My Joy of Story by Robert E. Dunn

I’m not compelled to write. That’s something you hear from many authors, that they need to write or that they write because they feel they must. That’s not me. My compulsions are more toward story than writing. Ask my kids. I can’t just tell them something. I always end up telling them a story about why this or who that. Often they are about having had to walk five miles in the snow with baked potatoes in my pockets to keep my hands warm and those potatoes were my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You get the idea. Heck, I sometimes paint, write poetry, and lie to people for fun. If I could carry a tune I would be more than happy as a musician and never mess with books. I don’t need to write but I need to express.

For me it’s about story and stories. The thing about that is, it leads me to other stories, different kinds, different people, and different viewpoints. I love stories. There’s the difference between me and some other writers. Difference here is not a value judgement and I won’t disparage other writers for their choices. But so many writers I meet and interact with through social media are fixed to their genre. And I’ve come to feel that is in the nature of our love or our needs—for writing or for storytelling.

There aren’t any absolutes. I think we (writers) all have our own balance but some are more weighted to one side or the other. But it seems to me that the people who love, or need, to write, know what they want to write. More often their variety of ideas is expressed within genre. Some horror writers work to success. Apocalyptic works for you—that is what you write. Some may write creature horror then literary horror then a Lovecraftian tale. If you have a love and a compulsion it is natural they would make an alliance.

Writers like me, those for whom writing is simply a vehicle for telling stories, tend to wider ranging topics and genres. I can’t say if it is good or bad. The market will decide that. I just write my stories and hope.

I had plans. I had dreams. I started out years ago thinking I would write science fiction. I’m not smart enough. Not only that, but science fiction changed. I grew up with Heinlein and Asimov and Bradbury. Through the ‘80s and ‘90s, science fiction became much more about tie-ins and a very active genre. Read that as more structured and harder to break into. And I still wasn’t smart enough.

But I wasn’t locked. I didn’t want to just write. I certainly didn’t need to write science fiction. I wanted to tell stories. I wrote screenplays. I never sold one but it is the nature of that business that you can get passed around and praised and never sold. I wrote a historical fiction script about the legend of John Henry. Story editors called to tell me how much they loved it. But… I wasn’t compelled to screenwriting. It was about stories. I still had many to tell.

Over the years I wrote television commercials, news, documentaries, some stories, plays, poetry… Some of it was just work. Some for love. See, I don’t much care about the means to tell a story as long as I get the story told.

I think my particular balance between writing and storytelling has both helped and hindered me. If I concentrated on one thing, I would probably get better quicker and, perhaps, had more success. On the other hand, I have books out in horror, romantic suspense, mystery/thriller, and one upcoming gritty noir. Even within genre, especially horror, my books vary widely. That gives me more of an opportunity to reach an audience.

Many of us writers spend a lot of time writing about writing. It is a group that likes to help and boost each other. Also we get asked pretty often about how to do it or how to succeed. I always say you have to decide for yourself what success is. But you also have to find your balance between writing and storytelling. The important thing to take away from my ramblings, is to make your choices. I think the only way to fail, is to write for success. You can chase that balloon forever and never write anything you really want to write. And consider the worst case, what if you catch it? What if you write a novel that succeeds and you end up doing a series of books you don’t love writing?

It’s all a balance, but I say find the side with your joy on it, then put your thumb on the scale. For me, it’s telling lots of different stories in different ways. And guess what—I’m working on two science fiction stories. No space, and no far-far future. I still hope I’m smart enough to pull them off.

About the Author:

Robert E. Dunn was born an army brat and grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He wrote his first book at age eleven, stealing, or novelizing, as he called it at the time, the storyline of a Jack Kirby comic book.

His college course of study, philosophy, religion, theatre, and film/TV communications, left him qualified only to be a televangelist. When that didn’t work out, he turned to them mostly, honest work of video production. Over several years he produced everything from documentaries, to training films and his favorite, travelogues. Still always writing for the joy of it he returned to writing horror and fantasy fiction for publication after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change even if the changes were not always his choice.

He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead but makes no promises how interesting those little posts will be.

Robert E. Dunn – A Living Grave Review

Review copy provided as part of the A Living Grave blog tour.

A Living Grave, the latest from Robert Dunn, is thriller and mystery book rolled into one. For me this book is different from my past reading experiences from Robert Dunn.  I’ve read about aliens and if I’m being honest they scare the holy hell out of me. I’ve read about crazy doctors and muscle cars, but A Living Grave is something very different, at least to me. Again if I’m being honest it may be the best book from Robert Dunn I’ve read. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while and I loved it, all of it. I was ‘all in’ as the saying goes after the first chapter and hated putting it down for work, sleep or even long enough to grab a bite to eat.

