The second part of my (Gwen Mayo's) interview with Detective James S. Peckman.
Alex Azar, his biographer, is sharing several cases he finds memorable in a new book titled Nightmare Noir, which will be available on Amazon on Monday.
Which of the cases in the collection had the most impact on your life, and why?
That may be the easiest and most difficult question to answer. 'Control', which accounts the first time Thaddeus and I took on the returning Ibn'Roth. It still weighs heavy on my heart thinking about that first trip to Chicago, and the lives we lost on that case. We may have thwarted this god's return, but I can't count it as a victory. Too often loss seems to be the driving force for the things I did, and for so much after that case was because of those losses.
I noticed that your first solo case took you from New Jersey to Kansas; for a Jersey boy that must have been like visiting another planet. How did you feel about the vast open fields and near absence of trees?
It was the noise, or lack of, that hit me first. Newark is very much the sister city of New York, and we share that constant hum of life through sound that the Big Apple has. You could hear your own heart beat in the quiet fields of Kansas. I will say, I do remember stealing a moment during all that craziness to admire the night sky and all the stars that the city's light pollution steal from the view.
Could you tell us a little about the reasons for naming your weapons?
Every occupation has its own superstitions and detectives, both paranormal and normal, have their own; it is bad luck to go on a case with an unnamed weapon. As if to prove the point, during the aforementioned 'Under the Hood of Winter' I lost a favorite of mine that I hadn't named.
Why “Stacy” and “Gwen?” (No, readers, Gwen was not named for me; that is pure coincidence)
We're going back a while now. You're too young to remember a show called Two Faces West, but it was about these twin brothers both played by Charles Bateman. One was a physician seeking to heal the western town through its citizens, while his more violent brother, the sheriff, was quick with his gun. I was really drawn to the duality Charles brought to the show, something I think is in all of us. But I digress, Stacy was the name of the character played by the beautiful Joyce Meadows.
Something I haven't shared with many people, Gwen was my daughter's middle name. More than a dedication to her, I feel she's now protecting me.
Have you trained others to continue your work? If not, what do you foresee happening if you retire (now that you've been retired for some time)?
I hadn't trained anyone to take continue for me. I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to lead the life I lived during that time. The fact I'm here alive able to talk to you now, is a miracle I thank God for. I know too many good men and women that can't say the same. Unfortunately, the nature of this world that most people don't see means there's always more James Peckmans being brought into the life through similar tragedies I went through all those years ago. But we should all be thankful there are people standing up to the darkness, so we don't have to.
Today I (Gwen Mayo) am welcoming Detective James Peckman and asking him to tell us a little about his extraordinary career. I first met Mr. Peckman when he shared one of his cases with us in Undead of Winter, a case he refers to as “Under the Hood of Winter.” Alex Azar, his biographer, is sharing that story, along with several cases he finds memorable in a new book titled Nightmare Noir.
Welcome, sir. I know you don't usually go in for interviews, but our readers would like to know a little more about you. For instance, I noticed that Mr. Azar chose stories from very different stages of your career. What are your feelings about having only a small sampling of your cases included in the book?
You're right, this is only a small sampling of the various cases I've had over the years, but if I'm being honest my memory isn't what it used to be, and these are just the first stories I was able to recall for Alex. If demand calls for it, I'm sure he could fill more volumes to fill in some of the blanks I left out.
There is nothing in the book about your years as a police officer. Could you tell us a little about why you chose law enforcement as a career?
Looking back at it now, I'm fairly confident I didn't have a choice. My father was a detective for the NYPD, as was his father before him. I was bred for this, at least it seemed like I was until I lost my family.
You mention the deaths of your wife and daughter as driving forces behind leaving law enforcement. Can you explain why that made you choose to be a private detective, rather than having the force of the police behind your work?
I would have loved to have the Newark Police Department aiding me. Unfortunately soon after Talia and Sophia's deaths, I learned if I was going to avenge them, I had to work in shadows the police couldn't follow. Becoming a private paranormal detective afforded me the resources I lacked when I first entered that world.
