"The Bruja" Was Never Intended to be a Stand-Alone


If you read all the way to "The Bruja's" final page (well I hope you did!) you'll notice the promise of a sequel. That's a promise I will be keeping in 2018. The universe of The Collapse is rich and deeply flavored. There are no grand epics to be found here, no White Walkers or Eye of Sauron. There are, however, stories to be told about people. People surviving the end of the world. Adapting, and rebuilding civilization. Learning to live with ghosts, gods, and magic. Some people will want power, others will want to protect the weak. Many may still be driven mad, and those who just want to be loved. What happens in that world? Why does it happen? Well, come along for this adventures with me, and I promise to show you. There is no trilogy, no collection. There is only a world you can immerse yourself in. There is a timeline, and some folks will change that timeline. Or, maybe they don't. Perhaps they perish on their journey or even become gods themselves.

This is The Collapse. A world of untold beauty and fathomless nightmares. This is where wonder and horror meet. Here's what you can expect.

Early 2018: I will be partnering with author Melissa Johnson to bring you a handful of short stories from the shadows of The Collapse. These stories will be free, and available for download from MichaelMolisani.com -- "The Dread Harvester" will be the first and should drop sometime around April or May for your reading pleasure.

Late 2018: "Mayhem" will be published for e-book & softcover from retailers like Amazon. "Mayhem" follows Maggi's apprentice and adopted-daughter, Margaret as she attempts to thwart the manipulation of gods and man. Her best allies and worst enemies may be the twin granddaughters of Maggi Lopez, Amihan & Ramona. The future of the Antecedent Empire & House Owens rests in her very small hands.

Mid 2019: Melissa Johnson & I are going to be releasing a short-story anthology from the world of The Collapse, again from retailers like Amazon. This project is unnamed as of yet, but I am thrilled to be working with Melissa. I've known her for years and she is an incredibly talented author. This collaboration is a dream come true anyone who's a fan of great writing. The anthology will cover different eras of The Collapse and will include the fiction we're releasing this spring.

Late 2020: "Century Witch." Remember that title. This is the juggernaut I'm most proud of, and probably the best fiction I have ever written. I toyed with releasing this book first, rather than the "The Bruja," but I believed ardently that every tale should start at the beginning. This is not the end of our adventure, but rather the end of our prologue. "Century Witch" will destroy every notion you have about horror & fantasy, and it will go above and beyond the notion of a book. I can't wait to share this with you all.

These dates will be maintained as best as I can. I have a day job that pays the bills (writing does not!) and I need to maneuver around that. I also will be working with content & copy editors, publishers, artists, and illustrators. We'll do our best to keep on schedule and not go full George R. R. Martin on you.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy "The Bruja." If you haven't already purchased a copy, its currently on sale for $3.03 on Amazon!

Fresh Review

This week one of "The Bruja's" fan left an amazing review on our Goodreads.

I don't know who this person is, but I'm thrilled she enjoyed my book. I'm even more thrilled that she took the time to write such a complete & spoiler-free article on "The Bruja." This is the sort of thing that makes all of this madness worthwhile.

So, I thought I'd share the review, below, in its entirety. Make sure to add "The Bruja" on Goodreads, and leave your own review!


R.C. Mulhare rated it -- really liked it --
Post-apocalyptic fiction is thick on the ground these days, but this one caught my eye from the sheer awesomeness of the cover art.

Thankfully, the story behind that cover lived up to the expectations that the art presented. The world-building is fascinating and well-thought-out. I'd like to have seen more of what lead to or caused the Collapse, the tearing open of the Veil between the world of humans and the world of strange preternatural beings, but perhaps future volumes will reveal these details (or perhaps, they're less than important than the drama playing out against this backdrop. Or, better still, the details might be better left to the reader's imagination). The setting has a Mad Max vibe, while the primordials, entities of immense power, remind me a bit of the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft's writings, only a bit less aloof from humanity (perhaps this skews it closer to the writings of A
ugust Derleth, one of HPL's students).

