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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Books Read in 2016

Yep, time again to reset my Books Read section down below, but before I do, here's what literature I poured into my brain last year, and some of my favorites.

Now, if a book's not resonating with me I will give it a chance, then put it down and not finish. So many more books out there that need reading, I don't want to waste time on something that's not for me. Doesn't mean the book's bad (Cujo by Stephen King was one such book, and I'm his number one fan - menacing smile), just not working for me, or picked the wrong time to read it. Not counting these, I finished 21 books last year. All very good in their own way, and entertaining, but if I had to pick five that completely blew me away (in order that I read them):

Blackout by Tim Curran: I forget why I ended up on horror publisher DarkFuse's mailing list, but I am, and noticed the cover of this Tim Curran novella, and loved it. Yes, I bought the book for the cover (and, as a horror writer, was curious as to the quality of DarkFuse's books). I had never read Curran before and now I see that's a damn shame. This short, intense novel was horror as it should be: scary, intense, with characters you like (or if you don't like them at least their strong, well rounded people) thrust in a situation that is otherworldly and terrifying. Think War of the Worlds meets Darkness on the Edge of Town. Fun, fun horror story.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: So this book, I picked up at the library in the For Sale pile for a buck. The name Ann Patchett rang a vague bell (but probably because of author Terry Pratchett), but the premise was interesting. Hmm, thought I, someday I'll read this random book I've uncovered and see what is does. It ended up being on of my favorite books of not only last year but the last decade. A birthday party is being held in an unnamed South American town for a major Japanese businessman, to try and woo his business into their country. It's held at the Vice President's estate. Invited to perform is an Italian soprano opera singer. In the midst of the gala, terrorists raid the home and take everyone prisoner. The book is the story of the guests trapped in this sudden turn of events, focusing mostly on the Japanese CEO, his translator, the opera singer, and a good number of the terrorists, who are painted as very real, very identifiable people. Beautifully written, wonderful story. Like the rest of this top 5 list, I looked forward to coming back to the next chapter every day.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom: My friend (and pastor) Marty suggested this book to me. Albom is a huge figure in writing, his books having sold millions around the world (think Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, etc). It's the life story of a major rock star named Frankie Presto, born in Spain in the midst of a bloody civil war and raised by so many people throughout his life, it leaps back and forth from his boyhood to young adulthood to his death. In fact, his death is the arching story. He has died under amazing circumstances in a concert in Spain, and as many famous music personalities come to his funeral, we hear about his life from them (as well as a quasi-linear narrative interwoven throughout). It's Mitch Albom, so you know the writing is more than stellar, and the story is fun, and touching and heart-warming. It's a much longer book than his usual fare, but so well worth it.

Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee. Another book I've had on my shelf for years. I've lately been turned off by books specifically written for the Christian market because of the sanitized factor of the writing (it's such a tightly restrictive market, no swears, no physical romance in any way, no non-Christian main characters unless they get saved and if they are Christian they'd better be Baptists). But everyone has said this one is different. Somehow it got through the filters. This book did amazingly well when released, and not just in the CBA market but everywhere, because it is an amazing book. Her writing is so colorful and flowing, poetic without getting in its own way. She can describe something with five words and the entire room is painted for you, vividly. Lee plays with the "censors" all the time, wording things so brilliantly I had to laugh, as a writer. In short, a demon approaches a down-on-his-luck wanna-be writer (now an editor for a publishing house) and begins telling him his story - and thus the story of Lucifer and his demons, from the creation of the universe through Christ's arrival to modern day. Extremely well-researched - this could almost be one of those books people might consider divinely-inspired, like Dante's Inferno or in more modern times The Shack. I finished it feeling I understand why demons hate us so much - and yes, remembering this is a work of fiction. Gritty at times, it's a dark book written so wonderfully you'll never notice.

