Author Archive

An Interview With Loren Rhoads

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2016 by David Watson

Our featured author for episode 134 of the Horror Addicts Podcast is Loren Rhoads. Loren had an article in Horror Addicts Guide To Life and has written guest blogs for our blog in the past. Recently we asked Loren a few questions about her writing:

What is your story for episode 134 about?

29741039It comes from my book Lost Angels, which came out earlier this year. The succubus Lorelei sees an angel in her boss’s dance club.  She pursues Azaziel, who inflicts a mortal girl’s soul on her.  Lorelei has to survive Hell’s attacks long enough to find a fallen priest who can exorcise the mortal soul from her infernal body.  The scene I’m reading for the podcast takes place after Lorelei is possessed, when she’s trying to make an alliance with a fiend to protect her until the exorcism.

When did you start writing?

I started writing stories down in junior high, after I discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe.  My family visited the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia – and Poe’s dorm room at the University of Virginia – and I realized that he was a real person who wrote real stories.  I’m not sure what I thought created books before that, except that they seemed fully formed objects without humans attached.  Once I figured out that people wrote stories, I wanted to do it too.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

That’s a hard question.  Last year I wrote a space opera trilogy.  This year, I’m completing a series about2148570 angels and devils in the real world.  Next, I’m going to finish a book about a witch doing everything she can to prevent the death of someone she loves.  I’ve written a lot of stories about Alondra’s adventures, which have appeared recently in the books Fright Mare: Women Write Horror and nEvermore!: Tales of Murder, Mystery, and the Macabre.  One of my Alondra stories will appear in Best New Horror in 2017.

I guess my favorite topics are women, because I find the ways they think and interact with the world fascinating.  I’m also interested in love, what it is and how it is used. And I’m interested in traveling, how being out of your familiar space shows you who you really are.

Who or what inspires you?

6355365Strangely enough, I find a lot of inspiration on Facebook.  I’m curious every morning to see what we will be angry about each day. All kidding aside, I’m glad to see the discussions of racism and sexism and how people grapple with those issues.  We’re in a place now where people feel they can speak out, which I think is amazing.  Of course there is a lot of turmoil, but it’s leading to growth.  I find it all riveting: challenging, but ultimately positive.  My stories are my attempts to add to those conversations.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

I’m glad to see so many women bringing their stories to the genre now.  When I was growing up, it was all King, Straub, Streiber, then Clive Barker.  The only well-known woman at the time was Anne Rice, but her vampire books weren’t considered “real” horror.  Now we have Gemma Files and Caitlin Kiernan and Dana Fredsti, Maria Alexander and Lisa Lane and Eden Royce … more women than I can name in a paragraph. No one can deny that they are writing real horror, whatever that means.  And they are all writing such different stories.  I can’t wait to discover more of it.

Could you tell us about the As Above, So Below series?

23130135Originally Lost Angels and Angelus Rose were one massive novel. No one would publish it at that length, so I split it into two books. Black Bed Sheet Books originally published the first book in 2013 as As Above, So Below.  When the rights came back, Brian and I decided that it was time to publish the second – more apocalyptic – half of the story.  Angelus Rose will be coming out on Automatism Press in November 2016.

Could you tell us about your nonfiction writing?

In my not-so-secret other life, I write about visiting graveyards.  As I travel, I always stop into local cemeteries to see how they reflect the cultures that surround them, what’s different and what is similar from place to place. I always like to grab a little peace when I travel, so a graveyard is the perfect place.

In August, my parents took me to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario to see a couple of plays.  I snuck off one morning to see St. Mark’s Churchyard, which predates the War of 1812.  One of the large flat grave markers is all gouged up.  Apparently, when the church served as a hospital during the War, that gravestone was where the surgeons performed amputations. The marks of their cleavers striking off limbs is still visible, two centuries later.  Great story, right?

18010009At the moment, I’m publishing other people’s stories on my Cemetery Travel blog.  The goal is to gather a collection of them to be published as Death’s Garden Revisited.  I encourage anyone who has had something special happen to them in a graveyard – whether they took a date there or visited the grave of someone meaningful or stopped in while they were on vacation – to get in touch with me at cemetarytravel.com.  The call for submissions is here: https://cemeterytravel.com/deaths-garden-call-for-submissions/.

What are some of the other books you have available?

The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, my space opera trilogy, have been accused of bringing grimdark to outer space.  The books are about surviving in the galaxy after humanity started – and lost – an interstellar war.  They’re available in paperback, as ebooks, or as audiobooks.

