The Fellowship of the Ring 20th Anniversary

On December 19th, 2001, I attended a screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with my mother and her friend, Pasquale. My mom occasionally read me Tolkien at bedtime, and she’d showed me the Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit, which I loved, a few years before. My favorite character was already Strider because I loved him in the books (I now have a cat named after him). I remember being excited for the release of the film, and my father had already bought me the first action figure I found from the movie, a Legolas that sits on a shelf behind me as I write this. Despite my anticipation, there’s no way I could’ve known how profoundly The Fellowship of the Ring would shape my life.

To understand Fellowship’s influence on me, you’d have to start by recalling the days following 9-11. While I didn’t lose anyone, I was at an age where the events of 9-11 profoundly impacted me. The year before, I’d started to mature rapidly due to the passing of my grandmother, and 9-11 only increased my explosion toward adulthood. Over the course of two years, I discovered anyone in my family could be gone at any given second, and my country could be attacked at random by terrorists. Nightly news coverage and chatter kept 9-11 at the forefront of my mind. Making things worse, New York was only about a two-hour drive from my hometown, and I’d been there several times with my dad. This wasn’t a tragedy in a far-off land. This was next door. Suffice it to say, I was living in a world of fear. Thankfully, the Fellowship of the Ring allowed me to escape all that for three hours.

As a quick aside related to 9-11, while sitting in the theater waiting for The Fellowship of the Ring to start, I got my first full glimpse at Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. The previous summer, I’d tried to watch the teaser trailer online, but I couldn’t get it to completely download over dialup. The trailer I’d been unable to view had been one in which Spider-Man captured a criminal’s helicopter in a web between the twin towers. Raimi recut the film to edit out the twin towers. This holiday season sees the return of the first big screen Spider-Man villain, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Dafoe’s Goblin returns to theaters almost twenty years to the day from his first appearance as the character. It’s fascinating how many things come full circle.

But I digress. This essay is about The Fellowship of the Ring. I remember being enthralled with the film from Galadriel’s opening words, and, because I was a huge fan of the Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit, I geeked out over the brief shot of Bilbo in Gollum’s cave during the film’s introduction. To this day, I’ve never felt as fully transported to another world as I did during that viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a magical experience where I felt like I entered Middle-earth and journeyed alongside the nine companions. The Fellowship of the Ring fundamentally impacted my trajectory as a person. I went home so excited about the Lord of the Rings that I almost immediately dove into The Two Towers. I had to know what came next. After that, I finished The Return of the King. Ironically, it was a movie that truly started my love of reading.

That wasn’t the only impact The Fellowship of the Ring had on me though. I became obsessed with storytelling. Soon, I was creating my own fictional worlds. At first, my invented realms closely mirrored Middle-earth, but as time went on my work matured. Eventually, my Tolkien obsession led me to writing an unpublished fantasy novel, The Swords of Fellowship, while earning my Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. The Swords of Fellowship was directly inspired by The Lord of the Rings, and it was my attempt to put my own spin on Tolkien’s ideas.

In the years since that first viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring, I’ve returned to the film regularly, albeit in a slightly different form. I received The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVDs for Christmas in 2002, and I’m certain I’ve watched those disks more than any other DVDs I’ve ever owned. At this point, I’m sure I could recite every line by heart while watching along. The film never ceases to evoke tears from me when Boromir redeems himself by fighting to protect Merry and Pippin, and when Sam rushes into the water after Frodo. And my pulse always pounds faster as Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli charge off to hunt orcs at the end. Truthfully, I enjoy every moment of this film, and it always allows me to escape whatever issues or troubles I’m having, just like when I first watched it.

This reflection has already gone on longer than I intended, but if you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll indulge a few more of my thoughts on this movie’s impact. My best friends in life all feel the same way about this movie as I do. In fact, three of us decided to get the elvish word for friend tattooed on our arms. I’d wager that most kids near my age feel the same way about The Fellowship of the Ring. It came along at a perfect time to help us escape the horrors of 9-11 and showed us a world where good hobbits triumphed over dark lords. So, cheers to The Fellowship of the Ring on twenty years of being a perfect fantasy film. As the hobbits say, “may the hair on your feet never fall out.”

Castle of Horror Launch Party

My home was recently visited by two toads on a launch party of their own. I assume they either saw the frog in my front window or instinctively knew a man named Jeremiah would be helpful to amphibians of all kinds. I rescued these guys from where they’d trapped themselves and added a cover to keep them from making the same mistake twice.

