Now available in e-book and paperback

CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM AMAZON

In this surreal road novel, Anthony searches for the father he’s never met: Andy Kaufman, the legendary song-and-dance man from the ’70s. There’s a few problems here, of course. A) Andy Kaufman died in 1984, and B) Thanks to a recent cancer diagnosis, Anthony doesn’t have much longer to live, either. However, new evidence has come to light that questions whether or not Kaufman is actually dead. Could he be in hiding, after all these years? Anthony is determined to discover the truth before his own clock runs out. During his travels, he will encounter shameless medicine men, grifters, Walmart shoppers, the ghosts of Elvis and Warhol, and the Devil himself.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Battlespace Anthology Vol 1 for Charity with my Story: The First Mission of Lt. Seth-7


                “Emotion can’t be a strength,” Lt. Seth-7 said. He bandaged his punctured leg then sealed the hole in his suit. The wound would heal in a day. He ignored the pain piercing through the bone.
            “It is the only strength we have,” 1st Tech Sun said, breathing hard into the comm from running.
            The four of them darted down the lower corridor. Two more marines had fallen prey to the beasties. They’d paused to enjoy their meal, giving the remaining company time.
            “Perhaps it would be better if I remained a machine.”

--First Mission of Lt. Seth-7 in Battlespace Vol 1 by T. Fox Dunham




Battlespace Vol 1—an anthology of sci-fi & military themed stories set in space—is now available. It features my story The First Mission of Lt. Seth-7, a story in my Seth-7 series. The character and his universe were first featured as an audio play on Beam Me Up Live Radio and Podcasts, and I plan to write more stories to the series.

 Below is an interview with Keith Houin, one of the editors.

Seth-7 is a synthetic man, built of metal and gear and cog. His mind is pure energy, a woven electro-magnetic field that transfers and processes without a circuit of matter. His mind was sown on the quantum level. The story is set in future where humankind has settled the stars, building a galactic civilization. Born from the darkness of space and the human spirit comes a reaper, a dark entity that harvests the dead, building new weapons to consume. This Preacher—an archetype villain I name in many of my stories—obsesses over remaking creation with no regard for the soul. The human race plunges into a war lasting centuries for its survival, fighting genocide. Each time a veteran warrior perishes, the experience lost cannot be replaced, so they implant their soldiers with neural devices to record the experiences and minds. When a soldier dies, it is downloaded. The Paladins are created. They’re synthetic warriors who then have the experiences of the best warriors woven into their minds. The spiritual question of Seth-7 is about the soul:

What does it mean to have a soul? Where does the soul exist, and does Seth-7 possess it?

This is a charity anthology, created by the editors at The Sci-Fi show, a popular broadcast of sci-fi audio stories. All the money made from sales goes to benefit the Warrior Cry Music Project. Warrior Cry is a group of volunteers who work with wounded soldiers at bases around the country. They provide the soldiers with musical instruments and then teach them to play. Hit the link to learn more.

It was an honor to write a story to support this organization, and I was pleased and fulfilled in my work as a Bard when they accepted my story. The work they do is aligned to my Bardic goals. A Bard heals through creation of art. This motivates me to write, laboring to improve and assuage, to scribe salubrious stories to ease pain and heal damage to the body, mind and soul. A Bard heals through the Awen. The Awen is difficult to translate into English, a Welsh word, one of the six subdialects of Gaelic. It’s best compared to an organ of the spirit, a special soul where creative energies generate and apply. The Awen must be taken care of, exercised, fed and used to keep it vibrant and fecund. The Awen is my Bardic heart and a powerful tool to heal.


INTERVIEW WITH KEITH HOUIN:

This week, I sent Keith Houin, one of the editors, a few questions about the anthology and Warrior Cry.

Fox: Why did you choose the Warrior Cry Music Project to benefit by donations from the sale of Battlespace Vol 1?

Keith: It really was a tough choice. There are a lot of great organizations supporting wounded warriors around the world. We were sort of picky. We felt we needed a group that not only supported the wounded, but kind of matched up with us and our aspirations. Warrior Cry helps the wounded to be creative through music. We’re a bunch of creative guys that love music and talk about it often on our show. And yes, sometimes we attempt to play guitar and sing – not good playing or singing though.


