Guest Blog – Dan O’Brien

Dan O’Brien Interviews the characters in his latest book…

As I sit down at my computer, I am struck by the eerie presence of someone behind me. Leaving behind the blinking cursor, I realize that the cast of my latest novel, The Path of the Fallen, are standing behind me. E’Malkai, sullen and burdened by the weight of the pilgrimage he has undertaken, stands behind the immovable figure of his Umordoc guardian, Elcites. Arms crossed over his chest, his gaze unsettles me despite how much time I have spent in his company whilst writing The Path of the Fallen. Arile, proud hunter of the north, leans against his spear and inspects the wall with a carefree look upon his face. Fe’rein, shrouded in the darkness that complements him so well, seethes with a dark mix of irritation and confidence.

E’Malkai: I heard that you wanted to speak to us.

Me: (clearing my throat) In a manner of speaking, yes.

Fe’rein: (glowering) What do you want? We have business left unfinished.

Me: I am releasing The Path of the Fallen, after nearly a decade hiatus, and wanted to let potential readers know a little more about it. Instead of giving them a dry summary or an adjective-laden exposition, I thought getting to know the characters might be a fun exercise. 

Arile: (not making eye contact and looking away with a bored look on his face) What precisely would these potential readers want to know about us? We are an open book (snickers).

Me: Let’s start with something simple: Describe yourself to the readers.

Fe’rein: Darkness. Death. There is little else to know.

E’Malkai: (shifting uncomfortably behind his guardian) I do not know what to say about myself. I thought I knew what I supposed to do with my life, but there was always something missing. When I learned about the history of the Fallen and the journey my father began, I realized that I had to find out more, learn about where I came from.

Elcites: (grunting) I am no more than what is expected of me. I guard E’Malkai. That is all that matters.

Arile: I am the last of my people. We once could hear all the voices of the earth. The world has been broken. I can no longer hear what I once could. My people have been scattered into the winds, but I can still hear their distant voices. They speak of a new age, and of a final war.

Me: That all sounds quite dire. You make it seem like there is only darkness and sadness. Are there no happy moments in your life, memories that give you pause and hope when you consider them?

Elcites: The day I was given my charge, when I first met young E’Malkai, was the greatest and saddest day of my life.

E’Malkai: (looking up at the stoic look on his guardian’s face) I recall playing with my uncle once upon a time. (Pausing) The world changed, and so too did those memories. I cannot seem to look back upon the strained moments of my life and see happiness.

(Fe’rein scoffs and crosses his arms over his chest. He clearly is not going to answer the question.)

Arile: Each day is full of happiness and sadness, joy and terror. I find grace and importance in the simplest of tasks. This day is a gift. We must not look upon it with sorrow.

(I start to speak, but Fe’rein interrupts me, his power crawling over his skin like a swarm of frightening insects.)

Fe’rein: What makes this story any different than any of the other drivel available?

Me: That is a bit strong, isn’t it? I would like to think that my writing offers a fresh perspective on the fantasy and science fiction genre. I always try and include elements of ethics and philosophical assumptions in my novels, and this one is no different. I love to explore the elements of good and evil, as well as the murky gray area that is exposed when decisions and choices and are no longer easy. I think it captures the essence of the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, as well as being a rousing adventure tale that a reader of any age can enjoy.

E’Malkai: How is it doing so far?

Me: It is a bit early in the game to really say much about it. I released it almost a decade ago and it was well received, but it was in desperate need of a strong editing session. Now, I feel like it accurately reflects my growth as a writer and that it has a strong chance of being pretty successful, perhaps my most successful work yet.  Let’s put the focus back on you: What do you want from life?

E’Malkai: I want to set things right…

(Fe’rein stands suddenly. Elcites turns, interceding between the Dark Creator and the youth. Arile moves soundlessly behind the mion.)

Fe’rein: There is nothing to set right. I did what was necessary. They took Summer away from me. They had to pay.

Me: (standing) It seems as though I have struck a nerve. Let’s try something a bit easier, shall we? What’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?

Arile: (lowering his weapon) The search for truth, questioning my place in this world. Complacency weakens the mind. I value knowledge, intelligence, and logic.

Fe’rein: (sitting once more with a huff) Solitude. The power to do what I must to keep what I have claimed. Once, I valued family and love, but those times have passed.

Elcites: My charge, my mission.

E’Malkai: My family, the people who depend on and believe in me, even if that faith is misplaced.

Me: Speaking of family, did you turn out the way you expected? The way your parents predicted?

(Elcites maintains his ambivalent stare and Arile inspects something deeper in the darkness of the room.)

