Thursday, 7 August 2014

Guest Post by Angus Stewart, Author of Burn Alive

Burn AliveBurn Alive

Genre: Horror, Psycological 

Isak is a lonely man. He lives in the shadow of a giant crystal hotel, and spends his free hours wandering the blank postcommunist world outside his door. Isak's life is very small. He does work on blood, and he is control. This is enough. 

Then something about Isak draws in Damijana, a dangerous creature with a taste for blood. She stalks him at first, but when they collide, everything changes. 

Damijana has time. Damijana has power. Damijana offers a new kind of control: control over others. 

Very soon, nothing is enough. The fire and the fury take a hold of Isak, and he knows that his old, safe life is gone, and that he will never be happy again…until he burns alive.

Guest Post ~ The Life in Control

It feels good to be in control. It feels so good, that sometimes it can be hard to let go.

The world we live in is a wild, chaotic place that pushes, pulls, and generally disrupts our best laid plans.

Those brief instants where we feel on top of that world, rather than vice versa, can be the time when we, as rational agents, feel the most alive. As social animals, control is important to us too. Humankind does not just sit back and take the world as it is. Humans, inevitably, intervene. It’s against our nature to let things be. We're the animal that threw a spanner in the works.

Across history, control- our proverbial spanner- has made an awful lot of excellent things possible. Democracy, the control of power. Agriculture, the control of nature. Education, the control of the mind. Technology, the control of materials. Control underpins mankind's wonders.

But- as you may already be yelling at the screen- there is a dark side. Control produces monsters. Take control too far and it becomes something else: domination. Tyranny, the total domination of society by the ruling power. Abuse, the total domination of the victim by the abuser. Obsession, misery, disgust– the total domination of one’s own self by one’s own self.

Think about the twentieth century. It was this new golden age of western science, sociology, and statesmanship that produced two colossal world wars and two dangerous ideologies- fascism and Soviet communism- that tried to control the entire world. It's almost as if we were overtaken by the machinery in our minds, as well the machinery in our factories.

One could argue that ‘letting go’ was all but forgotten about until the 1960s. One might argue that in the digital age, control beyond control is either coming back for good, or vanishing forever.

In my new book, Burn Alive, I have used the idea of 'control' as a way to approach a very old literary monster: the vampire. Traditionally, there's a lot of control in the vampire’s world: mind control, incredible strength, and a lifetime without a set end point.

When I began Burn Alive I thought that my main character, Isak, would fit right in to the vampire’s world. Isak is the unsocial, obsessive type, and when the novella begins he wants very little from life but power over himself. But as Isak and I moved forward through the plot, we both found it harder and harder to stomach the disturbing choices and situations that this new life handed down to him.

Each page made me that little bit more certain that there are certain doors of possibility in human existence which are supposed to stay shut. We aren't supposed be omnipotent. We aren't supposed to control every human variable. We aren't supposed to be free from doubt and uncertainty. We are, for whatever reason, supposed to lack.

Imagine the beautiful dame in the film noir, offering the world to the detective. What does she say? You can have sex, satisfaction, relative happiness and security, but better than all of that: you can have the truth, and a sense of power and control.

Wouldn't you smell a rat?

About the Author

Angus is an aspiring writer, hobbyist photographer, and graduate of English and Creative Writing. He has just returned home from university in Manchester, and is currently finding his bearings in Dundee, Scotland.

Angus digitally self-published his first collection of short stories in 2013, and is now plugging away at all sorts of other things including a novel, a novella, and better yet: the hunt for a job!

In no particular order Angus enjoys beer, good friends, close family, peculiarities, and his small border collie named Jan.

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