Chilling Chat: Episode # 216 – R.A. Goli

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R.A. Goli R.A. Goliis an Australian writer of horror, fantasy, and speculative short stories. In addition to writing, her interests include reading, gaming, the occasional cemetery walk, and annoying her chihuahua, two cats, and husband.

Check out her numerous publications including her collection of short stories, Unfettered on her website, where you can sign up to her newsletter for free short stories and updates, or stalk her on Facebook.

NTK: When did you first discover horror? How old were you?

RG: One of the first horror movies I remember watching was the original Evil Dead. My older brother rented a lot of horror movies and let me watch them. Evil Dead was released on video when I was nine years old, and I remember loving it, but freaking out when having to run through the darkened hallway to my bedroom after the movie had finished. I was sure there would be a possessed woman at the end about to sing how she was going to get me.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

RG: I absolutely love An American Werewolf in London. So much so, that when I was around 10 years old, I would watch it every day after school for what felt like the whole year. I knew it by heart and still quote from it, semi-regularly. I’m not sure exactly what made me fall in love with this movie. It might have been because I had imaginary werewolf cubs who lived under my bed when I was a kid, perhaps that weird crush on Jack Goodman (initial death, but pre-decomposition – I’m not a weirdo), maybe because it was both hilarious and terrifying. The awesome special effects, particularly for the early ’80s. Actually, all of those reasons and more.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

RG: What a cruel question. Why not ask me which pet I love best! There are a few favorites, that I’ve reread over the years, sometimes it changes a bit, but if I had to pick one, I’d say, The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty.

NTK: What is your favorite horror TV show?

RG: Another tricky question. I suppose because series start off well, then either go off the rails or just disappoint in some way. I really liked the first season of American Horror Story, but the following seasons – not so much.

True Blood started off really well, then got a bit ‘fluffy’ for me.

The first season of Haunting of Hill House was good. What We Do in the Shadows is hilarious, but not really horror.

Maybe I go back to the classics like Creepshow and Twilight Zone.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

RG: Most of the time it’s the call for submission that inspires me. I churn the theme around in my head and hopefully come up with something good. Occasionally I get an idea after listening to a podcast or having a random conversation.

NTK: What inspired you to write, “Lighthouse Lamentation?”

RG: I was listening to the Lore podcast and they told a story about two lighthouse keepers who fought. I can’t remember that story at all, but it got me thinking about how isolated and spooky lighthouses are and that’s how “Lighthouse Lamentation” came about.

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

RG: I control their every move like an omniscient godling. Only once did a character do something I wasn’t expecting. It was amazing and magical and sadly, hasn’t happened since.

NTK: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind? What song or group inspires you most?

RG: I actually don’t listen to music. I think I would find it too distracting and want to sing along. I have developed the ability to completely ignore whatever crap my husband is watching on TV though.

NTK: Do you have any advice for the new writer?

RG: Read a lot, write as much as you can, and start small. Try short stories rather than the epic fantasy series you want to write. This is my personal experience. I’ve had over a hundred short stories published, but my fantasy novel is still unfinished.

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

RG: Horror Addicts can expect a lot more horror from me, I’ll never stop loving it, and maybe one day I’ll even finish that fantasy novel.

Chilling Chat: Episode #215 – Sumiko Saulson

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Sumiko Saulson is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Zhe is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic Women, Scry of Lust, Black Celebration, and WickedlySumiko Saulson Mixy Award Abled. Zhe is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”
Zhe has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco Bay View.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

SS: Both of my parents were huge horror fans. They played horror movies and television programs in the home when I was a kid. My mom got mad at my dad for taking her to see Rosemary’s Baby when she was eight months pregnant with me. Her favorite TV series was Dark Shadows, and she watched it all the time when she was pregnant with me, and when I was an infant. I remember seeing It’s Alive at the drive-in theater when I was five. My brother and I saw a lot of old seventies horror classics as little children, so it started very early for me.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

SS: Without a doubt, Kevin Foree is Peter in the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead movie. That was the first horror film I saw with an African American protagonist. I was very excited and rooted for him. Afterward, my dad tried to show me the original Night of the Living Dead starring Duane Jones as Ben, but I just found it depressing. He fights through all of the zombies only to be more or less racially profiled and killed at the end. I preferred the triumphant, action-hero-like Peter. I imagine that the scene where he contemplates suicide, then decides to go for it and try to escape, is a nod to the first movie.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

SS: When I was 10, I read my first horror novel, which was Peter Straub’s, Ghost Story. This lead to me reading Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman when I was 12, which lead to a more or less lifetime love of Stephen King. However, LA Banks and Christopher Rice have both usurped his title since. I do not currently have a favorite horror author. Over the past four years, I have had a series of deaths of family members and close friends, and my concentration has become too poor for pleasure reading. I have stuck with assigned readings, which, when I was in college a couple of years ago, lead to an increase in my already large collection of owned and read Toni Morrison novels. I still believe that Sula and Beloved both belong in the annals of horror and perhaps The Bluest Eye as well.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

SS: The Stand. Heh. I feel so basic right now.

