Author Guest Post: Gary Val Tenuta

Every Friday is open for authors to promote their books

Today’s Guest Author shares how he came up with his book and info on it, which I found fascinating.


Ash: Return of the Beast

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How a 60-Year-Old Mystery Inspired a Beastly Tale

Drenched in Occult Lore

By Gary Val Tenuta


Inspiration can come at any time and from the most unexpected source. Case in point:

I was browsing through a second-hand bookstore one day and there––in a dimly lit section labeled New-Age/Paranormal––I came across a biography (A Magic Life, Booth, 2001) of the notorious British occultist, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the man upon whom the British Press once conferred the title of The Wickedest Man In The World.

Now, having had a long time interest in all facets of the supernatural, paranormal, and generally anything that resonates with those topics, I was familiar with this legendary practitioner of the Dark Arts. I knew he identified with the number 666 and often referred to himself as The Beast. However, I’d never read a biography about him. So I paged through the book and, toward the end, my speed-reading eyes almost passed over a remarkable little factoid. I did a double-take. Wait, I thought. Did that say what I think it said? Indeed, it did.

According to the biography, Crowley’s body was cremated upon his death in 1947. Curiously, however, the urn containing his ashes mysteriously disappeared and its disappearance has remained a mystery to this day. My eyes lit up. I thought, wow, if that isn’t a great set-up for a supernatural tale, I don’t know what is. I quickly purchased the book and rushed home to read more.

Crowley’s lifestyle was controversial in the extreme, a swirling maelstrom of depraved behaviors, strange rituals, dark deeds and magical workings. But what stood out most, for me, was that tiny little factoid about the missing urn. I mulled it over in my head for days, maybe weeks, trying to come up with a good story based around this intriguing bit of Crowley trivia. Eventually, it came to me and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Three years in the works, it finally emerged as Ash: Return Of The Beast, a supernatural chiller, steeped in the occult and drenched in esoteric lore.

So is it a horror story? Well, yes, but not the gratuitously gory, slasher type, the likes of which have become so familiar in the genre. No, Ash is a more subtle sort of horror, the kind that creeps up on you, gaining momentum, pushing you further and further into the darkness until you have nowhere to run. As one reviewer put it:

“I was reminded of Dennis Lehane. Very different from other horror fiction stories… even gave the whole Necronomicon tale a new spin.” (Cyma R. Kahn, reviewer)

As many novelists will tell you, sometimes the author thinks he knows how the story will end. But, as the characters begin to take on a life of their own, the story can evolve in directions the author never anticipated and the ending can turn out to be something quite different from what was originally planned. Believe me, even though I’m the author, no one was more surprised by the ending than me. Readers have mentioned the surprising ending. As one reviewer succinctly put it:

“An ending you will never see coming. Highly recommended.” (Lila L. Pinord, author of Min’s Monster and other tales)

The story opens with the death of Crowley in 1947 and provides a surprising answer to the disappearance of the urn. Then the timeline shifts to the 1990s and the emergence of a Seattle-based death-metal musician with the unlikely name of Rodney Duckworth whose path to fame and fortune is curiously linked to the mystery of the missing urn.

Finally the story shifts to the present day where Brian Kane, a gruff and gritty street-worn Seattle Police Detective, reluctantly teams up with the mysterious Rowena Ravenwood, an attractive and rather unconventional female FBI agent assigned to a most unusual investigative unit. Their task is to figure out why good, healthy, God-fearing preachers in their fair city are suddenly dropping dead… one at a time… exactly nine days apart.

As the intense and baffling investigation continues, Ravenwood cannot help but suspect Detective Kane is keeping something from her. What is the disturbing secret that he’s holding so close to his chest?

The investigation catapults Kane and Ravenwood into life-threatening situations as they feel their way through the strange, dark labyrinth of the world of the occult and find themselves battling for their lives against the powerful forces of ritual magick.

A bloody carnage of an unimaginable horror is about to be unleashed upon the world. The survival of the entire human race hangs in the balance and the clues to help solve the case are in desperately short supply. Worse yet, so is the amount of time left to stop the mysterious killer’s reign of terror before all Hell breaks loose. And – according to Special Agent Ravenwood – that’s not just a figure of speech.


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Gary Val Tenuta is an artist, author, songwriter and book cover designer with a degree in social psychology. He is owned by a big black cat named Bear. They reside in Bear’s cozy condo in the Pacific Northwest.


Twitter: @EzekielCode

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