David’s Haunted Library: Drive-In Creature Feature

Soda? check, Popcorn? check, Blankets? check. These are some of the things you might need if you are going to your local drive-in theater. If you’re 30 or younger you probably don’t know what a drive-in is. You also don’t know the joys of sitting in your car with a group of friends while you watched giant creatures destroying the city on the big screen. Luckily Eugene Johnson and Charles Day have put together a horror anthology that captures the spirit of the Drive in.  Drive In Creature Feature contains 19 stories for anyone who loves a good monster tale.

Since it would take too long to talk about each story I’ll spend some time talking about my favorites. The Tattering and Jack by Clive Barker is about a demon who has the task of driving a man crazy. The job ends up being much harder than the demon thought as the man shows he has no emotions and won’t be driven off the deep end. This story has an awesome twist and goes back and forth from being funny to scary. Another good story is The Forrest That Howls by Michael Paul Gonzalez, this is easily the best Bigfoot story I’ve ever read. It answers the question of why there is no proof that the creatures exist.

Ghoul Friend In A Coma by John Everson is a bizzaro love story between a teenage boy and a ghoul. This is another one that combines humor and horror. I love how even when the teenager sees his life in danger he still thinks with the wrong head, this is exactly like I would expect a teenager going through puberty to act. This story teaches us that a couple having sex then carrying a corpse together to the basement is what true love is all about.

Double Feature by Jason V. Brock actually takes place at a drive-in theatre in the Seventies. The story centers on a father who is taking his two kids to a movie. The father and mother are going through a divorce and the story begins with an argument between the occupants of the car. Their problems become secondary though when the drive-in becomes a battleground between a bunch of giant monsters from outer space. This story was a lot of fun but what I really loved was how the family puts their problems aside and works together when a crisis happens.

I also have to mention Popcorn by Essel Pratt, this is another one that takes place in the drive-in. A group of teenagers is at the theatre looking for a good time, but things get ugly when a giant popcorn monster attacks the movie-goers. I love the idea of a monster made of popcorn and there were some creative death scenes here, you may never want to eat popcorn again.

This book is one fun ride, it’s funny in places and scary in others. It also does an excellent job of capturing a bygone era and bringing back a lot of great memories of watching horror movies at the drive-in. There were a couple of stories here I didn’t care for but all in all this book reminded me why I love horror literature. It has humor, great monsters, and good storytelling, what more can you ask for? This is a must-read book for horror literature fans.

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By The Fire: Episode 149: Challenge 13: This is the End

As I start to write this post the song that is playing in my head is The End by The Doors. Because that’s what this is, the end of the contest and what a trip it has been. The last challenge in The Next Great Horror Writer for episode 149 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is the hardest one yet. This one was only open to the semi-finalists and they had to submit The first 3 chapters of their horror fiction novel including a cover letter, synopsis, and query. Wow!!! I have the highest respect for everyone in this contest because they had to work hard to be a part of it and everyone in it has shown how dedicated they are to their craft. The winner of this challenge and the grand prize for the contest is a book contract from Crystal Lake Publishing.

To sit and think on what everyone in this contest had to do to stay in it just boggles my mind. I can’t imagine doing it myself but this little group of writers really showed us what they were made of. The contest began with almost 120 entries and we eventually saw the field get narrowed down to just few. Along the way our writers had to produce an audio drama, a commercial, short stories, non fiction blog posts, create a monster, an intro to an original character and finally the beginning of a novel.

Through the course of this contest we’ve seen all of these writers grow and improve their skills and get tested like never before. I’ve really enjoyed the journey of these writers throughout this season of the podcast and it makes me sad to see just one winner. I think everyone in the contest should consider themselves a winner and be proud of what they have accomplished. Even if you get rid of all the other parts of the contest and just look at the fact that these writers have gotten to the point where they have submitted the first three chapters of their book is a big deal.

A lot of work goes into writing a novel, the planning, the outlining, the rewrites and finally the finished product. Some people spend years working on a novel and in my opinion its the most personal art form there is. Writers have to put their heart and soul into their novels and sending it to a publisher takes a lot of guts. It’s not easy becoming a published author, there is a lot of work involved in the process and when you do get published a whole new set of challenges await you. A writer’s work is never done and the ones that keep doing it are the ones that consider it their passion.

So Addicts, what did you think of the contest as a whole? Who did you think did the best job on this challenge? what do you thing the hardest part of doing a query and a cover letter are? Have you done one? What are the experiences you’ve had? Let us know in the comments.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Ancient Enemies

The world’s governments are a place of secret agendas and backstabbing politicians. It’s even worse when the ruling class is made up of vampires called the order. Their ruling council is called the Hegemony and they have been in charge of world politics for centuries. Every continental territory is ruled by a Hegemon, the Hegemon in charge of North America is a vampire scientist named Caroline.

