Digital Doings: Soulstorm, Ash Wednesday, Lowland Rider & more…

In the past couple of months, I’ve turned into Digital Guy! I started off by recording several stories by Andrew Vachss as digital downloads for MPformance, then hooked up with David Niall Wilson’s Crossroad Press.

David has done three of my novels in e-book form: Ash Wednesday (the first time the complete version has ever appeared, with the final chapter that was deleted from the Tor edition), Lowland Rider, and Soulstorm. The first two of these are also available in Amazon’s Kindle Store (Soulstorm will be soon), and all are available from most other e-book dealers as well. I’ve also recorded unabridged audiobooks (as downloadable MP3s) of both Ash Wednesday and Lowland Rider, and I’ve just started to record Soulstorm, which should be finished in a few weeks. The e-book is included free with the audiobook. I’ll be doing as many of my backlist books with Crossroad Press as possible, and possibly some new material as well. Continue reading Digital Doings: Soulstorm, Ash Wednesday, Lowland Rider & more…

My “Gandhi at the Bat” at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Fest!

Stephanie Argy & Alec Boehm’s wonderful short film, “Gandhi at the Bat,” adapted from my New Yorker short story, will be appearing at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Fim Festival this Saturday night (July 31st).  It’ll be the short subject preceding the showing of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in a huge outdoor venue. Wish I could be there, but I’ll have to trust Steph and Alec to hold the fort!

The film has had quite a healthy life, and has received a special award for filmmaking excellence from the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Eastman Kodak Award for Best Narrative Short at the IACC Film Festival, and many other awards and prizes. Here’s the film’s website: http://tinyurl.com/2wjsc94

ASH WEDNESDAY available as both ebook and audiobook (read by *me*)…

My HWA-nominated novel, Ash Wednesday, has just been released as an ebook and unabridged audiobook (read by *me* — you think this old ham is going to let someone else read his work?) from David Niall Wilson’s Crossroad Press.

Released in 1987 to excellent reviews, it’s one of the few works to have its own entry in “Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia.” This edition also contains the final chapter that was edited out of the first edition, so is complete for the first time.

The ebook, priced at $2.99, is available for all e-reader formats — Kindle, Nook, iPad, what have you — here:
http://tinyurl.com/2aklbr7

The audiobook, nearly 11 hours long, is available as an MP3 download for $12.99 here, so you can listen on your computer, iPhone, iPad, iPod, or anything on which you can play MP3s (and the ebook is included free with the audiobook):
http://tinyurl.com/2a5jsr7 Continue reading ASH WEDNESDAY available as both ebook and audiobook (read by *me*)…

Free Audiobook Short Story, “Ants,” at Crossroad Press!

Along with performing short stories by myself and others over at MPformance, I’m going to be reading some of my own longer work, including an unabridged audiobook of the complete version (with the deleted final chapter) of my novel Ash Wednesday, for Crossroad Press. They’ll also be doing many of my novels as e-books in the weeks and months to come. In honor of Audiobook Month, there’s a free audio short story of mine, “Ants,” that you can stream or download. Go here and scroll down a bit. And enjoy!

Reading Andrew Vachss’s “Hit Man” on MPformance…

In harsh contrast to my just-posted blog entry on “Killing…”, there’s a new MP3 performance of me reading Andrew Vachss’s short story, “Hit Man,” right here. A 14-minute story you can download for $.99, with a steamy shower sequence (you can almost hear the running water…well, actually you can, thanks to Live Body’s sound effects)  and a nifty switcheroo ending. In weeks ahead, look for new performances of my own short story, “A Lover’s Alibi,” and my crazy New Yorker piece, “Gandhi at the Bat”…

Killing…

I killed a bird this morning. I really had no choice, but I felt terrible about it and I still do.

I was sitting in my office, much earlier than usual. The cat was lying on her cushioned perch looking out the window. Suddenly there was a loud thud that made both of us jump, and I knew immediately that a bird had flown into the window. It happens occasionally, and usually when I look out the bird has already flown away, or, more rarely, is lying there dead. Every now and then I’ll see a bird sitting on the porch, looking a bit dazed, and then it’ll fly away, to my great relief.

