades with a fervent but gentle pressure.

She finished the stanza as she grabbed what she needed out of her pocket.

“Elle,” he said, using the name she had used when they had said goodbye. His voice was soft, and sad, and wistful.

“Nick,” she said kindly, raising the EM stun wand to his neck. She stroked his dark hair and kissed his ear. “My Nick Goodfrey.”

He lifted his head to look at her, a small, kind smile on his face. Anore caught just a glimpse of soft, sad eyes before they widened in shock and betrayal at the sight of the wand. She might have been wounded, but her reflexes were still good; she jammed the wand into the port at the base of Nick’s skull. Even though the port was closed, the jolt of stimulus sent Nick into a system crash. Uttering a pathetic cry that was clenched off by the seizure that overtook his vocal chords, Nick stiffened for a moment, then crumpled to the floor, lifeless.

After something like a wand to the neck, Nick would have to be restarted and given a complete diagnostic. It would take days, possibly weeks, for any random system to degauss itself inside Nick and begin the reboot sequencing on its own. He would not have days, even, before Sindo people came and packed him off to be rebooted and reprogrammed, this time with even less chance of failure to kill.

But she wasn’t going to leave him in this hallway; no one was restarting Nick Goodfrey but Anore. She grabbed the crystal drive out of his pocket so it wouldn’t fall out as she drug him to the airlock. She hadn’t come all this way to lose the antidote now. Stooping like an old woman, Anore took Nick by the wrist and began to pull him the fifty feet to the airlock where her shuttle was lurking. Limping, listing, panting and pausing frequently to catch her ragged breath, Anore pulled Nick’s corpse straight, then tugged it down the hallway and into the airlock. With a whoosh, the spare air expelled itself into space as her shuttle broke away. It was soon lost against the gulf of stars, headed back to the Wrought Industries war cruiser, and home.

StarkLight Talks with Lee F. Patrick

StarkLight Press sits down with Lee F. Patrick, author of Dark Reflections, a thrilling tale found in our Hallowe’en anthology, Wild, Wicked and Sparkling.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your tale.

The idea of a stalker makes for a creepy tale, but I wondered what might make a stalker worse. They are certainly a horrible thing to endure. However, you can’t slap a restraining order on a reflection! This story was mostly written a few years back and I kept coming back to it, trying to make it better. Psychological horror, for me, trumps slasher horror. Who in their right mind would believe what Francie is going through?

2. What draws you to the Hallowe’en season?

I enjoy fall as my favourite season. The ideas of the old celebrations of honouring the dead, and that it’s possible to cross between this world and another one is fertile ground for my subconscious. I’ve written some Celtic style poems and short stories with the same sort of theme.

3. Tell us about what would make the best Hallowe’en party ever.

I’m not a big costume party fan, but having a bonfire out in the woods, staying up all night to watch the stars would be wonderful. We’d just have to remember NOT to chase any white stags that happen along. Or, maybe we should.

4. Who has inspired you to not just write, but to keep writing?

I started reading when I was young and my parents gave my sister Lesley and I access to the Science Fiction Book Club, so we read Heinlein, Asimov, McCaffrey, Norton and a host of others. I still have some of those books.

I’ve been writing not very seriously since the late-1980’s as an alternate to my hard science day job. From there, ideas kept knocking on the inside of my head demanding to be let loose. Lots of projects were started and then languished as I started writing on the next idea, or because I wasn’t sure how to build the plot and believable characters. I decided to get serious and publish last year. Since then, I’ve published a thriller novel (Alter Egos), and had three short stories/poems published. Dark Reflections is the third (Thanks to Starklight Press!!). Another story was accepted and is awaiting publication.

A big bonus is my husband, G.W. Renshaw, is also an author. I did the 3-Day Novel contest years back and he was my support staff. He made sure I had food and tea and quiet to write in. Now, he’s also the tech guru who keeps updating templates and helping with all sorts of weird issues with covers and formatting.

The Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, which I’ve been part of for many years, gives inspiration and information of many kinds. When Words Collide also gives me lots of contact with other authors and folks who love to read.

5. Where can people find your work and more about you as an author?

I have a FaceBook page under Lee F. Patrick, and of course, at Amazon. A website is in the planning phase. The ideas and writing keeps intruding on the marketing time.

 

You can find Lee’s tale in Wild, Wicked and Sparkling, available now at the StarkLight Press Bookstore or on Amazon here:

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Following many inquiries as to the existence of a photo book commemorating the 2016 Mystery Art Auction, StarkLight Press would like to definitively state that it has withdrawn from the production of the book.

Following the Dawson Creek Art Gallery’s 2016 Mystery Art Auction, many poets and some artists felt that their work was neither properly acknowledged nor recorded by the Gallery. In order to smooth over hard feelings, StarkLight Press had offered to compile gratis a photo book featuring the paintings and poems included in the fundraiser for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. Copies would be available for purchase online and at the Gallery with all proceeds going toward the Art Gallery itself. The layout and design of the book were to be performed by the Press once high quality digital images and poems were provided by the Art Gallery curator.

After four months, in January 2017, the publisher had been stonewalled by the curator, Kit Fast, and had obtained only one low resolution brochure with the pictures inside. It came to the attention of the publisher that Mr. Fast had not informed anyone from the SPCAC or other members of the Gallery about the production of the book, when at a public meeting, people had no knowledge that this book had been trying to get itself made since the event in October.

After a lengthy apology delivered over the phone, Mr. Fast promised to provide release forms and high quality digital images and poems from the artists not directly connected to StarkLight Press.

As of September 2017, only two-thirds of the release forms have been provided. There has been no contact from the Dawson Creek Art Gallery with regard to this matter. Although we refuse to speculate as to the reasons why the curator and Art Gallery have so greviously sabotaged what could have been a valuable opportunity for the local arts community, we recognize that there are serious problems with bullying, clique-ism and discrimination against Persons with Disabilities in the Dawson Creek Arts Community.

Unfortunately, due to the bad behaviour of a few, all the artists and poets involved in the 2016 Mystery Art Auction go without a professionally-made and promoted commemorative book.

Therefore, following disrespectfully unprofessional interactions with the Dawson Creek Art Gallery, StarkLight Press would like to formally withdraw its offer to commemorate the 2016 Mystery Art Auction with a fundraising book. We are also officially stating we will not be making any commemorative books for the Art Gallery in future, unless a more professional and courteous approach is taken.

While StarkLight Press regrets the fact that it cannot help poets and artists who did not receive proper acknowledgment from the 2016 Mystery Art Auction, it nevertheless has exhausted every opportunity to try to provide a lasting record of the hard work and creativity that went into the event.

Virginia Carraway Stark Talks Hallowe’en

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1. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your tale.

So many people are ‘into’ magic and it’s always at Halloween that I ‘discover’ that I have several dozen friends that are witches that I had no idea about the rest of the year. I have no objection to the practice of Wicca or to witches, but what I do object to is dabblers. This story was more or less inspired by the idea of dabbling gone completely overboard. Dee is that crazy girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing and takes things way too far. I pretty much climbed into that girl’s head and ran with the idea.

2. What draws you to the Hallowe’en season?

Costumes are one of my favorite parts of Halloween. I don’t understand why we can’t go around in costume every day of the year if we want to. No one has ever been able to give me a good answer to that question and I insist that if we were socially uninhibited enough to wear costumes whenever and wherever we wanted that most of our social ills would fade in the freedom to express ourselves in the multiplicity of ways. People have these expectations of sameness from the people they work with and major changes are met with fear and trepidation. Isn’t that odd?

Imagine if we could dress how we feel, or even dress the opposite of how we feel. Feeling glum? Get the glitter and the glam out! Or wear your emo on the outside for the day and dress goth if you feel sad. Feeling happy? Why not wear that unicorn horn? Put in your rainbow hair extensions and strut it! Oh yeah, and there’s candy. Can’t forget candy.

