Friday, July 26, 2019

Worlds Within Worlds

Hell Gate



For those of you who have managed to read Hell Gate, I’m sure a couple of the places I describe within the book bring certain vistas to mind. That’s the wonderful thing about reading; your imagination fills in details that add substance to a story, bringing it to life.

I certainly felt that way as the story evolved, especially when it came to the Gulf of Tears and the Hall of Shattered Dreams. But how did I come up with such places, and what planted the seeds in my mind?

Well, it’s twofold really – three if you include the fact I read . . . a lot! Reading encourages creativity because, although you’re involving yourself with someone else’s words, the pictures they paint come to life in YOUR mind. It helps you become familiar with the idea of constructing scenes and living them out.
The more you do it, the more swiftly you can devise a place, person, thing or object and flesh them out.

That being said, I was then inspired by what my research had hinted at.
Let’s start with Haawiyâh (The Abyss)

In Hell Gate, Daemon grim has to journey to various places to unlock clues as to his destiny, or help in his investigation. While I conducted the research aspect of my preparation, it struck me how hostile to life Hataamah must be. Remember what the Arabic version of hell entails:

“. . .references are filled with indications of torture, fire and flames that crackle and roar, with fierce boiling waters, scorching wind and black smoke. Endless planes stretch on forever, scoured barren by heat and gales, Hadean in scope…”

That got me thinking. Haawiyâh is also known as The Abyss. Instead of incorporating a simple “hellish, Dantean pit aspect” into my planning, I wanted something more, something like a gorge or a chasm that ate its way through the strata as it constantly wandered along. But this wouldn’t be any old chasm; it would be a yawning great cleft that would make the Grand Canyon look tiny in comparison.
With that in mind, I started scouring the internet for fantasy based examples of the headwaters of an abyss that would feel right at home in a Daemon Grim adventure. Look what I found:



Can you see why I came up with the name – Gulf of Tears?

Just looking on that picture; pondering on it; immersing myself into its make-believe history and back-story helped me devise a wondrous place that you’ll read about in detail in Hell Gate.
And the fun doesn’t stop there.

Do you remember some of the other examples Jahannam had to offer?

 Sá-eer (The Blaze)
Haawiyâh (The Abyss)
Hatamâh (That which breaks to pieces)
Jaheêm (Blazing Fire)

Well, the blazing fire aspect was a common denominator throughout Jahannam, and something I would obviously incorporate into my fictional rendering. After all, I was making this realm the home of the Jinn (genies) – or Al-Jinn – albeit my versions would be a very formal, militarized, honor bound society.
That’s probably why Hatamâh drew me so much. Imagine a circle of hell that was so anti-life – even as a place of damnation – that it chewed normal concepts up whole and spit them out in pieces. Jumbled pieces.
Once the sorting hat of my imagination clicked onto this idea, I started perusing the internet for examples of the weird and wonderful; of places that simply didn’t fit; of stunning vistas where alien and everyday objects had been transposed into an alternate reality in a way that stuck out like a sore thumb.
One of those images was this:



When Grim first arrives in Hatamâh, he describes the entrance as follows:

*** A subliminal snap released all the pent-up kinetic energy at once, throwing us high into the air. Recovering quickly, I regained control, reached out to my companions and managed our descent with ease. Even so, the environment in which we landed was starkly different to what we had left behind.
The distant hills were still the same, but everything else appeared as disproportionate as they were familiar. By my reckoning, it looked as if a number of different locales down through the ages had been snatched away from London, topside, and dumped here for my benefit.
To the west, the spire of Big Ben sprouted from wave battered cliffs. Seagulls nestled among the crenels of its lofty crown and squabbled for space along the length of its black iron hands, currently showing the time as three forty-five. Eastward, the MI6 building had been deposited on its side, right next to the dilapidated remains of the original Tower Bridge. Constructed centuries apart, both looked similarly weather-beaten and were covered in all manner of creeping vines and other invasive vegetation.
A pristine twentieth century “London Underground” sign canted precariously to one side, bowing in homage to the smattering of barnacle scarred, seaweed clad boulders, scattered like green-bearded islands in front of me. Slick with slime, every one of them had been stained brown by the murky, reed infested broth lapping gently at their roots.
It was an eerie sight, for the rocks formed a ravaged boulevard leading toward the ruins of somewhere I knew well: the Victorian version of Paddington Tube Station.
Topside, latticed metal girders graced the curved roof of the Brunel-inspired edifice with a shining framework for allover glazing. Here, only rusted shattered fragments of steel and glass remained, jutting upward like rigid fingers, forever locked in arthritic display.
Below them, fractured masonry and collapsed walls formed an assault course of sharp edges and treacherous cracks we would need to negotiate, if we wished to proceed further without risking the temperament of the crocodilian fiends peeping from beneath the surface of the swamp in all too many places at once.
By all that is cursed, what a marvelous place. This is exactly what London could have looked like if it had been blitzkrieged into submission during World War Two. Sadly, our cockney friends were made of sterner stuff…I studied the scene before me for a second time. As am I. But where to go from here?
My gaze came to rest of the immaculate subway sign again. To my mind, it seemed starkly out of place among such devastation. Or is that the way it’s supposed to look? I began to laugh. Could Jahannam be giving me a clue? ***

