Dreams of Avarice: “Attachment” by Shane Kroetsch

Penitents Gold


Thank you for joining us for another installment of Between Two Flames — where we place authors in our hot seat for what surely must feel like an eternity of environmentally unfriendly gas grilling.

Today we welcome Shane Kroetsch, author of “Attachment” — a thought provoking tale of loss and memory from our latest Purgatorio Tower’s book Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold. Shane, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly thirty-five words.

Shane: I’m a builder of things, real and imagined. My mind rarely stops. I’m always planning, scheming. I write fiction to process the confusing mess that is the human race. I also enjoy word count limitations.

TST: Excellent, nothing better than word count limitations, keeps the bones young. With that out of the way let’s get right to the greedy guts of it. What does Avarice mean to you? Is it inherently a bad thing? How does that play into your story of excessive desire found in this glitzy volume?

Shane: I suppose it boils down to possessions with no purpose to them—acquiring for the sake of acquiring, or having without being able to maintain. Is any of that an inherently bad thing? It can be, but life is built on shades of grey. We are animals with individual values and agency, what is a want to one is a need to another. My opinion is one of many. I took the exploration of avarice in two directions with my story. The idea that greed and love are one and the same, and how far the need for unique possessions can be taken.

TST: It’s an fabulous exploration. And bonus points for setting in the Towers, we loved that. Now tell us about a time you desperately desired something and went to potentially unexpected lengths to acquire it.

Shane: As I move through life, I am heading in the direction of having fewer moving parts, quality takes precedence over quantity, but that hasn’t always been the case. The instance that comes to mind is from the late 2000’s. My year-end bonus was supposed to pay off the loan on my daily driver, instead I used it to buy a fifty-year-old Volkswagen convertible listed on eBay.

TST: Hopefully the VW brought both joy and terror. Or is terror just from old Volvo’s? We can never remember exactly.. Speaking of retreads, can you see any of your characters popping up again in other stories?

Shane: As soon as I say that I’m done with a particular character or story, whether because I think I’ve said what I need to say or I’m simply sick of looking at them, that’s exactly when my mind will wander, and I’ll start building a new story in the same world.

TST: Give us a sentence (or short paragraph) from your story that you feel knocked it out of the park.

Shane: I’m fond of the opening, 

Fernen steps around me as he scans the message scratched into the concrete wall. Fixing his attention on the closing, he pauses.

I hope you are well.

I hope you are unafraid.

Good-fucking-luck with that.

TST: Beautiful! Can you tell us a little about how you came up with this story or your creative process?

Shane: I generally begin with an image or a line of dialogue, then I start digging the story out of the dirt. For this piece I knew a few of the elements that I could or wanted to incorporate as the framework for the world it takes place in is already established. I set the protagonist’s motive early on. I liked the idea of souls as possessions, as currency, but how I got from there to the finished product is a story longer than the piece itself.

TST: What’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for? Or, any recent delights you’d love to flog?

Shane: It’s been a year of drastic change for me. What comes next is to get back into the business of writing. The plan for 2023 is to relaunch my zombie pandemic trilogy with a new edition, and to finish up a paranormal series that’s been sitting half-finished for too long. So many ideas, so little time.

TST: Thanks Shane! And folks, don’t forget to check out Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and under whatever rocks and tiny libraries you might find stray books.

About the Author:

Shane Kroetsch writes stories to explore the inherent darkness that makes us human and the monsters that haunt our dreams. In his spare time, he builds projects out of old junk, paints watercolour blanket ghosts, and shakes his butt while vinyl spins. In addition to publishing a collection of short fiction and a zombie outbreak trilogy, Shane’s work is featured in Lampblack Books’ The Planchette Volume One: Genesis and the Alexandra Writers’ Center Society’s 40th Anniversary Anthology WonderShift.

You can read more of his writing and keep up to date with his creative shenanigans at ShaneKroetsch.com and @shanekroetsch.

Rob’s Spring Sparks

So much to read and watch, so little time to review. While I wish I could blast out a full write up of everything, I’m going to go with the highlights of what I enjoyed over the last couple of months.


