Archive for cooper’s fiction

Inside the Peritoneum: A Brain in the Gut

Peritoneum, Horrors by L. Andrew Cooper
(Coming mid-May, 2016)

 

Back Cover Info:

Snaking through history—from the early-1900s cannibal axe-murderer of “Blood and Feathers,” to the monster hunting on the 1943 Pacific front in “Year of the Wolf,” through the files of J. Edgar Hoover for an “Interview with ‘Oscar,’” and into “The Broom Closet Where Everything Dies” for a finale in the year 2050—Peritoneum winds up your guts to assault your brain. Hallucinatory experiences redefine nightmare in “Patrick’s Luck” and “Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion.” Strange visions of colors and insects spill through the basements of hospitals and houses, especially the basement that provides the title for “TR4B,” which causes visitors to suffer from “Door Poison.” Settings, characters, and details recur not only in these tales but throughout Peritoneum, connecting all its stories in oblique but organic ways. Freud, borrowing from Virgil, promised to unlock dreams not by bending higher powers but by moving infernal regions. Welcome to a vivisection. Come dream with the insides.

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Contents

  1. Prologue, The Family Pet: Steven Marks awakes one morning to find his older brother Gordon in the back yard doing terrible things.
  2. Blood and Feathers: Dr. Allen V. Fincher recruits Elijah Eagleton from Harvard through a show of unnatural power, so Eli must show power of his own to prove his worth. Slaughter abounds.
  3. Leer Reel: Obsessed with Dr. Fincher, Louis Jardin describes life at the Whispering River mental hospital, especially the ritual murders and his ability to spy on people who read his writing.
  4. Year of the Wolf: Matilda Roan sends Louis Jardin, who becomes a wolf-like creature, into the World War 2 Battle of Tarawa, where he hunts soldiers on both sides before being destroyed.
  5. Interview with ‘Oscar,’ circa 1962: During an interview with an FBI agent, Oscar describes the fate of a small town known for harboring sinful lawbreakers in 1862 Kentucky.
  6. Patrick’s Luck: A family receives “help” at the Whispering River mental hospital, only to find they have become part of colorful and deadly experiments that evoke hallucinatory violence.
  7. Juicy the Liar: Matilda Roan inducts her new friend Melia into the Fincher circle, exploring cunnilingus, battle strategy, and a flying car.
  8. DNA: A survivalist’s well-trained son awakes in a giant aquarium filled with office cubicle dividers. Armed with a clipboard, he must face absurd monstrosities and find a way out.
  9. Lizard Chrome: An army of lizards that drain colors from what they touch invades a trendy city gathering place.
  10. David Langley and the Burglar: A burglar-philosopher, who wants to graduate to murder, breaks into a man’s house and discovers the man stuck to his ceiling.
  11. The Long Flight of Charlotte Radcliffe: A woman attempts reconciliation despite her traumatic past with her Uncle Henry, but he is once again trying to entrap her.
  12. The Road Thief: A boy loses his mother when a spectral man-shape menaces them on the highway. Years later, the man-shape reappears when strange people invade his workplace.
  13. Rudy Haskill’s Plan: Rudy performs an experiment involving the internet, a man, a woman, and mismatched fantasies.
  14. Jar of Evil: A jar of pure evil gets out of the lab and could infect the city!
  15. Bubble Girl: A group of kids discovers a little girl floating in a protected bubble on the playground. Is she a ghost? What mysteries does she hold?
  16. Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion: A young woman goes to a notorious suburban house (TR4B) for an unusual medical procedure and ends up on a nightmarish journey.
  17. TR4B: The “Horror Mother” revisits the basement where her sons Steven and Gordon committed atrocities and faces supernatural tortures.
  18. Door Poison: A young couple visits notorious TR4B and enters a colorful but deadly video-game-like experience involving a floating head and a giant syringe.
  19. The Birds of St. Francis: Oscar meets with the Fincher circle (Elijah, Melia, and Jake) and causes history-changing disturbances involving the birds in Central Park, New York.
  20. The Broom Closet Where Everything Dies: Young Tim hunts the giant albino penguins from Poe/Lovecraft until Elijah recruits him—then his parents seem like better targets.

