The LIES about me and The Dark Tower

Sirs Mikesalot Perriwinkle Ee-bock and Patricia Cornhole Hairy Son are a pair of fine writers. They come up with fantastical stories, beautifully and authentically written. Their stories and characters are believable even when they are so fantastical that you’d normally dismiss the notion outright. Such is the power of their prose.

So much so that they have manufactured an outright fiction that neither Lovecraft nor Machen before him could have conjured: the idea that I, the noble and dashing Chris Miller, liked the Dark Tower movie.

HA!

I can hear your chortles in harmony with my own. Ridiculous, isn’t it? There are even memes being generated online, not unlike a big studio campaign for its next summer blockbuster movie. There are stories about me saying I loved the movie, that I thought it was the best thing ever, all of it. And yet, for such a ridiculous notion, it somehow lives on.

The Dark Tower had already been out a couple of years by the time I finally saw it. I always said it should have been either a series of very long movies, or serialized into a TV show on one of the premium streaming services to do it right. When I realized they had taken the WHOLE series and melted it down into a single 90-minute experience, I wasn’t thrilled. I understand that the movie is meant as a sequel to the books, and with the circular nature of the series, I thought this could work in its favor for whatever necessary changes they had to make, but not trying to mash it all into an hour and a half. Once I saw that, I was turned completely off. But, my son wanted to see it, and I have a macabre sort of curiosity, so I picked up the blu-ray for $5 online. When it came in, me and the kids popped it in and watched. My daughter hated it (even without reading any of the books), but my son thought it was cool (mostly the slow motion bullet/action sequences).

But what did I think?

I said at the time, and I’ll say it again here: As an adaptation of existing material, it was pure shit. BUT, as ‘just a movie’, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen worse. Read the words. Know them. Understand them. I’ve seen worse doesn’t mean it was good in any way. Like, sticking my hand in dogshit would be bad, right? But you know what? I’d rather stick my hand in dogshit than into a river of molten lava. Wouldn’t you agree? Dogshit will wash off, but with lava, you won’t have a hand to wash off (and let’s not even get into the physics of what would happen to your lungs or skin being so close to bright red lava that you could stick your hand in there, it’s just an analogy). Yet, somehow, this has translated into The Dark Tower being my very favorite movie simply because it isn’t my most loathed.

Huh?

So, even though the movie is a total mess, it does have some decent production quality in parts. Not all the way through. It’s incredibly uneven. Idris does a good job as Roland, but has little to do. Matthew as the Man in Black should have been utterly brilliant, but somehow he just wasn’t. Wasn’t even good, honestly, and he’s a great actor. Maybe it was the directing, maybe he was high, but he seemed completely lost the whole time and no one would tell him how to get home.

It was sad, really. There’s so much great material there to adapt, much of it ripe for cinematic interpretation, but it falls flat on every front. I think most of the hard core hate for the movie comes from the love the series has, how people had to follow it for around 30 years to finally see it come to its conclusion (well, not really a conclusion, but you get it), and so they had a certain expectation in their minds of what it ought to look like on screen.

The movie doesn’t even come close to that.

All of this said, have I seen movies that are worse? Yes. Yes, I have. Ed Wood made a string of them, and while they do have the benefit of unintentional humor, I think we all agree that TDT had a much more competent production, even with all its problems). The old Crawling Hand with Michael Caine. Jaws The Revenge (Jesus H. Christ). There are some real stinkers out there, and while The Dark Tower has certainly earned its place amongst them, it’s hardly at the very bottom of the pile. That is not to say I enjoyed it (Mikesalot and Patricia, I can see you plotting!), but merely taking a more realistic view of the movie (it cannot be called a film). It’s hated because the books are so loved. Were there no books, people would still have disliked the movie, but the psychotic vehemence with which they despise it would be absent. That’s a fact.

That’s. A. Fact.

So, that’s the true story. Patrica and Mikesalot are funny little fuckers, but they’re selling you “Fake News” here, and I feel it my civic duty to inform the public that you are being had.

