I took over Edward M. Erdalac’s Blog

I hijacked Ed’s blog. Edward is the living authority on ‘Weird Westerns.’ He writes cool stories about a demon hunter in the old west, a voodoo doctor on a slaver’s ship, and Van Helsing’s adventures in America. To see what I wrote on his blog, and learn more about Edward M. Erdalac’s awesome stories, follow this link.

 

 

MERKABAH RIDER-MENSCH_Erdelac__edited-5 small

Two great books that read well together.

TWWD cover x500

 

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Seven Questions with Edward M. Erdelac

Happy Halloween! Well, almost. Today’s guest is Edward Erdelac, author of the Merkabah Rider series. He is the unchallenged champion in the category of ‘Weird Westerns’ and whose short stories are in three anthologies currently being reviewed for nomination for a 2013 Bram Stoker Award. He is a fantastic author, among the best I’ve read. Here is a link to my review on Goodreads.

JE- Hi Edward, thanks for taking the time for being interviewed.

EE- Thanks inviting me.

 

1) I just finished the first of the Merkabah Rider books. Would you tell us a little about it?

Merkabah Rider is a weird western series about a Hasidic gunslinger tracking the renegade teacher who betrayed his mystic Jewish order of astral travelers (merkabah riders) to the Great Old Ones of the Lovecraftian Mythos. The Rider is a hero in the spaghetti western vein, though not nearly as invulnerable. Members of his sect assume titles to hide their names from malevolent entities, and the Rider clinks around (because under his clothes he’s covered in dozens of talismans and wards) in Hasidic garb with a pair of blue glass spectacles mystically embossed with the Solomonic seals that allow him to see into the Yenne Velt, or spirit world. He employs a silver and gold chased Volcanic pistol likewise covered in sigils and bodyguards against demons and dybbukim. People I tell the concept to usually think it’s gonna be some smarmy pun-ridden satire, but nope, it’s all played completely straight.

There are three books in the series, Tales Of A High Planes Drifter, The Mensch With No Name, and Have Glyphs Will Travel, with a fourth and final installment, Once Upon A Time In The Weird West, in the works. Although they are novels, they’re presented as collections of novella length episodes, meant to evoke the old Lancer/Zebra paperback collections of Robert E. Howard pulp stories.

While there’s plenty of weirdness, bordellos of succubi, half-demon outlaws, a monstrous animated windmill, I think the best weird westerns don’t let the weirdness outdo the western, so in the course of the series the Rider meets up with real personages from history, like Doc Holliday, Dave Mather, Josephine Marcus, Geronimo, etc. Although the Rider’s personal outlook is Judeo-centric, drawing on a lot of Jewish folklore and Midrashic/Kabbalistic beliefs, I throw in stuff from all over the map. Chinese folklore, Christian, Native American, African, Haitian, Mexican, and other works of fiction I enjoy, all wrapped up with a writhing, nameless Lovecraftian bow. I like to read about culture clashes, the way (especially on the frontier) that people that were worlds apart related to each other (or didn’t), and I try to bring that to Merkabah Rider.

 

2) What about Star Wars and your part in that galaxy?

If there’s a bright center to the Star Wars universe, my part is the one that it’s furthest from. Back in 2008 StarWars.com ran a spectacular feature called What’s The Story? Every month they would post an image of an obscure character from a frame of one of the Star Wars films. Sometimes these were blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em characters who literally walked or rolled past the camera for a half a second, sometimes they were crowd scene characters, or characters from spin-off media. The contest was open to absolutely anybody. You basically submitted a backstory, which they then posted and entered into the Lucas archives as canon, in Leland Chee’s ultra-comprehensive internal Holocron database. I wound up writing the winning entries for three months, including the last one, for a drug addicted bounty hunter named Bane Malar (who became a nifty action figure).

