Chilling Chat: 4 Quick Questions with Naching T. Kassa, Daphne Strasert, and Jess Landry

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Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She also serves as Head of Publishing for HorrorAddicts.net and as an intern for Crystal Lake Publishing. She lives in Eastern Washington with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

Daphne Strasert is a horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has been published in several anthologies including Crescendo of Darkness and Postcards from the Void. 

Jess Landry’s fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Fantastic Tales of Terror, Monsters of Any Kind, Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road, and the forthcoming Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles, among others.

1) What did you learn from participating in the contest?IMG_1979

NTK: I learned so much from the contest. Most of which is detailed in my little op-ed in the book. But, if I had to pick one thing it would be learning how to submit a novel for a publisher’s consideration.

DS: The Next Great Horror Writer Contest was my first time making short stories. I learned about keeping my writing tight and making sure that my stories had no extra fluff that they didn’t need–especially for a short story that really needs to keep the tension high.  I learned how to proof my writing (especially on a deadline) and make sure that I was submitting my absolute best work.

JL: As cheesy as it sounds, I learned that if I put my mind into something, I can do it. It was daunting at first—we basically had 1-2 weeks per assignment to whip out a smorgasbord of different stories…albeit not all at once, but still. My brain can pretty much only concentrate on one idea at a time, so the struggle was real, y’all.

2) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

NTK: I wish I could. I loved the challenges and I miss them. Receiving an assignment from Emz was like the prelude to a writing adventure. Unfortunately, I won’t participate in another #NGHW contest. As a staff member of HorrorAddicts.net, I’d have to recuse myself from it. But, even if I weren’t part of HA, I couldn’t do it. I had my chance. It’s time to step aside and let others step up. I’d love to be a judge though.

As to what I’d do differently, researching more comes to mind. Some of my work suffered because I didn’t know what to write. I’d never written a full blog piece before. If I’d been smart, I’d have gone to the HorrorAddicts.net website and studied the pieces they’d accepted in the past. This is a big mistake we writers make. We submit to magazines, anthologies, and publishers without studying what they produce.

Daphne StrasertDS: I would do the contest again in a heartbeat, if HorrorAddicts.net would let me (though I’m sure they’d rather have a whole new batch of newbies!). Maybe if the contest runs again, I could act as a judge or a writing mentor.

For what I would do differently, I would spend more time prepping my novel through the duration of the contest. When I was lucky enough to present to Crystal Lake, I wished that I’d had more time. Even if I hadn’t been in the top three, the work on the novel never would have gone to waste.

JL: Heck yes. It was a great all-around experience, and – most importantly – it got me writing. A lot of the work I created during the contest has gone on to find wonderful homes, so I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.

3) What inspired your piece?

NTK: Like most of my ideas, it came out of the blue while I washed dishes. Dishes are boring. So boring, I have to distract myself with stories to get through them.

I think I was washing a big pot with spaghetti noodles stuck to the bottom when Father Lopez’s character came to me. But, I could be wrong. It might’ve been macaroni.

DS: “Audio Addict” was inspired, in part, by the Crescendo of Darkness prompt itself Jess Landrywhere it mentioned “the lack of music”. That inspired the idea of a world in which there was no music, or at least, not pervasive the way it is in our world. Once I hit on the idea of music as an illicit commodity, the structure of “Audio Addict” was almost fully formed.

JL: Wesley Snipes. In particular an interview with Patton Oswalt where he said that during the filming of Blade: Trinity, that Mr. Snipes stayed in character the whole time, even signing notes he had for the director of the film as ‘Blade.’ I thought, hell, if he’s that in character, does he keep his teeth in when he goes to sleep? Or when he goes out to get gelato? Wouldn’t he want something with a little…sparkle? From that train of thought, FangBlingz was born.

4) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

NTK: I’m editing an anthology called, Dark Divinations, for HorrorAddicts.net. We’re accepting submissions until Halloween. Each story must be set in the Victorian age (1837-1901) and involve some element of divination.

I have a few stories coming out too. My story, “War Beads,” will appear in the Dead Light Publishing anthology, Not Just a Pretty Face. “Phantom Caller” will appear in Kill Switch. And, “Second Strike,” will be published in the anthology Dark Transitions by Thirteen O’clock Press.

nghwedpsmDS: I have a few stories slated to come out in 2019, including one for the HorrorAddicts.net anthology Kill Switch. I will also be completing a mystery novel and submitting to publishers.

JL: The future is full of deadlines, glorious deadlines. I have several new stories scheduled for some awesome anthologies coming out later this year (my lips are sealed on the specific details!), and one of my short stories, “Mutter” (from Crystal Lake Publishing’s Fantastic Tales of Terror), has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Short Fiction category, which is exciting (beyond exciting, really. I’m just trying to contain myself).

You can find Naching on Facebook and Twitter.

