An Interview with Keith Lansdale

 

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Keith Lansdale is currently working to bring to life an illustrated novel which take place on the same island setting as featured in the short story Prisoner 489 by Joe Lansdale. The novel is tentatively titled A Prisoner of Violence. I recently sat down with Keith to find out a little more about the project.

What was it about the story Prisoner 489 that sparked the idea for this project?

Prisoner 489 is a fun little story about an unstoppable monster terrorizing people stuck on an island designed like Alcatraz if it was in the Bermuda Triangle. The island itself is a bit of a mystery which is why when asked to do a story in the same universe, I knew the island had a lot of potential.

How does it feel to be creating your own work which shares the same setting as one of your father’s stories? Do you feel lucky to be able to do so?

When you have someone who’s as well known as Dad, people are clawing over each other for a chance to work with him. So lots of offers I get are people looking to adapt or expand that well known library of Lansdale. This is actually one of few projects that, while inspired by his universe, is my own creation within that. Oh, of course. I’m humbled every time I get to work on a project with Dad.

Did you look up to him as a child growing up?

Absolutely. And still do.

How has his influence helped you in your own career so far?

It would probably be easier to answer how has it not. He’s a man that knows his stuff and growing up with him meant we had a lot of time to talk about several aspects of storytelling.

What would you say is the most important thing you have learned from him in regards to that?

Growing up I learned a lot about deductive reasoning. This is a mighty effective tool not only to better my day-to-day life, but an important aspect of storytelling.

What do you love most about the act of writing?

It mostly boils down to it’s fun to create something. I love a good puzzle, and lots of times I’m not sure where the story is going to end up until it gets there, but I just keep putting those pieces together until, bam. A complete picture.

Can you tell our readers a little more about A Prisoner of Violence? What can they expect from this one?

It’s not a secret, but I don’t want to give much away. Prisoner of Violence complements the original Prisoner 489 while still being its own beast. I’ve got a couple characters who are fighting to survive that I enjoyed writing. One of which was actually a throw away character who I had no real plans to keep around, but no matter how many times I tried to lead him to his doom, the story leaned a different way.

What are you hoping the reader takes away from this piece of work?

A suspenseful ride with a few laughs. That’s the most anyone could ask, really.

What elements are still in development?

Well, the first draft is written and turned into Dark Regions Press. But that’s about it. We still don’t have an artist or anything decided yet.

What is the most challenging issue you have faced so far in bringing this project into existence?

Just trying to make sure I do the original work proud without stepping on it.

When do you think it will be available to the public?

That I couldn’t guess. It’s still in the early stages and depending on how fast the artist and everyone else works on it, could be this year. Could be next.

Do you ever get nervous about how your work will be received?

Not really. Obviously to be successful I need other people to like the work, but I don’t think about that much at all. I don’t really even like looking at reviews of things I do. Good or bad. I know that if it’s got my name on it, I liked it. Or at least liked it when I touched it last and handed it to the next person. After that, if someone says they didn’t like it, I just think, then it wasn’t for them. But I put the same amount of stock in the good reviews, too.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

A perfect day would be pizza and PJs with my girl and a new show to binge watch the hell out of.

Are there any little known things about yourself that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I make a damn fine waffle.

 

 

 

“A Raven Flies Through Moonlight” by Lyn Lifshin

The Raven

“The Raven” by Gustave Doré

A Raven Flies Through Moonlight

Lately, I dread the sky lightening,
the black nothingness of furniture,
emerging outlines. I want the night
to go on forever, empty as willows
the deer have gone past. Tell me
you don’t have nights any light is
an intrusion, a burglar? Don’t tell
me you haven’t, even in a lover’s
arms, dreaded to leave the stasis
of lying together, listen to the
other’s heart beat, breath. The old
story: we are alive

 

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog, Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre. Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd of Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna  and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press, Paintings and Poems, from Tangerine press (just out)  and The Silk Road from Night Ballet, alivelikealoadedgun from Transcendent Zero Press

“Words Unformed” by Anthony Laird

Bois de Vincennes, (Paris, France) by Eric Ellena

WORDS UNFORMED 

A lingering touch.
I trace the line of life in your palm,
but feel my life,
as my heart beats faster.
How warm the skin,
and the fingertips,
would they brush my skin?
The memory of your kiss
so fresh in my mind
as the taste still holds on my lips.
The words I have yet to say
still unformed in my heart
that is beating faster, faster.
And so other words come
that mean less but buy me time,
as we sit close and I feel you,
touch you,
want your kiss again.
I let your eyes find my soul
and hope you think it beautiful,
and though I hold back a bit,
I am wanting you to want more.
To need more,
as I need more.
And I lean, knowing why,
not disappointed,
filled with words yet unformed,
as again your lips find mine.
And I am haunted by a memory to be,
of when you won’t be there,
holding me.

