#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Selah Janel

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

selah author shot dlI was a big scaredy-cat as a kid but always had a strange fascination with horror. I’d be the one reading the backs of 80’s paperbacks or video boxes in stores when my parents weren’t looking, though it freaked me out. Somewhere along the line, I decided that I didn’t want to be afraid anymore, and really dug into the genre to help myself “get over it.” What I found was that there’s so many facets and sub-genres, so it’s really about finding what was a good fit for me. It escalated into getting involved with haunted events, first as a performer, and then as a costumer, and eventually a designer and consultant. When people think costumes, it’s easy to think about pretty dresses, elaborate theatre productions, historical recreations, and things like that. I found that my wheelhouse is the strange and the weird, and there’s plenty of need for it. I enjoyed the challenge of melding aesthetic with logistics, and every so often that meant I’d challenge myself to create something over the top. I was lucky that those tendencies found a home for so long designing things for amusement park haunts, and it was a journey that was exciting while also challenging. My piece in the book comes from some of those misadventures, both personal and professional. Whether it’s through writing or costume work, I’m inspired to keep creating because there are always more ideas, more processes to figure out, more things to make. It’s a never-ending candy story of weird, and I’m always happy when I get a chance to run around in it.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

#HorrorAddictsGuide An Interview with Renata Pavrey

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

Renata PavreyWhat is your name and what is your horror area of interest?

I’m Renata, a nutritionist by profession and a dabbler in many other things. My horror stories cover everything from sports to music, art and food. I write mostly fiction, but my piece for this book is non-fiction.

What is your work in HAGL2 about?
It’s a (lengthy) listicle about women writers in the horror genre – across fiction, non-fiction, prose and poetry, anthologies, novellas and novels. I have featured one author for each day of the month, with a book recommendation for each one of them. The article also includes women editors and publishers who bring more opportunities to women writers and get their work out into the hands of readers.


What is your favorite horror subject and why?
I read just about anything, but I love atmospheric writing – narratives that blur the lines between horror and thriller, reality and the supernatural. I also like books in translation, that teach us about horror writing from different cultures around the world.

What are you looking forward to in the horror genre?
Ghost Orchid Press and Meerkat Press are two indie houses whose books I always look forward to. They have some wonderfully dark fiction. My own horror collection, Surrender to the Swoop released recently, and I’m looking forward to what readers think about it.

Where can readers/listeners find your work? 

For book reviews and author interviews, there’s my blog Tomes and Tales 

Instagram @tomes_and_tales

For my books and news about my writing, I’m on Twitter @writerlyolegacy

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#HorrorAddictsGuide An Introduction

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It’s been seven years since the last Horror Addicts Guide to Life was published, and yet, every day I find us Horror Addicts have more to say. Sure, things have changed in our world. We’ve seen leaders come and go, wars fought, refugees flee, movie stars go crazy, and lived through a pandemic for Bela’s sake!

What have we learned? Yes, we may need that go-bag and extra stock-up of supplies, not in case of zombies, but because store suppliers can’t keep up with demand amid the world plunging into a crisis that despite our preparedness, we weren’t prepared for. We learned we can live—albeit not very happily—without movie theaters, human contact, and makeup. We’ve traversed the ultra “normal” world of meeting by video and giving each other kudos for even just breathing. Cleaning our closets proved there was a legitimate use for those fun cyberpunk masks we blew our bonuses on. They DO have a purpose besides looking cool. And lastly, we learned the pandemic really isn’t as fun as we were told in the movies. I mean, I didn’t get any free trips to the deserted mall where I could have whatever I wanted, did you? Where is my post-apocalyptic fashion montage?

Despite what we’ve been through, Horror Addicts have continued to take solace in our passion. We’ve reached deep into the underbelly of streaming Horror movies that we never would’ve touched had there been other things to do. We’ve completed some of our reading lists and revisited those classics we loved as kids. We’ve given in to the beat of perhaps new and uncomfortable musical choices, just for something different to listen to. By exploring these new or new-to-us things, we have expanded the world of Horror we encompass and man, we want to talk about it!

As we launch into a new era of that dreaded over-used phrase “new normal,” we ask you to come along. We’ll be talking about monsters we’ve always loved, greats from the past who have inspired us, new places to explore, and where we want the Horror genre to go in the future. To help you enjoy this workbook as part of your every-day horror lifestyle, we’ve added spots for you to share your favorites, opinions, and sketches alongside ours. If you’ve caught the DIY bug, we’ve got crafts, recipes, and ideas to help you pepper Horror into your everyday life. And for those of you who need a little fun, we’ve got puzzles, Horrorscopes, and trivia to keep life manageable.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Thank you for joining us and as always… Stay Spooky!

Emerian Rich, Editor

Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 Book Event Calendar

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

Date Item Title Blog address
MAY
May 13 Press Release Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 HorrorAddicts.net
May 14 Book Calendar Events list HorrorAddicts.net
May 15 An introduction to HAGL2 Emerian Rich HorrorAddicts.net
May 15 Read an excerpt by Angela Yuriko Smith AngelaYSmith.com
May 16 Interview with Renata Pavrey HorrorAddicts.net
May 16 Read an excerpt by Chantal Boudreau ChantellyB.wordpress.com
May 17 What inspires Horror Selah Janel HorrorAddicts.net
May 17 Read an excerpt by Michael Fassbender MichaeltFassbender.com
May 18 What inspires Horror Chantal Boudreau HorrorAddicts.net
May 18 Read an excerpt by M.D. Neu MDNeu.com
May 19 Interview with Sumiko Saulson HorrorAddicts.net
May 19 Read an excerpt by Selah Janel SelahJanel.com
May 20 Interview with Naching T. Kassa HorrorAddicts.net
May 20 Read an excerpt by Tabitha Thompson SumikoSaulson.com
May 21 Facebook Party Invitation Announcement HorrorAddicts.net
May 21 Read an excerpt by Dan Shaurette AngelaYSmith.com
May 22 What inspires Horror James Goodridge HorrorAddicts.net
May 22 Read an excerpt by Naching T. Kassa NachingKassa.wordpress.com
May 23 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 23 Read an excerpt by Sumiko Saulson SumikoSaulson.com
May 24 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 24 Read an excerpt by Daphne Strasert ChantellyB.wordpress.com
May 25 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 25 Interview with Emerian Rich MDNeu.com
May 26 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 26 Read an excerpt by Kieran Judge GoblinsandSteampunk.wordpress.com
May 27 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 27 Interview with Emerian Rich SumikoSaulson.com
May 28 Interview with Tabitha Thompson HorrorAddicts.net
May 28 Interview with Loren Rhoads PriscillaBettisAuthor.com
May 29 What inspires Horror R.L. Merrill HorrorAddicts.net
May 29 Interview with Kristin Battestella TomesandTales365.wordpress.com
May 30 Facebook Party Winners Announced! HorrorAddicts.net
May 30 Interview with Emerian Rich LorenRhoads.com
May 31 Interview with A.D. Vick HorrorAddicts.net
May 31 Read an excerpt by Kristin Battestella SelahJanel.com
JUNE
June 1 Interview with Kay Tracy HorrorAddicts.net
June 1 Read an excerpt by Emerian Rich emzbox.com
June 2 What inspires Horror Steven P. Unger HorrorAddicts.net
June 2 Interview with Selah Janel RLMerrillAuthor.com
June 3 Interview with Jonathan Fortin HorrorAddicts.net
June 3 Interview with Emerian Rich ChantellyB.wordpress.com
June 4 Interview with Russell Holbrook HorrorAddicts.net
June 4 Read an excerpt by DJ Pitsiladis PriscillaBettisAuthor.com
June 5 What inspires Horror J. Malcolm Stewart HorrorAddicts.net
June 5 Read an excerpt by Geneve Flynn NachingKassa.wordpress.com
June 6 Interview with C.M. Lucas HorrorAddicts.net
June 6 Read an excerpt by Mark Orr EmmyZMadrigal.com
June 7 What inspires Horror Kristin Batestella HorrorAddicts.net
June 7 Interview with Emerian Rich LionelRayGreen.com
June 8 What inspires Horror M.D. Neu HorrorAddicts.net
June 8 Read an excerpt by J. Malcolm Stewart MDNeu.com
June 9 Interview with Rena Mason HorrorAddicts.net
June 9 Interview with R.L. Merrill SelahJanel.com
June 10 Interview with Steven P. Unger HorrorAddicts.net
June 11 What inspires Horror Michael Fassbender HorrorAddicts.net
June 11 Read an excerpt by Steven P. Unger The.Best.Guide.to.Transylvania
June 12 Interview with Priscilla Bettis HorrorAddicts.net
June 12 Read an excerpt by Jonathan Fortin JonathanFortin.com
June 13 Interview with Mark Orr HorrorAddicts.net
June 13 Read an excerpt by R.L. Merrill RLMerrillAuthor.com
June 14 What inspires Horror Jonathan Fortin HorrorAddicts.net
June 15 Interview with Geneve Flynn HorrorAddicts.net
June 16 What inspires Horror Tabitha Thompson HorrorAddicts.net
June 17 What inspires Horror Mark Orr HorrorAddicts.net
June 18 Interview with Michael Fassbender HorrorAddicts.net
June 19 Interview with Emmy Z. Madrigal HorrorAddicts.net
June 20 What inspires Horror Sumiko Saulson HorrorAddicts.net
June 21 Interview with M.D. Neu HorrorAddicts.net
June 22 Interview with Jame Goodridge HorrorAddicts.net
June 23 What inspires Horror Rena Mason HorrorAddicts.net
June 24 Interview with Carrie Sessarego HorrorAddicts.net
June 25 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Announcement HorrorAddicts.net
June 26 What inspires Horror Geneve Flynn HorrorAddicts.net
June 27 Interview with Loren Rhoads HorrorAddicts.net
June 28 Interview with Selah Janel HorrorAddicts.net
June 29 What inspires Horror Priscilla Bettis HorrorAddicts.net
June 30 Interview with J. Malcolm Stewart HorrorAddicts.net
JULY
July 1 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Look for our panels! BayCon.org
July 2 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Look for our panels! BayCon.org
July 3 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Look for our panels! BayCon.org
July 4 Interview with Martha Allard HorrorAddicts.net
July 5 What inspires Horror Renata Pavrey HorrorAddicts.net
July 6 Interview with Kristin Battestella HorrorAddicts.net
July 7 Interview with Trinity Adler HorrorAddicts.net
July 8 What inspires Horror Naching T. Kassa HorrorAddicts.net
July 9 Interview with Chantal Boudreau HorrorAddicts.net
July 10 Interview with Steven P. Unger HorrorAddicts.net
July 11 What inspires Horror Russell Holbrook HorrorAddicts.net
July 13 In case you missed it! Recap of all HAGL2 Content HorrorAddicts.net

Available now at: Amazon.com

 

HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

Calling All Horror Fans!
HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: 

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

HAGL2small2Do 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

 

Guest Blog: For A Horror Writer, Inspiration Can Hit At Any Time

By Kaaron Warren

Most writers have an internal voice that runs day and night, even while we sleep. It’s the voice that points out ideas to us, that says, did you hear that, about a snippet of conversation, or see that, about a piece of grafitti or a stray dog trailing a leash, or new shoes neatly placed in the gutter. As a horror writer, that voice can show up in surprising places.

For me, ideas often come hidden in old magazines. There’s something about jumping into the past (and, in a way, seeing into the future because I can find out what happened next thanks to the internet) that sparks ideas for me.

When The Pixel Project approached me for a story for the important anthology Give the Devil His Due, I knew I wanted to write a story where the abuser truly felt the pain of regret and suffering. I just wasn’t sure how.

I flicked through an old Punch Magazine from the 1960s and came across an advertisement for cigars. Two men, one sitting in a leather armchair, one with his foot up on a stool, both completely filled with self-assurance and certainty of their importance. They were in a place called The Steering Wheel Club, which did, in fact, exist at one time.

The idea for a horror story lay hidden under the façade of comfort, companionship and wealth. There were apparently famous steering wheels mounted on the walls and with my horror writer’s imagination, I wondered what sort of men would collect steering wheels behind which someone had died.

Horror stories are a glimpse into the truth.

Glimpses of truth lie hidden in the pages of an old history book. I was glancing through a publication called The Archaeological Journal 1931, and I came across a description of an unnamed woman (who they call Kathleen, but whose name was not Kathleen) who fell in love with a priest, the author says, ‘until he gave her a thorough and well deserved flogging with a handfuls of nettles” after which she saw ‘the error of her ways’ and became a nun. In the Thomas Moore poem, the priest in fact ‘hurls her from the beetling rock’ to her death. The priest comes to regret the loss of her love (not Kathleen, but her adoration) and blesses her to be happy in Heaven, which makes her ghost, which glides mournfully across the lake, smile.

I feel a helpless fury reading this, the same I get when I read about Henry the Eighth’s wives or any other abused ‘appendage’. I’m helpless to change what happened, but through fiction I can affect how I feel about it, and to perhaps gain some small revenge. The good thing about writing horror is that I can make bad things happen. I have people come back from the dead, and ghosts haunt, and I can have Kathleen smile like she does in the poem, but in my story she’ll thrust her ice-cold fingers into his eyes so he will never see god’s beautiful creation again…

Violence against women in domestic situations can be similarly hidden. The face people present to the world (as individuals or as families) can hide the true nature of that relationship. I wanted to be a part of this anthology because while my voice gives me ideas for stories, and I can speak it aloud, there are many, many others who need help, and need the chance to ask for help.


About Giving The Devil His Due (http://bit.ly/GivingTheDevilHisDue

Giving The Devil His Due is a charity anthology featuirng stories where The Twilight Zone meets Promising Young Woman as men who abuse and murder women meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways. Edited by Rebecca Brewer, the anthology features sixteen major names and rising stars in Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror including Angela Yuriko Smith, Christina Henry, Dana Cameron, Errick Nunnally, Hillary Monahan, Jason Sanford, Kaaron Warren, Kelley Armstrong, Kenesha Williams, Leanna Renee Hieber, Lee Murray, Linda D. Addison, Nicholas Kaufmann, Nisi Shawl, Peter Tieryas, and Stephen Graham Jones.  The book includes resources for victims and survivors of VAW worldwide, making it a valuable tool for getting life-saving information to domestic violence victims still under their abuser’s control or rape survivors who are too ashamed to ask for help. 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women work. Find out where to get your copy of the Special Edition via http://bit.ly/GivingTheDevilHisDue. The upcoming Classic Edition will be released on 25 May 2022 by Running Wild Press (https://runningwildpress.com/).

About The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net

 

 

The Pixel Project is a complete virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 nonprofit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using  a combination of social media, new technologies, and popular culture/the Arts

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson award-winner Kaaron Warren’s most recent books include the re-release of her acclaimed novels, Slights, Mistification and Walking the Tree (IFWG Australia), Tool Tales, a chapbook in collaboration with Ellen Datlow (also IFWG), a novella Into Bones Like Oil (Meerkat Press), which was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award and the Bram Stoker Award, winning the Aurealis Award, and Capturing Ghosts, a writing advice chapbook from Brain Jar Press. She was Guest of Honour at Genrecon 2018, World Fantasy 2018, Stokercon 2019 and Geysercon 2019.

Book Review: SAIR BACK, SAIR BANES by Anthony Engebretson

A book review by Renata Pavrey

With a catchy title and cover, Sair Back, Sair Banes certainly piques the reader’s interest. I love books about folklore from around the world, and this novella set in Scotland was placed on my to-read list as soon as publisher Ghost Orchid Press mentioned it.

Genevieve takes a trip from America to connect with an old family friend of her now-deceased parents. Her father loved the outdoors and adventure, and often spoke about his love for the Scottish people, customs, lore, and legends. He also regaled Genevieve’s childhood with stories of the kelpie – shape-shifting horses that inhabit water bodies.

