Monday, April 15, 2019

#32 Inside the Emotion of Fiction's "Rabid Dogs" by Jason Arment

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****Jason Arment’s Rabid Dogs is the thirty-second in a never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? Rabid Dogs. Whatever the working title was at the start, the current title not only replaced but eclipsed all the other options.

Fiction genre? Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long?Speculative fiction, twelve pages worth.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? It is published in Heavy Feather Review, Christmas 2018.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? Late 2016 I wrote the initial draft, and worked on it in earnest for a few months. Initially I wondered if it was going to turn into some sort of larger work, but it never really went anywhere after this piece. But the premise started to rely on the VA as the antagonist and survival as the Mc Guffin. I quickly lost interest.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? I can't included a photo. I don't think I have any photos of my old place's work station. I use a small drafting table as a desk. I like that I can adjust the height of the drafting table. It has an industrial, robust minimalist aesthetic. I always face it into a corner without a window. I hang art all over my place, but right in front of my desk I like to see the paint on the walls.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I wrote this in the late evenings. I not really much of a drinker, but I do drink on occasion. Whatever my diet was, it would have been in more or less moderation. At the time I doing rough drafts with pen and paper, which I do now.

What is the summary of this specific fiction work? PTSD is a psychic wound, and although the symptoms can be treated with medication, what makes up our consciousness is more than just the stuff contained by our skulls. In many ways we all share a consciousness and identity. And in other ways, it's how we lie to ourselves that teases out subtle nuances of our ideology.

Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? The narrator has survived a good deal of violence and injury, and has recently been released from the hospital.

Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
Pages 6-8
       The nightmares should have been about the shooting. That would have made sense. At least then Clark wouldn't have felt like such a freak. But the nightmares weren't about the Manny losing it in Starbucks. Instead the dreams were of desert arroyos Clark had never seen before, the moon casting a pallor so pure through desert crags that it made the moon he woke to look stained with coffee. Then the dreams morphed to include the Tigris and Euphrates and run-down boroughs in Middle Eastern cities. This happened over the course of the first weeks back home from the hospital.
       “Something isn't right,” Clark said on the phone with his father.
       “What do you mean? Are you having trouble . . . you know. Trouble with the trauma from the shooting?”
       Always the mental health professional, his father used words like “adjusting” and “trauma” instead of “being normal” and “watching people die.”
       “It's not what you think,” Clark said. “I'm having dreams about places I've never been, Dad.”
       “The minds psyche heals in strange ways sometimes,” his father said. “Just try to keep an open mind about what is happening to you instead of pushing away. This is important if you--”
       Clark cut him off.
       “I'm having dreams about Iraq. They haven't been violent yet, but they don't seem headed down a good path.”
       Clark had dreamed of standing post on top of a dorm-like building seven stories high surrounded by fences crowned with rolls of razor wire. He'd watched through ballistic glass as red tracers arced through the night, leaving trails of closely wound blue coils stretched taut across his vision.
       “It can't be what you're thinking,” his father said. “Manic Polarity, or MP, directly resulted from mass inoculation of the veteran population with a wonder drug specially tailored for their Hippocampus that was supposed to cure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Desperate to curb veteran suicide the government went overboard with the dose and some veterans were essentially lobotomized. The vast majority seemed to survive unscathed as ticking time bombs, just waiting for alarms to signal their end.”
       “Did you just read that out of something?” Clark asked.
       It was so like his father to parrot the words of another instead of forging his own.
       “Yeah, out of the last issue of Modern Psychology I had laying on my desk. They did a whole spread on veteran suicide and violence. Pretty scary stuff. I—”
       Muffled voices filled a lull in his father's verbose explanation.
       “Son, I uh . . .” his father's voice trailed off. “Listen, call me tonight, all right? My three o'clock just showed up. I'm really sorry but I've got to let you go.”

