Triptych personality and a taste for the beaten and crushed. Favoured positions. Preferred imagery including a crushed butterfly placed so sweetly on her navel- the one that swims with my seed. Specks of blood on the bed sheets from our collision- the one I try denying but keeps happening anyway. In lipstick upon the wall, I scrawl my desires in lowercase. I spell out what I mean to say which always seems to escape me when she’s gagging on my fumes. I’m a good guy at heart, but a single droplet puts me in a rage like you wouldn’t believe. Shards of glass and portals. Lonely roads and stories gathering dust, but there will come a day when everything makes sense. There will be a moment when the end is not the end and an exit is not an exit but a door to a river where resides the girl who started it all. I go in and out- I pass through on the off chance she’s around. Lights and nipples and stretch marks. Torn lingerie and tourniquets. Vampires, lovers, killers. A painter, a writer. There exists celluloid imagery of my actions. There are photos of body parts and vials full of hair which fuels the fantasy more and more. There was once a golden light but it was snatched away and now I take from others because my future was taken from me. Souls and slaves. The ties that bind. Scenes missing until she’s wrapped in a blanket because this world doesn’t care and although my hands are cruel I do it because I care and no one cares as much as me. She is mother and enemy. She offers salvation and torment but the more I do it the less I can tell which is which. Flowers pressed in a book. Numbed fingers from two bottles of wine as she shaves her pubic hair at my request. She is not her own woman, she is my girl. The girl by the river who visits me after I pass out in the early hours of the morning halfway up the stairs. She flickers in the eyes of those who get too close. She dances in the mirror and kisses my neck when the right scent ignites what’s left of me. That cherub heart, it’s been gone for years and no matter what I do, and no matter how many times I try bringing her back, it won’t beat again.
The Rehab Diaries (excerpt) Jasper Kerkau
When I got off three vomitus days of detox, we had a game of Big Book Jeopardy. My team won. My prize was that I was given the honor of having a “little brother.” My understanding was sparse, but I was going to look after him for a week. I assume it is an easy errand, pointing out house rules, which I didn’t know yet, meeting schedule, telling him which members of staff to steer clear of, and where to put his cigarette butts. My “little brother” who looks like a broken down drunk, an elderly biker, with a long grey beard and a surly demeanor was actually a retired NASA engineer who had fancied himself a biker. He is shaking uncontrollably from the alcoholic DTs. Jacob, a young staff member, with an affable personality comes to me with a frantic look. He implores me to stay with Mike, my “little brother,” while they try and get the doctor on the phone.
He sits in the chair moaning. I lite his cigarettes and pat him on the back awkwardly. “You know all of my friends are dead. I have no children. I have a bad heart; I am going to die tonight and those cocksuckers are taking their time getting me my detox meds.” He stamps at the ground dramatically. I try not to laugh. I squeeze my eyes trying to figure out if he is going to die on my watch and wondering how I got into this situation. I ask him obligatory questions. He nods off and then wakes up to moan, curse and then regain a remorseful composure. He jumps up and grabs his heart, stumbling toward the office. “I am having a fucking heart attack, call 911!” I bolt after him and help him walk toward the office. David, a sixty year old who fluctuates between baffling ignorance and brilliance, is sitting at his desk. He seems to be in charge, though he actually job title is allusive. He looks at Mike and I over the top of his readers with a steely expression.
“What is it Mike?” he sounds perturbed. His voice is tense and raspy.
“I am having a fucking heart attack,” Jacob, the young tech has a deer in the headlights look. He seems to wants to usurp Dave’s aloof authority.
“Okay Mike, we will get you an ambulance.” He turns to Dave with urgency, “he said he is having chest pains; we don’t have a choice. That is the key phrase.” Jacob and I share a common peril. Neither of us want to deal with the Mike’s death.
“Bullshit Mike,” Dave barks, jumps out of his chair, regaining control. “You know good and God-damn well you are not having a fucking heart attack.” Mike stands with his eyes closed, clutching his heart. I get a panicked feeling. I want to go home.
“Fuck you David,” Mike opens his eyes and blurts out with a sudden alertness. David counters by kicking the chair. I automatically grab Mike by the arm and lead him out. He pulls arm away and turns to Dave.
“His name is Jimmy Boy, not fucking Roscoe!” Mike screams at David. I turn to Jacob shaking my head in bewilderment. He shrugs in agreement. “You can do a lot of sorry, rotten fucking things, like leaving your shit in another man’s garage for a year, but you don’t change a dog’s name.”
