Recently, I’ve been welcomed into a community of very talented, very interesting writers and I thought I would start a new section here to showcase that talent. My first victim is a gentleman by the name of C.R. Langille, who’s published a bunch of short stories and the novel Consequence (first in a series called Dark Tyrant).
Here’s what first intrigued me about Cody:
What started as a hunting trip for Tobias Evard Warner II and his friends turns into a fight for survival during a supernatural storm which kicks off the apocalypse. The storm awakens and frees seven powerful creatures who were locked away at the beginning of the world’s creation. The Seven turn nightmares into reality and leave nothing but chaos and death in their wake.
Tobias fights his way through a nightmare infested wilderness to get back home to his family. With the unleashed terrors come newfound magical powers for Tobias, but at a cost. Will he sacrifice everything to ensure his family’s safety, even if it means his own soul?
Angels, demons, ancient cosmic beings, and even a dimensional-traveler clad in a trench coat made of duct tape come together in this fast-paced novel of magic, darkness, and consequences.
Then I started reading the book:
Darkness smothered Tobias Evard Warner II. The kind of eternal void that made outer space look like a sardine can. Wasn’t there supposed to be a bright light at the end of the tunnel? Where were the dead family members waiting to usher him to the other side?
So far, dying was a bunch of bullshit.
Perhaps heaven wasn’t his final destination though. He lived his life the best he could, at least until the last 24 hours. Toby wasn’t proud of some of the things he’d done, the murder of poor Donna sat at the top of the list. But, he’d done everything to get home. His wife and son needed him. Their rescue was more than worth Donna’s sacrifice.
They were bold words. The kind of words, which lost their oomph when it came time to pay the piper. For all he knew, his family could be in the next room, and it wouldn’t matter. He couldn’t see, nor could he move. Toby would give everything to know if they were okay. His family mattered the most. Yet, there was nothing but darkness.
With the dark, came the cold. It started in the tips of his fingers and crawled up his arms. It wasn’t just a freezing cold, the kind deep winter in the mountains produced; it was something else. As if his very essence disappeared under an oppressive blanket of black.
The numbing chill slithered into his core. The simple act of drawing breath became a chore. The beat of his heart thundered in his ears and slowed with the function of his lungs.
You reap what you sow, Tobias.
He was about to harvest the seeds of his actions. As his lungs stopped, and the last echo of his heartbeat reverberated through his ears, her voice entered his mind. He hated her, loved her, and feared her. She brought salvation through damnation.
Open up and accept me, Love. That simple.
[More on the Amazon Sample including tornadoes of lightening, eviscerated elks, and the end of the world.]
At this point, I asked to speak with him about writing, the supernatural, and his vision of the apocalypse. Here to best of my imagination is how our conversation went.
We’re walking along in the wilderness of Utah. Cody, like a proper hunter and survivalist, is wearing flannel and camouflage and a rifle. I’m carrying a notebook, a pen, and per usual , am wearing my cape.
Lisette: *Clearly uncomfortable with the beauty of nature and the daylight.* So… sorry, I’m nervous about doing new things. So I heard… um, you wrote a book. What’s that like?
Cody: It was a fun, and frustrating experience. This book was written as my thesis for my graduate degree from Seton Hill University. It passed through a lot of eyes and a lot of critique sessions both in and out of school. Getting that much scrutiny can be both a good and bad thing.
*Cody who has been watching the world through the scope of the rifle, fires. I jump startled by the boom. He looks up with narrowed eyes, then continues walking.*
Cody: All I can say is, if you want to be a writer, grow a thick skin and don’t take things personally.
Lisette: Right. So what’s your book about?
Cody: * with the intensity of a seasoned veteran hardened by a world tearing itself apart.* How far a person is willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice to save the ones they love.
