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.

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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.

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 164 Christa Carmen

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Christa Carmen’s work has been featured in myriad anthologies, e-zines, and podcasts, including Fireside Fiction Company, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2, Outpost 28 HorrorAddictsphoto_Carmen,ChristaIssues 2 & 3, Third Flatiron’s Strange Beasties, and Tales to Terrify. Her debut collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, is available now from Unnerving, and won the 2018 Indie Horror Book Award for Best Debut Collection.

Christa is an intriguing and intelligent woman. We spoke of writing, inspiration, and influential authors.

NTK: Thank you for joining me today, Christa.

CC: Thank you so much for having me!

NTK: Could you tell the Horror Addicts how you got interested in horror?

CC: Some of the first books I devoured were the ones in the Bunnicula series, as well as the Goosebumps and Fear Street books by R.L. Stine. I actually had a rather bizarre experience when I was in third grade… I went to a friend’s birthday party (I say ‘friend’ lightly, I think she was more of an acquaintance), and it was a slumber party. There was talk that we were going to partake in some mystical thing called a “Double Feature,” but when the movies in question were revealed, my nine-year-old self was horrified. After being subjected to Leprechaun and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, I walked around in a very Elm Street-esque, sleepless daze for about a week before the memories of those terror-inducing films began to lessen. I steered clear of horror after that for about four years, then gave it another change with Halloween when I was about thirteen. Though I still ruminated long into the night over the chances of Michael Myers making his way into my bedroom, something about this experience must have struck a chord within me, because from that moment on, I was hooked.

NTK: Who are your writing influences?

CC: I’ve split this list between authors who inspired me to first pick up a pen and authors who inspire me to continue writing on a daily basis. That list of authors I grew up reading and wanting to emulate includes R.L. Stine, as well as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Dean Koontz, Frank M. Robinson, Mary Shelley, Margaret Mitchell, Sarah Waters, Sidney Sheldon, Harper Lee, Edgar Allan Poe, and Dan Simmons.

The authors who inspire me to continue writing, who challenge me to be the best writer I can be, include Carmen Maria Machado, Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Jessica McHugh, Nadia Bulkin, Ania Ahlborn, Jac Jemc, Alma Katsu, Christina Sng, Elizabeth Hand, Joyce Carol Oates, Claire C. Holland, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Renee Miller, Theresa Braun, Seanan McGuire, Kelly Link, Damien Angelica Walters, Lauren Groff, Roxane Gay, Annie Hartnett, Agatha Christie, Jennifer McMahon, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, J.K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen Dobyns, Michael McDowell, Jack Ketchum, Caroline Kepnes, Ruth Ware, Sarah Pinborough, Gillian Flynn, B.A. Paris, Joe Hill, John Palisano, John Langan, Nicholas Kauffman, Grady Hendrix, Sara Tantlinger, Dean Kuhta, and Calvin Demmer. Mind you, this list might seem long, but it is imperfect and ever-growing!

NTK: It’s a great list! Christa, where do you find inspiration? And, what inspired “This Our Angry Train?”

CC: I find inspiration everywhere, as cliche as that may sound. I’ve had stories spring from the strangest of places as well as from the most innocuous ones, from a flock of extremely over-sized turkeys roosting on tree branches that seem destined to collapse beneath their weight to everyday hummingbirds sipping from their plastic feeders, from a cyber attack that led to enigmatic photos appearing on my cell phone to your regular old post or news article scrolled past before bed. In some instances, the inspiration behind a story is a great deal more direct than a reader may anticipate, and in the case of “This Our Angry Train,” the events that led to the story were indeed a matter of life informing art.

In the summer of 2016, I attended an event in Brookline, Massachusetts that featured Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay, Kat Howard, and Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Joe Hill ended up mentioning Kelly Link’s “The Specialist’s Hat” over the course of the discussion, and I spent the train ride back to Westerly reading Link’s bizarre and thoroughly unsettling story. Upon finishing it, I experienced this strange half-waking dream during which I became certain I was no longer on the same train I had boarded.

When I sat down to write my story of a train as an extension of a young woman’s fears that she is not as far removed from the bad decisions of her past as she might have thought, that she may, in fact, be heading backward without even realizing she’d changed direction, my pen couldn’t move across the page fast enough. After completing the first draft, it occurred to me that the story might benefit from an element of connective tissue, some incantation all the characters on this midnight train to madness know and feel the need to recite.

