We’re getting closer to Halloween, so expect more spooky stories!
A Parliament of Crows by Alan M. Clark is a Southern Gothic Crime, Horror story.
In A Parliament of Crows, the three Mortlow sisters are prominent American educators of the nineteenth century, considered authorities in teaching social graces to young women. They also pursue a career of fraud and murder. Their loyalty to one another and their need to keep their secrets is a bond that tightens with each crime, forcing them closer together and isolating them from the outside world. Their ever tightening triangle suffers from madness, religious zealotry and a sense of duty warped by trauma they experienced as teenagers in Georgia during Sherman’s March to the Sea. As their crimes come back to haunt them and a long history of resentments toward each other boils to the surface, their bond of loyalty begins to fray. Will duty to family hold or will they turn on each other like ravening crows?
Chapter 3: Carolee—Survival
Pacing the characterless six by eight cell, Carolee nearly kicked over the slop bucket beside the bed. She’d become so absorbed in her connection with her sister, and so upset with her, she’d briefly lost all awareness of her surroundings. She sat on the thin mattress and pushed the bucket closer to the wall with her foot.
Carolee knew what Mary was up to and didn’t like it. Although Mary had tried to conceal the truth, Carolee had slowly become aware that her sister was suffering and losing weight. Indeed, the more lightheaded and weak Mary got, the easier it became for Carolee to access her twin’s thoughts and feelings.
Mary intended to honor their father’s sacrifice with her own. For Carolee, honor was a costume that only the wealthy could afford, one that didn’t wear well with time. She was certain Mary had no recollection of Mr. Mortlow’s true sacrifice, his real gift to his daughters. Carolee recalled vividly, but she would not relate the memory to her sister.
That Mary was willing to throw away her life disgusted Carolee. Mary believed in things Carolee gave up as nonsense long ago—Mary believed in God and Jesus, and that she and her sisters were somehow better than other people. The war taught Carolee that despite outward appearance, there was no difference between aristocrats and the common people, between gentlefolk and persons considered coarse or uncouth. She was raised in privilege, given a good education, and had cultivated good manners and refined tastes. But when the War forced her to endure privation, in order to survive she’d readily done what, by the standards of her upbringing, was unthinkable.
About the Author
Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. As a writer and illustrator, he is the author of sixteen published books, including 11 novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. His illustrations have appeared in books of fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction and children’s books. Awards for his work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. Mr. Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audio books, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson.
Hi Alan, and thank you for being here today.
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I have always loved storytelling. Although I studied fine art, I shifted my professional efforts toward illustration of speculative fiction, mostly in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I had been a freelance illustrator for about ten years, doing mostly book covers, when I began to take my writing more seriously. By 1995, I was making professional sales of my fiction. I have continued the freelance illustration and have been earning a living at it now for 35 years.
Where were you born/where did you grow up?
I was born in Nashville, TN. Shortly thereafter, my family lived in Alington VA, then New York City, NY, in Manhattan. We moved to Nashville after that, and I spent most of my childhood there. I went to high school and college in San Francisco, CA, returned to Nashville, met and married my wife, Melody Kees Clark. She and I have now lived in Eugene Oregon for 22 years.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
In my work, both writing and illustration, my leaning toward horror comes in part from family influences. My father, William M. Clark, and his father, Sam L. Clark, were physicians with a tendency toward gallows humor. My grandfather was head of the anatomy department at Vanderbilt, and had been there as a professor for many years. The house he built in Nashville TN, where I spent most of my childhood, was full of the odd things he collected. There were many medical books and some remnants of his medical research, mostly in neuroanatomy. Before systems were in place to insure that there were enough cadavers for students in the medical schools of Tennessee, he employed a body snatcher to acquire what was needed, and recorded stories of the man’s exploits in the Nashville area. The house literally had skeletons in its closets. Many of the bones were ones he and my father had collected at sites in Nashville where houses were to be built and the ground was being prepared for foundations. Nashville had been the sacred hunting and burial ground of five Indian tribes for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years prior to the time when white settlers began to arrive in the area. The Battle of Nashville during the American Civil War, something of a siege, took place in part in my neighborhood. When there were dead among the soldiers involved, they were often loaded into shallow graves near where they fell. The creek that ran through our property got high when the rains came hard and eroded the bank, in one spot exposing skeletons that my brother and I found. All of this had an impact on me as a child. I loved all that history in my “front yard.” Long before I became interested in horror, I’d already gained a sense of what was creepy.
- $25 Amazon, Paperback of The Door That Faced West,
- ebook of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series novel- Of Thimble and Threat, ebook of A Parliament of Crows – 1 winner each
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