NTK: What inspired your story, “My Clockwork Valentine?”

SS: In addition to the obvious Alice in Wonderland themes, Clockwork Valentine is very heavily inspired by my adolescent love for Edgar Allen Poe. Blanche Lapin—literally, White Rabbit in French—is being stalked through a gruesome ball that has very obvious nods to Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” There is also a pretty obvious nod to “A Tell-Tale Heart” you will undoubtedly notice. And the names of the characters are all French names inspired by Alice in Wonderland characters. It was really fun mixing the two mythologies together, in order to come up with a wholly original piece. But I think that in terms of tone, it’s very much an homage and a love letter to my early horror influence, Edgar Allen Poe.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been?

SS: It’s been a mixed bag, although there have been a lot of good experiences. I find that the African American and African Diaspora speculative fiction communities – that is, Black Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Weird, Horror, etc.. writers are very supportive of one another. Women in Horror are also very supportive of each other. And there are a lot of allies. But there are definitely glass ceilings in mainstream horror, and the old boy’s club gets resentful when people break through them or try to shake things up. There are still far too many people who believe that only a middle-aged white cisgender heterosexual man is qualified to write horror.

NTK: You are the Social Media Manager for the Horror Writers Association. What would you like Horror Addicts to know about this organization? How does it benefit horror writers? 

SS: As you probably have noticed, since I came on board, the Horror Writers Association’s blog and social media are afire with various ways to showcase, highlight, and promote not only our own writers but writers throughout the horror community. But Halloween Haunts, Summer Scares, and other series specifically highlight the works of members. Additionally, you can post to our calendar, to our email bulletin Quickbites (which nonmembers can subscribe to but only members can promote in), our online calendar, and more! There are local chapters where you can get a lot of support. For example, my local chapter, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter, has a booth every year at the Bay Area Book Festival. It’s a professional association for horror writers, best known for the annual StokerCon, where people can receive the prestigious Bram Stoker Award. Being in a room with so many other horror writers from around the country and around the world is truly invigorating, and an awesome opportunity to network.

NTK: You also received the Richard Laymon President’s Award for Service at the 2022 Bram Stoker Awards. What was it like to be presented with this honor?

SS: It was very exciting and also deeply touching to receive the award. It was an open acknowledgment of all of the work I have put in to make sure that the HWA is inviting to people of all cultures, marginalized groups, ethnic and racial identities, and members of the LGBTQ community, by putting together a series of diversity celebrating interviews. Those interviews are now spreading out to other groups, as people are inspired! So we will have a member spotlight coming up soon, as well as a series highlighting Veterans, and we recently had a Mental Health initiative. None of those were done by me, but I feel that by spearheading the Pride interview series—the first of its kind—last year—I got the ball rolling. And this also brings a lot of fresh new content to our social media and our blog. Anyway, it was nice being acknowledged.

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

SS: Somnalia: The Metamorphoses of Flynn Keahi will be coming out on Mocha Memoirs Press next year. I have a short story in an anthology called In Trouble, edited by EF Schrader, which is going to raise money for Planned Parenthood, coming out next year, and a story in Blerdrotica 2: Couples Therapy, edited by Penelope Flynn. Both of those stories center on LGBTQ characters, specifically trans people of color. And I have an essay in Joe Vallese’s exciting It Came From The Closet: Queer Reflections on Cinema coming out later this year. I just came out with a book of poetry, The Rat King. Oh! And last year’s collection of poetry and short stories, Within Me Without Me, recently won the Ladies of Horror Reader’s Choice Award!

Addicts, you can find Sumiko on Facebook, Twitter, and Tik-Tok as @sumikoska. Zhe can be found on Instagram as @sumikosaulson.

Chilling Chat: Episode #214 – Dana Hammer

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Dana Hammer has written several short stories, novels, novellas, and screenplays. She is the author of the short story, “Mow-bot,” featured in the anthology, Kill Switch. She also co-wrote the novella, The Retreat, with Joanna Ramos. Their screenplay of this novella won the 2020 13Horror.com Film and Screenplay Contest. 

Dana Hammer

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

DH: 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.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

DH: That’s a hard one! It, The Hole, The Stand, Hannibal.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

DH: Again, so hard to pick! The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Get Out, The Bad Seed.

NTK: Favorite horror television show?

Tales from the Crypt!

NTK: What inspired you to write your story, “Mow-Bot?”

DH: My husband is very into 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.

NTK: You’re not only a writer, you’re a screenwriter. What is the process of screenwriting like?

DH: It’s like writing a novel, but faster, and neater. In many ways it’s easier because you don’t have to get bogged down with descriptions and interiority – you just tell the story in a series of scenes. It’s actually more suitable for a writer like me, who dislikes flowery language, descriptions of the sky, etc. I’m best at writing dialogue, so performance pieces come more naturally to me.

