I do my best work when I’m lost in the eighties. With Mr. Mister, Cory Hart, Bryan Adams and even Kajagoogoo playing in the background, I seem to lose myself inside the stories I write. Maybe it’s merely an indicator of my age, or maybe it’s just the last time things seemed simpler and more comfortable for me, like an old, tattered blanket on a blustery November morning. I have asked other writers about listening to music while they are working, and their responses varied greatly. I don’t always listen to Berlin or Cutting Crew when I am balls-deep in the throes of a story, but sometimes I do. And it always makes me smile.
It’s so easy now for any Joe Blow off the street to pen a novel that the resulting aftereffect is that we are flooding the market with new stuff every day. This can be a good thing as much as it can become a challenge for those authors trying to make a living off the proceeds from their books. For me, the music helps me to remember never to take myself quite so seriously, because writing is difficult enough already. For those of us who started young and always knew we wanted to eventually become a famous novelist, then having a friend suddenly decide to pen a masterpiece as their one great vanity project…well, let’s face the truth, it’s irksome to say the least.
On the flip side, it also opens doors to new genres and creates stories that, in years past, big named publishers would’ve cringed at the thought of attaching their names to, and responded with the curt little rejection notices that so many of us still remember fondly. We now have gay vampire biker gangs and shape-shifting alpha wolves that tease and tantalize their readers as if they were directly pulled from a Fifty Shades of Grey monograph.
I stated earlier that it opened doors, but it does more than that. It crashed through doors like a nighttime intruder, splintering wood and forcing itself into the market by its loud and incessant demands to be heard. To that I say kudos because I am old enough to remember myself just how difficult it was to find a book with a gay theme when I was young; let alone a romantic tale of once forbidden love. My first gay read was The Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up by Charles Nelson. It was, and is still, a great story about illicit gay love during the Vietnam Conflict. It was difficult to find in the backwoods hometown where I was raised, but it changed me forever and gave me my first notion that I could write about all those things that I wanted to know, to create stories that I would’ve personally wanted to read.
To those fringe authors who have recently penned their first book, I say CONGRATULATIONS—and I hope you find the readers out there who will appreciate your work and find comfort in the words that you have branded onto paper. So, turn up whatever music that stirs you best, and settle in and give us your best fantasies, your finest creations and that singularly important voice that belongs solely to you. Write; just keep writing because we are all patiently waiting to see the stories you have to offer us.
About the Author
Rodd Clark is the author of the Gabriel Church Tales, a twisted romantic thriller series as well as the Brantley Colton series of books. All of Rodd’s books can be found on Amazon, B&N, and traditional retail outlets everywhere.
The Rubble and the Wreckage
Gabriel Church knows you can’t take a life without first understanding just how feeble life is, how tentative and weak it stands alone. If you desire murder, you hold a life in your hand. Whether you release it to grant life or grip tighter to end it, it is at your command and discretion.
Gabriel is a serial killer with a story he wants told.
Christian Maxwell studied abnormal psychology in college but chose instead to focus on a career in writing. His background comes in handy when he thinks of writing about a serial killer. He can’t think of anyone more qualified to write the story of Gabriel Lee Church, and do so in the murderer’s own words. It’s been done before, but never with a killer who has yet to be captured or convicted.
There was never anything more than a gentleman’s understanding between the two men that Christian would record Gabriel’s life story. The killer did not ask for his complicity in any crimes, nor did he ever ask for his silence. Christian’s interest in the man, though, is fast becoming something more than academic. When the writer and his subject become unexpected friends and then lovers, the question remains: What is Gabriel’s endgame . . . and why does he want his story told?
“I’VE BEEN CAREFUL not to ask before now, but how many would you say you’ve killed?”
It had already whispered in his brain. There were ramifications to the answer that he didn’t really want to explore. But how could Christian complete his manuscript without knowing the answer?
“An actual accounting? I suppose I can understand why that number might be important to you, but people who become victims, are not necessarily just numbers in my eyes. Think of it as a journey, and they’re not people, but mile markers.”
With that cold, analytical retort, Church had once again slipped into another persona. His grin faded with every flash of memory he was forced to relive. His posture seemed guarded and closed at first, but as he reclined back into the salon chair with his naked chest exposed and the writer’s eyes darting uncomfortably back and forth, another unseen personality found its way to the surface. This one wanted nothing more than to unbalance Christian and gain some sadistic enjoyment in watching him squirm under all that unspoken pressure. Church rested his head inside the crux of his massive intertwined palms and set out to witness Christian dance under his manipulations.
Church reminded him of an old tomcat he once had, one who loved to catch mice but spent almost an hour batting the poor thing from paw to paw while the rodent breathed its heavily labored final breaths from its many failed attempts to escape death. Eventually that old barn cat would tire of his own game and pull the mouse’s head off with a single bite before dragging it off to the shadows, presumably to eat. It was just like the game Church enjoyed playing with him. And as it went was proving effective. Christian didn’t like being in Church’s company when both were relaxed, when both could shed the professionalism of their relationship and become friendly. He also did not like the distraction of such a tantalizing figure sitting so close to him. He expected by now, he would’ve been more composed and calm, and given it all, it was rather amazing just how collected he appeared, given that Church was still just a few feet away. It had only been a couple of hours. The tea pitcher was draining and the sandwiches were growing stale. He’d hoped by then he would have gotten used to being in the killer’s company, that he’d be accustomed to the sensual way Church would bite his bottom lip when he remembered something painful, or that he didn’t get a tad panic-stricken when the man would brush past him or reach over him to grab another quarter-cut club sandwich from the tray. But time refused to alter his nervous state. “I think the readers would like to know if there had ever been time for romance during all the killings.” Christian carried the pretense of writing and never raised his head.
“Yes, I’m sure the readers want to know that. But I would have to tell them I never had much interest in what you call romance. I got laid. I found occasion to blow my jizz wherever I wanted, yes. But ‘romance’ is for fourteen-year-old schoolgirls, don’t you think?”
“So, during the height of the murders, or before, there was never any person who you were involved with? No one who might have altered your, err, homicidal course at any time?”
Church stared over the rim of his glass of tea at Christian. There was an unfamiliar look in his eyes, he seemed to be both exploring the man’s question and considering for the first time the possibility that someone he might have loved could have changed his destiny, for the better. But the black cloud reassembled somewhere on his face.
“I was never in love, so the point is moot I suppose. Since I have never loved another person, then I guess my destiny was, as they say, pre-ordained. I didn’t become a better man because no one ever mattered enough to me. Then again, that works on the assumption that I’m not a good man, even currently, doesn’t it?”
“Do you consider yourself a good man?” Christian decided, rather resolutely, that he wouldn’t get answers to all of his questions, but he traveled the path forward and trained his eyes on the killer to await a reply.
“Good is a relative term. I’m good at what I do, I don’t hurt the ones I kill unnecessarily, so I suppose it’s up for debate.”
“I beg to consider, the families of your victims may not agree with you.”