Cult of the Spider Queen by S.A. Sidor (Arkham Horror)

Current read in progress and so far an enjoyable 1920’s jungle romp with all the cosmic horror trimmings. I’m a huge fan of Sidor’s first Arkham Horror novel, The Last Ritual, and his two supernatural-pulp adventures from Angry Robot, Fury From the Tomb and The Beast of Nightfall Lodge, a series I hope he continues.

When Things Get Dark: Stories inspired by Shirley Jackson edited by Ellen Datlow (Blackstone Audio)

Current listen in progress and after the first few stories, altogether excellent. Lots of family, and dining rooms, and creepiness.

X’s for Eyes by Laird Barron (Bizarro Pulp Press)

I’d read the first part of the book “We Smoke the Northern Lights” in The Gods of HP Lovecraft and was excited to finally read the second half of the novella and see what happens. Pure awesomeness of course. Love the Tooms brothers and their weird, wide, universe which feels a lot like the Venture Brothers with cosmic horror replacing superheroes.

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard (InAudio)

I hadn’t read this book since I was young and my main recollections of it were distorted by the 1985 Richard Chamberlain movie, which is more comedic parody than faithful adaption. The book is far superior, albeit steeped in damn horrible colonialism where every non white is a savage and gunning down herds of elephants is considered heroic – definitely overpowers the bones of the story which are about friendships and family.

Pickman’s Gallery edited by Matthew Carpenter (Ulthar Press)

I always loved the character of Richard Upton Pickman from a couple of Lovecraft’s stories and dug this collection continuing his legacy. I especially liked that the stories weren’t necessarily about him, but in many cases adjacent or referential. Great fun.

The Fisherman by John Langan (Word Horde)

I’m of two minds about this book. On one hand I loved it – loved the world, loved the mythology which really reminded me of my favourite Michael Shea stories. The structure, on the other hand, was unexpected. I think I was hoping for more back and forth between the times and less the three act narrative. But, as Sarah says, I’m horribly impatient, so take that complaint as a personal preference. Definitely an amazing story!

Rules for Monsters by Michael Minnis (Lovecraft eZine Press)

So many stories, and I hear there will be another volume – Michael is a prolific author indeed. While not every story is a winner, I enjoyed many of them and loved some, especially where he didn’t directly homage or extend classic Lovecraft stories.

Cthulhu Reloaded by David Conyers

Some entertaining military cosmic horror. Major Harrison Peel is a solid character and his adventures take him across many Lovecraftian locals and pit him against even more Lovecraftian monsters and gods. A fun page turner and I’m looking forward to picking up and reading the next couple of books in the series.

Mr. Cannyharme by Michael Shea (Hippocampus Press)

Michael Shea has always been one of my favourite authors and a serious inspiration for my own writing. I’ve read pretty much everything he wrote and was delighted to learn that this novel existed and would be published (and I hear there may be yet another lost Shea manuscript out there!!). Mr. Cannyharme was written in 81 and is a homage/adaption of Lovecraft’s “The Hound”. Loved it.


Possum (A Sarah pick)

Holy shit this was bleak. And British. If that’s not a genre, it should be. I’m not at all a fan of horrible creepy puppets so yeah… The plot? Sure. Well, there’s this dude named Phillip who used to be a puppeteer and ends up back at his old house with his weird old uncle. Phillip has old, deep issues. And a horrible creepy spider puppet. I can’t even… thanks for nightmares Sarah. Pro tip: Never go home with a puppet.

The Deeper You Dig (A Rob pick)

We’d watched Hellbender and enjoyed it, and I was listening to a podcast where they talked about this being the Adams Family’s (not THE Addams Family, though I kinda wonder, hmm) second movie. So we hunted down The Deeper You Dig and weren’t disappointed. Pretty much the same cast and with a similar witchy/psychic themes, which we loved. The plot? After her daughter dies and haunts the killer, her mom, a psychic, tries to figure out what’s happening. Pro tip? Don’t sled in the dark in a blizzard across a road.

