The Goblet of Shock

By Michael Aronovitz

Horror Author, College Professor, and Rock Critic

This is exciting. I have written articles about metal artists, hard rockers, spacey rock goddesses, soft sell acoustic musicians, film actors, and fellow horror writers, but I have never had the honor of hosting the author of a best seller.

Isra Sravenheart has been on two best-sellers lists – USA Today and Amazon, and the thing about this that I find especially enticing, is that all the books in her “Dark Spell” series are self-published. What a way to have sole possession of all the facets of your product! Clearly, Isra has discovered a key to success, and her books are frankly, spectacular.

When talking genre, Isra identifies her work as “Dark Fantasy / Fairytale,” and she started her series in 2013 with Book #1 – Her Dark Soul. Presently, Books # 1 through #5 are available on Amazon. Book #6 is in progress ¾ of the way, and Book #8 is in editing. Isra hopes to finish the series by early 2022.

In terms of plot synopsis, I am glad that Isra didn’t give me any. First, I don’t like spoilers, but more, I don’t think summaries represent stories very well. Great writing is a moment for moment issue down in the trenches. Plots are plots, all with similar dramatic arcs. Instances are what cut the difference, and when they blossom right there at the word, it is magic. Concurrently, Isra says the series has something for everyone, and kudos to her for undertaking this massive project and bringing it through to realization.

When it comes to the writing itself, Isra was kind enough to share some of her process with me, and the thing I find most intriguing, is her focus on the villain as the main character. So often, we are given melodramatic character portraits with stereotypical viewpoints, and nothing could be further from reality. Bad guys don’t wake and say, “I’m a bad guy.” Antagonists think they are good guys, at least the ones we remember. When an author like Isra can show me that other point of view and make me understand it, the read becomes more than exciting. Personally, I used the same technique with the serial killer character in my forthcoming novel (September 2021) titled THE SCULPTOR. I will talk about that piece at the end of the article, but in this instance here, it is relevant. If my killer is my main character there is no clear “viewpoint good guy.” It makes the monster scarier and the fear inside of the victims more real. Hey, to each his or her own. I have spoken to editors who prefer the cliché. Some authors; however, prefer to take risks. It’s like heavy metal: gloriously harsh, technically pristine, and crafted for those who like their truths raw.

In reference to broader themes Isra takes on in her intriguing series, she mentioned forbidden love, darkness of the soul, insecurity, empowerment, and brutal betrayals in friendships. Sold. I can’t think of more tempting subject matter than the perils of the heart, as Isra chooses to explore to the bitter end. In response to the implied psychological depth in this series, I asked if there was a specific process in the planning, and Isra assured me that knowing the ending before starting has always been key. This, of course, is a matter of preference. I do not outline my longer works. My mind just doesn’t work that way. Of course, I come up with a lot of effective material on impulse, but it makes the writing, especially at the halfway point, an absolute heart attack. Often, I panic that I won’t come up with a conclusion, and I envy those like Isra who can form a clear vision front to back from the start.

Here is an excerpt from the series:

“From the beginning, there has always been magic. It can destroy us, but it can also be the best thing for us. Things are not always black and white; witches are not always bad, but they are not always good, either. Back to a time not so long ago, there was a witch named Lady Isra, and she was incredibly powerful. She possessed a great many abilities and qualities: power, control, authority, and beauty. But yet she had no heart, and a witch without a heart is a wicked witch indeed because as this story tells, she became darker as time went on.”

Now is the time to withdraw to the porch, picnic area, wooded clearing, or bar for a drink so we can share stories and such. As for me, September, 2021 is going to be a wonderful time, as I will have two books released. The first is an omnibus lifetime collection of my shorter work titled DANCING WITH TOMBSTONES. That will be published by the horror specialty press – Cemetery Dance, though we don’t have cover art quite yet, nor a buy-link. My fourth novel will also be released. It is titled THE SCULPTOR, and will be published by Night Shade / Skyhorse. Below is a link for the preorder, the cover art, and some reviews/blurbs.


Disturbingly Good


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