Kidnapped! Automatism Press : How Horror Writers Show Their Morbid Curiosity by Loren Rhoads

Posted in horror, News with tags , , , on December 8, 2016 by Horror Addicts Guest


How Horror Writers Show Their Morbid Curiosity

by Loren Rhoads

Because I hosted several annual Open Mics for Morbid Curiosity magazine at the World Horror Conventions, I had the opportunity to meet a whole bunch of horror writers.  I was surprised how easy it was to get them up on a stage, baring their real lives in front of an audience.

In fact, Brian Keene opened Morbid Curiosity #7 with a story that he’d rocked at the Open Mic in Chicago.  “Kick ’em Where it Counts” is one of my favorite stories that I was ever lucky enough to publish.  It’s about an industrial accident that nearly took Keene’s manhood and his life.  You can still wince along in sympathy (even I did and my manhood lives in a drawer) by picking up one of the few remaining copies of that issue of the magazine.


Rain Graves told the story of her awakening to the powers of Ancient Egypt at work in her life, which added a mystical touch to one of the Open Mics.  Michael Arnzen told about growing up in Amityville, near the house where Ronald DeFeo killed his family. Mason Winfield unwittingly lived with the .22-Caliber Killer. Lorelei Shannon talked about discovering the Hellraiser Gopher. I even got Brian Hodge to tell the story of how he talked with angels.

Those live events were really great because I never knew what I was going to get.

Another writer who blew me away was Simon Wood, who contributed “The Road of Life” to #7.  He wrote about running into a bicyclist with his car — and he’s read it several times for Morbid Curiosity events.  The story is just chilling, especially if you don’t know what’s coming next.  (Sorry to have just spoiled it for you.)

Most of the issues of the magazine are sold out now, but you can still check out the remaining copies here:

Kidnapped! Automatism Press: Black Light Monsters By Martha Allard

Posted in horror, News with tags , , , on December 7, 2016 by Horror Addicts Guest




Black Light Monsters

by Martha Allard

I grew up watching Saturday morning creature features. Sir Graves Ghastly, the movie host I favored, was silly, but he had a taste for Hammer Horror. It seemed as though there was a Dracula movie every Saturday morning. My favorites starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. By the time I was fifteen, I was half in love with Christopher Lee as Dracula, with his hungry eyes. He was equal parts tragedy and cruelty. He seduced his prey with a sleek coldness that was mesmerizing. Each time his Dracula met Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing, there was a part of me that hoped that he might escape the stake. Still, I admired Dr. Van Helsing. Peter Cushing changed my idea of what a hero could be. He was five inches shorter than his costar, almost delicate in contrast, but with a spine of steel. He was as much an outsider as Dracula and faced with odds that were overwhelming. He knew the rules, knew how to drive the stake in or spill the dawn into the room. Growing up in the 80s as I did, isolated and gay in a small town, I took comfort in his victories, while at the same time mourning for Dracula.

My book Black Light is about a rock band on the rise and a psychic vampire. It’s filled with snatches of my childhood. It was inevitable that these movies worked their way into my views of vampirism.


In the book, Albrecht Christian is the psychic vampire. He feeds by taking energy from his victims, through touch. He is addicting and, unlike the psychic vampires we come across in life, Christian knows what he is stealing. When we meet him, he is still mourning a lover that he nearly consumed and looking for a replacement. He sees his world with hungry eyes. He is smooth and hard and seduces his prey with his sheer presence. But that is a front for a man who is dying of loneliness, as I imagined Lee’s Dracula to be.

Asia Heyes is the band’s bass player. He also a reflection of my teenaged self, at home on Saturdays watching the struggle between light and dark played out from a place of safety. Asia’s world is punctuated by old horror movies. He meets his first girlfriend in a bar called Corman’s, named for Roger, the great schlock movie maker. Asia is put at ease by the presence of a fake mummy slouching in one of the shadowy booths. The place he is most at home in Los Angeles is an old cemetery that he recognizes on his first visit. He’s seen it in movies. When Albrecht Christian crosses Asia’s path, Asia recognizes the monster. Asia wishes, like I did as a kid, that they were in a horror movie because then Asia could be a hero.

