The Perfect Happy Ever After Story Can Be Found Inside This Dark Fiction

Everyone loves a happy ending. Even the darkest of stories have one if you know where to look for it. It’s a time when villains become heroes and it’s cool for them to do evil deeds. The trick in locating the dark fiction HEA is to skew your head sideways. Conventional thinking won’t help you locate it in the obvious places. You must first allow the darkness to flow over you so it can smother out orthodoxy and open up your mind.

There are millions of authors on social media who write vanilla HEA’s for traditional HEA fans. HEA comforts readers. Fans know that by the close of the book, any crazy world made inside it will always end in one place, happy. It makes HEA fans feel safe — like pulling up a cosy blanket on a cold Winter’s night.

It got me thinking, I write HEA’s too. My evil narratives end in happy places! Sure they do.

Stop laughing.

It’s a fact. My characters flounder like any HEA character. They doubt themselves. They love, hate, inspire-to-do-better, fail and succeed — just like any HEA character would do. There are winners and losers. And every dark story I’ve ever written comes with a profound, life-affirming resolution at its conclusion. Yes, I know, I offer readers a scratchy HEA blanket, but who said all blankets are soft?

evil eye

A criminal’s version of happy-ever-after would be different to yours and mine. It’d be no less important (to them) but it would be a new challenge to create a good one as a writing exercise. Taking their viewpoint would allow a writer to explore their life goals, their hurdles, ups-and-downs, and all the foibles that come with living their kind of life.

For instance, not going to jail would be one of the criminal’s best HEA’s, right?

This type of HEA would be a hard-sell to those who firmly believe bad people should be punished. Jail time or a death sentence is the only satisfactory outcome for those who commit heinous acts on others.

Remember TV’s Dexter?

Now there’s a likeable bad guy who managed to get millions of fans on-side. The show was one part psycho-killer, three parts Equaliser. Dexter killed people but his victims were evil people too. They were paedophiles, murderers, etc — the worst of the worst. We liked watching our deranged, yet well-controlled killer, police society’s filth with his sharp knife and oodles of transparent plastic film taped to the walls and floors of his home. He became a judge, jury, and an excellent executioner. It’s an unconventional HEA.

See? It can be done.

This writer’s greatest challenge is to create new narratives using the HEA as a starting point — and then to develop them from evil’s perspective. I invite readers to experience them, so they too can become dark HEA believers by The End — the perfect HEA for my kind of adult fiction.

Michael

Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer who specializes in taking pictures of lightning may be the only witness.

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Choosing The Perfect Graphic For A Book Cover Before Sending It To Print

People say, don’t judge a book by its cover but most of them aren’t authors. For many readers, a cover is all they have to go by when they’re choosing a new book. The front surface (and its back) of a book, is the face of a story. The graphic offers clues to it. In a way, readers are digesting a book long before opening it. Yes, a book is first judged by its cover.

Clearly, a good graphic (and title) won’t guarantee the book will hit a home run in the literary world, but it does get one to first base. I decided to have a predominantly black cover for mine because it made the right statement for its narrative. The cover graphic looks like how the story feels as it’s being read. If I made it a pink one covered with hearts, it’d say the wrong thing to the wrong readers. I didn’t want that. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to designing and choosing the right graphic for a book — a thriller-styled novel.

It sounds like a simple process but mine didn’t go that way — and black wasn’t my first choice. It wasn’t even my second or fifth one. It took time to experiment with many wrong graphics to get to one that mattered. The earlier versions looked nothing like the finished cover!

First Attempt

Cover designs weren’t considered until well after the book was finished, eight years after the writing project started. The first mock-up was a representation of a key scene in the novel. It was a nighttime picture, set in a secluded bush area, well away from the lights of civilisation. There are trees, grass and a lightning bolt jutting downwards in the distant background. The image proved to be a difficult cover shot because it became messy when placing a title over it. The graphic looked like spaghetti and cobwebs and the title just got lost in it. I moved on.

Teddy Bear Thriller

I started shooting new material with a teddy bear, just like the one described in the final chapter of the book. There was that bracelet on its wrist and the all-important SIM card. It kinda worked but the fluffiness of the bear softened the cover. It made it look like the book was written for children. I tried to harden it up by showing less of the bear and accentuating the bracelet but it didn’t work. I abandoned that idea that worked on the title instead.