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In Peritoneum, mass murder becomes a backdrop while cannibalism is a matter for casual conversation. Stories take place at different historical moments, but since some characters see the distant past as well as the future, anachronism permeates their thoughts. Characters can often hear each other’s thoughts, too, so perspectives become… cluttered. Endings do not flow from beginnings but erupt from nightmarish hints of possibility; cause and effect have lost explanatory power. Natural order—the order you would expect to find in a story—churns and dissolves. Peritoneum is such an unnatural book that I think I can fairly call it, as a whole, insane.

Surrender to insanity. The book wants to disturb you, to strike at your brain through your guts, to make you feel and think in unnatural ways. Peritoneum experiments with your insides by doing things you think it shouldn’t. Most horror at least gestures toward the forbidden, usually taboos related to sex and violence, and my stories do not hesitate to mention the unmentionable, both in passing and in graphic detail. The language is harsh; the imagery is harsher. Whether you prefer the fairly realistic narration of “Prologue: The Family Pet,” the reserved dialogue of “Interview with ‘Oscar,’” or the hallucinatory assault of “Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion,” you will encounter an array of people—dead, dying, suffering, enjoying—and situations that refuse the types of answers you expect while providing other, darker answers.

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Answers don’t always appear where you expect, either. While Peritoneum refuses many of storytelling’s natural orders, it develops its own systems, connecting its stories to one another in ways that make them interdependent. “Eternal Recurrence” and “TR4B” pick up on the characters and setting from “The Family Pet” and weave in and out of one another; “Door Poison” and “The Broom Closet Where Everything Dies” share a setting with “TR4B,” while “The Broom Closet” also connects to “DNA” and to “Blood and Feathers,” which shares characters with “Leer Reel,” “Year of the Wolf,” and especially “The Birds of St. Francis,” and so on. Fitting the stories together doesn’t create anything like a linear narrative or complete picture, but just as the type of bubble that appears briefly in “Blood and Feathers” seems finally, and inexplicably, to get its due in “Bubble Girl,” mysteries get bigger according to their own internal logics, threatening to explode.

The explosion and dissolution of bodies, minds, and relationships—family losses lead to madness and slaughter in “David Langley and the Burglar” and “The Road Thief”—make most of the stories pretty grim, but you’re allowed to laugh, too. The line between funny-weird and funny-ha-ha tends to vanish along with rationality. I hope you don’t take “Jar of Evil” or “Juicy the Liar” too seriously, although they may be too sick, infuriating, or off-key for actual laughter. When I put my arch-evil characters in a flying car, I am not wearing a straight face. Likewise, I giggle at the mayhem in “Lizard Chrome” and the machinations in “Rudy Haskill’s Plan.” I find the video-game inspired levels of “Patrick’s Luck” and “Door Poison” amusing, although I feel guilty admitting it (sick, sick, sick). Although the ending is ambiguous at best, I even feel some triumph in “The Long Flight of Charlotte Radcliffe,” for the eruption of insanity on that airplane is at least a pretty solution to one of the heroine’s problems. Absurd, irrational styles of narration have their outlets. Insanity isn’t all tragedy, all the time.

While Peritoneum has many ties to my other work, especially the conspiracies of Dr. Allen V. Fincher (and his friends Eli, Jake, Tildy, Louis, Melia, and Oscar), it is a universe unto itself, held together by a membrane of concepts and themes. The universe is like our own, I believe, in lacking coherent sense and values, but it fills the void with nightmares, an example I encourage you NOT to follow. Do not take anything in this book as advice. Do not emulate the characters or seek to replicate the impossible events. Instead, digest the nightmares as you will, making the experiences of insanity parts of yourself, and then lift your brain from the sewage into whatever light remains for you to imagine.

