In Which You Learn About ALL SMOKE RISES by Mark Matthews and He Gushes About Me But I Didn’t Ask Him To.
TODAY’S BREW: Blizzard Brew by New England Coffee and it is STRONG.
As an editor, I get to play with books before anyone else, and sometimes I feel like I’m finding treasure. ALL SMOKE RISES by Mark Matthews, a long-time friend published alongside me at Books of the Dead Press, is one of those glinting jewels. Visceral, beautiful, horrible, speaking of the human condition and of what it could be for both good and bad, frightening and hopeful and destitute. In this post that I SWEAR he asked me to put up, I didn’t as HIM to put up, he raves until I’m in tears about how awesome I am as an editor, but let me tell you that Matthews has a style and unique perspective on his subject matter and in his craft that gleams like a shiny apple. Not to mention that I got to spend time with him at a convention once and it was awesome. He’s just the most genuine, thoughtful and hilarious guy, and it shows in this book.
All Smoke Rises releases this week, a follow up to my last novella, Milk-Blood. While it takes place just weeks after Milk-Blood ends, it also serves as a stand-alone read. *Hi, this is Julie. It totally stands alone. It will beg you to read MILK-BLOOD, though.* The book tackles drug addiction, urban decay, mental illness, and a host of other real-life horrors.
Even though it’s a story, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. The material is not fiction. It’s happening, right now. Addicts are roaming the streets, craving heroin the way a vampire craves blood. Children are living in urban squalor, with poverty so deep their best meals of the day come when they go to school. As Kealan Patrick Burke so generously wrote in the introduction, “All Smoke Rises perfectly encapsulates horror as a reflection of real life.”
The inspiration for writing All Smoke Rises came from my own work as a substance abuse therapist. For nearly 20 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of addicts from the Detroit area, many of them indigent. Before this time, I spent years in my own addiction. I woke up each day and my daily efforts were how to get high and get by. I now have 23 years clean and sober, and will never forget the immense power addiction has over the human soul.
All Smoke Rises is a book I’m damn proud of, but certainly did not create it on my own. I’ve got a long list of beta-readers and an incredible editor. Julie Hutchings. The most demure woman in the twitterverse. *It’s true, I am.*
I should point out, before I go on, that it was my idea, not hers, to guest blog and thank her for what a great job she did in editing my manuscript.
Readers would thank her, too, if they could, for the book they would have read would have been a much lesser piece had not Ms. Hutchings poured her own heart into the story.
Nuts and bolts were tightened. Extra parts were thrown away as needed. Paragraphs were reshaped, certain sentences were turned into stand-alone paragraphs, others were ended on a different note to keep the plot flowing. Overused phrases and words were smashed over my head until I saw stars. Rewording these descriptors made me work harder as a writer and created a better product.
If you’ve ever had a word document edited, you’ve come to know those little comment bubbles on the side. Well, Julie’s comments were different. They came alive. They spoke to me, made me laugh, or reached out from the screen and gave me nugies. If a nugie wasn’t enough, they grabbed me by the neck and squeezed until I heard my own esophagus crack. All of this to challenge me to be the best version of myself, and I responded in kind best as I could.
I’m so incredibly excited for this book. The producer of Monkey Knuckle Films is reading it now, and I hope some of the plot-line will be included into the movie adaptation of Milk-Blood. John F.D. Taff said, “All Smoke Rises makes Milk-Blood look like a freshman writing assignment.” Kealan Patrick Burke agreed to do the introduction after giving it a read, and seeing what he wrote was a highlight of my writing career.
But I did not write it alone, so thank you, Julie, for your invaluable contributions. Worth adding that, if you are only a digital friend of Julie, she is exactly as you would think in real life. I spent just a few hours hanging with Hutchings at a convention, and it was like swimming in a pool full of her tweets. She’s genuine good people, with genuine editing skills that I’d recommend to anyone who listens.
Ten year old Lilly is the victim of a terrible house fire and a wretched family. Her father is an addict with mental illness, her mother was murdered and then buried across the street, and her uncle got her addicted to heroin. Lilly’s tragic story has been told in the book ALL SMOKE RISES, and it may be true, for the author has broken into your house, and placed Lilly’s body on your kitchen counter. He demands you read the manuscript, before cutting his own wrists and bleeding out on your floor. Now you have decisions to make, for Lilly’s body may not be dead, and her family is coming for her.
“Make no mistake, when it comes to citations of true horror, you will be hard pressed to find a deeper and more challenging example than you will here. Matthews knows the heartbreak and tragedy of his subject. By the time you are done reading this, you will too.” ~KEALAN PATRICK BURKE, Bram Stoker Award winning author of KIN and Sour Candy
ADVANCE PRAISE “Heartbreakingly sad, overwhelmingly disturbing, creepy, violent and poignant. Highly recommended.” ~JOHN FD TAFF Bram Stoker Finalist “Filled with such dread and depravity that even the most desensitized among us will feel the pain. Matthews’s prose vividly shows the viciousness and hopelessness of drug addiction, and the beautifully horrifying images will stay with you long after the final page is digested.” ~JON BASSOFF, author of Corrosion, winner of the Darkfuse Reader’s Choice Award “True reality horror, with supernatural elements that only serve to make it more believable.” ~MICHAEL BRADFORD, Executive Producer, Monkey Knuckle Films.