What I really loved about this, are the witches at the center of this nightmarish drama. These are not the archetypal gentle, earth-loving modern witches, but intense, powerful, and dangerous magic users, fiercely protective of the non-magically gifted people under their protection. It's great to see some dark and dangerous ladies slinging spells and taking names, taking on even darker and more deadly forces beyond our reckoning.

And it's awesome to see a strong female lead who might be foul-mouthed and fierce, but nevertheless has a good heart, albeit one that she certainly doesn't wear on her sleeve, but which she keeps under her ribs where it belongs.

The action scenes are intense, even gruesomely violent at times, but there's a great balance of physical action and magic-slinging, the scenes well-mapped out without feeling over-written. As dark and gritty as this universe might be, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in it!

The Bruja is Author House's #1 Horror Title!

Happy Monday! I've got some exciting news to cover. Firstly, I'm getting ready to leave for Las Vegas. It'll be a short trip, and I'll be in town for my day job, so no hookers & blackjack for me.

"That's not very exciting," I hear you say. You know what? You're totally right. But, you know what is exciting? Nan Fe (Phan Hoai Minh,) will be returning to the Collapse universe this year to paint the cover for "The Bruja's" sequel title, "Mayhem." We made it official over the weekend with a formal transfer of funds. I'm personally abuzz over this. Nan Fe is an ironclad professional, working with her on the visuals of the Collapse universe is like working with another me.

At one point during the creation of "The Bruja's" cover, a conversation between Nan Fe and I went:

Nan Fe: "I'm planning to get some blood on her face and a bit on her feet, is it ok?"

Michael: "YES, to blood on the face. Yes to feet. If you think to yourself; 'Should I add blood here?' my answer will always be, 100% 'yes, do it.'"

Again, great lady. Make sure to check out her Facebook, link located to the right. You can also follow her on Instagram & Twitter, as well as her profile on Deviant Art.

Last, but not least, is the news from Friday, 2/9. "The Bruja" topped #1 on our publisher's Horror roster. Not in the top 50, not in the top 10, #1 with a bullet. Now, while I realize that conquering a small publisher's Horror genre isn't the greatest accomplishment in authoring, I am still proud! We have a long way to go on Amazon's bestseller ranks, but let's conquer one mountain a time.

I want to thank everyone who's made this possible. That's you, the people who have bought copies of "The Bruja," and follow us on Facebook and other social media. This is the start of something amazing. There will be more books, more short stories, and more art in 2018, and the years to come. This isn't a one-time flash in the pan folks! Maggi's world is here to stay, and I'm looking forward to taking you all along for the ride!

Have a great week, everyone!



Horror

When you think of the word "horror," and its connotations in fiction, you're probably thinking of slasher flicks or monster tropes. Maybe, you think of classic authors like Poe or Lovecraft. Maybe you even remember old Hammer films with actors like Ralph Bates or Christopher Lee.

I don't think you commonly imagine the horrors that you may face at any moment, on any given day.

To the left, pictured, is my best friend Athena Driscoll. She's the craftswoman behind Leanans' Boon, and in 2016 she did a books-on-tape recording of "The Bruja" in its original form, that you can enjoy on Youtube. She also acted as content editor for "The Bruja," and is partially the inspiration for Maggi's friend Aubriana. If you've read "The Bruja" by now, you know that Maggi betrays her friend and leaves Aubriana to die during the first days of the Collapse. If you haven't read "The Bruja," I just spoiled it for you and I feel no guilt whatsoever.

What you probably don't know: this was also inspired by real-life events. Several years ago Athena was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and advised to alter her diet. She did so. Unfortunately, her urgent care clinic only gave her half the story. That same diet she assumed would end up almost ending her life and condemn her to a diabetic coma that she would not wake from for weeks. Obviously, "alls well that ends well," she's alive & healthy today -- as healthy as any type-2 diabetic can be; constantly facing down death, each day.