*putting the gun down.* I mean… Tobias Warner is out on a hunting trip in the Utah Wilderness when a supernatural storm kicks off the apocalypse awakening all sorts of evil creatures, as well as a latent magical ability in the protagonist. Meanwhile, back at home, the storm releases seven ancient, cosmic beings from their imprisonment deep in the earth and they start to cause all sorts of havoc. The protagonist races through a forest of nightmares to get back home to his family before it’s too late.
Lisette: *looking at her notes and then at the trees around her. Ominous thunder in the distance. She hurries to catch up to Cody.* This has got to be one of the most original apocalypse ideas I’ve… experienced. Seven creatures unleashed that turning nightmares into reality.
Cody: I wanted to do a version of the apocalypse that was different. I love a good zombie story as much as the next person—
Lisette: Me too, I love Max Brooks.
Cody: but it’s hard to make a zombie story feel unique these days. So I shifted gears a bit and took a different approach with the Seven. The Seven are alien to our world, but have been imprisoned in the ground since the beginning. I like the feeling of timelessness, ancient beings, and creatures that cosmic in power. I suppose I get that from reading too much Lovecraft.
Lisette: There is never too much Lovecraft. *more ominous rumblings from the sky. I reconsider mentioning The Ancient Ones in the highly volatile wilderness of my own mind.* So many people are drawn to the apocalypse right now. I used to think I was morbid for my interest in it and then I started looking at modern fiction and television.
*Cody stops and sights along the rifle. There is a long tense moment where I try to see what he sees, but I’m too frightened of Utah to understand specific dangers.*
Lisette: What is it?
Cody: Just a dimensional-traveler in a trench coat made of duct tape.
Lisette: No kidding?
Cody: He’s a character. There for a little bit of comedic relief, and to give the reader a breather. But he… he serves a lot more than just that. He’s an enigma, wrapped in a burrito… um, his words. I like humor and I think it has a place even in serious/dark fiction.
Lisette: But mostly it’s a horror book?
Cody: It started out as a straight horror, but I think my love of fantasy got in the way, turning it into a dark urban fantasy with really strong horror overtones.
*He resumes walking. I stay close to the man with a gun.*
Cody: Anyways… what was I saying before…? *gestures at the things I can not see.*
Lisette: The apocalypse?
Cody: I think the apocalypse is fascinating because it is a plausible concept. I’m not saying zombie or monsters could happen *stops and reconsiders*although, who knows.
Lisette: Yeah… who knows…
Cody: *continues walking* But more like natural disasters or humans finding a way to destroy ourselves. It’s in the desperate situations that we really see who we are and what we are capable or incapable of. Take for instance the television series, The Walking Dead where the real threat isn’t so much the zombies, but other survivors. Looking at what a person is willing to do to reach their goal is a fascinating journey. What better setting than the apocalypse where the stakes are even higher?
Lisette *jumps back stifling a scream*: Eviscerated deer!
Cody: It’s a bunny. And it’s alive.
Lisette: I’ve read your stories. Utah Wilderness scares me.
Cody: *He gestures the way they came, seeming not to mind the unearthly darkness that has descended in that direction, storm clouds roiling with as yet unborn evils.* Do you want to head back?
Lisette: *indicating they should continue the direction they were going.* I’m really fascinated by Tobias. He seems so different than all the other characters taking on apocalypses right now. He’s not a depressed and lonely teenager, for example. He’s an air force guy, with a wife, and a small son, who’s enjoys hunting. I haven’t seen that before.
Cody: I pull elements of myself into the character, as well as some of the people I work with. I’m in the Air Force and I like to hunt. I wanted to the story to feel real even though we were dealing with magic and evil critters, so I tried to ground it with things I know well. Plus, I wanted a character who could handle himself in a desperate situation. Someone familiar with the outdoors with a little basic first-aid and wilderness survival training, and someone who knew his way around a weapon. Tobias Warner is dealing with powerful entities hell-bent on his destruction. So I gave him the ability to use magic to help counter some of that darkness. However, there’s a cost to using his magic.
Lisette: Wait… is this autobiographical?
Cody: A little.