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Sierra Exif JPEG

Fractured Brain Bogey Boogie

ImpofthePerversePoeMy personal Imp of the Perverse likes to make me a liar when I talk about writing. For instance, in a recent interview, I mentioned that I almost never write about real people, at least not people I’m on good terms with, because my fiction mostly focuses on bad, horrific things. Naturally, within weeks of the interview, a project I was working on decided to include some of the people I care about most. Nothing bad happens to them, I promise! Well, nothing permanent. In fact, the project, The Great Sonnet Plot of Anton Tick, combines nostalgia and good feelings with horror and depression in ways I’ve never explored before… but I think one of the reasons it uses both me and people I know, by name, no less, is because the Imp likes making me a big fat liar. So note: I do write about people I know, and quite directly, and sometimes to express love and praise as well as to spew vitriol. Go figure. The Imp did not ask me first.

A tick. Not Anton Tick, but a tick, all the same

A tick. Not Anton Tick, but a tick, all the same.

 

The Imp also did not ask before landing me in my current predicament. I’ve always been a One-Man-One-Book kind of writer, which is to say, I might have a story or an article on the side, little flings, but I’ve kept myself steady with one major project at a time. That way, when a block of hours for writing presents itself, I always know where my mind is going, be it into fact or into fiction. When I was writing my non-fiction book Dario Argento, I got out my notes on Dario’s wonderful movies and went into analysis mode. When I was writing my novel Descending Lines, I thought about doomed couple Megan and Carter Anderson and charted the next step downward on their descent. Having a stable place for the mind to go keeps the project focused, keeps it going, and keeps me sane, as I can always escape into it when I need something to think about other than whatever annoying thing is present to my consciousness at any given time. Annoyed by tax forms? Think about the zany bugs in Argento’s Phenomena. Annoyed by self-sustaining interpersonal conflicts? Think about the next scene of slaughter that will ruin Megan Anderson’s day. Simple psychological shelters!

Jennifer Connelly isn’t the only one who loves Argento’s zany bugs.

Jennifer Connelly isn’t the only one who loves Argento’s zany bugs.

 

Having a home base for the brain keeps it whole, in a way, which is why—one reason why, at least—right now Writer Me feels like a box of Mini-Wheats, lots of little squares, each with two sides arguing about the virtues of frosting.

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Don’t get me wrong. I lurve aspects of my fractured brain-home predicament, which began, I dunno, six months ago, when I up and started the strangest book I’ve yet written, Manufacturing Miracles, the novel that picks up where my novel Burning the Middle Ground left off. Faster plotting, more characters, and more settings than my previous work, with the bizarreness quotient ratcheted up considerably—great good fun, but also difficult. Work on that got waylaid, however, when I made the fantastic deal with Seventh Star Press for new editions of Reel Dark and Leaping at Thorns as well as my next collection of short stories, Peritoneum, all of which are slated for release in April/May 2016. Naturally, work on these three books needed (and continues to need) to intrude on Manufacturing Miracles for awhile. NOT complaining—good, lurvable stuff—but factors in the fracturing of my brain home. I should also mention that during all of this action another factor, also exciting and good, in the form of a book called The Blue Jacket Conspiracy—a dark mainstream thriller—has been going through the process of settling in with an agent, going to market, and hunting a home. So instead of one book on home base, that’s… five, at various states from just-started to almost-published.

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Then the Imp gets really crazed and has me start writing poetry, which I haven’t taken seriously, at least not with myself as author, since college. I start counting the syllables in everything and rhyming accidentally. I write a few sonnets, and next thing you know, I’m working on the aforementioned 100-poem cycle The Great Sonnet Plot, followed by “Villanelles of Villainy” and “Rondeaux of Indifference,” as I am a junkie for difficult, exacting forms and, contrary to the dominant fads of the last century, really like meter and rhyme. So as of this month, I have a book of poetry to polish and try to publish.

Manufacturing Miracles, still in the first third of its daunting outline, is jealous.

