Chilling Chat: Episode #184 – Shannon Lawrence

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A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and Shannon Lawrence 1magazines, and she has two horror collections out: Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations and Bruised Souls & Other Torments. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.

Shannon is a wonderful writer and a terrific guest. We spoke of characters, writing, and cheesy horror comedies.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Shannon! Let’s talk about your collection of short stories called, Bruised Souls and Other Torments. How did you come up with the title for this collection?

SL: “Bruised Souls” was inspired by a Shakespeare quote from The Comedy of Errors.

“A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;

But were we burdened with light weight of pain,

As much or more we should ourselves complain.”

My dad died last year, along with a laundry list of other rough events, and “bruised souls” really spoke to me. In my first collection, I used the title of one of the stories (Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations), and I’d intended to do that this time, but I kept returning to those two words. There were so many bruised souls in the book that it seemed pertinent. Since I’d already broken my established way of naming a collection, I figured I’d keep the same idea for the second part, and “Torments” fit so well.

NTK: Which story in the collection is your most favorite and what inspired it? 

SL: Such a hard question! I think the opening story, “Stuck With Me,” is my favorite story in the collection. It’s much quieter than my usual horror (as are several of the other stories), and it sprang from a real-life incident that horrified me to think of. (I can’t say what that incident was, because it would give away the twist.) Part of why I look at it fondly is because I got to read it to a crowd at a Women in Horror Month event, and people reacted at the right parts. When the twist comes, I not only heard it in the form of gasps, but I FELT the change in the room in people’s movements. It was such a cool moment!

NTK: Are you a pantser or a plotter?  

SL: I’m a bonafide pantser. I’ve tried to plot, really I have, but the story only flows for me when I’m actively writing it as I go.

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

SL: My characters pretty much have free will. Sometimes I really really really need them to do something in order for something else I thought of to happen, so I have to rough them up a bit. Sometimes they still resist, and I just have to go with it and let them lead me somewhere else. 

NTK: Are any of your characters based on a real person?  

SL: Sometimes, though rarely. I usually think of the character and develop them as I go. A couple have been inspired by someone real, such as the characters in “Stuck With Me,” who are loosely based on real-life historical figures. “Your Mother’s Eyes” is based off my mom caring for my dad through his 6 1/2 years with ALS, though the story is flipped (the father is the caretaker), and it’s not ALS. So while the characters aren’t at all based on real people, a smidgen of the real caretaking situation (one’s dedication to their loved one) is based on something real. To be very clear, the rest of the story isn’t, and I wrote it while my dad was still alive. (I feel like people will understand my needing to make a disclaimer if they read the story.) 

NTK: What inspired the story, “Dearest?” 

SL: I was on a weird kick of twisting love in my stories for some reason. I decided it would be fun to write a love letter with a twist that people [hopefully] didn’t see coming right away. I wanted it to be a gradual realization, and then for it to get consistently worse. A lot of the stories in this collection were experiments of various types. I wanted to try different sorts of stories, but also different styles of writing. 

NTK: What’s your favorite cheesy horror comedy? 

SL: Oh my goodness, I love cheesy horror comedies! My favorite would probably change, depending on the day, but a recent funny discovery was Hell Baby. I don’t remember ever seeing trailers for it, but it popped up on Shudder under horror comedies, so I gave it a try. Worth it. All the actors are funny, but the two who stand out are actually side characters: Keegan-Michael Key and Kumail Nanjiani (his character doesn’t even have a name, just “Cable Guy,” but I laughed so hard at one of his scenes, and actually start laughing in preparation for the scene on each subsequent viewing.) It’s basically a comedy version of Rosemary’s Baby (without the scheming friends/family).

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror actor? If so, who and why? 

SL: Oh, so many! I’ve recently become enamored of Tom Savini. Before then, he’d just been Sex Machine from From Dusk Til Dawn, but then I started noticing him in other roles. Finally, the big epiphany: he was the mastermind behind so many low budget horror special effects in movies. The more I learn about him, the more fascinating he is. Shudder briefly had a documentary about him called Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini, which I recommend to anyone interested in special effects and horror.

Having said that, Robert Englund and Tony Todd will always be favorites. I adore them, and love that they still pop into various horror films with bit parts and cameos. Sometimes just voices, but I know those voices the moment I hear them. And ever since discovering her in Ginger Snaps and American Mary, I’ll watch anything Katharine Isabelle is in. Ginger Snaps led the way in coming-of-age horror tales for females (something mainstream films rarely touched on), and she was a big part of that. Plus, snarky wins me over every time.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

SL: Depends on which language. In English, it will always be the F-bomb. It has the best impact when I need it, and can be cathartic to say. But in French and Spanish it’s shit, because they’re so much fun to say. Especially an angry sounding “merde,” which absolutely must be said with a heavy French accent. The Spanish “mierda” is almost as fun, but it’s not as sneery as merde, when said correctly.

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

SL: I’m doing a chapbook on dark love with fellow Denver HWA members, without an official release date right now. I’m also putting together a solo collection of winter holiday-themed horror stories, with the intention of having that out in late October, just in time for the holidays. The first story written for it is titled “Deck the Halls with Guts & Madness.” Tra lalalala-lala-la-la. And I’ll have a story in a bundle that’s dark fantasy instead of horror, but I mixed fairy mythology with Native American folklore in an experiment that was fun to try out, and touches on two parts of my ancestry (though the main character is not the same tribe as me–it’s set in pioneer days in Colorado, so she is Ute.)

For non-writing stuff, I’m in the process of putting together an author interview series that will be available on video and as a podcast, plus an unsolved mysteries-type podcast with a partner. Lots of exciting stuff on the horizon!

NTK: It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, Shannon.

SL: Thank you.

Addicts, you can find Shannon on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #183 – Jonathan Fortin

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

Jonathan is a true gentleman with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of writing, The Victorian Age, and Lilitu: Memoirs of a Succubus.

NTK: Welcome, to Chilling Chat, Jonathan! Tell us, how did you become interested in the Victorian Age?

 JF: I think it was in middle school when I first became fascinated with the Victorian Gothic aesthetic, thanks to a healthy obsession with Tim Burton movies, American McGee’s Alice, and a number of other dark influences. The Victorian Era had many facets, but it was horror that pulled me to the period. I adored the dark elegance of their wardrobes and architecture, and was intrigued by their stuffy way of behaving. It seemed as though they were navigating a world full of macabre terrors that were best left unspoken–basing their etiquette around their profound fear of the world they themselves had created.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Victorian novel?

 JF: Novels by Victorian authors: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Dracula by Bram Stoker both come to mind. Basic, I know, but critically influential nonetheless.

Modern novels set in Victorian England: The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, Drood by Dan Simmons, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and (if I may be permitted to include a very wordy graphic novel) From Hell by Alan Moore.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Victorian movie?

 JF: Crimson Peak, The Prestige, and Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If we’re including 19th-century America, then also Sleepy Hollow and Gangs of New York. And if we’re including TV, I adore Penny Dreadful.

NTK: What inspired you to write Lilitu?

JF: I’ve long been fascinated by succubi and incubi. When I was in college, I went looking for novels focused on them, but there were only a few, and they didn’t quite give me what I wanted. So, naturally, I decided to write one myself. However, I initially wasn’t sure how to manage it. I was toying with an alternate world setting that just never really gelled, and ended up changing the plot and rewriting it over and over again–never certain where to take the story. I knew that I wanted a reluctant succubus lead struggling with her demonic nature, but the details were a constant state of flux.

Then one day, when I was in a bookstore, a certain cover caught my eye, showing a man in a top hat staring into the London fog. The image was laden with foreboding, and compelled me to pull the book off the shelf and read the opening sentence: “After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.” This novel was The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, a tale of revenge set in Victorian England. I was hooked. I devoured the novel, enjoying every word, and realized rather abruptly that Victorian England was the perfect setting for my own novel. Suddenly, everything came together: this was a tale of demons in the Victorian era, focused on a succubus brought up in that rigid world and struggling to reconcile her upbringing with the needs of her new form–and in the process questioning all the toxic ideas she was forced to internalize growing up. And so Maraina Blackwood was born.

NTK: What is your creative process like? How do you go from inspiration to final draft?

 JF: It’s all over the place. I’ll usually plot out the entire novel, then change everything as I actually write it. When I eventually get a working draft that I’m passably happy with, I’ll ask writer friends to read and critique it. Then I’ll edit, and edit, and edit some more, until I think it’s finally ready enough for publication. If it gets picked up, that means more edits because the publisher’s editor will need to give it a good look. If it doesn’t get picked up, it means the book isn’t good enough yet, so it needs more edits anyway. Lilitu took more years than I care to admit.

NTK: What do you like most about the Victorian age?

 JF: The psychological complexity. The aesthetics. Their elegant manner of speaking. I also like how deeply hypocritical they were, because it’s ever so much fun to satirize.

NTK: What do you dislike most?

 JF: When you get down to it, the Victorian Era was quite horrible to actually live in. Severely rigid gender roles, miserable science/medicine, incredible poverty, child labor…I’ll often meet other Victorian enthusiasts, and many say that they wish they lived in the Victorian era instead of today. While that’s valid, I always like to remind them that they almost certainly would have been impoverished, and never able to afford those pretty, fancy dresses that they are so keen on wearing. People honestly romanticize the Victorians and are quick to forget that the elegant ladies and wealthy gentlemen they’re so enamored with made up a tiny, tiny slice of the population. That’s beside the fact that things were abysmal for women, even wealthy and noblewomen, as they were not allowed agency over their own lives. It was just a nasty, cruel period, and many are far too quick to forget that.

NTK: Have you written other stories in the Lilitu universe? If so, what?

JF: We have a FREE short story in the Lilitu universe out now, called Lilith in Repose.

It’s a twisted, erotic Dark Fantasy tale about a nun whose church has been taken over by demons…and now they are asking her to join their ranks.

I am also in the early stages of the second Lilitu novel. I’m planning it as a trilogy right now, but that may change as I actually write it. We’ll just have to see.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

JF: Bollocks!

NTK: What’s your favorite curse?

 JF: I can’t think of one, so I’ll improvise. “MAY YOU BE REBORN A DINGLEBERRY HANGING FROM THE CRACK OF SATAN’S ARSEHOLE!” Hmm…when you consider the smell, that would actually be a truly dreadful fate.

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

 JF: I’m currently in the editing stages of an epic Lovecraftian biopunk novel. I’m also almost done with the first draft of a new horror novel centered around an autistic protagonist (I am on the spectrum, so it comes from a real place). Then there’s of course the second Lilitu book, wherein readers will learn of some surprising–and horrible–consequences of Maraina’s actions in book 1.

NTK: Jonathan, thank you so much for chatting with us. 

JF: You’re welcome.

Addicts, you can find Jonathan on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Naching T. Kassa

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Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Nachingwriterpic2019Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

My interest began in 1985 with the Granada TV series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the BBC. I’d seen westerns and other period dramas, and I had always loved mysteries, but this was the first one which resonated with me. I became obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and all things Victorian.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

My favorite is The Hound of the Baskervilles. And even though Sherlock Holmes doesn’t appear in most of the story, it’s still a masterful tale. I love how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took a legend he’d heard from one of his friends and turned it into a great horror story. 

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

Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola is my favorite. Not only are the visuals sumptuous and beautiful, but the script is also close to the book. No other movie or television show I’m aware of has adopted the epistolary style. You also see Dracula as an old man with hairy palms, the scarring of Mina with the sacred host, and the ship Demeter which brings Dracula to England. Some liberties are taken with the story, and some of the actors are a bit wooden, but it is a fairly faithful adaptation of the story.

Are your characters based on real people?

My character, Jacob, is based on a real person. There have been many theories as to this person’s true identity, but I don’t think anyone really knows who he is.

What are you most afraid of?

Horrible things happening to those I love.

Dark Divinations is the first anthology you’ve every edited for HorrorAddicts.net. What part of the process did you find the most difficult?

The hardest part of editing this anthology was choosing from all the wonderful submissions we had. There were so many good ones, so many I wish we could’ve included. Unfortunately, a major reason why these stories didn’t make the grade was failure to include all three elements of the theme. There had to be an element of horror, a method of divination, and it had to take place in the Victorian era. If a story contained these elements, it made it to the next phase where I checked to see if the voice was true to the period. I also checked for historical accuracy.

It was difficult letting some of these stories go and I want to thank all the authors who subbed and didn’t make it. Your stories were good. They just didn’t fit the vision of the anthology. I think this is something we authors fail to take into account. We automatically assume we’re no good when we receive a rejection. And that’s not the case at all.

What’s the best part of editing an anthology?

Showcasing wonderful talents. The people who’ve written stories for this anthology are terrific writers, and their takes on the theme were diverse and imaginative. I loved that they did their research and came up with such exciting methods of divination. We have tea leaf reading, dreaming, scrying, stichomancy, entrail reading, crystal balls, seances, throwing the bones, and even arachnomancy. (Arachnomancy is the use of a spider to tell the future, in this case, the spider’s web.) These writers are so creative! I hope the readers will enjoy their work as much as I have.

You’ve mentioned all the elements you looked for in the story. Was there anything else which served as the deciding factor in your choices?

Yes, the story had to be fun. I don’t know about how others read, but I tend to cherry-pick the anthologies I read. I don’t read them in order from first to last. I pick what looks most interesting to me and go from there. All the stories in here are fun to read, no matter what order you decide to read them in.

What is your favorite form of divination?

The Ouija board! I’ve had some weird experiences with that particular divination device. It’s predicted some things which actually came true. Several had to do with stories I would write and jobs I would hold.

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

I have a Sherlock Holmes story called, “The Adventure of Marylebone Manor,” coming out this year. It’s in Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives, edited by John Linwood Grant and published by Belanger Books. And on April 3, my story, “The Darker Side of Grief,” was published in Arterial Bloom. The anthology was edited by Mercedes M. Yardley and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m really excited about this story.

I’m also a staff writer for Crystal Lake Publishing’s new fiction series, Still Water Bay. The series debuted April 27th.

Addicts, you can find Naching on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #181 – Rob Bliss

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Rob Bliss was born in Canada in 1969.  He has lived a horrific comedy of a life. 
He watched half of his family die before he reached the age of twenty, with the other half RB Photoabsent.  He is very familiar with coffins and graves, funerals and unholy weddings.  He has held dozens of mindless jobs  He has an honours degree in English and Writing from York University, Canada.  He has 100 stories published in various web-based magazines, plus three anthologies.  He has had three novels published by Necro Publications.
 

Rob is a fascinating writer with a wry sense of humor. We discussed writing, movies, and fear. 

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

RB: Maybe 8 or 10. It was a hellish nightmare that got me living in constant fear. One movie: The Amityville Horror. I saw it with my family as we enjoyed a lovely summer weekend at another family’s cottage. At a drive-in, no less. Big screen to see the walls bleed and flies swarm the window. (I had a bedroom window EXACTLY like that one, complete with many dead flies.) Since it was two families in one cottage, some of us had to sleep out on the enclosed porch. Meaning, me. It had screens for windows. The midnight wind blew the shadows of tree branches against the screens. I stared in horror at those moving shadows for most of a sleepless night, replaying the movie over and over again. When we got home, I vowed to never go into the basement (we lived in a farmhouse, and the basement was old foundation stone, always damp and cold, with tiny doors that led deeper into the basement maze. Rooms within rooms. I was sure the portal to Hell was down there!) And because of seeing that movie in that town while trying to sleep on that porch, I had nightmares for years afterwards. Literally, years. I hated horror movies but couldn’t look away. When my family and my uncle and aunt and cousins watched Friday the 13th Part 2, I stayed in the kitchen, able to hear but not see the movie. Though I did peek my head in once towards the end … to see Mrs. Voorhees’ severed head on an altar! I think I write horror novels for the same reason kids go out dressed up on Halloween: to scare away the demons that scare them. (I have to go curl up in a fetal position and shiver for a while, excuse me, I’ll get back to the rest of the interview later.) 

NTK: What’s your favorite horror movie?

RB: Phantasm.  Along with The Amityville Horror, I saw Phantasm when I was too young to see any horror movie. (When I turned 30, I was much better.) That flying steel ball that drills into people’s heads and makes a tube of blood shoot out – yeah, I liked that! Scared the heck outa me! And those little druid guys! What was up with them? Anything that was even remotely designed to scare, scared me. I was a little wimpy scaredy-cat boy, highly suggestible. Nothing has changed, except more adult things scare me along with everything else.

NTK: So, what are you most afraid of?

RB: Displeasing Mistress.

NTK: (Laughs.) What is your favorite horror TV show?

RB: I had no idea there was such a thing as horror TV. I don’t watch much TV.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel? 

RB: Necroscope by Brian Lumley.

NTK: Who is your favorite author?

RB: It changes, but right now, Marcel Proust.

NTK: What inspires you?

RB: Everything. Books, paintings, a tree wafting with a midnight breeze under a full moon … it’s how you see, not what you see, that leads to inspiration.

NTK: What inspired The Bride Stripped Bare? 

RB: Boredom. Wrote the characters and setting and blood and guts, and fear. Wrote it in 5 weeks. And the title is from Marcel Duchamp’s artwork.

NTK: Do you outline your books and stories? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

RB: A faint idea sticks in my head, then if I think about it multiple times over several months, I figure it wants to be written. After that, the story decides where it wants to go. I just transcribe as it plays in my head like a movie.

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

RB: The characters do what they want at first, then during revisions, I try to justify why they did what they did. Characters can be such assholes to their writer.

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

RB: The Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. Little too on-the-nose right now.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

RB: Bumbaclot.

NTK: I love that word! What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

RB: I just want to write and write and read and read. This December, my publisher, David G. Barnett, at Necro Publications, will be publishing a novel I’m currently revising called Fear.

Addicts, you can find Rob on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and at Necro Publications.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Jeremy Megargee

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Jeremy Megargee has always loved dark fiction. He cut his teeth on R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series as a child, and a fascination with Stephen King’s work followed later in life. Jeremy J Megargeeweaves his tales of personal horror from Martinsburg, West Virginia, with his cat Lazarus acting as his muse/familiar.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I think I’ve always liked the idea of the Victorian era. The fashion, the architecture, the whole aesthetic… 

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”…one of my all-time favorite stories in general. I love the duality and the descent into excess and depravity, Dorian drinking down sin and remaining flawless, but his portrait taking on all that ugliness.

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

Crimson Peak is high on my list. The monster designs were great, and the time period was so well captured.

Are your characters based on real people?

Camille is 100% fictional, but Edward Hyde belongs to the public domain courtesy of Robert Louis Stevenson.

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

Always by the seat of my pants. Ideas click together for me, and I’m able to fit them into something resembling a coherent jigsaw puzzle.  It’s a method that has always worked out well!

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

Usually, I’m aware of their fates far in advance, but if something changes in my mind, the character can easily go in a totally different direction.

What are you most afraid of?

Public speaking. I hate it with soooo much passion, but I’m working to overcome that fear. I think I’m desensitized to most other “fears” people would have just because I eat, breathe, and sleep the horror genre.

What is your favorite form of divination? 

The one featured in my story, “throwing the bones”.

Who is your favorite horror author?

All-time favorite is Stephen King, modern fresh voice on the horror scene is Nick Cutter. 

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

Hopefully more writing and more opportunities to work with all kinds of different publishers. I’m almost always writing and submitting new short stories, and it’s pretty much a steady trickle when it comes to output for me depending on what gets accepted and what gets rejected. I have several things coming out later this year with a variety of different presses, and I’m stoked to keep it going. If you want to follow my writing updates and general dark-humored craziness, find me on Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Alan Fisher

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Alan Fisher is an attorney living in Washington, D.C.  He’s published two novellas, Servant of the Muses and A Pearl for Her Eyes, under the name Brad White.  His story, “The Alan FisherConfession of Diego Stoessel,” was included in Alban Lake Publishing’s Lovecraftian anthology, City in the Ice. Another short story, “Pangloss,” was featured on the Hugo Award-winning podcast Starship Sofa.  His favorite authors include John le Carré, William Gibson, Raymond Chandler, and Neal Stephenson.  When not writing, he enjoys playing board games with his wife and sons and running role-playing games for his friends.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I’ve always been a reader of history, with a particular focus on military history.  The Victorian era was such a critical time for the shaping of the modern world that I naturally was interested in it.  From the Great Game in Central Asia to the Scramble for Africa, you will find a lot of threads we’re still pulling at today started back in Victoria’s time.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Probably not regarded as a horror story by many, but any beast that can make Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson freeze, even for a moment, is one to be reckoned with.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie?

I can’t say I have a particular favorite.

Are your characters based on real people?

Not really.  The Constable of the Tower could be seen as an echo of the classic Colonel Blimp stereotype, the aged colonial soldier with the big mustache, I suppose.

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

I dislike the term ‘pantser,’ but it is what I am.  My first work started simply from the idea that “my muse had left me,” which ended up as the first line – “My muse walked out of my life on a cool October morning . . . .” – in a noir urban fantasy novella.  I really had nothing more to go from.  Similarly, for The Moat House Cob, the story started with a quick check of Wikipedia’s list of divination methods, which led to arachnomancy, and from there the story unfolded.

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

How could they have free will?  I created them and determine what will happen to them.  That’s part of their horror!

What are you most afraid of?

These days all my fears seem horrifyingly mundane, but I’ve never been a fan of spiders (as my story attests).

What is your favorite form of divination?

I don’t believe any of them work, but I’ve always enjoyed Tarot decks for the art and the symbolism.  A particular favorite is Edward Gorey’s Fantod pack.  They’re interesting to study and, when you have no good ideas, tossing a few around might spark something.

Who is your favorite horror author?

I’m almost hesitant to say old Howard Philips Lovecraft, but I must give credit where it’s due.  I’d also add early Steven King, Lord Dunsany, Neil Gaiman, and Charlie Stross.

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

Sadly, I haven’t done much writing lately.  I’m about 50,000 words into an actual novel, but not a horror piece.  I have about a dozen fragments and starts, some horrifying, and some just horrifically bad.

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Daphne Strasert

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Daphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and science fiction author located in Houston, Texas. She placed 3rd in the 2017 Next Great Horror Writer Contest. She has had many short Daphne Strasertstories published through HorrorAddicts.net and others. When not writing, she plays board games and knits.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

Years and years ago, I liked American Girl dolls and Samantha (from the Victorian Era) was my favorite. That started a life long love affair with the Victorian Era. At first, I admired the seeming sophistication of the times, from the fashion to the elaborate social rules. As I grew older and did more in-depth research, I discovered the lurking darkness of social inequality. The juxtaposition fueled a desire to delve even deeper.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Dracula. Far and away my favorite. I do love Edgar Allan Poe and all his works, but Dracula was my first love in the horror genre and I’ll never let go of that. It is a slow burning book with so many facets to enjoy.

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

Crimson Peak.

The sets and costumes were magnificent. The actors gave masterful performances. The movie had a brooding atmosphere that drew me in immediately. The plot was not a typical haunted house story. It turned the tropes of the genre on their head. It left me guessing during every minute. It’s brilliant, and if you haven’t watched it, make sure you do!

Are your characters based on real people?

Not specifically. While doing research for my story, I was fascinated by the many famous mediums later revealed to be frauds (either through careful observation of third parties, or by their own admission), so this made its way into my writing.