“Get the fuck out Mike, get your sorry ass out of the office,” Mike snaps back into his dying routine. I take him again by the elbow and to the door. David sits back down and tends to a bonsai.
“And the dog is Roscoe, not Jimmy Boy, you stupid fuck.” Mike gets in the parting shot as I close the door behind us.
“I guess you guys know each other?” I put Mike back in his chair.
“We were friends for twenty years, road Harley’s together. I tried to join the Banditos and David and I got into a fist fight at an AA meeting. It is a long story. He is supposed to be watching my dog, but he can’t perform one simple fucking task.” He never opens his eyes. “I am going to die. I need you to come and pray over me as I do.”
Since its inception in 2016, The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective has had the privilege of featuring some of today’s most fearless writers. With members that span the globe and editors who share a passion for pushing boundaries, we as a collective have enjoyed reading, promoting, and watching the success of each individual artist as they have grown in their craft and left their mark upon the literary world.
Now, as writers and readers, editors and fans, we at Sudden Denouement Literary Collective are ecstatic to open up the doors to our outstanding, award winning collective, and invite you all in to pull up a chair and tell us your stories.
The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, are pleased to dip our toes into the waters of great literary contests and announce our first ever short story literary prize with a call for submissions from all of you.
Our theme is ‘Things Would Never Be The Same’ and our rules and regulations are as follows:
WHAT: You can submit ONE original, unpublished piece of fiction that is up to 2500 words. There is no minimum word requirement.
WHEN: The competition is open for submissions from November 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019
WHO: Everyone, everywhere
HOW: While the competition is active, submit your piece online through Submittable.
WHAT YOU CAN WIN:
One copy of every book published by Sudden Denouement Publishing
Three guest spots featured on Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019
One copy of three books published by Sudden Denouement Publishing
Two guest spots featured on Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019
One copy of two books published by Sudden Denouement Publishing
One guest spot featured on Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019
Honourable Mentions (2 places)
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019.
Check back on November 1, 2018 when submissions will be opened.
Good luck to you all, we look forward to reading your submissions.
-The Editors of Sudden Denouement
Austin stuns with her debut novel, Magpie in August. A lovingly written narrative about living, dying and the purgatory in between.
I’ve been an admirer and reader of Austin’s poetry since late 2016, a little while after she started poemsandparagraphs. Austin always writes honestly with the razor-sharp ability to steal the breath from my lungs and make me punch the air with my fist. However, I did not know what to expect with Magpie in August, except it grew out of her relationship with her late mother (as revealed in her interview with Sudden Denouement founder, Jasper Kerkau).
Within the first few pages, Magpie, our protagonist, was sketched into my mind in vivid magenta, violet and deep charcoal. Magpie’s love for Peter was palpable from the first time he called her ‘Beautiful’ as if it was her ‘God given name’. Her mother, Lynette, is an angel and demon wrapped up in one and Renny, Magpie’s reader and listener, a friend and foe. Austin leads us to believe we know everything there is to know about these people. Magpie can be cruel. Lynette is fickle and flippant. Peter is a watchful guardian and Renny is silent.
But, they are people, not characters and so our omniscient facade soon falls away. In every chapter, Austin gifts us a new angle, new mirror and new prism to refract everything we knew through. In fact, it is only Peter, quite fittingly, who remains the same.
Austin gave me a safe space to reflect on my own relationships, to draw parallels and thank my blessings. Her exploration of grief and loss is beautiful. A stunning, heart-wrenching tribute to the human condition and its difficulty to love unconditionally, when love, at the end of it all, is what we do best. Every person receives redemption of some form – Magpie, Lynette, Wren, Dalton (Magpie’s father) and even Jessica Wenzel.
Austin’s unwavering guidance into the darkness of rock bottom, Lake Huron and even the supernatural was superb. Authors like Cecelia Ahern (If You Could See Me Now), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) and Douglas Kennedy (The Woman in the Fifth) came to mind as Austin matched their ability to write people not caricatures and take them to places we didn’t expect; never once causing the reader to doubt their ability in ensuring it all makes sense in the end.
Magpie in August ends just as it should. The Magpie who wakes up from a dreamy slumber in chapter 1 is the Magpie embracing all the earth and sky have to offer in the final chapter. Austin brings us full circle; allowing us to reap the rewards of a woman saving herself.
