Saturday, November 26, 2016





The Seventh Shadow
Or: Dead Phoenix 

by Anthony Servante

Your third shadow falls before you 
from the light of yesterday's moon; 
your fourth shadow falls behind you 
from the light of tomorrow's sun. 
Today you are joined by two more shadows:
One moves clockwise as the sun rises and sets; 
one moves counter-clockwise as the moon crosses the sky. 
Your first shadow fell the day you were born
in the harsh bright hospital light.
Your final shadow joins you as the coffin lid shuts
in the strict and formless darkness.
Should you choose cremation, 
the seventh shadow returns to life in ash.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Don Falcone and the Spirit of Collaboration Sound
Ambient, Jazz, Space Rock and Hybrids




'Spirits Burning is a musical collective overseen by American composer/producer Don Falcone that has released a pluralistic combination of ambient, jazz and full-on space-rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries... Spirits Burning has become a respected melting pot of the space-rock fraternity.' 
Ian Abrahams, Rock N Reel, July-August, 2008

Introduction:

If you are reading this, you love music in all shapes, dimensions, depths, and tastes. Thus you've come to the right place to expand your appreciation of the brushstrokes of musical bars or measures. You listen to Progressive, Independent, Classical, and Minimalist, and love exploring the branches extending from and returning to the source and influence of silence and sound side by side. This is the music you've come to indulge. 

As such, the Servante of Darkness invites you to preorder the latest music by respected collaborative genius, Don Falcone, who molds his styling of sound with the cooperation of legendary members of the musical genres of Space Rock, Ambient, and beyond. At the web sites below, you'll also be able to fill the gaps in your music collections by ordering from the vast library of CDs from Falcone's bands and collectives in addition to music by Hawkwind, Rick Wakeman, Blodwyn Pig Live, Kingdom Come Live, and much more.

I'll let Don Falcone describe for you the latest works and the collection of musicians he has gathered to excite and soothe your aural senses. 
Anthony Servante


Don Falcone:

"Two items on the Spirits Burning news front. This November sees the release of Spirits Burning & Clearlight “The Roadmap In Your Head.” It’s a special Gong-infused adventure. Don Falcone and Cyrille Verdeaux bring together Gong global family members Daevid Allen, Michael Clare, Ian East, Fabio Golfetti, Steve Hillage, Didier Malherbe, Pierce McDowell, Mike Howlett, Stefanie Petrick, Dave Sturt, Kavus Torabi, Theo Travis, & Harry Williamson, Hawkwind family members Steve Bemand, Steve Hayes, Nik Turner & Bridget Wishart, plus Paul Booth (Steve Winwood), Albert Bouchard (BÖC), Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention), Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven), & more...

Also in the works for 2017: Spirits Burning & Michael Moorcock “An Alien Heat.” Don Falcone and Albert Bouchard (BÖC) are starting most of the tracks. The supporting cast already includes Harvey Bainbridge (Hawklords), Andy Dalby (Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come), Doug Erickson (Grindlestone), Craig Fry (Cartoon), Jack Gold-Molina (Flame Tree), Gregg McKella (Paradise 9), Monty Oxymoron (The Damned), Adrian Shaw (Hawkwind), and Lux Vibratus (Nektar)."



The Spirits Burning & Clearlight album will be available 
like lots of Spirits Burning releases directly 


Don is also part of the Spice Barons trio, who have a new piece on the just released From Here To Tranquility Volume VI ambient compilation. Additionally, Don wrote the back cover liner notes.

"We shade our ambient in sound colors light and dark. Signals in and out of the calm and stillness of what is left unsaid. Treasured roadmaps. Coded experiments. We retouch the mindset of the past and turn to the future. We 360, deeply in space, we craft, and we flow onward. Here are new stories for each rhythm of sun and moon to earth and back. This is where the weave of light is one world, the weave of dark another. Together, they form a voice of contrast. Illumination. Connectivity. Immersion. Clarity. This is the music that forever drifts in our soul.

