Forbidden Fruits: “Death Shot” by Konn Lavery

Forbidden Fruit Promo

BETWEEN TWO FLAMES WITH THE SEVENTH TERRACE

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 at the end of all things.

Today we welcome Konn Lavery, author of “Death Shot”, a wild tale of a man settling into his stay in Purgatory after certain, how do you say it… indiscretions. Konn, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly twenty-seven words.

Konn: Why yes, my parents are Star Trek fans. Yes, they adjusted the spelling to mask my true power. I write dark fiction and am a graphic designer.

TST: “Khhhaaaaaaaaan!!” Revenge is a dish best served cold, isn’t it? And… moving on to the main course of our revenge banquet, 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?

Konn: Great question… I think the warnings of gluttony tie into each of the seven deadly sins, which are designed to warn people about excessiveness within themselves. Let’s get hippie-dippie zen by saying that life is a balance and too much of anything can lead to high contrasts in your life.

The concepts of good and evil create a gnarly rollercoaster within us. If you remove the higher peaks, such as overconsumption and substance abuse, you’ll find yourself on the kiddie rollercoaster ride. Life is easier but less exciting. Keep in mind, the ride may be awkward as there is a height restriction, and the nearby parents will give you dagger eyes. So, in short, enjoy the sins of the flesh but know when to cut out overconsumption.

Gluttony plays right into the short story “Death Shot”. The protagonist named Newbie had an addiction problem on Earth before dying (no spoilers), which leads him into the afterlife, and his greedy ways come back to haunt him, bringing in the classic cautions of the deadly sins.

TST: Indeed. And, let me tell you, you can’t trust anyone in Purgatory! Anyone!! Now tell us about a time you overindulged, like really stuffed yourself silly… with anything.

Konn: Oh boy! How embarrassing do we get? Well, I’ll share a milder warning. In Calgary, there is this breakfast joint named Galaxie Diner that holds dark temptations with each visit. Entering the narrow corridor, you’re met with mountains of frying potatoes and coffee all around. Their menus clearly state “bottomless toast and endless hashbrowns,” which brings fleeting pleasures of the tongue. Plate after plate, the mashed-up taters pile up in the belly, stretching innards, waiting to break free. Some souls never make it out of the diner as their stomachs rip open, dumping a mangled mess of potatoes and stomach fluid onto the checkered floor. The nearby customers scurry on all fours, licking up the spilled out potatoes, hoping to please their tastebuds. Thankfully I managed to escape this dark fate, collapsing into a bed and slipping into an afternoon coma of drool.

TST: Mmm, endless taters, now we’re hungry again. And speaking of endless regurgitation, which of your characters could you see popping up again in other stories?

Konn: Mo is someone I’d like to revisit. He’s got a lot of humorous mystery to his character with the shapeshifting and vampiric nature.

TST: Mo does seem like a solid wingman, I bet he brings all boys to the kitchen. Since we conscripted a recipe from you, tell us about your usefulness in said kitchen. Does preparing food get your creative gravy gushing?

Konn: Cooking does! Working from home for many years, I learned to get good at it. Most of the meals I make are vegan with raw ingredients making the sauces from various spices and acids. The bulk of the meals are vegetables, legumes, and beans. My favourite dishes to make are ginger Szechuan, pad thai, and curried chickpeas. Prepping the meals and cooking them helps break me from the usual workflow. It gets the brain to work in different thought patterns compared to design work or writing, giving it room to see situations from new angles.

TST: Mmm, ginger Szechuan. You’re killing us here! If you were to massively overdose on cocaine and wind up at the Purgatorio Bar & Grill, who would you hope to run into there? And would you sell a soul to save your own?

Konn: I’d hope to run into someone cool like Jimi Hendrix or Marshall McLuhan. Not that they were terrible people, but they thought outside of the box, which may be enough to send you down into Purgatory. Now for selling a soul . . . heh heh, depends on who.

TST: We can give you an extensive list and we’ll totally make it worth your while. So, what’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for?

Konn: The next release is a complete overhaul of my horror novel Seed Me in the fall. It’ll be labelled as a Relapse Edition. Basically, a retelling of the whole story with new scenes expanding on the World Mother mythos. After that, I’m in a strange crossroads covered in fog. But I am working on a modern-day urban fantasy series mixing in drugs, crime, and Illuminati conspiracy theories.

TST: Excellent, those sound fantastic! Feel free to partake of the hot tub and vomitorium on the way out.

Konn: Nice! Already jumping in.

TST: Thanks Konn! That about wraps things up – don’t forget to check out Terrace VI: Forbidden Fruit now available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and under whatever rocks you might find stray books.


About the Author:

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and The Wishing Shelf Awards.