Magpie leaves us believing she deserves to breathe, love and wait for her
‘beloved stars to awaken silvery blue in an inky sky.’
Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.
The writers and editors at Sudden Denouement are a productive group- some of them are actively involved in their local writer communities, many write and serve as editors for other literary collectives such as Whisper and the Roar and Blood Into Ink, and quite a few have self-published books or published with Sudden Denouement Publishing. This spring, Sudden Denouement’s own Kindra Austin, Jimmi Campkin, and Christine Ray founded a new site, Indie Blu(e), as a vehicle to support self-published writers and small independent press published writers, as well as the readers who are passionate about independent writing.
The concept for Indie Blu(e) grew out of the seed of the idea that individually independent writers have reach through word of mouth and social media, but that this reach could grow significantly if they networked with other independent writers to shine a spotlight on their collected body of work. Indie Blu(e) offers a home for curated writers to promote their books, provide readers with honest, thoughtfully crafted book reviews, and the opportunity to learn more about the member writers. It strives to be a hub for the type of edgy, high-quality writing that the three founders love to read and want to share with a broader community of readers.
The editors of Sudden Denouement would like to introduce you today to this exciting new resource for indie writers and fans of indie books. We think it is a site worth watching.
Jasper Kerkau recently sat down to chat with Talia Carner, author of Hotel Moscow, Jerusalem Maiden, China Doll, and Puppet Child, and upcoming in 2019, The 4th Daughter. Talia’s work is published by HarperCollins.
When I speak to writers, they often talk about a moment in which they decided to identify themselves, first and foremost, as a writer. Was there a moment like that for you, if so what precipitated it?
There was a time of “no man’s land” between my successful career as a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies and my nascent interest in fiction writing. While I had nothing to show—and certainly didn’t yet envision writing as a career—it consumed me both emotionally and intellectually. To compel myself to accept my new identity I printed business cards that read “Writer/ Marketing Consultant,” not only stating that I was a writer, but placing it first. That was the moment.
I have discovered that everyone has a book, writers are a dime a dozen: what has allowed you to succeed in a sea of dreamers?
Many people have interesting, complex life stories. That also means that they are potentially “one-book authors” who wish to write about themselves. Indeed, many do, mainly for posterity, if not out of need for self-introspection. That is not what my novels are about. My stories are completely imagined. As a character, I am yet to appear in any of my books, nor do I use any of my personal life’s dramatic events—with the exception of business-related experiences. (In PUPPET CHILD the protagonist works in magazine marketing, and HOTEL MOSCOW was based upon my teaching business in Russia.) What I do exploit, though, are the emotions, the sympathy toward social issues I care about, and I am able to crawl under the skin of each novel’s protagonist and live the events through her.
Then, of course, the key to success is rewriting, revising, restructuring and editing ad nauseam—except that it is a process I greatly enjoy. It’s no exaggeration to say that I go over each manuscript 50 to 80 times. Unfortunately, in these days of easy digital self-publishing many would-be writers skip this months- and years-long stage, and their books often reveal their impatience with the process.
There is a lot in your experience that young writers can glean and hope for. What advice would you give to those who are smitten by the passion for writing, but don’t know if it will lead the to anything except poverty?
Please allow me to dispel the notion that even success in publishing brings more than poverty. There are only a handful of American authors who make a comfortable living from their books; someone estimated that there are less than 100 such authors. Those are the ones publishing every year and selling millions of copies along with international rights. The rest of us, while successful in getting audiences’ praise and adulation still do not make enough to live on…. The simple math is that if a novel takes me four to six years of work, whatever I earn is divided by the many hours invested and means an income of merely a few cents per hour.
Many successful writers I know supplement their income by teaching creative writing, editing, or pitching magazine assignments. Therefore, a novice writer’s hope for riches is no different from an inner-city kid hoping to be the next Michael Jordan. I say: Just enjoy the basketball game (or the process of writing,) and find a lucrative career elsewhere.
I have found that fear of failure can be debilitating for many writers. What has been your experience embarking on a major project such as your last novel? Did you have that moment where you were paralyzed with fear?
