About the Upcoming Stories

The next three stories are also set in New York, and will almost certainly be included in the Shining Towers, Shadowed Tunnels compilation.  I’m not quite as certain if they’ll be included in my broader New York City mythos, along with the Washington Heights Witches and other NYC supernaturals that I intend to introduce over the course of coming stories.

You see, the Guardian Cats of New York City series was originally inspired by this cartoon from the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

 

Guardian Cat Source

What if, I wondered, there really was some kind of ancient pact between cats and humanity?  What if they defended us from Dangers Of The Night that might otherwise slip beneath our radar?  Human magic-users and monster hunters might be good at staking vampires and banishing demons, but we won’t notice the rat king in the sewers until the entire town is consumed with pestilence.  We’re good a blocking the punch to the face, but we’d never even notice the bite from the plague-bearing flea until it was far too late.  Thus, the Old Compact with the cats.

I got three good stories out of the idea, but then started to run out of gas.  Cats secretly defending humans from occult threats is an inherently cute idea; I wanted to treat it seriously, but it was resisting.  As for incorporating the Guardian Cats into my NYC mythos with the Rivera family and other characters I have planned, there’s no technical reason why not, I suppose, but it raises difficult questions: are all of the cats in my setting Guardian Cats, or does it take a special breed of cat, like a witch’s familiar or Sailor Moon’s companions?  What about rats (cats’ eternal enemies) or dogs (their reluctantly-accepted comrades in the defense of the two-legs)?  How sapient are they?  Does all of this fit into a world of gritty street-level magic?

Those are questions I need to work on as I compile Shining Towers, Shadowed Tunnels.  Any suggestions are welcome.

In the meantime, tomorrow’s story is the first story in the Guardian Cats series, and the one that establishes the rules.  Come back tomorrow and enjoy Shin-Nephura’s Neighborhood.

The Truth of Rock and Roll is now available at new sellers!

Truth-of-Rock-and-Roll-for-Dreams

Great news!  In addition to being available on Amazon, The Truth of Rock and Roll is now available at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iTunes Books, and Kobo!

The fable of courage, youth, and rock & roll magic is now available in almost any format you could imagine!

An Amazon review for The Truth of Rock and Roll:

By Amazon Customer on April 2, 2013

The Truth of Rock and Roll is an astoundingly good novel. It has a unique, yet still familiar premise. It begins with a young man who doesn’t want to go to business school arguing on the phone with his father. After the conversation, a middle-aged man approaches him and begins to talk. The young man stays and listens (against his better instincts) and is treated to a story about youth, love, rebellion, small town prejudice, courage and the magic of rock and roll, which in this story is not just a figure of speech. Rock and roll is literally magical.

The Truth of Rock and Roll is not a long book, nor is it an intensely intellectual read. It can be easily devoured in an hour. Devoured is the right word for how one should read this book though. Keville recently began releasing it in serialized form on his blog in an attempt to simply reach more readers. After just the first section I wanted to buy the book. After the fourth I needed to buy it. The characters had quickly become my friends, people I cared about and wanted to win. I couldn’t escape the story, or the world. It’s the world I want for myself, where life is magic and love conquers all, though not without some serious annoyance along the way. Keville shows his skill in telling a wonderfully cheesy tale while making it new enough and good enough that you don’t care if it’s cheesy or a little old hash.

It’s possible this book appealed to me so much because I grew up in a small town and know all too well the kinds of trials and prejudice Johnny and Jenny (what else would our rock and roll lovebirds be named?) come up against. He’s a rich boy, she’s just white trash from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s the same in Footloose and Grease and The Notebook and thousands of other stories. Yet The Truth of Rock and Roll brings something these other stories don’t. For one, it starts with an old man telling how he threw it all away. It is a testament to Keville’s skill at storytelling that when he gets to the part where Johnny rejects the rock and roll angel (yes, there’s really, seriously a rock and roll angel, and it’s just as awesome as it’s possible to be) we feel cheated. Keville anticipates this perfectly with our young man listener/narrator who interrupts, “You did what?” only to be met with “Hey, kid, I told you early on.” He is correct, but it only serves to make this departure from the standard tale more frustrating. That is not to say it makes it bad. In fact, the story is all the more poignant for it.

The Truth About Rock and Roll is a message to anyone who has ever had a dream, “it’s about rockin’, not remembering.” You don’t have to be a writer, an artist, or a rock and roller to appreciate the message. Dreams are worth fighting for.

