Free Fiction Friday

Time for another round of Free Fiction Friday.  For those of you not in the know, Free Fiction Friday is a feature where we search the internet in an attempt to bring you the very best free genre fiction available.  Today we have three of the biggest names in the genre including some free stuff from Stephen freakin’ King so let’s have at it!

First up we have some free fiction from Stephen King.  In anticipation if King’s new release, 11/22/63, Simon and Schuster will be releasing seven audiobook samples every Monday and Friday through October 24th.  The first is up and, I have to be honest,  Craig Wasson (FULL DARK, NO STARS & BLOCKADE BILLY)  sounds awesome!  Check it out!      

Our next piece of free fiction comes from one of the biggest names in the genre, Brian Keene.  Brian has been offering a serial novel called DELUGE on his site for months now.  This is a thank you to fans that have fallen on hard times and can’t afford to pick up new books.  DELUGE is available every Friday on Brian’s site.  On a side note, Brian has announced that once DELUGE is over he will be giving away a second free serial novel called DEAD AIR.  Rock!

James Newman has posted his entry into Shock Totem’s Flash Challenge for free on his site.  This is important for two reasons: 1)James Newman is one of the best authors working in the genre today and 2) Shock Totem is a criminally slept-on publication that should be read by every genre fan out there. Here is the story and here is the Shock Totem site.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Animosity by James Newman

James Newman has described Animosity as his, “love letter to the horror genre.”  I certainly think this is an apt description but I would take it a step further and argue that Animosity is James Newman’s big ol’ bear-hug to, not only the genre, but the fans that keep it alive and kicking.

This is the book that every horror fan needs to read because, lets face it,  it’s tough being a part of this community.  People assume we are all crazed maniacs looking to undermine the moral fiber of society.  I remember going into my local indie bookstore, asking where the horror section was and the clerk glared at me as if I had just asked for a step-by-step guide for committing every carnal depravity known to man (and some that may have been brand new.)  It doesn’t stop there, though.  The cautious glances from store clerks when you pick up that amazing new edition of Cannibal Ferox or the frightened look your co-worker gives when they find that beat-up Laymon paperback sitting in your office- yep, we deal with a ton of (completely unjustified) persecution.  Why are we the only real literary and cinematic genre that has dozens of conventions devoted to it? I’ll tell ya’ why- because we are so marginalized from society that most of us don’t even bother talking about the genre in mixed company.  We need these events so we can revel in our mutual love of the macabre. Well James Newman decided to step in and tell us that we are not alone. Nope, there are others just like us and a few that are little worse off.

From Necessary Evil Press:

Andrew Holland is a bestselling horror writer. While none of Andy’s neighbors has any interest in reading his macabre books, they’re pleased to have a celebrity author living among them.

 Then, one morning, Andy finds the body of a child several hundred feet from his front door. A little girl who has been raped and murdered.

 And everything changes on Poinsettia Lane.

 Andy’s neighbors turn on him. Their animosity is subtle at first: a dirty look from across the street, a friendly wave that is not reciprocated. The local media exacerbates the tension in the neighborhood by insinuating connections between the horror writer’s work and his role in the girl’s murder.

 The authorities clear Andy of any wrongdoing, but the stain has set.

 Before long, this once-quiet, peaceful neighborhood becomes a maelstrom of anxiety and chaos. Andy’s neighbors surround his home like a horde of zombies – but instead of a hunger for flesh, these monsters are driven by lies, fear, and hatred.

Andy Holland’s neighborhood is just like our neighborhoods and his neighbors are our neighbors.  They are the people who we interact with on a daily basis and we can easily see them reflected in Newman’s characters.  That is what makes this book so incredibly frightening.  We can easily see what animosity can do to a person.  It can bring out the hatred and ugliness in the people we know.  Newman’s vision of a picturesque community plays out like the classic Twilight Zone episode, ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’ as the true villains are those who claim to be “fighting the good fight”. Logic gets tossed to the wayside as mob mentality takes over and people begin looking for any reason to point the finger.  The interesting thing is that in a world that claims to embrace diversity, the person with the slightest idiosyncrasy is the most commonly persecuted.  This is the lesson that Newman is trying to get across to the reader.  He is telling us that just because our tastes lean toward the macabre, we are no different than those people who paint their chests for sporting events or the bible thumper who condemns all non-believers.  He is taking us in and telling us that we should celebrate our passion instead of hiding it.

