The Soundtrack to Characterization

One of the oddest things about my blog is that I rarely utilize it for what it was originally intended- namely, sharing my writing. Since I’m nearly finished with REAPERS TWO, I decided I would share some of the writing techniques I used in the conception of that novella, and hopefully get new ideas from other writers about their character-building habits and techniques.

Today I thought I’d share a specific technique I use for conceiving characters: I assign them a song.

On the surface this may seem counter-intuitive since music is capable of conveying emotion without words, but I find that the perfect song will reveal emotions or behaviors in the characters I create long before I construct a single sentence. The right song can encapsulate a single moment or an entire lifetime of a person’s emotional experience (recent birthday boy ElGuapo knows what I’m talking about). With that in mind, I’ll describe two different ways I use music to build characters.

The first way I do this is to create a generic version of a character in my head, and then find a song that suits him/her after the rough draft is written. I find this works best for when I really want to “flesh out” a character by layering dimension over the bare bones of the initial conception. One of the characters that benefited most from this technique was the character of Raphael in THE GODS OF ASPHALT. Because his character was the most like me, I found that he was the hardest to flesh out. You’d think he’d be the easiest since I ought to know him so well, right? He wasn’t. I suppose that is because it is always easiest to hide our truest selves from ourselves. Well that, and the fact that I had never planned for him to resemble me in the first place. By the time I did my first run-though edit it was painfully obvious that I had captured myself in print.

I struggled for what seemed like forever to find something, anything, about myself in Raphael that I could use to turn him from an angry, closed-off parent into a character with true dimension. Finally I discovered that what made his character and myself alike was our inner struggle with our ethnicity. Being raised as an American in a household filled with Old-World ideals made it hard for me to know who I really was and where my loyalties lay. I was constantly conflicted and to this day struggle for a sense of equilibrium. Without realizing it I had passed that same internal struggle onto Raphael.

Once his (our) internal conflict had been revealed, I searched for music that would tell the story of a compelling character- one who grew from a disgruntled Midwestern teen into a man struggling to find peace as a proud Spanish father. Rodrigo y Gabriela’s cover of the Metallica classic ORION instantly became that song for me.

From that moment on, every time I wrote Raphael I would listen to that song. The music brought him to life for me; from the timbre of his voice to picturing the way he walked. ORION became the soundtrack to every scene Raphael was in and helped me navigate his character through the story.

Rodrigo y Gabriela – ORION

 

This next example illustrates the same technique, although switched-up a bit. That example is the character of Lucifer in THE REAPERS WITH ISSUES Series.

Unlike the example above where I conceived of a character before assigning him/her a song, with REAPERS I was faced with the challenge of re-characterizing established characters. The one that gave me the most trouble was Lucifer. The difficulty lie in the fact that Lucifer is more than established; he is downright iconic. There isn’t a culture on the planet that doesn’t have a vision of evil-incarnate, so how was I to reinvent him?

I knew that within the context of the story I would have to humanize him to some degree, so I decided to portray my version of Lucifer not as purely evil, but simply as…a dick. I also knew that to “flesh” him out would not be to layer dimension onto him, but to reveal him; to strip away his skin and discover what makes him tick.

I failed epically.

Every version of Lucifer that sprung to mind was a stereotypical construct from the deepest, most generic part of my brain. I had nearly lost all hope when I came up with a solution: I’d do it all backwards and let Lucifer pick his own music. Sounds crazy, right? Well it worked. I turned on my music, closed my eyes and listened to every song I could think of that wasn’t evil, dark or brooding until Lucifer revealed his song. That song, believe it or not, was CLINT EASTWOOD by the Gorillaz.

Why that song? I have no idea (I let Lucifer pick, remember?). But I will tell you that things became instantly clearer for me whenever I listened to it. I easily pictured the way he walked [slightly slouching] to the way he spoke [slightly spoiled] and imagined a dozen tiny little habits [folding origami] the instant that song became a part of his character. But as great as that song was, it wasn’t exactly right. I needed a version of that near-perfect song to do more than just bring Lucifer to life. I needed Lucifer to be reborn.

Words + Music = Art

I enlisted the help of a musician to remix CLINT EASTWOOD into something that sounded slightly more sinister, slightly more spoiled, and slightly more modern. Below is that song: Lucifer’s Remix conceived of by production musician extraordinaire, DJ Casper. Believe me when I tell you that to my mind, this song IS Lucifer.