My collection of cemetery travel essays, Wish You Were Here, collects my stories from Morbid Curiosity magazine, my cemetery column at Gothic.Net, and from various literary magazines.  The essays range from London to Paris to Prague to Rome and Tokyo, then across the US from Boston to Maui.  A new edition of the book will be coming out from Automatism Press early next year, but for now, the book is still available from Western Legends Press.

976431Back in the misty past, I edited a magazine called Morbid Curiosity.  It published confessional nonfiction essays about all kinds of things, from adventures in modern medicine to grim travel destinations to encounters with serial killers and much, much more.  A collection of my favorite pieces from the zine came out as Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual.  It’s available online as an ebook, but I still have some copies of it in paperback.

Where can we find you online?

My homepage: www.lorenrhoads.com

My blog: www.lorenrhoads.com/blog

The As Above page: http://lorenrhoads.com/writing/as-above-so-below/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loren.rhoads.5

Twitter: www.twitter.com/morbidloren

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/morbidloren/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/976431.Loren_Rhoads

Cemetery Travel: https://cemeterytravel.com/

David’s Haunted Library: Hollow House

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on September 10, 2016 by David Watson

David's Haunted Library

30968911Willow Street was a place where nothing interesting ever happened. People went about their everyday lives and didn’t pay attention to the abandoned house at the end of the street. That was until the stench of a dead body came from the old Kemper home. Suddenly the lives of everyone living on Willow Street are forever changed.

News reporter Ben Traynor starts to investigate the death in the Kemper House and finds out there is much more here than meets the eye. The strong smell starts off a series of life altering events on Willow Street. Not only is the house cursed but so is the town and no one is safe from its influence.

Hollow House by Greg Chapman is a haunted house story on steroids. This is the first story I’ve read where the house haunts the whole neighborhood and it was this concept that made the story original. I’ve read a lot from Greg Chapman and was really looking forward to this book and it didn’t disappoint. What makes the story interesting is that it gets into the heads of everyone living near the house and they all react differently to the evil infecting the Kemper house and how they are on the surface is different then how they really feel.

One of my favorite characters in this book is a girl named Amy who is getting over a suicide attempt and trying to get her life back together. Though as she is contemplating why she prefers virtual friends over real friends she starts getting plagued by a spirit who wants to make her suffer. I felt Amy was a character that most teenage girls can relate to and was really rooting for her to find the happiness that she couldn’t find online. Another good character was news reporter Ben Traynor who comes across as a callous self-serving jerk early in the book. Later on, when faced with death we see a different side to him and despite his flaws, you learn to like him.  The characters in this story seemed so real and that was what kept me reading Hollow House.

Though I generally liked the book I did find the story to be confusing in places and I didn’t understand the ending. The characters in the book were so strong though that I never lost interest. I really enjoyed how complex all the characters were, they act differently in public than they do in their homes and when confronted with the supernatural they show what they are really like. This book is like a case study on what secrets can lie hidden in a small picturesque town. Greg Chapman knows how to create great characters and scare his readers. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

 

 

Ghastly Games: Games for the Whole Horror Addict Family

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2016 by David Watson

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Most of the games that have been talked about on this blog over the last few months have been geared towards people age 12 and up. Gamers learn to love games at an early age because their parents played games with them. So if you are a parent and a horror addict what games do you play with your kids? I can remember playing the Goosebumps card game and Atmosfear with my kids but what current games are out their for families to play? So I did a search and found some new horror themed board games that you can play with your whole horror addict family:

ZombieKidz_3DboxZombie Kids: Zombies are taking over the local cemetery in town and its up to a bunch of kids to stop them. They tried to tell their parents about the zombies but no one believed them so now they have to take matters into their own hands. To defeat the zombies the kids have to lock the cemetery gates or try to out smart them. This game is for 2 to 4 players and is meant for kids 7 and up. You have 7 characters to choose to play as and it takes only 15 minutes to play. It’s easy to learn and easy to play and its a perfect game for the whole family. http://iellogames.com/Zombie_Kidz.html

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: This is a game for kids 8 and up and the ONUW_3D_Box_1024x1024object of the game is to find the werewolf living in your village. This game is for 3 to 10 players and you get to choose from 12 different characters to play as and each one has special abilities. This game only takes 10 minutes to play. It’s fast paced, fun and no two games are ever the same. If werewolves aren’t your thing there is also a One Night Ultimate Vampire game. http://beziergames.com/collections/all-uw-titles/products/one-night-ultimate-werewolf