Can you tell me a little about the “old world values” you hold dear? For instance, are they cultural, ethnic, or religious in nature? How did they influence your work?
Most readers may be surprised that religion played a large part of who I was when I was on the job, both as a detective for the police, and in the private sector. I don't have many memories, in general at this point, heh, but of my grandmother in particular. The one thing that really stood out about her, was her devotion to her religion. Seeing the comfort it gave her in the most trying of times actually relaxed me, even at a young age. So it was something I grew up with, then I entered this world of alien gods, and vampires, and I just knew there had to be force looking out for us. That's why, to this day, I keep my rosary beads handy.
Next: Part II.
We've drawn the two winners for the cover reveal giveaway. One is in NJ, the other is in IL. Thanks for visiting all those blogs!
Monday, there will be more giveaways to celebrate the book launch. In the meantime, the Goodreads giveaway is still going on. Drop by to register in the April 30th drawing!
MAHLLC proudly presents: History and Horror, Oh My! Learn the real reasons for the trial of Socrates, the curse of Glamis Castle, and the writing of the Book of the Dead. Discover the horrors of both the American Civil War and the English Civil War. Meet a vampire during the Dust Bowl and a Sasquatch traveling among the fur trappers of Canada.
History and Horror, Oh My! can be purchased in print and ebooks formats at Amazon and Smashwords.
Logan Zachary (www.loganzacharydicklit.com) lives in Minneapolis, MN and has over a hundred erotic stories in print. Calendar Boys is a collection of his short stories. Big Bad Wolf is an erotic werewolf mystery set in Northern Minnesota and its sequel GingerDead Man is due out in January 2015. His stories can be found in several collections, including: Beach Bums, Sexy Sailors, Black Fire, Brief Encounters, Biker Boys, Rough Trade and The Spy Who Laid Me.
Just so everyone knows, Logan's story in Strangely Funny II has erotic overtones, but it's not X-rated. I'm sure some of you are disappointed by that news.
In "Catting Around", a meeting takes place where neither party is what he seems to be at face/fur value.
From "Catting Around", by Logan Zachary:
I came home late one night from the bar and saw the big tomcat standing by my back step. There was a patch of blood along his right side, a dark crimson/black slash across his yellow tiger-striped body. There was a bare spot on top of his head and a nick was taken out of his left ear, clotted with blood. The night was close, and the day’s heat still radiated off the concrete. My T-shirt and cut offs clung to my skin from my sweat and humidity.
“You poor guy”, I said as I saw him. “Are you okay?” I bent down to scratch his neck.
The cat arched his muscular back and rubbed up against my hairy leg, sending shivers up my leg, all the way up my spine.
What was this strange reaction? I know I didn’t drink much at the bar. I looked up at the moon, almost full but not quite. Two days to go. I could feel my nerves raw under my skin in the moonlight, itching, prickling wherever it touched me.
I knew how this poor fellow felt. “Did you need something to eat? Drink?” I dug into my pocket and pulled out my keys. I unlocked the back door, and the cat darted into my house. I grew up with dogs my whole twenty-five years on this earth, and after my camping accident, I haven’t owned a pet.
I flipped on the light to check on where my guest ran to.
The golden tom sat in the middle of the kitchen looking at the refrigerator.
I opened the door and pulled out the bottle of milk and a cold beer. A bowl dried in the rack by the sink, and I poured some milk into it and set it on the floor.
The cat raced to the bowl and lapped up the milk. His pink tongue dipped into the cool liquid, and he drank quickly.
I opened the cupboard and found a can of tuna and opened it. I tipped it over onto a plate and set the plate next to the bowl.
The cat stopped drinking and eyed the pink cylinder of fish. He slowly approached and took a small bite. He looked up at me and gobbled the rest down.
I filled a glass with cold water and drank it as I watched the cat eat. I kicked off my shoes and set them by the back door.
The tom cat looked over at me as I bent over. He watched me intently.
