Podcast Review – “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward”

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erick mertz, charles dexter ward, supernatural fictionThe BBC recently dropped a new adaptation of The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward based on the horror novel by HP Lovecraft. First written in 1927, this story was never published in Lovecraft’s lifetime but in the 90 years since it has become one of his canonical weird tales.

For those unfamiliar with the source material, Charles Dexter Ward is a young man in his mid-twenties. The story drops us in at a point where he is locked up in a “mental asylum”. Ward’s psychological infirmity stems from a burning obsession with Joseph Curwen, a distant relative. Charles physically resembles his relative (an accused wizard) and he works to resurrect his relative’s occult spells.

The BBC has chosen to reinvent the story using a true crime/investigative style. Doctor Willitts (who is also the investigating character in the original) works to understand his disturbed patient. In the podcast interviews begin back in recorded conversations with the boy. Willits contacts his teachers as well as a cast who knew the young antiquarian when he was into hanging out and playing video games.

The BBC was clearly disinterested with preserving HP Lovecraft’s original tone.

erick mertz, charles dexter ward, supernatural fictionHere it is critical to note the difference between podcast and audiobook. The latter is defined as a simple dramatic reading of the text. The former however implies episodic, and it lends itself to a broader and more adventurous story interpretation. The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward has been adapted into an audiobook numerous times. It is available on Audible and here. It was also broken down admirably with performances on an early episode of the HP Podcraft Literary Podcast.

The BBC ventures far from the source. Their adaptation feels more like the wildly popular Serial that took the podcast world by storm than an audiobook. For one thing, the story is updated to the modern day. The story is also told using a female point of view. It views the titular character as a disturbed boy. Episode One even alludes to a most modern plague: school shootings.

It is critical to note the inclusion of a female character because Lovecraft almost never wrote female characters. Certainly none of those token mentions was given a point of view.

Another distinction is the inclusion of examination of an in depth child character. Once again the BBC is going somewhere the source author rarely did. Aside from the fantastical creation of Wilbur Whateley in The Dunwich Horror children are largely left out of Lovecraft’s fiction.

For Lovecraft purists, the BBC’s adaptation may sting a bit. Some might view it as unnecessary. My bristle is a bit more with how this adaptation uses too many horror motifs. We get a lot of female protagonists. Disturbed children are the genre’s stock and trade.

Scholars postulate that Charles Dexter Ward is HP Lovecraft’s most obviously biographical character. I think of this this story as Lovecraft’s most purely psychological. While many of his tales involve insanity, what afflicts Charles is more relatable. This is less about monster myths and more about an inborn psychological frailty therefore this story stands as pretty modern and stands up to adaptation.

The BBC’s adaptation of The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward works in part because reminds us of a key aspect in understanding HP Lovecraft: the open source nature of his work. The author wanted new generations of writers to tinker with his worlds therefore this should be viewed as a reflection of that desire.

If Lovecraft were alive today (a phrase that launches countless debates) I’m sure he would listen to podcasts. He might even produce one. I would hazard a guess then that had The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward been written in 2018, it might sound a little more like this.

Want to check it out for yourself? Here is the link to the BBC Sounds presentation of The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward.

Have You Listened To The Podcast Version of The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward already? 

Leave me a comment about this podcast or review. Perhaps you could suggest a supernatural fiction podcast for me to check out.

While you’re at it check out my book page to see the latest Oregon supernatural mystery I’m working on.

emertzPodcast Review – “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward”
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Episode #6: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”

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erick mertz, episode #6, the lies and truth of doctor desmond brice, supernatural fictionThe Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice Episode #6 brings us another step closer to the end of our titular character’s misadventures. Thus far, I have avoided blogging about the publishing process.

As near as we are now though, I feel it’s a good time.

Bringing an episode of this novella out every week (or so, I get it…) has been a fun little adventure. But would I do it the same way again? Maybe.

Serial publishing is nice because it gives me, the writer and publisher, a chance at increased interaction. Writers are always complaining about not having enough relevant material to blog or write about to their audience. This process has given me an opportunity to introduce and discuss a piece of new work on a weekly basis. From readers, I have gotten the impression that this works too.

What serial publishing has done though is made me eager. I am really ready to have this whole book out. There has been so much getting ready and getting the book together that arriving at the end has felt too long.

Here we are though. Episode #6 “The Old Lie”. According to Doctor Desmond Brice, the last of his many lies. The next episode, the last in the ebook we discover the consequences of truth.

How Do I Get My Hands On The Novella?

Did I mention that this eBook is free?

