Where Nightmares Come From, The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre: A Review

Where Nightmares Come From, The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre

Review by Stephanie Ellis

This novel was received free in return for an honest review

4 out of 5 stars

As a writer gradually developing her craft I am always open to hearing and reading the views of those at the top of their game, those who have ‘made it’. Like most, I think we approach such articles in the hope that we’ll discover the magic ingredient, the key that turns a novel in the drawer into a published piece of work. I didn’t get that from this book, nor is it something I discovered from my go-to motivational source, On Writing by Stephen King, who also appears in this particular publication. What I found, which was equally valuable, was the same story from all contributors—whether they be a filmmaker, author, poet, director, publisher or editor—the rule of three: read, write and finish what you start. No exceptions. I learned from Ramsay Campbell that you don’t need different notebooks from different projects, he—like me—makes notes on one thing, goes on to another, then returns to that first project … in the same notebook! I learned that daily word counts don’t always matter—unless you’re trying out for that annual marathon, NaNoWriMo. I learned that you should write for yourself. I mean, if you don’t enjoy it, why bother? In truth, and in my heart-of-hearts, these horror giants were merely stating what most of us already know, the only rule is that rule of three. Whilst the book was geared towards those who write in the horror genre, much of what was said can be applied to writers across the whole range of fiction and even non-fiction. And when it comes to nightmares—everybody is different but the contributors reinforce the idea of developing horror from the everyday and mundane, from the what ifs? There doesn’t have to be blood and gore, it can be subtle, darker and slow-building—again, another reassurance as that is the style of horror I prefer. So what did I take away from all this? A lot of reassurance and a reading list … oh, and the determination to keep on writing. And now I’m off to read Patricia Highsmith’s The Snail-Watcher.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

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Kidnapped! Kealan Patrick Burke Interview

 

1) When you told stories with your other family members, did you compete to see who told the best stories?

At home, we didn’t really tell each other stories. We read them. Book discussions were common in the household. Still are, as a matter of fact. Oral storytelling was more of a rural thing, and in that regard, my grandfather held court with outrageous tales of ghosts and devils. Nobody tried to compete with him, though. There wouldn’t have been any point. He was the master!

2) At what age were you that you knew you would be a writer?

As soon as I had the cognitive ability to recognize ambition, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I lost myself in books as soon as I could pick one up, and though I had brief dalliances with other ambitions (criminal lawyer, astronaut), this was always what I was going to end up doing.

3) You have had quite a bit of profession, other than being a writer, which did you enjoy most? I hear being an editor of a website is loads of fun 😉

Oh yes, being a fiction editor was a very rewarding experience. I also really enjoyed fraud investigating and bar work. At the opposite end of the scale were the security guard, salesman, and waiting jobs, which, while they are all perfectly respectable lines of work, did nothing but suck the life out of me because they involved being verbally abused and treated like dirt most of the day.

4) What do you do for inspiration for stories?

Nothing. They come to me out of the blue, or from the things I see and hear around me. Inspiration is not something that requires any effort whatsoever. It’s making good stories out of them that takes all the work. 

5) Do you model stories from life experiences or do you model it from characters you conjure?

Certainly, there’s a lot of my life experience at play in the stories. To write real people, you must know them. To craft a convincing world, you must know your own. But often, the characters will run away with themselves and tell me the story rather than the other way around. That’s always the best part: the feeling of just being along for the ride rather than driving the car.

6) In this recent novel, Blanky, what inspired you to write this story?

I wanted to study the worst kind of grief and loss and the effect it has on people, how it affects relationships, how it contaminates love. This was the goal long before I came across a vintage child’s blanket on Etsy. It was pretty much as I describe it in the story: old, faded, with weird bunnies stitched into it. Once I saw that I had all I needed to write Blanky.

7) You are a Bram Stoker winner, how did you feel when you won?

Elated. I’d been reading horror novels throughout my teens that declared the author a “Bram Stoker Award-Winner” on the cover. I remember telling myself that one day I would win one, with no real conviction that it would ever happen. Then it did, and other than the wicked cool statue, it was a lovely acknowledgment from my peers, and an honor to share a category with some of my biggest influences.  

8) Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

Oh yes. It’s a dreadful thing to have the will to write when the words won’t come. Usually what I do is write conversations, just the dialogue, no descriptions or speech tags, and see where it goes. This almost always works. When it doesn’t, I quit trying and go find other non-writing-related things to do until the muse kicks in the door.

9) What is your favorite monster? Human villain?

My favorite monsters are the quieter, less showy ones, the ones that are averse to monologues and showboating. The ones that hide in the dark, so you never see them coming, like depression, disease, loneliness, insecurity, grief, envy, rage. Us, basically. And how do you defeat a monster if it’s you?

10) How can we find you on social media, website, and purchase your books?

My website is kealanpatrickburke.com. You can find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kealan.burke, Twitter @kealanburke and Instagram: @kealanpatrick

Kidnapped! Confessions Publicity: Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke

This week, Confessions Publicity has kidnapped HorrorAddicts.net to tell us about their new book available: Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke. Today, we will take a look at the synopsis and learn a little bit about the author.

 

“In the wake of his infant daughter’s tragic death, Steve Brannigan is struggling to keep himself together. Estranged from his wife, who refuses to be inside the house where the unthinkable happened, and unable to work, he seeks solace in an endless parade of old sitcoms and a bottle of bourbon.

Until one night he hears a sound from his daughter’s old room, a room now stripped bare of anything that identified it as hers…except for her security blanket, affectionately known asBlanky.

Blanky, old and frayed, with its antiquated patchwork of badly sewn rabbits with black button eyes, who appear to be staring at the viewer…

Blanky, purchased from a strange old man at an antique stall selling “BABY CLOSE” at a discount.

The presence ofBlanky in his dead daughter’s room heralds nothing short of an unspeakable nightmare that threatens to take away what little light remains in Steve’s shattered world.

Because his daughter lovedBlanky so much, he buried her with it.”

A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of SOUR CANDY and KIN.

 

 

 

********

Born and raised in a small harbor town in the south of Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke knew from a very early age that he was going to be a horror writer. The combination of an ancient locale, a horror-loving mother, and a family full of storytellers, made it inevitable that he would end up telling stories for a living. Since those formative years, he has written five novels, over a hundred short stories, six collections, and edited four acclaimed anthologies. In 2004, he was honored with the Bram Stoker Award for his novella The Turtle Boy.

Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a rock band, curriculum content editor, fiction editor at Gothic.net, and, most recently, a fraud investigator.

When not writing, Kealan designs book covers through his company Elderlemon Design.

A number of his books have been optioned for film.

Visit him on the web at www.kealanpatrickburke.com.

Kidnapped! The Moments Before by Selah Janel

 

Not directly Halloween related, but since it feels like The Year of the Clown, why not? Yeah, warning: Clowns Ahead. I don’t know why I appreciate evil clowns so much, but I totally do. Maybe it’s because clowns don’t bother me, maybe it’s because at least the evil ones pretty much wear their intentions on their sleeve, I don’t know. But the whole archetype intrigues me, as well as people’s reactions to it. Which makes me write little pieces like this. You’re welcome.

The Moments Before

They waited in the toy box, neglected and hidden under other, more comforting toys. They waited in the circus, that razor-edge place of dream and nightmare. They waited in cars, crammed shoe-tip to shoe-tip, nose to nose, stale breath that reeked of peanuts and spun sugar. They sometimes escaped to the real world and showed up at parties, though somehow children always knew better than to look them in the eye. Sometimes, sometimes they’d get lucky and escape from the Other Places, the In Between places, and show up in the Real World to lurk in the woods, or backyards, or under street lamps. Always, always under a shadow, under ‘did I really just see that?’ a film of disbelief. Even then, they waited.

Soon the ringmaster would cue their act, soon the hand crank would play the tune that sent them rocketing out of their boxes, soon the cords would be cut free and they could drop pretenses of entertainment, of magic and face paint, to show what truly lurked underneath. Soon laughter and unease would dissolve to screams and tears, the jokes wouldn’t stop until the screams and pleas finally died down. The car doors would all pop open and their streams of shrieking numbers would come pouring out, soon the thin band of decorum that kept things from getting too out of control would snap. No vigilante mob or well-meaning officials could save anyone. Soon, soon the music would play, the end of the world would come, and the circus would truly begin. Soon, thousands of gleaming, hungry eyes would snap open from Elsewhere, and find that they were finally, finally here.

