By The Fire Edpisode 142: Challenge 6: 3,000 to 5,000 word story on Horror and Music

 

In episode 142 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 3,0000 to 5,000-word story that includes music, horror and musical instruments. The story will be judged on musical theme, creativeness and writing quality. The winner of this contest will get their story published in the anthology Crescendo of Darkness from horroraddicts.net publishing.

If you’re not familiar with Crescendo Of Darkness it’s going to be horroraddicts.net publishing’s 6th anthology and will be edited by Jeremiah Donaldson. You can find more about it here. This could be the hardest challenge yet for the contestants, it’s certainly the longest. First, of all, you would have to come up with an idea on how music can be scary. Could the story be about a cursed instrument? A song with backward messages causing people to go crazy? Or could it be a spirit trapped in a song? The sound of music can cause powerful emotions in people but does it scare people? Can music be dangerous?

I think a lot of times when people think of horror they don’t necessarily think of music, but think for a minute what horror films would be like without music to set the mood. Movies like Halloween and Psycho would not have had the same effect without the orchestra music in the background. What would happen if you replace the music in Suspiria with country music? It definitely would not have the same effect. Music soundtracks are only one way that we see how music can be scary, there are also quite a few stories out there about cursed musical instruments. M.R. James wrote about a cursed harp and Caitlin Kiernan had a story about a cursed violin. Music is a form of communication and it can be used to strike terror in someone’s heart.

So addicts do you have a certain song that when you hear it causes you to feel a strong emotion? Can a certain instrument cause you to have chills? I’ve always felt that music can take you to another place and time but can it create fear? Tell us in the comments if you’ve ever been scared by a song or just how you think music can be something scary.  Also if you were in this contest or submitting to the anthology what would you write about?

David’s Haunted Library: Meddling Kids

 

Imagine what a story would be like if you had 4 kids and their dog who went around solving mysteries.  Each time they solved a mystery they discovered that the culprit was someone in a fake monster suit. Does this sound familiar? This book isn’t about that group of detectives, this story is about the Blyton Summer Detective Club. Back in 1977 they solved their last case throwing a man in jail for pretending to be a lake monster and life hasn’t been the same since.

Kerri went on to become a biologist but can’t seem to hold onto a job and she still lives with a dog who is the descendent of the club’s original dog. Andy is a tomboy wanted in two states who can’t get over the fact that they sent the wrong man to prison. Peter has died of a drug overdose and Nate has been in and out of mental asylums and still talks to Peter’s ghost. All of them are broken adults and the only way to put the past behind them is to return to the scene of their last case and confront the real life monsters at the bottom of the lake.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is what you get when you combine Scooby Doo with H.P. Lovecraft. Hearing the description of this book, I considered it a must read and despite some flaws, it doesn’t disappoint. What makes it stand out is how the story unfolds. In the beginning you hear about how the detective’s last adventure was an open and shut case. Then you see how all of them are damaged in their own way and you realize that there is more to it then meets the eye. You could say that the main idea of this book is about facing your fears. Each of the main characters tried to deny the truth about what happened and acted like they were fine but the truth ruined them and 13 years later they had to face their fears to be able to move on.

The thing I didn’t like about Meddling Kids was that it felt like it needed a good editor. Some parts felt dragged out. For instance, there was a scene in a mine shaft that was long and unnecessary, I couldn’t figure out why they had to go down there in the first place. Then there was a scene where Nate reads a passage from an ancient text to bring the lake creatures to life where I was wondering “why is he doing that and why aren’t the others stopping him.”  Also, Andy’s obsession with Kerri’s hair really got on my nerves after a while.

That being said, this book is worth your time if you like a good mix of horror and humor. The detail that goes into the characters lives shows that Edgar Cantero has a real passion for his creations. It’s like he sat down and said “I wonder what the Scooby gang would be like in real life” and came out with a very detailed description of all of them. What I liked most about this book is that the author gives a mythological explanation for what is going on and he also gets into a scientific explanation as well. There is one scene where Nate and Kerri are arguing about the reason for what’s happening with one talking science and one blaming everything on old gods and ancient texts that make this a must read.

 

By The Fire Edpisode 141: Challenge 5: Horror Romance poems

Hey Horror addicts, we just had our fourth challenge in the horroraddicts.net Next Great Horror Writer Challenge. The challenge for this episode was to write a 650 to 700-word horror poem. The poem could be rhyming or free form. Writers needed to know how to convey a romantic situation and will be judged on sexiness, style and creating a horror romance theme.

