The Animal in Man is done. I can hardly believe it. No one doubted that this day would ever actually arrive more than me, I assure you. After months of what I called Radio Silence, I’m back - fingers trembling - to send out this reader update.

So what happens now? Well, I’ve sent all 350+ pages to Inkshares just an hour ago, and from there they’ll put together my production timeline and all the other wonderful things they provide. I’ll collaborate with them to nail down some ideas for the final cover design. In the months that follow there will be edits… load upon load of edits. The more meticulous work, you see, is really just starting.

I’ve never finished a project this massive in all my life, and yet, it’s not entirely finished. Still, I can’t contain my excitement. This is a turning point for me, and I couldn’t have done it without all the follows, all the interest (all the pre-orders!) for The Animal in Man. I just wanted to thank you all for your continued support. You’ll be hearing from me on the reg from now on!

(“Natural Collapse” - Design by Diogo Hornburg via  

I’d like you to meet Shere Khan… Have you met him before? Does his name sound familiar? Do you see simply a tiger here? I see a lord of the jungle. For me, Shere Khan was the real star of The Jungle Book.

I went and saw the film this past Saturday and was absolutely blown away by its quality. It’s not like I was a lifelong fan of the original animated version. If you’d asked me if I liked The Jungle Book a week ago, I’d say, “mehhh…” But now…? Holy hell, NOW?!? 

It wasn’t the story or the characters that really resonated with me. (Though that’s not to say they weren’t contributors to the overall experience; they were!) It was the theme, specifically the law of the jungle. The animal’s nature. And by contrast the nature of man. This is something I think about a lot (in case I’ve not made it obvious yet!). 

And the villain. Shere Khan. Take note, storytellers… The best-written villains are always the ones who commit the worst atrocities for the sake of the best intentions. In The Jungle Book, Shere Khan knows that mankind’s every footstep leaves only a trail of destruction and evil. In order to keep the jungle and all its inhabitants safe - to preserve life - he must call for man’s death. And Shere Khan makes no distinction between man and man-cub. A true leader’s convictions must be truly unshakable. Right? Well, it’s this flaw that leads the villain to his downfall. It always is. 

We never get tired of these stories do we? I know I don’t! I promise that’s the kind of story “The Animal in Man” aims to tell. I assure you my villain has only the best intentions in mind. I swear you’ll be reading it soon. (#amwriting) But in the meantime, do yourself a favor and go see The Jungle Book before it leaves theaters. It is absolutely delightful. (Also, Christopher Walken as King Louie = priceless.)

[No Easter Bunnies were harmed in the writing of this update] [...but there might be a hollowed-out bunny-human ribcage or two in the latest scene I wrote for “The Animal in Man.” No joke… Happy Easter.]

Good day, animals. **

Just a quick update to let all The Animal in Man’s followers know that its author is still alive and semi-well (wife just passed her flu to me, I suspect). Some of you have messaged me directly, wondering when the book will be released. Well, I cannot say for certain, and I hesitate to confirm anything, but by my best guesstimate you will have the completed story at your fingertips no sooner than late-2016. (In the meantime, there are PLENTY of other books on inkshares to blow your mind!) I might have mentioned this in a previous update… when I got back into writing it, I revitalized my outline and discovered that this story is much more massive than I realized.

“Why not cut it into a trilogy then, Joe?” Good question! The reason I won’t do so is because it’s ONE complete story, an epic adventure that ramps up quickly and never slows down, start to finish, all within about two week’s time (I think). It is, however, diced up into three parts… Maybe three and a half.

Some of the characters you’ll meet along the way, besides our heroic and cunning fox Maxan, include:

  • A white wolf wizard (seen in chapter 1)
  • His apprentices, twin squirrels
  • An octopus samurai (guess how many swords)
  • A one-winged eagle preacher
  • A rhino who charges through buildings
  • A grey horned owl sorcerer who never blinks
  • A thousand-year old [senile?] snapping turtle
  • A grizzly bear wasted away by poison

And more… I promise this is not going to be a cutesy tale of anthropomorphic, cuddly snugglemongers. No. It’s a tale about killers. Because in case we’ve forgotten… Animals are killers.

Are we any better?

Peace to you and yours this holiday.

** (My mom was wondering why I’m calling her an animal with every update... Kind of awkward... When I call you animals, please know that I do so with the utmost endearment, and remember that the question of whether or not mankind is any better than animal-kind is one of the central questions driving the story. Animals are also capable of love, I believe, and I do so love each and every one of you.Thank you for your support and attention.

Img 1188 Billy O’Keefe · Author · edited about 4 years ago
Hotline Miami’s soundtrack is among the best I’ve ever heard for any movie or game. Something about the way it comes together and complements that art style that’s just so unsettling. Gonna check this script out!

Happy Friday, Animals.

Are you in between reading stuff? I refer, of course, to that sliver of space-time in which you’ve just finished one book and are considering checking out a new one. If you’d like something to fill that void this weekend, having perhaps two hours to spare… Well, I wrote a screenplay a while back.

Hotline Miami was released in 2012. Made by two very talented indie game developers, it came close to stealing Game of the Year accolades from the likes of triple-A contenders like Halo 5, Xcom, and more. Yet a simple-minded gamer named gamer named Joe Asphahani never paid it much mind until mid-2015. Once he did, however, it blew his godamn mind, fueled his creativity, and inspired him to write a feature-length screenplay as a form of fan service. (There are more details on my portfolio page if you’re into that kind of thing.)