Soon, the clowns would hunt and everything else would begin.

***

Selah Janel writes various combinations of fantasy and horror, usually put through her own unique filter. Check out her blog at http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ and catch her on Twitter @SelahJanel

 

Kidnapped! Decor by Selah Janel

I love the sights and sounds of fall in general, and they all seem to come together in October. The skies are a more vivid blue, the air is crisper, and I love the changing leaves. As a kid, I loved walking through them to hear them crunch, loved looking at them fluttering from the trees, and absolutely hated raking them. In my teens, we had a big yard, and that was always one of the things that I absolutely dreaded. Though I think the kid in this story dreads it more, heh.

Decor

Very little got Dennis Johnson to move quickly – his son screaming was one of those things. He was out the door and in the large front yard in under a minute. It was hard to miss his son’s tall, lanky frame, especially since he was hopping around, kicking up dead leaves in a vivid autumnal spray. For just the slightest moment he thought maybe the kid was having him on, but up close Kevin was pale and babbling. “Kevin, what is it?”

The leaves crunched under his son’s sneakers with every frantic step. “Call the cops! Holy shit, Oh my God, Dad, it…holy-”

He barely dodged the flailing rake and quickly yanked it from his son’s shaking hand. “Calm down! What’s going on?”

He pointed and turned away, muttered curses turning to whimpers. Kevin was fourteen and already a smartass who usually didn’t care about anything. The lifeless arm sticking out of a leaf pile definitely was more incentive than any advice he’d ever tried to give. It would be a shock to anyone’s system, something so grotesque sitting in the middle of something so pleasant, though he supposed, in reality, it was death on death.

Dennis stared at the limb, the gnarled fingers, the flecks of blood under the nails. Some of the skin on the wrist looked to be wasting away, and the cloth of the sleeve was torn and moldy. His stomach clenched in shock – not like you saw an arm on your lawn every day – but sanity took over. “Really, Kev? I can’t believe you fell for that.”

What?” His son’s disbelief was almost comical.

You think it’s gonna jump out at ya? Come on, dude. It’s October!” He rolled his eyes and poked the arm with the end of the rake for emphasis. “What, you think your old man’s too old to have some fun? I just haven’t gotten the other stuff out of the basement yet.”

The poor kid shook his head as he tried to come back to himself. “What?”

I thought I’d get started on the decorating early this year.” He shrugged as if it explained everything in the universe. “I didn’t think you’d freak out about it.”

His son stared at him in disbelief. “This was a joke? You think this is funny? Dad, holy shit, what the actual hell?The teen shook his arms out, ran his hands through his dark hair, and started cursing for a whole other reason. For a minute he looked like he was ready to grab the rake and bludgeon him with it.

Dennis moved the object to his far hand and stepped back, gauging his son’s reaction carefully. “Don’t let your mom hear you talking like that. Geez, Kev, you about gave me a heart attack screaming like that! What’re you doing out here so early, anyway?”

The kid had gone from scared to defensive in a heartbeat. “I thought if I got it over with I could-”

Play video games all weekend. Uh-huh. You’ve gotta study, too, kid.” As it was, bags were scattered across the lawn and it looked like he’d spread the leaves out more than he’d added to the piles he’d started a few afternoons ago. “Go on, you’re making a mess out here. I’ll finish up. Go do your homework.”

Kevin’s face scrunched and he shook with unreleased adrenaline. “I…fine, whatever. You’re a sick man, Dad,” he grumbled and stomped up toward the house.

You have no idea,” he shot back automatically. Kevin grumbled something and slammed the front door, the typical end note to most of their conversations these days.

