The Endless Night: a bloody valentine to fanged noir

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You’re not human tonight… Maybe I never was or ever will be… Maybe we all get like this in the cold half-lit world where always the wrong thing happens and never the right. …you’re not human tonight.

That dripping, noir morsel is from Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister.

Back in the mid 90s, a sixteen-year-old me opened up Vampire: the Masquerade. I’ve never been the same. That’s the short-hand version. Today, Blood & Smoke: the Strix Chronicle was released. I’ve written for White Wolf (and Onyx Path) before. I wrote a novel, a short story, and a little game writing on the side. But this book is the thing that tickles that teenage fan boy rattling my ribcage.

I wrote the vampire clan chapter and the “All Night Society Chapter.”

This book is an overhaul of the Vampire: the Requiem game. Rose Bailey, the developer, gave the book the most focused and relentless vision of any group creative project I’ve ever worked on. I’m a writer who benefits from an editor who works me. She worked me, and I’m proud of the result.

One of the things that Rose did with the line (and that I felt very comfortable diving into) was dousing it all in Chandleresque noir. And if you need a little foreplay to get in the mood, I have just the thing.

Howzabout a teaser sample, loveling? Here’s a little micro-ficiton for each vampire clan.

Something dead approaches…

Daeva: the ones you die for

He warns you. You’re going to do it anyway. You both know that. Eyes like TV ads that enslave you to debt. Voice like the fast food jingle talking you into suicide by tiny bites. The wanting. Every happiness you already have turns to bile. You smile. “Yes,” you say. “More,” you say. “Anything.”

Gangrel: the ones you can’t kill

Wasn’t the howling. Weren’t the claws or magnesium eyes or the lizard brain keening, “Run, run, run!” Was the change. Like them trashy drive-in horrors, only on rewind. Monstrous bulk shrinking — snout flattening — fangs dulling down to pearls — fur receding to a naked obscenity. The smiling little girl walking towards you on filthy feet. That’s what did it. Ten thousand beasts pressing out on her belly like it’s a theatre curtain on opening night. That’s what emptied your bowels and sanity.

Mekhet: the ones you don’t see

That shit-eating grin. The shit-heel prick. How’d he get into your game? “Not playing the cards; I’m playing you,” he croons. He’s not wearing shades, but you can’t see his eyes. Chuckle. “Always wearing shade,” he says. Did you talk out loud? The fucker is playing the cards, because you just did a bottom deal, a triple lift, and two moves that ain’t got names. You know his hand. He’s already lost. Bastard’s not even looking at his cards. He knows. He doesn’t say, “Fold.” Says something else. Says your secret. The thing no one else knows. The thing you sit up at night praying no one ever finds out. The table flips. Loud noises. Your poker buddies beat you bloody. Through it all, you see his grin. He just fades away, and the last thing floating in the tobacco smoke is that grin.

Nosferatu: the ones you fear

“Shhh.” The voice behind you sounds like a squeezed handful of grave worms. It tells you that it will follow you home. It tells you that if you can make it to your front door, by the long path or the short, without turning around or nary a peep, it won’t kill you. When did you lose your shoes? The pavement turns to tongue meat, tasting your bleeding soles with every step.

Ventrue: the ones you can’t deny

“Let’s make this interesting,” she says. She tells you all the heinous things you are about to do. You laugh in her face. Ridiculous. Then, one by one, all of your limbs betray you. You see everything. You see it all through the socket windows of your Judas body. You try, and fail, to scream through the frozen smile fracturing your face.

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Speak the Devil’s name on Twitter, and he shall appear…

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Power of Christ Compels You

I Eat Raven Brains

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LickShadow

Raven brains and lunch boxes, that’s what you’ll get in my story “The Mulligan” featured  in The Booked. Anthology, brought to you by those wicked lit-jockeys over at The Booked. Podcast. It’s a motley collection of authors doing untoward things with words. Here’s a little audio taste of my story:

Have a taste for more? Head to store at http://www.bookedpodcast.com/ (and get 50% off with the code: LR50). Read some twisted tales and join the October-long discussion.