I like the autumn weather, the leaves, the moodiness. The feel of mist and a little bit of eerie creepiness… but not too much. There’s a poignant feel as the year lets go with a sigh and the ground freezes, Halloween spells the last of sunlight warming my shoulders and the start of snowflakes and warm sweaters. Pumpkins and apple flavored everything for the rest of the year until fruits start are harvested again and on and on the wheel of the year turns with cinnamon to warm my veins and hot chocolate to warm my hands. It’s quite the tradeoff for losing the sun. I’m glad I don’t have to make the choice, fortunately it’s been made for me and Halloween makes me not responsible for what’s to follow.

3. Tell us about what would make the best Hallowe’en party ever.

I have to think back to the past to parties of the past and what I liked best for this because I’m not feeling in a party place right now. The funny thing is, the most fun I ever had at a Halloween party was probably one of the ones I had as a Girl Guide! I’ve been to some crazy parties since then and experienced some wild fun, but there’s something so classic about bobbing for apples, having mask put over your eyes (These were her BRAINS… And these were her EYES cue peeled grapes and cold spaghetti).

There’s something so rewarding in the pretend fear and the sheer innocence of those little games that puts those nostalgic parties at the top of my list. Maybe that is the most boring answer that anyone has ever given for one of these, but all the other parties I’ve gone to for Halloween, no matter how much effort has gone into them, no matter how sophisticated and realistic they are, no matter how good the cocktails, has something that is somehow cheap about it compared to the joy of those parties. Besides, is there anything really more scary than carving jack-o-lanterns in a group and having pumpkin innards fight? Try getting that out of your hair! Truly the things nightmares are made of!

4. Who has inspired you to not just write, but to keep writing?

More than anyone else I’d have to say my husband and my mother. It seems like there reaches a certain point in your writing career where there isn’t anything that ‘enough’ to tell you how you’re doing as a writer. I’ve won awards, I started off making a substantial amount of money on screenplays with names in them that most people would recognize. That’s something that most writers don’t get, let alone start with. It makes it hard, especially when there are people who just sit there like turds (ICBC, yeah, I see you!) saying that you aren’t a writer, or other people who get so jealous that they drive you out of the arts community rather than admit that you’ve had a few wins (Dawson Creek, tipping my hat to the artists there).

Things get complicated.

Friends act weird when you get some wins under your belt that aren’t going to make you world famous but are enviable nevertheless.

There are the people in writing who say absolutely nothing about what you’re doing and ignore your writing as though you’ve done something gauche like farting in front of the queen mother. There are friends who make snide remarks about how far you haven’t come and ignore everything you have done.

There comes a time when you look around yourself and realize that you have fewer friends than you thought you had because of your success and more people wishing you ill because of them.

It’s heartrending to any artist to be torn down and that’s why cruel people who don’t feel like they’re achieving their own goals in life do it: it’s easy money to kick an artist/writer etc when they’re down. We’re baring our hearts and souls on the page and making ourselves vulnerable. My mother wrote her whole life, she kept journals. Keeping a journal isn’t easy and keeping a truthful journal is even more hard. I can’t tell express to a non-writer how hard it is to turn off the inner critic except through analogy: imagine never once questioning the way you look in any outfit ever again… or naked. Do your thighs jiggle? Is your makeup okay? Suck in that gut… Nope, none of that. Let it all hang out. Cellulite flopping in the breeze, not a care in the world about whether or not looking down like that gives you a double chin… Do you get the idea? Could you ever do that?

Now imagine that isn’t your body, it’s your essence. It’s your soul. It’s your most secret thoughts. It’s thoughts that aren’t even yours but things that are, ‘what ifs’ that you wonder in the dark as you try to imagine why someone else did something. Let all that flab in your mind, all those bits jiggle around and let anyone who happens to pick up your writing make of it what they will. No one is ever going to really understand what you have to say on the page. Everyone is going to misjudge you. If you know the people reading what you wrote; it’s going to be an exponential number worse. Every little bit of guilt is going to tell them that any negative thing you put on the page is surely about them. Every character who is a villain is surely a thinly veiled version of them… they just know it! How they’ve caught you out!

