Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Oddities & Entities' Virtual Book Tour, Part 7: Creative aspects of "Appendage"

'Oddities & Entities' consists of six stories combining different elements of the horror, supernatural, and paranormal genres.  In this post regarding the creative aspects of the book, I'll discuss the sixth and last story, "Appendage".

I've excerpted the following essay from my website page devoted to 'Oddities & Entities'.  Check it out at

For the full book tour, visit my earlier post, or my page at TLC Book Tours.


 This story, as with several others, started with a singular image in my head.  It consisted of some type of creature, blackened and crusty, chained down in some type of research lab.  The creature was at one point a man, a man who had been exposed to something to cause his horrible transformation.  The story would then continue past this disturbing precept to follow the man/monster through some type of exploit.

  And as the saying goes, therein lies the rub.  I had no idea what kind of 'exploit' this 'creature' might follow and, as I've said with "Boneview", I wasn't interested in writing a straightforward 'monster' story.  No, I wanted something more complex and, at the time I started to consider this idea, I was already committed to bundling a supernatural/paranormal anthology.  And so the more I thought about this initial idea, the more it grew within me, and I felt it would provide a great opportunity to introduce a speculative element to the anthology that could also serve as a philosophical exploration to tie the whole thing together.

  With that, "Appendage" evolved to its final form.  It's probably obvious by now from some of my other fiction that I'm a bit of a tree hugger, and certainly that shows in "Appendage".  I happen to find a great deal of solace in staring at trees.  Often, when I'm writing, I find a spot to sit where I can see some trees, whether I'm indoors or outdoors, and when I look up I find a meditative quality to watching the leaves shift and sway in the air.  There are some lessons to learn from watching trees, without getting too far into my Naturalist inclinations.  Just consider that while we run and hide from rain, winds, storms, and cold nights, the trees are out there.  It's not just part of the old idea 'to bend with the breeze' but the idea of being part of something, rather than weaving around things.

  This is part of what I wanted to convey with the character of Randal.  A mercenary, a failed father, a failed husband, a man who took the world by its collar and slapped it around in his contempt, he has yet to understand the mess of his life is as much a product of circumstance as it is his own outlook.  Hence the small disdainful references to transcendentalism and 'New Age' thought trains.  As much as his cynicism shrugs off such notions, he is at the same time very much given to follow their lead in his search for not only a sense of peace but a sense of reason to the anarchic existence that has surrounded him.  It is both his shield against the stranger events of the story and his key to unlock his place within those events, and that's what I really enjoyed in writing "Appendage": nothing can be picked apart.  Randal's life is a complicated mosaic, and without any of those elements in place his outcome in the story would have been much different.

  I won't give anything away, but it is for all these reasons that "Appendage" found its place as the closing story in 'Oddities & Entities'.  It dovetails quite well with "Elmer Phelps", and in terms of fulfilling the thematic arc of the anthology, I believe (that is, hope) it serves quite well.

Stay tuned.  I will excerpt one more post from my website, containing some afterthoughts on 'Oddities & Entities'.  Spoiler alert!

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