I looked back at him as I lined up my shoes. I could feel my tight shorts cling to my backside and I looked back at the cat.
His green eyes glowed in the kitchen light. His pupils dilated.
Was he checking me out? I looked underneath him and noticed he was a big old tom. He must know which way I swung.
Anna Taborska is a British filmmaker and horror writer. She has written and directed two short films (Ela and The Sin), two documentaries (My Uprising and A Fragment of Being) and a one-hour television drama (The Rain Has Stopped), which won two awards at the British Film Festival Los Angeles in 2009. Anna also worked on seventeen other films, and was involved in the making of two major BBC television series: Auschwitz: the Nazis and the Final Solution and World War Two behind Closed Doors – Stalin, the Nazis and the West.
Anna’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies, including Best New Writing 2011, Best New Werewolf Tales Vol.1, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Four, The Best British Horror 2014 and Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume One. Anna’s short story "Bagpuss" was an Eric Hoffer Award Honoree, and the screenplay adaptation of her story "Little Pig" was a finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival Screenplay Competition, 2009. Anna’s debut short story collection, For Those who Dream Monsters, was released by Mortbury Press in 2013, with a novelette collection (working title Bloody Britain) to follow.
When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I come from a film-making background. The process of making a film is lengthy. It starts with writing a screenplay and, if funding is not forthcoming, often ends there – with an unproduced screenplay that only a handful of people ever read. While trying to find a producer for my film projects, I started writing horror short stories and, in November 2013, Mortbury Press (home of The Black Books of Horror) published eighteen of them in my first book, For Those who Dream Monsters.
How did you pick the genre you write in?
The world is a cruel and terrifying place, and, if art is supposed to hold a mirror up to nature, then horror is the art form that does it best.
Plotter or pantser?
I’m a pantser aspiring to be a plotter. I usually know how my story will begin and end, but my characters often surprise me by doing and saying things that I wasn’t expecting. Usually when I write, I enter what I think of as “the zone”, where I lose time and the words seem to write themselves – that’s my favourite part of the writing experience (I can’t really call it a process, as I frequently don’t have much conscious control over it). I do realise that I need to get my act sorted, take control and start to plot, scheme and outline in a much more orderly fashion.
What do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading any type of horror – particularly short stories by my fellow writers. I love the horror classics too, including those by ladies of horror, such as Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson.
In terms of future plans, I am working on a screenplay based on a novelette which will hopefully be published next year in my new UK-based collection. The working title is Bloody Britain, but this might change.
Anna's contribution to Strangely Funny II, "Dirty Dybbuk", is one of the stories from
For Those who Dream Monsters. It's the tale of a straight-laced Jewish girl who is possessed by a spirit with nymphomania. If you like it, check out the rest of the collection. For Those who Dream Monsters is available on Amazon and directly from Mortbury Press in the UK (where you can also view her trailer for it): http://mortburypress.webs.com/forthosewhodreammonsters.htm
You can view Anna’s full résumé here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1245940/, watch her films and book trailers here: http://www.youtube.com/annataborska and learn more about her short stories and screenplays here: http://annataborska.wix.com/horror .
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine writer with over a hundred stories published in ten countries, in four languages, and a winner in the National Space Society’s “Return to Luna” Contest and the Marooned Award for Flash Fiction in 2008. His fiction has appeared in a Pearson High-school Test Cycle in the US, a Bundoran Press anthology, The Rose & Thorn, Albedo One, The Best of Every Day Fiction and others.
His contribution to Strangely Funny II tells the tale of two astronomers who have been stationed alone in the Chilean desert for several months. Everything has become dull until they find themselves held hostage by a dragon. Does he want to eat them? No... he needs them to help him sign up for Facebook.
From "New Hunting Grounds", by Gustavo Bondoni:
“All right,” Ferdinand replied, bending over the keyboard to look at the screen. “There should be a pull-down menu of years to choose from. Here it is. Now what year were you born?”