Except when they don’t. Because sometimes I really WANT to get into someone’s head and write their thoughts. Especially if a character is super compelling or interesting. A novel or a short story allows me to take my time and really explore my character’s perspective.

Screenwriting is more collaborative than other types of writing, and you aren’t necessarily the final authority on the script, because you have to rewrite it over and over to fit the budget, please the director and producers, work in new actors, etc. Novel and short story writing are more solitary, and you are the master of what you write.

NTK: What makes a good screenplay? 

DH: Like a novel or story, it should be a compelling read. It should not contain lazy dialogue. It shouldn’t be overly proscriptive–it needs to allow for creativity on the part of the director, actors, etc. It should at no point contain a scene that cuts away to children acting shocked when they see adults kiss.

NTK: How do you feel about directors?

DH: I LOVE directors. Seriously, I haven’t met one I didn’t like. I’m sure there are terrible directors out there, but in my experience, they are all smart, competent, interesting people.

NTK: Could you tell us about your new book, The Cannibal’s Guide to Fasting?

DH: Of course! It’s about a reformed cannibal named Igor. In this world, viral cannibalism has spread throughout the world, and the infected are sent to rehab centers, where they are trained to avoid human meat. They are then sent to live in government-regulated containment centers, where social workers check in on them, to make sure they’re staying on the straight and narrow.

Igor is a disgraced scientist who is also a gigantic bodybuilder with a tattoo on his face. He wants more than anything to find a cure for viral cannibalism, but there’s not much he can do about that, since he is unemployable, due to his condition and history.

When he discovers that his brother is running a cannibal rights cult that is doing some seriously evil stuff, he knows he has to intervene.

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

DH: Right now I’m working on many projects!

I’m in the process of trying to get my middle-grade fantasy novel published. It’s called My Best Friend Athena, and it’s about an eleven-year-old girl who finds out that her best friend is the reincarnated goddess Athena. It’s a light comedy. I’m in the process of writing a sequel to that book, as well, where her brother, Dionysus, tries to enter an extreme eating competition.

I’m also working on a dystopian screenplay where the world is overpopulated and depleted of natural resources, and so the government drafts a certain number of people each year to go into “hibernation”, a state where they use no resources, and are kept in pods for a year. My main character is drafted for this, and is not happy about it.

I also just wrote an outline for a novel called Blister Girl, but I haven’t started it yet. We will see.

I have a short story coming out in an anthology called Literally Dead, which will be published in October of this year. My story is called “A Halloween Visit” which is a stupid title, but a good story! I hate coming up with titles.

My short play “A Helping Hand” will be performed in Hollywood, by Force of Nature Productions. It’s part of a series called “Tales from the Future: Origins” and it features futuristic origin stories for several classic monsters. My piece is about mummies. September 9-11 and 16-18th at The Brickhouse Theater.

My full-length play, The Devil’s Buddy, will be given a reading on October 26th, 8pm, by Skyline Productions, at Oh My Ribs! It’s about a young homeless man whose fortunes change when he becomes the Devil’s errand boy.

My one act, “Spotless” will be given a staged reading on August 27th at Newport Theater Arts center, as part of the OCPA Discoveries even. It’s a serious play about two families who must decide whether or not to wipe a teenage girl’s memory, after an attack.

My short story, “Meteorite” was just published in an anthology called Blood Fiction: An Anthology of Challenging Fiction. Available now on Amazon!

My screenplay, Red Wings, has been optioned by EMA Films, and will hopefully begin filming this year. It’s a hyper-feminist revenge story about a woman whose tampons turn into murdering bats. It’s amazing, though I do say so myself.

Jesus. I’m busy.

Chilling Chat: Episode #213 – 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 Memoirs Press). An unashamed lover of spookyJonathan Fortin AUTHORPHOTO-2020 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.

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

JF: I remember getting into horror as early as first grade when I started reading the Goosebumps books. Then in middle school, I became obsessed with Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and wrote a trilogy of short vampire novels. However, I was an anxious, easily-terrified child, so I didn’t fully embrace horror until later in life. Now, I’d always been drawn into darkly magical worlds, even in the video games I adored (American McGee’s Alice, Planescape: Torment, Vampire the Masquerade, etc.) But because I was so sensitive, it was rare for me to watch horror movies in my youth. That changed when I went to college, and began trying to face my fears and challenge my limits. I realized then that I’d been a horror fan all along–I had just been too scared to accept it.

NTK: Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

JF: My favorite author is Neil Gaiman. Not always horror, but certainly dark. Other authors who have influenced me include China Mieville, Alan Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, Holly Black, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Carlton Mellick III, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, Patrick Rothfuss, Haruki Murakami, and Junji Ito. Lately, I’ve been digging the work of Joe Hill and N.K. Jemisin.

NTK: What inspired you to write “Requiem in Frost?”

JF: I wrote “Requiem in Frost” during the Next Great Horror Writer Competition, where we were tasked with writing a music-themed horror story. I’d had the idea in my head for a couple years: a little girl who moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a murdered black metal musician and ends up solving his murder.

