A Dark Chest of Wonders

Welcome to the House of the Kennedy

Month: December, 2014

Santa has never been so deadly… (Santa with a New Gun, a Kindle Series)

Episode 1

┬áJonnah Z. Kennedy’s Santa with a New Gun
in glorious 12pt Times New Roman

You better watch out, you better not cry, and I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town…

So goes the classic Christmas anthem, but of course, I could not help but take it to new levels. I’ve recently released the first episode of my new project “Santa has a New Gun”, a high octane Western that takes place in 1849 and is a tale of vengeance and redemption. A Tarantinoesque thriller with plenty of vulgar dialogue and blood to balance it out, the first episode (“The Man Called Santa”) will leave you breathless by the end.

I would very much appreciate it if you all, my readers, would at least take a look at this project, as it’s my first big project that will take me into the year 2015, the year of Will and not Want, and I would really like it to be successful. I promise that if you do decide to buy it (it’s only 0.99, and not even for a limited time!), you won’t regret your decision, in fact, you’ll be head over heels waiting for the next episode, and the episode after that, and so on.

You can buy it on Kindle today, the second episode will be out next week and is currently available for pre-order!

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The Interview has been Cancelled

(Excuse my French sirs and madams, but…) Fuck Sony and the Sony Hackers, and of course, Kim Dong-un and his Merry Band of Murderers. It had recently been announced that Sony has cancelled the theatrical release of the Rogen-Franco comedy “The Interview” which has attracted much negative attention lately, and furthermore has been the inspiration for completely EMPTY threats against Sony if they release the film. Well, America, good job. You rolled over and got your belly rubbed, are you fucking happy now? Can you die peacefully? Can you rest easy tonight? We were not even a week from release, so we don’t know if anything would have happened our not, and I guess we never will; as I said in my Yahoo! comment, this rolling over and taking the shit is absolutely reprehensible, and I’m both heartbroken and completely enraged by it all: when did we allow cyber-terrorists to control our media, what makes us happy, laugh, and cry? No country held up The Hunger Games from being released, even though it’s political and social agendas are more than obvious to the half acute person, yet The Interview get’s shit because it just happens to be a little bit more direct in its meaning. I’ll be the first one, though, to download it off the internet as soon as someone manages to break into Sony and steal it, just because I still believe in entertainment. Here’s my most recent comment on the subject for all those interested:

This is absolutely reprehensible and awe-some (in both senses), not because of this movie, but because of the fact that a movie can stir such international terror. On one level, this gives me some hope that entertainment will be taken seriously again, on another level this makes me fear for its future: a couple of empty threats about bombing theaters sounds like little more than the fantasies of teenagers who want to be Eric and Dylan, but without the gall to go through with it. When did fiction become reality? In the modern era, when satire has replaced allegory, I don’t understand what’s the problem with this movie: all it is an extended episode of South Park, a reboot of Team America, and other crude (and hilarious!) shows/movies. If North Korea was an actual threat, then this movie wouldn’t be a problem for them: in fact, America wouldn’t be a problem for them, because they wouldn’t keep letting us step on their toes like we have been, how we’ve been taunting and teasing them, and what, when will they snap? Next year, five years, fifty? If the North Korean government (because, it’s wrong of me to say ‘North Korea’, as that implies I’m speaking of the people as well, and they have nothing to do with the affairs of their Orwellian government, nor do they deserve to be grouped with such terrible people, when they themselves had no say in the matter from birth) was truly offended, some coastline would have been hit by this point, wouldn’t it? the Government of the People’s Republic are little more than a group of teenagers with Fourth of July poppers who keep telling people that they’re going to set off the big ones NEXT YEAR, and the year after that, and the year after that still, but never do we see the sky awash with fiery light, and for this matter, I do not fear them; what I do fear is that America is about to be squashed like some overturned beetle, because let’s be honest: in the wake of this movie being CANCELLED, we’ve got our stomach exposed and our tear ducts on high. Were I Rogen or Franco, I would be furious about this, were I anyone (a writer for example, since that’s what I am) who worked on something for a period of time, had it scheduled to be released, only to have it called off because someone was just a little bit too offended of my overuse of a certain word (think Tarantino in this regard), I’d never rest till it got released, and I’d write some crappy sequel just to amp up the offense! I don’t mean to come off so hostile, but, to say the least, this pisses me off that we’ve allowed this to happen: America=strong, brave, and free? I think I might have made a mistake in my calculations…I don’t see the difference in this and hundreds of other, far more offensive things online that have become just as widespread; the only thing that this movie has over all those things is that, people take this with an ounce of seriousness and because of this, everyone busts a nut. I hope the movie is pirated online and becomes a cult classic of the era of some kind, or I hope Direct-To-DVD sales make up for not only all the money lost, but all the time that went into the film; I do hope to see more satires in the future though, and not the YA pulp that’s being put out, but actual satire that aims to revive Orwell, Golding, Huxley, Burgesses, and others since there’s little room left in the world to be direct anymore.

