David’s Haunted Library: A Stitch Of Madness

David's Haunted Library

28473957What do you get when you have a man driven to madness by an old urban legend, a girl who owns a rag doll that might contain the spirit of her dead mother and a man who may have just gotten a visit from the devil? You get A Stitch Of Madness by A.J. Brown. This anthology contains three stories that all have to do with someone going insane and having to deal with the consequences.

The first story and my favorite  in this book is Catherine’s Well, it deals with a man named Johnny who goes to prison after being accused of killing his best friend Buster. As Johnny tells his story we see that the truth behind the murder is much more complicated. What I liked most about this story is seeing how Johnny reacts to Buster’s decent into madness. At one point Johnny asks himself why he can’t leave his friend as he goes insane and he remembers how Buster was always a good friend through good times and bad. The tragedy in this story is Johnny is punished for his loyalty and witnesses something so horrible that he will never forget it.

The second story is Stitches which is about an abused girl dealing with the death of her mother who owns a rag doll that speaks in her mother’s voice. This is psychological horror at its best because there is a mystery to what is really going on in this story. The imagery in this one was great with the description of the doll’s eyes and her stitches. I also loved the dark mood of this story as it shows what a history of abuse can do to a person. One line in Stitches which describes the main point of the story is: “It’s hard to fix torn material.”

The last story is called A Sickly Sweet Scent which deals with a man who may be the devil looking for work on a farm and maybe a soul also. This story had a Twilight Zone feel to it. I liked the dialogue between characters and the way the story gets more complex as it moves along. In the beginning I thought this was going to be a story of good versus evil but the author took a different approach with it. This tale might make you hate grapes when you’re done reading it

I listened to the audible version of this book read by John Malone and I felt that John’s narration added a lot to each story. John’s deep voice added a sense of menace to the scarier parts of the stories and his delivery was perfect. Each story here reminded me of Stephen King because they are all character driven tales. You feel for all the characters here, when bad things happen to them it’s terrifying, even though the characters are flawed and might have deserved what was coming. A Stitch Of Madness is an example of great horror storytelling that you should put on your to be read list.

An Interview with Mercedes Yardley

Mercedes M. Yardley is our featured author for episode 118 of the Horror Addicts podcast. Mercedes has written several essays, short stories, poems and novels. She said her writing specializes in the dark and beautiful. Recently Mercedes answered a few questions about her writing for us:

When did you start writing?

Beautiful_Sorrows_-_Mercedes_M._YardleyMMY: I’ve always been writing. I was writing and reading stories aloud to my classmates when I was about eight years old. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I loved telling stories. I especially loved telling ghost stories and seeing the other children’s eyes widen. There’s something so elegant about darkness.

What do you like to write about?

MMY: I’m a bit schizophrenic in my subject matter and style. I use writing as a way to process, and sometimes I really don’t know how I feel about something until I’ve written about it. Some of my themes include monsters who love and broken people who have shine. Flowers, stars, and water turn up quite a bit. I write about pretty, deadly things.

Who are some of your influences?

MMY: I was heavily influenced by Erma Bombeck and Elizabeth Berg. Erma Bombeck because she was funny and wrote about everyday things. I loved that she made these common experiences fascinating and meaningful. Elizabeth Berg wrote a book called “Pull of the Moon” that had such a feminine style. It was full of mystery and unabashedly womanly. Up until that point, most women I read sounded stereotypically male, so Berg’s work impacted me.

 What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

MMY: I adore the emotion of it. I love that the horror genre can pull fears and thoughts and sorrowspldg out of readers. It’s a safe place to let those anxieties run free and hopefully get them out of the reader’s mind and soul. I think it’s healthy. I also think there’s something that bonds horror lovers together. We just shared this amazing experience that made you feel things. There’s something so personal about that. Being afraid? Catching your breath? That’s what being alive feels like.

What are some of the books you have out?

MMY: My first book was a collection of short stories called Beautiful Sorrows. It’s 27 different tales ranging from sweet to quite dark. I’m also in an anthology called Grimm Mistresses with my darkest work in there, called “Little Dead Red.”  I have a novella called Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, a novel called Nameless (Book 1 of the Bone Angel Trilogy), and Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy. It’s my favorite thing I ever wrote. Unfortunately, Apocalyptic Montessa, Nameless, and Pretty Little Dead Girls are temporarily out of print since the grimmbeginning of July. I split with the publishers, which was a very tough decision. But another publishing house seems interested in acquiring and releasing all three, so they’ll be out again very soon. Meanwhile, all three books are available as audiobooks on Audible, if somebody would like to experience them aurally. The narrators did a wonderful job.

 Publishing is a tricky business and things like this happen. I think the important part is to be happy and keep writing. Writing is one of my biggest sources of joy, and if it isn’t working with one place, it’s time to come at it from a different angle. If I lose the passion to write, then something is drastically wrong and it’s time for change.

What will you be reading for episode 118 of the Horror Addicts podcast?

MMY: I’m so excited for this reading! This is an excerpt from Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy. The setup is that Bryony, the girl, is destined to be murdered, and since Peter, the runner, is a serial killer, he’s delighted to help her out. But then somebody else trespasses on his territory. The scene starts with Peter hiding in the blackberry bushes while Bryony jogs down a popular running trail. Then she begins to scream.

 Where can you we find you online?

MMY: I’m all over the place online! You can find me on my blog at www.abrokenlaptop.com. I’m also on Twitter as @mercedesmy, and Facebook under Mercedes M. Yardley. Please stop by and say hi! I’d love that. Thank you so much for the interview! It was great fun.