Genevieve’s host lives right next to a loch, and she encounters a drowning horse on her first day. But no one else was around to see the horse struggling and disappearing beneath the cold, dark waters. Nobody owns a horse around here, as far as anyone can tell. Was Genevieve imagining it, was someone playing a prank on her, or is there more to the legend of the kelpies? An over-friendly bartender, an icy pub owner, people going missing, a killer on the loose, trauma of parental abuse and suicide – Sair Back, Sair Banes packs a punch within its few pages.

The phrase ‘Sair Back, Sair Banes’ comes from an old folk curse, about a problematic horse in Scottish history. Blending folklore and legends with modern themes of loneliness, isolation, mental health, along with family history and relationships, Anthony Engebretson takes the reader on a trip through the Scottish landscape and culture. His story has one story and many stories; where the protagonist could be anybody, as could the antagonist. A place where spirits could be good and people could be bad; where there’s more to our ancestors than the stories they pass on. I loved this interweaving of themes and emotions – a well-written story that gives the reader something to ponder upon, much after having finished the book.

Sair Back, Sair Banes is Anthony Engebretson’s debut book, although he has written short stories for several anthologies. This was my first time reading this author, and I’ll certainly look forward to more from him. Ghost Orchid Press is known for featuring unpredictable, but brilliant writing. From the body horror Blood and Bone, to the eco-terror Chlorophobia, and the haunting collection Palimpsest, I look forward to their new releases. Sair Back, Sair Banes is another stellar book from their repertoire.

Chilling Chat: Episode #206 – Hannah Hulbert

chillingchat

Hannah Hulbert lives in urban Dorset, UK. She is on a permanent sabbatical from reality as she raises two children and devotes her time to visiting imaginary worlds, some of her own creation. You can find her short stories in the British Fantasy Society’s Horizons, the Hannah Hulbertanthologies Curse of the Gods (ed. Sarah Gribble), Once and Future Moon (ed. Allen Ashley), and Beneath Strange Stars (TL;DR Press). She often tweets and doodles when she should be writing. 

NTK: What is your favorite form of divination?

HH: I chose tasseography for my story because I adore tea! But I prefer my future to reveal itself in real-time.

NTK: Have you ever had your tea leaves read?

HH: I am not a superstitious person at all, so I have never done any type of fortune-telling of any sort. I had to do quite a bit of research for this story as I came into it knowing absolutely nothing!

NTK: What is your favorite tea?

HH: I love all sorts of teas! There is a wonderful tea shop round the corner from where I live that sells loose leaf teas and I always have at least 12 open at one time and have yet to try one I really didn’t like. The Christmas selection they offer is probably my favourite to choose from though.

NTK: How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

HH: I first studied the Victorians at school when I was nine and loved the aesthetic – the ornate architecture, the heavy fabrics, the way that even the most mundane items were made beautifully. 

NTK: What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

HH: I find Victorian fiction rather stodgy, but there’s a lot to enjoy in Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. I am a bit obsessed with the decay of man-made structures, as they are reclaimed by nature. I also really like fiction within fiction interacting with itself. And you just can’t beat a bit of pathetic fallacy.

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

HH: It’s a bit early, but I adore ‘Sleepy Hollow’. I mostly like my horror hammy, beautiful or ecological, and this ticks two out of three.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

HH: Not at all. I love writing wicked mothers, but my mum is the best!

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

HH: ‘Power and Shadow’ actually started life as a steampunk flash. It evolved to fill the specifications for the anthology call and is a lot better for it. 

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

HH: I think my characters grow alongside the plot symbiotically. The two are inseparably entwined, affecting each other simultaneously. 

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

HH: Anything that might harm my kids. 

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

HH: Shirley Jackson. I love ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle.’

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

HH: I am in a bit of a dry spell at the moment, working on my first novella (an eco-horror haunted house hybrid) but members of the British Fantasy Society should watch out for the next issue of Horizons and I have a story in the forthcoming anthology From the Yonder III from WarMonkey Publications.

Odds and Dead Ends : The Best of The Bard: Why ‘Macbeth’ should be considered Horror

Anyone who says that Shakespeare is classy, refined, and ‘proper’, has clearly never read him. Sure he had his moments of genius, but then he also wrote Titus Andronicus, which contains tricking someone into eating their sons, and ends its three hours with fourteen people dead. Romeo & Juliet has a higher human body count than Halloween (Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Juliet, Romeo, and Lady Montague makes six for The Bard, and Judith, the truck driver, Annie, Paul, and Linda make five for John Carpenter). Yet of all his works, Macbeth might be the most mad, terrifying, and downright horrific story he told, and I firmly believe it deserves a higher place in horror fans’ hearts.

            Firstly, a recap for those who don’t know your classics. Macbeth, a general in King Duncan’s army, is told by three witches that he will become Thane of Cawdor, and eventually King. When Macbeth is granted the title ‘Thane of Cawdor’, he plots with his wife to kill Duncan, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. In panic, believing his deed to have been discovered, he sends an assassin to kill his friend Banquo, who might suspect him, after which he hallucinates and is driven into madness during his rule. Meanwhile, a rebel army from England led by Macduff rises up against him, whom he initially does not fear as the witches tell Macbeth that he can’t die ‘“until/ Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill/ Shall come against him.”’ (an impossibility, for trees, can’t walk), and that he can’t die from someone born from a woman. The final scenes see Lady Macbeth driven mad by guilt, and Macduff’s army chop down branches from Birnham wood and carry them in front of them as protection and camouflage. At a final confrontation, Macduff, who was born by C-section, kills Macbeth, and brings peace to the land, and fulfills all the prophecies.

            There are so many points in Macbeth which appear in horror/sci-fi vocabulary and iconography. The three witches are the most obvious, and their lines have filtered into the common tongue without us being aware of it. ‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes’ of course gives us Ray Bradbury’s title to his famous novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes and combines with their ‘Double, double toil and trouble,’ speech to make the song sung upon entering Hogwarts in The Prisoner of Azkaban film.

            Let us not forget, however, that their prophecies also bring up that age-old question of free will vs. determinism. Would Macbeth have still become king, been killed by Macduff, etc, had the witches not given him their prophecy? Was their act of prophesying itself fate, or could it have been averted? Therefore, is there something even more malevolent behind the witches, conspiratorially so, which encouraged them to speak to Macbeth and Banquo, and therefore set events in motion? So many stories extend off this question, asking if a foretold fate can be actively avoided, from cheap thrillers like 2019’s Countdown, to the vase scene in The Matrix, to Scrooge’s pleading with the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come at his gravestone, ‘“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they the shadows of the things that May be, only?”’ Philip K. Dick’s novella The Minority Report is based around a man running a company which predicts crime being told he himself will kill someone.

            Then there’s the urban legend that the play itself is cursed. Shakespeare apparently based some of the lines for the witches off actual witches who lived nearby, and in retaliation, they cursed the play, so that it became unlucky to refer to it as ‘Macbeth’, and has become known in acting circles as ‘The Scottish Play’ instead. Exorcising demons as a result of saying the name is still done by superstitious performers, and not doing so will cause bad luck to fall on the production. Blackadder The Third has great fun at this expense in a memorable skit.

            And let’s ignore for brevity’s sake the appearance of Hecate, Greek Goddess of witchcraft and magic and the moon, etc, to the three witches in Act IV. Because that’s just going overboard, and we all know how horror movies love to use Greek myths and legends (see Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse, and The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth for more information).

            The play is so dark and gloomy, filled with paranoia and murder, that to ignore how it set the stage for horror stories to come would be remiss. With eight dead by the end (not counting off-screen deaths), the play has a high enough body count to keep any horror fan happy. Conspiring in dark castle hallways to commit regicide by the dead of night is straight gothic, and let us not forget that murder in castles is pretty much where the whole thing started, as Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the original gothic novel, has this in spades.

            And finally, at a feast in Act III Scene IV, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo, his friend whom he has had assassinated. At first, accusing others of setting it up as a prank, he is led away, raving and cursing, Lady Macbeth feigning the excuse that he has been prone to fits of madness since childhood. We’re never told whether this ghost is really a phantom or a figment of Macbeth’s overworked imagination, but considering he’s already hallucinated a dagger in Act II Scene I (“Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?”) it is likely. Yet Shakespeare’s already used one of the most famous ghosts in literature, that of Hamlet’s father on the battlements, years before, so his use of supernatural elements isn’t unknown. And we’ve all seen and read films and stories which hinge on our interpretation as to whether the ghosts are real or not (Jacob’s Ladder, It Follows, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Turn of the Screw; you can come up with your own thousands more examples), which is further proof how the tradition follows on into our modern genre.

            Macbeth has all the violence, superstition, curses, hallucinations, omens, atmosphere, and madness to last a horror addict for a lifetime. It is filled with those little moments that, over the years, millions have been inspired by, creating the network of iconography which helped the gothic stories of the 18th century, the penny dreadfuls of the 19th century, and the cinematic explosion of the genre of the 20th. Film critic Mark Kermode quotes The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty as saying that the play is about ‘the numbing of the moral senses’, and if there’s ever a phrase which applies to horror, I don’t know of it. Macbeth is not just for the classroom; it’s for a horror addict’s life.

Article by Kieran Judge

Twitter/Instagram: kjudgemental

Book Review: There is No Death, There are No Dead

Edited by Aaron J. French and Jess Landry

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing

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.

I want to highlight one story that stood above the others: “The Shape of Her Soul” by Michele Belanger. This story about a woman who can communicate with spirits explores what it means to be your true self, even if you must wait until death to do so. The writing is engaging and the themes of found family and the desire to be authentic are heartfelt. Belanger brought life (and poignant after-life) to her characters.

There is No Death, There are No Dead was nominated for a 2022 Bram Stoker award. If you are a fan of well-written, thoughtful, and entertaining stories, you’ll enjoy this anthology.

Chilling Chat: Episode #205 – Kevin Ground

chillingchat

Third age author and spoken word performer, Kevin Ground specialises in Victorian, Gothic, contemporary horror, and ghost short stories. He actually doesn’t know where his preference for the revolting comes from,Kevin Ground other than to say he is always, always turning normal on its head and seeing where his imagination takes him. He rarely knows where a short story is going till it’s finished.

His story, “Maudaleen,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology

NTK: Kevin, a graveyard figures prominently in your story, “Maudaleen.” Have you had any interesting or strange experiences in cemeteries?

KG: I am a fan of cemeteries in as much as I enjoy the contemplative atmosphere of commemorative buildings, headstones, and artwork. Amongst the hustle and bustle of modern life, cemeteries put you in your place. Once you’ve taken up residence your earthly worries are over. Unless, like the unfortunate Maudaleen, you are not at peace with yourself.

In the cemetery where Maudaleen is set, there are sections of very old, neglected graves. The headstones lean this way and that. Unreadable, lichen-covered, some broken. When I walk in that area I feel a sense of great sadness and anger. The resentment the departed feel about being forgotten is palpable in the very air. I do not linger in that area over much. I can offer no comfort to placate the resentful dead.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

KG: A chance encounter in a secondhand book shop with a battered hardback entitled Titus Groan by author Mervyn Peake. I loved the style, content, and fantastic array of characters. Delving further into the works of Poe. M R James. Sheridan Le Fanu. Algernon Blackwood and other such worthies hooked me in for life.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

KG: A double-edged sword of emotion that cuts through the chaff of life to reveal the love of your life. If your love is denied by its intended, or worse still, accepted then betrayed. The reverse edge of the blade will cut you and wound you in a way that never fully heals. Lucky are those who do not know the sting of this blade and find true love at the first attempt.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

KG: The Woman in Black by author Susan Hill

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

KG: Yes, I do. The 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara. Fantastic black and white film that brings the characters and events to life with great emotion. Charles Laughton’s portrayal of Quasimodo embodies a love that cannot be yet refuses to be denied. Marvelous stuff.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

KG: Not whole people, rather certain characteristics of a person. Their dress, hairstyle, mannerism’s that catch the eye when they go about their daily lives. Catching a train, shopping at the supermarket. Negotiating steps in a wheelchair. I am no peeping tom, but I do take my time to look at what’s about me. Some marvelous material to be had people watching.

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

KG: I never use an outline. Normally, the story develops as it unfolds in my imagination. I do however keep an eye on names, dates, and ages of my characters as it isn’t unusual for me to mix up a grandad with a daughter and turn the two into a third person altogether. I imagine quicker than I type being the issue here. I rarely have any idea of where a story is going before it’s finished.

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

KG: A bit of both really. Some of my characters take flight and run free and easy whilst others progress with a more sedate step. The story decides who does what. As the author, I sometimes subject my characters to some pretty distasteful events that play hell with who they are. The hero doesn’t always survive unscathed if at all. I have no firm rule on this. Preferring to keep my options open.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

KG: As a man who has just celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday, I am becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality. Being old, weak, and helpless. That frightens me.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

KG: 1984’s Winston and Julia. Doomed to failure but a love that defied Big Brother. An example of many real romances that fail because of outside influences. Winston and Julia never stood a chance, but emotion and the need for love could not, and would not be denied.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

KG: This is a difficult one. So many excellent authors to choose from, but I would have to go for Graham Masterton. Closely followed by Darren Shan, and Algernon Blackwood

NTK: What do you like most about Darren Shan’s work?

I find Darren Shan’s character creation and scene-setting, to be right up there with the best of the genre’s acknowledged masters. Although aimed at the young adult market, the subject matter of his work is pretty adult. His characters get right in there when it comes to tearing each other apart emotionally and physically. The stories get on with it at a brisk pace and every word matters. I think Darren Shan has found his niche and the horror enjoying public are the better for it.

Safe to say I never want to play chess with Lord Loss. Or get on the wrong side of Mr. Tiny.

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

KG: Where to start. I have three projects on the go at present.

The first is an anthology of contemporary flash fiction pieces aptly named a book of shorts. These little bites of unpleasantness are stand-alone short stories but in microfiction format. I hope to have this anthology finished and published via Amazon by the autumn of this year.

The second is a project that features an anthology of contemporary short stories where women are the main characters.  Either victim or villain, the supposedly weaker sex gets to sharpen their razors and raise hell. Provisionally entitled Women Trouble. This is a project scheduled for publication on Amazon towards the autumn of this year.

The third project is an entirely different kettle of fish as it comprises four novella-length pieces of Victorian Gothic horror. This work is actually almost complete, and work is about to commence on final reads and proofing by my sharp-eyed proofreader, Sarah. All four of the novellas have a strong faith-based element underpinning the stories, but the characters are far too busy squaring up to each other to let a little thing like doing right get in the way.

If you like Victorian Gothic I believe, biased though I am, you’re in for a treat. Again, this anthology yet to be titled will be published via Amazon probably in time for Christmas this year.

Addicts, you can find Kevin on Amazon and Facebook. His back catalogue can be found on his website.

Interview with Eugen Bacon by Renata Pavrey

 African-Australian writer, Eugen Bacon, whose works span across prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, talks to book blogger and staff writer Renata Pavrey.

 As part of the upcoming release of her latest book, Mage of Fools, I got the chance to interview author Eugen Bacon, thanks to the publishing house Meerkat Press. I have read and loved other books from this publisher that specializes in speculative fiction, and had also interviewed Bacon about her previous books. Here, I get to talk to her about her newest dystopian novel that revolves around storytelling.

        From the blurb:

       In the dystopian world of Mafinga, Jasmin must contend with a dictator’s sorcerer to cleanse the socialist state of its deadly pollution. Mafinga’s malevolent king dislikes books and, together with his sorcerer Atari, has collapsed the environment to almost uninhabitable. The sun has killed all the able men, including Jasmin’s husband Godi. But Jasmin has Godi’s secret story machine that tells of a better world, far different from the wastelands of Mafinga. Jasmin’s crime for possessing the machine and its forbidden literature filled with subversive text is punishable by death. Fate grants a cruel reprieve in the service of a childless queen who claims Jasmin’s children as her own. Jasmin is powerless—until she discovers secrets behind the king and his sorcerer.

