Audiobook News! SAVAGE SPECIES! THE DARKEST LULLABY! TOO MANY CAPS AND EXCLAMATIONS!!!

Hey, friends. A whole lotta blog silence over the past twelve days, but believe me, I’ve been working. Editing one novel. Writing another. Brainstorming a third.

But today I’ve got some really fantastic news about my first two audiobooks.

SAVAGE SPECIES has been out for a while now, and it’s a fabulous production. Even better, I got word yesterday that it’ll be popping up on Audible.com and several other places soon. Which rocks. And the coolest thing is that the whole thing is only $9.99, which is incredibly cheap for an audiobook, particularly one as rousing and entertaining as this one (Was that narcissistic? A little? A LOT?!). Randy Hames absolutely rocked the reading, so I hope you’ll check it out soon.

Listen to the terror...

Listen to the terror…

Speaking of Randy Hames…

The guru of Audio Realms Publishing (a super guy named Fred Godsmark) was able to procure Randy’s gritty, nuanced, transfixing verbal services for my second audiobook THE DARKEST LULLABY. The cover is pictured below.

darkest lullaby SQ

I haven’t yet heard THE DARKEST LULLABY, but I’ve already heard great things from the folks who have heard it. If hearing that makes any sense to you. And this one too will be showing up on Audible.com very soon. I’m guessing its price tag will also be pretty dang reasonable.

So that’s all for tonight. I hope all is well with you, friends.

The Monster Men and I Take on Vampires!

Last week I appeared with Hunter Shea and Jack Campisi on their wonderful MONSTER MEN show. Well, that interview/discussion turned into two interviews/discussions, and the second installment is available to watch now. It’s about vampires. And my novel DUST DEVILS. Because it contains vampires.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

In addition to that, we talk about FRIGHT NIGHT.

fright night

‘SALEM’S LOT

salems-lot-artwork

FEVRE DREAM

Dark Brilliance

Dark Brilliance

I AM LEGEND

Richard-Matheson_I-Am-Legend

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

let the right one in

THE LIGHT AT THE END

TheLightattheEndKindleCoverII

And two dozen other vampire-related topics. So check it out, friends. It’ll be time well spent.

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL: Cover and Synopsis Reveal

Hey, friends. When an editor gets excited, I tend to get excited too. Especially when it’s editor Don D’Auria, a man who has edited the likes of Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, and Brian Keene.

The book Don’s excited about is my upcoming January release THE NIGHTMARE GIRL. Here’s the creepy Angela Waters cover:

Fiery Terror

Fiery Terror

And here’s a very short, very rough, very unofficial synopsis:

When building contractor Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler in a gas station parking lot, he sets in motion a deadly cycle of revenge, supernatural terror, and fanatical cult violence. Soon, Joe must fight to save his wife, his daughter, and the abused little boy from an ancient fire cult in THE NIGHTMARE GIRL.

I’ll be talking more about the story soon, but for now I’ll just say that this one, though horror, is also a suspense/mystery novel. It’s also a tribute of sorts to one of my literary heroes, Mr. Joe R. Lansdale. Oh, and the ending was inspired by Quentin Tarantino. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Bryan Smith Kills Again: An Interview about STRANGE WAYS and Other Stories

Bryan Smith is one of my favorite writers working today. He sells a lot of books, but more importantly (to me, at least), he writes really, really well. His prose moves, he knows how to surprise without cheating, and he maintains his narrative energy from the beginning of a story to the end. I was fortunate enough to meet him and sign books with him this summer at Scares That Care, and I hope I get the chance to work with him again soon.

So without further ado, here’s a short interview with a man I’m proud to call a friend. His new novel is called STRANGE WAYS

strange ways

1. STRANGE WAYS is an arresting title. Could you talk about why you chose it and how it ties into the story?

STRANGE WAYS was the original title of an earlier novel I eventually retitled SOULTAKER. The bulk of SOULTAKER was actually written before my first novel was published. I came back to it when I was stuck for something to do as my fifth novel for Leisure Books. I think I changed the title because SOULTAKER felt more to-the-point and was similar to the title of an earlier book I’d written for Leisure called DEATHBRINGER. But I always liked STRANGE WAYS as a title and eventually decided to revive it for this latest book. The only way it really ties into the story, though, is that a lot of strange things begin to happen in this idyllic suburban neighborhood after some new people move in. I took care to emphasize that strangeness in the early chapters so that there’d be at least a somewhat legitimate excuse to use it. The actual origin of the title is a little convoluted. Many years ago, when I wrote the first two-thirds of what would eventually be SOULTAKER, I wanted something that would capture the, well, strange and freaky vibe of the novel. At the time I had the Doors song “Strange Days” on my mind and sort of derived it from that. Later I realized “Strange Ways” was the name of a KISS song from their second record. Both are great songs. Like a lot of horror writers of my generation, I’m strongly influenced by rock music in general.

