JOHNNY WORTHEN is an award winning best-selling tie-dye wearing author of books and stories. Trained theatre and standup comedy he has graduate degrees in modern literary criticism and cultural studies. When not teaching, Johnny writes upmarket multi-genre fiction—thriller, horror, young adult, comedy and mystery so far. “I write what I like to read,” he says. “That guarantees me at least one fan.”
Michael is called of God; just not that God.
Steven King explained horror as three levels. There’s the Gross-Out, which means showing you things that are icky, threatening your ability to hold down your lunch. The Horror which threatens your life with monsters and threats that chase you through graveyards, and Terror which preys upon your imagination and endangers your soul and consciousness.
“I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll try to gross you out. I’m not proud.” –Stephen King
Terror his is the level of spooks I reached for in my book WHAT IMMORTAL HAND, or at least tried. There are a few moments of unpleasant goo (thematically placed of course) and creepy suspense as the threats grow ever closer, but ultimately what makes my otherwise philosophical fiction into a literary horror is my challenge of Terror.
As a literary and cultural critic, I write to theme. The idea behind the book is as central to my process as character, plot and setting. In WHAT IMMORTAL HAND, I wrestled with the very nature of good and evil and realized the western conception of a binary nature of good and evil was at once unsatisfactory and obviously wrong.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” to quote The Bard speaking through Hamlet.
Good and evil are a a construct, and how we define it is completely subjective. An angel that’s kicking your ass is a demon. It is a simplistic world view that disregards the complexities of actual observation. Winter is bad because it’s cold and things die, while the summer is good because things grow and you don’t need a coat In truth, both are necessary and to label one moralistically superior to the other is short sighted at best.
With this truth rattling in my mind, I envisioned the agents of evil not as bad but as necessary. Like garbage men they serve an important but maligned function.
And herein lies the terror.
There are other systems of belief than Judeo-Christian. There are older and more complex religions that account for the “evil” we see in the world. Hinduism is freed from the West’s binary construct of good and evil and at their center is a trinity of gods, Krishna, Vishnu, and Shiva, the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer respectively. Each gains ascendency at different times like the seasons, and the wheel turns.
I’d long nurtured a story about the Thugs—an ancient cult of Indian dacoits eradicated in the 19th century. In researching their origins and beliefs I discovered the Dark Mother, Kali, consort of Shiva who drank his tears and became the most terrible and bloodthirsty creation in the universe. She then, became my muse and I walked with Her through the pages of my book and founds saints of a different color and challenged the western mind to a comprehension and appreciation of murder and mayhem.
It was a dark journey for me and my protagonist, Michael Oswald, but we arrived where we must and the horror lies in understanding why.
WHAT IMMORTAL HAND is available now from Amazon from Omnium Gatherum Media.
What Immortal Hand
Michael is called of God; just not that God.
What begins as a routine investigation of a hijacked truck turns into a desperate and personal quest for memories, faith, and meaning. The answers to these, for Michael Oswald, like the strangled cries of a thousand murdered travelers, is found in the dark heart of an ancient cult of killers.
Literary and dark, What Immortal Hand is a road trip across American wastelands and into the depths of spiritual darkness, where the Dark Mother, Kali, has set up house in the New World, and her children, the Thuggee cult of ancient India, are alive and thriving.
Well researched and imagined, in the tradition of Dan Simmons’ Song of Kali, throbbing with symbolism and epic undertones, What Immortal Hand answer’s William’s Blake famous question from The Tyger: “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” It is the Goddess Kali, consort of Shiva, Lord of Destruction. Through her worshipers, the Faithful Tigers—The Thugs of old, she culls the roads of travelers and prepares the fires of renewal.
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I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.