Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Satan Carol by Alan Steven Kessler: Excerpt & Guest Post


What does the devil really want?

Nostalgic for the Inquisition and plague, Satan feels neglected by the modern world that no longer blames him for disease and death. He plans to create a new genesis, a place where people will love him. For that, his son needs just the right soul.

Background image courtesy AllBackgrounds.com

And there is one - unique, powerful, able to heal. To get it, Satan has a plan that begins in Ireland in the famine year, 1848, and 180 years later traps a young girl and her family in demonic forces pushing them to kill.        

 A Satan Carol is a horror story with a message for those who want to understand God's apparent absence as the intersection of freewill and choice. It is a story with religious themes written for a secular reader. It is, in the end, a tale about family values--even if they originate in hell.

Publisher: Wild Child Publishing, wwww.wildchildpublishing.com
ISBN: 978-1-61798-013-8
Length: 290 pages  
Author contact: www.askessler.com  email: alan@askessler.com
Publication Date: 12/11
QED Award Winner, 2011, Digital Book World
Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble

From: A Satan Carol

Copyright © 2011 Alan S. Kessler

All rights reserved, Wild Child Publishing.

“First, though, you need a little perspective. We have to go back to the beginning when, as I’ve already told you, I was God’s favorite. Know what happened to me? Forget what you’ve heard or read about my fall from grace. That’s all propaganda. Jesus won and winners perpetuate their own myths. If the Moabites had a bible, would Moses be the hero? Here’s the real story. I got screwed! My younger brother is a brown-noser. He told Dad he liked the idea of free will for men. I said it was a lot of crap. How can you expect a dog to obey if you let it run wild to shit all over the house? For being honest, I was cast out. Jesus got a really neat holiday with colored lights, songs, and puppies in bows; I get blamed for everything that goes wrong and the only ones who celebrate my birth are a few old hags dancing naked in the woods around a stump. Take my word for it, Orem, that’s not a pretty sight. These women might be smart, they all have PhDs in English literature from Michigan, but I’m like most guys, I prefer dumb blondes with big tits.

“I’ll bet you’re thirsty.”

Legs crossed, reclining in the air, Mr. Green sipped a tall, frosted glass of lemonade. “Ah, that hits the spot.”

“So this is where I am,” Orem said, his dry lips cracked and bleeding, “in the world you created. Hell.”

Mr. Green jumped down, his face on fire. By crushing his drink he made Orem feel he’d just swallowed glass.

“You think this is Hell? Death is oblivion! Hell doesn’t have people! It’s a pit holding a few souls, the universe’s worst, and I’m their fucking keeper! ShinyLand 7 is infinitely better. But it’s not my design, you insulting son-of-a-bitch! The people here did this to themselves! They made the choices! Talking to you is like talking to a two-year old. Want to take a nap? Should I get you some cookies and milk? OK, I’ll explain it to you, step by step. I would love a world all bright and blue, the kind Dad gave to Christ. But God didn’t help me find one. He doesn’t even speak to me. I had to do everything myself. ShinyLand 7 is a shit hole, the location’s terrible, but it’s a place I can fix up and call home.

“Who really knows why some people get the blessing and others the curse?” Wanting him to understand, Mr. Green increased Orem’s pain. “Dad loves the story about Jacob tricking Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau. God can be old fashioned, very Old Testament, if you know what I mean. OK, maybe I was a little rebellious, all children are, except Jesus, but it’s not easy when your father doesn’t love you. You try and try; nothing is ever good enough. I disappointed my Dad. Pal isn’t exactly the kind of child I wanted either but here’s the difference between God and me: I didn’t abandon my son just because he’s different. You work with what you have. Take this place. Like I said, it’s not exactly the Garden of Eden, but it could be worse. The other ShinyLands burned to a crisp. I’m grateful to have Pal. I’m explaining the world to him and my wife is doing her part to make sure he understands. We hire good help. Pal’s education is a team effort. Occasionally, one of our staff dies or gets eaten. That’s not my fault. I’m just a parent trying to do the best I can for my son. He’s walking now and more alert. I told you I have a plan for him. As a Christ-like man, you’ll appreciate it. It’s all about the soul.”