Black on Blue

After doing the titling research with strangers, using a simple single-shot layout, I became hooked on the idea of using a simplified, dark theme. It felt right — and the abundance of space gave me the flexibility to fit words anywhere on top of it. The trick was finding the right lightning bolt shape (the one I used in the mock-ups was lo-res and not mine to use). I had a few of my own but none worked. I went back to designing an entirely new graphic.

A-ha!

The story isn’t just about rain, lightning, teddy bears or bracelets. The greater story is about sex and sexual abstinence. I found some old material in my photo library (a woman’s chest), placed the shot onto the screen, and then dropped it into black and white. The cover then made perfect sense. I added a crucifix, coloured it red, and then placed the title on the surface. It worked but there was one element left to add. I wanted that storm element on the cover. I tried a lightning bolt inclusion but it ruined the cover. I opted for a small splash instead. A droplet with a rain tracer accompanied it. The spot colour was added to the droplet to balance the scene. The evolution was complete.

Nine years after I sat down to write SEETHINGS, this cover appeared on the shelves.

The irony was those shelves had become virtual ones during the time of the project. E-books and e-stores had replaced traditional ones. Readers can now pick up copies of my books and begin reading them before they are able to lock their front door to visit their favourite bookstore. Oh well, the principle of designing book covers is still the same. People scroll through the catalogues and still stop when something catches their eye. Getting them to stop scrolling is the book reaching first base. Taking home plate (or hitting a home run) requires more than a good cover. The story behind it has to match.

See you next time –Michael (Dark Adult Fiction Author)

Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer who specializes in taking pictures of lightning may be the only witness.

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Considering What A Book’s Title Should Be Before Committing To Publishing It

Before SEETHINGS was finished, the novel tried on many other titles. That name didn’t appear until eight years later. During the book’s long development, alternates were applied to assist the author with writing its content. Few were considered to be permanent fixtures. None were planned to appear on any bookshelf.

There are fair and good reasons why a book starts with one title but finishes with another. In SEETHINGS’ case, I used one of my titles as a temporary label, sort of a mission statement, for the purposes of keeping me on track as I wrote the yet unknown story.

In the beginning…

This was SEETHINGS’ very first title and the story was always going to be about a storm. I love a good thunderstorm and wanted to write a great story about one. It was to take centre stage, but how that’d translate into an entertaining story was uncertain. I wrote Stormfront on a post-it note and then stuck it to my computer’s screen. That little yellow tag kept me on-task during the first draft (and it stayed around for another couple of rewrites).

Brrrr!

As is usually the case when I write, something else got added to the original draft. The story soon developed the nucleus of another plot. It paralleled the first one but, while the hot, summer rain dominated the core of the narrative, a chilly relationship story slithered right up against it. I saw the irony in this dichotomy and so I wrote a new title on a fresh post-it note and labelled it as Cold Climates.

Ick!

Attracted to that new second plot, I kept working on developing the chilly relationship between those two characters. My goal was to create six identifiable occasions in the story when the couple’s life soured and their bedroom turned icy. Thank goodness that title didn’t remain. Neither did those six occasions. The key ones stayed while the rest disappeared into oblivion.

SEETHINGS' test-drive title
Long enough for ya?

Stop laughing. This title will make perfect sense after I explain why I chose it. The process was getting really serious at this point. The book had been written ten times and it was due for some real-world testing. A beta-reader journey was the next step. Feedback mattered — not for the book’s title, but the story beyond the cover page that displayed it. I handed my readers the manuscript in a four ring-binder and said nothing of the narrative. This long title fronted it, acting as a type of synopsis and reader screener. If the reader didn’t like the sound of the title, they didn’t get to read the book (some people can’t abide violent stories no matter who writes them!). Those who tolerated the title got to read the story, and then I waited for their comments/reviews to return. The book was never going to be called Pink Tears In The Hot Rain And The Cold Stench Of Death. A real title would come much later.

With the last of the structural edits being finalised, four titles were selected for proofing (I can’t remember one of them — yes, these are mock-ups of the original mock-ups. Those files have gone astray). Each of these simple proofs was printed using the same image on the background, only their titles differed (even the font was the same). I shopped them around to friends, family, book club members, strangers, anyone keen enough to give me an opinion. I didn’t tell them what the story was about (the beta readers weren’t involved), I just wanted a new set of strangers to look at the mock-ups. “Which book title would make you stop and look twice?” I asked.

The votes came back and the book officially became SEETHINGS in mid-2012. Of course, it wasn’t yet ready for the reading market. Sorting out a title was just one step in many more to come. The next thing to consider was a suitable cover graphic (clearly, I didn’t go with the lightning bolt option) but that’s another post for another time.

