Monday, June 18, 2012

Giveaway and Guest Post with Gary Val Tenuta and his book Ash: Return of the Beast

Happy Monday CEWTNK fanatics!!!  Today I have with me the amazing Gary Val Tenuta and he is going to talk to us today about how the idea came about for his fantastic book Ash:  Return of the Beast.  Take it away Gary!

THE WRITING OF ASH: RETURN OF THE BEAST – Or How I Learned To Not Be Afraid Of The Dark

By Gary Val Tenuta

One of the interesting things about writing a novel is that the process requires the writer to reach down inside to access the storehouse of thoughts, feelings and life experiences that he’s accumulated over the years so he can apply some of it to the story and make the words on the page reflect some semblance of “reality”. I guess that’s a long-winded way of repeating the old adage, ‘Write what you know’. But what if you have a story idea that requires you to write what you don’t know or, worse yet, to write what you’re uncomfortable with?

If you’re going to write what you don’t know, there’s always the option to do the research necessary to familiarize yourself with a formerly unfamiliar topic. Writing what you’re uncomfortable with is something else again. That’s what I had to wrestle with when it came to writing my second novel, Ash: Return Of The Beast.

I remember when the idea for the story first hit me. I was browsing the shelves in a second-hand bookstore and came across a biography of the infamous occultist, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947). Due to my life-long fascination with all things paranormal, I was at least somewhat familiar with Crowley. I knew he identified with the number 666 and referred to himself as “The Beast”. I knew he was revered as a master of ritual magic or what some call the Dark Arts. I knew his picture appeared on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album and I knew that several musicians of the hard rock variety were into him. I knew he’d been branded by the British press as ‘The Wickedest Man In The World’ and I knew Musolini had kicked him out of Italy. I even had a copy of a strange little book entitled, Liber Al Vel Legis (The Book Of The Law), that was allegedly dictated to Crowley by a nonhuman entity near the Great Pyramid in 1904.

What I didn’t know was that he was cremated in England and that the urn, containing his ashes, was sent to a man named Karl Germer in New Jersey. Germer buried the urn under a large oak tree on his property. Sometime later, he decided to move to California and he wanted to take the urn with him. But, when he went to dig it up, he found it was no longer there. How it disappeared and where it ended up, no one knows. When I read that, the light bulb went off in my head. I thought, “Man, if that isn’t a set-up for a good paranormal mystery, I don’t know what is.”

At first I was super motivated and eager to start writing. But as I continued to sketch out a story, I began to realize this was not going to be the same sort of creative experience that I’d had with my debut novel, The Ezekiel Code. Sure, Code contained its share of bad guys sneaking around in the shadows, a couple of murders and some foul play, not to mention a lot of paranormal elements. But, at the end of the day, it was pretty much a story of hope for the future of mankind and there was always at least a glimmer of light hiding under the surface when things looked dark. Ash, I could see, was developing into something that was going to be darker. Much darker. Darker, maybe, than I was prepared to go. Could I dredge up something that disturbing from the depths of my own storehouse of life experiences? Um… not exactly. Clearly, I needed to do some research and learn how real people have endured such experiences, how it affected them emotionally and psychologically and what effect it had on their lives after the experience.

So, I did the research to familiarize myself with those issues to the point where I felt comfortable enough to incorporate it into the story. But feeling comfortable enough with it and actually writing it were two different things. I found out I was afraid of the Dark, the Dark within. I told my best friend that I felt like I had to go wash my hands or take a complete shower after writing the first incident of one specific heinous activity.

However, I believed the story was too good to abandon. I knew if I let it go it would haunt me for the rest of my days. So I carried on even though my own sensibilities were rebelling against me. Much to my surprise, I actually got used to it. In fact, I got to the point where I enjoyed it. Yeah, I know. Scary, right? But hey, at least I was no longer afraid of the Dark. How did that happen?
Once I got far enough into the development of the story, the characters ceased to be mere concepts in my head. They began to take shape, physically, emotionally and psychologically. They became real people involved in real situations. It wasn’t me who was doing those horrendous things to the characters. The characters were doing those things to each other. Yup. As a writer, I was in the Zone.
Being in the Zone is great. There are no boundaries, no limitations in the Zone. It’s the place where the writer experiences the freedom to let the story evolve as it will and any intimidating sensibilities that might otherwise get in the way... well, they’re just out of luck. The story must go on. And so it did.

Now, three years after the initial idea hit me, Ash: Return Of The Beast is finished and I’m happy to report that my sensibilities were not damaged in the process. At least I haven’t had any urges to go out and kill anyone… yet.

(Cue spooky music. Fade to black…)

So let's take a look at the book details:

Ash: Return of the Beast is an occult crime thriller, a work of fiction based on a little known factoid about the death of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the notorious occultist the British press once called "The Wickedest Man In The World". Crowley’s body was cremated but the whereabouts of his funerary ashes has remained a mystery… until now.

This diabolical tale carries the reader through a series of the most curious (and sometimes unsettling) events spanning the years from 1947(and the death of Aleister Crowley) to the 1990s and the coming-of-age (and eventual stardom) of a "death-metal" rocker named Rodney Duckworth.