This led to me landing my first professional writing job. I did a story for the official website called Fists of Ion. It was about an up and coming alien (a Calian, a race not seen since the Marvel Comics run of Star Wars if you want to know) prizefighter named Lobar Aybock (a tuckerization of Rocky Balboa) who gets recruited by New Republic Intelligence to help bring down a corrupt Imperial governor on a bleak, acid rain washed industrial world. It was basically a chance to write two of my favorite genres – Star Wars and pulpy fight stories. So it’s everything you’d ever want to know about (shock) boxing in a Galaxy Far Far Away. You can actually still read it here, for free –

http://star-wars.suvudu.com/2012/10/star-wars-shorts-fists-of-ion.html

 

Who are your favorite authors and/or books?

Robert E. Howard is my all-time favorite writer, followed by Richard Matheson and Joe R. Lansdale, but funny enough, the first two non-comic books I ever read that convinced me reading (and writing) was amazing was Jack London’s Call Of The Wild (Sister Marie read it to the class – and the ending, which I won’t spoil, just floored me) and Simon Hawke’s adaptation of Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. I read the latter in one sitting and was absolutely mesmerized by its brutality and realness (well, for a novelization about an indestructible hockey mask wearing maniac anyway). I’m not even particularly fond of the movies, and have no idea if it would read as well as it did when I was in seventh grade, but I cannot tell a lie. I was blown away by those books. Since then, I would rate Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Howard’s Hour Of The Dragon, Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Melville’s Moby Dick, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, and John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany as my all-time favorites. Outside of the aforementioned, Stephen King, Shakespeare, Mickey Spillane, Patrick O’Brian, Forrest Carter, Alan Moore, H.P Lovecraft, E.R. Burroughs, Ambrose Bierce, J.R.R. Tolkien, and William Blake are the guys whose work I return to again and again.

 

4) I know what scares me; what scares you?

Well I don’t know what scares you! Tell me!

For me, firstly, it’s my kids. Not that they in themselves terrify me (although being bit in the calf by a toddler when you’re not expecting it is pretty startling), but as they grow older, the thought that anything untoward might happen to them. This ties directly into the other big one, death. The (to me) slight possibility of oblivion, or total non-existence. I never once gave it a thought until I had kids. I was always assured I would continue in some way, and I still mostly am, but every once in awhile I stay up nights thinking about it. Dying before I see my kids grow up, or at least before I know they’ll be OK. Great White Sharks are the only critter on earth that gives me pause, but I haven’t yet had to face that one. Demonic possession movies still creep me out – mainly when they do that weird non-diagetic voice thing. Little girls who sound like Barry White. Maybe tight spaces. I’m not scared of being trapped in an elevator or a closet, but lock me in a trunk where I can’t push the seat down and get out, I start to sweat. And that brings me full circle to death again. Poe’s The Premature Burial terrified me as a kid.

This scares me. It is why my wife and I don't have kids.

This scares me. It is why my wife and I don’t have kids.

5) Where is the coolest place (either temperature-wise, or in terms of hipness) you’ve ever been here on Earth? Anyplace off Earth? (You never know unless you ask.)

On earth, I spent two weeks in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. It was heavenly. The ocean was clear and the temperature of bathwater, the women were beautiful, of every type and shade, and friendly, the liquor was blinding (and laced, mysteriously, with tortoise balls), the food was amazing, and I was introduced to a variety of Spanish language bands I never would’ve given a chance otherwise – Plastalina Mosh chief among them. They’re like the Beastie Boys if they came from Monterrey, Mexico. Even experienced a rain shower in a tropical forest. Amazing. Close runner up is StarvedRockState Park in Illinois, where I was married in a blizzard.

Off the earth – If, like the painter in Leaf By Niggle (or the people in Matheson’s Summerland), you get to exist in a place of your own imagining once you shuffle off your mortal coil, I might choose to spend my cosmic retirement in Middle Earth. Probably in Mithlond or maybe The Shire. But I’d vacation all over the place –Barsoom, Tatooine, maybe Narnia and definitely that sexy planet from Star Trek. You know the one. I haven’t yet found a place in my own imagination I’d go to (there’s always horrible stuff going down in those places), so I hope the rent isn’t prohibitive in any of these alternate realms. But all these places are dear to me, and they’re vivid enough to make me feel like I’ve been to them.