Goosebumps The Board Game:  Kids love reading Goosebumps, and nowGoosebumps-theboardgame they can play it too. This game is based on the Goosebumps movie that came out last year. All of the monsters from the goosebumps books have escaped.The goal is to find R.L. Stine’s typewriter before the monsters do so you can trap them in a new book. 2 to 6 players can play and it comes with monsters you can play as monsters or people and you can even ride in a haunted car. http://goosebumps.wikia.com/wiki/Goosebumps_the_Board_Game

With Halloween just around the corner, here is a game that you can play and Boo-Opoly-Halloween-Board-Game (1)learn more about every horror addict’s favorite holiday. Booo-opoly is a simpler version of Monopoly but you can play as a cat, bat, pumpkin, witches hat, candy apple or a ghost. You then go around the board buying Halloween properties and learning cool facts about Halloween. This is a great party game. https://www.amazon.com/Late-for-the-Sky-BOO/dp/B00064XFW0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472872157&sr=8-1&keywords=boooo-opoly-opoly

Vampires Of The Night: This game is for kids ages 6 and up and can be pic1246890_mdplayed by 2 to 4 players. The objective is to help the vampires escape the wicked vampire hunter who has placed garlic all over their castle. You need to find the garlic and remove it so the vampires can once again enjoy their castle. Vampires Of The Night comes with a glow in the dark game board and pieces. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/57349/vampires-night

So this is just a small sample of horror themed board games for the whole family. Do you have any horror games that you like to play with your kids? Let us know in the comments

An Interview With Goth Drag King Jean Batt

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by David Watson

Ever wonder what its like to perform in a burlesque show or dress up in drag. Recently I was able to interview Jean Batt about what its like to be a Drag King:

How did you find out there was such a thing as drag kings?

13956969_10153706521041560_1665133699_nI guess I always knew they where around in many different forms. I watched a lot of 30s and 40s movies when I was younger and a lot of the movie starlets of the time would wear drag for different movies and magazines. The real kickers that this was and is an art form where the films Victor/Victoria and Just One of The Guys.

What made you want to get into it?

I was a kid when I started out. But I was a tomboy or a gender non-conforming kid who played heavily with gender. It was a way of expressing my male side openly. I never had to hide it, but this let me be a boy when my mind felt male.

When did you start performing as a drag king?13937028_10153706522181560_1512938405_n

I was a baby by drag standards when I stared out. I was only 13, in junior high, the very first time I went on stage a king. By high school I was doing impersonations of male rock stars mostly. And in a school of all girls, I would be cast in a few school plays as a boy because I was comfortable doing it.

A lot of people don’t even know that Drag Kings exist, how do you battle stereotypes?

For the most part I have been lucky and not had to deal with much stereotyping. Usually just the explanation of kings being the flip side to queens works. Even had a comedian MC one time explain it and it really clicked. Also with being a performer that skirts the line of trans so closely, the trans community sees me 13937045_10153706526306560_1281609788_nas a part of them and one of their representatives.

Do you get any flack from others in the Drag community for being a woman?

In all the years I have done drag, I have never gotten flack. If anything, I have been given a lot of respect for being born female, gender fluid and close to trans. This has been celebrated by some of the drag powerhouses, including the Queen Mother of Drag herself, Sondra St. James.

I have actually had more flack from being a goth, furry, kinkster, nerd and burlesque dancer and crossing these into my drag than my gender identity. Some welcome it, but many of the old school glam queens have been fighting the changes that I represent. I have been actually threatened with violence (yes, this was dealt with.) I have had so many try to change what I do and what I represent so I “can get more gigs”. But I am doing way more shows and events by being who I am than trying to fit in a mold someone else made.13941097_10153706525141560_1625326624_n

What’s the hardest thing about being a Drag King?

It’s literally a pain in the breasts. Binding can be very painful. As a woman, I am more than top heavy and when I bind my breasts down fully to do burlesque (I dance as a man or trans man and I’m one of the only if not the only transman in burlesque out there). I wear four layers of binding at times to make the male body line. I have been asked if I’m going to have top surgery to make this easier, but I have no intention of that.

What is your favorite thing about being a Drag King?

Oh gods, there is a lot. I love a lot of the people. I have people who I see as my family in the drag community. And I met my best friend doing it too.
I have been able to do shows all over the place and have competed even at the national level doing drag.
The people I have preformed for have been mind blowing too. Anyone from NASA scientists to members 13989437_10153706523971560_488282619_nof The US Congress (both doing drag and trans burlesque).

