Sunday 19 June 2016

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #37 - Delphine Quinn

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Delphine Quinn

The Past

Growing up wasn’t easy for me. This isn’t some story about how my parents didn’t love me or I suffered some horrible abuse. It’s more just a story of a girl who didn’t really like anyone, most of all herself. This made being a child fairly difficult, because most kids at age seven are worried about getting the new light up shoes and the Barbie they’ve had their eye on for Christmas, but I remember sitting up nights wondering why I was so unhappy, thinking about how someday my parents would die and I would be left alone, and ending up in a sobbing heap under the covers. So to say my childhood was strange would probably be an understatement. What saved me was literature. I don’t know many nine year olds who were in therapy after saying they wished they’d just die. But there it was. There I was. Trapped in a sorrow of my own creation.

Until one day, in fourth grade, I went into the library and decided I was going to check out the biggest book I could find, and immerse myself in it. The school library had a lot of books, especially for a poor public school. Something drew me to a shelf of books in the center of the room. I leaned down and saw a BIG book. I picked it up, sat down on the nasty, shit-brown carpet, and looked it over. Edgar Allan Poe’s complete works. On the cover, I remember a creepy ass bird.

I decided right then and there that I was going to read it all. Flipping through the pages, I ended up on The Tell Tale Heart and within a few pages, I was hooked. This would end up being my favorite story of all time, for decades. Book in hand, I approached the librarian, ready to bring my huge collection of stories home and read. Without going into too many specifics or bad-mouthing the librarian, I was extremely upset when I was told that I couldn’t have the book because it wasn’t appropriate for my age. I was raised in a house where we were only allowed to watch shows and movies approved for our age (I didn’t see my first rated R movie until I was literally seventeen), so I was devastated.

I went home that evening and mentioned it to my parents. My dad and mom were both teachers, and my mom worked at my school. I figured they’d stand with the librarian on this one, and the book was out of my reach. Surprisingly, my parents seemed upset by the fact that the book was denied to me. They agreed to speak to the librarian themselves and let her know that I was allowed to check out anything from the library I wanted. They may not have wanted me to watch sex scenes on HBO but they were huge advocates of being able to read. (My father later put this idea into practice in his own life when he began running the library at the high school that was built later. He hand-picked the books there, and he insisted, standing up against a lot of resistance, that things like comics and manga be included in the selection. He believed, and still believes that the point of libraries is to bring literature in any form to children. The point is to get kids to read, to love to read, and maybe someday when they’re older, they’ll want to pick up a classic. But in the meantime, why the hell shouldn’t they be able to read some Japanese manga? After all, isn’t it still reading)?

The next day, I had my collection of Poe, and as I’m sure many of you know, nothing makes a ten-year-old want to do something more than being told you can’t. So I delved into Poe’s work, and I was amazed. I didn’t understand all of the words, and I spent a lot of time with a dictionary trying to muddle through the bits I didn’t understand, but I was damned if I was going to let that librarian win and give it back without finishing it. It took a few weeks, but I managed. Poe had a way with words that I hadn’t even thought possible. His characters were intricate, well thought out, and best of all, flawed. I was a deeply depressed and sad little kid. I spent a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me, and why no one else was like me? Suddenly, I found an author who was flawed and depressed himself, and not only that, but so were his characters and his stories. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone.

Like I said before, my dad and mom were both teachers, and eventually my dad became a librarian himself. They were very educated, both having a few master’s degrees. They encouraged my reading and my dad even built himself some fifty shelves, all filled with books in his study. We had this futon in there and I’d sit surrounded by books, reading whatever I could get my hands on.

First it was Poe. Then it was The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings series, The Wheel of Time series, and others. Fantasy was something I got very interested in, but that would change when I stumbled onto Stephen King. I’d seen his name on my dad’s shelves in our makeshift library before, and as his section grew, I again felt drawn to something. The first Stephen King book I ever read in its entirety was Insomnia, another book chosen for its length. I myself struggled with sleep, as I think I mentioned, my nights were often spent up contemplating life and death and all sorts of things that a kid probably shouldn’t have been thinking. Insomnia changed my life, both the disease and the book. I fell in love with King. I must’ve been about twelve the first time I wrote to him, telling him that I wanted to grow up and write just like him. Many more letters would follow, as would many more nights spent up with his novels.