When she shared those memories with me I was genuinely haunted. For days, even weeks after, I found myself genuinely transfixed and rattled. I was far too able to empathize, to visualize, what she had experienced. The idea of being trapped in a body that doesn't function, while the world goes on and speaks of you in the past-tense made me ill to my stomach. Worse, her accounting of various altered states of mind she would enter, beyond her control, gave me nightmares. This was, for me, real horror. Jason and his machete had nothing on this. I would rather face all the awful boogeymen the imagination can offer than experience a trauma similar to this coma.

So, naturally, I needed to write about this. A lot of what I write is trauma, let's be honest.

In "The Bruja" it was a perfect fit. The core of the narrative will always be driven by internalized horror. Just as Aubriana suffers a fate worse than death, so too does Maggi when she's forced to confront her failures, her cowardice. The Wave Organ scene is more than a "boss fight," its intended to be a literal depiction of hatred & loathing played out, bloody and rife with brutality. That's real horror for me. The ghosts and goblins, that's window dressing. That's just where my mind lives 24 hours a day. The horror of "The Bruja" exists, for me, in the mind's darkest corners, locked away, waiting for a chance to crawl out into the waking world.

I'll be releasing a re-written version of "The Dread Harvester" on this blog, later in February. It will focus more heavily on these aspects, and it'll probably be pretty awful. I mean, it'll be great writing, but you'll probably feel awful after you read it.

Wait, who part me in charge of PR?

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

When I was 12 years old, I saw "The Road Warrior." It was as old as me at that point, we were both born in 1981. By now it had been adapted for network television and was airing on some affiliate one Saturday afternoon.

Now, I wasn't allowed, per se, to watch this film. In fact, my mother had very strict rules on what I could and could not watch based on sexuality and violence. In order to keep my first viewing of "Road Warrior" a secret, I had to minimize the volume and keep an eye on the open door of my room. It was tricky, for sure, but I managed to see most of the movie. This engendered a few things in me a person, at such an impressionable age. First, I acquired my love for silent cinema, an affection I never lost. Second, I discovered a love for post-apocalyptic storytelling and visuals. That love only grew as I became older, and when I began to create the world of "The Bruja" I had my opportunity to throw my hat in the ring.

The biggest thing I wanted to focus on for "The Bruja's" world was the idea that this was not a static universe. There was no stagnation here, the world hadn't simply crumbled apart and stayed a ruin. People didn't want it to remain that way, they needed to survive, they wanted to make a more comfortable life to exist in. Part of that evolving climate was the idea that city-states would emerge in the United States from existing cities, towns, and states. When foreigners look at America they see us as one people, with one culture. This couldn't be further from the truth -- New York is not California, and that's absolutely not the population of rural Illinois. If civilization collapsed our world would only diversify further. That's what I tried to capture in "The Bruja," and what I wanted to continue developing in future Collapse universe books.


While "The Road Warrior" was my gateway drug, it was hardly my most intense influence. I was much further moved in later  David Brin's novel "The Postman," was absolutely an inspiration, and to a lesser degree, the film adaptation. Another book that moved me was Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." Although I didn't love the book, I was so thrilled by the idea of an unnamed cataclysm. This erased so much of the junk narrative and forced a reader to be pulled into the tension of the moment. It was, however, Stephen King's goddamn masterwork, "The Gunslinger," that most set my imagination ablaze. This, for my mind, was the coup de tat, a persuasive tale of impossible entropy. Cultures evolved and warped, just as complete as people, all packed into a world that you didn't entirely understand and fill your stomach with a dreadful fear. I may as well have been following the Pied Piper of Hamelin after reading that book, and the subsequent "Dark Tower" novels.

This is only naming a few books, of course. There are others, and if I had to name the writers I most idolize, I would choose both Stephen King & Tanith Lee. I'll be discussing these two authors in future blog postings, most especially Tanith Lee, because I feel like she's fallen into obscurity -- very ill-deserved obscurity.

