In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Michael Edgerton and his story “The Eyes of Fire.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
Lovecraft, to start. One of his stories, Pickman’s Model, really struck me. Pickman was a character in the same vein as Foster when it came to this idea of art and morbidity as an intertwined obsession, and so the story became a real fascination of mine.
I drew inspiration also from the works we were reading in my AP Lit class. Things like Young Goodman Brown and Tracks. In mid-winter, I reconnected with my love for William Blake poetry, and ended up taking a lot of inspiration from A Poison Tree. Blake himself is one of my heroes, and some aspect of his work is always put into my writing.
North Carolinian legend plays into it as well, but more on that later.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
After skimming over a brief National Geographic article about nightmarish plants I was introduced to the unsettling botany present in “The Eyes of Fire.” Apparently, corpse flowers evolved such a necrotic smell to attract flesh flies and other carrion insects as pollinators. What I really learned, however, was that I want a couple of them as Halloween decorations, so that when trick-or-treaters come to my house it smells cadaverous.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
He’s a morbidly inclined bastard, but in a sardonic, optimistic sort of way. He’s the sort of guy who’d go bigfoot hunting with Mulder from The X-Files. I’ve absolutely loved his character since he came to being two years ago—if for no other reason than his mad bastard attitude. There’s more to come for Foster, and because everything I write is in a shared universe, I’ve been planning his brief cameo in my next novel.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
“The Devil’s Halo” was based off of the Devil’s Tramping Grounds—the sort of North Carolina legend that begs to be fictionalized. The story revolves around the titular clearing in Chatham County where they say that the land was scorched from the devil walking around in a circle, plotting woe to humanity.
It gave the story richer mythology, and allows for it to have some ground in something that wasn’t entirely my conception. Any good writing should have a grain of reality behind the setting, and before I used the Devil’s Tramping Ground, I lacked that.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
Philosophically, I want people to take away this concept that sometimes art comes from somewhere beyond our present awareness, beyond the mind—it comes somewhere from the soul, or perhaps something still stranger. I guess I want to give people a religious experience when they read it, because that’s what writing is for me. When people read my work they get acquainted with a small piece of my soul—or at least that’s the hope.
Emotionally I want people to get the same sort of unsettling feeling of despair, addiction, and yearning for mercy that one finds when listening to Nick Cave’s Tender Prey.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
“…a knowledge I could not possess, but that could possess me.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I bought a collection of classic horror stories to get inspiration. It was chock full of stories from Stevenson, Stoker, and Poe, all packaged in this sexy leather cover. I’m not sure if that counts, but that’s all that comes to mind.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker. He’s my favorite author, and everyone ought to read Mister B. Gone. The way he uses metafiction in the novel creates a relationship with the reader unlike any I have ever seen before, and I’d love to have my name on that book.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
I started to take it seriously around my freshman year of high school, but didn’t start writing my first novel until sophomore year.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
The ability to control metal like Magneto. If I’m being honest I’d probably use my powers for evil, and being able to control metal would probably make bank robbery and other nefarious acts easy.
Is there anyone you’d like to dedicate this work to?
First and foremost I’d like to dedicate it to the memories of two important people in my life. My grandfather, Jerry Shropshire, and Dale Brubaker an early advocate of my writing.
I’d like to also like to give special thanks to my English teachers, Mr. Tangredi, Mrs. Weaver, and my yearbook advisor Mr. Rickard for having encouraged and improved my writing over the past few years.
Michael Edgerton was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. He attended Walter Hines Page High School where he served on the award winning yearbook staff as a copy editor. He will be attending Appalachian State University in the fall.
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