I started writing this screenplay in May, 2015. After several manic bursts of writing, punctuated by some debilitating stretches of writer’s block, I finally finished it in mid-November the day before I got on a plane to Japan for a family trip. ...and as soon as I landed back home in early December, my friend was like, “Hey! Enter your Animal in Man thingie in this Inkshares Sword and Laser thingie!” Now that the contest is all over and I’m dedicating literally every free moment to writing The Animal in Man, I decided to post my Hotline Miami script-homage up on the internet because… why not. What else am I going to do with it? Let the people enjoy!

So, like I said, give it a read if you have time. Please keep in mind I never got the chance to go back and revise it like I’d intended. (It’s what they call in the professional writing industry a “sh***y first draft.”)

Also, it’s ultra violent. Like the video game from which it derives its title, to which it pays mad respect. If you’re not into human shields, neon and hot pink, bullets, Russian mobsters, drills, the 80s, being set on fire, animal masks [yes, maybe I write about what frightens me], katanas, having your testic….. well, you get the picture, maybe. It’s all in there. If you’re not into that, this might not be for you.

Enjoy! Click HERE to read the script.

And by all means, try the game HERE.

I’m back to work on The Animal in Man now.

Eightbit dbd7585d a550 4851 9860 df16f0a12f6a Jason Chestnut · Author · added about 4 years ago
Wow, this story really draws you in. It’s a world that seems rich in lore and history with some pretty interesting characters. I’m in!
John robin   author bio photo 1   scarf John Robin · Author · added about 4 years ago
You’re so kind, Joseph, and an AWESOME guest! So proud to feature you as the debut for this exciting series.

And yes, folks, listen to what this man says, he’s smart and knows what he’s talking about! Buy Blood Dawn :)

(How embarrassing. Sorry for the double-update. The link actually WORKS in this one.)

For the past several nights, I've been putting together my game plan. It's a sick form of procrastination from which my writer friends know I suffer: Instead of just sitting down and writing the actual story, I'll write pages and pages of outlines, timelines, character backstories, and all kinds of 'preparative' work. (Wow, that's actually a word.)

You see, so much of "The Animal in Man" has changed since I first started writing it. ...before I can pick up where I left off, I thought it would be a good idea to get my notes straight.

But to hell with that.

For the past several nights, I've skipped the damn preparative work and just re-wrote chapter one. I only meant to tweak a sentence here or there, but I ended up tossing out and rebuilding probably 90% of the words from the ground up. No lie. The shape of the chapter is the same, you'll see, but everything changed.

And I think it's better. My god do I think it's better! I worked really hard on this first chapter. It would be an honor if you would spend a little time reading it. (Inkshares says 33 minutes...?) Please enjoy.

CLICK HERE to go straight to Chapter One of "The Animal in Man".

And I swear my next update will be further along in time... next time. But just so you know, I will be working tirelessly every night, armed with a Jameson and Ginger Ale in one hand, a keyboard in the other. (...That makes little sense. Must be the Jameson.) Cheers!

Picture Amanda Orneck · Author · added about 4 years ago
Thanks for the shout out! Congrats again on winning the contest! 

I won.

When you read that, how do you hear it? If it’s something in your mind like a soft, shocked whisper, the kind of sound you hear when someone speaks in the stillness of a slow snowfall, then you’re pretty close to how I’m hearing myself say it. I won. I won… I won? ...I WON!?! 

Whether it’s the Sword and Laser’s Tom and Veronica, journalist Alicia Smock, or other authors mentioning my name in their own reader updates or raffle videos, the experience of being exposed and showered with praise for my story has really validated all this hard work I’ve done.

And, …. wow… this campaign has been some hard work.

Somewhere in an article or something I said to somebody that I was back on what I call “The Skyrim Sleeping Schedule.” (I’m sure some former students of mine will recall EXACTLY how loopy I got soon after 11/11/11.) Basically 4 to 5 hours of fitful sleep every night for the past month has really racked my body. Even as I type this, my mind’s eye glances over its shoulder and sees my body tapping its watch, shaking its head. I hear it say “Joe, it’s time, man.” And I’m like, “Hey, wait! I got a raffle video to do! Six new winners, six more $20 giftcard giveaways, six titles gone from my priceless video game collection!” But in this vision, my body wraps its arm warmly around me and escorts me from the premises of health, and it says, “Maybe this weekend, pal.” So I’m about to give in and just get sick…

I am utterly exhausted. ...and I’m kind of numb. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m typing this all right now secretly from my work cubicle, clicking back to the work window whene….. …. …. …. ver someone walks by. But right at this moment, I can’t celebrate. I’m happy. I’m BEYOND EUPHORIA, in fact, but I can’t jump for joy just yet.

I haven’t yet mastered the art of embedding gifs or whatever the cool kids are doing these days - so this little graphic here will have to do to express my current state of existence:


(What? I’m a man of letters, I tell ya!)

“Thank you all so much.” I know that track’s been on repeat for quite some time, but there’s no other phrase that can contain all of my feelings and gratitude toward your support. Thank you.

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