One In a Million Boy by Monica Wood: Finally, a very recent book from someone who has now been inked in on my Favorite Author list: Monica Wood. A few years back I read a collection of interconnected stories called Ernie's Ark (picked that up because of the title, curious since I'd written Margaret's Ark and I wanted to see another author's take on that kind of a title). Ernie's Ark was my favorite book read that year. And One in a Million Boy is my favorite (well, ok, one of my favorite) book this past year. A boy (he's never named), somewhat autistic though that word is never used, begins helping out a 104 year old woman as a Boy Scout requirement. He and she quickly become fast friends. Then he suddenly dies. His father, somewhat estranged, is a guitarist for a myriad of rock bands and had not seen much of the boy, forcing his ex-wife to raise him. He decides to make amends in some way by finishing his son's obligation of helping this woman. Through a series of tape recorded interviews the boy has made with the old woman, we learn of her life (and she begins to remember it herself). The story is told through these, and from the perspective of the father and the woman. It's a perfect book, touching, warm, riveting in the simplicity of the character's lives and pain. Wood is such, such an incredible writer.

The other fiction books I read last year (again, in order of reading) were: Monster by Keith Ferrario (Kieth was a fellow Samhain Publishing author and I wanted to give it a read), The Devil's Serenade by Catherine Cavendish (another Samhain author, the book was pretty unique), Revival: A Novel by Stephen King (though I've been trying to read King's older stuff, the description of this one intrigued me, though it's a hard book to pin down genre-wise, until the very end), The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (I heard so much about Lewis' non-Narnia writings I wanted to try this, a collection of fictitious letters written by a demon to his son on how to tempt mankind... this short novel is very interesting with some deep insights masked in fiction), Fountain of the Dead by Scott Goudsward (buddy Scott's debut novel, a zombie apocalypse with some fun twists), A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle (the book whose opening line made "It was a dark and stormy night" famous, this has been on my to-read list since the kids were younger and I noticed the line one day when opening to the first chapter, a classic young adult novel with at times heavy messages, a little dated but that's the joy in reading these classics, isn't it?), Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A Moore (the second of a trilogy of original novels in the Alien universe between the movies ALIEN and ALIENS, this one was a feast for those who like their aliens non-stop and their soldiers burning and firing weapons, it was relentless until the end - Jim had some major fun writing this and it shows), After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson (Scott's been cranking the books out Chris-Golden-like for years, and doing it full time, this is the first in a series called After, a post-apocalyptic group of novels about the Earth after a series of solar flares... and MAYBE the rapture, he hints at it, but might cover it more in later volumes... fast-paced with some great characters), Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig (the first in a series of novels set in the Star Wars universe prior to Episode VII, this story takes place a few weeks after Return of the Jedi and the crippling of the empire, the book was a fun ride, a bit scattered at times but the main story line a lot of fun), The Visitation by Frank E. Peretti (I've been wanting to read Peretti for a long time and finally decided on this one - half the book is flashbacks in the life of a disenchanted pastor - in fact the flashbacks are much more interesting than the modern day story line, so much that I wonder if he had to do the modern story as a way to sell the book, but overall a good read), Madhouse anthology edited by Benjamin Kane Ethridge and Brad C Hodson (I have story in this one, see gdanielgunn.com for more info, and wanted to read through all the stories - I will admit I have a few more to go, but this shared-world antho is just so much more than the usual fare, very clever and well done - and dark, dark, dark).

Finally, on the fiction front, I began collecting early editions of a science fiction series called Perry Rhodan. When I was a teen I bought a book in this series called Action: Division 3, which ended up being #81 or something in the overall story arc. Decent enough book, but there were a lot of references to events, etc, I didn't get. And Perry Rhodan wasn't even in this one! Forty years later I decided to read the early volumes of the German sci-fi series to find out who this Perry Rhodan was. Now this was a HUGE seller in the 60's, and Ace paperback in the late 60's / early 70's finally caught up and translated them to English. Seems that each volume, which is small in its own right, is actually two different books (novellas, if you will), packed as one. They tell a linear story, from the first moon landing crew discovering an alien vessel to the slow build of a new world power on Earth by the very same astronauts. It's quite interesting, especially if you read this remembering the time and culture of its creation. Could even be said some aspects were ahead of its time (culturally, I mean - definitely not technically). The books I read this past year were:

