X-Files Return Date Announced

This Wednesday, the return date for The X-Files was announced.

This will be the 11th season of the sci-fi/horror series and, as she has previously stated, Gillian Anderson’s last. It will be 10 episodes in length.

Are you a fan of The X-Files? Would you like to see the series continue or is it time to wrap things up? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

Patrick W Marsh Interview

Hello, readers. This is David Stegora, Editor-In-Chief of Dark Futures back with another interview. Today we will be interviewing Patrick W. Marsh, who any regular reader will know as the author of The Greenland Diaries. Patrick is also the author of the novel Beware The Ills and a story called The Water Palace, which appears in Dark Futures Annual 1.

Patrick will be appearing at Crypticon Minnesota this weekend, where he will be releasing The Greenland Diaries Days 101-140 in paperback format. He’ll have some copies of that, as well as his other books, available for sale and will be on hand to sign them. Thanks for taking the time to do this, Patrick.

As is our custom here, we’ll start simple by asking you to tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you for having me as an author interview on Dark Futures. I have a tremendous amount of respect  for Dark Futures and the content it produces. In fact, Dark Futures in many ways inspired me to create Calamities Press. I’ve been writing since I was 16 years old. After high school I floated around aimlessly taking classes at a variety of colleges. Typically, I’d take all the creative writing courses I could at a college, then I’d transfer onto the next one as much as FAFSA would allow me. It wasn’t until I published Beware the Ills a few years ago that I started to withdraw from using college as a time to write and fell from my academic paradise in the effort to actually produce writing that wouldn’t satiate a writers workshop full of my cynical counterparts. During this decade of muddled college, I worked a glorious amount of customer service jobs to support myself including; bank teller, maintenance guy, projectionist (before the invention of digital projectors, I just dated myself), cashier, security guard, and the heinously misanthropic Macy’s Christmas/Seasonal employee. Writing horror and dark fantasy has always been a two headed monster for me to dance with. Morose themes allow me to confront emotional trauma and psychological damage I’ve survived or inflicted throughout my life. Also, I like to use monsters within the horror and dark fantasy genre to enhance the humanity of my normal characters within the narrative. I’m literally bouncing nonfiction off of very fictional appendages within my plot. I dislike scary movies due to the suspense. I seldom play scary games for the same reason. Fear and monsters are a form of therapy for me, not necessarily a symbol of entertainment.  

For those who haven’t yet read any of The Greenland Diaries, tell us a little about the series.

The story is told through the point of view of a bank teller, who one evening in April hears a drum thundering off in the distance. Shortly after the sound starts,  shadowy monsters appear and began to relentlessly slaughtering humans for what seems like no reason. Plants began to choke the earth, and the mirrors and streetlights become haunted with these horrors. He writes fragmented, and sloppy diary entries each night before the drum starts in an effort to understand the then occurring apocalypse. It was important to me that the main character be a regular type of loser (slightly based on me). Not some ex special ops warrior. You’re chained to the story by his shaky perspective, which is continuously baffled by the monsters and their intentions. I emptied my entire war chest for the monsters. They’re unlike anything you’ve ever seen. They’re not genetic freaks, aliens, zombies, ghosts, or anything of the sort. I’m not ashamed to admit they’re by far the most interesting thing in my story. I had the opportunity to purge the novel of errors and “poor” writing, but instead left some in to give the audience a sense of authenticity, that a survivor and not necessarily a writer wrote the Greenland Diaries.   

Regulars to Dark Futures are already aware we’ve published the first 10 days of the series here on the site. Would you say writing The Greenland Diaries has gotten easier or more difficult since then?

I would say the evolution of the voice has gotten easier, along with what I want out of the story as it progresses. The most challenging part of the novel is introducing characters, because the narrator is a monster-made hermit, a refugee of a nightly catastrophe, and adding other survivors, monsters, or characters into the fold cause ripples in his character that even I can’t predict. How he interacts with these characters in realistic manner in a fictional setting is hard to construct. Awkward emptiness tends to be the topic of conversation. You’re afraid to mention the world before the monsters because the old old world gets resurrected every night. How do you talk about the weather when everyone you know has been killed, and the drum is a metronome for your life?

Do you know how far, in terms of days/entries, The Greenland Diaries will go or is it still open ended for now? Do you know how it will end?

The Greenland Diaries will be exactly one year long or 365 days. The year will be split into six books, two of which have already been published. I wanted to stretch it out longer, but the rate of devastation and madness sort of compels the plot to be shorter. I do know how it will end. Just like the briefing at the beginning of the book, it will end in Duluth Minnesota. In the next novel to be released next year at Crypticon, we’ll be introduced to the character who takes the narrator to Duluth. The next book will be 62 days long.