Renata: Hi Eugen, Congratulations on the release of your latest book. You have written The Road to Woop Woop – a collection of short stories, and Speculate – a co-creation of vignettes with Dominique Hecq. Mage of Fools is a dystopian novel. What’s your experience switching between writing forms and styles?

Eugen: I’ve always found it natural to switch mid-text across forms and genres, wearing different faces, hats, and cloaks.  I think it’s because of the immersion I find in writing, and our world is not black and white. I love experimentation, bending boundaries. I tend to resist boundaries that restrict text, and I approach a work with an openness to how a story may morph and shape itself. 

One of my recent stories is a blend between a short story and a script. Some of my short stories have prose poetry hidden in them. Some of my novels have short stories hidden in them. Some of my creative nonfiction—like ‘Inhabitation: Genni and I’ (Sydney Review of Books), where I talk to my other self, or ‘The New Seduction of an Old Literary Crime Classic’ (LitHub), where I pay homage to Peter Temple—integrates excerpts of fiction or poetry in it. 

I love the fluidity of text, as a literary enthusiast, Roland Barthes would have it.  

Renata: Your books fall under the umbrella of speculative fiction – alternating science fiction, fantasy and horror. Is there a genre you prefer, both as a reader and writer?

Eugen: My favourite genre is literary speculative fiction, where imagination is the limit. An introduction to my upcoming collection, Chasing Whispers by Raw Dog Screaming Press, describes my work as ‘towards an Afro-irreality’. Except for a time travel novel (Secondhand Daylight) that I am co-writing with a European slipstream author, Andrew Hook, I never start a story thinking that this is going to be science fiction, fantasy, or horror. 

Renata: Stories occupy an important place in Mage of Fools, where reading is banned and characters try to sneak in their daily dose of storytelling. The novel is peppered with the names of authors. Who are your favorite authors? Any favorite books you would recommend?

Eugen: I was only recently talking about Anthony Doerr and look forward to reading his latest historical and speculative fiction Cloud Cuckoo Land. Peter Temple’s dialogue is genius. 

And Toni Morrison is subversively in Mage of Fools, where I imagine her language in my stories. Anyone who hasn’t read all this Nobel prize-winning author’s fiction is missing big time. 

I am inspired by selfless people, like Nelson Mandela, who give of themselves so generously. 

I also have on my reading list a hardcover copy of Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings.  

Renata: When writing speculative fiction, what goes into world-building? How do you balance imaginary scenarios with real-world issues; the new with the familiar?

Eugen: The reader must find familiarity in the worlds we create, however strange, through the nature of our worldbuilding, whose intent is to demystify. Credibility is a necessity in any imaginary world. 

It all depends on the size of the story, its nature or setting, where it wants to take me, to determine whether it is a primary world (that resembles our real world) or a secondary world (mostly invented and dissimilar from our real-world). 

But even in a secondary world, an author may want to introduce themes and issues pertinent in our world today, and how the protagonists in those invented worlds deal with them. This is the author as an agent of change.   

Renata: Your writing is often poetic and lyrical, starkly contrasting the dark themes explored. Is this merging of prose and poetry deliberate, or does the narrative lead you?

Eugen: The narrative talks itself, the characters guiding it. Language is important and, in my mind’s eye, is always the musicality of the text. 

Renata: The cover of Mage of Fools mixes the traditional with the futuristic. Could you tell us about the story behind the cover?

Eugen: Ask the publisher, Tricia Reeks of Meerkat Press! She’s the closet designer, discovering herself. She asked for my art preference, and I said something African, maybe a mask. 

Renata: Thank you, Eugen, for taking out time for this interview. We wish you all the very best with Mage of Fools, and other books that follow.

Eugen: The pleasure is entirely mine. 


About the author: 

Eugen Bacon is African Australian—her books Ivory’s Story, Danged Black Thing, and Saving Shadows are finalists in the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards. Eugen was announced in the honor list of 2022 Otherwise Fellowships. She has won, been longlisted or commended in international awards, including the Foreword Indies Awards, Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Horror Writers Association Diversity Grant, Otherwise, Rhysling, Australian Shadows, Ditmar Awards, and Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Eugen’s creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award-Winning Australian Writing, BSFA, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. New releases: Danged Black Thing (collection), Saving Shadows (illustrated prose poetry). In 2022: Mage of Fools (Meerkat Press), Chasing Whispers (Raw Dog Screaming Press) and An Earnest Blackness (Anti-Oedipus Press). 

Website: eugenbacon.com / Twitter: @EugenBacon

 

Book Review: Love and Zombies by Eric Shapiro 

Review by Hailey Knoblock

Content Warning: Brief Mentions of Rape 

Imagine going on an adventure to Las Vegas in the midst of the zombie apocalypse on the hunt to find a girl that was just recently bitten by a zombie so that she can be used in an upcoming porn film?  

Love and Zombies by Eric Shapiro is a humorous, gory, and quick read. Henry, a filmmaker, gets a call one day from his friend Sam Kranson. Sam has a mission for Henry and himself to go out to Las Vegas to find a girl who has been recently bitten by a zombie and to bring her back to a man named Anthony Christopher, the son of the sharks’ casino owner in Vegas. However, Anthony Christopher and the rest of the casino’s intent is to use the girl that is slowly turning into a zombie to be used in a porn film. As well as the mission, Henry also has an addiction to going to strip clubs, so his girlfriend Teresa, is quite anxious for him to be going on a trip alone to Las Vegas. Sam and Henry will be compensated though, if they complete the mission

I really liked how the main character, Henry, kept having flashbacks the whole time of his girlfriend, Teresa, who he had to leave behind to go on the mission with Sam to Las Vegas. The whole time, while the zombie apocalypse is happening, Henry has this internal struggle of thinking about if Teresa still likes him, or if she has left him for someone else. I like how this deep internal struggle that Henry has contrasts with the humor of Sam and Henry’s relationship and the funny situations that Henry gets himself stuck in throughout the novel. 

Another aspect that I really liked about this book was all of the gore that was involved and the violence. The best part is that Eric Shapiro would take a scene full of gore and violence but also make the situation absolutely hilarious.

There is a brief mention of rape in the novel that I would like to point out, but it is only mentioned for a moment in the story. 

The book was enjoyable and hilarious except for the mention of rape. It was fast, fun, and full of gore and violence. The writing was simple and effective and also easy to understand. The storyline was interesting and after the first page, I was hooked. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that likes gore, violence, a little bit of romance, and humor. 

Review Written By: Hailey Knoblock 

Death’s Garden Revisited… Coming soon!

DeathsGarden
Coming soon… Death’s Garden Revisited!
With Emz’s personal tale of “The Forgotten Angels”

Death’s Garden Revisited is an anthology of cemetery essays from genealogists and geocachers, tour guides and travelers, horror authors, ghost hunters, pagan priestesses, and more about why they visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.

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.

Editor Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and the death-positive memoir This Morbid Life. She was the editor of the award-winning Morbid Curiosity magazine.

Get a sneak peek and choose your rewards at: Death’s Garden Revisited

Book Review: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Review by Hailey Knoblock

What would you do if you stumbled across a puzzle box that held wonders unknown to man? Would you try to solve it? Or would you push your curiosities aside and leave it alone? 

Frank Cotton, a criminal sadomasochist, has been all over the world and is getting bored with himself and the desires that he indulges himself with. However, Frank stumbles upon Lemarchand’s puzzle box that has been constructed by a master craftsman and is persistent on opening it. Frank expected an insane amount of pleasure to come after opening the box. Instead, Frank got introduced to the Cenobites who are otherworldly beings that understand pleasure as pain and vice versa. Frank opens the box in an old house and the Cenobites come to take him away. A few months later, Frank’s brother Rory and his wife Julia move into the house. Rory thinks that Frank is on vacation somewhere.  However, when Rory accidentally cuts himself and bleeds in the room where Frank summoned the Cenobites, all hell breaks loose. 

I enjoyed reading Julia’s character arc throughout the novel. She first starts off as a passive but beautiful woman who is clearly not in love with her husband anymore. Once she realizes that Rory’s brother Frank never really left the house and is still there, her character changes to a more active role. Female killers always capture my attention and the way she went about picking up men from the bar and bringing them back to her home to kill them was awesome to read about. I feel like a lot of novels don’t go into depth about a female killing someone but Clive Barker gives great detail about the gore. For this novel to be published in 1986, Clive Barker was making bold moves by having one of the main female characters in his novel be a complete savage killer. 

I wish that the novel went more into the Cenobites lore and backstory. The whole story really revolves around Frank and Julia’s love for each other which is cute in a sick and twisted way. However, the film series Hellraiser does the Cenobites justice by expanding their backstory if you are interested in learning more about them. 

If you are interested in reading a book with lots of gore described in detail and a book that has an intense female character, then The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker is the book for you. 

INTERVIEW WITH CAITLIN MARCEAU –WRITER OF ‘PALIMPSEST’

For Women in Horror Month, short story writer, poet, and creator of the horror collection Palimpsest, Caitlin Marceau talks to book blogger and staff writer Renata Pavrey.

Renata: Hi Caitlin, Congratulations on the release of your latest book. While you have been featured in anthologies before, what made you come out with a collection of your own?

Caitlin: Thank you so much! I’m over the moon by the reception this book has had so far! It’s such a dream come true for me and I’m so grateful to everyone who’s helped make this book a reality. 

When it comes to why I wanted to put this collection together, I think it was exactly that: because I’ve been in so many anthologies before. Some of the books are out of print, others are pretty hard to find, and I hated the idea of these stories being so scattered. I wanted to centralize my work while giving these stories new life. 

Renata: Several stories from Palimpsest have been published in other books and magazines, and even performed live. How did you decide which stories and poems to pick for this book?

Caitlin: Oh man, picking the stories for this collection was like pulling teeth. I struggled, doubted every single one of my choices. Ultimately, I tried to focus on the stories I was most proud of, stories that had gone out of print, and—most importantly—pieces that I felt best represented my body of work. I wanted them all to be diverse enough so that everyone could find something to enjoy, but cohesive enough that they complemented each other. 

Renata: You are a prominent name in the contemporary horror writing scene. Your stories range from supernatural and paranormal events to domestic violence and body shaming that are rooted in reality. How do you strike a balance between real versus imagined horrors?

Caitlin: First, can I just say that that’s an incredible compliment to be given? I’m absolutely honoured by it.

As for finding a balance between real versus imagined horror, I wish I could say there was a formula for getting it right, but I really just go with my gut when I’m writing. I believe that the real world is already pretty scary and doesn’t need too much help from me to be terrifying. So, kind of like cooking, I season my stories sparingly when it comes to imagined horror and add more in if there’s not enough kick to it. 

Renata: The stories in Palimpsest are set around locations in your native Canada, but there’s a universality in the topics you cover. How challenging is it for a writer, to write local while addressing a worldwide audience of readers?

Caitlin: I think the great thing about storytelling is that so much of it is universal. Everyone understands loss, love, family, individuality, and all those fun foundational themes we see in writing. I think the same can be said about what scares us. So, for me, although it has its tricky moments—like when I use regional language people outside of Quebec might not know—it’s not as difficult as people might think! 

Renata: Your writing is impactful in few words, and your poetry is often a class apart. Do you prefer writing prose or poetry? How do you decide which form would be better suitable for a particular theme/story idea?

Caitlin: Thank you so much! That’s so kind of you to say! 

Truthfully, I’ve always been partial to prose. Usually, when I’m deciding how to approach an idea, I’ll write an outline, and then—depending on the length of the outline—I’ll know whether it needs to be a short story or a poem. I’ll also opt for poetry if I have a really strong emotional connection to the material or if I’m in the mood to play with form. 

Renata: Are there any favorite books or writers in horror you would recommend we read? Who are your literary influences?

Caitlin: There are so many incredible authors out there that it’s hard to pick a favourite, but I can tell you some of the authors I’m loving right now! Off the top of my head, I’d probably encourage people to check out Sonora Taylor’s Someone to Share My Nightmares, Hailey Piper’s Queen of Teeth, anything and everything by Antonia Ward (the brilliant editor of Palimpsest), and I’m a huge fan of the talent that’s appeared on Mark Nixon’s Shadows at the Door: The Podcast. (Hannah Butler and Christopher Long’s stories are especially brilliant, as are Nixon’s Professor Troughton tales and “Slender Chances.”)

When it comes to literary influences, it would probably be Tamora Pierce because of the advice she gave me when I was a kid. She told me to write the stories I wanted to read, and that’s what I’ve done every single day since then. 

Renata: Running is a common activity across some of the stories in Palimpsest, along with ice hockey, video games, and hiking in the woods. What are your hobbies – any sports or creative pursuits besides writing?

Caitlin: Plenty, but as the least athletic woman in Canada, I can promise you that almost none of them are sports-related! I really love playing video games and right now, for some reason, I can’t get enough of Back 4 Blood. When it comes to art outside of my writing, a lot of people don’t know this about me, but I’m also a visual artist so I draw all the time.

Renata: Palimpsest is striking from start to finish. What’s the story behind the title and the cover?

Caitlin: Thank you so much! I’m delighted you think so! 

For the title, I really wanted something that conveyed the idea that a lot of these stories were previously published but had been given a second chance. Eventually, I settled on Palimpsest, which means “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.” 

As for the cover, I knew that I wanted a white background because of all the snow in my stories and I loved the idea of being able to incorporate a silhouette somewhere, but that was it. Antonia Ward (editor at publishing house Ghost Orchid Press) is super talented because she took all nine million of my vague ideas and made them into something beautiful. 

Renata: Thank you, Caitlin, for taking out time for this interview. We wish you all the best for your newest collection, and look forward to more of your writing. 

Caitlin: Thank you so much for having me! It was a blast and I really appreciate it! 

About Caitlin Marceau:

Caitlin Marceau is an author and lecturer living and working in Montreal. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and spends most of her time writing horror and experimental fiction. She’s been published for journalism, poetry, as well as creative non-fiction, and has spoken about horror literature at several Canadian conventions. Her debut collection, Palimpsest, is available from Ghost Orchid Press and her second collection, A Blackness Absolute, is slated for publication later this year. For more information, visit her at the links below. 

Social media/website links:

caitlinmarceau.ca

twiter.com/CaitlinMarceau

facebook.com/CaitlinMarceau

instagram.com/CaitlinMarceau

Book links: 

https://geni.us/palimpsest

https://ghostorchidpress.square.site

 

Book Review: Primal Real Estate by Nicholas Walls

Hello Addicts,

When you have a land dispute, it is often best to have an attorney help with the arbitration. What happens, however, when there are ancient shapeshifting clans whose blood feud goes back centuries involved? It is the dilemma a lawyer named Jon Doe faces in “Primal Real Estate” by Nicholas Walls.

Jon Doe is a freshly-minted Harvard graduate who landed a primo job right out of the gate working for a prestigious law firm. His first assignment is to arbitrate between the Senate – a clan of werewolves – and the Court of Raptors over who owns an important property. Soon, Jon discovers a secret plot involving a well-respected and connected individual to take over the disputed property and leave both houses out in the cold. Being new and expendable, he finds himself in a no-win situation. No matter which side he decides on, he will most certainly be killed by the other. Added to the peril is a group of renegade shifters who want to kill Marc and keep both sides from claiming the property. Helping Joe are Magda, a decorated Senate war veteran, Selina, a high-ranking member of the Court, and Marc, a vampire and Jon’s old roommate from college.

