“When I am all done I shall relax but not until then. My life isn’t very long and I must get one good book written before it ends.”
I’m generally not a fan of zombies. They squick me. But I love good writing and a good premise, and the Kickstarter for James Aquilone’s”Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device” completely hooked me. This is the first book in a new fantasy/horror series about a drug-addicted zombie detective and his homunculus frenemy. So yeah, with a zombie lead and all, I couldn’t help but contribute so I could read the whole thing… and I asked James if I could help spread the word about his nifty project, too. It has already funded, so add your support and know that the book is a sure thing!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Dead Jack isn’t the best detective in Pandemonium. He’s just the cheapest. In fact he’ll work for fairy dust. But don’t judge. Jack needs it to curb his hunger for sweet, succulent flesh. In “Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device,” the first book in the series, things go bad for the brain-licker after he tries to score from his old dealer. Jack and his homunculus sidekick Oswald find themselves on the run from angry leprechauns. But they have bigger krakens to fry, because Pandemonium is in danger of going bye-bye — and our duo is its only hope. Lucifer help them!
Waiting for My Wee-Man
I reached into my jacket for a Lucky Dragon once the shakes began. The undead aren’t known for their dexterity, so I had a bit of fun getting that hellfire stick. I was like a drunken mummy trying to do jazz hands. I burned off half the skin on my left index finger lighting the damn thing. That made four fingers now that were practically nothing but bone. If this kept up, I’d end up a skeleton inside a cheap suit and fedora. I doubt anyone would notice.
Being a member of the great unwashed undead isn’t all bad, though. I was happy for my dulled sense of smell. The alleyway stunk like rotten cabbage and sour apples.
I took a deep drag on my hellfire stick. Smoke poured out from the hole in my right cheek like exhaust out of a busted tailpipe. I sucked that thing halfway down and it barely made a difference. My hand still trembled like a virgin at a satyr convention. I needed fairy dust. Bad.
I had tried everyone in downtown ShadowShade, but no one was holding. Out of desperation I came here to Irish Town, in search of Flanagan, my old dealer.
Without dust, the hunger becomes overpowering, and when I’m hungry no one’s safe. I’d eat my own mother.
I had been waiting in the alley behind Finn McCool’s for at least an hour before the leprechaun finally appeared.
Flanagan isn’t your typical lep. First off, he’s not that short. Maybe five-foot-two. He’s broad shouldered, barrel chested, and someone you don’t want to mess with. He also has the saltiest mouth in all the Five Cities of Pandemonium.
As he entered the alley, he sang, rather jauntily:
“There once was a fellow McSweeney
Who spilled some gin on his weenie…”
A large sack was slung over his shoulder as he swaggered past the reeking dumpsters full of what must have been hundred-year-old cabbage.
“Just to be couth
He added vermouth
Then slipped his girlfriend a martini…”
“Sorry to interrupt that charming little ditty,” I said, and slipped out of the shadows as I blew smoke out of all the holes in my face. All nine. Real bad-ass.
The lep stopped deader than my libido. Like I’d caught him bathing naked in his pot of gold. (Leprechauns don’t really have pots of gold, by the way, but they are known to carry sweet, sweet fairy dust, the closest thing to heaven in this godforsaken world.)
The sack jerked and he gripped it tighter.
“What’s in the sack, Flanny? Someone didn’t pay their vig?”
“None of your fookin business. Now if you wouldn’t be minding. I have better tings to do than converse with a brain-licker.” The lep took a step forward, but I blocked his way.
“Look, meat bag, I don’t want any trouble.”
“No trouble. I’m just looking for dust.”
The lep exploded into laughter. He actually placed his hand over his belly. A real guffaw.
“You fookin dust head. Oh, Jackie boy, I thought maybe you were on a case.”
“Just a gram. The hunger is starting to eat through my innards.”
“You have innards? Figured it’s all just sludge inside ya by now. Like your brain.”