The time-line shifts to the present day where Brian Kane, a gruff and gritty, street-worn Seattle Police Detective, reluctantly teams up with the mysterious Rowena Ravenwood, an attractive female FBI agent. Their task is to figure out why good, healthy, God-fearing preachers in their fair city are suddenly dropping dead.

What is the meaning of the strange symbols branded onto the bodies of these hapless victims? Are they all part of some bizarre cult? No eyewitnesses. No fingerprints. Is it really murder? Where’s the evidence? And what is the disturbing secret that Detective Kane is holding so close to his chest?

The investigation catapults Kane and Ravenwood headlong into life-threatening situations as they wind their way through the strange, dark labyrinth of the world of the occult and find themselves battling the powerful forces of ritual magick.

Problem is, the clues to help solve the case are in terribly short supply. Worse yet, so is the amount of time left to stop the mysterious killer's reign of terror before all Hell breaks loose. And – according to Special Agent Ravenwood – that’s not just a figure of speech.

This book was absolutely amazing!!  I really have read nothing to compare it to!!  And your in luck!!  Gary is offering on of my commenters a copy of his book!!  Just fill out the rafflecopter!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


M. Williams said...

This books looks creepy good! Where to buy, where to buy if I don't win?

Melissa I. said...

Hi @M. Williams,

It does look creepy good, doesn't? And demons freak me out beyond words. I have it on my kindle, but all my tech stuff is near death so I can't read it just yet, but let's go on the positive side and hope you win. I'm obviously not entering because I do have it. I just cant read it yet. If you don't here's the link.

I hope its okay I posted that link in case M. doesn't win....if it's inappropriate to have posted than I'll def take this comment down. Apologies if it's wrong to have done. Good Luck and Enjoy! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the new blog design!

sherri said...

Gary: Have you started your third novel yet, and if so, can you give us a peek into the storyline?

Your second novel sounds absolutely terrifying, which makes me want to read it! :)

April Alvey said...

How Long Did It Take You To Write This Book.

Darlene said...

I do like dark and scary, and this one sounds like it has plenty of both! I am fascinated by all things paranormal as well. I enjoyed learning about what inspired you to write this book!

Gary Val Tenuta said...

Sherri - I have started sketching out an idea for my next novel. The working title is "Channel". It's really in the embryonic stage at this point but suffice to say it's about a blogger whose primary interest is in following the latest in the world of the paranormal. He becomes especially interested in people who claim to be channeling humanoid aliens known as The Galactic Federation of Light (GFL). A new channeler arrives on the scene with messages allegedly from another group of aliens whose agenda is quite the opposite of the GFL. This causes quite a stir among the "believers" on websites all over the internet and two of those believers have not only begun to doubt that the whole GFL channeling phenomenon is real, they've consequently turned up dead... yes, as in murdered. Or so it seems. But how was it done? And who done it? Ah, the plot thickens... Is the channeling phenomenon for real or isn't it? Then again, do we even know what "reality" is? Our inquisitive blogger is determined to find the answers. But will he live long enough to blog about it? We'll just have to wait and see. :-)

Gary Val Tenuta said...

Hi April - It took about 3 years to write the book. Of course, I didn't work on it every day of those 3 years. A lot of life's little interruptions managed to keep that from happening.

Gary Val Tenuta said...

Hi Darleen - Yup, the inspiration for the book just sort of jumped out and grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Not that I wanted it to. LOL

Filia Oktarina said...

Are this book was series, and how many book?

Denise Z said...

After investing so much of your time and effort in this work, what did you do to celebrate when you saw it completed and in print and was it a melancholy moment; like sending your child off to school for the first time ;=) Thank you for sharing this post, I will confess I almost did not read it today due to time constraints, but then for some reason just had to (cue music from Twilight Zone) . . .

Gary Val Tenuta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Val Tenuta said...

Hi Denise - I hugged my laptop and cried. LOL No, actually it was more like I leaned back and let out a long sigh of relief. But the moment of relief didn't last long as I realized my work here wasn't done. It was time to take off my writer's hat and put on my promotion/marketing hat. You know what they say... No rest for the wicked writer. :-)

Sherry said...

Have you ever written or read something that really scared you? Love the cover did you get to any say in it?

Gary Val Tenuta said...

Hi Sherry - Your first question made me chuckle. The first thing that came to mind was something that happened one night when I was about 15. I was upstairs reading in bed. The book was The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The story was The Fall of the House of Usher. I was deep into the part of the story where strange sounds are heard coming from somewhere inside the house. The character, Roderick, tells his friend he fears he has buried his sister alive in the tombs below the house. Then the wind blows the door open and his sister is standing there all bloody from trying to get out of the tomb. At the moment I read those words I heard an odd sound that shocked me out of the story. I froze and looked about the room. Before I tell you what made the sound, I should tell you that just a few weeks earlier I had created a large and spooky-looking charcoal drawing of a skull surrounded by swirling black smoke and I had taped the drawing to my wall. The noise had been the sound of the tape coming loose and the large sheet of heavy paper sliding to the floor. Poe's words on paper were enough to scare me. I didn't really need the picture of the skull falling from the wall at that very moment to heighten the experience. LOL

Thanks for the comment about the book cover! I'm a book cover designer (, so I illustrated and designed the cover myself. Since the book is self-published, I had complete freedom in that regard.

Unknown said...

Who would you credit as a major influence in your writing career?

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