The Scariest Part: Raymond Little Talks About EYES OF DOOM

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Raymond Little, whose debut novel is Eyes of Doom. Here is the publisher’s description:

This is going to hurt . . .

Vinnie, Matt, Jack and Georgina’s friendship survived the fire in Hope House when they were eleven, but their memories of that fateful day did not. Neither did Frankie. But that hasn’t stopped Vinnie from seeing the dead boy years later. As they age, their memories start returning. The friends are plagued by glimpses of a strange, hook-nosed man. Visions of a Ouija board. And a sense that something is watching them. Something that is willing to bring chaos and death to everyone they love. The only thing the four can count on is a friendship that has spanned forty years. The past, the present, the future, it’s all the same. And now that the cycle is coming back on itself, it’s finally time for the friends to face the Eyes of Doom.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Raymond Little:

When Nick gave me this great gig of examining what I found to be the scariest part in the writing of Eyes of Doom, I thought, “Great, easy!” What writer doesn’t like talking about his work, after all? Then I sat at my keyboard, the same one I’ve used to pump out hundreds of thousands of words, and looked at my screen. And looked.

Uh, oh. Trouble.

It wasn’t that there were no scary parts to think of, or that I’d suffered a sudden writer’s block. In fact, it was the opposite, as scene after scene from the novel replayed in my mind. Some were concentrated on tense, psychological terror, others on the horror of extreme physical violence, but as I sifted through them a definite pattern emerged, and I was able to give a name to the particular fear that ran like a barbed thread throughout the novel: helplessness.

Most of us have suffered that feeling at some time in our life, and just replaying a particular predicament in our mind’s eye for which there seemed to be no way out at the time can be enough to cause a cold sweat. From financial dead-ends to dead end jobs, ethical mistakes that can never be taken back to being trodden over by someone in an unquestionable position of power. It hurts, and it’s frightening. But those examples are at the mild end of the Feeling-Helpless-Spectrum. Raise the stakes a little and the adrenalin really kicks in; the moment you step off a kerb and hear the rumble of the truck bearing down, the stranger on the doorstep with the maniacal grin and bloodstained hands that you know you should never have opened the door to, the realisation that the fire escape door at the end of the corridor is locked when the blaze is closing in behind. The feeling when nothing else can be done, other than to wait for the inevitable, and hope for good fortune. I had one such experience in my life, a scaffold staircase collapsing beneath my feet, and in the second or so it took for me to drop to ground level along with the broken tonne of steel, I remember the feeling of relinquished control, the knowledge that my immediate future was owned by gravity, and still somehow having time to think: this is going to hurt.

Eyes of Doom follows the lives of four friends — Jack, Vinnie, Georgina and Matt — from age ten in 1965 to present day. It’s no spoiler to reveal they are pursued by a relentless evil, which is the backbone of the story, and that they each find themselves at different times in their lives at the mercy of fate. And I’m not talking small stuff; they are in serious shit. The repeated motif, this is going to hurt, is a sentence nobody wants to hear. It’s a promise of pain, an assertion that your wish for safety depends on the whim of another. The novel is set against a backdrop of fifty years of cultural, social and political change, and when dropping real events into the chapters to give the reader a sense of time and place, I found the most vivid reminders to be frightening ones. War, terrorist attacks, disease and disasters — we all remember where we were, and how we felt, when witnessing such events either first hand or through our TV screens, and I certainly felt an uneasy chill when using them as a mirror to the lives of my characters.

For twentieth century man-and-womankind, helplessness is surely one of the most diabolical fears to suffer from. We have become masters of our environment. The world is mapped with everything in its right place, and we have created control through technology and medicine. Computers are the new God. Travel between continents can be achieved with relative ease and safety in the comfort of aircraft, diseases that have killed for millennia can be kept at bay with a pill or a jab. We have health and safety rules to keep us from harm, police to uphold our laws, and a universe of facts to draw upon with a tap of the thumb on a phone screen. We are intellectual, non-superstitious beings that no longer believe in monsters.

But don’t computers still crash?

Eyes of Doom: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Amazon UK

Raymond Little: Website / Facebook

Raymond Little is a Londoner who now lives in Kent, where he writes dark fiction. His short stories have appeared in anthologies including the resurrected Horror Library series and Blood Bound Book’s DOA II and Night Terrors III. He was included in the Dead End Follies article “10 Brilliant Writers You Probably Don’t Know,” and his story “An Englishman in St. Louis” sat alongside some of his own literary heroes such as Dickens and Poe in the Chilling Ghost Short Stories collection. Eyes of Doom is Ray’s first published novel.

Doctor Who: “Empress of Mars”

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I don’t have much to say about “Empress of Mars,” except that I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Not only is it a nice recovery from the dead weight of the Monk invasion trilogy, it has a real classic-Doctor Who feel to it. There were many episodes during the classic run that either lampooned or commented on British colonialism, although usually metaphorically in the distant future. (The 1982 Fifth Doctor serial “Kinda” is a great example of this, where the exploitative human expedition on the jungle planet of Deva Loka is very much an analog for the British in India.) Here we have actual Victorian British soldiers on Mars, which is quite a sight.

I’ll admit I rolled my eyes somewhat when “God Save the Queen” is found written on the surface of Mars at the start of the episode — that’s so painfully new-Who — but they gave it an explanation in the end that worked. Or at least an explanation I was willing to buy! I also liked the pacifist message of cooperation instead of war, which is something Doctor Who used to do a lot more often than it does these days.

But one of the things I found most enjoyable about “Empress of Mars” was the sheer amount of Doctor Who neepery on display! The image of the Ice Warriors standing in their hibernation tombs was very reminiscent of the Cybermen doing the same in 1967 Second Doctor serial “Tomb of the Cybermen.” The Doctor tells the Ice Warrior nicknamed Friday that he’s an honorary guardian of Tythonian Hive. What’s strange about this is that the only Tythonian from the classic series isn’t an Ice Warrior, but rather the glowing green blob in the widely reviled 1979 Fourth Doctor serial “The Creature from the Pit”! I appreciated that the helmet design of the Ice Queen is reminiscent of the helmets of the Ice Lords, Ice Warriors of advanced rank in the classic series. But the episode definitely saves the best for last, with the surprise cameo by Alpha Centauri, a ridiculously phallic one-eyed creature (pictured below) last seen — in the company of the Ice Warriors! — in the Third Doctor serials “The Curse of Peladon” (1972) and “The Monster of Peladon” (1974). I read that the actress who originally voiced Alpha Centauri in the 1970s, Ysanne Churchman, did the voice again for “Empress of Mars” — at the age of 92! Remarkable!

Next week, an episode written by Rona Munro, who previously wrote “Survival,” the last serial of the Seventh Doctor in 1989, and the very last serial ever of classic series!

On the Shelves at Powell’s

Spotted in the wild at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. I’m happy to see they’re still on bookstore shelves!

Of course, I’m even happier when I see them on the shelves in people’s homes! 🙂

Reminder: Talking to the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers THIS SATURDAY

This is a reminder that tomorrow, Saturday the 10th, at 12 noon, I will be giving a talk to the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers called “No Way to Slow Down: Writing Fast-Paced Novels That Will Keep Readers Turning the Pages.”

Here’s the Facebook event page for it.

The 11:30 meeting of the GSSW is for members only, but my talk starts at 12 and is open to the public.  I hope you’ll join me!

 

 

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