Guys, I love ya. Now get bent.

Chris Miller 10-17-2020

We Are Cerberus

Cerberus Rising, our first collaborative effort (and there will be many more), is available now in print and ebook. It has some of the best writing—maybe even the best—that any of we three have ever done. Who are the three of us, you ask? Well, I’m thrilled you inquired.

M. Ennenbach (Mike, not Marcellus)

Patrick C. Harrison III (that’s ‘the Third’, not “Aye! Aye! Aye!”)

Chris Miller (that’s…me…not Mike ME…me me)

Follow the links to our respective websites and give us a follow, and be sure to check out our other publications while you’re there. But while I’ve got you here, I want to take a few minutes to talk to you about Cerberus, our book, and why you need it in your life.

About a year ago, Mike and I were discussing collaboration. We had just endeavored to work on a sci-fi/cosmic horror book together (one we’ll get back to before long) and we talked about the process of collaboration. Patrick (henceforth PCIII—or PC—in this post) was and is someone we both respect a great deal as both an author and a person. In the course of this, we started talking about doing a book, a sort of collaboration, but where we each wrote our own stories. We wanted to feel like it all belonged together, like a cohesive piece, but also distinct like our own writing.

Then we talked about getting PCIII involved.

Ah, the trembling. Both of us were and still are good friends with PC, best friends, even. But our cigar-chomping pal tends to put out an aura of unapproachability. The cigar, the crossed arms, the scowl, it’s all there, ever-present, ever-intimidating.

Plus, he’s just a great writer. It was for this reason we wanted him in the book, along with the fact that he’s our good buddy. But, how to approach him? How to broach the subject in such a way that he would be interested and, God-willing, agree to be part of the project?

Alcohol.

That’s right, some good ol’ liquid courage turned out to be just the ticket. The three of us decided to meet in Rockwall, TX at a really neat Irish pub (I can never remember the name, but Mike and PC always seem to know, so ask them) and have a meal and hang out. We got some sort of Scottish Eggs (it’s a hard-boiled egg entombed within sausage and then deep fried and served with some sort of jelly sauce or another—delicious). I think I had a Philly Cheesesteak as my main meal (or was it a French Dip?), but that’s not what’s important. Neither is the way my pinky stuck out (sticks out?) every time I raised my glass of beer to my lips.

So, after we ate, the three of us retired to the patio out back with our brews and had a cigar and some terrific conversation. Now mind you, Mike and I had been steadily shoveling buckets of beer in front of PC the whole evening, trying to lower his guard as much as we were trying conjure our own nerve. The man is so stoic, so granite-hard, I was starting to believe this whole approach was going to be a bust.

The evening churned on, conversation moving from music, to movies we liked, to books. We began discussing not books that were out in the wild that we enjoy, but books that were not. We talked about the kinds of collections and anthologies that we wanted to read. Everywhere you turn there’s another themed anthology with anywhere from ten to twenty authors all writing about a similar theme. Nothing wrong with those, but they’re everywhere, and it also puts a limit on what the reader gets from each author, what they can showcase. If one author writes a zombie story for one anthology, you don’t really get a feel for them as an overall author. If that story was good and you wanted to check out more from them, you gotta go find other anthologies, all of varying degrees of quality, so on…

We wanted to see an anthology (or collection) with a shorter author list, but with more diversity from each involved. At some point the alcohol finally pierced through PC’s diamond-hard surface and the scowl faltered. There were even a couple of smiles (expertly cloaked by the cigar), and Mike had reached the point where the jokes were flowing and his rapier wit was cutting us to pieces.

Then, finally, we asked him.

“Patrick, please, sir, might you consider joining your talents with ours? Might you bless us with thine presence on papyrus that shares our ink? Might you, sir?”

That was Mike, who’s balls were big enough to approach PC with our proposition, but only by transforming into a really butchered version of Tiny Tim.

But anyway, it worked.