So today, when sitting down to write, I tinkered with a poem, tinkered with a novel, and was then reminded by Facebook that I haven’t posted on my author page in—gasp!—NINE DAYS. I love you all, I really do, so my Imp, my fractured brain, and I aren’t doing anything about any of the six books I’m worrying about and are instead writing this piece. Of. Reflection on writing.

Lies? Blogs about writing are supposed to contain bulleted advice. Somewhat clueless, I offer the following for when you find your brain facing the bogey of fragmentation:

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  • Drink espresso. After a trip to Italy, I returned to the States still fond of American coffee but somewhat ruined for it. What better way to Power Through than a little high-test, eh? It may not help with that fractured feeling—it may increase it, in fact—but if I need to flit like a mosquito from this to that, molto bene!
  • Triage. I say “triage” rather than “prioritize.” In emergency rooms as on the battlefield, aid workers must assess not only who has the greatest need for care, but who will benefit most from care, as some people are goners, and he who howls the most (Manufacturing Miracles is a howler) is not always in the greatest need. Deadlines (get it? “dead” “lines”) are useful triage guides, but so are supplies. I had a sudden, inexplicable supply of meter and rhyme, so The Great Sonnet Plot was going to benefit most from available care. Others, without immediate deadlines, weren’t going to die from waiting for better supplies to arrive… so they waited.
  • Connect. This one is tricky because it gets really confusing really fast, but all six of the projects I’m working on right now have relationships with and references to one another. Heck, The Great Sonnet Plot even refers to Argento. At times, these connections create an illusion of wholeness—I’m really working on one great big project!—and at other times, I just forget what I’m doing, and I step back, like The Stepfather, and ask, “Who am I here?” Still, an illusion of wholeness can redouble a sense of purpose, and that’s, uh, good.

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  • Visualize. If you learned from The Classics first, think Cicero and Quintilian, or if you’re like me, think Hannibal Lecter: either way, think of the Memory Palace, the idea that your mind is a big ol’ house full of many rooms, and each room contains one of your projects. If you’re stuck on Connect, put all the rooms in the same wing of the house, connected by the same hallway, maybe painted the same color. Anyway, in each room, the project’s characters (or, in the case of something like Dario Argento, I’d say the movies, or in another type of non-fiction, I’d say the major events I was writing about, or whatever) are waiting. They may or may not be patient, but they’re waiting every time you go into the room. Enter, talk to them, get them going, and while you’re there, write. When you’re done, you can leave, and you go to another room that day or any other day, and you can come back whenever you want. This method will help you keep the projects sorted and On Call in your brain, which, thanks to your architectural maneuvering, is more partitioned than fragged.
  • Drink. Face it. The people in all those rooms are not patient. There’s a reason why writers and bottles, historically, get along well. I am not advising you to violate your belief system. But I believe you got to shut those people up somehow, sometime, ’cuz otherwise, that whole damned house is gonna burn, and you ain’t saving none of those patients.

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Ladder Day Storytelling (Never Too Early To Scare Yourself Silly)

It’s the story of a man who wakes up stripped to his underwear inside a giant aquarium. He learns that some things should have bones, and some things shouldn’t, but which is which becomes confusing.

It’s the story of a very special sandwich.

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It’s called “DNA,” and the collection Missing Pieces VI, which pulls together authors from the 2014 Gen Con (and debuted at Gen Con 2015), was kind enough to include it among diverse tales of fantasy, science fiction, adventure, suspense, mystery, and more.

I go further into both sci-fi and dark comedy than I usually do, but my contribution is horror, with a heavy helping of splatter. Tentacles do make an appearance, but readers familiar with my other fiction will recognize signatures from my Fincherverse despite the quasi-Lovecraftian red herring. The story is part of a larger sequencethus it really fits with the anthology title, at least for now…

(From an earlier post… the Peritoneum cover is a placeholder, as the book does not yet exist.)

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Sorry. Busy century or so.

