HorrorAddicts.net at BayCon, Happening Today!

Come to BayCon and hang with HorrorAddicts.net!

baycon ha

Here are just a few of the panels you can see us on. For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

Sunday 3 July, 2022

HorrorAddicts.net – Geek Out Horror Style!

1:00 PM / Synergy 1

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, R.L. Merrill, Laurel Anne Hill, Mark Orr, MD Neu

Come geek out with us horror-style! We will also be talking about our new book Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2, a mostly non-fiction horror anthology. Prizes and spooky fun to be had by all!

Readings – Emerian Rich and Kim Fielding

4:00 PM /Connect 5

Kim Fielding, Emerian Rich

For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

 

Historian of Horror : This Property is Condemned

 

DC Comics seemed to have an affinity for naming comic books after spooky houses. Other publishers had Vaults (…of Horror, … of Evil) or Chambers (… of Chills, … of Darkness), but the House that Superman Built would settle for nothing less than entire structures for their ghosts to live in.

To be fair, St. John did have a House of Terror. But that was a 1953 one-shot that reprinted older horror tales in 3-D format, and one house a neighborhood doth not make.

DC, on the other hand, had an entire subdivision of eerie edifices. Apart from the domiciles, I referenced in an earlier column, there was a House of Mystery, a House of Secrets, and a Ghost Castle, not to mention Secrets of Haunted House. They also had a Doorway to Nightmare, for readers not yet ready to commit to full home ownership.

House of Mystery was first, debuting as a typical horror comic of its day at the end of 1951. That was a few years before the institution of the Comics Code, so the occasional werewolf or vampire was allowed in its first thirty-five issues. Not that there were many, given that DC was less inclined to such sensationalism than other publishers. Even before the Code, the DC horror titles were rather tame. House of Mystery ran for 321 issues until October 1983, although it spent a few years showcasing superhero features (“Martian Manhunter” and “Dial H for Hero”) rather than spooks and specters. It did feature a vampire series in its later years after the Comics Code was revised to allow such beings.

House of Secrets was more faithful to its horror roots for its run from 1956 to 1978, with a three-year gap from 1966 to 1969. It was not consistently an anthology title, playing host to a few continuing characters, but not superheroic ones like its sister magazine. Eclipso wasn’t really a hero, super or otherwise, and did have a supernatural origin that was revealed years later. His adventures occupied twenty issues of the title, mostly drawn by Alex Toth or Jack Sparling. Mark Merlin, usually illustrated by Mort Meskin, was an occult detective who appeared regularly for six years before being shuffled into an alternate dimension and replaced by Prince Ra-Man, AKA Mind Master. Both features ended with the hiatus.

When the title returned with issue #81, it was all horror, all the time, and the house was virtually a character in the comic book. A similar transformation had occurred over at House of Mystery about the same time. That house was provided with a caretaker by the name of Cain, who introduced the stories, none of which had continuing characters or superheroes.

The new House of Secrets was watched over by Cain’s nebbish brother, Abel, who had an imaginary friend named Goldie. The house frequently tried to rid itself of him by having the resident suits of armor drop their weapons on him, or floors collapse, or other such inconveniences. Covers were frequently by Neal Adams, one of the most talented and influential artists in the industry, during the early years of this incarnation. One exception was issue #92, painted by Bernie Wrightson. It introduced the muck monster, Swamp Thing. I’ve mentioned that one before, so we need not dwell on it here.

Other frequent artists included Bill Draut, Alex Toth, George Tuska, and Jack Sparling, all of whom possessed distinctive styles. As the years passed, the art became rather derivative and bland, as did the stories. I pretty much lost track of the title by mid-decade. Too many more interesting things were happening in comics in the 1970s, some of which I will address in this space in the future.

Cain and Abel did appear together in other venues. They co-hosted the humor title, Plop! and occasionally dropped in on the trio of witches who hosted The Witching Hour comic book. Eventually, House of Secrets and The Witching Hour were absorbed into another magazine, The Unexpected, and the era of DC horror comics began petering out. 

But not permanently. In 1996, House of Secrets was revived for a two-year run under DC’s Vertigo imprint. The house was a mobile venue for judgment upon mortal sinners, who were tried for their evil ways by a jury of ghosts. No Cain, no Abel. That incarnation lasted twenty-five issues and a couple of specials, and that was it for the House of Secrets.

Oh, well. All things must pass.

Let’s meet again in fourteen days to have a listen to the first great movie score, composed for one of the first great horror films of the sound era. It’s sure to be a fun time of truly gargantuan dimensions. Until then, devourers of the demonic…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

HorrorAddicts.net at BayCon, Happening Today!

Come to BayCon and hang with HorrorAddicts.net!

baycon ha

Here are just a few of the panels you can see us on. For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

Saturday 2 July, 2022

10:00 AM / Connect 5

Confessions of a Slush Pile Reader 

Rebecca Inch-Partridge, Emerian Rich, Lillian Csernica.

Editors and slush readers discuss what gets a story rejected and what they look for in a story to be considered for publications. Does and don’ts of cover and query letters can also be covered.

1:00 PM / Engage

Creating Your Own Anthology 

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, J.Scott Coatsworth.

How do you get submissions, where do you advertise, how do you handle the subs when they come in, how do you vet the subs, should you do blind submissions, how do you pay and contract the authors, and how to do a charity anthology? Whether you want to start a small ‘zine, publish a print book, or go eBook format, this panel will discuss all the ins and outs.

Sunday 3 July, 2022

HorrorAddicts.net – Geek Out Horror Style!

1:00 PM / Synergy 1

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, R.L. Merrill, Laurel Anne Hill, Mark Orr, MD Neu

Come geek out with us horror-style! We will also be talking about our new book Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2, a mostly non-fiction horror anthology. Prizes and spooky fun to be had by all!

Readings – Emerian Rich and Kim Fielding

4:00 PM /Connect 5

Kim Fielding, Emerian Rich

For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

 

Band/Musician Interview : Lia Hide

 

  1. What singers or bands inspired you growing up?
    Kate Bush, Dead Can Dance, Violent Femmes, Tori Amos, Smashing Pumpkins, Guns n Roses, Annie Di Franco, Cranberries, NIN, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley
  2. If you could be any TV or film horror character, who would you be? Why?
    I’d be Jack, from The Nightmare Before Christmas, cause I adore, simply adore Danny Elfman!
  3. What non-musical things inspire your music?
    Films, Books, Food, Sunsets, bad relationships, Alcoholic nights, Sleep deprivation
  4. If you could write your own soundtrack to a horror film already out there, which film would it be?
    Donnie Darko, although it’s not really a horror film, so let’s try The Beyond (L’Aldila) – E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà (1981) although that film’s soundtrack is a true gem, a masterpiece
  5. Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?
    a. in a roof apartment in Antwerp, with 3 Chinese fluffy chicken. b. in Utrecht, after a gorgeous show we played in an old medieval monastery’s basement theatre.
  6. What are your favorite horror movies?
    I used to love zombie movies, cause they were fun, and I always love the latex effects. After seing the SAW series (up until III) I got disgusted at almost everything that contains torture, and now I only watch vampire or mystery or historical stuff.
  7. What was the scariest night of your life?
    Watching Nightmare on Elm Street 3 – the puppet scene. I still have nightmares about it.
  8. If you could bring back greats who have passed on, who would be your undead opening band?
    Layne Staley with Mark Lanegan and Christ Cornel with an Ennio Morricone conducted orchestra
  9. Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the Horror Addicts?
    I sometimes lay in bed and think I soak into the mattress all the way to the earth’s core and can hear everyone’s thoughts while descending. I swear I heard your voice, too, one day .. (just kidding.. or not?)

To find more about Lia Hide:

https://www.facebook.com/liahidemusic

 Video YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnW057t3RGw

HorrorAddicts.net at BayCon, Happening Today!

Come to BayCon and hang with HorrorAddicts.net!

baycon ha

Here are just a few of the panels you can see us on. For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

Friday 1 July, 2022

Time Zone: PST 4:00 PM / Synergy 5

Everything you wanted to know about modern romantic fiction but were afraid to ask 

Emerian Rich, R.L. Merrill, Kim Fielding, Sue Brown-Moore.

Romantic fiction is so much more than the genre of “romance”. Like science fiction, romance is a vehicle for progressive thinking, for empowerment and pushing boundaries, particularly in the realms of SciFi and Paranormal Romance. The vast array of sub-genres, tropes, themes, and archetypes in a romance writer’s toolkit can be both daunting and exciting.

Saturday 2 July, 2022

10:00 AM / Connect 5

Confessions of a Slush Pile Reader 

Rebecca Inch-Partridge, Emerian Rich, Lillian Csernica.

Editors and slush readers discuss what gets a story rejected and what they look for in a story to be considered for publications. Does and don’ts of cover and query letters can also be covered.

1:00 PM / Engage

Creating Your Own Anthology 

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, J.Scott Coatsworth.

How do you get submissions, where do you advertise, how do you handle the subs when they come in, how do you vet the subs, should you do blind submissions, how do you pay and contract the authors, and how to do a charity anthology? Whether you want to start a small ‘zine, publish a print book, or go eBook format, this panel will discuss all the ins and outs.

Sunday 3 July, 2022

HorrorAddicts.net – Geek Out Horror Style!

1:00 PM / Synergy 1

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, R.L. Merrill, Laurel Anne Hill, Mark Orr, MD Neu

Come geek out with us horror-style! We will also be talking about our new book Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2, a mostly non-fiction horror anthology. Prizes and spooky fun to be had by all!

Readings – Emerian Rich and Kim Fielding

4:00 PM /Connect 5

Kim Fielding, Emerian Rich

For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with J. Malcolm Stewart

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

J. Malcolm StewartWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest? 

Jason Malcolm Stewart: Fiction Author, Journalist, Interviewer, Horror Film Fan, Horror Fan Culture Enthusiast, etc.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

I have three pieces in the collection: You Might be a Monster Lover If…, Black Zombie: Hollywood and the 80s Voodoo Revival and Sounds of Horror in Black American Music.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?
Wow, I’m a big horror head like we all are, so I tend to order from the buffet line. If pushed, I am an aficionado of classic monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, werewolf lore… Anything that Universal would have made a movie about in the 30s.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?
Oooof, haven’t heard of anything immediate upcoming in 2022 that has sparked the horror flame. But that just means something is unexpectedly coming down the pike that will be awesome that I don’t know about yet!

Where can readers/listeners find your work?
My YouTube page is the archive for all my horror-themed interviews and reviews:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0p5JP75jl349RUi7oB39Zg

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Shadow’s Love Chapter 6 : Torment 2

She winked at him and kissed him on the cheek, swinging her leg across to straddle him, tightening her legs against his body. She rubbed her cheek against his, whispering in his ear, “Did you miss me, honey? Did you think about me often?”

Aaron swallowed, aroused in spite of himself. “Y-yes, of course…”

She straightened up. “Liar!” She slapped him across the face again, her nails leaving welts on his cheek. Immediately she looked abashed. “Now see what you made me do…” she purred, kissing each of the welts separately, pressing her body back against his. “I’m not mad,” she whispered, chewing on his earlobe. “But I was curious…who was the girl I saw you with the day before you dumped me?”

His mind raced through story after story. “Audrey, please, let me go, I’m not worth this.” he whimpered. “She started it.”

The vampire snorted. “Such chivalry.”

Audrey giggled girlishly. “You’re ly-ing,” she sang and sank a fang into his earlobe. He squealed and jerked his head away from her, tearing the flesh around his ear, tears springing to his eyes.

“Her name is Katherine…” he whimpered. “I didn’t have the heart to break up with you until recently. It was a stupid decision, I’m so sorry.”

“Aww, how sweet. You were trying to protect me?” She caressed his face lovingly, rubbing her body against him. “But you see, I don’t need protection, Aaron…” She could feel him rising and giggled again, grinding herself on him heartlessly. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” she whispered in his ear and kissed him deeply, passionately, rubbing herself harder against him. His breathing quickened and he raised his head to hers, trying to kiss her harder. She could feel his tongue ring and began toying with it, nipping his tongue with her fangs as she felt it slide deeper into her mouth. She latched onto the tongue ring and jerked her head sideways, ripping it out of his mouth. Blood streamed down his face as he screamed and thrashed about, frantically trying to raise his hands to his mouth. 

She leaned over and whispered in his ear, “If you don’t stop screaming, I’m going to bite your tongue out of your mouth, and I’m going to make you eat it.” Instantly his mouth snapped closed. She could feel his whole body shaking beneath her as he fought to keep from screaming, his eyes leaking silent tears. Audrey sat up with a satisfied look on her face, and laughed. 

“I bet you wish you hadn’t left me now,” she cooed and spat his tongue ring back in his face, “but I’m glad.”

She rose from the bed and ran her hand across Aaron’s bloody face, bringing it to the vampire’s mouth. “How does he taste, lover?” she asked. 

The vampire caressed her fingers with his tongue and smiled.

“Weak.”

With a wicked look in her crimson eyes, Audrey pulled the neck of her robe apart further and using her elongated nails, cut a cross in the skin over her heart. She took his hand and brought it to the blood dripping down her porcelain skin and asked, looking into his eyes, “How do I taste?”

The vampire licked his own fingers, savoring the taste of her blood. “Vibrant.” He bent his head and ran his tongue up the blood trickling dripping from the wound, drawing the blood directly from her. Audrey purred and buried her fingers in his long dark hair, pulling his head closer. 

Afterward, as the tide ebbed and reality returned, they were reminded there was another person on the bed. Audrey noted, without needing to probe Aaron’s psyche, that their display of passionate eroticism would require a lifetime and a fortune in therapy bills to deal with. It would be far more merciful to kill him. Upon probing deeper, she found jealousy, regret, helpless rage and buried deep beneath all of them…pure terror. Fear of what these sadistic creatures were going to do to him. This pleased her as much as the sex and she rose from the bed, re-wrapping the robe about herself. Lastor remained lazily reclined on the bed, watching as she went to Aaron’s side. 