DJ Casper – LUCIFER’S REMIX

 

I imagine the idea of using music to inspire or create words on a page may seem unconventional or downright bizarre, but to me it is the most natural thing in the world. I chalk it up to spending too much time on the road as a kid with nothing by my father’s music and my imagination to keep me company. I firmly blame my inability to finish GOA2 on the fact that I can’t figure out what kind of music River listens to. Like Lucifer, I’ve decided to let River choose. I am praying he’s not into Rap.

Reapers With Fangs

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the day is nearly here when we will unveil Book Two of the four book compilation series called REAPERS WITH FANGS. The sequel to Reapers With Issues follows the Grim Reaper on his journey through middle management Hell.

Don’t forget to visit the REAPERS WITH ISSUES website and sign Grim’s DEATH BOOK. Now onto a preview of:

REAPERS WITH FANGS

Death’s bag landed with a thud, dumping its coconut scented contents and nearly a pound of beach sand onto the cold, office floor. “When was someone going to tell me about this?” Grim asked the three Horsemen scrambling to form a line in front of him.

“What ‘this’ are you referring to?” Famine asked, backing away slowly.

Grim stepped forward and shoved a pink, bubble gum scented memo into Famine’s bony hand. “THIS is what I’m referring to. This memo that’s nearly two weeks old. I count on you three to cue me into this kind of thing when I’m gone. I shouldn’t have had to hear this from Lucifer.”

Pestilence flinched at the word “Lucifer,” but said nothing. War looked to Famine who, after returning a stony glare, reluctantly answered. “No one wanted to bother you. We all agreed you needed the break.”

“So you thought waiting until I got back from vacation to walk into this mess was the better idea?” Grim asked as he snatched the memo from Famine’s hand and tossed it atop a monstrous stack of waiting paperwork.

“No, that’s not what we thought at all,” Famine explained. “We agreed we’d do some recon first and get a handle on who this Ashli person was before we decided whether or not you should worry.”

Grim startled. “Worry? Why? Who is she?”

Without saying a word Pestilence slowly lifted Grim’s mug off his desk and then went for coffee just as Famine produced a silver flask from deep inside his cloak.

“That good, huh?” Grim asked, not convinced he wanted to know.

“I’m not sure “good” is the word you want here,” Famine said as he poured a stream of red, viscous liquid into the steaming cup of coffee. Pestilence blew the billowing smoke away before handing the mug to Grim who promptly set it on the desk behind him.

“I’m not a Cherub, Fam. You don’t have to pussy foot around me. Just tell me straight out who this Ashli person is.”

Famine took a quick sip from the flask, steeling his courage before he spoke. “From what we’ve been able to gather Ashli is…well, let’s just say word around the Cloud is that the boss has got himself a new girlfriend.”

Grim stood frozen for a moment before he snatched the flask from Famine’s hand, tipped it back and sucked it dry.

“We’re still not sure what this is, so I see no reason to assume the worst,” Pestilence said in an attempt to put Grim at ease.

“Bunch of bullshit is what it is,” War blasted. “Give me five– no, four thousand real Reapers and we’ll take care of business no problem I guaran-fucking-tee it. We don’t need no Bible bitch tellin’ us how to do our jobs. We–“

Famine backhanded War into silence just as Grim dropped the flask to the floor. “Wait–what’s he talking about?” Grim asked, wide eyed. “What did he mean by, ‘telling us how to do our jobs?’”

Famine hung his head and sighed. “Yeah…I hadn’t gotten to that part yet.”

“So what are you saying?” Grim asked. “That I finally got Skippy and his shih-tzu out of my department and now….now I’ve got the girlfriend setting up shop here? Are you telling me she is actually in command of the OHD??” Grim’s shocked reaction forced his eyeballs to pop out of his skull and roll along the floor.

Famine picked the eyes and his flask up and set them all on the desk. “I’m afraid that’s the way it looks,” he reluctantly replied.

“Well that’s just fucking great,” Grim said as he ripped off his best tanned meat suit, stopping short of revealing a heart-shaped tattoo with the words Fran Forever emblazoned across the bicep. A tattoo that for the life of him Grim could not recall getting. “I need to sort this shit out so give me a few minutes alone, please. Pronto.”

Famine nodded and then led the Horsemen out of the office. As soon as he was alone Grim headed straight to the closet to change into his regular uniform. His official cloak, Grim decided, would put him in the right frame of mind to deal with the fact that once again, God pulled the rug out from under him.

