( When I was a kid, I was scared of everything - terrified. I was scared of dogs, of learning to swim, of riding my bicycle, and of course, horror movies. This all lasted until I was about ten years old. I caught the end of the original Friday the 13th. There was an all-day Friday the 13th marathon on USA, if I recall correctly. (Man, those were the days...) My babysitter at the time insisted I watch it. The moment young, moss-covered, misshapen Jason Voorhees leaps out of the water to grab the woman in the boat, I was hooked. I sat there and watched the rest of them that day. At that point, I think there were only 3 or 4 Friday movies, but that set me on the path. I turned into a horror movie junkie. All things horror - paranormal investigations, slashers in the woods, demonic possession. I wanted to learn about it all.
For those of you who have been paying attention, this is no big secret. I wrote the horror novel advertised over on the right of the page. I've written a couple of movies few have seen as of yet (but soon!). And my collection of horror and occult books has been described as "troubling".
That said, I was watching Friday the 13th: The Series last night with my wife. She's a huge fan, but I'd skipped it when it originally aired. I was incensed that they'd call something Friday the 13th but not have Jason in it. My mistake. The series is schlocky and fun and plays on some of the old 'be careful what you wish for' tropes often found in the original Twilight Zone series (another of my favorites). You can see how this would spook people back when it aired in the eighties. And I thought to myself, "Man, I wish I could still be scared like that."
I don't mean scared of cancer, or bills, or of losing your job. I mean being scared that the haunted piano is going to play the forbidden song that will open a giant maw in the floor from which will spew all manner of foul abomination.
It was with that spirit that we went and had a little 'camp out' at the new Modern Rogue World Headquarters. As with our ghost hunting episode from last Halloween, both of us went in skeptical, but really wanting to give ourselves over to the experience. We were trying to give ourselves permission to be scared. It didn't quite work, really, but it was a lot of fun. Shortly before midnight, we plunged into the untamed woods on the property - acres of them! It became clear that our biggest worries weren't homicidal hillbillies, ghosts, or demonic cults, but spiders, rattlesnakes, and squatters. Fortunately, we only encountered the spiders and my friend, let me tell you - the spiders own those woods. We could go fifteen feet without some Shelob monstrosity looming in the middle of the path. We did our best to respect and avoid them because all either of us want is to stumble into a brown recluse and have a damned arm rot off.
Later we retired into the building to, as our forefathers did before us, sit around the laptop and read CreepyPasta stories to the crowd on Twitch. That was fun! I actually got chills from reading the GoatMan story. Sure, it strains credibility, but as I've said many times before, the raw imagination that goes into those - and the lack of any formal grammar, punctuation, or any sort of prose chops - adds to the veracity. They're like the found footage of the written word. I guess you could also call them campfire tales. But a campfire would require us to go outside again and well . . . no thank you.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I'll bet Jason is pretty good at solving crimes. He's got a critical eye, nerves of steel, and a razor-sharp intellect."
Well, my friend, let me tell you. You'd be so right.
Okay. Let's be honest. Maybe I'm not so good at solving crimes. All of my reading for the Modern Rogue, coupled with my intense love of comic books, has probably better prepared me for the role of criminal mastermind. Or maybe just criminal mind. "Mastermind" is giving me a little too much credit. Then there's the whole 'petrifying fear of prison' thing. That also gets in the way of my Danger Diabolik lifestyle.
Instead, I'll have to use my sinister studies as fuel for writing and hopefully entertaining you, you sadistic internet misfits. This week's episode is about Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. I've told you about how we roped Macaulay Culkin into the shenanigans, but how did we know enough about the subject matter enough to craft an episode about it?
As with most awful ideas, it all came from the internet. I was trying to come up with something cool, something dangerous, and something that we could reasonably pull off with our extremely limited resources. (Which reminds me - you want to help alleviate the lack of resources? Consider joining the Rogues over at Patreon. We love you.)
There's a body farm near Austin, but they would never give us the time of day.