Jess can be found on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Jonathan Fortin

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Jonathan Fortin was named the Next Great Horror Writer by HorrorAddicts.net and is a graduate of the Clarion Writing Program. His novel Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is a JonathanFortinAuthorPhoto_Sepiaforthcoming release from Crystal Lake Publishing.

1) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

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.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

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.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

“Consumption” is about the anxiety of losing your identity in a homogenized office culture. For my day job, I work in a call center. Environments like that make it difficult for people to be authentically themselves, as you can easily be judged by coworkers if they learn that you’re different from them in some way. For work to run smoothly, you must conform to a larger whole–losing your identity in the process. I’ve always been highly individualistic, and struggle to conform to social expectations, so I’ve never liked the idea of being consumed into something larger than myself. I didn’t get to explore this theme as deeply as I wanted because of the length requirements, but that was the fear that drove me to write this story.

4) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

Generally, I develop characters so that their behavior will naturally drive them into the stories that I want to tell, but I love it when they surprise me by doing things I don’t expect or react to each other in ways I never planned. In the past I’ve tried to force characters to act in ways that didn’t feel authentic to me, but as any writer will tell you, that just doesn’t work. So in my experience, characters NEED free will if you want the story to feel real. That doesn’t mean I won’t carefully manipulate the world around them, though.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

You never know whether you’re really all that into a story idea until you try to write the damn thing.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

Since I won, I don’t really see the point in doing it again. I’m too busy trying to live up to the title, haha. But if I were to do it again, I would try harder to strengthen my nonfiction submissions (articles, interviews, etc.).

nghwedpsm7) What is your favorite horror novel?

Hard to choose, but a few that have stuck with me are Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Silk, and Dan Simmons’ Drood. If I could include graphic novels, Black Hole by Charles Burns and Providence by Alan Moore would also be serious contenders.

8) Favorite horror movie?

Crimson Peak, Oldboy, The Thing (1982), and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, among many others.

9) Favorite horror television show?

There seems to be a pattern of four here, so I’ll say Carnivale, Hannibal, Penny Dreadful, and Stranger Things.

10) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

At some point, my novel Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus will be released from Crystal Lake Publishing. HorrorAddicts is also putting out my short story Requiem in Frost, from the contest’s musical challenge. I’m working on a few other novel projects right now, and have a completed (if rough) first draft of one that I’m very excited about. My hope is to complete a polished, publishable draft of my second novel and then find an agent for it.

You can follow Jonathan on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: Revenge of the Vampir King by Nancy Kilpatrick

Book Review: Revenge of the Vampir King by Nancy Kilpatrick

Content Warnings: This book contains graphic descriptions of rape, domestic abuse, and torture.

Revenge of the Vampir King (Thrones of Blood Book 1) by [Kilpatrick, Nancy]In Revenge of the Vampir King, Nancy Kilpatrick blends horror, paranormal fantasy, and erotica to explore the relationship between love, tragedy, revenge, and what it means to be a family.

Through the centuries, an immortal war has raged between the Sapiens and Vampirii. The world is bitterly divided between the two races.

After a successful attack against the Sapiens, the Vampirii return with an unusual prize: Valada, the daughter of the Sapiens King.

Hell-bent on the ultimate revenge, the Vampir King Maorte devises a hellish plan of manipulation—make the princess fall in love with him and betray her father—never suspecting that he will fall into is own trap.

As dark secrets are uncovered, new alliances are formed. Valada and Moarte must learn to trust each other in order to settle old scores, bring about lasting peace, and save their kingdoms and, perhaps, themselves.

The plot is gripping, seamlessly pulling the reader along on a tense journey. The pacing is excellent, with no time to become bored. There are plenty of twists and turns, with shifting allegiances. One thing is for certain, you never know exactly what will happen next. Each new conflict feels enormous, raising the stakes ever higher.

The characters are complex. Each has a multitude of motivations. Flaws and strengths motivate each and motivations are clear and realistic. This gives the book a sense of real-world conflict. Characters aren’t evil for evil’s sake (though some are undeniably evil).

Valada, who has suffered under a lifetime of abuse, struggles to orient herself in her new position, constantly doubting her place with others, but never herself. She’s a strong heroine and saves Moarte every bit as much as he saves her.

Moarte is a man of two worlds. Though he leads the Vampirii, he is half Sapien as well. Reconciling those differences may bring him to conclusions that have profound ramifications for his life and his kingdom.

Kilpatrick forges an ambitious, unique world, fearlessly diving into fantasy world building without looking back. Revenge of the Vampir King is all the better for it. We are thrown right into the world, rather than given a hesitant introduction. The universe is immersive from the start. There is clearly a rich history, leaving plenty to discover throughout the plot and in future installments to come.