That’s just one of the adventures in home ownership I’ve had in the last month. I plan on doing a full post on how my Sanctum Sanctorum came out soon, but I’m here today to talk about Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 5: Thinly Veiled. You can now get your electronic or paperback copy off Amazon, and we’re doing a Launch Party on 06/15. If you want to attend, you can find the details here. The idea for this anthology was to tell spooky tales about famous 1970s media obscured through a thinly veiled lens. So, for instance, my story concerns a famous 1970s rock band that dressed up in wild outfits and painted their faces. We call them by one name in the real world, but in my world, they go by the name Smooch. Can you guess who they are? There are 23 thinly veiled references in “The Blood-Inked Comic Book” for readers to try to unveil. Many of these should be easy for fans of Marvel Comics, but I’m sure a couple will trip people up. I’d love for anyone who reads the story to detail the references they believe they figured out in a comment below.

Until Next Time,

Stay Froggy,

Jeremiah

 

The Hectic Time We Call Spring

Does anyone else feel like time starts to move at double speed in April? I guess it’s making up for how slow March usually feels. There’s so much to relay, but I’ll try to keep this brief.

First and foremost, I bought a house, and I’m spending most of my free time preparing to move in. I’m extremely excited to have my own office, which I’ll be referring to as my Sanctum Sanctorum because I’ve been reading a lot of Doctor Strange recently. When I move into the house in May, it will be the first time I’m not writing out of a bedroom.

I’m also busy on the publishing front. I’ve got four stories coming out in the next few months. The first is being released  today (April 28th) in Hundred Word Horror: Beneath, and it’s called “The Hunger Within.” The tale follows a shady morgue worker making an unexpected finding. Be warned, the story is a little graphic. Next up is “Starship Thoughts” in Hundred Word Horror: Cosmos, slated for release on May 26th. While the title gives you a good idea of what the tale is about, I’m excited to see what people think of the story’s formatting.

My Kiss-inspired horror story “The Blood Inked Comic Book” will be appearing in Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 5: Thinly Veiled. I think “The Blood Inked Comic” is probably the most Jeremiah Dylan Cook story I’ve ever had published. Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 5 is currently open for pre-order and will be out on June 15th. The paperback isn’t available yet but will be closer to the release date.

Lastly, my fantasy story “The Wizard’s Duel” is in Like Sunshine After Rain, a charity anthology edited by Heidi Ruby Miller. Proceeds for Like Sunshine After Rain benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you haven’t already done so, please consider pre-ordering a copy for this fantastic cause. If you need extra incentive, my wife says “The Wizard’s Duel” is her favorite story that I’ve written to date.

Alright, I think that’s all the fun stuff I had to talk about. Now I must get back to sanding and painting my Sanctum Sanctorum. If only I could use magic…

Until Next Time,

Stay Froggy,

Jeremiah

 

P.S. Totally forgot to mention that I’ve also got a Weird Western going on New Pulp Tales. It’s called The Sheriff and the Samurai, and you should check it out.

 

The Hungry Cemetery Victorious

I just wanted to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted for my story “The Hungry Cemetery” while it was competing in Purple Wall Stories monthly writing competition. You’re the reason I was able to win. It’s incredibly humbling to have friends and family who are willing to take a moment out of their busy lives to help me achieve a goal. Hopefully, I’ll continue to scribble out the kinds of stories that entertain you. As a final farewell to my time promoting “The Hungry Cemetery,” I thought I’d share these pictures of the cemetery that inspired the story. These were all taken on my first wedding anniversary. My wife and I had planned to visit the United Kingdom for this occasion, but COVID forced us to cancel our trip, and we ended up on a hike instead. My story “Lost Vintage” in Castle of Horror’s Women Running from Houses anthology was also inspired by this locale.

Thanks again for all your support.

Stay Froggy,

Jeremiah

Lost Vintage and Other Halloween Treats

In case you didn’t see the announcement via my social media posts, you can join my fellow authors and me at the Women Running from Houses Launch Party on 10/13/20 at 8:30 PM (EST). We’re going to be discussing our gothic horror stories in the anthology. My tale is “Lost Vintage.” For a little preview of the literary influences on that story, be sure to check out the video below. I visit the grave of Robert W. Chambers, author of The King in Yellow. His work inspired H.P. Lovecraft, and The King in Yellow featured heavily in the first season of True Detective.

You can also check out this other video where I unbox my copies of Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 4: Women Running from Houses. I also open the Under Dark Waves expansion for the third edition of Arkham Horror the board game, and Barkham Horror: The Card Game, a dog-themed expansion for Arkham Horror: The Card Game.

Lastly, I have a blog post appearing in the Horror Writers Association’s Halloween Haunts series. I am incredibly proud of this post because I got to talk about how my late grandmother influenced my development into a horror writer. The post will be appearing on October 15th, and I’d love if you could give it a read.

Until Next Time,

Stay Froggy,

Jeremiah