2. You’re a versatile writer. You’ve worked, at the very least, in three distinct genres so far: horror, crime/action, and urban fantasy (at least, some would call the KAYLA books urban fantasy…though I just think of them as horror). To what do you owe these diverse interests? Is it just “in you”? Is it because you watch these types of movies and read these types of books? Or is it something else entirely?

It’s because my interests encompass all those things and more. Although I love horror, I’ve always wanted to write in other genres, particularly the crime genre. I probably read more crime novels—in particular, vintage pulp crime novels from the 40’s and 50’s—more than anything else. My recent novels 68 KILL and BLOOD AND WHISKEY stem from that interest, and I’d like to do more of that kind of thing in the future. But the bulk of my audience is comprised of horror readers, so I keep most of my focus in that direction. Eventually, however, there will be another crime novel. The KAYLA books are definitely my version of urban fantasy. Some horror people perceive them as horror books, but that’s only because urban fantasy is steeped in a lot of similar tropes. In terms of gore and explicit content, the KAYLA books are pretty tame compared to my straightforward horror stuff. That series came about because I was stuck for something to write after my wife died a few years ago. At first, I wasn’t even sure I had it in me to write again. My wife wasn’t a horror fan, but she did love the urban fantasy stuff, so I decided to take a shot at writing the kind of thing she might have enjoyed. I enjoyed writing those books and may eventually come back to the series.

kayla-and-the-devilfinal

3. Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite character or two? Why has this character (or why have these characters) stuck with you?

I have a few favorites. At the top of the list are probably Kayla Monroe from the KAYLA series, Roxie from the KILLING KIND series, and Jessica Sloan from the DEPRAVED books. By this point it’s no secret that I have a fondness for snide, snarky badass female characters. I guess it’s fair to say that I have something of a bad girl fetish. I’m sure there are those out there who tire of me repeating the type, but they’re just going to have to deal with it if they plan to continue reading my books. I may occasionally deviate from the template I’ve used just to subvert the expectations of readers, but I’ll always eventually revisit that kind of character.

KaylaUndead (1)

 

4. Back to STRANGE WAYS…Delphine, Simone, and Zarina are the names of your “Sisters of the Endless Night.” They sound like interesting characters in that they do bad things but might not be without redeeming characteristics. In past novels you’ve demonstrated an ability to present this duality in a believable way. Is this a conscious decision on your part, or do the characters just develop with both positive and negative traits naturally? Are you drawn to characters who can be both cruel and sympathetic?

In general terms, yeah, characters develop that way naturally as I write the books. Most people in the world have both good and bad in them, even those who are largely loathsome for various reasons. Kayla is a lot like that. She’s just not a nice person at all, but she recognizes that and feels bad about it at times. STRANGE WAYS is a different case, though. The members of the coven are pretty much entirely without redeeming characteristics. In part, that’s a result of a desire to veer away from the more reality-rooted recent books I’ve done and write a more straightforward good vs. evil exercise in good old-fashioned horror entertainment. These witches in STRANGE WAYS are quasi-immortals who have prolonged their lives through centuries via mastery of black magic. I do explain that in the early days of their coven they had some moral qualms about what they were doing. However, by the time we meet them in the modern era all of that has long since passed away and they are just purely evil.

5. Lastly, what does the future hold for Bryan Smith? I know you’re kicking around several story ideas. Can you share any insights on future projects? Books your fans might be able to look forward to?