Jug Face (A Rob pick)

Another movie I heard about from a podcast (The Lovecraft eZine Podcast?) that sounded intriguing. Like, what’s not interesting about devout backwoods hillbillies worshiping a malevolent/benevolent pit that’s probably some kind of forest demon god? Hits all the right notes in my book. The Plot? The Pit wants what the Pit wants. And it’s not the friendly sort of blood filled pit that everyone likes. Let’s just say it’s best to obey it’s demands or you lose your intestines.. Pro tip: Don’t sleep with your brother.

Detonation #22: Why So Serious?

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, right? Nope. Not since 1963. If they remade that classic Spencer Tracy flick now, it would totally be called It’s a Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad World. A world choked with endless wastelands of gut tearing grief. No joy to be found. Not in the important things like five-gallon pails of hagfish slime lube, not in the minor things like senior discount McDonald’s coffee nursed for sixteen hours. Instead of a madcap, zany, over the top flick where greedy idiots rush around in search of cash buried under a big W, it’d be about a bunch of bullied earless albino orphans desperate to find both their identities and lost parents who abandoned them due to crushing poverty and substance abuse and who died horribly in a Moldovan prison carving literal regrets into soviet era concrete with toothbrush shivs fashioned from their own femurs.

I’m going to write the novel version to that one, by the way. Probably snag myself a Pulitzer or Booker or, heaven forbid, an Aurora if I’m unlucky. People will snap it up, devour every wretched, miserable word, comforted by the knowledge that they aren’t the only ones suffering in this cold, terrible planet. Commiserating. People love to commiserate. It’s become a top tier hobby, right up with doomscrolling and trying to find something to watch on Amazon Prime video.

So… while I’m not saying that the world’s Boomer mangled and storm ravaged corpse isn’t becoming a forlorn, dreadful hellscape, cause it most certainly is, what I’m saying is I’m fucking tired of reading about it. The last two years have been rough for a lot of people, do we really need to dwell on the emotional wrecks we’ve all become? I say NO! Cast off those chains of loss and grief and read (and write) something less forlorn, whether it be cheesy pulp or twisted erotica or weird fiction involving combines and Mexican Mennonite tacos.

Now I can tell you’re totally thinking “but Noggy, that’s the shit you write. Are you sure this isn’t just a cheap plug disguised as a timely rant?” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But my friendly neighborhood psychoanalyst bar tender assures me that at my discount McDonald’s coffee age, self-promotion and yelling at clouds are valid coping strategies. And my writing can’t sell itself. Apparently…

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, so many goddamn loss and grief riddled books feel like award bait these days. And yes, I’m sure I’m exaggerating, but those are the books that get all the press and attention and critical acclaim. Lola loves them, of course. She leaves them lying around to tempt me into reading them, talks about the exquisite writing and fabulous depth. How the authors turn a despondent phrase. How they rock gloomy readings. How they dress like 70’s era drapes. Flashes her… exquisite covers.  I never fall for her tricks. Grief and loss. Loss and grief. Real god damn life!

No thanks.

I’ve had my fill of real god damn life and I’m hungry for Mexican Mennonite tacos. And you should be as well.

Today’s non-grief filled Detonation happy hour(s) cocktail is the appropriately named A Short Trip To Hell.

  • 2 parts Peach Schnapps
  • 2 parts Strawberry Schnapps
  • 2 parts Wildberry Schnapps
  • 1 part Jagermeister
  • 8 parts Energy drink of Choice.

Shake the energy drink and Schnapps in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a tumbler. Put the Jagermeister into a shot glass, drop in the shot, and take the express elevator to Hell.

2021 – The Great Diaspora

L: I’m literally right here. Sitting next to you. You don’t need to yell.
N: But I like yelling. This is a very yelly year.
L: You’re not wrong. Remember our 2020 year in review?
N: Should I? I told you nobody reads these. Including us.
L: Something about 2021 asking 2020 to hold her beer?
N: Fuck, so it’s our fault? Why can’t we just keep our gob holes shut?
L: It is, we can’t, we didn’t, and it happened.
N: Not sure if 2021 was the best of times or the worst of times, but it was… times.
L: Let’s start with the best…

N: Lola?
L: Shh, I’m thinking… Never mind, better to just puke meatballs on the wall and see what sticks.
N: … we said we would never speak of that again.
L: shrug emoji.
N: Let’s try some new categories.