I liked this story. There is a mystery to solve and other ingredients you expect to find in a story about warring factions, which made it a fun tale to read. Unfortunately, I felt Jon Doe played the “fish out of the water in over his head” part well. However, I also found him to be nothing more than a frat boy who relies on others to help him out of the jam or to do the work for him. It was the supporting cast who felt more endearing. I plan on continuing the series to see how their tales play out. I give it a three out of five.

You can order “Primal Real Estate” at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from your local bookstore.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review : PALIMPSEST BY CAITLIN MARCEAU

Review by Renata Pavrey

I was introduced to Caitlin Marceau’s writing through her short story, Gastric, from Blood & Bone – a body horror anthology, where she addressed fatphobia. In limited words, Caitlin created an impact with her take on body shaming and the horrors of superficiality. When I heard the same publisher, Ghost Orchid Press had signed Caitlin on for a collection of contemporary horror, Palimpsest was immediately put on my to-read list.

With a mixture of prose and poetry, Caitlin takes the reader across the Canadian wilderness, canals and bridges, frozen landscapes, and frosty tales that chill to the bone. The stories range from diseases of the mind and body, encounters with demons and ghosts, bullying and domestic violence, werewolves and shapeshifters, ice hockey and distance running. Caitlin’s prowess as a writer illuminates every page of Palimpsest, with every story different and outstanding in its own way. You know her settings are local, but her stories have universal appeal.

My favorite from the lot was Stuck – the perspective and narrative were just brilliant. There’s absolutely nothing happening and everything happening. It reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s covert style of horror, where the real terrors are what happens between the lines. Jackson’s wry sense of humor also finds its way into some of the stories. A few of my other favorites were Infected (about ill people in denial of their illness, only to go around spreading diseases in their stubbornness), Conqueror (an ode to video games and online players, and the person behind the avatar), The Midas (the supernatural world is no match for the real world, as a deep-sea diver faces off nature’s watery inhabitants), Hunger (very real horrors of cabin fever, frostbite, and hypothermia).

The stories and poetry have all been featured in other anthologies, magazines, and performed live over the years. Besides Gastric, I had only read one other piece from Caitlin – the poem Metamorphosis from the horror poetry anthology, Under Her Skin. So, I was thrilled that she put together this collection of some of her finest writing. I usually space out anthologies and collections – reading a story or two between other novels. Palimpsest is one of those books that keep the reader hooked throughout. You want to spend more time in Caitlin’s world, with its horrors and everything she offers the reader. Every single story warrants its own review. They’re all so good! And the cover is stunning, too.

My rating – 5/5

Book Review: Whitechapel Rhapsody by Alessandro Manzetti

Review by Stephanie Ellis

5 stars

Whitechapel Rhapsody is a collection of dark poems by one of my favourite dark poets, Alessandro Manzetti. This particular collection sets itself in the crimes of Jack the Ripper and the atmospheric ‘personality’ of London’s East End.
As I read these poems, I thought about my own ancestors, from great-grandparents and back, who lived in this area. Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Spitalfields, they lived in the most poverty-stricken streets of this time and would have experienced much described in these poems. The atmosphere of the East End leaching from Manzetti’s verse is a perfect marriage with the known history.

The East End was grim, a morass of the forgotten, of migrant communities, of people who lived in the “rhapsody of shadows, rats, and refugee”. Manzetti turns Whitechapel into a predator personified in ‘I’m the Lair’. It is the trap into which all fall, “the prophet of misery”, the “nest of dust, shillings, and sweat”. Reptilian, it is everything that beats at the dark heart of the East End.

Through his repeated refrain of “Deep Red, Deep East End,” (‘Bloody Rhapsody’, ‘Sick Rhapsody’, ‘Entangled Rhapsody’, ‘Madhouse Rhapsody’ and ‘Whitechapel Rhapsody’), he colours the shades of misery in the language of blood – the “Deep Red, Deep East End/the ghost with the razor, Death”.
‘Sick Rhapsody’ is the song for the syphilitic, the sufferers of tuberculosis and fever and their medicine “the liquour of melancholy”. In ‘Entangled Rhapsody’, with its mass of intertwined lives on intertwined streets, Manzetti gives Whitechapel a body, a place no one can escape. He delves into its dark mind in ‘Madhouse Rhapsody’ with “stories of asylums, green ghosts, and white brains attached”. He wraps it all up in the embrace of Whitechapel Rhapsody, the song of the people, “‘who meet by chance, to live or die”.

These rhapsodies fix you in time and place as Manzetti leads you into the story of Jack the Ripper and his victims. Weaving in historical fact, he sings the songs of Annie Chapman, Mary Ann Nichols, Mary Jane Kelly, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. He also reminds us of Alice Mackenzie, murdered by a possible copycat. Their stories are broken by other tales of the street such as The Butcher’s Shop and the infamous Ten Bells, of the world going on around these deaths. A nice touch are the almost Dickensian names given to everyday people such as Dr. Openshow, Mr. Neardead, Mrs. Askmore, Mrs. Lovelone, and Mr. Hackfate, which adds even more to the sense of time.
Manzetti finishes with ‘The Dark King’, the bringer of all that is horror, “the mud that takes a thousand forms and which can become, at will” so much: chainsaw, gasoline, obscenity and requiem.
With its truly lyrical quality, this felt like a dark love song to the East End of London. I think it’s my favourite collection yet from Alessandro Manzetti. I loved it.

Interview with Daphne Strasert – Wicked Women Writers Allstar Winner – 2021

Interview with Daphne Strasert – Wicked Women Writers Allstar Winner – 2021 – Interview by  Blog Editor Kate Nox.

NOX:  Congratulations Daphne, on being the Wicked Women Writers Allstar Winner of 2021! How does it feel to have your work honored in this way? 

Daphne: Thank you so much! It feels really great to have done well, especially against such a great group of competitors. I’ve come a long way since I did my first writing competition with Horror Addicts (The Next Great Horror Writer Contest in 2017) and I was happy to be able to share my growth as a storyteller.

NOX: Tell us a bit about your writing history. What made you decide to be a writer? What did you write at first? What are your proudest moments/ awards won/ stories published?

Daphne: I started writing when I was in high school. I wrote fanfiction at first but gradually realized that I had my own stories and my own characters that were waiting to come out. I finished my first novel, Lunatic, right after college. Joining the HorrorAddicts.net Next Great Horror Writer contest was a stroke of luck. That was where I wrote my first short stories. I’ve since had many short stories published (including in the last FOUR anthologies for HorrorAddicts.net!). Most recently, my story “Swipe Right”–about a werewolf on a date with a sasquatch–won an honorable mention in a contest for On The Premises (you can read it here).

Nox: Your winning story, The Blood of Sorus, is a great piece.  How did the idea come about and how long did it take you to write it?  

Daphne: The idea for The Blood of Sorus came about fairly quickly after I was invited to join the Wicked Women Writers All Star Competition. Brazil was assigned as my cultural component, so I researched various aspects of the culture, history, and environment there. I became enraptured with the Amazon Rainforest and how it seemed to have a life of its own. While the concept took only a few weeks to fully form, I didn’t finish the final draft of the story for nearly six months.

NOX: Reading The Blood of Sorus, I particularly enjoyed your descriptions of the dark temple and could feel the danger lurking. Do you have a secret for making such descriptions work?

Daphne: Especially with horror, less can be more. The reader’s mind is always able to fill in something far darker and scarier than I could ever describe. By supplying just enough details (the drip of the water, the rustling of the vines), I can suggest far worse things. In horror, the reader always knows that something scary is just around the corner. I like to make use of that preexisting fear.

NOX: I love your thoughts on the reader! ! Did you find any challenges as you wrote? Any stumbles along the way?

Daphne: In order to create the appropriate length audio fiction, the story itself had to be SO SHORT. The Blood of Sorus came out at just about 1,300 words, which is very little space to do the sort of expansive world-building that science fiction horror requires. The story just kept growing, wanting to be a longer work. I had to chop a lot of good ideas out to keep it the correct length.

NOX: Winning this contest secures your title of Wicked Women Writers ALLSTAR! What are your plans going forward after winning this unique competition?

Daphne: I am still writing, though I’m focused more on novels right now. I have a few novels close to completion that need editing before I submit them to publishers. Of course, I’ll probably write a short story or two as a nice break! Hopefully, those will be published this year.

NOX: Have you any advice or encouragement that would be helpful for new horror writers reading this interview?

Daphne: Keep writing! You have wonderful things in your mind just waiting to get out. The best way to get better is to write them down. No one writes something perfect on their first try. Find some writing friends who can give you honest, constructive feedback. And submit your work! You may not think it’s good enough to be published, but you would be surprised. Don’t reject yourself from a submission call if you feel you have something that fits.

NOX: Thank you for talking with us and congrats once again on being The Wicked Women Writer’ Allstar 2021 Winner. I  know you also have been a finalist in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.  Tell us what’s ahead for you. And what else can we read of yours?

Daphne: Hopefully, the next big thing for me is a published novel! But until then, you can always read more of my writing on my website www.DaphneStrasert.com and follow me on social media as @daphnethewriter.

PROJECT GEN-X – AN INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA ROWLAND

PROJECT GEN-X – AN INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA ROWLAND

By Renata Pavrey

In a unique anthology of monster, folk, paranormal, and psychological horror as glimpsed through the lens of the latchkey generation, twenty-two voices shine a strobe light on the cultural demons that lurked in the background while they came of age in the heyday of Satanic panic and slasher flicks, milk carton missing and music television, video rentals and riot grrrls. 

These Gen-X storytellers once stayed out unsupervised until the streetlights came on, and what they brought home with them will terrify you. 

Featuring brand new fiction from Kevin David Anderson, Glynn Owen Barrass, Matthew Barron, C.D. Brown, Matthew Chabin, L.E. Daniels, C.O. Davidson, Douglas Ford, Phil Ford, Holly Rae Garcia, Dale W. Glaser, Tim Jeffreys, Derek Austin Johnson, Eldon Litchfield, Adrian Ludens, Elaine Pascale, Erica Ruppert, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Rob Smales, Mark Towse, Thomas Vaughn, and Thomas K.S. Wake.

As a follow-up to my wonderful reading experience of the book, I interviewed editor Rebecca Rowland, for an insight into how Generation X-ed was conceived, created, and curated.

Hi Rebecca, Congratulations on the release of your latest book. How would you describe the experience of working on a project with other writers, versus individually writing a book?

It’s a completely different animal. In the first anthology I edited for Dark Ink Books, I included one of my own stories; I haven’t done that since. It’s too difficult wearing both hats: as an editor, you have to see the work through the eyes of the reader while simultaneously having the backs of the authors who have contributed to the project. With my own stuff, I just write what I like and rarely consider how readers might respond: I trust in the editor and the press owner to assess and dress it properly for public view. It’s much more exhausting to be an editor, unfortunately, but it’s even more rewarding on some levels as long as I know I’ve done right by those who’ve contributed their work.

Generation X-ed is a niche genre: horror stories set in the eighties and early nineties. How did the idea for the anthology come about?

A few years ago, I made a conscious effort to read and review more independent dark fiction. I also tried to break out of my (painfully awkward, typical writer-introvert-) shell and get to know some fellow independent horror writers. What I found was that more than three-quarters of those horror authors were my age: we shared the same formative experiences in media, music and culture. I was born smack in the middle of Generation X, a group I didn’t really understand the significance of until I was well into my thirties and forties. Now, I look at my generation and I realize, there are touchstones we share that helped shape us into the people we are as adults: the satanic panic, the latchkey phenomenon, the Challenger explosion (witnessed live in our classrooms), the emergence and disappearance of Mtv, and so forth. I happen to think our formative experiences are the most nefarious, which might explain the wealth of horror fiction that has sprung from Gen Xers!

The stories cover a range of horror sub-genres from psychological and paranormal, to comedy and sci-fi. Was this intentional, to feature stories across the horror spectrum?

The Renaissance of the slasher film occurred during Generation X’s childhood/early teens, and the birth of cable television and VCRs (coupled with looser supervision by our parents), made access to hardcore horror relatively easy. When I first conceived the collection, I did imagine it would be focused on the splatter and gore of that subgenre: the X lends itself so well to that, visually and thematically. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our influences weren’t limited to slashers. Each of the authors chose an individual (real or fictional) who had an impact on him/her as a horror writer. The range makes me realize I did the right thing broadening the parameters of the fiction I wanted to include.

All the writers belong to the latchkey generation and have explored their personal experiences with movies, books, music, political and historical events from the era. How did you gather stories and authors for this project?

I wrote up the call for stories, letting writers know the word count range and that we were really only requiring two things: that the writer be a member of Generation X and that the horror story include something (subtly or otherwise) specific to the generation. As the submissions came in, I was pleasantly surprised: the caliber of writing and the uniqueness in story arcs made whittling the final count down to twenty-two very difficult. There were definitely some stories that it pained me to turn away, but the ones I selected all had one thing in common: they were exceptionally well-written, and they stayed in my head hours or even days after I first read them. I wish I could give a more objective analysis of why these twenty-two ended up together, but my best explanation would be it’s part luck that these gifted authors chose to trust me with their creations, and it’s part my own gut reaction. 

While readers born and growing up in the 70s and 80s would find resonance in the references, the stories are so well written and compiled to be enjoyable for everyone. Did you have a reader audience in mind while conceiving this anthology? As an editor, how challenging is it to cater to different reader tastes when curating a collection?

So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to curate collections where the focus has been something to which I am already drawn, and I know readers are going to choose a book based on whether its nucleus is something that already jives with their preferences. I know putting out a collection that appears age-specific is risky; however, one of the nicest feedbacks I’ve received from reviewers is my commitment to diversity in style and approach, and therefore, I’ve always kept that in mind when I am cutting down the “likely yes” pile to the final lineup. 

I am drawn to read anthologies myself because of the variety: I don’t expect to love every entry, and I don’t expect readers of the anthologies I curate to love every story. However, I never want a reader to find s/he doesn’t respond to multiple stories in a row. Even if the stories have a common thread, I take care to either follow one story with another from a completely different subgenre, or, if the subgenres are the same, make certain back-to-back tales utilize different points-of-view, or possess similar narrators who make very different choices. That way, there really is something for everyone. There are sly winks in Generation X-ed that will resonate specifically with those who are a part of the generation, but the heart of the collection, the things that creep and unnerve and scare the bejesus out of us no matter when we grew up, is what gives it life, so I hope everyone who enjoys good storytelling will take a look. 

Generation X-ed releases on January 26, 2022. 

Links to purchase:

https://rowlandbooks.com/generation-xed#f5bed466-d8ae-4abf-a6cb-8b7d887bb01c

 

Book Review: The Forest by Michaelbrent Collings

First, the forest took their friend, then it took their son. Now it might take them too.

Tricia and Alex return to their hometown years after their son’s disappearance to finally confront their fears and get closure. But when they are sucked back into the place that took everything from them, they discover that there is far more at play than any natural phenomenon could explain.

The Forest is a full-length horror novel by Michaelbrent Collings. It contains implied incest and depictions of domestic abuse.

Collings keeps the plot tight, leaving the reader with barely any room to breathe. It’s fast-paced and action-packed, with twisty turns lurking behind every corner.

The novel takes place both in the past and the present, depicting Tricia and Alex as teenagers and as adults. Tricia and Alex are more likable as adults than they are as teens. The flashbacks were difficult to read because the characters were insufferable know-it-alls as teenagers. Collings made them into super-geniuses with superiority complexes. However, the descriptions of their teenage awkwardness surrounding love were spot on. As adults worn down by multiple tragedies, they are humbler and more relatable.

The forest is a character all its own. Collings does an incredible job of creating atmosphere through his writing. You feel as if the trees have a personality and purpose, probably a nefarious one. Though the forest is an endless maze, it still has its waypoints and Collings keeps each scene distinct while also blurring the scenery so even the reader feels lost in the forest.

