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You Shall Never Know Security
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Group Reads > April 2012 Group Read: You Shall Never Know Security *Spoilers*

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Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments I read this anthology by J. R. Hamantaschen a couple months ago, and the stories completely blew me away. So I was glad that it won for this month's group read.

Also, Hamantaschen has agreed to come by and discuss the book with us.

So, let us discuss!


message 2: by Jason (last edited Mar 31, 2012 07:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments The first story, "A Lower Power," holds some interesting ideas about obsession, relationships, and finding out the one you're love with isn't what you thought he/she was in the first pace.

I was wondering, J. R., how did this story come into being? What was the inspiration?


Nora aka Diva (DuctTapeDiva) I got a pm from the author thanking me for voting for this book. How did he know I voted for it?


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Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23453 comments If you click on the comments on the poll, over to the right you'll see a list and which member voted for which book.

Looking forward to reading this one.


Nora aka Diva (DuctTapeDiva) Oh ok.
I am also looking forward to reading this book, but first I have to finish the one I am reading now.


Aloha | 5370 comments Wow! Congratulations to J.R.! I would have voted for it, but you guys hate me and never include me in any of the voting procedures. What are you? Chicken? You think I was going to vote for a book like House of Leaves?


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Hey everyone. So to answer message # 2 - I wrote the first version of this story when I was 19, and wrote it largely in response to a call for submissions. Yes, it was the first (and only, I believe) time I wrote a story specifically for a general call for submissions for a specific anthology. I've never done that since, and in fact, my story ended up deviating pretty drastically from the submissions prompt. I even remember the anthology - it was called Loving the Undead by From the Asylum Press, and the publisher folded sometime in 2009. I don't even know if the anthology ever saw the light of day, and I never heard back from them.

Anyway, in writing the story, I simply wanted the characters to have multiple, conflicting motivations. I generally strive for some semblance of realism - most readily seen in my intentionally clumsy dialogue, where people misspeak all the time - and having a character at war with himself (or, here, herself) is always more interesting than a one-dimensional character. I think it's important to convey that the two characters at the heart of the story actually care about each other.

I chose this story as the first story because a) it is a first person story with a female narrator, which is unexpected; and 2) it's a temperate, sensitive story that (I hope) eases readers in without being too weird or off-putting.





This story has been published several times in a bunch of magazines and anthologies. A slightly different version was published as "Frazzled" in the anthology 'DeadLines.' Nothing much is different, except the ending is a little more fleshed out in this version, and there are some additional bizarre details added.


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments LOL @ Aloha. We never send out messages about votes and whatnot. It keeps the discussions limited to the people who will actually participate.

We could never hate you. :)


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments J. R., I think that it's impressive that you wrote this story at the age of 19. Did it take a lot of time to develop your talent, or did you find that it came quite naturally to you?

Also, how easy/difficult was it for you to write from the POV of a female?


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Tom M | 14 comments this is a really good choice. This is one of those books that will stick with you for years after you read it. Some stories don't have to have everything tied up in a nice bundle at the end, these are like that. But if you value your sleep, you won't read them before bed. JRH is also a very nice guy.


trishtrash | 1 comments Tom wrote: "this is a really good choice. This is one of those books that will stick with you for years after you read it. Some stories don't have to have everything tied up in a nice bundle at the end"

*agrees with Tom*

I think there's at least one story in the collection for everyone, that will leave just a little shiver of dread with you whenever you think of it - my favourite was Wonder, easily the shortest in the volume, but also the most relentless, but the one that left the strongest impression on me was the last tale, There Must be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere the beginning of which really worked on my fear of the unknown, and then left me with an uneasiness at not knowing.

I have a question for J.R... these are really powerful, intense short stories. Are they largely written in one or two bursts and then edited, or do you have to fight with them for months to wheedle out the right angle? I guess I'm asking how easily this comes to you, as some authors find the short story form much more difficult than the novel, but your stories have both instinct and intelligence, which is a devastating combo in horror; when you write longer work - assuming you've got at least one working novel on the go ;) - is it a completely different process with a different feel, or do you get the same dark energy into the writing?


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Jason wrote: "J. R., I think that it's impressive that you wrote this story at the age of 19. Did it take a lot of time to develop your talent, or did you find that it came quite naturally to you?

Also, how eas..."


Your question presupposes that I have talent. I appreciate that. A Lower Power is actually the first story I wrote that I actually felt was pretty good. Endemic and College were written and published before A Lower Power, so take that as you will. Some people hate A Lower Power - one Amazon reviewer said it was Twilight Fan Fiction that made him literally angry (although the reviewer did like the collection as a whole). As the collection becomes "more popular" (in the humble, extremely modest way a small press book can become popular) and more people get the idea that there is something "weird" or "extreme" about my collection, they will pick up the collection and be put-off by the relatively tame opening story. So I don't know if this story really shows I have talent.