While you go blithely writing your world, crafting your characters as you would a child there are people turning each tap on the keyboard into a diabolical scheme of paranoia against them. They try to dig into your psychology. They try to ‘figure you out’. They try to find you in the page.

You’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you?

That was my mom’s favorite song when she was alive. One of the last communications we had was a card where she congratulated me on my writing and told me how excited she was to see where my writing would take me. She wrote that she had never been able to write except when her soul ached, that was why she only wrote journals.

After her death, during the divorce from my father, at other pivotal moments in her life, her journals were plucked from her hands and used against her. After her death my family poured over each pen stroke and internalized every word that could be interpreted as harsh to cut their souls with. They hated her because of those journals. I only read a few of them, but the ones I did read made me love her so much more. I understood our differences and our sames so much better. I cried because she had never said the words on the page to me out loud and even if she had, I don’t know if I would have been in a place where I would have understood what she was saying to me. But she wrote. She wrote without an inner critic telling her that she was writing ugly things, or beautiful things, she wrote because her soul was screaming and now I understand her more than I ever did before.

I know that my writing has made me no end of enemies and will likely make me many more, but I also know that my writing has been there for people when they needed to hear the words I spoke. I know that I have helped people in my lifetime with my words and as my mother gave me the gift of understanding after her death to inspire me to keep writing, I understand what the ability to speak the words needed when I cannot physically be there to say them means to people. That is how my mother has encouraged me in life and death to keep writing.

My husband has had a much more intensive role to play in my writing life. He is the guardian of the very soul of my writing. When people are cruel I know that there is one person who will always be kind. He won’t lie to me, he’ll tell me the truth about my writing, but he will talk to me. He won’t seal up like a clam the way people do to writers when they feel withholding. People stop talking or acknowledging writing, or deliberately push buttons to try to stop up writing, as though every word I personally write is somehow an affront to them.

But Tony Stark isn’t like that. He’s there with me. He WANTS to hear the words I write. We share back and forth and through our symbiotic encouragement and enthusiasm he puts my hands gently back on the keys after they’ve been squished flat by the stomping brutality that is relentless as soon as those pages leave the drawer and are shared with the world. It’s a strange thing that writers are repaid with little or no money, cruel words as often as kind, and yet they write the words that need to be there for those people who need to hear them most. Like my mother. Even after her death more people hated and reviled her for her writing than ever thanked her for her courage, but her words changed the world for me. They gave me a mother where I had none, or at least, when I thought I had none.

These people who will be there for you and who understand the subtle rays of goodness that writers put into the world are few and far between and my husband is the strongest and most steadfast of all the people.

5. Where can people find your work and more about you as an author?

Google me. Seriously, I don’t mind, I kinda like it 😉
I’m all over the internet. You can find me on my author page www.virginiastark.wordpress.com

@tweetsbvc

On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Virginiacarrawaystark/

www.starklightpress.com

www.gafmainframe.com

Amazon, and a variety of other blogs, radio guest spots, interviews as well as brick and mortar stores in Canada, Texas, New York, Iceland, Argentina and Australia.

Tony Stark Gets A Head in Life…

… couldn’t resist the dreadful pun! That’s what comes from tackling the concept of beheadings, oracles and Orphic tradition- all in one story. Read about how Tony came up with this fascinating tale of opportunistic resurrection here in his interview for Wild, Wicked and Sparkling.

VRELO CAVE   Vrelo Cave is located in the Canyon of Matka on the right bank of Treska River near the Macedonian capital of Skopje. Vrelo is a system of two caves, one above and one underneath the water, and a lake. Highlight of the top cave is a three meter high stalagmite, called the „Pine Cone”. The actual depth of the submerged cave has not yet been determined, it seems to lie well over 500 m, and therefore some consider Vrelo Cave to be Europe’s deepest underwater cave.

1. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your tale.

I was thinking about the connection between beheading, resurrection and mystery schools of spiritual belief.  I found that there had been a lot of talk this year about decapitated, cognizant heads after Alien:Covenant came out, what with double Michael Fassbender and all; that apocrypha seems to me to be very closely based in not just Sumerian myth, but the early Orphic tradition- love lost through personal responsibility, re-inventing of the soul in new forms- as well.  The idea of the disembodied character-inna-head being given new life made me start thinking about other notable cases throughout mythology and history. 

 Mimir’s head was given the ability to prophesy and assisted the gods for ages after it was removed from his body. Orpheus continued to give oracular messages after the Maenads ripped his head from his shoulders. The conceit that the head contains the seat of the soul, and moreover, once it has been separated from the material body, that it has supernatural powers, is an interesting one. Throughout history, Marie Antoinette is one of the most notable decapitation victims, and so I began thinking, who would be the one to give her head new life? Orpheus seemed a logical conclusion; his Orphic teachings are primal reincarnation. [I don’t know much about what Mimir believed in 😉 but he seemed to be more of a personal advisor to Wodin than an independent agent like Orpheus. ] The way in which Orpheus maintains that one travels intact across lifetimes made me think about him hearing about Marie’s death and 1815 re-interment. I started thinking, hey, now’s my chance. Orpheus’s head being taken to Macedonia linked up with other  personal apocrypha about the region and seemed a natural fit. 

2. What draws you to the Hallowe’en season?

I think it’s the energy in the season that reminds you that, even though there is death all around, from the leaves in the trees to the crops to the apparent deaths of animals that migrate or hibernate, energy moves to the spirit realm. It is still there, changed, eldritch perhaps, but all around. So, I’d have to say, the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

3. Tell us about what would make the best Hallowe’en party ever.

Costume party, of course. Starting off with giving the kids their candy, so that all the party goers get into the Hallowe’en spirit. Then a nice house party, with the backyard set up for whatever activities the weather is amenable for (because northern Canada Hallowe’en often involves snow!) and then not too much loud music or too much heavy drinking. Lots of good costumes and fun.

4. Who has inspired you to not just write, but to keep writing?

I draw great inspiration from Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis, and Shakespeare. Tolkien for his truth, Lewis for his insight, Shakespeare for his volume and quality, gathering things from disparate sources and making a cohesive whole that spoke to us all. He was like if Frank Lloyd Wright and a magpie had a baby that could write.

Virginia Stark has helped give me inspiration to keep writing, and to keep on to the ends of things and then beyond. I would say that our StarkLight Press followers, and especially our GAF Universe followers, help to always ask the right questions that require another story, another novel, to flesh out. Discovering the truth of the world is its own reward, but having an interested, engaged, intelligent audience is a beautiful and happy bonus.

5. Where can people find your work and more about you as an author?

StarkLight Press now has almost my entire body of work, which I am very happy about. The only other place to find my stories is with a totally awesome press out of America, Writerpunk Press. They’re the only ones I’ll work with other than SLP, because they have great respect for what you’re trying to do creatively and they have a very high quality, high energy group of authors and workers. They put out a beautiful product, also.

You can shortly find the whole body of work from the GAF Mainframe in our upcoming Encyclopaedia Galactica, featuring entries and magazine excerpts that fill the blanks around our Galactic Armed Forces Universe stories. It’s been a blast to work on, compiling pictures from fans, computer artwork and my own pieces for illustrations. Our latest novels for the GAF Universe are coming out this winter and spring of 2018. We’ve phased out the public access to the bulk of the work on the site and will be bringing it back with secure membership and login later this month- it’s a big compliment to have your work swiped and referenced and talked about on the Internet, (especially when people link to your stories and interviews, referencing them as fact!) but our authors and fans have put so much work in that it deserves a little security.

https://punkwriters.com

www.starklightpress.com

www.gafmainframe.com

 

Alfie Elkins on Flotsam

For the first of our Wild, Wicked and Sparkling author interviews, we speak with Alfie Elkins from off the coast of Venezuela, where he talks about what inspired him to write his haunting love story, Flotsam.

1. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your tale.

I’ve been living by the ocean for the first time since I was a boy, not in British Columbia but down in Venezuela. It brings up a lot of poignant thoughts about the past, about roads I didn’t take, paths I wasn’t able to tread. Also, moving across the ocean was a complete shake-up. I’ve never been out of Europe for living before, and the strange, disjointed, ethereal feeling I have for not having English soil under my feet- no matter how irritated I am at it presently- needed an outlet.

Walking by the ocean seems to be a real grounding point. It is all one sea, after all. I’m amazed by the sheer quantity of detritus that washes ashore. I’ve also been thinking a lot about relationships, and how they end, and how it connects up with both seasons and spirituality. Then I was reading a story from Tony featuring one of his characters, and I thought- this guy could go on a pretty dark journey, so I asked Tony is he’d mind if I popped him out of the tale and into a little Outer Limits-style classic horror story. It all kind of wove together with my memories of going to the west coast of Canada, and how much it seems like the border between the overworld and the underworld in Irish myth.

Oh, and I’ve also been reading a lot of Manga, too, lol.

2. What draws you to the Hallowe’en season?

It’s always been a very festive time for me. Growing up in London, it wasn’t actually Hallowe’en, but it was pagan style bonfires and all the old myths and beliefs, which usually lie dormant, were just suddenly back as though they had never left. Stories about the otherworld, about the spirits walking abroad, stories about loved ones coming back. Redemption across insurmountable odds, and the magic that comes with the dark time of the year.

3. Tell us about what would make the best Hallowe’en party ever.

You’d need a bonfire, for certain! Good music, not popular stuff, but mood music. Keep the costumes to a fantastic or archetypal nature, none of the flavors of the month. Lots of stout and cider. Would have to be able to go outside, in a natural space. And, of course, some spontaneous spectral activities.

4. Who has inspired you to not just write, but to keep writing?

I first started writing as a way to reduce stress from my job at the NHS. I was a paramedic and a supervisor of a station in London- not a fun job. Journals, then poems, then strange stuff started coming out of me, and a friend of mine, Pearl, knew Tony from the GAF Universe website. So I got into that, and couldn’t stop writing and working on it.

I’d have to say that Tony and Virginia, and also Will Norton, have been an exemplary model for making writing not just an activity, but a part of one’s life. The ease with which they accept whatever-old-thing you’ve been pounding out, be it a poem, a story fragment or what have you, makes it easy to silence the inner critic. Their communal worlds like the GAF Universe and The Program at Green Hill fire the imagination, and they allow you to jump on in and add your own inspiration, which helps if a free-formed idea just isn’t available. Then they take that idea and through some mystic process- bam! it’s incorporated into the whole. Will’s energy and sheer cock-eyed imagination is an inspiration, because the stuff he writes is just crazy brilliant. It makes you start thinking outside whatever bounds you’ve been placed inside.

5. Where can people find your work and more about you as an author?

People can find it through StarkLight Press, www.starklightpress.com and online at the GAF Mainframe site www.gafmainframe.com [Editor’s Note: The works are taken down until servers come back up following Hurricane Harvey, and should be available in four or five weeks]

There was also an autobiographical piece that did rather well for itself back in the day, based on my work as a teacher turned taxi driver, thence to the NHS. I’m in talks currently to get the publishing rights transferred to StarkLight Press, and hopefully it will see a third printing in North America sometime in 2018.

Wild, Wicked and Sparkling

StarkLight Press is proud to present Wild, Wicked and Sparkling, our 2017 Hallowe’en Anthology.

Featuring stories from Lee F. Patrick, Alfie Elkins, Will Norton, Virginia Carraway Stark and more, this anthology is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine this autumn!

Look for interviews with our authors coming later this week from StarkLight Press.