These publishers have long lists of dark fiction specialists. Filling the magazine with stories that pervade the mind with unconventional pleasure – a ripping, screaming, dark energy – would be a relatively simple thing. Reviving the Giallo genre, though?
Seeking writers that could do a special brand of crazy, they initially invited 5 authors to The Blood Red Experiment. The task? Write a 4 part series, each part around 2k words. My ticket was punched because Near to the Knuckle published two of my dark fiction shorts and felt the style of writing was a fit for the Experiment.
Giallo is Italian for “yellow” (pronunciation: ˈdʒallo, plural gialli), named for the yellow covers of thrillers published in the 60s and 70s. Fast moving killers of women, gloves and trench coats and blades, blood trails and entrails, butchered corpses… Horrific thrillers with mystery elements.
“It’s the season for blood and gore and unhealthy, possibly psychotic fixations, and few subgenres inspire obsession quite like ‘Giallo’ thrillers. But perhaps a detail-oriented, focused audience is appropriate for these particularly fetishistic films, as Giallo is defined by outrageous production design, bold close-ups, intense color, memorable scores filled with sighs and shards of sound, and strange, gruesome murders performed by a very particular type of villain.” http://www.indiewire.com/2015/10/black-gloves-and-knives-12-essential-italian-Giallo-109594/
The Experiment publishers, Craig and Jason, asked us to retain the main ingredients of Giallo, though insisted we add our own sick spices to modernize it. Want to know what it’s like to be invited to write for a magazine? Here’s a peek at the group conversation with the publishers:
Craig: Before we all go crazy, Jason and I will need a 300-word synopsis of your ideas before we start. We’ll then give you the green light for the challenge. If you can, can you submit them by the 5th May? We’ll go through them and give you the thumbs up if we’re happy. You guys cool with that?
Jason: Just a question… remember that these stories have Giallo movies as a basis. I wrote the Rules and Tropes as some folks may not be familiar with directors such as Argento, Bava etc. If you have any questions, let me know.
Think – The suspense of Hitchcock with a lurid and groovy background, but the point is to expand this and make something new.
Craig: Just so everyone is aware, what we’re doing now until the 5th of May is a selection process. It’s likely not everyone will take part in this magazine, so don’t be too disheartened if you don’t make it. We want to ensure that this term is evenly spread with a selection of styles.
We’re going to stick with Giallo as the base flavour if you like, and you guys add your sick, twisted ideas in there to come up with a vomit-inducing concoction.
We’re going to spread the talent – let’s put it that way. We’ll have lots of authors with their own strengths throughout the long-term lifespan of the experiment.
Me: Hey, I only know one way to do this: I didn’t come all this way – get invited to this meaningful opportunity – to fail.
This business model is sound, run by pros that are backed by substantial pools of talent. The timing is on point. Your picks (us!) for the “proof of concept” stage are, individually, capable of penning a Neo-Giallo series that goes viral.
(Did I sound stupid excited, or what?)
Craig: Just go with the flow – we’ll give it a nudge and push the plot off course slightly if it needs it. Or add a dab of paint or smudge the paint on a character. It’s likely we’ll suggest you stick the paint in the character’s eye. We’ll have fun with it – that’s the intention here. But bear in mind we’ll need to put people in the second line and it has nothing to do with the quality of the work. We don’t intend to put all the golden eggs in one basket.
Jason: Hehe… “It’s likely we’ll suggest you stick the paint in the character’s eye.” Or a sharpened paintbrush.
I began to research the old Giallo works, and was struck with an idea so abrupt it was nearly painful: Waste Management is the title. Here’s a quick synopsis of the first part:
A little girl comes home from the hospital and enjoys a homecoming party with her parents and baby brother. She’s given a pool and swims for the first time.
The mother, a self-employed plumber, sacrificed everything to fight cancer alongside her daughter, including her marriage and family home. She intends to keep her son, and protect him from “the infection of society”.
Growing up without a father can cause a boy to have developmental issues. Training to be a pipe fitter – with a homicidal philosophy – by an anti-establishment mother is certain to cause it…
I’ve written a few parts, and hope to see the story evolving into a series that goes beyond the magazine. A few months back I finished Her Name is Mercie, a crime thriller novella. I was feeling it, though not on the level I feel Waste Management. Immersing into dark fiction is a different state of mind, a blending of emotions far more criminal than what I experience composing thrillers. Action scenes with anti-heroes vs. grotesque murders and psychopaths.
Would you like to read some of it? Below is the opening. Feedback is appreciated. Please leave a comment and share.
Part 1: Mother & the Memory
His grip relaxed then clamped, snatched, pushing with the other hand. A leg torqued from an uncooked chicken crackled an image in his mind, the woman’s face replaced by a hair in a blink.
Shoulders rolled up in soiled coveralls lingered a tense moment, heavy breathing mixed with a deep moan steaming to a sigh out of the corpse. His gloves moved, squeezed. The weight of the woman, alive, the change to a lifeless load – the speed of it – was a pleasantry internalized.
Lips drew in, his thick tongue passed over them, nostrils puffing.
Mold permeated the concrete wall where it joined the pavement, service drive flooded with continuous drainage from the restaurant. The woman’s body splashed onto the pavement. Ass, then hands. Legs splayed. Back to the wall. Hair where her face should be. The man watched the spot between her legs. The water darkened, spread toward his boots. His nose puffed faster.
Dishes rang from just inside the doorway. Loose rocks popped, boots coated in sludge rotated him, hard leather stretching. Solid-still as a wide cliff, bolder shifting atop, his large frame froze, head turned toward the restaurant’s kitchen. He watched the light on the floor.
More dishes, tap shutting off. His nostrils ceased puffing.
Scissors tall as the building shot into motion, arms and legs swinging inky shades on the building, black to gray. Heavy steel toes tread out of the dank alley, fists encased in an unknown animal hide pumped forward. Unchanging pace resounding the mass of the man that stopped in front of the truck, opened the door, stepped, swung into the driver’s seat in one fluid move. Shut it.
Detonation shook the pavement, diesel engine knock-roaring to a steady thrum. The man’s head appeared in the side mirror, block of pitch black with a slash of orange Illuminating his narrowed stare. The truck reversed, rumbled past the open kitchen exit, tires throwing water.
The concrete wall amplified a halting, sharp screech. The corpse at its base vanished beneath a cloud, pink exhaust thrusting through the red flash of brakes.
Setting the brake, he climbed out and grabbed the woman, strain absent from the lift. Trying not to focus on her cooling vitality, he held to the moment, the sudden charge of her life’s heat, death sensed… then snuffed. An exotic battery sucked dry in a wink of plasma.
Her pants waist stretched, ass soft on knuckles, uniform collar tearing, as he hefted, tossed her into the back. The refuse compressed, enveloping her with a welcome, soft hiss.
The big diesel revved. Clutch engaged. The truck freight trained back down the alley. Waste Management caught the lights towering in the plaza, the service truck accelerating into the turn. His nose puffed above the steering wheel. Gloves gripped wide. The engine cycled pings that deafened pedestrians, cab bumbling with a pulse unstoppable.
The grime on the windshield absorbed yellow-white glares cascading down at precise intervals, failed attempts to penetrate the interior. Slits of amber sitting high in the darkness inside studied the road. The direction of the next job was the man’s only thought.
Chris Roy was raised in South Mississippi, in the midst of ugly Gulf Coast beaches and spectacular muddy bayous.
Chris lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fistfight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January 2000, he’s been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Nowadays he lives his life crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, drawing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.
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© 2017 – 2019, Chris Roy. All rights reserved.