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

I’m a strong believer in outlines. People (whether they realize it or not) expect stories to be told in a certain way. The rise and fall of action keep readers engaged without exhausting them. I love my outlines. I am always thinking about my stories, and ideas come to me much faster than I would be able to keep track with if I wrote consecutively. Outlines help me to keep track of where the story is going eventually.

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

I keep a strong leash on my characters. I do a lot of character development work to make sure that I’m always true to how they would act, but if my character ever went off course, then that would mean they weren’t the right character for the story. I would need to rethink their motivations.

What are you most afraid of?

Helplessness. Being in a situation with no escape or even a way to progress. So many of my fears can be conquered, but helplessness, by definition, cannot be.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I’m partial to Tarot cards. They have a rich history and many variations. The wide variety of art styles makes each deck unique. On an aesthetic level, I like the feel of the cards in my hands, the sound they make when they’re shuffled, even the smell of a worn and well-loved deck.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Edgar Allan Poe. I suppose that’s an old-fashioned choice, but I love his short stories. They have a breadth of style that is hard to find. I also do prefer horror stories written in historical eras and those can be hard to find with modern authors.

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

I don’t have any pending publications right now, but I have several novels in the editing stage. Hopefully, those will be submitted to publishers by the end of the year. There are a few anthologies for which I’m producing short stories, and I’ll post more information about those on my website and social media when I can confirm.

Addicts, you can find Daphne on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Rie Sheridan Rose

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Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including On Fire, Hides the Dark Tower, and Killing It Softly Vol. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve Mysterious Rie Rosenovels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I don’t remember ever NOT being interested in it. Ever since I was a young girl…half a century ago—yikes!…I have been fascinated by all things Victorian. I’m an Anglophile in general, but the Victorian era had it all…

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

It isn’t a particularly “scary” story, but I’ve always been fond of Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” – I even adapted it for the stage as a kid. And if we broaden the scope of Victoriana to here across the pond, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my absolute favorite horror stories. It was written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, so it just squeaks in under the 1901 wire.

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

Does Dracula Has Risen from the Grave count? It is set in 1905, but it does have Dracula… What attracted me to the film was that I saw it when it was fairly new, and it was the first time I knew how erotic vampires could be. Go figure—Christopher Lee gave me chills.

I am also very fond of Mary Reilly, because it was a fascinating re-invention of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Are your characters based on real people?

No.

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

No, not usually. I am a pantser. I sometimes have a vague idea of where I want the story to go, and then I start writing and let it tell itself.

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

Oh, I have had some CRAZY things happen which I did not expect. I wrote one story where a character had decided to give up some of his remaining years to his ill grandmother. When she refused, he was supposed to go out in the hall and pour it out. Instead, he gave the potion to a little girl he met in the hallway because she was also ill, and maybe that extra time could find her a cure.

In another case, I have written five books in my Steampunk series from the point of view of my main character. I wrote the first book in a new series set in the same world, and my main character in that one told me some major character points I had never known before…

What are you most afraid of?

I think probably dying alone. 

What is your favorite form of divination?

I would love to be able to read Tarot cards. I think they are fascinating, but I haven’t the gift for it. I’ve been to some truly frightening seances… I think when it comes down to it, the Ouija Board is the only form I feel I can participate in myself.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Stephen King. Since I read my first King, I’ve been hooked.

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

I am currently editing my next Horrified Press anthology. I have the previously mentioned novel Bond and Reilly Investigations: The Case of the Counterfeit Confederate almost ready to go to an editor, and I have The Beauty and the Bard out to beta readers. Hopefully at least one of them will be out by the end of the year. There are others in the wings waiting their turn.

For Horror Addicts, I recommend snagging a copy of Skellyman while it is still in print.

Addicts, you can find Rie on Amazon and on her website.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – R.L. Merrill

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Once upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Twenty-five published works later, with more tucked Merrill_RL-Headshotaway in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill strives to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

Everyone gets so excited about the Victorian era in Britain, but I’ve always been more interested in what was going on in my neighborhood. There are several historic homes in my area and I’ve often wondered about the people who lived here before us and what life was like, what the area looked like.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Edgar Allan Poe is one of my literary heroes and I love his tales of darkness and despair. “Ligeia” is one of my favorites along with “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

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

I absolutely loved the film version of Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. It was incredibly well done. I also think Corpse Bride is brilliant and a much better Burton film than A Nightmare Before Christmas, which is not a popular opinion, I know.

Are your characters based on real people?

In “Breaking Bread,” the main character, Fidelia Meek, was the real lady of the Meek Mansion. I use the names of the Meek family as well. They were wealthy landowners in the East Bay; their orchards were vast.

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

I’m a plotser. I actually do character organizers before I write. Usually. Mostly. My current WIP? I’m pantsing the heck out of it.

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

Oooo pretty sure I’m a firm believer in fate. Things happen for a reason, despite whatever we may do to change our destiny.

What are you most afraid of?

Besides the obvious, something happening to my children, I’m also terrified of getting sick again. The coronavirus has reminded me how hard I’ve fought to not get pneumonia again, and I continue to fight.

What is your favorite form of divination?

Growing up, I loved the Magic 8 Ball! But for now? I’m fascinated with Tarot. I want to learn more about it. For my story, though, I wanted to dig deep and find something unusual, and that’s where the Barley Bread came from. According to several sources, Alphitomancy is an ancient method of determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect person by feeding him or her a specially prepared wheat or barley loaf or cake. If the person suffers from indigestion, or finds the loaf to be distasteful, this is interpreted as a sign of guilt. If enough people believe in something, it gives it power. Apparently lots of folks—including the Greeks and Romans up through the Irish—believed in this form of divination. Who am I to disagree?

Who is your favorite horror author?

Anne Rice. Her books fed my imagination for years. I also love Stephen King, Robert Louis Stevenson, the aforementioned Poe, and contemporary horror author Rick R. Reed.

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

I recently dropped a new supernatural suspense/paranormal romance called Healer: Havenhart Academy Book One, and book two will be out in early 2021. In June and October, I’ll be releasing my third and fourth Magic and Mayhem Universe books which follow a congregation of Alligator Shifters and witches living in the Bayou. They’re a lot of fun to write and I love being a part of a group project. And in June I’ll also be a part of the Love is All Vol. 3 anthology to support LGBTQ charities. That story will be an m/m contemporary romance.

Addicts, you can find R.L. on Facebook, Twitter, and BookBub.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – H.R.R. Gorman

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Growing up, H.R.R. Gorman listened to a circuit preacher every Sunday at her local church near Boone, North Carolina, and has accepted supernatural medical HRR Gormanadvice from neighbors and relatives. She now holds a BS, MS, and Ph.D. in chemical engineering, with which she makes modern cures for those less superstitiously inclined. In her spare time, H.R.R. enjoys training her dog, Hector, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with her husband. 

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I’ve descended from a distinctive stock of poor Southern Appalachian people, grew up amongst Southerners, and have decided to keep North Carolina as my forever home. Throughout my life, I’ve been steeped in the continuing legacy of the Civil War and reconstruction in the South; though the war is long over, its effects still linger in many devious and dark corners of Southern society. I have enjoyed studying the war itself, the politics surrounding it, the cruelty that fomented it, and the devastation of its results. You don’t often think of things like Gone with the Wind as being Victorian, but they are.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” has long been an inspiration when I write Southern gothic fiction (though Bierce himself was, bless his heart, not a Southerner). Written in 1890, it’s a story about a plantation owner awaiting his execution over an Alabama bridge, rope already around his neck. What happens next I’ll leave for you to find out – the story is in the public domain and can be found on Project Gutenberg for free.

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

I don’t think I have a favorite Victorian horror movie. However, I must say I enjoyed the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell series on BBC, which has a spine-tingling feel and is set during the Napoleonic wars. It’s not quite Victorian because the industrial revolution wasn’t in full force, but it’s got a lot of similarities to steampunk or later 19th-century stories.

Are your characters based on real people?

Some of them are. In the story found here, for instance, Miss Mae was based on a real person. She was my neighbor growing up and died at 102. People respected her health advice (she pretty much saved my own mother when she had the flu sometime in the 1980’s), but many community members were scared of her because she was an atheist. “Godlessness” was unheard of for someone in our community. I changed her character a little bit for the story, such as making her a little witchy instead of an atheist, but much of her character still remains substantially the same as the person I knew.

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

I never outline anything, but I know in my head what kind of plot will happen. I make characters and a problem to solve, and most of the time I have an idea how to solve the problem, but I allow the story from beginning to end to take its own natural course. It’s like playing Dungeons and Dragons, but just in my head.

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

A little of both – I give them free will, but oftentimes I write myself into a corner where I don’t like where it’s going. In those cases, I tend to delete everything back to where I believe the disastrous decision was made and try to force them into choosing something else.

What are you most afraid of?

It’s a tie between Ebola, rabies, Ebola rabies, tetanus, tooth decay, polio, cancer, Hell, and septic shock.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I’m not much of one to believe in divination, but I am intrigued by cold reading.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Southern Gothic has always been near and dear to my heart, so probably Faulkner. His short “A Rose for Emily,” is probably the single-most inspiring story for any of my writing. I’m more into softer, creepy horror than the stabby jump-scare horror.

Other than that, I will admit I have a soft spot for Rod Serling…

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

Dark Divinations is the first anthology I’ve appeared in, but I’m just revving my engines and hoping to participate in more anthologies.

In the meantime, I post fairly regularly on my WordPress blog and am offering a free Southern gothic sci-fi novel called American Chimera. It’s being posted serially through the end of 2020 or can be downloaded immediately as a PDF.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Stephanie Ellis

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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her latest work includes the novella, Bottled, stephanie ellispublished by Silver Shamrock, who will also be publishing her novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel, in October. She has recently been published in Flame Tree Press’ A Dying Planet anthology with “Milking Time” and is included in Silver Shamrock’s upcoming Midnight in the Pentagram anthology with “Family Reunion”. She has collected a number of her published, and some unpublished, short stories in The Reckoning, her dark verse in Dark is my Playground, and flash in The Dark Bites, all available on amazon. She is co-editor of Trembling With Fear, HorrorTree.com’s online magazine. She is an affiliate member of the HWA. 

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

This actually began when I studied for my degree some years back with the Open University. Some of the history modules I worked on dwelt on the Victorian era and I found it fascinating how it was such a time of contradiction. Public morality vs. personal morality, position of women in society, the advance of science vs. religion. So much went on beneath the surface of Victorian life which was regarded as its ‘dirty little secret’ because of this veneer of respectability which took precedence.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

“Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe – and pretty much a number of others of his: “Fall of the House of Usher,” “Pit and the Pendulum.” He was a master of the macabre.

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

I’m not sure you would call this horror but it does have horrific elements and that is The Elephant Man based on the story of Joseph Merrick. The way he was treated as a freak and how he had to hide his face in public was heartbreaking, yet he retained his humanity and showed it was those who mocked and condemned him who were the monsters. I think that’s what I was trying to get at, it asks the question of what makes a monster? The emotion in this film really pulled me in. As a result of this movie, I actually did a study of neurofibromatosis as a result of seeing this film for my biology A-level!

Are your characters based on real people?

Yes. When I was studying with the OU, I loved reading primary sources, real accounts from those alive at the time. One of these was London Characters and Crooks by Henry Mayhew which talked about the penny gaffs and costermongers who attended them, as well as their owners. This led me to Tom Norman who really did operate a penny gaff opposite the London Hospital. He was the man who actually ‘exhibited’ Joseph Merrick. If you want authenticity, read Mayhew’s accounts, they are real interviews with real people. It is one of my go-to source books – and it’s a lovely Folio Society edition!

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

Seat of my pants. I can’t plan. I have a character or a situation and I start to write it and I just let it take me where it will. I have tried to plan because some swear by it but I found every single time my characters would not walk the path I’d set out for them.

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

They write their own stories.

What are you most afraid of?

On a ridiculous level, Daddy Longlegs – I can’t stand things fluttering around my head, moths aren’t too far behind that. Silly really, as I don’t mind butterflies. On a more serious level? The same things as most people – death, my own and that of those close to me. I’m also scared of the sheer scale of intolerance in society and the way thought police, trolling and abuse has destroyed free speech.

What is your favorite form of divination?

The Fortune Teller’s head was actually based on one I saw in operation at a local museum. I quite like the idea of the Tarot. I do have a pack of cards now which I am using to inform a new work of poetry and flash in conjunction with author friend, Alyson Faye. That is an ongoing thing with no fixed timescale but it is something I want to see through.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Aagh, it depends on my mood so I’m going to name a few: Adam Nevill, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Shirley Jackson, Amy Lukavics. I’m not going to mention Stephen King because it goes without saying.

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

Publications for this year have pretty much happened already (My novella, Bottled, and my short story, Milking Time, in Flame Tree Publishing’s Dying Planet anthology) so now I am working for future publication.

I have been extremely lucky to have been signed by Silver Shamrock Publishing this year. In January they published my gothic novella Bottled.  And soon, they will be publishing an anthology, Midnight in the Pentagram which features my story, ‘Family Reunion’ AND in October they will be bringing out my folk horror/dark fantasy novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel.

I have just finished a post-apocalyptic horror novel which is currently with beta-readers, I have a folk horror/psychological horror novel to finish and a post-apocalyptic/horror/sci-fi novel to find a home for.

I’ve a couple of short stories I want to turn into novellas, both post-apocalyptic/horror/sci-fi – sensing a trend here?

I’m building a collection of short stories set in the world of The Five Turns of the Wheel and which people would’ve got a taste of in my short stories, ‘The Way of the Mother’ (The Fiends in the Furrows, Nosetouch Press) and ‘The Dance’ (CalenDark from the Infernal Clock). I would also LOVE to write the story of how Betty came to be ‘Betty’ and can see that as a novella too. You’d have to read ‘The Dance’ and ‘The Way of the Mother’ to discover more about this character although I did publish a bit of flash on my website about him, here.

Having finished the novel for beta-reading, I am now giving time to another love of mine, dark poetry. I’m working on both my collection and the collaboration with Alyson Faye.

So, the future is busy. Fingers-crossed all of the above sees the light of day but whatever happens, I’ll keep on writing. I can’t not.

Addicts, you can find Stephanie on Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Jon O’Bergh

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Jon O’Bergh is an author and musician who loves a good scare. He grew up in Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California obergh-authorat Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, Jon came up with the idea for his horror novel, The Shatter Point, after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has published four books and released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles, including the album “Ghost Story.” After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now spends his time in Toronto.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

So many of my favorite authors were active during that era, from Charles Dickens to Mark Twain. The era also provided many of the classic trappings of horror we’re familiar with: the image of the haunted house, the decor we associate with funerals, the rise of spirit mediums, etc.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story? 

Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” Something to turn to during plague-haunted times.

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

The Innocents is quite well done—based on the short story by Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. The film strikes just the right balance, never getting too absurd or bogged down in explanatory mumbo-jumbo.

Are your characters based on real people?

Sometimes I incorporate aspects of behavior I’ve observed, but in “The Bell” the characters are completely fictional.

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

I start with a plan on where I want to go, but the characters and the plot always take me on an unexpected journey, so things evolve and change as I write.

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

I can’t say they have free will, because I need them to act in a certain way to further the plot and support my premise.

What are you most afraid of?

The irrational impulse in human beings. It causes all manner of unnecessary trouble for humanity. That and wasps!

What is your favorite form of divination? 

As someone who appreciates a good laugh, I would say geloscopy, which is divination based on interpreting the sound or manner of laughter.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Among contemporary authors, it would be Paul Tremblay. I appreciate how he plays with ambiguity, so you’re not quite sure what is real and what is imagined. I believe we experience much in life that way, uncertain about things we’re told, about people’s true motivations, about what lies beneath the surface. He writes horror fiction that feels real to me.

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

I’ve completed a second horror novel about a drag queen and his best friend who share a passion for art, fashion, and horror. When they learn that their apartment building might be haunted, they envision an entertaining episode for their horror podcast and begin investigating with the help of their quirky neighbors. But they uncover something far more sinister that threatens them all. It’s a tale with a message for our modern times. I’m currently seeking a publisher. I’ve also created an album of horror-themed music by one of the characters, titled Box of Bones, that may precede or accompany the novel. Until then, readers can check out my horror novel The Shatter Point. And I periodically write a blog with musings on music and horror, called Song of Fire.

Addicts, you can find Jon on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Michael Fassbender

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Michael Fassbender is a part-time writer in the Chicago area. His first literary love is supernatural horror. Poe and Lovecraft inspired him to begin writing in high school, but M. Fassbender2016 marked his first appearance in print media apart from a few college journals. His story “Inmate” appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, and “The Cold Girl” appeared in Hypnos Magazine. A number of non-fiction articles are now available on his website, and there is also a short story in the tradition of Poe on the fiction page.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

There are two separate answers to this question. As an historian, I think I found the most interest in the realm of military history. If we frame it in terms of the Crimean War to the outbreak of World War I, we are looking at a period of profound technological and organizational changes. We see the widespread adoption of rifles, the development of smokeless powder and repeating firearms, the emergence of the machine gun, and the advancement of artillery from a line-of-sight threat to a more distant danger. Armies are growing larger and employ more sophisticated logistics, and enhancements to the lethality of Victorian weapons inspires a more defensive mindset. The trench warfare that characterizes World War I has its antecedents in the Crimea.

Then we have my reactions as a horror maven. The look of the Victorian era is wonderful in horror, whether we have a haunted house tale or a vampire story. No matter how bright and cozy (or should I write, cosy) they may be by day, by night those houses look like a proper haunt. The characteristic funerary culture of the period is wonderful for horror fans, and I made substantial use of this in my story “Tisiphone.” And finally, it is in the Victorian era that the occult ceased to be a matter for locked rooms and became activity for parlors. While I am not a practitioner of the occult myself, it is a major feature of horror fiction, and this brings a unique flavor to Victorian horror stories.

Both of these elements contributed substantially to my story, “Miroir de Vaugnac.”

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

If we include Poe, then it would have to be “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842).

Should we set that master aside, I would probably pick J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla right now. For me, I think it’s the questions that this story suggested that make it stand out. Specifically, the last time I read the story, I found myself wondering about the long-term effects of the vampire’s attention after it was destroyed. Would the human victim be relieved, or would she perceive it as a kind of loss? Those questions inspired a flash fiction story of my own.

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

This proved harder than I expected. So many of the classic Victorian stories have been updated to a more contemporary timeframe when they are adapted for film. Oddly enough, the film I’d choose had the reverse effect: the filmmakers of the 2009 adaptation of The Wolfman grounded that version in the nineteenth century, and I thought it was a successful adaptation. I think it reinvigorated a story that had become a bit formulaic, and I always enjoy seeing Sir Anthony Hopkins in a horror film, whether he’s the monster or the monster-hunter.

Are your characters based on real people?

None of the main characters are real, but I did incorporate two historical figures to ground the story further in reality. I draw reference to Col. Arthur Fremantle of the Coldstream Guards, who undertook a private trip to observe the American Civil War from the vantage point of the Army of Northern Virginia. He is most famous for observing day three of the Battle of Gettysburg from the headquarters of Pickett’s command. Agnes is really his mother’s name, and I thought it reasonable that she might know Beatrice because of their shared experience of being Army wives. It is Agnes’ concern for her son that gives Beatrice her first chance to use the Miroir, and at the same time, the use of a known historical figure allows me to present an accurate reading without having to state that the reading was accurate. After all, Beatrice had no way of cross-checking what she’d learned.

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

I usually err on the side of spontaneity. I begin a story with a general idea of where it is meant to go, but as I write and come to know my characters better, the course they take will often shift, and once in a while I revise my plans for the story substantially by the time I reach the end.

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

I try to give my characters a sense of agency, even if the final scene was actually the first thing that I planned. The choices they make need to be consistent with who they’ve shown themselves to be all along. Sometimes this means that I need to tweak the character to fit the result better, other times I tweak the result to better reflect the character I’ve created.

What are you most afraid of?

This would probably involve catching some highly lethal disease, like rabies, or else contracting a really nasty form of cancer.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I don’t practice any forms of divination, so I have no practical preferences. From an outsider’s perspective, I find Tarot cards to be much more picturesque than astrology or numerology. What I liked about scrying is that it offered me the opportunity to describe scenes. I thought that would be more rewarding for me as a writer, and more entertaining for the reader.

Who is your favorite horror author?

For the number one slot, I’d still need to name my aged grandsire from Providence. H.P. Lovecraft is the reason why I began writing when I was in high school. As a writer, I’ve tried to grow past his limitations, but I’m still working on learning from his strengths.

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

I have a couple of other stories nearing publication. In one case, the final list of authors is not yet public, but for the other, I can say that my short story “Old Growth” will appear in the volume Scary Stuff, published by Oddity Prodigies.

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #180 – Paul Lubaczewski

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Before deciding to take writing seriously Paul Lubaczewski had done many things–printer, caving, the SCA, Brew-master, punk singer, music critic etc. Since then he has appeared in95410396_1224073921261535_933279110472400896_n numerous science fiction, and horror magazines and anthologies. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he moved to Appalachia in his 30s. He has three children, two who live in his native Pennsylvania, and one at home. Married to his lovely wife Leslie for twenty years, they live in a fairy tale town nestled in a valley by a river. Author of over 50 published stories, his Amazon Best Seller debut novel, I Never Eat…Cheesesteak, is available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and fine stores everywhere. 

Paul is a man of wit and imagination. We spoke of horror, writing, and the fine art of Kaiju comedy.
NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Paul! Thank you for joining me tonight.

PL: Thanks for having me. 

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

PL: Very young. When I was a little kid, for Halloween every year, my Mom would read the original Washington Irving “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and we’d watch the Lugosi version of Dracula.

NTK:  Did this inspire you to write?

PL: I’ve read like a sponge, more or less, all my life. So, creating my own worlds was only a matter of time I suppose.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror novel? Or short story?

PL: As of this exact moment, right now, today, I really loved Jeff Strand’s Pressure. Short will probably always be a tie between Lovecraft’s “The Rats in The Wall” and Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

NTK: Who is your favorite horror writer?

PL: I think Horror is such a many faceted thing, it’s hard to pick one. Right now, I’m on a McCammon tear, all time would probably still be Poe. I had a copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination when I was a kid. My next tattoo is going to be Arthur Rackham’s illustration for “Metzengerstein.”

NTK: Do you have many horror inspired tattoos?

PL: That’s the first piece I’ve gotten that’s directly tied to something, but I’ve wanted it for a very long time.

NTK: Do you enjoy comedy and horror?

PL: I’d better, I write it. Horror-Comedy is probably one of the most popular but most poorly served by the industry. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to write, and it is, but it seems to sell well, so people enjoy reading it. I tend to think it’s lack of enthusiasm on the industries part, they don’t know where to pigeon hole it, and that makes bean counters nervous.

NTK: You said it’s hard to write. Which is more difficult? Scaring people or making them laugh?

PL: Knowing when to turn on one fountain and when to turn on the other. You have to have some horror, but if you turn it on too hard, well nothing seems particularly funny now. And if you play everything for yucks, it makes it hard to slide back in to scary. It’s a balancing act. I find that generally it’s better to stay towards funny but have your scenes where you crack the coffin open wide.

NTK: What did you think of the old Roger Corman movies, particularly the ones with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre? Did they tread that fine line between horror and comedy for you?

