Turning things over today to my friend and fellow author, Erick Mertz, who has something really cool going on right now that you’re not going to want to miss. So, without further ado, let’s give Erick a warm welcome and our undivided attention as he takes center stage for a little while!
Beginning from a very tender age, Desmond Brice was aware of his own special gifts. He could hear strange, babbling voices in the fire. And from the moment Desmond discovered those gifts, he learned something even more important, a fact that would become critical to his very survival: no one else could ever know what he heard.
The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice is a supernatural fiction novella set in the wilds of Canyon County, a dark place, far away from the city lights. I first dreamt the world of Canyon County on long drives east of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, in travels between real-life one-horse hamlets like Dufur, Grass Valley and Madras. The autumn shadows seemed to falls just a little longer in those places. Every dogleg bend in the road and highway junction felt steeped in ancestral secrets.
Out of those travels, my once transient story ideas suddenly had a landscape.
My sister lived out that way. Her thirty-odd acre stretch was nestled between sparsely forested hills that rolled forever, the view from which on a clear day was as vast as a writer’s imagination. At night, when looking skyward, there was only natural light, moon and countless stars, and whatever else bleeds into view from the cosmos.
On those visits, I also became enchanted by how the local people spoke. They were different. They lived on a “stretch” of land. They took their “ride” from place to place. A person needed little more than their “word” and their “kin” to get by in the world. To my ear, accustomed to the homogenized speech of everyday, this old time vocabulary was intoxicating. But at the same time, it struck me in an eerily familiar way. Traveling out there became the gradual process of reorienting myself with an ancient language, one I may well have spoken fluently in another life.
Canyon County isn’t real though. You won’t find a Welcome To sign on Highway 197 south of The Dalles. Canyon County is purely the creation of my imagination. What you will find though, if you go looking for it like I did on the road west out of Condon, is a whole hell of a lot of open spaces, and in that expanse, a realization that anything can happen. Out of that wasteland of anything comes this, the story of a young man who could hear voices in the fire that no one else could.
I am not the kind of city slicker scribe who believes that country towns are populated exclusively with backwoods rubes and numbskulls. As I put Desmond’s story together though, I realized that he needed to be alone in his enlightenment. He could have no natural ally. The only thing more enticing than a person in touch with an unlikely truth, is realizing that, as they grow older, that their fundamental truth must remain a secret.
Through the end of 2018, I will be serially publishing episodes of The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice for my mailing list subscribers. I decided to publish my debut novella this way (one chapter, or “lie” at a time) because I thought it would be a fun and rewarding method to reveal the roots of Desmond’s mercurial character. Readers could discover how the strange young boy grew into a man whose powers of supernatural perception honed hand-in-hand with his ability to lie and cover his tracks. Perhaps, I thought, in this process, Desmond would encounter his ultimate foil. Maybe that foe would be a woman as cunning and persistent as he was secretive.
When The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice is complete, the last of those seven episodes, “The Truth” due out in December, the culmination will be the first book in The Strange Air Series of supernatural mysteries. There are three books planned so far, and yes, Desmond comes back to haunt readers later on. The series centers on the citizens of Josephine and Canyon City, fictional towns located in Canyon County and how they reckon with an emerging supernatural force from beyond the bounds of time and space threatens to subdue them all.
The people of Canyon County are decent country people… well, at least most of them are. I hope you take the time to get to know them and enjoy their company as I have.
Here is where you can sign up for Episode #1… and more.
Erick Mertz is a fiction author who was born and raised in Oregon. A baseball fanatic, beer and food enthusiast, and unapologetic music obsessive, Erick not only considers the Pacific Northwest home, but also his perpetual muse. In a previous life at The University of Oregon, he worked as a late night DJ for 88.1 KWVA. Currently, he writes about music for New Noise magazine. When he is not writing, he spends his time working with community-based people with developmental disabilities, a field where he has worked since high school.
He has written articles on Oregon history for 1859 Magazine, Coastal Living and Southern Oregon Magazine. Previous short stories have been published in Goldman Review, The Los Angeles Review and The Bethany Reader. In 2014, he self-produced an audiobook version of The Measurable Blood based on a short story of the same name, published in Mad Scientist Journal. His poetry can be found in Turtle Island Quarterly, Stone Boat, Dos Passos Review, Cirque Magazine, and most recently, Baldhip Magzine.
Currently, Erick lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Lisa, and son, Elijah who remains stubbornly convinced that his Father eats apples for a living.