This is our silent renaissance. —Don Falcone"



The Silent compilation is available at: 

**********************


"Spirits Burning and Clearlight" can be preordered in October 2016 from the label: http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk


While you're waiting for your preorders, check out the former Spirits Burning collaboratives available on CD at the links above or contact Don Falcone on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/donfalcone

And feel free to leave a review or comment on your favorite Don Falcone CDs here on the Servante of Darkness Blog, Words and Sounds for the Living. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Carol Lay: Art from Under the Skin
A Servante of Darkness Pick of the Month


I've liked underground comics my whole life, so it's no wonder I've come to know the artwork of Carol Lay. If my aged memory serves (and it doesn't), I first discovered the comic art of Carol Lay in "Weirdo" (1981-1993), Robert Crumb's comic book answer to "RAW Magazine", which he considered "highbrow". Lay's "weird" artwork became a staple of her style, but it evolved as she tackled contemporary topics, especially modern women in a traditional world of romance and rituals seen through an askew point of view. Naturally,




after "Weirdo", she created "Good Girls" 1-6 (1987-1991), published by Fantagraphics and Rip-Off Press.




Since then, Lay has drawn for DC, Bongo Comics (The Simpsons Comic Book), Kitchen Sink Press, Last Gasp, and other traditional and underground venues as well. "Murderville" is one of my current favorites.




To learn more about Carol Lay, visit her website here or go to Amazon for a selection of books and Kindle editions now available. You can also find Carol on Facebook here

Saturday, July 2, 2016

For Want of a Suicide, A Kingdom was Lost
A Wordscape For David Lynch (2016)



By Anthony Servante


I purpled today FB eyes closed
The mewling newborns squirming
On the lazy couch that terrified the box
With the abandoned kitties no titties

While the fat lover and her
Fistfuls of feline fur
Bathed the porch in disbelief.

Yet my heart evacuated the red
The corporate corpuscles of life
On the edge of a paper cut

Deeper deeper deeper stitched
With love by an RPN two years short
Of the framed sheepskin on the wall with
Leftover tissue and sluggish blood;
 
Who but the two-legged dogs
With their promise to the blind
Rainbow of midnight could
Understand the pink envelope

The black and blue hematoma
The four corners of a perfect circle
Spiraling into the white Abyss
Drowned by the light of a sucker-punch 

The cartoon stars and birdies and hashtags
Circling the carcass of better days
The coffins of undead nights that
Cannot be dreamed away or awakened

Or greened in putrid soil
Where healthy zombies TM
TV LOL BTW P.S. I purpled today
But that was no reason to spit
Your paganism in my decapitated face.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Angel of the Abyss
by Hank Schwaeble
Reviewed by Anthony Servante



Hank Schwaeble Biography:




Hank Schwaeble is a thriller writer and attorney in Houston, Texas. His debut novel, DAMNABLE (Berkley/Jove 2009) won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and introduces his anti-hero Jake Hatcher. His second Jake Hatcher novel is DIABOLICAL (Berkley/Jove 2011). 

A graduate of the University of Florida and Vanderbilt Law School, Hank is also a former Air Force officer and special agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. He was a distinguished graduate from the Air Force Special Investigations Academy, graduated first in his class from the Defense Language Institute's Japanese Language Course, and was an editor of the law review at Vanderbilt where he won four American Jurisprudence Awards.

Hank is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers Association. In addition to reading and writing, Hank enjoys keeping in shape and playing guitar. 

The third Jake Hatcher novel, Angel of the Abyss, is due out September 30, 2016.


Coming September 30th


Angel of the Abyss: Summary
Ex-special forces interrogator and demon-magnet Jake Hatcher went looking for trouble, and found it.

Finally able to be with the woman he loves, life for anyone else would seem charmed. But Hatcher’s good fortune came at a steep price. Two years after witnessing his former lover disappear into perdition, he may finally have discovered a way to free her. But the forces determined to stop him are hidden, and a deal with the Devil cannot easily be trusted.

Hatcher must discover for himself if he has what it takes to survive a battle of wit and wills with both an unknown contender for the Throne of Damnation and the being that has been its occupant since the dawn of Creation-- The Lord of the Underworld, the Father of All Lies, the Great Deceiver…



"Angel of the Abyss" (2016)
The Review:

It's a wonderful thing in literature to enter the ink on a page and end up in the wonderland of horror. And Hank Schwaeble is not only a marvelous host but an erudite guide on these fantastic journeys.  His stories are well-plotted, utilize twists as a natural design of the story rather than as a novelty, as some beginner authors succumb to, and they balance the elements of grotesque sensibilities to create a scary universe that is at once comfortable to ease into and difficult to leave, even though it is filled with horrific landscapes and grand guignol flourishes. His prose melds 40/50s Noir style not uncommon to a Mickey Spillane novel with 2010s irony and humor. It also echoes the paintings of Bosch with its devilish detail without becoming trite or trivial, so don't blink or you will miss a salient story point amid all the demons, summoners, and moments of terror. You're in for a journey to Hell that's better than any Disneyland ride.