PL: Well it helped that he had some absolute hams working for him and gave them a ton of free reign. Price was really a master of playing for yucks in the middle of a horror movie. The end scenes in House of Long Shadows are classic funny. I think my favorite from that era was Fearless Vampire Killers, I even have one of the original theater posters, which is huge.

NTK: What inspired Wild Witches of West Bygod?

PL: Witches is just a “where you live” book. Granny Witches are popular lore here.

NTK: Can you tell us a little about Cult of the Gator God? And what is Kaiju comedy? Are we talking about Kong and Godzilla here?

PL: Cult of the Gator God is a fish out of water comedy mixed with giant creatures who are also worshipped as gods by the locals. But yes, full-blown, old school kaiju in America, with jokes. I lived in Florida for a year, so, being from the North East, I could readily empathize with my main character Bob.

NTK:  Do you outline your plots or fly by the seat of your pants?

PL: Total pantser. It’s like the line from the Dark Tower books where King is yelled at by a fan for killing off a character and he says something along the lines of, “Lady, you found out it was going to happen right after I did.”

NTK: Do your characters have free will, then? Do they often take over your story?

PL: Let me put it this way, I have an upcoming collection, there’s a novelette in there called “The Lost Saga” It was supposed to be a gag piece at around 3000 words, after I had been worked over by the characters it was an eleven-thousand word, proper Norse Saga, with a full blown horror ending because…hey what do I know, I’m only the writer here.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror movie? 

PL: You’d have to narrow that down to genre. I was the kid in school who took out all the tabletop books about horror movies out from the school library and the town library. I can go anything from silent, Caligari, to Hammer, Dracula Prince of Darkness, to slasher, currently Terrifier. Horror gets a bad rap, but it has WAY more range and depth as a film genre than anyone gives it credit for. 

NTK: Let’s narrow it down to scariest.

PL: I rarely get officially scared. I think the last one that made me really freaked out, like “We have to watch something really light so I can sleep tonight.” was probably Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer. The director knew all the rules of a movie, how things are supposed to go, and played them all against the audience.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

PL: If you’re including the Kolchak movies, them hands down. Night Gallery is something I’ve seen creep in to my short story writing though. That whole, “Your main character is scum, and he/she is going to get theirs all right” vibe. At this point I’m still watching the Walking Dead out of obstinance to see how it ends. 

NTK: What’s your favorite curse?

PL: Well my least favorite is definitely “May you live in interesting times” since we seem to be doing it, and it’s no fun. But let’s go back to The Wolf Man and it being treated like a curse, with it’s own cool couplet and everything, “Even a man whose pure of heart…”

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

PL: The f-bomb is the most versatile, you can use it from adjective to noun in any way shape and form. But gosh, I sure do say prick a LOT

NTK: (Laughs.) Paul, what does the future hold for you? Do we have more Kaiju to look forward to? What’s next on the book release agenda?

PL: Next off will be a collection with Dreaming Big Publications called A Spoonful of Sugar. After that, I’ll probably have something short again with St. Rooster. Wild Witches of West Bygod is all written and just waiting to be put into a release schedule so probably next year. There’s more after that, but a lot of it I’m still writing and editing.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Paul! It’s been fun!

PL: Thank you, and it has been fun, thanks for that!

Addicts, you can find Paul on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Naching T. Kassa

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Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Nachingwriterpic2019Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

My interest began in 1985 with the Granada TV series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the BBC. I’d seen westerns and other period dramas, and I had always loved mysteries, but this was the first one which resonated with me. I became obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and all things Victorian.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

My favorite is The Hound of the Baskervilles. And even though Sherlock Holmes doesn’t appear in most of the story, it’s still a masterful tale. I love how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took a legend he’d heard from one of his friends and turned it into a great horror story. 

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

Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola is my favorite. Not only are the visuals sumptuous and beautiful, but the script is also close to the book. No other movie or television show I’m aware of has adopted the epistolary style. You also see Dracula as an old man with hairy palms, the scarring of Mina with the sacred host, and the ship Demeter which brings Dracula to England. Some liberties are taken with the story, and some of the actors are a bit wooden, but it is a fairly faithful adaptation of the story.

Are your characters based on real people?

My character, Jacob, is based on a real person. There have been many theories as to this person’s true identity, but I don’t think anyone really knows who he is.

What are you most afraid of?

Horrible things happening to those I love.

Dark Divinations is the first anthology you’ve every edited for HorrorAddicts.net. What part of the process did you find the most difficult?

The hardest part of editing this anthology was choosing from all the wonderful submissions we had. There were so many good ones, so many I wish we could’ve included. Unfortunately, a major reason why these stories didn’t make the grade was failure to include all three elements of the theme. There had to be an element of horror, a method of divination, and it had to take place in the Victorian era. If a story contained these elements, it made it to the next phase where I checked to see if the voice was true to the period. I also checked for historical accuracy.

It was difficult letting some of these stories go and I want to thank all the authors who subbed and didn’t make it. Your stories were good. They just didn’t fit the vision of the anthology. I think this is something we authors fail to take into account. We automatically assume we’re no good when we receive a rejection. And that’s not the case at all.

What’s the best part of editing an anthology?

Showcasing wonderful talents. The people who’ve written stories for this anthology are terrific writers, and their takes on the theme were diverse and imaginative. I loved that they did their research and came up with such exciting methods of divination. We have tea leaf reading, dreaming, scrying, stichomancy, entrail reading, crystal balls, seances, throwing the bones, and even arachnomancy. (Arachnomancy is the use of a spider to tell the future, in this case, the spider’s web.) These writers are so creative! I hope the readers will enjoy their work as much as I have.

You’ve mentioned all the elements you looked for in the story. Was there anything else which served as the deciding factor in your choices?

Yes, the story had to be fun. I don’t know about how others read, but I tend to cherry-pick the anthologies I read. I don’t read them in order from first to last. I pick what looks most interesting to me and go from there. All the stories in here are fun to read, no matter what order you decide to read them in.

What is your favorite form of divination?

The Ouija board! I’ve had some weird experiences with that particular divination device. It’s predicted some things which actually came true. Several had to do with stories I would write and jobs I would hold.

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

I have a Sherlock Holmes story called, “The Adventure of Marylebone Manor,” coming out this year. It’s in Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives, edited by John Linwood Grant and published by Belanger Books. And on April 3, my story, “The Darker Side of Grief,” was published in Arterial Bloom. The anthology was edited by Mercedes M. Yardley and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m really excited about this story.

I’m also a staff writer for Crystal Lake Publishing’s new fiction series, Still Water Bay. The series debuted April 27th.

Addicts, you can find Naching on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Emerian Rich

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Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal. Her romance/horror cross over, Artistic License, is emz1smallabout a woman who inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net. 

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

My first love of the Victorian Era started with the fashion and decor. Beautifully gilded and over the top, I just love their eclectic design and the colors they put together that shouldn’t work, but do.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Either The Turn of the Screw by Henry James or The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

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

The Woman in Black is so creepy, scary, and has the classic mood I enjoy in films. I also read the book and loved the creepy almost Cthulu-like draw the house and bogs have in it that was missing a bit from the movie. 

Are your characters based on real people?

Only as they exist in my imagination, which can be more real than reality sometimes.

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

Pantser all the way, baby!

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

They always tell me which way they are going, whether I like it or not.

What are you most afraid of?

Monkeys freak me the hell out. They aren’t cute or cuddly. They are terrifying, scratch your face off and juggle your eyeballs monsters.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I used to read tarot cards for clients, but I never read for myself. I’d rather leave the future up to fate.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Anne Rice, Andrew Neiderman, Wilkie Collins

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

I am currently working on the third book in my vampire series, Night’s Knights. It’s titled Day’s Children and although I do have a cover, the book is as of yet unfinished.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Joe L. Murr

DarkDivBannerJoe L. Murr has lived on every continent except Antarctica and now divides his time between Finland and the Netherlands. His short fiction has been published in magazinesjoelmurr-photo such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Chizine and Noir Nation, and most recently in the anthology “The Summer of Lovecraft.”

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

As a kid, I devoured stories about Victorian adventurers in distant lands. That’s where it started. I especially loved H. Rider Haggard and Jules Verne. Later on, I was fascinated to learn more about the era through a wider lens.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story? 

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. To be honest, I haven’t read all that much horror written during the Victorian era – mainly the usual suspects: Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc. I keep meaning to get stuck into Sheridan LeFanu.

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

One of my favorite films of all time is The Innocents. Chilling and masterfully made, it gets under my skin every time I watch it.

Are your characters based on real people?

Yes and no. I usually draw on the characteristics of people I’ve known, but I don’t recall ever basing a character solely on someone particular. Sometimes, as in the case of “Damnation in Venice,” one of the characters was loosely inspired by a fictional character that was based on a real person.

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

I usually prep a loose outline before starting to write – however, it’s very fluid, and I usually replot extensively as I go on. The main purpose of the outline is to help me ensure that the underlying structure is sound.

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

They tell me what they’ll do next. I often find myself revising the plot because it turns out that a character wouldn’t do what I initially thought they’d do.

What are you most afraid of?

A blank page (shudder).

What is your favorite form of divination?

I sometimes perform a Tarot reading for myself. The cards are a mirror.

Who is your favorite horror author?

It’s really hard to pick just one, but if I absolutely had to, Clive Barker had the greatest impact on me, particularly the Books of Blood.

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

I’ve vowed to write a saleable novel at some point, so I’m currently working on outlines and fragments to test out viable ideas. Mainly, I enjoy writing short stories, mostly horror and crime. Most recently, I’ve had stories published in Summer of Lovecraft: Cosmic Horror in the 1960s (an anthology from Dark Regions Press) and Shooter Literary Magazine in the UK.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Ash Hartwell

DarkDivBannerAsh Hartwell has over fifty short stories published in a range of anthologies from Stitched Smile publications to The Sinister Horror Co. JEA published a collection of his Ash Hartwellstories Zombies, Vamps and Fiends in 2015 and his first novel, Tip of the Iceberg, was awarded Best Horror Novel 2017 by Critters.org and made the reading list for both the HWA and BFS awards for the same year. Ash lives in the English countryside with his wife, kids and too many animals.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I have long been a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle and read the usual HG Wells/Jules Verne stories as a child. The gothic nature of literature, the image of Jack the Ripper lurking in London’s foggy streets, and the classic Hammer Horror films have all helped cement my interest in the period. I have returned to it for both novels and short stories often in my writing career. It is a period where society is advancing yet without the convenience of mobile phones and automatic weapons so stories can have a purer nature.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Carmilla and Dracula are obviously in there. But there are many other tales, often serialized in the newspapers of the time, which are notable reads. Henry James, MR James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle spring to mind. The period provides rich pickings for readers of the genre and there are some very good collections available for anyone wanting to read further, obviously after reading Dark Divinations!

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? 

Maybe Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) but I remember hiding behind the couch watching the classic film version of The Time Machine.

Are your characters based on real people?

No, but my grandmother lived in a house built for officers during the Napoleonic Wars. There are many ghostly sightings including officers in uniform riding down the street associated with the place. The barracks didn’t close until the 1990’s. I think that, subconsciously, my story has its roots in those sightings and stories.

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

I write an outline then career wildly off course until I have something which looks nothing like the original plan. It seems to work…sometimes! On longer pieces, I do have a story arc in mind that forms the framework of the main narrative and I try and stick to the broad parameters of that arc, but sometimes they are very broad parameters!

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

I allow them a certain amount of free will, although I define the world and situation within which they can exercise that freedom. Some characters, through necessity, have a pre-destined path which often forms the skeleton of the story. I have allowed characters too much freedom and they have gone off on an unexpected tangent – but that never ends well for them, after all, the pen is far mightier than the sword! 

What are you most afraid of?

A global shortage of coffee! Seriously I think I worry about the future my kids will inherit. The way society has lurched in recent years, and months, has caused me to fear for the future. Do ghosts and vampires scare me, no.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I don’t think I have a favourite. Palmistry and tarot cards both interest me as does the idea of an old crone dispensing words of wisdom from her hovel. I think it’s a case of horses for courses – and if you can predict the winner then lets me know!

Who is your favorite horror author?

Joe Hill and Adam Nevill of the current crop spring to mind, but Edgar Allan Poe, James Herbert, Neil Gaiman and Richard Laymon could all lay a claim.

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

I have just signed a contract with Terror Tract Publishing for my second novel. A Cursed Bloodline will, hopefully, appear during the summer (2020) and is set in Victorian England. Witches, demons, a religious artifact from the crusades and an ancient curse; what more do you need?

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Hannah Hulbert

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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 the forthcoming Beneath Strange Stars (TL;DR Press). You can find her tweeting and doodling when she should be writing. 

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

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. 

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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.

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

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.

Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

‘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. 

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

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

What are you most afraid of?

Anything that might harm my kids. 

What is your favorite form of divination?

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

Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

My story ‘The Librarian’ is in The Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse anthology from Camden Park Press. I also have a story forthcoming from Metaphorosis about witches and mushrooms that I am excited to share with the world.

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 179 | Desiree Byars

Desiree Byars is a new author and released her first book, Patchwork, in April 2020. She lives with her husband and several rescue animals. She’s a fan of all things spooky, dark, and Desiree Byarstwisty. When she’s not writing, she’s reading horror, watching horror, and playing video games.

Desiree is a humble and honest lady. We spoke of writing, parents, and horror videogames.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Desiree! Thank you for joining me.

DB: Thanks for having me! Excited to be here! 

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

DB: The earliest I remember is six. My dad used to show me horror movies against my mother’s wishes. I wrote my first horror story at six as a class essay project.

NTK: Awesome! Do you have a favorite horror movie?

DB: Too many to count. It depends on the mood I’m in. If we’re talking torture porn stuff, I like the Saw franchise, Hostel, Devils Rejects, stuff like that. If I’m looking for classic stuff, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Stand, Cujo, Pet Sematary. Some of the cheesier, really poorly acted cult stuff is great too.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

DB: I don’t watch as much television as I used to. I’m still sticking with The Walking Dead because I have too much invested to give up. Nothing else really jumps out at me. Some of the Stephen King and Joe Hill adaptations haven’t been bad.

NTK: What about video games? Do you have a favorite horror video game?

DB: I love horror games! I started with the Silent Hill and Resident Evil franchises as a little kid. The Last of Us is top-notch. Both Condemned games I enjoyed. Alan Wake was great. Outlast was good. I think horror games are getting better in a lot of ways, and I’m always excited to see what’s next.

NTK: Have you played the Mortal Kombat games with the horror icons? I know MKXL has Alien, Predator, and Leatherface. One also has Freddy Kreuger.

DB: I haven’t played Mortal Kombat since I was a kid. I had to play it at other kids’ houses because I wasn’t allowed. I would laugh and laugh at those fatalities though. Now I’ll have to find me a copy.

NTK: I think you’ll love those. They’re fun. What do you think is the best horror video game of all time?

DB: That’s a big question. For me, it’s also dependent on what you’re looking for. Storywise? The Last of Us, hands down. That’s focusing on story and less on jump scares and whatnot. Outlast is pretty scary, from the jump scare place. Alan Wake had a good atmosphere. I am not good at this picking just one thing. (Laughs.) Can’t do it!

NTK: Do you gain inspiration from these mediums? What inspires your writing?

DB: It comes from everywhere. Reading, playing the games, watching the movies. It comes from sitting on a park bench watching people. It comes from a trip to the zoo, the grocery store. I’m always watching and absorbing what’s around me. I don’t think I could pinpoint one inspiration.

NTK: What inspired “Bailey Marie?” Was it several things?

DB: Bailey could be a real child. She is a story of nature versus nurture. Here you have this child who comes from a home with a neglectful, abusive mother, and a loving but often absent father. This child is beyond her years, and given more to shoulder than any child ever should. And those children sometimes snap. You see the stories on the news about these kids, five, six, seven years old that are snapping every day in the news. Is it the kids? Were they born that way? Or if you dig deeper, is there something going on at home, from birth, that created them this way. So wondering how all that works is what brought Bailey about. Kids are all sweet and cupcakes and that’s what people want to hear about. But what about the dark ones?

NTK: That’s interesting you’re exploring the theme of “The Bad Seed.” How do you deal with your characters? Did you plan everything Bailey would do? Or did you give her free will?

DB: All of my characters, in every story have complete free will. I do not plot or plan anything. My fingers go on the keyboard and they tell their story. I honestly don’t think about it much at all. When I start to think it muddles up my story, every time. So I let them do their thing.

NTK: Who is your favorite author? Is he/she your biggest influence?

DB: If I have to pick one, it’s Joe Hill hands down. I own everything he’s done. Second would be his father, Stephen King. I also own his complete collection. I was reading King around eleven years old, so he definitely had the most influence on me, both as far as what to do, and what not to do. I love the freshness Hill has, and his interviews and talks have taught me a lot about the craft. Poe is another obvious choice. There’s an indie writer out there, Mike Lane, that’s also been a huge influence on my work. Another indie, Jae Mazer, who showed me it was okay to write strong women in horror. There’s so many that had an impact in ways big and small. It took a village to get me here for sure.

NTK: What is your favorite Joe Hill book? Are you a fan of Locke and Key?

DB: NOS4A2 is my all-time favorite book, over any other book I’ve ever read and probably will read. I read it at least once a year. The Fireman, Heart-Shaped Box, both also favorites. Really anything he’s done rates up top with me. I own Locke and Key but have not read it yet. I’m ashamed!

NTK: What do your parents think of your writing?

DB: My dad died in 2004, long before I went for the writing thing. He always thought I’d make a good writer. And I know if he were here, he’d be so proud and excited. And he’d tell everyone it’s because he made me watch all that stuff as a kid. (Laughs.) My mom…she’s very proud and she owns the book but I’m not sure she will read it! She says she will but she is a very not dark person. She usually shushes me when I start talking about dark and icky stuff. But I know she’s proud.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

DB: The only curses I really know much about are the Harry Potter ones. Big Potterhead here. Crucio is the worst. Otherwise, I’m not sure. So many different ones in different books and movies.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

DB: Fuckadoodle!

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

DB: Well my first book, Patchwork, which includes “Bailey Marie” released early, on Friday, March 13th. There are three other stories in addition to “Bailey Marie” that I’m very proud of. Otherwise, I’m working on something new that I hope will come around sometime next year. I’m subbing out short stories and trying to get my name out there, so hopefully, you’ll see me popping up in places soon.

NTK: Awesome! Thank you so much for chatting with me, Desiree. It was a pleasure!

DB: This was great. It was a pleasure chatting with you, and I hope to do it again someday! Thank you so much again for having me!

Addicts, you can find Patchwork at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Connect with Desiree on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Episode 178 | A.F. Stewart

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A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she 91998279_2985631954792617_8123098902787260416_nalways had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author, she’s published novels, novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry. 

A.F. is a wonderful lady with a very dry sense of humor. We discussed writing, folklore, and villains.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, A.F.! Thank you for joining us today!

AFS: Glad to be here.

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

AFS: Good question. I suppose my first introduction to horror was through local folklore and the Nova Scotia ghost stories when I was growing up. Also Grimm’s fairy tales with witches and cannibalism. Probably elementary school age, around age eight to ten.

NTK: Ooh! What kind of ghost stories? Can you give us an example?

AFS: There are so many ghost stories in this province and around all of the Altlantic Candian provinces. One of my favourites is the story of the burning ghost ship that appears off Mahone Bay.

NTK: Cool! Did this story inspire you to become a horror writer?

AFS: No, although the folklore certainly influences my writing. I actually started writing horror by accident. I wrote a nice, sweet short story for a writing group, but it threw my rhythm off and I had writer’s block after that. To bring back the deserted muse, I decided to write a horror story about Jack the Ripper. I’ve never looked back.

NTK: Awesome! Speaking of influences, who is your biggest influence in horror writing? Who is your favorite author?

AFS: I say Ray Bradbury is my biggest horror influence. I know most people think of him as a sci-fi writer, but quite a few of his short stories, like “The Emissary,” are very creepy. And Poe as well, was an influence. My favourite authors are fantasy though, with Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay in a tie for first place.

NTK: Bradbury has a distinctive style, almost poetic. You’re a poet as well. Which do you prefer, poetry or prose?

AFS: Poetry, definitely. I love writing both, but poetry is closest to my heart. It’s also a lot of fun to combine horror with poetry and write wickedly dark poems.

NTK: What gets your creative juices flowing? Are you inspired by dreams?

AFS: Strangely enough, I’ve never had a dream inspire my writing. Maybe they’re just too weird. My inspiration comes from many things, usually odd or mundane stuff. One of my recent short stories was inspired by the loud roar of a plane, and a couple of days ago I was contemplating whether you could dispose of a body in the garbage after seeing the recycling truck. And for the record, I decided it was not a feasible method of body disposal.

NTK: (Laughs.) What inspired you to write “Blood on the Looking Glass?”

AFS: That came from a prompt in a writing group. They posted a picture of a woman standing on top of a giant skull, wearing these striped stockings and a pinafore-like dress. It struck me with this Alice in Wonderland kind of looks and the first line of the story, “We’re all mad here,” said Alice, popped in my head. The rest of the story flowed from there.

NTK: Do you outline your stories when you write them? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

AFS: With short stories, I generally don’t outline. I usually start with a beginning line or a paragraph and an ending, either in my head or written down and then join the two together. For novels though, I do scene outlining, character backstories, worldbuilding, maps, and all the fun stuff.

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

AFS: My characters are stubborn and refuse to listen. I have nice plans all laid out, and then they come along and make announcements that change everything. That’s what happened with Edmund in Chronicles of the Undead; he refused to stay in Oxford and I had to rework part of the plot to set things in London. It happened with the Nightmare Crow as well, who gave me a new motivation halfway through the series. A couple of characters have announced sexual preferences and one decided she was on the villain’s side. They are very irksome, my characters.

NTK: Your characters sound awesome! Which do you like writing more? Heroes or villains?

AFS: Villains! I love writing villains. That’s probably why I have two books of stories from their point of view. The villains get to have more fun, but sometimes they try and take over the book. I had to rein in my pirate in Renegades of the Lost Sea because my main character wasn’t getting enough page time.

NTK: Do you enjoy villains in the movies too? What’s your favorite horror movie?

AFS: I love the movie villains, though I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to horror. I tend towards the more psychological stuff like The Others and Crimson Peak.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

AFS: I’m a huge Supernatural fan and I loved Penny Dreadful, and as a big Bruce Campbell fan, the Evil Dead series would be on the list as well. And the Hannibal TV show; I loved that.

NTK: Favorite Horror novel?

AFS: I haven’t read too many horror novels, but Something Wicked This Way Comes would be a favourite.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

AFS: A favourite curse? Interesting. I like the idea of cursed objects, things that bring the owner bad luck or misfortune. I also like the idea of the Celtic geis, which is a prohibition against doing a certain thing. If they break the prohibition they usually bring terrible calamity or death upon themselves. And of course, the mummy’s curse is always a fun one to play with.

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

AFS: Right now I’m working on finishing up my contemporary Arthurian legends series, The Camelot Immortals. But I’m also writing a historical paranormal/fantasy series set in Venice that will have a lot of dark Italian folklore and dead bodies. Plus I have a steampunk horror series with vampires on the backburner. And recently I’ve been toying with the idea of a standalone horror novel.

It’s also National Poetry Month, so no doubt some dark poems will pop up on my website.

NTK: Awesome! You’re keeping busy. Thank you for chatting with us, A.F. It’s been fun!