Kilpatrick’s writing flows well. There are moments of profound description and lovely prose, particularly with regards to the romance. She accomplishes the difficult feat of getting out of the way of the story itself and leaving the reader to be sucked in, as if they aren’t reading at all.

Filled with dark themes, Revenge of the Vampir King challenges the standards of romance, pushing the limits of love with blood and betrayal. If you’re looking for a book that you can’t put down, this is a sure bet.

Irish Horror Author : Emerian Rich

 

 Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Emerian Rich

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country?

I am Emerian Rich and I live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. I write Horror, Romance, and ever so often SciFi. I’m the Horror Hostess for HorrorAddicts.net and am also an artist, graphic designer, and book designer.

What is your connection to Irish Heritage?

I am 5 generations from the cross-over, but it’s a part of our heritage we’ve kept pretty close with it.

 

Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from?

County Down in Northern Ireland.

Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?

No and no. It’s one of my live goals to travel there.

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing stories when I was in Middle School. I had received a journal for Christmas. I started writing about my own life, but by half-way through I was so bored of my own life, I decided to write how I wished my life would be. This new me got to go on adventures, solve crime, and experience things I could only dream of. My first novel was when I was 13. 89 pages of big, bubbly cursive in pencil on white, lined notebook paper. However, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until in my 20’s.

Why write Horror?

There’s something special about a story when it can horrify you and make you feel safe at the same time. I enjoy creating stories and characters that people can experience horrific situations through without leaving the comfort of their reading nook. Most people’s lives are nice and safe—which we want them to be—but there isn’t much excitement in living our daily lives. We need to escape every once in a while and dream the impossible. Sometimes the trauma the characters go through can help us work through our own.

What inspires you to write?

Beautiful locations, interesting history facts, and most of all, my dreams. Day dreams of what I wish I could do and sleeping dreams where my subconscious goes off the rails.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

As far as it being part of who I am, it’s all in my writing. My heritage did inspire one particular character most of all. The Irishman, Markham O’Leary, in my Night’s Knights Vampire Series is a direct inspiration from my own family heritage. I patterned him loosely off of my grandfather and his family.

What scares you?

What scares me in a good way is Classic Horror or Horror with a classic slant. Movies like The Woman in Black, Crimson Peak, and Ghostship have the mysterious darkness to them that I have enjoyed all my life.

What scares me in a bad way is the real-life trauma our world is going through right now. Hate crimes, domestic violence, mass murder, and the simple fact that a large part of the population no longer has respect for life in general.

Who is your favorite author?

I can never name just one. Anne Rice has been a favorite for a long time along with Andrew Neiderman and Jane Austen, but recently I’ve been delving into horror classics like The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell, and The Willows by Algernon Blackwood.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I generally have so many ideas I can’t possibly write them all down fast enough. My novels are big, enormous ideas that simmer in my head for quite a while before I actually start writing them. If I’m writing a short story, I usually get the email from the publisher or see the call and get inspired by the idea or the cover. Then I think about it for a few days. In a day or two I’ll think of something awesome I want to do. I usually get the beginning and the end and write it down (long hand) as much as I can. When I have a pretty solid first draft, I read it into my phone and email it to myself. Once it’s on my computer I make it pretty, flesh out the descriptive parts, sure up the dialogue and fill in the missing bits. Then it’s ready to send to my betas.

Tell us about your current projects.

I have just finished a modern rewrite of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s sort of a Clueless-meets-Lydia Deetz-from-Beetlejuice YA Romance about a Horror Addict who falls in love over winter break in New York City.

I am writing my third vampire novel, Day’s Children, and have a few other short Horror stories coming out in anthologies this year.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

Readers can find out about my vampire series, Night’s Knights, and all the other fun stuff I do at: emzbox.com

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Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net. You can connect with her at emzbox.com.

Irish Horror Writer: Brian McKinley

Irish Horror Writers Month – An Interview with Brian McKinley

Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and gangster movies as much as he loves chicken fried steak. And he really loves chicken fried steak! He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

He’s the author of Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony and Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor Novel which won the Author’s Talk About It 2016 Horror Novel Contest.

How and when did you start writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to put words together. I remember writing little tales to show my grandparents, but I started getting serious about it in high school.

Why write Horror?

I sort of fell backwards into horror because of my interest in vampires. I started writing screenplays for a “ground-breaking” vampire movie and, eventually, it became a novel. Then that novel inspired a world that I started to set other stories in.

What inspires you to write?

Fame and fortune, LOL! Seriously, it’s really my characters needing their stories told that push me to keep writing. My stories really begin and end with my characters.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

I like to think that I’m part of a great tradition of Irish writers like Stoker and LeFanu, but really I just like to tell a good story and keep a reader interested. It’s hard to tell. Most of my family is very typical Irish-American, blue collar, with its share of cops and social workers. Both of my main protagonists are Irish American like me, which I didn’t plan on originally, but it came out that way.