Who influenced you?

I have been doing my own thing for the most part. But if I had to pick a few they would be John Belushi, Rozz Williams, Dave Vanain, Gary Oldman, Jim Morrison and the cast of Interview With A Vampire (save for Tom Cruse).

 

How long does it take for you to get ready for a performance?

It used to take me three hours to get ready, but now it takes me about an hour to get into my usual costumes and full gothboy makeup. Naturally the crazier stuff takes longer to do. And on really hot nights, I have a very simple eye, lip and foundation I do that takes maybe ten minutes at most. It looks good on stage but not for photos.
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What is it like for you backstage at a performance?

There is a joke with a number of promoters that it’s a given that I’m the first performer to show up and actually help get things set up. It may be a joke, but there is a lot of truth to it. I’m the performer that is texting if I’m even running five minutes late. I usually show up close to ready to hit the stage so organizers turn to me to help herd cats or to do the check in with other kings and queens or dancers.

14011969_10153706525616560_1856003706_nSome shows run like clockwork, on time and perfectly. Others, it’s totally crazy and unorganized.
Most of the time, everyone is helping each other backstage to get into gear and face. But there is sometimes the one diva that doesn’t want to play with the rest of the group or has to much of an ego to mix with everyone else.

How do you choose what music you will use and what the act will be about?

First off, I chose songs I actually love. Even if there is a theme to the show, I try to pick songs I love that fit in. Passed that, it’s playing with costumes, props and makeup that fit the theme and who I am.

Do you make your own costumes?

I try to. I used to do film costuming a while back so I know a lot about building costumes.14017575_10153706524716560_515702538_n

However, I do turn to artist friends when it comes to national competition. These costumes have to be beyond what you see at most shows. This is the best in the country so things have to be perfect. And it puts my friends artwork on the national stage and helps get their names out there.

Do you create your own choreography?

Yes, even my burlesque dancing is all mine. Once in a while I am lucky enough to learn a few things from other dancers, such as how to do a death drop safely at my age.

What is the process for making costumes and how long does it take you?

It depends on things. Some of my costumes are just out of my closet. Part of the joy of being a gender fluid goth. I have a trans burlesque piece that has crystal incrusted boxers that took me about ten hours of hand work to do.

For more information on Jean check her out on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/djneshamah

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David’s Haunted Library: Monster Smash-Ups and Pray For Darkness

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2016 by David Watson

David's Haunted Library

Monster-Smash-Ups-02I haven’t read a lot of comics over the last few years but recently I found myself wondering what good horror comics are out there? It didn’t take to long to find an indie horror comic publisher that’s putting out quality horror comics and graphic novels. Scary Tales Publishing is run by Kevin M. Glover and produces comic anthologies that are a throwback to the black and white horror comics of yesteryear, such as Tales From The Crypt and The Vault Of Horror.

The comic I read from Scary Tales Publishing was Monster Smash-Ups Issue 1.Monster-Smash-Ups-03This book contains 40 pages and 6 stories of monster mash-ups. Some of the things that you will see if you pick up this anthology is astronauts on a strange planet trying to escape a space monster, Dracula versus an Arthurian knight, a horde of mummies, a swamp monster fighting zombies and a diary written by Anne Frankenstein. If you love monsters then you can’t pass this up.

Every story in this book was good but the one story that really stood out for me was The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein. The year is 1887 and young Anne Frankenstein is hiding in an attic as the angry villagers are going through town killing all the creatures of the night and throwing them in a pit. Anne may be a child but she has skills and the villagers will be sorry they messed with her. This story is an obvious nod to  The Diary Of Anne Frank and looks at intolerance in a fun way. I would love to see a series based on this story.

Monster smash-Ups is a lot of fun and a must have for horror fans. It takes me back to a time when I liked to sit in my room with my friends looking through horror comics and saying how cool the monsters in it were. I got a great sense of nostalgia while reading this book. You can tell that the artists and writers who put Monster Smash-Ups together have a true love of the genre. Great art, a sense of humor and fun story-lines. This is everything a horror comic should be.

http://www.fracturedscarytales.com/

http://www.screamwriter4hire.com/

23791949Many explorers have died in the Amazon and their bodies were never found. The jungle has been called the Green Hell and its a vicious uncaring place full of predators of different shapes and sizes. But this fact doesn’t seem to stop thrill seekers and tourists from visiting the jungle. Ben and his friends are about to take the trip of their lifetime into the untamed jungle.