Collings’ writing is distinctively crisp and quick. He doesn’t waste time with unnecessary descriptions. The writing gets out of the way and lets the story take the focus. And what a story. Twisty from start to finish, it grips tight and won’t let go. You canNOT guess what’s coming next. I absolutely guarantee it.

If you like psychological horror, malevolent forces beyond our understanding and crazy reveals that you’ll never see coming, you’ll like The Forest by Michaelbrent Collings.

Book Review: GENERATION X-ED edited by Rebecca Rowland

GENERATION X-ED,  An anthology of horror from the latchkey generation

Book review by Renata Pavrey

A unique collection of horror stories that pay tribute to the seventies and eighties. Generation X-ed turns back time with twenty-two writers who offer a glimpse into the horrors of the past. Videocassette players, slasher flicks, satanic cults, paper maps, cable repairs, alien invasions, summer vacations, creature features, rock and grunge music – the reader is transported into an era filled with cultural references that range from books to movies and music.

A challenge for the editor in not only collecting well-written horror stories adhering to the theme but also finding writers from generation X, who have mined their memories for an eerie array of tales for the reader. From VHS tapes to MTV, hairstyles and clothes, movie theatres and film stars, political events, and manmade disasters, the writers take us through time and place with very different stories, but all bound by their connection to the 70s and 80s.

My most favorite story was How I Met Kurt Russell by Rob Smales, which takes us through the movies and characters played by Kurt Russell. In a narrative hilarious and unnerving in equal parts, Smales addresses the horrors of identity, fandom, and superstardom. I just loved his horror-comedy, the subject of his story, and the route of exploring serious themes through humor. Some of my other favorites were In From The Cold by Adrian Wayne Ludens (the nostalgia of old photographs), A Genealogy of Hunger by Thomas Vaughn (a stellar piece of speculative fiction), Pay Heed to the Preacher Man by Eldon Litchfield (about small towns and creepy residents), Naming The Band by Elaine Pascale (hierarchies and dynamics between band members), Birnam Hall by L. E. Daniels (sheer brilliance in writing about sexual assault without actually writing about it, as a mirror to unreported cases), Stand Beside Me Now by Tim Jeffreys (for his take on haunted houses), Parker Third West by Dale W. Glaser (for his deep dive into dorm life), The Shade by C.O. Davidson (dealing with death and grief).

The stories are a mixed bunch, but they’re all entertaining in the way each of us interprets horror – as children, teenagers, and adults. Although the cover depicts a slasher anthology, the collection covers sub-genres of horror from cosmic to sci-fi, psychological and paranormal, folk horror, and horror-comedy. Highly recommended for readers from the latchkey generation, who have lived through the era and will identify with the references. But it’s really just for everyone, to enjoy the coming-together of an exceptional bunch of writers. Kudos to editor Rebecca Rowland for accomplishing this task.

My rating – 5/5

Book Review: Tortured Willows by Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn and Christina Sng

Review by Daphne Strasert

5 stars

Tortured Willows bleeds, sobs, and howls with rage. The poems stab at the monsters who desecrate, they release spirits to deliver revenge and honour the memories of mothers and grandmothers. The words of these four poets – Lee Murray, Angela Yuriko Smith, Geneve Flynn, and Christina Sng – cannot be ignored. By sharing often intensely personal experiences of otherness, of suffering and prejudice, they reach into your heart and demand you listen.

The driving force behind these verses is the combination of cultural heritage, the definition of woman and the modern-day perception of the poets as ‘other’. Employing a variety of forms, – from sonnet to black-out to blank verse – the poems educate those of us who have been unaware as to the level of suffering of our sisters on the other side of the world. The notes provide further information, book, newspaper, document references to their histories and their realities.

Every poem deserves its place. Lee Murray delivers tragedy in Fox Girl and Exquisite and poignancy in The Girl with the Bellows. Geneve Flynn serves up anger in ‘Abridge’, the cultural practice of ghost brides in ‘Bride Price’, the fears of a mother for her son in ‘Unpicked Stitching.
Christina Sng brings up supernatural revenge in Flat, The Visit and The Last Bus, respect for ancestors in The Offering and the place their ghosts still have in our lives.
Angela Yuriko Smith develops the strength of women in Four Willows Bound, the traditions of the Ryukyuan in Onarigami and Her Hajichi, her sense of difference in The Nukekubi.

In theory, I would list every poem – they all have something to say. In lieu of such a list, all I can say is buy – or borrow – but do read – this extraordinary and eye-opening collection

In the words of Angela Yuriko Smith in her poem, Four Willows Bound:

Four willows stood bound
in their sisterhood, in strength —
unquiet, waiting

They are waiting for you.

“The Asian Myths and Monsters of Tortured Willows” Guest Blog by Geneve Flynn

“The Asian Myths and Monsters of Tortured Willows

Featured Author: Christina Sng

Southeast Asian mythology is much less familiar territory for many horror fans. While vampires, werewolves, and zombies are well-known, creatures such as the tiyanak, the penanggalan, the pontianak, and the nukekubi are less so. Does that make them scarier? Let’s dive in and see. 

 Tortured Willows is a newly released collaborative collection of sixty horror poems by four of the authors from the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson award-winning anthology Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, Christina Sng, and Geneve Flynn showcase some of these creepy critters in their poetry. In this blog series, we chat to each of the contributors about their monsters.

Please say hello to Christina Sng.

GF: Please tell us about the themes you explore in this collection.

CS: I explore themes of justice and vengeance as well as traditions in Singapore.

GF: Those are threaded through your work so beautifully. It’s wonderful getting a glimpse into Singaporean culture and mythology. Your poem “Pontianak” features a vengeful female spirit. Where does it come from and how did you add a twist to her legend? 

Picture Attribution: “Kuntilanak-post” by scarysideofearth is licensed under CC BY 2.0

CS: Pontianak was the first ghost most children my age heard about (apart from the “real life” headhunters which were infinitely more scary to us). We were often told to be good or the Pontianak will come and get us. Only when I was older did I read that she only haunted men, usually flagging them down from the side of the road; she had a beautiful face, long black hair, and a flowing white dress. Here are a few lines from my poem:

She stood by the road alone

In her white flowing dress.

The night was moonless,

The streetlight, broken and bent.

The wind promptly picked up,

Gently billowing her hems.

While doing research for this book, I realized a lot of the traditional horror stories centered around women ghosts out to get men. Why? Who came up with these stories? Elders who were men? Possibly, in this patriarchal society. 

Her mother always told her,

Never get into a car with a stranger.

She nodded, fearless this time.

The worst had already happened.

In this day and age, we know there’s another side to the story. The woman’s side. The atrocities that happen to women every day all over the world are too often silenced by society. 

So I tell the woman’s side of the story. Give her a voice. Because we are human beings with thoughts, feelings, and dreams as well. We have volition. We exist. Here are our stories.

GF: The characters in your poems have an unquiet fury that is very powerful. Your poem “Flat” gives voice to a character in the strange urban myth of the flat-faced woman. How did you hear about her and what does she symbolise in your work? 

CS: Oh gosh. As a teen, the flat-faced woman freaked me out so bad. This was a story told to me by someone and I don’t remember who and how. During those days, these stories were often not written down and were just told from person to person. But the details of the story have been preserved in this poem. 

She turned toward me,

Hair parting like the Red Sea.

I gasped 

And screamed uncontrollably.

She had no face!

Where it should have been

Was flat and featureless,

A face of clay before it was molded.

As I grew up, I no longer feared her. Instead, I wondered what led her here. What was her story? Now, I know. It’s the story of so many domestic violence victims, except she came back and she found justice for herself and then, for others.

GF: Thanks so much for introducing us to some of the mythology that features in your poetry. If you’d like to read the poems mentioned in this blog series, Tortured Willows is available from Yuriko Publishing.

Praise for Tortured Willows:

Tortured Willows bleeds, sobs and howls with rage.”—Stephanie Ellis, writer and poet, co-author of Daughters of Darkness

“Thought-provoking, unapologetically brutal, and downright unsettling, Tortured Willows is a collection unlike any you’ve read before…and one you’re not likely to forget. Murray, Flynn, Smith, and Sng have not just raised their voices, they’ve roared them into the pages, and the result is simply superb.”—Rebecca Fraser, award-winning author of Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract.

“In Tortured Willows, the many veils of a woman’s heart are peeled back, revealing multi-layered petals of an aching beauty, rooted on a stem of vulnerable resistance.”—Jamal Hodge, director, writer, visionary

“This is a brilliant book, insightful and scintillant. Construed as a thematic sequel to the award-winning Black Cranes (the anthology edited by Murray and Flynn and containing fiction by Sng and Smith), it may also be viewed as a distillation. The theme is strong, but the lessons reach beyond it. Cutting across rhetoric and euphemism, Tortured Willows will hold meaning for whoever dares read it.”—Kyla Lee Ward, Bram Stoker Award®-nominated poet

Tortured Willows

Bent. Bowed. Unbroken

The willow is femininity, desire, death. Rebirth. With its ability to grow from a single broken branch, it is the living embodiment of immortality. It is the yin that wards off malevolent spirits. It is both revered and shunned.

In Tortured Willows, four Southeast Asian women writers of horror expand on the exploration of otherness begun with the Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women.

Like the willow, women have bent and bowed under the expectations and duty heaped upon them. Like the willow, they endure and refuse to break.

With exquisite poetry, Christina Sng, Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, and Geneve Flynn invite you to sit beneath the tortured willow’s gravid branches and listen to the uneasy shiver of its leaves.

LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Tortured-Willows-Bent-Bowed-Unbroken/dp/1737208334

Christina Sng is the two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Dreamscapes and A Collection of Nightmares. Her poetry appears in numerous venues worldwide and has garnered many accolades, including prizes and nominations for the Elgin Awards, the Dwarf Stars, the Rhysling Awards, the Pushcart Prize, and honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and the Best Horror of the Year. Visit her at christinasng.com and connect @christinasng.

 

Anne Rice, The Queen of Horror Fiction

annericeOur Queen of Horror Fiction has passed on. Anne Rice was a gift to the literary world and whether you just enjoyed her vampire fiction, expanded into her witch and mummy stories, or were a collector of all her different genres, I think you’ll agree her impact on our world will not be forgotten.

Born on October 4th, 1941, she was 80 when she passed December 11th, 2021, with her son by her side. 

Initially using her writing to deal with the grief she experienced from the loss of her darling young daughter, Michele, Anne became a powerhouse of storytelling that touched too many lives to count. 

I didn’t get into Anne Rice’s work the normal way. I wasn’t a vampire fan. In fact, I’d not even read a vampire series until I happened upon hers quite by mistake. My gateway was the novel, Feast of All Saints.

Just before spring break my first year of college in the early 90s, we had to give oral book reports for a class. My report was about No Easy Place to Be by Steven Corbin (a great book in it’s own right) and my friend in the class did hers on Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints. Now, you have to understand, I had never heard of Anne before, so when asked to swap my then favorite book, I was a bit hesitant. But the two books about racial inequality and the way people of color dealt with it seemed to echo each other. When my friend and I packed up after class, I gave in and we exchanged books. 

feastAt the time, I lived in the South of Market district of San Francisco, near Moscone Center. I had three jobs, went to college, and also had insomnia. Many nights I’d grab a book and head out to read by stairway light at Moscone until I got too cold. Feast of All Saints was a book that grabbed me from page one and didn’t let me go. I read all night and when I came home in the still-dark morning, I crawled into bed and kept reading while the sun rose outside my window. I cried, I cheered for the characters, I got angry, I cried some more. That is the way Anne’s work affected me. 600+ pages later, I was thirsty for more. The magic this woman created with words was a drug to me. I HAD to have another hit.

Ignorant college freshman I was, I wrote down her name and toddled up to this massive used bookstore that used to be on Powell to see if she had any other books to read.  When I asked the dude behind the counter if he had any books by someone named Anne Rice, he laughed at me and said, “Over there.” He pointed to a large endcap at the end of a row. 

Looking up at Anne’s ocean of work I was dumbfounded. Where did I start? Were they all stand-alones? Did I need to read them in order? Would I even like vampire stories? 

The next week was spent going back to the store several days in a row to purchase the next, and the next, and the next, until I decided to save the trip and buy three at a time. Still, I was back the next week for more. I couldn’t devour Anne’s work fast enough and luckily she had tons to choose from.

I read about vampires creating, loving, and killing each other. I read about witches living in decaying plantations and secret societies dedicated to recording supernatural activity. I read of mummies waking with an insatiable thirst for life and beautiful people being punished in the most shocking ways. I cried on a bus while reading Cry to Heaven. I scoffed at a stranger wanting to “borrow” my hard cover copy of Lasher. I daydreamed of the day when I might meet Belinda while boarding an elevator downtown.

Anne’s books are more than just stories about vampires and mummies and witches. They are about solid, in depth characters that have emotions and human faults. Through her stories, she made me feel a part of her world. She peeled away at the wallpaper of my mind and poured in tales I never even knew I wanted to hear. She spoke the language of the soul and somehow spelled it out by chapter so I could take it in at my own pace. And man, could that lady describe a room!

Anne has changed my life much the same way as she has changed many of yours. She gave me specimens to study which reflected back, caused me to study myself, and change my way of thinking. She inspired me to go down rabbit holes with my own writing and to be raw, emotional, and dangerous.

To say losing Anne is such a horrible loss to us all is an understatement. She will be missed by millions of readers and fans. If there is anything to console us, it is that she has left us a library of books to enjoy. Her books will go on to inspire and entertain generations to come. And all we can say is, thank you, Anne, for sharing your gift with us.


emzzzzzEmerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. Emerian is the podcast horror hostess for HorrorAddicts.net.

Northanger Party Winners!

na2Thank you to all those who partied with us in the Facebook Group! Here are our winners!

Grand Prize Winner who gets a PRINT copy of
Northanger by Emmy Z. Madrigal
ALISON SCOTT

Runner-ups win a digital copy of
Northanger by Emmy Z. Madrigal
LOREN RHOADS & SELENE MACLEOD

Winners, please be on the lookout for a message from us. If you don’t hear from us, please email at horroraddicts@gmail.com so we can distribute your prize!

If you did not win,
Northanger by Emmy Z. Madrigal
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Northanger Book Release Party Today!

Join us on Facebook for an all-day Northanger party!
DECEMBER 16th, 2021
Starting at 8am PST

Games, trivia, and prizes!
To enjoy the fun, join our group here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499
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Northanger  by Emmy Z. Madrigal

Kat is a horror fan. She loves to read, watch, and listen to ghostly, frightening things most people shy away from. When she meets her perfect match, Henry, she knows he’s made just for her, but finding out his father may be a murderer, puts a different spin on their relationship. Is Henry’s dad out for blood or just a misunderstood introvert who’s lost his wife? Only a trip to the famed murder house, Northanger, will reveal the truth.

Northanger is a contemporary rewrite of Jane Austen’s least rebooted classic novel, Northanger Abbey. The Clueless version, Northanger explores the fish out of water story of gothy teen Kat, as she’s introduced to the high-society scene of New York City. What would happen if Beetlejuice’s Lydia was plopped into Gossip Girl New York City?

“Emmy Z. Madrigal has crafted a delightful story based on Jane Austen’s classic, Northanger Abbey. She has spun it into a modern story that suits Miss Austen’s novel perfectly. Her modern heroine, Katherine Moorland (Kat), is a young girl who has lived a simple life on a farm, but has a vivid imagination that has been heavily influenced by the horror books she reads, the spooky music she listens to, and the macabre films she watches. It is a book that will appeal to both Jane Austen fans and lovers of the gothic novel, having fun elements of both.” ~ Kara Louise, author of Pirates and Prejudice a variation of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice.


