Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday's Special Is...So This Fish Walks Into a Cemetery!


Jason Evans, also known as the Keeper of Twilight, is the long-time owner of a popular crossroads blog for writers, "The Clarity of Night." His quarterly flash fiction contests have drawn thousands of viewers, and even more importantly, have been a well of inspiration for writers from around the world.

He is also one of the co-founders of the Book Roast blog. As the Book Roast team brainstormed various titles and concepts for an interactive community of authors, Jason is the one who zeroed in on the name "The Book Roast." Getting the Book Roast off the ground was truly a team endeavor. Many thanks to Jason for all of the hard work and creativity he's put into our blog!!!

Over the next couple of weeks, it is going to be my pleasure to roast the Roasters! Without further ado, let's read about his latest manuscript, SO THIS FISH WALKS INTO A CEMETERY. (BTW, I hear he's pretty pumped to be finishing the project and starting to query in June!)


After a childhood marked by the loss of his father, Richard Silva should finally be hitting his stride. He's young, smart, has a great job, and a hot co-worker is pursuing him. Unfortunately, a voice living inside his antique mantel clock pesters him with bad jokes, while mysterious, muttering creatures he can't see follow him on Philadelphia's streets. Before he's too terrified to leave his apartment, Richard travels to his hometown to find the origin of these "dust people." There, he meets Leah, a girl he was never brave enough to date in high school. Around Leah and her son, the dust people disappear. However, the calm does not endure. Back in Philadelphia, the final battle with the dust people awaits. Will a talking clock be the one to save him?

Jason working on revisions. (I used to call him Grisly Adams.)

Visit Jason at The Clarity of Night


Richard limped along with his late day shadow. He just parked after his long drive home. Sidewalk cracks passed. His bag dragged on his shoulder.

He tucked the clock under his other arm. The pendulum perched ready in his back pocket in case he was jumped. Philadelphia's streets crisscrossed in every direction. No dust people. Just the echo of his footsteps.

Sunday evening traffic drifted lazy and listless through the yellow blinking lights. His mind dwelled on Leah ever since his drive began. He thought of the conversations they had. He thought of the conversations they didn't have.

His apartment building loomed. The shadows of its neighbor cut a harsh line of darkness down the facade. His own window was on the wrong side of the line. The western window. Standing out in the openness, Richard saw how flimsy his barricade up there seemed. A shade and a slid-over bookcase couldn't defeat evil. He couldn't defeat the creatures that crept beneath the uneasy world.

Knock knock, the clock said.

It startled him.

His foot caught a crack, and he stumbled.

Knock knock.

Cold sweat sprang under his arms. The clock hadn't peeped since last night at Leah's house.

Knock knock.

Richard felt pasty. Unwell. He pushed faster, the dread dragging at his heels.

Knock knock, knock knock. The voice was growing angry.

He approached his apartment building. The feeling of electricity buzzed around him. His hair stiffened, as if static sizzled up from the brush of his feet.


"Who's there?" Richard croaked.

He was going to double over. Be sick.

Few know you're real in there.

The revolving door. Just ahead.

He almost broke into a run, if he were capable of running.

Few know? Real?

The words gnawed into him. But the clock was waiting.

Richard spoke, the words rushing together. "Few-know-yer-real in there...who?"

The clock's voice darkened. Turned vicious. The fu-ner-ral in there is for you.

Richard crashed to a stop at the door.

The building moved. Swelled. It leaned over him and rumbled deep into the subway tunnels below.

Answer the following for a chance to win a $15 gift certificate to Amazon:

Tell me about your favorite fish. Then, tell me about your favorite cemetery. The quirkiest answer wins!


Anonymous said...

I love the smell of barbeque in the morning.

Sarah Hina said...

Wow, what an excerpt, Jason!!

Okay, as your critique partner once Aine works her magic, I'm pretending I haven't read a good bit of the book already. (still waiting impatiently for that last part, btw ;))

But this excerpt is illustrative of the key elements of your novel's appeal, touching on the suspense, dark humor, romance, and finally, the strong, kick-ass writing that lifts storytelling into a truly lived experience. I've been lucky to share in Richard's journey along the way. :)

What was the genesis for the idea of a talking clock? And was he always such a complete smart-ass? :P

Anonymous said...

Great excerpt Jason!

Favorite fish? Babel Fish.

Favorite cemetery? Any that I'm not a resident of.

laughingwolf said...

welcome jason, quite the excerpt... got me hooked! ;)

hi chris, nice choice...

my fave fish is what i call a rock fish, and that's the one i invariably snag my hook on, whether at the bottom of a pond, lake, river, or stream... and no, it's NOT edible, though i hear the odd one is the basic ingredient for rock soup!

as for a favorite cemetery, that'd be the empty lot planned to become a place to dump the dead... with no one buried there, nothing can emerge to scare the crap outta me some unholy night while i whistle and quicken my pace as i walk by :O lol

Anonymous said...

