Category: Books

How to Make an Artist Miserable

Once, my boss asked me to draw a portrait of his children, but I didn’t want to do it. In order to draw a picture, I have to WANT to draw it. I can’t spend three or four hours huddled over a piece of paper if there’s no passion in my heart. I’m not a picture machine.

But my boss kept hounding me. When I reluctantly agreed to draw his children, he gave me a tiny photo of them. I could barely see their faces at all. In fact, the kids didn’t even appear to have noses. My boss didn’t seem to understand that I needed to SEE the kids in order to draw them.

Since then, I’ve learned how to say no to people. It’s one of the greatest skills I’ve ever learned. My life is so much easier now.

This book is more than a grumpy rant. It’s a story about coping with annoying people. How to Make an Artist Miserable is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

© 2015 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Starlight Desperado

Good morning. My new book is on Amazon now. It’s a story about growing up in church, feeling extremely uneasy about God, leaving church, struggling with anxiety, using substances to cope with that anxiety, and then eventually realizing that God wasn’t the scary monster I thought He was.

I’ve been clean for eight years now. Even though I still struggle with anxiety sometimes, I’ve learned to lean on God and pray during those nervous moments — instead of grabbing pills. My life is much better now. I don’t miss my old habits at all.

The book is available in paperback and on Kindle. You can click here to order.

Under the Electric Sun

Tristan rolled his eyes. “Hey, dummy, guess what? We didn’t finish that quiz earlier.”

Tristan often used the word “dummy” when talking to Jake. Long ago, when Jake was only five, he and Tristan had sat in the living room floor in front of the mega screen one morning, watching an old cartoon. One of the characters had mumbled the word “dummy,” and Jake had gone into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Puzzled, Tristan stared at Jake for a few minutes as he rolled around on the carpet. Since then, whenever Tristan wanted to lighten the mood, he dropped the word “dummy” into the conversation.

“Okay,” said Jake. “What’s the next question?”

“Who’s the current president of Phoenix?”

“Um, I don’t remember,” Jake yawned. “I think his first name is Tiberius.”

“I’ll give you partial credit for that one. His name is Tiberius Vaughn. You see him on The Official Information Channel all the time when you’re walking around in the corridors. He’s the skinny guy with black hair and blue eyes.”

“Oh yeah!” Jake blurted, raising his eyebrows. “That spooky guy who never smiles.”

“That’s the one. You know why he never smiles? Because he doesn’t have a soul!”

Suddenly, Jake leaned toward him. “Really?”

Tristan waved his paws around. “No, I was being sarcastic.”

Jake smiled, slumping against the tree trunk. “Oh, I didn’t know. A lot of times, I don’t know when you’re joking. Sorry.”

“Um, it’s okay,” Tristan said.

“What’s the next question?”

“This is the last one,” said Tristan. “Where did the name ‘Phoenix’ come from?”

“Uh, they call it that because it sounds cool?”

“No, dummy. The phoenix was a mythical bird that burned to death and then came back to life again. It rose up from its own ashes. That was the idea they had in mind when they were building this city. If the whole world was wiped out, they wanted America to rise again.”

Jake nodded slowly as he reflected on this. “So what’s the next question?”

Tristan waved a paw in the air. “That was the end of the quiz, Jacob. We’re all done now.”

Jake yawned again and closed his eyes. As the muscles in his neck began to soften, his head dropped.

“Don’t ever tell anybody I said this,” Tristan added, lowering his voice to a whisper. “But President Vaughn doesn’t have any real power at all. He’s just a distraction. He’s just a bunch of noise. Phoenix is actually controlled by a group of people you hardly ever hear about.”

Jake mumbled something Tristan didn’t understand.

“Sometimes, you see these people on The Official Information Channel, having their little meetings,” Tristan continued. “And sometimes, if you stay up late enough, you see them on another channel too. That’s when they talk about the juicy stuff. But they like to turn off the camera when things get really interesting. Oh, that makes me so mad.”