The Greenland Diaries obviously didn’t start on Dark Futures. In fact, it’s something you’ve been writing for quite a while and the early days of it have been published online in more than one place. Tell us a little bit about how it got started and where it’s been.

The Greenland Diaries started in the humblest of ways. During a lull between colleges, I forgot how to write in past-tense, so I started writing a blog via Blogspot. It was an apocalyptic journal of a man trying to survive a plant-wild apocalypse. Originally, no one read the damn thing except for some family and friends taking pity on me. Eventually, the views started to grow, and after hitting 30,000 within the first year I decided to publish the first 100 days of the series as a novel, and I haven’t looked back. Out of all my stories, this one seems to resonate the most with audiences. It’s a strange mixture of a simplistic narrator in a complicated situation. I think people can appreciate how human the main character is in the storm of faceless abominations.

You write primarily horror, correct?

I do. I’ve been published in other genres as well like poetry and nonfiction. I’ve wanted to experiment in other styles, but horror pulls me back.

What is it that draws you to that genre? What keeps you coming back?

Horror done well can be emotionally rewarding to the audience and the writer. When you use elements of fear to represent your emotions, experiences, and beliefs, you can pull the genre apart and represent humanity itself. You can literally bounce our human flaws off of a fictional monster, or better yet, use monsters to represent human characteristics. In the Greenland Diaries, the monsters are center stage, but the emotions of the main character reacting to them are actually my emotions. I’ve had a hard time being emotionally honest my entire life, but horror offers me a chance to use monsters to represent my actual voice and beliefs. Moreover, it allows me to create human characters who react like I may or may not in these situations.

Attending Crypticon Minnesota has become an annual thing for you, as it is for me. You and I even met there back in 2013. What do you enjoy most about the con? What advice would you offer people attending the convention for the first time?

I enjoy the atmosphere of the con itself. Horror has become an amoeba of a genre, pulling in science fiction, fantasy, and literary genres to name just a few. All of this is represented at Crypticon, so even if you haven’t watched or read the latest horror, they’ll be something from your past or present you recognize and can geek out about. The people that run the convention are good people, family friendly, and they keep a low-key vibe so you’re not made uncomfortable by rabid con attendees. Also, the guests are great. My advice would be to hang out in the dealers room and talk to the guests of honor as much as you can. The convention does a great job of making them available to you beyond their signing times.

You will be on a panel at this year’s Crypticon. It’s my understanding you’ll even be on it with regular Dark Futures and Phase 2 Magazine contributor Roy C. Booth. Tell us what panel that is, when it will be taking place, and what you will be talking about.

I’ll be on a writers panel at 11:15 am on Saturday. We’ll be going over a variety of questions when it comes to horror, like why do we like it so much? How does horror writing fit in with the other genres? What are our inspirations? I’m sure it’ll be a hodgepodge of grim stories, sadness, and hilarious anecdotes of people getting their faces cut off. 

Moving onto something a bit different, you’re also editor of Calamities Press. Tell us a little about what that is.

Calamities Press is a literary magazine I started in the vein attempt to create a “job” in writing besides composing my own stories. I also wanted to see if I could work with other people on a creative endeavor, which hasn’t been that easy. In all, even if the technology is there to create a literary magazine, having the skill and the time to make it function is incredibly difficult. I have a ton of admiration for those who can make it work, since I’m constantly putting Calamities Press on hiatus. Calamities Press is a hodgepodge literary magazine that publishes new and serialized content during the week, along with new authors. We look for niche genres to publish like Slipstream, Magical Realism, nonfiction diatribes about your messed up dreams, and poetry. We also publish a ton of artwork, including photography, music posters, web comics, and jewelry. I’m very proud of the work we produce, despite funding setbacks, and real life getting in the way. We’ve recently gone through a reorganization of the site, so this is sort of the last hurrah to see if this website can exist in this saturated media environment.

What advice would you offer people who are either just starting to write or just starting to take writing and being an author seriously? Is there anything you wish you would have known back then?

The best piece of advice I can give authors is don’t run before you can walk. A formal education in writing isn’t for everyone, but it helped me. Sometimes, you can be the type of writer who just needs to read a lot to assimilate style and tact. Don’t aim for a massive novel deal from a traditional publisher right away, but maybe a small short story or poem for a literary magazine. If you shoot for the moon in this publishing environment you will almost always miss, and us writers are sensitive folk, we don’t take rejection very well. The world likes to put you through your paces, and writing isn’t any different. Whether it’s school, independent study, or reading a ton, learn how to write. Know the rules so you can break them. Writer’s workshops are invaluable, and I suggest becoming friends with a community of writers so you can get support with editing, content, and distribution. You don’t even have to meet with people face-to-face, you can be the atypical writer introvert and do workshops online. But there is no blueprint for learning how to write.

That’s all the specific questions we have for you at the moment. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about before we let you go?