New ideas come to me on an almost daily basis. I’ve had to learn to set aside a lot of them and focus on the ones that have the most obvious potential. A while back I talked about how I wanted to become a modern equivalent to the pulp writers of a bygone era. A lot of the guys who wrote those pulp novels made their living by constantly grinding out new product. It wasn’t unusual for people like Gil Brewer and Carter Brown to write novels in a month or less, and they would often release several novels a year. So that’s been my goal over the last couple years, to relentlessly plow through one book after another with only small breaks between them. So far it’s working for me, and I’ve finally realized my lifelong dream of making a living solely by writing by doing it this way. Some of the upcoming projects I have planned are a zombie novel called SLOWLY WE ROT, a slasher novel called TONIGHT THEY DIE, a third KAYLA book, a haunted house novel, another sequel to DEPRAVED, a crime novel that may or may not be called DIRTY DEEDS, and any number of other things. At some point I’ll be collaborating on a novella with Ryan Harding. I never have any shortage of new projects on the horizon, obviously.

smith

That’s all for now, folks. You can pick up STRANGE WAYS right here.

Thank you to Bryan Smith. And thank you all for reading this interview and for going out and buying a couple Bryan Smith books. Believe me, you’ll enjoy them. The dude truly knows how to tell a story.

Leisure Horror Fans Rejoice! Samhain Horror Is HERE!

How many of you remember how awesome it used to be to be able to count on two Leisure Horror titles every month? I remember discovering names like Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, John Everson, Tim Waggoner, and too many others to mention through Leisure. I also remembering, many years ago, deciding I wanted to be published by Leisure and edited by the man behind the line, Don D’Auria.

Don D'Auria. Suspected of Vampirism. *If anyone has proof that Mr. D'Auria has aged in the past two decades, please contact the CIA.

Don D’Auria. Suspected of Vampirism.
*If anyone has proof that Mr. D’Auria has aged in the past two decades, please contact the CIA.

Then Leisure and its parent company, Dorchester Publishing, went under, and Don began a horror line at a different company (Don, by the way, had nothing to do with the company’s financial woes and always treated his authors with the utmost respect).

Enter Samhain Publishing. Already a red-hot seller of romance titles, Samhain was ready to begin a new line of books in a different genre, and when Don D’Auria became available, they snatched him up and created Samhain Horror.

Erotic Horror

Erotic Horror

What’s my point?

Before everything went bad at Leisure, you could count on two awesome horror novels every month. Now, at Samhain Horror, you can count on (at least) two awesome horror novels every month, plus at least one or two novellas.

Leisure’s book were affordable. You could grab a paperback for about eight bucks. Now, by clicking on this link and buying directly from the Samhain Horror website (and using the PAPERBACK50 code at checkout), you can buy a paperback for about eight bucks. The ebooks are reasonably priced as well, often selling for under four bucks in the first month of release.

Tim Waggoner. Rock Star.

Tim Waggoner. Rock Star.

Same editor. Same quality. Same affordability. Heck, Samhain even features some of the same authors (including the aforementioned Bryan Smith, John Everson, and Tim Waggoner). And I dare say you’ll love many of the new authors Samhain Horror has midwifed into existence (including Brian Moreland, Hunter Shea, Kristopher Rufty, a ton of other fantastic writers, and….*whistles politely*….*pauses out of respect for other authors or maybe just to add drama to his own name’s unveiling*…Jonathan Janz).

Bryan Smith Mayhem

Bryan Smith Mayhem

So if you were one of the orphaned Leisure Horror fans left in the lurch when that company—well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty, you can rejoice. Samhain Horror has your fix. Monthly. For a good price.

That is all.

Oh, and buy the book pictured below. It’s a great place to start reading Samhain Horror.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

For My Daughter on Her Seventh Birthday: The Grub on My Chest

One of my older daughter’s nicknames is Sparkle, so we’ll go with that for now. A quick story about her…

When Sparkle was a wee baby, we brought her home from the hospital (after only a brief debate). I was prepared for the worst. See, my first child (my son) was Mr. High Energy and allowed us to sleep for no more than twenty-six minutes at a time over the first year of his life. My boy, as much as I love him, was a force of nature, his wails slamming into us like a neverending tsunami. A tsunami on steroids.

So we figured Sparkle would be insane as well, right?

I had everything set up. I had my recliner by the big picture window in the den, I had my portable DVD player, I had a pile of DVDs I could watch and listen to on my headphones. I was ready. It was the middle of summer, so I was shirtless. I mention that not to make you shiver in revulsion but because all the parenting books talked about how important skin-to-skin contact is for a baby.

I placed my newborn Sparkle on my chest, reclined the chair, donned my headphones, and started my first feature. I’d even been sure to avoid liquids for an hour prior so I could minimize urination breaks.