  • Cocktails!!
  • First Vaccination. When everyone was getting the Pfizer Cadillac, we hopped a ride on the AZ hillbilly hay truck down a road full of potholes.
  • Witchcraft. Look, we trapped an Elemental in a candle. It’s still there. In the back of a drawer. We don’t know what to do. Help us… please.
  • Found a butt shaped rock on a full moon run. Serendipity.
  • The bug in Lola’s eye. ROFL!.
  • Tetanus shots.
  • Second vaccination. Yay, Pfizer!
  • Skinny dipping in the river. While high. Wearing dress shoes. Coming back to find our clothes covered in slugs.
  • Running the Blackspur Ultra in Kimberly. In the rain. In the cold. Uphill both ways. Epic chafing. Meatballs. Meatballs, in reverse. 
  • Running the Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge. In the rain. In the cold. On fucking pavement.
  • Noggy running the Whistler Alpine Meadows Ultra, with acute Achilles bursitis.
  • Third vaccination. Are we done yet?
  • Shockwave therapy! It’s like fun, but with extra medieval torture.
  • Dogma Logs (see image above). 


  • Cocktails!!!
  • Noggy’s birthday. Cannoli in a parking lot.
  • Wedding Anniversaries. Latest and last.
  • Living our best lives in parental basements and decommissioned love hotels.
  • Shrek-themed birthday party for Lola. Random, yet utterly perfect.
  • Cursed pies.
  • Weird Thanksgiving.
  • Betty Lou’s Library speakeasy followed by dinner with the Russian mob.
  • Taylor’s Version everything! Lola is obsessed. Noggy will sing along three sidecars deep.
  • Solstice: sneaking in a yule log into Fairmont Hotel #1, praying to Hecate, cayenne pepper in the carpet, poking our noses where they don’t belong, five bourbons and an eggnog at the Tipsy Elf.
  • Omicron!
  • Weirder Christmas
  • Dead Week: the most wonderful time of the year


  • Naked Snow Angels (there may be pictures).
  • Roofied by Lola’s dad and his weed infused absinthe punch.
  • Hell Hath no Sorrow Like a Woman Haunted by R.J. Joseph and Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold curated by us!
  • Lawyer fees.
  • Vaccinations 4, 5, and 6?
  • Squamish Ultra and the Triple WAMmy with like fifty thousand feet of vert.
  • Hopefully some writing.

N: Soooo. No way we should have survived.
L: Yet here we are.
N: Are we though?
L: Where ever here is. In spite of it all, I’m still happier now than I was a year ago.
N: That’s the literal four thousand cocktails speaking, and maybe that weed punch.
L: I predict the first half of 2022 will be like the signature Icelandic shark dish Hákarl, it’s gotta ferment five months before it’s non-toxic.
N: We’ll wash it down with Arby’s and extra-large DQ Blizzards come July.

Forbidden Fruits: “Vomitus Bacchanalius” by Mike Thorn

T6 Forbidden Fruit


With the release of Forbidden Fruit, the second (or sixth, depending your reckoning) instalment in our Purgatorio anthology series, we are inviting our fabulous contributors between the flames to get their hot, gluttonous take on their story and the book and life in general, such that it is in these end days.

Today we welcome Mike Thorn, author of “Vomitus Bacchanalius”, a tale of ultimate culinary and dinner party pleasure gone delightfully sideways. Mike, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly twenty-seven words. 

Mike: I am Mike Thorn, author of Shelter for the DamnedDarkest Hours, and “Vomitus Bacchanalius.” Here are some more words to meet the specified number of twenty-seven. 

TST: Specificity is important and those extra twelve words won’t hurt anyone, right? Maybe we shouldn’t ask. In fact, forget we said anything.

All right, let’s get right to the oozing meat of it. What does gluttony mean to you? Is it inherently a bad thing? How does that play into your story of excessive consumption found in this unwholesome volume? 

