What do you think of when you hear those words?

Do you conjure up the image of some mustachioed guy in a red suitcoat, tan trousers and top hat holding a chair before him and cracking a whip in the other? All the while the King of the Jungle stands before him with glistening fangs ready to rip muscle from bone?

Or, do you think of animal cruelty? Harkening back to the time of Roman spectacle when animals were captured and shipped to the great coliseums and slaughtered for the entertainment of the masses?

If you answered yes to either, then you are a rather depressed individual, I’d say. In other words, my kind of people!

For me, the term Lion Tamer brings about feelings of joy and tons of pride. I don’t feel pride often. Not much at all. I’m kind of a humble guy and think that anything remotely prideful is akin to boasting and I have this ridiculous fear of being perceived as arrogant.

Hence the reason why my site has such a modest name.

I’ve been writing my entire life in one form or another, but I never got serious–I mean, really serious about it–until i was about 28 years old. This was when I decided to take this thing I’d been doing on and off and make it part of my daily routine. The end result was my first novel, called ‘The Last Doorway’. I stand by this story to this day, but reading it now, one can easily tell it was written by a very raw, undisciplined writer. I may go back to it someday, as it is finished, but I think a total re-write is in order.

 

Right, sorry. Rambling.

After joining my wonderfully talented writers group ‘Nashua Writers Group’, it was suggested that i maybe take a spin at doing some short stories as an exercise to polish my writing and explore different styles and genres. Judging from the 15 short stories I’ve had published, I’d go out on a limb and call that sound advice.

One such story is The Lion Tamer. I wrote this piece about four years ago to submit to a horror anthology. First of all, I do not consider myself a horror writer. Period. I am a fan of the genre, but I find when I set out to write horror, it comes across as contrived. I think this was one of the reasons the story did not get selected for that anthology, or for the many other horror anthos I shopped it to. It’s more of a suspense story; a literary suspense story, if I may pat myself on the back. It also takes place in World War I, or the Great War if you prefer Coke Classic. So, recapping: A literary suspense story set in WWI? Got it?

The story is set in the aftermath of the Battle of Somme, a particularly bloody battle in France. The story is not about the battle, nor about the war, either. The story is about a handful of the poor men–boys, really–sent to fight and the overwhelming despair skulking around them, just out of their periphery, slowly creeping closer and closer until the men are enveloped in its embrace.

I can say with no uncertainty, that this is my favorite short story that I have written to date. Why? Disregarding that I just think it is a  cool idea, a completely original idea as well, this story was the first time that I experimented with writing to an emotion. What do I mean by that? I do not mean that I am going off into a completely douche-bag way of elevating my writing to a high art, where I say things like “I absorbed the aether of the tale, living within the characters’ minds until I felt I knew them as well as I know my own face.”

Writers who have that kind of attitude…man, you really want to respect them as people, but…come on.

The Lion Tamer allowed me to find that writing to an emotion, for me, is a technique–a tool, if you will–that I have used in every piece I have written ever since. What I do is, during the outline/beginning stages of the piece, I sit and think about the story for a bit and focus on the tone I want to get across. This generally involves a lot of visualization. Essentially, I cast a movie in my head and let it play out and try to gleam the cube of what I want it to feel like. For the Lion Tamer, that emotion was despair, and I kept that foremost in my mind whenever I worked on it. Literally. I thought despair, over and over, the entire time. Once I had that, the tone was easy. I felt it throughout my entire body and felt it flowing into my words.

Okay, that did sound ultra-arty-hipstery-douchey.

Oh, and there is an actual Lion Tamer in it, too. If you want to know how I–your old pal–married World War I and a lion tamer, then you’ll just have to go read the story. I will tell you that I based the character off a legit, old-timey lion tamer who was a real class-act human being. Let’s just say he makes Michael Vick look like Sarah McLachlan.

After many tries, finally, my favorite story was accepted and is about to be published. Actually, it was one of 12 winners of a short story contest put on by the folks at Play With Death.com.   To have my story–my favorite story–win a contest means the absolute world to me. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

The anthology, titled ‘The Nightmare Collection’ is available at Amazon for pre-order now. If you wait until April 3rd, it will be free for a few days. Yes, it is only Kindle at the moment. Who knows? If it is a success, maybe it’ll be released wider. You can check out my Short Stories page for additional deets.

I hope you check out the antho, and the PlayWithDeath website for all things horror. If you do read the antho, please leave a review on Amazon, good or bad. We’ll take all the publicity we can get.

 

Wade Approved

Wade Approved

 

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