Check out the Greenland Diaries. Read it online for free at Dark Futures, or buy the book on Kindle for a few bucks. People seem to really like it, including me, and I’m the one
writing it. Thank you David for being an inspiration of mine, and for writing on awesome column on Calamities Press called Voice of the Witness. Keep up the good work at Dark Futures. You got something good going here.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this today. Maybe we’ll catch up with you again at some point in the future.

For those in Minnesota or not far off, Crypticon will be taking place this weekend, October 23-25, 2015 at the Bloomington Ramada by the Mall of America. Come out for a weekend of parties and all things horror. I’ll be there along with a few past Dark Futures contributors.

The Greenland Diaries Day Ten

By Patrick W. Marsh

The following collections of journals were recovered from a caravan outside of Duluth, Minnesota. The exact date of recovery is not known nor is the origin of the speaker. The Bureau for the Restoration of History (BFRH) would like help in identifying the man who kept these records. This unedited record of events is still considered the most accurate history of the apocalypse that occurred on April 15th, 2011.

“It began with a drum. Then the monsters came. I’ve been hiding ever since.”

Day Ten

The drum sounded from 9:02 pm – 5:07 am. Nothing was near my house. Nothing shook the dust free from my ceiling. Nothing scratched the roof. The moment the drum stopped I was outside. It took me about an hour to get all the vines off the shed to get my bike.

I swear the ivy and the flowers didn’t want me to take it.

It took me three hours to bike to my parent’s house. The freeway was clogged with broken and smashed cars. Most of them were covered with this weird ivy and blue flowers. There were bloody stains too, but grass had eaten up the highway’s surface, so they were barely visible. There were people walking the opposite direction to the west, to Saint Cloud and further. There were families, senior citizens, and groups of children. Most walked, other’s had bikes or motorcycles. None bothered me. They nearly blocked out the cars and the pavement. They saw I was carrying a gun. My dog use to bark at strangers, but she kept quiet the entire time.

I think she enjoyed the ride. She seemed content in her little basket.

My heart sunk when I saw my parent’s house. It was covered in ivy. The windows were smashed in the front and the door was ripped off the hinges. They thought there was something here, they kept trying. I checked each room. No blood, no scraps of skin. My parents weren’t here when they first attacked. They were probably out eating dinner or something. The house is covered in mirrors. They couldn’t have stayed here very long if they survived the first onslaught. My parents had a cat, Sassy. She must have left. The food and water bowl are empty. I hope she is okay.

I was able to grab some canned goods from the pantry even though most of them were gone. My parents said that in the event of an emergency, we could retreat to my grandparent’s farm in Long Prairie. Hopefully, they’re up there since my parent’s little black Corolla is gone.

Snowy and I are sleeping in the crawl space along the side of the house. I brought a candle to light. This is where my dad used to store the Christmas tree and the ladder. Things are scrapping against the house. I’m almost positive it’s those things that hunted me earlier.

I hear screaming. I need to stop writing and blow out the candle.

The Greenland Diaries Day Nine

By Patrick W. Marsh

The following collections of journals were recovered from a caravan outside of Duluth, Minnesota. The exact date of recovery is not known nor is the origin of the speaker. The Bureau for the Restoration of History (BFRH) would like help in identifying the man who kept these records. This unedited record of events is still considered the most accurate history of the apocalypse that occurred on April 15th, 2011.

“It began with a drum. Then the monsters came. I’ve been hiding ever since.”

Day Nine

Last night, while the drum was beating, a shadow was standing outside one of my basement windows. The moon was full, which allowed me to notice the hulking shape. I couldn’t tell whether or not it was a person or one of those things. It stood there all night. I peeked at it through a pair of uneven boxes.

My gun never left my hands. My arms are heavy from holding it all night.

In the morning when I took Snowy out, I looked at the ground next to the window. The green grass looked normal and elevated. There had been nobody there. It had to be one of those things. It felt like it was waiting for me to appear, like it was baiting me or something. When I told Gerald about it, he asked if I noticed anything about my mirrors at home. He said the night he was attacked he’d been standing in the mirror for a while. He said there was a shadow with him. He thought it was just his glaucoma and stress. He said it spread around his back. Since then he’s had his mirror covered with a sheet, just like mine. Could they really be spying on us through the mirrors?

I told Gerald I had to look for my parents and girlfriend. He wished me luck.

I spent the rest of the morning getting things ready for tomorrow. I’m going to bike to my parent’s house first, spend the night and then move onto my girlfriend’s apartment. The air has been hot and the sky cloudless. It’s been like this for nine days. I’ll bring water, food, my gun, and, of course, Snowy. I can’t leave her. Luckily, she is a semi-small dog. Her hotdog body is a little long, so that might be tricky, but I’m going to rig up a basket of sorts on the back of my bike. I found an old white plastic crate in the basement.

