Horror Curated: Books in Review

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There is No Death There are No Dead

Edited by Aaron J. French &
Jess Landry
Crystal Lake Press

The spirits of the dead exist and they want to communicate.

Spiritualism—the belief that the soul continues on after death and that those souls try to communicate with the living—originated in the 1800s. It reached a fever pitch with mediums traveling all over the world, practicing their craft.

There is No Death, There are No Dead is an anthology of horror stories focused on spiritualism. Whether telling the story of a spirit, a medium, a haunting, or a hoax, communication with the dead takes center stage in each of these tales.

The stories are diverse and unique, but with a carefully crafted thread that connects them into a cohesive collection. The author might explore the origins of spiritualism in the foggy streets of Victorian London or a modern-day medium wrestling with hauntings that are all too human…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: Cursed by Richard Schiver

 

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Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For:  Those who enjoy small-town horror stories and mysteries.

Content warning: Suicide, child abuse, child abduction, addiction, prostitution, murder, hanging.

Cursed-Amazon-Kindle - Richard SchiverIn Cursed by Richard Schiver, Susan and her daughter are trying to rebuild their lives after her husband’s death. His absence has left them alone and grasping for a new sense of normal despite their grief. Local contractor and Susan’s possibly new guy, Eric, wants to be part of their world, but can he?

Meanwhile, little kids are being drawn away from their homes by a ghost girl and a supposed witch. This is a curse that’s been infecting the small community of Porter Mines for decades. They are led to a pond and can fall into the pond or into crevices and tunnels that are around it.

Susan’s daughter, Christine, is drawn away and her bunny–that was a last gift from her deceased father–falls into a crevice. Thankfully, Christine is saved by her mom and Eric, but the bunny is lost in the crevice. The Porter Mines witch has struck again!

As the missing children count goes up, the sheriff strives to investigate. The sheriff was just a rookie when the first disappearances happened 30 years ago and he’s been ruminating over them ever since, but now it’s happening again. He hopes he can stop it this time. But when a guy from town returns to exact revenge on those who he feels wronged him, will he mess up the investigation by killing the sheriff? Or is he involved in the decades-long curse?

Although the witch is blamed, it seems pretty clear that she is not what is taking the kids, but who is? Is it a human drawn to the allure of children and reenacting a supposed urban legend? Or is it something supernatural? And when Christine disappears again, the time clock speeds up for Susan and Eric to find her and put an end to this crazy curse.

This novel was a fun read. It unwinds slowly and gives you pieces of different stories and layers of information that have you always wondering if the villain is a supernatural or a human monster. I enjoyed the different storylines and felt like even though we were getting closer and closer to the truth, the other storylines had just as much importance to the tale as the main thread of child abduction. 

Although the main character is Susan, I felt also drawn into the lives of the sheriff and the poor little girl (Twila) who had to put up with an addicted mother. One strange thing that I don’t know was intentional was the similarities between the characters. Although Susan and Twila never really interact, their backgrounds are so similar, it feels like the author is showing us an unspoken camaraderie they carry for one another. Can the abused sense the abused, even without saying a word? Are we seeing a child and then a grown-up version of the same child? Or perhaps the author is showing us that everyone–from the little school girl to the sheriff–have troubles in their lives that are never spoken of, that they are not proud of, that haunt them…and we are all not so different after all. You’ll have to read the book to discover which message he is trying to convey.

This is a great book for readers who enjoy small-town horror like Stephen King’s The Storm of the Century or Koontz’s Phantoms and is available at Amazon.com.

Horror Curated: Lynne Hansen

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Multimedia artist Lynne Hansen specializes in horror book covers for some of today’s most popular authors and publishers in the genre. Inspired by the horror novels she reads, Hansen seeks to tell a story with a single image, hoping to convey the symbolic heart of a character or novel like early twentieth-century surrealists M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, and more modern iconic artists like Alan Clark and Jill Bauman. Hansen tries to capture the beauty in even the most twisted nightmare images.

A resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hansen is married to Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author Jeff Strand. In her interview with Horror Curated, Hansen explains how she collaborates with authors and shares her favorite ghostly encounter…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: Midnight Syndicate

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Midnight SyndicateIt’s impossible to say you haven’t heard the music of brilliant composers, Midnight Syndicate. Even if you don’t know them by name, you’ve heard them pumped through ratty speakers in pop-up Halloween stores, haunted attractions, or amusement parks during the spooky season.

Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been composing and producing music together since the late nineties. They have 20+ albums, have been featured on film soundtracks, and even host a live show at Cedar Point, an amusement park in Ohio.

Edward has a background in film and theatre and has always had a strong love of instrumental music and sound effects because of their ability to transport the listener to a world or movie of their own creation. Gavin, on the other hand, grew up playing keyboards and drums in various rock and pop bands, but began studying music in a much more formal way when he was accepted into a Conservatory of Music during college. There, he learned the basics of orchestration as well as structured composition.

The combination of musical sounds from these two gentlemen can only be described as magical. From their first collaboration on the album Born of the Night, to their newest release—a 25th-anniversary celebration album called Legions of the Night—these guys are truly the real deal when it comes to atmospheric and gothic soundtracks to our soul…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: Daughters of Darkness II

 

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Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For: Readers who enjoy horror stories written by women, religious conspiracy, spirits, and demon possession.

Content warning: infant death, hate crime, murder, abuse

Daughters of Darkness II is a set of horror stories by women, curated by two awesome horror writers themselves, Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye.

Daughters of Darkness - Alyson RhodesMy favorite of these stories is by Lynn Love called, “A Light in the Darkness.” Occupying a large part of the middle of this volume, it takes place in three parts during three different parts of a young girl’s life. Starting out as a melancholy tale about her mother losing multiple children, the story transforms into a story about an evil spirit and the love between a sister and brother. Patricia is a girl who isn’t quite sure of her purpose until she is told a secret hidden in the family Bible. This story is fabulously crafted and left secrets that even I didn’t pick up until the end. It’s got a dark, dismal sort of atmosphere from the start leads the reader on a beautiful road of destiny. Just as I thought I knew what was going on, something else unraveled, leading me down another path. The ending went so fast, I kept looking for more to read! I supremely enjoyed this tale and the story is intriguing enough to launch a series. It very much reminded me of Anne Rice’s Lasher books.

Another great tale is “Hummingbird” by T.C. Parker. Told in two parts, this will excite anyone who likes stories about cults, religious conspiracy, or fanatical religious groups. Although I’ll give a warning, it may be triggering for members of the LGBTQ community, especially if you have ever been treated unkindly by a fanatical religion or members of a church group. Jodie is a lesbian and one of Connor’s moms. A religious group is picketing Connor’s school, warning of the dangers of families that don’t have the cookie-cutter mom and dad they believe is God’s gold standard. As a pretty meek and kind gal, Jodie tries to ignore the madness, but when she’s forced into the drama by one of the more aggressive church members, she has no choice but to become involved. Without support from her partner, she turns to a fellow mom who has a secret of her own. In part two, we get a bigger look into the religious side of things and man…I wouldn’t spoil the reveal for all the world.

If you’re looking for an anthology with longer stories by some great women horror writers, this should be right up your alley.

Horror Curated: Winter Tale author Cliff Biggers

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CliffThe creators of A Winter’s Tale, Cliff Biggers, Charles R. Rutledge, and James R. Tuck, were inspired to create their anthology of Yuletide Horror because they enjoyed reading the super Valancourt collections of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. They called on some of the talented writers they know to contribute and bring the tradition back. I got to discuss the book, his favorite horror esthetic, and Edgar Allan Poe with Cliff, one of the editors and the author of our featured story this month, “Who Wouldn’t Go.”

Cliff Biggers has been a writer of comics, Fantasy, Horror, and nonfiction for almost fifty years, beginning with his work with Jim Steranko’s Mediascene in the 1970s. His Horror fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Why should readers pick up A Winter’s Tale?

We have outstanding stories from so many writers, each of them in a different style, evoking a different mood. Just like the Victorian Christmas ghost stories that inspired us, these stories aren’t all built around a holiday theme, so this is more than just a Christmas collection. Our book design and cover artist, Lynne Hansen, conveys that feeling perfectly with her cover image, which is a cold, lonely, somber piece that has no Christmas cheer anywhere to be seen, but it conveys the cold of the season as well as the chill of the ghostly tales.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic?

I am much more a fan of the disquieting, evocative Horror tale than the in-your-face splatterpunk Horror approach. I want a good Horror tale to haunt, not to shock…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Fifty-Three: Kiamichi Bigfoot

Kiamichi Bigfoot: Investigating the Oklahoma Sasquatch is a compelling book that chronicles past searches and sightings in the Sooner State. Published in 2022, Kiamichi Bigfoot is written by David Wilbanks.

A Bigfoot seeker since the mid-1990s, Wilbanks details a few of his more interesting investigations – and there are some very interesting stories in the book. Most of his adventures take place in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma, a hot spot for reported Sasquatch activity.

The book begins with investigations in LeFlore County in 2000 and in Grand Lake the following year, where Wilbanks made casts of footprints and reported noises in line with typical sightings.

However, there’s nothing typical about the third and most interesting chapter to me when Wilbanks describes surveillance video of a Bigfoot attempting to open a grease trap behind a casino in western Oklahoma in 2001. Wilbanks is one of the few who have apparently seen the video before its curious disappearance. He writes that viewing the grainy video “cemented” his belief that Bigfoot is real. Wilbanks even made casts of 16-inch footprints he found near the site and includes a photograph. He has no idea what happened to the original video but would like to see it again. 

Kiamichi Bigfoot details other investigations, including a remote site Wilbanks calls Area X, where small pebbles were tossed at him from the trees while perched atop an abandoned cabin. 

The book features accounts of Wilbanks’ participation in The Travel Channel’s 2002 documentary Bigfootville. There’s also an extraordinary chapter about Sasquatch activity in 2019 on a property in Pushmataha County.

For the most part, the investigations outlined in Kiamichi Bigfoot yield the same “evidence” as other searches around North America, including eyeshine, footprints, glimpses of something humanoid, hair samples, unfamiliar sounds, rock-tossing, and twisted saplings.  

Wilbanks’ writing is easy to follow, and his stories are not embellished, which lends more plausibility to his reports. In fact, with the strange anecdote about the casino surveillance video and the even stranger events on the Pushmataha County property, Kiamichi Bigfoot boosts the case that Sasquatch is real more so than most books and documentaries.

Kiamichi Bigfoot is available on Amazon. With more than 170 ratings, the release is well reviewed with an average of 4.4 stars (out of 5).

NEXT UP: Chapter Fifty-Four: Bigfoot: Path of the Beast. I review the 2020 horror film written and directed by Justin Snyder.


THE BIGFOOT FILES

Horror Curated: The Bloody Brilliance of Lady Snowblood

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Japan is not known for holding back when it comes to throwing around buckets of blood on screen. Not just limited to horror, the country’s samurai and revenge films are some of the bloodiest on record, and because there are often swords involved, it’s not just limited to splashes of red from bullet-wounds either. Lady Snowblood (Toshya Fujita) is a perfect example of this, featuring copious amounts of the red stuff gushing in geysers from slashes and stabs. But the film is much more than just a blood-fest, and is an interesting window onto Japanese society in the beginning of the Meiji Era, when the country was beginning to examine western ideas, moving from the feudalistic, pre-industrial country of old, into a nation that had changed almost indescribably by the era’s end.

The story is one that has been told times before. Yuki, born in the first years of the Meiji Era, is raised to be an assassin who will one day track down her mother’s four abusers. The film follows the now named “Lady Snowblood,” as she follows the four trails, taking out each one in turn, until the final bloody climax. Based off a manga of the same name, it spawned a sequel, a spinoff, and had its legacy largely cemented in western culture when Quentin Tarantino used it as primary inspiration for Kill Bill (2003). It’s a kind of narrative we’re still seeing today, with a female assassin raised from birth for the sole purpose of murder, and anyone who hasn’t seen the

stylish 2017 film The Villainess (Jung Byung-gil, South Korea), which in turn was inspired by the Luc Besson film La Femme Nikita (France, 1990), would do well to check it out for a fun, modern example of the narrative.

Lady Snowblood has enough filmmaking technique going for it to make it a good watch on its own, and attention to the use of color as part of its thematic expression is just part of it. Red is obviously a large feature in the film, and not just because of the severed hands and blood-splattered faces. After several flashbacks to Yuki’s birth, red light spills into the night, coloring the snow crimson. The women in the prison at her birth are all dressed in red, the floor of the palace in the finale is red, the kimono of the daughter of one of her targets is red; the symbolism is obvious. She is born to blood, which is said as much “poor child, you were born to vengeance,” and it is in red where the story ends. She can never escape it…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: When Hell Freezes Over, Blutgletscher

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When horror fans think of movies set in Hell frozen over here on earth, one of the movies that will make most lists is John Carpenter’s iconic movie, The Thing, and all the other movies that have been inspired by it. 

Tom Shankland’s 2008 The Children and Mark A. Lewis’s 2009 Thaw—starring Val Kilmer—are a couple movies that nod to Carpenter that I love, but my all-time favorite movie that took its cue from The Thing is Marvin Kren’s 2013 Blutgletscher (Blood Glacier).

While R.J. MacReady and his team were in Antarctica, Janek and his team are in the Austrian Alps studying global warming. Blutgletscher is set sometime in the future as the melt rate in the movie is much further than it is today.

Blutgletscher allows us to assume that the extremely hostile shape-shifting extraterrestrial organism that terrorized in The Thing not only survived but migrated 9,743 miles to where this movie is set.

But more about that in a second.