 

6) This is a slippery question, be careful. Tell us one thing about yourself that no one would guess by just meeting you.

My author buddy and sometime editor Tim Marquitz, whom you should call The Exquisite Marquis as I do, has told me it’s that I like classic hip hop and gangsta (I hate spelling it that way, but it’s a two edged sword. You either come off as a jerk or a poser if you do it one way or the other, and I won’t say ‘G-style.’ Ah crap. I just said it.) rap music. He says it’s odd, considering I’m one of the whitest, squarest looking dudes he knows. I wrote, directed, and produced an indie western movie back in 2009, Meaner Than Hell, and I kept one of the character’s saddlebags. So when I go to a convention I usually have those over my shoulder Jack Burton style, to carry my purchases and submission packets and stuff. So yeah, Tim says I look like a dork. But anyway, I came of age when hip hop was actually good (A Tribe Called Quest, GangStarr, Scarface, Eric B. And Rakim, etc), so I’m a fan, though I don’t wear sports caps with the little secret sticker on the underside of the brim, or baggy pants or any of that b-boy stuff. Whew, that IS a slippery slope…

.

 

7) The final Rider book is coming out soon, are there any new ‘Weird Westerns’ planned or is this where the sun sets?

I’ve got a new book out already from JournalStone Publishing, Terovolas, which is about Abraham Van Helsing’s 1891 sojourn in Texas. Right after the events depicted in Bram Stoker’s Dracula the professor suffered a mental breakdown stemming from his encounter with the count’s vampire brides. After his release, he volunteered to bear the remains of Quincey Morris back to the Morris family ranch, and had a series of weird encounters involving wolf worshippers there. I’ve been thinking about maybe knocking out a wuxia western fantasy next, as I love old Chang Cheh kung fu movies, and Chinese folklore, like Journey To The West, stuff like that. Somewhere far down the trail I might revisit the Rider’s early years (his career in the War, his adventure with Misquamacus, and his Texas exploits), but only if people are interested or if I run out of other ideas.

Aside from THAT, yeah I think that part of my career might bid a fond farewell.  But it’s OK, there are always other stories to tell.

 

The following is an excerpt from the second in the Merkabah Rider series, Have Glyphs, Will Travel.

“Dirty Dave is a lout, but he won’t shirk from a fight,” Doc warned. “Looking like you do, and going in there with just your pecker in your hand, you might set that bull to charging.”

“I’ve settled a charging bull or two in my time,” the Rider said. “Besides, we need him alive and talking.”

“Your call,” Doc said.

The Rider pushed through the doors and walked into the cigar smoke and chatter.

The bar was polished wood and there was a big mirror behind it. Gaming tables were full about the place.

The Rider went to the bar and laid his right hand flat on it.

Dirty Dave Rudabaugh was belly to the bar, a few feet to his left, wide gun belt sagging with the weight of his pistol, big calloused pig knuckle hands grasping bottle and glass. He had a bulldog face and double chin papered with rough stubble, a single thick fold in the back of his neck. He sported a luxuriant down-swept mustache below a lumpy pear nose. The graying hair on his head was cropped short and his meaty face seemed to squeeze at the bases of his big red ears. He carried a lot of extra weight, but he was solid as a boar, a bully born.

“This glass looks like you wiped it with your dickhead, Tetchy,” he rumbled, though he was the dirtiest one in the place.

He set it down and with a flick of his thick finger, sent it smashing onto the floor behind the bar.

Tetchy the bartender stooped to clean up the mess.

“Bring me another one.”

“You gonna pay to replace that one, Dirty?” Tetchy muttered.

“What?” said Dirty, his pale blue eyes bright in his mean face.

Tetchy rose, busted glass rattling in a dustpan and paled at Dirty’s look.

“Nothing.”

He dipped slightly and set another glass in front of Dirty, then did the same for the Rider.

“What’ll you have?” he asked.

The Rider closed his fingers around the shot glass.

“I’ll have whatever that fat pig Dave Rudabaugh is having,” the Rider said loud and clear.

The talk in the bar stopped and he heard creaking chairs and leather as bodies turned in their seats.