“I bet you really wish you hadn’t left me now,” she said teasingly and kissed him on the cheek. “Your tongue, or what’s left, really hurts doesn’t it?”

Aaron made a muffled noise and nodded, his eyes still leaking bitter tears. Audrey nodded understandingly. “Of course it does.” She brought her mouth close to his ear and whispered, “But I am not sorry. No, I am not sorry. This is what you deserve.” Without saying anything more and without warning, she plunged her fangs into his neck, turning a deaf ear on his inarticulate cries of pain and drained his veins until there was nothing left. Once she could get no more out of him and he had stopped jerking and crying, she withdrew from him and went to the bathroom to freshen herself up a bit. She felt liberated and cheerful, and hummed a little to herself as she splashed water on the bloodstains covering her and combed her hair.

Upon returning to the bedroom, she found Lastor dressed and untying Aaron’s corpse from the bed. She blew him a kiss which he returned and went the wardrobe, dressing herself in the clothes she had picked out what seemed like hours ago. After admiring her reflection in the handsome mirror set on the inside of the wardrobe door, she went to help Lastor dispose of Aaron’s corpse. 

They dragged the body to the backyard of the mansion and built a roaring fire from the large stack of firewood outside. As the flames reached ten feet tall, Audrey, only a little surprised at her sudden strength, picked up what remained of Aaron and bodily heaved it into the fire. As she watched it burn, she felt happier now than she ever had in her entire life. 

 

Submission Call! Manor of Frights

Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Priscilla Bettis

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

priscillaWhen I was a kid in elementary school, I dutifully read my English assignments, but they bored me. By age ten, I had grown tired of sappy characters and too pointed moral lessons. Then I snuck The Exorcist from my parents’ den.

The Exorcist scared the crap out of me even though I didn’t understand parts of it. But the visceral feelings I got were the same as when real life horrors occurred in the grownup world around me. I felt understood by the genre. In turn, I grasped how powerful dark literature could be.

I’ve been a horror addict ever since. Dark fantasy, dark poetry, Gothic, literary, creature-feature, I love them all.

Nowadays, I enjoy writing horror as well as reading it. It gives me a sense of control in an out-of-control world. After all, I can’t stop evil from running amok, but I can always close a book or put down a pen.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Ep. 210 Nightmare Fuel: The Chambers Mansion

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Chambers-MansionHello Addicts,

Haunted and possessed homes have been a staple of horror movies for decades, and stories for centuries. Nothing quite beats finding out that where you sleep at night may not be as safe as you think. Previous tenants and homeowners may feel entitled to return, regardless if they are still alive or not. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at one such home — The Chambers Mansion in San Francisco, CA.

According to the legend, Richard Chambers, a wealthy baron from the Midwest, moved to San Francisco around 1887. He built a mansion at 2220 Sacramento Street, where he, his wife, and two nieces moved into. By 1901, however, Richard was dead, and the home passed on to his wife and nieces. Unfortunately, the nieces didn’t get along and one of them either purchased or had a home built next door to the mansion. The niece who stayed, Claudia Chambers, met with a grisly end. There are varying accounts which range from being murdered by a deranged family member living in the attic to a farm implement sawing her in half. Since then, people have reported seeing Claudia roaming the halls and flashing lights in the upstairs windows. An additional reason for the haunting given was the family’s practicing of black magic.

All of that makes for a good ghost story, however, no records prove a Richard Chambers lived in San Francisco. There are of a Robert Chambers living in that mansion. Robert died in 1901 from appendicitis, leaving the home to his brothers and sisters, none of who had children named Claudia. Robert’s wife, Eudora, had two nieces named Harriet and Lillian, who stayed with the otherwise childless couple.

While that part of the legend somewhat matches up, there were some strange occurrences involving Eudora that bear mentioning. In 1893, she went missing for a week before being found wandering a beach near Mussel Rock. On New Year’s Eve of the same year, she attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself in front of a train, only to be thrown out of the way before it hit her. Her family and friends viewed her as mentally unstable. Three years later, she died of undisclosed reasons.

In the decades that followed, an investor converted the mansion into a bed-and-breakfast that hosted such celebrities as Robin Williams, John F Kennedy Jr., and Barbara Streisand. A later investor split the home into two adjoining townhouses. Although there are no records of Richard or Claudia living in the mansion, there is nothing disproving that part of the story either. If any records existed, it’s possible that someone destroyed them at some point.

Regardless if the stories are true or not, the legend is enough for ghost tours in the San Francisco area to include it on their route. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to determine if the home is haunted or not. If you visit the townhouses, be sure to tell Claudia hello, just in case.

Until next time, Addicts,

D.J.

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Selah Janel

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

selah author shot dlWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?

My name is Selah Janel and I have a few areas of interest. I write horror fiction, I review horror books (with a soft spot for horror comics and manga), and for years I helped design and build costumes for amusement park haunted events.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?
My work is about the weird things I’ve created that have a horror vibe, whether they were costumes in my professional work or my own experimentation. I talk about what led me down that road and my processes behind several pieces I’ve made, as well as the trials and errors those involved.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?

I have a big soft spot for vampires, the paranormal, and cosmic horror. I also lean into haunted events in entertainment, the ‘look’ of horror in terms of production design because of my past work.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre? 

Every day it seems like I’m discovering more and more, whether it’s new projects or old. I’ve gotten back into reading horror comics and have discovered some amazing titles, and there have been some incredible (and unusual books released in the past few years). At the moment I’m just excited about seeing which directions the genre is going to go in the next few years.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

People can find me at www.selahjanel.com, on Facebook as SJauthor, on Twitter @SelahJanel, and on Instragram  as selahjanel99

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Kbatz Krafts: DIY Gothic Lantern

 

Why recycle that plastic bucket when you can turn it into a spooky gothic lantern? Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz looked at a cat treat bucket with a carry handle lid and saw ye olde sophistication that anyone can do. Break out the hot water and paints for this fun, family, friendly re-purposing project! 

 

Please note there are some minor flashing lights and flickering photography in the reveal. Thank you for watching!

 

For more project photos, visit Kbatz Krafts on Facebook and Instagram!

 

More Kbatz Krafts:

Tea Stained Labels and Spooky Bottles

Using Halloween Scene Setters Everyday

Repurposed Black Topiaries

Making Mystical Orbs

Drab to Glam Lampshades

 

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Book 2 featuring Kbatz Krafts On Sale Now!

 

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Loren Rhoads

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

lorenWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?
I’m Loren Rhoads. I’m an author, editor, and cemetery expert.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?
I’ve got 3 pieces in HAGL2. One has all my author tricks for writing when the words won’t come. One is about working with horror authors when I was editing Morbid Curiosity magazine. The third one is about Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s considered the most haunted cemetery in the world.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?
Wow, that’s hard! I guess I should say cemeteries, since I wrote 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. For as much time as I’ve spent in cemeteries, I haven’t had too many spooky experiences in them. I have smelled death, found an enormous snakeskin in the grass, and worried that I was being stalked by a mountain lion at one point, so I’ve been thoroughly scared in them.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre? 

I’m really excited about the new Interview with the Vampire series. I fell in love with that book when I was in high school. If they do the series right, it should have several cemeteries in it!

Where can readers/listeners find your work?

https://lorenrhoads.com/

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Geneve Flynn

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

Geneve Flynn-Author-EditorI became a horror addict when I read Stephen King’s It as a teenager. That book reached into my brain and turned all the dials up to ten. I couldn’t get enough horror after that. 

I wrote my article, “What’s Your Lens?,” in response to the call-out for content for the Asian Horror Month on the HorrorAddicts site. As an editor, you have to be aware of your own perspectives and preferences, and how that might shape your response to a manuscript. One way to become aware of the lens you view the world through is to read widely.

What encourages me to keep creating? I love having written. I love the alchemy of writing. You might overhear a snatch of strange conversation, read a weird fact, meet an intriguing person, have a bizarre and frightening dream, discover an odd object, and all of that makes its way into a story. All those ingredients come together in your brain cauldron and out comes something magical that’s more than the sum of its parts. That’s the best feeling.

I also write to see myself in stories. Publishing hasn’t been that diverse historically. It’s a sweet thrill to read a story where you don’t have to perform mental calisthenics to be the main character. 

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Book Review: Happiness and Other Diseases by Sumiko Saulson

Content Warnings: Explicit sexual content, dubious consent, gore, death, suicidal ideation, self-harm, torture, mental illness

Come fall into this twisted romantic tragedy’s world of dreams and nightmares. Happiness and Other Diseases is a novel by Sumiko Saulson, published by Mocha Memoirs Press.

Flynn has had a rough run of it. His life was never great, but lately, his nightmares have been so bad that he’s on the brink of collapse. With few options, he checks into a psychiatric hospital. There he meets Charlotte who tells him that his dreams are oh so very real… and she wants to be a part of them.

Charlotte is a somnali… well, technically, a demi-somnali. She can traverse the dreamworld and mold the dreams of mortals. Her father—a godlike being named Brash—wants her to give him a grandchild, which would allow him and the other somnali to cross into the world of the living. To do that, she needs Flynn.

Together they explore their fantasies, cope with reality, juggle friends and otherworldly relatives, and find what it means to be happy—even if it’s not what people consider “normal”.

Saulson weaves a deep and fascinating world, blending Greek mythology into the modern Bay area. The complicated history of the somnali is made accessible to the average reader. Her characters are multifaceted. No one is entirely good or evil, or even stable. This realism in Saulson’s writing was appreciated, especially with regard to her treatment of mental health.

While the story showcases healthy communication—both in relationships and in BDSM—sometimes these interactions seem stilted. The story features some seriously disturbing scenes (things I’m not even sure how to tag), but if you go in with an open mind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how touching this tale of doomed love really is.

If you’re interested in Greek mythology, dreams, BDSM, or just the crazy ups and downs of new love, Happiness, and Other Diseases is a good pick for you.

HorrorAddicts.net at BayCon, Come see us!

Come to BayCon and hang with HorrorAddicts.net!

baycon ha

Here are just a few of the panels you can see us on. For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

Friday 1 July, 2022

Time Zone: PST 4:00 PM / Synergy 5

Everything you wanted to know about modern romantic fiction but were afraid to ask 

Emerian Rich, R.L. Merrill, Kim Fielding, Sue Brown-Moore.

Romantic fiction is so much more than the genre of “romance”. Like science fiction, romance is a vehicle for progressive thinking, for empowerment and pushing boundaries, particularly in the realms of SciFi and Paranormal Romance. The vast array of sub-genres, tropes, themes, and archetypes in a romance writer’s toolkit can be both daunting and exciting.

Saturday 2 July, 2022

10:00 AM / Connect 5

Confessions of a Slush Pile Reader 

Rebecca Inch-Partridge, Emerian Rich, Lillian Csernica.

Editors and slush readers discuss what gets a story rejected and what they look for in a story to be considered for publications. Does and don’ts of cover and query letters can also be covered.

1:00 PM / Engage

Creating Your Own Anthology 

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, J.Scott Coatsworth.

How do you get submissions, where do you advertise, how do you handle the subs when they come in, how do you vet the subs, should you do blind submissions, how do you pay and contract the authors, and how to do a charity anthology? Whether you want to start a small ‘zine, publish a print book, or go eBook format, this panel will discuss all the ins and outs.

Sunday 3 July, 2022

HorrorAddicts.net – Geek Out Horror Style!

1:00 PM / Synergy 1

Emerian Rich, Loren Rhoads, R.L. Merrill, Laurel Anne Hill, Mark Orr, MD Neu

Come geek out with us horror-style! We will also be talking about our new book Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2, a mostly non-fiction horror anthology. Prizes and spooky fun to be had by all!

Readings – Emerian Rich and Kim Fielding

4:00 PM /Connect 5

Kim Fielding, Emerian Rich

For a full schedule, go to  BayCon.org

 

HorrorAddicts.net 209, Adam Breckenridge

halogoHorror Addicts Episode# 209 | SEASON 17
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

209 | Fog | Adam Breckenridge | Panic Lift

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

128 days till Halloween

Theme: #Fog #DeathlyFog

https://www.amazon.com/Horror-Bites-Deathly-Adam-Breckenridge-ebook/dp/B09BP5L3Z8

Music: “Disease of Kings” #PanicLift

Catchup: #summer #vacaysucks #vacayfromhell #urgentcare #roadtrip

Historian of Horror: #MarkOrr #TheBeatles #SaturdayMorningCartoons #FabFour #HauntedHouse
Dead Mail: #HorrorFan

JAMES: Retraction. #WrongWordEmz #DevilsBridge #DevilsBride

EMILY: #RufusMovie #YAVampire #Vampires

((I found it! On YouTube under “Hunted” watch for free/with ads))

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWs6vO2-Rlg

SAMUEL: #WednesdayNetflix #TimBurton Coming this Fall on Netflix

CAM: #WinchetserMysteryHouse #OldCommercial

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc… Also, send show theme ideas!

horroraddicts@gmail.com

NEWS: 

#LiaHide #Dinner

#HorrorAddictsGuide to Life 2

#RLMerrill #MDNeu #JonathanFortin #JamesGoodridge #CarrieSesserego #RussellHolbrook #CMLucas #RenaMason #KristinBattestella #SumikoSaulson #MichaelFassbender #JMalcolmStewart #TabithaThompson #MarkOrr #PriscillaBettis #GeneveFlynn 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09YNF5QM3

#KbatzKrafts #HorrorMovieCliches

#JesseOrr #ShadowsLove

#HWA #MentalHealthInituative #LeeMurray #DaveJeffery #DPWilson #Nzondi #RobertPOttore #MarkMathews #RonaldJMurray

#RLMerrill #Amulet

#MarkOrr #FoggiestNotion

#LionelRayGreen #Bigfoot #ReturntoDyatlovPass

#CrystalConnor #GhostsoftheOzarks

#RenataParvey #13BooksHauntedHouses

#RussellHolbrook #Fog

#BookReview #StephaniEllis #TheManintheField #JamesCooper

#Events 

#BayCon July 1-3
https://baycon.org/

#CreaturesCon Aug 7

http://www.creaturescon.com/

 #SecretsUnearthed #125YearsofDracula Sept 23-25

https://www.themenagerieodditiesmarket.com/

#NevadaCity Nov 5th

https://www.themenagerieodditiesmarket.com/

Feat Author: #AdamBreckenridge #DeathlyFog
#ChillingChat #NachingTKassa

#Fog #DeathlyFog

https://www.amazon.com/Horror-Bites-Deathly-Adam-Breckenridge-ebook/dp/B09BP5L3Z8

Voices by #RishOutfield #KadirahWade #EmerianRich

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h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

b l o g  e d i t o r

Kate Nox

r e v i e w  c o o r d i n a t o r 

Daphne Strasert

s t a f f

KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Naching T. Kassa, Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Russell Holbrook, Renata Pavrey, CM “Spookas” Lucas, JS O’Connor
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Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email horroraddicts@gmail.com

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#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Carrie Sessarego

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

carrieWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?

