FROM BLACK DEATHS TO PRAYERS FROM THE DEAD

How my first long form venture into the infinite worlds of science fiction came to life

In just under 3 weeks, on January 16th, 2023, my new release from Saint Rooster Books rises from the snows of the Northeast. A PRAYER FROM THE DEAD is different from my other releases. The book is not a horror novella. Well, wait, I can’t say that, as it has horror elements. Fundamentally, it’s an action-packed, alternate history mash-up of genres; from cyberpunk to grimdark fantasy. And oh, yes, dear readers, it comes chock full of blood, guts, and creative manners in which people meet their demise. Everything you expect from me. 

And more. 

But it’s the setting of this book, I think, that is most intriguing. A PRAYER FROM THE DEAD is set in an alternate version of our world, where the Abrahamic religions never dominated the Western hemisphere. As a result, there is no suppression of knowledge by the Church, leading to technological innovations long before our current timeline. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims, but they aren’t the dominate religions throughout most of the world. It further postulates The Troubles in Ireland as being set in the North America. Welcome to the Manhattan ghetto, home to religious heretics in the Puritan States of New England.

The elevator pitch is “Escape From New York meets Bergman’s The Seventh Seal with a side order of The Handmaids Tale and a frosty serving of The Crow to wash it all down with.”  Revenge stories are best served cold, no? Like the original Star Wars trilogy, I’ve avoided dumping the social politics of a world like this on your lap. This is first, and foremost, an adventure story using the conflict between two religious factions to drive the narrative. If you are looking for social commentary and parallels to our own world, you won’t find them here.

The book focuses on three main characters: fraternal twins Abigail and Gabriel Brennan, and the mysterious Templar. A PRAYER FROM THE DEAD was originally titled BLACK DEATHS, the name bequeathed upon the twins by the authorities they fight against. I wanted to examine the relationship between twins, and their connections, especially after one of them <SPOILER ALERT!> and becomes something more than they were before. 

MY ORIGINAL COVER CONCEPT DESIGN (ARTWORK FROM SHUTTERSTOCK)

My goal was to tell this story through a collection of novelettes. I finished the first two, when I ran into a wall. The individual novelettes played out more like scenes in a bigger story, so I abandoned the concept, with this narrative. When I revisited the idea, and started over with a new story, I learned from the mistakes of BLACK DEATHS. The end result of that experiment was THE GOD PROVIDES, which features the Splatterpunk Award nominated novella, FIREFLIES AND APPLE PIES. 

Some will ask, “Why do a mash up of genres like this, after establishing yourself in the splatterpunk and extreme horror community?” First off, the book features splatterpunk and extreme horror elements. Secondly, my first mentor in fiction writing was L. Sprague de Camp, and he was notable for mashing up genres in his prose. He also was the first writer to coin the term EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL when referring to aliens and alien bodies.

And… he’s most (in?)famous for assisting Lin Carter in bringing the works of Conan the Cimmerian back to the public eye on more than one occasion. By the time I reached out to Sprague in the mid to late 1980s, he was, if anything, salty about a teenager coming to him asking about Conan. But he gave me valuable advice during this period, and I’ll never forget his guidance. I bring this up because A PRAYER FROM THE DEAD is, if it’s anything, a Sword & Sorcery story in the vein of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock, at heart. I utilized a combination of Stephen King and Howard’s manner of world building. King uses commonplace simplicity for names, and Howard’s used familiarity. Both easily assist in the suspension of disbelief.

SECOND COVER DESIGN CONCEPT

And the art for this book? Wow! There will be interior art from Tim and Stephanie Murr, but the cover is one I designed myself. It’s not AI art, either. I’ve learned to be a skilled graphic designer and photo-manipulator, and I owe a ton of thanks to Lisa Vasquez, one of my writing mentors, for guiding me in learning this, well, art form. So thanks to Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Gimp and my imagination for bringing the art to life.

Don’t forget you can get the audio version of SummerHome through Audible. It’s narrated by Cheryl May (The Death List) and you can get it here. Any reviewers who reach out to me (either through my active social media accounts or email at loudsoundkaraoke@gmail.com) will receive a free audio copy of SummerHome upon request.

For my true horror fans, watch for a new novelette, DROPPING KARMA, to hit Godless in February. It will be released in print as part of my forthcoming IMMORAL DILEMMAS splatterpunk horror shorts collection in fall 2023. It’s a multiversal mindfuck of an extreme horror story, inspired by real events. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Here’s a sneak peak at the cover, which I designed!

My next Splatter Folk piece comes out later this year from St. Rooster Books. The long awaited sequel to THE GOD PROVIDES, THE WITCH OF NOVEMBER. It’s basically my EVIL DEAD 2, set in the world of the McEntire and Brannigan clans…

PROMOTIONAL IMAGE – NOT FINAL COVER ART

And before I forget… it’s only a little over 3 months away from Scares That Care’s AUTHORCON II in Williamsburg, VA! I’ll be there, and I hope to see a bunch of you, too. It’s 3/31/23 thru 4/2/23!

Until then, you can get merch showing your love for my books here at my store. T-Shirts, buttons, stickers, phone cases, etc. and so on.

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