TMI with T-I-M: Mike Duke

It’s ME, it’s Him, it’s T-I-M, Hey all its Tim Chizmar again dropping you thoughts from inside my warped twisted crazy comics-loving noggin. Today I’ve got some notes on a new EVIIIIIIL writer I’ve discovered. Also, I’ll give my thoughts on the INFINITY WAR teaser trailer and who really will die in the big event; also my predictions on the next wave of MARVEL films coming up. So let’s get rolling…

The other day I was perusing Facebook procrastinating writing on my latest novel, as I have some fairly big stresses in my life interfering with my concentration, and thus I may be moving soon but its kind of out of my hands and I don’t like losing control [I digress… *exhale] so I was kicking back and I’m not how I stumbled upon him, but my life will never be the same.

Introducing: Mike Duke

I began seeing that a new horror author was offering his writings up to potential members of the Horror Writer’s association for possible nomination on the preliminary ballot for next years Bram Stoker Awards. He has a full novel and a short story both avail for contention and this isn’t out of the norm, writers are always pitching their wares. I’ll be doing the same when my evil little tomes are released next year, but I’ll tell you what really got my eye. Here’s the cover of his shorter novella…

It got, pardon the pun… (wait for it) under my skin.

I commented on how horrible it was and the writer started telling me IF YOU THINK THAT’S BAD WAIT TIL YOU READ IT!

I was skeptical so I did what any serious journalist (snort) would do, I ran to the interwebs for past interviews with him and reader reviews. The more I read, the more I knew this guy was pure shock value up to level 11 and while dancing on that razorblade may turn some readers off I was instantly fascinated. I wanted to get the short and was willing to pay but alas I’m old school and don’t do kindle, also I didn’t want to order a physical copy as my head would explode waiting for it to arrive. I inquired to Mike in a private convo of my dilemma and he emailed me both the short and the full-length book for consideration for the Stokers and a fair review.

So that’s what you’ll get here, a fair and objective review. Naturally, I wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t interested, to begin with, but does Mike Duke have the goods? Can he follow through to creep out this fan of the dark arts? Huh huh huh? Well… Here are some of the legit quotes I jotted down as I was reading his novella entitled “WARM, DARK PLACES ARE BEST”

“Noooo way!”

“MOVE! No way somebody would stay there!”

“Call the landlord!”

“I don’t fucking believe it.”

As I binged on it I had various waves of emotion, first I felt like I was watching a horror movie. I was hollering at the main characters in just the way someone might yell at the screen, “No don’t go into the basement!” I was bewildered by the insane choices and the willingness to put up with things most sane folks would run from in a second. So for entertainment purposes, that’s cool, logically not so much. Still, I think Mike could craft a great script some day for sure. The more I read the more it did get to me, dammit, you cannot read the words and not feel them (be in roaches, centipedes, or other) crawling on you, in you, or near you. As I’m reading I’d look twice at the walls around me thinking I saw something move. I had to use the restroom and double checked the seat at one point. Ooooo Mike you motherfuckerrrrr, I thought to myself.

On the lesser side, to be fair, the story is predictable and convenient in sections, not relating to gore and scares which are high points but more-so in the standard story development, for example: some kids just happen to have all the missing pieces for the lead character just when he needs to know it, things like that had me scoffing. The end was meh when compared to the highs of certain scenes, and in conclusion, I feel like the story was a collection of horrendous bug scenes and sex. I was repulsed, turned on, repulsed, turned on, and sometimes both at the same time… oh Jesus, what have you done to me! The things I’d share with you and warn you if I could. Let’s say those with weak stomachs and phobias about what crawls in your room in the dark, please turn back! Mike Duke does engage the readers in a way that you will be hooked and you can’t put it down. I’ll say the nicest thing I can about it, 2 things:


  1. I am tempted to reread it, slower to appreciate it again, that’s high praise.
  2. I’m afraid to read the full-length book if the shorter one bothered me and stayed with me I’m thinking a longer commitment to the worlds of Mike Duke may send me into an asylum. Fuckin hell man.


There are instances that occur with a woman’s body that I have never, ever read before or considered in my wildest horror imaginations. I won’t spoil anything with said woman but, please dear reader, understand what you’ve signed up for. Mike Duke is like a modern era Jack Ketchum who truly doesn’t hold back, I wanted to be shocked and disgusted and by god that’s what I got.





Carl slept through the night, not waking once, until he began to stir from his slumber, ready to get up. He was lying on his back, his whole body heavy, as he came around in stages. Jessica was already out of bed. He smelled eggs…and pancakes. She’s such a doll, he thought to himself, gratitude for her, filling his heart.

The next sensation was not so pleasant. He turned his head to look at the clock and his right ear throbbed suddenly with pain. He rubbed the indentation behind that ear, trying to press in on the ear canal where it hurt.