My name is Carrie Sessarego, and I am fascinated with horror from two directions – the intersection of horror and historical social movements and issues, that I explore by analyzing classic Regency and Victorian horror, and also horror as a means of liberation for contemporary female authors as well as female filmmakers.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

My essay shares some fun facts about Shirley Jackson, an author who distilled female rage so beautifully. I’m especially drawn to her dry humor, her matter-of-fact voice even when describing terrible things, and the detail with which she depicts lives of women who are constrained by their gender.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?

I like gothic horror and Lovecraftian horror, but I’d say my favorite horror stories are ones in which women and other marginalized groups take over the narrative by subverting genre expectations (and by beating the bad guy!). I also like horror comedy and am currently enjoying What We Do in the Shadows.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre? 

I’m so excited about the upcoming movie Renfield and by the upcoming movie Nope!

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

My own blog is resting right now, but you can always find me at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:

https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Chilling Chat: Episode #209 – Adam Breckenridge

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Adam Breckenridge is a Traveling Collegiate Faculty member of the University of Maryland Global Campus, where he travels the world teaching US military stationed overseas and is currently based in South Korea. He has eighteen shortAdam Breckenridge story publications and, in addition to Horror Bites, has appeared in Clockwork, Curses and Coal from Worldweaver Press and Mystery Weekly.

NTK: Welcome, Adam! What have you been up to since we last chatted?

AB: I’ve been in a bit of a stasis since Deathly Fog came out.  COVID combined with living in a small, isolated country has given me nothing to do but focus on work and writing, and so I’ve been busy turning out a mess of short stories and a couple of novels that I hope will see the light of day at some point.  I’ve had a handful of short stories come out since then in Wyldblood, Lucent Dreaming, and Intrinsick as well.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

AB: I think it was the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books that first put me on to horror. Those books were an obsession of my childhood and even inspired me to try writing some scary stories of my own, one of which I distinctly remember causing my dad to double over in laughter.  I’ve gotten a bit better at the genre since then.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

AB: A couple of years ago a friend asked me for a top twenty-five list and, after a considerable amount of hemming and hawing I finally set The Shining at the number one spot, though it’s not a designation I would take too seriously.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

AB: I think Stranger Things has stood out the most strongly for me. Tales From the Crypt was another formidable childhood experience, though I recently went back and revisited the show, and time has not been kind to it.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

AB: In a pinch, I’d probably say The Turn of the Screw. I remember hating it the first time I read it, but I was forced to read it again for a class on gothic literature I took in college, and it really clicked for me the second time. It’s one I continue to revisit periodically with great fascination and served as a key inspiration for “Deathly Fog.”

NTK: What inspires your writing? How do you come up with your ideas?

AB: I think I have as many answers to that question as I have stories I’ve written, but the most common sources of inspiration are other works I’ve read, either because their ideas inspired ideas of my own or I got pissed off at the wasted potential of a story. Dreams, my experiences with traveling and living abroad, and just idle pondering have all borne creative fruit for me as well.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you direct their every movement?

AB: I’m always a little suspicious of writers who claim they can’t control their characters. They’re your creation and they’re entirely yours to do with as you please but being able to do that does require you to understand the nature of the characters you created.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

AB: My phobia is heights. My greatest fear is probably a slow, painful death.

NTK: Have you ever written a horror story about your own experiences?

AB: Not really about my own experiences, no, but I have based a couple of horror stories off of dreams I’ve had. I wrote one based on an anxiety dream I had when I was in my grad program that was so dark and disturbing that I was never able to get it published. The moral of the story is don’t go to grad school.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

AB: I recently discovered the works of Thomas Ligotti and he was a revelation to me. I don’t think I’ve encountered a contemporary horror author who’s done more to redefine what horror can be than he has, though Brian Evenson comes close.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

AB: Publication-wise, I’m thrilled to be having a story coming out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies later this summer and I have a couple of other forthcoming publications but I don’t know when precisely they will be coming forth at this moment.  Personal-wise, I’m also gearing up to move back to Tokyo after a couple of years in Korea and hoping to take my first proper vacation in two and a half years not long after.  Either way, exciting things are afoot.

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Rena Mason

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

renaThe need for more mainstream, diverse horror in all mediums is what inspires me to continue creating the most. I’d also like to see more BIPOC and LGBTQ horror with women at the helm either writing or directing or both. Over the years, I’ve learned that they’re out there, it’s just that sometimes I’d have to seek them out or “stumble” upon them. A few I’ve discovered from their films and follow are: Madhuri Shekar Evil Eye, Karyn Kusama—The Invitation, Issa López—Tigers are Not Afraid, Mattie Do—Chanthaly and Dearest Sister, and Karen Lam—Evangeline. There are too many horror/dark fiction authors and poets to list, and I know that with my recent undertaking of co-editing an anthology of diverse fiction and voices, I’ve found many more. Ellen Datlow, who I’ve been reading since she was an editor for OMNI magazine, has an amazing talent for discovering and publishing new and diverse voices with excellent stories to tell. You can read those stories in her anthologies and at Tor.com, a publisher with a history of producing great work by authors from a multitude of backgrounds. 

In my opinion, diverse horror from diverse authors has improved and become somewhat more mainstream in the last decade, but I’ll always want more. I’d love the names of the writers behind those stories to be more known and their work discussed to a greater extent. 

Although the majority of my stories have Asian main characters, the evolution of my delving deeper into my own heritage was brought about after discussions borne from the promotion for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women edited by Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn. In the virtual “green room” before panels, we would all discuss our works in progress, and future ideas, and how our stories inspired one another to venture into other aspects of our varied cultures. It has been an amazing experience and journey, and I love that it continues to grow with more work and the inclusion of more authors. We’ve always raised each other up, and now we’ve become a chorus. Our voices continue to rise, and we will not be kept silent.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with James Goodridge

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jamesgoodridge headshotWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?
My name is James Goodridge. I’m a writer of speculative fiction in the sub-genre of occult detective. An ongoing student of the Carnacki method of ghost finding.
What is your work in HAGL2 about?
A series of essays on horror from a person of color’s view.
What is your favorite horror subject and why?
Cosmic horror/occult detective. Cosmic horror because it shows how unimportant we are in the universe.
What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?
I have a collection of occult detective short stories coming out in 2023 featuring Madison Cavendish (vampire) and Susan SunMountain Cavendish (werewolf)
Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

http://www.facebook.com/jamesgoodridge3 

www.amazon.com/author/jamesgoodridge

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

13 BOOKS ABOUT HAUNTED HOUSES by Renata Pavrey

By book blogger and staff writer Renata Pavrey

What is it about hauntings that seem to beckon rather than repel? Buildings possessed by the dead who either want to drive away the living or make them one among themselves. Lodgings that come with a gamut of warnings and rumors that refuse to die, only to have an occupant promptly settle in and find oneself in trouble. Whom does a haunted house belong to – the owner who buys the property, or the ghost that refuses to let go? Horror fiction is replete with books about haunted places – homes, buildings, stores, hospitals. Then there are stories that blur the lines between thriller and horror – the things people are capable of that ghosts would never do, hauntings of the mind that far surpass a spirit’s capabilities. Here are thirteen books that take the haunted house trope and give it a life of its own, from the classic to the contemporary.

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

A gothic novella that was first published in a series format. The 19th-century classic raises the question of supernatural entities versus imagination, where the reader and protagonist both try to discern what’s real.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

Is a house haunted because of its invisible inhabitants, or does believing it’s haunted make it so, or is it people doing the haunting while the ghosts suffer in silence? Blending terror and horror, another gothic story that blurs what’s inside one’s head versus what’s outside, and what one chooses to believe.

The Shining – Stephen King

Ghosts don’t always possess homes; sometimes they linger in hotels too. An isolated location with just three characters for the most part. Where would you go if there was nowhere to go to? Claustrophobia, solitude, loneliness. How would you know if it’s the hotel taking control, or your mind giving it up?

You Should Have Left – Daniel Kehlmann

Originally written in German and translated into English by Ross Benjamin, the novella follows seven days in the life of a screenplay writer in a rented Airbnb, which refuses to let go of its newest resident.

Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill

Sometimes supernatural influences are not happy with single houses; they need to possess entire buildings. An atmospheric novel that blends thriller with horror.

The Graveyard Apartment – Mariko Koike

A Japanese translation that mixes detective fiction with horror writing. If secluded haunted houses were bad enough, what happens when a building stands right next to a graveyard? Psychological horror can be more terrifying than out-and-out gore.

Beloved – Toni Morrison

Ghosts were once people, too. They might have known us. Maybe they loved us, or disliked us tremendously. How do you deal with malevolent spirits of people you knew and loved, but they don’t feel the same? Morrison’s seminal work explores the mother-daughter relationship, and the psychological effects of slavery.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Hauntings need not always be physical entities. Memories can be powerful shapeshifters; taking over one’s mind and body with greater strength than any external force. Another hybrid novel that blends thriller with psychological horror.

The Sanatorium – Sarah Pearse

A former sanatorium, redeveloped into a luxury hotel. Will the ghosts of the past stay buried down, or will the evils of the present beckon them to the surface? A spine-tingling gothic mystery, just like its cold, isolated landscape.

Home Before Dark – Riley Sager

Another novel that shifts between thriller and horror, making the reader question its supernatural occurrences. When the author of a haunted house book is faced with a haunted house, is it just another story?

Horrorstör – Grady Hendrix

Horror need not always be dark, as reflected in this horror-comedy set in an IKEA store. When furniture comes to life, is there more to the products you sit and sleep on?

Seeing – Patrick Winters

How do haunted houses gain their reputation? A tightly-packed novella about a formerly luxurious mansion that has now gained a reputation of being haunted. Atmospheric and eerie writing that subtly creeps up on the reader, rather than in-your-face jump scares.

The Elementals – Michael McDowell

How do ghosts decide whom and what to possess? In a locality of three houses, two are without hauntings, while the third is filled with horror. If you live in either one of the three, would the spirits make your acquaintance?

Where would your next book take you? Step into a room, apartment, palace or hospital, and share space with its ghostly inhabitants as you dive into a story.

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with M.D. Neu

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MDNeuWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?
Hello, I’m M.D. Neu. I’m a Paranormal and Urban Fantasy author. I grew up on Stephen King’s books and I fell in love. There is nothing better then a creepy story, told right. I also, enjoy Alfred Hitchcock movies; The Birds and Psycho are my two favorites, but Rear Window is up there as well. As a writer I want my of body work to stand up to these masters of horror and psychological thrillers, maybe someday.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?
I provided an article for Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 titled, When Did you know? It’s a personal piece about my coming out as a gay man. We all have different stories and lives to share and I wanted to offer up mine for folks to learn from and hopefully appreciate. We live in a wonderfully diverse world, and I think the more we understand about each other the better we become as a species.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?
My favorite horror subject is vampires and ghosts, I think they are wonderful. In my mind they are both misunderstood and extremely powerful. As an author you get to play with these types of monsters, and are only limited by your imagination. For example; how would vampires exist in our technological world? How do they keep themselves from being found out on social media? This is the same with ghosts, we’ve all seen the videos and heard the stories, and yes, some of it might be fancy editing and special effects, but what if it’s not? What if they are lost souls who need help? Or worse, what if they are angry souls, demons, and spirits out to cause harm and pain.

You get to play around a lot with these types of characters. I not only enjoy writing them, but I enjoy reading what others have done with them. Even some of the older horror movies with ghosts and vampires are epic and fun to watch.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?
I’m hoping to see a transition back to the ‘good old days’ before they showed everything on screen. I believe that no images we put on screen or down in words is nearly as powerful as our minds. King and Hitchcock both understand this in their storytelling. They never show you everything, they leave a lot up to your imagination, which is more terrifying then anything we can watch. So, I want to see more of this in movies, TV, and books. Story Tellers need to give us the basics and let our mind paint the rest of the gruesome picture.

Where can readers/listeners find your work?
People can find me at www.mdneu.com. That is where you’ll find everything you’d want to know about me and my writing world. Come on by and check it out, you’ll have a killer time. 

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Ghost Of The Ozarks

 

Plotline: In post-Civil War Arkansas, a young doctor is mysteriously summoned to a remote town in the Ozarks only to discover that the utopian paradise is filled with secrets and surrounded by a menacing, supernatural presence.

Who would like it: Fans of M. Nights The Village, those who like historic horror, and those who monsters, myths and madmen.

High Points: The story is really strong and I loved the original concept. I love movies about cults and this one is almost one.

Complaints: The pace is slow but it almost has to be.

Overall: Entertaining

Stars: 3.5

Where I watched it:

 

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Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Sumiko Saulson

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Most of my pieces in Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 are works that were written for the HorrorAddicts.net blog during February for the Black History Month series over several years. They are inspired by my personal connection as an African American to various subjects regarding the African Diaspora and horror writing. Coming up as a nascent horror writer, when I was younger, I often ran into people that did not associate horror writing or the genre with being African American. People actually had specific attitudes where they didn’t really think that black people wrote or enjoyed horror. Which is a trip, because there are lots and lots of different types of black horror films and a huge audience for them, which includes lots of people who are members of the black community. Writing these articles gave me a chance to show my love for the black community, my love for black horror, and to make sure that other people were aware of a lot of really wonderful things that are out there, such as in horror literature, the works of LA Banks, and works by Toni Morrison that are specifically horror writing. And there are all of these wonderful films by people like Tony Todd that I have really loved growing up, and all of my life. I hope that I can share that love of black horror writers, black characters in horror writing and film, and more, with other people through these articles.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Two: Return to Dyatlov Pass

The 2018 horror novella Return to Dyatlov Pass is a cut above the typical creature feature. The 150-page story by J.H. Moncrieff is a sincere fictional attempt to investigate the mysterious – and true – 1959 deaths of nine Russian skiers whose bodies were discovered in the Ural Mountains.