Mike: I was about to to say that gluttony is okay in moderation, but upon consideration, gluttony is, by definition, about the lack of moderation. With “Vomitus Bacchanalius,” I wanted to depict the celebration of over-consumption among privileged elites, and the incumbent exploitation therein.  

TST: Damn privileged elites! We’re never sad when they get what’s coming to them, even with the collateral damage inherent in these sorts of… situations. Now, tell us about a time you overindulged, like really stuffed yourself silly…with anything. 

Mike: One of my very earliest memories is of a giant bag of Jujubes that some unsuspecting adult left within my toddler-fingers’ reach. My baby id took hold, and I started cramming fistfuls of them into my mouth, barely taking the time to chew. 

The memory is hazy, but I know someone caught me in the act and stopped me from choking … maybe the Heimlich maneuver was involved? In any event, this was an early lesson about moderation (there’s that word again).  

TST: Mmm, Jububes. Now we’re hungry. We just did an trail ultramarathon and they had them at an aid station in the middle of nowhere. Saved our damned lives! Moderation? It has its place. Probably.

Which of your characters could you see popping up again in other stories? 

Mike: Many of my protagonists don’t make it past the final page… but I have a feeling that I haven’t seen the last of Cate, from “The Auteur” (published inDarkest Hours).  

TST: We’d love to see Cate again! She’s a survivor. So, since we conscripted a recipe from you, tell us about your usefulness in the kitchen. Does preparing food get your creative gravy gushing? 

Mike: I enjoy cooking! For me, it’s a good form of distraction, especially if the meal I’m preparing is comprised of several moving parts—I totally zone into the task at hand. I have a few go-to dishes I tend to make often—tofu scramble; Beyond Meat spaghetti sauce; seitan sausage with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and greens; and a rice bowl with roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach, pinto beans stewed in fresh tomatoes, and tahini-miso sauce.  

TST: Drool. God, we’re so hungry now, ravenous actually. We’re tempted to kidnap you and make you cook for us. We didn’t just put that in writing, did we? Damn. Oh well, it’ll be worth a couple of years of fugitive status.

While we ponder that: Roman orgy, aliens, and effluent. Would you tell us a little about your research process?  

Mike: This story took a while to gestate. When you folks graciously invited me to contribute, I took some time reflecting on the theme of gluttony, and it took me a while to “find” “Vomitus Bacchanalius.” 

I spent some time perusing the Internet for myths and stories involving gluttony, and I came across an article describing popular misconceptions about the ancient Roman vomitorium (commonly misperceived as a place where revelers barfed mid-celebration to clear stomach space). It dawned on me suddenly that I could explore gluttony through an elaborate Bacchanalian orgy held by members of high society. The genre elements fell into place soon after that.

At the time, I was doing some preliminary research for an essay, and I was fully immersed in Georges Bataille’s Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939. Bataille’s ideas definitely found their way into this story, as did the Schopenhauerian concepts that undergird so much Black Metal Theory.  

TST: We loved it and are so glad you took the time to craft such a wonderfully horrible story.

So, what’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for? 

Mike: My second short story collection, Peel Back and See, comes out from JournalStone this October. I think it might be the darkest book I’ve written.  

TST: We are so looking forward to it. Thanks, Mike!

And folks, don’t forget to check out Terrace VI: Forbidden Fruit, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and under whatever rocks you might find stray books.

About the Author:

Mike Thorn is the author of the novel Shelter for the Damned and the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, and Tales to Terrify. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and In Review Online. 

Visit his website mikethornwrites.com, or connect with him on Twitter @MikeThornWrites.

Forbidden Fruits: “Fat Apocalypse” by Robin van Eck

T6 Forbidden Fruit


With the release of Forbidden Fruit, the second (or sixth, depending your reckoning) instalment in our Purgatorio anthology series, we are inviting our fabulous contributors between the flames to get their hot, gluttonous take on their story and the book and life in general, such that it is in these end days.

Today we welcome Robin van Eck, author of “Fat Apocalypse”, a tale of a future that’s let itself go. A… lot. Robin, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly twenty-seven words.