Something pushed back…and then wriggled about inside his ear.

Carl’s eyes went wide as he jumped out of bed, ignoring the pain, and ran into the kitchen screaming for Jessica.

“Jess! Jess! There’s something in my ear! There’s something in my ear!

Ooooooooooooo!! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! There’s something in my ear!!!” His voice was so high pitched and whiny, Jessica thought it could have been a kid.

“What are you saying, Carl? I can’t understand anything but fuck and ear!”

He sat down at the computer, his right hand still pressed against the back of his ear.

“There is something…in my ear!” he spat out slower.

He used his left hand to hunt and peck and do a Google search for ‘What does it feel like to have a centipede in your ear?’ He hit enter and one of the first entries was about a Chinese man who woke up with a centipede in his ear.

Jess read over his shoulder, and her hand flew to her mouth.

“Holy shit! You think you have a centipede in your ear, baby?” Her stomach tilted a bit at the thought.

Carl ignored her as he read, all his focus on this poor man’s tale and whatever similarities they might have. Carl’s free hand covered his own mouth as he gasped.

“What is it?!? What is it?!?” Jessica was letting his panic contaminate her.

“I have the exact same symptoms he did. Woke up with pain in my ear and it feels like there’s something wriggling in there! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

Carl jumped to a standing position and began pacing.

“OOOOOOO GOD!!!! What the fuck am I gonna do now? I’ve got a motherfucking centipede in my ear!!!!” And again, as if he couldn’t believe it himself, “I’ve got a moth-er fuck-ing centipede in my ear Jess!!!”

Carl’s whole body trembled, and his knees nearly buckled, completely. He turned in circles rubbing his ear. Jess quickly read the rest of the short article.

“They said the guy went to the hospital, and a doc pulled it out with some forceps. We’ve got to take you to the ER. Get dressed.”

“FUUUUUUUCK!!!” Carl shouted at the top of his lungs. “We can’t afford it. We don’t have any fucking insurance, yet! Is there anything you can do here?”

Carl whined, as he asked for help, a trembling falsetto having overtaken his vocal cords. A tightness constricted his chest, also, as if some boa constrictor was wrapped tight around his torso, intent on killing him. He couldn’t breathe.

“Hold on!” Jess exclaimed, as she pulled up YouTube, and typed into the search bar. She quickly found what she was looking for, to confirm her thoughts.

She heard the thump of Carl’s body collapsing into the recliner, and the ever too familiar wheezing noises, before even turning around. She didn’t even look at him, just ran to the bedroom, and returned with his inhaler, holding it to his mouth, and administering the dose.

“Breathe, baby. Just calm down, and breathe. It’s going to be ok. Just breathe, slow and steady. Breathe. Alright, I want you to lay down on your side, that ear up.” She pointed at his right ear, as she helped him lay the recliner back, and eased him onto his left side.

“Alright, baby, just keep breathing, while I grab something.” She scampered into the bathroom, grabbed tweezers then hurried into the kitchen to grab a cup of water and a dish towel. She returned, and moved about at a steady pace, implementing her plan. Jessica laid the dish towel around Carl’s ear, set the tweezers down on his shoulder, pulled his ear lobe out to open up the ear canal and started pouring water into it a little at the time.

Carl startled at the water entering his ear.

“What are you doing?” he questioned her actions, trusting Jessica, but wanting her to make it make sense to him.

“I saw a video, awhile back, of a doctor getting a spider to crawl out of a kid’s ear by pouring water in it, till the spider had to climb out or drown. I looked it up, and sure enough, there was a video of someone doing the same thing for a centipede. Just lay still. It’ll work and quick too, I bet.”

Carl lay silent as Jessica poured more, and more water in.

“I can feel it moving.” Carl sounded like he was going to be sick.

“Fuck!” Jessica shouted the word, startled as the centipede, suddenly, came crawling out of Carl’s ear in a hurry, speeding over his shoulder, and dropping off the side of the recliner, to the floor, before she could hardly blink much less act.

“It’s out! It’s out!” she shouted to Carl.

“Where is it?” he shouted in response, not feeling able to breathe right, quite yet nor sit up.

“I don’t knoooow!” Jessica cried in frustration, as she stomped her feet, and moved about in a tizzy, a deep distress at not knowing where the centipede had disappeared to seizing her.

After a long moment of silence, she screamed again.

“FUCK!!! I lost it! I lost the fucking thing, Carl! I’m so sorry!”

Carl blindly reached for her. He touched her side, and grabbed her shirt, pulling her toward him. He was measuring his breathing in between words.

“It’s ok, baby. It’s ok. You did great. You got the damn thing out of my head.