Enterprise Startdust (Perry Rhodan #1) by Karl-Herbert Sheer
The Radiant Dome (Perry Rhodan #2) by K.H. Sheer & Walter Ernsting
Galactic Alarm (Perry Rhodan #3) by Kurt Mahr & W.W. Shols

By the end of Galactic Alarm I was getting a little tired of the sometimes-rough writing (sometimes it's also quite good, other times not - and a lot of building Perry Rhodan to demi-god like status in how he's portrayed, though I figure this is deliberate). I've always wanted to write a long-running sci-fi serial like this, and am enjoying seeing one way it was done so long ago.

Before I sign off (this is always a long post), there were two non-fiction books I read as well.

Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart-To-Heart Connection by Danny Silk: at my wife's suggestion, this small book is full of very good insights into how to manage your kids, especially young children (as we're adopting a two-year old, it's very applicable). Much reference to a teaching series called Love & Logic as well, which we've gotten and it also is quite good.

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey: Yancey writes very clear, approachable books, and this is no exception. Tore through it pretty quickly. He claims (justifiably) that the church has built this false persona around the Jesus of the Bible, and he uses scripture after scripture to show you that the sanitized Jesus is not who is represented in the Book. A great way to reboot your faith by rebooting how you see the Messiah throughout the Bible, Old and New Testaments.

Friday, December 16, 2016

25 Years

On December 14, 1991, I dropped my wife at the hospital as the doctors prepped her for delivery and drove the four miles back to the house to get an overnight bag and the baby-delivery items we were told to pack. It had begun snowing. On the way to the hospital again, the driving was slow along Interstate 290, and what should play in the radio but Harry Chapin's song Cats in the Cradle. You'll have to YouTube it for yourself to understand this song's significance for a young father-to-be on his way to deliver his first child. It was always a significant song for me, and in that moment I knew I would be involved in every moment of Andrew's life (we actually had "Amanda" as a name but he ended up being a boy, but that's another story how his name came to be, for another time). He was born in a wild delivery with dropping blood pressure, separating placentas and emergency C-sections, delivered in the wee hours of December 15th, five weeks premature, small but healthy.

The years that followed were amazing times: baby raising, potty training, playing with dinosaurs and cars, getting him through the "chicken pops," first day of school, cub scouts and Webelos where I was the den leader, watching Star Wars for the first time, reading books every night, vacations, hiking, swimming, then eventually high school and college. Finally, helping him move out to New York.

Life's gotten interesting in the last decade, but the rumblings have settled down. The boy is now a man, living and working in the Big Apple, living his life, preparing to come home for a few days at Christmas. It'll be good to see him. It's weird. Every parent goes through it at some point. Years ago I moved from seeing my kids every day, to less often, as they moved through their own lives. They call, sometimes (and I whine about the frequency like the good empty-nest father that I am), visit, email. His sisters are better at it than he is. I suppose I was no better at his age, it all comes around, don't it?


I still think often about the first night of my son's life a quarter century ago, listening to that very specific song. It think I did OK as a Dad, and though the future is a dark mirror, the next twenty-five will have its own adventures and challenges as a father, and for three adult kids, and our new two-year old. But today (well, yesterday as I polish this up), is a day to celebrate my First's first quarter of life. I miss him, as all Dads do when their children are no longer children and become who they were destined to be. We do the best we can in that first quarter century, imparting what we can, both deliberately and accidentally. After that, it's in His hands, and theirs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Setting Eternity


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11


The above verse is described by Solomon as a burden God has set on the human race. Strange, that having eternity in one's heart is a burden. This verse had come up a few times over the last week. Or maybe I'm just receptive to it with the mid-Christmas season upon us. I don't actually think that, but it sounded like a good way to work Christmas into this entry, though I don't think I'm going that route tonight.