AFS: Thanks for having me, I enjoyed it and yes it was great fun.

Merrill’s Musical Musings – HorrorAddicts.net Season 13’s Best Band of 2019

Greetings HorrorAddicts! This year has already been chock-a-block full of great music, but today we’re going to revisit a highlight from 2019. The Lords of October were the reigning champs in the HorrorAddicts.net Best Band competition from Season 13 and we have a quick interview with them to catch you up on all the latest news. 

How has winning Best Band of HorrorAddicts.net Season 13 changed your life? At the very least, how does this impact you as a band?

We are terrified by and excited for this news! It’s an honor to be recognized for this and to be held in regard by Horror Addicts.net. We feel as though we are on the right track with such a vote and we look forward to making more monster music that will be —hopefully—loved by those who are our brothers and sisters in horror! This, in our opinion, gives us further horror cred and is exactly the type of award we would strive for. We thank you all!

-Uncle Salem

What’s your latest news? Any new adventures? When can fans expect new material?-

The latest music is going on a record inspired by tales of cryptozoology. You know, like hidden creatures and wild mythos and stuff. We have some tunes that are inspired by the Mothman, Loch Ness, the Mongolian death worm and other such things. I have always loved monsters and consider myself a bit of a cryptozoologist, but I was truly inspired after attending the Mothman festival in West Virginia this past summer. It was a lot of fun, but also where the tragic deaths occurred. 

We are always working hard at new ideas and music, always bringing new stuff to the table. For this new one, we are attempting a more collaborative songwriting effort. We shall have a little more of all of us in the entire creative process. So far, I have written 5 songs for it and Aleister has come up with a couple. We will mix and match and see what happens. 

We will probably have it out around fall of 2020. It all depends on the daily goings-on of everyone and what we are able to do. We are always looking to play some great shows and make some new videos. Taking it all a day at a time!

-Lucifer Fulci

Best Horror Movie/TV Show/Book of 2019 in your humble opinion?

I saw It Chapter 2 this year and I thought it was fantastic. Best horror movie of the year in my opinion. The acting was great and Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise creeped me to the bone.

-October Phoenix

What title would you most like to earn/award you’d most like to win moving forward in your career?

Best KISSfits band ever.

-Aleister Kane

Anything to add?

Lords of October is a hell of a great band and I love to play with these guys. There is a very eclectic influence that plays into some of the styles that you can hear in the music. I enjoy writing music and seeing how these guys interpret it and make it their own. I also like when they bring stuff to me and allow me to add something to it. I have been making music a long time-a lot on my very own and I enjoy the solitude. (I will have a new solo record out in 2020, also- www.LuciferFulci.com) But to play with Lords, its very special. Like, literally and figuratively, I get to come out and play! 

-Lucifer Fulci

Congratulations to Lords of October and we can’t WAIT for more creepily delicious music! 

That’s it for today. Stay Tuned for More Merrill’s Musical Musings…

Black History Month : Interview with M. Lamar


Interview by Sumiko Saulson

M Lamar (born May 29, 1972) is a New York City-based composer, musician, performer, multimedia artist, and countertenor.[2] The New York Times describes his exhibit ‘Negrogothic’ as “a bracing alternative to the dispiriting traffic in blandly competent art clogging the New York gallery system these days, M. Lamar plumbs the depths of all-American trauma with visionary verve.”[3] Hilton Als wrote in The New Yorker of M. Lamar: “he deconstructs the persona of the diva even as he wraps himself in divalike hauteur.”[4]

Lamar was born in Mobile, Alabama, studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, attending Yale for graduate school in sculpture before dropping out to focus on music.[5] M. Lamar continues to train vocally with Ira Siff, founder and lead soprano of La Gran Scena Opera Company, who was also Klaus Nomi‘s trainer.[6]

Lamar is the twin brother of actress Laverne Cox;[7] in two episodes of the Netflix show Orange Is the New Black, Lamar played his sister’s character prior to her transition.[8][9] Lamar participated in an open dialogue with authors bell hooks, Marci Blackman, and Samuel R. Delany called Transgressive Sexual Practice as part of hooks’ scholar-in-residence at the New School in October 2014.

tps://soundcloud.com/sumiko-saulson/interview-with-negrogothic-artist-m-lamar

About Afrogothic music, literature and culture for February Black History Horror Month, also we have a show (live music) on February 8 but there is a lot of conversation about Beloved, etc… it’s a really good interview. It’s 40 minutes long.

Interview with M. Lamar about the upcoming Vantablack show with Stagefright (my band), Protea and N-Retrograde. We talk about Afrogothic music and literature, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Gothic horror, American Gothic horror and its relationship to the African American community and slavery and the antebellum south. Losing Toni Morrison in 2019. “The Pieces that I Am” and Toni Morrison refusing white centering in literature. Black horror writers, Afropunk,

Whether or not we saw each other at Death Guild in the 90s and why I asked the club to change its logo. Galaxy Chamber and Omewenne and how Stagefright and Protea used to play with them in the 90s. What is Black Eldergoth? Europeans fetishizing Blackness and how that affects Black people in goth culture. My mother dating Gunther Ethan Palmer, son of Warhol Starlet Ivy Nicholson and Ciao! Manhattan director John Palmer. Martin Gore (of Depeche Mode) finding out that his dad was African American and if he should be invited to the Picnic.

Race as a social construct, and what that means? Interracial Blackness, white passingness, our historical relationship to the trans-Atlantic trade route. My mother, Carolyn Saulson, Black Eldergoth and singer of Stagefright. Black centering during and outside of Black History Month.

M Lamar’s relationship to queerness, gender and his identical twin Laverne Cox (he acted as her preop in the series Orange is the New Black).

Loving Blackness and Political Race Theory. Who has the right to claim Blackness?

 

10iversary Chilling Chat with H.E. Roulo

10IVERSARY

H.E. Roulo’s short stories have appeared in several dozen publications, including Nature and Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. She is the author of the Plague Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec HE ROULO 1Award Finalist. H.E. is a staple on HorrorAddicts.net. She has appeared in episodes 26, 31, 49, 56, 115, 173, and all of Season 12. She won the first Wicked Women Writers contest, won Best in Blood for Season 10, co-hosted #NGHW, and provided many voices–including those for Gothmazing Race.

1.) How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

I was always an avid reader. By the fifth grade, so around age 11, my father bought boxes of paperbacks at garage sales and I’d start at one end and read my way through. Horror was always an element in those boxes and, of course, the most popular authors were the ones I saw most frequently. I recall reading Dean R Koontz’s Watchers and being blown away. I was also impressed by what Stephen King was able to accomplish with The Long Walk.

2.) What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

I love an element of science-fiction to my horror, also anything post-apocalyptic, like The Road, and World War Z, or dystopian like The Handmaid’s Tale. Time travel is also a favorite, like Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.

3.) What is your favorite horror novel?

My likes change over time, and I think that’s good. For now, I’ll say that my favorite horror novel is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

4.) What is your favorite horror TV show?

Dark is an excellent series. I love anything with time travel and puzzling events out.

5.) What is your favorite horror movie?

Right now, the new trailer for the next A Quiet Place movie is on my mind. I thought the original one was clever—who knew you could be anxious and enthralled sitting in theater so quiet you regretted the crunch of popcorn between your teeth? I love the new and untried. Anyway, I’m hoping the next one will be good as well.

6.) How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

I’d released my dystopian novel Fractured Horizon and started a podcast interview show that allowed me to meet new writers. From there, I joined a Wicked Women Writers group and won their first writing contest. Since then, I’ve been on the blog many times, usually reading excerpts or a short story, but sometimes also as cohost or judge.

7.) What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog? (i.e. favorite blog post written by you or someone else, favorite funny memory, etc.)

The season I assisted with the Next Great Horror Writer Contest was a lot of fun for me. I was supposed to be temporary, but each week I was called back to review and make observations on these amazing writers. It was a privilege to see what they came up with each week—the problem was in finding anything critical to say.

8.) What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Naturally, I like the fiction.

9.) Why is this part your favorite?

We should always be pushing creativity and celebrating new authors and ideas. Horror Addicts gives writers another avenue for discovery and can open a dialogue with readers. I really enjoy being on the show.

10.) What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

I’m certain HorrorAddicts.net will continue to evolve with the times. It’s great to have a place for music, fiction, and news, but I also like it when they change things up. I’m all about the publishing side of things. I didn’t submit to Dark Divinations—just too busy—but I’m inspired by the new anthology call for Haunts & Hellions.

Horror Addicts, you can find Heather on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

10iversary Chilling Chat with Michele Roger

10IVERSARY

Michele Roger is a speculative fiction writer living in the Detroit area with her spouse and her evil cat named Monster. She also writes paranormal romance under the pen name M. M. Genet.  You can listen to her most recent, free podcast, Agent For the micheleOrchestra wherever you get your podcasts or on iTunes.  When Michele isn’t writing, she is a harpist and a music composer for podcasts. Michele appeared on Season 1 Episode 9 with “Taste of the Dead,” Season 2 Episode 13 “Santa Claws,” Season 3 Episode 25 “The Conservatory,” Episode 31, Season 4 Episode 43, and Season 13 Episode 160. She is the spark that started the Wicked Women Writers.

1.)    How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

My earliest memory of reading horror was with my friend Terry Akerly in the 8th grade.  My mom didn’t really approve of a girl reading horror at the time, so Terry shared his Stephen King books with me.

2.)    What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

Reading is like everything else; one’s tastes change as we get older.  While I gravitate towards Classic and Gothic, I’m open to reading just about anything that has a new spin on it; be it paranormal romance or alien horror.

3.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

There is a special place in my heart for Thinner by Stephen King.  In college, I was studying to be a lawyer.  The main character is a slightly unscrupulous lawyer who gets cursed by a gypsy for his dishonesty while presenting a case against her.  The curse is so simple and so elegant.  I loved that about the story.  King took an everyday occurrence with an average guy and turned it into something that kept me reading well into the night.

4.)    What is your favorite horror TV show?

Honestly, I don’t watch enough tv to be able to answer that question.

5.)    What is your favorite horror movie?

It probably sounds cheesy, but my favorite horror film (and its tough to choose) would be The Woman in Black.  There is so much to love.  The main character is young and naive but is a male and a lawyer.  (Lawyer theme again.  I never realized….ok anyway)  So many stories the main character in distress is female.  I really enjoy that role reversal.  Also, the predator/ghost is female.  Also, another trait and role reversal that I enjoy.  Add the creepy gothic mansion, a time pressure element of the receding and swelling tide and the primary prey for the predator being children of a village an entire community longs to protect and you have a perfect movie.

6.)    How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

I wrote a short horror story and a friend of mine encouraged me to send it to HorrorAddicts.  That was roughly 2008?  I’m guessing.  Emz encouraged me to send in more.

7.)    What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog? (i.e. favorite blog post written by you or someone else, favorite funny memory, etc.)

HorrorAddicts offered a horror writing contest for just women.  The stories that came from that contest were so well written and so well received.  I had been writing horror and science fiction for a while, feeling quite alone in Detroit.  All the other speculative fiction writers I knew were male.  The all women’s writing contest opened a door to other women all over the country who were writing all kinds of horror.  Eventually, some of those stories became a book and now we have a writing group for female horror writers.  So much good has come from HorrorAddicts.

8.)    What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Whenever I’m looking for something or someone new to read, I check out the Book Reviews.  I also like to read the interviews on my lunch at work.

9.)    Why is this part your favorite?

The book reviews are just a handy resource.  Sadly, my small, Michigan town outside of Detroit doesn’t have a local bookstore anymore.  We have one big chain store but finding someone in there to recommend horror is often like finding a needle in a haystack.  HorrorAddicts book reviews and interviews fill that void.  I find new and established authors, learn a bit more about them and find new titles to pick up for my next night of reading.

10.)  What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

There are a lot of people making short horror films.  It might be fun to showcase them?  A B Horror movie film festival to stream???

Addicts, you can find Michele’s work on Amazon as Michele Roger and as M.M. Genet. You can find her music here.

10iversary Chilling Chat with J. Malcolm Stewart

10IVERSARY

Jason Malcolm Stewart is an author, journalist and media professional who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His short fiction has appeared in the Pulp Empire Series, Heroes of Mars, Twisted Tales, Temptation Magazine, the Once Upon a Scream Anthology, the Killens Review of Art and Letters as well as on the Smoke and Mirrors podcast. His non-fiction Quicklets on a variety of topics can be found at Hyperink.com. He also hosts the YouTube features SEVEN MINUTE TAKES and ACTIVE VOICES.

His novel-length thriller The Eyes of the Stars can be found at Double-Dragon-ebooks.com in both ebook and paperback. His short story collections “Exodus From Mars” and “The Last Words of Robert Johnson” are available now on Amazon along with his non-fiction collection of horror film essays, Look Back in Horror. Jason is no stranger to HorrorAddicts.net. He has been on the show, kidnapped the blog, appeared at conventions, and contributed to Black History Month.

1.)    How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

I’m not sure I can put a firm date to my intro to horror. Around age six or seven I remember getting the beans scared out of me by a film called Equinox, the experience of which was terrifying and fascinating at the same time. I think it was that film that turned on the horror light in my brain.

2.)    What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

I’m a fan of the classics, having been raised up on the Golden Age Universal films. But I also came of age during the 80’s Slasher film revolution, so I confess a fondness for that sub-genre as well. Hard to come by a decent Slasher flick in the 21st Century however, so Boris, Bela and the rest of the gang win by default.

3.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

I swear by ‘Salem’s Lot, which to this day, I insist is Stephen King’s best novel in terms of pacing and word choice. The first full-length novel I ever read in a single sitting on a memorable summer day and night in 1981.

4.)    What is your favorite horror TV show?

Errr, tough question. I was a big fan of the 80’s revival version of Dark Shadows as a kid. But, if push comes to shove as an adult, I’ll take the first season of Ash v. Evil Dead as the best horror TV show of the last 35 years.

5.)    What is your favorite horror movie?

Ick! Another toughie… As a kid, nothing was scarier than The Exorcist. I’ll always make time to watch that film when it comes on in revivals. I’m a stupid, wild fanboy for GDT’s Chronos, which is probably Del Toro’s least favorite film, but one I adore.

6.)    How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

Met Emerian Rich at a convention and was blessed to find a tribe of kindred souls.

7.)    What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog? (i.e. favorite blog post written by you or someone else, favorite funny memory, etc.)

My funniest memory about the blog was when a number of authors ended up doing short audio promos between the features. I did mine about fifteen times before sending it in because I never like my recorded voice. When it ran, I still didn’t like my voice, but it was hysterical to hear as I knew how much effort had gone into me saying “You’re Listening to HorrorAddicts.net. Stay Spooky!” You would have thought I was trying to do Hamlet.

8.)    What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Always been a big fan of the music selections and the spotlight shown on independent and local bands.

9.)    Why is this part your favorite?

Always some gems to be found!

10.)  What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

More authors and more short fiction readings!

 

10iversary Chilling Chat with Sapphire Neal

10IVERSARY

Sapphire Neal was born in a small town in East Texas. She spent her years traveling to different states with her family before moving to Southern Utah to complete her high school FB_IMG_1578074892181education. While traveling, you could always find her knees propped up on the back of the driver’s seat and nose stuck in a book. It was her love of reading and storytelling that bloomed into her passion for creative writing.
Formerly the HorrorAddicts.net Blog Editor and Author Interviewer, Sapphire currently resides in the DFW metropolitan area.
She came up with the idea for the blog. She was the first Blog Editor and worked from 2010-2014.

1.)    How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

I was very young, around five or six. My parents are avid readers so I would sit with them and they would read aloud to me. Turns out they were reading Stephen King. I also watched my first horror movie around that age—Hellraiser. They always took the time to explain that it was all fake, it wasn’t real blood, etc. So, I was watching horror movies and Tales from the Crypt mixed in with your typical princess films as a kid.

2.)    What is your favorite kind of horror?

I like classic horror for sure, but I’m a sucker for paranormal and psychological horror. The mind can do terrible things to a person whether the cause be of your own creation or something more sinister.

3.)    What is your favorite horror novel?
The Ruins by Scott Smith—It was the hopelessness of the situation that stuck with me. You stay on the ruins and die OR you step off the ruins and die. I had to set the book down a couple of times when I found myself yelling at the characters on the pages.

4.)    What is your favorite horror TV show?

Hannibal. My heart broke when NBC canceled it. I grew up on the original films and I’ve really enjoyed every adaptation of Hannibal Lector, but Hannibal is definitely my favorite. Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy have a fantastic connection and honestly, anything Bryan Fuller touches is gold.

5.)    What is your favorite horror movie?
That’s a tough question. If we are talking more old school (at least for a ‘90s kid), I would probably have to go with Misery. Classic SK. Kathy Bates as Annie was intense. I’m also a big fan of The Conjuring and Insidious franchises. They are fun to watch and see how everything is connected!

6.)    How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?
It all started with me trying to get a birthday gift for a friend. She is a huge fan of Night’s Knights, so I reached out to Emz about getting a signed copy as a gift. Then Emz and I kept talking and finally, she asked if I would be interested in helping out with the blog. The rest, as they say, is history!

7.)    What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog?
Pretty much any interaction with the Wicked Women Writers. My interviews with those amazing ladies were fun and inspiring. It was so interesting to learn about them—their love of writing and horror. They are just a great and very encouraging group of ladies.

8.)    What is your favorite part of the blog?
The 13 Questions interviews of course! (Laughs.) But seriously, I love Free Fiction Fridays and the anthologies.

9.)    Why is this part your favorite?
It’s great to read fresh horror content from various writers. You never know what kind of story you’re gonna lost in this time. It’s also a great way to find your next favorite author.

10.)  What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?
Continue to see it grow and churning out that wonderful horror content we all crave.

Addicts, you can find Sapphire on Amazon and LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

10iversary Chilling Chat with Mike Bennett

10IVERSARYMike Bennett is the five-time Parsec Award-winning author of Underwood and Flinch, Blood and Smoke, Hall of Mirrors, and One Among the Sleepless. He lives in Wexford, Ireland. Mike can be heard on Season 1 Episode 2 and Season 1 Episode 15, as well as his cameos on GothHaus.Mike Bennett

1.)    How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

Very young. I had a friend when I was about eight or nine whose parents let him stay up with his older sisters to watch horror movies on TV on Saturday nights, and he’d tell me all about them. I used to drive my parents nuts begging to be allowed to stay up, too, but they never relented (and quite right, too). This meant that these horror movies I was hearing about existed only in my imagination. I don’t know, maybe those horrific imaginings had more of an effect on me than being allowed to stay up to see the movies themselves would have. Either way, when my grandmother died and her old black and white portable TV found its way into my bedroom, I finally got to see the forbidden fruits for myself – and I loved them all.

2.) Could you tell the Addicts a little about Underwood and Flinch?

It’s a free podcast novel that became a saga. It’s won 3 Parsec Awards (2 for Underwood and Flinch as best novel and one for Blood and Smoke as best novella). Here’s the book blurb:

All David Flinch ever wanted was a normal life. But when you’re a member of the Flinch family, normal has never been easy.
For hundreds of years, the eldest-born male of each generation of the Flinch family has been servant and guardian to the vampire, Lord Underwood.
While the Flinches have changed through the generations, Underwood has remained eternal. David had hoped to be spared the horror of serving his family’s lord and master, but when he is summoned to the Flinch home in Spain by his dying older brother, he knows his luck has run out.
After fifty years of slumber, Underwood is to be resurrected from the grave in a ritual of human sacrifice, and David, by right of succession, is to be his resurrector. But there is another Flinch, one who craves the role of guardian to the vampire: David’s sister, Lydia. It’s a job she means to have, even if it means making David’s the first blood shed in this new age of Underwood and Flinch.

3.) How did you feel about winning Best in Blood?

Honoured and delighted, as anyone does when winning something that listeners have voted for.

4.)    What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

I like it all. I can’t pick a favourite.

5.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

Hard to say, but I can certainly identify the one that had the biggest impact on me: James Herbert’s The Rats back in 1977. I was 12.

6.)    What is your favorite horror TV show?

The 1979 mini-series of Salem’s Lot.

7.)    What is your favorite horror movie?

For many years I would have said Dawn of the Dead (1978). Nowadays I’ll probably say Dawn of the Dead (2004).

8.)    How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

When Emerian interviewed me for the podcast ten years ago.

9.)    What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Book and movie reviews.

10.)  What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

More of the same 🙂

Addicts, you can find more about Underwood and Flinch here.

10iversary Chilling Chat with H.E. Roulo

10IVERSARY

H.E. Roulo’s short stories have appeared in several dozen publications, including Nature and Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. She is the author of the Plague Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec HE ROULO 1Award Finalist. H.E. is a staple on HorrorAddicts.net. She has appeared in episodes 26, 31, 49, 56, 115, 173, and all of Season 12. She won the first Wicked Women Writers contest, won Best in Blood for Season 10, co-hosted #NGHW, and provided many voices–including those for Gothmazing Race.

1.) How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

I was always an avid reader. By the fifth grade, so around age 11, my father bought boxes of paperbacks at garage sales and I’d start at one end and read my way through. Horror was always an element in those boxes and, of course, the most popular authors were the ones I saw most frequently. I recall reading Dean R Koontz’s Watchers and being blown away. I was also impressed by what Stephen King was able to accomplish with The Long Walk.

2.) What is your favorite kind of horror? (i.e. Classic, Splatterpunk, Slasher, Gothic, etc.)

I love an element of science-fiction to my horror, also anything post-apocalyptic, like The Road, and World War Z, or dystopian like The Handmaid’s Tale. Time travel is also a favorite, like Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.

3.) What is your favorite horror novel?

My likes change over time, and I think that’s good. For now, I’ll say that my favorite horror novel is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

4.) What is your favorite horror TV show?

Dark is an excellent series. I love anything with time travel and puzzling events out.

5.) What is your favorite horror movie?

Right now, the new trailer for the next A Quiet Place movie is on my mind. I thought the original one was clever—who knew you could be anxious and enthralled sitting in theater so quiet you regretted the crunch of popcorn between your teeth? I love the new and untried. Anyway, I’m hoping the next one will be good as well.

6.) How did you first become involved with HorrorAddicts.net?

I’d released my dystopian novel Fractured Horizon and started a podcast interview show that allowed me to meet new writers. From there, I joined a Wicked Women Writers group and won their first writing contest. Since then, I’ve been on the blog many times, usually reading excerpts or a short story, but sometimes also as cohost or judge.

7.) What is your most favorite memory of the HorrorAddicts.net Blog? (i.e. favorite blog post written by you or someone else, favorite funny memory, etc.)

The season I assisted with the Next Great Horror Writer Contest was a lot of fun for me. I was supposed to be temporary, but each week I was called back to review and make observations on these amazing writers. It was a privilege to see what they came up with each week—the problem was in finding anything critical to say.

8.) What is your favorite part of the blog? (i.e. Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Game Reviews, Free Fiction, Crafting, etc.)

Naturally, I like the fiction.

9.) Why is this part your favorite?

We should always be pushing creativity and celebrating new authors and ideas. Horror Addicts gives writers another avenue for discovery and can open a dialogue with readers. I really enjoy being on the show.

10.) What would you like to see on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog in the future?