Fox: Could you tell my foxes more about the Warrior Cry Music Project?

Keith: I’ll stick with their company line for this, but add one thing. A good friend who does lots of charity work with the wounded warriors connected me with them. The recommendation came with the highest honors from a guy who has committed his entire life to helping others. Warrior Cry is a group of volunteers who work with wounded soldiers at bases around the country. They provide the soldiers with musical instruments and then teach them to play. Music is a great form of physical and mental therapy. Working closely with therapists to create a positive educational and therapeutic music program, Warrior Cry gives wounded soldiers something positive to work toward and helps to get their minds off of their injuries. Music also helps get our wounded soldiers out of their shell and interested in socializing with others. Warrior Cry works with other groups and non-profits to help better the lives of soldiers that were wounded in battle.


Fox: What do you hope to accomplish with the anthology?

Keith: The ultimate goal is to help change a life. It’s really that simple. I would love to reach a thousand dollars or more in donations a month, but I would be satisfied with buying a single guitar for a veteran’s hospital music room, or providing lessons for a single soldier during rehab.

Keith: My second goal is to promote some new writers. There are so many great stories out there that never get seen, because the publishing world is just a tough gig. If we can help one writer gain an audience that would be a gift in itself.


Fox: What are some of your favorite stories in the book, the ones that had
you all giddy and running to play with your Star Wars action figures?

Keith: Well I have to love mine. Seriously. Stefan Alford’s, The Code, had me right away. We’re old friends and I’m reading his book The Unveiling so I might be a little bias, but putting on the editor’s hat and picking apart every line, it was still hard to find something I didn’t like. It’s not a completely new premise, but he really did it well. You asked for favorites. I don’t think you have space for all of them, Cliff Gilmore and his Faitheaters story, William R.D. Wood with And Kill Them. You’re asking a lot with that question. I’ll have to go back and read them all again. Really. There were so many stories that struck me. It was kind of like reliving all my years of reading scifi. My taste has changed over the years, but I think all my taste of writing styles was covered. With the exception of comic books.


Fox: And how is the book doing?

Keith: The best way to say this is probably steadily moving along. Some days it's one sale. Some days five. We need everyone to help support and promote it. Every dime we pay for advertising is a dime that could have went to a wounded vet. What I have found so far is that sales directly from me and my box of print copies make my day. People think it’s great you have a book out. When they find out where the money goes they want three copies signed with a message to a friend or loved one.

Keith contact info: keith@myscifishow.com or press@myscifishow.com
Facebook: Battlespace Anthology on Facebook

I thank you Keith Houin for being interviewed.
--------

Fox Updates:

So it’s been a good month. After the completion of New World, my first complete novella, I have been taking it a bit easier, having some rest, and writing shorter fiction. I'm dealing with a nasty cardiac issue, a post chemo problem, and it's proving dangerous. So once again, I'm dancing madly on the edge of a cliff. The only piece of long fiction I finished this month, Their Last Dance in the Rain, was just accepted by Firbolg Publishing for their new anthology. I’ve been focusing on literary fiction mostly, having burned out somewhat on horror and requiring some rest.

New World, my zombie novella about a cancer patient who decides to go a on a road trip to Florida to be with his online girlfriend during the last days of civilization, has been well received by the editor. She’s excited to have it, and we’re talking about a series. I will be writing the introduction to May December Publishing’s charity zombie anthology, The Sick & the Dead. It will benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research. I’ll be posting a link below for any author who would like more information.



Also, my dear friend Morning Star has been busy drawing her favorite character from my Ragtime Cycles, Poison Sumac. This is her latest portrait of the drag queen owner of the Pink Gopher, where she distributes the narcotic of mind, body and soul, Ragtime.

“A strange man comes to see this Lady in the night, when men rip apart men to ribbons and shreds, burning flesh with burning oil while they cry out to a deaf god. How it turns this Lady on.”
--Ragtime Ascension by T. Fox Dunham

--Artwork by Sara Lewis, known as the Artist Morning Starr

Sara has a unique perception of beauty, skewed from popular concepts, which is why she was perfect to draw my nihilist goddess, the drag-queen Poison Sumac. Sara adores Sumac. I also semi-based the steampunk warrior protagonist Starbat from the Tick-Tock Heart of StarBat on her spirit and name.