We've already done body disposal...
Wait ... I just got finished reading the first Dexter book ...
So I got to Googling, reaching out to some forensic scientist friends, and before long, I had juuuust enough that I could present in a video. Without an expert in any given topic, it often falls on me to give myself a crash course in the subject at hand. Sometimes it goes well. Other times, I leave out some really important stuff. You're probably thinking of at least five instances of the latter, I'll bet.
Oddly enough, the sources for this were perfect. I think. There may yet be some huge backlash against this episode for being totally wrong in every way. If it is, just blame these links:
listening: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Right Things
watching: Fade to Black - Vernon Zimmerman
It's a serious and heartbreaking topic. Orphans. I don't mean kids without parents. I mean those glorious little gems that you, as a creative person, intend to birth into the world so that everyone will know your genius, but for some reason you abandon them on some hard drive or in a back closet where the spiders and CHUDs live.
"Here, kid. Take this bag of Cheetos and some Sunny D. I'll come back for you later..."
But you never do. Maybe you were working on a novel about the rabbits that live on the moon. Maybe you're trimming the hedges in front of your house to look like X-Men characters. Maybe you're building a terrain set for your Warhammer 40K game, but you want it to look like Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel.
Whatever you're working on, I'm assuming that you, at some point, thought it was a great idea. Then ... things got in the way. It's possible that you were distracted enough that it was a long break before you could get back to it and once you did, you didn't even recognize it. You look down at the mass of wires and gyros and synthetic flesh you stole from that lab and think, "No, this was a really dumb idea."
If you're like me - and God help you if you are - you have both a plethora of ideas and you're easily distracted, like that dog in Up. Perhaps you're working on a self-published web comic. You know - the one about that haunted copy of Altered Beast? Then one day you find out about RPG Maker and it's suddenly, "Stop everything! I'm going to make an 80-hour RPG about Yor, Hunter From the Future! (If you are doing that, then hit me up. Let's be best friends.)
Either way, I don't know that you should feel obligated to return to those orphans. Leave them to waste away, like in V For Vendetta. When you return, you may find them stronger. You may find that they've had time to harness their latent psychic abilities and now they're ready to hunt for you, to kill for you. And that's great! It's possible that your brain was working on all of this stuff in the background. Now that you've rediscovered your passion for this project, you have to ask yourself, "Are there other, better ideas I've had in the mean time?"
Of all of your ideas, how do you choose which one to focus your energies on? Which of these little babies do you rescue from the purgatory of your imagination and decide, "No. It's you. You're the one I want the world to know about."
That's my problem. See, I have a completed novel and two novellas sitting on my hard drive. I'm probably going to self-publish them, but that takes time to get it right - promotion, editing, getting a cover, etc. They're so close, closer than many of the other things that are at the forefront right now, but ... are they the best thing for me to be focusing on right now? I have no idea. Sure, you should follow your passion, but some of these things have a shelf life. Some of your half-formed, mutant rejects may have been ready to go when you were working on them, but now they're just not relevant. Then you should probably have the wisdom to just strip them for parts. Take the organs and integrate them into some new, abominable life form or just sell them on the black market. It's up to you.
Me? Right now, I've got a lot dark chambers with these poor, neglected little freakshows just mewling and howling to be released onto the unsuspecting public.
a horror novel
2 horror/comedy novellas
an unfinished graphic novel
a new webseries
a different, spooky webseries
a serialized horror podcast
a new series of thriller novels
more scripts than I can even remember
There's probably more I'm forgetting. I'm sure there are. Maybe I'll stumble across them when I'm cleaning out the proverbial garage and think, "Oh ... Oh, you're still in here? You ... you actually look pretty good. Why don't we get you cleaned up and see what you've got?"
What about you? Any cast aside projects that you need to get back to?
And what do you all want to see from me?
listening: the Dead Kennedys - Bedtime for Democracy
watching: Galaxy of Terror - Bruce Clark