The Wilderness WithinJohn Claude Smith
The forest is alive.
While visiting fellow writer, Frank Harlan Marshall, Derek Gray senses a palpable dread within Frank’s house and the forest that surrounds it; a subtle, malignant sentience. What should be a joyous event, as they await the surprise arrival of a long-lost friend, comedian “Dizzy Izzy” Haberstein, is fraught with unease Derek does not understand. Derek’s confusion is upended by the chance meeting with musician Alethea, formerly of Dark Angel Asylum, a band that dropped out of sight once the leader, Aleister Blut, ended up in an insane asylum. As their relationship blossoms, Derek’s disorientation at the hands of the forest manifests as his world turns sideways... and one of Frank’s fictional creations — a murderous monster named Average Joe — gains foothold in the surreal, psychological terrain.
As the worlds of reality and fantasy meld, what transpires bounds from deeply profound to pure madness.
John Claude Smith originally wanted to be a horror writer; now he’s not sure what it is he writes, he just knows it is dark, and he’s the one holding a flashlight, shining light on those places most people would want to avoid, scribbling notes.
He has written fiction, poetry and bad lyrics for as long as he can remember. At a point when he decided to get serious with fiction, sending out stories and getting a few acceptances in the early 1990s, he was side-tracked for many years by music journalism (as JC Smith), including stints as the industrial, experimental, gothic, metal, and all fringe categories reviewer for a variety of magazines including Outburn, Industrial Nation, Side-Line, and