Revisiting Charlton Heston’s Inferno

James Holmes, age twenty four, is accused of opening fire in a suburban Denver movie theatre, killing twelve people and wounding fifty eight others during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012.  Around the same time, in the east end of Toronto we had a the shooting at a party July 16 on Danzig St. that killed two people and wounded at least twenty.  On June 2, 2012, a shooting took place at a food court at the Toronto Eaton Centre, while the mall was heavily crowded with shoppers.

Is it 2012? Is it the sun’s solar flares which have induced erratic behaviour? 

Back in June 2004, I watched Bowling for Columbine, where Michael Moore challenged actor Charlton Heston on his role in gun rallies on the week of a massacre at Columbine High School.  I had this crazy story idea about Heston. I then wrote a manuscript where Charlton Heston went through the death process, descended into hell and met victims of his pro-gun policy. Yes, as he descended into Hades, he met oodles of Hollywood celebrities, including Kelsey Grammar, Sally Struthers, or JK Rowlings, Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, and even a comical scene with Woody Allen too.  In such a circumstance, look out for all the American televangelists, including Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, and Jimmy Swaggart. It is a modern day Divine Comedy!  I completed the work at the end of February 2005.  I then pitched it to all kinds of publishers, editors, in Canada and in the United States. I even emailed all the publishers listed on . For three years I pitched this idea and everyone had this fear of lawsuits. “You can’t write this about Charlton Heston,” all the publishers would say.

In the media, everyone says Canada is socialist but why didn’t Charlton Heston’s Inferno have a chance?!  Everyone involved in the book publishing industry in Canada gets a government grant. EVERYONE!  You can’t publish a book in Canada without getting approval from any level of government.  How does it go?

In order for an author in Canada to get arts funding, they must have a book to get published in Canada by a Canadian based publisher and be Canadian based. Why? Because government policies for arts funding are rooted in the past. They ignore the American market altogether. I will give you a good example. To get an arts grant from Toronto Arts Council, one must be based in Toronto and have a Toronto based publisher interested in publishing their work. Why? That’s the rules. The same goes for Canada Council except it is on a national level. Government arts funding ignores the American market. After three years of looking for a publisher in Canada I gave up on Charlton Heston’s Inferno.

Zap to June 2011. I contact . They read Charlton Heston’s Inferno and say: “You must contact the Heston Estate and get permission to write about Charlton Heston’s Inferno.  So I went to  and contacted the Heston estate for permission to write about Charlton Heston. You can read the email exchange, all at this link . Well, the Heston Estate did forbid the use of Heston in the work, but Iuniverse has published it because I changed Charlton Heston into Mack Dunstan and the paperback is called Mack Dunstan's Inferno.  It is about a Charlton Heston type character who succumbed to Alzheimer's, descended into hell and met victims of his pro-gun policy.  Yes, as he descended into Hades, he met oodles of Hollywood celebrities, both part of the living and the dead. It is a modern day Divine Comedy! 

As of December 2011, Mack Dunstan’s Inferno has sold about 100 copes. 

To come full circle, I feel all these shootings are sad and tragic. I find I avoid violent movies and terrible TV. I do have a soft spot for 1930’s and 1940’s gangster movies but the recent movies don’t attract my attention at all.  I did watch Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. You are what you watch, hear, or eat, or who you rub shoulders with. So be careful what you wish for! 

Paul Collins, author of Mack Dunstan’s Inferno / Mystery of Everyman’s Way

Contact him on!/authorpaulcollins 

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