I’m certain HorrorAddicts.net will continue to evolve with the times. It’s great to have a place for music, fiction, and news, but I also like it when they change things up. I’m all about the publishing side of things. I didn’t submit to Dark Divinations—just too busy—but I’m inspired by the new anthology call for Haunts & Hellions.

Horror Addicts, you can find Heather on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

Chilling Chat with Elizabeth Massie

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Elizabeth Massie is a Bram Stoker Award-winning and Scribe Award-winning author of novels and short fiction for middle-grade readers, teens, and adults. Her favorite genres areEM Beth Massie historical fiction and horror fiction (which she often calls “skeery stories!”) She also writes nonfiction and fiction for nationwide educational programs. A former 7th-grade science teacher with 19 years in the classroom, she now spends her time writing, presenting creative writing workshops, and drawing ghosts, monsters, and other creatures–all part of her Skeeryvilletown cast of cartoon characters. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her creative and wonderfully wacky counterpart, illustrator Cortney Skinner.

Elizabeth is a kind person and a terrific writer. We discussed middle-grade and YA horror, Ameri-Scares, and what horror can teach young people today. 

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Elizabeth.

EM: You’re welcome.

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

EM: I guess it was back when I was eight or ten years old and we as a family watched The Twilight Zone television show. While some of the episodes were funny, some were thought-provoking, and some were sad, others were very scary. Yet, even though they were scary, the characters were more often than not sympathetic. So, the horror hit me emotionally on two levels.

NTK: What was your favorite episode?

EM: Oh, gosh! That’s a difficult question to answer. So many favorites! Here are a few at the top of my list…”Midnight Sun,” “Eye of the Beholder,” and “The Lonely.”

NTK: Did The Twilight Zone inspire you to become a writer?

EM: I think a lot of things inspired me to become a writer. Certainly, The Twilight Zone television show was part of the inspiration. Included with that show, I would have to add The Outer Limits and Way Out which were spooky shows of the day. However, as to becoming a writer, I always loved to tell stories. I would drive my family crazy by asking, “what if,” all the time. Such as, “what if we are driving in the car and suddenly, it flies up into outer space?” Or, “what if you find out I’m not really a girl but an alien?” My “what if” questions would always lead to stories. My family was very patient with me and encouraged me. I think that is because my dad was a journalist/newspaperman who loved to write poetry and my mother was an amazing watercolorist. I was so lucky to come from a creative family! Okay, I realize I contradicted myself. I drove them crazy but they still encouraged me!

NTK: (Laughs.) It’s wonderful you came from such creative people. Stephen King has spoken of the same kind of creative process. He asks the “what if” questions too. What else inspires you? Do you have a muse? Do you find stories in dreams?

EM: I don’t have what people would consider a traditional “muse.” I’m inspired by life—by people I meet or just see on the street, songs I hear, articles or stories I read, experiences I have. And, yes, occasionally by dreams (my Stoker-winning novella, Stephen, came almost fully formed in a dream.) I think the “what if” remains the biggest factor, though. Because, since every story has a problem, whatever experience or person or song I encounter will require me to determine a “what if” in order to get it moving as a story.

NTK: When you write a story, how much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will? Do they take you where they want to go? Or, do you guide them?

EM: When I get started on a story or novel, I have a fairly clear idea of who my characters are. And, I have a fairly good idea what I want them to do in order to walk the path I’ve envisioned for them. However, as most writers will admit, we don’t know everything about them and sometimes they will us surprise us and say or do something unexpected. Or sometimes something will happen to them, based on their intended or unintended actions, that will make our jaws drop and we’ll say, “Wait…WHAT?” One of my characters in my novel Sineater died…I had no idea he was going to die. Complete shock on my part!

NTK: You’ve written YA horror and middle-grade horror as well as adult horror. Who is your favorite YA writer?

EM: Jonathan Maberry, Neil Gaiman, and Lisa Mannetti have written some kickass fiction for young adults.

NTK: What’s the difference between writing a YA or middle-grade novel and writing an adult novel?

EM: The answer will likely vary depending on the person/writer you ask. Here is how I see it: In adult fiction, (horror in particular) there are no limits. Write what you want how you want it, as graphically violent or sexually as you feel it needs to be to give the story the impact you are seeking. With YA horror fiction, it’s not quite as graphic…plus, the protagonist should be the age of or slightly older than the intended readers. Middle-grade horror fiction, in my humble opinion, is not graphic. It may hint at violence; there may be injury and in rare cases, a death. The main thrust of middle-grade horror fiction is to be intriguing and scary without being terrifying. And, like YA fiction, the main character or characters are the same age or slightly older than the intended readers. For all three, though, it boils down to this…what is a good story? What grabs the reader, holds the reader, and lingers in his or her mind after the magazine or book is closed?

NTK: Could you tell us about Ameri-Scares? How did this series come about?

EM Ameri-Scares North CarolinaEM: I was a 7th-grade life science teacher for 19 years. I loved it…the energy and sense of fun and life and wonder in kids that age is great. And so, even though I had been writing exclusively for adults for a long time, I thought it might be fun to aim some books toward kids in the 8-13 age range. I didn’t want to just write some random novels, I wanted a theme of some sort. I mean, R.L. Stine had that Goosebumps series, right? As someone who loves history, folktales, and legends, I thought it might be fun to write a scary middle-grade novel set in each of the 50 states of the Union and to base each novel on a historic event, legend, or folktale from the state in which the story is set. The research has been great fun! So far, there are six novels out from Crossroad Press. These are California: From the Pit, Virginia: Valley of Secrets, Maryland: Terror in the Harbor, Illinois: The Cemetery Club, New York: Rips and Wrinkles, and North Carolina: Mountain of Mysteries. I’m nearly finished with the next one—Tennessee: Winter Haunting. Last summer, I thought, “How will I get all of these written before I kick? So I asked Mark Rainey, a good friend and excellent writer with whom I’ve collaborated with in the past (on a Dark Shadows novel) if he would want to join me as an Ameri-Scares writer. He said yes! Thanks, Mark! His first in the series—West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman—will be out very soon!

NTK: What a terrific idea! And, a great way to get kids interested in history and myths. Do you have a favorite American myth or legend?

EM: There are so many legends and folktales! Each time I choose a state, I research and discover fun ones I’d never heard of before. I do love the story of “Resurrection Mary” (basis of the Illinois book) and the legend of the Brown Mountain lights (basis of the North Carolina book.) But you can’t go wrong with the Jersey Devil, the Mothman, or the Bell Witch of Tennessee!

NTK: We’ve talked about your favorite horror TV show. Do you have a favorite horror movie?

EM: This is going to date me, but The Exorcist scared the living jeebies out of me when I saw it in the theater when it first came out. And, I’m a person who has never believed in a devil. Yet, each time the mom or priest started back up those stairs to see Regan, I wanted to shout at the screen, “STAY DOWNSTAIRS YOU IDIOTS! YOU KNOW IT’S JUST GOING TO BE EVEN WORSE THIS TIME!!!” As to other films, my tolerance for graphic gore is pretty low. I love an atmospheric film that doesn’t rely on blood or guts to be scary. I thought Get Out was awesome, as was A Quiet Place. Chilling, edge-of-my-seat viewing, and the stories lingered.

NTK: How did you feel about the new version of Stephen King’s IT?

EM: Don’t hate me, but I wasn’t impressed. The actors were okay but I didn’t find it scary at all. Maybe, because I know the story? Maybe, because I liked the original better? I dunno. But, there were a couple scenes intended to be scary that made me chuckle (quietly so as not to disturb those around me, of course.) I don’t feel compelled to see the second half when it comes out.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror writer?

EM: Again, this is a “hard to choose one” question. For today, I’ll say, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, Gary Braunbeck, Lisa Manetti, Lisa Morton, Monica O’Rourke, Peter Straub, Shirley Jackson—though she also wrote some charming slice-of-life stories—Joan Aiken, Thomas Tryon, Lucy Snyder…I could go on and on! Ask me another day and I’ll likely have another list.

NTK: What do you think horror can teach young people?

EM: I was emotionally challenged watching The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and reading Ray Bradbury when I was young. And so, I believe that well-written horror not only stirs a sense of fear but also can birth a sense of compassion and empathy for the characters who are experiencing the terror. Well-written horror connects the reader to dark and dire situations and allows the reader to join with the characters as they suffer, learn, and (with luck) come out on the other side. Young readers can learn that bad things happen, that people who persevere will hopefully survive, and that the “oddball” or strange person is not always bad and the “good” person is not always what he or she might seem.

NTK: Do you have any advice for the up and coming writers out there?

EM: I’d advise up and coming writers this: Read all you can in various genres, write freely and not as if your mother is looking over your shoulder, and know that first drafts usually suck. Leave your work alone for a while, then get back to it and EDIT. Also, it’s okay to take a break from writing…sometimes the creative well has to refill. Get out and experience life. Pay attention to people, to situations, to music, to dreams. Everything is fodder. Good luck!

NTK: Elizabeth, what does the future hold for you? What books or stories do we have to look forward to?

EM: The Ameri-Scares series is picking up the pace now…so those who have young EM Ameri-Scares Marylandreaders in their lives—check ‘em out! I think the kids will get a kick out of them…and you might enjoy them, too. Until I get my new website up and running, you can find the Ameri-Scares novels on Amazon or through the Crossroad Press website.  The series is also in development for television by Warner Horizon (Warner Brothers), Assemble Media, and Margot Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap. I don’t know when the show might be completed, or which network they are eyeing (streaming or otherwise), but I’m excited to keep writing the books on which the series will be based!

In addition, I’m working on a horror/historical novel called, The House at Wyndham Strand. I plan on having it done by summer. And, I’m putting together some horror shorts for a new collection to come out in 2019. Don’t have a title for it yet. How about, “Super Scary Shit?” Okay, maybe not!

NTK: (Laughs.) Thank you for speaking with me, Elizabeth. It’s been an honor.

EM: Thank you so much! I enjoyed our chat!

This interview appeared in the February issue of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and is posted here with the kind permission of Editor Kathy Ptacek.

Chilling Chat with Best in Blood Winner Tara Vanflower

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Tara Vanflower is a vocalist whose music has been described as ambient, experimental, and darkwave. In October 1994 she became a vocalist for darkwave outfit Lycia. She married fellow band member Mike VanPortfleet.

Her debut solo album, This Womb Like Liquid Honey, was released in 1999. This was binb2018followed in 2005 with My Little Fire-Filled Heart. Vanflower appeared on the Type O Negative song “Halloween in Heaven” off their 2007 album, Dead Again.
She has also appeared with side projects Black Happy Day with Timothy Renner, Secondary Nerve with Daniele Serra and numerous collaborations including Oneiroid Psychosis, Dirge, Numina, The Unquiet Void, Falling You and Methadrone.

The majority of her creative energy is spent these days writing. She is the author of Lives of Ilya, and Violent Violet and its sequels.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Tara! Thank you for joining me today. How does it feel to be named “Best in Blood?”

TV: Honestly, it’s bizarre to me. I’m so isolated as far as the “writing world” goes so I don’t know much about what goes on with anything. I was blown away when I got the call because I’m so not used to getting any attention for writing.

NTK: Violent Violet is pretty awesome. Could you tell the Addicts more about it and what made it so special?

TV: I think for me it’s because Violet’s world is so relatable. I think we’ve all either had friends like her and her friends, or we are her and her friends. At least those of us who grew up on the fringe. I do my best to describe her world in detail so the reader can see it in their mind like a movie. The characters are real to me so I just let them map their own course and I do my best to describe where they go and where they’re feeling. Despite the fact that the supernatural is involved I try to show realistic reactions to the sometimes outlandish situations she finds herself in. I try to show the humor, the fears, sorrow, lusts etc. One thing that always bothered me about any type of supernatural book, film, etc. is people don’t ask the questions I think most of us would ask. A lot of times there’s no personal struggle with accepting things or realistic responses to trauma and abuse and I tried to be real about that. I think these characters are real enough that you don’t want to stop hanging out with them when their bookends, which is exactly why I have continued to write their stories and have added more characters and a broader scope as the books continue. What started out as a girl and her small group of friends in a small town is now a catalog of characters and alt dimensions.

NTK: Are you currently working on the sequel? Or has it already been completed?

TV: I just released the 5th book “Violet Blood.” There is so much more to do with her next book that I kind of need to redirect myself elsewhere for a bit to let her work things out. I’m currently working on a wolf book with some new wolves, as well as some returning friends.

NTK: Wow! I didn’t realize the series had moved so far along! Do you find it easier to write sequels or more difficult? It sounds like you won’t be running out of ideas anytime soon.

TV: I legit just kind of shocked myself the other day by counting how many books I’ve actually released at this point. I’m so chill about the whole process that I don’t really think a ton about it. I don’t know if it’s because of years of releasing music and being used to releasing things or what, but yeah, It’s bizarre.

I absolutely love the recurring cast of characters. When they show up in books I don’t even plan for them to show up in it always brings a smile to my face because I actually miss these people when I don’t get to spend time with them. Writing Violet books is difficult because now I have to line up timelines with all the various characters and there’s so many storylines going on simultaneously that it’s a bit like putting a puzzle together. I put off writing Violet Blood for so long for just that reason… knowing where it was going in a vague way I knew it was daunting. The next Violet book is going to be even more challenging because the characters are all going to be in one place at the same time and that’s just a lot to map out to do it properly. I will probably end up having to break the story up in order to do each person justice. I’m excited about it though. My problem is lack of writing time. If only I could do away with my pesky day job or get adopted by the Kardashians.

NTK: (Laughs.) Tell us about this new wolf book. Who are the main characters and when do you expect it to come out?

TV: I’m actually almost done with this book for the first go through, but I put it off recently because I felt like I needed to let them figure out what the hell is going on in their life. (Laughs.) It’s called Black Wolf Manor, at least for the time being, and it’s related to The Wulric which I released a while back. It’s basically about a woman who is getting older and she’s alone and focused on her work and an acquaintance from her childhood shows back up in town whom she becomes friends with and shenanigans ensue. I’m terrible at giving outlines.

I also always drag my feet towards the end of a book because I think I subconsciously don’t want to stop hanging out with the characters.

Oh, and the main characters names are Olive and Devin. (Laughs.)

NTK: Sounds exciting! Thank you for chatting with me! You’re a wonderful guest as always!

TV: Thanks so much for caring about my writing and THANK YOU SO MUCH for the honor of Best in Blood!!!!

Addicts, you can find Tara on Instagram.

Also, see her Chilling Chat Interview and listen to her feature episode, HorrorAddicts.net Episode 151.

 

 

Chilling Chat: Four Quick Questions with A.J. Rome

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Aaron Jay Rome left his hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado shortly after high school to pursue acting. His career is currently on the rise with supporting roles in big films such as AJ Rome 1The Campaign, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Get on Up, and TV Shows like The Vampire Diaries and Bonnie & Clyde.

He recently starred in the film, End Trip, which he also wrote and directed.

1.) Which is more challenging? Acting, directing, or writing?

I’d say the writing process is the most challenging. People say to me, “I wish I could write” all the time. Lately, I’ve been wondering do they mean “I wish I could force myself to sit down and write?” or do they just think they’d be bad writers? Both seem to be true for most people. Acting and directing give you an opportunity to bring something that already exists to life. The hunk of clay is already there, you just have to shape it. Writing is like trying to dig the clay out of the ground with your fingernails or create it from nothing.

2.) As a writer, do you have complete control over your characters? Or do you allow them to have free will?

I can definitely see where most writers and often times myself, would like to write a character so specific that every breath and blink is written into the script. Thankfully coming from an acting background, I know full-well that giving the actor room to play within the character is what will really bring it to life. When Dean J. West came to me with a British accent for his role in the film, I loved it. Never wrote it that way, but it definitely added a layer I didn’t even consider in the writing process.

3.) What inspired you to write End Trip

I actually drove for Uber and Lyft for about 2 years. When a friend of mine told me about a camera that could “shoot in pitched black” (the Sony a7s ii) I started putting the bones of the idea together: a rideshare movie that happens at night. Cause what’s scarier than strangers and darkness? Not much. There’s a lot more that inspired me, but I’d risk spoiling a lot of the film, so I won’t risk it here.

4.) What is your favorite horror film?

My favorite horror films lately are those that take social issues and explore them using horror elements or themes. Get Out and It Follows as well as anything Mike Flanagan are all super inspiring at this point in my career.

 

Chilling Chat: Four Quick Questions with Zoe and Miyuki

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Zoe Darazsdi is a writer, dog mom, podcast host, and funny bitch. She hails from the horrendous swamplands of Northeast PA, where she learned to defy cultural norms and Zoe and Miyuki 2squash deer ticks. Currently, she applies the first of those skills for Weird Kids Wanted, the podcast she co-founded with her friend and roommate, Miyuki Okamura.

Miyuki Okamura is a speculative fiction writer and pop music scholar. She is the owner of a cat who has more white privilege than she does. She is excited to co-host this podcast and maybe start a cult.

Weird Kids Wanted, is a literary and social criticism podcast for alternative individuals who are tired of their cultural experiences being curated by normies for normies. Their podcast and blog disrupt the status quo of commercialized shit lit and provide a community for weird kids to flourish. Part bitchy book gossip, part poignant social criticism, part anti-capitalist bookseller reviews, they are reviving reading for everyone who the mainstream publishing industry- and the world- has left out.

1.) What is your favorite horror novel or story?

Miyuki’s favorite is Among the Missing by Dan Chaon, which is technically a short story collection and not a novel. Zoe’s is Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Both books are eerie and evocative of that most primal feeling of being unsettled.

2.) What do you look for when reviewing a book?

Zoe: When I review a book, I look for something that is both extremely well-written and in conversation with the world around it. I love writers who are brave with language and subject matter, who are not afraid to be odd, irreverent, and deeply original.

Miyuki: Similarly, I look for something that I feel needs to be contributed to literature, whether I agree with it or not. If I don’t agree, however, it’s more like a warning than a review.

3.) What do you wish you could see in a book that you never see?

Werid+Kids+WantedZoe: I wish I could see more books that respectfully represent our community–the alt kids, goths, and general weirdos of the world. It is difficult to find three-dimensional characters like that, who are not just archetypes or side-kicks.

Miyuki: I can see this changing as conversations around LGBT+ communities progress, but gosh I’d love to see more asexuals in literature. Generally, I think it’s time we see more LBGT+ identities represented in literature. How are people supposed to know who they are if they don’t see examples of themselves?

4.) Do you prefer character-driven novels? Or plot-driven novels?

Zoe: I prefer character-driven novels. When I am connected to what a character wants and feels, reading about them just walking down the street can be riveting.

Miyuki: I also prefer character-driven novels. People will always be more interesting than situations, in my opinion.

Chilling Chat: Four Quick Questions with Jonathan Fortin

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Jonathan Fortin is the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus (coming December 2019 from Crystal Lake Publishing) and Nightmarescape (Mocha Memoirs Press). An 71171863_429719314325456_72316297098035200_nunashamed lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the “Next Great Horror Writer” in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian gentleman, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Fortin.

1.) You’ve written several stories featuring female protagonists. What do you like best about writing characters who are women?

It honestly depends on the character in question. I enjoyed writing Ingrid in Requiem in Frost because she’s so feisty and snarky. I enjoyed writing Maraina in Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus because she’s dynamic and conflicted, often struggling to reconcile her desires and goals with what the world demands of her. Though both are women narrating their stories, they’re completely different characters, and I can’t really lump them together just based on their sex.

That being said, I’m most engaged by characters who are struggling against difficult odds. Women are marginalized, which means they’re up against a lot in general, and that makes me want to root for them to succeed. In Lilitu’s case, I had some axes to grind about rigid gender expectations, and having a woman as my protagonist was the only way to say what I wanted to say. With Requiem, on the other hand, I just thought it would be more interesting to have its young metalhead protagonist be a girl because it’s viewed as such a masculine genre. Metal girls don’t usually get their stories told.

2.) What’s your writing process like? Do you outline? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

For short stories, I tend to pants it, shotgunning out the first draft very quickly. Sometimes I’ll outline, but usually, when I outline short stories I’ll never end up writing them. For novels, though, I always outline. Oftentimes my outlines are very detailed and ever-evolving, changing as I go through the book.

71298608_466444053949251_268881514123493376_n3.) Who or what is your favorite monster?

I love demons. They can take so many different forms, and I enjoy their aesthetic and folkloric qualities. I also have a soft spot for vampires. Shocking, I know. I also love tentacly, madness-inducing Lovecraftian beasties.

4.) What does the future hold for you? What works do Horroraddicts have to look forward to?

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus launches in December. I’m working on a sequel for it now, and I also have a few other books in the works, including one with a solid first draft. You’ll learn more about those soon!

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 175 | J.D. Horn

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J.D. Horn is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series (The LineThe SourceThe Void, and Jilo), the Witches of New Orleans Trilogy (The King of Horn_JD-3251-EditBones and AshesThe Book of the UnwindingThe Final Days of Magic), and the standalone Southern Gothic horror tale Shivaree. A world traveler and student of French and Russian literature, Horn also has an MBA in international business and formerly held a career as a financial analyst before turning his talent to crafting chilling stories and unforgettable characters. His novels have received global attention and have been translated into Turkish, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Italian, German, and French. Originally from Tennessee, he currently lives in California with his spouse, Rich, and their rescue Chihuahua, Kirby Seamus.

J.D. is an amazing and talented writer with a wry sense of humor. We spoke of writing, a frightening phobia, and future plans.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, JD! Thank you for joining me today.

JDH: Happy to be here. Thanks for having me!

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

JDH: Oh, goodness. I’m going to say three years old. My mother had to spend a couple of weeks in the hospital, and before she left, she forbade me to watch Dark Shadows with my siblings. Needless to say, there was no keeping me away from the television after that.

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

JDH: Well, Dark Shadows is my perennial favorite, but now I am living for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I totally excited to learn, though, that CW is attempting another Dark Shadows reboot, so maybe Sabrina will get a run for her money.

NTK: Maybe, she will. What do you think of reboots?

JDH: Reboots can obviously be hit or miss. Battlestar Galactica was flipping amazing. The Night Stalker? Well, they meant well, didn’t they? If the creators have something new to say and aren’t just mining nostalgia, great. Otherwise, look elsewhere. That being said, I will be over the (full) moon if they land a quality reboot of Dark Shadows.

NTK: Have you seen the reboot of IT? If so, what did you think and how do you feel about Stephen King?

JDH: Okay. I have not seen the reboot of It, because I am truly terrified of clowns. Like panic attack terrified. I live part-time in Palm Springs, and there’s a guy who walks around dressed like a clown. He walked into the restaurant where I was having dinner and totally triggered my fight or flight response. Luckily, I had friends who know my phobia who saw him and escorted me straight out.

King. What can you say about King? He’s a living legend. I still reread The Shining and Salem’s Lot every so often. Cujo really lost me as a King reader, but I guess it’s time for me to suck it up and give his newer works a chance.

NTK: Would you say King is one of your influences? What authors have influenced your darker writings?

JDH: I think King has influenced every contemporary horror writer. Anyone who says he isn’t an influence is, well, I don’t want to say deluded, but come on, get real, his work is seminal. Of course, Anne Rice has been a huge influence on me, but perhaps my greatest influence horror-wise is Michael McDowell. He did paranormal/occult Southern family sagas (as well as writing the screenplay for Beetlejuice.)  I also borrow from the Cthulhu mythology but find much of Lovecraft problematic.