The Imaginarium and Dr. Cooper; or, Magic Movies and Myself

This weekend! Louisville, the Crowne Plaza!! Enter the Imaginarium!

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Imaginarium has a magic formula unlike any convention where I’ve appeared… and though I’ve only worked the circuit since 2011, I’ve already lost count of the cons. Many blur together, but not this one, because the baseline assumption is that if you’re there, you’re an artist, or you might as well be.

Last year, about half the attendees seemed to be practicing (publishing writers, producing filmmakers, exhibiting painters and photographers, etc.) in some form or other, and everyone else was either wondering how to start practicing or just interested in learning more about where the arts to which they felt personal connections started. Fans were and are welcome, of course, but the convention takes attendees and their interests seriously: if you’re there, you’re a participant, not a window shopper.

In other words–and I know this is saccharine, but it’s also kinda true, so cut the sweetness with a gangster double entendre–if you’re there, you’re either family or you will be.

In addition to working behind the scenes on the film festival and lurking in the vendor hall trying to scare people with my books, I’ll be sharing horrific reflections during panels. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 9pm (Perry): Good Reviews
Our authors and Reviewers speak out about book reviews and the proper way to execute one so readers and authors alike can use them constructively.

Saturday, 3pm (Oldham): The Art of Mystery

Mystery is a pretty predictable genre – major conflict, plot twists, good guys turned bad… but sometimes the tropes can be a little too trope-ish. Join the discussion on the best way to write a good mystery without being silly.

Saturday, 7pm (Madison): Publishing Nightmares

From editorial mishaps to publisher scams, the literary world isn’t always a bed of roses. Our panelists share some cautionary tales of the dark underbelly of publishing.

Saturday, 9pm (Oldham): Subgenre Spotlight: Horror

A roundtable discussion of definitive horror elements, best practices for guts and gore, and how to make and market old tropes in new and interesting ways.

I’m way more excited about these other artists than I am about me:

Guest of Honor: Lori Wilde

Imaginators: Michael Knost, Tim Waggoner

Toastmaster: Tony Acree

A. Christopher Drown

AD Roland

Adrienne Wilder

Alexander S. Brown

Alexx Momcat

Alicia Justice

Amanda Hard

Amy McCorkle

Angelia Sparrow

Anthony Antonino Jr.