Ancient Enemies by Brian McKinley begins with Caroline about to leave for a summit meeting of the Hagemony to talk about the future. She is leaving her lover Avery in charge of their home. Avery has been developing psychic powers and has been feeling out of place in Caroline’s world. Now with Caroline gone, Avery is faced with trying to protect Caroline’s scientific secrets and he has found a new woman who is attracted to him. Meanwhile, Caroline is trying to keep her position of power in government.

It’s hard for me to write a good summary of this book because it’s so complex. While its promoted as a paranormal political thriller that’s not what interested me as I started reading it. It starts off from Avery’s viewpoint and he describes his experiences in Overeater’s Anonymous and his feelings for Caroline. He loves Caroline but admits that they are very different people and he feels they are growing apart because intellectually he is not in the same league with her. We then get to Caroline’s viewpoints where she makes it known that she loves Avery but feels that he doesn’t belong in her world, she wants to keep him close and protect him anyway. Caroline tries to give him a position in her cabinet but he shows that he is unqualified for it.  While Avery may not belong in the world of politics he has shown his worth in other areas.

The love story between Avery and Caroline is what sold me on Ancient Enemies. I loved hearing from both viewpoints and how they want to stay together despite the fact that they are so different. Things get more complicated when Avery meets someone more like him and Caroline starts to realize some hard truths about herself. Just when I thought that the love story was the best part of the book we get more into the secret society of The Hagemony and how their government is made up along with the corruption behind it.

Each branch of the Hagemoney is described in detail and they are all different depending on what part of the world they are located in. The third point of view in Ancient Enemies comes from Neko who resides in Jade Tiger’s entourage. Jade Tiger is the Hagemon from China who doesn’t know she has people in her court who plan to take her down. Neko’s public persona is very different from how she is in private and her world is turned upside down when her secret plans get spoiled by another.

Ancient Enemies is a sequel that works as a stand-alone novel. This book is a love story, political thriller, action adventure tale and a horror novel. It looks at the complexity of what makes a relationship and makes you look at how corrupt government is. The characters may be vampires but everything works as a metaphor for real life.  You may want to get this book because you like vampire fiction but the great writing and surprise plot twists will keep you hooked.

By The Fire: Episode 147: Challenge 12: Write a 2500-3000 Word Story Featuring a Diverse Woman and an Original Monster of Your Making

Our contest is drawing to a close, we made it to episode 147 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast and the twelfth challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to Write a 2500-3000 word story featuring a diverse woman (of color/ethnic/minority) that also contains an original monster of the writer’s making. Our contestants created a monster way back in challenge 2 which they can use for this story, or they can create a new monster. The goal is to test their ability to write a story with a theme involved, they will be judged on creativity, overall story concept, and writing quality.

One thing I wonder about is would it be easier to create a monster or to create a good diverse female character and what would be the theme that would fit both? I think for all parts you are using a different part of your imagination. For a monster you want to try to think of something original but you also have to make it scary, being able to describe the monster and make it come alive is important. For the female character you would have to go into detail on her personality, what makes her tick and why should we care about her? When coming up with both of these creations probably the most important thing would be to make us feel some emotion for them and perhaps this is where the story’s theme would come out of. Whether its fear, compassion or even hatred, if we don’t feel anything and there is no theme, then we won’t want to finish the story.

So our contestants already know something about making a monster but how hard is it to come up with a good ethnic female character? Would it be harder to come up with a woman than a man? Or does that depend on if the writer is a woman or a man? Personally I think coming up with the monster would be much easier than coming up with your lead character because the lead character is the most important part of the story. So what do you think the hardest part of this challenge will be and who do you think did the best job with it? Let us know in the comments.

David’s Haunted Library: Sleep Savannah Sleep


 

Jason Crandall needed to make a new start, he worked in Los Angeles as a Marketing executive for years. Sadly his wife died leaving him as a widower with an 18-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. He decided to start his new life in Shadow Springs by becoming a massage therapist. Shadow Springs seems like a nice little town but before long before cracks start to form in the town’s illusion of normalcy and secrets come to light.

First Jason has to deal with a jealous husband of one of his clients but life gets more complicated as the beautiful Savannah Sturgess goes missing. Jason starts to have horrible visions that make him doubt his sanity and some people are looking at him as a suspect in the disappearance.  Everyone in town has their own set of secrets, but the biggest secret is what happened to Savannah and why won’t the dead rest in peace?

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross is a book that works on several levels. It’s a murder mystery, horror novel and ghost story with the perfect setting of a small mysterious town.  The first half of the book takes its time making us feel empathy for the characters. By the time strange things happen in the second half you’re totally hooked and wanting to see what happens next.

