Saturday, April 19, 2014


When my kids lived at home we used to have a tradition that fell on every Friday, where we would get together and watch movies. It was our version of family night. Little secret, everyone in the Preston brood are big fans of the film genre. As the kids grew they discovered cooler things than sitting home with us and eventually my wife and I were left to watch alone. 
     Before that, back in 2002 we rented a video from the local Blockbuster and brought it home to watch. The movie was from a relative unknown, at least I'd never heard of him, although I would later discover that I had had recently watched another film by him that I was lukewarm on. That was film was called: POWDER. This movie was something a little darker and the trailer lent itself to that terrifying moment we all dread when out on the road. Picture, if you will, you are driving cross country in unknown territory and you see someone dump what you think is a body down a drain pipe. Then as you roll by in shock you see that dark figure staring directly at you. It is the stuff that invades our dreams and morphs into a full fledged nightmare. This ethereal specter of horror causes one's pulse to race, raises anxiety and claustrophobia begins to close in. We've all had this nightmare in one form or another, all felt that
Jeepers Creepers director Victor Salva 
helplessness when you just can't wake and the dark figure now knows who you are and there's nowhere to run.
     The film was called: JEEPERS  CREEPERS and to be very honest, I figured that the trailer was going to be the highlight. That is often the case with films such as this. We get the best part of the movie in the preview and then when we see the actual film it is a resounding disappointment. Nonetheless, I'm a sucker for a good trailer and I always hold out hope for real surprise and that is exactly what I got in Jeepers Creepers. Once in awhile a gem like this comes along and usually it is when you least expect it. I remember picking up and putting down the box for the original THE HITCHER, and then there was a film I passed over for almost six moths which reunited a number of cast members from the movie ALIENS. That film was NEAR DARK and it was a treat to watch.
     However, I digress, because I'm doing something that is very easy when discussing something I'm passionate about and this really isn't the intent of this post. What I really want to discuss is separating the art from the actual artist. You see, what I didn't know about the film Jeepers Creepers was that its obviously talented director had a criminal record. During the filming of his first feature film director Victor Salva molested the lead actor on the set while filming the act The lead actor was Nathan Forrest Winters and he was only 12 years old. Salva was 29 years old at the time, and after being charged he plead guilty to having one count of oral sex with a person under 14, three counts of procuring child pornography and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct. He was sentenced to three years, but only served 15 months before making parole. After he was paroled, Salva did odd jobs and found his way back to the screen with financing from powerhouse director/producer Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola discovered Salva and gave him the financing to make Clownhouse. When I did a bit of research on this blog I was surprised by Coppola's remarks regarding the molestation.
"Someone had launched a campaign against Victor, saying, 'How can you give this guy a movie to make?' " recalls Coppola… “So I helped Victor get the job… My attitude is, he has a talent, and that talent in itself is good. We don't have to embrace the person in believing that their art is a contribution to society."
     Personally, it changed my view on Salva completely. People make mistakes, but child molestation or crimes such as rape or murder? From my point of view Victor Salva could have robbed a bank, been a heroin addict, even embezzled money and I would be apt to give him a second chance, but the crime for which he was convicted was so heinous I just can't seem to get past that. Even if he claims to be rehabilitated I am left with the feeling that I am putting money into the pocket of a child molester if I support his art.
Director Roman Polanski was arrested for raping a 13 year old in 1977
     And of course Salva is not the only director to get himself into a mess when it comes to child molestation. In 1977 Roman Polanski molested a 13 year old girl and fled the United States to avoid prosecution. Polanski would continue to make a number of movies and received a lot of support from high profile actors and fellow directors. Whoopi Goldberg came out in defense of Polanski when discussing his arrest in Switzerland and whether he should be extradited and tried.
Whoopi Goldberg: "I know it wasn't rape-rape. It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like "You know what this guy's going to give me a hundred years in jail I'm not staying, so that's why he left."
     Polanski was eventually released after the Swiss government refused to extradite him back to the U.S. where is still facing charges. What is absolutely perplexing is the amount of celebrities who have signed a petition to have him pardoned for the crime so that he can return to the United States and  get on with his life. Their indifference to the victim in this case is mind boggling. How can someone blow off the molestation of a child? Coppola's assertion that Salva was being victimized or Goldberg's "rape-rape" comments are completely off base for a demographic that loves to get up on its high horse about a myriad of social issues.
Woody Allen, Mia Farrow  and far right Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previna
     Woody Allen has been accused, but not charged, of molesting  his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. She contends that Allen molested her when she was a mere 7-years-old. While no charges have been laid, her accusations are compelling given that Allen married Soon-Yi Previna (19) who was then wife Mia Farrow's adopted daughter. Allen was 56 at the time. What ensued was very ugly custody battle and media frenzy. But Allen was neither shunned or scolded by his fellow celebrities and Farrow seemed to be painted as bad one.