What if I’m marooned and she starves to death?

I’ll leave the moment the drum stops tomorrow morning. I’ve decided to stick to the highways that I would normally take there. My bike is narrow enough to pedal through all the debris. Later, I’ll go in the shed behind my house and modify the bike.

The ivy and flowers have started to wrap up the shed as if they don’t want me to open the doors.

The Greenland Diaries Day Eight

By Patrick W. Marsh

The following collections of journals were recovered from a caravan outside of Duluth, Minnesota. The exact date of recovery is not known nor is the origin of the speaker. The Bureau for the Restoration of History (BFRH) would like help in identifying the man who kept these records. This unedited record of events is still considered the most accurate history of the apocalypse that occurred on April 15th, 2011.

“It began with a drum. Then the monsters came. I’ve been hiding ever since.”

Day Eight

Last night, something happened somewhere in the neighborhood. The drum sounded at 8:14 p.m. There is no rhyme or reason to its starting time. You just know that when the sun starts to wane it could start at any moment. Around midnight, between the hollow thumps, there was a horrible crashing sound. It sounded like metal being torn. There was a terrible howling, followed by metallic pop. I don’t know what it could have been. The sound was so loud that it made my teeth hurt.

It couldn’t have been very far away.

In the morning, I started to look for some old maps around the house. I had to find the most efficient way to travel. I couldn’t be caught in the open when the drum started, so I plotted out a path to my parent’s house and my girlfriend’s apartment. My parents live in the suburbs just north of Minneapolis. My girlfriend lives in Little Canada. I left my car in that roadblock on 94. I could go back to look at it. If all the highways were blocked, it wouldn’t matter anyways. My dad had a spare old Jaguar. He’d had it since I was kid sitting in the backyard. It was one of many things he had difficulty parting with.

Once the army launches their counter attack, I’ll start thinking about getting my car back. Until then, I’ll just wait. I wish I knew when that was going to happen. Maybe they need help? I have a gun after all.

I walked down to see Gerald again today. He was waiting for me with a cup of coffee. He said a group of people had come through earlier with about a hundred wounded. They were setting up refugee camps outside the cities. I immediately went to pack, but Gerald stopped me. Gerald said he didn’t trust the government to take care of him. If they didn’t see these monsters coming, then why should he trust them for protection? He calmed me down and told me to stay someplace familiar until things became more stable. It’s hard fighting the urge to move, but I’m doing it.

I’m worried for my dog. There are a lot of strays wandering around. How long until they get hungry? There are so many of them.

Why don’t the monsters have any interest in them?

The Greenland Diaries Day Seven

By Patrick W. Marsh

The following collections of journals were recovered from a caravan outside of Duluth, Minnesota. The exact date of recovery is not known nor is the origin of the speaker. The Bureau for the Restoration of History (BFRH) would like help in identifying the man who kept these records. This unedited record of events is still considered the most accurate history of the apocalypse that occurred on April 15th, 2011.

“It began with a drum. Then the monsters came. I’ve been hiding ever since.”

Day Seven

Besides the drumming last night, it was quiet all the way through the night. It’s almost more unsettling when it’s just the drum. There were no scraps or bangs against the house. No screams, explosions, or strange hissing. I kept the safety off on my shotgun.

It felt good to wake up to silence.

I stacked some boxes of junk my dad had in my basement. The house used to be my grandmother’s. I made a wall with his stuff. Even if they came down into the basement, the wall would look somewhat natural. My mom would be happy that his pack-ratting came in handy.

I’m impressed that the cold water is still working. The water heater isn’t working; there must be something electrical with that. I’ve been storing water in as many containers as I can find. I figure that’s practical of me. Luckily, I had just bought a whole bag of dog food before everything happened. So, at least I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Food for me is going to be another story. Hopefully, when the army gets a handle on things, they’ll make some sort of supply system.

It’s been a week since the first night of the drum. April 17, 2011.

I should start using the date in this memo book, but that just depresses me.

I went down the street again and talked to Gerald. He gave me a cup of coffee. It tasted fantastic. He even had some cream for it. He talked about his son and daughter in Ohio and how he wanted to leave to see if they were okay. The radio was saying to stay off the roads because of debris. The army didn’t have the time or people to move everything aside. They were supposed to be mounting a counter attack to lure the monsters out and bomb them. Gerald said it wouldn’t work and that when the drums started, planes fell out of the sky. Since then, nobody had been flying. Gerald thought they might have something in the air, something that took all those planes down. Frightening things like people with legs and arms, but surrounded by some sort of fog. He said they had no faces and they made no sounds. Even when he shot that one in his doorway, it was silent. I talked to him all day.

The house seems a little bit lonelier tonight.