Tristan was mainly talking to himself now, just venting, but he was surprised when Jake didn’t respond. Then he looked up and realized his friend had gone to sleep.

Tristan lay back in the grass and relaxed under the electric sun. Through the tree branches, he saw holographic clouds scrolling by. For a moment, he imagined what it would be like to live on the surface and see real clouds. He wondered if clouds even existed anymore. There was no telling what the atmosphere was like these days.

Under the Electric Sun is a young adult novel that takes place in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. Jake is a dimwitted young man with a kind heart. Tristan is his electronic tutor designed to look like a raccoon, complete with synthetic fur and rubber paws. Under the Electric Sun is available on Amazon. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2013, 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Drake Novak

An excerpt from Finding Drake Novak

Drake didn’t know where his clan had originally come from. None of them had ever mentioned a home planet. They had always rambled through the galaxy in stolen ships, landing on remote planets, inflicting pain on the natives, feeding until those people were dead, and then searching for another planet. They crushed souls to stay alive the same way vehicles burned fuel in order to move.

One day, his clan settled on a jungle planet where all the people lived in grass huts. Right away, Drake’s family burned down all the huts and enslaved the locals, forcing them to build castles. Drake and his people lived in the castles, of course, while the natives suffered and shivered outside in the rain. Their sadness and anger provided nourishment for the entire clan.

Then the Galactic Police arrived in their white, round spaceships and shot Drake’s parents and siblings with shrink rays. The police snatched them up with tweezers and dropped them into glass tubes. Drake was the only one who dodged the shrink rays and escaped. He jumped into his father’s star cruiser and fled into the sky, scrambling as fast as the engines would carry him. He grieved for his lost family, but he kept on moving.

Eventually, he stumbled across Earth. The planet was a wonderful food source, oozing with despair and misery. Drake glided over North America and landed in the state of Georgia. He found a plastic factory he liked. He sucked the life out of all the bosses and took control of the company. Once Drake was comfortable and happy, he dismantled the star cruiser and sold the pieces for scrap metal. If he had left the ship intact, the Galactic Police could have easily traced it and found him. Drake didn’t mind tearing the ship apart. He had no intention of ever leaving Earth. It was a smorgasbord of sorrows. He planned to drink the sadness of humanity forever.

Drake’s office had two windows in it, one on each side of the room. The left window gave him a view of the parking lot, the street, and the vacant lot nearby. The right window was his observation window, allowing him to look down at the workers and watch them struggle.

Today, Drake stood at the observation window with his hands tucked behind his back and his head tilted to one side. Down below, an elderly woman crouched next to her machine, sobbing and eating nerve pills.

“Look at all those people down there,” Drake said to Mr. Neighbors. “Look at all that delicious pain. Do you know who my favorite employee is? Do you know which one I enjoy the most?”

“No,” Mr. Neighbors said. “Which one?”

“That one,” Drake said, pointing a long white finger. “Brenda May. The little old woman who limps all the time. I love the elderly. They have so many aches and pains. Brenda May can barely walk, but she has to support two young grandchildren. She hates every minute of her life. Her agony tastes so sweet.”

Finding Drake Novak is a dark comedy about an alien who draws his nourishment from negative energy. Malpheus Mallock, a rookie officer from the Galactic Precinct, travels to Earth to arrest Novak. But Malpheus has a problem. His tracking device doesn’t work correctly. Malpheus lands in the front yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine. They introduce Malpheus to fried chicken, sweet tea, and Atlanta Braves baseball. The whole time, Malpheus desperately tries to fix his tracking device so he can capture Drake Novak.

Finding Drake Novak is available on Amazon. The paperback is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click on this text to order a copy.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Plastic Trees in the Underground City

Here’s an excerpt from Under the Electric Sun

When he stepped through the doorway, his feet landed on soft green grass. The large room was filled with towering oaks, tall pines, azaleas in full bloom, and clusters of bluebells along the ground. Bird songs echoed in the air, even though no birds were visible. In the center of the park, there was a clearing with a playground in it. A group of children squabbled over which one of them would go down the slide next. The dome-shaped ceiling of Bailey Park was painted a pale shade of blue with an electric sun burning brightly in the center. Holographic clouds glided across it, moving so slowly that they barely appeared to move at all.