Janek and his dog Tinni, unlike MacReady in Antarctica, are long-term residents of the station in the Alps.

He is employed as a technician to keep all the equipment running and he has seen his fair share of scientific teams and quite frankly doesn’t really care for them. I didn’t blame him, the members of the current team are pretentious and treat him like shit despite the fact they wouldn’t be able to conduct research up there if it weren’t for him, which is highlighted in the opening scene…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: ‘Twas the Night Before Creepmas by Nivek Tek

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‘Twas the Night Before Creepmas by Nivek Tek

‘Twas the night before Creepmas, and all through the tomb,
Not a creature was stirring, to seal your doom.
The corpses were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that the Krampus, soon would be there.
The ghouls were all nestled snug in their caskets.
They dreamt of severed heads in bright-colored baskets.
Cobwebs and dust covered the room,
And added a sparkle to the impending doom.
 When out in the graveyard arose such a clatter,
Awoken by screams and incessant chatter,
I climbed from my coffin upset and dismayed,
And thought to myself, “There’s hell to be paid.”
The moon shone brightly on freshly fallen snow,
Which was good, because I had just lost a toe.
When what to my eyes should suddenly appear,
But a big fat old man and a couple of deer.
 
READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: Nightmare Fuel, Krampus

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I’m sure that everyone in the world is familiar with Santa Claus. He is the embodiment of the giving nature of the holidays. As some of you may also know from pop culture, there is an opposite to the jolly old elf. For this issue’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at the anti-Santa Claus, Krampus.

According to central European legend, Krampus is a half-goat and half-demon with a long tongue who carries a switch or whip and a basket on his back. He whips the wicked children, sometimes carrying them away in his basket for more punishment or to be eaten later.

Some depictions have him wearing lederhosen, but is usually naked except for his fur or wearing chains. Sometimes he accompanies Santa, other times he makes the run before him. One thing included in any description is how evil and scary the Christmas demon looks.

The roots of Krampus’ legend stretch back to 12th Century pagan celebrations in Germany and Austria…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

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The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

Santa Claus is just a ghost I’ve waited every year.

I stay up every Christmas Eve and shed a little tear.

He never comes to our house, I’d know if he had been.

I see him in my mind sometimes it must have been a dream.

The spirits placed my presents around the Christmas tree,

Or it’s my imagination playing tricks on me.

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Horror Curated: Nikolette Jones, Ornament Maker

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Horror Ornament Maker, Nikolette Jones

by Emerian Rich

nicoHaunted ornament maker Nikolette Jones is an artist, illustrator, and educator who uses all sorts of media to create all sorts of art pieces that range from cute to scary. She alternates from making actual things like ornaments and bookmarks, to painting on massive canvases, to illustrating and designing book covers for various authors. Her day job is being a French immersion and art teacher. If it’s fun and creative, she’s all in.

I was introduced to Nikolette by a good friend (thanks Tim) who said we’d hit it off because we, “Have the same dark humor.” When I heard she was reimagining old dolls into undead babies and repurposing dollhouses into haunted houses, I knew I had to share her awesome work with you fine adorers of all that’s spooky and macabre.

dollfixedNikolette says she’s been a maker as far back as she can remember. “I was constantly reworking my toys or hoarding weird supplies to make more toys or scenes for my toys. This progressed and I added painting and drawing to the mix.  I honestly can’t remember a time where I wasn’t making something or thinking about making something.”

Her art is inspired by everything around her. Pop Culture, music, literature, the macabre, everyday life, and found objects, she always has a project going on in her head before they see the light of day.

“Lately I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies from the past and the present and have been inspired to mix my love for pop culture with my love for the scary and macabre to create interesting pieces.”  READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: Midnight in the Chapel of Love by Matthew R. Davis

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Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For: Readers who enjoy real-life mysteries, music, and self-discovery. This is a slow-burn read with an amazing payoff.

Content warning: sexual content, drug use, some murder-spree description.

Jonny Trotter has spent the last fifteen years running from tragic memories of the country town where he grew up but the black envelopes pushed under his door won’t let him forget, and now that his father has died, he can run no more. Before he can move on to a future with his girlfriend, Jonny must first face the terrible truth of his past and if he can’t bring it out into the light at last, it might just pull him and everything he loves down into the dark, forever.

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Midnight in the Chapel of Love is a slow-burn novel with an interesting payoff in the end. I wouldn’t call this a horror novel per se. It’s more of a mystery with horrifyingly dark paths. During a series of reveals, the reader will try to piece together all the strands of an intricate puzzle. Some lead to dangerous truths and others lead down broken routes with no way out.

Beginning with a glimpse into the past with a Natural Born Killers sort of murder spree, the story quickly switches focus to Jonno, an Aussie man going back to his hometown to attend his father’s funeral. Like most, he’s dealing with ghosts of his past in a town with enemies, friends, and lovers. But as the story weaves on, the reader gets a feeling maybe his secrets are a bit more dangerous than the average homecoming. Through his return home and a series of flashbacks to his youth, the love story between Jonno and his high school girlfriend, Jessica, unfolds as well as a possibly magical cave, the legend of a toxic love affair, envelopes from the grave, and haunted visions.

The love story between Jonno and Jessica is intoxicating. I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of the Natural Born Killers trope, so the first part could have killed it for me right there (no pun intended). I’m glad I stuck with this book long enough to get to Jonno and allow his story to grab me. There is a lot more to Jonno’s story than the love affair, but it’s integral and wild and really pulled me into the story.

Although the story centers on Jonno, it also unwinds a mystery town folk have been wondering about for years. Where is the Chapel? Does it really exist? Does it really test true love?  Has anyone lived to tell the truth about it? Or is it a death trap waiting to part lovers forever?

Is Jonno broken because of the strange occurrence that caused him to flee in the first place? Or did it start younger, with the death of his mom? What do his visions of a bloodthirsty Bonnie and Clyde have to do with his truth and will going home complete him or rip him to shreds?

While I enjoyed the book and found the ending quite something I wasn’t expecting, it is a slow burn and may not appeal to everyone. Be prepared for the long haul, as it unfolds in such a way that you’ll be in a quandary for much of the read. But if you like snapshots in time (late 90s) and alternative/new wave music (there’s a soundtrack in the back that’s to die for) you will enjoy living vicariously through the out-of-control, and uninhabited mind of Jessica. And if you like Jonno (or just like watching someone’s life implode) you’ll become invested pretty quickly.

Horror Curated: Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas

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Have a Haunted, Jolly Christmas

by Mark Orr

I’d be amazed if there is anyone reading this expository essay who is unfamiliar with the 1843 Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol. The classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and that memorable Christmas Eve when he was visited by a series of ectoplasmic entities in order to adjust his attitude toward a more compassionate perspective has permeated the culture, having been adapted to stage, screen, radio, television, and other media hundreds of times over the past almost one hundred and eighty years since publication. It is by far the ghost story of any kind that has been the most adapted, with the runner-up, Aleksandr Pushkins’ “Queen of Hearts,” coming across the finish line as a distant second.

While I am resolute in my insistence that the best film version is the 1951 production starring Alastair Sim, I have to say that my favorite is, even after sixty years, the first one I saw—Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.  The very first animated Christmas special, it aired on NBC in 1962, and for many years afterwards. I still sing along with all the songs whenever I watch it. The Christmas pleasures of one’s childhood never quite lose their sparkle. Christmas is all about watching Mr. Magoo as Scrooge and imbibing numerous tall glasses of homemade eggnog heavily laced with intoxicating liquors for this Auld Phart at Christmas time. And yeah, the grandchildren, of course. Sure, them, too.

One might think that Mr. Dickens would have been satisfied with a single great and grand Christmas ghost story. One would be mistaken. Legendary British anthologist and editor Peter Haining’s 1992 collection, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Ghost Stories, contains no fewer than ten, including the aforementioned novella. Nor was Dickens alone in his fervor to link the Holy Ghost with more earthly spirits. Once he opened the floodgates, the entire Victorian spooky story writing community jumped all over the notion as if it were a loose football in the end zone. To list them all would eat up my allotted word count pretty quickly. READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: Spooky Locations with Christmas Names

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Spooky Locations with Christmas Names

by Courtney Mroch

Evergreen Cemetery * Owego, NY

In this cemetery, you’ll find the grave of Sa-Sa-Na Loft, a Mohawk Indian maiden who was killed in a train crash in the area. During her life, she had converted to Christianity and enthusiastically spread the gospel in the area. The people were so saddened by her tragic death that they raised the money for her obelisk, wanting to not only erect something in her honor and memory but also to bury her in their cemetery. However, Sa-Sa-Na’s family wanted to bring her home with them. But the people of Owego won out and Sa-Sa-Na was buried there. Some said that shortly after her internment, soft voices chanting Mohawk songs floated out from the woods. Was it her ancestors come to comfort her, or family members quietly grieving unseen and sheltered by the trees? READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Horror Curated: Haunted Lantern

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Gather your supplies and learn how to make this Haunted Lantern in the new issue of Horror Curated!


Supplies:

o 4 / 5×7 black photo frames

o 1 / 7×7 black photo frame 

o White LED candle

o An empty 2.5 or 3-inch ribbon spool

o 3-4 inch unfinished round wood medallion

o e6000 glue

o Black acrylic paint

o Skull statuary

o Flowers, feathers, decorations as you like

o (Optional) puffy stickers for the top corners

Tools:

o Glue gun

o Glue sticks, including red glitter glue sticks

o Pliers

o Wire Cutters

o Paintbrush

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Horror Curated: Haunted Holidays

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HCHHWinter2022CoverTelling haunted tales at Christmas is a tradition I was so excited to hear about a few years ago. After reading The Woman in Black and realizing that telling spooky tales was a “thing” that people actually used to look forward to during the holidays, I deep-dived into the history and just couldn’t get enough. These were
people after my own heart! 

You see, I fully support making your tree into the grim reaper, crafting a wreath out of skeleton bones, or peppering your mantle with cobweb-encrusted ivy. I love listening to creepy Christmas carols like the tracks from A Ghostly Gathering by Midnight Syndicate. I enjoy watching creepy Horror flicks like Crimson Peak during the holidays, just to see the red snow. 

So, if you’re like me, you are gonna just love what we’ve got lined up for you this issue. Read interviews with Horror professionals like Lynne Hansen, who makes spooky book covers for a living, Nikolette Jones, who does magical things with Horror ornaments, and the aforementioned Midnight Syndicate. Read some haunted holiday fiction from Cliff Biggers, make a gothic lantern, learn about five haunted places with holiday-themed names, and much more. 

On this, our inaugural edition, we welcome you and thank you for allowing us to Curate your Horror.

Emerian Rich, Editor-in-Chief

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Book Review: Let There Be Dark by Tim McWhorter

Content Warnings: attempted rape, death, violence

Monsters, ghosts, vengeful spirits, and mankind’s darkest tendencies: welcome to the world of Let There Be Dark, a short story collection by Tim McWhorter. In these pages, you’ll find eight dark tales that will make your skin crawl and your hair stand on end.

A Ph.D. research project takes a twist for the supernatural in “Rope Burns”. A mafia deal becomes a fight for survival in “The Company You Keep”. A couple drunks looking for a scare discover the horrifying story behind a local legend in “The Bridge”. One dark turn follows another (follows another) in “No Saints here”. A struggling farm has a horrific plan for making ends meet in “Pigs”. A pitch-dark haunted house takes fear to new levels in “The Dark Side”. A ski trip goes awry when they encounter a legendary beast on the prowl in “Growing Cold Together”. And finally, an oddities shop seeks to procure the perfect skull at any cost in “Skull Session”.

I was pleased with McWhorter’s ability to make classic horror tropes fresh again. The stories weren’t predictable, which is refreshing after you’ve read a lot (and I’ve read a LOT) of horror. “Growing Cold Together” and “The Dark Side” stood out as particularly good. Sadly, the writing could have used a little more editing, but if you can overlook that, it’s a solid collection. If you enjoy straightforward horror that gets down to your bones, check out Let There Be Dark.

Horror Curated: Haunted Holidays

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48 full-color pages featuring:

HCHHWinter2022CoverInterviews with:
*Musicians Midnight Syndicate
*Artist Lynn Hansen
*Creator Nikolette Jones
*Writer Cliff Biggers
*An Excerpt of A Winter’s Tale
*An Exploration of A Christmas Carol Adaptations
*How to Make a Haunted Holiday Lantern
*5 Spooky Locations with Christmas Names
*The Bloody Brilliance of the film Lady Snowbird
*When Hell Freezes Over in Blutgletscher
*Lore on Krampus and Krampusnacht
*Spooky Holiday Poems
*Book and music reviews
*Dead Mail from readers
*HAUNT Bingo

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Submission Call! Manor of Frights LAST DAY

LAST DAY to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

Submission Call! Manor of Frights 3 days left

Only 3 days left to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

A Halloween Listicle: SINISTER STORIES FOR THE SPOOKY SEASON

 by Renata Pavrey

The days leading up to Halloween are filled with costumes to prepare, décor to get ready, and treats to bake. The final week of October is a culmination of all the spooky excitement building up throughout the month. Yes! We love our horror movies, can’t have enough of eerie podcasts, and then there are books that thrill and chill. Sometimes it’s just so much to take in, with all that’s happening in a horror fan’s favorite time of the year. Here’s a list of Halloween-themed short story collections, so you can dip in your toes when time runs short on Hallows Eve.

~Halloween Horrors by Alan Ryan – A vintage collection for a night of evil. 13 sinister stories of madness and mayhem that show us a side of Halloween far removed from pumpkin lanterns and hot spiced drinks.