Dedicated to the memory of the actual deceased skiers, Return to Dyatlov Pass is about a team of adventurers, led by Nat McPherson, that go back to the frigid scene of the unexplained fatalities. Nat is the host of Nat’s Mysterious World, the most popular podcast in the U.S. on the topic of unsolved and supernatural mysteries. 

Nat is a strong female protagonist with a lot of pride – maybe a tad too much. She lets an internet troll goad her into probing the Dyatlov Pass Incident and making the grueling trip to Russia. Her producer, the loyal Andrew, assembles a team of outdoor survivalists to accompany the podcast duo.

The opening scene perfectly – and horrifically – sets the mood as Moncrieff transports us back to March 1959 in the Ural Mountains where we witness the final minutes of the last survivor of the original Dyatlov party, a young woman named Lyudmila. 

“The moment before she died, Lyudmila wondered how it had gone so terribly wrong. Concealed within a makeshift snow cave for warmth and protection, she huddled close to Nicolai, though her friend’s body had long grown cold and stiff.” 

And that’s just the first paragraph.

Neary sixty years later, Nat and her team travel the same path, hoping to discover the truth of what really happened. Moncrieff creates a fully formed character with Nat, an inquisitive woman full of doubts and a powerful but untapped survival instinct. The author keeps the rest of the group from devolving into stereotypes with snappy dialogue and intense interactions, giving the minor characters a sense of personality. The crew is a mixed bag, each with individual experience but lacking the cohesion of a seasoned team that works together regularly. As the expedition progresses, the foreboding tone of John Carpenter’s The Thing and The X-Files’ “Ice” episode infiltrates the group’s dynamic, especially when people start dying. 

Actual investigations of the Dyatlov Pass Incident have attributed the deaths to an avalanche and hypothermia, but some of the bodies had traumatic injuries like skull damage and eyeballs missing. Other theories include military testing and alien encounters since the skiers’ clothes reportedly contained high levels of radiation.

Another theory? Yetis – aka abominable snowmen – killed the party of experienced skiers because a note reportedly found at the real campsite read, “From now on we know that snowmen exist.”

A gripping and heartfelt tale of terror in the mountains, Return to Dyatlov Pass parallels much of what the original 1959 victims “might” have experienced on their trip and offers an interesting take on the yeti theory. Plus, I learned what a “Mansi” is. Return to Dyatlov Pass is a must-read for fans of cryptid fiction.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Three: Shadow of the Sasquatch. I review the 2021 novella by J.H. Moncrieff. 


RELATED LINK

THE BIGFOOT FILES

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with R.L. Merrill

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

Merrill_RL-HeadshotWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?

I’m R.L. Merrill—you can call me Ro—and I write romance and horror. I’m also a rabid music fan and seeker of haunted spaces. I have a bachelor’s degree in history and I’m drawn to cemeteries, old hotels, and bars for inspiration. I collect horror-themed artwork, especially skulls of all varieties, and I’m a horror movie fanatic.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

My piece about my favorite Dark Love Songs is included in the collection as well as my interview with Naching T. Kassa, who has a brilliant mind.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?

Just one? Probably ghost stories because I frequently wonder about what happens after we die. I’m fascinated by the stories folks share about their encounters and I think about the history we can learn from actual spirits or even the tales of forgotten times and places. The human experience is a never-ending source of inspiration for me. I’m also a fan of monsters and the misunderstood. You can’t make me pick just one.


What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?
I’m obsessed with Mike Flanagan’s works and I can’t wait for his take on my favorite Poe story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” My story in Haunts and Hellions from Horror Addicts Press was inspired by this story and I love the Vincent Price movie version as well. I’m also anxious to see what my current favorite horror-themed band Ice Nine Kills will come up with next. Welcome to Horrorwood, their most recent album, was truly stunning, and seeing them in concert was phenomenal.

Where can readers/listeners find your work?

https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com I’ll have a historical horror out this summer and a queer vampire tale out in September called Sundowners.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Michael Fassbender

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

M. FassbenderWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?

My name is Michael Fassbender, and I’m a writer of horror fiction. I also love to read horror fiction, watch horror movies and listen to music with horrific themes.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

One of my articles explores the strains of horror in the Metal, Punk and Goth musical scenes, and considers what our musical preferences may say about our approaches to the horror field. The other draws parallels between the explosive introduction of Negan in The Walking Dead and the origins of the pharaohs in Egyptian prehistory. The intersection of horror and history has always appealed to me.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?

I have a clear preference for supernatural horror, but that covers a wide range of flavors, from ghost stories to Lovecraftian monstrosities to tales of demonic possession. There needs to be some kind of otherworldly element.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?

Mike Flanagan’s next series is supposed to revolve around the works of Poe, so I’m doubly looking forward to that. Also, I think I remember correctly that they’re going ahead with new installments in the Insidious and The Conjuring franchises.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

Most of my published work is spread out in anthologies, but you can find out information about each at my website, michaeltfassbender.com.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Historian of Horror : The Foggiest Notion

Seeing that title, you might be under the impression that this edition’s subject is John Carpenter’s 1981 movie. You would be laboring under a misapprehension. We are discussing the peculiar atmospheric, in more ways than one phenomenon that is at the core of that film, but it just so happens that we are doing literature this time out – English author James Herbert’s 1975 novel, The Fog, to be specific – instead.

No ghostly, leprous sailors lurking in the mists coming in from the sea in this one. Herbert’s fog wells up from a crack in the ground running down the High Street of an English village and drives anyone it comes into contact with it homicidally insane. After committing as many anti-social acts as possible, the victims typically die.

Fortunately, the hero of the tale is the only person in the nation to recover and gain immunity from the murderous vapor, which roams about the countryside, turning its victims very naughty indeed, frequently in grotesquely inventive ways. The novel is suspenseful in the manner of English story-telling of its kind, reminiscent of one of Dr. Quatermass’s adventures for the BBC, but Nigel Kneale’s televised creation never dared show the horrific fates visited on one of the faculty of a boys’ school, for example. 

Entire villages are wiped out before the protagonist is able to convince the authorities to put down their tea and crumpets and do something constructive. His girlfriend gets a dose and nearly finishes him off several times, which complicates his efforts to impel the various ministries to get it in gear and solve the dilemma the government is ultimately responsible for. He does manage to get her into cold storage while various scientists work on a cure. Meanwhile, the fog slithers ever closer to London…

The Fog was Herbert’s second book. Like his first, The Rats, it’s a disaster tale with a scientific explanation. I enjoyed it for what it was, an early effort, somewhat derivative but fun and briskly paced. I have to admit I sort of skimmed over a few lines here and there. There are certain things that can be done to a school headmaster by wanton boys with no self-control that few adult males are apt to be comfortable reading about.

Ouch!

His third book, The Survivor, was a supernatural horror story, as were a fair number of his total of twenty-three novels. Herbert died in March of 2013 at the age of sixty-nine. 

The Fog has not been adapted to film, but The Rats has been under the title Deadly Eyes (1982). A few of Herbert’s other books have also been filmed. 

Speaking of movies, you might have heard of a little film franchise from Japan called Godzilla – the biggest, baddest radioactive lizard in the sea. But not the first. Ray Bradbury’s story, “The Fog Horn”, was published in 1951 in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post, one of those slick magazines all pulpsters aspired to graduate to the pages of in those days. It’s the charming tale of a deep sea creature that is lured to the surface by the dulcet tones of a lighthouse’s fog horn, thinking he’s finally found a mate. Every year, he comes up hoping to find true love, until on his third visit, the keepers turn the fog horn off. In a fit of pique, the thwarted lover demolishes the lighthouse and slips back under the waves.

Two years later, Warner Brothers released a film loosely based on the story with special effects by stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen. The title character of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a dinosaur awakened from suspended animation by nuclear testing in his neighborhood. Sound familiar? He demonstrates his annoyance by rampaging through New York, passing out a contagious prehistoric disease as he progresses through the city. He is finally cornered on Coney Island, where he discovers he’s too tall to ride the roller coaster.

The film stars B-Movie stalwart Kenneth Tobey, who two years earlier had defeated The Thing from Another World in the Arctic, and two years later would save San Francisco from the five-armed giant octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea, another Harryhausen creation. Busy guy. Towards the end of his life, he popped up in cameos in The Howling, Strange Invaders and both Gremlins movies, among others. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 85.

***

Speaking of passing away, Italian cartoonist and co-creator of Zora la Vampira Birago Balzano died on March 25, 2022. Zora was a very-much-NSFW fumetto about a 19th Century blonde possessed by the spirit of Dracula. She traveled the world bedding and biting anyone willing to be bedded and bitten. Balzano was eighty-six.

Until we meet again, dear fiends…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Mark Orr

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

markorrIt would have been difficult to NOT become a horror addict when I was growing up. I was born just after the beginning of the horror renaissance of the late 1950s, and by the time I was culturally aware, that renewal was in full swing. Monsters were everywhere by the mid-1960s, and with fewer entertainment options, their presence was much more concentrated and therefore ubiquitous than today. The entertainment choices we now enjoy that are spread across hundreds of local and cable television channels and as many more streaming services were in those days distilled down to, in most places, three or four networks – NBC, CBS, ABC and sometimes PBS – and maybe one or two independent UHF channels per market, if you were lucky. Everyone knew who Herman Munster was, or Barnabas Collins, or Morticia Addams, or Samantha Stevens. Everyone who had access to a television set had seen at least one episode of The Twilight Zone. Programming at the local and national levels was filled out with regular movie presentations – morning, afternoon, prime time, week day, weekend, late night. Old movies, recent theatrical releases, made-for-television-films – there was no other way to watch movies outside of theaters until the widespread availability of cable TV and home video in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. And many of the movies shown were the Universal horror pictures of the 1930s and 1940s, or the Godzilla films from Japan, or the “in unliving color” blood-and-bodice terrors from Hammer Films in England. Monsters were depicted on the covers of mainstream national magazines – Life, Look, Time, TV Guide. Toys, games, model kits, wallets, comic books, bubble-gum cards, lunchboxes, everything that appealed to children of the time had monsters plastered all over them. Magazines about movie monsters and paperback books full of pulp magazine reprints about – you guessed it – monsters crowded the newsstands in every drug store within walking distance of my home. America was glutting itself on monsters, and I wallowed in that cultural cesspool of delicious terrors.

How could I possibly avoid being caught up in it?

Why would I want to?

So, eventually I grew up, got married, went to college and got my BA in history, then started producing offspring and being obliged to make a living and all that other adulting stuff attendant thereto. Now that my kids are grown and I’m left with this massive accumulation of horror books and magazines and comics, and scary movies, radio shows and TV programs, and creepy toys and games and cards and all manner of other cool stuff, what else is there to do with it all but write about it for the enlightenment, entertainment and edification of younger generations of horror addicts?

And so, that’s why I do what I do. That is why I am, and shall for the foreseeable future remain, your Friendly Neighborhood Historian of Horror.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Merrill’s Musical Musings

Greetings Horror Addicts! As I work on this collection of tracks for you to check out, it is indeed foggy and overcast outside, blanketing my neighborhood in that gray tinge that hurts your eyes and makes you long for a fire or for an afternoon curled up in bed with a good book. I hope wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you’re staying healthy and safe and listening to some good tunes. Looking for new music? I’ve got a bunch of artists to share with you!

Ro’s Review

Amulet hails from Washington D.C. and will appeal to fans of Concrete Blonde or current rockers Dorothy as well as Coyote Kid as reviewed here on Horror Addicts last year. Their bio on BanCamp states that Amulet is bass-driven, dark alternative rock with powerful female vocals. With a theatrical performance ranging from high-energy post punk to soulful a cappella movements, Amulet is a ride through the emotional journey that is the dark side of the human experience. Their latest album, House of Black and White has some fabulous tracks such as “Valentine’s Day” and the title track “House of Black and White.” The album contains several solid rockers for the goth set. The band would be right at home on a dark bar stage belting out “Ghost of You” and I’d personally love to catch their live set someday. 

Shout Outs

New remixes are out now from industrial outfit Panic Lift’s Disease of Kings for you to check out. The Hate Club manages to sound just as heavy and fierce in an unplugged format. Check out their Unplugged Pt. 2 EP. Xenocide, the latest project from SINthetik Messiah, is a sci-fi-influenced EP about the end of a world and the life within, a topic many of us have likely pondered over the past three years. The songs all have a steady beat and a compelling hook. Check them out on BandCamp. And last but certainly not least, Blazer Jacket, a retrowave artist from Ukraine, brings us the powerful track “Get Out.” Excellent production quality, heavy vocals, and a clear message give this track it’s heart. It is a call to arms for the artist’s people who are currently engaged in the fight for their lives. Please show some support for Blazer Jacket during this bleak time for their country. 

Ro’s Recs

I have two recs on this occasion, and both are not what you’d consider horror when you look at their face value. Falling in Reverse are best known for their early emo anthems like “I’m Not A Vampire” and “Don’t Play With Ouija Boards”…wait, okay maybe they’ve got some horror themes in their repertoire. I first heard their new track “Voices in My Head” this week, and I was curious about lead singer Ronnie Radke’s latest hijinks. I looked up the video and was impressed with the level of production which has been improving with each new offering. FIR never shies from the darker side of humanity and sanity, but this particular video finds Radke’s many personas killing each other off. It’s quite graphic and brutal, but compelling to watch. If darker action flicks a la John Wick are your jam, check out this video. 

