If you’d like to see Chapter 1 again, click on this link; https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/
Category Archives: humor
As I continue to draw nearer to publishing my comic horror novel, The Baby Werewolf, busily polishing paragraphs and tweaking the format, I had to find time to do some drawing, some colored pencil cartooning, actually, in order to draw even closer to a comprehensive understanding of the title character, Torrie Brownfield.
I decided that what I wanted to draw was a full-bodied portrait of Torrie, displaying in short pants the full impact of his “werewolf hair” caused by his full-body hypertrichosis syndrome, a genetic hair-growth disorder.
So, I began by printing out a reduced version of the scan of Torrie’s face and shoulders that I created from the drawing I made of him back when the story itself was merely in outline form. I pasted that colored print onto a larger piece of drawing paper and first penciled and then inked the rest of his body. I then used my colored pencils to go all Crayola on the bulk of it, ending up with the complete Torrie Brownfield, holding the one and only copy of Dr. Horation Hespar-White’s recipe book for Magical Airborne Elixir.
Now it doesn’t make sense to create an image like this for no particular reason. Was it just something I was doing to keep my hands busy while watching Netflix? Well, yes, but I did get something out of it after all. I was able to think seriously about my monster theme as heavy-handedly I continue to beat the reader over the head with it. I am obsessed with this particular portrait because, minus the facial fur, it actually looks like and reminds me of the charming little former student the character in the book is actually based on. He was a thirteen-year-old Hispanic boy, naive, innocent, and thoroughly sweet-natured. And he shared with me a history of abuse during childhood. He was not sexually abused, but psychologically and physically abused. And that, of course, led me to the revelation while drawing that the monster of my horror story is not a real werewolf. Not even the murderer who is the villain of the book. The real monster of the story is a systematic abuse of children. It can have two possible results. It can make you into a sweet-natured determined survivor like Danny was, and like Torrie is. Or it can turn you into a vengeful psychotic potential serial killer lashing out because of mental scars and lingering pain. Believe me, I knew a couple of that kind of kid too. Drawing can, in fact, lead you to revelations about yourself and the universe around you. And so, this little obsession has done that very thing for me.
So, I end with this scan of the completed artwork so you can get a better look at it than you can from my crappy photography skills. Drawing something obsessively does have its uses.
Canto 42 – The Dancing Doll
After three days of Ged’s attempts at teaching, Shu Kwai was still kneeling stark naked in the practice grounds. He refused to accept any clothing he felt he had not earned. Ged quietly shook his head in despair. Junior Aero and Sarah Smith each had a linen robe with the White Spider symbol stitched into it. They also had tabai boots for their feet, cloth footwear with the big toe tied off for climbing and sure footholds. The two of them worked together with their telepathy to absorb the thoughts of their sensei. Shu Kwai would only stubbornly continue to struggle.
“What is it about the inner eye that you can’t get, Shu-sama?” Ged asked.
“I apologize, Aero-sensei, I do not see the pictures in my mind that you suggest. What do they look like to you?”
“I suppose the problem is that all Psions do not use the same inner eye to focus their power.”
“How do you mean, honored one?”
“I mean, I see molecules. I can read DNA strings with my inner eye. If I have eaten the meat, I can call up the proper shapes and spirals to make the creature. I can focus my power and shift my own DNA molecules in every cell of my body. I don’t know how I know this, or can do this, but the power wells up in me like a cup that fills itself.”
Shu Kwai’s face showed stern concentration. As the boy knelt there, quivering in the cool breeze, he continued trying with all his youthful might.
“Please, Master Ged, let me help,” said Sara, large eyes pooling with liquid sympathy for Shu’s dilemma.
“All right,please, Sara-san.”
“Shu-bozu, it is true that we all see the inner eye in different ways. Mine is like Ged-sensei’s vision. I can see molecules and DNA. I can rearrange the flow of power in the minds of others to effect healing. I have seen into Junior’s mind as well. His is different. He sees circuits and electrical links. He can trace the patterns in a human mind as I can, or in a computer mind, as I cannot.”
“So, what does my mind, my eye, look like?” asked Shu Kwai, looking with puzzled eyes into Sara’s face.
“Can I take a look?”
Sara reached over to Shu with a tender hand and touched his temple. Shu cracked a smile as her beautiful essence flooded into his head.
“Your inner eye sees motion. Flickering motions. Energy paths of movement.”
Shu nodded with his eyes closed. “I see it. It is just like chi.”
“Spirit force, yes,” said Ged, finally realizing where he had gone wrong. “Girl! Come here!” He motioned to a girl attendant who waited beside the practice field for just such an order. “Girl, we need a loose-jointed doll or a puppet. Can you fetch one for me?”
“Yes, Ged Aero-dono!” she said in breathless awe.
In minutes the girl had returned with a small wooden marionette from the Akito House, smiling and well-pleased that she had been honored to do this service for the White Spider’s special school. Ged took the doll and gratefully patted her powdered cheek.
“Picture this doll in your mind’s eye, Shu Kwai.” Ged sat the doll on the grass. “Picture it rising to its feet. Make it do something.”