I knew of Joyce Kilmer from his poem, “Trees,” but I simply Googled ‘poems about trains,’ and found “The Twelve-Forty-Five” after a minimal amount of research. In the same way that the excerpts from ‘An Oral History of Eight Chimneys’ are weaved throughout the narrative of “The Specialist’s’ Hat,” the stanzas from “The Twelve-Forty-Five” are meant to break up Lauren’s train ride fever dream, and ultimately contribute to the mounting horror.

Something Borrowed Something BloodsoakedNTK: Where do your characters come from? Do they have free will? Or do you direct their actions?

CC: While I want my stories to be character-driven, I usually come up with the idea for a story first, and the character is contained within that story idea. For example, if I wanted to tell a story that says something about women being routinely disbelieved, and how this is a serious a problem whether it’s within the plot of a horror film or in real life, at, say, a doctor’s office where an M.D. is telling a woman that everything is fine because he believes she is exaggerating her symptoms, or when a woman is kidnapped or killed by her stalker because the police didn’t believe her when she said he was a threat, then I would start to write the draft of that story, and find my protagonist coming to life from one scene to the next, fulfilling the needs of the narrative.

I used to think I directed my characters’ actions pretty much across the board, with occasional surprises where they’ve gone off in a direction I didn’t see coming. With that being said, I’ve found that my characters are acting of their own free will more and more, and I can probably chalk that up to feeling more comfortable with my story-telling abilities the longer that I write.

NTK:  You spoke of Halloween earlier. Is that your favorite horror film? If not, what is your favorite?

CC: I do love the original Halloween (and the remakes that Rob Zombie directed, which might earn me a few groans of disgust from die-hard Carpenter fans), but the 2013 remake of The Evil Dead is my favorite horror film of all time. I love it because, in addition to existing within the Evil Dead universe, it introduces fans to a new protagonist in Mia. Plot-wise, it’s pretty straightforward: Mia is brought to a rundown cabin in the woods by her brother and her friends in order to detox from heroin. That everything this Ash Williams-worthy heroine endures after her arrival is borne while simultaneously going through cold turkey withdrawal, propels this film into territory that, for me, far surpasses a simple supernatural horror film or a wannabe Evil Dead installment heavy on the gore.

The film is like a perfectly constructed layer cake. The death scenes are memorable, the horror is palpable, and yet, there is an entire subplot in which a very real and fleshed-out character is struggling to overcome a very real and highly formidable affliction. Writer/director Fede Álvarez’s decision to have Mia’s addiction provide the foundation for her strength in fighting off the evil that possesses first her, and then her friends, is truly commendable. It gives the Final Girl’s gumption the backstory it deserves.

I’ve always found the final scene to strike such an intensely visceral emotional chord: as the blood-rain pours down, Mia’s evil doppelgänger prophesizes, “You’re gonna die here, you pathetic junkie.” To which Mia responds, like an addict who has crashed to rock bottom and is finally on the verge of change, “I’ve had enough of this shit.”

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

CC: Unsurprisingly, my favorite show (although sadly, it was canceled after only three seasons), is Ash vs Evil Dead. With her character, Kelly Maxwell, Dana DeLorenzo does Bruce Campbell AND Jane Levy proud.

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

CC: I have a fair amount of forthcoming fiction and nonfiction this year, including a Outpost 28 Isue 2.jpgpiece of flash fiction entitled “Shadows” in Issue 4 of Outpost 28, planned for July or August of this year, and a reprint of a story called “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” to air on The Wicked Library podcast (the story originally appeared in Issue 2 of Outpost 28) There have been a few delays in publication, but I have two stories coming out with Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, “Shark Minute” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, the first as part of a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark tribute anthology, the second on The Simply Scary Podcast Network. I’ll have a story appearing in a middle-grade graphic anthology coming out in October of 2019, and I have two other stories coming out in unannounced anthologies, later in the year. My nonfiction essay, “A Ghost is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” will be published in a scholarly anthology of articles on Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House series. I also have a story, “And Sweetest in the Gale is Heard” appearing in the Not All Monsters anthology, edited by Sara Tantlinger and to be released by Strange House Books in the fall of 2020.

After that, I hope to release either the novel I’ve been working on for the past two years, Coming Down Fast, or the new novel I’ve planned for my thesis at Stonecoast (MFA program at the University of Southern Maine), which is a historical horror novel, the details about which I won’t say too much more.

NTK: Congratulations! We’ll look forward to it. Thank you for chatting with me, Christa. You’re a delightful guest.

CC: Thank you so very much, Naching and HorrorAddicts for having me, and for posing such fun and horror-centric questions!!!