~Ghosts, Goblins, Murder and Madness by Rebecca Rowland – 20 tales of Halloween that showcase the wide expanse of the holiday season – dressing up in costume, playing practical jokes, haunted houses, cursed artifacts, the thin line between the earth and spirit worlds.

~Season of the Witch by RJ Roles and Jason Myers – Witches are not just about brooms and pointy hats; cackling as they fly over the moon on Halloween. This anthology from Crimson Pinnacle Press brings together 19 tales about witches and autumn, providing fresh perspectives to cliches and stereotypes associated with the season.

~Literally Dead by Gaby Triana – Hauntings that go beyond ghosts, spirits who want to help the living, festive greetings that travel through time and space, candy that refuses to be digested – an old school anthology from Alienhead Press that presents common Halloween tropes in spooky new avatars by some of the most terrifying names in contemporary horror.

~Halloween Frights by Brandi Hicks and Shelly Jarvis – If short stories take up too much of your reading time, why not sink your teeth into bite-sized drabbles? Spooky ghost kids, zombie trick-or-treaters, suspicious treats, and decorations coming alive – let’s turn to face the darker side of this autumn holiday.

~Forest of Fear (Books 1, 2 and 3) by Zoey Xolton – There are 3 books in the Fright Night Fiction series from Blood Song Books, that present a delectable collection of Halloween horror drabbles.

~Nom Nom by Ben Thomas and D. Kershaw – Another drabble collection that treats us to a smorgasbord of vampires, djinns, werewolves, jack-o-lanterns, clowns, candies, and everything the festival has to offer in 100-word bits of gore from Black Hare Press.

Submission Call! Manor of Frights 5 days left

Only 5 days left to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

Book Review: “Netherkind” by Greg Chapman

Hello Addicts,

In the horror genre, the consumption of human flesh and blood is a fairly regular thing. There are plenty of stories about cannibals and flesh-eating zombies, so it is refreshing to see a story that handles things differently. Greg Chapman offers a flesh-eating tale that falls somewhere between the extremes of the living and the dead in his novel “Netherkind.

Thomas leads a solitary life of torment. He has no memories of life before waking in the apartment he calls home, but that isn’t the most disturbing thing in his life. He has a condition where his body decays painfully if he doesn’t eat human flesh every day. It is an uncontrollable need he fights daily, but never wins. He doesn’t know how it started or whether there are others out there with his same condition. That all changes the day he meets his new neighbor, StephanieNetherkind 2

Stephanie is just moving into the apartment building Thomas lives in and does her best to spend time with him. After spending one night together, he learns some horrifying truths about her. She is like him, a consumer of human flesh. When he awakes, he finds the doors to all the apartments on their floor bashed in and the occupants stripped clean to the bone. His new neighbor, who he just had sex with, reveals that she is like Thomas and that there are more like them hiding in the world. She’d been stalking him for weeks, watching him live and kill, just for the chance to meet and get impregnated by him. With those tasks accomplished, she wounds him and leaves him to die.

Rather than succumb to his injuries, Thomas survives and begins hunting for Stephanie. His travels bring him close frequently, but never close enough. Eventually, he discovers another of their kind, referred to collectively as Fleshers. The Flesher,  named Nero and leads Thomas to their kingdom under the city. He discovers they are one of five tribes, each different in their mindset, physical conditions, and abilities.

Thomas’ clan refers to themselves as Phagun. Another group is called Lepers, whose skin is sickly looking and sloughing off, but whose touch is acidic. A third tribe is the spiritual Stygma, followers of a god named Okin. The fourth group of Fleshers are shapeshifters named Skiift, with humans making up the last group. The Skiift, the Stygma, and the Phagun have waged a centuries-long religious war between, partially fueled by the Phagun’s desire to treat humans as food.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, which develops into a chosen one tale. What is Thomas’ history and how does it fit into what needs to be done? How does Stephanie fit into the entire picture? The book answers these questions and more.

I liked the story, but found it a little confusing at certain points, particularly when following who was speaking. That aside, I thought Greg Chapman did a good job with this story, particularly with the sensory descriptions. I recommend this book for anyone needing a rainy day or late-night read. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

BOOK BIRTHDAY! Campfire Tales from HorrorAddicts.net Press

BookbirthdayHorror Bites: Campfire Tales

Dear Reader,

You’ve been invited to a very special night of Campfire Tales, hosted by HorrorAddicts.net. Meet us at Old Bear Creek, just past Dead Man’s Curve. Dress warm. We’ll be waiting.

Four scary tales told by Next Great Horror Writer finalists and woven together by a trek through the woods you’ll never forget.

“Cabin Twelve” by Daphne Strasert
When a camp counselor goes on patrol, she finds an extra cabin in the woods that no one knows about…or do they?

“The Face” by Naching T. Kassa
An ailing mother and her daughter are terrorized by a disembodied face.

“When the Wind Leaves a Whisper” by Jess Landry
Girl Scouts in the 40s experience a frightening occurrence in the woods.

“Goose Meadows” by Harry Husbands
Two friends out drinking at night discover the real horrors of Goose Meadows.

Chilling Chat Special: L. Marie Wood

chillingchat

L. Marie Wood is an award-winning dark fiction author, screenwriter, and poet with novels in the psychological horror, mystery, and dark romance genres. She won the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper. She is a MICO Award nominated screenwriter and has won Best Horror, Best Action, BestL. Marie Wood Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi, and Best Short Screenplay awards in both national and international film festivals. Wood’s short fiction has been published in groundbreaking works, including the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology, Sycorax’s Daughters and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. Her academic writing has been published by Nightmare Magazine and the cross-curricular text, Conjuring Worlds: An Afrofuturist Textbook. She is the founder of the Speculative Fiction Academy, an English and Creative Writing professor, a horror scholar, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, a full member of the SFWA, and a frequent speaker in the genre convention space. 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, L. Marie! Thank you for chatting with us today.

LMW: Happy to be here!

NTK: How did you discover the horror genre?

LMW: Interestingly enough, I was 5 years old! I don’t know how I found horror. I think it found me—I think I have always been attracted to the darker side of things, the side that is just a little bit off. And that’s not to say that I’ve always been attracted to blood and guts—that’s actually not what I write or read for the most part. But the tilt on the landscape—the thing that is just a little wrong even though it is surrounded by what is considered “normal”… that kind of thing has always been my cup of tea even at such a young age!

NTK: You’re a big fan of psychological horror. Is that what inspires your writing?

LMW: That’s what I write and always have. Life inspires my writing. I have always seen things at a slant. That’s not to say that I can’t see them the way that most people do, but if I turn my head just a little, the dark side is always right there. It is interesting for me to look at that side, to study how it works, how it hides itself in reality and sometimes stories come from that.

NTK: You also write screenplays. What is the difference between writing a novel or short story and writing a screenplay?

LMW: Night and day! Novels and short stories give you the room to add exposition and descriptive language. Screenplays are visual—if you can’t see what is supposed to happen, neither can anyone else, so all of those moments of contemplation have to be reworked.

NTK: How do you rework those moments?

LMW: Often it requires trimming, but there can be re-wording to make something passive-active. There is a small section where you can direct an actor to do something specific and there is creatively crafting the story to get the actor to express what you are looking for or get the director to shoot a scene a certain way without saying, “Do it this way!” Good writing is needed—just a different kind of good.

NTK:  Recently, you started an online learning platform called Speculative Fiction Academy. What is this?

LMW: Yes!! SFA is my passion! it is an online academy dedicated to teaching people how to hone their craft. I like to call it the MFA program that didn’t exist when I was in school.

NTK: Is it just for writing and screenwriting?

LMW: We have classes that dive into speculative fiction whereas traditional programs focus on literary fiction. We have classes that talk about monsters and faes and the characters that one would encounter when worldbuilding. We talk podcasting, scriptwriting, worldbuilding, business, social media. We cover it all.

NTK:  And who teaches these courses?

LMW: We have classes that talk about how to properly reflect mental health in fiction, and it is taught by a practicing psychiatrist. We have to handle medical problems properly and it is taught by a general practitioner. We have award winners, publishers, academics, authors from multiple genres, filmmakers, podcasters—you name it. Pros teaching what they know to people who want to know.

NTK: Wow! How do Horror Addicts sign up for this?

LMW: Visit Speculative Fiction Academy and choose how you’d like to learn. We have three tiers to choose from. You can choose from individual courses a la carte, monthly memberships, or annual memberships. A la carte courses (which all of them can be) are individually priced. The best value is to get an annual membership and get a month free.

NTK: Of all your work, which is your favorite?

LMW: So, this may sound like a silly answer, but it is true. My favorite work is the one I am working on now—it is always the one I am working on. Because I am so pumped about it. It is exciting to watch the characters come together, to see them grow. I love every minute of writing a novel—even the moments when I don’t know what the heck I am going to do next!

NTK: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written?

LMW: I don’t know that I have a favorite character—just like with the movie question, I really love so many of them.

Angie from The Promise Keeper is so amazing to me—what she endures and how she reacts to what is happening—she floors me.

Patrick from The Realm—I just dig him all the way through the series. He is committed and flawed and so very human—I love it.

James from Crescendo—he’s so tormented and life doesn’t let up for him. I love watching how he reacts to things.

I love each of the mains in The Tryst (Mark, Eric, Nicole). They are so different yet so connected. They are amazing to watch in action and I really enjoy writing them.

Shaun in The Black Hole, Sara Sue in Mars, the Band Man, and Sara Sue…Chris in Telecommuting—I love this dude for his realness.

Honestly, I love them all (Laughs.)

NTK:  L. Marie, what does the future hold for you? What works and activities do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

LMW: So much! Accursed, Book 3 of The Realm Trilogy will be coming out in October. My first mystery novel, Mars, the Band Man, and Sara Sue, will be out in November.

I have a really neat traditional (well, for the most part) project coming out with Falstaff in 2023. The first two books will come out in Feb.

Book 2 of the Affinity Series (the first of which is The Tryst that I mentioned a second ago) is coming out in February also—it is called Origins and wowza, I loved writing that one.

I have a few short stories and poems that are coming out in 2023—the ink on some of those contracts is still wet!

and…

My first film will be out soooooonnnn!

NTK: Ooh! What is this film?

LMW: it’s a short film and harkens back to the slasher genre and I am pumped about it. It is called 271 Raeburn Avenue. I loved being on set for this. Oh my gosh, it was an amazing experience. On top of all of271 Raeburn Avenue that, I will be speaking at a few conferences. Candyman and the Whole Damn Swarm and International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

NTK: What was it like to be on the set and see your creation come about?

LMW: Being on set was so surreal! Fixing lines mid-taping was flipping awesome—that was a dream come true. Overseeing the makeup, and sitting in on production meetings—just so awesome.

I am so amazed at the creativity that everyone brought to the table and that they were saying my lines…lines I wrote!

NTK:  Thank you for joining us today, L. Marie. By the way, congratulations on having your work archived in the University of Pittsburgh Library System.

LMW: Oh, thank you so much! I’m so excited about the archiving! It’s one of those things that you never think will happen for you. I am excited to be included—truly an honor.

Chilling Chat: Episode #217 – Loren Rhoads

chillingchat

Loren Rhoads served as editor for Bram Stoker Award-nominated Morbid Curiosity magazine as well as the books The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Death’s Garden:Rhoads Headshots 9-18 FINAL-1782 Relationship with Cemeteries, Death’s Garden Revisited, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. Her short stories have appeared in the books Best New Horror #27, Strange California, Sins of the Sirens: Fourteen Tales of Dark Desire, Fright Mare: Women Write Horror, and most recently in the magazines Weirdbook, Occult Detective Quarterly, and Space & Time. 

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?

LR: I remember catching a glimpse of Barnabas Collins climbing out of his coffin when I was four. I didn’t know what I was seeing at the time, but the music was so deliciously creepy! I was definitely marked for life.

NTK: Is Dark Shadows your favorite horror TV show? What is your favorite?

LR: Wow, it’s hard to choose a favorite. I loved Dark Shadows, Kolchak, and the monster of the week episodes of The X-Files. Now I’m loving Legion, which might not seem like horror, because the main character/villain is presented to be so charming. He’s really quite terrifying.

NTK: Do you prefer villains or heroes?

LR: I prefer characters who wander from one side of the equation to the other.

NTK: What do you think makes a character believable?

LR: Self-doubt.

NTK: When you write characters, do they have free will? Or are their actions predetermined?

LR: They definitely have minds of their own. I generally write to find out what I think, rather than the other way around, so I just wind my characters up and watch them go.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

LR: The one I’ve read the most is Dracula. I find something new in it every time I read it. Other than that, my second favorite changes from day to day.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror film?

LR: Alien. The first one. I still find it scary.

NTK: Is it the fear factor, or the fact that people are pulling together to fight a greater evil that attracts you to the story?

LR: I like watching Ripley, who is marginalized and ignored, turn out to be right. She knows what the protocol is supposed to be, but the more-emotional men overrule her and get killed for it. Watching Ripley, who has discounted herself, realize that she’s resourceful enough to survive is amazing. And the monster still haunts my nightmares all these years later.

NTK: You are a well-known cemetery aficionado and I have been dying to ask you this question, have you ever been to Colma, CA?

LR: Oh so many times!

NTK: What’s it like?

LR: The absolute best. There are 17 cemeteries in town, one right beside the next. They range from Japanese to Chinese to Italian (full of sculpture) to Jewish to Catholic to a former Masonic cemetery to a former potter’s field. There’s even a pet cemetery!

They say 1 million people are buried in Colma but there are only 1,000 live ones.

Wyatt Earp is buried there, and Levi Strauss, and Emperor Norton (the only Emperor of North America and Protector of Mexico). It’s lovely and sad and full of treasures.

