Join me in welcoming Robert E. Dunn back to Horror Maiden's. Robert is the author of some truly fantastic books. The latest, The Harrowing, is a super fun adventure into the nightmarish depths of Hell. You can find my review of The Harrowing Here and follow along the publicity tour hosted by Erin Al-Mehairi with these hashtags: #TheHarrowing #badasshorror #angelsatwar.
THE BIG CANVAS
By Robert Dunn, author of The Harrowing
First of all I want to give a huge thanks to you, Angela. And it is not just for giving me this bit of your world to ramble on about the noises in my brain. You have read and reviewed my books and those of so many others. The small press world is made so much stronger by reviewers who take on the, often thankless, job of pointing out our foibles and achievements.
Today I’m definitely talking about one of my achievements. If you know my work at all, you have probably noticed some reoccurring themes. One is of place. There are two that show up most often. They are the Missouri, Ozarks. (Home.) And the road. (The In Between.) There are machines as well that crop up. I’m a car guy from way back. Finally you might have noticed that women, hopefully strong, dynamic people, tend to play a big part.
All of us who write tend to mine the same ground multiple times when we find rich veins.
In my novel, THE RED HIGHWAY I used the road, and a 1971 Impala convertible as characters. There were two women, one the mother the other the child and both echoed in subtext by and unseen goddess, Inanna. Okay, I guess you can say religion is another theme I keep kicking your direction. In MOTORMAN the machines are living parts of altered people. This includes two women, one half machine, the other unaltered but more than simply human. In that story, the road runs straight into the Ozarks and never leaves.
|The Red Highway & Motorman covers.|
They, my themes and ideas, come up other times, but in my latest novel, THE HARROWING, I took them all and painted large. I have written horror books, mystery, and even romantic suspense. When I began developing the idea for this one I needed a bigger canvas. THE HARROWING fits best under the fantasy umbrella. It contains a lot of horror. And it is definitely an adventure tale. But it all exists in a fantasy world framework of Hell.
Now to be honest, I’m not nearly as self-aware as I make myself appear. This is all hindsight on my part. When I started writing I knew that there would be a strong female. She’s Satan herself. And I knew that the road, again kind of a reimagined yellow brick road that would carry my main character on the journey. That’s about all I really knew aside from the inkling it would be a bigger story.
It was the inkling that made me push. THE HARROWING was born of a simple thought—what would happen if an action hero, think Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, was sent to hell. I wanted to write a horror/action movie book. The thing is, I’ve never written the book that I started off to write. Anyway the thought was horror with lots of action. It started realistically enough. Read that as horror story realism. An angel visits an ex-military, now part-time mercenary, biker and recruits him to rescue an innocent from hell.
Immediately I set my character Jack Presley on the road then let it take a turn. Of course there has to be a quick stop in the Ozarks. Then I sent him to hell. That required a bit of world building that turned everything from what I expected to what I needed. Hell took a shape and in turn shaped the story to it. In order to deal with all the requirements of the world and the new ideas it inspired I watched my horror story become fantasy. Now, to be fair, it is really a modern fantasy, with lots of horror elements, more Jim Butcher than Tolkien. Still, it was a bit of a surprise.
Something else began to creep in that I didn’t anticipate. Yes, I seem to have a lot of themes. But that’s what I’m trying to say. This book took them all and rolled them up into one. Just like in THE RED HIGHWAY poetry became important. It was organic. One of my characters was Edgar Allan Poe. How could I have the original American Romantic poet and ignore his verse?
So that became another layer.
Machinery or objects as character began to show up in the writing of a motorcycle named Legion and a magic sword named Hillary. Strong women, imprinting their presence on the story were inevitable but the book began to fill with their presence. Satan, or in the book, Sataniel, along with a half-angel name Orissa, a full angel leading civil war, an Earth Goddess, and the Queen of Ghosts. You see how my story became bigger than my usual horror canvas.
Now I’m not saying that horror is smaller than fantasy. I’m saying that my story couldn’t fit in my usual realistic world. That’s a good thing. The new kind of world gave my characters room to play and fight in. And, it gave me a new way to write. Maybe next time I’ll have the sense to choose my canvas before I start writing.
Thanks for being here Robert! You're welcome back anytime!!
About the Author
Robert Dunn was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.
An award-winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.
A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem, Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novels Behind the Darkness, A Living Grave and The Red Highway.
Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.
From the Description
Andrew Jackson Presley, mercenary and nomad biker, learned the hard way—never trust an angel. Recruited by archangel Puriel for a harrowing, a descent into hell to rescue the innocent, the next thing he learned is that no one is innocent.
Hell is a prison not just for men but for the old gods as well. Heaven is an insulated club for angels, no humans allowed. The two worlds are locked in an eternal war that may soon be coming to an end. It turns out Jack has been to hell before and there are secrets buried in past lives that make him the key to victory for both sides.
As he tries to finish his mission, Jack finds that the woman he’s to rescue is Orisa, someone he had loved and killed for in life. But Orisa is half-angel with her own secret role to play in the war. While magic, burned into him by angels, gets stronger, and the mystery of his past unravels, Jack becomes Demon Jack, and learns there is more at stake than one innocent person. With the help of Edgar Allen Poe, the Queen of Ghosts, an Earth Goddess, and the most beautiful woman in hell, Satan herself, Jack must stop the angel’s final battle from consuming Earth. Even as the truth takes shape and the plans of eternity are playing out, Jack raises the stakes. To save the world, he sets loose the gods of antiquity, risking the entire universe.
Publication Date: November 24, 2016
Publisher: Necro Publications
Publication Length: 263 pages
Buy the Book
"The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read! It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story. 5+++ stars!" -2 Book Lovers Reviews
"This is hardboiled fiction at its best. We're talking Elmore Leonard territory. A fantastic read and I hope there's more to come." – Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon on A Living Grave
"Dunn's lyrical descriptions of Katrina's inner struggles and demons read almost like poetry as he weaves an intricate and deadly plot of motorcycle gangs, the MOB, cancer survival, and child abuse into a novel so rife with complex feelings and life-situations, you are compelled to read it slowly, so you don't miss a nuance of the gut-wrenching emotions he elicits from his characters." - Peggy Jaeger, Author of The Voices of Angels
"Parts of this book moved me to tears while others made me want to cheer out loud at Katrina's kick-ass-atude. The twists and turns in the story kept me on the edge of my seat until the entirely satisfying ending. I'm so happy that this is just the start of what promises to be a totally addictive series! I highly recommend this phenomenal 5 star read." - Horror Maiden’s Book Reviews