As Grim slid on the heavy, black robe he set to putting this new dilemma into perspective. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, he thought. Anything had to be better than Jesus and his Reaper disaster. After all, the Big Guy never kept a woman for long, and he was sure it would only be a matter of time before this new one grew tired of his continued absence. Running the Universe for an eternity isn’t the nine to five job most women think it is.

Still, there was reason for concern. Even though this wasn’t the first time God took a mate, it was the first time in at least two thousand years he’d been this public about it. As Grim could recall, Lucifer was the reason behind God’s last romantic debacle. Grim wondered just how deep into Ashli’s pie his demon colleague’s fingers were, and just how bad the blowback to the OHD might be if God found out.

His mind racing with new concerns, Grim threw open the office doors and called for his Horsemen. “Have any of you spoken to Lucifer yet?” Grim asked once they arrived. “He’s the one who forwarded the memo. He’s got to know how this happened.”

“We…didn’t think it was such a good idea,” Famine tentatively began. “We didn’t know how much of this action originated from the Southern offices, you know, considering how Jesus’ Reaper solution went down.”

Grim ran a bony hand back and forth along his spinal column. “I do know what you mean, but it seems like a lot of risk, even for Lucifer. This isn’t Jesus and his shih-tzu we’re talking about, this is the Big Man and his woman. Anyone remember Lilith?”

“Come on, Boss,” War interjected around a wad of chew. “You know you can’t trust ol’ whistle britches, especially when there’s a female involved. Don’t matter who she is. He nails ‘em faster than Jesus to a cross.”

Hearing his Horseman echo his thoughts reinforced Grim’s suspicion of Lucifer’s role in Ashli’s sudden appearance at the OHD. Determined to get answers, Grim reached for a phone that rang as he grabbed it. “Hello?”

“Why Grim! You’re back!” Lucifer announced with mock cheerfulness. “What’s the good news?”

“You tell me. I’ve been skull deep in sand for the past two weeks.”

“Hmm…how very odd. I’d have thought your ponies would have alerted you to the magnitude of the situation by now.”

Grim shot his Horsemen a look of death as he spoke. “Never mind all that and just answer a question for me. Did you have something to do with this Ashli bullshit or not?”

“Hold your Horses,” Lucifer snickered. “The answer’s no, I had nothing to do with this. Although I wish I had, because this is more glorious than any plan I could have concocted.”

“Plan? What fucking plan are you talking about?”

A sudden, thunderous crash resonated throughout the office followed by a sulfurous puff of smoke. Lucifer appeared at Grim’s side. “Sorry about the theatrics Grimmie old boy, but I just had to be here when you got the news.”

Grim rubbed his skinless temples in exasperation. “Fuck the news and just get to the plan.”

An expression that was both gleeful and menacing at once took hold of Lucifer’s face as he stared into Grim’s and said, “I can sum up the plan in one word-

Vampires…

FOR MORE FROM H.E. ELLIS VISIT:

www.heellisgoa.com

Interview With…Lucifer

In my world, Lucifer looks a lot like Colin Farrell.

Today’s REAPER WITH ISSUES interview comes to you live from scenic downtown Hell, because today we sit down with none other than the Devil himself, Lucifer.

HE: Good morning, Lucifer. You look nice today.

LUCIFER: *runs hands over Italian silk suit* Yes, yes I do. And might I say that you look lovely as well. I cannot remember the last time I saw polyester blend worn so tastefully.

***

HE: *sighs* How was your trip to Earth? I noticed you didn’t travel by bus the way the Horsemen did.

LUCIFER: I will admit there are certain perks to being an Archangel. The ability to apparate is one of them.

***

HE: That’s right…I almost forgot. You are an Angel. So does that mean you are lacking in the… “meat department” or is that just a rumor?

LUCIFER: Let me be clear- I am an Archangel and as a rule we do not have “junk” as it were. Sadly, when my Father reassigned me to Hell he equipped me with said apparatus as a punishment. His plan worked beautifully, as this particular appendage is more work than it’s worth.

***

HE: You’ve stated that you were “reassigned” to Hell by your Father. Is there any truth to the rumor that this demotion came from a falling out over a woman?

LUCIFER: Oh how little birds love to chirp.

HE: So, I take it you aren’t going to answer the question?

LUCIFER: My lips are sealed.