“The last time I went cold turkey, it ended real bad for some fairies. I went wilder on them than a pack of werewolves. I’m still not welcome in The Red Garden.”
“You ain’t threatening now, are ya, ya dead dick?”
My hands shook and my bones rattled as I held them up. It looked like I was trying to conjure a pixie spirit. “I’m desperate.”
“Then you’re out of luck. I don’t deal anymore. I have new opportunities.”
There was a clink, like a glass bell, and the sack flew up. Flanagan nearly lost his grip on it but was able to pull it back down.
“What’s in the sack, Flanny?”
“None of your fookin business, ya filthy corpse.”
He drove his shoulder into my crotch, shoved me into the wall, and took off down the alley.
Maybe the hunger had reached its apex or maybe I didn’t like the way he called me a filthy corpse. I didn’t mind the crotch shot. As for my zombie genital situation, let’s not go there. Either way I was on him like a werewolf on a moonpie.
Read more by supporting the Kickstarter for “Dead Jack”
About the Author
James Aquilone was raised on Saturday morning cartoons, comic books, sitcoms, and Cap’n Crunch. Amid the Cold War, he dreamed of being a jet fighter pilot but decided against the military life after realizing it would require him to wake up early. He had further illusions of being a stand-up comedian, until a traumatic experience on stage forced him to seek a college education. Brief stints as an alternative rock singer/guitarist and child model also proved unsuccessful. Today he battles a severe Tetris addiction while trying to write in the speculative fiction game.
His short fiction has been published in such places as Nature’s Futures, “The Best of Galaxy’s Edge 2013-2014,” “Unidentified Funny Objects 4,” and Weird Tales Magazine. Suffice it to say, things are going much better than his modeling career.
He lives in Staten Island, New York, but don’t hold that against him.
Life might really suck. But don’t worry. Salted Dulce de Leche Fudge loves you.
This fudge exists in Zen. It simply is. It does not think. It is here. A thing that you may partake of, a thing that makes stress fade away as dulce de leche-smooth chocolate melts on your tongue.
Its creation is fairly peaceful, too. This fudge is super easy. It comes together in just a few minutes if you use your microwave.
You can find cans of dulce de leche by the sweetened condensed milk in the grocery store, or on the Hispanic foods aisle. You can also caramelize a can of sweetened condensed milk to make it yourself.
I used bittersweet chocolate for the top layer. I’m not a bitter or dark chocolate sort, but it really works well here with the mild sweetness of the fudge. And the salt—the salt is essential. Coarse salt is nice because it keeps in crystals on the top—I really recommend pretzel salt, if you have it around.
However you tweak the recipe, know that the end result will love you, and you will love it, and all will be right in the world for about twenty-two seconds. Until you eat more fudge.
Modified from Easy Salted Caramel Fudge at Something Swanky, with my version originally posted at the Holy Taco Church.
“A good editor tries to figure out what the writer was trying to do, and helps him or her do it better, rather than trying to change the book into something else entirely. A good editor doesn’t insist, or make changes without permission. Ultimately a writer lives or dies by his words, and he must always have the last word if his work is to retain its integrity.”
~ George R.R. Martin
This post kicks off a series on the research and worldbuilding for my new book Breath of Earth. There is no avoiding the fact that a major earthquake happens in the book, but the cause is quite different. That said, I still intensively researched the actual earthquake. These are some of the interesting historical tidbits I discovered along the way.
Countdown to Breath of Earth‘s release: ONE MONTH FROM TODAY.
As a native Californian, I grew up with earthquakes. I have seen major devastation firsthand. That’s why I have been drawn to reading about the 1906 quake since I was a kid. I felt the 1989 Bay Area earthquake from some 200 miles away. It made the news footage of that distant destruction all the more eerie and personal.
That, however, was on a small scale compared to what happened in 1906. Below are two films in stark contrast. One is a somewhat posed scene following a mile of Market Street in 1905. The other is footage right after the earthquake in April 1906. These are images I kept in mind as I tried to recapture the horror of what happened 110 years ago.