Fifteen years later, Allen, 75, in an interview with Reuters said, "What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now." He also added, "There was no scandal, but people refer to it all the time as a scandal and I kind of like that in way because when I go I would like to say I had one real juicy scandal in my life."
     In this latest allegation a parade of celebrities have come out in support of Allen. This is a stark contrast to celebrities who might be shunned for uttering a ethnic/racial slur [Mel Gibson] or a homophobic insult [Alec Baldwin]. The celebrity who steps over that line may find themselves permanently branded with a scarlet letter from their fellow artists. 
    Getting back to Victor Salva, I actually watched one of his latest films, Dark House, which I didn't realize was a Salva film until after I watched it. I should have saved my money. It sucked. But aside from the fact that he never quite rebounded after the success of Jeepers Creepers, I am left wondering if he should.
"I pled guilty to a terrible crime, and I've spent the rest of my life trying to make up for it. For almost 20 years, I've been involved with helping others, I've been in therapy, and I've made movies. But I paid my debt to society and apologized to the young man. And all I can hope is that people will give me a chance to redeem myself."
      Perhaps Salva has spent his life trying to make amends for that one mistake, but if he was a police officer, a catholic priest or a teacher, would he be given a second chance? Of course not, and given the scope of the crime he shouldn't. Perhaps this is the type of crime that some celebrities will never understand until they are victims themselves. I would not wish this on anyone, but certainly it would be nice if these high profile millionaires could put themselves in the shoes of the victim instead of using art to excuse the actions of the accused or convicted.

That's it for me.

 Check out other works by MJ Preston!

MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX  
His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecast in 2014


'The Equinox' is a tour de force of brilliant writing, fast-paced action, and gritty characterization. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Something has happened that will change everything...

Well, I posted it in the Literati, but today I officially finished the first draft of my new book: Acadia Event. That is not to say that it will be available tomorrow, but I can say that this book is done in its raw form and what will now be required is the polish and grind of a line by line edit. After something like this you find yourself at a sort of cross road. Did I just invest a year and a half of my life in a work of art or a big steaming pile of... I think you get the jest. 
     I guess I'll find out when I go back and begin the grind of editing. This is all sort of anticlimactic now. I do have to give a big shout out to my pal, mentor, fellow author, dearest friend, Jim Steel aka R. James Steel. 
     Jim is probably one of the coolest people I have ever met. A historical author, he has published a number of books on Canada's involvement in the Great War with co-author James McWilliams. They include: GAS THE BATTLE FOR YPRES, THE SUICIDE BATTALLION, AMIENS: DAWN OF VICTORY; just to name a few. 
     He has also offered his wisdom and historical knowledge to the award winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden on his debut novel: THREE DAY ROAD. In fact Boyden wrote in the aknowledgments. "ALTHOUGH HE'S FAR TOO HUMBLE to admit it, R James [Jim] Steel ranks among our best World War 1 historians and authors.