Like a human grub, my little Sparkle lay on her stomach, curled up her legs beneath her, and nestled into me with her fuzzy head under my chin and her tiny diapered buns pointed heavenward. She lay there and lay there, and even when the vicious cannibal in RAVENOUS began murdering and devouring people, Sparkle never stirred.

Ravenous_ver1

This is uncanny, I thought to myself. And amazing. My first child never remained this still for this long. I’m almost halfway through an honest-to-goodness movie, and she hasn’t begun to shriek at me like Donald Sutherland at the end of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

sutherland

I finished the movie, and the grub on my chest continued to slumber.

I replaced RAVENOUS with the original THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

Still no movement from Sparkle. For perhaps the sixtieth time since I’d taken my position, I craned my neck down to make sure she was breathing.

Yep. Still breathing. Just not crying or kicking or shaking her fists at me like Peter Finch in NETWORK (Hey, might as well stick with the movie references, right?). I got halfway through my movie and began to get seriously worried. Because Sparkle still wasn’t crying.

Crazy-Howard-Beale-Peter-Finch-from-the-movie-Network.

I licked my lips, debating. I was worried about her, but after all, this was what I’d hoped for, wasn’t it? I mean, had my son been this docile I might not have spent 2005 and 2006 sleepless. So I took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the movie. Yet despite its quality, the only thing I could pay attention to was the barely-moving grub on my chest.

day_the_earth_stood_still_poster

I felt a mental chill. Panic gripped me. I reached down as quickly as I could without upsetting Sparkle and called the nurse.

ME: I think I’ve got a serious issue.

NURSE ON CALL (voice tight with apprehension): What is it, sir?

ME: It’s my daughter. She’s a newborn. We just got her home and…

NURSE ON CALL: Yes?

ME: She’s, um…not crying.

NURSE ON CALL: (silence)

ME: That’s bad, right?

NURSE ON CALL: Is she breathing without effort?

ME (glances at Sparkle’s back): I think so.

NURSE ON CALL: Does she appear to be in any discomfort?

ME: No. Not at all. See, that’s what’s worrying me.

NURSE ON CALL (bemused): I’m afraid I don’t see the problem.

ME: She’s not screaming at all. She hasn’t slapped me yet or peed sixteen feet in the air or punctured one of my eardrums with her shrieking.

NURSE ON CALL (another pause): Is there anything else you need tonight, sir?

ME: So she’s…okay?

NURSE ON CALL: (click)

Sparkle continued to breathe gently. I sighed and lay back, more relaxed than I’d ever been in my life. Then I put in RESERVOIR DOGS.

Daughter, you continue to have that same soothing effect on me. When I’m worried or unsure, you calm me. Your smile, your positive attitude, your assurance that Yes Daddy, everything’s going to be just fine all work to achieve the impossible. You help me relax.

Proof of the Sparkle

Proof of the Sparkle

When I’m sick, you always volunteer to help me. You bring me a warm, very wet washcloth and slop on it onto my forehead. You pour me the Sprite we always keep on hand for sickness, and you always remember to pour some for yourself as well. You caress my hair and talk, it doesn’t matter about what.

You’re my little angel.

Sparkle, I hope you never change. Oh, you can grow and all that stuff, but never lose the amazing, warm, nurturing heart that makes you who you are.

I love you forever, my little daughter! Thank you for being you!

IMG_3134

Author Jonathan Janz Defines Horror

Jonathan Janz:

Earlier this month, author Matt Manochio was kind enough to share some of my thoughts on his blog. See what you think about my definition of horror…

Originally posted on Scary Funny:

Today’s a big day for Samhain Horror authors Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz, whose respective books, Hell Hole and Castle of Sorrows, hit shelves both physical and digital. I’ll be posting something with Hunter in a few weeks regarding both Hell Hole and his recent Kensington release, The Montauk Monster, which is already on my Kindle just aching to be read. Both guys have been supportive of me in my schlep toward publication come November 4, and I can’t wait to meet both at a yet-to-be-determined horror convention down the road.

But today’s post involves Jonathan Janz, which isn’t his real name and I’m still not sure how to refer to him when I write to him. But that’s another story. Isn’t this a kick-ass cover? (Yes.)