I don’t know if you know the history of the graveyards of San Francisco, but in the early 20th century, all of them were dug up and the bodies hauled to Colma. There are several huge mass graves down there. Even so, people keep finding bodies that were missed somehow and weren’t moved.

Several years ago, a woman doing yard work found an iron coffin with a little girl in it, still perfectly preserved, and visible through a glass window into the coffin.

NTK: What inspired you to edit the anthology, Death’s Garden Revisited

LR:  I wanted to assemble a book that illuminated all the reasons people visit cemeteries. Once I started asking people to tell me about the cemeteries they have a relationship with, stories started flooding in. I am really proud of how this book turned out.

NTK: What authors are included in the anthology?

LR: Contributors include horror authors A. M. Muffaz, Angela Yuriko Smith, Christine Sutton, Denise N. Tapscott, E.M. Markoff, Emerian Rich, Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Francesca Maria, Greg Roensch, Mary Rajotte, Melodie Bolt, Priscilla Bettis, Rain Graves, Rena Mason, Robert Holt, R.L. Merrill, Saraliza Anzaldua, Stephen Mark Rainey, and Trish Wilson – and then there are all the others who don’t write horror. There are 40 authors in all.

NTK: How many cemeteries have you visited since you first became interested in them? 

LR: At a guess, hundreds. One of these days, I’m going to have to sit down and count them all. On one of my favorite vacations, my husband and I went to 18 graveyards between Boston and Gettysburg in a little more than a week.

NTK: How many cemeteries outside of the U.S.?

LR: I just made a quick list and I’m sure I’m forgetting things, but 51 so far. That includes the thirteen burial grounds I counted in Italy–which is the most I’ve visited in one country outside the US–but in Italy, there are people buried in every church, so I’m sure that doesn’t include every grave I saw there. I’ve been to cemeteries in England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Czech Republic, as well as in Singapore and Japan. Clearly, there are a lot of countries left to see!

NTK: Have you ever experienced anything strange or paranormal when you visited a cemetery?

LR: I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve had spooky things happen. I was on a ghost hunt in a cemetery in Oakland when I felt a weird, cold sensation in the back of my neck. Turns out, I was standing over a fallen headstone that had been covered with sod. Even the docent didn’t know it was there!

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

LR: I’m so glad you asked that! I’m finishing up a book called Still Wish You Were Here, which is a sequel to my first cemetery memoir. It is a collection of my own cemetery essays, stuff that was published in Gothic.Net, Gothic Beauty, Morbid Curiosity magazine, and a bunch of other places. After that, I’m thinking about getting back to my novel The Death of Memory. So many books, so little time!

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Loren!

LR: Thank you so much, Naching!

Addicts, you can find Loren on Facebook, Twitter, and at Cemetery Travel.

Author Interview: Gwendolyn N. Nix

What is your name and what are you known for? 

My name is Gwendolyn N. Nix. I’m known for my science fiction and fantasy writing, particularly my new release, I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, which is a weird west horror likened to Clive Barker’s Imagica and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’m also an editor with Aconyte Books where we create world-expanding fiction, notably for Marvel, Ubisoft, and Arkham Horror – to name but a few! 

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come is a weird west dark fantasy horror about fate versus freedom, about no-good brothers, and what it means to sacrifice all you have for power and love. When a demon bounty hunter comes calling, Domino, a witch surviving in the depths of Hell, pairs up with his mother, who died too young and carries the witch lineage in her veins, to survive. Soon the two of them are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid running from whatever torture awaits them and whoever wants to harvest their magic. At the same time, Domino discovers his brother, Wicasah, has concocted an ill-fated deal with an ancient being of lightning and thunder that will take both his sanity and soul.

 

Overall, I consider my work to slipstream in a way, borrowing pieces across genres and melding them into one big story. I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come is an amalgamation of horror, alternative history, dark fantasy, and weird western, which can really cause havoc when trying to pin down where it exactly fits on the shelf… and to me, that is some of the best kind of fiction out there. The best example of what this book comes from a fellow reviewer, “like Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy teaming up to reboot Dante’s Inferno as a Western.” However, it also brings that wide-sweeping epic feeling with prose that will stir the heart and is rooted in Americana horror where demons are cowboys and the landscape has a revenge of its own to enact on those who have abused it. All of that ticks off boxes that draw me to certain books and stories and I hope it will do the same for you.

`What places or things inspire your writing?

I consider myself a magpie writer. I take my inspiration aka “shinies” from everywhere – conversations I’ve privy to, lore and culture, traveling, and exploring the natural world. This novel was heavily inspired by the national parks that I’ve visited and the old stories associated with them, in particular, the Badlands in the Dakotas, alongside the flat plains and dinosaur history native to my home state. I’m heavily inspired by experience and require getting out and experiencing the world to create my unique settings and characters. I hoard these “shinies” and soon enough, the pile of inspiration grows so large that I have to excavate them to make space for the new… resulting in a genre-bending novel. I love exploring historical sites, but sometimes the natural world is the best source of inspiration, overall.

What music do you listen to while creating?

Crafting a playlist about the novel I’m writing is, in itself, a work in progress. It usually starts with a song that has one line of lyrics that catapults my imagination into a new realm. Genre-wise, it can be anything, but I tend to generate mood music, symphonic/orchestra pieces around it. Right now, I’m heavily inspired by The Amazing Devil and have something in the works while listening to that. While I was writing I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, I had a lot of Southern Gothic music playing in the background – Delta Rae, The Brothers Bright, The Civil Wars, a lil’ Johnny Cash.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

I love creeping horror, cosmic horror, weird horror, and folklore horror. Essentially, I look for that creeping dread and unusual twisting of the known that only the absolute unknown can create. I love monsters emerging from the woodwork that stalk their prey, perhaps opening up an entrance into a cosmic otherworld. I really enjoy historical horror, too – I’d love to read a book about pilgrims landing in a strange, unknown world that’s full of horrific things.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

I have a great love of Ash Williams from the Evil Dead franchise. He’s raunchy and weird and just totally oblivious, but he exudes this confidence that somehow lets him slay Deadites in a bumbling hilarious way. I also love The Gentlemen from The Buffy Vampire Hunter episode “Hush.” Such a unique way to present a monster to the audience and the exact type of creeping monsters that intrigue me.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

The scariest thing I’ve witnessed happened while I was in Belize conducting shark conservation research. I had an afternoon off and took a swim in the bright blue ocean waters. While I was there, I noticed a barracuda swimming close, but paid it no mind. However, I soon noticed it was swimming closer and closer. I raised a fist – as if a punch would stop the snaggle-toothed fish – when I soon realized I was surrounded by a whole school of barracuda, all of them slowly making a tight circle around me. I swam for the dock and got out of the water as soon as I could, but that hunted feeling was terrifying. 

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

This one is difficult! I’d love to have dinner with Mary Shelley and ask her to take me on a graveyard walk where I’d bring pencil and paper and make gravestone markings for fun. I’d want to know everything she had going on in her head and future stories that she was mulling over. I’d want to ask her about genre and understand the intimate details of her work and imagination. 

Realistically, I desperately want to meet Jonathan Sims! He’s part of The Rusty Quill, which created one of my favorite podcasts of all time, The Magnus Archives. 

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

An amazing horror gem I don’t hear about enough is this wonderful indie film called Pontypool, which has a unique take on zombie media. It’s black and white and takes place at a radio station in winter. The reveal is so unique and there is a hidden ending that makes you rethink the meaning of language.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

Not too long ago I would’ve said no! I’ve always considered myself a supernatural dead zone. However, while I was on a ghost hunt in Butte, Montana, we were exploring an old tin shop that had also a house of ill repute in the 1800s. And, while I was upstairs listening to our guide, I heard someone climbing the stairs with what sounded like steel-toe boots with spurs. Of course, there was no one there as we were the only tour that night! And, my friend heard it too, so I knew it wasn’t part of my imagination.

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

Ooo this is a good question. I like my horror with a good dose of fantasy or science fiction. Some of my cherished books are The Fisherman by John Langan, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, Bunny by Mona Awad, and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. However, I really love supporting short story outlets and have found some of my favorite scary stories within their pages. These stories are both inspirational, shooting for what I want to create with my own work, and they also give me chills! Check out “Bride Before You” by Stephanie Malia Morris and “Leviathan Sings To Me in the Deep” by Nibedita Sen.

What are you working on now? 

Currently, I’m working on the third and final installment in my Celestial Scripts series. But because I have way too many ideas and not enough time, I’m also writing a standalone book about a city made from the bones of a dead god of magic.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

You can find my work anywhere online, but check out my website for direct links to my books, ongoing projects, book reviews, and general thoughts and musings on writing: https://gwendolynnix.com/books-projects/

 

Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings by Gaby Triana

Review by staff writer and book blogger Renata Pavrey

Literally Dead is the first book in the holiday hauntings series, set around Halloween. Nineteen horror writers come together to create a collection of spooky tales for the Halloween season. There are stories about haunted dresses and shady bookstores, real-life monsters and costumed creatures, murder victims and ghostly insects, soldiers of war, and civilians affected by war. There are monsters in refrigerators, serial killers disguised as ghosts; suspicious postcards, and corn fields that harbour more than corn. We read about scavenger hunts to collect ghosts, and ghosts that teach us how to get rid of ghosts; physical entities, and demons of the mind. The crew of esteemed authors in the horror genre brings to us an assortment of stories under the theme of hauntings.

With such a narrow theme, I wondered what new ideas the writers would present for Halloween. But each one is outstanding in its own way. The collection covers a range of subjects from war to folklore, including genres of crime and contemporary fiction, with tones ranging from humor to out-and-out horror. Literally Dead brings together common Halloween tropes of haunted houses and spirits to beware of, costumes and candy, and memories associated with October 31st that have nothing to do with Halloween, and presents these well-worn concepts into a rich anthology of holiday horrors. I loved the touch of Chinese, Ukrainian and Welsh folklore and customs associated with Halloween, contemporary social issues and significant historic moments, nostalgia, and beauty associated with a season of darkness.

Some of my favorites were The Ghost Cricket by Lee Murray (a touch of Chinese folklore with a noisy cricket that refuses to be quiet even in death), The Ghost Lake Mermaid by Alethea Kontis (the ghosts of murder victims discuss racism and the law when the color of your skin decides if your corpse gets justice), Ghosts of Enerhodar by Henry Herz (the ghosts of Ukrainian folklore feature against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war), Halloween at the Babylon by Lisa Morton (a theatre patron tries to prevent other guests from becoming ghosts like herself), Ghosts of Candies Past by Jeff Strand (a quirky, sugary fest of long-eaten Halloween treats that return to haunt), Soul Cakes by Catherine McCarthy (the living and dead collide at a special time of the year, under the veil of Welsh folklore), Always October by Jeremy Megargee (about a ghost hunter on the lookout for her replacement).

Editor Gaby Triana has done a fabulous job in curating this anthology. A wonderful collection for the spooky season that keeps the reader wanting to read more. It feels like nineteen stories aren’t enough and thirty-one would have been just right – one for each day of the Halloween month. The cover has an old-fashioned vibe with costumed trick-or-treaters and pumpkin baskets, and I love how the book emphasizes the nostalgic aspect of Halloween. There’s a brilliant piece by the cover artist that makes for an equally good read, like the rest of the stories.

Some quotes:

-He didn’t believe in ghosts and haunted houses. Maybe they believed in him.

-You weren’t supposed to run up the stairs of a house that was disproving your assertion that it was not haunted.

-Thoughts crash into my head now; everything falls into place, a well-ordered avalanche.

-An old ghost once told me that if my story faded, I would fade with it.

-The ghostly insect set up a mournful song, the wistful notes as pure and sharp as a mountain stream.

-Are you running from ghosts, or are they running from you?

-Even death couldn’t tame her – if anything, it only seemed to make her more defiant.

-This tradition isn’t to appease her ghost. It’s to keep the ghost in her place.

-Alex had always been a ghost. Long before he died.

-I’d counted twenty-five casseroles. I wondered if they were some kind of charm or talisman. Bringing something not just to feed the grieving family, but to appease the ghosts.

My rating – 5/5

Author Interview : Paul DeBlassie III

What is your name and what are you known for? Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D., psychologist/writer of metaphysical thrillers to pop off the top on the head with trickster mischief and magic and spinning out this interview for HorrorAddicts.net – great to be with u!

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it. I’ll go with my latest metaphysical head spinner – Goddess of Everything. Be careful! Folks/readers/reviewers have said it has triggers aplenty, a psychic dynamic I think is a bad/good thing since badness looms large so we can better see what’s behind it, a catch-you-by-surprise, mind-blowing reality. It’s a really decent story – 100 4.5-star Goodread reviews!

What places or things inspire your writing? I’m totally into New Mexico, my homeland with ancestral DNA going back 1000 years. So, plenty of mystery, magic, religion, witchcraft, and horror are floating through the ether sphere. It births the stuff infused in my three horror novels: The Unholy, Goddess of the Wild Thing, and Goddess of Everything.

What music do you listen to while creating? John Lee Hooker is my man for all things conjuring and mystic making, the beat and rhythm and drone of the tunes setting me into a headspace that drives my supernatural narratives into weird dimensions.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? Well, gotta admit it’s the supernatural thriller razzmatazz that sets my psychic fires going, the works of King, Blackwood, and Lovecraft are major sources of literary fuel.