Dirty turned too, his lips pinched, eyes glaring. There was a confused expression on his face for a half a second as Dirty took in the Rider, then he blinked and straightened, his hand dropping to his side.

The Rider pitched the shot glass at him.

It struck Dirty in the upper lip with such force it exploded, rocking his head back and knocking his hat off, sending blood, glass, and a chip off his eye tooth flying in all directions.

In another minute Doc was there. He smashed Dirty’s groping hand with the barrel of his own .45, then followed up with a knee to his big belly that left the man spluttering and groaning.

Doc looked at the Rider with open admiration.

“I never thought I’d meet a man faster with a whiskey glass than I was.”

The light has failed: the era of man is at its end

(Introduction by Tim Marquitz. Book release date is September 1st.)

I started Fading Light with high hopes, but I wasn’t sure what to expect having never orchestrated an anthology before. There was a lot of uncertainty the night before submissions opened. What kind of stories would I get? Would any of the invited authors take me up on the offer to submit? What was I letting myself in for?

Turns out, the process went better than I could ever have imagined. Not only did I receive amazing stories from the vast majority of my invitation authors, I received a ton of great pieces from a wide range of folks from all over the world. Even better still, the stories were all diverse and original, each author taking the anthology prompt and making it their own. I ended up with way more stories than I could accept. Because of this, Angelic Knight Press and I decided to do a companion book so we could say yes a few more times.

In the end, I’m proud to say Fading Light features a number of debut authors alongside a cast of seasoned veterans, all poised to send a chill down your spine. So, dive into the darkness and experience the monstrous.

Tim Marquitz

El Paso, TX

July 5, 2012

Table of Contents:
“Parasitic Embrace” by Adam Millard

A volcano erupts, sending an ominous ash-cloud across the ocean.  The ash-cloud is the least of our worries. Contained within the hellish plume are millions of micro-parasites that have been dormant, waiting to find their host.

“The Equivalence Principle” by Nick Cato

Steve Burke is a man suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia.  He treats himself with a homemade cocktail of natural herbs and over the counter pain killers.  But what he has spent most of his life avoiding becomes real in the ways he’d always feared.

“A Withering of Sorts” by Stephen McQuiggan

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Goldilocks Zone” by Gary W. Olson

Amita has had a trying evening––and it’s just getting started.  People are becoming monsters, buildings are slipping into sludge, gravity is turning optional, and assorted parts of her body are mutating. A voice in her head tries to explain, but somehow, understanding only makes it stranger.

“They Wait Below” by Tom Olbert

The world is near dying. An ecological inspector stationed on a deep sea oil rig suspects something is very wrong with the rig’s crew. His investigation into the mystery leads him to an ancient cosmic evil that has slept for eons, waiting for its chance to return.

 

“Blessed Be the Shadowchildren” by Malon Edwards

The Sun is dying––mortally wounded by an asshole god and his jealousy. There’s hope (and love) in the slow, dark death promised. Hope hangs on fifteen-year-old Levi and Lali reaching the warm arms of the Bright Lady before a horde of pursuing Biloko devour them––intestines first.

“The Beastly Ninth” by Carl Barker

The Sorcerer Napoleon is free, having escaped from his island prison and returned to France, to begin re-raising Hell. The only man standing in his way is Lord Arthur Wellesley, and this time, the Duke of Wellington has a few tricks of his own.

“Late Night Customer” by David Dalglish

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Rurik’s Frozen Bones” by Jake Elliot

It is Scandinavia, 819AD. The Vikings rule the North Atlantic through both warfare and trade. A beast hunts the cold waters between Sweden and Denmark, a monster unchallenged by the bravest of sailors.

“Wrath” by Lee Mather

Steven hasn’t touched a drink in months and now the time is right to take his son back from his brother’s custody. What he hadn’t counted on was the end of the world. Steven stopped believing in God a long time ago, but seeing is believing––will belief be enough to deter God’s wrath?

