So is there a difference between sentimentality, nostalgia, and just being caught up in vivid memory thanks to the holiday season and some particularly strong subject matter to the latest story? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just a moody prick. Strike that, I know I’m a moody prick, but things have been colliding harder and sparking higher lately.
I just finished my first real horror piece in several months for a new antho, using as its core concept the Say You Love Satan/Ricky Kasso case from back in the 80s. For those unfamiliar, on Long Island when I was a teenager a story broke about four kids who went off into the woods of a Northport park together ostensibly to do some carousing. There, Ricky Kasso, a burnout, dropout dope peddler, and two of his buddies, beat, stabbed, eye-gouged, and eventually murdered Gary Lauwers. It took hours. Not only was the crime vicious beyond belief, but it became iconic for the times because of all the hysteria surrounding heavy metal "satanic" lyrics and supposed teenage devil worship of the period. Besides digging up graves and claiming to have occult powers, Ricky demanded that Gary Lauwers say he loved Satan before being butchered.
For the next couple of weeks Ricky led other friends up into the woods to show them the body while he solidified his legacy in the annals of local spook legend by saying a black crow gave him a message from the devil to kill Lauwers, and that the trees all bowed down to him as he murdered. If nothing else, it was good copy, and drove Tipper Gore apeshit.
It’s a brutal story with a lot of impact, especially if you were around the same age as the principle individuals at the time, which I was. Thinking about the case, and being homesick for family and friends on Long Island during the holidsays, has made me sentimental despite all the ugliness associated with the circumstances. It's put me in a bizarre mood that's still clinging as I start a new story, a crime piece, which keeps wanting me to traipse over the line into horror regardless of how hard I try to hold it in place.
Rarely have tales clung to me so desperately, although it’s atypical that I use real events as the subject of my stories to begin with. Hopefully I’ll shake free of this residue soon and I can throw myself back into the sequel of THE LAST KIND WORDS, which is really what I ought to be doing.
In the meantime, back to this crime tale, if I can wrestle it into form.
Now available for $2.99 download: "In ALL YOU DESPISE, Tom Piccirilli’s characteristically lean prose grimly illustrates the high price of redemption and the violent limits of brotherly love. When a nameless man awakens to find his blood-spattered brother passed out in his trailer it sets off a chain of painful, hard-hitting events that tests family loyalty and shows the savage impact of a father’s dark legacy."
Here’s some generous words on NIGHTJACK by Greg Gifune, author of GARDENS OF NIGHT (definitely read Greg if you haven't already): "Per usual, I love the way you approached the concept. The unique angle at which you come at your subject matter and characters is often what fascinates me most about your work...you made all the right choices, and as a result, pulled it off seamlessly. Really well done."
5 anthologies with my work have hit recently.
BY HOOK OR BY CROOK edited by Ed Gorman & Marty Greenberg features my piece "Blood Sacrifices & the Catatonic Kid": DAMN NEAR DEAD 2: LIVE NOIR OR DIE TRYING ed. Bill Crider & the late Dave Thompson includes "Zypho the Tentacled Brainsucker from Outer Space vs. the Mob"; FESTIVE FEAR GLOBAL EDITION ed. Steve Clark features my 20k word noirella "You'd Better Watch Out"; SPECTERS IN COAL DUST edited by Michael Knost includes "Holding the Line"; and THE BEST OF TALEBONES edited by Patrick Swenson has my oldie dark fantasy piece "Caucasus."
- Tom Piccirilli
- "We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters
I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com