Katrina Williams is called to respond to a call from the county dispatch. She meets a man named Clarence Bolin who has found a dead girl. The same one that Katrina recently heard was a missing person. Angela Briscoe is lying dead in a field near Clare’s favorite fishing hole. After questioning Clare, Katrina knows he hasn’t commit the crime, but she is sure he is telling her everything. Stranger yet is the word Leech is found carved in the trees near the scene. Katrina doesn’t know what to think about the strange carvings in the trees. She knows there must be a connection, what it is is the mystery. In the midst of Katrina’s investigation her past comes roaring back. With the ghosts of her past on her heals she struggles to keep them quiet. Two of the men she accused of assaulting her while she was in the army are dead. The deaths don’t bring her satisfaction, they are only a reminder that the army turned their back on her.

Robert Dunn brings Katrina to life, giving her multidimensional and complicated history. Her back story is one that will crush you and her struggle to keep those ghosts behind her will make you love her. She is a character that is solid and real, someone you can relate to on many levels. To say I loved this character would be an understatement. Katrina is a character that seamlessly moves from the pages of A Living Grave into reality. Robert Dunn doesn’t just write a characters, he breathes life into them. When Katrina talks of ‘keeping her ghosts behind her’ and ‘trying not to think of a lot of things’ this is what makes her relatable. I know I’ve had these same thoughts, more days than not, and this is how Robert Dunn made Katrina real to me. When I first saw the title, it made me wonder what significance it held. The synopsis was clear enough but I still wondered if there was another meaning. To me it meant that if you live life with enough pain you are only existing and not really living. I think this was the struggle Katrina was living with. She was just going through the motions and not seeing the color in the world. I may have read too much into the title but after reading A Living Grave this felt about right to me.

Book Info

Length:  266 Pages

Publisher:  Lyrical Underground

Release date:  September 13, 2016

To Purchase A Living Grave Click Here

Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.

The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bottlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time  Katrina might not have, as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…

Praise for Robert Dunn and A Living Grave-

The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read!  It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story. 5+++ stars!”
-2 Book Lovers Reviews

“This is hardboiled fiction at its best. We’re talking Elmore Leonard territory. A fantastic read and I hope there’s more to come.”
–Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon on A Living Grave

“Dunn’s lyrical descriptions of Katrina’s inner struggles and demons read almost like poetry as he weaves an intricate and deadly plot of motorcycle gangs, the MOB, cancer survival, and child abuse into a novel so rife with complex feelings and life-situations, you are compelled to read it slowly, so you don’t miss a nuance of the gut-wrenching emotions he elicits from his characters.”
– Peggy Jaeger, Author of The Voices of Angels

“Parts of this book moved me to tears while others made me want to cheer out loud at Katrina’s kick-ass-atude. The twists and turns in the story kept me on the edge of my seat until the entirely satisfying ending. I’m so happy that this is just the start of what promises to be a totally addictive series! I highly recommend this phenomenal 5 star read.”
-Horror Maiden’s Book Reviews

Robert Dunn, Biography-

Robert Dunn was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.

An award-winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.

A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem, Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novels Behind the Darkness  and The Red Highway.

Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.

Robert E. Dunn – Motorman Review

Review copy provided as part of the Motorman blog tour.

Johnny is running from his former life and with no particular destination in mind. He ends up in a strange town working for an even stranger man who goes by the name Doc. Johnny works as a mechanic fixing up anything, car, truck or otherwise. He quickly becomes friends with Docs daughter Emma and to his surprise wishes they could be more than friends. Johnny isn’t made of the right parts to be more than friends. Emma isn’t whole, she is a mix of flesh and metal, like many people in this nowhere town. She and many others in town seem to have had various body parts replaced or enhanced with metal. The role Johnny is made for in this strange town is the new Doc where he can fix damaged people. Doc starts to train Johnny when an injured driver in a wreck. Johnny has just graduated from an everyday mechanic to the doctor assistant and soon the town doctor. Doc uses metal, plastic and whatever else he has to fix people. Johnny watches in stunned amazement as Doc works his magic attaching metal to flesh and bone with a bit of his magic blue goo. Again Johnny wants to run, to be anywhere than in this crazy town.