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? Dreams are weirdly personal, and so is mental health problems. Trying to bring to bear what is going on in one's head while the world says, “Look at you—you're fine,” can be a daunting task. PTSD often manifests in strange ways, and nightmares about other things begin and mix with dreamscapes old and new. Rarely is a family willing to embrace that a loved one has sustained an injury to the mind, and well meaning folks are always there to tell you why you're wrong.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. I toned down some of the violence in the piece, but those drafts are long erased.

Other works you have published? As far as fiction, not a whole lot. My realm is nonfiction, and I do my best at poetry. Witch Craft Magazine published a piece of my fiction in their third issue. My nonfiction is what people call “widely published,” and I think that means I've been published in places of note, and elsewhere. My memoir just came out this last 9/11.

Anything you would like to add? My memoir about Iraq, Musalaheen, will melt your face and change the way you think.

Jason Arment served in OIF as a Machine-Gunner in the USMC. He's earned an MFA in CNF from VCFA. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, the 2017 Best American Essays, The New York Times, among other publications and on ESPN. His memoir, Musalaheen, stands in stark contrast with other narratives about Iraq, in both content and quality. Jason lives in Denver, where he coordinates the Denver Veterans Writing Workshop with Lighthouse. Much of his work can be found at  


001   11 15 2018 Nathaniel Kaine’s
Thriller Novel
John Hunter – The Veteran

002   11 18 2018 Ed Protzzel’s
The Antiquities Dealer 

003   11 23 2018 Janice Seagraves’s
Science Fiction Romance
Exodus Arcon

004   11 29 2018 Christian Fennell’s
Literary Fiction Novel
The Fiddler in the Night

005  12 02 2018 Jessica Mathews’s
Adult Paranormal Romance
Death Adjacent

006  12 04 2018 Robin Jansen’s
Literary Fiction Novel
Ruby the Indomitable

007  12 12 2018  Adair Valerez’s
Literary Fiction Novel

008  12 17 218 Kit Frazier’s
Mystery Novel
Dead Copy

009 12 21 2019 Robert Craven’s
Noir/Spy Novel
The Road of a Thousand Tigers

010 01 13 2019 Kristine Goodfellow’s
Contemporary Romantic Fiction
The Other Twin

011 01 17 2019 Nancy J Cohen’s
Cozy Mystery
Trimmed To Death

012 01 20 2019 Charles Salzberg’s
Crime Novel
Second Story Man

013 01 23 2019 Alexis Fancher’s
Flash Fiction
His Full Attention

014 01 27 2019 Brian L Tucker’s
Young Adult/Historical

015 01 31 2019 Robin Tidwell’s

016 02 07 2019 J.D. Trafford’s
Legal Fiction/Mystery
Little Boy Lost

017 02 08 2019 Paula Shene’s
Young Adult ScieFi/Fantasy/Romance/Adventure
My Quest Begins 

018 02 13 2019 Talia Carner’s
Mainstream Fiction/ Suspense/ Historical
Hotel Moscow

019 02 15 2019 Rick Robinson’s
Multidimensional Fiction
Alligator Alley

020 02 21 2019 LaVerne Thompson’s
Urban Fantasy
The Soul Collectors

021 02 27 2019 Marlon L Fick’s
Post-Colonialist Novel
The Nowhere Man

022 03 02 2019 Carol Johnson’s
Mainstream Novel
Silk And Ashes

023 03 06 2019 Samuel Snoek-Brown’s
Short Story Collection
There Is No Other Way to Worship Them

024 03 08 2019 Marlin Barton’s
Short Story Collection
Pasture Art

025 03 18 2019 Laura Hunter’s
Historical Fiction
Beloved Mother

026 03 21 2019 Maggie Rivers’s
Magical Mistletoe

027  03 25 2019 Faith Gibson’s
Paranormal Romance

028 03 27 2019 Valerie Nieman’s
Tall Tale
To The Bones

029 04 04 2019 Betty Bolte’s
Paranormal Romance
Veiled Visions of Love

030 04 05 2019  Marianne Maili’s
Lucy, go see

031 04 10 2019 Gregory Erich Phillips’s
Mainstream Fiction
The Exile

032 04 15 2019 Jason Arment’s
Speculative Fiction
Rabid Dogs

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