Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Garrett Rowlan

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Garrett Rowlan is a retired sub teacher for LAUSD. Garrett RowlanHis novel To Die, To Sleep was published by James Ward Kirk.   

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

Around the age of six, I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon and it scared me, and later Blood of Dracula. I viewed many horror movies at the Park Theater on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. It is now a 99-cent store.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon were two influences in my early 20’s. George Orwell in high school. In later years, I found much to ponder in the work of Jorge Luis Borges.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Go Gently?”

When I was a kid, we meanly joked that all old people be killed off; now that I’m old, that doesn’t seem so funny.

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

In longer fiction, my characters have some free will. In short fiction they are, as Nabakov once said, “galley slaves.”

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

All kinds of music, but ambient isolationism (Thomas Koner, Eno, etc.) is the best.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

Riding the bus around LA, going to movies, I find lots to see and ponder.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Revival by Stephen King is good. Elizabeth Hand is good. Lately, I’ve discovered Paul Tremblay.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallThe Haunting, the original black and white. Saw it on the night I graduated from junior high.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

I don’t watch TV much. No cable or streaming access. I used to love The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

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

My novel, Too Solid Flesh Melts, was just published by Alban Lake and The Vampire Circus is due to be published this year–or next?–by Barking Rain Press. Also, I will have two stories in The Best of The Moon. And, another story will be published in the inaugural issue of All Worlds Wayfarer.

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Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Chantal Boudreau

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Chantal Boudreau is a speculative fiction writer from Sambro, Nova Scotia with a focus in horror and fantasy. She has published in Canada in the anthologies Tesseracts 20, Dead Chantal BoudreauNorth, Clockwork Canada, and Chillers from the Rock, amongst others.  Outside of Canada, she has published more than fifty stories.

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

I was aware of horror from a young age.  I always enjoyed scary stories as a child, and I remember watching Tales of the Unexpected and reading horror comics when I was still in elementary school.  I started reading my sister’s horror novels as a pre-teen, which is also when I got to first see the original Dawn of the Dead.  I was hooked from then on.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

I can’t say it was one author.  When it comes to horror it would be a mixture of Tanith Lee, Stephen King, and Fredric Brown, primarily, but there were many other influences.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Strange Music?”

Waiting for the bus one day, I heard a familiar birdsong that was just a little “off.”  My imagination grabbed the moment and ran with it.

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

I start off giving them traits and thoughts, directing them into the plot, but after a certain point they develop to a point of realism where they start doing their own thing.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

Yes-I listen to a lot of alternative rock, Finger Eleven, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars, etc., and some darker pop-Peter Gabriel, Pink, and Billie Eilish, for example.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

Everywhere-things friends or family say, experiences from my past, my own worries and fears, something I see or hear that happens to spark my imagination.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

I’d have to say Stephen King’s It.

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

That one’s harder.  I love the classics, like George Romero’s zombie movies, and modern horror like Get Out but I’d have to say the one I found the most visceral and sensory was Perfume.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

I was a fan of Z Nation, despite its camp, and sad that it was canceled.  I’d say my favourite right now is Santa Clarita Diet-it is quirky, gross and fun.

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

I’ll just look into my crystal ball…seriously, I have no clue.  I keep putting something out there and hoping things will stick.  I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep dreaming.

Addicts, you can find Chantal on Facebook and Twitter.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with 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 PlagueHERoulo_Feb2011_small Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec Award Finalist. 

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

I don’t recall my first discovery of horror—after all, it’s always there even in children’s books like Berenstain Bears Spooky Old Tree.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

My favorite books are sci-fi/horror crossovers, especially if they’re post-apocalyptic like Z for Zacharia by Robert C. O’Brien or The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. I loved C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy, starting with Black Sun Rising.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Angels Don’t Fear Heights?”

I actually thought that “Angels Don’t Fear Heights” would be a flash piece just of the scene with the lawyer. The idea was someone so controlling that he continued to dominate even after death. I imagined the vengeful dead person returning to savor leaving the protagonist out of the will. How perfect, then, to have the solution be to dig up the body and cash in on the tech that had made it possible. From there, the idea of this undead-yet-dead person still popping up to control someone’s life was eerie enough I had to write it. Regrettably, I had to give up on the graverobbing treasure-hunt for the body, since it was stronger this way.

