Each time that Sirens Call Publications releases an anthology, we like to delve a little into the minds of the authors whose stories appear between the covers just to find out why that particular story line came to them. In Between the Cracks, twelve fantastic stories appear and each of the authors was asked to write a post sharing their inspiration for it. Over the next week, you’ll hear from seven of them… First up is Kyle Rader, author of Pipe Dreams of the Soul Eater…
Of Goth and Monsters
Why, oh, why did I write Pipe Dreams of the Soul Eater?
I think Cormac McCarthy said it best:
“I don’t know why I started writing. I don’t know why anybody does it. Maybe they’re bored, or failures at something else.”
Actually, neither is true for me. Well, not entirely true.
Pipe Dreams of the Soul Eater is, at its core, a Gothic piece of fiction. While it has elements of the fantastical and of the horrific, I personally am not sure it is a “true” piece of horror literature. And, you know what? I think that’s fine. Let the readers of it decide for themselves, as once you write something and put it out there, it kind of belongs to the readers as well as the author.
I write in a lot of different genres. As McCarthy insinuates, I do tend to get bored if I am writing in the same genre or the same style all of the time. Thus, I like to take on challenges and in writing that means writing outside of the ol’ comfort box and trying new things.
Bringing us to Pipe Dreams of the Soul Eater.
I wanted to create a dream-like environment for the protagonists to exist in. A place that exists within the “normal” world, yet is not quite right. For me, a true, classic Gothic tale exists in the past, a time when there was still a bit of mystery left in the world, when humanity didn’t quite yet act like we were too big for our britches, in a sense. Taking some cues from Poe and Lovecraft, I set this piece a few centuries ago, in New Orleans, a city filled with old country folklore, mysticism and the unexplained. Not to mention it is a city slowly being swallowed by the sea, which is a great writing prompt in and of itself.
The bulk of the story takes place in an opium den. This is a bit of an old chestnut for the Gothic genre. If not directly referenced in a story, chances are the authors themselves were chasing the dragon. Or, at least it would seem, anyway. However, my idea was to take this plot device and turn it on its head by placing a real monster in one of these such places, where souls go to get lost.
Bringing us to the monster itself: the Soul Eater. When I decided to place a monster in the opium den, I wanted to find a monster that was original-ish, or even create my own. The traditional ones are played out in my opinion, so I scoured the legends, the varying folklore from all over the globe, from times past and legends forgotten. This research, while interesting, proved to be a major pain and left me frustrated. Then, one evening after a terrible day at work, I came across an African legend from the Hausa people, mostly in Niger and Nigeria.
The Soul Eater.
The legends vary, as most do, but some common traits were spread out across them, enough for me to work with and make the creature something original-ish, per my original intent. One of the shared aspects is that the Soul Eater leaves it’s victims either in piles of dust or with a terminal wasting disease. One has to wonder if this is how they explained things like cancer or tuberculosis. They also believed the soul existed as blue stones in the pit of the stomach, and would try to suck them out of the victim’s stomach.
Another fun fact about the Soul Eater is that they are generally considered to be cannibalistic, meaning that they are, in fact, human. This was interesting, but not what I wanted, so I played a bit loose with that and turned them into creatures that emerged from the primordial ooze that existed long before humanity.
Anyways, if you are looking for some good, classic Gothic fiction, you’d do well to pick up Between the Cracks and devour my tale Pipe Dreams of the Soul Eater contained within it.
It beats watching I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant for sure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Kyle Rader is a writer who doesn’t like to color inside the lines. He has written across multiple genres with the expressed goal of doing the unexpected and, above all, not boring his readers. He lives in New Hampshire and enjoys playing guitar poorly, yelling at his television, and annoying his long-suffering fiancée. His most recent publications have appeared in the ‘Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification’ anthology published by Great Old Ones Publishing, Fiction Vortex, Dark Moon Eclipse, The Rusty Nail Magazine, and the soon to be released ‘Bugs’ anthology also from Great Old Ones Publishing.
And here’s a little information about Between the Cracks…
A crack, a split, a rend, a tear – all of these fissures open up a new world for us to gaze upon. But what if the things we see aren’t friendly? What if the things that spill from beyond are dangerous and unwilling to be contained? What if evil lurks just below the surface waiting for its chance to strike?
In this collection of diverse and multi-faceted tales, you’ll find a computer program twisted into a nefarious tool, elves who are more than mischievous, a Creole House where those who dare to cheat fate meet with an unsavory end, and something evil lurking within the water. Are you brave enough to look Between the Cracks? There is only one way to find out…
Between the Cracks is available on:
And now for an excerpt from Pipe Dreams of the Soul Eater…
My father, a stern man devoid of most emotion save for rage and disdain for my brothers and I, often said that a man could never truly know himself until he came face to face with his own mortality. I never paid his wisdom much heed. I ran from our tiny village in France once I realized that escaping was a possibility.
Yet, as my ship, a commercial vessel dubbed The Dover, arrived in its port of destination, the great city of New Orleans, his words returned to haunt my thoughts. My spirits, jovial as a standard, quickly soured as a bout of melancholy formed within me so severe that I confined myself to my bunk and did not budge.
The state of ennui continued after we moored. The mood of my fellow sailors provided a stark contrast to my own inclinations. The men, at sea too long, were ready to descend upon the city like a conquering army. My bunk mate, a young Scot named Ewan, did his very best to get me to join in their merriment, but my malaise would not allow for it.
I explained to my friend how I had felt this sense of despair and dread since seeing the city appear on the horizon, that if I set foot upon the shore, something sad and terrible would befall me.
His eyes narrowed and his fingers drifted to a St. Christopher’s medallion that he wore around his neck.
“Oh, come off it, Gabe,” he said, calling me by a nickname he himself had coined and knew that I loathed. “Ol’ Teddy has already won the Golden Blanket Award for this voyage with twelve days in a row. There ain’t no way you can give him a proper contest now. Besides, you want women, you are going to have to get your lazy arse out of that bunk and seek them out.”
And thus, I found myself standing behind him as we waited for our First Mate, Mr. Diggle, to dole out our pay. Diggle was an all-right sort of fellow, despite his rampant know-it-all nature and the way he disparaged the crew in one of six languages in which he was fluent.
As I reached for my fairly earned pay, Diggle held it back from my outstretched hand. “Aren’t you getting a tad on in years to be associating with types like Mr. Ewan here?” A glint of superiority shone in his sole eye (the other forever shut behind a cracked leather patch) as the words left his mouth.
Cries of ‘Get on with it!’ from the impatient men saved me from what would have been a lengthy lecture from Diggle. “Hmph,” he said, planting my money in my hand with a hard slap.
Tune in tomorrow when we’ll hear from Rebecca Fung!