What starts off as a wondrous trip into a beautiful part of the world, quickly becomes a fight for survival. On their way to a campground their boat captain is murdered and the tourists are stuck in a remote location where no one can find them. Now they have to make their way back to lodge they came from while being stalked by something that wont let them leave the Amazon alive.

Pray For Darkness by James Michael Rice is a horror novel where the jungle itself is the main character. In the beginning its described as a beautiful place with exotic animals, luscious fruit and it has everything you would need to live off the land. Later in the book we see it as the ultimate killer that can end your life in a thousand different ways leaving your body where it will never be found.

The jungle is a living, breathing dangerous thing in Pray For Darkness and that’s what made this book great. One of my favorite scenes in this book didn’t include any people but instead focused on animals struggling to survive in the wild. The chapter starts with a family of capybaras being stalked by a jaguar. The author gets into the heads of the animals and you see how hard it is for them to thrive in this place. I found myself feeling emotion for the capybara trying to save its family and the starving jaguar just trying to survive.  Then the scene gets more horrifying when a group of bigger predators arrive.

The predators in question could be considered zombies but in my opinion they are faster, smarter and more vicious than zombies. There is one scene when one of the characters is turned into a zombie like creatures that is downright chilling. This is when the book changes from being about the beauty of the amazon to a horror novel. I also loved how we see the character’s personalities change when they are confronted with danger. You could say this book is two books in one.

The thing I didn’t like about Pray For Darkness was that it took a long time to get into the action. The first half of the story focuses on the characters which I didn’t find interesting. The book picks up in the second half though when we find out about the wild humanoids that are stalking the campers. My favorite part of this book was the descriptions of the jungle and I would have liked this book even if it didn’t have any characters. This book brings to life an exotic location that I have never experienced and that was what made it worth reading.

It Came From the Vault: Classic Horror novels

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2016 by David Watson

 

 

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Origninally published January 1, 2011…. A short suggestion of Classic Horror Books… Maybe you are looking for something “new” to read for the coming fall… Check out these titles have you read them all?

 

 

With the topic for episode 54 of Horror Addicts being classic horror. It would be easy to just mention Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or maybe Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft. I thought it would be more fun to find some lesser known classics. If your willing to look for them you will find these for free online.

Varney_the_Vampire

One book I found was Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood by James Malcom Rymer. Though in some places the author for Varney the Vampire was given as Thomas Preskett Prest. Both James and Thomas wrote several books in the mid 1800’s and they introduced the world to Sweeney Todd in a book called The String of Pearls in 1847.

The Feast of Blood was a serialized gothic horror story which was released in a series of penny dreadfuls between 1845 and 1847. The story is about a vampire named Varney and the troubles he brings to a family called the Bannerworths.  As the story moves along Varney is shown as a sympathetic character. He was cursed to be a vampire after accidentally killing his son in a fit of anger. He is either killed or commits suicide several times in the book but always comes back to life and is doomed to feed on the blood of  the living for eternity.

Varney The Vampire was published as a book in 1847 and totals about 667,000 words. Varney was a major influence on vampire fiction, he has fangs, hypnotic powers and super human strength but he is able to walk in daylight and is not afraid of crosses. This book is one of the inspirations for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Another book that inspired Dracula is The Vampyre by John William Polidori. This story was written during the same period as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Authors Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, John Polidori, Claire Clairmont and Percy Shelley were staying at the Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816. It was rainy and to pass the time the five of them wrote stories.

This book was released in 1819, the story revolves around a young Englishman named Aubrey who meets a man named Lord Ruthven. Aubrey soon realizes that everywhere Lord Ruthven goes people end up mysteriously dying. Lord Ruthven is not a traditional vampire but several comparisons can be made between Lord Ruthven and Count Dracula.

A third book I found was The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This is a book from 1898 about a haunted house in England. The story follows a boy named Miles who was just expelled from a boarding school. When he returns home he brings along two ghosts that terrorize Miles and the rest of the people that live in the house.

Some other books I found was The Book of Were-wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould This book contains several old myths and short stories that pertain to shape shifters. This book may not be a traditional classic but its all older stories about werewolves and I love werewolves so I wanted to include it here.

The last book I wanted to mention was Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer. The story follows a man named Dr. Bruce Cairn who is using mind control to get people to kill for him. This pulp novel was written in 1918 by the same author who created Dr. Fu Manchu.