And then I came across the latest from manic pretty boy Brendon Urie and Panic! At The Disco…Again, Urie and co. are known for their emo gems like “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” but if you watch their videos, or if you’ve ever watched any of Urie’s Vines, you’ll notice that he’s got a delicious dark side. Just check him out in the video for “Emperor’s New Clothes” in his devil disguise and you’ll love it. In their new track, “Viva Las Vengeance” Urie becomes the victim of his…piano. You gotta watch it. The track is peppy and pop-punky, but the video is dark. And bloody. And I loved it. Check out these offerings on my YouTube Music Playlist and Stay Tuned for more

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Tabitha Thompson

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

20180209_121722_2[1]What inspired me to become a Horror Addict was at the tender age of 5 I was exposed to a movie called Maniac Cop by my mother. As horrified as I was of that movie (and the sequel), it unexpectedly had given me a love of horror, and given that I started writing stories at that age, it was only a matter of time before those two worlds would collide and I would become the person that I am today.  What has encouraged me to keep creating is my never-ending love for storytelling. Aside from books, I observe peoples’ actions and energy and find ways to incorporate them into various stories. I love having a ‘what if’ mentality with different situations that have either happened in my life or other people’s lives and finding new macabre ways to put it onto paper. With the understanding that everybody has a story to tell; I find that inspiration is pretty much everywhere and it helps to make some fascinating stories. Another encouraging factor that has kept me creating is my family; I want to not just provide a great life but inspire my nieces and future children with the idea that taking a leap and chance on yourself is definitely hard, but can be worth it.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Shadow’s Love : Chapter 5 – Torment

Waking the next night, Audrey’s eyes opened slowly, adjusting to the gloom much more than usual. As she took in the satin sheets and the dried blood caked on her body, her mind flashed back to memories of the night before. Memories of Joe, tearing her classmate’s throat out, and her first taste of blood. She sat up, running her tongue over her teeth to reaffirm the veracity of present circumstances. The sharp sting as her tongue found her fangs told her that she was wide awake. This had really happened. She smiled a demon’s smile.

The vampire [Audrey marveled that she still did not know his name] was no longer lying beside her. She sent her mind out, searching for him, focusing on his dark red glow almost instantly. Reassured that she had not been abandoned, she turned her attentions to an ornate wardrobe in the corner. Her clothes from the night no longer suited her.

Upon opening it, she received a shock. It was filled with gorgeous clothing forgotten by modern fashion from some lost era. There were corsets, dresses, skirts, gowns, gauntlets, assorted jewelry, and accessories. After an agony of choice, she settled on a leather corset, a mid-length skirt with artful tears up and down it, skin-tight black gauntlets, fishnet stockings, and tall black leather boots. She spent a while admiring the collection of jewelry before picking out a silver ring with a modest bloodred stone set into it that reminded her of the vampire’s aura. She selected a plain leather choker, and set it out along with her other clothes on the hangers set into the doors of the wardrobe, grabbing a black silk robe for modesty’s sake in her quest for the bathroom and closed the wardrobe door. 

Finding an amazing black marble bathroom just down the hall from the master bedroom, she slipped off her robe and climbed into the cavernous bathtub, turning the chrome fists to make hot and cold water pour from a demon’s mouth. As the tub filled, she lay back against a black pillow opposite the faucet, closing her eyes and breathing deeply as the warm water climbed up her body, submerging her slowly. As it neared the top of the tub, she raised a foot and curled it around each fist in turn, shutting the water off. Silence filled the marble bathroom, broken only by the sound of water lapping against the sides of the tub and sporadic dripping, echoing off the smooth marble and lulling her into a dreamlike state. 

She lay there, floating between awake and asleep for a while, before rousing from her stupor and pushing herself from the tub, the water running down her body. Watching the water drain, she saw it was tinged red from the blood on her body. Smiling a little to herself, she searched for a towel, finding a stack of thick black linens in a cupboard. Selecting one, she toweled herself dry and wrapped the robe about herself again, loosely knotting the cord before padding down the hallway and returning to the master bedroom. When she opened the door, she received a shock.

Tied to the bed wearing nothing but his boxers was her ex-boyfriend Aaron, gagged and blindfolded, his shaking visible from the doorway. The vampire was leaning over the binding holding Aaron’s left foot, securing him solidly to the bed frame. At the sound of her opening the door, he turned, a devilish look on his face. “Surprise, darling,” he said, gesturing dramatically towards her prostrate ex.

Audrey feigned a look of girlish excitement. “My slimy worthless two-faced ex-boyfriend? You shouldn’t have!” She skipped across and kissed him hard on the mouth. 

At the sound of Audrey’s voice, Aaron started, jerking against his bonds, yelling through his gag. The vampire reached over and hit Aaron across the face. “Shut up.” Aaron went silent, shaking uncontrollably.

“No, no… let’s hear what he has to say,” Audrey said wickedly, kneeling on the bed beside Aaron’s head and pulling the gag from his mouth, untying the blindfold as well. 

Aaron blinked hard as the blindfold came away, shaking his head and pulling at his hands in an effort to rub his eyes. “Audrey!” he gasped as she came into focus. “Jesus, Audrey get me out of here! What are you doing here? If he hurt you, I’ll-“

She slapped him hard and leaning in close to her ex’s red sweaty face, she purred in his ear, “You’ll what, darling? What will you do to him? Are you gonna “kick his ass” for me?” The vampire snickered. Audrey smiled at him before caressing Aaron’s ear with her tongue and nipping. “I would love to see you try.”

She stood back up and put an arm around the vampire’s waist, leaning up against him and looking at Aaron thoughtfully. “What are your plans for this worm?”

The vampire put an arm around her, feeling no clothing under her silk robe. “I have none. He’s your surprise, you can play with him or dispose of him. Whatever you wish.”

Ignoring Aaron’s muffled squeak of protest, Audrey looked up at the vampire questioningly. “How did you know?”

“Your mind is an open book to me. Last night while you slept, I read. I can only imagine the rage you feel when faced with someone like this. Someone who does not treat you with any respect and takes you for granted. I thought you deserved to treat him for a change.” He smiled. “To… reciprocate.”

Audrey pulled away from him and went to sit on the bed beside her hapless ex, stroking his cheek with the back of a hand, smiling placidly at him. “Aaron, Aaron…I never thought I would ever see you again. I must confess, the thought wasn’t all bad. But I’m glad we have this time together now.”

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Geneve Flynn

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

Geneve Flynn-Author-EditorWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest? 

Geneve Flynn. I’m a freelance fiction editor, and horror short story author and poet.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

“What’s Your Lens” encourages writers, readers, and editors to consider that we all view the world through a certain lens. It’s impossible to escape because we don’t exist in a void. Reading diverse works can expand our understanding of broader perspectives, which opens the way for greater possibilities in publishing.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?

My favorite horror subject is the psychology of horror. We read to understand others. We’re social creatures and our survival relies on being part of a group, so being able to understand how others think and predicting how they might act is pretty important. That’s why character is so key in a good story.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre? 

Books, books, and more books! There are so many interesting, talented folks creating fantastic dark fiction. I’ll probably die buried under my TBR pile, but I will be forever excited for new books. At the time of writing, I’m about two weeks out from heading to StokerCon live for the first time. I’m ridiculously excited about that.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

You can find me here: http://www.geneveflynn.com.au

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Jonathan Fortin

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

Jonathan Fortin AUTHORPHOTO-2020My article 25 Of The Most Metal Films (That Aren’t About Metal) exists for two reasons: one, to promote my metal-themed short story Requiem In Frost; and two, out of spite that every list of “Metal movies” on the Internet. 

I completed the first draft of Requiem In Frost for a challenge in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest, wherein we were tasked to write a music-themed horror story. I’d had a fitting idea in my head for a while: a girl moving into a house haunted by the ghost of a murdered black metal musician, who she would befriend and eventually avenge by finding his killer. While I didn’t win that particular challenge, I did win the competition, and was invited to publish the work as a standalone ebook. (I recently recorded some parts for the audiobook, which should be out later this year.) 

I wrote 25 Films… as a blogpost to promote the story’s original launch, back in 2019. While researching similar lists online, I found an irritating tendency: nearly every list of the most “metal” films focused only on movies that were specifically about metal, rather than ones that felt metal. And I hate to say it, but despite my great love for the genre, I feel that a lot of the frequently-cited metal-themed films honestly aren’t that good. Most are extremely low-budget, to boot. In my mind, very few capture the epic, bombastic essence of metal. 

With that in mind, I decided to list only movies that weren’t specifically about metal, even though Requiem In Frost very much is. I instead focused on movies that had aesthetics, atmosphere, and/or subject matter that seemed appropriate for a metal album. I tried to include as much variety of metal as possible, from fantasy appropriate for symphonic power metal (The Lord of the Rings, Legend) to horror appropriate for goregrind (Martyrs, which you probably shouldn’t watch unless you have a very strong stomach). I also included a few stinkers out of necessity—Heavy Metal is tough to recommend in 2022, and I’ve personally never been a big fan of Conan the Barbarian—but the list wouldn’t feel complete without them. If I were to revise it for the years that have passed since 2019, then 2021’s The Spine of Night and 2022’s The Northman would both be shoe-ins for inclusion.

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FRIGHTENING FLIX VIDEO REVIEW: Horror Cliches I’m Tired of Seeing

 

Hello Contrivance, my old friend!

It’s time to fast forward over the prologues, driving to the horrors, and jump scares to have a fireside chat with Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz as we discuss all the formulaic tropes and problems with paint by numbers horror movies! For more Frightening Flix editorials as well as Kbatz Krafts projects anyone can do, pick up your copy of the Horror Addicts Guide to Life Book 2 workbook anthology available now on Amazon. What Horror cliches are YOU tired of seeing?

 

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Book 1

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Book 2

Our Frightening Flix Video Playlist

Kbatz Horror Addicts Guide to Life Book 2 Press Tour Interview

More Horror Reviews and Viewing Lists at I Think, Therefore I Review and Twitter!

 

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Mark Orr

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

markorrWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?

My name is Mark Orr, and I am the Historian of Horror. I have been intensely curious about nearly everything there is to be interested in for all sixty-three years of my life, including horror as expressed in every aspect of human endeavor – art, music, film and spooky storytelling in all its myriad forms, as well as the customs and traditions that arise out of the horrors that inform the human experience. I am also interested in the intersection of horror with other genres, especially mystery, which is itself another passion of mine.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

It’s about the broad range of horrific expression in every genre, every medium, every cultural practice known to humanity. Creepy comics, frightening films, monstrous music, scary stories, terrifying television, all of these are examined in my various articles.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?

How cultural expressions of horror reflect the terrors of the time and place in which they are created – the angst of their age, if you will.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?

Historians have a tendency to look backwards more than forwards, but there’s always the delicious anticipation of coming across some forgotten artifact or unexpected scholarly work that will illuminate a previously unexamined facet of horror.

Where can readers/listeners find your work?

https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Orr/e/B00JFMY8AM

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Logbook of Terror : “What’s in the Fog, Rory?”

Rory bit his bottom lip and pulled his eyebrows close together while his pen darted across the paper. He spoke the line aloud. “The dense fog rolled in from the East.”

   Ah, what a fun first line; very atmospheric! Rory thought with a smile. I’m finally doing it, I’m becoming a horror writer just like I always dreamed!  

  “Ah, the glorious first line, where every writer’s journey begins.” 

  Rory glanced to his left. A middle-aged man wearing a navy blue mechanic’s jumpsuit and three days of gray beard stubble sat bare-foot and cross-legged on the bed. He sighed heavily and lit a cigarette. Rory handed the man an ashtray that was perched on the corner of his desk, half overflowing. . 

   “I didn’t expect to see you so soon,” Rory said. 

   The man shrugged. “You called so here I am. Now, let’s hear that first line again.” He took a long drag from the cigarette and exhaled. 

   Rory repeated, “The dense fog rolled in from the East,” then added, “Articulating the mounting dread of the deepening gloom…” 

   The man on the bed sputtered and stifled a laugh. 

   “What?” Rory asked sheepishly. 

   “Kid, you’re not Edgar Allan Lovecraft,” the man said. 

   “I’m not trying to be…besides, you’re mixing up their names.” Rory gripped his favorite pen tight and cleared his throat. “If you’re not going to         help, please be quiet.” 

   “Sure thing. Sorry, kid,” the man said. 

   Rory rolled his shoulders and adjusted in his creaky, antique wooden chair. “And please don’t call me kid, I’m forty-seven years old.” 

   “Hey, it’s never too late, right?” The man said with a laugh. 

   “That is right.” 

   Rory turned back to his paper and began again, reading to himself as he plunged into the story. “…A veil of impenetrable darkness fell over the land and beckoned the pale shroud of mist toward the coastal New England village…” 

   “Oh my God, I love it! I’m so excited!” The man hollered, bouncing on Rory’s bed, then yelling, “Rory smiled wide and continued to write!”

   Rory stopped smiling and glared at the man. “Why did you say that?”

   “What?”

   “You don’t get to tell me what to do.” 

   “That’s why you hired me, kid.” 

   “No,” Rory said flatly. “I hired you to provide inspiration, not stage direction.” 

  The man held up his palms. “Hey, just trying to help.” 

   Rory let out a deep breath. “Okay. Well, please, just…be patient with me and I’ll let you know when I need you.” 

   “Alright then,” the man said. He lit another cigarette and asked, “But, before you get back to it, answer me this: What’s in the fog, Rory?” 

   Rory tapped his pen on the desk. “Um, I don’t know. It’s just creepy fog, that’s all.” 

  “Just good old, creepy fog?”

  “Uh-hu,” Rory replied, nodding. 

   “Like that creepy fog,” the man said, pointing to the bedroom window with his cigarette holding hand.

   Rory looked. A thick haze of pale fog pushed against the window like a stranger pleading to be sheltered from the terror of the night. His eyes widened in wonder. His pen trembled against the page. 

   “You should let it in, Rory,” the man said. 

   “Why?” Rory asked in a near whisper, still gazing into the swirling fog.

   “It’ll be good for the story. You want to do what’s best for the story, don’t you  Rory?” 