I am currently working on the fourth story in the Ragtime Cycles—Ragtime Schism—and developing the novel, which I plan to develop into a screenplay for a noir anime.


Ragtime can be read at the following links:

Ragtime at Doctor Fantasque's Show of Wonders:

Ragtime Ascension in A Clockwork Orchard Rivets & Rain by May December Publishing:

Ticktock Heart of Starbat at Jake's Anthologies:

I thank you for reading my recent updates on my blog. Please follow me on Twitter for all the latest Fox News. Thank Foxy Blokes and Birds!
TWITTER: @TFox Dunham


Friday, July 6, 2012

RAGTIME & Writing Character Voice


                 “How did you know I’d drink the moonshine? You must have known from observing me that I don’t touch the serpent’s venom.”
            Sumac giggled and sneered and sucked on her ersatz cigarette. She tittered with her teeth, biting on the cigarette holder.
            “You struggle against chaos. You fight to hold it at bay, but it overwhelms you, the tide rushing in. Dance on your toes, but you can’t hold it back. And you longed so for it. In your eyes, I could see it—how you’ve chased the darkness, hoping for its embrace. Emancipation. Freedom. All I had to do was put the glass in front of you and curl my lips and show my smooth, lovely thighs. You were sniffing for it.”

—Ragtime Ascension (Ragtime Cycles) by T. Fox Dunham
A Clockwork Orchard: Rivets & Rain published by May December Publications

At the heart of effective character is the unique spirit, yet also there is the same core identity prototypical to the human animal. I have observed people all my life: listened to their life stories, watched their actions, remarked on the common cycles and motivations that compel them. I have discovered that every person is an individual, but the human heart is identical in its needs. No matter how different people are, the same needs drive them in life.

People want to be loved and are scared of being hurt.

Of course, in life there are many gray shades and complex mathematical matrices to identity. My statement is a generalization, but it is supported; and though I still have much to learn about the human heart, I can put it present it with confidence. There are exceptions to this axiom, as with all systems, and these exceptions also make for fascinating characters.

When writing characters, it is important to remember that fiction is not a report on reality or real life. Like the stage, narrative fiction is its own plane, a surreal reality. This is an art form that has evolved for centuries. We are writing of dramatized reality. Characters can’t be copies of real people. They are the extremes, the archetypes, the deities and symbols. We already have a medium for direct reality, facts reported and life witnessed. Fiction is a different format. That’s why most real life stories need to be reorganized and dramatized, applied to a dramatic pattern, an arc that builds.

My characters are never clones from life. I never take a person I know and represent them exactly in my work. My characters are composites, elements of several people and myself in varying levels, blended together then shaped in extremes of the physical, emotional-mental and spiritual. A character’s soul is his or her voice. My readers often comment that even though some of my characters have minute physical presence, their characterization is strong, indelible because of their voice. Their voice defines character: how they see the world, respond to changes, grow and change.

A character’s voice is their soul, the way they digest their world and give back to it.

* * *

The Lady Poison Sumac, Drag Dancer at the Pink Gopher.

Poison Sumac is an iconic character in my Ragtime Cycles. She is a transvestite, a drag queen. She is chaos manifested in a human shell. Born in the burned wastes leftover from the Wild-Eyed Fire—the great conflagration which ended the modern era of humanity—the child Poison Sumac lived in a barbarian’s world that had no regard for law or life. Her milieu helped define her, educated her. Chaos became her faith. She has one goal: to aid and watch society collapse then dance while it burns. This is her character voice, and it was defined by her birth, the setting of her life and confirmed by the actions of the people around her. This seeded in Sumac, growing inside, devouring and transforming until it became Sumac’s nature.

               “You’re going to cover the world in darkness,” she said. “I must love you.”
            “All the equipment is still in my home, the cathedral. With sound, vibration I will renew, invigorate. I will tell him how proud I am, how wrong I was. He will wrap his hands around my neck and kiss my cheeks. I will make him immortal.”
            She clapped like a child, pleased by the clowns in the show.
            “How terribly cruel,” she said.