Courtesy: Amazon (Lord of Everything)

Courtesy: Amazon (Lord of Everything)

Castle of Sorrows is the sequel to Jonathan’s 2012 release, The Sorrows, which I read, and which involves the…

View original 381 more words

Hunter Shea Prepares You for THE WAITING…

Today, I take a break from my final, final edits of my current work-in-progress to share with you some words by one of my favorite authors, a guy that also happens to be a good friend: Hunter Shea.

The Waiting cover

His new novella THE WAITING is available now, and folks, you’ll want to check this one out. I’ve not read it yet, but I’ve read everything else by Hunter, and they’ve all been five-star reads. But before you check out his new tale, here’s something spooky from Hunter to get you in mood…

Wanna hear a scary story? Yeah? Okay, but first you have to throw another couple of logs on that fire. That’s it, stir up the flames a bit. See those sparks? They’re like fireflies, aren’t they?

Now before I start, I need to take a little sip of what’s in that cup over there. You mind passing it over? Thank you. I see your nose cringing. That’s why it’s for adults like me. Warms you inside and out.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the scary story. This one is a little bit different than the ones your camp counselors have told you. You know why? Because it’s true. Now I know they say their tales of hook-handed mental patients and bloody Marys are true, but they’re not. Plain and simple. They make them up to frighten you. This one I’m about to tell you, the folks that lived it wish it was all make believe. People that have heard it sometimes wish they hadn’t.

Campfire_Pinecone

Here’s something else to think about. I was there. I saw the ghost of that boy living in my friend’s house. He was no bigger than you, and he didn’t look like no ghost. That boy was solid, real. But you see, he wasn’t. Not really.

Did I touch him? No sir. There was something in his eyes, black as points of coal, that told you not to come close. He moved without making a sound and he didn’t care who saw him. Because, we learned later, he had a mission. A fixation, if you like. No matter what my friend did, that boy wasn’t going to leave.

What was he? A nurse that was visiting my friend’s wife called it a bhoot. It’s some kind of Hindu word for a trapped spirit.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all started at a wedding. The bride, she got real sick right when they were cutting the cake. We all heard her scream and watched her pass out on the floor. She almost died that night, and a lot of other nights after that. But she was a fighter.

One day, months later, she was on life support and her husband took her to their new home even though she wasn’t able to wake up. He wanted to take care of her, and hoped that being out of the hospital would change things for the better.

It wasn’t long before he started hearing strange noises. Things went missing. And then, one night, he saw the boy creeping down the hall, headed to his wife’s room.

To read the rest of this true campfire tale, download a copy of THE WAITING. Keep that fire burning bright, and be very afraid of the dark.

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Here’s the thing about the Harry Potter books…

They’re awesome.

Deep, huh? Well, deep or shallow, it’s the truth. I waited a long time to read the Harry Potter books because I wanted to experience them with my own children. My son (8) and I just finished the sixth book, my first daughter (6) and I are working on the first, and my youngest child (3) is content to commandeer her siblings’ wands and run around shrieking, “I have a Harry Potter stick!”

In other words, we all enjoy it.

Cover-HalfBlood

I could write a great deal about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but it’s a tough book to write about without giving things away. And though I loved this novel for many reasons, I find it quite difficult to separate it from the other tales. This, I think, speaks to J.K. Rowling’s ability to connect the stories in a such a way that they each have their own identity while still continuing to trace a gigantic glowing arc through the sky along which the reader is able to ride from the first book to the seventh.

So before I tell you a few things I loved about the novel, please know that there might be spoilers below. Not huge spoilers, mind you, but I’m always afraid of letting something slip. So…be forewarned. Don’t read on if you haven’t read this book yet. And if you haven’t read the book, why are you reading a review of it by a writer whose skills don’t yet approach J.K. Rowling’s? Seriously. Get off the danged Internet and read this amazing series!

Some delights and terrors and sorrows…

fenrir greyback

1. Fenrir Greyback: Bet that surprised you a little. I know that this character played a relatively minor role, but on the page he was a scene-stealer, a flesh-chewer, and a perfect foil for one of my favorite characters, Remus Lupin.

An aside: About a year before I began reading the series, my Creative Writing class was discussing characterization. The kids began talking about the Harry Potter books. One remarked that the supporting characters were as interesting as the leads, which led another student to bring up Remus Lupin. She was halfway through her cataloging of his merits as a character when she stopped and looked up at me, as if seeing me anew. She then said, “Mr. (Insert real name here). You sort of remind me of Lupin.” When I later found out he was a werewolf, I was a little bit shocked (and secretly pleased). But when I really got to know the character, I found the remark incredibly gratifying.

