Monday, 29 June 2015

A Case of Prophetic Fiction...



... or How My Words Will Bring About the End of the World

by
  
 Ronald Malfi
 
My wife is terrified. She’s got a theory and it may be right. I’ve been ignoring it for some time, but now...well, now it’s getting harder and harder to look the other way. And the children...they’re watching us.

            Let me back up...

            Even before I’d met my wife, it had been going on. My high school friends—those who read my stories, my manuscripts—commented on the peculiarity of them, the serendipitous and eerily prophetic nature of some of my stories. At around thirteen years old, I wrote a story about a thunderstorm that brought dead things back to life. I printed it out and handed it off to one of my best friends who took it home that night and read it...until the power went out in his house due to a raging thunderstorm. The next morning, a dead squirrel had been washed up on his front porch. It wasn’t the zombified version that appeared in my story, but it was close enough to cause him some consternation.

            Sometime later, I wrote a story about a group of friends who fight a monster, and at the end of the story, one of the characters, who was based on one of my best friends, moves to California. About a year later, that friend’s family indeed picked up and moved. To California. The remaining friends, who thought I had conspired with my typewriter to make this happen, blamed me for a while. 

            Soon afterward, I wrote what, at the time (I was still a high-schooler), I considered my epic story. At 500 pages, I had written a manuscript called The House in the Woods, and had used all my friends as characters in it. (Many, many years later, a very different version of this original manuscript would be published as what I currently consider my epic novel, December Park.) There is a scene in the original manuscript where the boys tromp through the woods surrounding their town and come across the burnt-out hull of a 1957 Chevy. A very random scene. The woods were a real place in the town where I grew up, and we frequently ventured into them, but of course we never found the cannibalized corpse of an old car...until after I’d written that scene. But then there it was, written into existence, an old Chevy in the woods, just as I had written it. (It was too decayed to tell if it was exactly a 1957, but it was close enough for government work.)

            Things only got worse from there.

            Once I got married, settled into real life, and began publishing on a regular basis, the prophetic nature of my fiction only seemed to increase. I wrote a novel called Passenger, which included a fairly gratuitous dog-fight scene, something I knew existed but was rarely if ever talked about on the news. Soon after, Michael Vick was on all the TV channels. After that, I wrote a novel called Snow, and although here in Maryland our winters are generally mild, we were unapologetically crushed by a terrible snowstorm later that year.

            “Cut it out,” my wife told me. “I know you’re doing it. And I hate the cold.”

            She knew of my friends’ claims that what I wrote about back in high school came true, and I thought maybe she was starting to believe it. As for me, I just attributed it to coincidence, like how, back in the 1980s, all those switching-bodies movies came out at the same time. Coincidence, right?

            My wife was pregnant with our first child while I was writing Cradle Lake, which focuses on a couple who have suffered a series of miscarriages. Our daughter was born without a problem, but it wasn’t until the book was published and my wife got pregnant a second time that the doctors alerted us to all the possible “problems” we might face this second time around. Of course, my wife and I were upset. “It’s your book,” said my wife. “It’s happening again. Please stop.”

            Thankfully, the pregnancy scare turned out okay and our second daughter was born happy and healthy, which is much better than how the Hammerstuns of Cradle Lake turned out, but it was still too close for comfort.

            Which brings us up to date. Perhaps it’s hypersensitivity on my wife’s part or perhaps I’ve surrendered to the superstition and finally bought into it, but with the looming publication date of Little Girls, my wife and I have found that our own little girls have been acting...well, strangely. They have begun waking up in the middle of the night and walking about the house, as if in search of something. Twice, I’ve opened my eyes to find my four-year-old daughter staring down at me in bed. She seems to intuit when the mailman will come, and stands by the door mere minutes before the arrival of the little white truck. And my one-year-old daughter has been mumbling a phrase that sounds disconcertingly like, “kill Daddy.”

            “It’s happening again,” says my wife. “Your book...”

            I try not to think about it too much, even when my daughter starts humming a song in the car, and when I turn on the radio, that song is playing. Or how she seems to know of distant relatives whom she’s never met that have died, and how she claims my wife and I will be seeing them soon...

            These anecdotes are frightening enough, but I feel I must apologize to the public at large. Not for Little Girls, which I think is a perfectly fine book, and not for my little girls who, most of the time, are also perfectly fine, but for next year’s release—a book titled The Night Parade. Which, dear readers, I’m sorry to report, is about the end of the world.

            Nice knowing you.


From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…

When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…
 

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels:

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
—FearNet

"Malfi is a skillful storyteller."—New York Journal of Books

"A complex and chilling tale….terrifying."—Robert McCammon

"Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting."—Publishers Weekly

"A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed."—Suspense Magazine


Links to Pre-Order or Purchase:


Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo


Or pick up or ask to order at your local independent bookstore or anywhere e-formats are sold!


Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi's dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.