That’s the most important part. You’re a champ. I love you.”

Carl stopped talking at that point, and focused on breathing, to get the asthma attack under control.

Jessica grabbed the bottle of tequila in the cabinet, took two shots then sat down to eat pancakes while she kept a close eye on Carl.

For my readers, I asked Mr. Duke a few questions and here are his responses.


Hmm. Maybe it was that time my dad shut the dryer door and turned it on when I was around three (my earliest memory) to stop me from crawling inside it again, because the last time I had done it to sit in there and play with my matchbox cars, I broke part of the door latch. Could have something to do with being bullied a lot when I was young and being the social outcast until I finally said F*#$ the World in high school and made my own path (and by then I had some size and muscle).  Or seeing a bunch of screwed up stuff as a cop and trying not to get cynical perhaps? Administrators. Definitely, administrators. They screw up every hard-working guy at some point.  Then there’s violence. Video Games. Movies.  Heavy Metal music. Horror novels. Comic Books. You can’t get more violent than comic books. Everyone knows that. Duh. And roleplaying games. Yeah. Too much unrestrained, creative violence in roleplaying games in high school and college. That could have done it, fer sure.  And all those little Grunts my son and I killed together playing Halo when he was young…and we enjoyed it. Leaving one to run away and chase him while he cackled in terror, stopped squalled and ran some more before sticking a plasma grenade to his face. Yeah. Father/son bonding. Good times.


Well, I’ve never been a “regular” family man. Between being a cop for almost 12 years and then teaching military, LE and bodyguards for about 12 years how to fight, drive fast and use their vehicle as a weapon, plus teaching self-defense and blade tactics to private citizens in my spare time, I’m just NOT the typical guy.  To the artistic crowd, these things tend to make me odd and perceived as a bit dangerous. And to my coworkers (many of whom are also former cops) the stuff I write makes them look at me funny and joke me about being a serial killer. That being said, most of what I write has a strong moral component to the story, challenging people’s beliefs, conceptions of right and wrong, what is grey, if anything truly is grey, when would they change their standards, what would they approve of in certain situations, etc..

Warm, Dark Places are Best, however, is the exception. I just wanted to creep the hell out of people to infinity and beyond, like heebie-jeebies, Ajax can’t clean off bad.  And from the reviews, it appears I succeeded.

Bottom line, I’m a good guy, but I give off some kinda dangerous vibe when people know what I’m physically and skillfully capable of, especially combined with the things I write.  I’m the kind of good guy you look at and say “Thank God he’s on our side, cause if he wasn’t, it would be scary as hell.” (And that’s pretty much a direct quote from multiple friends and co-workers, not something I made up.)

As far as the neighbors go, they already look at me funny because of all the Filipino Knife training I do in my apartment garage with a friend and the fact that I’m a 6’4” 300 lb wrecking ball who carries around at least one knife at all times.  Only a few know about the writing, the ones my wife told who expressed interest, including my Apartment Complex manager. He bought a couple of signed copies recently. It’s best the others remain ignorant until I establish their interest in horror. No need to draw negative attention. Lol ????


Being nominated for a Stoker would be an incredible honor and another step toward gaining wider recognition as a horror writer to watch out for, but winning a Stoker?!? Whether for Warm, Dark Places are Best in Long Fiction or my First Novel, LOW…well, that would be absolutely phenomenal, cloud nine, ego soaring with a battalion of flying unicorns, friggin majestic!! That is all.


Find your own voice. Experiment and don’t lock yourself into one genre or sub-genre early on. But most importantly, choke your ego and burn it with fire, then seek out beta readers who will give you honest feedback and not tussle the hair of your mediocrity.  Create a social media author profile if you haven’t. Network, join groups, make friends with people and fans in the field and market you are writing in. Don’t be afraid to step out and self-publish. My decision to self-publish my novella Ashley’s Tale ended up catching the attention of two people at Stitched Smiles Publications who were on my friends list and read it. Later when they had an open call for novel submissions THEY contacted me and asked me if I had a novel I wanted to submit. I did. It was LOW, which they just published two months ago. But when you self-publish, do it right. Proofread numerous times, get a friend or significant other to proofread as well. Beta readers, as mentioned above. Then get an editor. If self-publishing is going to gain greater respect it’s only going to happen because the authors doing it respect their work enough to polish it as best they can before putting it out.


Do it right, not fast. And remember, until you’re in the major leagues, you’re pretty much responsible for your own marketing. If you want your name to get out there you better be thinking about numerous ways to make it happen. Make a plan, work the plan.


