Guest Post & Giveaway by Rhonda Parrish #zOctober2014


a is for apocalypse

A is for Apocalypse
by Various authors
Publication date: August 16th 2014
Category: Anthology
Genre: Apocalypse

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What do you get when you take twenty-six amazing writers, randomly assign them a letter of the alphabet and give them complete artistic freedom within a theme?

A is for Apocalypse

A is for Apocalypse contains twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war–the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves.
This volume contains work by Ennis Drake, Beth Cato, Kenneth Schneyer, Damien Angelica Walters, K. L. Young, Marge Simon, Milo James Fowler, Simon Kewin, C.S. MacCath, Steve Bornstein and more!

~Guest Post~

Music and the Apocalypse

As soon as I heard about zOctober I knew I had to participate. Had to. It’s an event that may as well have been custom-made for me:

Blogging? Check.

Zombies? Check.

Apocalypse? Check.

I shot an email off to Toni begging* for a spot in the calendar and she said yes. I was stoked! Problem was… when you do these blog events you have to choose a book to promote, and when I said I loved zombies and apocalypses (and zombie apocalypses) I was not kidding. I couldn’t decide which book to promote because I had too many to choose from!

I mean, that’s a nice problem to have, really, but it’s still kind of a problem.

So I flipped a coin.

Well, okay, I actually went to and had it pick a number between 1 and 3 for me (because for some inexplicable reason I don’t own a d3, which is just wrong). It chose #2, which is A is for Apocalypse**.

A is for Apocalypse edited by Rhonda Parrish, cover design by Jonathan Parrish

I didn’t write A is for Apocalypse, I edited it. It’s an entire anthology of apocalyptic stories, 26 of them, in fact. One for each letter of the alphabet. If you’re only interested in zombies, this may not be the title for you, because we only have a couple, but if you’re all about the end of the world, you ought to check it out.

But this isn’t a sale’s pitch. How lame would that be?

I want to talk a little bit about music, apocalyptic music.

As I was editing the stories in A is for Apocalypse one theme kept coming up over and over again. A surprising number of times, or at least, surprising to me. Music. I hadn’t realized before how closely connected the two things were.

As an example, here’s a short excerpt from Suzanne van Rooyen‘s contribution, F is for…***

Sasha knelt amidst the score. The pages fluttered like broken dreams against the edges of his violin, which weighed them down against the breeze seeping through the cracked window panes. The laptop lay useless, the battery long since dead and the wall sockets devoid of even a spark. Not that he needed the files locked on his hard drive. He remembered every note of the thousand page score by heart. He had almost finished the transcription, only the last movement’s recapitulation and closing chords to go. The notes spilled across the pages, across the floor and up the walls, blossoming across the low sloping ceiling. He’d saved one precious piece of paper for the ending, the staves neatly ruled in black ink completed before the pen ran dry. The notes filling up the measures were blue and green, black and red from the tips of a dozen different biros scavenged from neighbors before the demons began to stalk the corridors.

Although pen-less, Sasha was not deterred. Using the jagged tip of the screwdriver, he slashed his wrist, careful to catch every bead of blood in the chipped teacup turned ink-pot. The scars on his arms were like the stripes on the walls – a litany to the end of days. As blood ribboned from his veins, he traced the ridges of scar tissue across his chest and thighs. For months he’d been here while they’d been out there suffering, waiting for the sweet sonorous release only he could provide.

He dipped the stump of a match-stick into the jar of blood and began to write. The melody ran in triplets across the lines, soaring into the upper octaves – the limit of the piccolo – while the tuba provided bass bombast beneath a sawing lament of the strings. F-sharp against B-flat – a burst of silver and blue. The woodwinds screamed yellow D and lime-green A as the trumpets blasted bright red C, the horns ululating pale blue E. The music danced behind his eyelids as the mystic chord thrummed to perfection and the orchestra stampeded towards the double bar lines. Too soon the blood dried up and he opened another vein. He was so close he could feel the energy of the universe rippling through his flesh, vibrating in the soft core of his bones. His heart pounded in time with the timpanis as they crashed towards a close.