***

HE: Alright, moving on. What confounds you most about mortals?

LUCIFER: Your overwhelming desire to know the sexual predilections of others. The mind boggles at the effort put toward investigating the bedroom habits of your would be politicians. These same politicians then refuse to represent the rights of their constituents based on their sexual predilections. How you mortals manage to accomplish anything is beyond my comprehension.

***

HE: On that note, if you were mortal, what job would you want to have?

LUCIFER: Literary Agent.

***

HE: No explanation necessary. Tell me, is it hard working for God?

LUCIFER: Working for my Father? Oh what to say, what to say… I suppose when inspected in the proper light the idea of working for God may seem appealing, but I haven’t found that to be necessarily true.

HE: Really? In what way?

LUCIFER: The man lacks vision, for starters. The first thing I would do if I were to take over Heaven is rewrite the Bible. Too many contradictions. No wonder mortals are confused as to what is expected of them.

***

HE: Rewrite the Bible. Interesting. So now tell me- what do you think of the Horsemen?

LUCIFER: Ugh. You want to talk about the ponies. *sighs* So be it. Where do I begin? Pestilence is an insufferable know it all, Famine is a stickler for standards, War is a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen and Grim, well…Grim has his moments.

***

HE: Your dream date is?

LUCIFER: Bjork. There’s a lot of pent up hostility in that frigid little body. I’d love to melt her-

***

HE: Got it. Pick one- Beatles or Elvis?

LUCIFER: Why the Beatles, of course. The late great Mr. Lennon sent Jesus off the deep end with one simple statement. I’ve always admired him for that.

***

HE: Favorite sports team?

LUCIFER: I am sad to say that I am a former fan of Tampa Bay Rays baseball. They disappointed me a few years ago. I haven’t forgotten.

***

HE: Where do you see yourself in five years?

LUCIFER: North Korea.

***

HE: What would mortals be most surprised to learn about you?

LUCIFER: I refute the claim the a fore mentioned politicians have made that I, indeed, am the entity to blame for their succumbing to their baser instincts. No such whispering into ears was committed by me or any of my demon henchmen. We simply do not have the time.

That concludes our interview with the Lord of the Underworld, Lucifer. Stay tuned tomorrow for back to back interviews with God and his golden boy, Jesus!

Interview With…Pestilence

HE: Today’s interview has us sitting down with Creeping Death himself, Pestilence. Good morning, Pestilence. How was your trip to Earth?

PEST: Good morning, Miss Ellis. Considering I had to get a bus transfer, it wasn’t bad.  Once you make the transdimensional leap from Purgatory to the mortal realm several times, it’s old-hat.  Little known fact: Purgatory started as a sort of safe zone for travel from Earth to and from either Heaven or Hell.  It’s a sort of pressurization chamber, like divers use.

***

HE: What confounds you most about mortals?

PEST: Body odor [makes face].  I have no idea how God managed to create Humans in his image yet chose to have them excrete smelly substances.  And this is coming from me, the Bacteria and Virus King.  Eew [shudders].

***

HE: Where is your favorite place to reap?

PEST: Tropical climates are by far the best for reaping within my domain.  I mean really, I almost don’t have to do anything except follow the molds and fungi around and pick up after them.

***

HE: If you were mortal, what job would you want to have?

PEST: Oh, I don’t know.  I’m not sure I could be mortal and sit in my own cloud of stench all day.  In fact I need a shower now.  But I’ll be fair and answer your question.  I guess perhaps a lab technician at the CDC.  That or a postal worker.

***

HE: Has a mortal ever escaped you?

PEST: Yes and fiddlesticks!  Those Humans are so goshdarned clever that sometimes I think they’d do a better job than I would at reaping a la Pestilence.  Do you know why viruses mutate?  [waits for answer]

HE: Oh, you’re actually asking me [rolls eyes] – why do viruses mutate?

PEST: They mutate because I’m constantly having to make new strains to keep ahead of your best efforts to counter me.

***

HE: What’s the most negative aspect of wearing a meat suit?

PEST: Body odor.  I’m sorry, am I obsessive here?  A little Freudy-Doidy? Haaa ha  hah ha… ahem.  But seriously, body odor.  I also tend to be very disturbed by no-reason boners.

***

HE: Is it hard working for God?