I stepped in and rambled a few incoherent sentences about writing and togetherness and actualization. I have no idea what I said, and I can only assume it was that PC found amusement in our deteriorated absurdity. Perhaps he took pity on Mike and I, and you know what? I’ll take it. Pity is underrated.

In any event, he agreed. “Let’s do it,” he said, and Mike and I both peed in our chairs, squeeing like young women at a pop concert for whoever the current heartthrob is (I have no idea who’s popular in music).

We had a rough outline of what we wanted, too, and laid it out. Three authors. We each come up with a prompt. Then we each write one story for each prompt.

9 novelettes.

Mike, sage that he is, already had his prompt together—Cabin Fever. Patrick wanted to think for a bit on his, and I had about fourteen swirling around, each of which I thought inferior to the others. But at the end of the night we had a solid idea for a book, still lacking two of the prompts—both of which would come within a week or two—but we had a vision. Diversity, even though we’re three straight white guys (can’t help how we were born), was the name of the game. We wanted to highlight our strengths, but also challenge each other, to take chances, to write stories we normally wouldn’t, and to approach the material in ways perhaps not inside our comfort zone.

Before we left for the night, we had our waitress take a photo of us out there on that deck with our cigars and hoodies and jackets (it was December 23rd and I, for one, had extremely hard nipples). We threw our arms around each other, each of us blissfully unaware of the coming pandemic that would reduce us to elbow bumps in a couple of months, and showed our pearly whites. Well, I don’t think PC did…or did he?

We posted the picture to Facebook and our dear friend and the most awesome horror fan of all time—Brad Tierney—commented under it with what would become a sort of identity to the three of us.

Brad’s comment was: ‘Cerberus’.

That was it. WE were Cerberus. Cerberus would write this book (and many more in the coming years) as a collective, but also as individuals. Mike is a Poet. PCIII is a Master of Horror. And, people tend to call me a Master of Suspense (makes me smile every time). So that was who we were. Once PC and I figured out our prompts for the book—his was ‘Letters’ and mine was ‘Chaos’—we were off to the races.

I’m proud of this book. We are proud of this book. And I think you’ll find yourself enamored with the brilliant ideas and prose of both Mike and PCIII, and you might even enjoy my stories as well. Who knows? But the only way to find out is to click the link at the top of this post and fetch yourself a copy to read for yourself.

We hope you’ll try it out. We hope you’ll leave a review, regardless how you feel about it. But most of all, we want you to experience the same magic we discovered as we traveled through nine levels of Hell.

Cerberus rises. Rise with us.

Chris Miller—9-19-2020

Idiots

I’m aggravated. You could even say pissed off.

Well, Chris, come on, you can’t just say something like that and then not elaborate.

Yeah, yeah, I know. So, you want to know what pisses me off? What pisses off a writer in the so-called “community”?

Readers who equate a work of fiction to the author’s personal character. That’s right, and for once, it’s not my own work in question here. I’ve been called all sorts of names by reviewers who’ve read my books: psychopath, pedophile, homophobe, racist, you name it. And it’s all 100% horseshit. But when I see reviewers heaping that nonsense on other writers—especially in the horror genre—it, well…

It pisses me off.

Most people have no clue how much effort goes into writing a novel. They don’t know the months, sometimes years, dedicated to constructing the very best story you can. Sure, readers have every right not to enjoy your hard work, and they have every right to voice that they do not like it, but there should at least still be a little respect for the author’s efforts, even if it isn’t to your taste, and there should certainly be respect for the author as an individual. It’s entirely possible that the author failed on every front as a storyteller, and it’s fair to say so, but it is not fair to equate the thoughts, deeds, and actions of fictional characters to the personal character of the author.

When I see a brand new work of fiction come out and I begin reading, I’m learning about a person, but I’m not learning about the author, necessarily. I’m learning about a character or characters they have created. People who are not them. So when those people who are not the author do or say or think something off-color, cruel, or outright evil, my reactions to those behaviors are directed towards the character, who isnot the author.

