- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born the youngest of thirteen children. My mother was pure Irish. Her father was a Newell and her mother a Sample. She had pure hazel eyes and temper to match. My father was from a line of tough rugged country folk who were self-reliant but bonded in tight family clusters. Ironically, my father was born on 12/13/12. I was his thirteenth child, born 2/9/58. We were not rich, but not dirt poor. My father by the time I was born worked at McDonald Douglas in St. Louis working as an assembler. We didn’t have a lot of anything, but what we did have was a lot of was books. There were all kinds and I loved reading Life and Time magazines along with the encyclopedias given to us from various families. I fell in love with Sci-Fi and Mysteries. No particular author. My bedtime was ten o’clock on school nights and I slept in a corner of the basement containing a bed, chest of drawers, and nightstand with a light. I would stay up for hours reading whatever I could find. I wrote most of my earlier stories in school, and did not publish a book until 2004. Scants (later to become Nucor) was 526 pages of Sci-Fi excitement. Since then I have written sixteen more in various genres.
- Who are your favorite authors?
I do not have a favorite author. I’ve read many from Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and many other popular authors. I read like to read in various genres.
If I had to choose one over them all it would be M.J. Pike. She writes romantic ghost stories with an elegant twist.
Sci-Fi I like, Saxton Andrew, T.R. Harris, Suzy Stewart Dubolt, and Michael Thomas.
Detective Mystery Noir – Russell Blake, Billy Kring, Donna Blanchard McNicol, Stephen Thomas, Kathleen Steed, Nick Russell, George Weir, and Jason Deas.
Fantasy – Robert Thomas, John Daulton, Randall Morris, C. Crag Colman, and John Salter.
Horror— Brandon Hale, Corrie Fischer Stout, Shaorn Delarosa, Kate Aaron, Chris Ward, and Andy Downs.
And this list is the tip of the ice berg- AJ Rose, Valrie Chandler, Steven Hammond, Nick Pesci, Cameron Lowe, Ella Medler, KS Haigwood, Holli Marie Spaulding, Jay Allan, Michael Edwards, Nick Thomas, Robbie Taylor, Miranda Stork, Ben Cassidy, Beck Bee, Sam Neumann, Pinkston, Eddie Boggs, Jess Mountifield, Colleen Hoover, Dale Roberts, Karen Davison, Mike Meyer, Len Du Randt, Albert Benson, Liz Miller, James Rozoff, Molly Pendelton, Carol Cadoo, Mona Mellissa, Jacques Duvoisin, Stephen Arsenault, Suzie O’Connell, Scott Langrel, Lindsay Sabbarton, Shirley Bouget, Nancy Furner, Elizabeth Moore, Stephen Scott, Newsome, Debbie Manber Kupfer, and so many others.
If you write it, I will read it.
- Tell us a bit about your story, The Innocent?
The Innocent is about a returning Vietnam War hero who finds home not so different from the jungles of Southeast Asia. A mob awaits his return and seeks revenge for the massacre of My Lai. It is a first person narrative in the voice of the returning GI. The first draft contained a lot of cursing in an attempt to express a true representation of a battle harden soldier returning home. The language was toned down for the sake of the anthology. I enjoyed the research and learned far more than I wished too and even though this was a short piece, I hold it dear to my heart.
- If you could travel back in time to any place and period in the past where and when would you go?
If I could go undetectable from those I was observing, then break out the cart-blanche and take me back to all the events with a brief rest bit to research and chronologically record each event free from government or scholarly scrutiny. If I had to choose one though, it would be, beyond a doubt, the time of Jesus, from birth until the day of ascension.
- What attracts you to writing horror?
Back in the days of black and white television, vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein ruled the night. Sometimes, I would sneak upstairs and flip on the TV to watch the late, late show on our local CBS channel. They always had something exciting like The Blob, The Thing, The Mummy, The Hand, The Fly, and of course the before mentioned staples. I was addicted to being scared and in turn wanted everyone to be scared just like me. Boo…
- Tell us a little about your books. I see you like to delve into many different genres.
Yes, I like writing in various forms. I am hyperactive and have a habit of wandering from one genre to another. I get bored easily. So, I write some on Nucor and finish the saga, then write on David Winter Mysteries, then on another project. It is a constant cycle of writing and creativity. I am never bored with writing, but with the story line and switching from one to another helps me to maintain focus and my writing is always fresh and clean, rather than becoming old and stagnant. I never want to become someone who writes just for the sake of completing a series or because he feels he has to. I love writing and hope that alongside me on my deathbed there is my laptop opened to a story requiring my attention. Of course my wife and sons would there be too, I hope.