Over the summer, I participated at the anthology’s release party, where I signed books, and read a new story, “Alas.” Give a listen to the Booked Live Event.

Booked

GenCon and the Siblings Three

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Motivational Growth

 

It’s that time of year. Once again, I ready for the Valhalla of geekery that is known as GenCon. My brother and I go most every year, but this year’s a little different. This year, a film that our sister is in (Motivational Growthwill be showing at the convention (click above picture for event details). And now my sister is very suddenly visiting her first GenCon. It’s her first time…and she’ll be on a QnA panel! How did my little sister get on a QnA panel at GenCon before me? What a strange world…

Are you ready? Is GenCon ready? Because the Doetsches are showing up in force. For the first time ever, we siblings three will be gathered, at the same time, in the same convention. THE EARTH MIGHT SHATTER! That’s right! See GenCon as it was always meant to be seen: In 3-Doetsch!!!

We siblings three...

Empty Spaces in the Dino Saddle

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My thoughts this week have been a roiling, burning, churn-churn-churn. All frayed fibers and caffeine burn. I have absolutely no idea how to express myself to the right people (and I make a living expressing). I didn’t sleep a minute of Sunday night. More than one somebody I know has recently found out they’re not long for this world, and one has already passed (far too young). More post-it reminders on the mortality fridge saying, “Live! Live! Live” and “Do! Do! Do!” and “Say! Say! Say!” My problems are tiny by comparison. And it seems like obligation eventually swallows everyone in life. Comfortable oblivions. I keep bouncing around on my silly little adventures, and one by one, another someone fades into “real life.” I can’t rightly hold it against them, but it gets a lonelier riding dinosaurs.

More coherent, useful posts (on life developments, moving, travel, and upcoming publishing/reading events) coming soon. Stay tuned. Tonight, I’m off across the Ocean in search of vikings.

I, Cyborg

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If you were to look at a cyborg PoV visual display, from my perspective, at mealtime, the text would read something like this:

CONUNDRUM: Raw vegetable more optimal for health / Cooked vegetable (with cheese) desired

Collating…

SOLUTION: Exploit natural laziness

RAW VEGETABLE CONSUMED

Thoughts, as I pack, of places and gods…

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He sat down on a grassy bank and looked at the city that surrounded him, and thought, one day he would have to go home. And one day he would have to make a home to go back to. He wondered whether home was a thing that happened to a place after a while, or if it was something that you found in the end, if you simply walked and waited and willed it long enough.

–Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Love on the Strange

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I was (and am) a huge fan of the podcasted audio drama Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery. I listened to that show through a transitional period of my life. I started during a time when I, in possession of a fresh Masters Degree, was back living with my parents, working a soul-draining graveyard shift at 7-11, and (with no other expenses) still not making the monthly minimums on my debt.

And I continued listening to the show when I landed a job writing for a video game company and was very suddenly thrust from Chicago to Oslo, Norway. The show was one of the familiar things I brought with me when I jumped far out into the big bad world. I followed the exploits of the occult detectives Sparrow & Crowe (you can now follow them in comic book form as well). In more than one culture, sparrows and crows are psychopomps, beings who guide others between worlds. It was no different for me.

One great thing about the internet (and you have to take in the great things, in the face of YouTube comments), is it sometimes gives you the chance to keep in touch with the creators of the things you love. And somewhere along the way, I got to collaborate with them. Twice! First was for a prose Sparrow & Crowe anthology, Weird Winter Stories (containing my story “How to Kill Santa”).

And now round two! I give you Weird Romance. It is another Sparrow & Crowe anthology, this time centering on theme of the strangeness of love. There is a lot of variety here, a lot of twisted gems, fathoming the depth of the oddity that is l’amour. My story is “Harlow’s Fairytale,” and I’m rather proud of it, rather fond of the character Harlow. You should sit down and read her tale. There’s a frog prince…but it’s not very Disney.

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