The detail put into each character makes them come to life and while they are shown one way, to begin with you see other sides to them as the story moves along. Savannah, in the beginning, is seen as the town whore but when we get into why she is the way she is, she becomes a sympathetic character. Also, Flynn Garvey who is Savannah’s boyfriend has no personality in the beginning, but later we dig a little deeper and find he has a secret and there is more depth to him than we thought. Even the character of Tabitha Cooper who is not in the story much is someone you feel for. She is seen as a crazy old witch, but in reality is very different than others see her. All of the characters present an image to the outside world but if you scratch the surface a little they show another side. You care about these people because you can relate to them and that makes things even scarier when odd things start to happen.

The best part of this book was when Jason is questioning his sanity. You see him as just a guy dealing with the loss of his wife and trying to raise his kids to the best of his abilities but as he is having visions that make no sense his life quickly unravels. The feeling of losing your mind when you know people are dependent on you is the worst kind of fear and Jason is also dealing with ghosts from his past. In Sleep Savannah Sleep the horror doesn’t come from what you see, it comes from what you don’t see. This is an old school horror novel that preys on your emotions rather than showing you horrific imagery, though it does that too. Alistair Cross shows that he is a master storyteller by giving us memorable characters and a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Cold Cuts

Antarctica is a hard place to survive in, it’s even harder when there are mutant penguins with tentacles running around. Ozzy is a pop culture geek and a junk food junkie while Ben takes himself seriously and is Ozzy’s polar opposite. Both are environmental scientists working in a lab at the bottom of the world in Antarctica.

They thought that putting up with each other, the isolation and the cold temperatures would be the hard parts of this job, but they thought wrong. Little did they know that the terrorist organization called The Order Of The Red Wolf has a Nuclear reactor that is affecting the whole continent causing Penguins to become monsters. There are no happy feet in this story.

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen has action, horror and comedy with a story that moves along at the speed of light. It also manages to give us some memorable characters. One of them is Ozzy who transforms from an overweight misfit to an action hero with a love interest by the end. The story also has some strong female characters such as Terra and Lorelei who aren’t trained to fight but do a good job of it when they have to. The only negative part of this story is that we aren’t given a lot of information on The Order Of The Red Wolf which is the group that created the mutants in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

What I really love about this book is how it goes from gruesome to funny. Every time there is a scene with Penguins tearing someone apart you also seem to get a scene that is laugh out loud funny. This book has one of the funniest sex scenes that I’ve ever read in a book and there was another great moment that will make you look at the paintings of Bob Ross in a whole new light. Another scene that I enjoyed was when one of the characters gets attacked and keeps fighting off the penguins and repeating to everyone that: “My guts came out.”

Looking at Robert Payne Cabeen’s bio you can see that he is an artist and a screenwriter and it shows in this book. At the back of the book there are several drawings of what the mutant penguins look like but also the way the action is described paints a picture for the reader. As I was reading this I found myself envisioning the whole thing as a rated R summer blockbuster movie. For example towards the end there is a great battle scene between the humans and penguins complete with background music.  I found myself laughing because I kept thinking how awesome this would look on the big screen. Cold Cuts is a lot of fun, it has that perfect mix of horror and humor that I like to find in a book.

By The Fire: Episode 146: Challenge 11: Write a 5-6 minute Horror Audio Drama

Hello, Addicts, how time flies, we are getting towards the end of The Next Great Horror Writer contest and we have another tough challenge to talk about. In episode 146 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 5-6 minute horror audio drama. This is another one of those challenges that doesn’t sound too hard but really is. At first glance, 5-6 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot but when you write it out, that’s 6 pages of script. Contestants will be judged on creativity, entertainment value, and concept. Contestants have to come up with their own characters and own idea, they can’t use anyone else’s characters or established story. Winner will get their audio drama produced for the show.

One great thing about this contest is that the participants are really getting tested in every aspect of writing. They have had interviews, short stories, commercials, nonfiction blog posts and other challenges. An audio drama is another form of writing that is very different from any other form of writing. When I think of audio dramas I think of the old radio plays from the thirties and forties. Radio plays are kind of a lost art form but if you look for them you can still find podcasts dedicated to this art. The horroraddicts.net podcast has had a few good audio dramas throughout the years.

Audio dramas are very different from reading a short story or novel, the story is always important but in this case, you have to tell a lot of your story in dialogue form. You also probably need a narrator to set up the story and you have to consider what kind of sound effects you would need. Finding voice actors may be something that has to be considered also.

So Addicts, do you enjoy listening to audio dramas? If so what are some of your favorites and what makes an audio drama good? I think the right voice actors play a big part in it but you also have to come up with good characters, a good setting and a great story idea. So what do you think the contestants will come up with and who do you think will do the best job? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.