Combining romance and horror in a poem can be even harder than writing on one topic or the other, but if you think about it romance and horror are topics that go hand in hand. For instance, if someone loves someone and that person doesn’t love them back it could be considered horror. Also, the idea of losing someone you love to death is a topic that scares everyone. One good example of a horror romance poem that I can think of is a song by Alice Cooper called This House Is Haunted. This song reads like a poem and it’s about a man living in a house haunted by his dead lover. Though if you look at the lyrics they could be interpreted as something different in someone else’s eyes and that’s what makes poetry complicated.

The Next Great  Writer Challenge is really putting the participants to the test. The whole point of this competition is to get writers to flex their literary muscles and this challenge does just that. In my opinion writing, poetry can be harder than writing a short story or even a novel. Poems are all about emotion and expressing emotion isn’t always easy. I think it’s hard to get your message across in a poem and then there is a whole other aspect to it which is getting your audience to understand what you’re trying to say.

A reader can interpret a poem that you wrote in lots of different ways. You may have written it but the reader might not get your message and instead get a completely different idea from what your work. You have to have a certain mindset to write poetry and a certain mindset to understand it. I have to admit that I usually have a hard time understanding poetry but there are some out there that I enjoy.

My favorite poem is Death by Emily Dickenson. This is a short poem but there is so much meaning here and so much is being said that to me it comes across as brilliant. I always thought the main idea she was trying to get across was her fear of death and how she wishes she was immortal. Though if you could talk to her about it, she might say that she had something completely different in mind. Emily Dickenson may not have been considered a horror poet but to me, that one is pretty scary.

When most people think of horror poets they think of Edgar Allen Poe or Lord Byron, but there is a lot more out there if you are willing to look. Do you have a favorite horror romance poem or just a favorite poem in general? Have you written some poetry that you want to share? Let us know in the comments and while you’re at it, let us know what you thought of the poems in episode 141.

David’s Haunted Library: The End Is All We See

The End Is All We See  contains two horrific stories from M.F Wahl and A.J. Brown. The book begins with intros from each author saying that when they met they wanted to try an experiment together. This book became that experiment. Both authors felt that their writing style complimented each other nicely and they both had story ideas which happen after an apocalypse.

The first story is Purple Haze by M.F. Wahl. It follows a band of survivors who left Earth in a spaceship in order to find another Earth-like planet to live on. The ship crash lands on a beautiful looking planet but there are only three survivors. The crew realizes their situation is bleak and things get worse as they explore outside the ship and discover something in the air is making them want to harm themselves and each other. Purple Haze becomes a blood bath with a shocking ending. M.F. Wahl uses vivid imagery to describe her characters situation and the planet they are exploring. What happens to the explorers is described so well that it’s enough to make you thankful for the air you breathe.

The next story is Run For The Flame by A.J. Brown. It starts simply enough with a bunch of teenagers behind a protective wall, about to race up a snow covered hill. There is more here than meets the eye though, they are living through an ice age and the wall they live behind is breaking down, their only hope is a tower on top of the hill.  The teenagers have a short period of time to retrieve a flame in the tower before they freeze to death. The problem is nobody has ever survived the run and without the flame, the community will die. This was an excellent story, the ending was a little confusing but I love all the characters. They are in a race against time, facing an impossible task but each one has a different emotional reaction to the situation. You feel for all of them and watching them go through what they do is excruciating.

What both of these stories have in common is a fresh spin on an old idea, they both take place after a catastrophic event and what transpires next is something that I haven’t seen in Science fiction or horror. Both authors tell an excellent story and the length of each one can be described as perfect. They’re short but pack a punch that you might not recover from.  To say their experiment worked is an understatement and I hope this isn’t the last collaboration between these authors.

 

Horror Artist Profile: J.E. Richards

One of the benefits of being on the HorrorAddicts.net Staff is you get to talk to some talented creative people that have a love of horror. Here is an interview I recently did with artist J.E. Richards. J.E. is someone who was inspired to draw by the comics and magazines he grew up with and when he got older he used that passion for art as a way to express his feelings about the area he grew up in:

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Milwaukee and grew up there until I was 11. Our family then bought a 7-acre farmstead in Fon du Lac Co., just north of Auburn Lake and east of Campbellsport. We stayed there until I was 17, then moved back closer to the Milwaukee metro area living in Menomonee Falls, which is where I graduated HS in 1985.