I will say this about any talents I have - I do feel very deeply. There's a lot of anger, indignation, and rage in these stories, and that's all genuine. So I have that going for me.

* writing as a woman - no, I didn't find it very hard, although perhaps I did subconsciously, as it's the only story in the collection written in the perspective of a woman. I just tried to make sure she did not come off as bitchy or shrill or any attributes often usually ascribed to female characters.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments trishtrash wrote: "Tom wrote: "this is a really good choice. This is one of those books that will stick with you for years after you read it. Some stories don't have to have everything tied up in a nice bundle at t..."

I actually wrote Wonder in about an hour or. Of course, I edited it after, but slightly. Mainly, I tried to make the language less high falutin' - i have to reign in the purple of my prose sometimes - but the core of the story - like 90% of it - was written in that hour. I was interviewed about the story, if you care to listen to my deep, Barrie White-esque voice: http://www.drabblecast.org/2011/10/26...

Interesting tidbit - the version that appears in the collection is a little different from the first published version. In the first published version (and the version broadcast on the Drabblecast), the victim's wife is scampering across the ceiling, then lands on his face and burrows in like a crab. As I had already used similar imagery a Lower Power, I changed it a little bit in the version in the collection.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments trishtrash wrote: "Tom wrote: "this is a really good choice. This is one of those books that will stick with you for years after you read it. Some stories don't have to have everything tied up in a nice bundle at t..."

Also, as to longer fiction. Sadly, I have no novel in the works (boo). I do, however, have about 3-5 other novellas, similar in length to There Must Be Lights . . ., in the hopper. Originally, I had planned to write a collection of 4 novellas, similar to Dark Gods, but after the terrible response to "There Must Be Lights," I didn't proceed. By "terrible response," I mean that no publisher would publish it or touch it or even read it, really. Too "long," too little happened, too anti-climatic. I like the fact that two of the stories that readers seem to enjoy the most - Truth is Stranger than Fiction and Lights - are the two that no publisher would accept.

Question to the commentators - should we keep the discussion sequential, i.e., story by story, or free-for-all? I have no idea, never been a part of anything like this. People are usually surrounding me in judgment, not praise :)


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments I was thinking of going story by story, with focus on one short story every couple of days or so, if that's okay with you, J. R.? :)


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Fine by me - so, any comments or Qs on Lower Power, go for it


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Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23453 comments J.R.: You're a GR author and don't have a profile picture?


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Tressa wrote: "J.R.: You're a GR author and don't have a profile picture?"

I like the mystery. I actually look like a fairly normal 27 year old, so maybe I should put up a picture so people don't imagine me as some kind of deranged monster. But i groan whenever I see "artsy" or "moody" pictures from authors. I'd probably put up a picture of a delightful bichon or happy puppy.


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Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23453 comments J.r. wrote: "Tressa wrote: "J.R.: You're a GR author and don't have a profile picture?"

I like the mystery. I actually look like a fairly normal 27 year old, so maybe I should put up a picture so people don't..."


I like to know what authors look like. Call me crazy. Just put up a regular picture. At least authors don't do like bands and take promotional photos of the group in a bathtub. If I never see one of those again, I'll be happy.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Tressa wrote: "J.r. wrote: "Tressa wrote: "J.R.: You're a GR author and don't have a profile picture?"

I like the mystery. I actually look like a fairly normal 27 year old, so maybe I should put up a picture so..."


Picture up. Limited time only, so right-click and save that shit while supplies last!


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Nicole (froggykitty) | 58 comments Looking forward to reading it. I just ordered it from Amazon. I love amazon prime. :)


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Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23453 comments J.r. wrote: "Picture up. Limited time only, so right-click and save that shit while supplies last! ..."

Sorry, still can't see your picture. When it's clicked on and goes to your profile page there's no photo there.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Should be up now


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Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23453 comments OK. I guess I'll read your book now. :-)


Eileen | 4515 comments I recently finished this and was thrilled it won this month! Good idea Jason doing one short story at a time.

What I liked about the first story was, the relationship between the couple in "A Lower Power" could have been replaced with any couples situation and the struggles they have. Like alcoholism or jealousy issues with the creepy factor thrown in. Can't real life sometimes be a horror story?


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Gatorman | 9457 comments This book is not available on the Nook library. Any other way to get it?


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Gatorman wrote: "This book is not available on the Nook library. Any other way to get it?"

Unfortunately, it is not available on Nook. It is available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.


Nora aka Diva (DuctTapeDiva) Well I've started it.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments So, anyone have anymore questions / comments about a Lower Power?


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments I'm home sick today, cough cough


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments That's too bad. I hope you feel better soon, J. R.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Any comments on Lower Power, or do people want to move on to Wonder?


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments Okay, I suppose we should move on to story number two, "Wonder." You can still comment on A Lower Power, if you like.