But on to the matter at hand: I have received a review copy of the book in exchange for an honest critique. I promise to use my critic skills for good and not for evil.

Now let's get to work.

The Jake Hatcher Series to date:



Damnable: Summary
Jake Hatcher is a combat veteran who's been trained to extract information by any means necessary--and is serving a military prison sentence for it. After he's granted an unexpected release to attend the funeral of a brother he never knew, Hatcher becomes drawn into a mystery involving irresistibly beautiful women whose motives and intentions are difficult to discern, inhuman females known as Carnates. Facing inscrutable adversaries and uncertain alliances, Hatcher becomes an unwitting component of a unimaginable plan, a plan intended to channel the one being that can end the reign of Heaven, and he soon finds that the streets of New York have become a secret battleground for forces he cannot comprehend.




Diabolical: Summary
Jake Hatcher, lying low in Southern California, isn't all that surprised when he's asked to jump back into the battle between salvation and damnation and stop those bent on raising the forces of darkness--it's just why and by whom that's unnerving. Especially when it's put to him as an offer he can't refuse.

A former nun named Vivian Fall believes that a Hellion has escaped the infernal regions and returned to earth on an unholy mission--to unleash the forces of damnation on an unsuspecting world. Only Hatcher has the experience to track such a being. Only Hatcher has dealt with those who likely to know what what's really going on. And only Hatcher can get close enough to it--because the Hellion happens to be his own brother.


The Emperor of Shadows
Coming soon...


In Angel of the Abyss, the storyline picks up intertwined with the events of Damnable and Diabolical, but you can read the new Hatcher story as a stand-alone, much like the Repairman Jack stories by F. Paul Wilson tell individual tales that tie to a bigger picture. It helps to know the main events, but they are not crucial to enjoy AOTA. Once you've read the latest chapter, I'm sure you'll want to reach back for the first two entries in the Hatcher universe.

Jake is always clearly out of his depth in the supernatural dimensions between Hell, Demonic messengers, and Demonologists who always have an agenda that keeps the reader off-balance. Still, Hatcher manages to pull savvy maneuverings that keep him one step ahead of the hellish proceedings. So don't expect predictable situations that Jake will work his way out of, for this is not a James Bond movie where we know Bond will escape impossible traps.

For Jake, there is no way out. Yet time and again, he climbs out of the pan and into the fire. But half the fun is learning what constitutes the pan and the fire for Jake, for he is usually a pawn in a bigger game being played by evil forces, and it is his job to find out what these forces are up while being manipulated by two opposing forces of darkness. Our hero in one instance is caught around the throat in the grip of a massive demon claw only to be surrounded later by the caverns of hell, toyed with by an attractive but unholy creature, a messenger of Satan (although his name does not come up; still we know he's behind all these proceedings). And while the demons themselves are often terrifying, Schwaeble manages to make them humorous as well. When Hank hits his narrative groove, the horrors are relentless. So, too, is the humor.

Using a prose style that any poet would envy, Schwaeble brings the characters to life with gusto. Sometimes it's just the smirk on the hideous face of a creature from hell, sometimes it's a play on words. Hatcher's sense of irony in any given situation always catches his quarry off-guard. Even one demon says that he likes Jake, but still promises to torment his soul for eternity once our hero's soul is cast down to the depths of hell, to which Jake responds, But won't that make all the other tormented souls jealous? His jokes show his defense mechanisms at full capacity; still the demons can't help but allow a smile to crack their sinister grins. With the readers in audience, we, too, are charmed by our hero's "ambulance" humor in the face of eternal damnation.

It is always a joy for me to read the work of Hank Schwaeble. His storyteller narrator and prose skills blend so seamlessly that it's easy to forget you've been transported into the nether regions of a well-written novel. I can't wait for the next hellish adventure.








Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fear the Walking Dead Midseason Finale:
Don't Fear the Pozole

by Anthony Servante



SPOILERS! DAMMIT! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! 
Still here. Then read on.