NTK: Do you have any Russian influences? Do you like Dostoevsky?

JDH: My BA was in Comparative World Literature. I studied French in original and Russian in translation. I love Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov more than Crime and Punishment) and Pasternak (I’ve read Doctor Zhivago around six times). My all-time favorite novel is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (hilarious, heartbreaking, and terrifying all at the same time).

ShivareeNTK: Your style is reminiscent of these authors, especially what I’ve seen in Shivaree. What inspired Shivaree and what inspires you in general?

JDH: Funny that you land on Shivaree. I consider it my ugly baby. It seems the readers who like it really like it, and the readers who don’t, well, let’s just say they’re less than enthused. Shivaree is my one book that grew out of a dream, a nightmare, really, though not more than a flash of one. Just an old woman walking through a cornfield at night calling the name Ruby again and again. I woke up covered in a cold sweat and my heart pounding.

Shivaree was supposed to be a novella, but I was having a hard time completing the project I was contracted for and was beginning to panic. I knew I had to keep writing something or I’d freeze up. Jilo, the project I was supposed to be working on wasn’t coming, but Shivaree kept falling into place. I finally called my editor, admitted I was going to miss the deadline on Jilo, but told him I had another book I was, um, sure, ahem, he’d really like (squeaky voice at the end).

Oh, and in general, I love telling stories. Always have.

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

JDH: Oh, good lord. If I planned everything, I wouldn’t have had so much trouble finishing Jilo. I’m a total pantser, and my best writing comes in collaboration with my characters. I don’t want to say they totally run the show, but, well, okay, they do.

NTK: Love it! Always good to see a writer enjoy a relationship with his characters. Do you like character-driven books? What is your favorite horror novel?

JDH: The Haunting of Hill House. That’s my favorite horror novel. That’s how you get a horror novel done.

I enjoy plot-driven, rip right through the book books, but yes, for me, the books I love, they’re all about character. I’ve recently become obsessed with Liane Moriarty. The plot in Nine Perfect Strangers doesn’t begin until around 85% of the way through. To be able to pull that off? Well, let’s just say when I grow up, I want to be Liane Moriarty.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror film?

JDH: Favorite horror film? It’s a three-way tie. I know King didn’t like The Shining, but I think Kubrick created magic. (Although I feel terrible about what he is said to have put Shelley Duvall through. Actors know how to act. Ya don’t got to torture them.)

Then there is Rosemary’s Baby, Mia Farrow AND Ruth Gordon. That’s all I got to say. The third is The Fearless Vampire Killers. Of course, both of these were directed by Roman Polanski (speaking of problematic creators).

Oooh! Honorable mention to the original Carnival of Souls.

NTK: Do you have any advice for the budding horror writer?

JDH: Write stories you love. Some readers will adore your stories, some will grab pitchforks and light torches and do their damnedest to storm the castle. Just make sure you’re in love with everything you put out there. It makes climbing out the castle tower at three AM using a rope of made of bedsheets a little easier to take.

NTK: JD, what does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to The Final Days of Magiclook forward to?

JDH: I recently came across some pages of a novel I started when I was twenty-seven (more than a minute ago). I am now working on a collaboration with twenty-seven-year-old me. Southern. Gothic. A lot of heart. A touch of horror. Kind of Orpheus meets Something Wicked This Way Comes meets—there it is—The Master and Margarita.

NTK: Wonderful! Thank you for chatting with me today, JD. You’re a gracious guest.

JDH: And you are a fantastic interviewer. This was fun. Thanks again for having me!

Addicts, you can find J.D.’s work on Amazon.

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 174 | Elliot Thorpe

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Elliot Thorpe is a freelance writer. He scripted Doctor Who–Cryptobiosis (2005) and in 2013 wrote his first novel Cold Runs the Blood. He has contributions in Seasons of War Elliot Thorpe(2015), The Extraordinary Lives of People Who Never Existed (2015), Grave Matters (2015), Doctor Who–A Time Lord for Change (2016) and The Librarian (2017). 2018 saw the publication of Dean Martin–Recollections by Bernard H. Thorpe and Elliot Thorpe. Elliot writes for Search Magazine and redshirtsalwaysdie.com. A new, fully-revised edition of Cold Runs the Blood from Fossa Books is available now.

Elliot is a consummate gentleman and a remarkable writer. We spoke of inspiration, characterizations, and Dr. Who.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Elliot. Thank you for joining me today.

ET: Lovely to be here!

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

ET: The earliest memory I have (and I might be giving away my age here!) was back in the mid-70s. My father was a big fan of the Hammer Horrors so there was always a Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing horror movie on TV at some point that I remember hearing while I was (meant to be) tucked up in bed! So when I was old enough in the early 80s, I started watching them with him (when we had a first-gen video player). I was hooked from then on. My first horror movie I sat all the way through was Legend of the Werewolf (1975).

NTK: Are Hammer films your favorite films? What is your favorite horror film?

ET: I’ve got a great love for Hammer–I love the iconography, the style, the music. They are as unique as the old Universals. I love the “imply, don’t show” notion of horror movies–expecting a chill or a fright which doesn’t happen…then it does seconds later! With regard to a favorite– that’s a tricky one. I can watch something like Get Out or Us and find that as equally as enthralling as Bride of Frankenstein… I like the original Omen, but my favorite movie is Cronenberg’s The Fly.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

ET: There are three: True Blood, American Horror Story (albeit some of the later seasons aren’t as great) and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

ET: I was waiting for this question!! Hands down, without a shadow of a doubt…William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It was first published in 1972 (when I was not even yet 2!) and I first read it in 1990–and I still own my 1990 copy. Very threadbare but very loved. It surpasses the movie. Blatty’s use of language, expression, passion is unbound and I wish I could write as well as he did. I can almost chew the sentences, they are just so well constructed. I’ve never felt so passionate about any other fiction/horror book before or since. Paul Theroux is a close second for much of the same reasons but he’s not a horror writer so that’s going off topic!

NTK:  Blatty is awesome! Is he your greatest writing influence? Who is your greatest influence?

ET: The writer who made me want to write actually only passed away this week: Terrance Dicks. He was script editor for Doctor Who in the 70s but also novelised over 60 Dr. Whostories of the series–so he was my first understanding of how to write when I was a kid. I collected his books for years. Blatty I could never equal and wouldn’t even attempt to: but I still wish I could write like him! Bram Stoker, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, and Ben Elton all inspire me (four markedly different authors and their differing styles allow me to push myself. Ursula K. Le Guin is another.)

NTK: Terrance Dicks was a great scriptwriter and wrote several frightening episodes of Dr. Who. Including, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” Which frightening episode is your favorite?

ET: “Talons of Weng-Chiang” is a great one. One that I always thought was chilling was “The Seeds of Doom” from 1976–where the alien seed pod split open and this tendril snaked out and grabbed one of the characters, turning him into a big green creature! Of the modern series, I fear I may have grown up, so I don’t spot the “behind the sofa” moments so much.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

ET: Inspiration for me comes in unexpected places. I can be sitting at my desk, reading a paper or a book, watching the news or watching a film. I can see snippets of things that I like and would like to use or find homage in using. Point in fact: my short story HorrorAddicts.net featured was inspired by the movie The Revenant. Nothing like the actual original story, but it’s the feel I was after. Also, I’m currently writing an alternative history World War I novel and so my inspiration comes from my great-grandfather who served, any number of WWI movies, Peaky Blinders (a recent BBC series), the books of Pat Barker and factual accounts of the war itself. And because it’s an alternative history, I have to make nods to authors like Philip K Dick and Robert Harris.

NTK: What inspired you to write the Bloodkind series?

ET: I originally wrote Cold Runs the Blood as an original Doctor Who novel for the BBC. This was when the series was due to be come back in 2005 (so around 2004) and it was called The Craft of Foreign Rule. Doctor Who had never featured Vlad the Impaler so, knowing that historical figure so well, I wrote a novel. The BBC rejected it: now, I hope it was because they had cancelled all scheduled books because of the sudden return of the series itself to TV. It may, of course, have been because it wasn’t very good!! In any case, it was in effect now a “dead” novel. So I filed it away and forgot about it until 2012 when I decided to rewrite it as a full-blown horror novel, removing all and every Doctor Who reference! It then became Cold Runs the Blood and was published in 2013 by Grosvenor House Publishing.

I never intended to write a sequel. What intrigued me most was the fact that I had created my own take on the vampire mythos so I started writing short stories based in the same fictional universe. It allowed me to maintain my love for vampire fiction but write in different styles: so we have stories jumping from one century to another…pirates and swashbucklers, contemporary or period, retro or future…and I called my vampires the Bloodkind.

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

ET: That’s a great question! I could speak to fellow writers who would say that mapping out a character’s actions is a requisite. But I disagree. There has to be some sort of autonomy: yes, I created my characters; yes, I need them to carry out certain objectives to move the plot along…but my best characters are those who tell me what to write! For example, in my WWI novel, there’s a scene set on a train heading to Lyon in France. My two main protagonists are being waited upon by a guy who works in the buffet car. When one of the protagonists returns to her berth, the waiter is in there ransacking her room looking for something he overheard in conversation. Now the waiter, when I Cold Runs the Blood - cover - 2019 editionintroduced him, was simply meant to be background detail. Now he’s involved in the plot proper and I have to work out why! And I love that challenge!

NTK: What a great example! What’s it like to write such a famous and established character as Dr. Who? How do you stay true to the character and yet create your own original story?

ET: When I got the commission to write for the Doctor, I didn’t know at that time which one, so my outline was very Doctor-by-numbers. When they told me it was for Colin Baker, I was overjoyed. He was and remains my favorite incarnation.

The sixth Doctor had a very obstreperous and arrogant style which meant I adapted the dialogue to fit his TV persona. Interestingly, I was asked by my producer (a really lovely guy called Gary Russell who I would love to work with/for again someday) to tone down the arrogance I’d imbued him with—to soften him, mellow him. I still injected those moments of pomposity but it was the characters around him who I had fun with, too. And I gave his companion, Peri, all the best lines. Intriguingly, it was an approach the rebooted TV series took: the companion pushed the story along, so I like to think that I unconsciously pre-empted that!

NTK: Elliot, what does the future hold for you? What work do we Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

ET: Well, I’ve got my WWI novel to come out in 2020 (I’m so proud of the title that I’m not telling a soul yet what it’s called!!) and I’m pulling together my vampire short stories to make a follow-up volume to Cold Runs the Blood. Called The Mistress and the Rogue…and other Tales of the Bloodkind, it’s also scheduled for 2020. I’m aiming for a Fall release, hopefully, to grab hold of that Hallowe’en fever. The story you’re featuring in your latest podcast will form part of that.

NTK: Awesome! Thank you for chatting with me, Elliot. It was really fun!

ET: It’s been an absolute pleasure, Naching

Horror Addicts, Elliot writes for The Doctor Who Companion and you can find him at the Dean Martin Association as well.

Chilling Chat: Episode 173 | H.E. Roulo

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H.E. Roulo’s short stories have appeared in several dozen publications, including Nature and Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. She is the author of the Plague Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec HE ROULO 1Award Finalist.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Heather. Thank you for joining me today.

HER: Happy to be here, Naching. 

NTK:  Could you tell us a little about Plague Master? What is this series about?

HER: Sure! I’ll throw a few buzz-words at you then dig into it a bit more. It’s a dystopian, sci-fi/horror, zombie YA trilogy. The series takes place in a solar system colonized by humans, but there’s a new infection raging on the planets.

There are a couple storylines, but the biggest one is Trevor, who grows up on a downtrodden planet that really didn’t need a zombie infection to make it even worse. There’s also a dome for infected who haven’t become zombies to go to, but of course, nothing is as it seemed.

In the new book, Plague Master: Rebel Infection, Trevor returns to his homeworld with a cure for the infection, except it stops working and he has to find out why. It’s not just politics and secrets, of course. There’s space travel, avalanches, and diving through zombie-filled tunnels.

NTK: Sounds exciting! What inspired you to write about zombies in a space setting?

HER: I’d released a sci-fi book, Fractured Horizon, and was looking to write something that would catch people’s attention. I saw a call for an audio drama and wrote a short, 40-minute script. They loved it (it’s out there in the Omega Road Chronicles.) I wrote a related short story, and that sold. It was obvious that zombies were good sellers and I felt like I had a different enough approach to stand out. I took what I’d learned and wrote the full novel. Plus, writing zombies is fun!

There are a lot of zombie stories out there. Fewer space zombies.

NTK: I have to ask…do you prefer fast zombies or slow ones?

HER: Oh, good question.

I promise I’ll answer that. First, let me say that I didn’t have to choose. In my world, the infected becomes violent and crazed as they first change—so you have the terror of the fast zombie. However, after a while, they slow down and become almost docile unless riled up, so you get your slow zombies.

This allowed people to think zombies could be kept in herds, like sheep.

Anyway, in general, I like the fast ones.

I loved 28 Days Later.

NTK: Are you a fan of George Romero?

HER: I think you have to give him credit when you talk about zombies. I wouldn’t risk calling myself a fan, though. I’m not nearly knowledgeable enough. 

NTK:  How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

HER: Characters always act in ways logical to them, so sometimes they can’t take the path I had planned. Still, I always know the end of a story before I begin and it’s just a matter of steering them where they need to go.

NTK: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline?

HER: Oh, you may be sorry you asked that.

NTK: (Laughs.)

HER: I am a true believer in outlining. I have an entire process, and my most successful blog post ever was on how to outline a book—it gets tons of hits every fall as people gear up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s called, “A Simple Novel Outline – 9 Questions for 25 Chapters.”

I have to know my beginning and end. I need at least two or three scenes I’m really excited about.

Plague Master Sanctuary DomeAfter I have those, I plug them in to a chapter framework and start filling in around them. I used to do it in Word, but I’ve found the Scrivener is especially good for that. However, I usually end up pulling it back out as I get the story more filled in. Then I work in Word again.

Once I have the outlined chapters, I start at the beginning and work from front to back, never going back! I used to rework and rework. Now I just leave myself notes to go back if something changes along the way.

When I’m deep in a novel, I try for 2000 words a day.

I did warn you.

NTK: (Laughs.) You did. What is your favorite horror novel?

HER: Favorite questions are hard for me. I rarely have that kind of loyalty to anything. I like novelty. My favorite things are the stories, songs, and televisions shows I haven’t seen yet and that surprise me. I rarely consume anything twice. Today, I’ll fondly recall the horror of certain stories in the anthology Unaccompanied Sonata by Orson Scott Card.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

HER: I’m a big fan of anything post-apocalyptic and dystopian. I had to read Cormac McCarthy’s grim and hopeless The Road after seeing the movie. I also love time travel and alternate realities. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind impressed me when it came out. Coherence and the movie Primer kept things interesting.

NTK: What attracts you to Dystopia?

HER: I’ve always loved dystopian stories. The Girl Who Owned a City was one of my first favorites. So was Z for Zacharia. I also loved Island of the Blue Dolphins and My Side of the Mountain. I think it’s about starting over, relying on your abilities to survive, and simplifying things

 

—not that most people think of dystopia as simple, but it does remove superficial troubles for real and basic needs.

So for me, it isn’t about the breakdown of society. I know that Island of the Blue Dolphin isn’t traditionally considered a dystopian story—but it’s about surviving with whatever you find yourself with. Starting over, and being able to build something new. Things get messed up—I’m sure we all look at the world and wish it was simple and basic, and about our own skills and ability—so a reset sounds great.

I wouldn’t actually want that, though. I have a family and comfortable things. (Laughs.)

Structure keeps us safe. These stories are about what happens when that safety net isn’t there.

NTK: Have you read The Stand by Stephen King?

HER: I haven’t. He wasn’t in the boxes of garage sale books my dad brought home each weekend—I’m not sure why. Eventually, I deliberately went back and read a few things by him, like The Long Walk, and was so impressed that I read his book On Writing.

Excellent advice in there, for any writers looking for a book.

NTK: What’s your favorite horror television show?

HER: The Black Mirror series has me hooked.

NTK: You’re a fan of the original Star Trek, do you have a favorite frightening episode from that series?

HER: Oh, that’s a new question!

I am a big fan of Star Trek, TOS, and of Next Generation, too. A lot of the series, actually.

What comes to mind is “The Devil in the Dark”, which is the one with the Horta, who seems like a monster but in the end we realize isn’t. There’s so much that’s fantastic in that episode.

I love creatures that are more than they seem.

I love subverting expectations, actually. I dislike predictable stories—give me something new!

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

HER: Well, we’re talking about the second book in the Plague Master trilogy, so you know PM Rebel InfectionI have to write the third and final one. I’ve had the series finale in mind for a long time, so I’m thrilled to finally write it.

I have a few other short stories that will no doubt come out. I tend to submit a lot except when I’ve got a book coming out.

And I’d like to sell a novella about a villain superhero called Heart of Marble. It’s dark and funny.

I also have an urban fantasy story that I’ve been trying to finish for about a year. It’s got four or five point of view characters, and bringing them all together for a satisfying ending has been tricky.

I think it’s a novel, but I need about ten more chapters to be sure. (Laughs.)

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Heather.

HER: I had a great time. Thanks!

 

Horror Addicts, you can find Heather on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

Her new book, Plague Master: Rebel Infection, is available now!

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 172 | E.M. Markoff

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E.M. Markoff is the indie award-winning Latinx author of The Deadbringer and To Nurture & Kill. Growing up, she spent many days exploring her hometown cemetery, where her loveEMMarkoff_authorpic_sm of all things dark began. Upon coming of age, she decided to pursue a career as a microbiologist, where she spent a few years channeling her inner mad scientist. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat E.M.! Thank you for joining me today.

EM: Evening, Naching! Thank you for having me.

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

EM: Pretty young–in elementary school! Despite not knowing English, my mom was a fan of the Hammer Horror films and Vincent Price, and she was the one who first introduced me to the genre. She also never limited my reading, which allowed me to discover Stephen King at a pretty young age as well. I have no doubt all of this consciously and subconsciously helped shape my love of horror and “dark” things.

NTK: Did Stephen King influence your writing? Who influenced you the most?

EM: I have no doubt Stephen King influenced my writing, as he was the reason I fell in love with reading, to begin with. The vivid image of the monkey with the cymbals on the cover of Skeleton Crew is the first real memory I have of a light going off in my head and thinking, “Reading is amazing.” Other authors whose words have no doubt inspired me include Neil Gaiman with The Sandman series, Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson, C.S. Friedman, Carlos Fuentes, Junji Ito . . . the list goes on.

NTK: Where do you find inspiration? Do you find it in everyday life? In dreams? What inspired The Deadbringer?

EM: The heart of my inspiration for all my writing comes from my identity as a Mexican-American, which was passed on to me by my mom. All of my works, whether overtly or not, reference my culture. I do, however, sometimes get ideas in dreams. The first section of the chapter entitled “A Memory Dissolved by Pain” originated from a dream. I had been working on that section, with little progress, when it suddenly came to me. Consequently, the chapter title got its name because dreaming the dream and writing it was very emotionally difficult. I don’t like hurting my characters, so I tend to get pretty bummed out when something bad happens to them. The other major influence on The Deadbringer was the end of my mom’s life. The decisions that you have to make are painful, and that pain wound up carrying over to the characters that were also suffering a loss.

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

800px-the-deadbringer-cover-emmarkoff-ellderet-seriesEM: My characters are assholes with too much agency! (Laughs.) My editor says I like to “play house” with my characters, so to a certain extent, they have to do what I say. But–like life–sometimes they refuse to cooperate until I figure out exactly what it is that’s just not falling into place. I had this happen with a character who is unexpectedly getting their own POV in the forthcoming second book in The Ellderet Series, The Faceless God.

NTK: Your style is very distinct, almost Gothic. Do you enjoy Gothic horror?

EM: Thank you for those kind words. You just made my evening. Yes, I do love Gothic horror and have no doubt that it has found its way into my writing, although I know I have a long way to go before I can hold a candle to the masters of the style!

NTK: You mentioned your mother’s love of Hammer films. Are they your favorite too?  What is your favorite horror movie?

EM: It’s impossible not to love Hammer Horror films. Their films, in particular, all the Draculas because of the dynamic duo of Lee and Cushing, will always have a special place in my heart. My fave, however, is The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

NTK: Favorite horror Novel?

EMThe Picture of Dorian Gray.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

EM: El Maleficio.

NTK: E.M., what does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

E.M. More immediately, I will be at a number of conventions, including one with HorrorAddicts.net at Sinister Creature Con from October 12-13.  My future plans involve publishing The Faceless God, the sequel to The Deadbringer, in 2020, as well as attending plenty of local Bay Area conventions and (hopefully) readings. I also have planned a standalone novella that focuses on two of the characters from the world of the Ellderet, and I have a few ideas for non-Ellderet short stories that I would like to see come to life. You can follow what I’m up to by signing up for my Newsletter of the Cursed. You can also follow me @tomesandcoffee on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, or buy my works on Amazon or direct from me. As for my work as a publisher, readers can check out the horror charity anthology Tales for the Camp Fire, which includes a short diverse ghost story of mine — “Leaving the #9.” All profits from the charity anthology will be donated to Camp Fire relief and recovery efforts which will be administered by the North Valley Community Foundation.

NTK: I just interviewed Loren Rhoads about Tales for the Camp Fire. What a greatTales for the Camp Fire idea! How did you come up with it?

EM: It began as an idea by Ben Monroe, a fellow member of the Bay Area Horror Writers Association. The idea brought together horror writers from the Bay Area with the goal of giving back to the victims of a terrible NorCal wildfire – the Camp Fire. Loren Rhoads served as editor, curating an eclectic range of short stories that showcase the many faces of horror, including a story graciously donated by the estate of Clark Ashton Smith. The entire project is indebted to people who volunteered their time to put in the work necessary to bring it to life, thus keeping production costs low and maximizing profits for charity. Even now, the authors are continuing to do what they can to spread the word about the charity anthology because they want to give back to the community. I think it says a lot about horror writers, that in the face of tragedy they stepped up to help.

NTK: Awesome! Horror Writers are such great people! Thank you so much for chatting with me. E.M!

EM: Thank you for having me, and for the lovely interview, Naching. It was my pleasure.

Chilling Chat: Episode 171 | Loren Rhoads

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

Loren is an imaginative and skilled writer. We spoke of inspiration, editing, and cemeteries.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Loren! Thank you for joining me today.

LR: My pleasure! I am really looking forward to chatting.

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

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

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

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

NTK: Do you prefer villains or heroes?

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

NTK: What do you think makes a character believable?

LR: Self-doubt.

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

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

NTK:  Lily is a fascinating character in “Still Life with Shattered Glass.” What inspired that story?

LR: I was working at the University of Michigan as the Secretary of the Undergraduate English program. One of the perks was that I got to sit in on any English class I wanted, so I took all the creative writing classes. Students were strongly encouraged to “write what you know” so we read an awful lot of shitty roommate stories. I wanted to write a story where the reader wasn’t sure which roommate was worse. And I wanted to mock all the artistic pretensions that the undergrads were spouting.

NTK: “Still Life” is part of the anthology, Tales for the Camp Fire. Could you tell us what that anthology is about and what inspired it?