He started writing stories at a young age while being homeschooled. After graduating from graphic design college, he began professionally pursuing his writing with his first release, Reality. He continues to write in the thriller, horror, and fantasy genres.

He balances his literary work along with his own graphic design and website development business. His visual communication skills have been transcribed into the formatting and artwork found within his publications supporting his fascination of transmedia storytelling.

You can find Konn online at www.konnlavery.com.

Detonation #21: When Life Gives You Lemons…

You learn a lot about yourself. The first thing I learned is that I am undoubtably in the shit. It’s up to my neck. And I put myself there.

I’m debating over how specific to be. This is personal. It’s the hugest thing. To me anyway. Others have been through worse. There are refugees who’ve walked away from a lot more than I have. I can live in Noggy’s Pontiac Aztek if I have to.

But my creative engine is completely busted. I miss writing. I miss coaxing something real out of a few nebulous thoughts. Everything is sour now. I’ve always been the kind of person who can’t write if I’m too down or too giddy. I gotta be on an even keel.

When life gives you lemons…. Jesus, can I be real for a second? You likely gave those lemons to yourself. Life doesn’t have that kind of agency or punitive zeal. You made choices. You know what you did. Idiot.

So that’s the first thing you do. Kick the shit out of yourself. When life gives you lemons, shut up and eat your fucking lemons. Such is your penance, you villain. Taste good? You want some more? Here’s a whole goddamn ass ton. Pucker up, dirtbag.

Eventually you get will tired of eating shit. Or sour citrus. I’m confusing the metaphor but stay with me, I promise this will make sense. If you’re not in therapy by now, you probably should be, because this is when your shrink, with an empathetic head tilt, will say, “be kind to yourself.” Takes a few days or weeks for this to sink in, but when it does it’s a relief. Pour a little sugar in your glass, babe. You don’t gotta take it straight anymore because punishing yourself doesn’t actually fix anything. Drink up and watch Netflix.

With a little sweetness reintroduced into your life, you can make some room, a little space in your noggin where the creative magic can happen. But it doesn’t. And you don’t understand. You’re calm, you slept a whole 6 hours, your eyes are no longer swollen shut from crying. You study yourself in the mirror and sure it’s not the best you’ve ever looked but three drinks and you’d probably fuck you. So it’s not a self-esteem thing. You don’t hate yourself, yet there’s that flatness. Lemon juice and sugar. It’s nice, but not magical. Honestly the idea of lemonade is always better than the reality. Try that Netflix again.

Here’s the worst part, if I may be so vague. I can’t say everything will work out okay, because I have no clue. This isn’t a tidy step-by-step for how to navigate the biggest trauma of your life and keep working on your dumbass novel that seemed so important three months ago and has now dropped to the sub-basement level of your priorities.

But I miss my work. I can’t even watch Netflix because I can’t pay attention, even to the shower scene in Sex/Life. I miss writing more than I miss dick.

I said this isn’t a guide. More of a journey thus far and now you’re caught up. This is the first creative work I’ve done since my life exploded. It’s not creative magic, but I’m getting my thoughts down at least. The lemons though. They’re still here. They keep coming. And this, my friends, is what the sidecar was invented for.

2oz Cognac

1oz Triple Sec

1oz Lemon Juice

1/4oz Simple Syrup

Shake it up and shake it off. I just wrote something, bitches. I’ve still got it and so do you. Let it never be said that we don’t know what to do with our lemons.

Forbidden Fruits: “Gluttony” by Cam Hayden

Forbidden Fruit Promo

BETWEEN TWO FLAMES WITH THE SEVENTH TERRACE

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 Cam Hayden, artist and author of “Gluttony”, a graphic tale of a little old woman with some serious and pressing issues. Cam, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly twenty-seven words.

Cam: I’m pretty tall, probably like 7 feet or so, and super ripped, like totally shredded, most people when they see me are like, “woah! That dude can’t keep shirts on his body because they get all cut up on contact!”

TST: Alright, forty words but we’ll let that slip – this time! 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?

Cam: Well, right now I’d say gluttony is kind of a survival mechanism. I’m living in this place with 29 other dudes, all competing for the affections of one lady. There’s only so much food to go around so at night I’ve been sneaking into the kitchen and just going to town on everything I can get my hands on. I need to keep my strength up because I never know what I’m going to be doing the next day. Could be wrestling orangutans, could be doing flips, could be seeing who can dig the biggest hole in 15 minutes. Any food I can get in me instead of those other guys, that could be the edge I need. Our task last week was to submit a comic to a prose anthology. Those other chumps were too weak to come up with anything.

TST: That’s one lucky lady, right Lola? And we agree about the other chumps. Tell us about a time you overindulged, like really stuffed yourself silly…with anything.

