So who are these Pen of the Damned cretins I keep mentioning? Here’s your chance to find out. First up is Craig McGray. Don’t let his mild-mannered looks fool you. This deviant is as twisted as the rest of the bunch! Don’t forget to follow him on twitter and facebook, check out his personal blogs and his Amazon author page for some great reads, and his latest story on Pen of the Damned at the end of this feature. Now, let the flaying begin…
Meet The Damned
Author Craig McGray
Seeing as how most of my characters are downright awful human beings, I should come out of this looking like a real peach. Please hold your questions until the end and shut off your cell phones, or at least put them on vibrate, common sense, people.
Maybe I can start by providing a glimpse into what makes me tick as a person. Here goes nothing.
I’m a husband, a father, a writer, an athlete, and at times, the sum of all those in one magnificent being; a little dramatic, I know, but hey, I write fiction, sometimes I have to glorify things that aren’t all that glorious 😉 (Geezus, are there enough commas in there?)
I’m a family man, married for 16 years with two beautiful daughters, ages five and ten. By day, I’m a healthcare administrator working 10 hour days most of the time. In my spare time, which seems like a really stupid phrase since none of us really have time to ’spare‘, I train for and compete in endurance events. I’ve completed countless triathlons and other challenges, ranging in duration from under 1 hour to 14+ hours of pure self-torture and suffering. When people ask me why I do it, I usually respond with a simple ‘Good question’ and kind of shrug it off. That’s the easy-out answer.
In reality, I do those events in order to push my mind and body beyond the boundaries of what seems possible. My wife and children attend many of them and though they see me sprint across the finish line most times, there have been rare occasions where all I could do was hobble across it. One thing they always see though is that once you start something, by God you see it through.
Pain is something I can live with. I can fight through the mental flags that my mind throws up. I’ll persevere when every bit of my mind is telling me: just sit down, you don’t have to finish, who cares about this stupid ’race’, and in the final hours of a long event like an Ironman, trust me, it is bordering on insanity to continue the death march that I’ve been reduced to at times. When I do finally cross the finish line, a shambling mess of what I was when I began all those hours ago, there they are – the smiling faces of my wife and kids. The pain subsides, even if for only an instant, because they’ve seen me complete something I started and no matter how tough it was, I didn’t quit. Man, that seems really sappy, but it’s the truth as to why I do the endurance events. I do it for me too, don’t get me wrong: I feed off the challenge. But I also do it to set an example that I hope my kids will learn from and follow. My wife has also competed in several marathons and we want our kids to see how important it is to live an active, healthy lifestyle, and to truly commit to what you begin in life.
Enough of that, what about me as a writer?
Much of what I write is, well let’s just say it’s a bit on the darker side of the fiction spectrum. My mild-mannered persona often gives way to a much darker side when I fire up the old computer to write. I dabble in other genres, but my mind always seems to be sucked toward the creepier side of things. No matter how the story starts off, it never fails that I find myself derailed, careening off the intended path toward something that usual doesn’t end well for those unfortunate enough to be passengers on the runaway locomotive.
My writing process changes from piece to piece. I’ve used outlines, flew blind allowing my characters to dictate the story, birthed stories using a snowflake, and just about every other method out there. I usually seem to come back to just plain writing. My characters tell me where they want to go and it’s my job to put roadblocks in their way and see how far they are willing to go while overcoming them. There’s something thrilling about creating a character and allowing him/her to develop, watching them overcome the obstacles I’ve thrown in front of them.
I guess that gives you a little idea as to what drives me.
Where to find me so you can love me even more!
If you’d like to follow me on social media, I can be found on Facebook at Craig McGray Author; on Twitter @C_McGray_Author; on my blogs – WordPress: From Bright Minds Come Dark Things, on Blogger: From Bright Minds Come Dark Things; by email at: email@example.com; and I am an extremely proud member of Pen of the Damned.
You can check out some of my work on my Amazon Author Page and also on Pen of the Damned. Check out the other deviously talented authors while you’re there, they are a deeply talented and disturbing bunch which I am extremely proud to call myself a part of.
Thanks for behaving yourselves and I look forward to creeping you out and making you feel unsafe in the near future, only through my writing of course, I rarely stalk my readers – especially after the restraining order is issued.
Screams filled the tiny cabin as winter’s first snow blanketed the surrounding forest.
The contractions were coming on top of each other now, each wave stronger than the last, as Meredith struggled to keep Agatha calm.
An almost inhuman cry escaped Agatha’s throat as she writhed on the bed, pain biting at her abdomen.
Wiping the young woman’s brow with a damp cloth, Meredith spoke in the low, hushed tone of a midwife. “Dr. Thompson will be here soon, Agatha.”
Meredith placed her experienced hands on Agatha’s swollen belly, feeling the child roll beneath the relentless waves of uterine contractions. “Your baby’s breech. You must wait until the doctor arrives before pushing.”
The request fell upon deaf ears as searing pain radiated through the young girl’s malnourished body and she shivered on the bed, her fever raging out of control.
The door blew open and frigid winter air ransacked the space, extinguishing all but one of the flickering candles and knocking tiny heirlooms from their perches. A strange man shoved the door closed with his shoulder, set his bag on the floor and removed his coat as Agatha screamed out with an intensity that shocked both the midwife and the stranger before succumbing to unconsciousness.
“Who are you?” Meredith asked.
Confusion swept over Meredith. “But where’s Dr. Thompson?”
Dr. Brennan only rolled up his sleeves, ignoring the inquiry. “How long has she been in labor?”
Though he had not answered her question, the urgency of the situation gave Meredith no time to gauge the stranger’s true intentions. “At least four hours. I came to check on her and it had already started.”
He placed his hands on the girl’s abdomen and glanced at Meredith. “The baby’s breech and post-term. Where’s the husband?”
Meredith simply shook her head.
“The father then, where is he?”
“She does not know the name of the father.”
Meredith dabbed the young girl’s forehead as the doctor lowered accusing eyes to Agatha.
“And her parents?”
“They died two years ago, when she was sixteen. She’s been alone since.”
“Obviously not completely alone, my dear.” He motioned toward Agatha as she lay on her back, her knees bent and legs splayed open.
Meredith sensed a sharp edge to his tone, which made her uneasy. “I’ll ask you again, where is Dr. Thompson?”
The doctor looked up, his eyes narrowed atop a hooked nose. “He’s unavailable this evening. He sent me in his place.”
Dr. Brennan was a slight man, yet his demeanor was anything but. With his coat removed and sleeves rolled up, his gangly frame became quite apparent. Meredith’s eyes studied his skin, fair and paper thin, bluish-green veins mapping his forehead.
The door had been closed for several minutes, plenty of time for the fire in the corner of the room to bring the temperature of the small room up again, yet it somehow seemed to have grown colder.