Lisette: Exactly how many times have you saved our universe?
Cody: That’s classified.
Lisette: Well, thanks anyway.
Cody: You’re welcome.
Lisette* getting really nervous about the darkening of the sky, the moaning from the trees, and the movements potential eviscerated zombie bunnies* Do you like coffee? Let’s go back to Philly and I’ll get you a coffee.
*Before he answers, she wraps the cape around his head and they are seated in a dark cellar of a decaying historical building in Old City Philadelphia.*
Lisette *holding a cup of tea and feeling much more at home* Right. So, Consequence is first in a series!
Cody: Yes. *looks around for his gun* I plan four books in the series. I have the second one drafted and it’s in the editing stages. I’ve just started writing the third. Did you hear something?
Lisette: Yeah, this place has ghost rats. Just kick anything nibbling at your toes. So what appeals to you about series books?
Cody: I like books in a series because of the connection it brings and the latitude it gives the author to world build. This particular set is a serial.
Cody: It’s unique in that the first three books can really be read in any order and the readers won’t miss out on a thing. There will be characters and settings that hop between the books, but overall, they will be able to stand on their own. The fourth in the series will bring all the major players together for a grand finale. I suppose it would be difficult to write a standalone because I end up connecting most of my fiction together in some way or another, whether it be locations, characters, or even terms.
Lisette: So do Stephen King and Terry Pratchett and they seem to get by.
Cody: Can we go back to Utah, now? All these people make me… nervous.
Lisette: There’s nobody here but us. Nobody alive anyway. What drew you to the supernatural?
Cody: I grew up watching horror movies with my mom from a young age. From there my interest turned to literature and all sorts of things scary and horrific. At the same time, I got into fantasy literature in the 6th grade when I picked up a copy of The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore.
Lisette: Me too, he’s like the gateway drug to fantasy.
Cody: Before that, I wasn’t much of a reader, after that book it was game on. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve read a lot of fantasy books and a lot of horror, it was only natural that I started combining the two.
*Lisette smiles and nods, then kicks something that splatters on the far wall.*
Cody: You sure that was a rat?
Lisette: Alright, last question and then I’ll let you go home. I ask everyone on my tour-
Cody: – I’m not on your tour.
Lisette: -Any interesting supernatural experiences of your own?
Cody: The only one that really sticks out is something that happened to me at work.
Lisette: Where’s work?
Cody: Classified. We used to have to man our building 24/7 while we had deployments occurring. That way if someone called back with questions, there would be a body to answer the phone and be close by to the information. Well, we used to have to conduct fire checks throughout the night which basically boiled down to walking through the building, checking all the doors and offices for anything that could be considered a hazard. I was pulling a late night shift one time, it was probably two or three in the morning. I knew for a fact that nobody else was in the building because the watch station was at the front of the building. I could see if anyone came or went. I was conducting my fire checks, and the way I would do them, is if I came across a closed office door, I would usually just hit the door real loud with my fist to see if anyone responded. More habit than anything because no one else was in the building. As I came across one of the closed offices on the ops floor, I hit it with my fist. I took two steps away and something slammed on the door from the other side. It wasn’t like I knocked something off the door, or jarred something loose, this was a deliberate hit from the other side, as if in response to my knock. I stopped, considered opening the door, the decided against it. I’d seen too many scary movies to know what could happen.
Lisette: Did you ever find out what was behind… Classified?
C.R. Langille can be found on his website, www.crlangille.com He’s also the organizer for the Utah regional chapter of the Horror Writers Association. Check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UtahHorrorWriters/.
Old Scratch and Owl Hoots was an anthology that the Utah Chapter of the HWA put together. It features stories that blend westerns and horror together. All the stories were written by authors with a tie to the State of Utah, the book was published locally in Utah, and the cover art was drawn by a Utah artist. The success of that anthology spurned them on to work on the next one, It Came from the Great Salt Lake which feature stories set around the Salt Lake. That anthology will be out this month, in February.