Black Light is about rock and roll and falling in love for the first time, but the traces of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are woven deep into the story. I don’t think I realized how deep until I finished it.

Martha’s blog:


Barnes & Noble:

Publisher’s page:

Kidnapped! Behind “The Shattered Rose” by Loren Rhodes

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 6, 2016 by Horror Addicts Guest


Behind “The Shattered Rose”

by Loren Rhoads

When I first moved to San Francisco, I lived in between the Castro neighborhood and Haight-Ashbury. The house, an old Victorian that survived the 1906 earthquake, became a focal point for a large group of friends.

Quite often we’d go wandering on weekend nights. Sometimes we’d hike over to Corona Heights, a former quarry turned into a park that had a spectacular view of the city. Other times we’d go to Buena Vista Park, where the rain gutters are lined with broken tombstones. When we were up for a longer hike, we’d walk to Golden Gate Park.

In the late 1980s, the Haight was no safer than it is now. Men would stroll the street, chanting, “Doses, doses” or “Kind bud” or “What do you need?” When the Dead were in town, kids slept in doorways, on the neighbors’ porches or under any friendly bush in the park. People were constantly going off their meds, arguing with trees or simply ranting in the middle of the street.

So, roaming around in a pack of 8 or 10 fine young punks was very liberating for a sheltered farm girl trying to settle into the big city. Mostly, we went to Golden Gate Park to drink beer and play on the swings in the Children’s Playground, but sometimes we’d climb above the manmade waterfall on Strawberry Hill to look at the city lights and be part of the quiet darkness.

“The Shattered Rose” was inspired by those nocturnal ramblings. I adored the way the fog moved in the streetlights as if it was alive. I loved the salty flavor of the fog on my lips and the way it tingled on my face. I marveled at the way sounds could be so muted, edges so softened, as the ocean breathed over the land.

I really did see a rose thrown down on the sidewalk one night. It had been dashed to the ground so hard that its petals flew off like broken crockery. I knew the image would appear in a story someday.

And we really did startle a heron out of Hiawatha’s pond over by the DeYoung Museum. I thought the elegant bird was a statue, until it launched itself into the air, circled over our heads once, and flew away.

In addition to wandering San Francisco at night, the story was inspired by Dracula. When I read the novel the first time, I was deeply impressed by the baptism of blood, when Dracula opens a vein in his chest and forces Mina to drink his blood. For me, vampire stories – however sexy – are all about the blood.

I’d been reading the Sisters of Darkness and Love in Vein anthologies and I decided that the thing they lacked was that they weren’t bloody enough. I wanted my vampire erotica to be sticky and crimson.

“The Shattered Rose” appeared originally in the Paramental Appreciation Society chapbook, alongside a hardboiled magical detective story by Seth Lindberg, a gritty Tenderloin fairy tale by Lilah Wild, and a series of amazing fantasmagoric vignettes by Claudius Reich. San Francisco never looked so magical.

Link to the Paramental Appreciation Society chapbook: Paramental Appreciation Society

Kidnapped! The Death’s Garden Revisited Submissions Call

Posted in News with tags , , , , on December 5, 2016 by Horror Addicts Guest


The Death’s Garden Revisited call for submissions

by Loren Rhoads

Twenty years ago, I was given a box of miscellaneous cemetery photos. They had been taken by my best friend’s husband over the course of his travels around the Americas. Blair was 28 years old and dying of AIDS. He wanted to know his photos had a good home.

I decided to put together a book that would feature those photos. Initially, I was going to write all the text, but as I talked to people about the project, everyone seemed to have a cemetery story to tell.

The book title expanded from Death’s Garden to Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries. I was thrilled to discover that people I knew — even complete strangers — all had a graveyard they’d connected with. Whether it be because a family member was buried there, visited it on vacation, grown up in a house near it, or for a whole bouquet of other reasons.