Who is your favorite horror icon? Without a doubt, no way anyone else compares to the touch, mystery, and metaphysical intrigue of Algernon Blackwood, a true pioneer, and eternal spirit in the world of supernatural storytelling.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed? Oooooh….I’m a clinical depth psychologist who treats the transpersonal unconscious mind, so there’s a storehouse of scary, spinetingling, and horrifying experiences I’ve gone through in forty years of psychotherapy practice I bring to the phenomenological collage painted onto the pages of my novels – wicked archbishops unwittingly or deliberately employing dark magic to access power, patients who willfully have engaged the spirit world for egoic purposes that inevitably scar the mind and generate frightening encounters with the dark side of the Great Unseen. And then there comes to mind the time I permitted a personal lapse of consciousness: I entered a haunted home I shouldn’t have gone into. A spirit attached itself to my shoulder and followed me home – had to do a bit of an exorcism to banish that foul presence – ugh! So, I once heard Stephen King say on a podcast interview, he’d never had experiences with the supernatural; but, for me, it’s quite the opposite. Supernatural occurrences manifest regularly in my life and generate enormous psychic oomph for my novels.

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring? I wouldn’t go. It’s like Gabriel Garcia Marquez said when asked what he’d do if while walking on the streets of Mexico City, he saw Hemmingway on the other side of the road. Would he cross over and introduce himself and meet the famous man? He said no. He wouldn’t want to confuse the man with the work. Besides, those who’ve passed on – Blackwood and Algernon – hover in my study, whispering plot points and wicked ideas as I write. So, you don’t need dinner when there’s ready access to the ever-present reality of the Unseen World.

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?) My surrealist artist wife, Kate, and I are finishing Dark on Netflix, a multi-layered horror flick that dips into alternate realities, choices, and fate. It’s mystifying, mind-bending, and a gem in the horror genre.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost? Oh yeah! We all have been. Sometimes we allow our psychic eyes to open to the fact, and sometimes we don’t. Maybe we don’t want to see into the mystic, fearing what’s there. Depth psychology says shifts of mood and energy indicate psychic triggering of the spirit world, ghosts called forth. Sometimes you see them through the corner of your eyes, or they manifest as a startling mental image (S. King expertly taps into this phenomenon). At times, they work behind the scenes via synchronous events or scary happenings like thinking evil thoughts about someone you’ve held bitterness against and a bird splatters against your car windshield while driving. Ghosts can be bloody!

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict? Select volumes of Stephen King (what’s stayed with you over time), and all of Black and Lovecraft. Then, on the contemporary scene, there are so many good writers, I’d say go with and keep on your virtual or literal shelf whatever has had soul nourishment and you feel drawn to pick up again and again over time, open at random, and discover new little supernatural jewels. I just finished, The Exorcist’s House by Nick Roberts. Well done!

What are you working on now? I’ve got Seer: The Case of the Man Who Lost His Soul sizzling on my literary cast iron griddle. You can lose your soul. It’s a tough and scary world that a person trips into when they’ve traded the soul, thinking they can simply get it back by reforming their evil ways, making resolutions, or getting religion. Hah! Not so, my friend, not so. Seerdelves into the phenomenon of evil set against the reality of natural magic and how it plays out with Dr. Ernesto de la Tierra and an arrogant, wealthy patient. They thought playing with dark metaphysical realities was no big thing. Surprise . . . there are no small things with little consequences when it comes to toying with the supernatural.

Where can readers find your work?  I’m a one-stop shopper for all things metaphysical, supernatural, and horrifying – Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3GCBuNL

Chilling Chat: Episode # 216 – R.A. Goli

chillingchat

R.A. Goli R.A. Goliis an Australian writer of horror, fantasy, and speculative short stories. In addition to writing, her interests include reading, gaming, the occasional cemetery walk, and annoying her chihuahua, two cats, and husband.

Check out her numerous publications including her collection of short stories, Unfettered on her website, where you can sign up to her newsletter for free short stories and updates, or stalk her on Facebook.

NTK: When did you first discover horror? How old were you?

RG: One of the first horror movies I remember watching was the original Evil Dead. My older brother rented a lot of horror movies and let me watch them. Evil Dead was released on video when I was nine years old, and I remember loving it, but freaking out when having to run through the darkened hallway to my bedroom after the movie had finished. I was sure there would be a possessed woman at the end about to sing how she was going to get me.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

RG: I absolutely love An American Werewolf in London. So much so, that when I was around 10 years old, I would watch it every day after school for what felt like the whole year. I knew it by heart and still quote from it, semi-regularly. I’m not sure exactly what made me fall in love with this movie. It might have been because I had imaginary werewolf cubs who lived under my bed when I was a kid, perhaps that weird crush on Jack Goodman (initial death, but pre-decomposition – I’m not a weirdo), maybe because it was both hilarious and terrifying. The awesome special effects, particularly for the early ’80s. Actually, all of those reasons and more.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

RG: What a cruel question. Why not ask me which pet I love best! There are a few favorites, that I’ve reread over the years, sometimes it changes a bit, but if I had to pick one, I’d say, The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty.

NTK: What is your favorite horror TV show?

RG: Another tricky question. I suppose because series start off well, then either go off the rails or just disappoint in some way. I really liked the first season of American Horror Story, but the following seasons – not so much.

True Blood started off really well, then got a bit ‘fluffy’ for me.

The first season of Haunting of Hill House was good. What We Do in the Shadows is hilarious, but not really horror.

Maybe I go back to the classics like Creepshow and Twilight Zone.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

RG: Most of the time it’s the call for submission that inspires me. I churn the theme around in my head and hopefully come up with something good. Occasionally I get an idea after listening to a podcast or having a random conversation.

NTK: What inspired you to write, “Lighthouse Lamentation?”

RG: I was listening to the Lore podcast and they told a story about two lighthouse keepers who fought. I can’t remember that story at all, but it got me thinking about how isolated and spooky lighthouses are and that’s how “Lighthouse Lamentation” came about.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you control their every move?

RG: I control their every move like an omniscient godling. Only once did a character do something I wasn’t expecting. It was amazing and magical and sadly, hasn’t happened since.

NTK: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind? What song or group inspires you most?

RG: I actually don’t listen to music. I think I would find it too distracting and want to sing along. I have developed the ability to completely ignore whatever crap my husband is watching on TV though.

NTK: Do you have any advice for the new writer?

RG: Read a lot, write as much as you can, and start small. Try short stories rather than the epic fantasy series you want to write. This is my personal experience. I’ve had over a hundred short stories published, but my fantasy novel is still unfinished.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

RG: Horror Addicts can expect a lot more horror from me, I’ll never stop loving it, and maybe one day I’ll even finish that fantasy novel.

Author Interview : Isaac Thorne

What is your name and what are you known for? 

 Isaac Thorne. I started out trying to make myself known as an author of short tales of dark comic horror in the vein of stuff like Tales From the Crypt and Creepshow. After writing my debut novel, The Gordon Place, my attention shifted away from that and toward horror with a social commentary edge.

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

Hell Spring is my new novel (released Sept. 21, 2022). It’s not a direct follow-up to The Gordon Place, but it is set in the same fictional small town of Lost Hollow. Eight people in 1955 get trapped in their local general store by a thunderstorm and flash flooding. One of the eight is a supernatural predator in the guise of a famous sex symbol of the time. She’s a demon who feeds on the toxic guilt and shame of those with whom she is trapped. 

The commentary component of Hell Spring is a bit less overt than the antiracist message of The Gordon Place, but it does address some stuff we all deal with throughout our lives.

What places or things inspire your writing?

I’m not sure I believe in inspiration as far as my work is concerned. My ideas are prompted mainly by the news, though. I’ve always been a bit of a news junkie. The nightly catastrophes and disappointments there are fuel for the more esoteric components of my work, the stuff that people reading at the surface level might not get right away. More than that, my lifetime of horror fandom, the area I live in, and the interesting, unique people around me typically swirl around in my head while I’m working.

What music do you listen to while creating?

That totally depends. Sometimes I need absolute quiet, especially if I’m working on a particularly challenging scene that has little basis in reality. For Hell Spring, I spent much of my writing time listening to oldies, shit from the late 1940s and early 1950s. I tried to put myself in the mindset of the era by listening to the types of music the residents of my little town might’ve heard when they switched on the radio on any given day.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

This depends on my mood. For movies, I’ve lately been drawn to early 1970s Giallo as well as the old Hammer films. The bright colors, the melodrama, and their uninhibitedness appeals to me. That said, I also love a good 80s slasher from time to time. Regarding books, I’ll read just about any type of horror. I’m most drawn to realistically depicted, character-driven stuff, though.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

Edgar Allan Poe. As much as I’d like to provide a more modern answer to that, I’ve probably read and reread Poe more than anyone else. Sure, he was the father of the modern detective story, but his gothic horror stuff always deserves another look.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

Shit, man. Everything’s scary. Life is scary. On a more personal note, that would be a car versus motorcycle accident I witnessed one summer day. The dude on the bike was struck by the car at an intersection. He flew off, lost his helmet, and tumbled through the air like a stick thrown by a child. He survived, fortunately. But I’ll never forget seeing that burly man’s body spinning through the air like that.

8. If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

Dead: Edgar Allan Poe and a bottle of Stonehaus Davenport.

Living: Stephen King and a cherry cheesecake.

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

Tennessee Gothic, a movie based on the horror-comedy short story “American Gothic” by Ray Russell. I had the good fortune to review that movie for TNHorror.com a few years ago. It ended up winning the Hubbie Award at Joe Bob’s first Drive-In Jamboree.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

I don’t think so. When I was a small child, I saw some weird shit in the first house I remember living in (like a pair of jeans walking around the bedroom on their own). I’ve always had a lot of trouble sleeping, though. It could’ve been exhaustion or sleep paralysis.

11. What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

You need to have one or more Richard Matheson books. Preferably a novel and a collection of short stories. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story should be there as well. And Stephen King’s Cujo.

What are you working on now? 

The next Lost Hollow novel. Nope, I’m not done with that little town yet.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

https://www.isaacthorne.com

Book Review: Black Flames & Gleaming Shadows by Frank Coffman

Review by Stephanie Ellis 

4 stars

Black Flames & Gleaming Shadows by Frank Coffman, pub. Independent, 28 Feb. 2020

Synopsis:

This is Frank Coffman’s second large collection of speculative poetry. As before, the verses herein cross the spectrum of Weird Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Adventure and include examples from sub-genres of these modes of the high imagination. Following his chapbook, This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle (2018) and his acclaimed magnum opus, The Coven’s Hornbook & Other Poems (2019), this collection of 93 poems (six sequences of poems: sonnet sequences, a “megasonnet” sequence, a sequence in an Old Irish metric, etc) continues in the same tradition. A formalist whose rhymed and metered verses follow in the tradition of the exemplary work of the great early Weird Tales poets such as Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Donald Wandrei, and Leah Bodine Drake, he is also a great experimenter with a broad variety of exotic and cross-cultural forms and an innovative creator of several new ones. His poetry has been published in several magazines, including Spectral Realms, Weirdbook, The Audient Void, Abyss & Apex, Gathering Storm, Phatasmagoria and Lovedraftiana; and in anthologies such as Quoth the Raven, Caravan’s Awry, and Sounds of the Night.

Review:

Black Flames and Gleaming Shadows by Frank Coffman is very much verse in the traditional sense, by which I refer to his employment of recognised forms, for example, the sonnet, or his adaptation of them to create his own variant. Having read, and written much, in recent years in blank or free verse, it took a while to settle back into reading poetry of this style, but settle I did.

During my degree studies, I spent some time on Victorian poetry which led me to the likes of Tennyson and Browning, the latter remaining a favourite, especially with his “Porphyria’s Lover” and “The Laboratory”. Coffman’s poetry took me right back to that place, that sense of enjoyment of a tale told well, in poetic form. One word of advice: this collection is one very much to dip in and out of as I find my brain has a tendency to try and overlay the pattern and rhythm of one poem onto the next – which does the subsequent poem a disservice until you pause, reset and re-read. You might find the same.

From the King in Yellow to King Arthur, Coffman covers a wide variety of subjects, each fitting neatly into the convenient sections: Weird Tales & Cosmic Horror, Vampiricon, Samhain Halloween, Poems of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Myth, Legend, and Metapoetry, Homages & Some Traditional Verse. All are written in traditional form and there is a very useful Glossary of Forms explaining those he uses.

Yet tradition does not mean dry mimicry, instead, he adopts an element of playful homage at times as in “The Spooky Path Not Taken” (a wonderful ghostly take on Robert Frost’s classic) and “It WAS a Dark and Stormy Night” (which is most definitely not the opening line).

Whilst the writing is in this ‘older’ style, the subject matter is often very modern and pertinent to the concerns of today. “The Cyborg Dilemma” questions our advance into a brave new world where biomechanics bring the human and machine into ever closer contact, a synthesis of worrying implications. “Leaving Earth Behind” finishes with a poignant couplet effectively asking – shouldn’t we look after our own planet first before trying to ‘terraform’ others. Strong emotion with the lightest touch can be found in “Fib-on-ac-ci-dent?”, such wistfulness in so few words.

Other poems are akin to the epic narrative verse of yore. The gothic “The Vampire Ball” is surely something that should become a must for reading aloud at a small gathering, by a roaring fire, on a dark and stormy night …

Frank Coffman has taken tradition and made it his own, indeed amongst some of his poems are pleas not to discard the old, simply because it is just that. “Post” starts ‘This age of ours – it seems to me – is flawed/Things and Ideas “Old” must be replaced …  That traditions are deemed anathema is scary.”

With Coffman’s journey not yet done, I’ll finish with his own words from “Verse’s Vagabond”. ‘No rest! So many roads I’ve never gone!/Though I set off at dusk … ‘twill soon enough be dawn.’

Let us all accompany him on his adventure, vagabond readers traveling with him.