It's been an off month for me. Not a bad one, there have been good, even great things in life laid at my feet so far. But I've been disconnected in a number of ways. I think I've mentioned that already. Maybe this will be a good way to reconnect with... something.

Been talking Ecclesiastes with couple of folks lately. This has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Probably because, for one thing, it's just such a different tone from the others surrounding it. Much lighter, philosophical. But it doesn't start out that way. If you read it purely at face value the opening chapters seem very saturnine, negative in their view of the meaning of life. But it's not. It's vastly clever how it works around to being the closest anyone's every managed to explain the meaning of life and keep it hopeful and encouraging. Makes me almost believe King Solomon really was the wisest man in history.

But I don't want to wax too long on the book. Just the line in the verse. What does it mean to have eternity in your soul? Well, overall, it would give you a hunger for something more, beyond your everyday world. Your toil, and all that. A hunger for God, for some power above your own, and an ability to understand the implications if such a God was focused back on you. It also is the reason for watching foreign movies, and feeling that craving to visit France, walk on its streets, or wander under the flowering branches in Savannah, Georgia or sip a Guinness in a pub in Ireland.

It's a craving for something more outside one's small circle of grass. That's not it, completely. It's an inner knowledge of something more outside, and a desire to explore, to reach into the hole and see what you find, or what bites you.

A friend of mine used this line when describing my daughter. She'd met her one night, had heard about her various adventures (most recent of which was a 2000 mile road trip with her cousin and friends to North Dakota to protest the pipeline) and told us the next day that she (my daughter) had eternity in her soul. She was searching for The More. Exploring the world outside her bubble and deciding for herself what it all means.

Everyone has eternity in their souls. Some people use its existence in different ways. As artists, we dive into it, build worlds, or perhaps just an expression of the bigger world we feel blossoming inside us, trying to get out. Paint. Chisel and stone. Words. Mostly, I use words, building worlds and the people residing within them to see what I find. The best creations are those that ring the most true to us as their creators. The best of those are formed when we share the act of creation with the very eternity we’re trying to uncover. I'll leave it at that. It's a loaded sentence.

The trick is to take a breath when we come to the surface, blink away the light that’s filled our eyes, and live in the real world, the small circle of grass that is ours and which we share with others. Spouse, family, kids, friends. We should be different each time we come up, when we return from our journeys into The More, but always, we should be better. Some crave only a return to eternity's depths, too weighed down by the burdens of normalcy. But, I think, that's not the purpose of these trips. Always, it is for the return. To bring back a piece of it with us, to share it.

What's inside us must come out, be it the light we're told to keep uncovered, the unique perspective formed from our explorations, perspectives which might enhance or alter another's thinking, or a bigger love for those we, at times, leave behind. A true love, agape, because we are contented, having dove into eternity in whatever way we tend towards, and cherishing the knowledge we will go back there again. And again. Nothing you discover, and no one you cherish, is ever a burden.

My Film Review of 400 DAYS Now Showing

My review of the indie science fiction film 400 DAYS (2015) is now showing at Cinema Knife Fight. Has some potential, but in the end fell short of the mark I think.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Solomon's Grave is Gone But Not For Long

So, I recently got my rights back for my first novel, Solomon's Grave, from the publisher. After seven years, with no real sales to speak of after the initial release, I decided it could do with a shake up, perhaps put it out myself, give it a once-over, new cover and, most importantly, lower price. I've considered perhaps finding a new publisher for it, but to what end? It's the beauty of the market these days, most presses won't bother with a title which has already found its audience - what would it benefit them? I think there is still a market for the baby, but it would require a little marketing to get it in front of readers, something most small presses don't do (and, admittedly, most authors, myself included).