Reading became my refuge. The authors became my friends, and the stories became my escape. I would tear through all of King’s novels over my summer break that year, and eventually move on to the Harry Potter series that was given to me by a friend of the family. This was my first experience with a female author, and again, I was stricken. I’d dreamt of writing myself, but had never read anything by a woman.

The Present

Over time, life got in the way High school came and went, and I gained many accolades for my writing. But college came as well, and along with it, drinking, drama and adulthood. I had to work, pay rent and pass classes. I made lots of mistakes in love and life. Eventually I walked away from that life, and after a long and fucked up list of poor decisions, I ended up living alone in a house with a cat, in my mid-twenties, miserable and not sleeping. Life had come full circle.

Shortly after I turned twenty-eight, I met someone who would change my life. We started as barely even friends, a duo who would give each other shit on a regular basis. But fate had different plans, and part of that plan was to teach me what love really was. Micah saved my life. I don’t mean that in the Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook kind of way where it’s all deep and full of metaphors. I mean literally. I was dying, and he saved my actual life. Don’t worry, I won’t spend any more time on this than I have to. Most of you reading this aren’t interested in a sappy love story, and I don’t blame you. Basically, everything changed. I moved three and a half thousand miles across the country and started my life over.

One thing I will mention, is that Micah made it his life’s mission to help me, especially with the insomnia and fear that plagued me throughout the nights, as it had since I was a child. Again, life came full circle and books became my refuge. I hadn’t been able to read for a long time. There were many reasons for that, but they’re not important. What is important is that Micah started reading to me at night (over the phone before I moved and in person after). The first book he read to me over the phone was Stephen King’s Joyland. Isn’t it funny how things work out?

I adored Joyland, and it’s actually funny. He didn’t tell me what it was before he read it. I remember being half asleep and asking him if this was a Stephen King book, recognizing his language? Turns out it was, and not only had I found my new best friend and love of my life, but I’d also reconnected with an old one.

Now I live with Micah, and we still read quite a bit. We take trips to the library and he lugs out my twenty-five hardcover stories to our van in the rain. It’s still Stephen King who holds my heart. We’ve shared his Dark Tower series, 11/22/63, Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and even re-read Joyland, which is a rarity for us. I’ve also moved into the Kindle Unlimited thing, which is like Netflix for books. I adore J.A. Konrath and Jack Kilborn. I’ve read all of his stuff, and even gotten Micah into them. I don’t want to seem like I’m playing favorites, because some of these people are people I consider friends, but I also have read countless shorts from Tim Miller, Matt Hickman, Michael Bray, Andrew Lennon, Matt Shaw, Jack Rollins, Chantal Noordeloos, M.R. Wallace, Shaun Hupp, Stuart Keane, Ian Woodhead, and Craig Saunders.

Tim Miller wrote a series called the April Almighty Series that blew my doors off. I love when women are the powerhouses of a story, and he does that well. Shaun Hupp has a collection featuring a set of stories all woven together by a man on a subway that was masterful. Matt Hickman and Andrew Lennon’s Bound is a great example of the versatility of horror writers.

Many of these authors have become friends, or at least Facebook acquaintances, and it’s amazing to me that so many of them have taken the time to help me with my own writing. As of now, I don’t have my own work self-published on Amazon yet (it’s coming, I promise), but I do have a story featured in the Siren’s Call Ezine #26 that I’m very proud of. I also have another submission that’s been accepted and is coming out soon. I’m working on a story for an upcoming anthology by a dear friend and amazing author, and my first novel is coming along nicely.

The horror community is an outstanding group of people. There is the occasional asshole, but that’s how it is in the world. Had I not picked up that book by Poe, I don’t think I’d have ended up here. Had I not fallen in love with Stephen King, not once but twice, I probably wouldn’t have ended up here, a published author either. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how you got where you are, but my story is a sequence of fateful decisions and luck. As we speak, I’m knee-deep in my own work, but I’m also reading selections by all of the authors mentioned above, and my Kindle is currently open to Kill For a Copy, published by Dark Chapter Press, a publisher that has an inconceivable knack for putting out anthologies that never fail to shock and amaze.