In Season One of Fear the Walking Dead, we witnessed the zombie apocalypse expedited with relative ease. A protest against police brutality erupts into a zombie feast, and we can't tell the difference between the brain-eaters and the unruly mob. Immediately the National Guard takes over the East Los Angeles area (played with great aplomb by City Terrace right next door to Cal State University Los Angeles) where the outbreak has been contained by the guardsmen who are themselves breaking ranks and splintering as the zombie masses begin to outgrow the armed soldiers. We also witness the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rushing to find a cure to stop the outbreak. But there is no hope, as any zombie apocalypse fan knows all too well, for those "characters" caught in the middle of it all. The first season ends with the survivors boarding a yacht and heading for safe harbor--destination unknown. 

But here is a good spot to meet our cast. The Clark family includes matriarch Madison, her live-in mate, Travis, and the angst-ridden Alicia and her brother, struggling junkie Nick (the best thing about the show); then there's the Salazar family: father Daniel (Ruben Blades, overqualified for this supporting role), mother Griselda, daughter Ofelia, Travis's ex Lisa and son Chris. Victor Strand owns the yacht and invites the surviving members of the families to join him on his journey. 




In Season Two, we continue to see how quickly the world has turned savage, and I'm not talking zombies here; I'm talking the humans. If we consider for a moment that society is breaking down, one usually waits a modicum amount of time for the authority and infrastructure to right itself up from its fallen position. We wait for the cops to tell us what to do; we wait for the politicians to tell us where to go for help. Even when the cops and politicians disappear, we still wait for them by listening to the radio, watching the TV, or searching the internet. And when those modes of communication fail us, we then seek leaders among our community, with people we know and trust. The Pastor, the retired firefighter, the Marine who served three tours of duty. Someone we "believe" we can count on to know how to handle this very scary situation. Even the nerdy kid who knows all about zombies from reading so many books and watching so many movies becomes a source of information to garner comfort about facing the predicament of staying alive. But in season two, we jumped from outbreak to acceptance without a bump in the road or a road map to show us what direction to go to survive the apocalypse. We're on a yacht and we're in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. So what's for dinner?




In The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes awoke from the hospital right in the middle of the apocalypse. We learned about the outbreak (past tense) as he learned about it from other survivors. In FTWD, we were supposed to see it unfold more slowly, but that wasn't the case. At least Rick's story began In Media Res; the Clarks and Salazars were there at the beginning, skipped the middle, and entered "Mad Max" turf without having to witness the devolution of society into anarchy. Has anyone written a zombie book where society doesn't fall apart because of a zombie outbreak? That would be an original story. So, anyway, FTWD speeds right into anarchy on the ocean, fighting pirates, making rash decisions about what to do with castaways rafting in the middle of the sea, and fending off zombies who cannot drown and pose the same threat at sea as on land. But let's get to the crux of the story by jumping ahead.




Our passengers on the yacht discover they are heading for Mexico, to a ranch that is a safe haven from the walking dead (we've heard that one before, right?). After a few more bumps in the road, we finally reach the ranch. A flashback shows us that Strand is Gay and his lover Thomas own the ranch. Now the Mexican myths and culture can direct the story from this point on. 




Number one, Mexicans believe that the Dead are as much alive as the living. We even celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Day) to remind us that our loved ones passed on are still with us. We even serve a plate for them at the dinner table on this day. The line between life and death is blurred and Nick who covers himself in the blood of the dead so he can walk among the zombies as if he were one of them seems to represent a life-in-death persona just as the zombies represent the death-alive personas. Thomas's mother Celia sees the zombies as biblical, real because they are "alive", not animated, but living people, loved ones, family and friends. She even keeps them locked in a room and feeds them various farm animals. Note also that Celia has no qualms about turning the living into zombies; she's doing them a favor by murdering them, for they are closer to God in their new incarnation of death. 




Number two, the family lines become blurred as well. When life is holy, the giver of life is holy; when death is holy as well, so, too, is the giver of death holy. The mother figure is both giver and taker of life, for life and death are now as one. Celia kills you to make you part of the family, to care for you, to worship you as a part of God's plan. Celia and Madison have opposing views on this "voodoo" belief as Daniel calls it. Madison believes that keeping you family alive is keeping them from death, not vice versa. Travis and his son Chris must face similar dilemmas when Chris cannot discern living from dead; the young man has a talent for killing zombies, but he is confused that by killing the living, they live again as zombies. He can take life from the dead and give life to the living by killing them. Needless to say, he poses a danger to his family and friends and exiles himself to work out this confusion on his own, but his father chooses to be with his son to help to guide him on this spiritual conundrum. 