Until then, enjoy your reading. Michael.

Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer who specializes in taking pictures of lightning may be the only witness.

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Rewriting The Paper Orgasm

Literotica? Really? Aren’t you supposed to be writing thrillers Michael?

Yes and yes. I write tease. Tease is transient. Sex, life, death — all can be written with tease. Tease is entertaining. It’s titillating. The trick is blending them the right way and making it work.

Murder narratives often contain sex. Kissing is part of sex. Hugs are in there too. Leg-twitching, shudder-shaking bedroom action raises the tension. I include all of them… with rising-tension murder too. They go together well.

Lori Beeton (a huge Dean Koontz fan) said my literotica was unusually feminine. She says I take my time and don’t rush the sex.

I guess she’s right. I favour growing the tension between lovers. I let it build and swirl as though I’m writing an erotic-specific piece.

Eyes that shift, breathing that falters, secret desires which are revealed one touch at a time, makes for a better read.

Good sex is all about negotiating those ‘unspoken words’. I like the anticipation, the doubt, the uncertain outcome of what may take place after the first kiss happens. How we communicate desire and make contact is what it’s all about baby!

Savour that feeling!

Read about it in my books!

Michael

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Self Reflection And The Glass Of A Photographer’s Viewfinder

We can always discover a little more inside ourselves if we took the time to look in from the outside.

SEETHINGS and SEETHINGS 2 are the first two books of a trilogy — a darker look at love, marriage, sex and photography. It’s about a photographer eager to capture the perfect lightning bolt in his lens, but ends up in the middle of another type of storm on the other side of the camera. (excerpts are found here)

The narrative places the reader at a cliff on the banks of the Brisbane River. The body of another photographer is found by morning joggers hanging by a tree root. The plot follows our protagonist until five mystery deaths line up to reveal an explosive ending that’ll horrify the tender-hearted.

If I could leave you, dear reader, with a few words — not everything a photographer needs to understand about the pictures they fail to capture come from using a inferior lens or a poorly chosen shutter speed. Sometimes the answers they seek are found deep within themselves. Thank God most don’t focus on that and choose to blame their equipment instead. It’s better to question that or the composition of a yet-to-be-taken photograph than confront the inner-self on why the passion to create is greater than the art. Finding answers there can stir the darker parts of our soul, raizing a dangerous Beast within.

Get ready for twists that will bend your senses!

-Michael

How To Hide A Body Properly

It has to be asked. You’ve wondered about this too, right? Don’t be afraid. You’re among friends here. When I was starting out, resources were few and far between. No one showed anything to me. I had to teach myself and make it up as I went along. So, without prejudice, let me tell you the things I learned on the way to becoming a successful serial killer.

Basically, I’m lazy. It’s a character flaw. I’ve never wanted to dig a hole. In the early days, I’d always take the easy way out and find a ditch or a drain. I was so naïve. It kinda makes me laugh today. I was so foolish. I could’ve been caught. Fortunately, luck was with me. Rain fell sometime between the moment I dumped a body and when it was found. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. Any evidence I may have left on a body was conveniently washed away. I learned how to improve my ways by refining the process and using the weather to assist my cause.

There are other ways to dispose of bodies, but many of them require effort. Some are simply bad for the environment. This brings me to my way.

There is another way. My way. It comes down to two primary things: 1) Location and 2) Timing. There is a third, but I’ll come back to that.

In the USA, there are 92 people per square mile. That’s 184 eyes looking around that mile at any one time. It’s almost impossible to do anything without someone knowing or photographing it. Get it wrong and it’s all over.

My killing ground has a much lower population density. There’s just 1 person in that same square mile. As a result of this wonderful statistic, I don’t do much with the bodies. I leave them where they fall and let nature do the rest. It works fine. In ten years, I’ve not been caught, and it’s an environmentally friendly practice… but I still choose my times and places for kills very carefully.

The summers are stiflingly hot and humid in my home town of Brisbane. A body that’s open to the climate decomposes fast. If I pick the right night to commit a murder, say, before a drenching thunderstorm, I find that it sorts out most of the evidence immediately. Once the washing is done, all that’s left to finish off the job is some time under a scorching sun. Assuming the body isn’t found at all, it then dissolves into the landscape quick.

And then there are the victims I choose. I go for strangers. They’re nothing to me. They have no historical associations with anything I do or have done. We cross paths one time and that’s it. There aren’t any chain of links to follow, not any that would be obvious anyway.