     I could not agree more, but above and beyond the obvious knowledge and wisdom Jim is a true friend who has been a steadfast supporter in my quest as a writer. Jim first came to my aid after I told him that I was considering dusting of a half-finished 15 year-old manuscript called THE EQUINOX. He said to send it along and
My friend and mentor: Author and Artist R James Steel has been instrumental in help me find my muse.
he’d give me some feedback. Having read a few of Jim’s books I don’t mind telling you that I was more than a little intimidated at the prospect of showing him what I’d done so far. That first chapter I sent him, I must have went over it at least 100 times and still it was rife with issues in grammar and double words; eventually I sent it on.

Later that day and he sent back a message. “Where’s the next chapter” and “How come it took you so long?” 
     I confessed that I was nervous about his reaction, that the errors in my work would be met with scorn.

“Mark, just write it. Get it done, the spit and polish comes later.”

And so I did and he gave me a guiding hand all the way through the creative process of that first book. The Equinox went through a number of drafts, five or six as I recall and Jim took them without complaint until I offered up the last draft and he said, “Publish the damned thing.”
      I did just that.
      I asked Jim to come in on ACADIA EVENT once I started down this road again and Jim, being the cool guy he is, invited me to send over each chapter. I don’t mind telling you that I looked for that little footnote of encouragement after Jim read each chapter. This footnote was the encouragement I needed during those dark hours of self-loathing when depression seeps in and you become a poor misunderstood artist and... 
      You get the jest.
      This morning I sent out those last 25 or so pages that make up two chapters and an epilogue. Today my feelings harken back to that first chapter of Equinox I sent, that same feeling of apprehension.Will he hate it? Tell me to buy a rig and keep trucking?
      Fuck it! Nothing I can do now but put the thing away for awhile and move onto something else. In a month or so I'll pick it back up and go to work. 
     Thank you Jim, you are a friend in the truest sense of the word.  I'd say it's over, but a story never really ends; does it?

 Check out other works by MJ Preston!

MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecast in 2014


'The Equinox' is a tour de force of brilliant writing, fast-paced action, and gritty characterization. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Matters of Darkness: What's new?

It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I thought I talk a bit about what's up. Ongoing projects, upcoming projects, general musings and all that...

BUGS: Tales that Slither, Creep and Crawl 

I am just putting the finishing touches on a new book cover for Great Old Ones Publishing. This is a new anthology for this small press of which I have  the honor of being included. 
     My tale, will end up somewhere in the book, and as an added surprise my wife Karen has found her way onto the cover. 
     Imagine that? My wife agreed to pose on the cover of a book dedicated to creepy crawly things that slither and bite. And she hates bugs folks! I mean she really hates bugs! Beautiful and adventurous. What can I say. She's a keeper folks. 
     This upcoming anthology will again be chock full of talented folks who will lead us down the spider hole, injecting us with venomous tales sure to make your skin crawl and raise the hairs on the back of our necks. 
     I don't know all the names, but I've seen public announcements that Melissa Gates, Sydney Lee, Charles Day and Kristi Petersen Schoonover are just a few of the names that will be spinning a year.
      It is my understanding that the anthology is going through the editing process as we speak, so it shouldn't be too long before the big reveal.
      Check out the Great Old Ones Publishing for more details.



I can happily report that I am almost finished the first draft of my latest novel: ACADIA EVENT. I know, I know, I said it would be done in 2013, but I've been hard at it and finally, I'm looking at killing this monster and flinging it out into the public somewhere into 2014. 
     As an added bonus, the cover art is done and I expect within the next few weeks so will the first draft of the manuscript. Then I start down the road of polishing and editing. It hasn't been officially picked up by a publishing house, but I expect to bring it to the public in 2014 no matter what. Stay tuned.
     Oh yeah, as a shout out to Eric Webster of Dark Discussions and Askancity notoriety. I commented that I need subjects (other than myself) to do horrible things to when I dabble in the dark arts for inspiration. I tried to track down the exact post, but Facebook doesn't make it easy. Anyway, Eric volunteered to allow me to do all sorts of horrible things to his face and then, quite smartly,  retracted the original offer and clarified exactly what he would allow. Thanks Eric, you're a sport man and you made me laugh. 