Emmy Z. Madrigal’s love affair with Jane Austen may have started late, but her belief that true love can overcome prejudices, differences, and adversity started very early on. Northanger is her modern take on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Emmy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

An Excerpt from Northanger, by Emmy Z. Madrigal

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Visit just one of the haunted houses in this excerpt from Northanger, by Emmy Z. Madrigal.


“I’m excited to see Woodston,” Kat said.

“It’s just the sort of place you’ll like. With a story you’ll love,” Henry said.

“Oh?”

“Yes.” Henry put down his coffee cup and leaned in to tell her the story. “Mr. Woodston was the grandson of old Mr. Northanger. In 1895, Mr. Woodston built the Woodston house for his fiancée. They went to New York for the wedding but on their way back, Mr. Woodston died in a carriage crash.”

“Oh my God, that’s horrible.”

“His bride was hurt, but recovered only to find herself in the house he’d built for her in secret. The new Mrs. Woodston lived there for a few months, but being so isolated and without her groom, she moved back to the main house with the Northangers and then shortly after, back to her family in New York.”

“Poor lady.”

“And on the same day of her husband’s death, not three years later, she succumbed to a fever and died without ever remarrying. Some blamed her death on a broken heart and there are rumors of the couple haunting Woodston.”

“Really?”

“Yes!” Henry grinned and went on, his voice grave indeed. “First the ghost of young Mr. Woodston, calling out for his bride Julieta. And second, Julieta calling out for her love. Yet, they can never find one another despite searching these many years later.”

Kat drew in an excited gasp. “Have you witnessed these ghosts?”

“No. It is just a story to frighten tourists.” He smiled, relaxing back into his chair. “But perhaps you are more sensitive and will witness them yourself.”

Kat smiled, knowing he was teasing her, but at the same time wondering if she would feel a ghost presence when they visited.

“Oh, here comes Ellen. She probably wants to say goodbye one last time.”

“Last time?”

“Yes, you know, before you’re killed by the ghosts of Woodston.”

Kat scoffed. “You tease.”

***

Henry strapped in a small backpack to the luggage rack and then got on the snowmobile. He offered a hand to Kat and she got on behind him, wrapping her arms around him.

“Hold on!” The snowmobile took off with a burst and she gripped him tighter around the waist. His body was warm and solid underneath the puffy parka he wore. A bump in the road unsettled her and he placed a gloved hand on hers, steading her. Piercing cold air stung her cheeks where her scarf, hat, and goggles met.

Before them, a blanket of white snow stretched out as far as the eye could see. Trees covered in white carved out a path leading to more trees.

The endless bank of trees reminded Kat of the scene in Suspiria where a panicked girl is running through the woods as Suzy looks out the cab window that rainy night she arrives at school. Kat’s eyes searched the trees as they whizzed by. It was daytime, but the trees stretched up so high above them, they blocked out the sunlight, causing the formation of strange shadows in the woods. Her eyes—with the help of her imagination—caused her to see some weird things in the woods. A snow mound became a wolf. The shadow of a tree became a human form.

It must have been twenty minutes before Henry slowed the snowmobile before a dark house looming in the distance. It wasn’t like the visibly scary cartoon haunted houses of The Addams Family or The Munsters. It was more like a retold ghost story, welcoming Kat in like her grandmother’s afghan. It was a place that held stories. A place where you could feel at home and connect with the ghosts of the past at the same time.

“What do you think?” Henry asked, removing his goggles.

Kat pushed down her scarf. “It’s awesome.”

Gazing up at the gray shutters and storm blue trim, Kat imagined a ghost in the window. There wasn’t one really, but the one in her imagination welcomed her home. She’d never seen a picture of Julieta Woodston, but in her imagination, she wore a ghostly white dress and glowed in the frame of the window in the attic.

A flash of Mrs. Havisham from Great Expectations came to Kat. Was there a dining room inside covered in cobwebs?

“Coming?” Henry slung the backpack over one shoulder and held out his hand for her to grasp. She took it and he helped her off the mobile. An icy patch in front of the stairs caused her to pitch forward into his arms. Her breath caught as she looked into his eyes. She could see flecks of gold in his stormy ocean gray.

“You all right?” he asked his rumble out of his chest under her fingertips.

“Y-yes. Yeah, sorry.”

His face was so close, she yearned to kiss him.

He let go of her, all except one hand, which he held as he led her to the door with no other falling incidents. As he opened the door, the ancient house smell surrounded her. Cedar. Old books. A little dust.

“I’ll get a fire started right away. Come in, it will get warm soon.” He closed the front door behind her and clicked on the lights with the loud solid plunk of an old electric switch. The foyer and stairs came alive.

“Oh, wow.”

The stairway was wide and took up half the entryway, leading up to a wide-halled balustrade railed with once-white spindles. The floor was an intricate wooden pattern of Greek design.

There were rooms on both sides of her, but what caught her attention first was an open door upstairs that creaked with movement.

Henry followed her gaze upstairs. “Wind from down here always makes that bedroom door move,” he said in explanation. “Or perhaps it’s the Woodstons welcome welcoming us in.”

Kat smiled.

“Let’s go to the parlor first, so I can start a fire. I promised Ellen I’d keep you warm.”

Kat followed Henry into the room on the right, decorated in light blue and furnished in modest but antique furniture. She took a seat on a dark blue, tufted chair and peeled off her winter gear while Henry started a fire.

The room was pretty and she could tell it would be bright on a sunny day with the curtains open. Compared to the rest of the house, the room was clean and organized. The antiques seemed genuine and even the curtains and wallpaper looked if not new, laundered. The wallpaper was blue and white toile and looked so familiar…and then she remembered a passage in one of her favorite books by Marie Gates.

The wallpaper in blue and white toile housed several families and couples taking advantage of a sunny meadow for picnics and frolicking in the lake. They were so lifelike, I wanted to reach out, pluck them from their ministrations, and place them in my pocket, but that was madness, right? But madness ruled in the house on the hill.

Mad House!” Kat exclaimed. 

Henry grinned. “I wondered if you’d pick up on that.”

“Did you truly redo this room to fit Mad House?”

“No, but when I washed the walls and found it in pretty good condition, I knew I had to keep it.”

“Wise decision.” Kat stared at the little Victorian people in hats and parasols picnicking and awed at the detail of each tiny face.

“Alrighty…fire started, would you like the tour while it warms up the place?”

“Sure.”

Tour the house with Henry and Kat by reading… Northanger.

Catherine Morland the Horror Addict

Hi! It’s Emmy and I am here to talk about the heroine of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland. You might not think that Jane Austen has anything to do with Horror, but you’d be wrong. She wrong a whole book around the subject.

You see, being a Gemini, I have a romance side and a horror side (Surpirze! It’s me, Emerian Rich) which makes me the perfect person to talk to you about Northanger Abbey and its horror-loving heroine, Catherine Morland.

I’ve been told people don’t like Catherine because she’s just a silly, naive girl that lives a large part of her life in her head. I’ve also been told that she’s un-relatable because she likes Gothic novels and horror. I will attempt to prove that Catherine Morland was not simply some ignorant young miss wiling away her hours in a fantasy world, but she was a horror fan misunderstood by her peers but with a healthy imagination.

To understand Catherine as a horror fan, you have to break down the attributes of a horror fan.

First:

We are people who like to be scared in a removed way through movies, books, and music. Inspecting a horrid situation from a distance not only allows us to experience danger without any real harm to ourselves but also prepare ourselves for the true horrors of life that may come— like the zombie apocalypse. Horror Addicts are just like any other fan. Fans of Jane Austen might read Jane Austen all weekend, or attend a Northanger Abbey ball. Horror Addicts might read Stephen King all weekend or go to a horror film festival. As a rule, we aren’t axe murders, we don’t glorify serial killers, and we definitely don’t want to die at the hand of a chainsaw-wielding maniac. We do, however, like spooky things like ghosts, vampires, and like Catherine Morland, spooky old Abbeys that may contain such creatures.

Second:

We have active imaginations. This may be said about any reader. How many times have you watched a movie based on a book and been dissatisfied? The movies are never better than books, right? Those of you who agree with that statement have vibrant imaginations. The reason they can’t make the movie to please us is because our imaginations have weaved such an awesome image of what we’ve read, that no movie could possibly match. Just like Catherine conjuring up this gothic idea of Mrs. Tilney’s room…and then being disappointed at it looking just like any old bedroom.

Third:

The third aspect of Horror Addicts is, we like to geek out with other Horror Addicts. One reason Catherine likes Henry so much is that he gets her. He is at least in part an addict himself. He is able to make jokes about the novel she’s read, and by teasing her, show he likes her passion and accepts that part of her. And who doesn’t want to be accepted by someone who understands you?

Fourth:

Which brings me to attribute number four. Horror fans often like to find the humor in things. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and often accompany our love of horror with comedy. Either in an attempt to lighten the mood of such serious scary stuff or just because we are generally jovial people. Another reason Catherine likes Henry is because he has a good sense of humor and makes her laugh. For someone who likes humor, Jane painted the winner pretty clear. Grumpy old General Tilney, pompous Frederick, and ridiculously boastful Thorpe have no chance. Henry is clearly the best choice.

So given these attributes of a horror fan,

I think we can all agree that Catherine Morland is one and although she has some growing up to do, just because she learned something about the difference between fantasy and reality does not mean she ceased being a horror addict. I like to think that she went on to read more Gothic novels and perhaps even wrote some herself, but learned to not take them so literally.

Contrary to popular belief,

Horror Addicts don’t tend to grow out of our fascination with the macabre. I hate it when I read reviews that say Catherine grew out of her innocence and realized horror was just for kids. I don’t think that’s what Jane was saying at all. I think she captured perfectly the vision of a young Miss who didn’t know how to enjoy her passion without letting it bleed into reality and by experiencing more and falling in love, she could experience her passion in a somewhat removed way that didn’t get her in trouble.

Now, this is one of my favorite passages (abridged) of Northanger Abbey and shows her Horror Addict tastes.

Again she passed through the folding doors, again her hand was upon the important lock, and Catherine, hardly able to breathe, was turning to close the former with fearful caution, when the figure, the dreaded figure of the general himself at the further end of the gallery, stood before her! The name of “Eleanor” at the same moment, in his loudest tone, resounded through the building, giving to his daughter the first intimation of his presence, and to Catherine terror upon terror. An attempt at concealment had been her first instinctive movement on perceiving him, yet she could scarcely hope to have escaped his eye; and when her friend, who with an apologizing look darted hastily by her, had joined and disappeared with him, she ran for safety to her own room, and, locking herself in, believed that she should never have courage to go down again.

When I read that, I imagined how I might feel, being watched by a tyrant, but also still wanting to solve the mystery… WHAT IS BEHIND THAT DOOR??

Catherine found herself alone in the gallery before the clocks had ceased to strike. It was no time for thought; she hurried on, slipped with the least possible noise through the folding doors, and without stopping to look or breathe, rushed forward to the one in question. The lock yielded to her hand, and, luckily, with no sullen sound that could alarm a human being. On tiptoe she entered; the room was before her; but it was some minutes before she could advance another step. She beheld what fixed her to the spot and agitated every feature. She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, a handsome dimity bed, arranged as unoccupied with a housemaid’s care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows!

Catherine had expected to have her feelings worked, and worked they were. Astonishment and doubt first seized them; and a shortly succeeding ray of common sense added some bitter emotions of shame. She could not be mistaken as to the room; but how grossly mistaken in everything else!–in Miss Tilney’s meaning, in her own calculation!

She was sick of exploring, and desired but to be safe in her own room, with her own heart only privy to its folly; and she was on the point of retreating as softly as she had entered, when the sound of footsteps, she could hardly tell where, made her pause and tremble. To be found there, even by a servant, would be unpleasant; but by the general (and he seemed always at hand when least wanted), much worse! She listened–the sound had ceased; and resolving not to lose a moment, she passed through and closed the door.

At that instant a door underneath was hastily opened; someone seemed with swift steps to ascend the stairs, by the head of which she had yet to pass before she could gain the gallery. She had no power to move. With a feeling of terror not very definable, she fixed her eyes on the staircase, and in a few moments it gave Henry to her view.

“Mr. Tilney! How came you up that staircase?”

“How came I up that staircase! Because it is my nearest way from the stable-yard to my own chamber; and why should I not come up it? And may I not, in my turn, ask how you came here? This passage is at least as extraordinary a road from the breakfast-parlour to your apartment, as that staircase can be from the stables to mine.

‘I have been to see your mother’s room.”

“My mother’s room! Is there anything extraordinary to be seen there?”

“No, nothing at all.”

“You look pale. I am afraid I alarmed you by running so fast up those stairs. Perhaps you did not know–you were not aware of their leading from the offices in common use?”

“No, I was not.”

“And does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the rooms in the house by yourself?”

“Oh! No; she showed me over the greatest part on Saturday–and we were coming here to these rooms–but only… your father was with us. I only wanted to see…”

“My mother’s room is very commodious, is it not? Large and cheerful-looking, and the dressing-closets so well disposed! It always strikes me as the most comfortable apartment in the house, and I rather wonder that Eleanor should not take it for her own. She sent you to look at it, I suppose?”

“No.”

“Eleanor, I suppose, has talked of her a great deal?”

“Yes, a great deal. That is–no, not much, but what she did say was very interesting. Her dying so suddenly” (slowly, and with hesitation it was spoken), “and you–none of you being at home–and your father, I thought–perhaps had not been very fond of her.”

“And from these circumstances,” “you infer perhaps the probability of some negligence–or it may be–of something still less pardonable.”

She raised her eyes towards him more fully than she had ever done before.

Catherine Morland grew up in that moment. She realized sometimes when a most beloved mother dies, it’s just because she ceased to live, not because of some murder plot by an overbearing husband. And by learning the reality of such situations, this led her to build more devious and believable plots in her career as a novelist…or that’s how I’ve written the end in my head anyway. 🙂

In my modern take of Northanger Abbey, titled simply Northanger, I paint Catherine a a modern goth teen named Kat. Kat is a horror fan. She loves to read, watch, and listen to ghostly, frightening things most people shy away from. When she meets her perfect match, Henry, she knows he’s made just for her, but finding out his father may be a murderer, puts a different spin on their relationship. Is Henry’s dad out for blood or just a misunderstood introvert who’s lost his wife? Only a trip to the famed murder house, Northanger, will reveal the truth.

Check out a free preview below!

Northanger Book Release Party!

Join us on Facebook for an all-day Northanger party!
DECEMBER 16th, 2021
Games, trivia, and prizes!
To enjoy the fun, join our group here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499
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Northanger  by Emmy Z. Madrigal

Kat is a horror fan. She loves to read, watch, and listen to ghostly, frightening things most people shy away from. When she meets her perfect match, Henry, she knows he’s made just for her, but finding out his father may be a murderer, puts a different spin on their relationship. Is Henry’s dad out for blood or just a misunderstood introvert who’s lost his wife? Only a trip to the famed murder house, Northanger, will reveal the truth.

Northanger is a contemporary rewrite of Jane Austen’s least rebooted classic novel, Northanger Abbey. The Clueless version, Northanger explores the fish out of water story of gothy teen Kat, as she’s introduced to the high-society scene of New York City. What would happen if Beetlejuice’s Lydia was plopped into Gossip Girl New York City?

“Emmy Z. Madrigal has crafted a delightful story based on Jane Austen’s classic, Northanger Abbey. She has spun it into a modern story that suits Miss Austen’s novel perfectly. Her modern heroine, Katherine Moorland (Kat), is a young girl who has lived a simple life on a farm, but has a vivid imagination that has been heavily influenced by the horror books she reads, the spooky music she listens to, and the macabre films she watches. It is a book that will appeal to both Jane Austen fans and lovers of the gothic novel, having fun elements of both.” ~ Kara Louise, author of Pirates and Prejudice a variation of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice.