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

Once you subscribe, I’ll send you “Episode #1: The First Lie”. Every one of my subscribers will receive this plus each of the following episodes in this serially published novella.

When this novella is complete, it will stand as the prequel book to The Mask Of Tomorrow (tentatively scheduled for release January/February 2019… more on that) the first full-length novel in my series.

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Episode #5: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”

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erick mertz, supernatural fiction, episode #5, the lies and truth of doctor desmond briceA couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog confessing that Episode #4 took longer to release than expected. Well, in that case, the amount of time I took getting Episode #5 out and off my desk has been just plumb ridiculous.

I’ll blame the holidays, how’s that? I’m sure that you’ve heard that excuse before. But it’s true.

I spent last week with family down in balmy Carlsbad, California up the coast from San Diego. Once I got back home to Portland, I decided it was a good idea to take a few days to acclimate back to life in the normal lane.

Better never late, I know, but the episode is out just the same.

After Episode #5 “A Cover-Up” there are only two more episodes left. Best get writing, right?

What Happens In Episode #5?

In the most succinct possible terms, Episode #5 finds Doctor Desmond Brice face to face with a new foe. Anson Jeffs arrives on his doorstep with an offer that he claims Desmond cannot refuse.

Is there such a thing? Find out in Episode #5, “A Cover Up” the latest installment.

How Do I Get My Hands On The Novella?

Did I mention that this eBook is free?

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

Once you subscribe, I’ll send you “Episode #1: The First Lie”. Every one of my subscribers will receive this plus each of the following episodes in this serially published novella.

When this novella is complete, it will stand as the prequel book to The Mask Of Tomorrow (tentatively scheduled for release January/February 2019… more on that) the first full-length novel in my series.

Sound interesting? Sign up today and receive this mailing list exclusive.

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Erick Mertz Author – Black To Comm – “Seven Horses For Seven Kings”

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dark ambient, erick mertz, music for writersThis album is dark ambient. It’s as dark as night.

But if you allow the collection of sour electroacoustic sounds on Black To Comm’s newest record, Seven Horses For Seven Kings to have their way with your imagination, they spin a beautiful tapestry as well.

Black to Comm is a mysterious electronic outfit that comes out of Hamburg, Germany. Over the last decade or so the group has produced a long string of dark ambient recordings, making bleak atmospheres and cinematic sonic experimentation their signature.

Seven Horses For Seven Kings is layered with distorted and harrowing electroacoustic sounds. The experimental aspects come across as rich and complex. They stand out front and are deeply satisfying. The thirteen tracks wash together into a glowering labyrinthine mix. There are a few sonic swells on the record that may prove distracting to the creative process. It may be an album best listened to at lower volumes, but the resulting backdrop fills up a writing session with bits of cosmic ponder as well as terror. A lot of dark ambient postures around a high concept and Black To Comm delivers that. This recording is sticky and has a cinematic scope.

I would recommend this album to anyone who writes fiction. I think this would be especially appealing for those working in the horror or supernatural thriller genres. There are a host of scary emotions throughout and the visuals are difficult to set aside. The run time clocks in at just over an hour, making Seven Horses For Seven Kings ideal for exploring a haunting sequence or breaking out a kill scene.

You can get the digital version of Seven Horses For Seven Kings here from Thrill Jockey. Also, check out Black To Comm’s Bandcamp page here for their extensive back catalog.

Are you a supernatural fiction author with a favorite writing album? Have you given this Black To Comm album a listen?

supernatural fiction, erick mertz, portland, oregon

Leave me a comment below, or better yet, suggest an album for writing and I’ll cover it in my another installment of my “Music For Writers” column.

Want a free eBook?

Sign up for my email list for a free copy of my novella, The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice. It is the first book in The Strange Air series of supernatural fiction.

emertzErick Mertz Author – Black To Comm – “Seven Horses For Seven Kings”
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Episode #4: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”

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erick mertz, the lies and truth of doctor desmond brice, free ebook, episode #4, supernatural fictionSo, the publication of “Episode #4” took me just a little bit longer to get out to my readers than I would have hoped.

Sorry folks. I missed the good Doctor Brice too.

Today is release day though. The latest, “Episode #4” of The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice will drop to all my loyal email list subscribers later on this afternoon.

This episode I’ve entitled, “Falsehood”.

And just so you don’t go thinking I was too indulgent with my  week away from publishing… I went out to Lake Chelan, Washington and got a lot of writing and novel plotting done with the good folks from Write On The River.