But today the bird was lying on its side, beating its wing and panting, its small chest rising and falling quickly. I hoped that it would right itself, and it did in another minute, and sat on the pavement the way it would in a nest. But its beak was open and I saw a small bit of blood at its corner. One wing poked out helplessly while the other was folded under it. It continued to pant rapidly, as though panicked.

I thought of Robinson Jeffers’ wonderful poem, “Hurt Hawks,” long one of my favorites, and the lines “No more to use the sky forever but live with famine/And pain a few days…” I knew then what I would have to do.

My wife joined me, but as we watched the bird for some time, nothing changed, and I said that I thought I would have to end it, put it out of its pain and terror. She asked me not to, but realized too that it had to be done, though she couldn’t bear to watch.

Then I wondered about how to do it. I couldn’t cut it or crush it. That was too immediate, too tactile. But then I remembered my son’s old .BB gun that was still in the house. After the first shot, the bird began its death spasms, and the second stilled it. It was out of pain. It no longer felt that fear of something it had no chance of understanding. I thought of a line from the poem again, “I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.”

And when I picked up the bird, a young one, its coloring still speckled, it was like Jeffers’ dead hawk, “relaxed, owl-downy, soft feminine feathers…” But nothing soared up, no spirit of the doomed, unlucky bird. I had stopped the agony, but I hadn’t freed anything. On the contrary, I had ended it.

And though the first blow, the truly killing one, hadn’t been mine, I couldn’t help but think that when we kill something we take from it everything — all that it ever was and all that it ever might be. I’ll never hear that bird sing, never see it splashing its wings as it cools itself in the birdbath. When we kill, these can be the things we kill, music, beauty, joy.

We should never forget that, whether we kill to put meat on our table, to enforce our own beliefs, for retribution, or simply because we can without impunity. Killing is killing, ending that other life forever, every chance, every opportunity, every possible future.

Killing.

Reading another Andrew Vachss story on MPformance…

Yesterday MPformance posted another MP3 of me performing Andrew Vachss’s short story, “Dress Up Day.” It’s got original music, sound effects, and, of course, my performance as a troubled  teenaged high school kid (ah, the joys of voice acting — I could never pull that off on stage or in film!).

It’s a cheap & quick $.99 download, so check it out. There are five stories available now, and I’ve read two of them with two more in the pipeline. I’ll also be recording some of my own stories as well. Give them a listen and please let me know what you think…

Acting & Writing: Interpretation, Creation, and Character

Many of my readers and writing friends may not be aware of my acting, while many of my fellow actors and theatre people aren’t usually aware of my career as a writer. They’re two occupations that fit together very nicely, and I’ve been playing one against the other regularly for the past several years. While I see writing as purely creative, I consider acting to be more of an interpretive art, bringing to life someone else’s creation, and interpreting that preconceived role in your own way. Continue reading Acting & Writing: Interpretation, Creation, and Character

Wish I were “In Treatment”…

I’ve promised to discuss things that interest me in the arts rather than just make this blog/website a self-promotional tool, and I’m keeping that promise by telling those who don’t already know about it what a transcendent and illuminating TV show HBO’s In Treatment is.

I’d been dimly aware of this show, but I recall that when I’d first heard about the concept I’d found it off-putting: a half-hour series about a psychotherapist who is visited by the same few patients week after week. I immediately envisioned thirty minutes of whining counterbalanced by Gabriel Byrne’s constant nodding and inquiring, “And how do you feel about that?” So I ignored the show. But after a friend highly recommended it, I decided to give it a try, and sat down in the chair across from Paul (Byrne’s character) and started undergoing treatment. Continue reading Wish I were “In Treatment”…

MPformance — a new way to hear stories…

I put a teaser on earlier, before my website was even up, about a new site for which I was reading some short stories. Well, it’s up now, and it’s called MPformance.  Click on the word and go there now.

The site will fill you in on what it’s all about, but the skinny is that there are currently three stories by Andrew Vachss which are downloadable as MP3 files, and I performed one of them, “Cain.” I’ve also recorded three other stories that will be up in weeks to come. Continue reading MPformance — a new way to hear stories…