Emmy Z. Madrigal’s love affair with Jane Austen may have started late, but her belief that true love can overcome prejudices, differences, and adversity started very early on. Northanger is her modern take on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Emmy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

Book Review: The Jewish Book of Horror, ed. Josh Schlossberg

Synopsis: Horror is part of the human condition, but few peoples across the ages know it quite like the Jews.

From slavery to pogroms to the Holocaust to antisemitism, the “Chosen People” have not only endured hell on Earth, they’ve risen above it to share their stories with the world.

Whether it’s pirate rabbis or demon-slaying Bible queens, concentration camp vampires or beloved, fearless bubbies, THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR offers you twenty-two dark tales about the culture, history, and folklore of the Jewish people.

Review: The Jewish Book of Horror, ed. Josh Schlossberg (pub. Denver Horror Collective) is a dark, informative and entertaining read. I was drawn to this book because I was wondering how can a people, who have endured so much during the history of the human race, create fictional horror and I also wanted to know what was different about ‘Jewish’ horror compared to standard offerings.

The answer is to be found in the rich religious traditions and folk culture associated with the Jewish people, an aspect given a greater voice in the introduction by Rabbi John Carrier. Story settings varied from biblical to present-day to post-apocalyptic. Demons abounded, and I encountered the dybbuk properly. Social mores and expectations were also touched on, whether to be battled against or to attempt to maintain. Some were quiet horror, others less so, nor was the tragedy of the concentration camp shied away from. Religion and the question of faith was central to many.

It’s hard to highlight favourites when there isn’t a bad story amongst them, but a few standouts for me were ‘How to Build a Sukkah at the End of the World’ by Lindsay King-Miller, ‘The Horse Leech has Two Maws’ by Michael Picco and ‘Ba’alat Ov’ by Brenda Toliari.

Jewish horror as a subgenre is unique, it carries the weight of one of the oldest traditions in the world. This is horror from a different perspective and all the more refreshing for it.

5/5 stars

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Seven: Something in the Woods

Something in the Woods is an old-school creature feature that ramps up the woodsy horror and delivers a satisfying climax to The Beast of Fallow Pines trilogy. While the first two books in the series featured solemn adults dealing with their grief alone, Something in the Woods lets loose with young adults drinking beer, smoking pot, and having sex.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, here are my reviews of Book 1 (The Darkness in the Pines) and Book 2 (The Beast of Fallow Pines). Click on the book titles for the links.

Written by Harlan Graves, Something in the Woods instills the vibe of a Friday the 13th film as four campers battle for their lives against a force of nature hellbent on horrific violence.

The story opens with two couples, Will and Laney and Bryce and Brittany, pumping gas at one of those rundown stations you see in most hillbilly cannibal movies. They encounter a strange, old man (wearing ragged flannel and patched jeans, of course) who warns the group to stay away from Fallow Pines.

“There’s something in the woods,” he says. “Sometimes hikers go up into those pines and never come back down again.”

Naturally, the campers go up into those pines, and we’ll get to see if any of them ever come back down again. Why are dire warnings from old-timers always ignored by young adults in horror fiction? Nobody likes a party pooper, I guess.

By page 6 of the 35-page story, the author Graves rewards readers of the first two books with a familiar sight that leads to more clues and eventually another intense battle with the Beast of Fallow Pines. As I stated in my previous review, Graves masterfully writes riveting fight scenes between humans and the Beast, which is the strength of all three tales.

Like Book 2, Something in the Woods finishes on an ominous note. The final sentence blends doom with a shred of hope, signaling the end of a trilogy worth reading for fans of cryptid horror.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Eight: Letters from the Big Man. I review the 2011 film directed by Christopher Munch.

Book Review: This Morbid Life by Loren Rhoads

 

Reviewed by B. Nguyen-Calkins

Essays get a bad reputation within my friend group. Essays are wordy, boring, long. Twelve years plus may also put a damper on essays. However, Loren Rhoads’ This Morbid Life is such a fun collection of essays, I will be recommending it to my friends who may not be convinced of the genre’s beauty.

Each piece of the collection is effortless to read. It’s also convenient to read one or two pieces a night. There wasn’t a piece that didn’t make me think, at least for a moment, about life. It’s difficult to declare a singular theme for the collection. Rhoads declared the book as a love letter to all those who accompanied her life. While trying to generalize the book in its entirety, I can think of nothing more than what Rhoads writes- it’s a love letter to life and its people. Rhoads writes with a sincere voice, while still managing to befriend the reader without hesitation. As I read some pieces it almost sounded like I could hear it being told to me. The prose is natural and invigorating.

Though the collection is about life and its morbid irony, each piece has a unique outlook to offer you. I especially favored some over others, but with a work that comes across as personal as This Morbid Life, it’s difficult to say one is better than another. I’d recommend reading the collection from start to finish rather than jumping around. The specific order of the stories is purposeful. You may find yourself going back to reread an essay, a paragraph, or a line. But holistically, each piece builds or contrasts from the previous. 

A great collection or anthology intertwines stories seamlessly. I couldn’t stop reading after finishing one chapter. While I do have favorites, I can’t separate them from the collection. They worked together building a process of thinking for myself. I have a digital copy; however, I would love this in print. As I’ve said, it would be a great collection to read a bit each night. For This Morbid Life, I’ll settle and charge my Kindle.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Six: The Beast of Fallow Pines

The Beast of Fallow Pines is Book 2 in a cryptid trilogy written by Harlan Graves. The story follows a recently divorced man named David who relocates to his late father’s abandoned cabin in the remote wilderness to escape the painful memories of his past. His only companion is his dog, the Great Pyrenees named Argus.

David, by the way, is the son of the main character from Book 1, The Darkness in the Pines. You can read my review of The Darkness in the Pines HERE.

The Darkness in the Pines and The Beast of Fallow Pines not only share a bloodline, but they also share plots, styles, and tones. Both feature troubled men in the same isolated location stalked by a creature in the woods. Even the warning signs are similar – a decapitated deer instead of a bear, for example.

Before the inevitable encounter, David senses the dark presence of the Beast. Sounds wake him up in the middle of the night. He sees glowing eyes in the darkness. Basically, The Beast of Fallow Pines is the same creature-feature storyline as Book 1 but adds a dog to the mix.

As a fan of cryptid horror, I’m not looking for razzle-dazzle or originality. Just make the Sasquatch encounters interesting, which is what Graves is able to do, and I’m hooked.

The Beast of Fallow Pines gains steam when Argus disappears into the woods. When David returns from his unsuccessful dog search, he finds his cabin ransacked .. and you can guess who the culprit is.

Like his father before him, David must face the Beast in another well-orchestrated fight scene. The author Graves knows how to pack the action and suspense in a gritty man-versus-beast battle. Unfortunately, the book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, which may leave some readers without a satisfying resolution.

However, there are three parts to a trilogy — not two, and I’m sure Graves will address any loose ends in his third book titled Something in the Woods.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Seven: Something in the Woods. I review Book 3 of The Beast of Fallow Pines trilogy.

Book Review : HELLSLEIGH by DC Brockwell


HELLSLEIGH AND THE HORRORS OF INSTITUTIONALIZATION

Review by Renata Pavrey

“They say if you listen carefully, you can still hear the screaming. Because once you enter Hellsleigh, it will never let you leave.”

A parapsychologist gets into a scuffle with a local tramp on the roof of a derelict hospital. They both fall down to their deaths, following which the police unearth more bodies from within the abandoned premises. Hellsleigh was formerly a mental asylum, infamous for its century-old history of two psychiatric nurses who went around killing patients. In later years the hospital was engulfed in a fire. And over time it earned its reputation of being haunted. What exactly is the story of Hellsleigh? Why do people associated with it die? And what was a paranormal investigator doing on the roof covered in blood? Hellsleigh is an interesting supernatural thriller that takes the reader on a ride through the history of its namesake hospital, as we attempt to solve the mystery of the deaths.

Through his fictitious hospital, its past and present, author DC Brockwell raises pertinent questions and topics for discussion on the treatment of mental disorders. The back-and-forth narrative in Hellsleigh makes for an engaging reading experience. The novel begins with Dr. Fiske falling from the roof of the hospital, and as the story progresses we move forward as well as backward, to uncover the mysterious events of the introduction – an ending leading to a beginning. We learn how each of the deceased came to be where they were ultimately found, or at least the parts of them that were identified. A team of paranormal investigators undertaking a non-commissioned project, a group of university students partying in a restricted area, a reporter having his research catch up with his reality – the sequence of timelines, events, characters, historical context keep the reader on edge throughout.

Hellsleigh is a wonderfully constructed story. The supernatural elements are eerie and atmospheric, rather than gory and in-your-face. In a horrific as well as terrific storyline, Brockwell makes the reader consider who the real monsters are – the ghosts of the present or the people of the past. 

Like Brockwell, other authors have also addressed mental health issues through their dark fiction. The Focus Program by KT Dady is a sci-fi horror story that begins with the suicide of the protagonist. He is incorporated into the titular organization that aims to eliminate mental disorders by denying their existence on his death. Dady sensitively touches subjects like the ignorance of society and the denial of problems that are not overtly visible. Similarly, We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk is a medical horror novel focused on schizophrenia and an experimental drug that displaces hallucinations from the mind and sets the monsters free into the real world. 

Horror fiction addressing mental health offers a unique reading experience, by questioning society and the medical fraternity about where the actual horrors lie. In the minds of patients? Or in hospitals resorting to constant drugging to keep patients subdued? Or in societal rejection in terms of jobs and housing? October is dedicated to World Mental Health Day, and the month also celebrates Halloween. In an irony of sorts, mental health issues are still largely misunderstood and misdiagnosed, or ignored and dismissed. The horrors an individual goes through within their own minds and society at large stresses the importance of education and sensitivity in the addressal and treatment of mental health illnesses.

Book Review: Shatter Point by Jon O’Bergh

How far are you willing to go? What would it take to really make you reach your breaking point?

A couple in Pasadena opens an extreme haunt attraction in their suburban home. They kidnap and torture willing participants, then post the videos online for publicity. This draws the attention of Jada, who pressures her boyfriend Asher to sign up. When Asher chickens out just as the encounter is beginning, he is humiliated online. But Asher isn’t the only one unhappy with the haunt attraction. Ruth, the neighbor across the street, sees the new family as nothing but trouble. As she seethes about the business, dark secrets from her past are revealed. Even the haunt owners themselves aren’t safe. Their son is losing track of his life, spiraling into instability. This all creates a powder keg surrounding the haunt and something is about to break.

The Shatter Point was a slow-burn novel, avoiding almost any horror until the very end. It’s written as a character study, looking closely at the lives and motivations of all the characters rather than advancing the plot.

Rather than using one character as the main focus of the narrative, O’Bergh follows multiple, showcasing their motivations, backstory, and emotional turmoil. O’Bergh uses this to lay the groundwork of suspicion. Any one of the characters has the potential to become completely unhinged.

Throughout the novel, O’Bergh builds dread surrounding the house and the various characters. You know that something will go catastrophically wrong, but for whom? And in what way? Since there are so many possibilities, the reveal at the end was surprising and satisfying. O’Bergh laid good groundwork and made everyone look suspicious.

If you like books where everyone is a potential suspect and potential victim, then Shatter Point by Jon O’Bergh is for you.

Chilling Chat: Episode #204 – Geneve Flynn

chillingchat

Geneve Flynn is an award-winning speculative fiction editor and author. She has two psychology degrees and only uses them for nefarious purposes.Geneve Flynn-Author-Editor

She co-edited Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women with celebrated New Zealand author and editor Lee Murray. The anthology won the 2020 Bram Stoker Award® and the 2020 Shirley Jackson Award for best anthology. It has also been shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award, Aurealis Award, and Australian Shadows Award. Black Cranes is listed on Tor Nightfire’s Works of Feminist Horror and Locus magazine’s 2020 Recommended Reading List.

Geneve was assistant editor for Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins, a speculative fiction anthology that features authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ken Liu, Robert Silverberg, James (SA) Corey, Lee Murray, Mark Lawrence, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Angela Slatter. The anthology is the legacy of Australian fantasy author Aiki Flinthart, and is in support of the Flinthart Writing Residency with the Queensland Writers Centre.

Geneve’s short stories have been published in various markets, including Flame Tree Publishing, Things in the Well, and PseudoPod. She loves tales that unsettle, all things writerly, and B-grade action movies. If that sounds like you, check out her website. 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Geneve! How old were you when you discovered horror and what got you interested in it?

GF: Although I read a lot as a kid, I didn’t really have much access to real horror. I always felt like I wanted something more, but I wasn’t sure what. I found a book in my school library called Where’s My Toe? It was a picture book based on an Appalachian ghost story. An old woman finds a big toe in her garden, and decides, for some unknown reason, to eat it. Then the owner of the toe comes looking for it, groaning, “Where’s my toe?” After creeping closer and closer, the owner takes the old woman’s toe. The thought of eating a toe—ugh. What do you do with the toenail? How did the owner take the old lady’s toe off? Why did they leave their toe in the garden? It scared the crap out of me and I can still remember the illustrations. That was probably my first memorable encounter with horror. But it wasn’t until a friend handed me a copy of Stephen King’s It when I was in high school that the lightbulb in my head really blazed to life.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie and why?

GF: The Lost Boys, although it’s a blend of horror and comedy. Everything about that movie is just plain fun. The music, the dialogue, the action. I recently wrote a story called, “The Yellow Peril,” as an homage to it and it was pure joy. I also love the Blade trilogy. The movies are over-the-top and ridiculous, but I will rewatch them forever and ever. I grew up reading comics and that aesthetic is what I want when I settle in with my popcorn.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show and why?

GF: I loved the X-Files. Although most of the focus was on aliens and such, there were some fantastically dark episodes, such as “Home” and “Tooms,” that have stayed with me to this day. The X-Files gave the grotesque a scientific legitimacy that made the horrific seem utterly plausible.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

GF: Oh, this one’s tough. This changes all the time, particularly after I’ve finished reading a new book. Can I list a couple? Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones is tender in the roughest, hairiest way. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist explores loneliness and friendship, and leaves you slicked in blood. The Talisman, co-written by Stephen King and Peter Straub, is about a boy’s journey through dark and terrible terrain as he tries to save his mother. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

NTK: Which do you enjoy most? Editing or writing?

GF: I really enjoy both. They employ different parts of my brain, and it can be nice to switch from one to the other to give myself a mental break. Both practices inform each other. Developing my skills as an editor improves my writing, and being a writer means I’m sympathetic to the challenges in the revision process. If I’m honest though, my first love will always be writing. That moment when it all comes together and you surprise yourself with a story is magic.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you control everything they do?

GF: They’re like cats. I can try to get them to do what I want, but they ignore me. I try to plot out my stories and predict what my characters will do, but they often take over and shape the story into something else entirely. It’s always fun to watch that play out. My stories where I let them loose usually turn out pretty good.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

GF: There’s the pedestrian but constant fear of something bad happening to my children. I guess most parents have that; it’s how we as a species have survived this long despite lacking sharp teeth, claws, and venom. But for something a little more specific to me: swimming in open water. I watched Jaws when I was way too young. I think I was seven or eight. Living in Australia where we have great whites, tiger sharks, and bull sharks is a little unfortunate. There’s an inland golf course about fifteen minutes away from me that has six bull sharks in the water hazard. It’s believed they got into the lake during an extreme flood in 1996. I went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef once, and I was proud of myself for keeping a level head about it. Then I saw a shark below me. It was only a meter long, but I got out of the water pretty quickly after that.

NTK: How did Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women come about? 

GF: Celebrated New Zealand author and editor Lee Murray and I were attending GenreCon, a speculative fiction convention in Brisbane in 2019. We’d known of each other through the Australian Horror Writers Association and on Facebook, but we’d never actually met. Being conscientious Asians, we had both turned up for an event far too early.