Want to Will

2014 is coming towards a close, the curtains are drawing, the last standing actors are being killed like pigs in a slaughterhouse, and the audience is awash with emotions as chatter begins about the whole, once in a lifetime performance: because there will never be another 2014. For this matter, thoughts about what the Bard (and no I’m not talking about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, nor am I talking about Shakespeare) will bring us in his next sequel 2015, part of the stunning Millennium Saga; and to say the least, I could not keep my own theories from stirring in my head. But I would like less to call them theories and things that I want. We, humans, always talk about what we want about how we want to lose a pound, about how we want to get home earlier, how we want to be smarter, be better, stronger–all these things, but few people will every actually find themselves getting what they want. For this matter, I think it’s time for a change in phrase, a change in attitude overall: we live in the 21st century where everything that we want is right at the click of a mouse, tap of screen, press of key, and for this matter, we should no longer want. We should HAVE. 2015 will be the year of having and not wanting, it will be the year of doing, not planning, it will be the year of playing, and not practicing. The key word of those phrases of course being will. No longer want, but ‘will’: I will publish a collection of short stories, I will write another novel, I will win a contest, I will lose weight, I will read more, I will write more, I will learn German, I will write a screenplay, I will find love–and don’t allow yourself to allow these wills to simply be wishful thinking, but make them realities. Life begins and ends with what you can and can’t do, so do everything that you can: because you can do everything. Adios 2014,

Hallo 2015.

Different Wavelengths

I’m currently planning what will likely be my next true novel (it’s been over a year since I’ve written one, so I think it’s due time I start, since it’s usually this time of the year that I’m about halfway through or starting a novel), and the struggle is that I’ve already set up my work site, and I’ve found many artifacts of it in the dirt: the bricks, the picture, the dried pool, the old television set; all of it, I know this site well, the problem, though, is that I’m trying to rebuild a house, unsink the Titanic, and understand these bones that I’m looking at. In short, it’s going to be a very large project, and I haven’t undertaken a project with so many characters in about 2 years, and the last time I did, I didn’t finish it so I’m quite worried to actually start such a project again. These may only be the worries of the beginning stage of any novel–how will I do it? Where will it go? Is it actually worth writing? Third or first person?–but I still find it quite discomforting to know that I have many of the pieces, just not enough to get anything really moving, especially since I’m out in the woods alone here. But, as I take a break from trying to dig up these bones, I decided to turn on the radio: and I’m getting 2 different wavelengths. One is for the story, another is a voice from the same era, or maybe even further, and I can’t place it: does it belong to the first wavelength, or is it a standalone? As I pondered this, I began to realize something: writers are little more than broken radios, truly. We pick up signals randomly and start playing that tune we’re picking up, but whether or not it’s perfect quality, no one can really tell in the beginning stages: you just have to wait for us to tune it, which is to say, wait for us to finish writing it. What is more though, even when a writer manages one wavelength, undoubtedly they will begin to get other wavelengths that interfere with the current one, but this may not be a bad thing. A writer, any man really, cannot expect to work on one project at a time, especially when there are so many frequencies to pick up. One of the things that will keep you going, writing that is, is if you allow yourself to pick up on some of these other frequencies instead of pushing them back like they’re nothing: if you hear something then you listen to that something, because it could be the song you’ve been hearing all along and could never quite place it until now.