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

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.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

Many authors can’t listen to songs with lyrics while writing, but that’s not the case for me. I know my writing is going especially well when I suddenly notice we’re in the middle of a song I wasn’t hearing because I was so focused. I listen to everything—in fact, new is usually better so I put songs on shuffle. Sometimes, however, if there’s a song with just the right mood I’ll quickly put it on repeat until the scene is fully written.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration isn’t the problem, it’s all around us if we pay attention. Creating an idea that’s full enough to support a whole story is the problem. I wish I could remember my various inspirations throughout the day to bring them together into one story because that’s when it gets interesting.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

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.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallI’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.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

The Black Mirror series has me hooked.

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

I have several books I’m sitting on right now, including the sequel to my YA Zombie sci-fi Plague Master: Sanctuary Dome. I also have a sci-fi vampire book looking for a publisher, and a superhero novella written from the point of view of the villain called Heart of Marble.

 

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Bill Davidson

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Bill Davidson is a Scottish writer of horror and fantasy. In the last few years, he has placed over thirty short stories with publications around the world including with Ellen Bill 4Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Anthology and large distribution magazines. 

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

I was about 18 when I scared the crap out of myself reading Salem’s Lot. But long before that I was hooked on the old Hammer Horror films, watched them any chance I got–I started at about 12.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Stephen King and Elmore Leonard. Sorry, that’s two, not counting Neil Gaiman.

3.)    What inspired you to write your piece, “Intelligenie?”

The true horror of today is corporate greed-the only sanction the multi-nationals care about is loss of profit and they will see people die and the planet burn if it means they turn a dollar. Then you look at the amount of time, energy and money being spent on developing AI and think, what resource might the multi-national company’s get hold of that will provide the same thing more easily? One thing the world has no shortage of is humans.

Also, at the time of writing, US scientists have just revived part of a dead pig’s brain, which was a major inspiration despite the fact that it hadn’t happened when I wrote my story. Proving that SF authors get inspired by things that haven’t happened yet.

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

I start with an idea of a story, and of the main characters. But, my characters always seem to develop ideas of their own and, frankly, I love it when that happens. That’s where the good stuff comes from. Free will? Not really.

5.)    Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I kind of feel I should. I like to imagine myself listening to something highly cultural whilst producing erudite prose. But it just distracts me, so I don’t.

6.)    Where do you find inspiration?

Other writers, the news, overheard conversations, things I see on trains.

7.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

That’s hard. It’s probably IT, but I recently read Man With No Name by Laird Barron and loved it.

8.)    Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallEven harder. I’m going for the one that really did scare me when I went to see it at the movies-Alien.

9.)    Favorite horror television show?

The first few series of True Blood.

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

I’m writing hard! I’ve written three novels and about sixty shorts in the three years since I left my job in local government. It’s hard finding a publisher for my longer stuff, but I’m determined to do it. My horror novel The King of the Crows is properly scary. Really!

Addicts, you can find Bill on Twitter.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Laurel Anne Hill

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Laurel Anne Hill has authored two award-winning novels, most recently The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press), a gripping spirits-meet-steampunk tale set in an Laurel Anne Hill Promotional 2015alternate 19th Century California. Laurel’s published short stories total over thirty. She’s a Literary Stage Manager, speaker, anthology editor, and writing contest judge.

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

I was eight years old when my mom took me to see the scary science fiction movie The Thing from Another World. Afterwards, I had nightmares for weeks. Sometime between age seven and ten, Mom took me to see Dracula (starring Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff). No nightmares from those two films. I became hooked on classical horror.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Many authors have influenced me a great deal. If I can only name one, however, I’ll say Ray Bradbury.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “13th Maggot?”

An article in the newspaper about medical maggots caught my attention. Plus, I worked several years in the field of regulatory compliance for a biotechnology startup company.

