Writer Wednesday Bonus Post – Miguel Viscarra

 

 

 

 

From the fiery abyss of the underworld comes 20 hellish tales from the south and southwest. Within these charred pages are stories that will introduce you to the many demons that stay hidden but are always nearby…  Southern Haunts is an anthology of  stories of possessed people, objects, houses, highways, and the devil’s favorite playground – the forest.

For this blog post, we’ll follow author Miguel Viscarra as he talks about the inspiration for his contribution “And There Was Nothing Left But Ash…”

 

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Regarding inspiration for And There Was Nothing Left But Ash…, much like The Cleansing (in the initial installment of Southern Haunts), I really wanted to draw from my sociological background and once again focus on the dynamics of a relationship; albeit, the relationships of the characters in the story are much different than that of its predecessor. Primarily, the two main characters had a very picturesque and loving union, which I’d hoped that readers could identify with to some extent. I think that emotional connection is really important for the way things transpire throughout the story. The push and pull between the two main characters is really essential for drawing the audience’s sympathy, in hopes that they can see some semblance of identification within the characters. Whilst the characteristics and traits of my lead characters were important, it’s undeniable how significant the setting of my home state was for my second published work.

Researching and learning more about my own environment over the course of writing my works has been one of the most eye-opening and enjoyable experiences. I’ve only been to Deming, New Mexico a handful of times, and I can remember feelings like it was a very small town, very similar to my own. In New Mexico, I’ve seen many places that were reported institutions and tuberculosis wards in different parts of the state, but I was absolutely captivated by the uncertainty of the story surrounding Camp Cody/The Holy Cross Sanatorium. The rich history and fact behind the location was so intriguing. I stumbled upon numerous photos of the area when it was in its prime, and it was very important for me to really portray that historical basis through the accuracy of the location’s description. Moreover, the modern day information that I found regarding the setting was frighteningly real. To know that contemporary atrocities have been reported only makes the place all that more hellish.

I had the pleasure of visiting the area after a short vacation to Phoenix, Arizona to see one of my favorite bands, AFI. On the way back home from my trip, I stopped in Deming to uncover the place that I’d been so eager to dive into. I was surprised to see that there wasn’t much left today. What was still visible from afar were lost architectural relics on the desert floor of New Mexico. Once could still find the famed fountain, which in my story, serves as the intricate gateway that brings forth the fiery demon. All in all, I’d say the overall inspiration for the story was the desire to write a second tale in which readers could see very real human traits and traumas; an outlet that would provide an emotional fear that can be experienced by all.

 

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Book Review – Southern Haunts

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Title: Southern Haunts
Editors: Alexander S. Brown & J. L. Mulvihill
Published: 2013
Format: Trade Paperback (& eBook… but just until I got the print copy)

Y’all, this is one of those reviews that you need to stick with through the end, but I promise it’s worth it…

Okay, I’m going to be honest here.  I’m one of those people who only sometimes likes anthologies.  Yeah, I’ve reviewed other ones that I’ve really liked, but there are also quite a few that I’ve picked up, couldn’t get through two stories, and sent it back.  And when you review them, it’s a whole new kettle of fish.  Because, really, how do you review such a thing?  Do a writeup about each short story?  Overall opinions?  A little of both?  Gah!

And so, this one… This one I was really looking forward to.  For starters, I know the editors.  I’m jealous that I didn’t get to submit something to it.  And, you know, I was just excited about this one.

I have to admit, as I worked my way around the book, I found issues.  (As I told the editor, I’m probably the toughest reader/reviewer he’ll ever get…)  There are a couple editing problems that seriously need fixed.  This book also has the absolute worst story I have ever read in print.  Seriously.  I reject betters submissions for my own publishing company.

But for the problems it has, there are also some real gems in here.  H David Blalock’s An Eclipse Over Elmwood was awesome, for instance, and my favorite story in the book.  [Note: Check our archives and you’ll find a feature interview with him.]  There are a couple other stories where I saw the ending coming, such as Roland Mann’s Haints, another favorite in this antho, but I still really liked the characters and how the stories were written.  And you have stories like Diane Ward’s The Shack which was good, but totally too short – I was sad that it ended so quickly and think another bit of story would have totally added greatly to what she already had going.

So my bottom line is this.  The book is decent.  If you manage to get your hands on a copy, it’s great for those times between novels or when you don’t want to dedicate that much time to one piece of writing.  My best advice is to pick and choose, to read a little at a time here and there, and to not be afraid to skip a couple stories that you might not like or fall a little short.  It’s worth being able to read the few gems that really shine.

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