Venter Anthony Laird

Anthony Laird

“Broken Window Music” by Heath Brougher

brokenglass

 

Broken Window Music

Similar to fractured light
a jagged crystal sparkle
lives slowly through the air
clear as a bell
its ridges tearing the wind
falling sideways then down
as that broken sound blooms
a pure cacophony early
on Shatterday morning.

Heath Brougher is the poetry editor for Five 2 One Magazine. He recently published his first chapbook, A Curmudgeon Is Born (Yellow Chair Press, 2016). His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Chiron Review, SLAB, Main Street Rag, Crack the Spine, Of/With, Lakeview, X-Peri, Blue Mountain Review, strange POE try, eFiction India, and elsewhere.

Image used under permission from CMG Worldwide.

 

“Shooters Valentine” by D. Louis Morgan

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SHOOTERS VALENTINE

If you say you love me
If you say “I do”
Remember me tomorrow
Send your love anew.

Put it in a bottle
Put it in a can
Put it in a box
Stamped Afghanistan

We fought up in the mountains
We fought upon the seas
We fought out in the desert
In the towns and through the streets

If you say you love me
If you say “I Do”
Remember me tomorrow
Send your love anew.

Drop it on a freighter
Stuff it in a pack
Sail it on the water
Mail it to Iraq.

We stood upon the ramparts
We watched our comrades fall
Some, they gave a lot
And others gave it all.

If you say you love me
If you say “I do”
Remember me tomorrow
Send your love anew.

Fire it in a rocket
Ship it overland
Pack it in a crate
To the country where I am.

When a soldier meets his maker
He does it all alone
If you can’t make a shadow
You ain’t goin’ home.

We died up in the mountains
We died upon the seas
We died out in the desert
In the towns and on the streets.

Who sees that train a comin’
The plane upon the ground
Or ships moored and anchored
When the family gathers round?

Flag draped caissons mount
Hills where staid white rows abound.
The mournful calls of the bugle’s sound
Echo ‘cross that hallowed ground.

If you say you love me
If you say “I do”
We live within HIS memory.
HE knows I love you too.
HE knows.
I love you too.

“Jamie, With the Blue Eyes” by Betty J. Sayles

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Jamie, With the Blue Eyes

By

Betty J. Sayles

 

 

A small boy trudged wearily along a country road. His golden wheat-colored hair and youthful features looked no different than those of many other small boys his age. His jeans and navy blue pullover were dusty from the gravel road.  At first glance, he looked like any seven-year-old boy—until you looked into his eyes.  Those deep blue eyes mirrored the sadness of his soul and spoke of wisdom far beyond his young years.

The boy’s name was Jamie.  He had been a fun loving boy and he adored his father.  They played catch, went to baseball games and went for walks when the father told his little boy about his plans for them when Jamie was older.  “We’ll add your name to the firm and we’ll become Calder and Calder, Attorney’s at Law.  We’ll be the biggest firm in the state and the best,” he boasted.  Jamie looked at his father with love in his eyes; he wanted, more than anything, to please his father.

In his sixth year, Jamie was struck on the head by a car while he was trying to save a kitten in the car’s path, He recovered and seemed fine, but from that time Jamie noticed a change in his father.  He was sure his father was avoiding him.  One night, Jamie overheard his father talking to his mother.  “Ever since the accident he reads my mind, Jane, and he makes me do things by looking at me with those eyes.  He actually made me let that stray dog go, the one that knocked over our garbage can.  He said they’d kill him at the shelter.  Mrs. Murphy told me he cured her back pain just by laying his hands on it and Dr. Preston said he talked to Jamie in Bridgeport last week.  That’s 60 miles from here and Jamie was home in bed.  That’s crazy.  The boy is not normal. His wife replied quietly, “There was an Italian priest I read about, his name was Padre Pio.  He could perform miracles and was seen in two places at the same time.  They called it astral travel and the church made him a saint.  Jamie is a good boy, Robert, he has only done things to help people.  He has been given a gift and we should be proud of it.”

“He’s a freak, Jane, he’s scary, and I can’t cope with it.  If he comes out of this coma, I’m going to find him a boarding school for troubled kids.”

Jamie’s eyes filled with tears.  His beloved father saw his gifts as a curse and couldn’t stand to be near him.  Jamie didn’t wake up the next morning.  The doctor said he was in a coma and he was moved to a hospital bed.

It was evening when Jamie came to a farmhouse. When he knocked on the door, a sad faced man opened it.  “Hello, sir, my name is Jamie and I wonder if you have any chores I can do for some supper.”

“Why on earth is a small boy out alone with night so near,” wondered the man.  As the question formed in his mind, he looked into a pair of deep blue eyes. “Yes,” he said, “you can feed the chickens, but first come meet my wife Mary and have some supper.”