Back to Fenrir Greyback (with whom I hope I have nothing in common)…

What made Greyback so incredibly interesting to me was not only the sheer ferocity of his behavior, but the diabolical simplicity of his motives. If the Harry Potter books were likened to Lord of the Flies and Voldemort’s ambition were compared with Jack’s (the leader of the hunters), then Greyback would be Roger, the sadist. This powderkeg of a character lives only to rend flesh and to guzzle the steaming lifeblood of his victims. Greyback doesn’t want to rule the world; he simply wants to terrorize it. I don’t know what kind of a role he plays in the seventh book (if any), but his unreasoning brutality added just the right note of menace to a book that largely—and sensitively—focused on the romantic relationships of its teenagers.

Fleur-delacour

2. Fleur’s Surprising Reaction: I admit to falling prey to a stupid prejudice here, and I feel awful about it. But I wrongly assumed Fleur Delacour was a pretty face without a soul. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire she was the object of many male desires (Ron’s particularly), and though she was skilled at wizardry, she wasn’t an especially affecting character. She did seem affected, however, and when she showed up again in Book Six, I, like Mrs. Weasley, rolled my eyes and dismissed her as a fluttery, vapid future supermodel.

How wrong I was.

One mark of a great writer, I think, is the ability to surprise the reader without cheating. That’s J.K. Rowling. When something terrible befell Fleur’s fiance, I was all set to mentally berate her for her superficiality. But rather than making a caricature out of Fleur—as I fear I unknowingly did—Rowling transformed her and made her deeply endearing with a couple elegant lines of dialogue.

And I loved that. So here’s to continual reminders to not judge people by appearances or even their seeming personalities. People can still surprise us, and we need to give them the opportunity to do so.

*takes a deep breath*

And lastly…

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

3. Dumbledore: If you’ve read this far, you’ve only been assailed by minor spoilers. I don’t want to spoil this plot twist, but I don’t know how to talk about it without spoiling it. And the fact is, I don’t want to talk about it.

Rarely has a fictional character so resonated with me the way Albus Dumbledore has. In the first book he was wise, eccentric, and a constant source of comfort. As the series has developed, he has persisted in exhibiting those traits, but he has also grown more than most might think. He has revealed a penchant for trusting others too much. He has admitted how fallible he is, how prone to mistakes. He has been injured, accused of wrongdoing, and generally fed through a physical and emotional woodchipper.

And he has come through it all with an open, caring heart and an enormous capacity for love. One passage in particular, I think, summarizes this amazing character for me. In a scene that chronicles how Tom Riddle became Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore attempts to gird Harry’s resolve and confidence in the inevitable battle with his nemesis:

“Yes, you have,” said Dumbledore firmly. “You have a power that Voldemort has never had. You can—“

“I know!” said Harry impatiently. “I can love!” It was only with difficult that he stopped himself adding, “Big deal!”

“Yes, Harry, you can love,” said Dumbledore, who looked as though he knew perfectly well what Harry had just refrained from saying. “Which, given everything that has happened to you, is a great and remarkable thing. You are still too young to understand how unusual you are, Harry.”

“So, when the prophecy says that I’ll have ‘power the Dark Lord knows not,’ it just means—love?” asked Harry, feeling a little let down.

“Yes—just love,” said Dumbledore.

The above passage will strike some as too direct, too naive, or worst of all, too emotional.

It struck me as incredibly beautiful. There are all sorts of belief systems in the world, and no two people are exactly alike in their beliefs. But what Dumbledore says here is something that, were it adopted by more people, would alter our world for the better. Harry, for all his flaws, usually acts with good intentions. He befriends Luna Lovegood (another one of my favorite characters in all of fiction), gives of himself to others, and is willing to suffer so that others won’t have to experience the same pain. In other words, Harry loves.

And so can Dumbledore. Which is why this book was so memorable, wonderful, and painful to me.

I’m going to go now. My wife is making a delicious supper. My son and first daughter are ready to wrestle. And my three-year-old is racing around the house casting spells on the furniture with her Harry Potter stick.

And for that, J.K. Rowling, I thank you.