“Well, that’s the problem, of course. I was born in northern Africa just as Hannibal was sailing for Italy. Of course, I’ve moved since then. But there’s no choice for years before 1900, and besides, I happen to know for a fact that you humans are so dumb that you lost count of the actual years a couple of times in the Middle Ages, so it’s all bunk anyway. What can we do?”
Ferdinand’s mouth fell open in shock; his salvation came from an unexpected source.
“The first thing you’re going to do,” Marko said, appearing from behind the bank of mainframes that had concealed his eavesdropping. “Is to lie about your age. You won’t get any friends at all if you tell them that you’re a dragon old enough to be their grandfather.”
“Technically, I’m much—”
“We won’t get anywhere unless you listen to me,” Marko interrupted. “I can make you popular in a day, famous in three. Now, do you want to bumble through this on your own, or do you want to learn at the knee of the master?”
The dragon looked at Ferdinand, who shrugged. “It’s not what I’d call orthodox, but he does get results – at least online.”
Dubiously, the reptile nodded.
“Good,” Marko said. “Now let’s start with the name.”
“My name is ancient and respected.”
“Are you kidding me? No one is called Tarnetisney. No one. Anywhere. This is the twenty-first century – you’d get beat up for having that kind of name even if you grew up in a yurt in Mongolia. You look like a Jack.” Saying this, he typed ‘Jack Draco’ in the name field, and pressed Enter. “And don’t even get me started on your hobbies. Classifying rocks? Unless you want to be catalogued as the biggest loser on the net, you need to get rid of that pronto. Let’s see…” his eyes lit up and he chuckled to himself. “Skydiving. Yeah, and we wouldn’t even be lying.”
Ferdinand left them to it and went to see if he could find something to eat that hadn’t been in a can for more than a year. Marko’s evil laughter drifted through the once-productive scientific outpost. Ferdinand almost felt sorry for the dragon.
How will this situation end? Will Tarnetisney eat the two astronomers, or will "Jack Draco" make hundreds of Farmville friends? Check out the rest of Gustavo's story for yourself! Strangely Funny II is now available in print and Kindle formats on Amazon, plus several other e-book formats on Smashwords!
We're also giving away three copies on Goodreads - deadline is August 31st!
When she reads a good story, my cohort at MAHLLC usually tells me that I should take a look at it. When she read "Bedroom Bureau", though, Gwen told me I should go ahead and send a contract. I did read it, of course, and I saw what she meant. Today, we interview its author, Gwendolyn Kiste.
How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
Just before writing “Bedroom Bureau”, I had watched “The Sentinel”, a 1970s film about a portal to hell. It’s an underrated horror classic, but it’s also very dark. I thought it might be fun to take a similar premise, but inject humor and levity—including a whole lot of silly bureaucracy—to demons arriving in the human realm. Evil spirits aren’t usually sporting passports and making appointments, so the absurdity of the concept appealed to me.
Plotter or pantser?
I’d like to say plotter all the way, but if I’m being completely honest, my writing incorporates a bit of both. Plotting does help to keep me focused, but I enjoy the spontaneity from just writing on the fly and seeing where it goes.
Which author do you most admire, and why?
Shirley Jackson. Her ability to perceive darkness in the mundane of everyday life was so astute and ahead of her time. Plus, her language and characters are so richly imagined. I return to “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” again and again just to visit the Blackwood estate. Though there’s nothing overtly supernatural at play, it’s the most darkly magical novel I’ve ever read. I want a best friend like Merricat (though I’d be careful never to take sugar in my tea). Also, if you look into Shirley Jackson’s life, she had to deal with a lot of adversity in her family’s hometown, including injustice not so dissimilar from the townspeople in “The Lottery”. It’s always inspiring to see writers transform their personal hardships into indelible stories.
Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
Loch Ness. Although I doubt Nessie would make an appearance, it would be fun to have a picnic there and just watch. You never know! I could get an awesome blurry image!
Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Twentieth century horror stories are my favorites. Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and, of course, Shirley Jackson inspire me every single day.
Thanks for talking with us!