The contributors varied from people I met through zine publishing, a ceramics professor at Ohio State University, authors for the LA Weekly, professional artists, photographers, underground musicians, depressed high school girls, and punk rock diva Lydia Lunch. As the book came together, Death’s Garden blew away my expectations.

The initial print ran of 1,000 copies and sold out 18 months. I only asked for one-time rights to use everyone’s contributions, so I couldn’t republish it. Once the books were gone, that was it.

As the years passed, I’ve lost track of many of the contributors. Some are dead and have a different relationship with cemeteries now. Others have sunk into the anonymity of a pseudonym on the internet.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to assemble a second volume of Death’s Garden.  I think there are a lot more stories to be told about relationships people have formed with graveyards. For instance, what’s it like to be a tour guide? How are cemetery weddings different than others? What’s the strangest cemetery you’ve ever visited, or the most beautiful, or the spookiest?

This is open to anyone who has visited a cemetery where something special happened, either good or bad.  Tell me about your relationship with a cemetery.  I’d like to publish it on

What I’m looking for:

  • personal essays that focus on a single cemetery
  • preferably with pictures
  • under 1500 words (totally negotiable, but the limit is something to shoot for)
  • descriptive writing
  • characterization, dialogue, tension: all the tools you’d use to tell a story
  • but this MUST be true — and it must have happened to you!

Reprints are fine.  If you’ve written something lovely on your blog and wouldn’t mind it reaching the couple thousand people who subscribe to Cemetery Travel, let me know.

If I accept your essay for publication on Cemetery Travel, be warned: I may do some light editing, with your permission.

Also, I’ll need:

  • a bio of 50-100 words
  • a photo of you
  • a link to your blog or book
  • links to your social media sites, so people can follow you.

Finally, if — as I hope — this project progresses to becoming a legitimate book, I will contact you with a contract and offer of payment.  Stay tuned!

Send your essay to me at

Kidnapped! Automatism Press

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on December 4, 2016 by Horror Addicts Guest


Automatism Press is a two-person operation based in San Francisco. It was started in 1990 by Mason Jones and Loren Rhoads, went dormant for several years after the death of Morbid Curiosity magazine, and has recently returned with the books Lost Angels and Black Light, both published earlier this year.

Horror Addicts: What inspired you to start a press?

Loren Rhoads: When Mason and I first moved to San Francisco, we went to a lecture by Vale and AJ of RE/Search Books. They’d already published the William Burroughs/Brion Gysin/Throbbing Gristle book and the Industrial Culture Handbook, both of which we’d bought in Ann Arbor. At the time of the lecture, they were looking for help with their next book, which turned out to be Modern Primitives. They were very open about how they produced books, from interviewing subjects to design and layout to fulfilling orders. Working for them was a real education.

HA: Tell us about Automatism Press’s first book.


Loren: It was called Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect, after the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Shakespeare’s Henry the V. We published it in 1994. It was a collection of stories and essays about North America on the brink of the 21st century: very earnest, very punk rock. In fact, it includes an essay by Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys about legalizing marijuana. One of my favorite essays is about the human need to form tribes by Claudius Reich.


HA: What inspired your second book, Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries?

Loren: My best friend’s husband was dying of AIDS in the early 90s. Blair gave me a bunch of photographs of graveyards he had visited. Originally, I was just going to publish his photos, but the more people I spoke to about the project, the more personal essays I got for it. Death’s Garden has been out of print for years, but I’m still really proud of it.

HA: How did Death’s Garden lead to publishing zines?

Loren: Mason started an indy record label called Charnel Music, which brought a lot of Japanese bands to the US. He hit on the idea of interviewing the bands and reviewing Japanese records, movies, candy – every part of Japanese underground or pop culture – so he started a zine called Ongaku Otaku. He would get the best things in the mail for the zine…and I got jealous. I wanted cool stuff in the mail, too. I realized I needed to publish my own zine.

I’d really enjoyed the process of assembling Death’s Garden, particularly the part where I got true stories from strangers. So I decided I wanted to receive confessional essays from people I didn’t know.

I never considered any other name for the project than Morbid Curiosity.


HA: Morbid Curiosity magazine was published annually for ten years. What was it like putting it together?

