13 Questions with the Masters 2012

Are you ready Horror Addicts?! It’s time for the second ever Masters of Macabre Challenge! We have 5 horrifyingly devilish authors this season and they are ready to scare you back into your momma’s arms. This season’s theme is surrounded by dark rumors and terrifying ends. That’s right…CURSES! But that’s enough chit-chat; let’s get to the meat and bones of this contest, the authors!

First up we have Philip “Norvaljoe” Carroll who was plagued with “The Curse of Winning the Lottery.” This is Philip’s first time to be featured on HA and he is excited to be here. “There are a lot of great authors who present their work here. Horror isn’t my normal genre, so it’s fun to try out something new. Besides, Emerian Rich is one of my BayCon friends and it’s fun to wander the dark halls with her.” For this challenge Carroll stepped out of his urban fantasy style and has joined us on the dark side. Though Philip was hesitant to share part of his story for fear of giving something away he kindly shared with me a little background about the story. “I’d hate to give anything away. I did want to place the setting in California, so it begins in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California, though, I don’t think that ever really comes out. One of my all-time favorite authors is James P. Blaylock. He has set some of his stories on the coast of California. Specifically, ‘The Digging Leviathan’ is set on the northern coast. Reminiscing about that story I thought the foggy, wet, forest above Mendocino could provide an eerie atmosphere.”

For those of you new to the Carroll fan club, Philip is not just an author. “I’m an Army trained Certified Orthotist in the Central Valley of California. I’m a husband of 30 years. I have three children, two still at home who joined our family by adoption. I’ve been actively learning to write for the last four years and have focused on prompt-based short fiction to hone my skills. As of this week I’ve submitted 192 consecutive entries in the 100 Word Weekly Challenge at www.podcasting.isfullofcrap.com. I submitted almost 75 stories to The Great Hites Podcast and have had short stories in several benefit anthologies. I’m a staff editor at www.FlyingIslandPress.com where I slush read, edit and record stories for our, ‘kind-of’, monthly science fiction and fantasy short story magazine. I have one YA, urban fantasy, novel at www.podiobooks.com, The Price of Friendship, and hope to have my second up and running by the end of July.”

Next up is a man known to all Horror Addicts as Knightmist. That’s right addicts our very own KM is participating in this year’s MMM Challenge! I asked Knightmist (aka Shawn Micallef ) how it felt to be on the other side of HA, “Well I cannot said it’s a new feeling as I did share my writing back when Horror Addicts was using an actual forum site.  It was in the day of our Ning days.  This story is different however as it’s been put to voice and people are actually going to be voting for it.  I have to say that as I try to get some short stories published this is a huge step as I hope what I get back on the story will help me go further with the writing.”

The theme of Shawn’s story is the Otzi’s Curse, for those of you unfamiliar with the curse “it is a modern day Mummy Curse.  Otzi is a mummy that was found in the Alps near Austria and Italy.  They are saying that some people have died who have come in contact with the mummy. We’ll leave the how they died to [KM’s] story.” Speaking of Micallef’s curse he explained to me the roots of his inspiration for the story. “Often it seems that the press will get a hold of a story and give it wings. They’ll have the story go on and on and gain worldwide fame if it’s at all possible.  So I felt in the case of the Otzi’s Curse I wondered what it would be like to have a member of the press come in touch with a “supposed” curse.”

Knightmist is an “eclectic person as [he] has a multitude of likes from everything and this shows in [his] movie and book collections.  The movies cover the classics of the 1930’s to modern day and have so many genres. There is War, History, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Animation and Anime.  [His] reading is much the same as it covers much of the same genres.” Shawn then added, “I’m married with no kids, well I take that back. There are two cats of which are as unique as one can see.  One cat will play fetch with his cat toys and the other is the weight of a good bowling ball.  🙂  If anything I’d just say in a way I may sound very open but I’m a bit guarded and like to use my writing as a way to escape the struggles that life can bring and to just keep my mind active.”

This next name is one you will remember from last year’s MMM Challenge, Rish Outfield, and his story on Entomophobia (the fear of insects). “It’s good to be back,” were the first words from Rish. “I consider myself a writer, but I don’t do enough of it.  I need pushes like your writing contest to make me do the work instead of shirk it, and last year’s experience was a good one, so I thought I’d try it again.  This year was harder, though, as I somehow confused the deadline and found myself needing to finish the story, get it to a reader to record, edit the audio file, and send it [out], all in the same week.  That made for a lot more work this year than last, but it was pleasant work, like planting a garden or having a rival killed, where you know it will be worth it after a while.”