January 2018 Raffle

Have you read "The Bruja" on ebook?


Would you like a chance to win a signed softcover copy for your bookshelf, or as a gift for a friend? Now is your chance!


"The Bruja" needs reviews. As a new release (soft release was 1/1/18, and the official release was just 2 weeks ago, 1/14/18,) we have very limited feedback to allow us to move forward on the larger e-book promotional sites that require 5, 10, or even 20 reviews on retailer sites. That's where you come in! Go to your preferred retailer (links to the right!) and leave a review for "The Bruja." Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GooglePlay, Kobo, etc. A *good* review is NOT required to enter! Just your HONEST opinion!


Step 1: Write your review!
Step 2: Comment and be entered to win!
Step 3: WIN! 3 lucky winners will be chosen by 2/9/18!


You can comment on our Facebook ad running right now, or email me directly (michael@molisani.com) to enter for a chance to win. A lot of you have various usernames through retailers and social media, so I need some way to figure out who is who.

Don't already have your copy of "The Bruja" on ebook? Buy it today for $3.99 on Amazon!

Origins of The Bruja

Here's a tale, I thought I might share with you.

Although I've been writing since I was a child, about 10 or 11 years old, I was never serious. It was something I casually did to relax, or to expand on ideas in my head. It was a hobby for which I sometimes dedicated weeks - or I completely ignored.

In 2008 (a decade ago now,) I decided to get serious. I made a decision that I wanted to start storytelling and creating real literature in a meaningful way. I began to tinker with an old desktop computer after I got home from work before my ex-wife returned. I started to create short stories, little vignettes. Some of those I finished, others I did not. I never dared try to publish, I was terrified of how the work would be perceived. Was it a good story? How were my spelling and grammar? Did I edit it enough? Is this something that anyone would care about?

After careful consideration, I began to study the craft of writing. I wanted to know more, so I dove directly into research. By November of that last year, I challenged myself to complete NaNoWriMo. For those unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month is a web project started in 1999, intended to inspire would-be novelists to get up off their butts and do something. You have 30 days in November to complete 50,000 words. It was hard work, I wasn't used to that kind of marathon writing, 50,000 words was no joke and I ended up cheating. Wait, how do you cheat on NaNoWriMo?

I had created a post-apocalyptic tale about a woman named Maggi. Unable to keep up with my word count, I began to borrow chapters from another book I had started earlier that year, a classic fic-lit tale set in present-day Redwood City, California. I cheated by forcing my future narrative to flashback on a past narrative. The end product was 50,000 pages and was also mostly crap.

Problem was, I liked this lady, Maggi Lopez. I liked her voice, her tone, her character. I liked this woman who defied reason. She's essentially an East L.A. chola who can wield magic. She's our crucible, our wizard, our defining example of wisdom; yet she's rough on the edges, caustic and not the kind of person you might look up to.

Early that following year I began work in earnest on a new book called Seeking the Elephant. (If you'd like to know what that phrase means, go read The Bruja, today!) This story was more fleshed out, Maggi became more complex, the world of the Collapse now had rules and structure. And those old "flashbacks?" They became some of my memories of being a young rivethead in Bay Area. For those of you wondering, "rivetheads" are basically "goths" who read too much history and like to stomp.

With this second incarnation finished, I would end up re-writing the story, start to finish, several more times for the next few years. Somewhere around 2012, however, I took a break and walked away from this world I had created. It wasn't until 2015 that I returned. For the next four years, I ripped the story apart, again and again, and few more times. Seeking the Elephant became The Bruja. Many aspects changed. The Beast became a less important part of the narrative. Mayy's role in Maggi's life expanded. Maggi's bisexuality and her difficulty accepting it was now part of her mythology. I cut and cut, and thinned each and every page until what had once been 200,000 words was now the sleak, lithe 288 pages you hold in your hand.

I have no regrets. The years I spent working on The Bruja didn't make a better book, it made me a better writer. The version of the story available on Amazon is simply the best incarnation I produced. I hope you will enjoy it!