Loren: It was an amazing amount of fun. I was always impressed by the things people would confess to, from deeply personal medical issues to coming in contact with serial killers to adventures that might possibly get them arrested. I never knew what was going to come in the mail next.

Even better were the live events. I started out hosting yearly release parties at Borderlands Bookstore, which brought together hundreds of people. I just adored hearing people confess in front of an audience. Those readings led to open mics at the World Horror Conventions and then on to being on NPR and all kinds of crazy stuff.

HA: Why’d you quit?

Loren: By 2006, the world had changed. Stories that would have come to Morbid Curiosity were going up on Livejournal instead. Tower Records had been one of my biggest distributors, so when it closed down, it was suddenly a whole lot harder for me to sell magazines. I lost thousands of dollars in their collapse. And I had a kid by then, so I didn’t have the time or patience to make the magazine great any more.

Ten issues seemed like a good place to go out: while the magazine was still good, still loved.

HA: What came next?

Loren: Automatism published a couple of chapbooks. The first was Ashes & Rust, which Alan at Borderlands Bookstore recommended I put together after he invited me to read at my first Litcrawl in 2005. Ashes & Rust collected up four of my science fiction stories that had been published in little magazines. I described it as “Sex. Drugs. Rock’n’roll. Space aliens. Demonic possession. Murder. Friendship.” All the best things in life.

After that, we published the Paramental Appreciation Society chapbook. The Paramentals were a writing group that I belonged to for six years. It included Claudius Reich (who had been in both Automatism anthologies and most issues of Morbid Curiosity), Lilah Wild, Seth Lindberg, and A.M. Muffaz, all of whom I’d worked with on Morbid Curiosity. Mason was a member of the group, too, for a while.

The chapbook contains my erotic vampire story set in Golden Gate Park, a witchy fairy tale set in the Tenderloin, a dragon slayer’s adventure set in Lower Pacific Heights, and then explores what the BART trains are really running from.

HA: Then the press went silent for a number of years.

Loren: Yeah, my own writing and editing career took off finally. I sold Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues, a best of Morbid Curiosity book, to Scribner, which led to a collection of my cemetery travel essays called Wish You Were Here on Western Legends, a novel on Black Bed Sheets, a space opera trilogy at Night Shade, and a bunch more short stories published in books and magazines. I was too busy to be a publisher for a while.

HA: What brought you back?

Loren: The contract expired on my succubus novel and I got the rights back. It had always been planned as a two-book series, so I released the first book, Lost Angels, in April with my preferred text and a new cover.

HA: How did you publish the next book?

Loren: I served as a beta reader for Martha Allard’s Black Light. It is an amazing, aching ghost story with psychic vampires set in the rock-n-roll world of the 1980s. Martha had been planning to self-publish it when Mason heard me raving about it. He suggested we do it for her. I can’t say enough good things about the book. It’s beautiful and devastating.

HA: What’s next?

Loren: The second succubus novel was meant to be out this month, but I got offered a big project on a short deadline for a big New York publisher, so Angelus Rose is on hold until that monster is turned in. I’m still waiting on the contract, though, so I can’t announce its name yet.

When the second succubus novel finally does come out, Angelus Rose will complete the story of Lorelei and Azaziel. They burn down most of LA in the process. I’m excited to see it in print finally.

HA: Any plans beyond that?

Loren: I want to update Wish You Were Here, my cemetery travel essays. I’ve been collecting essays for a second volume of Death’s Garden called Death’s Garden Revisited. Emerian Rich has written a lovely piece for that book, actually. I’m hoping to kickstart the funding for that book next summer.deaths-garden-cover001

In addition, I’m going to experiment with putting a dozen of my Alondra short stories out as singles on Amazon. “The Shattered Rose,” from the Paramentals chapbook, is one of them.

But everything is on hold until I get my mystery project written. It’s supposed to come out in October 2017, so time is very, very short.