"Wonder" is when I started to get hooked into the stories of this book. The emotion displayed in this short story is exceptionally raw and was refreshing to read. It reminds me of the rants I go through in my head when someone's hurt me.

J. R., I was wondering what was the inspiration for this emotional story?


message 34: by Tom (last edited Apr 02, 2012 04:50PM) (new)

Tom M | 14 comments A Lower Power; who hasn't had a roommate from hell? But this one is actually From Hell..<<>>> ...and Wonder: I've got a few childhood "friends" who I would have sent off "like a child letting go of a balloon" if I could have. Two very strong stories to start off with. You can fix the typos in the next printing (a luxury not available to HPL)


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Well thanks. The typos add an eldritch otherness to the proceedings. No, a joke, there are some typos there-and-there, alas.

Inspiration for this story - I talk about this a little bit in the Drabblecast interview, if you are interested in hearing me talking about it. Basically, I was living on the Southside of Berkeley, California, on Telegraph Avenue. Not the nicest locale, especially not at night, and especially when the students are all gone. Some asshole gave me a really dirty look (if I remember correctly), so I just wrote this up in a brief, piquant fit of rage.

There is a tension in the story between the catharsis of revenge and the fact that the punishment seems to far exceed the crime. I like that.


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments I sympathize with the protagonist of "Wonder" for the punishment far exceeding the crime idea. Some people can be so rude, and for no reason. I find myself having similar rants in my head when someone's pissed me off or hurt me for no reason.

Was this story published anywhere, J. R?


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Yes, it was published in a now-defunct magazine called Nossa Morte, was republished in Revolution Science Fiction, and was podcasted by The Drabblecast


Jason (Darkfiction) | 4563 comments I'll have to check out Drabblecast.


message 39: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Baptiste | 1 comments Amazing book J.R., truly a gem to read. The amazing "WOW" to "Wonder", for me that is, is the point that evil is once again EVIL. It is not held to some secret limit that it can not pass; the evil is not "politically correct". It continues through the book, but the placement of "Wonder" really opened the eyes to the title of this collection of tales. Nothing was sacred, and the mental roller coaster ride was underway. Are many of the stories that you write written from an instance of emotion, or was this a rare occasion that worked out well?


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Tom M | 14 comments Drabblecast archives #205; good reader too


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Joe wrote: "Amazing book J.R., truly a gem to read. The amazing "WOW" to "Wonder", for me that is, is the point that evil is once again EVIL. It is not held to some secret limit that it can not pass; the evil ..."

Hmm, interesting question. I think this may be the only entire story written in a fit of emotion, but stories like "Sorrow" and "There Must . . ." certainly have segments of heightened emotion. Scenes of heightened emotions come naturally to me, as I am, naturally, an extremely sensitive, emotional person - I have terrible fears of poverty, shame, displacement, loneliness, so it isn't hard to voice those thoughts.


Lydia Peever (typicallydia) Hi ~ just chiming is so this is added to my update feed. I only recently read this collection and have a special adoration for particular stories. The whole book is a great read, of course.


Jason | 2 comments One of the things that struck me about J.R.'s great book of tales is that i loved almost all of them. There was only one I found less fab, but still liked. That rarely happens in collections of shorter works. Also - as a horror fan and collector or the weird and off-beat, it is always great to come across some originality and still get creeped-out or scared. I was most impressed by his prose/language if you will - which i felt just percolated along with a smirk and an evil grin. My question for him - what's on the horizon? Any more new works forthcoming?


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Tom M | 14 comments Tom wrote: "Drabblecast archives #205; good reader too"
I just had to add one thing about "Wonder": I just reread it and it struck me like a distillation of Sam Raimi's 'Drag Me to Hell'. It's like revenge reduced down to its molecular essence. Crab girl on the ceiling: a particularly disturbing image...


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Tom M | 14 comments PS has anyone out there listened to the Great Courses 'Nature of Evil'?


Nora aka Diva (DuctTapeDiva) So far, I am slightly underwhelmed.


message 47: by Tom (new)

Tom M | 14 comments Then I'll save my money for JR's next book


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Jason wrote: "One of the things that struck me about J.R.'s great book of tales is that i loved almost all of them. There was only one I found less fab, but still liked. That rarely happens in collections of sh..."

Well, thanks.

Yes, I am working on a short story AS I TYPE, although it is not "horror," per se. It is dark genre fiction (perhaps crime fiction?), no idea. And then, after that, I will be writing several novellas in the vein of Lights Burning Brighter (in terms of length, not content), maybe 3-4.


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J.R. (JRTasch) | 38 comments Nora aka Diva wrote: "So far, I am slightly underwhelmed."

That is part of the horror - to have my fans praise the book to unreachable heights, only to be let down . . . bwhahahahaha


Nora aka Diva (DuctTapeDiva) Nah, I think it's me. Perhaps I'll start over when the Babies get back from the vet. I just can't seem to focus. Ya know?


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