Jamie saw traces of tears on the woman’s face.  After eating his supper, he said to the man,” There’s a man here who wants to talk to me.”

“There’s only my wife’s father who’s very ill. The doctor doesn’t think he’ll last the night,” said the farmer. Once again, he found himself peering into Jamie’s eyes.  “I’ll take you to him,” he said.

 

The bed-ridden old man was surprised to see a young boy, but as he looked into his eyes, he felt a calmness he hadn’t felt in a long time.  “Leave us alone for a while, please,” he said to his son-in-law.

Jamie sat in a chair near the bed, put his young hand over the old wrinkled one and said: “You feel alone and scared and want to talk.”

The old man nodded.  “You see they’re afraid of death, too—for me and for themselves.  They take good care of me, but they never stay to talk. They don’t know what to say, and don’t want to hear my fears.  It makes them uncomfortable. You’re not afraid, are you?” he asked the boy.

“No, I’m not afraid”, answered Jamie. “Tell me what you’re afraid of, maybe talking about it will help. I’ll stay with you as long as you need me.”

The old man talked for a long time to the boy.  As the night passed, he became quiet, only rousing to say, “You’ll be with me?”

Jamie answered, “I’ll go with you as far as I can.”

 

As the clock chimed 2:00 A.M., Jamie looked at the door.  It opened and the farmer and his wife entered the room.  While they looked at the peaceful face of the old man, who had quietly passed away in his sleep, Jamie slipped out of the door and was gone.

Jamie was nearing a farmhouse when two German Shepherds raced toward him, barking loudly.  He stood still, his blue eyes looking at brown eyes. Immediately they stopped barking and followed docilely as he approached the farmer in the yard.

“Good gosh, boy, what did you do to those dogs?  They don’t like strangers.”

“I get along well with animals, sir.  Do have any chores I can do for something to eat?

The farmer wanted to ask the boy who he was and where he came from, but he never got to those questions.  Instead, as he looked into those deep blue eyes he had a vague feeling he had left something unsaid—but couldn’t remember what it was.  “Why, I think we can find something for you to do to earn a meal, son.  Come along.”

“Thank you, my name is Jamie”.

After the boy had completed the light tasks he was given to do, the farmer took him into the house and told his wife Dorrie that Jamie was staying for supper.  The woman had a kind face and fussed over Jamie in a motherly way.  She did things slowly and with obvious pain, because her hands were badly deformed from rheumatism. Jamie offered to help her.  “No, child, a little exercise is good. It keeps these old hands from stiffening up completely”, she said.

 

They invited Jamie to spend the night, but he thanked them and said he had to be on his way.  As he was saying goodbye to the woman, he took both her crippled hands in his young ones and pressed them lightly.  Then he stepped out into the twilight.

The woman sat at the table with her hands in front of her, tears running down her face.  Her startled husband asked, “What is it, Dorrie, what’s wrong?”

His wife raised her hands for him to see.  They were old hands with age spots and loose, wrinkled skin, but they were perfectly normal hands.

 

A bearded young man sat on a park bench by the river, staring at the water.  Then his eyes moved to the high bridge a few blocks away.  He was annoyed when a small boy sat down beside him and said, ”I’m Jamie.  The water is warm this time of year. I guess it would be peaceful to sink beneath it letting all your problems float away.”

The young man was startled to hear such words from a child. It was uncanny the way he mentioned the river as a way to end one’s cares.  He turned so he could see the boy’s face. Looking into those blue eyes, he saw his mother standing there broken-hearted beside the river, the terrified face of his young brother and a pretty, young woman struggling to cope with the problems he was leaving her to face alone.  “Oh, Lord, what was I thinking? There has to be a better way than this.”

Jamie said, “Tell me about it.”

The young man talked for a long time.  Finally, exhausted and much calmer, he turned to face the boy, but he had quietly disappeared.

 

Jamie was desperately tired; he wanted to go home. Maybe things would have changed while he was away. At the sound of his father’s voice, he opened his eyes. He was still in the hospital bed. His father was saying, “I’ve found a school for problem kids that will take the boy if he comes out of the coma.  That will be best for everyone, Jane.”

Jamie looked at the drawn faces of his father and helpless mother and closed his tear filled eyes.

A small boy trudged wearily along a dust country road.  He looked like any other seven-year-old, unless you looked into his sad blue eyes.

 

Betty J. Sayles has had short stories and poems published in Storyteller, Mature Years, Creative With Words, The Oak, Nomad’s Choir,  Ultimate Writer, Persimmon’s Tree,  Spontaneous Spirits, PKA Advocate, Amulet, Mystical Muse, LOS, CC&D, The Enchanted File Cabinet, Conceit, Shemom, Pink Chameleon, PBW, Down In the Dirt and Stray Branch.