Today’s guest is Montreal native Philip Mann, author of the Dark MUSE Jewish Paranormal series. This is a special treat because, if you’re like me, you don’t know much about judaism or how that belief’s concept of the paranormal differs from other orthodoxies. Prepare to be educated. I’d like everyone to stand up and give Philip Mann a big round of applause for taking part in our exciting adventure.
Philip told me he was born in the Galileo quadrant, north-northeast sector of the Andromeda strain, and that he’s always had a vivid imagination, but only focussed it in 2010, more or less. His wife puts up with his ramblings knowing that it keeps him from serious, possibly certifiable acts.
Beyond that, nobody’s saying anything.
Philip and I talked about what makes something paranormal, what makes something jewish paranormal, how jewish paranormal differs from christian, buddhist, muslim and other paranormals, what makes good writing, what makes good reading, letting the reader fill in the details and the difficulties with finding good editors and publishers when going the Indie route.
You can find links to Philip’s books on the right or at the bottom of this post (depending on your device). You’ll also find links to Philip’s social presences underneath the video.
Philip suggests Marjorie Quarton as an editor.
An excerpt from Philip Mann’s fourth Dark Muse book, In Plain Sight
“We’re here, old man. Get your carcass in gear, we have a family get-together to attend.”
Jeremy easily stepped out of the car and rounded the front to pull his father out.
It had to be now, whatever he would do, whatever good it would do. Now.
Bernard summoned up whatever strength he could and frog-jumped from his seat to the driver`s seat. Almost to the driver`s seat. He couldn’t quite make it. But he could reach, that had to be good enough.
His shoulder was just level with the steering wheel, just barely if he leaned over enough. It had to work. He leaned down, twisting his body in a way he had not done in years. A bit more, just a bit more. Then he felt it. One shoulder touching the seat, the other against the steering wheel. Now he leaned just a little more.
The horn blared, shattering the early evening calm. Jeremy, for once caught off guard, tried desperately to haul his father away from the horn, but couldn’t get purchase against the older man’s bulk and reserve of strength. The horn kept on blaring. Porch lights were starting to go on. He had to act.
One solid punch to the lower back. It connected, but didn’t stop the noise. A second one, and Bernard sagged in his seat. Jeremy grabbed hold of his collar and pulled him back. The noise stopped. The neighbours kept looking for a moment and then the lights went off again. It wasn’t their problem.
It seemed like hours, like any urgent situation always does, but it had lasted only ten seconds. Jeremy took one more punch at his father, and saw that he was unconscious. But his bulk was too much to drag anywhere. He decided to leave him behind the wheel, redouble his restraints, and continue his task.
Vi had seen it all, at first with curiosity, and then with horror, as she recognised Bernard’s car, then the shape of her cousin, and finally the struggle ensuing as she saw Jeremy land two solid punches on his back and head. She understood that something, someone dangerous and possibly lethal was visiting her home.
Quickly she moved to block and secure the door, leaving the children a few steps behind. Vi reached the solid door, and grabbed the knob. Then it turned in her hand. Jeremy was on the other side. She leaned, put all her weight on it, her every spark of energy trying to reach the door jamb, force it closed. The twins were watching, transfixed. She yelled at them.
“Go back, Ruthie! Howie! Both of you, go to the back. Ruthie, you understand. Take Howie and go back! Go now, both of you!”
Ruthie had a good idea that something very wrong was happening, and would have stayed, but she knew that Howie needed saving. Her brother was already starting to sink into hysterics, while she herself wanted to stick around to what had to be an interesting visitor..
Finally Vi`s words sank in. Ruthie took Howard by the hand and disappeared with him to the back of the house.
At the doorway, Jeremy wedged his foot in the door. Vi tried stomping on it, to no avail. Then his shoulder widened the gap. Vi leaned on the door, pressing all her weight on it. The heavy oak door bent around Jeremy`s arm, yet he kept pushing in, not yielding to the pain. Vi bit his forearm, and he still pressed on. His shoulder edged in. Then half his body.
And then he was inside.
He took out the gun and pointed it at Vi. He pulled the trigger, not quite intending too but not displeased, either.
It clicked. Empty. She heard the noise, couldn’t quite see what was happening, and kept rushing at him, taking the battle to her cousin. His element of surprise was now gone.
Vi lunged at him, holding on to his chest with a might born of madness, denying him his own advantage of strength. Taken off guard by her ferocity, he dropped the gun and engaged her in a vicious street fight.
Vi clung to him, holding his face close to hers, and tried to bite. She started to clamp her teeth on the flesh, but managed only to nip him. But he was still in pain, and he threw her off violently and she landed on the wall. Yet she remained on her feet and saw him striding to her, ready to strike.
