Inspirations From the Void

Or at least it seems they come from a mystery universe somewhere out there where we can never reach. What is the strangest place you’ve been at the time inspiration hits? Some of the most unexpected things I’ve gleaned a poem from, that I can think of, are the novel Dune, a suspicious insect I didn’t know the name of struggling between two windowpanes, a historic photo of a cannibal, and a haunted house themed level in a video game.

Well, Dune isn’t so oddball. I’m willing to bet there’s more writing out there based on Dune than you’d reckon there was. I know that there is a concept album on it, anyway.

One of my favourites is a poem called “Lorenzo” that showed up in my recent book Loverboy. It’s an agonized, romantic piece that came out of the first time I heard Liszt’s “Liebestraume Notturno No. 3”. “Lorenzo” was a rare exception for me – I don’t normally love my poetry pieces as much as I love that one, and I have to wonder if Liszt was more fond of that particular song than usual?
Either way, I’ve never been able to write anything else with “Liebestraume” as a background, it just doesn’t work for me now like it did to begin. So strange how it all unfolds then diminishes, to never happen again.

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Loverboy is Free on Kindle Unlimited!

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Loverboy is now free on Kindle Unlimited for a limited time! It is available in all regions that have KU on Amazon, but to buy it for your Kindle is only $1.99. A free sample is available.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KCMYBPD
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KCMYBPD

This is a dark romantic compilation that blurs what lines there are between horror, solace and sorrow. Please give it a try if you’ve enjoyed my work on this blog. Review copies are also available via request on my Goodreads page.

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Book Review – Perfect Blue: Awaken From a Dream by Yoshikazu Takeuchi

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Thriller / Horror
Publication Date: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Seven Seas

“Maybe he was a phantom. Maybe that’s what he was all along – a monster conjured by jealousy and obsession.”

Obsession is where the garden of desire overgrows. What begins a selfish, one-sided love becomes a monstrous weed that eventually, if left unchecked, will suffocate what flowers of sanity remain beneath it.

Awaken From a Dream, like Takeuchi’s book Complete Metamorphosis before it, suggests that the capacity for stalking and fanaticism is not so remote. In fact it may only take an overwhelming loneliness for a long period of time. Obsession is born from a distant closeness, and the media certainly doesn’t help.
Awaken From a Dream doesn’t have quite the disturbing relevancy Metamorphosis did, the short story format strips quite a bit of the character depth. Nevertheless, Takeuchi is something of a master at painting the minds of creeps and innocents. Takeuchi knows well how madness forms and the subtle, sometimes horrible relationships that can form between complete strangers. His style spares no mercy on his characters. In fact it kills a few of them.

There’s a surreal, pitying quality to these stories, as if they were some wretched dying thing remembered from a flitting dream. There’s nothing to be done but watch the whole weird tragedy unfold in your head.
“Wake Me From This Dream” is the best of the three, with heavy echoes of the murder-suicide theme that carried into the first book. Toshihiko is a perverse and disgusting man but he knows this, and in a strange, strange twist finds himself with a stalker much like what he hates in himself.
“Even When I Embrace You” in my opinion is the weaker story, drifting on too long and being unrealistic, but not quite surreal or disturbing enough to stand out either. “Cry Your Tears” on the other hand is incredibly, suddenly violent and stands out stronger than the other two. I think “Cry Your Tears” ended up being my favourite despite some rather… unusual decisions on the characters’ parts, such as not assigning security to a famous singer when she’s being harassed by a psychotic fan.

Even after reading both Awaken From a Dream and Complete Metamorphosis, or perhaps especially after, I’m still not entirely sure who the audience for Takeuchi’s books is supposed to be.
Maybe it is just for those who have wandered into alleys at night, empty save for fluorescent lights, and thought “this is where I’d like to stay forever”. Those who only start to wake at 4 AM and drown their eyes in that hour’s remnants of television. Those who have felt nothing but loneliness in the heart of a crowded city. It’s hard to say.

Poem – “White Ink”

White Ink

White ink spells secret phrases
Unhealthy thoughts that are true
But should never be said,
Not even on the privacy of paper
The vicious things, visceral wants
Nothing you could tell your lover, even
All is bound in the bleach of white ink

Copyright ©2018 S. M. Shuford
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Loverboy is $1.99 on Kindle!

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My debut dark poetry collection is now available on Kindle! It’s available in most regions for $1.99 USD or equivalent, including the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada and India. Please consider buying a copy if you’ve enjoyed my work on this blog. I promise it’s lovely. A free sample can be downloaded or browsed on Loverboy‘s Amazon page, and a different sample can be read here. The paperback will be out later this month.

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KCMYBPD
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KCMYBPD

FROM THE BLURB:
“The hearts you take are the legion you make. Will I love you still… I say that I will.”

“A fever dream of romantic grotesque, Loverboy is a dance of love, heartache and hatred that intertwines horror with beauty as if they were never separate.
Classy and sensual like a forbidden fairytale, this collection of dark poetry paints its phrases from bittersweet fantasy, gender identity, mental illness, broken heritage, obsession and society.
Each poem in S.M. Shuford’s debut holds a unique heart to itself, whether it is shattered, whole or darkened and awaiting death. Loverboy is a collection for those who have ever felt lost or broken, like wandering ghosts who cannot find their way back home.
Fully illustrated, this edition includes an exclusive introduction piece and a preview of the experimental compilation, Absolute Heaven.”

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Book Review – The Plague Council by Eliza Taye

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Science Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Oceania
Publication Date: July 21st, 2018
Publisher: Independent

It is a fact that I met The Plague Council by the sea, and read it there with its heart beating in waves at my feet. Hearing the ebb and flow of the ocean firsthand is an injection of new life when the blood in your mind feels stagnant and sad. The best circumstance to read a new book.

The Plague Council begins what I believe will be a really original science fiction series, taking place in a post-apocalyptic society that is dying but has the chance to be renewed if they can relocate to the bottom of the sea where disease cannot reach what’s left of them. A different ebb and flow, of life versus death. I like that it’s a reverse reinvention of the Atlantis myth. Rather than rediscovering an older culture’s “Atlantis”, they build their own.

I’m drawn to the water as much as the wind. People share a lot in common with the ocean, beyond even the cautious phrase of science and reason, and more complex than the simple fearfulness of superstition.
We are made of its body, we need it. Importantly it also has the will to be merciful or murderous as it chooses. The ocean is a creator and yet also destructive towards its creations. Sounds much like a human personality, doesn’t it?

This story asks some interesting and sometimes uncomfortable questions about what people should choose in the case of a widespread disaster – in the wake of complete trauma, could we go back to the sea? Would it welcome us after what we’ve done to it, or destroy us? Who would be saved and who would be forgotten, and why? Is this more power than we should ever be given that some should decide these things while others have no say?

The writing is descriptive and clear, but I do wish some of the characters besides Jessica were more fleshed out. This prequel is a promising start though. I’m eager to start the main series and see where it takes me.