Transcend

Today is my last day being fourteen. Tomorrow, I’ll be 15 after a year of waiting, and as I reflect on this fact, I begin to wonder what will the next year of my life bring me: where will I go, how far will I come, and will I be able to look back and see that I have crossed another mountain? The most incredible thing that I did as a 14 year old was that I won 2nd place in a statewide contest, won $100, and have my name in an unofficial record book of award winning authors that I keep in my head. To me, that’s huge. But, now as I walk into the next age of my literary career, I’m starting wonder just where will I go? I’m currently writing a science fiction story, a western, a transgressive screenplay, and working on the plot for a transgressive story about incest. How can this be so? Last year, I was very sure of the direction I wanted to take my writing in: I would be an minimalist writer who wrote dystopians about subjects that have little coverage, such as my novel The Art of Slaughter (which hasn’t been published, but I’m working on it…) which deals with how animal cruelty evolves, but not only this, how our society puts the pieces of themselves back together when they have lost themselves midway upon the journey of our lives. Anyhow, as I look around my room, I see a hodgepodge of genres: on my nightstand sits Virkam Seth next to Henry Grey next to Edgar Allan Poe next to Lovecraft next to Dante, next to Doyle, next to Proust! Under my TV I have nearly every work of Stephen King in hardcover; sitting on the printer next to my desk are Remarque, London, and Steinbeck; behind me, next to my couch, on two shelves are too many authors to be listed, but among them are George R.R. Martin in paperback, a couple of YA books that I only keep because they’re just a little bit above the usual tripe, Shakespeare in Paperback, a worn out copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, Cormac McCarthy and Ayn Rand; in my closet, taking up the shelves above my clothes I have everything ranging from science fiction to Biology and Chemistry textbooks along side the works of Stephen Hawking and an Encyclopedia about Ancient Rome. What a collection. But, of all these books, there are a select few that have guided me along this path thus far: Rick Riordan allowed me to take my first steps down this road, and Suzanne Collins carried me to dystopia, and Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe led me to horror, and now I’m in a place between Quentin Tarantino, a handful of comedians, and other theatrics as I wonder: where will I go.

The aforementioned western that I’m writing is a mixture between Tarantino and my own inner child thinking, “This is what a western should look like.” What is more, it’s experimental in it’s design, using techniques of screenwriting and play writing with a narrative structure that is more like that of a film rather than a novel, including scenes and breaks to cut to this scene and that. And it feels right. I’m realizing, as I grow older that I don’t want to do just one thing. A couple of months ago, I would have told you that there is literally nothing else that I would want to do but write all day long. Now, I want to make films, I want to teach, I want to be a painter, and I want to do standup and take photographs as I take a tour of the country. I’m realizing that, I want to transcend.

I’ve come across a bout of indispensable knowledge over the past few years as I write, and I like to think that I’m a better person for every bit of information that I learn. One of the most recent lessons that I learned is that I’m still just getting starting, and that I will always be a beginner. But this is not a bad thing. There are certain puzzles that toddlers can understand how to solve that adults can’t figure out with their fancy Engineering Degree from Stanford, and that’s something to be admired and to be kind of afraid of: as we grow older, our minds begin to hone in on something that seems important to us, and everything else is clouded it. There is one thing that I’ve learned from watching comedians talk about children and having kids: they have no idea what they’re doing, but they don’t care and to an extent, they know they don’t know what theyr’e doing, but they’re going to do it anyways because they have nothing to be afraid of. They’re six and seven years old, and they don’t know that someday, they’re going to die, that they’ll simply cease to be. They say that we teenage think we’re immortal, but at least we can acknowledge the fact that some of us are going to die eventually, earlier than other for various reasons or another. Toddlers have no concept of death, they barely have a concept of time, confusing a second with a minute, and an hour with a second; they’re like dogs, just a lot less obedient. For this matter, they’re not afraid to get the answer wrong: so they’ll work until they finally find an answer that satisfies them not anyone else, because at some point they’re going to get fed up, say “Bump this,” and make up a whole new rule that gets the answer right for them. That’s what we need to learn to do, I think, is to be selfish: satisfy yourself, no one else, because it’s not until you’re happy that anyone else will be able to be at least kind of entertained by something that you do. We do not serve each other, we serve ourselves, even when we think that we’re serving others. When you do something nice, it’s not really for the other person: it’s mostly for you, so that you can get that feel good feeling for giving a little extra on the tip, for giving someone a ride, for buying lunch for a friend, or paying for their gas. It’s for your own gratification and satisfaction, but that’s fine, because by being selfish basterds, we all inadvertently help each other.