Animosity is a story that begs to be read in one sitting.  This book starts off as a slow simmer and before you know what hit you, this thing is at a rolling boil.  Newman’s ability to create tension is reminiscent of Ketchum as he sucks the reader in with very commonplace events and escalates the whole affair until the reader and characters find themselves in a frenzied free-fall with no hope of escape.  The magic in Newman’s writing lies in his ability to keep the whole story planted firmly in reality as he presents these seemingly impossible scenarios.

Animosity solidifies Newman as a must-read author for me.  His unique voice and blue collar style really speak to me in a way that few authors can.  Animosity, much like his other work, doesn’t rely on supernatural monsters but, instead, explores the inner evil within humanity.  If you have yet to read anything by this extremely talented author I strongly urge you to head over to the Necessary Evil Press site and pick up your copy today.

Revenge Flick! by James Newman

I consider myself a big Tarantino fan.  I‘ve seen, purchased and analyzed all of his films and can rarely find fault with anything that the man touches. Hell, I quote Jackie Brown on a daily basis (much to my wife’s disapproval). I honestly believe that he will be remembered as one of the filmmakers that defined our generation.  I also love genre fiction (as evidenced this very site).  These two loves have existed completely independent of each other and, frankly, I’ve never given any thought to combining the two.  Lucky for me, James Newman did think to combine the two and the result is a nasty little chapbook called Revenge Flick!.

From SideshowPress.com

Behind the wheel of his Mustang, a rotting corpse riding shotgun, The Man With No Balls is on a quest for blood.

Once known as Roy “RJ” Taylor, he had a job in construction, a vintage black mustang, a double-wide trailer, and a loving wife. A part-time actor already in his 40s, he had all but abandoned his dreams of becoming the next Brad Pitt.

When he got a part in the latest film by celebrity film director Terry Quintana, it looked like RJ would finally get his big shot. But what should have been a dream come true soon spiraled into his worst nightmare.

Now RJ is no more, and The Man With No Balls has taken his place. Shotgun in hand, death in his thoughts, he is on a mission for REVENGE…

Revenge Flick! Plays out like an inside joke for lovers of all things Tarantino.  The story is funny, violent and just weird enough to make for a very worthy nod to the director.  Newman realizes that the strength of this chap comes from the brutal violence and unbridled rage felt by The Man With No Balls so he lets the character take center stage and the story moves to the background.  The Man With No Balls motors across his tattered life as he seeks to settle the score with the director who has ruined his dreams.  There is no shortage of blood as Newman gets flat-out nasty with his assault on the reader.  He takes no prisoners as The Man With No Balls exacts his revenge on every person that has done him wrong.  It is a thrilling little ride that will leave your gore soaked face grinning from ear to ear.

Newman flaunts his versatility as he uses numerous styles to tell the story.  There are sections written as a screenplay, while others are told in memoir form and there are also portions told from the third person.  All of these varying techniques and perspectives add to the overall cinematic flow of the chap and really give credence to the argument that Newman is one of the most talented writers working in the genre. His style is unique and unassuming while the ultimate effect is jarring and powerful.  Now, Revenge Flick! is not indicative of Newman’s true talent because, lets face it, this story is basically a tightly crafted exploitation flick in print. This is not a bad thing at all.  Newman has proven is true ability in novels like Midnight Rain and Animosity so it is a treat seeing him writing from a more whimsical place. It takes a great writer to know the story he is trying to tell and show the appropriate amount of restraint.

 

This is a fun little chap that is a must-own for fans of Newman and Tarantino. Revenge Flick! is limited to 150 copies and is signed by Mr. Newman, himself.  I strongly encourage you all to head over to Sideshow Press and pick up a copy.