Sarah, as my critique partner, you've had a hugely positive impact on this book. Aine even more so, since she takes out the garbage before your eyes even see it. Thank you!!! As for the clock, I was struck years ago when I heard about some people who are freaked out by antiques, because they feel like prior owners haunt them. Like a piece of people infuses the object.

StrugglingWriter, I like your favorite cemetery!!

LaughingWolf, rock fish...are we talking Striped Bass? I've chased a few of those!

Charles Gramlich said...

"I don't see me many grill marks on Jason so far. You gotta burn 'im a bit to sear the juices in.

Favorite fish: OK, I just gotta say it. I apologize up front. But my answer is, "I don't know what my favorite fish is called but I think Lana is carrying it around with her." Sorry!

Favorite cemetary: I like them all pretty well right now because "I'm" not in them.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sorry, I didn't realize I'd stolen the cemetary bit from strugglingwriter until it was already up.

laughingwolf said...

jason, the 'rock fish' i'm talking about are just ROCKS ;) lol

you HAVE heard of the 'stone soup' or 'rock soup' tales, i'm sure :O

Stephen Parrish said...

Hi Jason. I love the title; it alone should get you some attention.

My favorite fish? Any fish that's NOT on my plate. I don't eat anything that lives in the water.

My favorite cemetery? The one containing the man whose grave I peed on after his funeral.

Anonymous said...

Charles, some gasoline would get this fire hotter. ;) (And I like the Lana answer!!)

Anonymous said...

LaughingWolf, soup from a stone, imagine that. ;) (At least that's the line from the book my mother used to read to me.) Do you have any carrots? They would go amazing with my stone soup.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, the title is either a big plus, or a dud. I'm hoping you're right!

PJD said...

I love the combination of fish (watery) with dust people (dry), the talking clock. Fascinating premise. Is there ambiguity about his sanity in the story, or is this clearly a supernatural thing? I also like the background to the talking clock. I had never thought of antiques being haunted by their previous owners, though of course it makes total sense.

My favorite fish: Not dead yet. (Most of you are probably too young to remember this TV show.)

My favorite cemetery: Marrow Moor's cemetery, where 25 of the 26 unlucky children ended up. But that's fictitious. For real cemeteries, I'd go with the Granary Burying Ground in Boston, the first place I was encouraged to make a tombstone rubbing with paper and crayon when I was in elementary school.

Unknown said...

Sounds like this is going to be a crazy good book Jason! I can't wait to read it!

My favorite fish is the one that got away, slippery guy, he would not stay, although he had a silver streak, a golden fin, and piercing beak, I found him ground up fine one day, and lying atop a fresh dug grave, on him they planted flowers fair, to dress Aunt May where she lay there, she'll no longer have a glass of sherry, cos' she's dead and at rest in the 'ol cemetery.

My favorite cemetery? Old ones.

Aniket Thakkar said...

I've already told you how much I like the title many times... so you wont mind hearing it again that I totally digg it!

And its the first time that am getting a peek into the story (unlike some lucky people who are not even married to you and still get to read it by pretending to be a fellow critique :D), so I say I louvhed it. I'm already loving the clock a lottt. :-)

You can even release the toys for the clock once the book is a hit!

Now to play for some booty (evil grin :D):

My favorite fish would be "Aerial" the not-so-little mermaid. She was damn hot! Mermaids do count as fish here right??

Okay just to be sure if you don't count her as a fish... second choice would be "Wanda". Now ought to have heard about the fish called Wanda... haven't you?

And my favorite cemetery would be one where am buried. And here's where I wish to be buried (there can be some technicalities that would have to be worked out to make this possible but I expect my lawyer friends namely Jason, Jennifer, Ello, etc to take care of it when am not around):-

I want to be buried at the following address for the place is very sacred to me:

10236 Charing Cross Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90024.

And if you don't know it already and are too lazy to google it... its the address to the playboy mansion.

Jason: Don't say I didn't give you a heads up. :D

laughingwolf said...

i can scare up some carrots, spuds and onions for that pot, jason ;)

Anonymous said...

PJD, thanks for the kind words! I like the sensory richness you're pointing out!

As for your question, there is indeed ambiguity about the protagonist's sanity.

(And I do remember that TV character!)

Anonymous said...

Catvibe, glad the novel sounds intriguing!

And I love your poetic take on the fish that got away!! I'm with you on digging those old cemeteries. (Well, not digging, exactly. That would be sacrilegious.)

Anonymous said...

