Tuesday, 29 July 2014

HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW - A Novel By Terry M West

It doesn't take much intuition or intelligence to realise that Terry M. West's new book HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW hasn't exactly been a labour of love for him, perhaps labour of pain & hell would probably be a more apt description of what it took for him to write it. But more of that in a moment.

Terry first came to my attention in August of last year when I was asked to review his new book, a collection of six stories entitled A Psycho's Medley. He was already pretty well known to most horror fans as the director of the critically-acclaimed independent horror film Blood for the Muse and Fever Dream’s Flesh for The Beast and his book was a return to the horror genre after nearly a decade. However, for A Psycho's Medley was the first real association that I'd had with his work up to that point. I say ' up to that point' because I not only immensely enjoyed his collection of short stories, but I've also made a conscious effort to keep up with his work since.  

If you have a spare few minutes then you could do worse than check out the article which can be found directly at THIS LINK HERE. Of course, the term ' you could do worse' is entirely subjective......

I will admit that I genuinely enjoyed reading A Psycho's Medley and its journeys into the mind of the psychopath together with their varying forms of insanity, each with their own origins and manifestations of evil. Essentially, it was an accumulation of stories that sat me gently down, asked me if I was comfortable and then introduced me to the very real human monsters that could well be lying there under my bed and just waiting to show me their special brand of madness.

So why, you may be asking, is this current work possibly the result of pain and hell for the author? Well it may be best to firstly relate a little of Terry M.West's background which may then shed a little light on the matter.

As I have already mentioned, Terry has made a name for himself for his much lauded horror fiction. However, before that he had spent a short period of his career on the fringe of the adult film industry. Through a series of events he found himself writing and directing soft-core sex films, a situation he freely admits wasn't a result of arm twisting, he willingly and freely ventured into this world believing that he would be able to pay some bills and bide his time to become the horror writer he believed he would be. In the meantime he would remain untainted. However, as for many before and after him, this association with the adult industry nearly ruined his reputation as a serious artist, he felt tainted and subsequently went into a deep depression that resulted in substance abuse and the disintegration of his first marriage. He slowly began to straighten himself around and left the creative world for a 10 years. He returned in 2013 and to a fair level of acclaim - and not just from myself.The personal demons were behind him.

Maniac Terry has plans for reviewers that he takes a dislike to......
Well, they may indeed be behind him, but it seems that Terry M.West has realised that like all of us, we can leave those demons behind for a while, but eventually their shadows will often raise their heads with a reminder of pains past. Now I don't profess to know Terry very well, he is now a Facebook acquaintance of mine but that won't stop me from being as honest as I can and I know that he won't hesitate to let me know If I am wrong. In essence, it seems that he has felt some sense of responsibility to tell his story - at least his version of it - and with it set some of those personal demons free forever.

As a consequence he was written quite probably the most personal and intensely honest appraisal of himself and his previous life, and placed it all within an imaginary world of magic, make-believe and horror. I will say this now, I read HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW in a couple of hours without stopping. I thoroughly and genuinely enjoyed it. However, I will warn prospective readers to beware, because reading this story leaves one with a distinct sense of unease and a pervading sense of something not quite right within ones soul.

So what is the synopsis of the story?..... Well take a look at the little snapshot of spoiler-free info below.



"HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW explores pain and hell. The story is set in a dark make-believe New York. The Night Things have climbed onto our shores from the shadows and they are now part of the system.

Gary Hack, a down on his luck porn director with an appetite for heroin, finds himself working in the dangerous world of monster fetish videos.

Gary is made an offer he can't refuse by Johnny Stücke, an immortal crime boss. The video Johnny envisions could be the greatest zombie fetish film ever created. But it could also ignite an apocalypse that could destroy the city.

HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW is original, startling and brutal. It will leave a mark inside."

You don't have to be some king of Psychologist to quickly realise that the main protagonist, Gary Hack, is probably barely one or two fictional touches of shade away from being a certain Terry M. West. What he has done is supplant the seedy and insane world of soft-core Hollywood and transplant into a Universe where, with echoes of True Blood, the mythical creatures of historical folklore have come out of the shadows to be part of society. Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves et al have all become part of the day to day (and night to night) existence. 