Cam: Back in the day, I was in a prog rock band and ate 7 peregrine falcons, including beaks and feet. Normally I’d only eat 2 but we kept getting encores. Man, they loved us in Red Deer! I even had to abstain from the groupies that night because I kept burping up those little hoods. It was embarrassing. I played it off like it was funny but it really upset me.

TST: Red Deer is the cat’s pyjamas – smells like a serious road trip – beaks and feet and donuts. Which of your characters could you see popping up again in other stories?

Cam: Maybe the maggots.

TST: Never enough maggots. That makes me want to tell our maggot story. No? Fine, you win this time… So Cam, tell us about your usefulness in the kitchen. Does preparing food get your creative gravy gushing?

Cam: Sometimes while my chef is mashing my taters I make my butler do improv with me. Does that count?

TST: Yes, definitely. Also, taters, mmm. What would you do if you swallowed a fly? And what’s the largest land mammal you think you could cram down your throat?

Cam: I swallow flies all the time, it sort of comes with the territory where I’m living. I was also having trouble sleeping so I went to one of those sleep clinics where they videotape you tossing and turning all night. As it happens, the reason I kept waking up was because my nose and mouth would fill up with the little buggers. It was like there was an after hours club for flies inside my yap. It turns out the reason was because of all the tubs of honey I’d been chugging while the other dudes were working out or whatever. Largest animal: peregrine falcon. No wait, that’s not a mammal. Let’s see… ok, one time I shotgunned an orange crush but I didn’t realize that due to some mishap at the plant, a skinny pig had gotten into the can.

TST: Sounds like you need to work your way up to a camel or possibly a hippo, but a skinny pig is a good intermediate step.

Thanks Cam! 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 Artist:

Cam Hayden draws strange comics, cartoons, makes odd prints and things like that. A lot of his inspiration comes from underground comic folks and an early exposure to Mad Magazine and National Lampoon. He also makes goofy trading cards.

Find Cam online on Twitter at @Lancegoiter or at www.patreon.com/lancegoiter.

Forbidden Fruits: “Naked Samantha” by Eddie Generous

Forbidden Fruit Promo

BETWEEN TWO FLAMES WITH THE SEVENTH TERRACE

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 Eddie Generous, author of “Naked Samantha”, a story about uh, hmm, poker? and one I suspect you never thought you’d get published. Eddie, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly twenty-seven words.

Eddie: I’m currently a bit sweaty, and bloated from ice cream (non-dairy, I’m suddenly allergic to everything, happened the moment I outlived Jesus Christ). I’m fond of cats.

TST: Alright! With that out of the way 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?

Eddie: Gluttony, I guess, is crossing a line from consumption to criminal consumption. Probably it’s usually okay, I mean, the world’s on fire and conservative politicians want everyone miserable before they burn. So, indulge. How gluttony plays in this story…ignore what I just said; don’t indulge in that, you perverts. Some carnal urges need to be ignored…then again, sometimes it’s fun to watch things play out when there’s a secret on the horizon, an ace up the sleeve.

TST: Tell us about a time you overindulged, like really stuffed yourself silly…with anything.

Eddie: When I was fourteen, I drank thirty-three beers in one night and was sick for a whole week, but I had to go to school. Not like anybody was going to let me stay home for a hangover. Also, I split one of the beers with a donkey not long before I passed out in the field where we were drinking.

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

Eddie: From this story, I guess the Starbucks employee? Otherwise, I don’t know. Not too many options and Samantha kind of steals the show, so it might be like rewriting this same story all over again if she reappeared.

TST: Tell us about your usefulness in the kitchen. Does preparing food get your creative gravy gushing?

Eddie: I’m a good cook, if you’re into low-brow offerings. I’m not excited about cooking, but I know what something’s going to taste like if I make it, so I tend to do my share of the suppers around my house.

TST: In your view, how likely is it that the barista who smiles as she takes down the complicated instructions for my mochafrappishitino would murder me in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself? And in your view, would I deserve it? Also, five card stud or Texas hold’em?

Eddie: Baristas seemed unhinged at the best of times. I guess they weed out people who would thrive in other environments and take what’s left over. I guess the real question that would answer your question is: did you tip? Texas hold’em, I guess. I don’t know much about cards or gambling or convening with enough humans to facilitate a game; not these days.

TST: What’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for? 

Eddie: I have a new novel on the way in September titled HETTY and, and in August or September I have a novella coming titled IT CAME FROM SPACE, and I have a handful of shorts on contract that’ll trickle into the world in the next however long, but mostly, if people want more of me, they should grab a copy of THE WALKING SON. It’s the story of a curse, a road trip, and some very old coins, plus ghosts and body horror. People, so far, really seem to like it.