Number three, Celia likes to poison her victims to help them reach that godly state of the undead. As a mother and cook, her food represents life sustenance and death. Pozole, a stew made up of vegetables and chucks of pork, is a comfort food among many Mexicans, Central and South Americans. Everyone loves Pozole. Chris eats the pozole without any fear of it being poisoned. However, the others, especially Daniel, refuse to eat it, knowing Celia's pennant for serving deadly treats (just ask the local church goers and the priest--oh, wait, you can't; they've all become zombies). Everyone staying on at the ranch trust in Celia's judgment and would eat the pozole no matter what; however, for the visitors who arrived with Strand, the pozole may or may not be their last meal. Chris, because he has that affinity with the dead, has no problem eating the stew. As far as he's concerned, the worst that could happen is that he'd be walking with the dead. Hell, he already does that. 




We break at the midseason of FTWD with the incarcerated dead being released, the Clark and Salazar families broken up as the survivors flee back to the yacht, and the ranch in flames. Whether Daniel and Celia are still alive is up to the writers during the break. The trip to Mexico was interesting, but contrived. The "voodoo" was stretched a bit too thin, but I enjoyed the whole conceit of the family as mimetic of Life with a capital L. Whenever family was involved, death was always at hand (note that Chris threatened to kill the son of the man who pretended not to speak English--unless he led Travis away from his hiding place). Fathers and sons, mothers and sons and daughters are always at risk in season two. But it's that bowl of pozole that will stay with me. It's tradition in my household to have pozole every Sunday after church; it's also a tradition for a woman seeking a husband to seduce a man with a good bowl of pozole. There's a saying in Spanish: The first step to the grave is the walk down the marriage aisle. How appropriate, then, that we end season two's midseason break by tossing aside that bowl of pozole and setting the zombies free. Can't wait for FTWD's return in August 2016. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016



James Chambers Interview: 
The Return of Carl Kolchak 

Conducted and Formatted by Anthony Servante






Introduction:

Without knowing it, I've known James Chambers for years. I read Comic Book Collector Magazine in its prime, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Shadow House, all involving his talent and direction. So, imagine my surprise to learn that he is attached to the new KOLCHAK, The Night Stalker: The Poe Cases series. I immediately sought him out for an interview, and he graciously accepted. And one surprise followed another as I learned that there's a lot more stories coming from the mind of Chambers. Well, now it's your turn to acquaint yourself with this long-time storyteller. I welcome James Chambers to the Servante of Darkness Blog. 
AS



The Interview

1.
Servante: Can we start with the beginnings of your career as a writer leading up to the Kolchak books?

Chambers: I’ve been at this writing and editing thing for a long time. My first paid writing gigs included columns, reviews, and feature articles about the comic book industry for Comic Book Collector Magazine, which later became known as COMBO Magazine. In the 90s, comic book speculation peaked, and magazines about the industry came and went frequently. COMBO lasted several years. I’d done a brief stint there as an editor before moving on to a production job at another magazine, but I wrote for COMBO for its entire run, covering Golden Age and Silver Age comics as well as reviews of new comics. I think I may have appeared in nearly every issue. I also did feature interviews with comics creators, including Dan Brereton, Howard Chaykin, Rob Liefeld, and staff of the original incarnation of Valiant Comics.





I grew up reading comics, and they inspired my love of reading and publishing. As I got older, I branched out to other types of books and genres. I read a ton of classic science fiction thanks to my Dad's collection of sf paperbacks, which introduced me to Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Herbert, Niven, Pohl, Sturgeon, and Tolkein. My Mom’s love of the classic Universal horror movies sparked my interest in horror, which led me to King’s Night Shift and Skeleton Crew and Barker’s Books of Blood, which along with Bradbury’s various collections fully formed my love of the short story. Comics’ episodic nature appealed to me in that vein, and my next big writing gig came following a jump deeper into the comic book industry.