So, yea, it'll be nice for the book that started it all to be back out there, with more control on my part. Here's the cover, by the way, put together by the Lynne Hansen Design:

I have the book pretty much formatted for print and Kindle, but decided to read through it, tighten it up a little. Is is, after all, my first novel and I can tell I've gotten a little better at this long form game since then. Nothing major so far, just a nip or tuck in the writing. I'm hoping it'll be out before Christmas. We'll see!




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hanging at the Wall

So, having been active more often on Facebook this past year, one tends to neglect one's blog, at least for posting more personal musings. I plan to do more here... I even got a blogger app for my phone, and am typing this on a tiny virtual keyboard with my thumbs. This can't be healthy, in some way society won't discover until it's too late and a new, horrible strain of carpal tunnel is discovered.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I have to say it was a good one. My son came up to visit from NYC for a week and a half, youngest daughter visited from college, and older daughter borrowed our minivan to travel four thousand miles round trip with my niece and their friends to north Dakota to join the pipeline protest, and made it home safe and sound. As did my minivan in a less important way. Proud of all of them, and their almost baby brother (Linda and I are adopting) loved having them all around.

Now, we have the Christmas tree up, decorations scattered throughout the house and time to start looking towards December 25th. This morning a question was asked at my church men's group, what are we all doing between now and then to prepare for Christmas, to develop a deeper understanding of ts significance to ourselves and the world around us. The conversation veered off before I could answer, which is probably good because I hadn't ever really thought about it. Getting ready for Christmas always meant shopping lists and visiting and church and friends and family events and watching the Grinch and The  Family Stone. And, oh yea, the true meaning of Christmas somewhere in there, at a high level.

What is that last one anyway, and how do we get ready for something that mind boggling and significant? Well, I guess I'll think about it, chew on some ideas and maybe spit them out here. We'll see. Not tonight. My thumbs are getting tired.

Back in the day this blog served as confidente, counselor, and an historical record of my life external, and internal. My heart. Let's see if we can't get back to that more often. I'll also start posting more on my alter ego's page gdanielgunn.com as well.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, and let's see what we can do to make Christmas even better.

Monday, November 21, 2016

FANTASTIC BEASTS Review up at Cinema Knife Fight

I caught the newly-released FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016), J.K. Rowling and David Yates' return to the world of Harry Potter (sort of). My review and discussion on the film is now playing at Cinema Knife Fight!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Plague of Locusts is Away...

Well, my new science fiction novel, Plague of Locusts, is now officially out there in the cruel world of submissions. Meaning, after a brief stint of putting some books out myself, to some acclaim, and before that spending years with agencies trying to sell my not-always-easy-to-peg (marketing-wise) novels, I've decided to try the traditional route to publishing again, especially with this novel and the upcoming horror novel. I'm not trying to cold-sub to publishers, not at first. As of today, Plague of Locusts has been submitted to a couple of major New York agencies. I may submit to more as I continue my research. They may, may not, get back to me, as they say right on their guidelines, to paraphrase, "Due to the large volume of submissions, we will only respond if we're interested." I suppose that's fair, in some ways, though a brief "no thanks" would always be a nice thing to do.

But I've been down this road before, and have much thicker skin. So, out it goes, and in the meantime I've been working on an outline for a sequel to Plague of Locusts - not writing it, not even (yet) outlining, but world-building. What has happened since the close of the novel, histories of the new worlds we're going to discover, and at some point, decide where the second in what I'm called the Vast Array Series, will kick off. I had a great epiphany about the people on a certain world, their history, etc, and am starting to get excited about it. VA #2 will possibly take place a couple of decades after #1, but not exactly sure yet.

Also, Lost in the Woods, the horror novel, is in the late editing stages, and I'm going to run through this over the next month, print it off, and hand it to my first reader(s).

More as things develop. I've been too long remiss in adding my voice to this blog. I'll try to do better.

PS: Oh forgot to mention! Solomon's Grave, my first novel, is currently out of print. After getting my rights back, I'm debating whether to release it under my own label or not. More as I know what I'm doing.