Soundtrack to The Bruja

When I write, I tend to listen to music.

The music that I listen to almost always is intended to set a mood, or tone, for a particular chapter or scene. Sometimes I might just want some background noise to occupy me, but often I attempt to create a cinematic experience. It's my belief that the right song at the right time will create a tacit change in the emotional impact of what I write. I keep a listing of these "soundtracks" when I write, mostly so I can back and utilize the same music when I re-write or edit a certain section or chapter. This creates continuity.

I thought I would share the final soundtrack I used when The Bruja entered its final re-writes in mid-2016. I do not own any of this music, nor do I imply ownership. This is simply a point of reference that I thought you would enjoy. I hope that you will listen to some of these bands, and perhaps become a fan. Scene descriptions kept vague to avoid spoilers.

Aesthetic Perfection - The Ones: Maggi meets Her Lady of the Dry Arms.
The Crooked Jades - Let it Show: Introducing Mayy.
Halsey - New Americana: Maggi and Mindy in pre-Collapse Redwood City.
Alabama 3 - The Power is in the Blood: Maggi goes with Jenn Winslow.
Sabaton - Resist and BiteMaggi and Mayy fight.
Mandolin Orange - Boots of Spanish Leather: Maggi & her teacher in Evergreen.
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band - Ashokan Farewell: Maggi’s goodbyes.
Postmodern Jukebox - Gangsta's Paradise: Maggi meets Aubree and the Black Dogs.
Ken Hensley - Lady in BlackMaggi, Jenn, and Rizwan leave for the hunt.

Johnny Hollow - Devil’s Night: Maggi meets the Ifrit in Utah.
Robert Johnson - Crossroads Blues: Maggi goes cigarette shopping.
Sirenia - My Mind’s EyeFinal memories of pre-Collapse Bay Area.
The Doors - Roadhouse Blues: Maggi in the Nebraska roadhouse.
Mexicano 777 ft. Ivy Queen - SangreMaggi’s theme, sung in Nebraska.
MSMR - BonesMaggie meets the old titan.
Kamelot - Liar Liar ft. Alissa White-GluzMaggi versus Vix.
Equations of Eternity - Baron SamediMaggi visits Baron Samedi and Marie Holmes.
Modest Mussorgsky - Night On Bald MountainThe Dread Harvester comes.

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - One More Year: Maggi wakes up with one eye.
The Dreadnoughts - Avalon: Introduction to Stockton and House Owens.
Johnny Cash - Rusty CageMaggi gazes into the pit.
Manufactura - A Woman ScornedMaggi meets the Ifrit finally.
The Prodigy - OmenLava whips and powered armor don’t mix.
The Prodigy - Omen RepriseFinal showdown.
Crooked Jades - Marrow Of A Young Girl: Maggi is offered a sweet deal.
Nightwish - Ghost Love Score: The Beast is born.
Hladowski & Joynes - The Wild Wild Berry: Twenty years after Maggi’s deal.

1/14/18 - BRUJA IS LIVE

As of 1/14/18, both the softcover and e-reader editions of The Bruja are live for purchase from all confirmed retailers.

This is it folks: The Bruja's formal release date!

E-reader versions will run between $3.03 and $3.99 depending on the seller. Softcovers are between $14.99 and $39.99, again, depending on the retailer. To the right-hand side of this blog, you'll see all live links for The Bruja. Get your copy today!

What can you do to help The Bruja gain steam and build into a much larger market? Quite a bit, actually!

1) Order softcover copies from digital storefronts on Amazon (non-Prime,) as well as sellers on AbeBooks & aLibris. These are booksellers who have agreed to stock The Bruja, and have ordered a standing inventory. They have taken a gamble that this book will sell; the better it sells, the more stores will place orders. This supports small business and helps me gain national traction & saturation.