Midnight Rain by James Newman

 There is something special about youth- it drips with endless possibility and unbridled innocence.  Unfortunately, those emotions are also quickly forgotten as we grow older and the world becomes a little less mysterious.  I guess this is why there is so much literature out there that just can’t seem to capture the true magic that is “growing up”.  Authors seem to tell the tale of a child through the eyes of an adult without ever really tapping into the essence of childhood which is the reason I always approach a coming-of-age story with a small degree of skepticism.  These were the feelings I had when I first picked up James Newman’s Midnight Rain.  Luckily, those feelings quickly vanished as I was sucked into a story that should be in the conversation whenever the best coming-of-age stories are discussed.

From Amazon.com:

Do you remember the exact moment your childhood ended?

1979. Jimmy Carter is elected America’s 39th President. New York police apprehend the “Son of Sam,” and the King of Rock n’ Roll has permanently left the building. In a town called Midnight, North Carolina, twelve-year-old Kyle Mackey couldn’t care less about any of that. He has his own problems to deal with, as he ventures toward a strange new world called manhood…

Kyle’s older brother Dan is going away to college. Several years ago their father was killed in Viet Nam, and Mom is an alcoholic devoted more to the bottle these days than to her family. Kyle has never felt so alone. The night before Dan’s flight leaves for Florida, Kyle visits what he calls his “Secret Place.” All boys have a Secret Place, he believes, and his is an old shack in the woods bordering Midnight. Kyle’s love for his secret place is shattered, however, when he stumbles upon something that proves his favorite spot in the world is neither as private nor as innocent as he once thought…

It begins with the naked, battered corpse of a young woman. And, standing over her, a man Kyle knows…

Kyle’s story leaves no emotion untouched.  The reader will experience it all as he grows up before our eyes, dealing with the departure of his brother, his mother’s addiction, the loss of his father and, of course, the understanding that those who are sworn to serve and protect may be worse than those they arrest.  There will be times where the reader will have to put the book down because you will find yourself ripped raw on an emotional level.  This is some very serious material here, folks.  Interspersed between the emotional peaks and valleys is the story of a young boy finding out who he really is.  These touching moments where Kyle expresses ignorance toward a topic (sex, drugs) are what added the authenticity to the story.  This is what separates Midnight Rain from many of its peers.

What makes Midnight Rain so special is its ability to rely on the magic of youth without incorporating any supernatural elements.  Sure, I love IT and A Boy’s Life but both of those novels rely heavily on the supernatural to progress their tale.  Not Midnight Rain, no sir.  Newman allows the beauty of childhood to take center stage as he tells this wonderful story.  There are no witches and monsters.  No, there are only people who have let the evil take control of their souls.  This is what makes Midnight Rain so damn frightening.  We all had these people who occupied dark places in our childhood. They were those people that we, as children, assumed were capable of unthinkable evil and Newman brings them to life with chill-inducing authenticity.  Hell, I remember my next door neighbor who I swore was trying to kidnap me (he was a 72 year old man, by the way) and I saw a bit of him in the sheriff.  Newman has the ability to tap into those primal and, yes, juvenile feelings and bring them back to the surface of our conscious.  Ultimately, this is Midnight Rain‘s greatest accomplishment.

Newman paints the nuances of Midnight with masterful strokes.  The town comes to life before our eyes as Newman guides us through the dreary weather on a private tour of this seemingly quant little town. His descriptive prowess ranks among some of the best currently working in the genre today.  The prose was so powerful that I could feel my clothes becoming saturated as I spent more and more time in the rainy little town of Midnight.  Making Midnight appear to be normal and welcoming is what, ultimately, made the realization that no town is “ideal” so much more jarring.  It was a trick that was pulled off perfectly thanks, again, to Newman’s skill and command of language.

This generation of authors grew up reading coming-of-age stories that used the late fifties and early sixties as their backdrops.  These new  authors are now telling the same types of stories but they are taking place in the late seventies and early eighties, which delights this reviewer to no end.  Although the tales from King, McCammon and Bradbury are the gold standard for this subgenre, having writers like Newman spin a yarn (which is every bit as powerful as its predecessors) speaks to me on a much more personal level.  This book has single handedly restored my faith in the future of coming-of-age tales.  Bravo, James Newman!