Visit with Ronald Malfi on:

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Can You Hear Me? You Can Now!


Well, it’s not actually me, of course, it’s someone else. Reading my words. Because (drum roll and some fairly sinister music, with a crash of thunder in the background)...


The Pendle Curse is now out on Audio!

I had a unique experience this week. I have never had any of my books on audio before. Digital, paperback yes, but to hear my words spoken by another? Not until this week. It’s an exciting but strange sensation. When I'm writing a book, it's as if I have my own mental narrator speaking the words as I write them. My characters develop their own voices and, as work progresses, and draft succeeds draft, those voices become clearer, until by the time I type ‘The End’ – and really mean it – their accents, intonation, pitch and tone are indelibly etched on my brain.

Months - even years - later, I will flick through the pages of an earlier book and those voices will resonate as clearly as the day I created them. Needless to say, no reader will ever hear them as I do. In fact, I venture to suggest that no two readers will hear them the same way as each other. Readers who curl up with The Pendle Curse in many parts of the UK will probably be aware of the sound of a generic northern accent -  but not necessarily specific to any particular county - while those who live in the north of England will be almost certain to distinguish a Lancashire accent from a Yorkshire one. As a result, British readers will tend to hear my words – and those of my characters – with an accent at least close to the one I heard.

Readers in the USA though, may be unfamiliar with the widely different regional intonations and dialects in the UK. Their ‘reader voice’ may even speak to them with a mid-Atlantic accent. Of course, I would have just as much trouble distinguishing an accent from Colorado as one from California. Cagney and Lacey and Judge Judy have helped me recognize a New York accent – but I couldn’t tell which specific part of New York the speaker hailed from, and I believe there are quite distinct variations.

Of course, it is not just the difference in accent. Some will hear a character speak with a deep voice, some with a softer, more melodic pitch. As writers, we can convey a character's emotional state by showing their reactions to the world in which they are operating and the latest catastrophe that has befallen them, but the final interpretation of that by the reader will depend on a whole host of factors including their own experiences, people they know and so forth - even their own age.


One of the most famous audio book debates of recent years has been the divided opinion over who delivers the most accurate renditions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Both are read by distinguished British actors, but for UK audiences, Stephen Fry is the narrator and for the American market, Jim Dale delivers the stories.  So strong have been the voices in some readers’ heads that both Fry and Dale have been severely trolled by a plague of angry YouTube users. It goes without saying that this is clearly extreme behavior no one could, or should, condone. The author herself has wisely kept her own counsel on who she prefers – if any – and authors like me should equally keep our mouths shut when it comes to any criticism of the covering of our work.

We are not, after all, the intended audience for the audio book. Our readers are and, to them, I must say that the audio version of The Pendle Curse has been very professionally and sympathetically narrated by the talented and highly experienced voice artist, Maxine Lennon. She injects a great deal of passion where it is needed - along with chills, darkness and tension at the right moments. So, a huge thank you goes to her for all her hard work and attention to detail, and to Audio Realms for the quality of the production. It is also a great relief to me personally that the narrator's diction is so clear. I have heard other audio books that have seemed muffled. Not this one. Not for a second. Thank you!

If debate and dissension can rage over audio transcriptions, adapting books for TV and film is always problematic because, not only is the voice out there for all to debate, but also the appearance and characterisation. Thankfully Daniel Ratcliffe does appear to have been most (if not all) readers’ ideal of the ‘real’ Harry Potter. Not so with Agatha Christie’s two best known sleuths. I have had a couple of fairly passionate (albeit good-natured) discussions over whether Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan or Julia McKenzie has delivered the most accurate Miss Marple (Joan Hickson for me every time). This was swiftly followed by another friendly disagreement over Hercule Poirot (I am firmly in the David Suchet camp; my friend is a fan of Albert Finney’s portrayal in Murder on the Orient Express.)


One characterisation I could never get my head around occurred in the movie version of the classic Christie book, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. This stellar cast featured Angela Lansbury as Miss Jane Marple. I cannot imagine who decided to stick a cigarette in her hand. Miss Marple smoking? Never! Good job the author wasn't around to witness that! Although Dame Agatha would no doubt have handled it all with her usual aplomb and kept her reservations to herself.

Fortunately, I didn't have such an unnerving experience. and you can hear an extract of The Pendle Curse by clicking below to go to the relevant Audio Realms web page:


 You can buy it there too! You can also find it here:


Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there.

But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.  

Reviews

"The final act unfolds that is nothing shy of spell binding. I for one look forward to embarking upon further reading adventures with this tremendously talented author" Horrornews.net

"If you love a great story with witches and things that go bump in the night, you need to try this one!"  Long and Short Reviews

"The Pendle Curse is one of the best witch stories I've ever read." - I Heart Reading

"Dark, dangerous, and more than a little twisted. Just the way I like it!" - Reading The Paranormal

"It had it all, witches, cauldrons, spells, familiars, curses and more." - Scarlet's Web