Also, Episode #4 features a brand new eBook cover. Anyone like this one better than the last? Leave me a comment below.

I have to say, I missed the process and I missed dropping eBooks in your email boxes.

Thank you for your patience… and enjoy.

How Do I Get My Hands On The Novella?:

Did I mention that this eBook is free?

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

Once you subscribe, I’ll send you “Episode #1: The First Lie”. Every one of my subscribers will receive this plus each of the following episodes in this serially published novella.

When this novella is complete, it will stand as the prequel book to The Mask Of Tomorrow (tentatively scheduled for release January 2019… more on that) the first full-length novel in my series.

What Happens In Episode #4?:

Desmond Brice returns home from school for the Thanksgiving holiday in this episode. As you lovely readers have discovered, the good Doctor isn’t exactly a normal guy.

While most of us return to our home towns looking to reflect by the home fires, Desmond comes back seeking something else altogether. For Desmond, the idea of a home fire has an entirely different meaning altogether. In Episode #4, he is reminded of that.

Sound interesting? Sign up today and receive this mailing list exclusive.

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Writer’s Retreat #1 – Onto Lake Chelan

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erick mertz, supernatural fiction, author, retreat, lake chelanI think that every writer shares a similar dream. A time to get away. The space to think clearly. The much coveted writer’s retreat experience is that rare opportunity to get both at once, usually in a gorgeous location to boot.

As a few of you have noticed, I took this last week away from publishing episodes of The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice in order to prepare for a retreat to Lake Chelan, Washington. The curious Doctor Brice remains in my thoughts, as I do hope he remains in yours. The time away will be a chance to focus on what comes next and I am thankful to Write On The River in Wenatchee for affording me the opportunity to share space with some of Washington’s finest writers.

What comes next? As many of you are aware, Doctor Desmond Brice fits into a larger supernatural mythology of Canyon County, Oregon. While up in Lake Chelan on this specific writer’s retreat, I am going to break out the time twisted plot of The Strange Air which will be the second novel in my supernatural mystery series. Also, I am going to take a little of my three days to work through edits and ideas for The Mask Of Tomorrow which I anticipate releasing in January or February.

Stay tuned. I also anticipate a few blogs and pictures along the way.

By the way… don’t think for a moment I’m taking a retreat just anywhere ordinary. According to legend, Lake Chelan is haunted by a dragon.

Don’t believe me? Check out this story.

Sound interesting? Sign up today and receive this mailing list exclusive.

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

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Podcast Review – “Welcome To Night Vale”

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erick mertz, welcome to night vale, supernatural podcast reviewI don’t know whether it was a mistake to announce at a recent board game night that I was in the market for a new supernatural podcast. When the entire room shouted “Welcome To Night Vale” in unison I felt like a fool.

Only momentarily a fool though. Then I felt grateful.

To say that “Welcome To Night Vale” has everything would be an understatement. The podcast takes the form of a free form community calendar with each episode featuring town news and updates on the locals. An idyllic, small town feeling exists throughout, and there is usually a piece music to boot referred to as “the weather”.

The fictional Night Vale is not a normal town though and your host isn’t an everyday local radio DJ rube. Strange things happen in Night Vale. Bizarre turns of events are part of the community character. A recent High School Football preview show dissected the local team’s chances on the gridiron… only with bizarre touch like dismembered limbs and undead coaches. You get the picture.

Did I mention your bi-weekly host? Cecil Baldwin is the show’s host and narrator and one of the first things listeners notice is the resonant magnetism of his voice. His baritone read on news is a draw. He’s funny. He’s mysterious. When I listen to Night Vale it’s easy to just slide in and forget I’ve ever lived elsewhere.

The world of Night Vale is more surreal that it is terrifying. It’s bizarre. In one episode a boy turns into a tree which is a strange fate but his transformation is for poetic reasons and his fate is cruel, yet touching.

The writing is top notch. The characters are memorable. On the binge worthy scale, “Welcome To Night Vale” is up there and well-worth your headphone time.

Have you checked out “Welcome To Night Vale” yet? 

Leave a comment about this podcast, this review, or suggest a supernatural podcast for me to check out. While you’re at it check out my book page to see the latest Oregon supernatural mystery I’m working on.

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Podcast Review – “The White Vault”

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erick mertz, supernatural fiction, the white vault, podcast reviewIf you’re anything like me, your stack of unread books is three feet high and rising. Your Netflix queue begs for a flu. And now you’ve got podcasts. To help sort out the latter at least, I’ve decided to run a few podcast review blogs.

First off, The White Vault by Fool & Scholar Productions.