I have also been asked to write a foreword to a book by another author. There are some in the writing community who subscribe to the philosophy that we writers are in constant competition and giving someone else a kudos is unwise. I personally don't subscribe to this mindset and believe in lending my support to other authors. That is why you will find me endorsing writers like Gord Rollo or Robert R McCammon, because these are talented folks who need be read.  
     So with that in mind. Hey! Fellow writers, support your craft and get behind the up and comers. To quote the Sam Roberts Band. "We're all in this together." 
     For now I'll keep it under wraps who the author is until I've finished the manuscript and had a chance to pen a foreword. Keep watching.



Once I put Acadia Event to bed, my next  priority will be my next novel: 4
     This new book is a straight up psychological thriller. The book has already been started, as you know if you're a regular reader of this blog, and I plan to get right down to after I wrap up with Acadia. I have always been a huge fan of the Police Procedural: Thomas Harris, Michael Connelly, and John Sandford. Anyhow, that is what I envision in 4. 
     It will be a straight thriller...  Okay who am I kidding? Of course it will be horrific, but the monsters in this book are very real. And they walk among us every day.



I had the pleasure of sitting in on two recordings of Dark
Discussions. The first was kind of interesting, because I was completely ignorant to the content. I speak of course of Hannibal, the new series that is making waves on television. The boys, Phil, Eric, Mike and Abe, discussed the show while I asked questions. That was sort of cool and unformatted. If anyone actually enjoyed this episode, give a shout out to Phil and see if he wants to try that again. 
     Luck would have it that I was able to sit down with Phil and the boys for their review of the 'listener requested episode' on the 1978 film: IT'S ALIVE. The episode hasn't aired so I won't delve into any specifics, but I will tell you that from a tech point of view it was a real pain in the ass to record.  I don't know if it was the Skype or New Hampshire weather, but we were dogged by blackouts, loss of sound and poor Phil had to jack us up for acting like a bunch of clowns, something guys are apt to do when things go horribly awry.  Anyway, after two separate sessions we got the episode recorded and now leave it with Phil to do his magic. I can't wait and neither should you. Check out Dark Discussions,

And that about sums things up for me, other than to say that I am doing what I want to do and for that I am very happy.


MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX
His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecasted for release in late 2013

'The Equinox' is a tour de force of brilliant writing, fast-paced action, and gritty characterisation. 
Get your copy of The Equinox  
Sold in Hardcover and Trade Paperback
Click on the books below for more details