We started chatting and discovered that we were the “black sheep” of the writing community: we wrote horror, we were Asian, and we were women. We wondered at the lack of stories in English that reflected our experiences and Lee suggested that we should put together an anthology to showcase writers like us. Of course, I said yes.

Lee approached Kate Jones from Omnium Gatherum and secured them as our publisher. We sought out Southeast Asian authors and invited them to contribute. We signed up Nadia Bulkin, Grace Chan, Rin Chupeco, Elaine Cuyegkeng, Gabriela Lee, Rena Mason, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Christina Sng. Greg Chapman came on board as our cover artist, and Alma Katsu wrote a gorgeous and powerful foreword. The book was published in 2020, and things have just continued to snowball from there.

NTK: What has your experience been like as an Asian woman who writes and edits horror?

GF: When I first started writing, I didn’t even consider writing Asian, female characters and themes. I had read mostly white, male characters and it didn’t even occur to me to write stories based on Chinese and Malaysian mythologies. Once I sat into my own experiences, my work has become a lot more resonant, and I’ve managed to connect with readers. The reception has been terrific; I think there’s a growing hunger for diversity in publishing nowadays. The editing side of things seems to be less impacted by my ethnicity and gender. Authors just want to know that you’re on their side, and that you know what you’re doing.

NTK: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you? And what is the answer to that question?

GF: What’s one weird thing that you’re afraid of? I watched an interview with Mark Ruffalo when he was on the Graham Norton Show and he said he had an irrational fear of being chased by someone with poop on a stick. I like finding out those odd details about people.

I have a thing about electronic marionettes. I can’t even look at pictures of the Thunderbirds. I think it’s the uncanny valley. My husband keeps trying to get me to watch Team America: World Police. I’d rather take my chances with the poop on the stick. I also don’t like the sensation of someone’s foot on me. Strange, I know.

NTK: (Laughs.) I completely sympathize with you. What was it like to win a Bram Stoker and a Shirley Jackson Award?

GF: Surreal and thrilling and wonderful! The Bram Stoker Award ceremony was online due to the pandemic. Both Lee and I had a laugh as we recorded our acceptance speeches, thinking they would never be played. We were both delighted simply to be shortlisted. Lee was also a nominee for her collection of stories, Grotesque: Monster Stories.

When the awards ceremony played, it was announced that Lee had won for her collection. I promptly burst into tears and I could hardly type congratulations to her. I was so overwhelmed, I almost missed the announcement when Black Cranes won. Thank goodness for pre-recorded speeches!

The Shirley Jackson Award was also pre-recorded, and again, we needed to pretend weeks before the actual ceremony that we were delighted to accept the honour. It was wonderful to have won, and the cheer and support we’ve had from the writing community in response has been really lovely. Plus, owning a working replica of an antique nautical compass is pretty neat.

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

GF: I’ve recently completed fifteen poems for Tortured Willows, a collaborative collection of horror poetry with Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, and Christina Sng. The collection is an expansion on the conversation on otherness and gender launched with Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. The collection was released on National Dark Poetry Day, 7th October 2021. I’m equally excited and terrified. These are my first attempts at poetry and it’s an honour to share a table of contents with such talented poets.

My short story “They Call Me Mother” will also appear in Classic Monsters Unleashed. The anthology is edited by James Aquilone and features horror giants such as Jonathan Maberry, Ramsey Campbell, Seanan McGuire, and Tim Waggoner. It will be published by Black Spot Books and Crystal Lake Publishing in July 2022.

Along with a few short story and poetry invitations, I’m also planning out a horror novel based on the life of Ching Shih, one of the most successful pirates in history.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with us, Geneve! 

Addicts, you can find Tortured Willows on Amazon.

CoverSep Tortured Willows

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Horror Books Featuring the Satanic Panic

Secret, underground groups of Satanists torturing and murdering children was never really a thing. But the panic that the idea caused in the ’80s and ’90s sure was real. All across America, suburbanites clutched their children close, afraid that heavy metal and the mainstream media were turning them into Devil Worshipping monsters. It wasn’t. But, hey… what if it did?

These five novels explore the Satanic Panic, its repercussions, and all its possibilities.

What Hell May Come by Rex Hurst

Jon St. Fond hates his family, and with good reason. When he gets involved with Dungeons and Dragons in an abandoned building, strange things begin to happen around him and secrets are revealed. Maybe his parents aren’t just run-of-the-mill assholes. Maybe there’s something darker at work here. And maybe Jon has a destiny that he’s in no way prepared to face.

If you’re interested, check out my previous review of this book.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

When Libby was a child, her sister and mother were murdered in a Satanic Sacrifice. Libby laid the blame on her brother Ben. Years later, hoping to profit off her story, she helps a secret society uncover the truth of what actually happened that night. But she isn’t the only one searching. Someone dangerous is looking for her too.  

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Sometimes friends change and grow apart. But that’s not what’s happening with Abby and Gretchen. Gretchen has changed since they started high school. Abby knows there’s only one explanation for her best friends bizarre new behavior: Abby is possessed.

Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman

Inspired by the McMartin Preschool trials, this novel tells two stories: one of a toddler whose little lie sparks of a nationwide hysteria and another of a man with no past who must pay the price for the wrongs done.

Hell Patrol by R.D. Tarver

At a time when Heavy Metal was seen as a sign of the devil, a group of musicians form a band that pays homage to the musical greats. They try to make it big in a town that doesn’t understand them, all while something wicked winds its way around them.

What about you? What horror books (fiction or non) do you like that feature Satanism or the Satanic Panic.

Book Review: Vacuity and Other Tales

Hello Addicts,

This month, I had the distinct pleasure of reading the 3rd annual horror anthology from Tell-Tale Publishing, “Vacuity and Other Tales.” This collection of short stories run the gamut of scary stories and does so very successfully. I found all of the stories fun and exciting, with enough variety to give a palate-cleansing from the more blood-chilling stories at the right moments.

The book begins with the most intriguing story of the collection, “Vacuity.” Julie Duplantier is a young schizophrenic woman whose mental voices take great pleasure in the slow, methodical ways she tortures and murders others. We also see things from the point of view of her doctor, Christian Andreu. His solution is to perform a risky surgery that will silence the voices forever, which he is successful in doing. What everyone realizes, much too late, is that the voices kept something much worse at bay. If you like your stories drenched in blood, this one is for you.

There are stories of missed love during the Crusades, government-sponsored experiments on vampires, a modern take on Hansel and Gretel, and a curse that nearly brings about the pumpkin apocalypse. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in this book. I especially recommend this collection for those cold and stormy nights ahead.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Followers by Christina Berglin

Review by: B. Nguyen-Calkins

Internet privacy is a scary concept. Anybody, with enough effort, could find your name, photos of you, and even past locations you’ve visited. If somebody wanted to, I’m sure it’d be easy to… you can fill in the blank with any horrifying end. Stalking, online harassment, or worse. Why are we online at all?! 

Followers expresses the benefits of online friendships and social media. When Sydney, a horror movie enthusiastic and reviewer, is isolated and hit with constant passive-aggressive comments from her personal acquaintances, she instead goes online where people may appreciate the details of the genre (however shallow they may be). She kindles relationships online that have meaning to her personal life. And, ultimately, she sees her blog as an escape from her dead-end job. 

With the benefits of an online life comes risk. Are those often-shallow interactions even reading her work? Do those relationships have any substance? Will she ever make a living as a reviewer? Can Sydney live with the constant horror that runs beneath the surface of her everyday online interactions? And what if those interactions meddle within her personal life? The buildup brewed constantly as I found myself questioning each of the people in her life. This justified paranoia ends up hitting Sydney in the face as she struggles with the balance of digital and personal.

The novel works as a contemporary horror piece on multiple levels. Horror fans will look out for references to the genre as a mental trivia. My personal favorite was when characters review independent horror films at a festival. Holistically, the book is also meta-horror. One element of examining the genre explores the guilt of the “final girl,” especially in a progressively worsened situation. Who could be hurt because she posted clickbait photos for her online blog? How much information is too much to reveal to a virtual stranger? Can Sydney handle the repercussions of a demented stalker?

Strap yourself in and be sure to finish the book, because it truly thrives when Sydney finds herself in her own Scream. Sure, the book is initially carried by its prose and its likable (and unlikeable) characters. Christina Bergling sprinkles some interesting prose inside some dialogue and monologues and plays with some of the reader’s pent-up tension. But while the beginning may seem like a story on another shelf, the story’s resolution rightfully places it as a suspenseful, introspective horror. Followers is a worthwhile read, especially for fans of horror cinema. Its tension builds continuously throughout the story, and it extends today’s horror of digital social lives. The story is finished with some jaw-dropping scenes that seemingly come out of nowhere. It felt like Bergling was biding her time to lull the readers in while she waited for the opportune moment to strike.

Chilling Chat: Episode #203 – Valjeanne Jeffers

chillingchatValjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers is a speculative fiction writer, a Spelman College graduate, a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Carolina African America Writers’ Collective. She is the author of ten books, including her Immortal and her Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective series. Valjeanne has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk!:The Ringing Ear, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures, Sycorax’s Daughters, Black Magic Women, The Bright Empire, and, most recently, All the Songs We Sing, Bledrotica Volume I, and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire.

Valjeanne is a talented and fascinating woman. We spoke of werewolves, vampires, and a special reveal for her readers.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Valjeanne! Thank you for joining us.

VJ: Thank you for having me.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

VJ: Oh, wow. Tales from the Hood I.

NTK:  What do you like best about that movie?

VJ: The storyline was fantastic, as was the acting, casting. David Allen Grier for example, who is usually known for comedic work did an excellent job portraying a violent abuser (“Monster.”)

Spike Lee placed a message in each story.

Also, Time After Time. It’s an outstanding portrayal of a battle between HG Wells and Jack the Ripper no less! Another wonderful movie about time travel—I’m kind of partial to it.

NTK: Oh, I love that movie! And Malcolm McDowell was terrific as Wells! What is your favorite horror TV show?

VJ: The Dragon Prince (Netflix). It’s billed as a fantasy show, but it definitely can also be described as horror. The Animation and storyline are excellent, and it has a diverse cast of both human and nonhuman characters.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

VJ: I have so many! I’d like to pick two. The Talisman (Stephen King) is one of my early favorites. The way King flips between two timelines, and the journey and mission of the hero just reeled me in. And I know it inspired me to write about time travel. The second is Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul Book I by Dicey Grenor. This book is sexy, supernatural, and filled with creatures of the night—of all varieties.

NTK: The Talisman inspired you to write about Time Travel, where do you usually find inspiration?

VJ: From other authors, movies, TV shows. I don’t try to imitate anyone, but other authors, etc. inspire me. And of course, as writers, we’re always asking what if…

NTK: Tell us about your book Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. How did that book come about?

VJ: I’d been reading SF/Fantasy and horror for years, and werewolves were always one of my favorite supernatural breeds. And of course, watching movies, etc. werewolves were always one of my favorite types of supernatural beings. The idea kind of crept into my head of shifting timelines and a battle between good and evil werewolves who could be revolutionaries.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience been in the horror community? Good? Bad? Bit of Both?

VJ: Pretty good actually. Mind you when I first started writing I didn’t think of myself as a horror writer. Then, I met Sumiko Saulson who interviewed me for 100+Black Women in Horror because of my Immortal series! I was blown away…and very honored. That was the beginning of my Mona Livelong series.

NTK: Do you think more could be done in the horror community to embrace people of color?

VJ: I think that thus far the horror community has been very welcoming. The Horror Writers Association is a wonderful group, as is HorrorAddicts.net. I can only speak from my experience.

NTK: Glad to hear it! You mentioned Mona Livelong, who is a paranormal detective. What kind of research did you do for Mona?

VJ: I did a lot of research on Steampunk/Steamfunk. And actually, one of the authors who inspired me was Brandon Massey. I also did some research on Haitian Creole and the Cajun language and ways of speaking.

NTK: How has the pandemic affected your work? Have you been more productive? Less productive?

VJ: Pretty much the same, except I’ve decided that there won’t be any more in-person events until Covid-19 is behind us. 

NTK: That is a very wise decision. You were one of the writers who contributed to SLAY. What was that experience like?

VJ: I loved it! It was the first time I set out to write a story about a traditional vampire who drinks blood. The vampires I usually write about are time vampires.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What work do HorrorAddicts have to look forward to?

VJ: I just started working on Mona Livelong IV and it will be a crossover novel between Immortal and Mona Livelong! Yes, I let the cat out of the bag!

NTK: Oh, awesome! Thank you for revealing that on Chilling Chat! And thank you for chatting with me today. Valjeanne! As always, you are a terrific guest!

VJ: Thank you! And you’re welcome!

Addicts, you can find Valjeanne’s work on Amazon.

Book Review : Of Men and Monsters by Tom Deady

 

Review by Matt Marovich

CW: Child and Domestic Abuse 

To be perfectly honest, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.

That’s not to say that I had low or bad expectations for Of Men and Monsters by Tom Deady, quite the opposite, but that I found myself very quickly pulled into this story in a way that was quite surprising.

Taking place in 1975, Of Men and Monsters is the story of two brothers, older brother Matt and Ryan, and their mother. They have recently moved to a coastal New England town named Bayport, although a potentially better way to describe it would be “fled”. We quickly learn that the trio have recently escaped the predations of their abusive father and husband, a violent drunk who started beating his wife before expanding his terrible attentions to his two sons as they grew older. Once he began abusing Ryan, their mother packed their belongings and left as quickly as they could.

In Bayport, life for the three of them begins to have a sense of normalcy and peace. Matt quickly meets a girl named Kelly that he becomes smitten with, while Ryan meets Kelly’s cousin Leah. Their mom gets a job waiting tables at the local diner, and soon enough they fall into a steady routine. A routine that is, unfortunately, shattered when they receive an unexpected phone call and learn that their father is hunting them.

One of the things I enjoyed a lot about this book is the characters. The story is told from Ryan’s perspective but we spend plenty of time with Matt and his mom, seen through Ryan’s eyes. All of the characters are believable, especially Ryan whose perspective, thoughts, and reactions are incredibly realistic. I was almost immediately drawn into the book because of this, having to provide very little suspension of disbelief to get into Ryan as a person. Matt and Ryan have a loving relationship, even if Matt occasionally treats his brother with the frustration or mild disdain that only an older, barely teenage sibling can have.

All throughout the brothers’ summer, enjoying the time they can even as they fear the approaching monster of their father, the story has another thread in the form of an actual monster. While exploring their new home, Ryan discovers a cache of old comic books in the attic, one of which has an advert for Sea Monsters (not Sea Monkeys), which he stealthily sends away for. When they arrive and he begins to grow them, Ryan and Matt quickly learn that the ad’s claim of the creatures being “monsters” wasn’t false advertising.

It’s these three threads woven together that make this story so strong in my opinion. The normalcy of the brothers’ life feels realistic like I could totally see anyone growing up in Bayport having the life they create for themselves, and it’s that normalcy that helps make the other two threads horrific. With the approaching father, it’s the growing dread that comes with each passing day, that he might be closer to finding them, that this new existence of theirs may prove to be as fragile as a soap bubble. With the actual monster, each time we see it the thing has grown, changed, and it doesn’t take much to feel like the brothers are soon in over their heads. The presence of something so unnatural is heightened and emphasized by the rest of their lives, 

I won’t go into the plot any further, you can probably guess how it’s going to go, but even if the final resolutions of the story arcs are somewhat predictable, it’s still enjoyable due to the characters we interact with. Of Men and Monsters is a short read, only eighty-one pages on my Book app with current settings, and I definitely recommend it if you’re into novellas/novelettes.