Armand Rosamilia

Atty Eve

Barbara Ehrentreu

Becky Kelley

Bethlynne Prellwitz

Bobbye Terry

Bradley ‘Corpse’ Walker

Brent Abell

Brick Marlin

Bryan Baker

Bryan Brown

C.E. Martin

C.M Michaels

C.S. Marks

Carol Preflatish

Charlie Kenmore

Cyrus Keith

Dave Creek

Chris Garrison

Elizabeth Bevarly

Elizabeth Donald

Ellen C. Maze

Eric Beebe

Eric F. James

Eric Jude

Gabriel Belthir

Georgia Jones

Gina Danna

Glenn Porzig

David Blalock

Herika R. Raymer

J L Mulvihill

J.H. Glaze

J.M. Madden

JC Wardon

Jack Wallen

James O. Barnes

Jamie Lee Scott

Jan Scarbrough

Janie Franz

Jason Sizemore

Jay Wilburn

Jennifer Anderson

Jeremy Hanke

Jerry Benns

Jesse V. Coffey

Jessica McHugh

Jettie Necole

Jill Ranney-Campbell

John F. Allen

Jonathan Linton

JP Chapleau

Julie Anne Lindsey

Julie Flanders

K. F. Ridley

Kate Chaplin

Katherine Wynter

Katheryn Ragle

Kathryn Sullivan

Katina French

Kenneth Daniels

Kim Jacobs

Kim Smith

Kirk Dougal

Linda Goin

Linda Rettstatt

Lisa Jackson

Magdalena Scott

Margaret L. Colton

Margie Colton

Marian Allen

Melissa Goodman

Michael D’Ambrosio

Michael West

Mysti Parker

Nicole Kurtz

P. Anastasia

Pamela Turner

Peter Prellwitz

Peter Welmerink

R. J. Sullivan

Rebekah McAuliffe

Rob E. Boley

Rochelle Weber

Rose Streif

S.A. Price

S.C. Houff

S.E. Lucas

Sara Marian

Sarah Hans

Scott M. Sandridge

Sean Jackson

Selah Janel

Seraphina Donovan

Sharon Stogner

Stacey Turner

Steven Saus

Stuart Thaman

T. Lee Harris

TammyJo Eckhart

Tara Tyler

Teresa Reasor

Terri-Lynne Smiles

Thomas Lamkin Jr

Tim McWhorter

Todd Houff

Tommy B. Smith

Tony Acree

Violet Patterson

Fandomfest 2015!

This weekend I’m hanging out with (or at least near) Carrie Fisher (yep, Princess Leia, but she offers much more, too), Kevin Smith, folks from TORCHWOOD, and other transcendental coolness at Fandomfest 2015, http://www.fandomfest.com/.

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While you’re checking out the movie and TV stars, though, you do need to check out us author types. I’ll be on panels a lot of the time and hanging out in the vendor hall when possible, otherwise drifting Saturday and Sunday, absorbing cultural overload bliss.

Mine plan:

Saturday

11:30AM

Exploring Urban Legends
Room 203

Exploring Urban Legends (Horror Genre Panel): Join our authors in a discussion about urban legends, including their roots, their influence, and how they change and grow as they work their way into the culture, including novels, comics/graphic novels, and films.
L. Andrew Cooper, S.C. Houff, Michael West, Brick Marlin, J.H. Glaze

 

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1pm

Supernatural
Room 202

Urban legends/religious imagery/horror formats are all used by the hit show Supernatural. Fairy tales and myths are all explored as well. How has the horror Sci Fi show shaped or influenced these various genres in the way they are used today?. Supernatural also has several media tie-in books too. Come join our panel of writers for a discussion of all things Supernatural!
Rebekah McAuliffe, L Andrew Cooper, S.C Houff, Addie King, Rachael Lanham Rawlings

 

JOSH-MCDERMITT-NEW-with-logo4pm

The Walking Dead
Room 203

A wildly popular television series, The Walking Dead has its roots in the graphic novel world. It has also seen a successful transition to the world of novels as well. Come and join our authors in a discussion of The Walking Dead, from the show to the graphic novels and books. In what way are they different? Are there major changes in each of them? Definitely an interesting topic for fans to discuss!
L. Andrew Cooper (M), Chris Brown, Michael West, Jetti Necole

 

EVE-MYLES

Sunday

11:30AM

Mini-Series Discussion
Room 203

Mini-Series Discussion: Books are often translated to the screen. The most common avenue is books into feature films, but mini-series offer another outlet for bringing the page to the screen. Explore the ways some books are made into a miniseries, comparing this with movies and even episodic television. Zoo by Patterson, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, The Stand are all examples of bestsellers turned into mini-series. What are your thoughts on the mini-series format and its effectiveness for adaptation?
Amy McCorkle, L. Andrew Cooper, Dave Creek, Addie King, Glenn Porzig

 

Kevin-Smith-and-Jason-Mewes

1pm

Paths of Publishing
Room 202
Explore the paths of publishing with publishing professionals and published authors. Today’s publishing world offers several paths, from self-publishing, to small and independent press publishing, to major traditional publishing.
L. Andrew Cooper, Amanda Rotach Huntley, Philomena Anastasia, Sandy Lea Sullivan, Marian Allen, Lee Martindale (M)

 

PETER-MAYHEW-NEW

2:30pm

Writers Interviewing Writers

Room 202

Come for a fun panel featuring a group of published writers, interviewing each other. Expect the unexpected when it comes to the questions!
Lee Martindale (M) Atty Eve, Mysti Parker, Jetti Necole, Tony Acree, J.H. Glaze, L. Andrew Cooper

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