Have you ever wanted to visit the worlds and characters of your favorite books? Well, come and walk into our beautiful vast library and let us get you stuck in the pages!
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In my previous years as an SPFBO judge, I always tried to offer spotlights to as many authors in our group and to the finalists as I could. I planned to do it for SPFBO 8 too, but life was busy kicking my arse as I slowly clambered out of years of burnout. The 5th anniversary shenanigans forced me to revisit some of my old features and update them, and thus enabling me to reach out to the finalists and ask them if they wanted to play. I offered them a choice between What the Hungarian?!, Tales from the Asylum, Stuck in the Pages, Party with the Stars, an interview, and a guest post.
Andrew C. Piazza, author of A Song for the Void, Fantasy Faction’s SPFBO 8 finalist chose my newest feature, Stuck in the Pages and so, let’s see how he did with it!
Andrew C. Piazza makes it a point to keep people up at night with chilling and thrilling tales of contemporary fantasy and cosmic horror. He’s quite ruthless about this sort of thing. He doesn’t care that you have to get up for work. He doesn’t care that you’re supposed to be on vacation. Or the fact that your dog really needs to be walked, or your kids are suffering from terrible neglect. He just keeps making you turn the page. It’s almost rude.
He’s hit the #1 bestseller list in four categories and would have gotten a fifth if it weren’t for that pesky Dean Koontz. Gosh, Dean, make a LITTLE bit of room for the new guy, hunh?
He lives mostly in his daydreams in an undisclosed location outside of Philadelphia, PA.
Sign up on his website at www.andrewpiazza.com for three free introductory stories and to say up to date on the latest releases.
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You are an esteemed guest in the Asylum and you are currently browsing the books in our vast library when you spot a familiar title you really enjoyed once upon a time. You pick it up, nostalgia rushing through you. Which book did you lift from the shelves?
The Princess Bride.
Turn to page 268 and pick up a passage that’s not spoilery. Share it with us!
And if you were Fezzik, and you hadn’t much brain power, and you found yourself four stories underground in a Zoo of Death looking for a man in black that you really didn’t think was down there, and the only friend you had in all the world was going quickly mad, what did you do?
Oh no! Our pet demon just got too excited by your presence, opened a portal into the book, and now you are stuck in the pages. Describe yourself as a character! What is your theme song in this situation?
I look down and I’m wearing a very unbecoming set of brown robes. There’s a broom in my hand. Damn it! I’m the custodian of the Zoo of Death. Lousy job. Low pay, no benefits, and forget about paid vacation time. Boss is a literal sadist. I suppose my theme song would have to be “It’s a Hard Knock Life”.
After the initial shock wears off, you assess your environment. What do you see? How do the other characters react to you if there are any?
It’s a dank and ugly basement, the Pit Of Despair. Implements of torture, probably lots of mold, and a distinct lack of comfortable seating. There’s a very dangerous looking, lean Spaniard, who seems very confused to see me, and an enormous man, a giant, who looks even more confused to see me, although it could simply be his natural expression.
I try to break the ice by reciting a dirty limerick. This only confuses them both even more, although the giant does seem to enjoy the rhyming.
Oh, and there’s a dead guy, dressed all in black. The Spaniard and the giant seem very interested in the corpse. In fact, the Spaniard orders the giant to pick up the body and take it along. Seems a bit macabre, but hey, I’m the new guy, so when in Rome, right?
Once I help heave the corpse dressed in black onto the giant’s shoulders, he and the Spaniard seem much less likely to kill me out of hand. And going with them sure beats cleaning the poo out of the Zoo, so I’m off.
Since you are stuck, you have to decide whether you stay where you are or go and find shelter. What do you do?
Well, in about two pages, they’re about to go see Miracle Max at his hut, so I’m definitely hanging out. Who wouldn’t want to meet a burned out wizard who lives in a hut with his not-quite-a-witch wife? Anything is going to smell better than the Zoo of Death. Still, I’m taking my broom with me, because you never know, Miracle Max could be a hoarder or otherwise dirty and nasty.
Your decision made, time to think a step further. You need food and drink. Can you find some in nature, buy some, barter or require it any other way? How?
Fortunately, Miracle Max’s wife is brewing up some hot chocolate over the fire, so once we’re there, I’m guzzling that business down in a jiffy. I mean, who says no to home-brewed hot chocolate? Not this guy. Miracle Max seems a bit miffed that his wife didn’t charge me for the chocolate, but he lightens up once I offer to sweep the place up with my broom.
Once you are full, a creature approaches you. What/who it is and is it dangerous?
While sweeping the place up, I knock over a magical vase of holding. Once it breaks, a mite dragon comes out- that’s sort of like a regular dragon, only very tiny, like a cat. Dangerous? Well, they sure have a chip on their shoulder… Napoleon Complex and all that… and they could scorch your eyebrows off and make you look like a fool, but I wouldn’t say deadly. More of a nuisance. Get into the larder, eat all of the carbs they can find. If you have a refrigerator, you can forget about your ice cream- that stuff’s long gone.
While interacting with this creature, you discover you have magical abilities. What are they? And can you use them at all?
In another stroke of luck, I discover I have the ability to mesmerize animals using battle rap and slam poetry. I put these skills of questionable value to immediate use, making quick friends with the mite dragon, whose name is Gus, and annoying the beJesus out of Max. The giant, once again, seems to enjoy the rhyming, and claps along to the beat of my battle rap. He’s not the hype man that I want, but he is the hype man that I need.
How does your encounter end with the creature?
Oh, Gus is coming with me. Definitely. Max and his wife sure don’t want this little fire hazard flapping around the hut, constantly snitching snacks out of their hands. For better or worse, I have a new best friend. My first task is teaching Gus a trick involving my tossing a marshmallow up into the air, his toasting it with a puff of fire breath, and then his swooping down to catch the cooked treat out of the air in his little itty bitty jaws.
Meanwhile, the Asylum staff realizes what happened and finally manages to figure out how to get you out of the book. How much time do you think passed?
By the flying cars and the electronic plugs in the backs of everyone’s heads, quite a bit of time. Also, everyone speaks Portuguese, which I totally did not see coming.
While the staff fusses over you, your thoughts are whirring. How do you think your character would have changed the story going forward? What impact your short stay had on the world?
I doubt I altered the main story line. Mostly I just confused and annoyed people, and performed really, really killer battle rap in the background while the rest of the plot moved forward. I’m sure Inigo and Fezzik still revived the man in black, and had fun storming the castle.
The Asylum staff escorts you to a cozy room with a window to our garden and puts you in bed. When you wake up from your nap, you find the book on your nightstand. What’s your first thought? What do you do?
Absolutely, I must skim through the pages and see what became of Gus. He’s my little buddy! Once I left, did he go back to Miracle Max? Did Max let him back in? Did Max learn battle rap and/or slam poetry, in order to bond with Gus more effectively?
Also, while I’m at it, I test out those magical battle rap and slam poetry skills on a convenient nearby house cat now that I’m back in the real world. There are mixed results. The cat purrs, but it also turns and displays its anus towards me. I leave the experiment convinced that I have left my powers behind in the book.
The Asylum staff, concerned with your behaviour decides to keep you under our careful watch indefinitely. We assure you this does not makes us happy but we will let you play with our pet demon whenever you wish. We hope you enjoy your time with us!
Thanks so much for letting me play!
Grab a copy of Andrew C. Piazza‘s SPFBO 8 Finalist, A Song for the Void!
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