Thursday, August 23, 2012

Carson Dudley: Modern Hero

As I prepare for bigger things with author Chris Weedin (don't worry, you'll hear all about it later) I decided it's time to talk about the first two novels of the Graveyard Shift: The Adventures of Carson Dudley series.

Carson is a mild-mannered convenience store clerk in the town of Las Calamas. His work for the 24/7 is his pride and joy. He does his job and manages to have fun doing it.

Midnight Snack, the first of the series, finds Carson joining forces with longtime yet mysterious customer Kiki, new security guard Dex and nun Sister Becky to fight an evil vampire named Vanessa. Out heroes defeat evil, but lose a friend in the process.

Another Rotten Night picks up a few weeks later. The 24/7 is under new corporate ownership. Carson struggles with the new boss, Kiki becomes distant, Dex deals with weight management and Sister Becky deals with young hellions. Eventually, they face a zombie horde summoned by a rival businessman.

If you want more of the actual plots of the two books, you have to read them yourselves. That's all the plot synopses you're getting from me. I want to talk about more than that.

Midnight Snack grew from the scripts of Weedin's "Horror Rules" role-playing game. It serves its purpose as an introduction to Las Calamas and Carson Dudley, a city and a young man each with more going on than what one sees on the surface. The biggest difference is that a hero and a leader lives inside Carson whereas it seems Las Calamas is a magnet for evil.

Weedin's writing might put some readers off as being too simple. One must remember that this is entertainment and its purpose is fun and to introduce the characters of a larger mythology. In it's way, it's like the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie. We learn who the key player is and there's some adventure (and an Old World vampire) and that's good enough. Like the TV series that grew from the film,  Another Rotten Night is just as fun as its predecessor but also more mature and with more depth.

The great thing is that not every question gets answered. Another Rotten Night is about twice as long as Midnight Snack and for every detail into a character's past, another question is asked. Just what has Kiki done in her past that she doesn't want anyone to know? What happened to the people close to Dex? Just how many demons has Sister Becky come face to face with?

So there's some Buffy in there. Carson isn't exactly her type, but it's not hard to imagine these two fictions existing in the same plane. Could the Curio Shop, right across the street from Carson's 24/7 be a Hellmouth? Maybe.

Each book contains a classic good versus evil stand-off, but if you think Weedin sticks to the same spaghetti western stare-down format, you'd be wrong. His twists not only make sense but are unpredictable. In the grandest tradition of horror fiction, anything can happen.

Another commonality with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is humor. Weedin has a flair for using comedy and horror cliches on purpose. When a character says, "Let's split up," rest assured that Weedin knows what could happen and what you expect to happen. It won't always be the same thing and that's all part of the fun.

If you live in the Yakima, Wash., area, you can buy copies at Inklings Bookshop. Weedin will be doing an in-store event at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 8.

Midnight Snack is 190 pages. Another Rotten Night is 330 pages. Both are published by Crucifiction Games and are available from the publisher's website or via Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, this Weedin guy sounds like he's worth checking out. I've heard he clubs baby seals, but what the heck... everyone has their hangups.