Motorman is an interesting look at running from something, and not know where you are headed or if you can get away, and mostly ending up nowhere. Looking for answers and not knowing who can get them from or if there are any answers at all. Trying to do what you want but not really trying all that hard. Robert fills the background with some cool cars and crazy science fiction and more than a few characters that are strange and intriguing. Motorman becomes strange and odd after Johnny is in an accident and is now the one Doc needs to fix. Johnny begins to realize what has happened after his accident in bits and pieces. The imagery is vivid as Robert pieces the world together in Johnny’s eyes. The flashes of a nightmare world come to life from Johnny’s viewpoint as he wakes up a new man. The story really take a weird turn in the final chapters as Johnny’s fate is revealed. In the end no amount of running did Johnny any good and maybe that‘s the point of Motorman.

Book Info

Length:  105 Pages

Publisher:  Necro Publications

Release date:  May 21, 2016

To Purchase Motorman Click Here

Running from a night of humiliation and murder, Johnny Burris leaves his home in an urban junkyard fleeing into the Ozarks countryside. While he flees, mysterious streaks of blue light in the night sky drive him into a bit of nowhere lost in the hills. Johnny thinks he’s found home and good work in an odd little gas station from another time. The station isn’t the only thing strange and Johnny quickly gets pulled into a world where the cars aren’t the only things all chromed out and everything seems touched with a little of the flying blue streaks that led Johnny there.

Enticed and torn between two sisters, one an outcast for her normality, Johnny becomes the pawn of their father. The old doctor is looking for a replacement and Johnny Burris is the man with just the right skills.

But Johnny doesn’t want anything to do with the doctor’s plans so he runs, taking one of the sisters with him. But the people, and the girl, turn out to be even more than he imagined. And his whole world becomes the one choice, live as a monster, making monsters or die like a man. If he chooses to die, who will he take with him?

Praise-

The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read!  It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story. 5+++ stars!” -2 Book Lovers Reviews

“A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away.”
–Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

Robert Dunn, Biography-

Robert Dunn was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.

An award-winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.

A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem, Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novels Behind the Darkness  and The Red Highway.

Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.

You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase Links

Amazon

Necro Publications

Barnes and Noble

GoodReads

Robert E. Dunn – Behind The Darkness Review

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Max and his wife Sheila are on a hike in the mountains.  Max is at the plateau and starting to enjoy the setting sun when he sees a strange sight.  He calls for his wife to hurry before she misses this great view but in a flash his calls for her to hurry turn to calls for her to RUN!  Tyler and his wife Ashley have high hopes of a successful farm life until one day a cow is found dead and the unborn calf has been removed.  Mysteriously cool breezes and strange feelings that someone or something is lurking around the farm give them a funny feeling.  All over town there are strange occurrences of a passing cloud or movement in the corner of the eye that give Behind the Darkness a creepy feeling.  Robert Dunn’s writing gives you goosebumps and causes the hairs on your arm to stand up.  Ashley has strange feelings all day from the strange cool breeze on a 95 degree day that shouldn’t be there and she keeps having disturbing visions that make no sense.  The town’s people are no strangers to strange happening and hope the storm clouds are just a storm.

Max awakens to find himself at the mercy of the aliens, one moment he was on the mountain enjoying the view the next he finds himself being examined by strange terrible hands and instruments.  The scenes of Max aboard the UFO are stomach turning and this is what I find most frightening about aliens.  Robert does a great job describing Max’s horrible experiences and leaves me feeling a bit sickened.  As day turns to night for Tyler and Ashley the long day is becoming a longer night.  Max is dropped out of thin air and right in front of Sheila as she is on her way to the farm for a weekend visit.  Max’s night along with Tyler, Ashley and their two friends has many challenges ahead as this nightmare is far from over.  The story’s pace really picks up and the tension is thick as the darkness presses down on the farm and Max tells them what the aliens really want.  Behind the Darkness has plenty of tension, action, horror and characters you can connect with and if aliens are what scare you then give Behind the Darkness a read.

Rating 4/5

Book Info

Length:  212 Pages

Publisher:  Severed Press

Release date:  January 25, 2015

To Purchase Behind The Darkness Click Here

Max never had the chance to say goodbye, he did have the chance to scream. Violently taken from his wife and his world, Max is thrown into a nightmare of fear, agony, and experimentation at the hands of other worldly creatures stalking the night skies.

Twenty years later, four friends have gathered at an isolated Ozarks ranch to celebrate an upcoming birth. Their joy is shattered when the frail and unconscious body of Max falls from an ominous darkening sky kicking loose a roller coaster of violence and horror.

Through one seemingly endless night the friends find themselves surrounded, and at the mercy of nameless, unseen creatures. Desperation makes for difficult choices and even more difficult actions as two men learn just who they must be to fight the killers behind the darkness.

Robert Dunn, biography

Robert Dunn (1960) was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.

An award winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.

A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem, Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novel, Behind the Darkness.

Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.