The White Vault follows a multi-national repair team’s mission to a remote Arctic outpost. The story which spans two seasons is told using a found footage style made of cobbled together recordings from their journeys into the ice as well as the messages they sent home.

The basic story is as follows. The team gathers at the outpost and begins their repair mission. All of their unique personalities come out. Strange discoveries are made in the ice. Then a massive storm hits.

The White Vault really hits my sweet spot when it comes to supernatural fiction. For one, I love the Arctic. Also, I love confinement. Throw in some long buried ancient civilizations and I’m ready to go.

One of the reasons I enjoyed The White Vault is that it’s writers don’t try to deviate from what makes Arctic based horror scary. Characters are confined in a hostile environment. That storm hits at just the right time to make the already dangerous surface deadly. Portland based writer K.A. Statz hits the mark right on.

What works in movies like the original version of “The Thing” or in books like HP Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness work very well here. There has been something of a fan backlash against found footage of late, which is understandable. The style was played to exhaustion about ten years ago.

My issues with The White Vault are quite small. Some of the actor’s performances feel stiff at times. My  issues with found footage are that the story really becomes the domain of the assembler of that footage. While The White Vault does nothing to get me over that hump, it’s not a distraction.

The White Vault really is worth the listen though which is why I chose it for my first podcast review. I binged most of the first season in a couple of days, only to find out that I had to wait for Season #2.

Have you checked out The White Vault yet? 

Leave a comment below about this podcast, this podcast review, or suggest a supernatural fiction podcast. Meanwhile, check out my book page to see the latest Oregon supernatural mystery I’m working on.

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Episode #3: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”

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erick mertz, book release, episode #3, the lies and truth of doctor desmond briceMy first order of business is to wish everyone out there a Happy Halloween. The song tells us that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. For me though, nothing feels quite as good as the crisp late-October air out here in western Oregon.

Doctor Desmond Brice is back. “Episode #3: A Deception” will release later on today to all of my loyal and patient email subscribers.

Thank you to all of those who have already signed up. As a long time devotee of spooky stories, I am grateful that, in a small way, my little story will find a way into their “spooktacular” evening.

Be safe tonight. Be silly. Let the ghosts in.

How Do I Get The Novella?:

Did I mention that this eBook is free?

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

Once you subscribe, I’ll send you “Episode #1: The First Lie”. Every one of my subscribers will receive this plus each of the following episodes in this serially published novella.

When this novella is complete, it will stand as the prequel book to The Mask Of Tomorrow (tentatively scheduled for release January 2019… more on that) the first full-length novel in my series.

What Happens In Episode #3:

We know Desmond Brice has a very special gift. He can hear things no one else can.

In “Episode #3: A Deception” we find our main character far away from Canyon County, Oregon at school in Upper Michigan University. Desmond is a studious young man and he wants nothing more than to keep focused on his studies.

But a young student has her sights set on him. Sarah Schofield Taylor is every bit Desmond’s intellectual equal and by the end of “Episode #3” she will begin to threaten his most tightly held secret.

Sound interesting? Sign up today and receive this mailing list exclusive.

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Episode #2: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”

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erick mertz, the lies and truth of doctor desmond brice, episode #2, supernatural fictionI want to pass along a great big thank you to everyone who has signed up for their free eBook. Those readers have already received Episode #1 of my supernatural fiction novella, The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice. Now it’s time to let Episode #2 loose into the world.

I have gotten some early reader feedback and it has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ll admit to some nervousness.

So positive feedback? It feels terrific.

In a logistical sense, I’m feel a little leery of the weekly publishing schedule I’ve set this book on. At this time though, I don’t feel like it’s too much.

Not yet at least.

How Do I Get The Novella?:

Did I mention that this eBook is free?

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

Once you subscribe, I’ll send you “Episode #1: The First Lie”. Every one of my subscribers will receive this plus each of the following episodes in this serially published novella.

When this novella is complete, it will stand as the prequel book to The Mask Of Tomorrow (tentatively scheduled for release January 2019… more on that) the first full-length novel in my series.

What Happens In Episode #2:

Taking place a few years after the events of the previous chapter, in “Episode #2: A Sweet Little Lie” we meet Desmond in high school where he is learning the hard lessons of truth and love.

As we know though, truth is a challenge for young Mr. Brice. When pressed to describe his real feelings, Desmond whispers those sweet little nothing the girl wants to hear instead of what he’s really feeling.

As is usually the case, even a little lie has consequences.

Sound interesting? Sign up today and receive this mailing list exclusive.

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