   The fledgling writer nodded. “Yes, of course I do.” 

   “Then open the window.” 

   “For the story…” Rory whispered as he went to the window, turned the latch, and raised the glass.  

   Thick, ghostly tendrils weaved their way into Rory’s room. The fog glided across every surface, filling the space and obscuring every object. Rory stumbled toward his desk. 

   “I can’t see!” Rory screamed.

   “Follow my voice,” said the man, his words bouncing and echoing in thin, distant reverberations. 

   “Why are you so far away?” Rory shouted. 

   “I’m right over here!” The man called back. “Just a little further.”

   Swinging his arms in wide half-circles, Rory lurched forward, crying out against the blinding mist. 

   A neighbor overheard Rory screaming while another saw him pitch forward out of the bedroom window of his sixth floor studio apartment and plunge headlong into the bricks of the courtyard floor. 

   The would-be horror writer’s death was ruled an accident. The police only found two helpful clues. On Rory’s desk sat a tattered paperback titled Summoning the Muse, and a piece of notebook paper, torn away from the pad under it, with the question, “What’s in the fog?” scrawled beneath what appeared to be the beginning of a story. 

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Priscilla Bettis

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

priscillaWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?
Priscilla Bettis. I enjoy literary horror, and I also enjoy nonfiction, personal accounts of the curious and dark.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?
“Demon Pigs and Other Childhood Fears” is a nonfiction piece that describes the freaky things I feared as a child. Seriously, it’s so much easier being an adult. Grownups can contextualize disturbing events rather than having them turn into terrifying creatures that dwell under the bed.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?
This question is no fair! It’s one of those who’s-your-favorite-child questions!

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?
Fiction-wise, Andy Davidson’s third novel, The Hollow Kind, comes out October 11th. I loved his first two books, so this is an auto-buy for me!

Nonfiction-wise, I’ve been following the author interviews and reading snippets from Loren Rhoads’ Death’s Garden Revisited, an anthology of cemetery essays. Like Davidson’s book, Death’s Garden Revisited is also due out this October, and it’s going to be GREAT!

Where can readers/listeners find your work?

priscillabettisauthor.com

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Book Review: The Man in the Field

The Man in the Field by James Cooper, pub. Cemetery Dance Publications 10.6.2022 is available on amazon.

Synopsis:

The village: a remote, God-fearing place, governed by ancient rituals that provide eternal balance to the land. Here, people have faith in working the soil, the good Lord above, and their own peaceful community. This is how they have lived for centuries, the Council providing spiritual oversight and the charismatic Father Lynch lighting the way.

As he does every year, according to an age-old custom, the man in the field arrives amid much rejoicing and apprehension. To sanctify the newly planted crops and ensure a productive harvest, the village must make a personal sacrifice in his name. This is the tradition that must be honored. For every blessing, there is a debt to be paid . . .

Mother Tanner, an older member of the village, has seen all this before. She has been born and raised in the shadow of these harsh solemnities and feels increasingly disturbed by them. Celebrating the Turning of the Wheel and exalting in God’s bounty is only half the story; there is much here that she is starting to distrust. Not least of which is Father Lynch himself and his beloved Council. And the enigmatic man in the field, who gazes not at the village, but at the distant horizon, thinking only of the overdue debt and the stroke of midnight when it will be time to collect . .

Review:

The Man in the Field by James Cooper drew me to it with its promise of rural isolation and strange doings. With its ritual nature, it sounded very much like a folk horror, which is a genre I love. It sort of is, but with a layer of dystopia washing over it.

My first impression, as the villagers respond to the sudden—although expected—appearance of the man in the field, is of an isolated community set some time in the past. It reminded me of the setup of the film The Village, being similarly bordered by forbidden woods. As these villagers respond to the man’s presence—the precursor to horrific events portrayed as a ‘blessing’ by the males of the community and by the council in particular—little bits of modern living are dropped in: the references to the city, the discovery of someone watching a video on their mobile phone, the journey taken at the end away from the village. All of this is neatly done, adding to the sense of dislocation and difference of the village and its inhabitants.

At the heart of the story is the relationship between Mother Tanner and Father Lynch. The latter is effectively the leader of the council, whilst the former is someone Lynch considers a challenge to himself, disrupting his authority within the community. When Mother Tanner discovers some of his secrets following the awful outcome of The Offering, she comes under increasingly close scrutiny and is in a position of some danger—from the men, from some of the women, and from some of the strangers in the woods. I still can’t quite believe that the women allow the offering to go ahead if they are the subjugated, but there is little they can do.

The sinister presence of the man in the field is something I would like to have known more about. With his sudden appearance and his continual unmoving position, with his back to the people of the village so they never see his face, he gives an almost supernatural feel to the tale. Apart from his presence denoting the start of the sacrificial ritual and the resultant offering, nothing more is explained.

Throughout the pages, the events are a backdrop to this ongoing ‘duel’ between Mother Tanner and Father Lynch, told with an excellent building of tension and pace. If this is a standalone novella, then I would say that the ending is somewhat unsatisfying. If there is to be a sequel, then it is the perfect place to stop. I also have the suspicion that any follow-up will play more to the dystopian nature of the story than the folk aspect, but that is my own opinion! Regardless of this, I would still highly recommend this atmospheric and weird little tale.

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Michael Fassbender

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

M. FassbenderIf you want to trace my love of horror back to the beginning, it would have to start with the Haunted Mansion at Disney World when I was four years old. That became my favorite place in the whole park, and then I came to realize that Halloween was the time of year when everybody sort of plays along. Naturally, that became my favorite holiday. It was my discovery of Lovecraft in high school, however, that kindled a desire to write horror stories of my own. I can still remember thinking of my very first short story idea while shoveling my grandmother’s driveway.

The specific incidents that inspired the articles I wrote here are fairly well documented in each of them, but more broadly, they both touch upon subjects dear to my heart. One presents a philosophical look at music and horror. I’ve been a fan of Heavy Metal since I was sixteen, and when you get down to it, the horror element in the music was always a big part of what I appreciated, from Black Sabbath to Mercyful Fate.

The other concerns the intersection of history and horror, and that is another natural fit for me. I am a lifelong student of history (and hold an M.A. from IU-Bloomington) and it remains a major avocation. Anyone who has read my stories, including “Miroir de Vaugnac” in Dark Divinations, will notice this. 

Ancient Egypt is one of my earliest fascinations, and I’ve written several stories involving it. As a matter of fact, the first of them has seen publication this year, in Unbreakable Ink Vol. 2. “The Seeker and the Queen of Ghouls” brings an acolyte of Aleister Crowley together with the legendary Queen Nitokris in 1923.

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HWA Mental Health Initiative BEING A “WEIRDO” by D.P. Wilson

I always wondered why I couldn’t think straight.

Then, when I hit sixty, I got myself a patient with ADHD. He described his affliction as being akin to watching two TV channels at once and trying to keep up with the plots and that struck a profound chord. The body of this article is simply a personal history which leads you back to this point, so why not skip to the Conclusion?

At primary school, my teachers had always called me a “dreamer” and I received many a scolding for simply not paying attention. But I was, as far as I could. My mind was on many other things at the same time. 

Academically, I was always near the top of the class even though the effort it took to study was indescribably superhuman. I did this for my parents, who were pretty much my world. And that’s another thing; I was raised an only child and more or less a shut-in. Mummy and Daddy didn’t believe in letting their little darling rub shoulders with the hoi-polloi, so I had no one with whom to compare my feelings and experiences.

Crucially, it also meant that the normal process of socialization did not take place in my brain and that’s like language; if it hasn’t happened by a certain age, it never will. That part of the brain never develops.

I made it through high school by means of an effort I would struggle to find words to describe while being the “weird kid” who was bullied until he grew big enough to kick the sand right back in their faces.

University life was qualitatively easier although focussing enough to study was still a near impossibility. Having obtained my first degree (psychology!), I dropped out of the mainstream and bummed around France and Italy for a couple of years, then settled in the country, doing physical labour for a wage. I had hoped that the solitude would calm my raging mind. It didn’t.

My second degree was in medicine and I got used to the pain of 120-hour weeks trying to keep my mind on what it was supposed to be studying. I went on to run three clinical practices, teach in college, supervise in the teaching-clinics and act as an expert witness in court.

With the subject of this article in mind, it should have been a big, red hint when I grew bored with this life and decided to move to the Isle of Skye, where I bought myself a restaurant and applied the culinary skills I had learned in France and Italy. 

Thanks mainly to my wife, Ann, it was a success but here’s the point:

During this whole time, ever since I began studying for my first degree, I was self-medicating with alcohol. Vast amounts of alcohol. Every day. Looking back, I see that I was what is now termed a high-functioning alcoholic. For decades. It was the only thing that gave my churning mind some respite.

I got on top of that in my fifties by a simple act of will and, as I sobered up over the following decade, a number of things became clear;

1) I was mildly dyslexic. 

In my school years, dyslexic people didn’t have a problem; they were just “stupid.”

2) I had never achieved socialisation.

This meant that I responded just like a sociopath; by mimicking others.

3) I had an “artistic temperament.”

Whether or not one has any degree of talent, “artistic” individuals feel things far more profoundly than the average and are therefore prone to depression. I was raised in a society where depression didn’t exist. You simply “pulled yourself together” and got on with it.

4) There was still something wrong with my thinking.

My ADHD patient was the trigger for a revelation. 

Naturally, when I was younger, ADHD didn’t exist. Certain individuals were merely “disruptive” or “dreamers” and frequently wound up in the prison system and I could certainly understand why. From my own experience, it wasn’t like watching two TV channels at once; it was like watching four, while someone was playing loud and intriguing music next door.

My mind would thrash itself to pieces on the myriad tiny details of some problem and have them all lined up and standing to attention in seconds, while completely ignoring a major and obvious flaw in the solution.

There are also major elements of imperative instant gratification, as well as an obsessive-compulsive component.

Following our conversation, I decided to do some research and it took no more than thirty minutes to make a self-diagnosis of ADHD. Diagnosing or treating oneself or one’s family is never a good idea however, even if the solution seems obvious; it is quite simply far too subjective in ways that are completely invisible. I was therefore a good boy and consulted a psychiatrist in order to have my diagnosis confirmed. It was. And, to my almost-homicidal irritation, she asked me two questions;

“Why didn’t you see someone earlier?” And;

“There is some effective medication for ADHD these days. Would you like me to prescribe some?”

So, at the age of sixty, with life-long ADHD, dyslexia, depression, alcohol problems and loss of social skills, having been a successful medical consultant and a well-known chef and restaurateur, as well as an author and broadcaster, I was now faced with a young and fashionable head-shrinker criticizing my lack of awareness and offering me some Ritalin!

CONCLUSION

I sometimes wonder, if you are “artistic” in any mode, are you almost bound to have had some kind of mental health issue? In fact, I often wonder if “being a horror writer” could be classed as an issue in itself.

My advice from sixty-three years of unnecessary but rewarding struggle is simple and threefold:

1) TALK about it!

2) See a professional sooner, rather than later.

3) In my personal experience, which is not unique, I have found that writing fiction of any kind is an even more effective way than alcohol, to calm the churning tumult of a disturbed mind and don’t let anyone tell you different! It requires a combination of linear and creative thinking as well as a kind of meditative concentration that excludes distraction.

I am calmer and healthier (both mentally and physically) for it.

Of course, “Why horror?” is a different question altogether. Perhaps we’re all just a bunch of “weirdos”!


 

DP Wilson is a Scottish author and broadcaster who has been, at various times in his life, a food bum, a medical consultant, a lecturer, and a well-known chef and restaurateur. He has written for many years, primarily for his own psychiatric self-defence. His short stories have been longlisted as well as shortlisted for the Crowvus Scottish Horror Prize, published in the anthology; “Seasonal Spectres,” and are broadcast regularly on radio. He has also been published in the prestigious; The Horror Zine magazine.

He lives on the mystical Isle of Skye with his wife Ann and son Finn. Send wine.

HWA Mental Health Initiative : 13 REASONS WHY HORROR SHOULD PUT ON A HAPPY FACE by Nzondi 

 

(An Author’s Responsibility to Mental Health Awareness)

In Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance in his portrayal of Batman’s most notorious villain in The Dark Knight, he said, “As you know, madness is like gravity … all it takes is a little push.”

The film, the actor, and real-life, orchestrated a cacophony that sends a chill up my spine to this very day. When I used to run the ScHoFan Critique Group in the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, I remember a time when I introduced a story with a suicide narrative. It was then that I learned how using the wrong language could trigger a negative response. I never wrote that story, becoming aware that reinforcing certain stereotypes of people with mental illnesses was dangerous and could cause real-life discrimination and worse, harm. There have actually been novels, which I will not name out of sensitivity to the subject, that led to a copycat effect that increased by more than three hundred and thirteen percent after one of those novels was published. That is a stunning number. In this article, I’d like to discuss if horror writers should start exploring how to develop characters with severe mental illnesses in a fair and more accurate representation, how writing certain stories actually increase copycat responses, and what stories are out there in the horror genres that chose to tread different paths of presenting mental illness.

Does the DC film, Joker: Put On A Happy Face, portray the character as a psychopath or a mentally ill person? The film creates empathy for the character and portrays him as a person that has a difficult time dealing with an array of physical abuse. Since the supervillain first appeared in the debut issue of the comic book, Batman (April 25, 1940), the joker was introduced as a psychopathic prankster with a warped sense of humor. Forensic psychiatrist, Vasilis K. Ponzios, M.D. says, “There is still a misunderstanding to the portrayal of insanity in the Batman films and movies and what it means to be legally insane.” He goes on to say, “For instance, the Joker has been hospitalized at the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, even though, in real life he probably wouldn’t qualify … Just because a behavior is aberrant … it does not mean the behavior is a result of mental illness.”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not list insanity as a disorder. According to one article I read, hallucinations, delusions and incoherent speech, which are traits of a severe mental disorder, are not usually the characteristics of a master criminal. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the main character we all hate to love in a series of suspense novels by Thomas Harris. A brilliant and sophisticated forensic psychiatrist in the day, and a cannibalistic serial killer by night. To my knowledge, the portrayal of that character was not diagnosed with a mental illness. However, iconic horror characters in the Halloween and Friday the Thirteenth franchises play with the idea that psychopathic serial killers are mentally ill. Eventually, both characters are committed to mental institutions. In real life, these characters would be in a penitentiary, and/or on death row.

