Monday, August 22, 2011

New Books: CLAN by Harry Shannon

CLAN by Harry Shannon is now on Kindle for $3.99

Like most people, I remember my first time. Pretty well, in fact. I was sober. It was wonderful. I was curled up on the bed, with my head on the pillow and my legs extended. Some 50's music was playing. I was probably wearing pajamas; most likely with some stupid-assed Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob stuff printed all over them. Or maybe it was Rin Tin Tin, I can’t say for sure. Not after more than fifty years. I was already a bookworm, though. I was devouring everything within sight by the time I was seven or eight years old. So this night I was maybe eleven, give or take. And I believe that first horror story I ever read was by H.H. Munro, who wrote under the name of Saki. The masterful little tale was of one angry and abused little boy with a vivid sense of outrage and an “imaginary creature” that was hiding in his room. The kid claimed he could summon it with a low, poetic chant. Adults mocked him. Of course it turned out to be quite real. That story was called “Srendi Vashtar.” The ending sticks with me to this day.

Anyway, that was my first time, and after that I was no longer innocent. I had been shocked into an appreciation for the macabre, and for the literary realm of horror and dark fantasy. Next came the astonishing Ray Bradbury, Ambrose Bierce, John Collier, Anthony Boucher, Richard Matheson, Roald Dahl, Robert Bloch, Robert Heinlein, A.E. Van Vogt, Shirley Jackson. So many gifted folks. And later on Stephen King, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon and a host of other authors inspired me all over again, as did the Gold Medal and Lancer Books of the 60's. But first there was that one gory little tale by Saki.

I suspect it was not an accident that the first story to grab me that way was one of flesh-rending violence. Few of us have made peace with both extremes of our nature; the beastly and the spiritual, the gourmet and the cannibal. The oldest cave paintings treat animals as deities who sacrifice their lives to feed us. They are likely just expressions of our guilt and deep ambivalence about being the earth’s dominant predators. However, our gargantuan base appetites tend to be counter-balanced with a reverence for life that makes the act of killing genuinely disturbing to our higher nature. It is a conundrum. But whether we like it or not, that dark craving does exist. It is a deep down gnawing, gristle-rending lust for blood and bone. Just stop by a steakhouse and watch the patrons chewing away, minds in vapid rapture. Or pay really close attention to the audience at a football game.

Folks, although my new novel CLAN (early incarnation released as Night of the Werewolf in late 2002) does indeed deal with these themes, it is first and foremost an entertainment. It’s a B-movie, a tribute to the spirit of pure pulp and the glory days of mass-market fiction, with a little crime noir tossed in for seasoning. But I would also like to think CLAN stands on its own as a fast-paced thriller. Readers will have to be the judge of that.

I have always had a soft spot for this one, so I'm delighted to have it rewritten, improved and back in print as a more affordable trade paperback and ebook. The first version only sold a modest number of limited-edition hardcover copies. This one should be far more widely read. I'd love to see the movie made someday, now that CG is good enough to bring this one off. Fingers crossed, because there is a screenplay already written. Anyway, should you sample and buy this new baby, I hope you consume a lot of popcorn while reading, and that at least a few of the scenes actually disturb your sleep. Nothing would make me happier than that.

Harry Shannon


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