PEST: I’d like to say yes, and I’d like to say no.  The sad truth is, he tends to come up with awesome creations but then inserts middle managers between him and his creation when he finds it too difficult to manage.  So for in-the-trenches marks of performance, I have to give him an ‘F.’  However, for his strategic vision, nobody beats him.

***

HE: Is Lucifer as bad as they say?

PEST: He’s a doodie head.  He does wear nice clothes though.

***

HE: What do you have to say about the Mayans?

PEST: I’d say they were pretty susceptible to infection just like everyone else.

***

HE: Your dream date is?

PEST: Hmm… so many to choose from.  I think the day the Black Death started in Europe has to be number one, and the Spanish Flu thing there I did wasn’t bad either…

What?  Oh THAT kind of date… uhm, well… I’ve never been on a date [hangs head]. *** HE: Beatles or Elvis?

PEST: Oh, I’m sorry.  Neither?  Okay, truth is I love classical music.  You Humans got that right.  I like most of what your composers created, and I am particularly taken by the Baroque artists.  Rock and roll sounds like… sweaty Humans.

***

HE: Favorite sports team?

PEST: I’m not really into sports so much.  I like watching Kasparov play chess – now that is exciting!

***

HE: Where do you see yourself in five years?

PEST: Reaping, of course, but can I sort of qualify that?  Okay.  I want to be better at what I do in five years, you know.  Like perhaps I’ll make a better form of Ebola.  It just kills me that after all that time and effort, that virus is only about 95% lethal.  I think I can get it up into the high 98% range.  Sometimes I secretly dream of creating some whole new type of pandemic… I mean, there’s bacteria and there are viruses… what if there was a whole new thing out there.  I have dreams too!

***

HE: What would mortals be most surprised to learn about you?

PEST: I like to collect stamps, and macramé.

***

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with the Reaper better known as Pestilence. Tune in tomorrow when we sit down with everyone’s favorite Horseman, War. Stick around this weekend when we’ll be sitting down to chat with some of the upper (and lower) members of the Office of Heavenly Affairs. Until then, stay well and avoid the Reaper!

Interview With…Famine

HE: We continue our interviews with the mysterious Horseman known as Famine. Good morning, Famine. How was your trip to Earth?

FAMINE: You assume I left, ha, that’s… that’s funny.  I haven’t gotten away from Earth in what seems like eons.  Just when I think I might get away, some jack-hole gets me involved in another bunch of crap that I can’t delegate out and I can’t pass on higher up the chain.  Story of my fucking life… uh, death… existence.

***

HE: What confounds you most about mortals?

FAMINE: Toy dogs.  Fucking ‘Toy’ dog breeds.  The women and gay guys carrying these things around are the same ones freaking out and jumping up on chairs when they see rats and mice.  What the hell, man?  And cocaine.  Why the hell would anyone want to do ANYTHING faster and with more sweating?

***

HE: Where is your favorite place to reap?

FAMINE: Depends, easiest or most fun?  Easiest: L.A.  Just ask a broad if she’s expecting or if she just had a baby, *BAM*, job is done for you!  Not only will she stop eating, she’ll puke up Thanksgiving dinner from three years ago!  Most fun?  Suburbs of Atlanta.  Have you ever watched a 350 pound guy looking at a plate of ribs or chicken and waffles and suddenly realize he isn’t hungry?  Funny as shit!  They get mad.  Rumplestiltskin mad.  I could do that all day!

***

HE: If you were mortal, what job would you want to have?

FAMINE: Sales associate at Abercrombie. Every time some skinny bitch walked out of the dressing room I could say, “Uhm, Honey, you want me to get you the next size up?” I think I could be pretty happy with that.

***

HE: Has a mortal ever escaped you?

FAMINE: Victoria Beckham.  But the game ain’t over yet.

***

HE: What’s the most negative aspect of wearing a meat suit?

FAMINE: Grooming.  I mean, the showering, the cleaning, the de-stinking.  Really a lot of work.

***

HE: Is it hard working for God?

FAMINE: A boss is a boss is a boss, you know?  They give you bottom lines and you’re just supposed to run with them.  My budget barely not-feeds the westernized world!  Don’t get me started on trying to juggle maternity leave rotations for those slutty Succubi!

***

HE: Is Lucifer as bad as they say?

FAMINE: No.  We get each other.  He’s got a job to do, he’s got to get it done on time and under budget just like the rest of us.

***

HE: What do you have to say about the Mayans?

FAMINE: Fucking nutty.  I mean, I like a good party, but, to quote a well known space cowboy, “Eating people alive? Where’s that get fun?”