TST: Thanks Eddie! 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:

Eddie Generous has fallen off three different roofs and been lit on fire on multiple occasions. He grew up on a farm and later slept with his shoes under his pillows in homeless shelters. He dropped out of high school to afford rent on a room at a crummy boarding house, but eventually graduated from a mediocre college. He is the author of several small press books, has 2.8 rescue cats (one needed a leg amputation), is a podcast host, and lives on the Pacific Coast of Canada.

You can find Eddie online at www.jiffypopandhorror.com

Detonation #20: Sour Grapes

Everyone loves the idea of an egalitarian prize bestowed on a truly meritorious work of literature as determined by The People. Something like the Goodreads Choice Awards should be the ultimate in democracy, yet isn’t, for… reasons. So many reasons. Like Stephen King winning the horror award every year, even for his crime novels, ‘cause he’s the only fucking name anyone recognizes.

Next rung down this wretched ladder are the awards created by readers and writers, for readers and writers. Unfortunately, what follows in practice is an award by writers for writers. Which sounds close enough, but in fact couldn’t be further afield.

The bullshit mechanism of reader’s choice awards is not often discussed openly. It’s considered bad form to acknowledge honourees as anything other than purely deserving. Fortunately, Lola and Noggy don’t take anything that seriously and will always find a way cut off their nose to spite their face.

Noggy: So… writers submit to these snobby awards AND vote for them?

Lola: Yeah, by paying to become members of the association organizing the award. Publishers can and should submit, but in practice it’s writers, especially for anthologies and self-pub’d work.

N: The writers nominate and vote through long lists and short lists and then?

L: As voting members they typically get a package containing digital copies of all the shortlisted works.

N: Wait, isn’t that like…dozens of books? You have to read them all?

L: Jesus Christ, no. Who has time to read?

N: No one writing horror poetry and tweeting 89 times a day, that’s for sure. How does voting work then?

L: Easy. In categories where you’re a finalist you vote for yourself. In categories you aren’t, you vote for your friends. Chances are the only book in the pile you’ve actually read is your own. Isn’t that wild? The short story categories are the best though; for that one I’d recommend roulette, a lottery, or pin the tail on the jack ass.

N: So much for democratized literary utopia…

***

We’ve ranted about this before. The dirty secret of how little most writers actually read. And those of us who do read a lot are not going to waste our time consuming a reader’s choice award voting package because most of the material is honestly not that good. But we’re all too busy blowing each other to say it.

Yes, juried awards have their flaws but at least you can be reasonably certain the adjudicators have read the fucking book they’re voting for.

Reader’s Choice Awards are equivalent to The Emperor’s New Clothes. We ooh and ah at the grace and dignity with which he carries himself in his exquisite robes. When in fact he’s naked and eating a chili dog while fucking a pelican. But hey, we weren’t actually at the procession that day, and he’s our friend, so he’s got our vote.

***

N: You done ranting? It’s time for Arby’s.

L: Not even close. The other thing I’m going to get mad at. Awards for best anthology. An honor that belongs to all and to none. As an editor you can say you’re a winner for a book you didn’t write. As editors we consider this a dickwad move, considering the actual authors can only say they contributed to the project, which is hardly worth wedging into their bio. So, this award sits like a square egg in a kind of purgatory for unclaimed miscellany that no one quite knows how to handle. Is there even a word for adjacent congratulations?

N: I’m sure there’s a German word for it. A long, angry German word. Hmm, probably something like Beglückwünschung – that’s sort of terrifying.

L: Germans have more efficient things to do than acknowledge reader’s choice awards.

***

You could accuse us of being fucking jealous. Sour as hell. Green little goblins, ejaculating envy in thick bitter ropes. And you’d be right. But it doesn’t mean we’re wrong. And if you think we’re sore losers? God forbid we ever actually win anything.

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Queer fiction has long led the charge of stories with big ideas that challenge, terrify, and thrill, and this novel exemplifies those qualities. In near-future Toronto, devastating floods stoke the fear and hatred of the privileged, giving rise to a powerful civilian militia with a mission to eradicate immigrants, queer folks, poor folks, and anyone deemed to be other. This dark wave spreads unchecked across the country, until a black drag queen, transgender refugee, and a former social worker are recruited into a resistance movement that might be their last hope.

This is story driven by indelible characters, complex and non-conforming, without a single archetype to be found among them. With no molds from which to cast, Hernandez has accomplished something remarkable in creating wholly realized unique individuals. There is no saviour, no plucky sidekick, no sage. Evil is an utterly banal presence in the narrative, taking the form of politicians, angry suburbanites, and “concerned citizens”. It’s scary as hell because Crosshairs is our world exaggerated, but only a little, and some days not at all. Prepare to confront your biases in this unflinching novel where humanity shines in all its beautiful, messy, resilient diversity.

4/5