She reached out and grabbed onto his head, then found her balance and drove him backwards, driving his skull onto the frame of the china cabinet, cracking the frame. He grunted in surprise, controlling his own pain. He struck out at her, his backhand catching her face and backing her up. She saw stars and was barely able to crouch to protect herself. In a flash of awareness, Vi understood that one of them would not survive.
He grabbed her and tried to ram her into the table, but she kept low and refused to move.
She yanked a chair in front of her, hoisting it up so as to face its legs against him, and he was stalled, if only for the moment. Then he grabbed onto it himself and pulled it aside, and grappled with her again.
He grabbed onto her flowing black hair, and this time her head snapped back. He looked at her from inches away, his smile a cruel leer, a promise of nemesis come home. Vi stared back, spat in his eye and fought for release. With an irresistible lunge, she broke free, leaving a clump of her hair in his hands. The pain and the wound she would deal with later.
Vi used everything she could get her hands on, dishes, chairs, and when finally cornered, gouging, head-butting and scratching. He was not used to a fighting victim, and she was as vicious as he could be. The battle was raucous and intense.
Ruthie led her brother down the stairs, to the small room that housed the old portrait of Vi, and sat with him for few seconds. They both heard the struggle upstairs, their mother yelling defiance, the stranger talking in cold, implacable tones. Chair were being thrown, tables shoved, and the tumult seemed about to encroach on their refuge. Ruth felt an impulse, a physical need to be there. The three year old had to take part in her mother`s conflict. She quietly left Howie who followed, reluctantly and at a distance of a few steps. The noise and tumult frightened him, but he hated the dark and being alone even more.
Up the stairs. The struggle was still going on. They could hear strained breathing, and Ruth saw through the darkness of the hall and the front room that Vi was on the floor, bucking and heaving, trying to displace her cousin, who was straddling her chest.
“The end, Vi dearest. I am the end of this family, and you have met it. It won’t be easy, but it won’t be long, either.”
Vi responded by trying again to buck him off, not quite succeeding. He tried to grab her wrists and place her hands, one by one, under his legs. But she grabbed them herself, holding the left wrist in the right, making an unbreakable bond, reaching again for his eyes, scoring his face again. He was paying for the attack. He slapped her, taking away her advantage again, and she saw stars.
Then she felt it. The handle of the baseball bat, barely in her reach, under the table.
But how to grab it. How.
Ruth knew the light switch, she had seen her mom flick it many times. But getting to it was another story. Then she understood. The drawers.
Bottom drawer out. That was one step.
Second from bottom. That was two.
Third and last. She was on the counter. She walked in total confidence around the bend, to the switch. Then she flicked it off. The house was in total darkness. She went back down the drawers, out the kitchen and to the front of the house. She was completely at ease in the dark, like any beast of prey. She knew what to do now.
Jeremy was about to rip Vi`s sweater off her body when the house went black. He stopped in mid-motion, and then Vi took advantage. One more violent twist, a clawing at his face, and he was off her, if only for the moment. She scrabbled away, hoping that she knew where to find the bat.
She had it. Jeremy was still wiping the blood from his eyes, although he had now regained his feet. Vi understood how lethal he was, how completely dedicated to his gruesome task. She slowly went to the middle of the room, where it gave onto the corridor. Bat in hand, she turned this way and that, and then realised. She had lost him in the shadows.
But he hadn’t lost her. He had crouched, partly to regain his focus and recover from the pain. As he waited, he saw her form, barely discernable in the gloom but he saw her backlit by the streetlights. He slowly rose and stalked her, three paces behind. Careful not to move the chairs. Steer clear of the table.
Two steps, She didn’t suspect, his footfalls were noiseless. One more step and she would be in his grasp. He felt for his screwdriver.
Then he felt something else. Something grabbed his ankle and was hanging on with tenacity. He tried to swing free, but that motion swung against a chair, and a loud clatter erupted. He cursed, fully revealing his position. He was backlit by the streetlight, and she now had the advantage.
Vi heard, pivoted, and saw him. She swung the bat, but he parried it and laughed.
“Oh, nice try, cousin. You might just make the major…”
She swung again in the dark, and this caught his shoulder, numbing his arm.
He stepped back, and she followed. He backed into the wall and was trapped. Vi closed the gap and then stepped into her swing.
It caught his neck, and he fell to the floor.
She kept swinging.
Heaving for breath, galvanised from the life and death struggle, Vi groped and found the light switch. The scene was revealed.
Vi leaned heavily on the wall, spent in body and soul by what she had been through. She tasted her own blood on her lips. She looked down at her cousin, and now understood what had given her the break she needed.
Jeremy lay sprawled out on the floor, his head and upper body caved in, and blood flowing from his mouth. He was not breathing.
At his feet was Ruth, looking coolly at what her mother had accomplished, a faint smile on her face.
Her hands still clung to Jeremy`s ankle.