Aniket, oh, you're an Ariel fan too?? Right on! We had to pay a special visit to Ariel at DisneyWorld one year.

Playboy Mansion for a burial? Now that's ambitious! I say, go for it.

(And thanks for all the encouragement on the book.)

Anonymous said...

LaughingWolf, this soup is getting better and better! Know anyone with a chicken?

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hi Jason!

Is the cemetery in your post one you know well?

Hmmm. Fav fish: Well, I tend to like the live ones. Vegetarian, you know. Coelacanths are pretty cool. They give me reason to think maybe there could be a plesiosaur in Loch Ness.

Fav cemetery: I'm told a grove on a hill on the property I own was once a place where Choctaws buried their dead. We buried my mom's ashes there.

Pete: I recognize your Fish! I loved that show (the original Barney Miller, not the spinoff). I'll shut up now before I really start dating myself...

Awesome excerpt, Jason!

Anonymous said...

Jason, I'm sorry, but your book sounds too creepy for me to read. I could barely get through the Tell-tale Heart, let alone a whole book with clocks and fish and dust people. If you weren't such a damn fine writer, I might think I could read it because it wouldn't be effective.

But I know better.

I can't remember how little your little ones are, but by far my favorite fish is Fish Out of Water, from Disney's Chicken Little (he and Ariel are secretly dating, I hear), and my favorite cemetary is the one in the Disneyland ride The Haunted Mansion.

robkroese said...

I have a perfect tagline for the movie version: "I talk to dust people."

You're welcome.

Seriously, it sounds intriguing.

Favorite fish? Favorite cemetery? Yeah, I've got nothing.

paisley said...

jason, that was an excellent excerpt... i really am interested in the surrounding story now... thanks for sharing it here with us....

Anonymous said...

Phoenix, the cemetery is absolutely gorgeous. It is the first park-like (read non-city) cemetery in the United States. It was a new theory at the time. Now, the city has grown to surround it. It's called Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

If you want a tour accompanied by my bagpipe playing, visit my YouTube channel.

Anonymous said...

Aerin, aw, I don't want to scare people! ;) Thank you for the compliment, though! I can't say that there aren't some intense scenes, but it's not horror. And the ending might be bright. Who knows.

Anonymous said...

The dust people are terrified of Swiffers and Mr. Clean. It's their kryptonite.

Okay, not really.

Anonymous said...

Paisley, thank you for letting me know! I'd love to see the book in your hands someday. I think you might really enjoy it.

Karen said...

A book full of dark humor - what could be better? I'm intrigued!

Favorite fish? Those I didn't have to flush.

Favorite cemetery? The pet cemetery - really - that has animal statuary, gravestones, etc. Sometimes, just sometimes, the cemetery owners will allow the pets' people be buried alongside.

Congrats on being so close, Jason!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Cool excerpt!

I used to play in a cemetery when I visited my cousin in PA. There was an old water well pump in the cemetery and it pumped out very iron rich water.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love the title!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Karen! :) And yes, It's a rush to be so close to finishing!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, sounds like no anemia around that cemetery! That's for the vote of confidence with the title. I'm hoping it will be catchy and different.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hey everyone, get those entries in. We need more! We want to make Jason WORK for his roast! No free lunches around here.

Any fish. Any cemetery. Bring 'em on!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I seem to know entirely too many people who play the bagpipes. Cool YouTube, Jason! We're all keeping as many body parts crossed as we can on seeing your novel on local shelves soon!

Meanwhile, at your convenience, you may announce the winner: whose fish and which cemetery does it walk into?

Thanks everyone for dropping by!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hey Jason - good stuff, my friend! You know I love the talking clock and the dust people! Interesting excerpt, indeed. hmmm his own funeral? I hate when that happens...

Wow! Sending out queries in June? That's wonderful!

My favorite fish - Since I was a little girl I have loved Cleo, Geppetto's fish in Pinocchio.

My favorite cemetary - I once visited a cemetary that had very few graves. It was a huge cemetary and fairly old, so I couldn't understand why it was so -well...vacant. I walked to the only gravestone I could see and read the name...Phillip Lots.

Anonymous said...

Kaye, loved that! And thanks for all of the inspiration and encouragement you give.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for previewing my novel and hanging out! And for talking about the ever-popular subjects of fish and cemeteries. ;)

I've chosen a winner! It goes to Karen, for the deliciously quirky notion of people begging for burial in a pet cemetery to be next to their pets! Karen, email me at jevanswriter at yahoo dot com, and I will send over your gift certificate!

Thanks again, everyone!!

McKoala said...

Oh, I missed it! Darn real life. Really, really sorry Jason. I really liked the excerpt. There's nothing like dark humour!