So how can horror authors take a fresh approach to presenting attitudes of mental health issues? First, before I get into the next subject area of mental health, let me start by explaining exactly what I mean by the copycat effect, or perhaps, a better usage would be suicide contagion. Suicide contagion is the characteristics of media portrayals of suicide, and characteristics of individual adolescents that increase the rate of suicide, and that magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage. A news program may not be as negatively effective as a New York Times bestseller or a hit TV show on the matter. Dr. Madelyn Gould, PhD, professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University, believes that indirect influence occurs in both real and fictional characters portrayed in the media.

One fresh approach, that was bold and controversial, was taken by creators of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, based on the eponymous novel by Jay Asher. According to the CDC, suicide is now the second most common cause of death among teens and young adults, accounting for nearly 6,000 deaths annually in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. I, for one, do not want to write a novel that participates in any mental health contagion. Therefore, seeing how 13 Reasons Why approached the issue is intriguing to me for my own writing. For one, the executive producers, Selena Gomez and writer/producer, Brian Yorkey, have gone above and beyond in showing their sincere motivations behind adapting the novel for Netflix. There’s a genuine sense of empathy to the subject matter. In the video portion of the teenlineonline website, the creator of the non-profit organization realized that when teens have a problem, they are most likely to go to other teens than to their parents. She set up a hotline using teen volunteers to help troubled teenagers address their problems. 13 Reasons Why resonated with teens because it was a story brilliantly told by young actors.

13 Reasons Why tackled issues like suicide and bullying, head on, yet still presented it in a way that got popular culture talking about these issues, which was the most important asset to helping real-life youths to open up a dialogue with teachers, parents and health professionals. In writing this blog/essay, I learned many things to do and not to do when writing about mental health issues. I recommend that all authors researching these do’s and don’ts before writing about any characters that have mental health issues. As a horror writer, however, you may feel like your story is not there to preach, teach or raise awareness. However, given the fact that there have been documented accounts of novels affecting an increase rate of contagion, wouldn’t you want your literary themes to reflect a more accurate perspective?

I remember hearing at a literary awards show recently, that early science fiction pulp writers didn’t care about whether their science was accurate or not, but today, that is frowned upon in the science fiction community. I remember reading a David Gerrold interview done by JG Faherty of the Horror Writers Association that elaborated with more insightful perspective. In the interview, David explained how the internet is both a curse and a blessing. Like any science fiction writer, he loved to do research, of course for accuracy of his stories. He was discussing research regarding characters in his Chtorr series. The more he thought about the ecology of his species, the more it grew: what was the interrelationships of the species, of plants and animals, the apex predators. I remember he once did a workshop at a GLAWS special speaker’s event and asked, “How are you going to write about a character taking a spaceship to start a colony on the moon if you don’t know about the speed of ships? How far and how long it will take? How will the humans survive on the moon? How do they account for water? Is it shipped to the moon?”

Since the popularity of novels like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Longmans, Green & Co., January 1886), there have been many literary works that play with the concepts of how the human mind’s battle between good and evil interplay between characters with dissociative identity disorder. As brilliant a performance that James McAvoy gave in the psychological horror thriller directed by M. Knight Shyamalan’s Split (and Glass), I challenge you to go back and revisit whether or not the protagonist struggling through twenty-three personalities presented a true depiction of a man with a “split personality”.

Look, I get it. I’ve worked as a stand-in on a show called How To Get Away With Murder, and I have had many conversations with attorneys who say that the show is too sensational, especially in the courtroom. I’m like, “Thank goodness, the creator of the show doesn’t depend on you to write their episodes, we’d be bored out of our minds!” They are the same people who can’t suspend belief long enough to get past the fact that when Bruce Banner changes into the Hulk, he’s always in those purple short-pants, instead of being nude. We are writing fiction, aren’t we? We create a way for the reader to escape reality and travel to worlds of fantasy, science fiction, dystopias and horror. Still, when writing about characters and stories involving mental health, shouldn’t we ask questions that breathe life into the “who, what, when and how” of the tropes we use?

***

So how do we get it right?

Here are some facts to know about mental illness by Kathleen S. Allen, an author who also has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree which is a clinical doctorate:

Having depression doesn’t mean your character can’t still have fun or laugh or be social.

A character who has bipolar disorder may have manic episodes or they may not. Bipolar Disorder has a spectrum of symptoms from moderate depression to severe.

No one who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly called split personality) would kill someone when they are in one of their alter personality states unless the core personality would also kill. 

Your character would not have amnesia after killing someone. The disorder is rare and some medical professionals don’t believe it exists at all, so be careful using it.

Talking about suicide does not mean your character will push the person into attempting suicide. It was already on their minds.

Your characters don’t stop hearing voices after taking anti-psychotic medication, immediately. 

Sometimes, they won’t stop at all. It may take weeks to months for the meds to work. If they are having a psychotic episode, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to function in their daily lives by going to school, work, maintaining a romantic relationship, or maintaining any relationship. Psychotic patients are not dangerous. Are there exceptions? Yes. But as a general rule, they aren’t.

In conclusion, one of my biggest takeaways from researching horror writing for Mental Health Awareness Month was some of the things we shouldn’t do. 

For example, unless your character is politically incorrect, don’t describe suicide as an “epidemic”, “skyrocketing” or other exaggerated terms. 

Use words such as “higher rates” or “rising”. Don’t describe suicide as “Without warning” or “inexplicable”. 

Do convey that the character exhibited warning signs. 

Don’t refer to suicide as “unsuccessful” or “failed attempt”, or report it as though it was a crime. Do say, “died by suicide” “killed him/herself”, and instead of presenting the act like a crime, write about suicide in your story as a public health issue. 

Hopefully, as horror authors, we can continue to scare the jeebies out of our readers but at the same time, create a story which accurately exhibits archetypes of mentally ill characters, whether they are mad scientists, psychopathic serial killers or characters with dissociative identity disorders that assume their mother’s personality.

***

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS: 

According to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University, most mass murderers belong to a category of the disgruntled and aggrieved, whose anger and intentions wax and wane over time, eventually curdling into violence in the wake of some perceived humiliation. Does the DC film, Joker: Put On A Happy Face, portray the character as a psychopath or a mentally ill person?

According to the CDC, suicide is now the second most common cause of death among teens and young adults, accounting for nearly 6,000 deaths annually in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, what are some things that an author can do to stay as far away as possible to contributing to a suicide contagion?

According to one article I read, hallucinations, delusions and incoherent speech, which are traits of a severe mental disorder, are not usually the characteristics of a master criminal, what are some examples in horror where a story got it right and some where it got it wrong?

Forensic psychiatrist, Vasilis K. Ponzios, M.D. says, “There is still a misunderstanding to the portrayal of insanity in the Batman films and movies and what it means to be legally insane, did the writers and filmmakers get it right in their portrayal of the Riddler in the latest DC release, The Batman?

Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of 350 mass killers going back more than a century says that about one in five mass murderers are likely psychotic or delusional and the figure for the general public is closer to 1 percent, but the rest of these murderers do not have any severe, diagnosable disorder. 

Analyzing his database, Dr. Stone has concluded that about 65 percent of mass killers exhibited no evidence of a severe mental disorder; 22 percent likely had psychosis, the delusional thinking and hallucinations that characterize schizophrenia, or sometimes accompany mania and severe depression. (The remainder likely had depressive or antisocial traits.)

Many of these killers faced “long-term stress,” like trouble at school or keeping a job, failure in business, or disabling physical injuries from, say, a car accident. Substance abuse was also common: More than 40 percent had problems with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. He says that the majority of people on this spectrum are not deeply ill; rather, they are injustice collectors. They are prone to perceive insults and failures as cumulative, and often to blame them on one person or one group. 

So the question I present to you and anyone else in the audience who has worked in the field of mental health is will mental health treatment make a difference for Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, or Leatherface? Why or why not?

“In almost all high-end mass killings, the perpetrator’s thinking evolves,” said Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response. “They have a passing thought. They think about it more, they fantasize, they slowly build a justification. They prepare, and then when the right set of circumstances comes along, it unleashes the rage.”

This evolution proceeds rationally and logically, at least in the murderer’s mind. The unthinkable becomes thinkable, then inevitable. 

Would a hitman be considered a serial killer? If so, does the horror genre or fictional world, in general, portray these characters as having severe mental illnesses? Why or why not?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nzondi (Ace Antonio Hall) is an American horror author and is the first African-American to win a Bram Stoker in a novel category. His novel Oware Mosaic won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Young Adult fiction; one of the most prestigious awards given to horror writers in the world. His latest novel, Lipstick Asylum, won Book of the Year and Thriller of the Year awards from SW Book Reviews. It also received a 5-star rating from Readers’ Favorite.

 Among his many short stories that were published in anthologies and print magazines, Hall’s short story, “Raising Mary: Frankenstein”, was nominated for the 2016 horror story of the year for the 19th Annual Editors and Preditors Readers Poll. Additionally, three of his short stories were on the Horror Writers Association Reading list for the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards.

 A former Director of Education for NYC schools and the Sylvan Learning Center, the award-winning educator earned a BFA from Long Island University.

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Rena Mason

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

renaWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?
My name is Rena Mason and I’m a horror author of fiction and nonfiction. I have also co-written a screenplay and have another in the works.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?
My article is about the use of colors and the emotions they elicit in film(s) and how I applied those techniques to my short story “The Ninth Tale” in the award-winning anthology Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?
Pretty much everything horror is a favorite subject to me, but if I had to pinpoint an aspect that had the most impact on my early developing horror mind, I would have to say monsters. From reading the ogre in Jack and the Beanstalk and the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are to sneaking late-night peeks of Godzilla and Christopher Lee’s Dracula, they all struck an intense fear that the kid in me also found thrilling.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre? 

This one’s easy—Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology which I co-edited with Vince Liaguno for the HWA’s Anthology Series published by Mariner/HarperCollins out July 19th.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

www.RenaMason.Ink

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

HWA Mental Health Initiative : FINDING YOUR NORTH STAR by Robert P. Ottone

The first time someone told me that my father was “always with me” was at his wake. He was in his casket in the center of the room and just looked … done. Not done in the sense that he was deceased, specifically, but exhausted. As though he was just so over it all. It was a look I’d seen a hundred times and it was fitting in a way that that was the face the mortician was able to put on him. Or maybe that was the face he had on when he passed? I don’t really know. I wasn’t there. 

I had heard that phrase about thirty or so times over the course of his wake, which spanned two days and was attended by hundreds of people. My dad had a lot of friends. People who looked at him like a father figure in many ways. As a teacher, he seemed to “collect strays” in a sense. Kids who grew up in his school district who may or may not have had a fatherly role model-type figure in their lives. I got to know them, too. They became almost like adopted siblings, I guess.

But once Dad was gone, not only had I lost my North Star, the one who guided and supported and nurtured me my entire life (with my mother, of course), something else hit me. The weight of how much he meant to people. This was a new feeling or thought or realization that began to weigh on me. Not only did I lose my father, I lost my closest confidante, my head cheerleader and so much more. We shared a name. In a lot of ways, once he was gone, part of me was as well. Robert Ottone had left the planet and yet, Robert Ottone remained. 

“He’s always with you.” Yes, I know. I have his name.

“He’s always with you.” Yes, thank you. That’s not as comforting as you think it is.

“He’s always with you.” Yes, please stop. There is nothing in those words that matters to me because he’s not.

He’s not with me. I am alone. With his first name. With his last name. Different middle initials, but that’s about it. I’ve even begun to look like him. My hair is graying rapidly. I’ve become forced to wear glasses. I doze off while watching TV on the couch. I laugh at all the same reruns of all the same shows that I used to watch with him. All with him.

Knowing that he was “always with me” had created a burden that had grown to be altogether too much. My wife (then-girlfriend) had been so helpful. So supportive and loving that any time I erupted into tears, she was there to talk me off the ledge. Then, during a panic attack brought on by losing a teaching job that I worked really hard to get, I knew I needed more than just the sweetness of my wife to help me.

I felt the burden of my dad being with me and I needed to lighten the load. I began to read again. I started with the works of Brian Evenson, then segued into John Langan and it all became clear. In reading these two masters, I knew that to help lighten the load of my dad always being with me, I needed to put him on the page. There had to be a way to find a new North Star. A new guiding light or purpose other than my previous one: to make my dad happy and proud.

I needed to transmute my guilt, my sadness, my heartache and anger into something more. Something that was therapeutic and helpful while also allowing me to return to a passion that had been my first love since childhood: writing.

It was in the pages of Sefira & Other Betrayals and Song for the Unraveling of the World that I found a way back. I began to do my best to mimic Langan and Evenson. I will always do my best to mimic Langan and Evenson. Their work, Langan’s in particular, was my North Star back to creativity. In that creativity, I found therapy. The creation of narrative, the crafting of character. It was all there. It was everything I was looking for and more. So very much more.

I discovered others. Lee Murray. James Chambers. Linda Addison. Paul Tremblay. Who were these people? How did falling down the rabbit hole of horror fiction turn me into a fan of so many when all I grew up on was my mother’s devotion to Stephen King and Dean Koontz? 

In reading these authors’ works, I found connective tissue to myself I never thought possible. I had connected to writing in the past, sure, but not on such a level as this. I was reading poetry. I was reading about zombie speed dating. I was reading about a possibly-possessed young girl. I was reading about a young woman from a broken home whisked off by a flying nightmare. 

I began therapy. Through writing and the unburdening of my emotions, I found a therapist during a particularly dark moment when I sat in the parking lot of my best friend’s condo and truly could not pull myself from the depths that I reached out and found help. My therapist, Bill, has given me strategies that I never imagined possible. Strategies to cope. Strategies to understand where my negative emotions come from. He doesn’t pretend to have the answers, instead, he helps me to find the answers. Even if it takes time, I know that my therapist is a light to guide me. Another North Star, in a sense.