It certainly was giving a clue. One I picked up from the image above.
Some of you might recognize that picture as I use it on Daemon Grim’s Facebook page. It depicts exactly the kind of thing I look for in the jumbled hotchpotch that is hell. Bits of what we know warped out of the framework of normalcy and served up with relish. You can relate to a place like this. You’re drawn to it. It’s familiar . . . while being totally alien.

And talking of alien. . .



That’s how the Hall of Shattered Dreams was born. A repository of ancient, long-forgotten knowledge, clinging to existence in the middle of a topsy-turvy world that played out nightmare-fairytale-imaginary-historical events all at the same time while jumbling them together into one long stream of head-banging, dribbling insanity.
I loved it! And I look forward to seeing how you, the reader, react to the discovery of a place that would make Alice and the Hatter feel right at home.

So, there you have it. A little dip into the building blocks of Hell Gate, and the workings of the gyroscope that represents my mental instability.

But don’t forget, Hell Gate is only a small part world in a large and ever expanding universe. Why don’t you check out more about Heroes in Hell…





You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Wonderful Worlds of Hell Gate



As I mentioned last week, Hell Gate sees Daemon Grim journeying to Jahannam, the Arabic depiction of the afterlife where evildoers go to be punished. There, he meets the Al-Jinn, fierce warriors who make up the Blades of the Left-Hand Path.


Who and what they are exactly, you’ll discover as you read the story. I guarantee you’ll love the flavor these fiery creatures bring.

Before you do, I thought it would be a good idea to take a little look at what the Arabic concept of hell is all about. As you’ll see, it’s rather compelling, as punishment is meted out in accordance with the degree of evil one has done in life.

Suffering is both physical and spiritual and will vary according to the Gate a condemned person is sent to. Specifics vary, as not all Arabic or Muslim scholars agree whether hell is an eternal destination, or whether some – or even all – of the condemned will eventually be forgiven and allowed to enter paradise. So, here’s a simplified overview of the basic principles.
Jahannam (also referred to as al-Nar) The Fire, is divided into seven levels, or Gates. Listing them from the bottom up, you get:

Saqar

Ladthâa

Sá-eer (The Blaze)

Haawiyâh (The Abyss)

Hatamâh (That which breaks to pieces)

Jaheêm (Blazing Fire)

Al-nâr

Although there doesn’t seem to be a precise explanation of what each Gate incorporates, references are filled with indications of torture, fire and flames that crackle and roar, with fierce boiling waters, scorching wind and black smoke. Inhabitants sigh and wail. Their scorched skins are constantly changed for new ones so that they can taste their torments anew. They must drink festering water, and though death surrounds them on all sides, they cannot themselves die. They are linked together in chains 70 cubits long, and wear pitch for clothing and fire on their faces. Boiling water is poured over their heads, melting their insides as well as their skins. Hooks of iron drag anyone back who tries to escape.

Can you imagine such a place?

I certainly could, and used these basics as a foundation on which to build a fictional realm of suffering that would fit into the Heroes in Hell universe, and the results can be seen in Hell Gate.



I hope you enjoy how it’s turned out, as I expanded three of the Gates – Sá-eer, Haawiyâh and Hatamâh, to include some impressive sites and scenery.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at two of those realms in particular, as they inspired me to create a couple of out of this world fantastical places that were a treasure – and pleasure – to play in while the story developed. You’ll see what I mean when I introduce you to the Gulf of Tears and the Hall of Shattered Dreams.


See you then.

Thursday, July 4, 2019


Hell Gate
And the Wonderful Worlds Within. . .


In this latest release involving Daemon Grim’s exploits, you’ll find him journeying to circles of hell he’s seldom experienced before. In particular, Hell Gate concentrates on Jahannam, the home of the mighty Al-Jinn, mythological, incendiary creatures of flame and shadow.

It’s from such legends that we get fabled stories such as The Arabian Nights; Sinbad; The Genie in the Lamp; Aladdin, and so on.

Of course, such stories have been watered down to feed the appetites of children or those hankering for a touch of mystery and adventure. There’s a romanticism involved with genies. After all, if you rub their lamps, they’ll grant you three wishes . . . won’t they?

Ah, in Hell Gate, we dig into the fiendish reality behind the myth and find out more of what Jahannam’s really about, and of course, the creatures populating it.