The Future

Without seeming like I’m counting my chickens before they hatch, I hope that the next few years will find me breaking my own ground as an author. That’s about all I’ll say about myself, because this isn’t supposed to be a blog about my work, or my future work. I do hope to someday be an author who is recognized and appreciated by the people and presses I’ve mentioned thus far, but even if I’m not, I’ll still be an avid reader of their work.

I see the world itself changing. I see more and more movies being mass produced, remakes of movies being made by the dozens, and the fad of comic book movies becoming overwhelming. Some people don’t like this, and I can’t really say either way how I feel about it. I can say that we as a society seem to be moving more and more toward a sense of instant gratification. I’m reminded of the drama over The Walking Dead finale this year, and how everyone went absolutely batshit over the fact that they’d have to wait eight months for the next season to find out who died. I think that’s part of the fun, but society seems to disagree.

We live in an age of cell phones Snapchat and self-serve kiosks at the grocery store. We have Google, IMDB, and Wikipedia for all the questions we could ever want answered, instantly at our fingertips on our laptops or our smartphones. No one has to wait for anything, and when they do, it’s a tragedy to them. Because of this, I have a firm belief that short stories, anthologies, and collections will become more and more prominent. I read something the other day that said that the most important resource we have is time. It’s not money, or oil, or metal. It’s time.

Time is the most precious thing we have, and it isn’t to be wasted. It’s why I don’t re-read books. There are millions of stories out there waiting to be read, so why read one again that I’ve already experienced? Because of this, I think the novel will become more and more difficult to sell. I’m not saying it’ll become obsolete, but I think in an era of instant gratification, novels or long series will become more difficult to sell. If fans of a show can’t wait eight months to see who died on a TV show, how will they sit with having to wait years, even decades, to finish a series of novels? It may come off like I’m knocking people for this, but I’m not.

I, myself find short stories to be my favorites. I sit down, get engrossed, and have a resolution all in the span of twenty-five pages. It’s amazing. It’s why I prefer to write shorts. But I also see society moving away from actual physical reading as well. Audiobooks are a lifesaver. Driving across country? Pop on an audiobook. Feeling tired but you can’t sleep? Turn on an audiobook, set it to automatically turn off in thirty minutes, and fall asleep.

I also believe that horror will become even more popular than it is now, along with sci-fi and extreme horror. Movies like Hostel and Saw paved the way for even more violence and gore in movies. Now they seem almost tame. I think it’s the same way with books. Books like Crouch and Kilborn’s Serial Killers, seemed outlandish and extreme when I first read them, but even now a few years later, they pale in comparison to some of the works I’ve read by Shaw, Miller and Keane.

No matter what though, whether I become a great author, or short stories become the bread and butter of the future of writing, I’m excited to see what’s next. The thing about books and stories is that they transcend time and boundaries. Before we could write, there were stories told by elders at the fire. Before there were mass produced books, there were handwritten copies that were treasured by families and told before bed. Before we had the ability to self-publish and read stories on our Kindles or phones, we made do with hard copies. Stories will always be told. Stories will always save people, like me, whether they’re ten years old reading Poe, or lying in bed three and a half thousand miles away from their soulmate, unable to sleep, listening to him read Joyland on speakerphone. Stories will never go away, no matter how advanced technology and how much instant gratification becomes the norm. Stories are what makes us human, what separates us from the animals. Human beings are addicted to imagination, and I can’t wait to see what we come up with next.

You can buy A Gathering of Gore here.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy any of the books mentioned in this feature. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Delphine Quinn is a new horror / extreme horror author who has had early success submitting shorts to various publications. Her work has been accepted / featured in various publications like The Sirens Call Ezine #26 and Tim Miller’s upcoming anthology, Gathering of Gore. She is currently working on an upcoming collection of stories titled Asylum, as well as a full length novel, both of which she plans on self-publishing.

Delphine lives in the central United States with her husband and her cat, Coco. In her free time from work and writing, she likes to binge watch TV shows and movies, or indulge in her unhealthy obsession with reading about sociopaths and serial killers.

And find out more about Delphine at her site, or on social media:

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