It's the spring of 1987 and Syd Siegfried has won a mysterious atlas that will take him on an incredible journey--but what starts as an exciting trek through Philadelphia suddenly becomes a perilous adventure into the wildest unknown. With the help of his plucky daughter and an eccentric group of misfits, Syd will need to follow the clues and solve the atlas in order to get home - but when they uncover a shocking secret, nothing can prepare them for what comes next...
Cold bottle of beer, loyal dog at his feet, and the bedroom window cracked just enough to aim the barrel of his hunting rifle toward the Mexican border...just in case, ya know? Unrepentantly racist and sly as a fox, ol' Duragard is the prickliest bastard around.
But as the sun sets on Sugar Pointe, Texas, the warm breeze carries something far more sinister--a brutal force of nature, one as cunning as it is relentless--and in order to survive the night, one town's last hope will be its most cantankerous resident...
Frightfully entertaining and distinctly original, the fourth novel by author M. Chris Benner (Seven Devils, Henri Ville) is a mix of skin-crawling horror and subversive humor that'll keep you stuck to the edge of your seat until the shocking final page.
An elderly gentleman travels the abandoned railways of the U.S. with his only friend, a spandex-wearing luchador known only as Choco Loco. As winter approaches and every day becomes more dangerous, the journey will force him to reflect on a life marred by indecision and self-doubt, and to fight for more than just his life.
A stranger in a changing world, his trek becomes our universal struggle against the past, of our ability to challenge the memories that define us, to take the actions that will change us, and to survive the winter...
Narrated in breathless, raw emotion - with no breaks, no rest nor flourish - the minimalist novel Whiskey November is a Kerouac-esque voyage down The Road most trampled.
After 4 years, 3 jobs, 2 houses, and 1 death - plus the writing of an entirely different book, a plethora of short stories, and three novellas - I have finished writing my fifth novel, An Atlas for Melancholy Dreamers. Syd, Abby, Dezzy, Whiskers, and Math have finally reached the end of their adventure...at least for now.
This book was as rewarding to write as it was difficult to finish. I've lost track of how many sleepless nights--nay, sleepless weeks I've spent working on this book. No one ever told me writing was easy but I'm not sure I understood just how hard it could be sometimes - and it wasn't for a lack of ideas or writer's block; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I wrote more and more and more because I never knew where we were going or how it would end...and I never really wanted to leave these characters alone. They aren't fiction to me; they're friends who I will genuinely miss until the next installment.
As I tend to forget specifics once I move on to other projects, here's one (of many) experiences with Atlas that I wish to share:
When I was still learning about the characters and finding the voice of the narrative, I suddenly dumped every character on an island in the middle of nowhere, one with a sandy beach and a single tree and a sun that didn't move in the sky - all of which probably surprised me just as much as them. (Honestly, at no point in time did I know where they would end up until they did.) But, I followed them to the beach and, for two weeks, I locked myself in my room to work on a riddle that would get them home; so, in a way, I too felt stranded on the island.
As I worked to understand the island riddle, so did they. While I struggled, they struggled - and as they struggled, each character began to develop through their interactions with one another. It was such a vivid writing experience that, once they were headed to their next adventure and I finally emerged from my room, it was as if I were returning home after spending two long weeks on a beach with friends. It may sound crazy, I know, but that's how it felt - like following instead of creating. I didn't figure out ways to start a fire and catch fish and filter ocean water - they did, using the items they brought with them. I didn't solve the riddle to get them home, just provided the pieces which they put together.
Not the best anecdote, I realize, but it made this book something special to me as a person. I'm not just fond of the many characters in An Atlas for Melancholy Dreamers (as are my children) - they've become part of me. And the finished novel is something I'm supremely proud of - so much so, in fact, that I declined the only book contract I've ever been offered in my life because it meant I would lose half of the rights to my friends, something I didn't think would be fair to them.
Yeah, maybe I'm just crazy.
Now that it's over, my poor fingers and family need a break from my writing. And it is with a heavy heart that I must admit that (barring a miracle) it'll be a long while before Syd goes on his first date in years, and Abby discoveries her inner warrior, and Dezzy sings in a Parisian nightclub, and Whiskers has to break into the Second Bank of the United States, and Math finds out what a Fibrication Consultant really is (Jukebox #19?) - all when their fantastical journey resumes in book 2 of The Volumes Atlas: A Rest for the Wary Travelers. (P.S. Nidus gets destroyed in the first chapter.)
There will be other non-Nidus projects coming out eventually, like spider horror book When the Clouds Roll In and Catfist, which is a collection of Shel Silverstein-like poems that I've been writing for my children's elementary school classes for the last few years. (I intend to co-write a bunch more poems with my daughters and set portions to music; however, sadly, unless you're in the Philadelphia area there's a good chance you won't get to see it performed.)
Other projects that have been shelved indefinitely include Whiskey November (which I really, really want to finish someday) and Persephone (or, as the full book will be called, From Ash). No idea when, or if, I'll ever have the time to return to them. Hopefully one day. Hopefully.
And, as always, I want to take a minute to thank you, dear reader. Whether you're just perusing the site or a long-time fan - from the bottom of my heart, I truly appreciate giving me a chance. This year marks the 20th anniversary since I started writing (using From Dusk Till Dawn as a template to write scripts on Dos that were horrible Quentin Tarantino knock-offs). After the last 20 years, I no longer feel resigned to obscurity but rather at home with it - so it beats my heart to have even just one reader. So thank you, one reader - thank you a thousand times over.
And with that, I bid you adieu.
Until we meet again, dearest reader.
Until we meet again.