The same goes for writing: if we write to please someone, or to make a critic nod to us, then no one is ever going to get very much out of your work, not even you, because at the end of the day you have to sit down and look at your diamond incrusted piece and ask, “Is this really me?” I recently wrote a story that I thought I was going to enter into a contest, but there was something wrong with it. I still can’t pinpoint what exactly is wrong with it , but there’s something about it that I don’t like, something vital missing from the story, but I do one thing about it: it’s not me at all. It was loud, pretentious, and totally convoluted–it was Ernest Hemingway trying to sound like Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King trying to imitate himself. It was me trying to be something that I wasn’t, it was me trying to make a finished product out of a first draft, and it was me feeling like I had to always do something totally brilliant, having to do something that, “People would read and read over and over again, praising me for my incredible talent,” when the truth is that I have no talent at all, I just knew how to string words together in a pretty way without making those words matter. You have to serve yourself when you’re writing. Writing is masturbation, it’s self pleasure, self indulgence: you don’t don’t do it with someone else (not even if you’re co-writing) you do it because it feels fucking amazing, and because you enjoy doing it. And don’t lie and tell me that there’s no satisfaction in finally achieving orgasm, sure there’s a certain amount of guilt to it, there’s a certain amount of dirt on your hands now, but it fuckin’ feels GREAT. That’s why you write, because you want to feel a little guilty after you write this horrible explicit scene about how your character gets fucked up on drugs, because want to feel the dirt under your finger nails afterwards: you want to achieve orgasm only for yourself. Writing isn’t sex.

For this matter, there is a quote that goes, “There is only one thing that you need to know: writing is freedom.” This is one of the truest things that a writer will ever need to hear in their lifetime, in their career. Writing is freedom, writing is your voice in the air, and writing is your break from North Korea or Auschwitz: above all, it’s the escape from yourself, from those things that you fear, or the very thing that you use to face those fears. When you have a bad day, if nothing else makes you happy, it should be your characters or the story that you have created when you go home at night: even writing one more sentence about how John battled the viper should bring you immense joy, becuase you return to the place where no has been before, you return to that secret cupboard where only you go at night–it’s a private place, a place just for you and only you, and when you’re done with it, gone from it, if someone happens to come across it, then hopefully they like what you wrote. In addition to this, writing is a journey that you take through the woods with nothing but a backpack full of a couple of things, and once you get deep enough, you can no longer distinguish the edge of the woods from the place in front of you. Within these woods, there are only 3 things of great importance that you must consider: finding stories, studying the trees, and leaving marks for all who enter here, so that when they pass by, they know that you have been here and will smile or cry at what you have left behind for them.

With this in mind, I think it is important for me to go into my next year of writing by transcending into my next year: I’ll take a little bit from screenwriting, experiment with it in narrative form, and I’ll bring a little bit of narrative into my screenwriting. I’m going to shake it up a bit: what does cheese taste like on donuts? What does the devil look like in a new dress? What happens when I mix this with this? But most importantly, I will transcend and delete the idea that I am restricted by anything, which includes genre. I am only restricted by my ideas, not the frame that I place those ideas in, because ideas should not be contained: they should be spread, they are contagious, and they should rain about the world like a spring storm and blossom a thousand flowers which themselves are pollinated by ideas. And so the world turns.

How will you transcend your writing to the next level, what will be your mark, your ode to the world as you write? How hard will you knock off that hard-one, and when will you admit to yourself that you don’t do anything except for yourself? Be proud, be selfish, write and fly high, leave nothing up to chance but take plenty of gambles; study the trees and ride all the pretty horses.