Book Review – Ashthorne by April Yates

By staff writer and book blogger Renata Pavrey

 

Title – Ashthorne

Author – April Yates

Genre – Historical fiction, Gothic horror

Publisher – Ghost Orchid Press

In the aftermath of WWI, Adelaide Frost seeks employment as a nurse at Ashthorne – a manor house that has been designated as a convalescence center for soldiers of war. She is sternly informed not to make contact with the house owners, Mr. Ashthorne, and his daughter Evelyn. Her job requires her to work for the injured soldiers without asking any questions. A resident doctor operates in his treatment room, that no one has access to besides the doctor and the patients.

Something is amiss at Ashthorne. Initially dismissed as the after-effects and trauma of fighting and being rendered disabled by war, Adelaide learns there’s more to the soldiers’ wanting to kill themselves and not coming out alive from the doctor’s treatment room. Evelyn has her own suspicions about the evil lurking within her father’s home, but her investigations haven’t revealed much so far. Now, with Adelaide’s help, the two women seek to uncover the truth behind Ashthorne. What happened to Evelyn’s mother, why does her father blindly believe the doctor, who is the priest with much say in the town’s proceedings, can the nurses be trusted, why is the land on which Ashthorne stands so important?

In a short, compact, and concise novella, April Yates packs a punch of a story that covers so much in so few words. I was introduced to Yates’ writing in the short story First Harvest from Blood and Bone, edited by A.R. Ward. I loved that anthology and found every story so outstanding that I looked forward to her debut book. And Yates doesn’t disappoint. With Ashthorne, she creates a world that brings together historical fiction with gothic horror, thriller, and romance. And there’s another world within this world that addresses post-traumatic stress disorder, rehabilitation, homosexuality, religion and medicine, and the role of women in society.

The characters are multi-layered and well-developed. The storyline involves several tangents, but they all fall together nicely. The plot is to the point and quick-paced. Sometimes, novels are so long drawn out, that one wonders why the author had to drag a story that could have been said in a few words. With Ashthorne, you hope for the opposite. The novella is so well written, that one hopes it could have been a longer novel. I would have liked to learn more about the caves and the history of Ashthorne that makes the grounds significant. I love books that blur the lines between thriller and horror, and Ashthorne keeps you wanting to read more.

A haunted house story that incorporates witchcraft, demons, mysterious mirrors, and basements to beware of. As a historical fiction sapphic horror story, Ashthorne is splendidly written and deserves to be read. April Yates is an author to look out for. And kudos to the cover designer!

My rating – 5/5

Book Review: From Daylight to Madness by Jennifer Anne Gordon

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Reviewed by Emerian Rich

For: Readers who enjoy Gothic Literature like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

Content warning: baby death, mental illness, harm to animals, gaslighting

From Daylight to Madness by Jennifer Anne Gordon is an emotional trek through one lady’s experience with losing her child at birth and how she is mistreated by her husband, mother-in-law, and eventually a hotel they ship her off to.

From Daylight Cover full gold - Jennifer GordonIsabelle is a young wife in the 1870s who has suffered a terrible tragedy. She’s given birth to a son who dies just after he is born. Her controlling husband and mother-in-law do not allow her to see him or even say goodbye. They take the body God knows where and force her to clean up the blood after the tragedy. They don’t allow a grave marker or any sort of service for him. He was not alive, he did not have a name. They keep her drugged up on laudanum and complain that she doesn’t “mourn properly.” 

Finding she can no longer bear children and won’t pop out of her sadness, they send her on a “holiday” at an institution masquerading as a seaside hotel. At the hotel, things go from bad to worse when she meets a cast of characters with real mental problems. One gal, in particular, is deeply twisted.

All things are not horrible at the hotel, however. Isabelle is able to get out from under her husband and mother-in-law’s thumb and experience a little freedom–something she’s never had in her entire life. She also meets another hotel guest who shows her kindness and a little romance blooms in their shared misery.

First, a warning. For readers who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or baby death, this book may be too much for you. The author does a really great job of getting inside Isabelle’s head and making the reader feel the impact of her baby’s death. She is basically haunted–not by a real ghost, but by her grief. She hears her baby’s cry in her head and reminisces frequently about not being able to hold him or say goodbye. She even carries a hatbox with her that she imagines holds him in it, so he is by her side always. 

Passages like… 

“…death had kissed her insides and left her rotting…”

“…Isabelle felt like a fancy dress…poorly made…different parts of her…separating and being held together by straight pins…” 

“…birth leaving her womb nothing more than a tattered old book of gruesome tales better left untold…”

…weave such deep and expressive imagery it’s hard not to put yourself in her place.

The exquisite writing in this book takes place inside Isabelle’s head as she compares the cups of tea and laudanum scattered about the house to little tombstones of her grief, the only sign that her baby ever existed because he did not get a tombstone. 

As a modern woman reading her story it’s difficult because the way others gaslight her is just agonizing. I was infuriated with how her husband and mother-in-law paint a narrative that is unfair and harmful to her. They pass that narrative off to the hotel employees who then drill in the narrative, causing her to constantly question them and herself.

*She had a stillborn, but no…he lived! She heard him crying. 

*She isn’t mourning, but yes she is if anyone was paying attention. 

*She was abandoned by her parents and now has been abandoned again, but no…her parents died, they didn’t mean to leave her. 

People don’t allow her to speak her truth and it made me want to travel to that hotel and make things right. But in the same instance, I know entering the hotel I would just be another casualty hushed up, drugged, and put on the porch to sleep with the other patients, I mean…vacationers.

Although meant for wellness, the island hotel seems a spooky place where spiked tea and her own mental state cause her to lose time and survive in a dream-like state where she isn’t sure what is real or not. She finds a little graveyard of babies there, the truth of that place never fully understood. The hotel is a character itself, akin to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…sunny and bright one moment but hiding dark, dirty secrets the next.

I have to say, I like this book because of how much it jarred me. I went into it hoping to see some ghosts in a haunted hotel but came out of it bloodied by the emotional trip I took with Isabelle. It made me uncomfortable and scarred. If you can handle the harrowing journey, it will be a book you remember for a long time. Just make sure your mental state is strong enough to handle it, tea+laudanum on standby.

Chilling Chat: Episode #214 – Dana Hammer

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Dana Hammer has written several short stories, novels, novellas, and screenplays. She is the author of the short story, “Mow-bot,” featured in the anthology, Kill Switch. She also co-wrote the novella, The Retreat, with Joanna Ramos. Their screenplay of this novella won the 2020 13Horror.com Film and Screenplay Contest. 

Dana Hammer

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?

DH: So young I can’t remember the age. I used to stay up late watching Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the Crypt. My family and I used to tell stories about Betsy the Child-Killing Doll. I was like, five at the time. It’s always been a pretty big part of my life, which is a good thing.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

DH: That’s a hard one! It, The Hole, The Stand, Hannibal.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

DH: Again, so hard to pick! The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Get Out, The Bad Seed.

NTK: Favorite horror television show?

Tales from the Crypt!

NTK: What inspired you to write your story, “Mow-Bot?”

DH: My husband is very into automation. I am not. He purchased a robot vacuum cleaner, and it was bad news. It kept trying to get my feet with its little flippers. Sometimes it ate electrical cords. Sometimes it didn’t obey me at all. It had an “accident” and now it is gone from my life forever, thank god.

A robotic lawn mower is the logical extension of these kinds of terrifying home automation appliances.

NTK: You’re not only a writer, you’re a screenwriter. What is the process of screenwriting like?

DH: It’s like writing a novel, but faster, and neater. In many ways it’s easier because you don’t have to get bogged down with descriptions and interiority – you just tell the story in a series of scenes. It’s actually more suitable for a writer like me, who dislikes flowery language, descriptions of the sky, etc. I’m best at writing dialogue, so performance pieces come more naturally to me.

Except when they don’t. Because sometimes I really WANT to get into someone’s head and write their thoughts. Especially if a character is super compelling or interesting. A novel or a short story allows me to take my time and really explore my character’s perspective.

Screenwriting is more collaborative than other types of writing, and you aren’t necessarily the final authority on the script, because you have to rewrite it over and over to fit the budget, please the director and producers, work in new actors, etc. Novel and short story writing are more solitary, and you are the master of what you write.

NTK: What makes a good screenplay? 

DH: Like a novel or story, it should be a compelling read. It should not contain lazy dialogue. It shouldn’t be overly proscriptive–it needs to allow for creativity on the part of the director, actors, etc. It should at no point contain a scene that cuts away to children acting shocked when they see adults kiss.

NTK: How do you feel about directors?

DH: I LOVE directors. Seriously, I haven’t met one I didn’t like. I’m sure there are terrible directors out there, but in my experience, they are all smart, competent, interesting people.

NTK: Could you tell us about your new book, The Cannibal’s Guide to Fasting?

DH: Of course! It’s about a reformed cannibal named Igor. In this world, viral cannibalism has spread throughout the world, and the infected are sent to rehab centers, where they are trained to avoid human meat. They are then sent to live in government-regulated containment centers, where social workers check in on them, to make sure they’re staying on the straight and narrow.

Igor is a disgraced scientist who is also a gigantic bodybuilder with a tattoo on his face. He wants more than anything to find a cure for viral cannibalism, but there’s not much he can do about that, since he is unemployable, due to his condition and history.

When he discovers that his brother is running a cannibal rights cult that is doing some seriously evil stuff, he knows he has to intervene.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

DH: Right now I’m working on many projects!

I’m in the process of trying to get my middle-grade fantasy novel published. It’s called My Best Friend Athena, and it’s about an eleven-year-old girl who finds out that her best friend is the reincarnated goddess Athena. It’s a light comedy. I’m in the process of writing a sequel to that book, as well, where her brother, Dionysus, tries to enter an extreme eating competition.

I’m also working on a dystopian screenplay where the world is overpopulated and depleted of natural resources, and so the government drafts a certain number of people each year to go into “hibernation”, a state where they use no resources, and are kept in pods for a year. My main character is drafted for this, and is not happy about it.

I also just wrote an outline for a novel called Blister Girl, but I haven’t started it yet. We will see.

I have a short story coming out in an anthology called Literally Dead, which will be published in October of this year. My story is called “A Halloween Visit” which is a stupid title, but a good story! I hate coming up with titles.

My short play “A Helping Hand” will be performed in Hollywood, by Force of Nature Productions. It’s part of a series called “Tales from the Future: Origins” and it features futuristic origin stories for several classic monsters. My piece is about mummies. September 9-11 and 16-18th at The Brickhouse Theater.

My full-length play, The Devil’s Buddy, will be given a reading on October 26th, 8pm, by Skyline Productions, at Oh My Ribs! It’s about a young homeless man whose fortunes change when he becomes the Devil’s errand boy.

My one act, “Spotless” will be given a staged reading on August 27th at Newport Theater Arts center, as part of the OCPA Discoveries even. It’s a serious play about two families who must decide whether or not to wipe a teenage girl’s memory, after an attack.

My short story, “Meteorite” was just published in an anthology called Blood Fiction: An Anthology of Challenging Fiction. Available now on Amazon!

My screenplay, Red Wings, has been optioned by EMA Films, and will hopefully begin filming this year. It’s a hyper-feminist revenge story about a woman whose tampons turn into murdering bats. It’s amazing, though I do say so myself.

Jesus. I’m busy.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Seven: Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories

The aptly titled Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories is a sampler of collected tales by prolific Bigfoot author and fly-fishing guide Rusty Wilson. According to Amazon, Wilson has written 24 books from 2010 to 2021, mostly about the “Big Guy.”

Released in 2011, Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories is a logical place to start on Wilson’s catalog, which features tales of Bigfoot encounters told by a half-dozen of his fly-fishing clients. 

Each entry includes an informal introduction about the storyteller. Their first-person narratives are plainspoken and sometimes folksy. For example, one storyteller says, “Oh sweet holy Scooby Doo” when seeing Bigfoot tracks. 

The opener titled “The Wild Cave” is told by a man named Jeremy, who found himself lost and injured inside a Colorado cave with a red-eyed, rock-throwing, smelly beast. 

Like “The Wild Cave,” most of the stories highlight the fear engendered by a possible Bigfoot encounter. 

In “Lunch Guests,” a land surveyor in Montana shares his experience as a pair of curious, whistling Bigfoot interrupt the crew’s work. 

“Peddling with Disaster” is the most traumatic of the stories as a woman’s friend goes missing on a mountain bike ride in Colorado.

In “Black Hand at Box Canyon,” a woman is lost and falls off a cliff. While clinging to a life-saving bush, she sees “a pair of green eyes staring at me from a massive black body.” 

My favorite tale is “Do the Monster Twist” because it attributes Bigfoot for saving a couple’s lives during a tornado in Nebraska. 

The last story, “Devil’s Playground,” details a sighting of more than two dozen Bigfoot near a lake in northern California. 

“The Bigfoot children swam and played just like human kids would, and the adults seemed to be visiting, just like humans,” the storyteller says. 

Of course, these are campfire stories, and even Wilson is not sure which ones are authentic or farfetched. 

“It’s listener beware,” Wilson writes. 

Whether real or imagined, Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories does provide insight into how humans view Bigfoot. There’s a mixture of awe and curiosity but mostly fear and some sympathy. Either way, if you like the storytelling approach to Bigfoot in this collection, there are more than a dozen books of Wilson’s Campfire Stories to check out. Click HERE to visit Wilson’s Amazon page.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Eight: Bigfoot Country. I review the 2017 film directed by Jason Mills.