LR: Last November, there was a terrible wildfire in Northern California. Some of the power company’s equipment failed in a windstorm and threw sparks that burned for three weeks. The town of Paradise, California was leveled. The smoke from the fire was so bad that it could be seen from space. It drifted 200 miles from Butte County in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to settle in the Bay Area, where I live. For a week, we had the worst air quality in the world. So even if we didn’t lose anything directly in the fire, we were still affected by it.

Tales for the Camp FireThe local chapter of the Horror Writers Association decided to help the survivors. Ben Monroe suggested we put together an anthology that we could use to raise money for survivors. I volunteered to edit. Tomes & Coffee volunteered to publish it. All the stories—even the one by Clark Ashton Smith—are donations. The cover art was donated by Petersen Games. Even the cover designer donated her time.

All of the book’s profits are going to the North Valley Community Foundation, which is a clearinghouse in Butte County that applies funds to the greatest needs.

NTK:  Horror writers are great people. What did you look for in a story, when you edited that anthology?

LR: Because it wasn’t a themed anthology, I wanted to include as wide a spectrum of horror stories as possible: creepy, gross, funny, disturbing, thought-provoking, nightmarish. I wanted something about the story to stick in your mind after you read it, a splinter that would work away at you.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

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

NTK: You spoke of your inspiration for “Still Life,” what inspires you in general? What gets the creative juices flowing?

LR: I’m just trying to make sense of life on earth. It can be so beautiful and yet so tragic. We don’t seem to make it easy for each other, even though we’re all trapped here. I write to get to the heart of that.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror film?

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

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

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

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

LR: Oh so many times!

NTK: What’s it like?

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: Do you have any stories set in Colma?

LR: Not yet. I’ve written about it on Cemetery Travel (my cemetery blog) and in 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, but I haven’t set a story there yet.

NTK: I look forward to those stories. Loren, what does the future hold for you? What work do we Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

LR: I’m finishing up a novel that I hope to have out in October, so I can sell it at the199 Cemeteries Horror Addicts table at Sinister Creature Con. It’s the sequel to Lost Angels (which HA gave a super nice review to several years ago). This new one is called Angelus Rose. It continues the story of Lorelei, a succubus who falls for an angel named Azaziel. It’s set in LA—and bits of it take place in Forest Lawn, Westwood Memorial Park (where Marilyn Monroe is buried), and Angelus Rosedale, where Buffy was filmed in its first season. The story skates between erotic horror and urban fantasy romance, lots of sex and death and graveyards.

NTK: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Loren. You’re a terrific guest.

LR: Thank you so much for doing this, Naching! You asked some great questions. It was really fun.

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

You can purchase Tales for the Camp Fire: A Charity Anthology on Amazon.

Chilling Chat: Episode 170 | Tim Reynolds

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Tim Reynolds grew up in Toronto, Ontario, but has called Calgary, Alberta home since 1999. He lives a quiet, peaceful, cluttered life with his dog, two cats, and a collection of Tim Reynoldsmusical instruments he has neither the talent nor the self-discipline to play. 

An internationally-published writer/photographer/artist he writes his stories “from the character on up”.

Tim is an intelligent man with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of writing, inspiration, and night terrors.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Tim. Thank you for joining me today.

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s wonderful to be here!

NTK: How old were you when you first became interested in horror and dark fantasy?

TR: I was going to say I was 12 when I saw the chillingly bizarre movie The Other but then I remembered that I was much younger, probably less than seven, when I was sick in bed and Mom had moved the TV into my room but not checked what was on the channel. It was The Incredible Shrinking Man. She caught me watching it right about the time he was being chased by the giant— to him—spider. As for reading the literature, I was probably 17 or 18, after I discovered The Lord of the Rings in English class. It was much darker than the detective stuff I’d been reading leading up to then.

NTK: Did Tolkien influence your writing? Who is your favorite horror writer?

TR: He did have a huge influence because I’m pretty sure every fantasy author I read after him was influenced by him, so it was inescapable. This is going to sound strange, but I had to stop reading horror. I got night terrors as a kid and still get episodes as an adult, and what I read or watch has a big influence on my very vivid dreams and nightmares. That said, I was once a voracious Stephen King reader, as well as Dean Koontz. King would be my favourite, though, because his stories can terrify without full-on horror.

NTK: I’m sorry to hear about your night terrors. Do they keep you from watching horror movies and TV shows?

TR: They do, for the most part. I do try to watch the critically acclaimed ones like Bird Box, where it’s more about suspense than pop-up scares.

I also don’t mind the occasional zombie one—World War Z is my favourite—or vampire one— 30 Days of Night.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

TR: I’d have to say that Black Mirror is the only one I’ll watch, and while many wouldn’t call it horror, I believe that its view of where we are headed as a species with tech is truly horrifying.

NTK: Have your night terrors inspired your writing? Where do you find inspiration?

Waking AnastasiaTR: They certainly have. My most recent fantasy novel The Sisterhood of the Black Dragonfly has a couple of monster-popping-up fight scenes and the creatures in it have a similarity to some of the ones I fled from in my childhood dreams. But sometimes my dreams inspire more than a scene. My previous novel Waking Anastasia about a young man who awakens the ghost of Anastasia Romanova came from a dream. My inspiration can literally come from anywhere. A figurine in a shop, a challenge from a friend, a smile and a wave from a complete stranger…

NTK: Do you have any advice for people suffering from night terrors?

TR: Yes, actually! Avoid dairy before bed! Especially pizza. There’s something in it that makes my dreams go off in a wild direction like I heard acid trips of the 60s do. And vitamin B complex before bed—or any time—can lessen anxiety somewhat.

NTK: Let’s talk about characters. Do your characters have free will? Or do you dictate their every move?

TR: They very much have free will. Once I create a “whole person,” meaning one in which I know their back story and motivations, I let them roll with the scene. I control what needs to happen in the scene, but I let the conversations and quite often the actions be completely organic, in other words, flowing forward from what was just said or done.

That said, I’m having trouble with my latest one because the two characters are very much based on real people, one of which is me. I keep second-guessing myself if that makes sense. And the horror, in this case, isn’t in the story, it’s the writing because it’s a romantic comedy.

Also, I recently wrote a horror short from the point of view of Jack the Ripper. However, because it was very fact-based, I couldn’t give him too much leeway.

NTK: Do you outline and plot the story?

TR: I do now, but I’m also very flexible once I start writing. RomComs are very structured, so I have to hit certain story beats near a certain page, but I usually have a loose structure/outline with everything to make sure that I put the clues where they need to be. I’m becoming much more methodical in my writing as I mature as a writer because while it’s lovely to just go off and write whatever the freak I feel like, if I want bigger publishers to notice my work and make offers, I need to use outlines to keep me on track and not let me write madly off all directions.

NTK: Going back to the works of Stephen King, which is your favorite?

TR: Oooohhhh… Tough question. I haven’t read any in a while, but I loved Hearts in Atlantis, The Stand, and the four novellas of Different Seasons. My stand-out King novel is an odd choice but I love it for its simplicity: Gerald’s Game.

NTK: Aside from the RomCom, what does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

TR: As a reply to writing the RomCom inspired by my life experiences, I’m writing a dark, bloody, nasty 19th century urban vigilante novel in which I will kill off the types of villains that I feel are plaguing us now—child sexual abusers, rapists, one-percenters who think the rest of us are simply here for their profit or use…. or I will write the sequel to my unpublished semi-cozy detective novel that my agent is currently trying to sell forSisterhood of the Black Dragonfly me.

NTK: Awesome! Looking forward to them!

TR:  Thank you! I try to write stories that are as much fun to read as they are to write, even if they scare the bejeesus out of me and the reader. Joy isn’t all about laughs, as every horror writer/reader knows.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Tim!

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s been fun, and I appreciate you making me think on a Friday morning when the weekend and non-thinking is so close I can taste it.

Addicts, you can find Tim at his Blog and on Twitter.

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 169 | Nancy Kilpatrick

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Award-winning author Nancy Kilpatrick has published 22 novels, over 220 short stories, seven story collections, and has edited 15 anthologies, plus graphic novels and one non-nancy K.fiction book, The goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined (St. Martin’s Press).

Nancy is an honest and passionate writer. We spoke of inspiration, classic horror, and vampires.

NTK:  Welcome to Chilling Chat, Nancy! Thank you for joining me today.

NK: It’s my pleasure, Naching! Thank you for inviting me.

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

NK: I was a kid. We had the Saturday Night Chiller-type movies on but they were late and although it was Saturday night, I wasn’t allowed to stay up for those except on rare occasions. Horror films were my favorites and that just continued when I got old enough to watch those films. But before that, when I was in grade school (not sure of my age but likely around 6 or 7) the school visited the big library in downtown Philadelphia, where I lived, and we were each allowed to take one book out. I choose The Little Witch, which says I lot, I guess. Little did I know how famous that book was, in print for 40 years. So, my love of horror goes way back.

NTK: Who are the authors who’ve influenced you most?

NK: In horror, I tend not to mention living authors. I know way too many writers and I don’t want to offend anyone or leave anyone out. And frankly, it’s many dead authors that shaped me. Poe, Lovecraft, Carter, Jackson, Kafka, Shelley, Stoker, Byron, Bloch…even then, there are more than I’ve named. I see myself as shaped and influenced by every book I’ve ever read, even the terrible ones, and in every genre, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m kind of a lit vampire, meaning, I drink in experiences, so besides general life experiences, books and film have played a big role in who I am as a writer and likely who I am as a person.

NTK: Do you find inspiration in the books you’ve read? Where do you find inspiration?

NK: Inspiration is everywhere. I can see something, smell something, a twig on a peculiar taste, hear a sound and so on. I can have a dream and have written two stories from dreams. I daydream a lot. Many avenues lead to a story idea but the ones that lead to actually writing down those ideas in short story or novel form, those are the exceptional ideas. It’s hard to say what inspires them. One avenue for me is that I own and have read thousands of vampire novels and short fiction so I know what has been done and that always leads me to what has not been done before and how that fits into my personal view of the vampire. To a lesser extent, that works with ghosts and zombies for me, werewolves a bit less. If it’s “reality” horror, for example, nothing supernatural, more like a serial killer, there’s plenty of info on those types of killers around and that can inspire a thought. But thoughts have to connect to feeling for me because I’m essentially an emotional writer.

To keep it simple: I’m inspired when a thought or a feeling becomes a spark.

NTK: How did “Root Cellar” come about?

NK:  I lived on a farm for almost a year, 10 miles outside the small town. The house was in exchange for “fixing it up.” It was bought by a well-off Judge who didn’t want to live there but it needed repair so a few friends and I went and painted and sanded and such. When we first arrived, we explored the house. The attic was a crawl space with a peaked roof and slats on the floor. We found some creepy things there, including the coffin and the cards I put into that story. The house was also, as in the story, the “old” part and the “new” part, with all the pickled things in the stairwell down to the basement.

“Root Cellar” was originally a literary story, a story of incest. I had a phase where I tried to force myself to write ‘lit’ fiction. That didn’t last long, though I published a bit. But, I could never get over the idea that lit fic had lost its way in terms of plot. Which is one reason I love horror, because plot is still crucial and that means a story to me. Anyway, I submitted “Root Cellar” to a major newspaper that was having a short fiction contest (yes, that was exceptional!) I was the first runner up and the story was published. As I was reading it in the paper, it struck me how that story was really a vampire story so I rewrote it and published it and it’s been published several times, been in a Best-of antho, up for two awards and so on. Really, it was crucial to see that in print and recognize that what I was trying to force myself to do was not right for me. Generally, I’m pretty aware of when I’m trying to go the “wrong” way because I think it’s the “right” way, and it’s not.

Revenge of the Vampir KingNTK: You’ve written a series called Thrones of Blood. How are your vampires different from others?

NK: Because I’ve read so much vampire material and seen so many movies, and because I’ve written erotica (mainly a series of seven pastiche novels based on horror classics: Dracula; Frankenstein, Jekyll/Hyde, etc. etc.) and because I’ve seen and read erotic vampire novels and movies and wanted to infuse a series with that but not just that, I started thinking about a new series. I began writing these books about 12 or 13 or more years ago, because the idea churned for a few years before I started writing. One year in the winter I was staying alone in Florida for a month and cranked out book one and some of book two and three. Of course, all that had to be revised. I was just having fun and threw in a lot of genres and kitchen sink and had to clean up all the mess and stick to the story. There are other books, of course, with warring vampires and humans but I wanted to show the vampires as somewhat more evolved, while still violent, and that the humans might be even more violent. Ultimately, I wanted to show that because of a long life, the vampires, which are as resistant to change as humans, do have a longer perspective and can alter, at least a little. I wanted all this to come through in each book amidst the violence, the sex, the treachery, betrayals, viciousness, traitorous acts and even love and kindness where least expected.

I have not seen what I’ve done. And frankly, readers need to be a bit smart to read these books because I work with paradox a lot in my writing. It’s awfully hard to hold two opposites at the same time and that’s kind of what I hope readers will do. I also like to shift allegiances a lot. That’s kind of real life too for thoughtful people.

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

NK: I usually have a kind of plot overview for novels but rarely do a chapter by chapter outline. At the same time, as I write, I kind of know where I’m going. That doesn’t mean the characters want to go there and more times than not they insist on me paying attention to them. As I said, I’m an emotional writer so I have to respect my feelings and if it feels dull, wrong, just a big NO, then it won’t work for me and I have wait until something comes to me as to how to proceed. And as with all creative endeavors, one can go this way and that, both ways pretty obvious. But waiting often leads to a third way that wasn’t envisioned and that’s much better and leads to something much better. So no, I plan a bit, but I’m open to change. If I wasn’t, my characters wouldn’t work with me! (Laughs.)

What I mean by “this way and that” is that in every story, based on the conflict, there are usually two obvious resolutions of that conflict. If you go to either, the reader (who is as smart as the writer) feels bored and cheated because both resolutions are too obvious. This is where a creative solution has to make an appearance.

NTK: What makes good erotica?

NK: I was on an erotic-horror panel once with about eight or nine women and they ranged in age from youngest to oldest. At the oldest end were Nancy Holder and me. Someone asked if we writers were aroused when we wrote erotic-horror. Invariably from the younger end, there were definite and resounding “NO’s” all along and when it got to Nancy Holder, she said, kind of, maybe a little, yes. Then me, who said, “Of course I am aroused! If I can’t feel it, I can’t write it!” (Nancy H., by the way, thought I was so brave to say that, but I didn’t see myself as brave, more just honest because if I can feel the emotion of what I’m writing, I can make it believable for the reader—and that goes for the unsavory emotions too. There’s a huge difference in feeling murderous, which almost everyone has felt at some point, and committing murder. Knowing and feeling the difference is what keeps us all from acting horrifically in a spontaneous, or even a thought-out, moment.)

My seven erotic novels are The Darker Passions: Dracula; Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Fall of the House of Usher, Carmilla, and The Pit and the Pendulum.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

NK: There are soooo many. I’d just be listing them. I’ll say a few. Daughters of Darkness (stylish). The Exorcist (the original, so scary). [REC] (an adrenalin rush for sure!) All of Romero’s zombie movies, especially Night of and Dawn of the Living Dead. 30 Days of Night (great concept and a horrific vampire gang). 28 Days Later (I like fast-moving zombies). Martin (another Romero, this one vampire). And I loved the original The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price, a black and white based on Richard Matheson’s wonderful novel. That, of the three films based on the novel, was very creepy. Train to Busan (from South Korea, a great zombie movie, human, touching. It’s in subtitles. I’ve seen it three times.) It Stains the Sands Red (Wow, what a surprising zombie film. Two coke heads from LA, car stalled in the desert en route to see people, and a zombie comes and does guy in. The woman, seemingly a coke-head, has to “run” from the zombie but they are in the desert. It shifts and is so amazing. I was really blown away by this movie.)

You see, there are so many more I could name. Give me a minute and I can name 100 or more!

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

NK: I liked the original Dark Shadows, and even the remake with Ben Cross. Forever Knight was fun. True Blood was incredible. (Kudos to Harris for allowing the adaptation.) There’s a great book called Vampire TV which is incredibly thick and surprisingly stuffed with TV shows of vampires alone. I also liked the old Twilight Zone, Kolchak, those kinds of X Files TV shows. Again, many more than I can name.

NTK: What’s your favorite horror novel?

NK: Again, I can’t name books by living authors so I’ll have to go with early works. And in fact, there’s little horror I’ve read or seen that I haven’t liked, even the bad stuff, because I can see merit in just about everything, sometimes just a drop of merit, but still. So that would Dracula by Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, The Picture of Dorian Grey, all of Poe’s work, Robert Louis Stevenson’s work, even the ponderous Varney the Vampire or, The Feast of Blood which predates Dracula by a few decades. There are all sorts of wonderful novels out there and I encourage people to find and read some of what has been done in the past because, for example, the vampire did not start with Anne Rice’s books or Buffy. You’d be surprised by some of the beautiful and intense work that came The goth Biblebefore.

NTK: Nancy, what does the future hold for you? What works do we have to look forward to?

NK: At the moment, I’m working on book five in the Thrones of Blood series: Anguish of the Sapiens Queen. Book six is next up and that should be the end of the series, published in 2020. I also have a science fiction novel just about finished. The former will be out later this year and that latter…no date yet. I’m likely reissuing my horror (non-vampire) collection Cold Comfort. And I am in discussion for a new antho I’ll co-edit. This year I’ll be traveling to a few summer/fall events: Fan Expo in Toronto, and Word on the Street. Possibly Frightmare in the Falls. Early next year I’ll be at Stokercon in England.

By the way, if anyone wants to join my newsletter, which is short and once a month via email, they can go to my website: nancykilpatrick.com. The form to join is at the top.

NTK: Thank you so much for joining me today. It was an honor to interview you.

NK: Thank you, Naching, for having me.

Addicts, you can find Nancy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Author Interview: Horror author Jeff Strand | My Pretties

Horror author Jeff Strand delves into the ugly darkness of a serial kidnapper with his latest book, My Pretties, a gripping novel filled with twists that get more twisted as the climax approaches.

My Pretties.jpg

My Pretties is about a restaurant server named Gertie, who believes her cousin is the victim of a serial kidnapper. To try and save her, Gertie uses herself as bait and wanders the streets at night, hoping to lure the kidnapper into the open. When Gertie tells her co-worker Charlene how she spends her nights, Charlene agrees to trail her in a car as backup.

Of course, this is a Jeff Strand novel, so nothing goes according to plan, and the vigilante waitresses go from the hunters to the hunted.

Strand introduces readers to a sick, soulless man named Ken who abducts women and locks them in cages that hang from the ceiling in a soundproofed basement. Ken’s thrill is simply to sit quietly in the room and watch the women slowly starve to death. However, Ken is husband to a wife who wonders why he’s late all the time and father to a son who doesn’t respect him.

While Ken’s family dynamic provides most of the twists and some darkly comic moments, My Pretties is ultimately a grim tale of torture and survival.

Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand

In an exclusive interview for HorrorAddicts.net, Strand discusses My Pretties and what he thinks of a recent social media thread where people listed their top five Strand novels.

HORROR ADDICTS: Where did your idea for My Pretties originate?

STRAND: The process was similar to Mia and Rusty in Ferocious, where I had my lead characters (in this case, Charlene and Gertie) before I had a story to put them in. I’d written their meeting scene and not much else, and did nothing with it for a couple of years.

The idea of a serial killer who puts his victims in small cages dangling from a ceiling, giving them water but no food, watching them for hours at a time, came separately and much more recently. I pulled Charlene and Gertie into that idea and that’s where it became My Pretties.

HORROR ADDICTS: At some point, your villain Ken becomes the focus of the story more so than your heroines, Charlene and Gertie. Was that the idea from the start or did Ken just keep developing as you wrote the story?

STRAND: I changed some of the details as I wrote, but the broad strokes of the story were always there. I did try to be very conscious of keeping the balance — you get more of Ken’s story than you may have been expecting, but I didn’t want to tip the scales too far toward his side of things.

HORROR ADDICTS: Do you prefer writing villains more than heroes or vice versa?

STRAND: I don’t actually have a preference. It can be fun to write a really nasty villain, but I also enjoy writing likable heroes. Ken in My Pretties posed a bit of a challenge because he’s a complete garbage human being, and I didn’t want the reader to like him at all. He’s not Hannibal Lecter or Hans Gruber — he’s a piece of crap. So, he needed to be somebody who could convincingly persuade women to trust him a little, but I didn’t want him to be witty or charming or have any of those “the villain you love to hate” characteristics. Of course, my natural instinct is to try to write witty, clever dialogue, and I had to pull back on that for this guy.

HORROR ADDICTS: You’re active on social media, and I noticed a thread where readers were posting lists of their top five Jeff Strand novels. Where would you rank My Pretties among your 40-plus books?

STRAND: I love threads like that because there’s always a wide variety of titles represented. I’d hate for it to be, “Okay, here’s the one or two books that everybody likes, and then the rest.” It’s always fun to see something like Fangboy (which I always knew was going to be divisive, and I was correct) represented, or that people are championing The Sinister Mr. Corpse. It’s too early for me to rank My Pretties. What happens, 100 percent of the time, is that the book I wrote is not as good as the book I’d planned to write. There are no exceptions. So, no book is published with me thinking, “My God, this is my masterpiece!” It doesn’t take long for the Written Book vs. Book In My Head disparity to fade, but My Pretties is brand new.

HORROR ADDICTS: Dweller is my No. 1 Jeff Strand novel, but I was surprised when I read your personal top five and neither of your Bram Stoker Award-nominated novels, Pressure or Dweller, made your list. In fact, you said Blister and Cyclops Road flip-flop between your favorite. What makes those two novels resonate with you more so than your more traditional horror novels?

Cyclops RoadBlisterPressureDweller

STRAND: I almost never revisit my work after it’s published, so it’s possible that if I wiped my memory and read my entire backlist, the rankings would change. As it is, I’m going to naturally lean toward my most recent titles. I certainly don’t think every book is better than the last, but I do like to think that the last third of my output is better than the middle third, which is better than the first third, overall.

There’s just a lot of stuff I love about Blister. It’s a weird and quirky love story on top of a mystery on top of a horror story with lots of humor thrown in. Cyclops Road is a bigger story than I usually do (it’s my longest solo novel), and I really like the cast of characters. It’s got action, laughs, heartbreak, scares — I think it’s my most entertaining novel. I’m also partial to Bring Her Back, Sick House, and Kumquat.

If I asked all of my fans to rank their favorites, it’s safe to say that the No. 1 spot would go to Dweller. I’m proud as hell of that book. It just doesn’t make the list of my all-time favorites of my own work.

HORROR ADDICTS: Lastly, I always like to ask if you have any breaking Jeff Strand news for us Strand fans and Horror Addicts?

STRAND: Well, I just did a really dark psychological thriller, so I’m shifting tones with the next one. This one will be very blatantly horror/comedy and a lot of fun. Monsters are included.

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RELATED LINKS:

Horror Author Jeff Strand gets Ferocious in 2019

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Five: Wood Ape

A husband and a town both with secrets propel the drama and mystery of the Bigfoot novel Wood Ape by C.G. Mosley.

Wood Ape.jpg

“Actually, Wood Ape was inspired by a friend that is obsessed with Bigfoot,” Mosley said in an exclusive interview for The Bigfoot Files. “He is always reading books and listening to podcasts on the subject. Severed Press, the publisher I write for, has a lot of fiction available on Bigfoot. Knowing this, I began prodding my own personal Bigfoot expert for information and before long, Wood Ape came to fruition.”