The Bikeway-Rapist gave me the right idea. He got away with his folly for a long time. Police had no clue who was doing those woman. He made it simple by keeping them random.

But he did two things wrong. He did it in daylight and then he let his victims live. Sure, it’s fine to help yourself to dessert, but it’s important to not get caught eating it! The one set of eyes in that square mile that saw everything remained alive. All it took was someone’s great memory and a good description to change the game for our bikeway rapist.

The moral of this story is: Don’t worry about how to hide a body, look at the kill location and choose the right victim.

Pure Evil and Kindness

Kill strangers in desolate places and let them drop just before the rain falls. -A

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Dungeon of Dark Fiction For Lovers of Creepy Writing

I’d like to welcome you to my pit of evil happenstance. This is where the most innocent of people are lured away from the light and taken deep into the dark recesses of a primeval mind. May your stay be deadly.

Y’know, this dungeon of dark fiction in which I dwell is actually part of a neurosis labyrinth. This is a quiet corner, far away from the prying eyes of the angel do-gooders, the politically correct and those who tch-tch at everything they see and hear. I apply a few sadistic keystrokes, and suddenly they are here with me, bound to my dungeon’s walls. Stripped of their dignity and clothes, I get to probe their flesh with shiny, metal objects and make their minds quiver with vile words. No one out there gets to hear their wonderful screams.

Dungeon of dark fiction - stories and ideas

There’s no romance here. No weddings. No love everlasting. Warm and fuzzy hero righteousness is banned. I provide no clichés. My happy ever after is to watch victims plead for mercy and then kill them regardless what they say. This version of a HEA is a refreshing change to the literary landscape, don’t you think?

Helpless victims and fictional manuscripts aside, churning out stories for dark fiction readers in my mind-dungeon comes with the same problems authors on the surface of the planet have to deal with. We can murder all we like, but we still need a special kind of electricity in the text to make the reader stay with the page. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And then there’s the marketing, advertising and finding our reading market in the first place. Self-publishing isn’t an easy road.

Somewhere between the creation of a phenomenal story and a reader’s inevitable enjoyment of it, is the editing process. It’s the single largest and most challenging part of any writing project. Watch the video below to meet me and see where the writing comes together.

Michael Forman

Creep you later,

Michael


“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

Former Teacher Walks A Dangerous Path While Concealing A Dark Secret

As police search his residence for evidence, counselor and popular radio identity, Tony Brindell, continues to deny that he ever had a relationship or acted inappropriately with one of his students when he was her high school teacher thirteen years ago.

‘I’m not a pedophile. I’m Christian’ He told the waiting media.

Tracey Logan, now twenty-seven, has previously claimed that Brindell seduced her when she was just fourteen. A second woman has also come forward, revealing intimate details of a long term affair she says she had with Brindell when she was only thirteen.

Brindell and his lover, Logan

The women’s claims have become the focus of a historical probe into Brindell’s personal and professional life. Brindell, a well-respected Pastor, youth worker, counselor, and media celebrity, has not yet been charged, but investigations are ongoing.


Originally, Tony Brindell wasn’t written into SEETHINGS to be a pedophile. He was meant to be a kind, Christian man who simply helped people who were in trouble. As I wrote more of him into the story, I had to follow his life path back to when he wasn’t a Pastor, but a teacher. That’s when I discovered that there was a monster inside him.

Did I mention that my writing is dark?

(More of Tony’s character is found here.)

-Michael (Author of SEETHINGS)

“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language, and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”

– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.

SEETHINGS — Dark Fiction And A Special Offer For New Readers

SEETHINGS’ second edition was recently re-released on Smashwords dot com. Navigate here to get yourself a free* copy right now. (*limited time)

(Related Genres) #Darkfiction #Psychologicalthriller #Erotica

Let’s spend a moment describing the story: A photographer who wants to capture the greatest night-lightning photo of all encounters something strange in a forest. He sees a peculiar shape amongst the trees, between the brief flashes of light. There was a shirtless man standing, and a second person on the ground. No! It wasn’t an attack. It was sex. An adventurous couple had taken their kink outdoors, and he’d caught a glimpse of them going at it.

That was pleasure he saw on their faces, not pain. Some folks do peculiar things to keep their spark alive — but they weren’t there when the next bolt of lightning lit up the understory. Perhaps they’d seen him first and left in a hurry. Maybe they were never there to begin with. After all, the shadows were long and the lightning brief. Shrubs can look like almost anything if the light is just right.

Last Summer, a vile creature hunted innocent women on the nights of great thunderstorms. There was no blood, no evidence, but one person may have seen it all — or not.