Fe’rein: I did not know my mother and father well. I have memories of them, brief glimpses of who they were, moments in time frozen and exaggerated. I used to wonder how they would judge me, but that doesn’t matter to me any longer. I turned out the way I did because of the choices I made. My father could not have known what would fall into my path. His plan for me is irrelevant.

E’Malkai: (looking at his uncle, Fe’rein, with sorrow) I did not know my father, but as I traveled north I learned much about the man he was and who he wanted me to be. My mother was secretive of my past, but I do not blame her. I realize now that she did not want me to die as my father had.

Me: That is quite sad. The path of the fallen began when Seth, your father, was cast from the Fallen and then ends when you return. Were you afraid of traveling north by yourself, E’Malkai? What is your greatest fear?

E’Malkai: Not being able to do what is necessary. Turnabout is fair play: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Me: A meaningful question indeed. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer. When I was about six, I designed an entire play for my cousin’s birthday: sets, script, and little figures on Popsicle sticks. As the years went by, I found that the notion of storytelling was very attractive. This pursuit led me to writing my first novel in high school, a space opera that I published in 2002. Since then I have published ten novels and plan on telling stories until someone spreads my ashes over the sea. (Turning to Fe’rein) Fe’rein, what is your greatest regret?

Fe’rein: Beyond being summoned to this ridiculous farce, I would imagine the content of my life was the result of walking down a path to darkness. It was not sudden or abrasive, but instead incremental and engrossing. My greatest regret is taking my brother’s life. It was too late for me by then. I could only see darkness, despair.

Elcites: (clearing his throat) What was your intent with writing The Path of the Fallen? Why did you set us down this path?

Me: I wanted to tell a very particular story: one in which the line between good and evil become blurred and the consequences of a hero’s actions mean much more than defeating the bad guy. I liked the notion of a family saga wrapped up in an epic science fiction/fantasy novel. The hero’s cycle makes for a powerful story and often answers fundamental questions about the human condition. Hopefully, my book is successful to that end. (Taking a step forward and gesturing to Arile) Arile, how do you decide if you can trust someone? Do you test the person somehow? Or are you just generally disposed to trust or not to trust?

Arile: Trust, like respect, is earned. When I first met E’Malkai, it was his naivety and simple manner that let me know that I could trust him. Generally, the test of whether or not a person is trustworthy is created by the environment, selected for by pressures that challenge a person. The idea of being predisposed to trust, or not to trust, is born of not trusting oneself. Have you written many more stories? Are we to carry on, storyteller?

Me: As the book closes, the story does not end. The path has ended, at least metaphorically, but the journey is far from over. Book of Seth returns to the beginning, giving us a glimpse of the life of Seth Armen, as well as Ryan Armen before he was corrupted. The sequel, which takes place after The Path of the Fallen, is called Breath of the Creator and weighs in on what comes next. There are several other novels with transient beings not of your dimension: a supernatural detective solving murders in San Francisco; a young man who discovers what it takes to be responsible as the world falls apart; a love story set in an epic fantasy world. (Spreading my hands wide, acknowledging all of them) This question is for all of you, what is one strong memory that has stuck with you from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Arile: I will never forget when I returned home from a hunt and found my village decimated, wiped from this earth by Umordoc. I took the long walk into the tundra, to die, but found peace and a new home. The winds have been my companion ever since.

Fe’rein: Your question is foolish, storyteller. My childhood was a lifetime ago. I am no longer that frail boy who walked beside his brother on the tundra.

Elcites: I do not recall my childhood. I was born on Terra and raised in Culouth. My youth was devoted to learning everything I could about human beings and their ways so that I might one day protect E’Malkai.

E’Malkai: Once I had fond memories, but now they all seem like lies meant to obscure my path. Storyteller, do you read other stories? Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?

Me: I have been reading A Dance of Dragons by George R. R. Martin. I have become very invested in that world, though I will admit that the pace of the narrative has slowed dramatically. I find myself undulating between being surprised and intrigued by the story and then suddenly being quite bored.

Elcites: How did we come into being?

Me: I am assuming you are asking me about my writing process. For The Path of the Fallen I wrote it for four months straight, including Book of Seth. Generally, I like to create a living outline that evolves as the characters come to life and begin to guide the narrative. It is dependent on the world I am invested in at any given time.

E’Malkai: Are our names meaningful? 

Me: They are not derived from other lore, if that is what you meant. E’Malkai was named as homage to the naming scheme of the tundra people. It really depends on what I am writing. For instance, The Journey has names that are quite significant in terms of their meaning. Otherwise, I like to invent names for a particular world.

Arile: How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?

