Until now, my intermittent wars with the horror community has been limited to skirmishes with the upper levels for the most part.

I’m not kind.

I’m not gentle.

Those things were burned out of me a long time ago.

But I am aware of what hell is.  I made my journey through it.

The end result at this point, of the war with TDFS, has been to embolden Nicky to go attack my daughter again.

He had left her out of it for many years.

But now that has ended.

I spend my days and many of my nights on the internet.  There isn’t much else to do since I am in the last stages of losing my ability to walk.

But I remember what it was like to take long walks.

I remember it was like to hike.

I knew that this stage was inevitable and had known it for most of my adult life.

Fighting that taught me to fight back.

Fighting back did not teach me that there is always collateral damage.

Seeing people close to me hurt because I refused to back down taught me that.

No matter how hard you might try to shield others, in the end they always seem to get hurt also.

When you write a straight protagonist / antagonist story, the greatest and most realistic danger is not to the protagonist, but to those he or she cares about.  Art reflects life.

Too often the young and inexperienced fail to find depth either for their characters or their stories

Inexperience has nothing to do with age.  I have known twelve-year-olds with more experience and deeper perceptions than many adults.

And I have known forty year old men and women who had been so sheltered by family and circumstances that they had nothing to offer the reader in terms of the depth of their perceptions.

I was an oldest child.  I had two half brothers, four step brothers, and a step-sister.  There was a large enough age difference there that I baby-sat and changed my youngest step-brother’s diapers.  I was part of a huge extended family growing up.  At one point my great-grandmother lived with us.  She traveled to Texas after her marriage to my great-grandfather in a covered wagon.  She preferred to be called “Mammy,” so that was what we called her.

One of my great uncles killed a Louisiana sheriff who was into white slavery in order to rescue his wife, my Aunt Jewel.  His oldest daughter had the record in the family (other than those who served in World War II no doubt) for killing people.  She killed three.  She was twenty when she killed the first one.

She was cashiering in a Dallas nightclub at the time.  It was the 1930s.  Like most of the Frizzelle side of the family, she was tiny, but she kept a big gun on a shelf  under the cash register.  The man was, according to family, about the same height as my grandfather — which would put him around six feet.  He reached into the cash drawer and she pulled the gun.  He laughed at her when she told him to put the money back.  Then he dared her to pull the trigger.

So she shot him.

The other two men she killed were white slavers who kidnapped her.

Her only child, a boy, was run over by a car.  She had sent him to try and get his father to leave the saloon he was drinking in.  He was nine.  She saw it happen.

My earliest memory of her is of her eyes.  It has now been forty odd years since I last saw her, but I can’t forget her eyes.  She’s long dead.  You got the feeling that even when she was looking at you she could not really see you.  Haunted eyes.  Troubled eyes.  Eyes that could not stop seeing the past long enough to completely acknowledge the present.

It’s things like that which make for young writers who have something to say.