Unfortunately, many seem incapable of taking the same approach. In the age of ‘cancel-culture’ and the constant hunt for what to be outraged over next, people have started to equivocate the content of fiction with the personal constitutions of creators of fiction. They take umbrage to a racist character in a book saying racist things. They take umbrage with characters written true to their station in life and geographic locale, the sort of locker room banter we all remember hearing growing up. But if you write those kinds of scenes accurately, you’re called a bigot. It’s insane, but it’s also very, very stupid. Sure, you have every right to seek outrage at every turn, but please know that the rest of the world is laughing at you and your pathetic sensitivity over MADE UP PEOPLE, for eff’s sake!

I’m getting even more confounded that the particular writing “community” that I’m involved in is the horror one, and for a group who supposedly loves scary stuff and lots of blood and guts, they sure will have a ridiculous hissy fit if an animal is harmed in a story. People? No problem. Even children? Mostly, though a dead kid still doesn’t rise to the level of outrage a harmed animal will in their minds. That’s sick. Not the fact that a HORROR WRITER wrote something HORRIFYING in their HORROR book, but that a reader can get so wound up over the content that they end up writing really shitty reviews (that take them all of five minutes to write as opposed to the months or years the author took in writing their novel) attacking the fact that there are HORRIFYING things in a HORROR novel.

Get bent!

If you don’t like horror, don’t read it. If you don’t like extreme horror, then don’t read that. If you personally have an issue reading about harm coming to children or animals, that’s a perfectly reasonable and understandable thing, and nothing to be ashamed of. But when you read something that isn’t a good fit for you and you review it, stick to the writing. If it’s poorly written, say so. If it’s poor character development, say so. If it’s just not engaging or exciting, say so. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit for; say so. But stop going into reviews of books you didn’t like and attacking the author personally, or trying to equate them to the characters they created.

Somewhere along the way some idiot decided that characters have to be likable for a book to work. Bullshit. They have to be relatable, they have to be believable, but they do not have to be likable. Not at all. It depends on the story being told whether there will be any likable characters or not.

If an author writes a racist character who uses a racist slur, that is believable and realistic that a racist would use that sort of language. Same for a sexist character or any other kind of bigot. What do you want, Klan member characters written as being politically correct SJWs? What the fuck is going through your brains? Why is it so hard to recognize the difference between trying to write realistically for the story you’re telling and who the author is as an individual?

I don’t care if you like this post. I really don’t. I’m sick of seeing this happen to good people in the “community” (the quotation marks are there on purpose), and yeah, I’m saying something about it. Your mistake of reading something that doesn’t sit well with you or isn’t your cup of tea is your fault, not the author’s (I’m obviously speaking to books you dislike because of content, not the writing itself). I get that some people may not want to read about a character who is racist or a homophobe or a misogynist. It’s ugly stuff. That’s fine. If you come across that in a book, I can see it being a turn off and you should even make mention of that in your review, that it’s something you personally can’t handle reading. Fine. But don’t go call the author a bigot. Fuck you for that. Seriously.

Fuck. You.

Let me clarify once more here—this is not about me. It’s happened to me before, but it’s been a long while and that’s not what prompted this post. I’m not ‘defending my honor’, lol. It’s another author who I know, who I know to be a decent, kind, bleeding heart, getting a review that calls them a bigot. Them, not the character(s) in the book. And they are far from the only ones getting inundated with this nonsense. We all get bad reviews. I’ve gotten some really negative ones that are on my writing before. I have thick skin and I can take criticism and I use that to better my craft. But I’m real sick of being told what an author is “allowed” to write about, how “real” they can get. Eat a bag of molded hotdogs and get the hell out of here with that crap. You don’t like it, fine. But keep your self-righteous indignation and phony ‘outrage’ to yourself. It’s a book. It’s made up. Talk about the writing, talk about the characters and their development, talk about the pacing, the prose, the payoff. Is Stephen King considered a pedophile or a racist for having written IT? I mean it, go read that book, you self-important cretans. You going to throw him under the bus too because he wrote about awful characters doing awful things?