Me: Success is elusive once you define it. It becomes something that you aspire for regardless of the process and the craft. I would like to think that success is writing stories that people in enjoy and connect with, even if it is negatively. I think I have been successful in a very limited way: people have read my books and enjoyed them.

E’Malkai: Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are starting out?

Me: Write what you love and learn from criticism. The publishing world has changed. I have been writing for nearly a decade and I find that every year there seems to be a new opinion on which way the wind is blowing for fiction. Stay the course and do what you love. If writing novels and telling stories is what you want to do, then do that.

Fe’rein: I have noticed that you ask this ridiculous question of other storytellers: What is your End of the World Playlist? Why do you ask this question?

Me: I like hearing what people think about the notion of an end-of-the-world scenario. Also, I have a zombie novella of the same name and I like having the vibes out there for it. Do you guys have anything specific that you want to say to the readers?

Arile: E’Malkai of the South will do what he must to set the world right. His story will be passed on for generations.

Elcites: The path of the fallen is filled with both adventure and sadness. Follow E’Malkai and be transformed.

Fe’rein: I will have my day, in this life or the next. I am not evil, nor is E’Malkai good. We are merely opposite perspectives. You decide who visited more harm upon the world.

E’Malkai: I would like to think that I have done the right thing, taken the right path. The storyteller will not give away his secrets, but he might give you a glimpse. The greater question is: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers, storyteller?

Me: I am honored for anyone to read my novel. I hope that it will foster and appreciation of reading and the arts that is slowly disappearing among children and adults alike. I love to hear back from readers, so if you would like to get in touch with me, please be sure to check out my links below. This weekend all of my other novels will be free to download on Kindle in celebration of the release of The Path of the Fallen. It is a great opportunity to sample my other books


Bio: A psychologist, author, philosopher, freelance editor, and skeptic, Dan O’Brien has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, Deviance of Time, The Portent, The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog at

He also works as an editor at Empirical, a national magazine with a strong West Coast vibe. Find out more about the magazine at


Path of the Fallen (US):

Path of the Fallen (UK):


Bitten (US):  

End of the World Playlist (US):  

Cerulean Dreams (US):  

The Journey (US):  

The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow (US):  

The End of the World Playlist (UK):  

Bitten (UK):  

Cerulean Dreams (UK):   

The Journey (UK):  






William Grefe’ Seminar on Independent Film Making

Special Guest Post from Jeff Freeman of Reality’s Edge Films

William Grefe’: Seminar on Independent Film Making
I’m very happy to announce a very special release. My friend William Grefe’s Seminar on Independent Film Making.

“Wild Bill” Grefe’ has made more than 2 dozen feature films and has been recognized as one of the most successful low budget/guerilla film makers in the business.

The “Godfather of Grindhouse” has been recognized with a lifetime achievement award and both Quentin Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez have cited Bill as being influential in their works. Now his seminar is finally available on DVD and is filled with real world knowledge on how to make
a low budget/guerilla film.

Available to order at our website:

Guest Blog – Jeff Freeman, Director of “Island of The Cannibal Death Gods”

Jeff Freeman’s feature debut… “Island of the Cannibal Death Gods”
is an homage to the drive-in horror films of the 60’s. A look back to when
times were simpler, horror was cheesier and audiences were actually scared of guys in rubber suits chasing bikini clad women around.

Freeman was motivated to make this film out of nostalgia for all the B-Horror
films he used to watch on Saturday mornings as a child. “My Saturday morning
viewing was very regimented. Loony Tunes and Scooby-Doo till 10am and then Creature Features till 1pm.” “With Island, I was trying to recapture a time where
you didn’t need complex CGI and over the top gore to make a horror movie…
or for that matter, a lot of money.”   –  Island on IMDB   –  Jeff Freeman on IMDB

“Miami Spy Games” Part 3 off to Publisher

Yep, I finished the third installment of Miami Spy Games yesterday (right on schedule, thank you!) and after an edit overnight and another this morning, it was sent off to Hobbes End Publishing.

I immediately dove into part four, since I am absolutely in tune with these characters and story and hope I can write with them after this thirteen story arc is over.

There will be a definite announcement coming very soon, detailing the release schedule of the rest of the episodes (as I like to call them) as well as purchase information and the covers for each eBook release.

I’ll be out of town this weekend, but when I return expect more updates as well as some great guest blogs I’ve lined up with a diverse group of writers and filmmakers for you.

Have a great weekend!

Tagged By Allison M. Dickson – Q&A Excuse

I got tagged by the wonderfully talented and beautiful Allison M. Dickson and decided to follow along and answer the interview questions… how can I resist her smile?