Orem’s forehead and palms bled.

“It’s open kimono time.” Mr. Green stood sexless and naked, his small head with its jolly face resting on an enormous belly covered in front with a thousand, green, spider-like legs growing from sores of bubbling pus. In back, hands burrowing through scaly flesh dangled long strands of eyeballs twitching and spinning in torment. “I don’t often reveal myself. People find it disturbing. But I know you value the truth.”

The presence of the devil’s inner self overwhelmed Orem in a spiritual and physical, dark poison. He saw himself inside out. Blood dripped hot and sulfuric on his gray heart perforated by worms. Little men without eyes or mouths, their faces twisted flesh, hung upside down from his melting bones.

An underdone potato. Salt it, add butter or cream, sprinkle on parsley and dill, some bacon bits, and what do you have? An underdone potato.

We are interested in back stories. How much of Truman Capote did Harper Lee put into To Kill A Mockingbird? Did Mary Shelley assemble Frankenstein from the dark and candle shadowed pieces of her nightmares? Does it matter? We judge Lee and Shelley’s novels on the quality of the writing; to define their literature as great doesn’t require knowing how many lumps of sugar the authors took with their tea or whether they danced naked in the woods.

Personally, I like White Castles, Ohio State football, and grew up in a house of demons. But if my novel, A Satan Carol, doesn’t engage the reader, make her think, create, for a moment, a vision that in its clarity takes her into another world, then I have failed in what counts for a writer—the writing—and who I am is unimportant, even irritating, to someone who has spent her money on my dud story. I might be an interesting person full of entertaining idiosyncrasies delightful to even a gathering of Scramble players but the core of me, the creator through words of other realities, is inedible and no amount of toppings, even enticing ones of a personal history not bacon bits but shards of glass, can make an uncooked potato into a work of art.

I hope readers will judge A Satan Carol for what it is and then want to know about its author. Until then I’m not a mystery, just a footnote. It is very nice of Laurie to give me the chance to talk about my book and myself. I don’t want to sound ungracious and would like to give one answer to two of her questions:

Q: What would we find under your bed? 

Q: Why should we read your book? 

A:  It’s where, in the imagination, dark things hide.

January 18, 2012 
Reviews by Amos Lassen, Amazon Reviewer
So what we have (in A Satan Carol) is a horror story with a message. This is what I would classify as a mild horror story…no blood, no slashing…(but what) the book says will shock you and make you think and when a writer makes me think he has done a fine job. Kessler’s book shows Satan moving through time from Ireland during the potato famine in 1848 to Massachusetts in 2028 as he seeks to create a spot where he will be loved. Of course, the fact that Kessler is a good writer made me like this book even more and I applaud his effort. I am anxious to read other stories he has written.  

January 23, 2012 
The Deepening World of Books
…this is a book (A Satan Carol) that isn’t your standard variety shock and awe, gruel and drool novel. Though it has plenty enough of the distressingly appalling, visceral imagery horror aficionados demand, this is a thinking horror fan’s novel. Bravo, Mr. Kessler.

January 30, 2012 
Library at Dawn
A Satan Carol by Alan S. Kessler is a thought-provoking tale that leans more towards the theological than horrific. While it is certainly an original work, I found it difficult not to compare it to the vast array of other writers that have used Satan as a character in literature. The writing reminded me a lot of C.S. Lewis or the more religious novels of Anne Rice. Like Dickens, Lewis, and others, the author clearly has a moral message… 
This is not a ‘cheesy’ horror story. (It is) worth a look. 

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1 comment:

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I love your answer to the two questions 'It’s where, in the imagination, dark things hide.'
That is brilliant! Looking forward to reading your book now :)