In the mid-90s I joined Tekno*Comix, where I found myself editing the monthly books Isaac Asimov’s I*Bots, Gene Roddenberry’s Lost Universe, and Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, as well as a graphic novel adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, a pair of illustrated prose anthologies (one based on I*Bots, the other on an Anne McCaffrey creation) published by HarperPrism, and a few other things. Around the middle of Primortals run, the opportunity to collaborate with Leonard Nimoy on a two-part origin story arose, and I wrote Primortals: Origins. I’d spent a lot of time talking with Mr. Nimoy about his ideas for the series and the characters, and I continued for four more issues after Origins before handing the series over to the supremely talented Doug Wheeler, who took it in a darker direction.









Sadly Tekno only lasted a few years. When that house of cards began tumbling, another editor there, Christopher Mills, and I launched an independent horror comic, Shadow House. Set up like the classic Strange Tales model, each issue featured two ongoing series, “The Revenant,” which I wrote, and “Nightmark,” which Chris wrote. We put everything into that comic, collaborating with amazingly talented artists—Dan Brereton, Pat Broderick, John Estes, Fred Harper, and Kirk Van Wormer—but the book proved slow to catch on with readers and ran only five issues.





Around the time Shadow House ended, I turned my attention to short stories. I needed a break from comics so I wrote some short horror and science fiction pieces and found homes for many of them rather quickly in various anthologies and magazines. That became my primary focus, and since about 2002, I’ve published somewhere around 80 or more short stories and novellas and three collections of short fiction. Some of my stories have appeared in anthologies that have also featured authors such as Stephen King, David Morrell, Harlan Ellison, and Denny O’Neill, and it’s been genuinely surreal seeing my work alongside stories by writers whose work fueled my love of reading and writing.

I wrote more comics along the way, a short-lived web comic, Tabula Rasa, and then in 2015, Moonstone Books contacted me about writing Kolchak, The Night Stalker. I’d first pitched Moonstone for Kolchak some years earlier, and in the meantime, I’d written for several of their pulp anthologies, featuring The Avenger, The Domino Lady, The Green Hornet, and The Spider. The chance to write Kolchak reignited my love of writing comics. The blending of Kolchak with Edgar Allan Poe tapped into my love of horror. Since Shadow House ended in 1998, I can honestly say writing Kolchak, The Night Stalker: The Poe Cases is the most fun I’ve had writing comics this century.







2.

Servante: What are the books and genres you started with?

Chambers: I’ve almost always written genre fiction. The first story I remember writing as a kid involved my Shogun Warriors toys. Later pieces imitated stuff I read in horror comics and possibly made the adults in my life wonder just where I was headed with all this writing stuff. My first professional comic scripts were science fiction stories, Primortals, and I moved on to horror next. When I put my concentration on prose fiction, I wrote a lot of horror because it felt most natural for me but I never lost my interest in science fiction, fantasy, crime, and other genres. I’ve been very fortunate to have connected with a variety of editors, such as Danielle Ackley-McPhail, John French, Kevin L. Donihe, and Michael Bailey, who like my work and have given me chances to write in many genres. My most recent horror stories appeared in Chiral Mad 2, Reel Dark, and Shadows Over Main Street, my last science fiction piece appeared in Qualia Nous, the latest tale in my Machinations Sundry steampunk series will be published in Gaslight and Grimm this spring, my favorite piece of fantasy writing, “Meet the Tuskersons,” was published in Kevin L. Donihe’s Walrus Tales, and my crime stories have shown up in Bad Cop, No Donut and To Hell in a Fast Car. I’ve written pulp for Moonstone, military science fiction for Mike McPhail’s Defending the Future anthology series, and other types of stories too.


by James Chambers



My first short story collection, written in collaboration with illustrator Jason Whitley, The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales was a blend of horror and supernatural adventure. Resurrection House collected many of my previously published horror tales and some new ones. I also wrote a collection of four, interconnected Lovecraftian novellas, The Engines of Sacrifice, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and a very thoughtful review from The Lovecraft eZine.







One of my favorite pieces is an urban fantasy novella, Three Chords of Chaos, which follows a “fallen” faerie, who was the greatest musician in the Enchanted Lands but gets kicked out for playing forbidden music. He winds up in New York City around 1980, playing on the punk and indie scene to rebuild his magic by performing for live audiences. I did a lot of research for that story to capture the time period and the music scene in the city back then. A good portion of my research, though, consisted of listening to music from that era for hours on end—and at very high volume!

All of these books are listed on my website, www.jameschambersonline.com, and my Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/James-Chambers/e/B007J63PLO. I also have a selection of stories and excerpts available here: http://www.jameschambersonline.com/blog/?page_id=7.