Several bars from the end, a shadow passed across the page. Footsteps outside his door and the creaking of weathered floorboards.

Suzanne’s whole story is very music-centric, but it’s not the only example of that I found in A is for Apocalypse. Cory Cone‘s story, T is for…*** is also very music-centric. Here’s an excerpt:

After washing the wound on her arm and wrapping it with gauze, they ate the rat underneath the watchful eyes of the animals, in silence and by candlelight. She ate timidly, her arms and legs pulled in close and her head leaned forward to bite at the meat, like a squirrel with an acorn.

He’d lit a small fire in the fireplace with twigs collected around the city. They fizzed and popped and filled the room with the faint scent of sewage. But the fire was warm.

When all that remained was bone and sinew, Maxwell asked, “Do you like Beethoven?”

“Is that what’s playing?” She gestured to one of the speakers, but didn’t lift her eyes much further than the floor. She had yet to acknowledge the dead things in the room, and Maxwell was content to let it lie in the back of her mind until she remarked upon them on her own. He had given her fresh clothes from his dead wife’s closet. Already the wound had bled through the gauze onto the fabric of the blue sweater.

“His fifth symphony. It’s quite famous.” He poured more water for them both from a dirty pitcher.

“I recognize it,” she said. She closed her eyes. “A movie I saw when I was a kid, I think.”

Fantasia 2000, maybe,” said Maxwell. “The film opened with it.”

“Yes,” she said, quietly. “That was it.”

He closed his own eyes now, allowing the symphony to enrapture him. Oh, how dearly Maxwell loved Beethoven. He loved to share the music with others, to watch it transform them. But more than anything Maxwell loved to perform Beethoven’s piano sonatas. To give the gift of such beautiful music, such human music, back when there were people to appreciate it. Now the world was too lost or hungry or feral to care. He sighed longingly and, remembering his guest, opened his eyes. She was staring at him. Her figure flickered in firelight. He said, “Beethoven described the first movement of this symphony as fate knocking at your door.”

Those are two of the more profound examples of the pairing of music and the end of the world in A is for Apocalypse but certainly not the only ones I could have provided. It’s super intriguing to me, that two such seemingly divergent things could go hand in hand as frequently as they seem to. Why do you suppose that is?

I’m going to end with a fun little thing. During the A is for Apocalypse launch party music kept coming up again and again as well, so finally I asked my daughter to put together a playlist for us of all the songs people were talking about. You can check that out here:

Did we miss anything obvious? If so, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it to the list 🙂

As my way of thanking you for reading all the way to the end of this post, if you use the code: PE34L at Smashwords from now until the 15th you’ll receive 15% off your purchase of A is for Apocalypse. Also, if you buy the paperback version from Amazon you ought to get the Kindle one for free.

A is for Apocalypse is available at:
Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)*
CreateSpace Paperback
And it’s also on Goodreads

Ahh, what the hell. Everyone who comments on this post will also be entered into a draw for an electronic copy of Waste Not (and other funny zombie stories). Because I can. 🙂

*And by begging I mean ‘asking nicely’

**The other titles, in case you were curious were Waste Not (And Other Funny Zombie Stories) and my zombie apocalypse poetry collection which may or may not be out at the time of this posting. Since the “dice” didn’t pick it, I didn’t need to rush its release 😉

***Story titles in this book are actually kind of spoiler-y, so I won’t give you the final word :-p

~About the Author~

rhonda parrish

Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for over five years now (which is like 25 years in internet time) and is the editor of the World Weaver Press anthology, Fae.

In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including most recently Kzine and Mythic Delirium.

Rhonda’s Website | Twitter | Flickr | Goodreads


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Wife, homeschooling mom, YA author of paranormal, dark fantasy, and horror, huge fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, crafter, baker of sweet things, lover of the culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.