Lend the Eye:

Death’s Garden:

Morbid Curiosity:

All the available books on my bookshop:


Guest Blog: Engine Women’s Light by Laurel Anne Hill

Posted in horror with tags , , , on December 2, 2016 by Horror Addicts Editor



Chapter 7

Blue Light and Rattling Bones


ewl-lined-up-2-cropped-for-animoto A curtain of darkness hung behind manzanita bushes and poison oak, ten or fifteen feet above me on the hillside. This had to be the opening I’d detected the day the council met. The threshold to the Cave of Light.

I edged upward, prickly brush scraping my arms through the sleeves of my ankle-length tunic. Some types of Indian spirits stayed with their bones instead of going to the Shadow World. The spirit of the Yokut shaman’s bones in the cave ought to know where that magic letter was, plus how to reach it without encountering malicious spirits or falling down a shaft. If the crumbling path didn’t give way beneath my sandals, I’d soon learn the truth.

The truth… My people had accepted the Shadow World’s mission to sabotage an asylum train by summer. Promise would continue to exist. But where? I glanced heavenward. Sunset dressed the western sky in muted pinks and grays, as the waning moon’s pale outline slipped behind multicolored clouds. Each truth had its own time of discovery.

My empty stomach gurgled. Supper time was an unavoidable truth. Papa and the others would have noticed my absence by now. The way here from Promise was too steep and treacherous to dark-walk, particularly with quarter moon only five days away. No one could do anything before dawn about my disobedience. I had until after sunrise to find the letter.

A ledge jutted from atop a granite outcrop, rather narrow and mostly cloaked by chaparral. The ledge led to a deep indentation in the hillside. One step. Two steps. My destination was almost within reach.

Still, a lonely being of bones might desire my company for eternity. Locating the shaman’s skeleton might not be the best thing. My stomach muscles tightened as I found the next foothold.

I squeezed behind scratchy bushes, then stretched my arms high. I pushed off the hillside with my feet and pulled myself onto a shelf of smooth, gray rock. An opening in the hillside waited. I snaked on my belly into a dim, rocky passage, the ceiling too low for standing. Somewhere, water dripped. So far, no spirit lights or skeletons were in sight.

Within a few feet, the passage opened into a chamber several times my height. I maneuvered into a sitting position. No blue-green light shone. Only the faint daylight from outdoors. Dusk drifted toward night. I could explore little farther until sunrise. I’d hoped for an obvious clue. Had I come to the wrong place?


My stomach rumbled, louder than before, although I’d eaten nuts, acorn bread and herbal broth for breakfast. I usually fasted longer, one full night and day, before visiting spirits. A taboo broken. My transgression could offend the shaman’s spirit. Still, I’d only eaten with the community this morning to mask my intention of coming here. I had the will-power to sacrifice comfort for duty. A serving of mashed beans, however, would have tasted wonderful right then.

I scanned the shadows of the cave, my eyes adapting to darkness. If only I’d brought a lantern. Perhaps I could explore this chamber anyway. Not a good idea. Vertical shafts to lower chambers could ensnare me. The Voice of the Light—the Virgin of Guadalupe?—could only try to help. I should invoke the spirit of the shaman’s bones.

“Dearest shaman,” I called as I faced the cave’s dim interior. “The Shadow World has bid me to come here. May I trouble you to assist me?”

I introduced myself, in case he’d forgotten the little girl who’d loved his mint and berry tea years ago. The night breeze rustled through unseen leaves outside the cavern. I repeated my request six more times, a total of seven. A strong number. An owl hooted. Not even a mysterious hoot. My chest heaved a deep sigh. All this evening’s efforts had been wasted.

A wind arose outside. A chill cut through me. I crawled several feet into the cavern and curled up on the floor. Warmer now, I yawned. Should I sleep? The shaman’s spirit might visit me in a dream and tell me what to do next.

From the darkness came a soft, repetitive high-pitched knocking. I tensed. Rattlesnakes preferred to slither about in daylight, but one of them might call this cave home. I’d better not move.

A shuffling sound led to another rattle. An eerie blue-green glow—a fist-size ball of light—swayed within the cave. The orb, maybe thirty feet away, divided into twin spheres and drifted closer to me. Glints of ivory triggered a tingling sensation in my fingertips and toes. Bones could rattle. Ivory was the color of bones.