—Ragtime by T. Fox Dunham
From Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders

In the Ragtime Cycles, Poison Sumac is the dealer of Ragtime—a narcotic that not only alters the body but also the mind and the spirit. It is a remnant of the old paradise, the sum and final product of a course of science and evolution. It survived The Wild-Eyed Fire and was kept and guarded like a religious artifact until it found its way into the possession of Sumac. She saw it as the fire to burn it all, to expose the truth of the human animal, the ridiculous nature of life. Sumac is a nihilist. Life is an error to her, a cosmic mistake, and she finds elements of society like law and decency to be fraudulent, a lark. To her, sex, love, loyalty, and faith are vapid, meaningless. They are expressions of vanity, futility. All life ends and is forgotten. While people scream in terror at the inevitable darkness, she laughs at them. She giggles wildly into the night.

So she serves the Preacher, the nameless figurehead of the city with no name. Such names are forbidden. Names give power. The people of this last city secretly have named it after a line from a poem that survived the Wild-Eyed Fire. They whisper the name of the city: Lovers Be Lost. She aids in The Preacher’s plans for ascension, using the drug Ragtime, but she is not motivated by duty or faith. She observes only to see him fail, to affirm her own absence of faith and acceptance of what she believes is the true nature of life.

Poison Sumac exists to pleasure herself in the suffering of others as their plans of control fail. This is her nature, her voice, how she sees the cosmos. You will see it clearly in narratives I have copied, and you will find it sutured into the stories.

Three stories have been published so far in the Ragtime Cycles. I have listed the previous two. A third story, The Tick-Tock Heart of Starbat, was published in Jake’s Anthologies Punk Issue. Starbat was partly based on my close friend Star, who has drawn some of the sketches of Poison Sumac. I hope to have a recent sketch to link to this blog.

I am developing the stories into an anthology and planning a novel. I will then script this novel, and I am seeking a production company to turn it into a noir animated film. I need a good publisher or production company if you're interested.

WRITING CHARACTER VOICE:

The best advice I can give in writing character voice is to define your character’s nature then let it fill you. When I write, I give life to my characters, and I hollow myself out with a melon baller. I turn my person into a pipe organ that my characters can play. Character voice is their nature, the sum of what they are. Some of that does come from you as the author, but your characters also require autonomy to be able to truly express themselves. They are extreme in nature, unlike real people who tend to blend in with the group. As an author, you need to turn over control of your narrative to your characters, to allow them to move as motivated by their natures. This risks your well conceived plans and plot, and if you’re doing it right, your characters will often through a bowling ball into your hall of mirrors. Your characters will rebel against your conscription, to the rigid confinement of your designs, and if you listen to them, they will steer your narratives in new and surprising ways.

* * *

And make sure to pick up a copy of A Clockwork Orchard: Rivets & Rain from May December Publishing. I am honored to be included with such talented authors. 


The TOC for our Steampunk Anthology – A Clockworks Orchard: Rivets and Rain: Michael Seese,  Never Mind The Nonsense, Here’s The Sex Truncheons – Paul Boulet, Skymanned City – Mark Jones, Running Out of Steam – Adam Millard, A Clockwork Orang(utan) – Dorothy Reede, A Demonstration of Loyalty – McAbee Gail, Sheriff Holt and the Purple Stagecoach Mystery – Bob Lock, Il Risorgimento – T Fox Dunham, Ragtime Ascension- Christopher Eger, The Assassins Assassin – and Jill Watts, Feast of Souls.



Follow me on Twitter: @TFoxDunham.
Facebook page for updates on my work:
 
 * * *

New Sun Rising Anthology



I also want to ask my readers to pickup a copy of The New Sun Rising Anthology, edited by the illustrious and determined Annie Evett and teeming with poetry, short fiction, artwork and spirit of some of the best of international talents—somehow I snuck in there too for my story, Cherry Blossoms Never Die. Money raised by the anthology will go to support The Red Cross in its efforts to rebuild after the nuclear accident and natural disaster that struck Japan.

What I love about this anthology is that it is a reminder of the beauty of Japan. Where other anthologies chronicled the natural disaster, New Sun Rising set out to showcase the soul of that ancient and mythical land and remind the world why it must be preserved.

I thank you Annie Evett for an inspiring job and your diligence in seeing the project through.