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

I give my characters a lot of personal space during the first manuscript draft or two. After that, we generally need to have some serious discussions inside of my brain. Often my point prevails, but not always. For example, in “13th Maggot,” ongoing drafts held complicated conflicts between my main character and the woman she works with in the lab. The complexity detracted from the main story, but it took my protagonist great effort to show me why we needed a change.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I used to listen to music often when writing, or before sitting down to write. This music connected me to my protagonists’ emotions. The pattern changed during the final years of my husband’s life. David—my beloved—was the co-protagonist in my daily life, our joint story written with each sunrise and sunset. These days, I’m trying to reintroduce music to my writing experience. I concentrate on the same sort of music as before: general classical, world, baroque organ, ballet and opera favorites, 50’s favorites, bagpipes, and other music David and I used to listen to together.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! Rain hitting my face. Tulips blooming. The sound of a steam locomotive’s whistle. The early morning taste of coffee. The odor of pine trees. Sunrises and sunsets. Shadows on the bedroom ceiling in the dark.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course, tied for first place with several others, such as The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

The Shining, without a doubt.

KSCoverSmall9.) Favorite horror television show?

The six o’clock news.

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

I’m going through the process of finding a freelance fantasy/magical realism editor for my novel-in-progress: Plague of Flies. Sand Hill Review Press has expressed interest in the final product. Plague of Flies is not a horror story, but blends true horrific events with fantasy and magical realism in 1846 Mexican California, during the Bear Flag Rebellion, when the USA stole Alta California from Mexico.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Phillip T. Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens writes and rescues cats in Austin, Texas. He publishes several times a week for Medium. He is a  contributing author to our new anthology, Kill Switch

1.)    How old were you when you first discovered horror?Phillip T. Stephens

Other than life as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid in general? I don’t remember my exact age, but I remember the event. I was in elementary school, and my father insisted I accompany him to a youth retreat for high school students. The facility was creepy, but the moment of crisis occurred when he showed a movie at midnight (don’t laugh) Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. Toward the very end of the movie is a quick shot of the mummy’s bones, which for some reason I can’t explain having watched the movie a dozen times as an adult, scared the living bejeezus out of me. I couldn’t sleep that night.

The next day we went for a hike around the lake. (If you’ve seen Tarkovsky’s Solaris, think of the lake at Kelvin’s parents’ house.) We rounded a bend and I spotted a moss covered stick poking from the water, a stick which, at that moment, I mistook for a human finger.

I couldn’t sleep by myself for months. Instead, I slept on a cot in my sister’s room, which probably contributed more to my adult neuroses than the moments of terror I experienced at the retreat.

2.)    What author has influenced you most?

Walker Percy, but I suspect you mean horror writer. From a literary standpoint, Peter Straub, but from a writer’s standpoint Steven King. I lived for each new release for several years until The Stand, which became the manual for everything I never wanted to do as a writer. I loved the story, but the prose was atrocious. I continued to read him until It when I couldn’t pick up another book.

This doesn’t change my respect for what he’s accomplished, and I faithfully followed his exploits with Joe Bob Briggs (John Bloom), redneck film reviewer as long as Bloom’s column ran.

3.)    What inspired you to write your piece, “Subroutines?”

I was working with a writing group on the topic “passing through a doorway.”

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

If I like the direction they’re taking, they’re free to do as they please. If I think they’re interfering with the story, I’ll slap them down in a heartbeat.

5.)    Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I have, but I also write with the TV on.  Looking back, I’d say my biggest influences are Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, and Brian Eno.

6.)    Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve trained myself to take inspiration from scraps of information and passing thoughts. I often riff off (aka rip-off) strands of conversation. But it could be a reflection in a window, an asshole ordering coffee, or something that passes the corner of my eye.

7.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

William Browning Spencer’s Zod Wallop. Think night terrors wrapped in a meltdown and surrounded by a mind fuck. Spencer is a brilliant writer that few readers know.

KSCoverSmall8.)    Favorite horror movie?

Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Many consider it science fiction, and it is, and others find it tedious, but this movie exemplifies Tarkovsky’s ability to make beauty from debris. The movie explores the premise: what happens when you discover what your heart truly desires?

9.)    Favorite horror television show?

Twin Peaks. Nobody twists angst into terror better than Lynch.