When did you start drawing?

I started drawing about the age of 3 or 4 if I remember right, about normal for children I would guess. I just never gave up! My brother and dad were collectors of the magazines at the time, early to mid ’70’s, there was always a lot of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella and the Savage Sword of Conan laying about and of course, I read them mainly for the artwork. I collected a lot of Spiderman, Conan the Barbarian, John Carter Warlord of Mars and various other titles and spent countless hours at the kitchen table with loose leaf paper and pencils. The magazine Starlog and then later Fangoria were influential as well, along with Star Trek, Quark, Space 1999 and of course Star Wars. Pretty much a very fertile ground for imagination. Halloween and vintage black and white horror movies were a mainstay, and I spent hours building Aurora monster models besides the PMC line of Pirates of the Carribean series (these things had rubber bands you could attach to the arms of the skeleton pirates, they called it Zap! Action, it was great because they could swing a cutlass or pop out of a treasure chest.) In HS I took several classes on basic art and drawing and learned how perspective, shadowing, shading and composition worked

What inspired you to draw?

I was inspired to draw because I really liked and respected the way an illustration could augment a paperback story or tell a tale in sequential art. Comic artists are among the most talented yet underrated individuals because they have to command anatomy, facial features, landscapes, vehicle, buildings, equipment and everything else in between and be able to organize those images in a way that would flow and make sense even without the script and writing. I have always loved concept art and rough storyboarding as well (Starlog always had good features on those), and the ink drawings that Frank Frazetta accomplished were inspiring. Somewhere along this timeframe, I decided I liked black and white ink work.

What do you use to draw with?

When I draw I start with a basic #2 pencil on white paper, do a thumbnail, and once it’s good I’ll move onto 11 x 14 or 11x 17 Strathmore Bristol and take it from there with either Micron markers or even Sharpies. I tried the Kohinoor Rapidograph pens for a while, but though they are an excellent product, I ended up taking too much time cleaning the tips out, replenishing ink, cleaning up spilled ink and so on, so I’ve streamlined it a bit now.

How long does it take for you to do your art?

On the average, it will take me about 3 to 4 hours to complete a piece. The images that are on the Deviant Art website were all about that time span once I knew how it was going to look. That’s the most time-consuming aspect, meaning I can have a nebulous idea that I want to make a reality but I’ve learned that if I force it, it will turn into a labor and will look wrong. However, if someone approaches me with a rough idea that they have I can create a few options fairly quickly.

Can you tell us about your book The Last Breath?

The first book, A Last Breath, was conceived one August night back in 2011 when I was feeling that slight chill in the air as autumn was beginning to surface and it reminded me of the years spent on that farm in Wisconsin and all of the memories associated with it. I sat down at my dedicated drawing table ( no more working from a chipped formica and brass legged kitchen table for me) and started to do rough sketches of how those years made me feel : the fields at dusk, the smell of hay in the barn, the shadows between the silos and the splintery wreckage of barbed wire, fence posts and rusted tools, and above all the magic I always felt in a pumpkin patch or rows of endless corn stalks as the daylight faded and I knew there were things that moved about in the dark places while the world slept.

Knife Jack was the first character, soon followed by Chop Block, which kind of gave me the creeps because I had never created something like him, and in the months that followed I kept up the momentum to address every memory and imaginative musing I had out there on the edges of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Unseen things, noises in the night that you were sure was no opossum, deer or raccoon, but at the same time not alarmed because I didn’t pose a threat and so they passed me by.

However, I started to develop the idea of folklorish characters specifically created to balance the scales and make the bad guys afraid of what lives out there, and so the one-page flash fiction began for each of the 13 new entities. (I wasn’t trying to be trendy and cool by having 13 characters, my original intent was to do a set of 20 images because I like even numbers, but after Crone, my creative visualization literally shut off. This was now in Feb 2012, so I had been putting pen to paper for months trying to capture what was trying to be expressed, and it finally ran its course).

So I wrote. I wrote the words and quick vignettes I have always wanted to read but could never find. They were of cause and effect, action and consequences of a sort. If a question is asked or guidance sought, there may be a price to pay or if an individuals’ actions caused harm to others through malicious intent, well, they just might have to face something they only heard about in whispered campfire tales. Thus A Last Breath was born.