RELATED LINKS

THE BIGFOOT FILES

Book Review: Falling by Drew Turney

Review by Veronica McCollum

Drew Turney’s book was quite an unexpected treasure. I kept thinking it was almost over and then it would go on with more thrills and chills. The book lives up to its title. The story revolves around the main character Dale and his friends and support system. The story centers around the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The picture you see in the beginning is kind of scary on its own.  Turney does a great job of giving details and making you feel like you are there with the characters. Falling has a lot of the main horror thrills: the paranormal, monsters, gore, and some violence. I liked the book as the author had a good foundation for his story and had some futuristic ideas that were very interesting.

I really liked the arc of the story. I was hooked from the beginning to the end wondering what would happen next. I am not normally afraid of bridges, but it sure made me not ever want to be stuck on them. I felt transported by the book and what was happening to the characters. I don’t want to give away any of the story but the monsters and scientific ideas were exciting and great to read. I always considered falling to be one of my greatest fears, and this book reinforces that! 

The story premise I thought was amazing. I didn’t have any complaints about the book except, that it does have a subject that not all readers will like. The author explains why he kept this in the story and it makes sense to keep the story moving along. The book was very engaging and well thought out. The horror worked well and it had sci-fi horror as well .

Chilling Chat: Episode #213 – Jonathan Fortin

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Jonathan Fortin is the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus (Crystal Lake Publishing), “Requiem in Frost” (Horroraddicts.net), and “Nightmarescape” (Mocha Memoirs Press). An unashamed lover of spookyJonathan Fortin AUTHORPHOTO-2020 Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the Next Great Horror Writer in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian gentleman, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area.

NTK:  How old were you when you first discovered horror?

JF: I remember getting into horror as early as first grade when I started reading the Goosebumps books. Then in middle school, I became obsessed with Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and wrote a trilogy of short vampire novels. However, I was an anxious, easily-terrified child, so I didn’t fully embrace horror until later in life. Now, I’d always been drawn into darkly magical worlds, even in the video games I adored (American McGee’s Alice, Planescape: Torment, Vampire the Masquerade, etc.) But because I was so sensitive, it was rare for me to watch horror movies in my youth. That changed when I went to college, and began trying to face my fears and challenge my limits. I realized then that I’d been a horror fan all along–I had just been too scared to accept it.

NTK: Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

JF: My favorite author is Neil Gaiman. Not always horror, but certainly dark. Other authors who have influenced me include China Mieville, Alan Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, Holly Black, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Carlton Mellick III, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, Patrick Rothfuss, Haruki Murakami, and Junji Ito. Lately, I’ve been digging the work of Joe Hill and N.K. Jemisin.

NTK: What inspired you to write “Requiem in Frost?”

JF: I wrote “Requiem in Frost” during the Next Great Horror Writer Competition, where we were tasked with writing a music-themed horror story. I’d had the idea in my head for a couple years: a little girl who moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a murdered black metal musician and ends up solving his murder.

I’m a huge metalhead, and it irks me that even in horror, metalheads are almost always exclusively villains. We’ve since gotten Eddie Munson in Stranger Things, which was terrific, and I think the fact that so many people loved his character goes to show how badly we needed better metalhead representation. So that was a big factor in what I wanted to do with the story. I was inspired by spite. (Laughs.) 

NTK: What has your experience been as a neurodivergent author? 

JF: As an autistic person, one of the reasons I was first drawn to writing when I was young was because it was a solitary process. I didn’t need to compromise my creative vision based on budget or social considerations like I would if I was making movies or games, and imagined that it would be a good career for me because of that. I thought I could just write my books, get them published, and not have to interact with too many people unless I wanted to. There was great appeal in that idea, because then I could be left alone and nobody had to find out how weird and socially awkward I was.

As an adult, I learned that making it as a writer means being a part of a community. You need to network at conventions. You need to have writer friends willing to blurb you or trade beta reads. You need to constantly be posting on social media to build your following. And you need to make sure people actually like you while you’re doing all this.

This is challenging when you’ve got a disability that makes you awkward, or unaware of how you’re coming across, or prone to accidentally offending people without realizing it. And being fully aware that you have those tendencies tends to make you rather shy, and reluctant to put yourself out there as much as you need to if you’re going to make it in the writing world.

Networking is challenging for autistic people at the best of times, because we hate being fake, and are often very, very bad at it. Actively trying to make people like us usually results in people being repulsed instead. And unfortunately, your reputation follows you your entire life.

All of this honestly puts neurodivergent authors at a huge disadvantage in the current writing world. Many of the things you’re expected to do as a writer–things that have nothing to do with the writing itself–are things that many autistic people struggle with. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it can be, and just how much an invisible disability of this nature can impact your chances of success in this career.

NTK: What do you wish potential readers knew about neurodivergent authors and their works?

JF: This is complicated, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the notion that neurodivergent authors are expected to write for neurotypical readers first and foremost, even if this isn’t something that comes naturally to them.

I certainly can’t speak for all neurodivergent authors, because there’s great diversity among us. But I recently had a conversation with a neurodiverse friend who stated that they struggled to find books they enjoyed. They explained how many “literary” books expect the reader to read between the lines and make the correct assumption based on what’s unsaid, something that many autistic people struggle to do. It got me thinking about how many times I’ve been totally unimpressed by works that a great number of my peers absolutely loved, and why that might be the case.

I’m currently wondering if neurodivergent people may not always have the same tastes or artistic values as neurotypical people. We may not always connect with the same characters, or obsess over the same ideas, or want the same things left unsaid. It’s different for all of us, to be sure, but it’s something I’ve been having a lot of conversations about with other neurodivergent friends.

Unfortunately, there are still many people who have a tendency to view certain tastes as “superior,” simply because they’re subtler, or leave much unsaid–factors that will leave some neurodiverse people (though of course not all) feeling “left out” because the conclusions we come to may not be the same as those of most neurotypical people. This is especially troubling when you’re a writer, because you are expected to write primarily for neurotypical readers.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

JF: Right now, I’m trying to get an agent for my second novel, so I’ve been sending out query letters left and right. I’m also working on edits for the second draft of a third novel, shopping around a few short stories, and plotting out the sequels for the book I’m currently shopping. I do still intend to write at least two more LILITU books, but not just yet. My author ADD is in full force at the moment. (Laughs.)

Addicts, you can follow Jonathan on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: “Twenty Years Dead” by Richard Farren Barber

twenty years deadHello Addicts,

What if we lived in a world where the dead remain in their grave for a limited amount of time before coming back? That is the basis of many zombie and reanimated dead stories. Usually, there is no reason given or really needed in most cases. It just happens. In those stories, the way to return them to eternal rest is by injuring the body in some fashion. Richard Farren Barber looks at the reanimated dead, and how they behave, differently in “Twenty Years Dead”.

The dead behave differently in David Chadwick’s world. They get buried after they die, but, rather than stay in their grave for eternity, their spirit is returns to the body exactly twenty years after their final breath. The corpses are in a panic, a little crazy, and quick to lash out after emerging from the ground. While they are not driven by a need for blood and brains, they need a reminder of who they were and to be calmed so their spirit can move on. This process can be dangerous to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or unprepared, so a new profession is born — Family Directors. They take care of the dead on behalf of the families for a fee, and most are good at what they do.

David, however, falls into a different category. He is one who feels they can take care of the crossing over by themselves. They watch YouTube videos, read all that they can about the procedure, and purchase all the recommended tools. They choose to do it themselves more out of cost and feeling an obligation to take care of their own, even in death.

For David, there is a more personal reason for being at his father’s gravesite when he rises. He was only five when his dad died, and his mother has done everything possible since to erase him from their home and their lives. The more she tells him to leave it alone, however, the more he thinks she is hiding something. He knows he only gets one opportunity to ask his father what happened to him, so he settles in to wait for the rising.

His girlfriend, Helen, joins him despite thinking he should let the professionals handle the rising. During the night, they assist a Family Director with a rising, which is admittedly more chaotic than either expected. They have second thoughts about what they are doing after one of the risen kills a lesser experienced Director. David is ill prepared when his father finally rises, and memories that rise with the dead man.

This was a well-done story that offered a different take on the reanimated dead. Rather than being mindless zombies guided by their base desires of eating and spreading their disease, there is a more practical and spiritual approach to the story. I enjoyed the slow build and how David changed from being so sure of what he was doing because he saw it online, to uncertainty, and finally realizing how over his head he really was. The ending was more of a surprise than I expected and felt appropriate. I recommend curling up with this book on an overcast night with a cup of hot tea handy.

You can find “Twenty Years Dead” at Crystal Lake Publishing, Amazon, Bookshop, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore. 

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Chilling Chat: Episode #212 – Daniel R. Robichaud

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Daniel R. Robichaud lives and writes in east Texas. His work can be found in Hookman and Friends, The Other Side, and Sick Cruising anthologies. His short fiction has been collected in Hauntings & Happenstances, They Shot Zombies, Didn’tDaniel Robichaud They? and Gathered Flowers, Stones, and Bones.

His story, “With Red Eyes Gleaming,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.                                                                         

NTK: How did you discover the horror genre and how old were you?

DR: I came to the horror genre at around six or seven thanks to my Mom. She was a fan of scary movies and books, and I have fond memories of watching the Thriller Double Feature with her on Saturday Afternoons while growing up in the Detroit area. The offerings were moody, weird, and often cut for television. She’d point out the zippers in the costumes in the egregiously cheap flicks, to help me see it was all fake and ultimately fun.

The books and magazines and comics came around the same time. The 1980s were a treasure trove of scary entertainment, so scary stuff was everywhere. I recall reading my first Poe stories as Troll Books aimed for elementary school kids. My first encounter with modern masters was through a big anthology called Great Tales of Horror and the Supernatural … Family night Saturdays would involve watching Monsters or Tales From the Darkside series. And John Carpenter’s The Thing played on network television in a cut format that still frightened me senselessly … that would’ve been around 1983/1984. Fright was certainly in the air back then!

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

DR: From a young age. I got exposure to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and other gothic works thanks to parents who enjoyed the stuff.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

DR: There are so many to choose from! Right now, I think I’ll have to answer The Witch of Ravensworth, an 1808 gothic horror novel from George Brewer, which I bought on a lark and was truly taken with. It introduced me to the Valancourt Books publisher, as well, and I’ve enjoyed reading their works ever since.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

DR: The Whip and the Body from Mario Bava is a terrific film that blends ghostly chills with sexuality in strange ways. A delirious thing that is gorgeously shot (also with a great performance by Christopher Lee).

I found this movie back in the days of DVD when I was just discovering Mario Bava’s films. It’s beautiful, disturbing, and achingly romantic.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

DR: My characters are originals, though that means they are inspired by the films, fiction, and authentic folks I have known and read about.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

DR: For this story, I had a single scene of a woman descending into a strange subterranean location. From that, I wrote into the dark without any outline. This is not always the case, but it is the way I work on a majority of my stories.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

DR: They always have free will. For short fiction, however, their options are far more limited than they might be in a novel.

NTK: What inspired you to write, “With Red Eyes Gleaming?”

DR: I’ve been a fan of Japanese folklore since I was young and reading old Usagi Yojimbo comic books from famed comic creator Stan Sakai. One of the stories that stuck with me back then was a tragic tale involving a kappa or river goblin.

Several decades later, I wound up taking two different vacations to Japan and visiting not only the mainland but some of the smaller islands where locals vacationed. Iriomote and Ishigaki are scenic locales with plenty of beaches and hiking opportunities. So when it came time to write a gothic story, these two different experiences came together and I got to wondering about strange family legacies and goblins that came from saltier waters. “With Red Eyes Gleaming” resulted.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

DR: I am afraid of loss of my mind, my sense of self.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

DR: I have great respect for Gary A. Braunbeck, who blends lyrical prose, emotional honesty, and disturbing storylines. As well, Suzuki Koji and Murakami Ryu have left some lasting impressions on me—I wish more Asian horror material was available in translation. Poppy Z. Brite was vital during my college years, particularly with accepting my bisexuality and finding the strength to come out. A new Ramsey Campbell book is always a cause for celebration in my house.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

DR: I am always working on fiction of fright. I have stories appearing in the forthcoming Wishing Well and Camp Slasher Lake anthologies.

I’m particularly proud of a string of stories I create off-the-cuff whenever my daughter asks, “Will you tell me a story?” She’s five now, so the scary material tends to focus more on mood and the unexpected (with some humor) instead of gore or violence, of course. Several of these I’ve gone on to develop into fiction sales for magazines like Spaceports & Spider Silk or parABnormal as well as anthologies like Rockets and Robots and Beware the Bugs! I hope to assemble those stories into a collection, next.

Addicts, you can find Daniel on Amazon and Twitter.

 

Book Review: The Crows of After by Exsanguine Hart

Synopsis:

Don’t leave the dolls alone…

Set in a classic style haunted house inhabited by dolls, fear and other strange things, this poetry collection accompanied by full-colour art explores the self and a series of childhood horrors in an entwining of lyricism, dark fantasy and disturbing imagery.

Review:

Exsanguine Hart is a new poet to me, but having devoured The Crows of After, they are one I will definitely look out for in the future. In this collection, they have created a banquet to feed both the eye and the mind. The world they have constructed on these pages conjured up memories of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan when the reader is introduced to the castle of Gormenghast – not in the type of building, but in the strange and fantastical atmosphere and landscape within. Interwoven on this canvas are strawmen and automatons, bizarre dreams, and nightmare visions with steampunk edging. The poems imprison you in cages, taunt you with creatures from the ‘crawlspace’, the demons at the door.

The sheer joy of wordplay is evident throughout; ‘Fable’ ends ‘one with the chat/one with death/un with Nine/IX/9.’ The imagery is fantastical and original: ‘They tuck letters of disappointment into/the corners of their lips,’ (‘Accumulated’). And the weird abounds: ‘Her metal arm pulls up the splint. It chafes my/scratches, my fluids pooling in the weave,’ (‘The Waiting Game’).