Set in the small Baker County town of Dunn, Mississippi, Wood Ape begins with an intense prologue describing a violent confrontation between Bigfoot and a man named Cliff.

Flash forward thirty-five years later, the Schrader family – Harry, Lacey and seven-year-old daughter Alice – is settling into a new home secluded outside Dunn following a move from Atlanta. Harry, a school administrator, harbors a devastating secret. Lacey, a paralegal, is deeply troubled by Harry’s defensive and distant behavior of the past three months.

Lingering in the background is a cloud of suspicion hanging over the Schraders’ new residence. Many locals believe the house is haunted, a rumor perpetuated by the inexplicable disappearance of the previous occupants.

Lacey’s first trip to the grocery store ramps up the tension when she encounters an old man with a dire prediction:

The old man paused and glanced at the stock boy and then to the other patrons in the store. “You all know it to be true,” he said. “You all know she and her family is in danger … why don’t you tell her?”

More strangeness ensues when Harry finds a decomposed carcass in the woods, and his daughter Alice is spooked by something tapping on her window. Lacey’s drifter brother, Dwight, drops by for a brief stay but soon vanishes, mysteriously leaving his motorcycle behind.

The sheriff, Travis Horne, investigates Dwight’s disappearance, while Lacey investigates what happened to the previous owners, setting up the dramatic second half of Wood Ape.

While Wood Ape is a Bigfoot novel, Mosley manages to add an interesting wrinkle to the cryptid subgenre, particularly with Harry’s secret.

Baker County Bigfoot Chronicle

Most of Mosley’s other books are creature features, and the author even revisited Sasquatch in his follow-up novel, Baker County Bigfoot Chronicle.

“I do believe that Bigfoot is real,” Mosley said. “I’ve really researched and explored the subject in depth, and when you see all the many reported sightings that there are across the U.S. alone, there is just too much evidence there to dismiss it as only legend and fable. Sure, there are hoaxes out there too, but in my opinion, those are given much more attention than the actual, unexplainable encounters. It seems to me that society, in general, would rather not believe these things to be true and will take every opportunity to make it seem as though they are not.”

Mosley.jpg

C.G. Mosley

I asked Mosley why Bigfoot remains so prevalent in pop culture today.

“Bigfoot is a mystery, and everyone loves a good mystery,” Mosley said. “Not only that, it is a mystery that exists right outside most people’s back doors. I read a study one time that said almost three-quarters of Americans have paranormal beliefs. Obviously, Bigfoot is a part of that, and those beliefs will be projected in film and books for many years to come.”

NEXT UP | Chapter Six: Big Legend. I review the 2018 horror film Big Legend written and directed by Justin Lee.

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LINKS FOR C.G. MOSLEY

Social Media Links:

Twitter | Facebook |  Instagram |  Goodreads

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | SeveredPress | Amazon

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LINKS FOR THE BIGFOOT FILES:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: The Road Best Not Taken

Twitter Tech Thursday Scavenger Hunt

Today is Thursday, HorrorAddicts, and you know what that means? It’s time for the Twitter Tech Thursday Scavenger Hunt! We invite all Horror Addicts to join in, PLAY the game, and WIN exciting mystery prizes!

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. RULES HAVE CHANGED.

HOW TO PLAY:

1.) HorrorAddicts.net will tweet five clues which lead players to a book on Emerian Rich’s Amazon Page each week.

2.) The clues will come in the form of questions. (i.e. I have touched the vein and caused the crimson stain. What am I?)

3.) When a player finds the picture, they will comment on the Tweet with their answer. (i.e. The Vampire lips on the cover of Kill Switch. Kill Switch is the answer.)

4.) Those with correct answers will have their names entered into a drawing at the end of the day.

5.) The player whose name is drawn will be declared the winner.

6.) HorrorAddicts.net employees may participate in this promotion.

PRIZES:

1.) The winner will receive a mystery prize from HorrorAddicts.net.

2.) If no correct answer is given, no prize is awarded. Instead, it is rolled over to the following week.

No one won last week’s hunt and so the prize has rolled over to this one. This is the final week.

It’s easy as that Horror Addicts! Solve the clues, find the book, comment on the Tweet with the correct answer to enter the drawing, and Stay Spooky!

Kill Switch Chilling Chat with Dana Hammer

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Dana Hammer is the author of several short stories which have been published in various magazines, journals and anthologies. She has never used a lawnmower.Dana Hammer

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

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

2.) What author has influenced you most?

I don’t know. I like to think I have my own style.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Mow-Bot?”

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

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

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

Of course, they don’t have free will, they’re fictional characters, who I created. I can make them do whatever I want.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

No, music is too distracting. I like it silent when I write. I do like to create playlists that I listen to BEFORE I write, to get me in the mood.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Same place everyone does.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

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

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

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

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Tales from the Crypt!

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

Right now I’m working on screenplays. My short story, “Spider” was optioned, and turned into a short film, which should be released in October of this year. My screenplay, Red Wings won the Vancouver Badass Film Festival Best Screenplay award, so I’m trying to get that produced. My novels, Dead Viking Rehab and Pazuzu Versus the Fucking Fairies are now available for purchase, so you should purchase them.

 

Kill Switch Chilling Chat with Tim O’Neal

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Tim O’Neal graduated from UC Berkeley. He served ten months in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and is currently working on a dual Masters in nutritionTim O'Neal science and exercise physiology. When he is not studying, he plays guitar or explores California by bicycle. “REMS” is his first short story.

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

I was 15 years old.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Stephen King inspired me to write horror after I read The Shining in high school. I told myself I wanted to write something as well done and scary as that.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “REMS?”

I was bored working at my day job in a gray cubicle beneath the fluorescent lights. I had an idea for remote controlled maggots and how much fun that could be. I scribbled down a few things in a nearby notebook (complete with doodles!). After a few years, those ideas developed into the current story.

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

I think the best writing happens when you can hypnotize yourself into a state of creative unconscious. The most believable fiction occurs when you take yourself out of the driver’s seat and ride shotgun, letting your characters do what they wish; however good or bad the result.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I used to listen to music like Green Day while writing. But I outgrew the practice. Now I mostly write in silence. It helps me focus.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration just by letting my unconscious mind turn over different thoughts, ideas, images, visuals, sayings; basically anything that happens to me in a day gets churned up and blended together. Sometimes you get a gem.

KSCoverSmall7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. I have so many favorite horror novels. The Shining is up there, of course. So is Justin Cronin’s The Passage. As well as Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

I normally don’t watch horror movies. I prefer comedies.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Stranger Things!!

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

I continue to write every day, writing down ideas, editing old stuff, and putting down new ideas. I hope that, in time, more of my stories will find homes with attentive readers.

Chilling Chat: Episode 167 | Selah Janel

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Selah Janel was blessed with a giant imagination, even if it made her gullible enough to wonder if fairies lurked in the woods and vampires waited in abandoned barns outside of selahtown as a child. As an adult, she writes in various genres, including horror and dark fantasy. Her work has been published in multiple anthologies, magazines, e-books, and a short story collection. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her faeries to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.

Selah is a wonderful and natural storyteller. We spoke of acting, writing, and the creative process.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Selah.

SJ: Thanks for having me!

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

SJ: Oh, man. I’ve been aware of the genre my whole life. I was such a gullible scaredy cat as a kid—relatives convinced me all sorts of things were real and coming to get me. I was also super curious—I was the kid that would sneak off at the video store and read the boxes of every horror movie even though I couldn’t even sit through the movie commercials. When I hit junior high, I began to read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, got into urban legends, that kind of thing. In college and doing theater, I got into Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King…I’d hole up in bookshops on my non-show days and read when I was away working. And then, I began to do work on haunted houses, so I felt like I had to up my game and learn the genre. It’s been a slow progression my whole life!

NTK: How do you work with haunted houses? Are you a ghost hunter?

SJ: I mean haunted houses in the entertainment sense—amusement parks. For about ten or eleven years, I did a lot of work in that area. It started with performance to make some side money, and, because I also do costume work, it turned into that and character design and some concept work on ideas and themes for different houses and mazes. Not that I haven’t seen some really odd things in actual haunted places, but in this case, it’s all entertainment!

NTK: Oh, I see! What is the strangest thing that ever happened while you were performing in a haunted house?

SJ: Oh, man. It’s all on a scale of weird, really, because these are situations you just don’t walk into during normal life. Performance-wise, it was more about the people coming through. They get weird ideas of what’s allowed and tend to forget there are people under the makeup, so I got really good at being aggressive and chasing people out of the maze— I was the main character in the last room—so they wouldn’t try to grab me and try anything. Tech-wise, a lot of meetings you’re talking about things that sound insane—what’s the right amount of blood, which zombies need which clothes, etc., though a lot of that is safety and logistics, too. For me, nothing will beat the night I was walking between buildings to put some things away and these club cars zoom up and start chasing me. It’s like one in the morning and, at first, I’m blowing it off because there are people decorating, but they weren’t slowing down, so I take off running and get cut off by one. The headlights were blinding and I was already tired and freaked out, so when the guys driving these things jumped out and I saw they were covered in blood and had fangs I about lost my mind…until I realized they were friends of mine who were also working late setting things up after a rehearsal. Pranking each other during those runs is definitely a thing.

Also, I was in the Friday the 13th theme park show. Jason killed me five times a night. Six on Saturdays! (Laughs.)

NTK: That is really scary! (Laughs.) Did this job inspire your story, “Wallpaper?”

SJ: In terms of how I think of things, probably. Even doing costumes we’d usually tour the houses or zones and look at the rooms to get an idea of the environment so things could match up. As far as direct inspiration, it started with a picture I was given for the Ladies of Horror Flash Challenge—those participating get a picture and have to do a flash piece for it. “Wallpaper” started as my original idea for it, but it went long on word count so I tucked it aside and did something else. But physical places and the possibilities in them definitely intrigue me. We all go through our lives so quickly these days, it was interesting to think that something as innocent as wallpaper could change a life.

NTK: Awesome! What’s your creative process like? Do you plot? Fly by the seat of your pants? Or a little of both?

SJ: I do some of each. I like to have a beginning and end point at the very least unless it’s a flash piece. For me, those are more about moments with a small plot arc. For longer pieces, usually a concept or idea will hit me and I’ll sit with it a while. I want to make sure there’s an actual story there. If I get more ideas or feel really excited I’ll jump in and aim toward the end goal. Usually, while I’m writing things will change direction or characters will make different choices than I’d planned. I try to stay open to that because some of my better ideas and story moments have come from that instinct.

NTK: So, your characters have free will? You don’t control them?

MoonerSJ: I’d say they have input, but I’m controlling the reins. If something doesn’t feel true to them then I’m not going to do it. I’m willing to change direction to a point, but if a moment doesn’t fit the story it doesn’t fit the story. I do think that sometimes I can get really in my head plot-wise, wanting to check off boxes, so those are the times where if something comes out of nowhere, I’ll at least explore it. It’s definitely a balancing act.

NTK: What horror authors have influenced you? Who is your favorite author?

SJ: There are so many! Ray Bradbury. All of his work is exquisite, and I love his use of description and little emotional moments that build his stories. In his horror work, he’s so good at his endings. I think he said that he wanted things to feel like someone missing a stair, and that’s exactly what it feels like, this okay…wait, oh my god! I also really love Neil Gaiman. His use of folklore makes me so happy, and he just really GOES there in some of his pieces. Emotionally, he’s a dark, beautiful, uncomfortable, fantastic ride. I read Nancy A. Collins’ Sonja Blue books in my early twenties and they’re amazing and horrifying. The world building is so good underneath the layers of atrocities and nihilism. It really showed me that I can be a woman author and still go in hard if I want to. I like a lot of Clive Barker, love Shirley Jackson. I love a lot of horror comics and manga— I feel like so many people are missing out because they don’t realize how good the stories in those forms are. You can’t beat Junji Ito for creepy body horror. In terms of a favorite author, that’s so hard! Probably a tie between Bradbury and Gaiman, though there are a LOT right behind them.

NTK: So what is your favorite novel?

SJ: American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I get something new out of it every time I read it. It’s unsettling, relevant, and the world and character building are exquisite. The car raffle gets me every time!

NTK: Is American Gods also your favorite horror TV show? If not, what is?

SJ: I’ve only seen the first season so far— I’m one of those that likes to wait til a season is out so I can watch it all at once. I think American Gods does a lot right—there’s a lot of people who would like it to be more like the book, but I don’t have any big complaints on the first season, and I love that they give the female roles more time. In terms of my favorite, I’m probably going to have to say the original Twilight Zone, though I haven’t seen the new one yet to compare, so that’s not me taking a stance on anything! I love anthology shows, and to me, there was such a great aesthetic there. Not all the episodes were great, but because of sheer volume, I think people got exposed to a lot of great “what if” lines of thought that gets under the skin.

NTK: What’s your favorite horror film?

SJ: I feel like the moment I give any answer besides this, people are going to come after me, so it has to be The Lost Boys. Granted, I haven’t seen it in years, but I first saw it in its entirety at a low place in my life and when I was really getting into the genre. Despite the eighties-ness, there are real stories of family and connection going on, and the production design is so cool. It felt accessible enough to me at a time when everything felt above my head while I was still in school for theater and felt like writing could only be a sometimes hobby. Along came this movie into my life and it hit me, “Oh wow, I could do something like that.” If we’re talking any other horror movie, I still kinda pick and choose because I’m more of a wuss than people realize, but I like a lot of Japanese horror, and I liked most of A Quiet Place, loved The VVitch and The Babadook.

NTK: You have experience with acting, who do you think is the best actor you’ve ever seen in a horror film? Who really made it believable?

SJ: Oh man, that’s so hard! The performance that’s really impressed and haunted me within the past few years—from what I’ve seen—is Essie Davis in The Babadook. She juggles a very real portrayal of grief with dealing with the stress of motherhood and the difficulties her child is experiencing. She just goes there in a way that for me is really raw and true. This isn’t just running away from a monster—this is dealing with so many layers and juggling emotions. You feel for her character and you dislike her in places. She comes across as so human, which can be so hard to do, to portray a role like that naturally. There’s a bit at the end when she’s been through hell and is standing in the basement just experiencing the aftershock of things—it’s intense. And when you compare that to the fact that she’s also Miss Fisher, which is WAY on the other end of the genre scale—I never would have initially believed it was the same person. Those are the types of surprises I love and the performances that really impress me.

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

SJ: I feel like I’m mid-transition at the moment. I had to really take a breath and figure out where I was going and what I wanted to do a year or so ago, and make changes Lost in the Shadowsaccordingly. I’m doing a lot of writing at the moment, a lot of submitting, so as far as concrete projects, that’s still in flux, though I think a lot of artistic life is like that, more than a lot of people realize. I’m editing some books I hope to shop around in the future that I’m really excited about, and writing things of all different lengths. I’ve also been exploring screenwriting and learning from that, so really while there’s nothing I can talk specifically about at the moment, I think there are going to be some really cool things down the road.

NTK: Thank you so much for joining me! You were a great interview!

SL: Thanks again for having me! This was so much fun!

Addicts, you can find Selah on Facebook and Twitter.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: The Road Best Not Taken

“The Road Best Not Taken” by horror author and video game writer Richard Dansky is a treasure I discovered during the Georgia Bigfoot Conference in April. It’s a riveting short story propelled by the eyewitness testimony of a Bigfoot encounter.

“I’ve always been a Bigfoot fan ever since I saw the Bigfoot episode of ‘In Search Of …’ way, way, way, way, way back in the day,” Dansky said in an exclusive interview for The Bigfoot Files. “It’s always been something I’ve been interested in …  reading about encounters people have had with Bigfoot. The story was actually inspired by an account I heard. Reading about that encounter I saw the seeds of a good story in there if I just expand it a little bit.”

snowbird gothic“The Road Best Not Taken” is one of nineteen short stories in Dansky’s collection titled Snowbird Gothic. Dansky is also a video game writer at Ubisoft, and his credits include work on Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Outland, and Rainbow Six: Black Arrow. He also wrote the novel Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: Dark Waters.

Tom Clancy Dark Waters

While Dansky’s short story “The Road Best Not Taken” is a far cry from the world of Tom Clancy, his tale is a compelling illustration of how a traumatic encounter can alter the path of someone’s life. Narrated in the first person by a second-grade teacher named Barry, “The Road Best Not Taken” is a dramatic eyewitness account of Bigfoot with a twist.

The setting is a beach bonfire where four old college friends – Barry, Sam, Harris, and Jeremy – reunite and catch up on each other’s lives. However, the only real information Barry’s friends want to know is the reason for his breakup with a redhead named Jaimie nine years ago.

“I could tell you what happened, but I don’t think you’d believe me.”

His friends push Barry to explain what happened.

“If I tell you, will you let it go? It’s not a story I want to tell twice.”

And just like that, Dansky expertly hooks the reader, and you feel like one of Barry’s college friends sitting around the bonfire. Like Sam, Harris, and Jeremy, you have to know what happened between Barry and Jaimie.

And what happened was Bigfoot, but not in the way you’d expect.

Barry’s account starts with him driving from Chapel Hill to Elizabeth City to visit Jaimie during his college days. He hits construction an hour east of Raleigh and makes the fateful decision to take a shortcut. He gets lost on the backroads leading to his Bigfoot encounter.

Barry struggles at times to tell the story to his friends because they can’t relate to his experience. He’s like a soldier trying to describe the frontlines of a war zone to civilians who’ve never served in the military.

What elevates “The Road Best Not Taken” is Dansky’s earnest description of the Bigfoot encounter and his empathy for the narrator. Dansky seems to understand how a Bigfoot encounter would affect an eyewitness emotionally and psychologically.

Dansky is a Bigfoot believer himself and knows people who say they’ve seen the cryptid, which may be why “The Road Best Not Taken” feels so authentic.

Richard Dansky.jpg

Richard Dansky

“I have eight friends who have seen Bigfoot, so I’m not inclined to call them liars,” Dansky said. “I have never seen Bigfoot myself. I’m a city boy.”

I asked Dansky why Bigfoot remains so prevalent in pop culture today.

“I think part of it is the mystery of ‘Is it really out there?’ There’s a little bit of realism to it you don’t get from vampires and zombies,” Dansky said. “And part of it is Bigfoot stands for the untamed wilderness, which is still a big part of this country’s psyche, I think.”

“I believe Bigfoot is out there,” Dansky added. “I believe Bigfoot is a large primate, and I hope he continues to confound and amaze us for many years.”

NEXT UP | Chapter Five: Wood Ape. I review the horror novel Wood Ape by C.G. Mosley, featuring an exclusive interview with the author about how the Bigfoot legend inspired his story.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

RELATED LINKS:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 4 Quick Questions with Daphne Strasert, Emerian Rich, and Naching T. Kassa

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

 Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal. Her romance/horror cross over, Artistic License, is about a woman who inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net 

Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror author. She resides in Eastern Washington State with her husband, Dan, their three children, and their dog. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.

1.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

DS: I like to listen to music while I write. I find that lyrics are good when I’m thinking emz1smallabout my stories, but when I actually write, I prefer instrumental music. Two Steps from Hell is a personal favorite.

ER: It varies depending on what I am writing. I try to find a genre or theme song for the character I am writing and play it when I’m writing an intense scene with them. If I am just writing, in general, it’s either 90’s Goth, big band Jazz, or 80’s.

NTK: I love to listen to KISS, Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Steppenwolf—anything from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One of my favorite and most inspirational CDs is music by Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann composed music for most of Alfred Hitchcock’s films and it’s terrific for writing horror.

2.) Where do you find inspiration?

DS: I find it helpful to look at art and design concepts. Pinterest has a great platform for artists to post fantasy, science fiction, and horror concept art. I keep several boards of inspirational images and quotes that relate to my stories.IMG_1979

ER: Everywhere. I used to think I had to go to a certain place or see a certain film to create, but really, I am always creating in my head whether my pen is to paper or not.

NTK:  Things just come to me. They just seem to slip through the door between my conscious and unconscious mind.

3.) What is your favorite piece of “Tech” horror?

DS: I really enjoyed Ex Machina. The intersection of technology and humanity has always fascinated me (I have degrees in computer science and psychology).

ER: I really enjoyed some of the Black Mirror episodes. My favorites were about tech that we are just around the corner from like “Fifteen Million Merits” and “Nosedive.”

NTK: Ok. People may disagree with this, but it was scary to me. My favorite piece of “Tech Horror” is the movie, WarGames starring Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman. A young guy accidentally hacking into a military computer and initiating WW III? It was really frightening, especially when you’re growing up in the shadow of nuclear war.

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

DS: I’m currently working on my second novel, a mystery, that I will be submitting the KSCoverSmallagents and publishers later this year.

ER: Wow. Do any of us know? I hope I will keep writing and become a better writer as I go–which is always my goal. I could wish for cloning to become a thing so that I could be more than one person and write all the millions of ideas in my head, but I’m sure it would inevitably go bad and the world would be overrun by Emz. Now, THAT would be a horror story.

NTK: I have a short story coming out in the anthology, Dark Transitions, published by Thirteen O’clock Press. I’m Editing Dark Divinations for HorrorAddicts.net, and I have a story in a big anthology I’ve been trying to get into for several years. I just about fainted when I found out I was accepted.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Garth von Buchholz

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Garth von Buchholz is an author of dark poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and drama. His poetry books include Mad Shadows and his fiction has been published in various Garth von Buchholzanthologies. Garth is also the founder of the International Edgar Allan Poe Society. He lives in Canada on Vancouver Island. 

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

Probably about six years old. I had a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, some of which were pretty disturbing for a young mind. But they were so profound and compelling because they spoke the truth about good and evil and death and tragedy, so I loved them. Later I was enamored with some of the classic horror films I saw on TV as well as reruns of old horror shows such as The Twilight Zone.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Edgar Allan Poe is my muse. I’ve written scholarly articles about Poe’s work, was interviewed about Poe for the Washington Post and was the founder of the International Edgar All Poe Society in 2009, the 200th anniversary of his birthday. But back in college, I realized that I couldn’t just mimic him, I didn’t want to try to write like a 19th-century author—I needed to find my own 20th-century voice.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “HAÜS?”

“HAÜS” is about the coldness and ruthlessness of technology. I’ve been working in digital media since the 1990s. A relative of mine owns a wireless security camera company, and after we talked about his work installing security systems in homes and businesses, I wondered if there would ever be a home security system so diabolically deadly that not even a group of skilled home invaders could penetrate it.

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

I’m like God—my characters can do what they want while they’re still alive, but ultimately I know when they will die and how.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I’ve done it before, but the problem is that when I’m playing a good song and I’m really in the fever mode, writing intensely, the song comes to an end and that distracts me. Or, I put something on loop but eventually, the looping starts distracting me too. Usually, Radiohead helps me.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

Many times my inspiration is from some news story I’ve read. Fact often converts into fiction very seamlessly.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

How can I decide on one? Legion by William Peter Blatty or The Stand by Stephen King.

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

The Exorcist III (based on the novel Legion)

9.) Favorite horror television show?

The Stand (miniseries, 1994) And, I’m so excited to see the new TV miniseries being developed.

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

I’ve started a manuscript for a novella about a freakish wild beast who stalks a mountain near a town. Also, I’m continually writing dark poetry with horror themes. I’d like to write poetry that actually scares people. That’s an ambition.

Addicts, you can find Garth on his new Blog.