- Are you planning to write a story for Sins of the Future? Any hints about your story?
No, I have three projects in the works and I have very little time to devote to any anthology. However, I will be making the cover.
- What do you like to do to relax?
I watch Jeopardy, read, do yard work, cook, take long drives, fish, walk along the rivers, pet my dog, talk with my wife and make love to her. I have also been known to go up on the roof at night and just lay there looking up at the stars. I dislike television but love movies.
- What are you currently working on?
I have several projects at various stages of completion.
One is the fourth book of the Nucor series called, Nucor—Season of the Androids. I am five chapters into it and I am so excited and anxious to see this saga unfold. Really is a thriller.
The first book of the David Winters Mystery series, Fly Paper Soup is in edit with outstanding reviews from all who have beta read it. (I’m one of those beta readers, and confirm it’s a wonderful story – DMK) The second book, Recluse is in production and it promises to be a great companion to book one.
Then there is Cern – The God Particle. I cannot tell you how enthusiastic I am about this story. It has everything from espionage, to demon elfs, LSD, ENT, Et’s, So much coming at me so fast that sometimes I can’t pull myself away from it.
I just launched Nucor-Invasion in Audiobook form. Soon, I will have Death in Gravely Falls on Audiobook.
At the moment that is all I have going.
- How can readers connect with you?
There are several ways.
My Blog— http://www.csylcox.com
Banes and Noble— http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/cleve+sylcox/_/N-8q8/?No=0&Nrpp=40
Or you can email me for a signed copy email@example.com
Want to read a little of Cleve’s story, The Innocent? Sure you do!
A plane lands at LAX on a cool November morning. GIs are returning home after fighting in Vietnam. They look forward to home cooked meals, seeing love ones, and sleeping on a soft mattress. To some though, returning home is nothing more than a continuation of a war they hate. Take Reuben Weston for instance. He served his country well from his enlistment in Nov. 1966 to his discharge in Nov. 1969. In that stretch he was wounded three times in Vietnam, rose to Platoon Sergeant, saved countless lives, and was well respected among the troops despite his rough and tough attitude. This story could very well be titled, “In the wrong place at the wrong time.” For Sergeant Weston, it is just that.
The wind whips at my back as I debark the 707 at LAX. I wear khakis. It is the uniform of the day, my last day, because as soon as my foot touches the asphalt I will be a civilian. My name tag above my right pocket reflects the sun. Reuben Weston, it reads. A damn good name. Two of my three medals, Distinguished Service, and a Purple Heart, flop around beneath my service ribbons above my left pocket as I make my way down the ramp.
I am the first black soldier ever awarded the third medal, the prestigious medal of Blackism – made from a beer can top cut into the shape of a middle finger with a makeshift pin glued to the back. It would be the last beer I’d drink in the bush. My platoon gave it to me the last night I was with ’em, in Damn Nam. It means more to me than the other two put together. Blackism, I must’ve been pretty drunk to come up with that.
To say I’m glad to be off that rotten plane is an understatement. Civilian jets suck. I’m a GI, oval drab to the bone. Why they flew me home in one of those is beyond me. Meat job General’s idea I bet, maybe some congressmen’s idea of rewarding our fine soldiers for a job well done? Well, screw’em! I’m home now and they can have their uniform.
I earned my stripes, every last stinking one of ’em. Arrived in Nam as a, ‘right off the farm, piece of know-nothing crap.’ I was green but learned quick. No thanks to those politicians in D.C. What’s the matter with all those morons in DC? Really, what isn’t wrong with ’em?
They sent us off to the land of the gooks, and we got our ass kicked because of bureaucratic bull. Don’t fire until fired upon, don’t cross this line and that. Stay put until we tell you to advance. Who the hell is ‘we’, anyhow?
Wasn’t like that in the jungle, no sir. We were the judge and jury of the gooks. The giants rule the land. We are the conquering heroes who drove the black pajamas across the DMZ into Laos and Cambodia. The south was clean in ‘66. Then those cameras started following us around. Hell, we tossed one camera man and his gear into the swamps. None of those gooks were ever gonna escape back north, at least not on our watch.
