Next up in the Meet the Damned roll-call is one of our co-founders and The Tale Weaver himself, Joseph A. Pinto. Joe takes to pen and paper the way a fish takes to water. He masterfully crafts intriguing, evocative and wonderfully unique yarns of horror that leave the reader marveling over the inspiration; glancing over their shoulder in desperation; and awed at the precision with which the story is told. Not only does he strut his stuff in our darkest nightmares, but he is also a poet, lyricist, and the author of the beautifully touching contemporary fantasy novella, Dusk and Summer, dedicated to his father. Now, let’s find out what makes this Maestro of the Macabre tick!
Who Dat? It’s The Tale Weaver come to bare his soul!
Joseph A. Pinto
I was damned as a kid.
How could I not be? As a six-year-old back in 1976, my fate was sealed from the moment I flipped through the Guinness Book of World Records and came across the record for the longest field goal kicked in American football history at that time; sixty-three yards. The man? Tom Dempsey. Mr. Dempsey had been born without toes on his right foot and no fingers on his right hand. He still defied the odds and became a kicker in professional football, wearing a modified shoe on his foot – the very foot that launched him into history in November of 1967. It was a game winning kick as time expired, I might proudly add.
You’re probably asking how such an inspiring feat paved the way to the darkened, writerly life I now lead? Well, I’ll tell you. Tom Dempsey played for the New Orleans Saints.
I learned plenty about Tom Dempsey and the Saints as a kid. Unfortunately, not much of it was good. From the moment of their own inception back in 1967, the Saints were a train wreck of a team; a laughing stock. Even when hope seemed to rise along the horizon, it usually just sank to even lower depths.
I’m convinced it’s the reason why my masochistic side came into existence. As each Sunday gave way to a new torturous way to lose, so too was I tortured. As each new week fell to ruin, so too was I ruined. And as each new year signaled yet another means by which to suffer, so too did I suffer.
Yes, yessss…by becoming a diehard New Orleans Saints fan, I paved the way to my damned existence.
I share this with you with tongue planted firmly in cheek, of course. But being a Saints fan has allowed me to develop a strong metaphor for my own writing journey. Much like my team, I’ve led an uphill battle. Many along the way have discounted me and self-doubt has served as my own worst enemy. I’ve died a lifetime of deaths cheering my team on; my writing aspirations, at various times in my life, seemed like nothing more than an unattainable goal.
But faith can be a powerful thing; it never leaves you, not even if you momentarily lose your way and stray from it. Perhaps some things are meant to take near a lifetime to achieve, but that lifetime of suffering still does not come without its rewards. In 2009, my Saints won the Super Bowl. I was one of those fans in New Orleans that night, cheering wildly amongst a hysterical mass of black and gold along Bourbon Street. As I wiped champagne, beer and tears from my eyes, I finally realized that even the damned could damn well achieve their dreams.
So now, if you’re ever brave enough to venture near northern Jersey on a Sunday come the fall, you might hear long wails emanating from the bowels of my man cave, followed by the crazed jabberings of Who Dat echoing off into the night. And my writing, much like my Saints, keeps marching on…
About Joseph: Joseph A. Pinto is the author of two published books, the most recent being the poignant novella Dusk and Summer, as well numerous short stories; his most recent works can be found in Midnight Echo magazine and Sirens Call Publications. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association as well the co-founder of Pen of the Damned, a collective of angst and horror driven writers. Indulge in his unique voice on his personal blog JosephPinto.com and PenofTheDamned.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephAPinto. Joseph hails from New Jersey where he lives with his wife and young daughter.
Joe recently released a contemporary tribute novella in honor of his father who passed away from pancreatic cancer. He is donating proceeds from the sale of each book to The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Check out Dusk and Summer on Amazon. It’s beautifully written, extremely moving, and serves a very worthy cause!
Joe’s Blog: Author Joseph Pinto’s Horror (and things not so horrible) Blog
Joe’s Twitter handle: @JosephAPinto
Joe’s Facebook Author Page
Joe’s Amazon Author Page
And just because it will make him grin:
The Official Site of the New Orleans Saints
Read Joe’s Latest Story on Pen Of the Damned
Joseph A. Pinto
Face stark crazed, she hurried him inside.
Fingers dug into his arms. Behind him, the door slammed; a rush of damp air scurried across his neck. Standing in the cramped foyer, he listened as she manhandled the security chains of the door. She squeezed past, breathless.
“Autumn employs a particularly nasty bite this evening, does it not?” He spoke softly, removing the knit cap from his head, the trench coat from his wiry frame.
Window to window she bounded, balling drapes into shaking fists, drawing them shut. He noted her white, swollen knuckles. Candlelight flickered from atop a mantle, yet a state of melancholic gloom smothered the parlor. “Excuse me. Your appearance is other than what one might expect.”
“I am a mere man, nothing more. For some, perhaps, much less,” he draped the coat over his arm.
“You are a Sin Eater.”
He hoped his client would find relief in the plastic twist of his lips. “I am at that. May I?”
“Of course,” she nodded an invitation into the parlor.
The house frowned upon his presence; bare floorboards protested each of his steps. From the fireplace, a draft moaned. “Forgive my nerves,” her lips twitched. “We require our privacy. If the Church were to ever—”
“If this were the nineteenth century then surely we would have need to conceal our identities. Execution would no doubt be favored if my practice was to be learned and as for you…things would be difficult indeed. Be thankful the Church no longer functions in such barbaric fashion.”
“Yet privacy must still be maintained.” Her posture remained stiff. Orange light remolded her face.
He bowed slightly. “Privacy? Or secrecy? I said the Church no longer functions in such a way. Their belief, however, is another matter entirely. Per our contract, your identity shall remain guarded. As will mine.”
Murmurs drifted through the house. She followed the shift of his intense though starry gaze. “The deceased is in the bedroom.”
She led him down a hallway; leering faces stared out from faded, crooked photographs. Dust littered the floor. A sour pungency wafted under his nose; death’s perfume, so unmistakable. She paused before an open door. Nodding politely, he stepped through.
Surrounding the bed, three men lifted their gazes as one, faces waxed yellow beneath an uncovered bulb. He ignored them, attention focused upon the deceased. Lips parted in a last, eternal gasp, the corpse waited. Clots of sheets remained within its stiffened fingers. “He suffered until the very end,” the Sin Eater said matter-of-factly.
“What difference does it make?” Across the bed leaned a man with a bulbous skull; his jowls quivered as he spoke: “My brother didn’t suffer enough.”
The Sin Eater looked upon him. “Are you responsible for contacting me?”
“Yes,” again spoke Bulbous Skull.
“So who are the others?”
“Also my brothers.”
“You said you would be alone in your house, save your wife.”
“Listen, they all stay. And shame on you if you think this hell hole is my house. Remember the money I’m paying you!”
The Sin Eater turned away, mindful his eyes churned a stormier grey when agitated. “As you wish.”
“Hurry it up. I need to call the coroner when you’re done.”
He touched a blue tinged arm. Practiced fingers slid upward, stroking the corpse’s neck, then face, like an affectionate lover. The Sin Eater froze. “You lied to me.”
Read the rest on PenoftheDamned.com