“Friends of a Forgotten Man” by Gord Rollo

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Altus” by Georgina Kamsika

The Altus is a free-diving submersible whose helmswoman aims to break depth records. She finds more than she bargained for at the bottom of the sea. Something monstrous lurks in the darkness with her and her submarine.

“Angela’s Garden” by Dorian Dawes

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“The Long Death of Day” by Timothy Baker

For John and the love of his life, a terrifying shadow threatens to tear them apart. The world is at its end, and a blanket of darkness has spread between the Sun and Earth, turning day into deep gloom. With it, something monstrous writhes within the unnatural night, intent on devouring our dying planet.

“Out of the Black” by William Meikle

300-years after the great dimming, the energy resources begin to run out. A man is sent from the underground city to the surface to scout for survival-necessary ore. All he finds is a dead world and a great blackness; a blackness that will not be kept out.

“Degenerates” by DL Seymour

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Dust” by Wayne Ligon

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Der Teufel Sie Wissen” by TSP Sweeney

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner

After clouds block out the sun, Jeb struggles to keep his family safe and his faith intact. With his wife’s unexpected pregnancy and two strangers seeking refuge, things go from bad to worse. How do you tell who follows the path of light when you can no longer see who’s immersed themselves in darkness?

“Lottery” by Gene O’Neill

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Where Coyotes Fear to Tread” by Gef Fox

The world is shrouded in darkness and people have started acting strangely. Only two people can save the world from an ancient evil rising out of the Tennessee River––a ne’er-do-well redneck named Lester and his ex-girlfriend, Carla. Carla might be up for the challenge, but all Lester wants to do is get the hell out of Knoxville.

“The Theophany of Nyx” by Edward M. Erdelac

A fissure opens in the moon’s crust and swallows Earth’s first lunar colony whole, resulting in a thick cloud of dark dust that drifts into our planet’s atmosphere, blotting out the sun. Night falls across the entire world and vegetation begins to die. After eons of exile, something driven from the Earth in its primordial past is at last returning…

“Double Walker” by Henry P. Gravelle

Psychoanalyst, Dr. Maria DOBBS has a new client who believes his shadow has murdered his parents and others. She attempts to decipher whether he is a clever killer feigning insanity, an unwilling victim of an electrical storm jolting his senses, or the victim of a lifestyle placing his emotions in turmoil. Will she discover the truth before it is too late?

“Light Save Us” by Ryan Lawler

It has been months since Ted last saw the Sun. Hideous beasts lurk in the darkness outside the compound, waiting for the lights to fail. Ted works hard to keep the lights running, but the longer he fights, the more inviting the darkness becomes.

“Dark Tide” by Mark Lawrence

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

The following are bonus stories, available only for NOOK and Kindle:

“Roadkill” by CM Saunders

Jimmy and Tito make up one of the freelance ambulance and recovery crews patrolling the notoriously dangerous roads and highways of Brazil. Their job is not to the common man’s taste, but the money is worthy, and they’ve become very good at it. Everything worked great until the night they stumbled across an accident victim who refused to die.

“Torrential” by Regan Campbell

The author has opted to keep this story a surprise

“Night Terrors” by Jonathan Pine

Dr. Mark Jacobs is a well-meaning physician just trying to do his best for his patients. But after a chance encounter, he ends up taking his work home with him in a way he could never imagine. Now he will have to face his own night terrors.

“Final Rights” by Peter Welmerink

The world has been cast into the cold embrace of Nuclear Winter, the Earth withering towards a dreary demise. The once-glorious daylight hours, now a perpetual dusk as the last bastions of humanity hold beneath the brightly-lit, but slowly dying vestiges of the larger cities. On the perimeters of our cloud-cloaked countryside, light succumbs to deep shadow–where a myriad of mutated beasts hungrily await civilization’s light to wink out.

“Evensong” by Alex Marshall

Demons rule the outside––but devils stalk within. These are the hidden halls of Agartha – perhaps the last of Earth’s buried strongholds where, for countless centuries, Morya’s folk have been enslaved. But now, rebel-soul Morya and her lover Seth have a chance to escape the hated Seers; a chance to breathe clean air and see the sun’s fading splendor for themselves…if only they dare…