In ‘67 those regulations came down and tied our hands. We couldn’t fight like aggressors anymore. We couldn’t fight like we had too. They stuck us in camps deep in the jungle and on top of hills. Nothing happened for weeks at a time, nothing. We smoked pot, and screwed every whore we could, some of the guys were bangin’ each other. We called ’em Jill’s, and the name stuck.
Some of the lucky units saw some action. They pushed the gooks to the DMZ and our armors pounded them for three straight days. The Ho Chi Min trail across the DMZ was blown to bits, and then the aerial attacks bombed them everyday for weeks. I saw a tank bounce three feet off the ground two miles away from the damn trail. Three feet! It didn’t matter. At night those little bush babies were filling in the holes.
Our patrols reported large movements of men and ammo to the south along the trail. By the time we got there, they were gone. They crawled into their holes like rats or vanished into the jungle like ghosts.
Jan of ’68, the Tet Offensive…gooks were all around us and we didn’t even know it. All hell broke loose on January 30, 1968. The Tet Offensive began.
Early in the morning they attacked everywhere in South Vietnam. There was supposed to be a cease-fire ’cause of New Year or some crap. I don’t know. We got our butts handed to us. Those bastards were in the wire…in the wire! All over us. I fought till early morning, hand to hand. I had blood all over me and none of it mine.
A lot of good soldiers died that night. It didn’t stop there. In some areas their attacks were like bugs hitting a windshield, they didn’t make a dent. Other places they were fleas on a hound’s back. Saigon and Hue, those two took a long time, nearly a month, to clean out. The Cong even held the US Embassy in Saigon for eight hours.
Near the end of February, they assigned me to a bunch of greenhorn rookies. Charlie Company arrived in theater, December of ‘67, they hadn’t seen any action. Tet was popping all over the country in Jan of ’68 and this unit missed out, lucky dicks. I was assigned as a Platoon Sergeant and given orders to sweep the jungles west of a group of villages near Mai Lai.
I looked at this ragtag group of potheads and said move out. Worst bunch I had ever seen. Simple shit-like quiet maneuvers, securing gun straps and no smoking, they couldn’t do. Drunk, high, they were the walking dead and didn’t know it.
War has a way of cleaning the gunk out of the can. By mid-March, 28 of em’ were wounded because of mines or booby-traps, and five dead.
Cong never came knocking. That’s what frustrated us and made us angry. Charlie Company was sent to find gooks and Cong, and kill as many of the black pajama’s as we could. All we found were tunnels and villages that we knew, we just knew, were Cong but we couldn’t prove it, and we moved on. These villages, our intelligence said, had VC crawling all over them but we found nothing. Not even a dirty black pajama.
Then intelligence told us of a hold-up of Viet Cong in and around a tiny village of Mai Lai. We were given orders like I had never seen before. They said kill all suspected Viet Cong. Even civilians, if they ran, would be considered hostile. Our unit would follow the main assault. We swept the countryside first clearing out huts and setting them afire. Anyone we suspected of being VC, we rounded up and pushed forward. No shooting, just simple snatch and burn. As we got closer to the village, we could hear gun fire and see smoke rising. The radio was going crazy with talk of Cong all over the place. Several of our prisoners took off and we dropped them before they made it ten feet. Before I knew it, I saw soldiers from a different outfit shooting civilians and raping women. I ordered my men to stand down. I even threatened to blow their heads off if they started that. They listened alright, because they knew I wasn’t bluffing.
As we advanced through the village, we witnessed huts set on fire with civilians still inside. We saw whole families shot to hell. In a ditch we passed countless men and women dead or dying. I sent our medic to care for the wounded, but they were pushed back at gun point and told to back off. A lieutenant and sergeant fired into the ditch with .45s.
At another ditch, a helicopter landed and its gunner stared down a squad who were going to kill the men, women, and children. We helped the helicopter crew load as many wounded aboard as possible, and then we held our position protecting those still alive. A helicopter gunship forced its way between fleeing refugees and their American pursuers to end the carnage.
We heard rumors of hundreds dead and even more wounded. I don’t know how many died. The military doesn’t even know. All I know is many were killed and the rest will never forget. To top it all off, they only found two AK47s. Two. With maybe three Viet Cong identified.
As George Carlin said, ‘Military intelligence is an oxymoron.’ Military intelligence got us into it, but it cried foul and played dead when their house of cards tumbled.
Read more in Sins of the Past – pick up your copy today!