I didn’t think so. Anyway, my blood is up, I need to pick up groceries, and I’m starting to ramble. Eat my shorts. Love you guys. Well, some of you, anyway. The rest of you give this a second read.

Chris Miller—9-13-2020

Where the heck have I been?

I’ve kind of been absent—both here and on my Newsletter—for a good while, so we’ll call this a “soft reboot” of my blog, what do you say? I could start with an introduction, except you’re reading this on my website, so I feel like you must know who I am, at least. But—for all three of my followers—I’ll just assume you landed here by accident and can’t figure out who the hell I am. So, let’s get off on the right foot, shall we?

“Hi, my name is Chris Miller, and I write horror and suspense fiction.”

THREE FANS: ”Hi Chris!”

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive in!

So, what have I been up to these past months? If you take a stroll back through my blog here, you’ll find the random update (none very recent, either), but mostly you’ll find book reviews. I was doing this for a while on every single book I read that I enjoyed. I enjoy doing reviews, and thought I could share my love of books on my website, give some other authors a little boost, and maybe help drive some traffic to my own books as well while I was at it. Why not, right?

That didn’t work so well, at least not in the way I had hoped, and I also started to get burned out on writing up reviews. Or, more to it, I was getting burned out on writing all around.It was like the very process of writing seemed to become a burden, and I’d never experienced that before. It’s usually an escape, cathartic and healing, even when I may not feellike doing it. But these last months have been a different story. The pandemic, the unleashing of allthe assholes on earth at once (at least it seems that way), personal and work problems…it’s just been a nightmare. While I’ll look back fondly on 2020 as the year I released my first western, I will notbe looking back on 2020 proper with any kind of fondness whatsoever.

I’ve been largely working on my first collection of short fiction most recently, which I dived into after completing work on my part of Cerberus Rising (which kicks ass and you can get right here). Novelettes and short stories and novellas, oh my! I’ve been working on so much short fiction, both for my own works and for anthologies, that I’ve started to wonder if I’ll have trouble going back into long form. Ugh. And it’s been slow going much of the time, too. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, 2020 has really brought me down, and I find more and more I have been staring at a blinking cursor rather than punching keys.

I’ve tried everything. I tried abandoning a couple works I was in the middle of and started new things, gone back to a couple older projects, took a break for over a week, etcetera. A time or two, this seemed to work, at least initially. But then things would come grinding to a halt again. Being in the midst of all of this—and riding my backlog of projects that have been coming out through this year—I’ve been getting more and more nervous about my writing and wondered if I’d lost my mojo forever.

That’s a scary thing for a writer. Truly frightening, especially when you’ve started getting a modicum of recognition and garnering a bit of a following. And that, my friends, is why this space has been largely inactive in recent months. I just…didn’t have anything to give an update on.

But you know what? I don’t think I’m anywhere near the only person dealing with that. Certainly not the only writer, but wordslinger or otherwise, we’re all going through this level of hell known as 2020 together, and it’s taken it’s toll on us all. We’re going to make it through this, and for us creatives, remember: keep on shoveling, even if all it seems like you’re doing is moving shit from one place to another. You gotta keep on mining, and eventually you’ll start to uncover some gems.

Thankfully, I’ve started to pick up steam again, and I’m getting close to having my first collection completed. Only this morning, I was able to pitch the book to a publisher—fingers crossed on that one! So, hang in there, and try to hold me accountable. You can email me from my site here, just click the ‘Contact’ tab and get in touch. Send me questions, maybe some suggestions on what kind of content you’d like to see here. I want this to become my main hub one of these days where I can talk with fans and you guys can talk with me and we can cut out all the dramatic, nightmare bullshit that is Facebook and Twitter. I just want to be me, and I just want to get to know all of you. So drop me a line, say hi, convince me the world is flat, I don’t care. There’s one place the Coronavirus can’t get us, and that’s on the internet, so let’s use it!

Take care, my friends, and keep reading. We’re far from being done here.

Chris Miller—8-31-2020