The grass was artificial, while the trees and bushes were made of plastic and other synthetic materials. The birdsong came from tiny speakers hidden in the leaves.

Jake sat down in the grass and leaned against a tree trunk. He let out a long sigh, which seemed odd to Tristan. It was the type of sound an older person would make.

Tristan sat in the grass beside him. For a moment, they were both silent.

“Just get some rest,” Tristan said, trying to conceal his worry. “And then we’ll go to the pet store. Esmeralda might be working today, you never know.”

A cloud of sadness seemed to hang in the air around Jake. Tristan was hoping it would evaporate at the mention of Esmeralda’s name, but it didn’t. Jake had been enamored with the girl ever since he had first spotted her in the pet store two years ago, sitting cross-legged on the floor and changing the batteries in a light brown Chihuahua. Looking up at Jake and Tristan with her coffee-colored eyes, Esmeralda had remarked that Jake didn’t need an electronic pet. He already had a talking raccoon on his shoulder, which was far better than all the non-speaking animals in the pet store. Flattered, Tristan had thanked her. As Esmeralda had zipped up the Chihuahua’s abdomen, she had talked about her own tutroid, a hoot owl named Matilda. Unfortunately, Matilda’s brain was defective and she preferred to remain perched on the headboard of Esmeralda’s bed, babbling about the French Revolution.

As Esmeralda had talked about her faulty tutroid, Jake had stared at her with a dazed look in his eyes. She didn’t seem to mind his delirious gaze. She had kept right on talking about her love for Matilda and her fascination with electronic animals in general.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jake said now, leaning against the tree in Bailey Park. “Esmeralda’s too old for me. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. She just wants to be friends with me, that’s all.”

Tristan shrugged. “Hey, that might change one day. She’s only three years older than you. When you guys get older, that age difference won’t matter anymore. You’ll both be adults. Who knows what will happen then?”

Jake didn’t reply. Tristan desperately wanted to cheer him up, but he had already played the Esmeralda card. He couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“So what do those big blobs look like?” Jake asked finally.

“In the meeting, they said the color changes depending on how you look at them,” Tristan said, relieved that the conversation was taking a new direction. “From one angle, they’re blue. From another angle, they’re red. I’ve been trying to picture that in my mind.”

“I still say they’re giant mushrooms,” Jake insisted. “And they’re mutant mushrooms, because of the war.”

They had argued about it all morning on their way to the vehicle museum.

“No,” Tristan said, staring up at the rounded ceiling of Bailey Park, as if he could see the surface of the earth if he strained his eyes hard enough. “I think they came here from another planet. They just popped up out of nowhere two months ago. And they’re as big as mountains. How do you explain that?”

Under the Electric Sun is available on Amazon. It’s a book about a boy and his electronic tutor. They live in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. The paperback version is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2013, 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Leaving the Nest

Here is an excerpt from The Quality of Life in Outer Space

Gary lived in a nest of shredded magazine pages. Every morning and every night, he sat in his nest and stared at a miniature television set with a black and white screen, one he had found in a junk pile. Most of Gary’s knowledge about the world above him came from the television.

His nest was located on a windowsill in the basement of an old, old spaceship. All the ship’s garbage fell into the basement through trap doors in the ceiling. Gary spent his days flying over the garbage piles, searching for scraps of food and interesting pieces of junk. He was always careful to avoid the vulture beetles. They ate everything (including metal) to make room for more garbage.

Gary didn’t live alone on the windowsill. An octopus human hybrid lived in a cardboard box right beside him. The octopus looked just like any other octopus except he had a human face (with baggy, bloodshot eyes) and breathed oxygen and complained about all of Gary’s soap operas.

One morning, Gary sat in his nest, watching a commercial for a steakhouse located on the top floor of the ship. He wondered what it would be like to eat in a steakhouse, to eat firsthand food rather than dirty old scraps someone else had tossed out.

