Today my blog is hosting one of the character's from L. Andrew Cooper's dark fantasy, Burning the Middle Ground. Meet Mr. Winston Beecher, writing here about Fathers and Spiders.
[A guest post by L. Andrew Cooper, writing as a character from his horror novel Burning the Middle Ground]
Fathers and Spiders
by Winston Beecher
Nothing brings out those paternal feelings like seeing a boy so damaged that no amount of fathering, no amount of care, could possibly bring him back from…, well, from that. Some reporter once asked me whether I knew when I walked into the McCulloughs’ house that day that my career would “be forever changed.” Well, here I am, five years later, still a deputy in the same town. Don’t get paid all that much better for having been in the center of the McCullough Tragedy, national news, all that, you know, 10-year-old-girl-shoots-parents-can-we-have-gun-control-now stuff, which is bull-stuff, if you don’t mind my saying so, because we have the second amendment in this country for a reason. But I do show up in a lot of that news footage you’ve got, because I tried to stick by Brian’s side. Even when everybody was saying he had something to do with it, I stood by. And then when they realized he was just as an innocent goddanged kid who just lost his whole family, suddenly I’m a hero for being the only one to treat him like a human being.
Now. Five years later. Now this Ronald Glassner character wants to write a book about us. I can see how he’ll write me already—he’ll add thirty or fourty pounds, make the accent thicker, make me twice as dumb, and occasionally make me slip and say something racist. Of course the character will not be me; he will be an amalgamation, a representation of his experiences as a northerner of Southerners. Or maybe his preconceptions as a northerner of Southerners. Ronald is a complete asshole, but he’s kind of… alluring… too. Something about the match between his tennis shoes and his sports jackets. And I swear to God, that man custom selects his own shoelaces. I couldn’t have tried to make someone more unlike the town of Kenning, Georgia, than my New York Ronald, but here he is, foreign messenger. I exoticize his Yankee traits, so if he wants to giggle at my twang, so be it. Besides, he may have given me the very thing I need.
And that thing, I think, is the will to refocus our attention to Brian. The weird stuff that’s been happening all over town, more and more people making reports fit for the loony bin, man, there’s no way that boy’s behind any of it. Excuse me: young man. He’s not behind it, but signs keep pointing in his direction, not so clearly that we’re sure, but enough coulds are adding up to a probably, if you get what I mean.
I think I’m in over my head is what I think, but everybody here is so disorganized and out of touch, police work is basically a free-for-all. So I’m investigating Dave Holcomb and the bags of bodies at the junkyard, and I’m investigating the assaults on that preacher, Jeanne Harper, and I’m investigating Ronald’s supernatural visitations, too.
And then there’s Michael Cox, and I guess maybe to a lesser extent, Jake Warren, our suspected bad guys trying to run an evil plot out of First Church. At least before the McCullough Tragedy, Reverend Michael Cox was a pillar of trustworthiness. And Warren was an accountant or something, right? And these people are somehow the spiders building the web tying together all the bizarre little pieces that, as of yet, have no larger logical explanation? I can’t make any sense of it, and it’s a tough sell if we want to get folks on board some kind of organized resistance. Right now, I guess we’re it. Vive us. Vive nous? I took some French.
Okay, then, wrapping up, let me just come back to this point, and that’s Brian. It started with him, that blood-spattered boy who just made me want to fold him in my arms until he cried, and it’s all going back to him. I’ve always felt a need to keep him close, and it has never been so strong.
Wow. I have this on my reading list and I'm really eager to start. Thank you for talking with us Mr. Beecher, and I'm looking forward to learning what's really going on.
And now... Let me introduce the author, L. Andrew Cooper, too:
About L. Andrew Cooper:
L. Andrew Cooper thinks the smartest people like horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Early in life, he couldn’t handle the scary stuff–he’d sneak and watch horror films and then keep his parents up all night with his nightmares. In the third grade, he finally convinced his parents to let him read grownup horror novels: he started with Stephen King’s Firestarter, and by grade five, he was doing book reports on The Stand.
When his parents weren’t being kept up late by his nightmares, they worried that his fascination with horror fiction would keep him from experiencing more respectable culture. That all changed when he transitioned from his public high school in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia to uber-respectable Harvard University, where he studied English Literature. From there, he went on to get a Ph.D. in English from Princeton, turning his longstanding engagement with horror into a dissertation. The dissertation became the basis for his first book, Gothic Realities (2010). More recently, his obsession with horror movies turned into a book about one of his favorite directors, Dario Argento (2012). He also co-edited the textbook Monsters (2012), an attempt to infect others with the idea that scary things are worth people’s serious attention.
After living in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, Andrew now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches at the University of Louisville and chairs the board of the Louisville Film Society, the city’s premiere movie-buff institution. _Burning the Middle Ground_ is his debut novel.
Burning the Middle Ground
Burning the Middle Ground is a dark fantasy about small-town America that transforms readers’ fears about the country’s direction into a haunting tale of religious conspiracy and supernatural mind control. A character-driven sensibility like Stephen King’s and a flair for the bizarre like Bentley Little’s delivers as much appeal for dedicated fans of fantasy and horror as for mainstream readers looking for an exciting ride. Brian McCullough comes home from school and discovers that his ten-year-old sister Fran has murdered their parents. Five years later, a journalist, Ronald Glassner, finds Brian living at the same house in the small town of Kenning, Georgia. Planning a book on the McCullough Tragedy, Ronald stumbles into a struggle between Kenning’s First Church, run by the mysterious Reverend Michael Cox, and the New Church, run by the rebellious Jeanne Harper. At the same time, Kenning’s pets go berserk, and dead bodies, with the eyes and tongues removed from their heads, begin to appear.
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