Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Are You Obsessed?

I have a book coming out on June 19th from Grand Mal Press called Death Obsessed. This is my fourth novel, and, in my opinion, the best of the lot. With a title like Death Obsessed, you would have to imagine that death has a lot to do with the story. And you would be correct. But on top of that there's a lot of personal stuff in the book. Not regarding the characters and their struggles necessarily, but the setting. C'mon, I'll give you a tour of the various settings in the book. No spoilers (the book isn't even out yet!), just a tour around San Diego.

A lot of writers use local backdrops for their stories. It's a smart thing to do, because you don't know any geography as well as you know the place you live. We take liberties, though. With Death Obsessed I took many liberties. I used a few places that do not exist anymore. We'll get to those. The story starts out in Calvin's apartment when he has an impromptu argument with his pregnant girlfriend. I have used this very apartment in several stories. The building on Madison Avenue in El Cajon was one a few of my friends lived in just out of high school. The building also appears in In Black and a few short stories. Different people live in that particular apartment, and I've never made a conscious effort at a connected world. I'm not really into that sort of thing. I just think it's a great apartment. I mean, it isn't. It was kind of a crap hole, but it works well in stories. The manager is always Mr. Fingers. He's an unreasonable type. Everyone calls him Butterfingers.

Up next is the Museum of Death. This was a real place in San Diego in the mid-nineties. I believe it now resides somewhere in Los Angeles. The way I describe the Museum of Death is how I remember it, though I only made the trip downtown to see the place once. It was a life-changing experience, seeing all those photographs of dead people, police photos, etc. There's a scene in the book that deals with a series of photos with a couple and a mutilated body. Those pictures are real. I saw 'em. I believe you can find them on the Internet (I wouldn't know; I don't search for photos of dead bodies...not any more). Me and a good friend drove down to the Museum of death in 1997. he had just gotten his driver's license. We were listening to Black Sabbath and taking back roads from El Cajon into downtown San Diego. Talking, singing, full of piss and vinegar. After spending a good hour or so in the Museum of Death we came out changed. Our minds were pretty fucked. It's a lot to take in, seeing all that death. The light outside seemed brighter and I was suddenly very aware of my mortality. I don't think we spoke a word on the drive home. Black Sabbath was even darker than before. Everything was darker. I remember driving home from my friend's house and just laying there on my bed thing about what we had seen. Life is fragile. We're not ten feet tall and bullet proof.

The next trip on our tour across San Diego County is Lakeside. A place called the Hall of Hell. This was a real place, described in accurate detail. Essentially it was a drainage culvert. In Junior High kids would dare one another to walk through the Hall of Hell. I'm claustrophobic, so I had no part in tripping through a jet black culvert. Story was some kid got lost inside and the fire department had to get him out. His name was Eric, but I'll leave his last name out, you know, for the sake of his reputation in prison. I remember being peer pressured to smoke pot at the opening of the culvert, but I was always secure with myself and not one to succumb to peer pressure. I waited until I was damn well ready before I tried weed. That idiot's name was David -----, and I'm sure he had a lucrative career as a car thief or maybe a meth dealer. he wasn't a friend of mine, just sort of hanging around for some reason. I can see the texture of his greasy black hair and weak-ass mustache to this day.

Another backdrop for a scene is Balboa Park. That exists. It's a cool place. If you visit San Diego it's worth checking out. Only one scene takes place there, and being that it wasn't a huge element of that scene, it's not accentuated and described in lush detail. I wouldn't even mention it here except that I like Balboa Park a lot. I don't get down there as much as I would like, but I always enjoy myself. It's a great place to sit in a patch of shade and people-watch.

 The building in which the finale takes place is completely fabricated, but was inspired by photographs of abandoned buildings: mental institutions, hospitals, houses, etc. I used material from an unpublished short story in those last chapters. It all came together rather well.

Well, that was the tour. I hope you got something out of it. But more than that, I hope you will consider buying a copy of Death Obsessed. The book comes out on June 19th, 2018. The ebook is currently on sale for .99 cents as a pre-order. The price will go up to $3.99 on release day. The paperback is on sale RIGHT NOW for $10.99 until release day when the price goes up to $14.99.

Remember those old VHS tapes with labels that said “banned in 40 countries” and “not for the faint of heart,” with titles like Faces of Death and Mondo Violence? Well, they’re back, only this time it’s a book.

This book.

Death Obsessed is Faces of Death with an identity crisis. Get ready for something mondo macabre! Back when he was a teenager, Calvin was into the morbid stuff. He thought he outgrew it, but he’s only a video clip away from becoming obsessed, and what’s Ronnie going to think about that? She’s not the kind of girl who digs cemeteries and dead things. But Hazel, she’s something else altogether, and oh how persuasive is a woman who knows what she wants. Drawn back to a place Calvin had forgotten about, and lured by the baritone drawl of Mr. Ghastly, who promises the much sought after death scenes classic known as Death’s Door, Calvin trips down one hell of a rabbit hole, and everything is at stake. Can he leave his nine-to-five life in the dust for some real action, or will he be left sick, all alone, and Death Obsessed?

"For anyone who dared picked up Faces of Death at the video store as a teenager or perused the atrocities of early internet shock sites like Rotten.com, Death Obsessed is a nightmarish trip down a rabbit hole slick with corpse slime and grave dirt. It's a supernatural glimpse at the deranged world behind the execution videos and crime scene photos and the people who enjoy them." -- Mike Lombardo, writer/director of I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday

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