The Rules:

Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog

Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Five might be a stretch, but here goes: Tim Baker, Mark Tufo, Todd Brown,  Tonia Brown, and Jeffrey Kosh 

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Death Cult: Death Metal 2


Where did the idea come from for the book?
It is the followup to the 2009 release, Death Metal, building on an idea I had well after the book was already released. I never really intended their to be a sequel, but the world I’d created would never fully let me go.

What genre does your book fall under?
Definitely a thriller. With some horror/paranormal-ish leanings. When Death Metal came out, it was marketed by the publisher as an urban horror novella. I never quite got that, but it is definitely a thriller.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
For Wayne Tursha it would have to be a large actor with plenty of character, but the best ones (Chris Farley, John Candy) are gone. An unknown who can pull off crazy dyed hair would work.

For Melissa Cahill, Miley Cyrus would be perfect. OK, maybe not Hannah Montana, but someone ‘hip’ and ‘happening’…

I would also have Allyssa Milano playing Karen, her mom. She doesn’t look like her at all, but it would be an excuse to meet Allyssa and win her heart.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The music of D.T.C. has far-reaching and evil consequences, even years later…

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ll be putting this one out myself, like I did when Death Metal‘s rights reverted back to me.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still writing the first draft. I’m 18k into it, but right now the main priority will be to finish the thirteen stories/episodes of Miami Spy Games I am contracted for for Hobbes End Publishing. I hope to be done with the first draft (looking at around 50k) before the end of 2012.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s tough. I’m not sure the storyline really compares to another off the top of my head. Not being an egotistical jerk (I don’t think), but I haven’t read this story setup the way I have. I just hope readers of my other work will love it as well as new readers. But, thinking about it, the books by Phil Rickman I read in my late teens defintely inspired me with the combination of horror/thriller and heavy metal music.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My love of the first story and how I could never shake the nagging feeling there was more to be written at the end. Plus, I love the characters and I am a huge Heavy Metal fan and have a working knowledge of how the business end of it works from having managed death metal bands in the mid-1990’s.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you loved Death Metal, you’ll love this book, which picks up years later. If you find this one first, you can still follow along and meet these old friends and new characters. I am enjoying writing it and hope you’ll love reading it.

Now Hop away to some really great writers


Check out all of the authors I have linked above. They’re as varied as snowflakes, but all very talented. As for the one who inspired Allison originally to write this, you really should check out Gae Polisner’s amazing book,The Pull of Gravity and keep watching out for her new work…

Thanks, Allison! That was fun!!

The Coming Week of Writing for Mando

This coming week should be an interesting one, with one of those make or break views for my current writing… allow me to explain.

Last week, as you know, I finished the second installment of Miami Spy Games, and sent it off to the publisher, Hobbes End Publishing. I then took the weekend off and relaxed. No writing, barely any reading, just a man and his thoughts. Oh, and a bunch of alcohol.

But starting right now… today… I will begin a new week and new, more intense goals for my writing.

My goal, first and foremost, is simple: finish the third Miami Spy Games installment by hitting 2,000 words per day, today through Thursday… 8,000 words. On Friday I will then write the first 2,000 words of the fourth Miami Spy Games story.

But, wait… there’s more!

I’ve been seriously neglecting my other stories, so I have a simple goal of writing 500 words on one of the following stories each day: “Cabal”, the third Keyport Cthulhu story (currently at 2,800 of the 5,500 words finished), Dying Days: Origins (8,000 of the 25,000 finished), and Death Cult: Death Metal 2 (18,000 of 50,000 words)… my ultimate goal would be hitting 500 words on each of the three stories per day, obviously.

This week I think I will do a daily recap to see where I am… so you can see and especially so I can see if I get behind, and motivate myself with embarrassment to keep on pace.

As always, wish me luck!

Review of Tom Piccirilli’s The Last Kind Words by Carl R. Moore

The Crimes of Heaven and Hell

Greatings everyone–it’s great to be breathing life back into the blog. I’m not sure what happened–it seems the end of the summer got away from me, or I got away from it, or everything in my world got away from everything else. Well, part of it is that I’m working hard on the book that will followSlash of Crimson. For now, however, I’m happy to be back on the website again, and what better way to kick things off than with a review of the latest novel from perhaps the best dark fiction author writing today. Without further ado, find below a review of Tom Piccirilli’s The Last Kind Words:

Tom Piccirilli is a writer who understands the angles of crime noir. I don’t just mean innovation, an original spin on crime families or bank heists. I mean the shapes of deception, the math behind the form, the way acts like theft and…

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