Two clenched rows of teeth wobbled in the air. A death head gleamed. Blessed saints, the blue-green radiance came from eye sockets. Human eye sockets. In a skull, attached to a human skeleton. Oh, dear Lord of this world and the next. The being approached, rattling, arms by its sides, mouth frozen in a horrific grin. Strips of rags dangled from its hips. The beams turned deep blue. I couldn’t move, cry out, do anything but widen my eyes. I was awake and not in the Shadow World. The dead walked the earth in more than spirit form.

A spirit capable of holding a heap of dry bones together must possess great mystical powers. Powers strong enough to hold me captive for the rest of my life. Run—I needed to stand and run. I tried to rise. Two bony hands reached out and clamped my wrists. The skeleton pushed me against the ground and dragged me deeper into darkness.

“Aiyeee,” I yelled.

My cry echoed as the skeleton pulled me across the cave’s bumpy floor. I twisted my body but couldn’t break free.




Laurel Anne Hill has authored two novels: The award-winning Heroes Arise (Komenar Publishing, 2007) and The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press, 2016), a spirits-meet-steampunk tale. The Engine Woman’s Light is now available on Kindle and also scheduled for release in trade paper format by the end of January, 2017. Laurel’s published short stories and nonfiction pieces total forty and have appeared in a variety of anthologies, collections, and journalistic media. The fans of elected her “Most Wicked” in 2011 for her steampunk-horror podcast Flight of Destiny. For more about her go to

Link to Laurel’s book on Amazon Kindle:

Guest Blog: “Fright at the Museum” by Scott Roche

Posted in horror with tags , , on November 30, 2016 by Horror Addicts Editor


“Fright at the Museum” by Scott Roche


Howard came to the museum every day. He didn’t always sleep there, but in the winter it was one of his favorite spots. If he got caught he’d either get thrown in the alley and find another spot or be taken to the jail where the bed would be warm and no less comfortable. It offered plenty of hiding places and the guards were either old men or young ones who weren’t draft material. The war in Germany was warming up and claiming its share of dead boys.


Finally, it was far enough past closing that he knew he’d be safe if he stuck to the shadows. The guards had to make their rounds, but provided he didn’t snore or thrash around, he wouldn’t be caught. He decided tonight he felt like visiting Egypt. It was their newest exhibit and had plenty of interesting places to hide. He’d sleep under the diorama which showed how they eviscerated the corpse. He’d been over in Africa during the previous war and saw horrors that would make even the corpse preparers sick.


A sound, the brush of a foot perhaps, woke him in the still hours. Maybe it had been the smell? There was a stench of freshly opened belly, one he was distantly familiar with. The grunt of exertion and a wet ripping noise filled his ears. He looked out from his place under the table and saw the bare legs of men. Flickering torch light did a poor job of letting him see what was going on.


Was this some reenactment that they were preparing? A whimper must have escaped his lips.


There was the sound of a query. A man’s face peered under the table. He wore the makeup and headdress of a priest. The words that came from his mouth were foreign.


Strong arms dragged Howard from under the table. “What’s going on here? I was just having a bit of a nap.”


The hands placed him on a table covered in sticky fluid.


“Just let me go. Put me out into the alley.”


Sharp bronze instruments cut through the threadbare clothes he wore, exposing his skin to the heat of the night.


The priest began chanting and produced a knife.


Howard screamed. The pitch and volume of the scream increased until it threatened to shred his own voice box. Just when he thought it could get no worse, they slid something up his nose. There was a crunch and white light and he knew no more.


Lights and voices. They woke him from a long sleep. He couldn’t open his eyes. They were covered by something.


“And here we have our most recent find. It was believed that he was an intruder. He was found by the priests and cursed with the everlasting death.”


Howard wanted to scream and thrash against the bindings, but he knew they would never give. His visit to the museum would last quite a bit longer than he thought.






Some creatures feed on blood and revel in the screams of their prey. Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. His writing and podcast can be found at