I’m a huge metalhead, and it irks me that even in horror, metalheads are almost always exclusively villains. We’ve since gotten Eddie Munson in Stranger Things, which was terrific, and I think the fact that so many people loved his character goes to show how badly we needed better metalhead representation. So that was a big factor in what I wanted to do with the story. I was inspired by spite. (Laughs.) 

NTK: What has your experience been as a neurodivergent author? 

JF: As an autistic person, one of the reasons I was first drawn to writing when I was young was because it was a solitary process. I didn’t need to compromise my creative vision based on budget or social considerations like I would if I was making movies or games, and imagined that it would be a good career for me because of that. I thought I could just write my books, get them published, and not have to interact with too many people unless I wanted to. There was great appeal in that idea, because then I could be left alone and nobody had to find out how weird and socially awkward I was.

As an adult, I learned that making it as a writer means being a part of a community. You need to network at conventions. You need to have writer friends willing to blurb you or trade beta reads. You need to constantly be posting on social media to build your following. And you need to make sure people actually like you while you’re doing all this.

This is challenging when you’ve got a disability that makes you awkward, or unaware of how you’re coming across, or prone to accidentally offending people without realizing it. And being fully aware that you have those tendencies tends to make you rather shy, and reluctant to put yourself out there as much as you need to if you’re going to make it in the writing world.

Networking is challenging for autistic people at the best of times, because we hate being fake, and are often very, very bad at it. Actively trying to make people like us usually results in people being repulsed instead. And unfortunately, your reputation follows you your entire life.

All of this honestly puts neurodivergent authors at a huge disadvantage in the current writing world. Many of the things you’re expected to do as a writer–things that have nothing to do with the writing itself–are things that many autistic people struggle with. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it can be, and just how much an invisible disability of this nature can impact your chances of success in this career.

NTK: What do you wish potential readers knew about neurodivergent authors and their works?

JF: This is complicated, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the notion that neurodivergent authors are expected to write for neurotypical readers first and foremost, even if this isn’t something that comes naturally to them.

I certainly can’t speak for all neurodivergent authors, because there’s great diversity among us. But I recently had a conversation with a neurodiverse friend who stated that they struggled to find books they enjoyed. They explained how many “literary” books expect the reader to read between the lines and make the correct assumption based on what’s unsaid, something that many autistic people struggle to do. It got me thinking about how many times I’ve been totally unimpressed by works that a great number of my peers absolutely loved, and why that might be the case.

I’m currently wondering if neurodivergent people may not always have the same tastes or artistic values as neurotypical people. We may not always connect with the same characters, or obsess over the same ideas, or want the same things left unsaid. It’s different for all of us, to be sure, but it’s something I’ve been having a lot of conversations about with other neurodivergent friends.

Unfortunately, there are still many people who have a tendency to view certain tastes as “superior,” simply because they’re subtler, or leave much unsaid–factors that will leave some neurodiverse people (though of course not all) feeling “left out” because the conclusions we come to may not be the same as those of most neurotypical people. This is especially troubling when you’re a writer, because you are expected to write primarily for neurotypical readers.

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

JF: Right now, I’m trying to get an agent for my second novel, so I’ve been sending out query letters left and right. I’m also working on edits for the second draft of a third novel, shopping around a few short stories, and plotting out the sequels for the book I’m currently shopping. I do still intend to write at least two more LILITU books, but not just yet. My author ADD is in full force at the moment. (Laughs.)

Addicts, you can follow Jonathan on Facebook and Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Episode #212 – Daniel R. Robichaud

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Daniel R. Robichaud lives and writes in east Texas. His work can be found in Hookman and Friends, The Other Side, and Sick Cruising anthologies. His short fiction has been collected in Hauntings & Happenstances, They Shot Zombies, Didn’tDaniel Robichaud They? and Gathered Flowers, Stones, and Bones.

His story, “With Red Eyes Gleaming,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.                                                                         

NTK: How did you discover the horror genre and how old were you?

DR: I came to the horror genre at around six or seven thanks to my Mom. She was a fan of scary movies and books, and I have fond memories of watching the Thriller Double Feature with her on Saturday Afternoons while growing up in the Detroit area. The offerings were moody, weird, and often cut for television. She’d point out the zippers in the costumes in the egregiously cheap flicks, to help me see it was all fake and ultimately fun.

The books and magazines and comics came around the same time. The 1980s were a treasure trove of scary entertainment, so scary stuff was everywhere. I recall reading my first Poe stories as Troll Books aimed for elementary school kids. My first encounter with modern masters was through a big anthology called Great Tales of Horror and the Supernatural … Family night Saturdays would involve watching Monsters or Tales From the Darkside series. And John Carpenter’s The Thing played on network television in a cut format that still frightened me senselessly … that would’ve been around 1983/1984. Fright was certainly in the air back then!