3.
Servante: Who have been your biggest influences early on with your writing?

Chambers: I never know how to answer this question. I read on a broad spectrum, just as likely to dip into Jim Thompson as Stephen King, or Philip K. Dick, or Joyce Carol Oates, or George R.R. Martin, or Haruki Murakami, or Maxine Hong Kingston, or Chuck Palahniuk, or David Schow, or James Baldwin, or Shirley Jackson, or Christa Faust or on and on… and then there’s my non-fiction reading, which ranges far and wide, and I feel it all influences me. Books are psychic nutrients. We are what we read, though as writers we have to try to be more than that so we bring something original into the world. Over the years, readers and fellow writers have told me that they see shades of Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman in my approaches to horror and fantasy, and I did read Barker’s short fiction extensively early on and followed Gaiman’s Sandman closely, so it’s probably safe to name them as influences. And Bradbury, of course. “There Will Come Soft Rains” was the first time I truly loved a written thing.



Joyce Carol Oates



George R.R. Martin



Neil Gaiman


4.
Servante: Which TV shows, besides Kolchak, got you started on the path to writing Horror?

Chambers: Television, other than the first adaptation of Salem’s Lot and reruns of horror movies, did little to influence my interest in horror. In the 80s and early 90s good horror television shows were rarer than an honest politician. We had Twilight Zone and Outer Limits reruns, which I sought voraciously, the inconsistent Tales from the Darkside, the weird Friday the 13th—The Series (the one with the antique shop and Robey!), and the sadly short-lived She-Wolf of London. The stuff entertained me, but it didn’t challenge me. Horror movies and, even more so, horror books and comics did, and they started me along this dark, literary road.










5.
Servante: Tell us about your first memory of watching Kolchak?

Chambers: I heard a lot about Kolchak from my Mom, who liked the movies and the show when they first aired. I was too young to see them then. The end of the 20th century brought dark days for access to dead programs. No Netflix. Sitcom reruns ruling the airwaves. Inconvenient VHS tapes with one or two episodes of a show per cassette. We are so spoiled today by the availability of so much of our historical media and entertainment that I think people have forgotten the mystique of shows and movies we knew only by reputation and a few stills in a magazine or reference book. But I digress. The first time I got to sit down and watch Kolchak was when the Sci-Fi Channel put the show back on the air. Sadly, the first episode I watched was not one of the better ones, and it didn’t hook me right away. Then I got around to the movies, which are fantastic, with teleplays by Richard Matheson, and then to the better episodes and wondered why we couldn’t have a horror show that good on the air anymore. Not long after came The X-Files and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, and these days horror is the hottest thing on television. Carl Kolchak was ahead of his time. Maybe he should’ve fought more zombies.





6.
Servante: Can you tell us a bit about what plans you have with your take of Kolchak?

Chambers: The concept for Kolchak, The Night Stalker: The Poe Cases is that Carl encounters a series of mysterious, macabre, and supernatural occurrences all linked in some way to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. While researching material for the script, my biggest concern was to keep it true to both the character of Carl Kolchak and the imagination of Poe. A beautiful thing occurred when I realized how alike in voice Kolchak is to Poe. Both flow from wry cynicism to morbid observation to laments for the human condition to indignity at injustices, and the story really came together on that nexus. In current continuity, Kolchak is based in L.A., but I felt strongly that these stories needed to take place in Baltimore, where Poe is buried. I created a situation that brought Carl out from L.A. for the duration, researched a ton of real locations and buildings in Baltimore, drove my artists crazy with reference photos, and carefully wove as many notions and details from Poe as I could into the whole thing. The result, in my opinion, is surprisingly contemporary horror story for one based on stories written more than 150 years ago and starring a character from the 70s. Although each chapter of the graphic novel focuses on a primary Poe story, his work in general is woven into the fabric of the tale, and people who really know their Poe will enjoy hunting for Easter eggs.





