Sunday, April 29, 2012

Release Day! 'A Mouth Full of Ashes' is now published!


Today my new novella A Mouth Full of Ashes became available for purchase on Amazon's Kindle store. The book is something of a departure for me, so I'll be interested to see what sort of reaction it gets. The description is below. If you have a Kindle or Kindle App and would like a free copy, I'm gifting copies to the first 10 people who'd like one. Just send me your email address to info[at]andrewbiss[dot]com.

Overview:

A young student is brutally raped and murdered. Her parents, Tom and Christine, are now confronted with the daunting task of processing their grief and attempting to come to terms with the horror that befell their child. The paths they take in doing so, however, couldn't be starker in contrast. Christine has withdrawn into a deadened world of suppressed rage and bitterness that has left her incapable of seeing beyond the terrible tragedy that has visited her. Her husband, Tom, on the other hand, has taken the unusual step of publicly announcing his forgiveness of their daughter's killer.

At the most difficult moment in their lives, a wedge has been driven between them, threatening to destroy the only thing they have left - each other. On this explosive evening of final reckoning, as home truths and simmering resentments are laid bare, each will learn painful, often brutal lessons on love, hate, and the elliptical nature of forgiveness. 

Available in the U.S. and the U.K. Amazon Stores.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Mouth Full of Ashes

In a few days from now I’ll be releasing my new book “A Mouth Full of Ashes” and I’d like to share with you how this story came about.

A couple of years or so ago, I came upon a news story that grabbed my attention in a way that many others don’t. It involved a murder, but of course we read about murder, death, and all manner of tragic events on a daily basis. We read them, lament them, and then move on. This one, however, had a different angle to it that gripped my imagination.

In a small town somewhere in the Midwest (I believe) a young pastor was delivering his Sunday sermon to his congregation. A young man with no associations to either the town or the pastor drove into town that morning, walked into the church and shot the pastor dead in the middle of his sermon. It was one of those inexplicable, mindless, random and tragic events that defy reason. The pastor was married and had two young girls who would now grow up without a father.

Fast forward just a week or two later (if that) and the pastor’s widow (and this is where it got interesting to me) is on one of the major networks telling Diane Sawyer or someone like that about how she’s forgiven her husband’s  killer and feels absolutely no ill will towards him. She kept insisting that God would forgive him and so she would, too, and hoped that he knew that and wasn’t suffering too much for what he’d done. Her tone was kind, calm and very, very giving.

Now, I consider myself a pretty kind and forgiving person, but this struck me as just a bit too much. I was quite taken aback at how a woman who just had her husband shot dead in cold blood, her children just denied a life with their father in it, could turn around and be so magnanimous. In her shoes, I knew I couldn’t. Then, just at the very end of the interview, she was asked if perhaps not enough time had passed since the tragedy and that maybe she hadn’t been able to process her grief properly yet. To my surprise, this woman who had been so insistent and sure of her forgiveness suddenly revealed a little glimpse behind what was now clearly a defense shield, and admitted that, yes, she probably hadn’t had enough time and that there were likely to be difficult times on the road ahead.

This reaction of hers got me to thinking – what if something happened to someone’s child and one of the parents reacted in this way and the other didn’t? How could they survive together? Could they? Would they not only lose their child, but then lose each other as well? Is there a limit to forgiveness? All of these questions gave rise to what is now “A Mouth Full of Ashes”.

In my story, a young college student has been brutally raped and murdered. Her parents are left to process their grief and come to terms with the horror that has visited their lives. The ways in which they do it, though, couldn’t be more different. The husband makes a point of publically forgiving his daughter’s murderer, while his wife has withdrawn into a deadened world of suppressed rage and bitterness that has left her incapable of seeing beyond the terrible tragedy that befell her daughter.
At this most difficult moment in their lives, a wedge has been driven between them, threatening to destroy the only thing they have left - each other. On this explosive evening of final reckoning, as home truths and simmering resentments are laid bare, each will learn painful, often brutal lessons on love, hate, and the elliptical nature of forgiveness.

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy and letting me know what you think of it when it’s released. It’s a short novella in length and should be available this coming Sunday, April 29th or Monday, April 30th. I’ll be sure to let you know!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Attack of the Text Zombies!!!

You know, I almost look back fondly now at the dawn of the cell phone zombies. When they first started popping up on sidewalks/pavements everywhere, I truly thought the decline of civilization had begun in earnest. Every time another of them would pop up, cell phone glued to the head, walking in random circles and speaking at someone on the other end in a voice at least 30 decibels too high, a little part of me died inside. You could even have argued that the cell phone zombies were actually turning me into a zombie. Each time one of those babbling, demented, pigeon-like apparitions appeared, chipping away at yet another layer of polite society, my soul became just a little more calcified.

What a difference a few years can make. I now look back upon those times with an affectionate smile, awash as they are in tones of sepia and memories of a simpler way of life. An age of innocence, you might say.

Now...now we live in the dreaded age of the text zombie, and this creature is far, far more hideous and destructive than its predecessor. Whereas cell phone zombies had at least some sense of the world in which they existed, with some of them actually and quite aggressively courting the attention of that world, text zombies have none. Text zombies live inside a vacuum. They have no concept of the world beyond their 4.3" AMOLED screen, and they are only able to communicate to others of their kind through small tapping gestures. For them, you don't exist; the world at large does not exist. As they lurch unsteadily along the sidewalk/pavement towards you, heads bowed down, eyes and minds focused on a virtual, vacuous world where words, thoughts and emotions are all reduced to abbreviations and acronyms, you are invisible.

But, as repugnant as they are, do not fear them. And whatever you do, do not - I repeat, do not - step aside for them. To do so would be to actively contribute to the societal breakdown that these messengers of the dead are ushering.

I can tell you from first hand experience that they are more afraid of you than you are of them. So the next time you see one of them appear before you, their graceless, lifeless form trudging directly towards you, do not alter your course. You will find, at the very last minute, right before what seems like imminent impact, the creature will suddenly look up at you with a startled expression, mutter some sort of apology (if you're lucky) and quickly lurch to one side. Just then, just for a brief, passing moment, the text zombie will be made aware of the world outside of their head. It's really something to see.

Try it. It works. And if ever it doesn't...well, I for one - being self-aware and living in the real world - will be braced for impact.