Let’s Do the Time Warp Again…

Fall has fallen, and hit us with the time change, where we all fall back, at least around these parts. Me? I want to fall asleep–I don’t cotton much to time changes either comin’ or goin’. However, you suck it up, and keep banging the keyboard or whatever it is you have to do to get by. I made a few calls today touching base and seeing what the Blurry Ones are doing, and then buckled down to continue work on Echo of Dead Leaves.

I’m hip deep in this beast at the moment, and have a good handle on it. The outline is done; the foundation is poured. All that remains is to flesh out all the fiddly bits of which there are a number. Detail is important when working with Lovecraftian elements and in a work like Echo of Dead Leaves, characters are very important. It’s essential to have a lot of NPCs running around, so the characters don’t feel like they are operating in a vacuum. There are times when isolation is key, and you can rest assured there will be times when the characters are very, very alone.

Where does one turn to for reference in evoking a horrific atmosphere? Where does one saturate their soul with inky darkness and ennui to better espouse the infinite dooms awaiting all men?  Movies, comics, tv shows, video games, and music are all ready to lend a hand in helping us get to this proper frame of mind. Don’t think I forgot books (because I didn’t, honest!)

I’ll offer a handful of things, in random fashion, one can count on to get the black ichor flowing in the blood. 

Books: There are a number of books to fill your belly with gut-wrenching horror.  Grab a novel by Steven King, and you usually can’t go too wrong (although a number of endings in his works definitely go pear shaped). If you’re looking for some good espresso-style horror punch, grab something with his short stories, such as Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. You can prowl around and find a lot of nifty horror right on the internet as well for the low, low cost of zero. Project Gutenberg is a fine place to start, although a number of publishers’ website are now offering freebie stuff from their library as well. Something a little more modern which rocks especially hard? Patient Zero. Imagine James Bond meet zombies. Trust me on this one.

Comics: 30 Days of Night does horror right. It’s beautifully evocative, and shows you a neat twist on some old, familiar lore: the vampire. If I ruined it for you, cry me a river (of blood) and get on with your life. The Walking Dead is a no-brainer. Hah! Although, the first issue starts off extremely derivative of 28 Days Later, I’m told it was a case of parallel development. I don’t know the validity of that remark, but you’ll see it’s amazingly coincidental if that is the case. Once it gets past that, it gets good. Really good. I have yet to watch the AMC show yet, but I hear strong opinions both ways. I understand the television series deviates in some key areas from the graphic novel line, but I’ll get around to watchin them soon enough.

TV: Since I’m already talking about tv shows, I’ll have to suggest police procedural shows. Law & Order and CSI are two that get props for teaching a thing or two about weaving intrictate storylines. Remember, we may be having fun, but I’m still trying to get you to learn stuff. These random bits of media influence me, and, hopefully, I come out better on the other side. These shows reinforce Chekov’s adage–if you spotlight a gun above a fireplace in act I, it better go off later. Heck, go read some Chekov. The guy rocks.

My form has fallen just like fall. This is a shotgun blast of some influences to build a “darker” you. Music? Tool contains all the darkness you need. Trust me. There are scads of other dark music, but it depends upon your musical bent. A tune from Tool is typically enough to get my head in a bad place (which can be a good thing, in some cases). Video games? Indigo Prophecy for the PS2 is wickedly fantastic. Find it. Play it. Heavy Rain is by the same guys and is good (and beautiful) but not as weird as the first one. Alan Wake for the Xbox 360 delivers on the creep factors quite well, and it is a fantastic, twisiting trip through nightmare and dreamscapes challenging you to discern what is real and what is not. Resident Evils rock, but are more action oriented. Silent Hill contains much creepiness, as does the Half-Life Franchise. (If you’ve not played them, you should.) I’ve recently borrowed Eternal Darkness from a friend, so the jury is still out on that one (but I hope to tear into it soon enough.)

I typically play in genres other than what I’m working on as a general rule. Having a little space to breathe is important. Always. Remember that.

Until next time, I bid you adieu!

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