Starting next week and for the following several weeks, we’ll take a look at the Gates of Jahannam, what kind of souls are condemned there, and then we’ll go on to examine one or two of those Gates in more detail, and find out what inspired me to come up with some of the places you’ll read about.

See you then.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Hell Gate
Release Day


******

The Angel Grislington is dead, effaced from existence during an epic battle with Daemon Grim that destroyed a Zion forged blade and one of Satan’s premier palaces in the process.

Chopin and Tesla have gone to ground. So much so, that they might as well be six feet under helping to push up hell-daisies.

Even Erra and the Sibitti, his living weapons of vengeance and destruction, seem reticent to show their faces.

Rioting sweeps the length and breadth of the underworld. Yet the halls of the Mortuary lie vacant, for someone is stealing soul-essence, the very means by which Satan condemns sinners to everlasting torment.

But who would do such a thing? And how does the hush that descends upon the dirty streets of latterday hell tie into ancient prophecy relating to the Reaper’s destiny?

It’s often calmest before the storm.

Just imagine how bad things will get with the apocalypse approaching.



Monday, May 27, 2019

Hell Hounds


******

The writing is masterful.
Vine Voice

Weston delivers on this one with all the power of a brimstone-fueled pitchfork
Black Gate Fantasy

******

Feared throughout the many circles of the underworld, Satan’s Reaper – and chief bounty hunter – Daemon Grim, is known as a true force to be reckoned with.
Having eliminated a major player in the uprising eating its way like a cancer through the underbelly of hell, Grim is stunned to discover he cannot afford to rest on his laurels, for the rebellion runs far deeper than was ever imagined. New players have emerged – denizens with uncanny abilities – who seem determined to support Chopin and Tesla’s revolutionary agenda.

Ever keen to test their mettle, the Sibitti – personified weapons of the ancient Babylonian plague god, Erra – also appear eager to capitalize on the growing unrest, and set about maneuvering events in order to place themselves in direct opposition to Grim’s investigation.

And if that was not cause for concern enough, there’s an insane angel on the loose, a creature who seems as hell-bent on creating havoc as he is to return home.

How do Grim and his rabid pack of bounty hunters respond?

Baying for blood – doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Click the side link for more details

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hell Bound


******

A compelling and a fascinating venture into the world of unsequestered villainy. Highly inventive and enthralling.
Fanboy Comics

Hell Bound is an epic and fast-paced adventure which kept me reading to the last page.
Black Gate Fantasy

A unique take on hell, dark, edgy, and humorous.
Vine Voice

A unique and exciting novel.
Faire's Fair Book Reviews

******


In hell, none of the condemned believes they deserve to be there. And that’s fine, so long as they’re not foolish enough to try and do anything about it. For those that do, there’s always Satan’s Reaper–and chief bounty hunter–Daemon Grim.
Feared throughout the many layers of the underverse, no one in their right mind dares to cross him.

However, when Grim discovers that someone has attempted to evade injustice, and seems hell-bent on gaining access to ancient angelic artifacts proscribed since the time of the original rebellion in heaven, circumstances point to the fact they may be doing just that.
The question is...why?

Thus begins an investigation that leads Grim throughout the many contradictory and baffling levels of the underworld, where he unearths a conspiracy that is not only eating its way like a cancer through the highest echelons of Hellion society, but one which threatens the very stability of Satan’s rule.

As you can imagine, Grim’s response is bloody, brutal, and despicably wicked.
Hell Bound – In hell, everyone can hear you scream

Click the side link for more details...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

It's Often Calmest Before the Storm


Fans of Daemon Grim will be pleased to learn that the latest chapter in the Reaper's journey is due for release on May 31st.

But what to expect in a tale filled with terror, trial and tribulation for the underworld's miserable miscreants?

Here's a clue:

The Angel Grislington is dead, effaced from existence during an epic battle with Daemon Grim that destroyed a Zion forged blade and one of Satan’s premier palaces in the process.

Chopin and Tesla have gone to ground. So much so, that they might as well be six feet under helping to push up hell-daisies.

Even Erra and the Sibitti, his living weapons of vengeance and destruction, seem reticent to show their faces.

Rioting sweeps the length and breadth of the underworld. Yet the halls of the Mortuary lie vacant, for someone is stealing soul-essence, the very means by which Satan condemns sinners to everlasting torment.

But who would dare such a thing? And how does the hush that descends upon the dirty streets of latterday hell tie into ancient prophecy relating to the Reaper’s destiny?

It’s often calmest before the storm.

Just imagine how bad things will get with the apocalypse approaching.

*************


Tempted?
Of course you are . . .
Here's the pre-release buy link:

(Go on - you know you want to make the Reaper happy)