***

HE: Your dream date is?

FAMINE: Tina Majorino.  Freaking adorable, I love her.  She’d finally notice me, in the bushes, with the camera and be all like, “Hey! Are you the one sending me those letters? You wanna hit the Olive Garden with me?”.  And I’d be like, “Olive Garden?  Really?”.  And there would be this split second of us looking at each other and we’d both screech out “UNLIMITED BREAD STICKS, SUCKER!”  It would be awesome, you know?  Magic…

***

HE: Beatles or Elvis?

FAMINE: Uhg.  Uhm, Elvis, if I had to choose.  If I got to pick, Cheap Trick.  I’ll take Elvis because Zander kicked ass on Don’t Be Cruel.  Why always Beatles or Elvis? Beatles or Stones?  What about The Clash or Abba?  Iron Maiden or Prince?

***

HE: Favorite sports team?

FAMINE: The Eagles.

***

HE: Where do you see yourself in five years?

FAMINE: Probably doing the same fucking job, but with a three and a half percent increase in pay, those cheap mother-fuckers…

***

HE: What would mortals be most surprised to learn about you?

FAMINE: Hmm.  Not sure… Oh!  Okay, I got one!  No one ever believes me, but I had nothing to do with Karen Carpenter.  Seriously, that was all just fucked up psyche and shit.  Hell, do you have any idea what I went through over that?  Jesus loved her.  I swear, that’s the reason I haven’t even been considered for a promotion!  Hell! I was sending her fruitcakes and candy grams just to save my own ass!  And I do I ever get the credit for Mama Cass?

***

That concludes our interview with the Horsemen known as Famine. Tune in tomorrow when we sit down with Creeping Death himself, Pestilence, followed by War on Thursday and a special mystery guest on Friday. We round out the weekend with back to back interviews with the Big Man himself, God on Saturday and a one on one exclusive with Jesus on Sunday. Stay tuned!

Announcing Book One: Reapers With Issues

by The Grim Reaper

Hey, how are you all doing? Awesome.  Me? Oh, hey, I’m great.  Listen – I want to announce the pending publication of the first book of four in the Reapers With Issues series.  This is the story of yours truly, and my buddies War, Pestilence and Death.  We have some adventures, and there’s a lot of laughter and tears.

I won’t bore you with details – go buy the damn book once H.E. Ellis gets it published through Smashwords.  And visit her page, too.  She deserves the love.  She put in a lot of effort documenting this part of the adventure, and no other author could have really done that like she did. 

Okay, okay, except for S. Quinn Shaw, Mikhail Vlakfeld, and Tom Elias.  Check them out too.  Hit their links on the home page here!

Anyway, for a sample of the opener, look up at the page banner and choose “Reapers With Issues – Book One.”  Or just click that link if you’re a lazy bastard.  That only moves your appointment with me sooner…

Check Us Out

by Tom Elias

I have to say this site is really cool.  I also have to give all the credit to H.E. Ellis.  I was attempting to make myself something for dinner the other night and was stupid enough to be away from my email / phone / thing on my computer for perhaps an hour or so.  Big Mistake.

By the time I got back, I had no fewer than nine emails wanting to get my thoughts on a piece of artwork or an idea.  Mainly I had requests for snippets of text.  All of these were from H.E.  I did my best to answer them all, and then a day later, one email with an imperative “Go here.”

Thanks, H.E., for this site.  The mysteries of this kind of thing are beyond me as you should know, and I for one am impressed.  I hope retyping this from email wasn’t a pain.  By the way, I have no idea what you mean about being a ‘digital immigrant.’  Should I be insulted?

The ugly secret here is that she is scrambling to finish writing Book One.  You will all enjoy it, trust me.

And to answer my last email question: No, H.E., I will not send you naked pictures of myself.  At least not until you’re done writing.

– Tom

Announcing Our Upcoming Work

Reapers With Issues is the upcoming and exciting new collection – collaboration, really – among four new but talented authors.  H.E. Ellis has teamed the raw talent of Mikhail Vlakfeld, S. Quinn Shaw, and Tom Elias into a four-work cycle that is definitely irreverent, often shocking, and always entertaining.

Expected to release digitally in September 2012, these stories will definitely shock and amuse, taking a twisted look at Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and all points in between.  Hold on to your hymnals, because none of these will be reading for the uptight or ultra-conservative.