I think my heritage came out more in Drawing Dead with the character of Faolan O’Connor because I started looking into my family history a bit more for research. My grandfather was a police captain and had been an officer during the 20s and 30s, so I talked to him about the period. I wound up using a lot of his attitude in Faolan even though he walks the other side of the street.

What scares you?

I think probably a lot of the things that scare most people. Spiders, ghosts, dark spooky places, and the like. I use that as much as I can to write scenes that scare me when I need to. There’s a scene in my novel Drawing Dead involving spiders that I had to have a friend research and summarize for me because I couldn’t bear to look up the information I needed!

Who is your favorite author?

Probably Stephen King. While not all of his books are home runs, he has one of the most readable narrative styles I know and breathes life into his characters like no one else. Additionally, as a person, he’s so down-to-Earth despite his massive success. His book On Writing remains the best guide I’ve ever read. I’d like to think that I could do that too if given the chance.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

Lots of silent suffering. I outline, I do research, I read for inspiration, and I generally put off the actual writing for as long as I possibly can.

Tell us about your current projects.

My current projects are both sequels: the second installment of Faolan O’Connor’s gangster adventures and the third book in The Hegemony series.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

I have three novels currently. Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony, Ancient Enemies: A Novel of the Hegemony and Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor novel. The links are below:

Drawing Dead Link: https://www.amazon.com/Drawing-Dead-Faolan-OConnor-Book-ebook/dp/B01KN27CPA/

Ancient Blood Link: https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Blood-Novel-Hegemony-Order-ebook/dp/B01ESK2NTS/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BPMcKinley/

Twitter: @BPMcKinley

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Book Review – Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction by Kenneth W. Cain

Darker Days A Collection of Dark Fiction, by Kenneth Cain

I’ve always enjoyed reading a good scary tale, and in my opinion short stories make the best medium for leading the reader through the “valley of fear.” Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed many horror novels over the years, but my favorite stories have always been short ones. That’s largely because they, by necessity, get right to the point and waste no time leading the reader right smack dab into the middle of the monster’s den.

Darker Days, by Kenneth Cain, is a great collection of tales that any fan of horror fiction would enjoy. There’s something in this book for everyone. The subject matter of the tales therein includes ghosts, cosmic horror, zombies, vampires, weird creatures, aliens, kaiju, and demons. While there were stories I enjoyed more than others, there wasn’t a single dud in this collection.

As I read through Cain’s stories, I found myself enjoying his style of writing. He does a good job of describing the setting and action without a lot of needless exposition. One thing I’ve never cared for is when a writer drones on for two pages describing what could be summed up in two sentences, and Cain avoids that nicely.

Probably my favorite story in the collection is “By the Crescent Moon. This one tells the tale of Mike, who has just moved into a house in the North Carolina countryside. The story works for me in several ways. There’s the trope of the dark, foggy night, with something strange lurking out there. It ties in with folklore, especially Welsh legends that touched the New World. Throw in a creepy old woman who possesses knowledge of the legends and lore of the area, and who tries to warn Mike against venturing out into the hills on that foggy night, and you’ve got the setting for a really creepy tale. Of course, Mike shuns her advice and things go to hell fairly quickly. But hey, if people acted with good common sense and clear rational thought, there would be no scary story. There would just be the tale of the guy who heeded advice and went back home, locked the door, and went to bed.  And who wants to read that story?

All in all, Darker Days is a solid set of stories that should entertain most any horror enthusiast.  For my part, I look forward to reading more of Cain’s work.  Next time you’re looking for a good scary read, you won’t go wrong grabbing a copy of this book.

Book Review: Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn

Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn

Reviewed by Chantal Boudreau

When this title came up on the review list, I was more than a little intrigued.  Adding sexy to horror can make for an interesting mix.

I have to be honest–in the past when I’ve read horror with an erotic element, it tends to be on the vulgar side without stylistic sophistication, so I was pleased to see a writing style with this story that exceeded my expectations (Although it wasn’t exactly delicate in its approach and some of the “terminology” and metaphors made me chuckle.) It captures the pole dancing experience in great detail, giving it a sense of being tangible. It also carries the perspective over into the realm of social media–a reflection of real life.

I appreciated the descriptive imagery, covering multiple senses. It allows for a freer transition from the hot physicality of lust to the cold reality of death. I enjoyed the story and it kept my interest and attention, strong in most ways. If there was one weakness I would have to say it lay in the characterization. While I felt entrenched in the plot as I read, caught up in the gritty “behind the scenes” of the dancers, I didn’t feel equally invested in the characters. Character interaction and childhood stories helped with character development, but I was still missing a sense of connection. As the story spiraled to its violent conclusion, though, this didn’t seem to matter as much.

All in all, I would recommend this as a good read, four out of five stars, particularly if you have a yen to read something very dark and a little depraved.