The crows of the title fly in and out of the poems, dark shadows to disturb, ‘they’re only out to mangle the truth and children,’ (‘Smell of Pies’); ‘A storm approaching, four crows are at the bayonet,’ (‘Falling Apart’). The crows and maggots, scarecrows, and dolls thread the theme of horror throughout the collection to bind it in a lyrical darkness achieved via extraordinary word choice and well-judged alliterative phrasing and slant rhyme.

Dark poetry is having a moment. Recent years have seen some amazing collections appear and this one is no exception.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 – In case you missed it!

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

We’ve had a great few months talking about our book and horror with you all. Just in case you missed some of the awesome content, here is a recap of all the #HorrorAddictsGuide goings on! 

Read tons of interviews and inspirations at HorrorAddicts.net
Interviews with editor, Emerian Rich:

with M.D. Neu
with Sumiko Saulson
with Loren Rhoads
with Chantal Boudreau
with Lionel Ray Green

Interviews with:

Loren Rhoadsby Priscilla Bettis
R.L. Merrillby Selah Janel
Kristin Battestellaby Renata Pavrey
Selah Janelby R.L. Merrill
A.D. Vickby A.D. Vick

Excerpts by:

Angela Yuriko Smithangelaysmith.com
Chantal Boudreauchantellyb.wordpress.com
Michael Fassbendermichaeltfassbender.com
M.D. Neumdneu.com
Selah Janelselahjanel.com
Tabitha Thompsonsumikosaulson.com
Dan Shauretteangelaysmith.com
Naching T. Kassanachingkassa.wordpress.com
Sumiko Saulsonsumikosaulson.com
Daphne Strasertchantellyb.wordpress.com
Kieran Judgehttp://jaqdhawkins.com
Kristin Battestellaselahjanel.com
Emerian Richemzbox.wordpress.com
DJ Pitsiladispriscillabettisauthor.com
Geneve Flynnnachingkassa.wordpress.com
Mark Orremmyzmadrigal.wordpress.com
J. Malcolm Stewartmdneu.com
Jonathan Fortinjonathanfortin.com
R.L. Merrillrlmerrillauthor.com

Available now at: Amazon.com

Odd Playthings – An Anthology of Horror About Toys Edited By Patrick Winters

Review by staff writer and book blogger Renata Pavrey

Title – Odd Playthings

Author(s) – Multiple

Editor – Patrick Winters

Genre – Horror, anthology

Publisher – Black Ink Fiction

A unique collection of horror stories that pays homage to the playfulness and innocence of childhood hobbies, while instilling fear in adult readers and collectors. Odd Playthings is a tribute to toys of all kinds – stuffed animals, action figures, wooden handicrafts and terracotta figurines. From toys believed to be prophets, to curses carried through generations, toys that will protect their owners at any cost, to ones that go out of their way to destroy, quirky puzzles boxes and haunted bobble dolls, dolls that solve murder mysteries and dolls that commit murder – the reader is transported into a land of endearing childhood activities, with a horrific twist that makes us ponder on what would happen if our beloved toys turned rogue. Odd Playthings turns back time with sixteen stories from twelve writers who offer a glimpse into the joys of our past, transformed into horrifying scenarios.

A challenge for the editor is not only collecting well-written horror stories adhering to his offbeat theme but also finding writers who share his love for toys and present an eerie array of tales for the reader. Carnival prizes, alien toys, wood and clay toy makers, footballs that curse their players, superheroes fighting plastic dinosaurs, serial killers who collect toys and toys who are serial killers – we read about a range of odd playthings from different cultures and customs around the world. The stories are so different from each other and yet come together beautifully in this distinctive collection from a variety of international writers.

“Toys became tools to tell stories, toys made it possible to go places I never could, and means to reach the furthest ends of my imagination,” writes Dave Wheeler in the foreword that introduces us to this splendid assortment of terror tales. Some of my favorite stories were Strange Customs by Patrick Winters (about a serial killer’s toy collection), To Fight Another Day by Dawn DeBraal (about action figures whose action wreaks havoc), Giuseppe the Toy Maker by Lynne Phillips (an ode to the old-world charm of handcrafted wooden toys), Giselle by Lynne Phillips (a doll sets out to avenge its murdered owner), and Star Man the Invincible by Scott McGregor (about a toy from outer space). But I loved every story from this anthology – it’s so well curated.

Some quotes:

-You should always kill with care the things you once loved. To do any less insults their memory.

-A child is usually the one to see what isn’t there, to see through the lies of the world and view the truth of their surroundings.

-The shoelace tip-tapped like a metronome as the leg swung.

The stories are a mixed bunch, but they’re all entertaining in the way each of us interprets horror – as children, teenagers, and adults. The cute and creepy cover with splotches of paint aptly describes what to expect within the pages of this anthology. There’s sci-fi, crime, historical fiction, horrors of the real world and paranormal – something for every reader to enjoy the coming-together of an exceptional bunch of writers. Kudos to editor Patrick Winters for accomplishing this task.

My rating – 5/5

Book Review: Eater of the Gods by Dan Franklin

 

Book Review by Daphne Strasert

Content Warnings:

Violence, Gore, Grief, Major Character Death

Norman, an Egyptologist, leads a team of researchers to the tomb of Kiya, a mysterious, lost queen of Egypt. For years, locals have refused to reveal the location of her final resting place, fearing it to be cursed. Norman and his companions don’t believe in any such curse… until they find themselves trapped inside with no way out. And they aren’t alone.

The Eater of Gods is straightforward. It gives the reader exactly what they want from a mummy story. Not that its simplicity makes it any less compelling. The plot is well-paced and balances action with suspense and surprisingly touching moments of emotion. There is nothing particularly twisty or tricky about the novel, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.

Franklin’s characterization is the star of the show. He creates a small, but diverse cast of characters. Each has a distinct personality conveyed through clever use of dialogue and action. From the lecherous professor (who gets what he deserves) to an over-eager graduate student, to Norman himself, a grieving and broken man fulfilling his wife’s dying wish. It is a fairly large list of characters for such a short and small-scale story, but Franklin manages to craft connections to each of them so that we care about their well-being.

Taking place almost entirely within Kiya’s tomb, The Eater of Gods feels at once both claustrophobic and expansive. The tomb is a maze of tunnels designed not to keep grave robbers out, but to keep something else in. Behind every corner is another trap waiting to spring… Or have they been in this room before?

While The Eater of Gods is a straightforward mummy horror story, the novel is infused with grief. As Norman works through his own emotions regarding the death of his wife and her unfulfilled desire to study the tomb of Kiya, readers also feel the weight of his issues. The Eater of Gods is a sort of love story in that way. While the terror of the tomb is the forefront of the novel, the anguish, and hopelessness that run throughout give it heart.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy read that delivers exactly what’s promised, check out Dan Franklin’s The Eater of Gods.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 Digital eBook Available Now!

Calling All Horror Fans!
HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: 

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Now in eBook!
Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre? Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horror addict’s life.

Our month-by-month almanac with important dates, movie lists, puzzles, crafts, articles, and recipes will guarantee your whole year is occupied with delightful horror activities. Don’t miss our monster guide with articles about vampires, zombies, ghosts, and some creatures that just can’t be categorized. Enjoy interviews with creators of horror content and hear perspectives from different cultures and backgrounds. Read stories of real hauntings, nightmares, and vile vacations.

Allow us to curate your horror lifestyle.

With articles by: A. Craig Newman, A.D. Vick, Alyson Faye, Angela Yuriko Smith, Brian McKinley, CM Lucas, Camellia Rains, Carrie Sessarego, Chantal Boudreau, Courtney Mroch, Crystal Connor, D.J. Pitsiladis, Dan Shaurette, Daphne Strasert, Dee Blake, Emerian Rich, Geneve Flynn, H.E. Roulo, H.R. Boldwood, J. Malcolm Stewart, James Goodridge, Jaq D Hawkins, Jeff Carroll, Jonathan Fortin, Kate Nox, Kay Tracy, Kerry Alan Denney, Kieran Judge, Kristin Battestella, Ksenia Murray, Lee Murray, Lionel Ray Green, Loren Rhoads, M.D. Neu, Mark Orr, Martha J. Allard, Michael Fassbender, Mimielle, Naching T. Kassa, Pamela K. Kinney, Priscilla Bettis, R.J. Joseph, R.L. Merrill, Rena Mason, Renata Pavrey, Rhonda R. Carpenter, Russell Holbrook, Selah Janel, Steven P. Unger, Sumiko Saulson, Tabitha Thompson, Theresa Braun, Trinity Adler, Valjeanne Jeffers.

Available now at: Amazon.com

 

#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Russell Holbrook

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

IMG_20180401_084532I don’t think anything, in particular, inspired the pieces that appear in this book. I really enjoyed working with the themes that were given to us and I just took it from there. I love being a Horror Addict and being part of the family and community. That’s a huge inspiration for me. I’m grateful that I’m able to contribute and that is a strong motivator for me. Another strong motivator to keep writing is that if I don’t write my inner life spirals into turmoil which makes my outer life quickly follow suit. I can’t explain it but writing about awful, horrific things and people and events makes me feel happy, balanced, peaceful, and sane. Besides that, I totally love it and have since I was a child. Who knows why; maybe I was just born this way? Whatever the reason is, I’m thankful to be who I am.  😊

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Steven P. Unger

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

novamp10What is your name and what is your horror area of interest? 

I’m Steven P. Unger. As a nonfiction horror writer, I’m interested in the process of creation employed by other classic horror writers I admire, especially Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. Fortunately, there already has been a lot of research into the lives of both Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, since their books are so universally familiar. In fact, Dracula is the second most widely-read book in the world, after the Bible!

What is your work in HAGL2 about?

“A Vampire’s Guide To Transylvania” is an updated description from a previously published work of only one of the sites recommended in Transylvania: the city of Bistriţa and the Borgo Pass that leads to the Castle of Count Dracula. 

Completed in 1983, before the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose brutal, cult-of-personality brand of Communist rule lasted from 1965 to 1989, the Hotel Castel Dracula is situated at the top of the Borgo Pass, exactly where the Count’s castle is located in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although the Hotel Castel Dracula is a modern hotel with all the expected conveniences (including hot cocoa in its restaurant, which I really, really needed after my walk in the freezing altitude of the Borgo Pass), its brickwork and architecture is evocative of the crumbling medieval fortress depicted in the novel.

“A Vampire’s Guide to New Orleans” is a collection of New Orleans’ vampire lore that reaches back to the earliest days of the city. Ask any member of the Old Families who the first vampires to come to New Orleans were, and they’ll tell you the same: It was the Casket Girls. Much of the population that found their way to New Orleans in the early 1700s were unwelcome anywhere else: deported galley slaves and felons, trappers, gold-hunters, and petty criminals. People who wouldn’t be noticed if they went missing.

“People who wouldn’t be noticed” have continued to disappear through the centuries in New Orleans, the numbers rising precipitously whenever the immortal Compte de St. Germain is spotted around town.

There is no one who has done more to bring the vampire into the New Age than Anne Rice, who died on 12/11/21 (a backwards and forwards date) at the age of eighty. Born and bred in New Orleans, her novel Interview with the Vampire and the films and books that followed were filled with New Orleans locations and references. Those who profited mightily from the popularity of True Blood and Twilight owe her a great debt.

What is your favorite horror subject and why?
I never get tired of pre-Code horror comics (the best of which you still can read on this great New Zealand Web site—http://thehorrorsofitall.blogspot.co.nz/. They were the precursors of the graphic novels of today, with comparably inspiring artwork drawn on a tight monthly schedule. The only drawback? Every statement in the story ends with an exclamation point! Sometimes three!!!

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?

As a travel writer, I’d like to see more location filming in both scripted media and documentaries, so that people will be motivated to go to places where horrific events maybe happened, and to places where their favorite horror movies were filmed or where their favorite horror novels take place.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

The best place to find whichever of my books is in print is https://www.amazon.com/Steven-P.-Unger/e/B007MAM64E

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Book Review: Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

Content Warnings: Body horror, medical rape, gore

In the near future, Alpha Beta Pharmaceuticals accidentally unleashes the 00 virus. The virus has varied effects, but in some cases, it causes multiple children to be conceived. Then one zygote consumes the others before birth. These are Chimeras. And one half of their genetic code is the property of ABP. ABP monitors them closely, waiting for the time when one part of the genetic code violently attacks the other, tearing the Chimera apart.

Yaya is one such Chimera, but rather than her body destroying itself, it grows a new consciousness. And teeth. The vagina dentata transforms Yaya’s body and forces her to go on the run to avoid becoming an ABP lab rat. Meanwhile, Magenta, her new ‘self’ is becoming hungry.

Queen of Teeth is engaging throughout, balancing tension-filled action with tender moments of reflection and interpersonal growth. Artfully concealed plot pieces dropped at the beginning return again in a satisfying manner, like a camouflaged Chekov’s Gun. Piper seamlessly blends elements of science fiction, horror, and romance, creating a multifaceted story that never lets up.

Piper’s writing is a solid foundation for a fantastic story. She doesn’t fall into too much exposition, despite a complex world. Her dialogue is light and snappy. There are moments of poetic description. But her best writing is really saved for the scenes of action and body horror. Be warned, the descriptions are graphic and disturbing, so if you are squeamish, you may want to steer clear.

Overall, Queen of Teeth is a fantastic book, an incredible debut novel from Hailey Piper, and well-deserving of its Bram Stoker award (Superior Achievement in a First Novel). If you like body horror, tragic romance, and political commentary in your reads, this is the book for you.