Watched Thor Again Today…

Two thoughts:

  1. In every movie he has ever appeared in in the MCU, Thor has only ever worn his winged helm from the comics at his coronation.  I become ever more convinced that the elaborate “helms” that the royal family wear are actually their crowns.  The fact that Thor <i>always</i> takes his off when there’s serious trouble brewing, and Loki <i>always</i> has his on probably says something about their characters.
  2. I first saw this movie with a friend who grew up in Sweden.  She was very upset about the scene where Odin loses his eye in battle.  For American readers unfamiliar with Norse mythology, this is like arguing that Paul Bunyan is a warrior and that his axe is a battle-axe.  It’s not only wrong, it misses the whole point of the character.

Stories From Friends

Hey, all.

As you might suspect, I don’t spend all of my time online here at matthewkeville.com.  One of my favorite places to spend time is at Slacktivist, which I’ll be writing about in more detail soon.

I’m not the only writer or blogger at Slacktivist, so I just thought I’d share a few of the hidden gems I’ve found there.

The first is from a commenter who goes by the handle of “Von Krieger”, and the idea is one I’ve seen before, but never quite this way:

Writing Prompt: Demons are not born, they are made from humans surviving in hell long enough

Warning: possible blasphemy.

The next is The Comforts of Winter by a commenter called AlyceInJeans, which is a spicy, erotic fantasy romance.  If you like it, Alyce tells me that there’s a sequel in the works.

BTW, readers, do any of you know anything about Inkitt?  Should I be trying to post any of my own work there?

And special thanks to the friend from Slacktivist who is the first (that I know of) to put Matthewkeville.com on their blogroll:

Tools of the Trade

 

Neighborhood Witch

Bodega

The witch came out of the corner store with her carton of smokes and her two-liter bottle of Pepsi in a plain black plastic bag.

“Hola, Mami,” one of the old men playing dominos in front of the store greeted her.

“Hola, hola,” she replied.  At seventy-one, he had a good six years on her, but “mami” was a title that honored more than just age.  In fact, she’d earned it through sheer pushiness by the time she was three.

She turned the corner onto 180th street and waved at the local drug dealers before mounting the front steps to her apartment building.  They waved back and shouted their greetings – “Hola, Señora Rivera!” “ ‘Ey, Doña Celia!” – before turning back to the people they were speaking with.

Such nice boys.  Why, she remembered when her elder daughter and her husband had needed to move in with her for a few weeks as part of their move to New York (move back to New York in Aracelli’s case).  Brian – also a nice boy, but ay, such a country mouse!  More than once she’d had to rescue him from con artists or chatty street people – had been a bit intimidated by all of the people sitting on the stoop while he tried to parallel park, but the dealers had coached him through it and then watched the luggage so it didn’t walk away while Brian and Aracelli were moving it from the curb to the apartment.

They weren’t the kind of boys who went shooting at everyone who wore the wrong colors.  They didn’t want trouble.  They just wanted to sell their pot and ecstasy to Columbia students and at all the new clubs opening up in Inwood.  Living in New York meant making such accommodations.

Besides, anyone who was more trouble than that didn’t get to stay in Celia Rivera’s neighborhood very long.
Continue reading “Neighborhood Witch”

New Story Up Tomorrow!

Bodega

Coming up tomorrow is Neighborhood Witch, a tale of everyday magic in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.  Like Looking The Other Way, Neighborhood Witch will be part of the upcoming Shining Towers, Shadowed Tunnels short story connection.

Neighborhood Witch, like Looking The Other Way, is based on my own experiences – people I’ve met, places I’ve seen.  They needed a lot less alteration than you might expect to create an urban fantasy story.  There’s magic, both dark and bright, in those streets.

Excerpt:

The witch came out of the corner store with her carton of smokes and her two-liter bottle of Pepsi in a plain black plastic bag.

“Hola, Mami,” one of the old men playing dominos in front of the store greeted her.

“Hola, hola,” she replied.  At seventy-one, he had a good six years on her, but “mami” was a title that honored more than just age.  In fact, she’d earned it through sheer pushiness by the time she was three.

She turned the corner onto 180th street and waved at the local drug dealers before mounting the front steps to her apartment building.  They waved back and shouted their greetings – “Hola, Señora Rivera!” “ ‘Ey, Doña Celia!” – before turning back to the people they were speaking with.