Robin: Writer. Mom. Pet lover. Book reader – of all things horror, weird, contemporary. Face it, I’ll read most anything. And write just as eclectically. Don’t believe in limits. 

TST: Limits are definitely best ignored. Sooo…. what does gluttony mean to you? Is it inherently a bad thing? How does that play into your story of excessive consumption found in this unwholesome volume?

Robin: Gluttony. An over-indulgence of anything good or bad. Is excess a bad thing? Too much money?  I’d like to roll in money. Who wouldn’t? Too much food? Well, I do hate that bloated feeling after a really good meal. Too much love and forbidden fantasies? We all need fantasies. A glutton for punishment? I guess that depends on the punishment and what it’s for. See fantasies. Alcohol and drugs…ok, maybe some bad can come from excess.

In Fat Apocalypse, the world has gone to shit, people are over-indulging because there’s not much left. Isn’t that usually how it works? The less we have, the more we want and will go to almost any extreme to get it. On one hand, the protagonists in my story are searching for healthy food, the bottom has dropped out of the economy, fresh fruit and vegetables are nowhere to be found, we’ve wasted and the environment and society is paying for it. Maybe that’s a little too Alberta for this interview. 

TST: I’m sure better times are right around the corner here in good old Alberta. Sunny days! Hmm, smoky days at least. Now, tell us about a time you overindulged, like really stuffed yourself silly…with anything.

Robin: Not sure I want to admit this right now. Let’s just say chocolate is my comfort food and comfort is something that is needed right now. 

TST: Chocolate is the best. One day the Press will be rich enough to have its own combination chocolate fountain and hot tub and then, look out world! Speaking of legacies, which of your characters could you see popping up again in other stories?

Robin: I don’t tend to recycle characters. I guess we would just have to wait and see. These characters are all a little odd, I think I might have to simply leave them where they are. 

TST: Nobody ever escapes a Robin van Eck story, got it! Since we conscripted a recipe from you, tell us about your usefulness in the kitchen. Does preparing food get your creative gravy gushing?

Robin: This is a bit hit and miss for me. I’m a good cook. I can read a recipe. I can be creative. Whether it tastes good or not is another story.

TST: We can attest personally that it’s always a hit, though our memories are fragmented at best. Having lived through a pandemic, have your thoughts on what the end of the world might look like changed from the time you wrote about your apocalyptic carnival? And will you ever go to the Calgary Stampede ever again?

Robin: This is an interesting question and something I’ve thought about a lot actually. Remember that heat wave just a few weeks ago? All the fires currently blazing. I think we’re going to fry to death before we ever have a chance to eat ourselves silly. So many naysayers about the environmental impact we’ve had on the world, yet the evidence keeps coming. It’s a scary thought. I picture us living in some kind of Mad Max world. If we survive, it will be an us vs them situation. Us being the realistic reasonable people, wanting to help one another survive. Them being the ones who can’t get their heads out of their asses and realize there’s more to life than oil and money and of course, it’s all a conspiracy. 
And no. The Stampede should never have happened this year, yet they went ahead. I have lost complete interest, not that I had much in the first place.  

TST: The world is definitely burning. In all the ways. But at least we’ll have front row seats at the BBQ! Hmm, now we’re hungry. Again For chocolate and seared meat.. Before we head to the meat locker, what’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for?

Robin: Nothing coming up, but a lot going on. Since my novel came out in November of last year I’ve been picking away at a new manuscript that is close to completion, but not complete enough to really talk about except to say if you’re interested in death and some of the weird sites around Alberta, you might like this new book. 

TST: Thanks Robin! And don’t forget to check out the book – Terrace VI: Forbidden Fruit is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and under whatever rocks you might find stray books.

About the Author:

Robin van Eck’s stories and personal essays have appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies across Canada and internationally such as Lamplight, FreeFall, Prairie Journal, Woven Tales Press, Waiting: An Anthology of Essays, Very Much Alive and more. Her first novel, Rough, was published by Stonehouse Publishing in November 2020.

More information at www.robinzvaneck.com.