I am never afraid, and therefore I don’t know what it feels like to be “paralyzed with fear.” I enjoy the intellectual challenge of each phase, and also know that there are worse problems in life. The worst that can happen when I launch a new project is that my finished novel might not find a home. Nevertheless, the writing is fulfilling in its own right, I learn a lot about subjects I never knew about—and anyway, if the novel is rejected now, it may get reincarnated years later. Every short story and essay that I put my mind to publish has indeed found a home, because there are hundreds of outlets and options; it’s a matter of persistence.
What is your latest project? How long did it take for your vision to come to fruition? What do you want the reader to take away from your book?
My next novel, scheduled to be released in Fall 2019 by HarperCollins is The 4th Daughter. It’s a story of tango and prostitution in Buenos Aires at the end of the 1800s. The topic percolated in my head for more than a decade. Surprisingly for me, once I found the groove of the story and started writing it, it took me only two years—not five as had my previous novels. However, this shorter time is no predictor for future works, because I’m already a year into researching my next novel (my #6) but am not writing it yet. I give myself five years to complete this book.
What I’d like readers to take from The 4th Daughter is the heart-wrenching inside picture of trafficking—and come out with the determination to bring a stop to human slavery.
Do you feel that there is something special about writers?
We are a bunch of people willing—and loving—to toil in silence and solitude for a very long time. We get transported into the lives and worlds of our characters to the point of routinely getting lost for many hours at a stretch. Does that make us special or quirky?
What is your experience communicating with other writers, and how important is that fellowship?
My writing group is an integral part of my writing process. I cherish their feedback and constructive critiquing as I develop a story. Over the years we’ve become close as we became familiar with each other’s inner worlds. Not all of my writing buddies are at the same point in our careers, and they may have different focus, but the common denominator is that they are good reviewers and we all care to invest time in each other’s work and help make the final product shine.
Once a manuscript is ready for publication, I get endorsements from other authors—often ones far more successful than I am, such as Nelson DeMille who had followed my career from the start (we used to sit on the same board of an art center.) HOTEL MOSCOW was one that covered his area of expertise, and his praise is printed on the front cover. Those blurbs that appear on the back cover and are quoted in press releases help launch a book out of the gate. I give forward by endorsing other authors’ pre-published books.
I am honored to have the chance to ask you questions. I hope that everyone would take the opportunity to read your books.
Learn more Talia at www.TaliaCarner.com
Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
“I sit on the left-hand of the gods and have a special dispensation to decode the secret, universal rhythms, find patterns in the whispers which are inaudible to profane ears.”
Jasper Kerkau/I am a F*cking Writer!
Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is a thoughtfully curated compendium of the best writing published online by the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective from its launch in August of 2016 through April 2018. It includes 138 pieces of cutting-edge poetry, prose and short fiction written by 29 diverse writers from England, Romania, Japan, India, Finland, the United States and Canada. Thirty-one of the 138 pieces were written exclusively for the Anthology. This volume captures the astonishing raw power of these individual and united poetic voices.
“One of the delights of this collection is the sheer diversity of voices, unconstrained, with differing syntax, forms, loss of form, deliberate omissions and styles, one moment you are reading a condensed prose-poem about the origin of life, the next a confessional bleeding rip from the heart about love and drugs. Nowhere else in modern collections have I found such a mélange of tongues, all begging questions, responses, emotions, some disgust, horror, desire. Volume I is a true kaleidoscope of the human experience, doused in realism and the phantasmagoric with absolutely no brake fluid.”
Candice Louisa Daquin, Pinch the Lock
“Sudden Denouement’s Anthology exposes and breaks many of the taboos of being truly and unashamedly human, giving us permission to look at and embrace them in the moment of reading. I was allowed a glimpse into the writers’ souls; comprehending their words was an exercise in the development of understanding human nature. This is a world in which the heaviness of life weights everything down until it is distilled—frustration and hate, love and unfiltered sex, bodily urges, addictions, the complexity of human interactions. Descriptions are brightly painful in some cases, transparently critical in others, but always smack of truth. Divergent work demands that there are no holds barred; the writer reveals everything, and cuts close to the bone, even his or her own, in order to create a pulsating, living amalgamation of words.”
Mariah Voutilainen, (re)imagining the mundane
“If you find yourself hungry for the kind of words that walk boldly into the dark filled spaces of your poetic heart, be prepared to put your dancing shoes on. This anthology is a collective kaleidoscope of fragmented and pulsing light from some of the most talented writers around the globe.”
Alfa, Abandoned Breathes
Paperback, 278 pages/Published June 20, 2018 by Sudden Denouement Publishing