2) Tell your friends. A shared post on Facebook doesn't go very far, but if you have that one friend who's really into dark fantasy or post-apocalyptic fiction, they're the ones you should talk to.

3) As an author, my royalties aren't very strong. I'm not making much money; this isn't about lining my pockets. This about spreading the word. This is about getting The Bruja into the hands of as many curious readers possible. My publisher is fairly small, they don't command a spot on the New York Times "new author list." They can't bully booksellers. They can't get me ad-space in Time. If The Bruja and the world of The Collapse become a known quantity, it will be because of your help!

4) Last, but not least, this is a book. It's meant to be read. You should do exactly that. If you like it or hate it, you should leave reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, or other retailers. You should communicate your experience. Maybe you'll love The Bruja, and maybe you'll hate it, but above all -- don't be silent about it!

That being said -- let the internet whoring begin!

Eye on Mayhem


"Why are you talking about new works when The Bruja is just now hitting bookshelves ?"

I'm a writer. I write. It's what I do.

The artwork here was completed this morning by Polish superstar RinRinDaishi (this her name on DeviantArt if you'd like to look up her other work,) and is a constant reminder of why I love to work with other artists.

Mayhem, the sequel to The Bruja takes place roughly 20 years after the events that unfold around Maggi Lopez. Her adopted daughter, Margaret, takes a key role in the brave new world that Maggi helped create.

You'll learn more about this tale another day. For now, however, I'd love to talk to you about how digital and conventional painters have helped grow and evolve the world that takes place in my imagination.

I'm a very character-driven author. I like to create three-dimensional individuals for you enjoy. In doing this, quite often, I brush over physical details because they're less important to a narrative. Often my details are filled in by artists like RinRinDaishi, NanFe, or Bella or SapFire. These artists not only create their own details but alter mine in ways I had never imagined. A great example of that is Lady Mayhem herself.

In original drafts, Seeking the Elephant (the first title for The Bruja,) Margaret was a very superficial character who showed up briefly to illustrate Maggi's matronly role as a mother & teacher. By the final edits of The Bruja, Margaret had evolved so completely, developed so drastically, that she now warranted a physical description. She was initially a brunette, based on her real-world visual inspiration. However, when RinRinDaishi first brought Lady Mayhem to life, she visualized her as a pale red-head. I was so enamored with this creative license that I absolutely knew Margaret now had red hair. One of the final edits I made to The Bruja before it went to publication was changing this detail so continuity would match the sequel. I recommend every aspiring author work as a visual artist. Don't be so in love with your universe that you won't listen another's vision! Your work can only become richer, more robust, with stylistic influences.

Read It!

As an author, my greatest enemy is apathy.

Reading takes effort, whether it's a traditional book or an e-reader. You need to commit to the experience; mind, and body. You must focus your attention and imagine worlds outside of your own, let the narrative carry you but keep your eyes working and your brain spinning.

Its a lot easier to turn on the TV, unfortunately.

I don't mean to condemn media-driven entertainment. My wife and I are watching the final season of AMC's "Halt & Catch Fire" right now. Its a deeply engaging narrative with well-written tension, and characters who constantly evolve and grow. This isn't a show for stupid people, it's not vapid, or shallow. However, it is easier to watch to than to pick up a novel.

That, my friends, lies the crux of it. I want you to read my book. I have no illusions, I know I won't get rich doing this, and I won't be famous. That isn't my dream. In my wildest fantasies I hope that you order a copy of The Bruja and open it up. I vividly picture your fingers running down the center of the pages, bending the spine with brutal monomania. I hope that you're licking your fingers and dog-earing every page as you consume each word, syllable and sentence until -- breathless -- you land on the final page, swallow hard, and gasp for air at the completion of a well-told story.

In other words - if I had to choose between 10,000 people buying my book and none reading it, versus only 100 purchases, and 100 readers who wanted to slather those pages with their jittering and twitching eyeballs, I would choose the later without the slightest hesitation.

I wrote a book for you. I'd like you to read it. I promise - you'll like it.