Thursday, November 24, 2011

Half Seen, Half Hidden by John Steiner

Nine dead. One missing. No suspects and no leads. What happened in the cabin outside Wilson Wyoming? Where and who is Mason Oliver? Deep within ourselves rests a greater mystery. Half Seen, Half Hidden traces the last three days of Mason Oliver and nine hitchhikers. Offering them shelter, Mason takes them to a secluded cabin. There they all sense the others aren't quite the strangers they seemed, and that they hold something extraordinary in common.

John, this is such an interesting story. Where did you come up with it?  

            This story started with a blurb popping into my mind when walking between rooms. It didn't spring forth fully as from the mind of Zeus, but a little wordcraft got the idea I suspected it should be. The story was more than an effort to pay homage to an era of transition in horror. It also was my contribution to a cross-section of American cultures in the 1970’s. The choice of vernacular had to reflect the times and places the characters lived in, yet be distinct from each other. I enjoy challenging people’s assumptions with social commentary and get readers to cast new eyes on old concepts.
            A couple aspects of the story really tested me as a writer. The first was economy of language; how best to convey an idea in few words yet still encompass a large complex theme. The second was how to surprise a reader despite telling them the end result right at the start. Spawned by my coming up with the three short lines of the blurb I had no idea what story the blurb should lead to. I then drew on a fusion of mythological and scientific concepts I’d posted on FaceBook under the same title.

I love it when I get excerpts! Take it away John!!
            The van rolled off the last of paved roads. It tumbled and ground over hardened dirt paths. Already common along the roadside, trees thickened into walls on either side the further they went. By dusk the sizeable two story cabin entered into view.
            Mason never really liked parking that close to the place, generally because he saw no evidence anyone else before him did. He pulled off some fifty yards out. Closer than his usual. Gathering his things and opening the driver door signaled the rest to debark with their backpacks and other belongings.
            Julian panned the immediate area and up toward the log construction with no illumination evident. “Man! What wit’ you white people an’ the woods. It’s like you’re doin’ penance for what y’all did to the Red Man.”
            “You’re actually onto something there.” Mason admitted, as they walked toward it as a group. “Teton Pass was explored by French Voyageurs in the sixteen hundreds. People who had a lot more to lose if they stayed back home. Their dealings with Indians was little better than the Dutch or English and a lot better than the Spanish.”
            “Wow! This is, like, so out there!” Oscar thoughtlessly stumbled into the moment. “With the creepy old house, the green van, and all of us bein’ here all we’re missin’ is the great dane! Like, dude, can I call you Fred?”
            “Like, NO you cannot,” Mason mocked in preposition pointing less sternly than his voice implied. “And if I catch you painting ‘Mystery Machine’ on my van I’m kickin’ your ass.”
            “This place does kinda got a vibe to it.” Harris confessed, sizing it up, finally without his shades. “You own all this?”
            “Kind’ve a communal deal, really.” Mason revealed. “So that no one can stake a claim on it. That way it’s available for everyone’s use as long as they follow the rules.”
            “That’s so groovy.” Margot practically swooned, though she clumsily wielded the last word with her hippie head bob. “I can dig a commune.”
            Knocking unnecessary, Mason opened the door and invited everyone in ahead of him. The whole interior slept in near total darkness. Immediately next to the door Mason reached for something he knew to be there. After digging into his pocket came a striking of a match. He lit the first oil lantern, put the glass back on and squeakily dialed up the illumination. Silvan brown architecture stretched out past the front room and wooden stairs climb to terra incognito.

Who is John Steiner? 
            John Steiner earned his Associate of Biology at Salt Lake Community College, where he is currently working as a tutor in math and chemistry. He exercises an avid interest in history, science, philosophy, mythology, martial arts as well as military tactics and technology.

Where can we find your books? 

Spellbound 2011 anthology

Squad V


Na said...

An intriguing storyline. I liked that you wanted to challenge social assumptions and get readers to see things in a new way. It makes me want to read the story all the more as I bring my own personal idea and experience into it. Thank you for the interview.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Mila Ramos said...

Great novel John!

John Steiner said...

I came up with a great radio ad for Squad V, if the stations e-mail me back.

"Are you tired of Victor Night Walker romancing your underage daughter? If vampires are you problem Squad V has the answer."

Someone has to bring night walkers back into horror.

Tara Fox Hall said...

If anyone can do it, you can, John! I agree we need just a little more fang and a little less...vampire smooching :)

John Steiner said...

I freely admit that "30 Days of Night" did a much better job than I in regards to vampire horror.

I'm considering doing a different type of vampire story after the next two books I'm going to work on.