The octopus slouched in his cardboard box and looked out the window at the stars.

“Hey, Gary, do you see that thing out there?” the octopus asked.

“You mean that giant asteroid?” said Gary. “Yes, I see that. What about it?”

“It’s coming straight toward us,” said the octopus.

“Oh, I’m sure it’s not a problem.”

“Maybe you should go upstairs and mention it to somebody,” the octopus told him, shifting his bloodshot eyes back and forth.

Gary shrugged. “I’m sure they already know.”

“Maybe not. They might not be paying any attention. Everybody’s in a big frenzy. They’re all excited about the debate or something, aren’t they?”

“They’ll see it soon enough,” said Gary, shaking his head and wishing he could enjoy his soap opera in peace. “How could anyone overlook something that size?”

“I don’t know,” the octopus went on. “When you watch the evening news, you get the impression that most of those folks upstairs aren’t too bright. You know what I mean? You may want to just run up there real quick and, you know, mention it to somebody.”

“Not now,” said Gary.

“I think you should.”

Gary cleared his throat. “I may do it later.”

“It might be too late,” said the octopus, peeking out the window.

“Why can’t I sit here in my nest and watch my program?” Gary shouted, flapping his wings and grinding his teeth. “Can you at least let me have that one luxury? Please? Every day of my life is a bland, worthless echo of the one before it. I crawl out of my nest, I fly around this dark room, I find scraps of food for us to eat, I avoid the vicious vulture beetles, and then I return to the windowsill. Television is the only oasis I have. My only other form of recreation is gazing out the window at the black, infinite void and thinking about my futile existence.”

The octopus rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to miss anything, Gary, That show is a re-run, remember? All these people die at the end.”

Gary flapped his wings and screamed, “I’ve never seen this episode before! Why do you have to ruin it for me? Why?”

“Well, now you don’t have to watch it. You know how the thing’s going to end. Now run upstairs and tell somebody about that big space rock.”

“No!” Gary yelled. “Stop harassing me!”

“It’s getting closer. And it has little red patches. Looks like lava on that thing. What about that? A big ball covered in lava is coming at us. And you want to watch soap operas.”

Gary turned away from the miniature television and looked out the window again. He realized the octopus was right. The asteroid was getting closer. And there were red patches on it.

“But how would I get upstairs?” Gary asked, trembling. “The garbage associates hardly ever come down here. The doors are locked. I couldn’t go upstairs if I wanted to.”

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is available on Amazon. The book is aimed at younger readers, but adults would get a laugh out of it too. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click here to order.

Summer Reading

Gary is an eagle with a human head. He lives down in the bottom of a giant spaceship and watches old soap operas. One morning, his octopus friend looks out the window and sees an asteroid coming. He urges Gary to fly to the top floor and warn the people in charge. Gary has never left the basement in his life, but he reluctantly flies upstairs on a mission to save the ship.

During his journey to the top floor, Gary learns that the ship left Earth a long time ago because war and pollution had ruined the planet. The original crew flew into space searching for a new world. But a hooded figure known as the Law Master (who talks to his dead mother’s head) overthrew the captain and took over the ship. Since the Law Master doesn’t actually know how to fly the ship, he keeps everyone divided into two groups and encourages them to argue all the time. No one realizes the ship has flown in circles for many, many years. They’re too busy yelling and screaming at each other.

Gary struggles to reason with the yellow team and the orange team before they all die. The Quality of Life in Outer Space is a good book for kids to read in the car during a summer road trip.

I wrote the book in early 2016 when business was slow at the company where I work. I was laid off for a few weeks, so I sat at home and wrote this demented little book while eating Little Caesar’s pizza and drinking hot chocolate. The main character is loosely based on a collage I made when I was ten years old. I cut out a picture of Jim Morrison’s head and glued it to a picture of an eagle. My friends and I giggled about it for a long time. I’ve never forgotten that.

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is aimed at younger readers, but adults would get a laugh out of it too. It’s available on Amazon. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click on this text to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.