With parents who married on Halloween and read her Bradbury stories long before she started kindergarten, Gwendolyn Kiste considers horror, fantasy, and all things strange to be her birthright. Her genre editorials appear regularly on sites such as Horror-Movies.ca and Micro-Shock, and she is the resident “weird wanderer” for the travel-centric Wanderlust and Lipstick. With a background in cinema and theatre, she has written and directed several feature-length and short horror films, and her plays have been produced as part of the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. An Ohio native, she currently resides in the wilds of Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and cat, McQueen.
Check out Gwendolyn's story for yourself in Strangely Funny II, plus twenty other hilarious stories! Strangely Funny II is now available in print and Kindle formats on Amazon, plus several other e-book formats on Smashwords!
We're also giving away three copies on Goodreads - deadline is August 31st!
Instead of an interview with a Strangely Funny II author today, we thought you'd like something a little different: a taste from the book itself!
Our featured author today is Columbkill Noonan, who has an M.S. in Biology and teaches Anatomy and Physiology at a university in Maryland. An avid history buff, much of her writing, which could be best described as “supernatural historical horror”, combines historical events with elements of paranormal fantasy.
In the excerpt below, young Anfernee Antonius Abercroft III is a new ghost who desperately wants his body to be found so he can travel to the Other Side. Unfortunately, each ghost only gets one power, and our hapless haunt's power is the ability to say "Groch" aloud. He's about to learn the disadvantages of dying at a Catholic school.
He stuck his face right up against Sister Agnes’ ear, and yelled, “Groooooooooch-ahhhhhch-ahhhch!” as loud as he could, just as several other nuns entered the office through the front door.
Sister Agnes jumped, then fainted dead away onto the ground. The other nuns screamed, and clung together like frightened hens. Father Marion, eyes wide, pulled himself together and went to stand over Sister Agnes. He waved his hand in front of her face, and shook her by her shoulders.
“Urk”, said Sister Agnes. Opening her eyes and sitting up, she shook her head groggily, then gripped Father Marion’s hassock. “A demon, Father Marion! You heard it too, didn’t you?”
“I heard it!” chimed in one of the nuns by the door.
“Me too!” echoed the rest.
“Indeed, I heard it too!” said Father Marion. “A voice most evil and foul!” He whipped out his crucifix, and wielded it aggressively in front of himself. “I exorcise thee!” he shouted. Anfernee, stunned at this unexpected turn of events, and quite insulted at being called evil and foul, stood there uncertainly. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiriti Sancti, I compel thee. Begone!”
As the priest spoke, a wind began to dance about Anfernee. A mere tickle at first, it built in strength until at last, when the priest cried, “Begone!” the wind became so strong that, with a mighty blast, it blew Anfernee right through the door. He landed in a heap in the corridor, and looked up to see Spencer standing over him, shaking his head in amusement.
“Groch!” Anfernee cried, and rushed towards the office door, thinking to try talking to them again, to make the nuns and the priest see who he really was. But the door repelled him like the wrong sides of two magnets, and he bounced backwards to fall ignominiously again and again. He screamed in frustration, and beat his fists in futility upon the floor.
“Ah, brother,” said Spencer sympathetically. “Your first exorcism! And it was a fine one, too. Quite dramatic!” Spencer began to giggle. “And I must say, you looked quite funny, flying through the door like that, your face all surprised and such.”
“But why can’t I go back in?” wailed Anfernee. “I need to talk to them!”
Spencer clucked, shaking his head. “Yeah, you gotta be careful with that. Once you get exorcised from a place you can’t ever go back. You get exorcised from enough places in here, you’ll end up like poor old Harry.”
“Why, who’s Harry?” asked Anfernee.
“Well, he got exorcised one too many times and now he can’t go anywhere. He’s stuck in a locker on the third floor. Got exorcised from the hallway up there, and had nowhere to go but into that damned locker. Now he’s just trapped in there. Can’t do a thing about it. It’s even more terrible because his ghost power is to open drapes. There aren’t any drapes in that locker, let me tell you,” said Spencer, shaking his head ruefully.
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