This year though Rish is taking on the challenge of the Curse of Macbeth. Outfield’s story titled The Scottish Scene is set in an everyday high school. “[Having] primarily female characters, made for difficulty when I realized I not only needed three female readers, but had only two days to find them.  Ultimately, I had my friend Renee Chambliss record all the female characters, and she’s talented enough that they all sound different.” While researching his curse, [Rish] read that there were several possible origins for the idea that Shakespeare’s play was cursed, and one of them was that he stole the witches’ dialogue from a real coven, and they cursed his play as revenge.  That idea seemed really fascinating to [him], and [he] thought it would be fun to have it be the true origin of the curse.”

Rish claims to be “not much to write home about, unless you’re one of those cruel people who like to write about the creeps they see on the subway or bus stop, making fun of what losers they are. [I’ll try my best ;)] I majored in Film (Screenwriting) at college, and tried my hand at acting for a while there.  One of my dreams was to someday be a radio DJ, and when I had to leave California with my tail between my legs, I managed to get together with a friend with similar interests and we started a fiction podcast together.  At the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, I get to fulfill my writing, acting, and radio DJ aspirations, all for no paycheck!  But it has been a pleasure to perform other peoples’ stories and try and make audiences laugh for the past couple of years.”

Our next two Masters are Horror Addicts regulars, Don Pitsiladis and Dan Shaurette.

Don’s story this year “is titled Friends, Lovers, and Enemies.  It’s a love triangle story of sorts involving a man named Steven, his ex-girlfriend Renee, and his former best friend and Renee’s current boyfriend Jean Phillipe. When her boyfriend, Jean Phillipe, disappears under mysterious circumstances and the police unwilling to help, Renee goes looking for Steven’s help to find him.  She has her ideas on who possibly took him, but things don’t go as planned when it comes to the rescue.  It’s a much darker story compared to last year’s.”

“With a rather large family (wife, 4 boys, 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 4 kittens) and full time work, it isn’t always easiest to get free time.” To make up for this, Don usually works in about ½ an hour to an hour of writing in the mornings before work and a little at the end of the day. He also mentioned to me that he has started a review blog. “I started [the] review blog back in January to help me stick to a schedule, and for the most part it has helped.  Casa de Pitsiladis offers a Podcast Spotlight and Book Review every week with occasional movie reviews.  I hope to have some stories of my own to post starting this autumn.”

And last of our chilling authors but certainly not the least, HA Music Interviewer, Dan Shaurette! Get ready for the Curse of the Pharaohs and Dead Man’s Book. Dan was kind enough to clarify the meaning of his book title, “Dead Man’s Book, which is another name for the scrolls left behind with mummies in their sarcophagi.” His story is set in Egypt of course but “without spoiling too much, the story is about an archaeological dig in 1860 excavated by Abigaëlle Charest (voiced by the wonderful Lucie Le Blanc for the podcast), and the tragic consequences her team faces after taking a cursed scroll from the tomb.”

Writer, goth-geek, and Horror Addict this native Arizonian is a fan of all things Ancient Egypt. “So,” according to Shaurette, “I don’t think I was terribly cursed at all by drawing the “Curse of the Pharaohs” as my story prompt.” Even with his luck of the draw Dan suffers from the same ailment of most authors, staying on schedule and working writing into everyday life. “My fellow writers espouse the virtues of hitting a word count and keeping to a schedule. These things I also do, but I’ll admit let my personal deadlines slip when they must. My day job and my family come first. So, I sneak in writing whenever I can. For example, this very story will also become a prequel short story to the novel I am working on right now and has helped steer a direction with that.”

Well one thing is for sure with the horrors sure to come this MMM Challenge; I’ll be sleeping with the lights on soon. All these dark twisted minds are gunning for the coveted title of “Master of Macabre 2012.” But one thing is for sure, no matter what happens the boys can’t wait until next year’s challenge! Fans, don’t forget to check below for links to your favorite authors profiles and sites! 😉

Philip Carroll:  http://norvalsoutlook.blogspot.com

Knightmist aka Shawn Micallef: https://www.facebook.com/Knightmist

Rish Outfield: http://rishoutfield.blogspot.com/  http://dunesteef.com/category/rish-outfield/

Don Pitsiladis: http://www.myspace.com/dpitsiladis  http://twitter.com/#!/dlpitsiladis

Dan Shaurette: http://dan.shaurette.com/

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