And for what it's worth...my favourite fish is any goldfish that can survive my tender, loving lack of care.

McK/aka that other roast master

Linda S. Socha said...


Love the dark humor take and the talking clock....Of course the fish alone is a wonderful take. Can
s wait to devour the book

Margaret said...

Hi Jason, just had time to read your excerpt before leaving for the airport!

Lots of luck with the book!
Sounds like a lot of suspense, love the idea of a talking clock.

My fav fish is a lovely salmon swimming in Irish waters!

Fav cemetery: The one I'm going to visit while in Ireland.

SzélsőFa said...

I like the blurb and the excerpt, too. Wow. Really got my thoughts flowing.

Favourite fish: Don't really care about fish, but hate everything fishy.

Favourite cemetery: Any, provided it's full of presence.

SzélsőFa said...

I see now...there's already a winner.
Congratulations to Karen!

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Jason,

You know how much I LOVE this excerpt!!! And the title is wicked awesome! So sorry I missed this, but we are just now home, and are 'borrowing' our neighbor's internet until we run up to the cable company later today and install our box.

Love the photos too! Wanted to ask, what are you building?

the walking man said...

Quite the clock...hope Richard wasn't clocked by a brick or two at the buildings collapse.

I like fish. Cod is good, sword is grand and shark bites, but my favorite fish is the one the aboriginal peoples buried with the maze to fertilize it. Because I, like the clock, love corn.

Then I have to go to the cemetery for more cheese...In France lay Morrison and Washington Hendrix, Indiana has Dean and Baltimore Poe, Illinois has the place where Lincoln was almost a "was been"...but my favorite cemetery of all,just don't ask me why, favored above all others is the one where clocks and time goes to die.

I know this is late but I wasn't watching the clock.

Way to go Karen!!!

laughingwolf said...

grats karen, and thx jason :)

laughingwolf said...

ooops... just saw

no chicken, jason... but there's some road kill :O lol

Aniket Thakkar said...

Congratulations Karen! (Bites his tongue)

I never win anything.... *sob sob*

:-) :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone who commented even though the contest ended. :) Very cool!!McKoala, does (did) the goldfish have a rockin' name?

Linda, thank you! I'm looking forward to contacting agents.

Szelsofa, seems to be some strong opinions about fish. Understandable. They're pretty powerful.

Chris, I hope your trip went well. Welcome back!! In that photo, I was building a log cabin at the mountains. I did it the old-fashioned way, by cutting the trees, etc. It's now a shed next to our main cabin.

Walking Man, that's a fascinating cemetery indeed. Lots of bodies buried there.

LaughingWolf, road kill?? Well...if it's not too old. Or a skunk.

Aniket, I know there's something else you'd rather win. Keep that pen sharp!

Aniket Thakkar said...

Yes, I will Jason! When is the next contest btw? :D

Michael said...

Colonel Flounder we called him, not so much because he was a fish (which he was) or because he was a colonel (which he probably wasn't), but mostly on account of that's what he said his name was when he joined our group on the twelfth tee. Said he was trying to get in a quick nine after work, he did. Something about a hot date with a cute little red-headed carp he knew from way back whose paths had recently crossed again, quite by chance according to the Colonel. But then, so much of life is chance. Like the cat who did him in while he was lining up a birdie putt on number sixteen green. He would have made it, too, I betcha, if the cat hadn't gotten to him first, he was that good, the Colonel.

Anyways, me and Boomer and Welch were able to retrieve some of his remains after the cat was mostly through with them, and what with the two of them (Boomer and Welch, not the cat and the Colonel) living in condos at the time, the disposition of said remains fell to none other than yours truly. So I threw them in the compost pile I was nurturing along out behind the garage that summer, which oughta make it at least somewhat of a cemetery, unless of course, you want to get all technical about it and be looking up pictures of cemeteries in dictionaries and the like and pointing out to me how there ain't a none of them that looks anything like my compost pile.

But then, if you're that kind of person, you probably wouldn't be much interested in reading a book about some fish walking into this cemetery in the first place, now would you?

raine said...

Jason, I'm so sorry I missed this, but I did want to congratulate you on finishing the work. The excerpt sounds great! :)

Don't have a favorite fish...but my favorite cemetary is the one near my home with the sign that says, "Drive Carefully--We Can Wait".

Karen said...

Thank you, Jason! This is the second thing I ever won in my whole long life! The first was a model of The Nautilus that was given away at our local theater for the opening of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. You can imagine how long ago that was. I'm not usually lucky, but eat your heart out, Aniket, this time, I am! :-D

Thanks, Jason. You always keep things interesting and fun!

Karen said...

By the way, I'll try to get out there and take some pics of the gravestones sometime.