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

That depends on the publications to which I submit. My life is in the hand of good editors like you. I’m making the final corrections to the novella version of my #TweetNovel Doublemint Gumshoe which I posted Tweet-by-Tweet for the better part of a year. Think the mob, digital gangs, the tech industry, aliens, nanobots and the dumbest detective who ever lived. We’ll see what happens.

You can find Phillip on Twitter and Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Episode 166 Isobel Blackthorn

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Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side Blackthorn_Isobelare Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. Her Canary Islands’ collection begins with “The Drago Tree” and includes “A Matter of Latitude” and “Clarissa’s Warning”. Her interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey, and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. Her short story, ‘Lacquer’, appears in the esteemed A Time for Violence anthology.

Isobel is a gracious and charming woman. We spoke of inspirations, influences, and surprising characters.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Isobel! Thank you for joining me today. Could you tell the Horror Addicts how old you were when you discovered horror?

IB: I discovered horror when I was sixteen and sat petrified in the movie theatre watching The Omen. Then came Rosemary’s Baby. I am not sure which was more terrifying. I could not bring myself to watch Carrie or The Exorcist. I was too easily spooked.

NTK: What author has influenced you most?

IB: Both King and Stoker were my early influences. Now I have been introduced to the novels of many horror authors, including the magnificent Sangré by Carlos Colón, a vampire tale like no other, and Return to Hiroshima by Bob van Laerhoven, which is as classy as noir thrillers get.

NTK: What inspired you to write The Cabin Sessions?

IB: The Cabin Sessions arose out of a combination of factors that were going on in my life at the time. That was how the book started out.

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

IB: As soon as I started writing The Cabin Sessions, a minor character stepped forward and took over the narrative. Nothing like that has happened to me as a writer before or since. It was a very dark and confronting process, giving her the freedom to express The Cabin Sessionsherself. I had my own internal horror story going on inside of me during the writing process as a result.

NTK: What is your creative process like? Do you outline before writing? Or do you just write as the mood strikes you?

IB: A little of both. I start out with an idea, which gradually gathers substance. I conjure a few characters, the setting, and the bones of a plot. Then, once I have enough, which usually takes a year, I start writing. I let the voice come, the narrator. Once I have the narrator, I write the first chapter and see where it takes me. Then, there is usually a bit of figuring out before I write the next few chapters. After that, I only plot when I have to. Sometimes I know the ending, sometimes I don’t.

NTK: Where do you find inspiration?

IB: I am inspired by everything. I follow my passion and it leads me all over the place. Every book I write is unique as a result. Horror is a vast genre and as soon as The Cabin Sessions came out and I tried to define it–it’s a dark psychological thriller–I began to explore all the other kinds of horror fiction out there and wondered where I was heading next. I decided I had an appetite for dark thrillers and as soon as I was introduced to Giallo, I was sold. My novel, Twerk, set in a Las Vegas strip club, draws on Giallo tropes.

NTK: What is the difference between a thriller and a horror story?

IB: A thriller follows certain rules and does not necessarily contain any horror tropes. Horror is all about the tropes. Horror is there to shock, to horrify, to revolt. Thrillers seek to thrill. I write dark thrillers and there is enough horror in them for all but the most hardline horror aficionados.

NTK: In your opinion, why do people enjoy horror? What attracts them to darkness?

IB: People like the adrenalin rush. It’s the same as a roller coaster. You are wobbly when you get off and kinda pleased it was over, then the rush fades out and you are in the queue for the next ride. It is very addictive.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?A Time for Violence

IB: I have written three dark fiction novels and a few dark short stories. One has just come out in A Time for Violence, an anthology including shorts by Richard Chizmar and Max Allan Collins, Paul D. Brazill, Andrew Nette, Joe R. Lansdale, Elka Ray, and Tom Vater. My story, “Lacquer” forms the first chapter of a noir thriller set in San Francisco and Singapore.

I’ve also been shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge prose prize and my story will appear in the anthology.

NTK: Congratulations, Isobel! That’s awesome! Thank you so much for chatting with me.

IB: Thank you so much for this, Naching!

You can find Isobel on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.