The Zombies have become the new underclass - begging and whoring themselves in order to 'survive' after being outlawed from mixing in groups of three undead, for fear of the frenzied consequences. Vampires are portrayed here as vain and insecure, Werewolves as gluttons of feeding excess. And within this universe there are those willing to take advantage of the financial, sexual and dominating opportunities that they are now afforded. After all, appetites still need to be satisfied don't they?

The story is full of dark places inhabited by dark characters - both in human and monster form. Gary maybe once was a nice guy, but now finds himself a self-loathing monster of a very human kind, partly of his own creation, fuelling himself on death -  chemically, spiritually and literally. During the story he frequently questions both his own motives and behaviour and those of others around him - yet his weakness and personal demons lead him to constantly make decisions that can only have one outcome - possibly. And yet, there are elements of Gary Hack that are likable, even appealing. There is still an undercurrent of decency, humour and humanity beneath his seedy existence.

HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW is an immensely enjoyable read, full of horror with a fair modicum of humour. The characters are believable, which given that they probably are formed from people from Mr West's past is no major surprise, and the dialogue is constantly punchy and laced with biting and sardonic humour. 

It is not comfortable reading, for it deals with an industry that is already full of its share of casualties and fatalities and to it adds a heady mix of monster chills into the bloody gory mix. The story's central strength is that while it is a dark and personal tale that touches on whole range of things, life choices, career choices, greed, lust (to name but a few) - it still nicely soaks these things up in gory yucky blood and places them in a Universe that I would gladly read more of.

The main criticism that I would have is the length of the story, at a little over 50 pages it simply isn't long enough - and before all of you out there shout back "Its a bloody Novella, numb nuts!", I know that.....obviously. However, short stories and novellas always leave me lacking in complete satisfaction and while that may well be a fault on my part, I can't help but feel that a very good book could have become a great book if some characters, particularly that of Johnny Stücke,  had been given the opportunity to further flesh out, if you pardon the pun. 

That, if truth be told, is just a minor quibble for what was a fabulous read. I can just about hear Terry replying "I literally sweated blood in doing this and you wanted MORE!!!??" I can only imagine what a tortuous experience this was for the author in revisiting a part of his life that all but destroyed his reputation, and nearly his own existence. West is not preaching, apologising or excusing his life or career choices, but he certainly seems to have learnt from them . Maybe Gary Hack will do the same.

HEROIN IN THE MAGIC NOW will available on August 31st from Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc. It will be offered for Kindle with a trade paperback to follow shortly afterwards. 

Nice Terry with his books - the power drill is under the desk......
Terry M. West is a well known author, filmmaker, actor and artist. He has written several books in the young adult field (most notably the graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire) and he has also written several horror short stories as well as the horror/thriller novel, Dreg. 

His work has appeared (or is scheduled to appear) in FrightNet, Scream Factory, Agony In Black, Lacunae, Jackhammer, House of Pain, Dark Muse, Moonletters, Silent Screams, When Red Snow Melts, One Hellacious Halloween, Deathmongers, Vignettes from the End of the World, Axes of Evil and Zombified 2. He was a finalist for the 1997 International Horror Guild Award for a short story (The Night Out) and he made the 1999 Bram Stoker Award preliminary ballot for a piece of long fiction (Hair and Blood Machine). 

He was also mentioned on the 1997 TV Guide Sci-Fi Hot List. West's books and collections include: A PSYCHO'S MEDLEY, WHAT PRICE GORY?, DEAD AWARE: A Horror Tale Told in Screenplay, CECIL & BUBBA MEET THE THANG and special collectors editions of CAR NEX, MIDNIGHT SNACK and CECIL & BUBBA MEET A SUCCUBUS. 

His work has received glowing reviews. His filmography includes his debut film, Blood for the Muse (based on his comic book of the same name which was a finalist for the 1998 International Horror Guild Award for a comic) and Flesh for the Beast. He has acted in the films The Blood Shed and Gallery of Fear (both directed by Alan Rowe Kelly) and had a starring role in Joseph M. Monks debut film, The Bunker. 

Terry currently writes and paints in southern California with his wife, Regina, and their son, Terrence. Terry is an active member of the Horror Writer's Association. 

Terry's official Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE

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