You’ve Been Warned

A handful of advanced reading copies of OOBERS have been let loose to a few hardy souls (well, I self published an earlier version of it last year and about a dozen of my friends read it) and without exception their response has been either revulsion, terror, disgust, shock or a combination of them all. I’m glad the book (which will be released September 13th in e-book form and October 1st on bookshelves near you) will include a warning, because, quite simply, I don’t want to be sued for causing a heart attack or for damages done when the Kindle is thrown through the living room window. Now, I want to say up front that I do not advocate putting warning labels on literature. There has been a rising chorus of puritans calling for such measure, especially since the recent release of a certain novel that includes steamy sex scenes. Generally, the reader knows the gist of the novel before its spine is cracked open, thanks to the back cover blurb, front cover graphics, literary reviews and friend referrals. The average person knows just by looking at the cover if the book is either a bodice-ripper or a Jack-the-Ripper, if it is fictional or biographical. Granted, some book covers are deceptive, but I don’t think it is meant to intentionally lure unsuspecting readers into the novel’s debauchery. I take that back. Book covers rarely are deceptive, if you define deceptive as deliberately giving the reader one impression and then delivering an entirely different story. I doubt you will ever see the Tibetan Book of the Dead with a Holy Bible cover. OOBERS goes out of its way to let you know just what you’re getting into, because not only do I want to shield myself from potential lawsuits, I want the public to be aware that this book will sear images of horror into the frontal cortex, will trigger the limbic region to do all sorts of reactive responses, will cause the heart to skip a beat here and there and will awaken your primal sense of morality (or lack thereof). OOBERS is a horror story that delivers.

Why write something like this? I’m still not one hundred percent sure myself. Those who know me will tell you that I am a serious student of spirituality, that I try to be a good Christian, that I am kind and humorous (ok, stop it, I’m giving myself a big head) and that I don’t have a violent bone in my body. Those who REALLY know me, however, are aware that there is a sick and severely twisted pervert housed deep in my body that delights in pointing out the most profane ironies. I go out of my way to witness the most brutal and horrific things, whether it is in film or print or internet. I think I developed it growing up with two younger sisters, both of whom were the recipients of my constant and daily torture. But as much as I’d like to, I can’t blame them for my disturbed fascination with the macabre. One of my favorite sites on the internet is Rotten.Com, which features the most lurid and shocking images you are liable to come across anywhere. Pictures of a man’s hand that had gotten caught in an industrial meat grinder; a maggot-filled corpse of a prostitute found in the woods; a pole-climber who accidently came in contact with a million volts; Australian bikers brutally butchered, and so on and so forth. As a young teenager I fell in love with the Faces of Death movies. I would actually have sleepovers and we would see who could last the longest in front of the screen. I never turned my eyes. Forty years later I can still see the man being executed by electric chair and blood shooting out of his eyes, or the aftermath of a plane crash in a residential neighborhood with quivering blobs of pink flesh lying on the street, or of an Arab being beheaded by sword. Oh, of course I enjoyed Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, not to mention all the other incredible movies that have graced the screen.

When it came to horror fiction, though, I was always found wanting more than what was delivered. Don’t get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Blatty’s The Exorcist, and about a gazillion other novels. None that I have read – yet – came within shouting distance of the carnage and bloodshed I found in some films. So when I wrote OOBERS it was with the intention of manifesting a story so bloody and gory the reader will cringe, just not enough to put it down for long. Think of it as literature’s version of sticking your hand into a dark hole and feeling something wet and sticky that licks you just before it munches three of your fingers. I want you to throw OOBERS across the room in horror and disgust, and then I want you to find it and start reading again, your eyes bugged out, the short hair on the back of your neck raised and your gag reflex working overtime. I’ve only known one book that caused me to chuck it because it shocked me to my core by handing me a protagonist who broke all the rules, and it was a fantasy novel by Stephen R Donaldson, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I went on to finish the series and am glad I did. OOBERS frees the barbarian savage chained inside your mind and gives him a cleaver. It does what other books fail to do: scare the living Hell out of you, instill a sense of terrified helplessness, and make you wish you hadn’t eaten that Whopper before you started reading.

My friend, you will be introduced to a force of evil that can climb inside your head and make you do the most atrocious things against your fellow human beings. You will thank me afterwards, though, because you’ll realize that no matter how freaked out you are now, it is better to know what is slithering toward you than living in complete ignorance. You will never be the same again, I’m afraid, but at least you’ve been warned.

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