Spotlight: Brick Marlin’s Shadow Out of the Sky (2015)
Book Synopsis: A scarecrow crucified on a wooden cross made from a pair of two-by-fours sits in a field of corn, placed there to frighten away birds and protect the crops. Under its straw hat, large buttons pose as its eyes, placed there by child’s fingers, viewing something sinister in the grave sky, appearing in front of the full moon. Twisting, it forms into a sleek black mass, peering down upon the town of Woodbury. Four demons called The Reckoning have pulled this shadow, this urban legend, from the past, out of an unmarked grave to bring terror across the planet, shoving it toward an apocalypse. Now it cuts through the air, as if it were opening wounds in flesh, peering down at the first house that it hovers over…
Shadow Out of the Sky is Book One of the Transitional Delusions Series.
For Cooper’s review, go here. Otherwise, proceed to the…
Lead-in question. Your book gets a lot of scary imagery by tapping into a source of horror I find inexhaustible. So—why are kids so creepy?
MARLIN: What goes on in children’s minds, as they absorb pattern recognition while growing up, is a mystery. Some are taught to be good, others taught to become bad. When I wrote Shadow Out of the Sky, I steered away from writing about zombies, thinking it would be more sinister to have not only one possessed child, but hundreds running the streets armed with knives and cleavers and whatever else they could grasp.
One of my readers told me while reading my novel he gave his son a double-take, questioning the possibility if his son acted as horrid as the characters in the book. It frightened him.
Egghead question. You include many references to film and television, tapping in particular the sci-fi side of horror with what characters are watching early on. Where do you see your work on the science-fiction-to-horror spectrum, and other than Stephen King (whom you mention), who influenced this work in particular, and why? As a follow-up, I would say Village of the Damned (The Midwich Cuckoos) and Pet Sematary, both books and films, are major touchstones for your work. Did you have these or other titles specifically in mind while you were letting your own ideas grow in new directions?
MARLIN: After writing the gruesome and horrifying tale of “Shadow Out of the Sky” I have switched gears, writing darker sci-fi, all included in the Transitional Delusions series. Plus, I’m not sure what genre to call it, being a mix of cyberpunk, horror and dark fantasy. Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, Gary A. Braunbeck, Lucy A. Snyder, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Terry Pratchett, John Connolly, Neil Gaiman and Michael Libling – an author I have just discovered – have been huge influences while creating my new worlds. The worlds these particular authors have created steered me to evolve and grow my ideas.
Controversy question. The violence and gore go far enough at times for this book to earn the description “extreme,” yet the sex, although disturbing, is not very explicit, and the language is fairly reserved as well. How do you feel about going to extremes?
MARLIN: I certainly don’t mind extremities, as long as you are careful with them. In my book I show the reader how horrid the children and the evil entity are because it is the apocalypse. And the end of the world, I think, is never a pleasant scene.
Philosophy question. One of the book’s strengths is the pervasive imagery of light and dark, which suggests a struggle between good and evil. Do you see the book advancing a worldview in which Good and Evil exist as such, with capital letters, or do you think that, especially with backstories like the one you provide, morality ends up being gray? Explain.
MARLIN: Morality will almost be in despair in the series. I am trying to challenge my characters’ minds, challenge their fears. I’m evolving colonies run by a dictatorship or big corporations. Computer hackers make appearances. As well as monsters, both human and not.
Context question. Where does this book fit in your larger body of creative works, and how does it connect to where you see yourself headed?
MARLIN: In my book, four demons called The Reckoning are responsible for driving an entity to destroy the world. The next book in the series reveals life after the apocalypse: not wastelands, but a birth of a new world. And The Reckoning are still lurking in the shadows, invisible to the human eye, overseeing the world as it Shifts forward.
About the author: Brick Marlin has been writing since he was a child. From an early age he was exposed to older horror movies. The great ones making their mark in history. He also tackled reading the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Dean Koontz, Charles Dickens, Harper Lee, H.G. Wells, etc. Thus, he decided to engage himself and write horror, dark fantasy and dark sci-fi, scaring readers such as his parents, his friends, neighbors, and even leaving a few school teachers scratching their heads wondering if the boy should be committed or not with his gruesome tales of terror. Short story ideas continued to visit. A book idea or two sometimes stopped by for a sit. In 2007 he decided to take a more professional approach with his work. Hence, as a member of the Horror Writers Association, already having nine books published by small presses – this you hold in your hand, constant reader, makes his tenth – nearly thirty short stories published, adding to the few anthologies and collaborations with other authors, Brick Marlin trudges onward, hoping to achieve more creations, wallowing in the brain pans of his characters, giving them the choice whether to twist the knob and enter through the Red Door, or enter through the Blue Door where a group of servo monkey badgers are consuming packages of cinnamon-flavored Pop Rock Candy with a Kung Fu Punch of caffeine.