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Subway Incident

Yesterday I was on my way back down to Edmonton and I decided to stop in at a Subway and grab a bite. I don't eat out of restaurants a whole lot, I usually prepare my own food on the road because it's healthier and less costly. When I happened into this Subway a woman in her late 60's to early 70's was standing in line in front of me. 
     In trucking, time is money so it’s very easy to become impatient when someone takes their time or is indecisive, but I wasn't in any particular hurry, I was heading back to reset at the home terminal so I waited patiently as this lady gave very specific orders as to what she wanted on the two subs the server was preparing. "Just a dash of salt. A smidgeon of pepper. A tiny bit of sub sauce please..." She was thinking about each ingredient, concentrating and I wondered if she was struggling with her memory. Then she suddenly said. "Oh no. I got them backwards." There was anguish in those words. 
     The server, not much more than 20, sighed, and said, "It isn't that much sub sauce." 
    "If they don't like it, tell them to get their own sub," I added softly and smiled.
    She turned to me and I could see the concern in her eyes. "You don't understand, he's 13 years-old; he'll taste it."
    I suddenly fell silent, that little interaction unraveling something inside me. I guess it was because I saw my own mother then, her grandmotherly attentiveness for getting something as simple as a food order right when it came to her own grandchildren. My Mother passed away back in 2002 in the aftermath of a heart attack and succumbing to an infection that took her two days later. Sadness enveloped me and I was distracted as the lady left the building with her order and I absently filled my own.
    My Mother had a tough life. When I was just a young boy my two older brothers, Tony and Kenny, were playing on the St Lawrence River when the ice below Kenny's feet gave way and he fell into the cold unforgiving current. An older boy who was present grabbed for him, even caught his winter hat, but the ties were undone and when the current pulled him under the ice the older boy was left holding that empty hat. He was seven years-old, his life extinguished in one careless moment that happens in almost every boy’s life. My other brother Tony, who was a mere eight, was suddenly tasked with delivering the news of this tragedy to my mother. For him it would be a defining moment also and I wouldn't dare to minimize the impact it had on him, because I saw firsthand how my brother watched out for me the rest of my life. I know that I became his focus. As big brother and protector, his instinct was always to make sure I was safe. But on this day he was a messenger who brought home the worst news and coming from an Irish Catholic family he would find himself standing before a priest who would tell him that he had to: "Be strong. You're the man now."
     That was because our own father didn't know how to take care of business. A habitual criminal, that included bank robbery, arson and god knew what else, my father was absent in his duties as a husband and parent. When they buried my brother in the Montreal cemetery my father had to watch from a distance, because he was wanted by the police. And yes, they had the funeral staked out. It's funny, of all the terrible things he did in his life, including kidnapping my mother with the intent of killing her, that one act is what I find most offensive. If one my own children were to die, I would go to jail for the rest of my life before I stayed away from their funeral.
     After that event, my mother would go on to struggle with alcohol for the better part of her life . Before she broke away from my father, there were numerous violent outbursts of abuse. I remember being pulled from my bed as my desperate mother was crying frantically. "I killed him I killed him." Still in my pajamas we got into our car and hid out in a motel in Niagara Falls Ontario. I was four. She hadn't killed him, only knocked him unconscious by clobbering him with a lamp after he started beating on her.
    I could write a book about all the things I saw during my upbringing, things like going to school under an assumed name because the Hamilton Police were looking for my father in connection with a bank robbery. For the record, my alias was Mark Gardner. Eventually my father would kidnap my Mother and the man who would become my step-father. Taken from a bar at gun point they were no doubt intended to be disposed of when a massive police take-down ended my father's plans. He was sentenced to 10 years for armed robbery and served six, but that severed the relationship for good.
    The struggles with alcohol for my mother would carry on throughout her life. It would end her second marriage, cause turmoil with other family members. When she drank she was resentful, brooding, verbally abusive, but I attribute this to the lousy cards she was dealt. I don't excuse this behavior, but I understand it. At one point in my life I did not speak to my mother for almost a year because of her behavior when intoxicated. But I also remember the sadness in her eyes when Christmas came around, Kenny's Birthday and the anniversary of that tragic day on the St Lawrence.
     She would eventually break free of her addiction. Perhaps it was when she realized that her life was going to waste. In the last three years of her life she refocused on her grandchildren and perhaps that is why I was suddenly reminded of her yesterday. She worried needlessly that all grandchildren got their fair share when it came to Christmas. She thought of things like: Mikey doesn't like onions in his food. Scott hates tomatoes. Corey loves tomatoes. 
     She would have said, "You don't understand, he's 13 years-old; he'll taste it." 
     After I got my sub I left the restaurant and climbed into my rig. Shifting gears, my mind turned over the memories and there was a sadness in my heart. I thought about the Grandmother in the Subway, agonizing over that unfortunate squirt of misplaced sub sauce. I considered my own actions and thought I should have leaned over to that attentive lady and said. "Your grandson is a very lucky to have someone like you."
    I miss her.

MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX
His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecast for release in 2014