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

DR: From a young age. I got exposure to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and other gothic works thanks to parents who enjoyed the stuff.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

DR: There are so many to choose from! Right now, I think I’ll have to answer The Witch of Ravensworth, an 1808 gothic horror novel from George Brewer, which I bought on a lark and was truly taken with. It introduced me to the Valancourt Books publisher, as well, and I’ve enjoyed reading their works ever since.

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

DR: The Whip and the Body from Mario Bava is a terrific film that blends ghostly chills with sexuality in strange ways. A delirious thing that is gorgeously shot (also with a great performance by Christopher Lee).

I found this movie back in the days of DVD when I was just discovering Mario Bava’s films. It’s beautiful, disturbing, and achingly romantic.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

DR: My characters are originals, though that means they are inspired by the films, fiction, and authentic folks I have known and read about.

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

DR: For this story, I had a single scene of a woman descending into a strange subterranean location. From that, I wrote into the dark without any outline. This is not always the case, but it is the way I work on a majority of my stories.

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

DR: They always have free will. For short fiction, however, their options are far more limited than they might be in a novel.

NTK: What inspired you to write, “With Red Eyes Gleaming?”

DR: I’ve been a fan of Japanese folklore since I was young and reading old Usagi Yojimbo comic books from famed comic creator Stan Sakai. One of the stories that stuck with me back then was a tragic tale involving a kappa or river goblin.

Several decades later, I wound up taking two different vacations to Japan and visiting not only the mainland but some of the smaller islands where locals vacationed. Iriomote and Ishigaki are scenic locales with plenty of beaches and hiking opportunities. So when it came time to write a gothic story, these two different experiences came together and I got to wondering about strange family legacies and goblins that came from saltier waters. “With Red Eyes Gleaming” resulted.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

DR: I am afraid of loss of my mind, my sense of self.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

DR: I have great respect for Gary A. Braunbeck, who blends lyrical prose, emotional honesty, and disturbing storylines. As well, Suzuki Koji and Murakami Ryu have left some lasting impressions on me—I wish more Asian horror material was available in translation. Poppy Z. Brite was vital during my college years, particularly with accepting my bisexuality and finding the strength to come out. A new Ramsey Campbell book is always a cause for celebration in my house.

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

DR: I am always working on fiction of fright. I have stories appearing in the forthcoming Wishing Well and Camp Slasher Lake anthologies.

I’m particularly proud of a string of stories I create off-the-cuff whenever my daughter asks, “Will you tell me a story?” She’s five now, so the scary material tends to focus more on mood and the unexpected (with some humor) instead of gore or violence, of course. Several of these I’ve gone on to develop into fiction sales for magazines like Spaceports & Spider Silk or parABnormal as well as anthologies like Rockets and Robots and Beware the Bugs! I hope to assemble those stories into a collection, next.

Addicts, you can find Daniel on Amazon and Twitter.

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #211 – Daphne Strasert

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Daphne Strasert grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with her loving family and a menagerie of animals too long to list. She began writing in first grade and continued writing into her teenage years. She attended RiceDaphneStrasert-1920x1080-1024x577 University, where she taught a semester course titled Werewolves, Zombies, and Why We’re Afraid of the Dark: A Brief History of Monsters. She later graduated with degrees in Computer Science, Psychology, and Cognitive Science.

Daphne now lives in Houston with her husband. She writes novels, short fiction, and blog posts. In 2017, she placed third overall in the Horror Addicts’ Next Great Horror Writer Contest and she is the Wicked Women Writers Allstar Winner of 2021.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

DS: I was probably 8 or so when I discovered horror existed. My parents were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and there was a dark scene where a vampire jumped out and I remember finding that really frightening. I went into a sort of horror hibernation after that because I thought that horror was way too scary for me. So, while I found the premise of horror movies really compelling, I was too afraid to watch them. Instead, I gravitated toward the Disneyfied monsters that came out during the late naughts like Twilight and a number of paranormal romance novels. It wasn’t until college or so that I reconnected with the genre through the classic Universal monster movies like Dracula.

NTK: Did this re-connection help you discover other films? What are your favorite horror movies?

DS: Absolutely. It acted as a springboard into the genre as a whole. I followed actors and directors that I enjoyed into darker films that pushed my limits until I realized that I wasn’t nearly as afraid as I thought I’d be. It came down to a matter of taste. Horror, like every genre, has different flavors. I discovered that my preferred “flavor” tended toward the paranormal or psychological rather than the slasher movies that I had always associated with the genre. And, once I’d stepped in, I could see how the themes related and how different movies learned from and played off one another. I enjoy looking at horror from a historical perspective and watching how it evolves. My favorite movies are the ones that turn expectations for the genre on their head. I rank Hush very highly for that reason. They took the very basic, generic slasher concept and retooled it. It stars a Scream Queen who literally can’t scream for help and the entire production takes place in a single location. They managed to up the tension and remain true to the tropes while creating a genuinely gripping movie.