Hi. I’m Michael Forman, author of SEETHINGS. As I prepare the third (SEETHINGS 3) instalment in the series, I’d like to offer new readers the opportunity to read the first, the start of this dark and violent story for free. It’s available as an e-book from the Smashwords site (every format provided). You are only seconds away from reading SEETHINGS in all its diabolical glory!

Michael Forman

Michael Forman (Author)

Amazon Review by ‘Cat Lady, Nebraska’: While this book starts out slow, with a boorish, unlikable character the focus of the first chapter, and a couple of chapters following which did not seem to flow, leaving me confused, I persevered reading. I’m very glad that I did! After the first few chapters, it became a book I could not put down.

This became one of sexual intrigue flowing from an unhappy, sexless marriage, where the partners are in counseling with a Christian counselor. The protagonist very soon is involved in a steamy affair, and readers are given all the most intimate details of their romps. The protagonist’s other interests – especially of photography, work as a wedding photographer and thunderstorms are also vividly described, as those interests allow the protagonist to meet his lover.

There soon is a dark side to this story. The protagonist terrorizes their marriage counselor, whose years of therapy have not been helpful to solving his problems – at all. In several of the chapters, we read of horrible murders, with their victims found after heavy thunderstorms. There are suppositions by the police of whether there is one murderer or several. In one of these terrible storms, the protagonist and his wife are visiting a couple of their friends, and a description of their home coming down around them. The protagonist gets everyone to safety – although he does not remember his heroic rescue – but merely the menacing presence in the home during the disaster.

Even with a great deal of foreshadowing, I did not see a surprise twist in the ending before I got there.

The book explores the despair of life in a sexless marriage, complete with a spouse insinuating to friends they are “trying” to make a baby, to the crazy-making aspects of the matter. It brings up feminism in an uninviting manner, and there are misogynous tones to this novel. From how the story unfolds, it is apparent how the protagonist got that way.

This was a very good book. I would certainly not recommend it for anyone under 18 because of its adult language, themes, and scenes.

Cat Lady – Amazon

Review by Mike M. Roleystone: Michael has put together a strong, heart beating novel, one which the readers of ‘psychotic thrillers’ will enjoy – for the faint-hearted, leave it alone!

Mike M. Roleystone.

I Love Lightning. Watching Thunderstorms Is Better Than Watching TV.

I don’t watch movies in the Summer. My eyes devour storms instead. I prefer to sit on my porch and watch the thunderheads grow above the horizon and slide over my home. Each season, they form in the west, and then crawl towards the east. They growl and rumble while harassing the land with their sparks, wind and noise, threatening everything as they go. Their drama is way better than anything I can see on television.

There’s something exciting about storms that draws me in. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s visceral. Primeval. My body wakes when they’re near. I feel more alive when the sky swells with moisture laden air.

I’ll watch those columns of churning cloud rise into the night sky. I’ll stop everything I’m doing to turn off all my house lights, pull up a chair, and watch the sporadic flashes emanating from within them. When the lightning finally breaks through that wild Beast and then strikes the ground, my heart begins to race fast. A flush of heat rises to my skin. Goosebumps form. That familiar localised flash fills me with excitement, and the thumping air that follows it finishes me off.

I know thunderstorms well because I used to photograph them. I wrote about them several times. When it came time to writing about the best one of all, I drew from the deep, personal experiences I had with them. The sensations I got from watching tropical thunderstorms develop, move and deliver their lot, were placed directly into my book’s protagonist. What I saw with my eyes, he sees with his own. What I felt, he feels. Readers will enjoy his innermost sensations when he’s encountering the storm.

And now we must say something of sex. After all, I should connect the dots I laid down two paragraphs ago. Yes, let’s complete what I started.

As you may have guessed, storms and sex are intrinsically linked together — at least, they are for me. As a consequence, so too does the protagonist inside SEETHINGS. My part was to bring those two worlds together in the best possible way, so a reader could come along for the ride.

Yes, I revealed a part of myself on this very blog. I rarely do that.

Sex and storms. There, I said it.

There is the highly charged electricity, the anticipation, noise, frenzied activity, the explosive climax, and then the wetness that follows. These are the bones of my sexually-driven storm story, but it took eight years and thirteen re-writes to give it the proper flesh. Yes, it’s important to mention that too. SEETHINGS wasn’t a quick write. It was a thorough one.

And then there’s the serial killer I wove into the narrative — just to make things extra-interesting. Now you’ll want to see where this goes, right?

Michael