 

Irish Horror Author : Iseult Murphy

 Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Iseult Murphy

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country? What is your connection to Irish Heritage? Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from? Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?

Hello! My name is Iseult Murphy. I live in County Louth on the East Coast of Ireland, about 40 minutes from the capital city of Dublin.

How and when did you start writing?

I am fortunate to be the youngest of a large family, and I have a lot of siblings who are interested in reading and writing. I started writing my first novel when I was 7. In my teens, I won several short story competitions, and in my twenties I began to take writing more seriously and started submitting my work to publications.

Why write Horror?

I have always been drawn to horror. The world is a scary place, and I think the horror genre gives us the most freedom to explore our fears. They can be surface fears, or societal fears or deep seated existential fears. Horror is a safe place to shine a light on the struggles of life, revealing the best of us in the worst situations. It is also great fun.

What inspires you to write?

I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes my dreams inspire my stories, other times it is an overheard conversation or a headline in the news. I am very inspired by the natural world. I love animals and finding out about their behaviors and life cycles. There are some creepy things happening out there in nature! I also am very interested in myths, legends and folklore. Most of those tales are pretty dark, which is why I like them. One of my stories, ‘The Village Shop’, was inspired by a speech and drama festival I attended. One of the trophies was sponsored by ‘The Village Shop’, but village was spelled wrong, and it made me wonder what kind of things were sold in a vile-age shop.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

I think so. I love the myths and legends of Ireland. I’ve written several stories that deal with elements from Irish mythology. My short story ‘Heart of Gold’ has leprechauns, Irish gods and the amadan – a creature from Irish folktales who is said to wander the roads in August, and if you see him you will go insane.

What scares you?

Zombies. They are everywhere now, so most people have a plan on how to survive the ZA, but I’ve been planning my strategy since childhood. Body horror always gets me. Scott Sigler’s Infected made my skin crawl in all the best ways. I am very interested in transformation, both physical and psychological, and anything that explores having your identity being destroyed, or being trapped in a way that stops you from being able to communicate, really scares me. I read Kafka’s Metamorphosis when I was in my early teens, and the idea of being trapped as a giant bug without being able to communicate, and being forced to accept the changes to your life because of your physicality, really got to me. I know it has a deeper message, but the actual surface level story really made my skin crawl and stayed with me. Jeff Vandermere’s Southern Reach Trilogy gets to me for those reasons as well.

Who is your favorite author?

I have so many! My top 5 are Bram Stoker, Richard Matheson, Garth Nix, Peter S Beagle and J.R.R Tolkien.

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

I like to plan everything out in meticulous detail. I love world building, drawing maps and character sketches and filling notebooks on theme and mood. I have an atmosphere, or color palette, that I want to come across with each piece I write, so the story is percolating in my head for a while to work out the best way to bring that across. I like to shut off the internal editor, which is hard to do, and write the first draft as quickly as possible. The second draft is for bringing the story closer to my original vision.

Tell us about your current projects.

I have recently finished a novella about a woman who sets out to discover what she is, after surviving being burned at the stake. I am also working on two dark fantasy novels, and I’ve just started planning a horror novel, as I’m in the mood to write something gritty and dark.

Zoo of the Dead and other horrific tales by [Murphy, Iseult]What have you written and where can our readers find it?

My collection of 9 horror short stories, 6 previously published and 3 new, is called Zoo of the Dead and Other Horrific Tales and is widely available wherever eBooks are sold. Subscribers to my newsletter at http://www.iseultmurphy.com get a free short story every month. This month’s story, ‘Return to Hades’, is the story of a space mutant who journeys into the past to be reunited with a loved one.

 

 

 

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Iseult Murphy lives on the east coast of Ireland with two cats, five dogs, a kakariki and a couple of humans. She writes horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. Her work has appeared in over a dozen venues, including The Drabblecast and Alban Lake’s Drabble Harvest. A collection of her horror short stories,  Zoo of the Dead and Other Horrific Tales’ is available on Amazon and other eBook retailers.

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with JC Martinez

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JC Martinez writes fantasy, science fiction and, of course, horror.  An author still living his dream of telling stories as best as he can, JC Martínez will try his hardest to make your skinIMG_0346 crawl, give you delightful nightmares, and take your breath away.

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

Honestly, too young to remember how old I was. This past December, while I was cleanin’ out my closet, I found some short stories I wrote when I was less than ten years old, and even though they don’t scare me right now, they were a way to express that feeling of nervousness that horror had created in me. Sometimes, I think I’ve always had a fascination with the unknown, with the things that lurk in the dark. I like that uneasy feeling that makes your spine tingle. It tickles pleasantly.

