SPN - NOVELS
AUTHOR/COVER DESIGN // HELIANTHUS ANATHEMA / THE CONSTANT WAKE / SOUTH OF KETHER
ON THE TRAIL OF THE SUNFLOWER KILLER
Even before the video, The Sunflower Killings were a mystery. A fresh kill, a new lead. All hush-hush. But nothing stays buried forever. Particularly when a freelance columnist down on his luck and possibly out of his mind is hired to investigate. Primed with a tendency towards the weird, a familiarity with the occult and the paranormal he seemed like the right man for the job.
The trail of The Sunflower leads to more than a standard investigation, sending him on a five year journey into the depths of mind bending darkness, a shamanic trial that tests the limits of wits and sanity. There is little more twisted than the abyss of the psyche, and if there were answers to be found, would he survive to find them, or be sane long enough to understand them?
THE CONSTANT WAKE
A product of nightmares. After the loss of his family, wandering through the abyss of drink. Getting by, making do. Business as usual. At least until one haze of a drunken night, diverted by a former colleague. Appealing to his hardcoded professionalism and death wish, a job prospect: going into deep cover, infiltrate a radical splinter group of The Sunflower cult known as The Soldiers of Helios.
A natural talent with firearms, wading through a sea of blood and bullets comes easily. Haunted by the ghosts of the past and gross spectres of the future. Sloshing on, waiting for that bullet that would never come.
SOUTH OF KETHER
A world of perpetual decay, without purpose, delusions bind strong. Honour and virtues, little but farcical fictions for the hopeful.
An unrelenting professional bounty killer, reduced to simple survival. Adaptive and uncompromising, cursed to a path of turmoil and ultra-violence. Proficient brutality, battling beasts and a myriad of monsters for coin and sustenance.
On an elusive path, wrought with dire circumstances and grave contracts. Facing chronic irrelevance in a crumbling existence approaching stagnation. A loss of self beyond nominal base function and deadly method. Forging on with steel, iron, and sheer will. Staying the course, persevering with savage lethality towards the inevitable terminal conclusion.
ABOUT THE NOVELS
'The Sunflower Killer' concept, in the initial development as a film was intended to be longer and more complex; a psychological horror thriller wherein the antagonist (ex-law enforcement) fell into an ontological rabbit hole while obsessive pursuit of the killer.
This however proved to be impractical given a non-existent budget, limited resources and less than stellar time constraints, particularly in terms of avoiding all the pit falls and generic foolishness commonly found in the 'serial killer' crime sub-genre, factors which are grossly unacceptable in the modern paradigm. The idea was re-worked and structured as a meta-narrative existing outside of the actual film, where the short film 'The Sunflower Speaks' is instead focused specifically on a video supposedly made by the alleged killer.
An expansion of the idea later took form in the development of the novel 'Helianthus Anathema.' Taking place in the same universe, following a freelance writer/columnist, rather than the former agent. A decision made which allowed for greater range in the approach to themes and concepts, with less preconceptions of the genre and its subsequent stereotypes to dispel, offering more experimental depth to explore.
Serving as a thematic trilogy, the novels offer variations on experimental ontological and psychological horror, delving into the relative abstract with elements of the supernatural and occult, yet without losing the core substance of the human condition and the nature of reality, in a raw and often visceral manner.
This book is not for everyone, odds are most people will dislike it. The novel wasn't written for an audience, nor was it written for myself. It was written with the idea that 'this is the story, and this is how it went' – take it or leave it, like it, hate it, don't waste your time with it.
Far from being a pretentious endeavour, rather a self-inflicted challenge. Despite being a first novel, there was no prerequisite that came with it to create something overly simple or unnecessarily complicated. In essence, the justification for the undertaking would require the avoidance of writing something boring, stock/generic or formulaic, just for the sake of having written a novel, particularly in a crowded medium, self-published or otherwise.
At its core the book is about the writing process. A work of experimental fiction, opting for an unreliable narrator set in the context of a non-fiction structure and framework, one which negates paper dragons and avoids tropes of lazy mysteries where information is simply presented to the protagonist in shallow popcorn logic. An aggressive realism is maintained in the suspension of disbelief through various interpretations, not just in the psychology of the character but the notion of reality at play. This is not a story where the main character can be the gatekeeper of knowledge or where other characters are dumbed down to shallow representations, functioning as stock devices to pass the primary off as some manner of super genius. Characters are human, with virtues and vices in tactile operation.
In light of this, the novel was kept as one book, rather than being disjointedly divided through forcing fictional breaks into two or three further novels, given the years covered in the life of the character, a sense of disconnected unnatural pacing would result. No cliffhangers.
Multiple voices are written into the novel; the voice of the narrator when he speaks, is in and of the time it takes place; the voice of the narrator relaying and recounting events is much older; in addition to the voice of the narrator as editor. Further, the narrator ages throughout the book, evidenced in the the evolution of language and temperament, spanning a period of somewhere over five years.
As a result, the writing allows for multiple perspectives and interpretations, not only sections of the book, but the entirety of events themselves. For instance, one reading of the book could allow it to be taken at face value; the story told is as the narrator described. Alternatively, the supernatural isn't real, and the writer is using it as a narrative device. Or, the narrator never escapes, rather succumbing to the madness, trying to make sense of it, embracing it, and entertaining fantasy in order to save what little he has left of his own sanity.
To further convey the madness, disjointed thought patterns and alternate interpretations of sentences are derived from not adhering to conventional grammar (within reason,) often reflected in the absence of commas, and the use of run-on sentences. A first person account, written to reflect the narrator's mental state in three forms; as originally experienced, as reflected, and in retrospect as writer/editor. Following his descent into madness attempting to wrangle the beast, dealing with demons literal and figurative (depending on point of view,) coupled with meditations on the tragedy and farce of the human condition in the wake of a eulogy for the so-called apocalypse. Dragging the reader, if they wish to continue with it, through the process and drowning in it all.
This book isn't for everyone, most will be adverse to it, and isn't recommended reading.
THE CONSTANT WAKE
Born of nightmares, a more straightforward and in a sense, digestible structure, in contrast to 'Helianthus Anathema'. However the content itself will pose greater challenge to readers with a low constitution.
Originally written as a detox from the previous novel, a laughable notion, as the novel is a beast of its own. Written in a raw, at times staccato manner, like bloody punches. A hardboiled horror complimented with extreme violence, following grim psychological reflections of a suffering broken lead, streamlined through the dark depths of Hellish allusions.
Significantly shorter than previous, appropriate given the content. 'The Constant Wake' is written in third person, but within a first person structure. The reader will not have more information than the main character, if anything, less. Additionally there are two interpretations of events, dependant on one's point of view. With chapters like fading memories, bleeding out, recovery and action, from different moments in time, between past, present and the inevitable outcome.
SOUTH OF KETHER
The third of the thematic trilogy, continuing and encapsulating psychological and ontological themes, this novel follows a weary bounty killer, one capable of efficient violence, visited traditionally through fists, swords, guns, and whatever else is on hand. Featuring more fantastic elements, with great beasts and motorized transport in a world of stagnation and decay. Attempting to maintain operation in a waning existence and fading relevance, in essence the death of the professional, surviving amidst a backdrop of colossal contemporary waste.