As Shu Kwai concentrated, the doll stood up and bowed to Master Ged. Then it slowly began an undulating dance. The dance got wilder and happier as Shu Kwai began to feel his success. Finally, it ended with a flourish and a bow.
“Clever boy!” said Ged, feeling warm inside for the first time all day. “Let me give you a robe!”
“No, Sensei. I made only a first step. Give me a loin cover only. I must work harder still.”
“As your teacher, I say you accomplished at least two steps today. You learned to focus the inner eye, and you learned not only from me but from your classmate Sara. That is worth a robe, surely.”
“You are anxious to cover me in cloth, Sensei. If I may choose, I would rather have the tabai boots like Sara and Junior.”
“Very well,” said Ged with a smile. “You are determined to remain a naked barbarian. But I respect you very much as a student, Shu Kwai. Your victories make me proud.”
The gentleman writer pictured above is a successful creator of innovative and engaging fiction. As a 1979 vintage, he was still a toddler when I began my teaching career in 1981. Like John Green, another author I admire who was only a small child when I began teaching, he cut his writer’s teeth by writing for Mental Floss the humor-centric publisher of puzzles, facts, and trivia. While I do, in fact, envy his success, I do not in any way take it lightly. He is a capable, highly-intelligent story-teller whose books I have grown to dearly love.
The first book in the peculiar series, also the first book I snagged at Half-Price Books and then devoured in a week (I bought a second copy to read after foolishly eating the first), is the peculiar tome pictured above. In these stories, the peculiar author presents numerous old black-and-white photographs from the days when stereopticons stood in for televisions because the so-called boob-tubes hadn’t had the decency to be invented yet. Most of these photos are bizarre in some way like the one used on his first cover. And the pictures become the story. The girl on the cover of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children becomes Olive, a young girl whose peculiar power is to float in the air. In fact, she has to wear lead shoes to keep from floating off into the sky.
Peculiars are menaced by, and have to be protected from wights, former peculiars who eat the souls of their own kind to become white-eyed powerful villains who wish to rule and eat all peculiar people.
The peculiar children have to be protected by creatures called Ymbrynes, women who were originally peculiar birds that found they could turn into human women, and not only that, could loop time in ways that provided pockets of protection from those who would persecute them where time never passed.
The protagonist-narrator of the entire trilogy is Jacob Portman, a Florida boy who learns that he has inherited a one-of-a-kind peculiar power from his grandfather (turning it into a two-of–kind thing). And when his grandfather is killed by wights, he learns of a place he must go to take his grandfather’s former place guarding Miss Peregrine’s troop of peculiat children, including Emma, pictured here, (a hot chick in more than one way).
I will not tell you any more of the story of the trilogy. I hate to spoil anything from another author’s work. I found that the discovery of every delicious detail and oddity along the way was the tastiest feature of the fiction. (I do have to break that bad habit of eating books. Gustatory learning, my peculiar ability and my curse.) I will, rather, merely recommend that you discover the peculiar charms of these peculiar books for yourself. (And try not to discover them by eating them. Books have too much fiber and too little protein to be used like that.)
Here is the whole of Chapter 1 at this link; https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/
In case you have forgotten what this page is advancing…
I am now closing in on the publication of The Baby Werewolf, a novel whose story began with a nightmare in 1978. It was a dream I had about being a monster. I woke up in a cold sweat and realized, to my complete horror, that I had been repressing the memory of being sexually assaulted for twelve years, the thing that almost brought me to suicide in 1973 and that I couldn’t put into words when I talked to counselors and ministers and friends who tried to keep me alive without even knowing that that was what the dark black words were about.
I don’t normally write horror stories. Yes, it is true, a character of some sort dies at the end of practically every novel I have ever written, but those are comedies. I am sort of the anti-Shakespeare in that sense. The Bard wrote comedies that ended with weddings and tragedies that end in death. So, since my comedies all seem to end in death, I guess if I ever write a tragedy, it will have to end with a wedding.
But writing this horror story is no joke for me, though I admit to using humor in it liberally. It is a necessary act of confession and redemption for me to put all those dark and terrible feelings into words.
The main theme of the story is coming to grips with feeling like you are a monster when it is actually someone else’s fault that you feel that way. Torrie, the main character, is not the real werewolf of the story. He is merely a boy with hypertrichosis, the werewolf-hair disorder. He has been made to feel like a monster because of the psychological and physical abuse heaped upon him by the real werewolf of the story, an unhappy child pornographer and abuser who is enabled by other adults who should know better and who should not be so easily fooled. The basis of the tale is the suffering I myself experienced as a child victim.
It is not easy to write a story like this, draining pain from scars on my own soul to paint a portrait of something that still terrifies me to this day, even though I am more than sixty years old and my abuser is now dead. But as I continue to reread and edit this book, I can’t help but feel like it has been worth the pain and the striving. No one else in the entire world may ever want to read this book, but I am proud of it. It allowed me to put a silver bullet in the heart of a werewolf who has been chasing me for fifty-two years. And that’s how the monster movie in my head is supposed to end, with the monster dead, even though I know the possibility of more monsters in the darkness still exists.