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

Ray Bradbury. He, of course, has been an influence, and all the other authors and artists that I like have been essential for my development as a writer. It’s impossible for me to build a list of every single person that has made me the man I am today, so let’s just say I am grateful I can experience the works of the countless masters that have shaped my taste in art.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

My feelings. I have a certain disaffinity to tongues and saliva in general. They make me feel uncomfortable, the traces of a viscous liquid left by a damp limb as they slowly enter your body through your pores. Yeesh. Most of my writings stem from what I find unagreeable, but taken to a dreadful extreme.

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

I can’t help but think that this one is a trick question. On the one hand, my characters only exist because I create them. On the other, most of the times, I don’t know what they’ll do until I make them do it. For me, that counts as free will, but not for the characters. That makes it sound as if I had a god complex, but I really don’t. It’s just that my brain, even when I don’t actively acknowledge it, will always continue the process of creating worlds and giving the characters the most appropriate actions under any given circumstance. The only thing they can do is fall to command.

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

Many things. Mostly, how to deal with emotions and that the only thing a writer can do is to make the best they can with the ideas they find interesting.

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

Sure. Probably. If I got in again with a good 100-word story. I don’t know what I’d do differently. Speculation has never been my strong suit outside fiction. They say humans are like rivers, in that they change through time. Under a different perspective, and amidst other circumstances, I really don’t know how I’d behave.

7) What is your favorite horror novel?

I don’t have one. The Martian Chronicles is hands down my favorite book, and while it has some scary bits, it’s not a horror novel. I’m fond of way too many stories, styles and ideas to have just one favorite. I like John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Bram Stoker’s portrayal of a genuinely monstrous Dracula. I like Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and the transgressive fiction that is Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted. I’m fond of the funnies that are David Wong’s John Dies at the End and Joe R. Landsdale’s Bubba Ho-Tep.

NGHWEdPSm8) Favorite horror movie?

I don’t have one either. There are just too many sub genres that it’s impossible to pick a single movie. Alien, The Omen, The Exorcist, Halloween, Fright Night, 28 Days LaterConstantine.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Hannibal.

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

All I can say is that from now and until I leave this mortal coil, I’ll continue to deliver the best stories I can come up with.

 

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Adele Marie Park

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Growing up on an Orcadian island, surrounded by folk tales and the sea helped Adele Marie Park become a writer.  She believes horror is paranormal. It is as solid as your Adele picheartbeat when you’re home alone and the floorboards creak upstairs.

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

My family had a farm on the Orkney island of Rousay. Around five years old I can remember the authentic folklore of Orkney being explained to me as very much alive. There was a field next to the house that had a knowe, that’s Norse for mound, and it was not only a trow, (troll) house but also where they had burned a witch. So, whether true or not that’s when I got my first taste of horror.

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

I have several favourites, but Stephen King has influenced me and so has Poppy Z Brite and of course I cannot leave out Anne Rice. Those three have influenced me greatly.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

Japanese culture and music, especially Visual Kei, is a favorite and as the piece prompt was about horrific musical instruments, what better than to combine Japanese Yokai with music.

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

Most of my characters tell me what they are doing. However, if it goes against the plot then I can reign them in.

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

It was a sharp learning curve which brought my writing under criticism, the harshest critic being myself. I plunged down into darkness and rose again to the light. I found my writing voice and that is priceless.

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

If my workload was less than it is now, then yes, I would do it again and this time around, I know my style has improved. Also, I would have an assistant to read the questions for me as having dyspraxia meant for at least two of the challenges I scored low because I didn’t understand the questions and thought I did.

nghwedpsm7) What is your favourite horror novel?

Just one? Okay, Christine by Stephen King

8) Favourite horror movie?

The Conjuring directed by the master, James Wan.

9) Favourite horror television show?

Supernatural just keeps on giving.

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

I have just been signed by Black Wolf publishing for my horror novel Wolfe Manor and will also have a horror short story in the next publication of Dan Alatorre’s award-winning anthology. The 2nd book of my fantasy series, Wisp, will be published this year and I plan to work on an illustrated companion book to go with the trilogy. I can’t stop writing, there are too many stories in my head. Wait a moment, that’s a great idea for a horror story.

You can find Adele on Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) What inspired your piece?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Naching on Facebook and Twitter.

Jess can be found on Facebook.