Such nice boys.  Why, she remembered when her elder daughter and her husband had needed to move in with her for a few weeks as part of their move to New York (move back to New York in Aracelli’s case).  Brian – also a nice boy, but ay, such a country mouse!  More than once she’d had to rescue him from con artists or chatty street people – had been a bit intimidated by all of the people sitting on the stoop while he tried to parallel park, but the dealers had coached him through it and then watched the luggage so it didn’t walk away while Brian and Aracelli were moving it from the curb to the apartment.

They weren’t the kind of boys who went shooting at everyone who wore the wrong colors.  They didn’t want trouble.  They just wanted to sell their pot and ecstasy to Columbia students and at all the new clubs opening up in Inwood.  Living in New York meant making such accommodations.

Besides, anyone who was more trouble than that didn’t get to stay in Celia Rivera’s neighborhood very long.

First Story Coming Tomorrow!

Cover-Final

I thought that the best place to start on this new site would be with one of my most popular short stories.

Looking the Other Way is a story of hard times and the darkness beneath New York City, and what you sometimes have to do to survive both.  Inspired by my own experiences in the Great Recession, Looking the Other Way will be one of the stories in my upcoming short story collection Shining Towers, Shadowed Tunnels.

Excerpt:

2008 was a bad year. Even in New York City, where the Great Recession never got quite as deep as it did in the rest of the country, that fall and winter were deep, dark, tell-your-grandkids-how-you-lived-through-the-hard-times bad. Hundred-year-old investment firms closed down like Broadway shows, and Broadway shows shut down like a community theatre production in Ogdensburg. Even the strip clubs were hurting.

I was one of the lucky ones. Well, not one of the really lucky ones. They kept their jobs. But I had a good severance package, a couple of 401(k)’s I could cash out for a couple thousand apiece (hurt me at tax time, but you do what you have to do), and an ex who insisted on rooming with me as long as I needed help with the rent. Between all that, Unemployment, and the fact that I was able to find temp work almost immediately, I was able to hold on and get through.

That last part was really key. When 2008 happened, I was a paralegal at a big Wall Street law firm. That made me a very useful fellow, but in 2008, even I was taking whatever work I could, wherever I could, whenever I could, and was grateful to get it.

Even so, I quickly discovered that I didn’t like night shifts. It puts you out of sync with the rest of the world. Sure, it’s nice to be able to go to the gym at noon when there are maybe three people in the whole place, but it’s just not New York if you can’t take a date to dinner and a play. Not that I could have afforded to do that anyway, but still.

Anyway, that was how I ended up standing on the subway platform at 59th and Lexington at 3:30 in the morning, headed back out to my apartment in Queens: a temp job. This law firm had needed someone to cover for their Proofreading Department while he took his “use ‘em or lose ‘em” vacation days before the end of the year, and his shift was from 6 PM to 2 AM…and that night had run into overtime.

 

A Quick Thought On A Great Movie And A Clever Writer

Not long ago, my fiancee and I had the pleasure of going out to see The Maltese Falcon on the big screen.  You have to take advantage of opportunities like that if you’re going to make living in New York worth the effort.  Anyway, while I was watching it, I had an interesting thought: if Dashiell Hammett is looking down from Writer’s Heaven, between knocking back shots with Hemingway, he’s probably laughing his ass off at how he’s put one over on four generations of censors.

Twice in the movie, Sam Spade calls another character a “gunsel”. This is because the pulp magazine that published the original serialized novel wouldn’t allow vulgarities, so Sam couldn’t swear. But if you look up “gunsel“, it doesn’t mean “hired gun” or “thug” like you might think. If that long-ago editor knew what he was printing (and those Golden Age of Hollywood censors knew what they were allowing to be said onscreen), they might have preferred to let Sam swear…

Welcome to Matthewkeville.com

Hello, all.  And Welcome to matthewkeville.com.  I know it looks a little plain right now, but we’re working on it.  There’s a solid foundation, a roof and four walls.  The furniture will come in due time.

In addition to announcements about releases and promotions, this blog will feature reviews, discussions of writing theory, short stories, and the occasional autobiographical moment.  Ideally, there’ll be a new post out every Thursday morning, but we’ll see what life has to say about that.

For those of you who know me from my old blog, Dreams of the Shining Horizon, you’re going to see some reprints at first, but I could hardly let all of that good old material go to waste, could I?  You’re also going to see a certain shift in focus – more of the literary, less of the personal and political.  Stick around anyway, I promise it’ll be worth the ride.