Monday, March 18, 2013

Remembering John McClenny

by Paul Fecteau

eFM Press Co-founder John McClenny passed away March 10. When I visited him in the hospital, he introduced me to the nurses as "one of my professors." Something seemed a little odd about that, but I didn't worry about it then. I have been thinking about it a lot since.

The fall of 2003 was my first semester as a lecturer in the English Department at Washburn University, and I went to the secretary about the possibility of having a student assigned as my research assistant. The problem was the material I worked with was gruesome – I was writing about a murder. "I have the perfect person for the job," she said. A few hours later, a giant man with a bald head and a white Van Dyke appeared at my office door and introduced himself as John. He was in his fifties, and the degree he sought would just be one more amid a life of accomplishments. He was well traveled and well read. Our conversation revealed an array of mutual interests, and the work we began that day would be just the first in a series of collaborations.

Anything weird and unexplainable going on in our neck of the woods garnered our attention. Our pursuits included trips to a number of allegedly haunted houses. We liked to play the roles of skeptic versus believer. My skepticism was pretty run of the mill, but John's belief was based upon years of study and a few remarkable experiences—not all of which he would tell me about. He did as much debunking of what we encountered as I did. (I'm not sure how popular he was with ghost-hunting groups because he refused to cart around equipment or act impressed when someone got an orb on a photo.) John's short story "Skeptic," the final entry in our collaboration Barely Bound, is probably about our debates. As you can imagine, his side gets the last laugh.

John's fiction and poetry was intense. You'd expect that in a novel like Wolfbitch in which the action doesn't let you catch your breath, but his poems also have something unrelenting about them. Several of his works wrestled with the history of the Post Office Oak in Council Grove, and even at its most philosophical, his prose never loses sight of the frontier as a dynamic environment which foists upon us a series of life-and-death decisions. I think that's how he saw writing: each sentence or line is a chance to either connect with readers or lose them. That came through in the feedback he gave me and others whom he helped. I recall an instance when a fellow student showed him a poem. He thought a moment, and then said, "Listen to this." He re-read the poem, dropping a word out of just about every line. The text conveyed the same message but now with much more vitality. His fellow student was, of course, elated.

While thinking about that time, it dawned on me why it seemed off for John to call me "one of his professors." I really looked up to him as one of my professors—if by professor we mean someone with expertise who shares it with us, allowing us to become better than we would have been on our own. Things are going to be a lot harder without him. It's important to remember, though, that all that he was able to share with us continues to operate in our work. We do right by him to do our best and carry on.
Poet Amy Fleury presents John with an award at the 2007 Washburn University English Department Banquet.


Friday, August 12, 2011

God's Blood, God Seed

by John McClenny

God's Blood, God Seed is the first in a series of novels tracing the path and exploits of Jon Logan from the Flint Hills of twenty-first century Kansas backwards in time to the last ice age and his full circle return to the modern world. Often more by accident than design, Logan plays an integral part in building the collective mythology of the human race.




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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Witch's Dozen: Supernatural Poetry

by John McClenny

A Witch's Dozen is poetry with a supernatural focus. In the volume's introduction, John McClenny writes, "The works within this volume were born of a life long romance with the occult and supernatural influences surrounding me. It has been my experience that the narrow and poorly illuminated perspective we envision as normal reality is at best a mundane veneer set in place to avoid confusion and at worst, a sturdy wall designed to block the wonders begging our attention and luring us away from the placid safety of our hearthstones."


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barely Bound: Tales of Horror

eFM Press announces the release of Barely Bound: Tales of Horror which is available for download for $2.99 at Amazon.com and at Smashwords.com.
Barely Bound: Tales of Horror collects 22 pulp stories by Paul Fecteau and John McClenny.

Among the denizens of the wide and weird landscape of Barely Bound, you’ll meet a drunk driver with a zombie problem, a travelling preacher with a dark secret, a high school cheerleader who is a serial killer, a couple time-travelling professors, a maintenance man cleaning up after the suicide of a female tenant with whom he was obsessed, a sociopath in the making, a rock star who earns her Goth cred the hard way, a vampire hunter in love with a vampire, the black-eyed kids of urban legend, the archeologists who discover homo vampiris, a photographer fond of cemeteries, the ghost of a teen hitchhiker, a very romantic necrophiliac, werewolves and witchdoctors, a lifeguard who is a sea monster, a drug addict with telepathy, a shapeshifting prostitute, a preacher whose twin brother has taken the Left Hand Path, a real estate agent who handles haunted properties, a psychic janitor in a psych ward, two girls on a midnight mission in a mortuary, and a believer and a skeptic who actually get along.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wolfbitch

by John McClenny

Wolfbitch is a Cyber-Gothic novel blending technology and supernatural elements in a not too distant future. The story follows a kick-ass young heroine known as Spike as she struggles to survive the curse of lycanthropy in a hostile world beset with violence, drugs and sexual deviance. Her nickname derives from her spiked hair and the steel fighting spikes she uses to deadly effect against denizens made of flesh and blood and otherwise. It isn't a kind or just world, but even at its worst, there are still worthy companions and friends to be found. 



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Dubious Companions: The Road to Ruein

by John McClenny


Dubious Companions is a fantasy adventure in the Swords and Sorcery genre. It follows the journey of Reynan and Ceric in their quest for fame, fortune and most importantly, the power to determine their own fate. Gender roles are reversed with the warrior Reynan, a woman of noble birth, and the sorcerer Ceric, a male dependent on herbs and magic to compensate for his limited constitution.
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