NEW BOOK: The Red Ribbon

The cover of "The Red Ribbon"

My new book, The Red Ribbon, is now available on Amazon. It's the first book in a new anthology series, Stories From The Fire.

I have such great memories of telling stories around campfires, at friends’ houses and around our fireplace at home. Some were urban legends, some were just tried-and-true ghost stories passed down, and others were made up on the spot. I checked out books from the library to mine them for scary stories to retell at sleepovers. We had an old record player - the kind built into a console stereo - and with it were records of spoken-word ghost stories from Edgar Allen Poe and other masters of the macabre. While I enjoyed a safe childhood, these stories reminded me that horrors lurked just beyond it.

Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, there were also a glut of horror anthology movies and TV series. The Red Ribbon has many of the tropes of those horror classics. The main characters are teenagers. They are crass and combative with each other and their hormones are raging. Oh, and someone might die.

The mood of this tale reminds me of teenage-centric stories from Tales From The Crypt and the Creepshow movies. They all borrowed heavily from the real-life tropes of teenage life. This is an original story but there are elements of it that may tug at the memories of some readers who remember a similar title or similar characters. That’s what’s so great about these tall horror tales. They seem familiar, even when they are not. And because we think we’ve heard them before, we let our guard down. That’s a mistake I hope to take advantage of again and again in Stories From The Fire.

I remember adults always making jokes about how high school kids are driven by hormones. I think kids at that age feel powerful emotions that are largely untainted by past experiences. Because they have none! They are leaning into the learning curve of both platonic and romantic relationships and, often, they get hurt. Hopefully they live and learn and move on. But I think there is a purity in those powerful first experiences that’s especially compelling to adults. Our teenage years are a common experience. The decisions we make in our teenage years echo into our future, for better or for worse.

The Red Ribbon is a small scale story, told through the limited life experience of teenagers. Long-time friends Jarred and Matt have a friendship so close it’s caustic: a competition consisting of who can cut the other down deeper. Their all-in-good-fun accord is put to the test when a beautiful new girl named Evelyn arrives at school. As both boys try to earn her favor, strange surprises lead them to believe that the quiet new girl may be stalked by something - or someone - from her mysterious past. Though someone’s life may be in danger, they still choose to unravel Evelyn's most carefully kept secret.

It's a short read. About thirty minutes. I hope you enjoy it.

- Micah

NEW BOOK: The Angel

The cover of "The Angel"

My newest book, The Angel, was just published by Option Books. It's a short story set in the world of cave diving.

I’ve never been scuba diving. It seems nice, though. Pick a locale in the Florida panhandle, or off the coast of Mexico. There’s plenty of clear water, beautiful fish and sunlight. Surface in seconds whenever you’d like. But who the hell wants to go cave diving? Trapped underwater and under rock. No radios. No communication. It’s one of the few places where technology cannot help you. I just can’t understand the mentality that brings divers to attempt that kind of challenge. My hope is that neither can anyone else. It makes that world a great place to tell a story.

For years, my focus has been on stories that could be told under the constraints of low budget filmmaking. The Angel emerged in direct contrast to that. Shooting in caves, under water and in tight spaces is just not something you want to attempt without a significant budget. Even with a very large budget, it’s miserable. Ask the cast of James Cameron’s The Abyss. This short story was liberating in that I was free to truly explore. I was free to describe something I will never experience, and never film. Unless you want to give me a lot of money to make this into a film. Then, let’s do this.

My approach to The Angel, and to writing in general, is pretty simple. I hope I can explain it by describing an experience I love: rewatching movies with friends. Watching an amazing film for the first time is a truly great experience. I’ll never be able to watch The Empire Strikes Back or Jurassic Park the same way I did the first time. For me, an equally great experience is rewatching that film or tv show with other people. Rewatching The Usual Suspects or Game of Thrones with the uninitiated is wonderful because I know what’s coming, and they don’t. I get to both anticipate what I know is about to happen, and have this rewarding existential experience with my friends, who don’t know what’s about to hit them. It’s great!

Writing is the same experience for me. It’s walking through Blockbuster (R.I.P.) and selecting the experience I want to go on with my friends. Now I consider you a friend. So I look forward to coming over again and sharing another experience with you.

You can now find The Angel in Amazon here. It's about a thirty minute read. I hope you enjoy it.

- Micah