Well, I was away from comics for several years and just got back into reading again a year ago.  I’ve always been a HUGE Thanos fan. So, anything he shows up in I’ll scoop up and read. I’ve been catching up on several storylines with him and reading his new stand-alone series, which I’ve enjoyed a lot. There’s a steampunk comic called Lady Mechanika that I really love. It’s been extremely good. I blew through all the old issues and can’t wait for new ones to drop now. Joe Hill’s horror series Locke & Key is one of the best things I’ve read this past year as well as a six mini-series Lovecraftian storyline called The Fall of Cthulhu. A mini-series called The Books of Chaos had a very Lovecraftian or cosmic horror vibe to it. Very cool stuff. I’m a fan of Valiant’s Shadowman and X-O Manowar too. Some others that I’ve really liked are The Dept. of Monsterology, a cyberpunk comic called Empty Zone (only two mini-series so far but I seriously hope they do more), Hellboy, King Conan, Haunt and a sci-fi book called Black Science.

For more information on MIKE DUKE please visit:

Amazon Author Page

LOW – multi-platform ebook link

Facebook Author Profile

Twitter Profile

So as a comic book nerd let me just comment on the brand new MARVEL’s Avengers Infinity War teaser trailer release from today, as I’m sure you’ve seen it. Fanboys and fangirls and those in between are going crazy-go-nuts over it. I swear all Marvel has to do is take a poop and write “Avengers” on it and people will lose their goddamned minds.

My thoughts are this: its okay. That’s it.

Thanos looks like some horrible CGI from the first Jumanji, everyone wants to know whats with Vision looking like a human, and yippee Cap gets a new shield. I dunno, I’m looking for something different from Marvel, I may be the minority but rather than a journey to collect stones I’m hoping for Rise of the Midnight Sons, Return of Blade, a proper Ghost Rider, hell even Marvel Zombies on the big screen. I want something really creepy and different. I don’t read Marvel for Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock – I read for Hellstorm and Morbius the Living Vampire, dammit. Make mine Marvel!

Spoiler alert: I can confirm a death in Infinity war.

DC movies, yup they finally die.

After horrible TV (you canceled Constantine!?), and even worst movies (Batfleck?) they are so far down there’s no coming back. Only Diehards believe that Black Adam or a silver teeth Joker has any shot of resurrecting the failed universe. They suck, except for Wonder Woman but it was only a hit because of that amazing director. (go watch Monster!) she’s the best. I literally walked out of Suicide Squad and I didn’t even see Justice League. RIP DC.

Many people are speculating on the next 20 films that will be coming from Marvel and I feel the predictions lists out there already are kinda lame so here’s my best guesses for the next 20 some not yet announced:

  1. NAMOR – you know it has to come sooner or later, he’s an original and yes (read it DC, he came before Aquaman!) As an Illuminati member he deserves to be shown respect cinematically. Lets do this!


  1. BLACK PANTHER 2 – matter of time


  1. BLACK PANTHER 3 – Marvel loves its 3s so Black Superhero Lives Matter


  1. DR STRANGE 2 – Yes! I’m hoping it opens creepy doors, vampires, Darkhold, Nightmare, and PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE GAWD the Rise of the Midnight Sons!


  1. DR STRANGE 3 – more Sons chaos , lease…


  1. IRON MAN 4 – I just think even if they cool him off a few years or have someone else take up the armor, it’ll happen. Too much easy money to leave on the table.


  1. ALL FEMALE TEAM-Up – Girl Power, maybe bring in She-Hulk and star Black Widow or something, it’ll happen. I don’t see Capt Marvel doing 2 and 3 but this more likely.


  1. GOTG 3 – yupper we know


  1. AVENGERS TEAMUP 5 – whatever they look like


  1. ANTMAN and Wasp – meh, kids and toys I guess


  1. ANTMAN and Wasp 3 – fuck me


  1. SPIDERMAN 2 – because: money


  1. SPIDERMAN 3 << see above reasons (I wasn’t a fan, read my review. Spiderman shouldn’t be Iron Man lite. Too many gadgets)


  1. MARVEL ZOMBIES – C’mon lets do a Horror flick a What if? -Style stand alone movie.


  1. FANTASTIC FOUR – Nobody does comic book films like Marvel. They will come back as did Spiderman.


  1. THUNDERBOLTS – Team-up film of badguys, Suicide Squad done right


  1. AVENGERS 6 – gosh these guys are so rich


  1. GHOST RIDER – *fingers crossed …. Ooooohhhhh Do it Danny Ketch, with Blaze as a shotgun toting old timer. Yes.


  1. HELLSTORM PRINCE OF LIES – because, it’s my list. I want it.


  1. NAMOR 2 – fair.


That’s my thoughts, I’m looking forward to seeing you at a Comic-Con soon. If you’re curious how I’m doing, life has been pretty good in the mountains of Idaho.

Here’s me enjoying the local hot springs.

Happy Holidays friends!

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