Of course, I’m also a sucker for the classics, so Dracula is a must-see. And, gothic romance like Crimson Peak also ticks off all the right boxes.

NTK: What TV shows keep you engaged?

DS: I have been watching a lot of documentary series lately. Netflix has a great selection. I focus on nature shows like Planet Earth or documentaries on cults, serial killers, and prisons. I will go through those like popcorn. My queue can’t keep up.

NTK: Awesome! You’ve become quite the connoisseur of horror. Where do you find inspiration?

DS: Much of my inspiration comes from things that I personally find terrifying. I’m an easily frightened person. I get inside my own head a lot. For me, scariest situations are the ones where the villain/monster/etc. doesn’t necessarily think they are doing anything wrong. They’re acting in their own self-interest. So, starting with a fairly normal situation and twisting it until something terrifying comes out works pretty well. It’s a practice of continually asking myself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?”

NTK:  You have a degree in psychology, does it help you create realistic characters?

DS: I suppose, in a way, it did. But really the degree and the realism of my characters come from the same desire: to understand people. I’ve always been interested in people and why they act the way they do. My characters are deeply rooted in my people-watching observations and I studied psychology for the same reason. My characters perhaps have a more scientific basis, but most of the feel of the writing is from my personal experience.

NTK: Fascinating. Are you a plotter, then? A pantser? Or both?

DS: I am an absolute plotter. I love my plans and outlines. I will start a story by collecting scenes that come to me as I live my life, but before any real work begins, I map out the plot, usually in an excel spreadsheet. I know the number of scenes—even the number of words—that need to happen between each major plot event. Humans love stories, but we love them to be told in a specific way, with rising action and turning points and a climax with resolution. People find stories compelling if they have the right structure. I stick with that structure in general. I might be more experimental as I gain experience but for now plotting works for me.

NTK:  You taught a class at Rice University for a semester. Could you tell the Addicts a little about that?

DS: I did! It was called “Werewolves, Zombies, and Why We’re Afraid of the Dark: A Brief History of Monsters.” That class really is a highlight in my life. Each week I looked at a different monster—werewolves, zombies, vampires, mummies, aliens, etc.—and examined the roots of the mythology. Monsters appear in many forms across different cultures, but the same ideas tend to pop up over and over again. I collected those to paint a picture of how our modern interpretations of that monster appear. The way pop culture portrayed each monster has changed over time, typically going through a cycle of scariness, sexualization, oversaturation, silliness, and obscurity. You can see this clearly with vampires, who went through the sexualization and oversaturation part of the cycle fairly recently. We also talked about the underlying fears that seemed to form the basis for each monster.

NTK: What inspired your story, “The Music Box?”

DS: I often write about the relationship between mothers and daughters. I’m close to my own mom and have so much respect and admiration for her. I think that informs the kind of stories I’m drawn to. Personally, I think motherhood is one of the most terrifying journeys a woman can take. All of the responsibility of caring for someone else–of having a piece of your heart living outside your body–scares me. For something outside of your control to hold sway over your child would be truly horrific. I think that’s what the music box represents for me: all the dangers that could threaten my family that are beyond control.

NTK: Daphne, what does the future hold for you? What do HorrorAddicts have to look forward to as far as publications?

DS: I am currently drafting a novel about a haunted house. I’m really excited about this project since it is a step in a new direction for me and has me stretching some unused horror muscles. Hopefully, Horror Addicts will see that published in the coming years!

Chilling Chat: Episode #210 – 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 anthologies. Garth is also the founder ofGarth von Buchholz the International Edgar Allan Poe Society. He lives in Canada on Vancouver Island. 

NTK: Hello, Garth! Welcome back to Chilling Chat! What did you do during the pandemic?

GVB: During the pandemic, I was working from home instead of in my office, as many of my colleagues were as well. The pandemic was one of those shared social experiences of a disaster, similar to a flood or other natural disaster, where your immediate instincts are survival and you really don’t do a lot of reflection until you’re past that. I remember the first weeks of the pandemic when people were afraid to touch surfaces that might have Covid, and I was washing down my groceries after buying them from the store. The fear was palpable because no one knew how easily the virus could be spread or what it would do to you. It reminded me of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. Another eerie experience was seeing wild animals walking in the streets when people were staying in their homes. Once I saw a stag trotting down the centre of a main road because there were no cars anywhere. It felt as though the human race could be nearing its end.

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

GVB: 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.

NTK: What author has influenced you most?

GVB: 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.

NTK: What is your favorite Edgar Allan Poe story?

That’s so difficult to choose because I am a Poe aficionado, so I feel as though I have to choose one of his more obscure stories that fewer people have read. However, I love the revenge themes in stories such as “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Hop Frog,” which I think were cathartic for Poe to write because he probably fantasized revenge on the many enemies he had made in his lifetime. However, my favorite story may be “The Oval Portrait,” because it’s about an artist trying so hard to portray his beloved perfectly in his art that he neglects her, and she dies. I’ve been guilty of that, in a way, because writing is such a solitary craft, and it can isolate you from the people you love.