My dad is always with me. But he’s in my work now, too. He’s beside me in the classroom when I teach. He’s in the pages of my writing, whether it’s silly, dark, or vicious. He’s in my laughter. Instead of in my mind, lurking in my consciousness, he’s in my heart. He’s in my voice. 

So yeah. He’s always with me. And through writing, through the work of a passionate and caring therapist, I’m alright with that now.


Robert P. Ottone is the author of the horror collection HER INFERNAL NAME & OTHER NIGHTMARES (an honorable mention in THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR VOLUME 13) as well as the young adult dystopian-cosmic horror trilogy THE RISE.

His short stories have appeared in various anthologies as well as online. He’s also the publisher and owner of Spooky House Press.

Robert is also an English as a New Language teacher, as well as a teacher of English Language Arts. He can be found online at SpookyHousePress.com or on Twitter/Instagram (@RobertOttone). He delights in the creepy and views bagels solely as a cream cheese delivery device.

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with M.D. Neu

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

MDNeuThe article I provided for Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 titled; When Did you Know? Was inspired by all the times I’ve been asked that same question by friends, co-workers, and family. I find the question funny, especially because people will ask me this when they find out I’m a gay man. I’ve never once asked my heterosexual counterparts that question; When did you know you were straight? See how silly the question sounds when you frame the question that way? Still, I wanted to share my story and my thoughts, because it’s not a story you see or hear a lot about. We tend to hear the coming out stories about hardship caused by parents and family’s cruelty to these emerging youth. My coming to terms with my sexuality had nothing to do with others, but more to do with me. I think a lot of us experience this, but I’m not sure. So, I shared my truth in hopes that my story will show that sometimes the pressure we put on ourselves is harder and worse then anything that others can put on us. I hope the article is something the people can read and relate to, even if they aren’t part of the queer community, because there is always something that we silently struggle with that even our closest friends and families may have no idea we are going through.

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HWA Mental Health Initiative: THIS IS ALL OF US by Mark Matthews

“Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead.” ~Matt Haig, the Humans. 

If it’s true that some of the greatest horror fiction comes from the deepest personal pain, that the torment of the writer weaves itself into fiction, then Horror, the way it shines a light on the darkest parts of humanity, is in a unique position to look at mental health. 

The Horror Writers Association is continuing its initiative to honor Mental Health Awareness and how it uniquely affects the horror community, as well as ways to support anyone grappling with mental health issues. 

And this is all of us.

Nobody exists outside the realm of mental health, same as our physical health, it is always in flux and will deteriorate if not tended to. At times we do things for preventative care, at times we drag ourselves into urgent care in crisis, but mental health affects every human. Nobody is in perfect mental or physical health; it exists in scales that continually shift. 

Yet we so often see mental health as existing separate from physical health. We publicly share pictures of ourselves recovering in a hospital bed or openly ask our boss for time off to see a doctor, but talking with a mental health professional is treated as a weakness, something done only in private, for if others know, that seed of shame will sprout inside us and grow.  We offer simplified, insulting solutions, telling those with anxiety or depression, “try taking a walk,” or shame them with, “other people have it worse, be grateful you don’t live in that devastated city of WhatAboutIstan.”

These kind of statements, perhaps spoken with kind intent, are not only unhelpful but misunderstand the complexity and depth. It’s akin to telling someone with cancer to try getting some sleep or eating less carbs. Perhaps something healthy, but it’s throwing stones at giants, and something deeper is most likely needed.  

Talking to a therapist needs to be received the same as going to the dentist. It’s an act we do to take care of ourselves, a sign of self-care and courage that should be emulated. You are no less of a magnificent human being for having depression, anxiety, or any mental health condition than you’d be for having a broken leg from a biking accident, having a cancerous mole, or getting that colonoscopy.

Therapy, in all its facets and components, saved my life. That is not hyperbole. By age 23, I woke up each morning with a drink (god forbid there was no alcohol in the house) and I’d done every drug I could get my hands on.  I had been hospitalized multiple times, was bleeding internally, had alcoholic hepatitis of the liver and a swollen pancreas. I was spiritually despondent, wishing for death, but couldn’t seem to die. Finally, when it seemed my only option, I dragged myself bruised and bloody into a treatment center. I followed that up with years of therapy, major lifestyle changes, and have maintained sobriety ever since. 

Upon relying on the help of others, I went back to get my Bachelors in English and continued on to get a Masters in Counseling. I’ve worked for years with other addicts and alcoholics trying to give back what I had received, and branched out to work in behavioral health.

If only addicts could grant some understanding on what it is like to live with such a diagnosis, I believe the compassion for addiction would grow. Despite years of sobriety and having shed my skin, the snake still persists. I still have it inside me. I can taste it. Hear it. Point to the part in my body where it exists. 

I am quite positive that those suffering from any disorder would wish the same, to give others a taste of understanding of what it is like to live with the disorder so we could stop minimizing and distorting it. Depression isn’t cured by a walk. Anxiety isn’t just a mild discomfort. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a perpetual internal beast that isn’t slayed by exercise alone. 

I still seek therapy and seek it eagerly. I have had a therapeutic relationship that has lasted years and still go back in times of need.  

Fiction has a powerful therapeutic component, for if we want the truth, what better way to find it than through a story? My work is full of addiction horror, with compassion for the plight of the addict but a look at it substance abuse in all its hideous forms. Nothing new to say that the greatest fiction comes from the writer speaking from the wound, those personal places when we stick the proverbial knife in our heart and bleed it all over the page (Que Mick Jagger). Show me someone’s most powerful work, and you’ll see what’s inside. 

Horror writers will always write about mental anguish, with settings such as mental health hospitals and cemeteries, anything that portrays our darker sides and is charged with trauma and the vulnerable parts of our fragile psyche. While I think a certain level of creative license should be granted, there is a duty, I believe, to write about mental health topics with accuracy. We need to do our research. Ask a colleague. Get a beta reader who knows the subject.  This will avoid clichés, simplifying, stigmatizing, and stereotyping. People are not their condition.

Have you seen a piece of fiction where a character who takes medications is a sign of their strength rather than some dark foreshadowing? Nope, that tab of Risperdal is a version of Chekhov’s Gun, bound to have some negative effect in the next chapter.  Works which show a degree of empathy for those suffering, even in the midst of villainous intent, can be the most powerful. 

So much horror fiction is a battle for mental health, navigating the minefield of the external darkness that matches our internal landscape. Heroes, anti-heroes, or whole communities, face down the monsters, and the reader understands they are taking an inward journey, tackling their internal demons personified.

The question then becomes, are we able to do in our personal life what we will have our characters do in our fiction? Look inside ourselves and navigate whatever darkness we find, shining a light through the cracks the way we want our protagonists to do? 

While we are all the heroes of our own story, we are also minor characters in the journey of others. Do we see it just as noble to help others on their quest?   Do we support each other tackling and addressing mental health symptoms, same way we might herald someone in horror fiction? 

By doing so, we can become the empathic catalyst to help each other.

I think Horror Writers have some of the finest hearts around because they are in touch with the fragile nature of humans. In body, mind, and spirit. Among writers of dark fiction are those who are ‘not afraid to go there ’ both in fiction and internal introspection, and also, I suspect, that among us are some of the most hurting, tormented people, who have overcome adversity enough to spin fantastic art.  There can certainly be redemptive value in suffering.  I’ve latched onto this quote from the Virginia University basketball coach:  “If you learn to use it right, adversity will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”

I write horror not so much to scare others, but because I am the one who is scared; scared of what’s inside me, what’s inside you, but writing about it makes me feel less alone, more okay with bleeding on the page. It takes courage to show yourself through your words, so we connect when we write and read in a way we never could, had we not faced the fear.    

Disclosing our own battles with maintaining mental health, while it’s nobody’s damn business and shouldn’t matter, can free others to drop the false shame and share openly.

If she’s talking about how Zoloft helped her but Prozac didn’t, maybe I can do the same.  

If he’s sharing his social anxiety and how it feels so disabling, maybe I’m not so strange. 

If he’s offering a sober safe place at StokerCon, maybe I’ll say hello if I’m struggling with the same. (Raises hand – I’ll be in Denver) 

Horror writers can be an example of those who openly support each other with compassion and understanding while writing characters who display humans in all their frightening darkness and magnificent brilliance. The HWA Mental Health Initiative reminds us that we are on the same journey as each of our characters, and can decide how to respond when facing our monsters, and to be the supportive agent of change in the journey of others. 


 

 

* Mark Matthews is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor who has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years. He is the author of On the Lips of Children, All Smoke Rises, and Milk-Blood, as well as the editor of Orphans of Bliss, Lullabies for Suffering, Garden of Fiends. In June of 2021, he was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. His newest work, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, was published in January, 2021 and tackles the subject of mental health treatment. Reach him at WickedRunPress@gmail.com

 

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Kristin Battestella

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

kbatzIt’s difficult to keep creating horror content. Now and even before the very real-world scary pandemic. I move at my own old-fashioned speed back from ye olden 1980s where you couldn’t find scary content 24/7, 365. Do I have anything worthwhile to say about what films and television scare us? Are my kooky crafts and macabre trash to treasures subjective art that is only a sophisticated haunt to me? I’m inspired by what makes our fight or flight response and why or what makes us look at dark things in a new light. I see something not as what it is, but what it could be. For some people, that is a terrifying concept – especially when it comes to your own art and creation. I enjoy sharing my opinion about Frightening Flix because I like to know what other people think about complex horror. I’d like to think some of my little DIY Kbatz Krafts can inspire others to break out of their four walls and seek what glamour moves them. Is it all just gothic adjectives and poor-quality cardboard and cheap hot glue? Maybe. However, it’s like Bob Ross said, “We need darkness in order to show light.”

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HWA Mental Health Initiative : GIVE THEM A PEN AND PUT THEM TO WORK By Ronald J. Murray

Make your demons work for you instead of against you. This is a phrase that I have carried with me for years, and one that’s never exonerated me from the responsibility of confronting my issues directly. Rather, it catalyzed my ability to allow the hardships of life and mind to inspire creation, to find enjoyment even while in the dark.

The writer is no stranger to suffering. I’m no different than any other. Throughout the year of 2019, I was writing Cries to Kill the Corpse Flower, a product of my realization and confrontation of my yet undiagnosed CPTSD and the resultant havoc it wreaked in my life at that time. The cathartic experience of taking my struggles and forcing them into the dark imagery of horror poetry allowed me to find an unshakeable sense of accomplishment, a shining pride in my talent, and to see a way to still cling to an appreciation for life.

Complex PostTraumatic Stress Disorder is linked to multiple traumatic events and is defined as a developmental trauma disorder. Though there are rare instances where the disorder can be developed during adulthood, it’s more often linked to traumatic childhood experiences. Its symptoms are like PTSD in that its sufferer will re-experience traumatic events, avoid traumatic reminders, and maintain hypervigilance against perceived threats in every avenue of life. However, it differs in that it affects emotional dysregulation, causes a development of a distorted sense of self, and can lead to disturbances in relationships. It often mimics Borderline Personality Disorder, and, in my case especially, can be misdiagnosed as such.

This darkness of course followed me into the next year, and it sought vengeance. During a time when so many, including myself, were learning to navigate the difficult struggles of the pandemic and its terrors, I saw the world crashing around me in the form of my first major loss: a decade-long unhealthy partnership came to an explosive close. Blessing in disguise as it was, I found myself suddenly without the home I’d known for years and having to learn to live without a person who’d been there for so long. I was only at the beginning of my journey in facing and healing my previous emotional afflictions, and this needed event exacerbated my symptoms to a degree I’d never experienced.

Lost Letters to a Lover’s Carcass was born through painful labor. Employing my demons, I wrote this collection to help me process this hardship and everything that led to it. More importantly, it reminded me of something almost lost: myself. My drive, my talent, and my lust for creation and its act kept me tethered to this planet and its bountiful, beautiful one-time chance at life. Without me, there is no art to create or, for me, to even perceive and interpret. Without me, there are no experiences and the healthy translation of them into narrative and verse.

But creating art from a place of suffering can paint the process as something that needs suffering to flourish. This is untrue, and a pitfall I’ve been able to avoid with the help of perspective. I’ve seen this misconception among some budding writers that may romanticize the clichéd tortured artist.

While the intermingling of internal and external hardship can be appreciated in this medium and enjoyment can even be found through it for the creative, it is not necessary to create more suffering for the sake of the written word, or to wear it as a writing badge of honor. Because without the appreciation and care for the self, creation can become a chore, or worse, a whirlwind of unhealthy self-criticism and a frustrated pile of unfinished projects.

CPTSD may likely follow me to my far-away death, but I will always find ways to stalk it in its own shadows. I will use it, crush it, and subvert it to find exactly what I need to tell my stories. And through my victories, I’ll bask in the sunlight of the lines and stories and characters that I write, which remind me of who I am: an intelligent, empathetic, and passionate creator.

None of this is meant to invalidate the struggles of others. I can only write from my own experiences and hope that they inspire hope and open the gates to new perspectives. The experiences of others are muddy and complex, and faltering along the path is to be expected. But I’d like to challenge my fellow Horror Writers to continue your therapy, eat your three-square meals, drink your water, be mindful and take time to enjoy the moment. And, lastly, let your work be the light switch on your wall that drives your ghosts back to their graves.


 

Ronald J. Murray is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His published work includes his two dark poetry collections, Cries to Kill the Corpse Flower, which appeared on the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot and was nominated for an Elgin Award, and Lost Letters to a Lover’s Carcass, from the JournalStone imprint, Bizarro Pulp Press. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in Space and Time Magazine, The Horror Writers Association’s Poetry Showcase Volume VIII, on The Wicked Library Podcast, in Bon Appetit: Stories and Recipes for Human Consumption, and Lustcraftian Horrors: Erotic Stories Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, and more. He is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association and an Active Member of the Church of Satan.