An Interview With Lisa Mannetti

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2016 by David Watson

Our Featured author for episode 132 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is Lisa Mannetti. Lisa writes what I like to call historical horror fiction. Recently she talked to us about her work:

What is your story for episode 132 about?

Stoker_NomineeI will be reading from The Box Jumper, my stand-alone novella about Houdini which was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards and won “Novella of the Year” from This is Horror. The protagonist or narrator is Leona Derwatt, a former “box jumper” i.e. assistant to the great magician himself. Thirty years after Houdini’s death, she says she’s going to reveal his secrets about the paranormal—but is she telling the truth? Leona was in love with Houdini and she helped him debunk fraudulent Spiritualists, but in the present (1956 in the novella) she’s trying to guard herself from telling a shady medium/magician named Emory the real source of Houdini’s powers. As the book progresses, we (as readers) realize she’s been drawn into a dangerous situation with Emory and two of his cohorts that is more nefarious than she ever imagined. The novella’s five parts and main structure follow the five classic symptoms of demonic take-over—from “invitation” to “summoning” to “obsession” through “infestation” and finally, “possession.” Has Leona been “invaded” and overcome by dark forces? Or is she merely a tragic, lonely figure who’s fallen prey to madness? Terrifying and poignant, the novella delves into the darker side of a broken woman who worshipped an immensely charismatic public figure—and maintains—was loved by him in return.

When did you start writing?

I first started writing when I was eight years old—and the very first story I dwatch 277x419wrote (that wasn’t an assignment from one the nuns who taught at my school) was a psychological tale about vampires. Sounds pretty sophisticated, right? It wasn’t though. It turns out my parents were going crazy because I had night terrors and I was keeping the entire household awake night after night. When I wrote the story, my mother read the “Twilight Zone” ending I’d tacked on which was that the girl’s frightening nightmares and dreams were actually triggered when her mother came in each every evening to kiss her while the child was asleep and resulted in her bolting upright and screaming an hour or two later. This goodnight ritual was my mother’s routine because she was going for an advanced degree from NYU and by the time she got off the train and came home, I was already in bed, asleep. The great thing from my parents’ point of view was that by writing about it, I saved them megabucks at the psychiatrist they were just about to drag me to. The important thing for me was that if you let your subconscious run, great stories (not this one, necessarily) can happen. And sometimes it doesn’t matter if truths about the author emerge—I mean unless you have my mother as your first reader, chances are excellent you won’t know what the hell you’re revealing and won’t have to feel embarrassed.

What are your favorite topics to write about? 

I really like writing about the dark side of life. Disease and disfigurement are prominent themes. I’ve written about polio, glanders (a disease that afflicts horses but can also spread to humans), radiation poisoning, and a host of other terrible ailments. In fact, I think one of the reasons the door to my imagination opens wider when I set the stories in the past is because the medical treatment was so abysmal compared to today’s standards that disease (of all kinds) was more part and parcel to everyday life. I like to write about the things that “seize” us mentally or physically and force us to cope with what’s beyond our control. I also like to write about the changes a disease has—not just on our bodies—but on our psyches. Both disease and possession/manipulation in my work are metaphors (ultimately) for the things around us we can’t control—those profoundly painful moments each of us face in life. We all encounter deep disappointment, death of loved ones; harrowing circumstances that make us question ourselves and the world around us. I like to write about that nexus—the things that impact our lives and create permanent change in our bodies, minds and hearts.

Who or what inspires you?