NTK: What inspired you to write your piece, “HAÜS?”

GVB: “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.

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

GVB: 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.

NTK: Where do you find inspiration? 

GVB: Many times, my inspiration is from some news story I’ve read. Fact often converts into fiction very seamlessly.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

GVB: How can I decide on one? Legion by William Peter Blatty or The Stand by Stephen King.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

GVB: The Exorcist III (based on the novel Legion)

NTK: What do you like most about The Exorcist III?

GVB: The 1990 film The Exorcist III, based on William Peter Blatty’s novel Legion (1983) is my fave horror film for several reasons. First, it’s written by Blatty, one of my favorite horror novelists. It stars SIX of my all-time favorite male actors, George C. Scott, Ed Flanders (who committed suicide years ago!), Jason Miller, Scott Wilson, Brad Dourif and Nicol Williamson. And I love the weird, Blatty-ian blend of dark humor and supernatural horror with underlying religious themes. I can almost recite the dialogue between Scott and Flanders where they talk about the carp in Detective Kinderman’s bathtub. And the startling and grotesque image of the old lady creeping along the ceiling like a spider still haunts me.

NTK: Favorite horror television show?

GVB: The Stand (miniseries, 1994.)

NTK: What did you think of The Stand miniseries with Whoopi Goldberg?

GVB: Overall, I thought The Stand 2020 miniseries was quite an accomplishment because it did justice to most of the characters, expanded the pandemic world that we had only seen fully in Stephen King’s novel, and brought the story to a more satisfying finale. The casting was unusual for some characters but seemed to be successful. For example, a black Larry Underwood made more sense than a white one in many ways because of the kind of singer he was. But Amber Heard as Nadine? Omg, that was so jarring and disappointing. They didn’t even have her dye her hair black so we could watch her transition from black hair to gray and then white. Her acting was abysmal, and she was neither sympathetic nor mysterious. As for Whoopi Goldberg, I was glad to see that she took the role seriously rather than trying to re-interpret Mother Abagail. We forget that she’s actually a fine actress when she does dramatic roles.

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

GVB: Well, I do hope to actually give HorrorAddicts.net something to look forward to because it has been supportive of my work over the years. I have a horror novel on the backburner and now that I’m apparently not going to die of Covid, I will start working on it again. Here’s a preview. It’s tentatively titled Thy Fearful Symmetry and it’s about a young girl who tries to commit suicide on a mountain, survives her attempt, then has an encounter with a two-headed mountain lion (or cougar as we usually call them in Canada). She takes this as a sign from the universe and starts blogging about it, which creates a huge sensation on the Internet about the two-headed beast. Is it real? Or was it something she imagined or fabricated? I have the entire outline of the novel written as well as the first few chapters.

Addicts, you can find Garth on his Blog.

Chilling Chat: Episode #209 – Adam Breckenridge

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Adam Breckenridge is a Traveling Collegiate Faculty member of the University of Maryland Global Campus, where he travels the world teaching US military stationed overseas and is currently based in South Korea. He has eighteen shortAdam Breckenridge story publications and, in addition to Horror Bites, has appeared in Clockwork, Curses and Coal from Worldweaver Press and Mystery Weekly.

NTK: Welcome, Adam! What have you been up to since we last chatted?

AB: I’ve been in a bit of a stasis since Deathly Fog came out.  COVID combined with living in a small, isolated country has given me nothing to do but focus on work and writing, and so I’ve been busy turning out a mess of short stories and a couple of novels that I hope will see the light of day at some point.  I’ve had a handful of short stories come out since then in Wyldblood, Lucent Dreaming, and Intrinsick as well.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

AB: I think it was the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books that first put me on to horror. Those books were an obsession of my childhood and even inspired me to try writing some scary stories of my own, one of which I distinctly remember causing my dad to double over in laughter.  I’ve gotten a bit better at the genre since then.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

AB: A couple of years ago a friend asked me for a top twenty-five list and, after a considerable amount of hemming and hawing I finally set The Shining at the number one spot, though it’s not a designation I would take too seriously.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

AB: I think Stranger Things has stood out the most strongly for me. Tales From the Crypt was another formidable childhood experience, though I recently went back and revisited the show, and time has not been kind to it.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

AB: In a pinch, I’d probably say The Turn of the Screw. I remember hating it the first time I read it, but I was forced to read it again for a class on gothic literature I took in college, and it really clicked for me the second time. It’s one I continue to revisit periodically with great fascination and served as a key inspiration for “Deathly Fog.”

NTK: What inspires your writing? How do you come up with your ideas?

AB: I think I have as many answers to that question as I have stories I’ve written, but the most common sources of inspiration are other works I’ve read, either because their ideas inspired ideas of my own or I got pissed off at the wasted potential of a story. Dreams, my experiences with traveling and living abroad, and just idle pondering have all borne creative fruit for me as well.