Dennis took a few deep breaths of his own, giving himself a few moments to gather his calm and get over his disappointment. When he was sure the teen had gone inside he walked to where a leaf bag was already partly filled and dragged it over to the offending object. Grumbling, he grabbed the lifeless arm and dragged the attached body out from among the golds and oranges that hid it. “How the hell did you get out of the basement…I thought I finished you.” With a quick glance to make sure the neighbors weren’t out on a Saturday morning, he bent and felt the neck. “Well, you didn’t make it far and you’re gone now, so no harm was done.” It took some doing to shove the body into the bag on his own, but he wasn’t going to call Caroline out here for something so trivial and upset Kevin even more. His reactions alone made it obvious he wasn’t ready to help with Halloween decorating yet. “Dumb kid. Everyone knows skeletons are scarier than bodies.” He grunted at the effort it took to drag the bag back to the basement’s outside door. He had to pause three times across the large, sprawling yard before he made it to the concrete steps. “Must be gettin’ old,” he sighed. Back in the day acquiring, storing, and maintaining their decorations had been so much easier. It made it all the more disappointing that Kevin just wasn’t ready to have that talk yet. Dennis braced himself as he dragged the bag back down the steps and inside, making a mental note to tell Caroline their boy wasn’t ready for extra responsibility just yet. While he was at it, he also made a mental note to check the lock on both the outside door and the door to the upstairs. First, though, he’d make sure to poke around all the other piles Kevin hadn’t gotten to yet.

***

 

Selah Janel loves Halloween, but writes horror and dark fantasy all year round. She has stories in several anthologies and magazines and co-wrote the collection Lost in the Shadows. Her fantasy/cross-genre novel Olde School combines a lot of fantasy and horror elements together (along with fairy tales and the just plain strange), and her shorter e-book only titles explore a range of genres and ideas. Catch up with her and see a full list of her titles at http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ or follow her on Twitter @SelahJanel

Ghost Of Manor House: A Review

Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers

Review by Stephanie Ellis

This novel was received free in return for an honest review.

A ghost story in October, what better time to read one than when the nights are drawing in and the wind howls mournfully outside. For such nights, of Ghosts Of Manor House is perfect. Between these pages, you will find the Haunted House and its equally disturbed companion, the old oak, Mr. Travels. Together they have been the site of many an unfortunate death and judicial hanging over the centuries.

It is to this house that Edmund and Mary Wilder and their surviving child, Stephanie, go in order to come to terms with the death of their son Tommy, Stephanie’s twin. What Edmund doesn’t realize, however, is the arrangement Mary has entered into with the house in order to reunite her family. Once there, life becomes vague and Edmund’s sense of reality is distorted by both house and tree. He believes himself to be alone, working on a novel, awaiting his wife’s arrival unaware she is already there somewhere. The innkeeper, Lucas and ancient housekeeper, Mrs. Krane play their parts, convincing him he can never leave until eventually, Edmund realizes the step he must take to be with his family once more.

This chilling tale serves as a nicely done homage to the authors own heroes which include Stephen King and Shirley Jackson.

https://www.ghostsofmanorhouse.com/

 

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call: Horror: Odd and Bizarre

 

Horror: Odd and Bizarre

Take two steps to the left of normal and you’ll find the type of stories offered in Horror: Odd and Bizarre. Consider them the red-headed stepchildren of the genre…

From a museum process that not only preserves the dead but brings them back to life to a phone that warns you of the impending apocalypse, each tale hits on a different level of the bizarre. Maybe a killer clown epidemic that preys on everything you hold dear, or a painting that subtly changes to spell out your doom, piques your odd meter instead—don’t worry, they’re in there too.

If you like horror with a unique spin, a bizarre thread that straddles the line, or a tale that just a little off, you’ll definitely enjoy each odd morsel and bizarre bite contained within!

Featuring:

Phantom Pain — Kayce Bennett

All Aboard — C.R. Langille

Self Portrait — Ben Pienaar

The Process — Georgina Morales

A Man Called Cup — Jason A. Wyckoff

Fingers — Maynard Blackoak

A Clown of Thorns — Ken MacGregor

Into The Dream Never — S.E. Foley

Hi — Calypso Kane

Beep — Kristal Stittle

A Clown and a Dragon Walk Into a Bar — Rob E. Boley

Ivy’s First Kiss — Matthew R. Davis

Horror: Odd and Bizarre can be found online at:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada