Monday, January 22, 2018

Chris Chandler of Dead Scared by Ivan Blake #Ghosts, #GraveRobbers, #YoungLove

RW:   What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

CC:    I’m seventeen. I’ll be eighteen in June of next year. My dad works for Allied Paper Products of Wisconsin. He’s their hatchet man. He travels round closing their plants and we have to go with him. We’ve lived in three crappy towns in the last six years. Every one of them has been dying and dad’s job was to put the town out of its misery for good. Of course, the towns don’t see it that way. They hate Dad’s guts and by extension the rest of the family as well.

          And now we’re here in Bemishstock Maine. It has to be the worst place we’ve been. Everywhere else I’ve tried to be invisible, lay low, and attract no attention. Then today, well today I made the stupidest mistake, and now I have this feeling things are really going to go very wrong.

RW:    Can you tell us about your heroine

CC:     I guess that might be my friend, Felicity Holcomb, who lives across the road and up the old trail to the top of the mountain. She’s a widow and makes a living selling her water colors and writing articles about Maine. She’s so gutsy. Doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks of her. She’s had a really hard life, but she’s generous and smart and, well, she’s probably my best friend.

RW:    What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?

CC:    Well first there’s dad’s job. It’s beyond me why he does what he does. He has to know how all this travelling and the bitterness we encounter are hurting our family. Then there’s Mum. She’s always so sad. Nothing seems to help. And then there’s my teachers. They’re just like everybody else. They hate me and our family for what Dad is doing to their town. And then there’s the cops. The Chief of Police, he really has it out for me, blames me for some weird hate letter I had nothing to do with. And now, well now I really have a mess on my hands. The neighbor down the tracks, the old goat farmer, last night I think I saw him hauling a body from his cart up the hill to his barn. But can I tell anyone? No f…ing way.

RW:   Do you expect your heroine to help or is she the problem?

CC:   I’m sure Felicity would help me but I can’t get her involved. She’s already being harassed by some locals. Last thing I want to do is make things more difficult for her.

RW:    Where do you live?

CC:   Just outside Bemishstock, an old mill town at the mouth of the Roan River on the north coast of Maine. We rent the back portion of the Willard family’s farm house. Their farm backs onto Adinack Bay. The house is falling apart. My room for instance is a tiny crawl space in the attic.

RW:    During what time-period does your story take place?

A.            It’s October, 1985. The papers are filled with stories about Princess Diana, this mysterious new illness killing gay men, the rock band Queen, and movies like “Rambo” and “The Fly.”

RW:    How are you coping with the conflict in your life?

CC:     Not well. I want to get as far away from my family, this town, and Maine as I possibly can. Trouble is, a guy has to do the right thing, no? And while I know no one is going to thank me, I’m going to have to confront the bastard next door…even if it kills me.

RW:    What is your secret guilty pleasure?

CC:    I do spend a lot of time hanging out down at the Willard Family’s small graveyard near the beach. But that’s not my guilty pleasure. It’s writing stories, stories about strange places, weird creature, like Poe and Lovecraft.

RW:    If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

CC:     I think I probably do. I’ve cultivated this persona as a brooding nutcase, a dangerous dark figure on a hair trigger. I was trying to scare people off. Trouble is I’ve played this role for so long now, I’m not sure where the nutcase ends and the real me begins.

RW:    When I’m alone I like to…

CC:     When I’m alone, I hang out at the Willard Graveyard, a creepy place if ever there was one. But I get to think there and get my nerves under control after each horrific day at school.

RW:    If I could (fill in the blank) I’d (fill in the blank).

CC:    I’d do better in school. I really would have liked to have gone to college. But it’s probably too late now. Not unless a miracle happens.

RW:   What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

CC:   So tell us about Gillian Willard. Well, Gillian is this really quiet, kinda strange looking girl who lives in the other part of the Willard farmhouse. We ride the same school bus each day, but she’s a year younger than me so we never speak. And yet… I like her dignity. It’s like she couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of her. And she’s, well, sort of beautiful in this mysterious queen-of-the-Nile kind of way. And strange as it may seem, I think she may want to help me…

RW:   Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.


Author Ivan Blake’s upbringing clearly disposed him to the paranormal. He was born a mile from prehistoric Stonehenge in a small English village steeped in mystery and the supernatural, and as a child, lived in dozens of strange places including boarding rooms, old hotels, and crumbling farmhouses. He slept in attics and coal cellars and pubs and attended sixteen schools before completing grade eleven. To hear Ivan speak of it all today, he enjoyed the most wonderful and exciting—albeit bizarre and exotic upbringing.

