A sampling of Hell

I haven’t done this in a while, but I thought I’d give the Jackverse a taste of what awaits between the covers of my latest book, Hell’s Muse.

Chapter 1

6:00 am Bob’s Apartment

New York

The nightmare woke me, insisted itself upon me. The dark dream had but one request – that I write. The same scenario had happened to me once before. When I heeded its call, the results had been the first piece I would ever get accepted into a publication. It made me a real writer. A paid writer. Of course, the check did little more than buy me the booze I drank in celebration, but I was paid for my work and it meant, on some level, I was something special. That was fifteen years ago. Since then I’ve had but scant luck. Mostly I’ve endured the rejections of publishers. Even though my tireless agent has stood by my side, little came of my attempts. Yet I refuse to give up. It’s my dream, my passion. And as long as my fingers have been able to type the words my brain conjured, I’ve been good to go.

Don’t worry – unless you’ve read rather obscure bi-annually published horror anthologies, the chances of you knowing the name Giles Balthar are slim to none. And that, my good friends, isn’t even my real name. Seriously, who wants to read horror written by some guy named Bob? No one, that’s who. Bob is the least likely name for an author of the dark fantastic. But I digress into the land of the boring. Let’s get back to the now and the nightmare.

Dreams had awakened me before – countless times, in fact. Some were nothing more than pornographic, angst-ridden sweat-fests that would shame a pimply teen boy. Other waking dreams offered a glimpse into some brilliant landscape I couldn’t quite grasp. The wispy thread of consciousness would flicker out almost as soon as my eyes opened. But this time the dream was whole, real, and complete. I wasted little time in laying down the digital signature of thought.

With sphincter-shrinking strong coffee, minor modal neo-classical music, and my laptop in front of me, I was prepared to create something I had never achieved – something magical. As soon as I laid my fingers on the well-loved keys, they danced in a fury of creation. Although I knew the words would be hate-filled and dangerous, they had to be written. Even though the protagonist of the nightmare was a total douchebag, his story had to be told.

How would I get readers to care about a douchebag? That’s a question I would hold off answering until the end. Surely the audience would see through the ruse and know the real writer – the one behind the nightmare – wasn’t such an ass. Or was I? It’s totally possible I suffer many of the same delusions that plague other writers. Maybe. Fortunately, I don’t suffer the same pitfalls. I’m not normally a recluse, I have plenty of friends, I seldom drink, and rarely do I ever answer the voices in my head.

Or do I?

Details, details. In the meantime, I had a book to write before the nightmare faded beyond recognition. The book is about a writer – a writer named Bronson Coulter. Bronson’s hate-filled story begins with a prologue.


 I hate you. I always have. Although I played the game and pretended to appreciate and requite your every adoration, the truth is… I hated every moment of every yelling, screaming, crying fan. It wasn’t misogyny, fear, or phobia; I just hated you. And no matter how much I wanted to love you, no matter how heavy handed I played the game, the hatred still wanted to vomit from my heart and gut and spill down your outstretched hands – those hands that wanted to brush against greatness.

And yet you clung to my every word. I could fill a book with dreck and you would shell out your hard earned money and beg for more. But I didn’t. Brilliant words poured from my fingertips like booze and prayer at a Catholic wedding. No matter your taste, you stood in line to buy, buy, and buy. My tomes of terror sucked you in and it was a thing of perfect beauty. When a new book by Bronson Coulter was announced, women stood in line for days. The second I was sighted, panties and promises flew from every angle.

Never before had a writer of horror been so hot. At one moment in time I held the top three spots on the New York Times bestseller list. I was the darling dear of every bookstore in the country. My oeuvre couldn’t be restocked fast enough. My agent worked sixteen hours a day. I bathed in money… your money. It was the only part of you I ever wanted.

I hated you. Did I mention how I despised you?

Really, all I ever wanted was to live my dream – pen my nightmares in the privacy of my home. My fantasy was a 24/7 pajama party and I was the only one invited. But that’s not how it happened. When The Devil’s Heart was released, it was the first horror novel by a debut writer to break the NY Times top 10 within the first week of release. Baal’s Promise debuted at the coveted number one spot. Every novel after that enjoyed equal adoration from millions of parasitic fans.

Everyone wanted a piece of me. My life was no longer mine. I had to do signings, showings, viewings, panels, conventions, speeches, photo shoots; the flash of film never seemed to end. All of it made me hate you even more.

But you had your revenge. My time in the spotlight died a death worthy of my fiction. It bled out on a cold, stone floor and I would go on to suffer the single thing I feared most – obscurity. I became nothing more than a whisper in the shadows, pulp in a bargain bin.

Do you remember this writer?

Wasn’t he the one…?

Oh, I thought he was going to be the next…

What was worse than the adulation drying up was the flow of cash. I went from doing rails of coke off the asses of the most expensive whores in New York, to scraping up enough change to treat myself to pizza delivery. My bank account, savings, investments, retirement… all gone. My net worth was officially zero. The only thing of value I had was my Montblanc pen – the same utensil that had penned every first draft. The pen had helped me write such magic over the years. She had to have something left in the tank. Something. Anything.

I never stopped writing. In fact, once the ashes were swept away from the great crash and burn, and my agent dumped my ass like a clap-filled cock, my brain puked out some of the most intense, mind-fucked horror I could ever hope for. But no one wanted me. Agents, publishers… hell, I couldn’t even cobble together enough cash or interest for a vanity pressing of what I was certain would be a dark horse hit.

My old agent refused to return my calls. New agents slammed their doors in my face. I was little more than a pariah, an albatross around the neck of the publishing industry.

No one wanted me. No one wanted horror. Fear had dried up to give way to fluffier, sparklier, hunkier, delights. If a book didn’t shine with the sheen of paranormal romance, no one wanted it.

Fuck that.

I self-published. Nobody cared.

I gave away my books. Nobody took the bait.

I pimped and I whored – I did everything imaginable to sell a fucking book, but nothing worked. My wares were yesterday’s shit.

Some strange switch had been flipped. The cold, crooked finger of fate flipped me off after turning out my light. But nothing lasts forever. I knew my time would come back around. One way or another I would have vengeance over those who’d scorned me.

Little did I know just how painful and powerful a bitch revenge could be.

Read on, if you dare.