I think a lot of my stories are still attempts to reckon with the fact that we all die someday. Because my mother was a nurse (later a public health director) we had plenty of medical-type textbooks around the house and the pictures and the diseases both fascinated and terrified me. From fourth through seventh grade, for example, I was obsessed and phobic about getting leprosy. It sounds funny now, but I really did worry about it to the point I was getting up in the middle of the night to check and see if my palms were turning yellow or if I’d lost feeling in my feet. The Catholic nuns were big on discussing it back then (and collecting money to send to leper colonies) and there was plenty to read in the school library about notable figures like Father Damien. The big thing about him, as I recall, is that during one Sunday sermon he began speaking about the affliction “we” lepers endure and that was the hint to the rest of the colony that he’d joined their little weeping sore club. There were also tons of books in each classroom that dealt with the lives of the martyrs—all of whom died gruesome, miserable deaths. (Everything from being shot with arrows, to roasted over coals, to thrown to lions) and between those books and my mother’s handy pictorial guides, disease became a lifelong fascination for me. I didn’t really move to the next level—how it impacts our personalities—until I was in my late twenties and diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor that turned out to be no big deal. But, while I was at the doctor’s office, I saw a woman about my age who was not only disfigured, but completely miserable. Don’t get me wrong. I had the utmost sympathy for her, and it was abundantly clear she was suffering. It was also obvious that she couldn’t help snapping and being somewhat nasty to people around her because her life had been utterly ruined by her disease. It was terrifying to me to contemplate—not just the havoc and devastation the disease wrought on her physically—but how her mind and heart had given way and succumbed, too. Years later I read Pet Cemetery and realized Stephen King was probing the same idea when he depicts what Rachel went through on account of her crippled sister.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Tom and Huck adult 2014Well, one thing that strikes me—as both a reader and a writer—is that the genre has both suffered and gained from a schizophrenic perception of its merits and faults. The first gothic supernatural novel, The Castle of Otranto written by Horace Walpole in 1764 (which was both enormously popular and truly awful) claimed to be drawing on the works of Shakespeare. In my personal opinion the only thing Walpole really has in common with the bard derives from what I consider one of Shakespeare’s more preposterous works: Titus Andronicus. Castle includes some pretty laughable scenes including one where a giant helmet falls out of the sky, and Titus has a lot of over-the-top action, too—his daughter, Lavinia, enters at one point carrying her father’s severed hand between her teeth. Sure, there were and are some terrible horror novels—just as there are in any genre and in mainstream books as well. As a reader and a writer, I find it both fascinating and wonderful that authors like Stephen King and Peter Straub and Shirley Jackson (and many others—too numerous to mention) completely legitimized and elevated horror—and it’s a pleasure to be able to write serious, literary works in their wake. Without their achievements, horror would be consigned to remainder tables, beach reads, and scrap heaps for the most part. The general public seems to have difficulty in making the imaginative leap or transitional analysis that (for example) makes them aware that a book like William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice or a play like Tennessee Williams’s Suddenly Last Summer are fraught with horror—and that many of us draw upon the same kinds of important themes when we write.

Could you tell us about 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover?

It started as a little joke to amuse myself, then P.D. Cacek suggested I find an illustrator and she introduced me to the wonderful and wonderfully talented Glenn Chadbourne. 51 Fiendish Ways is a macabre gag book of mostly one-liners about the nasty side of breaking up. There may be copies here and there, but alas it’s pretty much out of print. The good news is that sometime in what I hope will be the near future, Glenn and I are going to reissue the book with new cover art, a new introduction, etc. I’ve always been drawn to dark satire—it’s a skewed perception of a situation—just as horror the “overlay” used by horror writers.

This is a small video trailer of 51 Fiendish Ways for your enjoyment.

Could you tell us more about The Gentling Box?

Although it wasn’t the first novel I wrote, it was my “debut” novel and I was thrilled beyond measure when it won the Bram Stoker Award.

The book is set in 19th century Hungary and Romania and its protagonist (who is suffering from a fatal disease), Imre, a half-gypsy horse trader; his immediate family; and his close circle of friends have all been duped by his wife’s mother, a sorceress named Anyeta whose goal is to gain personal power and to throw off a curse that will condemn her to being eternally awake and aware in her own grave. But, the only way to make an end of Anyeta and to grant her victims peace is gentling—a crude surgery performed on wild horses in order to tame them. Imre’s most hellish childhood memory is witnessing his father opening the crate-like gentling box and placing the wooden and leather devices around the heads of a herd of wild horses. Jutting inward from the circular bands are metal spikes which penetrate the horses’ brains and Imre cannot forget the sight of the blood or, more sorrowful still, the dimming of intelligence in the horses’ huge glossy eyes. Despite his trade, he has never gentled a horse—nor can he bring himself to face the ironic fact that in order to free Anyeta’s human victims, he must gentle them. His decision, then, is whether he can summon the courage to heal himself of his disease by claiming the curse known as the hand of the dead, knowing that once he does so, he must also ultimately face the terror and the freedom of the gentling box.

Here’s the trailer from the second edition:

N.B. The book is currently in its third edition (with wonderful cover art by Steven Gervais) published by NightScape Press and available from Amazon and other online retailers.