Ivan went on to do doctoral studies in intellectual history at the University of Chicago and spend fifteen years as a university professor before transferring to the Public Service of Canada as a senior executive. He ended his career consulting on management and accountability to governments across Asia, Africa and Europe. “Terrific training,” Ivan says with a wry smile, “for an author of horror and dark fiction.”

Dead Scared: The Mortsafeman Trilogy, Book One

“Gloriously macabre” and “an intense and brooding tale that delivers.” No zombies here. In this tale of grave robbery, grotesque experimentation, and ancient magic, the dead are the victims. And their defenders? An ancient order of cemetery guardians called Mortsafemen.

An Excerpt:

Every kid in Maine’s South Portland Youth Detention Center was fighting some kind of demon. Christopher Chandler’s demon was different; she always drew blood.

Past ten on a sticky summer night, the heavy air off the land, ripe with the smell of rotten eggs from the pulp mills and fish waste from the canning plant, no one could sleep. Two hundred boys, tossing in their beds, whispering, up to god knows what; it all made for a low, irksome hum across the complex, like flies on filth.

Chris was alone in the library, reading. One of the perks of being labelled deeply troubled and dangerous—he had lots of time to himself. He heard the door open, close, and then...nothing. After a minute, he called out, “Need help?” No reply. Still, he sensed someone watching from the stacks, and twice glimpsed movement out of the corner of his eye. He knew too well where this was going.

Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes passed before he heard another sound, then footsteps, and the lights went out.

“You don’t have to do this,” Chris said. Again, no reply.

Sighing, he pushed several books into a ratty canvas bag, and stood up.
Straightening as best he could, he hobbled away toward the library door, past the darkened stacks, with only the red glow of the exit sign to light the way.

“Running away, motherf...?”

Chris stopped, bowed his head, and after a moment turned around. A pimply kid, maybe fifteen, tall, wiry, and sweating like a pig, stepped from the shadows.

Chris didn’t recognize the new arrival; they all had to learn.

“You’re the one who’s been hiding, not me,” Chris said. “You scared?”

“No, ass…, I’m not scared! But if you ain’t, you should be!”

The kid was practically shouting; nerves most likely.

“Keep it down…unless you want the guards to come.” Then Chris smiled.

“The idiots in Unit C put you up to this?”

“Nobody put me up to nothing. They say you’re tough, but you look f…in’ sick to me.” The kid was jumpy, shuffling about like he had to take a leak, and swinging a sock filled with something heavy over and over against the palm of his left hand.

“You are frightened!” Chris almost felt sorry for the kid. “First night in here, figure you’ve got to let people know you’re a real tough bastard, let them know not to mess with you. They tell you, get Chandler, and you say, sure...because you’re just that stupid.”

“Shut the f… up! We gonna do this...or you too much of a pussy?”

“All right. First though, you have to know how this will end.” Chris lowered his voice and moved toward the boy.

“You’re going to get hurt. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. You’re going to get hurt so bad that for the rest of your time in here you’re going to be the Unit C cuddle bunny; you’re going to bend over for every horny idiot who takes a fancy to your scrawny ass.”

He moved closer still. “You’ll be so messed up you won’t be able to say no to nothing and to nobody ever again.”

Chris smiled, waited for the images to sink in then shook his head. “But if that’s what you want...”

“You don’t frighten me. You can’t even walk straight for f… sake.”

“Okay then, but I do have to say,” and Chris stepped right up to the kid, took him in his arms, kissed him repeatedly on his pockmarked and pimply cheek, and said, “Better you than me for a change.”

“Get off me!” The kid shoved Chris away. “Damn, you really are sick!”

“Yes, I probably am…and so is she.” The air crackled.


Chris pointed over the kid’s shoulder, up toward the ceiling. “Say hi to Mallory.”

The boy spun around and screamed—screamed like he’d lost his mind—as his left ear and a strip of scalp were torn away and tossed across the room to strike the far wall with a bloody splat.

Key Words/Labels:

Bullying, Coming Of Age, Ghosts, Grave Robbers, Homophobia, Ivan Blake, Mad Scientists, MuseItUp Publishing, Mysticism, Magic, The Mortsafeman Trilogy, Young Love

No comments:

Post a Comment