The photo on the cover is our house on the hill where I lived for those formative years, right off of Hwy D or DD, I don’t know what it’s called now, I just know I can still find it on Google Earth and it looks pretty much the same, not far from New Prospect and Mauthe Lake.

The stories were fine tuned a bit and I looked for self-publishing options which led me to Amazon and Create Space. This proved to be a good decision and since then we have established our business front of Last Breath Studios. In the last few years, we have participated in local venues, Halloween vendor shows and the fall festivals in Apple Hill, CA.

The second compilation of art and writing has been published under the title of “Cailleach Teine”, translated as Witch Fire in the Gaelic language, and is more traditional with longer stories and less artwork but still retains the feel of the first book with references to the original. In this work, I established the foundation for a third book, now a novel, The Moths Of Autumn.

How long did it take to bring it all together?

To bring all of this together takes a bit of time and effort, but depending on the project size the Last Breath Team can make ideas a reality in record time. The original artwork took 3 months from beginning to end, the flash fiction stories another month. In Cailleach Teine, the process was reversed in that I wrote the stories first and completed artwork later, but there is always a bit of crossover and flexibility.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on a project dealing with the Undead in Railroad era late 1800’s
Western America.

A new stylized theme of retro-modern Halloween characters is also on the drawing board and pencil concepts are in progress as of this writing.

In addition, there is a great amount of work being done on a joint venture with Travis Jensen and Jed Lean, co-creators of the newest children’s Halloween tradition, Harvest Jack: 13 Nights of Hallow.

Where can people find you on the internet?

The internet presence is:

 

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: Stephanie Ellis

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is Stephanie Ellis who took some time to tell us about the book and her writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

My story, Hands of Time, takes place in the subterranean world of Wonderland, in the dark dungeons and cellars no one ever really thinks about. Their existence, never referred to, must be real, after all the Queen of Hearts was always arresting her subjects and demanding their beheading. So, where did these miscreants go and who despatched them? This is where the Executioner comes in, a hooded figure shrouded in secrecy … like the world he inhabits. And like all people with a trade, he has his apprentices. These are his hands, one of whom will become chosen as his successor. Together with the TimeKeeper, who is in charge of the Queen’s clocks, he selects Rab as the one to follow his trade. But how is this choice made and what happens to the other hands … well, you’ll just have to read the story.

What inspired the idea?

“Off with their heads!” The line that everyone remembers. But whether you read the book or watch the film, you never see much of the Executioner. I wanted to know more about him and his world. I also played around with the different meanings for the word ‘hands’ – hands on a clock, work hands, actual flesh and blood hands (although not for long!!) and linked them all together. And suddenly an idea was born.

When did you start writing?

Several years ago, mostly privately and just ‘scribbling’, I didn’t think about doing anything more serious. Then about four years ago I saw a submission call for a horror anthology, thought it looked like fun, so had a go. It wasn’t successful as it didn’t quite fit but the feedback was positive so I tried again and this time got in. The then editor, Theresa Derwin (now of Quantum Corsets), was extremely supportive, and took other stories of mine for other anthologies. This encouraged me to try the wider market and here I am. Slow but sure.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

The darkness of the soul! Whatever I write, it always ends up dark. Some stories feature a bit of blood and gore but it’s not by any means all ‘slice and dice’ and only a few have standard horror tropes, ie tend to avoid vampires and werewolves. I prefer to hint at darkness, build up a sense of horror in setting and atmosphere, twist what might seem innocent at first.

What are some of your influences?

It goes without saying that Stephen King is one of them, he is amazing at creating such a real sense of place and time. He also shows that horror can be written in many different ways and he is certainly never repetitive. Ray Bradbury, particularly for Something Wicked This Way Comes, again the atmosphere, the characters, and its gothic feel. Then there’s Shirley Jackson, Edgard Allan Poe. But it’s not only these more famous authors. There are other writers I’ve met online, particularly a small Flash Fiction community called the FlashDogs and they have pushed me to raise my own standards. We compete against each other weekly in flash competitions and there are some amazingly dark people amongst them, particularly David Shakes, Mark A. King, Tamara Rogers to name but a few. The latter two have also recently published their first novels.