It seems like a lot of your work is a mix of historical fiction and horror, Do you have a favorite time period to write about and how long does it take you to research a book before you write it?

gbox+280x419My background (actually my graduate degree and half my Ph.D.) is in 18th and 19th century English Literature; but this is a sort of chicken vs. egg situation since I’m not sure which actually came first. I’ve always been drawn to that period and it seemed like a natural fit when I began writing fiction. That said, I’ve set books and stories in 16th century Scotland, the late 19th and early 20th century in America, as well as in the present. I find that the past often opens the door imaginatively for me and I often write in the first person because it’s a natural and immediate identifier for the reader. Unconsciously, the reader accepts and becomes one with the narrator and therefore finds it easier to slip into the past as present.

It depends on the story or book; but six weeks for a story and six months of research for a book are pretty typical. I also continue to research as I write and will look up whatever I need: a street address, the name of a song, a diagnosis. It keeps the process very interesting to say the least and I select what I find mind-boggling so hopefully the reader will also get caught up in those details. While I’m writing a particular piece, I also watch any videos and read any other books I can find that touch upon the topic—it keeps me close to the lives my characters are experiencing and even unconsciously influences the subtle details of the tale. So, for example, when researching Houdini, I not only read all his written work and biographies about him and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and watched videos of his and Doyle’s films, I also read up on and watched anything I could find about mentalism, the Spiritualist movement, séances, magic, hypnotism, demons, 1920s New York City and Boston, mediums, and witchcraft. Plus a lot more that I can’t think of right off the top of my head.

What are some of the other books you have available?

YA Tom and Huck 547 x 819There are tons of my stories published in numerous well-edited anthologies that also include some other wonderful authors—so I can recommend them all without reservation. (Check out my Amazon Author page.) But, also available are my Stoker nominated stories, “The Hunger Artist” –which can be found in Zippered Flesh 2 (Smart Rhino Publications), and my short piece about Lizzie Borden, “1925: A Fall River Halloween” in Shroud Magazine #10. “Everybody Wins,” which was made into a short film starring Malin Ackerman (Bye-Bye Sally) is available in Uncommon Assassins. (Smart Rhino Publications).

Among my books (fiction) are The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (Smart Rhino) and Deathwatch, (NightScape Press) which is a collection of two related novellas, “Dissolution” and “The Sheila Na Gig.” “Dissolution,” which was nominated for a Stoker Award, is set in 1893 and will soon be a feature-length film directed by Paul Leyden. It’s the story of a young medical student who’s been expelled from university and finds himself in an isolated town in upstate New York where he learns that though he’s been ostensibly employed as a tutor to twelve-year old twins, their father has actually hired him as an assistant in an endeavor to separate them because they’re conjoined. “The Sheila Na Gig” is also set in the 19th century and concerns a young man and his dysfunctional family and his grandmother’s supernatural powers. Both novellas are very dark.

The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (Adult and YA editions) is a lighthearted tale in which Twain’s Tom and Huck have been reincarnated as twin white cats and familiars to a witch. They long to be boys again—scheming accordingly—and, as New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry writes in the introduction, “The novel is equal parts Mark Twain’s quaint and homespun humor and Mannetti’s sharp-as-a-razor modern-day wit…an adventure into the funhouse of intelligent imagination.”

Finally, “1925: A Fall River Halloween”; The Gentling Box, and The Box Jumper (April 2017) have all been translated into Italian.

Where can we find you online?

Just about everywhere! I’m also a member of the HWA and the Author’s Guild.

Websites:

www.lisamannetti.com

https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Mannetti/e/B001HPT6J8/

http://lisamannetti.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/LisaMannetti

https://www.facebook.com/LisaMannetti.Writer/

https://www.pinterest.com/lisamannettiaut/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1978203.Lisa_Mannetti

The Chancery House:

www.thechanceryhouse.com (my virtual haunted house)

Lisa 2Lisa Mannetti’s debut novel, The Gentling Box, garnered a Bram Stoker Award and she has since been nominated four additional times for the prestigious award in both the short and long fiction categories. Her novella, “Dissolution,” will soon be a feature-length film directed by Paul Leyden.
In addition to The Box Jumper, her novella about Houdini which was nominated for both The Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards and won “Novella of the Year” from THIS IS HORROR, she has also authored The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn; Deathwatch; a macabre gag book, 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave your Lover; as well as non-fiction books, numerous articles and short stories in newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Recent and forthcoming works include “Arbeit Macht Frei” in Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, “The Hermit” in Never Fear: The Tarot, and a novel about the dial-painter tragedy in the post-WWI era, Radium Girl.