7.
Servante: How did you get the reins to the Kolchak book series?

Chambers: I pitched ideas to Moonstone some years ago. They went in a different direction at the time, but we kept in touch, and I wound up writing various pulp stories for their anthologies. At the same time, my good friend Christopher Mills, who did Shadow House with me, took on Kolchak, writing “The Night Stalker of the Living Dead” storyline, which is available in trade paperback and well worth reading. Chris truly captures Carl’s voice in his scripts. Another close friend, CJ Henderson, became the regular Kolchak writer penning numerous comics, stories, and novels. CJ and I often cross-pollinated with editors and projects. His vote of confidence in me helped Moonstone bring me in on the pulp anthologies. Those went well, and they asked me to write a Kolchak short story, “The Lost Boy,” which was published recently in Kolchak the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre, a new anthology. My editor liked the story, and CJ continued putting good words in for me over there. Sadly, in July of 2014, CJ passed away, and my editor, Joe Gentile, felt he would’ve liked it if I picked up writing Kolchak. I put a new pitch together and Joe approved it. So I’m trying to live up to a lot with this book to honor Jeff Rice, who created Kolchak, and Edgar Allan Poe, and CJ too.







8.
Servante: Can we look forward to your books becoming movies or becoming part of a new Kolchak TV series?

Chambers: I honestly don’t know. If there are any plans to revive Kolchak on the silver screen or the small screen I know nothing about them, other than the long-rumored Johnny Depp film. I know the rights to Kolchak are somewhat complicated. Is it possible something in my Kolchak graphic novel might show up in some future incarnation? Well, anything’s possible, but it seems unlikely. But then who would’ve thought Carl Kolchak would be more popular today (thanks Netflix!) than he has been in decades, and that I’d have such a great opportunity to write him.



Johnny Depp the New Kolchak?


9.
Servante: What actor would you choose to play your version of Kolchak and why?

Chambers: Since you didn’t specify a living actor, I must say Darren McGavin. He is Carl Kolchak. He breathed such wonderful life into the character and is imprinted in my mind as Carl. But to choose a living actor is tough so I’m going to go with the very first one who springs to mind: Bruce Willis. Willis would capture both the hardboiled reporter that Kolchak was in Jeff Rice’s books and Matheson’s teleplay, but he can also do comedy and would nail that off-beat Kolchak charm that makes the character so memorable.



Bruce Willis as Kolchak?


10.
Servante: What else do you have on your plate besides the Kolchak books?

Chambers: I’m writing a lot of short fiction, a new novella, and working on two novels. I also have a few comic book projects in the works. Not much I can talk about in detail right now, except for a steampunk story, “In Wolf’s Clothing,” which will appear in Gaslight and Grimm, an anthology of steampunk retellings of fairy tales, coming this spring from eSpec Books.






11.
Servante: Can you share with us where we can purchase the Kolchak books and how we can stay in contact with you with news about all your new books? 

Chambers: Your best bet for getting a copy of Kolchak, the Night Stalker: The Poe Cases is your local comic book shop or ordering direct from Moonstone Books (http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/default.aspx). I suspect this book may have been under-ordered by comics retailers so I recommend asking your local comics shop to set one aside for you. You can also follow developments on the book and see lots of preview art at our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KolchakThePoeCases/) or at my website (www.jameschambersonline.com). And it should be available on Comixology at some point too for those who prefer digital.











12.
Servante: What are some of your favorite Kolchak TV episodes? 

Chambers: I absolutely love the first two television movies, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler. With teleplays by Richard Matheson, these are serious horror movies, tightly plotted, and wonderfully executed. They hold up very well today. From the regular television series, my top three favorites are the following:

“The Zombie” (episode two), which strikes a creepy tone that doesn’t let up and puts Kolchak in a genuinely harrowing situation to resolve the threat. It also plays by the rules of old school, Voodoo zombies, which gives the episode extra depth.

“The Horror in the Heights” (episode eleven), in which a rakshasha, an Indian demon that can appear in the form of its victims most trusted friends, terrorizes a Jewish neighborhood. A brilliant bit of characterization occurs when the demon reveals who Kolchak most trusts.

“Legacy of Terror” (episode seventeen) brought Aztec mythology to Chicago. This one has its weak points, but it’s unflinching about the brutality of human sacrifice, includes an eerie Aztec mummy, and cleverly finds a substitute for Aztec, stepped pyramids in a local sports arena. Plus Eric Estrada (of CHiPs fame!) guest stars.



Erik Estrada visits Kolchak


Servante: Thanks again to James for visiting the Servante of Darkness Blog today.

Chambers: Thanks so much for having me and giving me the opportunity to talk about Kolchak!

Servante: Hope to have him visit again as his Kolchak books start reaching the hands of new and returning fans.