Another influence isn’t a book or a writer but a place. I grew up in an isolated rural area in a country pub, The Cider House in Shropshire . And something that’s always stayed with me is the atmosphere of that area and the feelings it generated: getting off the school bus and then facing the long walk home along narrow country lanes in gathering dusk; of the stillness before storms when birds stopped singing, branches stopped rustling and everything seemed to be waiting; of fog shrouding the fields and woods around the pub and walking through those mists and becoming totally disoriented. It always made me feel there was ‘something else’ at work around us and that’s an element I try to include in my writing.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

The evil man can do, how it could even be considered. I just can’t comprehend how some people can commit the atrocities you hear of in the world today. What is it that drives them? Is it this idea of the Devil, is it a disturbed mental state? Who actually pulls the strings to create the nightmares? Perhaps there is more ‘out there’, a supernatural realm. Horror allows you to explore this darkness, consider the ‘What Ifs’. It makes you think and shakes you up but always delivers you safely on the other side … it keeps the monsters between the pages.

What are some of the works you have available?

I have had a number of short stories published in horror anthologies, all available over at amazon but I would like to mention the following in particular:

The Infernal Clock, co-edited by myself and David Shakes which has a story for every hour of the day. It features two of my stories, The Graveyard Shift-a new take on the Sandman legend-and Whispers which centers on a dysfunctional family in a haunted house.

Weird Ales Volume 1 (edited by the wonderful Theresa Derwin) which includes my story The Yowling, cider-making taken to a whole new level!

Masks edited by Dean M. Drinkel (again, another very supportive editor) which contains my story The Face Collector, a gothic story in which the Devil always collects.

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished my novel Black Switch, a near-future, industrial-type horror I suppose you would call it. What happens when humans run out of fuel, out of electricity but then discover a way of turning the lights back on; a way which could only be described as immoral. If you discovered someone had the ‘capacity’ to become a human battery, would you plug them into a Generator just so someone else could have a hot bath? Would you, could you trade another person just to save a member of your own family knowing what that trade would lead to?
The book is now out with a small group to beta-read before I take any further steps with it. To get over the nerves whilst I await their response I’ve started to mull over ideas for a new novel and since my Hands of Time story featured an Executioner, the whole idea of what ‘makes’ an executioner has stuck in my mind.

Where can we find you online?

I’m @el_Stevie on Twitter and can also be found at http://stephellis.weebly.com/ where my blog is usually only randomly updated. I’m hoping to improve on that slightly this year though.

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: K.L. Wallis

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is K.L. Wallis who took some time to tell us about the book and her writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

My story is called ‘Half Past’. It is about a woman who follows a mysterious man though the subway and somehow travels back in time to the late 1800s where she finds the world turned on its head; instead of the patriarchal norms of the past Alyssa finds herself in a world where women are the superior sex and the moral boundaries of the 21st century no longer exist.

What inspired the idea?

I’m not quite sure. I experiment with my writing, and I think that is what ‘Half Past’ is. Hearing about the theme of this anthology pushed me to see if I could meet the challenge.

When did you start writing?

I wrote down the initial idea about a year ago, but due to having limited time to work on my own writing, I only really started to pull it together a few weeks before I submitted it to Horror Addicts.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I write a lot of Gothic fiction, but to different degrees depending on the story. I find a lot of my work crosses a couple of genres. I find most often I end up writing mythology and legend or fairytale inspired stories.

What are some of your influences?

I am quite heavily influenced by music, things I have seen on television shows, things I have read in other literature, or real life history or mythology. I like to explore in my writing why people do the things they do, quite often writing from the point of view of the villain.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Horror ties in well with my Gothic focus, so I guess it’s a natural theme for me to write about. Horror is interesting as it shows the darker side of humanity, and in the manner of fairytale, is often cautionary. As I am currently researching in my honours thesis, horror ‘figures’ – such as the Grim Reaper, vampires, zombies etc. – are often the physical manifestation on the page (or screen) of deeper human fears.

What are some of the works you have available?

My short story Briar was published as a part of last year’s Horror Addicts Anthology – Once Upon a Scream. Three other of my short stories – A Woman Scorned, Burnt and In Limbo – were published online in the July, August and September issues of The Australia Times – Fiction.

What are you currently working on?

My honours thesis is currently absorbing all of my spare time, unfortunately, leaving me little time to write creatively. I have however, several incomplete stories I hope to return to very soon – a retelling of a Greek myth, a vampire novel and a chic lit I started forever ago.

Where can we find you online?

My online presence is minimal at the moment – another thing I am hoping to work on later in the year. My business website can be found at: https://restrictedquill.wordpress.com/.