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

AB: I’m always a little suspicious of writers who claim they can’t control their characters. They’re your creation and they’re entirely yours to do with as you please but being able to do that does require you to understand the nature of the characters you created.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

AB: My phobia is heights. My greatest fear is probably a slow, painful death.

NTK: Have you ever written a horror story about your own experiences?

AB: Not really about my own experiences, no, but I have based a couple of horror stories off of dreams I’ve had. I wrote one based on an anxiety dream I had when I was in my grad program that was so dark and disturbing that I was never able to get it published. The moral of the story is don’t go to grad school.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

AB: I recently discovered the works of Thomas Ligotti and he was a revelation to me. I don’t think I’ve encountered a contemporary horror author who’s done more to redefine what horror can be than he has, though Brian Evenson comes close.

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

AB: Publication-wise, I’m thrilled to be having a story coming out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies later this summer and I have a couple of other forthcoming publications but I don’t know when precisely they will be coming forth at this moment.  Personal-wise, I’m also gearing up to move back to Tokyo after a couple of years in Korea and hoping to take my first proper vacation in two and a half years not long after.  Either way, exciting things are afoot.

Chilling Chat: Episode #207 – J. Malcolm Stewart


chillingchatJason 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, Grumpy Old Gods, Twisted Tales, TemptationJ. Malcolm Stewart 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.
 

NTK: When did you first become interested in horror? How old were you?

JMS: Horror became a thing for me around age 6-7 with a truly cheesy 60s anti-hippie movie called Equinox about some teens who are being hunted by the devil in the woods. Super silly in the light of adulthood, but scary as hell to a kid too young to be watching it on Bob Wilkins’ SF Bay Area version of “Creature Features” in the 70s.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

JMS: Wow! Hard question…What day of the week is it? The opinion changes from time to time. Today, I’ll say Friedkin’s Bug, but tomorrow it could be The Exorcist. Or the original version of Cat People.

NTK: What is your favorite horror TV show?

JMS: Man, more tough questions! I came up with love for so many of them. My most recent favorite was Ash v. Evil Dead for the obvious reasons of Rami and Campbell. I need to binge Lovecraft Country soon.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

JMS: Finally, an easy question! I sat down as an 11-year-old to read ‘Salem’s Lot and literally could not put it down. I remember mother asking if I was going to put that book down anytime during daylight hours. The answer was no. Forty years later, I still think it’s King’s best pure horror novel, from start to finish.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

JMS: King is the facile answer, as I read everything he did in the 80s with an eye on trying to crack the code. Along the way Straub, Benchley and Moore entered the consciousness. But I also consider Morrison’s Beloved a horror novel, so she would be the best at the endeavor by default.

NTK: Has King influenced your work? What do you consider your greatest horror influences in writing?

JMS: King as a prose writing source, but to be honest the various screenwriters and directors of the 60s era Hammer films probably had as much influence on my horror fiction as any prose author.

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

JMS: No answer to that one. I tend to have story ideas and characters just show up for the party.

NTK: Tell us about your story, “Mr. Shingles.” What inspired you to write it?

JMS: “Mr. Shingles” started as just a weird-sounding name for a character. It was with the announcement that HorrorAddicts.net was doing a horror-style fairy tale anthology that he became a troll living under the Carquinez Bridge. That connection to the bridge happened as I used to have a job that would sometimes call for me to go over the bridge at like 4:00am, which, if you’ve done it, was always a surreal experience.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

JMS: Writer’s Block.

NTK: What would you like to see in the horror field that you have not seen before? What new tropes do you think could be discovered?

JMS: Horror is very flexible and much more diverse than it’s given credit for. I’m optimistic it will always re-invent itself when it becomes cliche as the Vampire/Zombie tropes have.

NTK: You’ve written a story called, “The Duel.” What is it about?  

JMS: “The Duel,” sprang out of the response to my short story, “The Last Words of Robert Johnson,” which was first printed in 2010. After republishing it in my own short story collection, I realized there was more interest in the Johnson legend. So, an idea for a sequel piece (technically a prequel) came about where Johnson, whose story of selling his soul to the Devil made him a figure of folklore even during his lifetime, meets up with the preeminent Gospel blues player of the era, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Drama naturally flowed from the concept, so, “The Duel,” was born. 

NTK: Do you think Robert Johnson really sold his soul to the Devil at the crossroads?  

JMS: Ahh, the eternal question. I gave my best guess in, “The Last Words of Robert Johnson,” on the whole Crossroads, soul-selling tale, so I’ll leave any speculation to its pages. As for where in the afterlife Bad Bob is, he opined in his own music that his spirit would find an old Greyhound bus to ride for eternity, so I’d keep an eye out for him next time at the bus station.

NTK: What work do Horror Addicts have to look forward to? What new stories and novels do you have brewing?

JMS: I have another full-length horror novel or two brewing. Also, the curtain will come up soon on “The Bride of Mr. Shingles.” The Monster Demands a Mate!

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #206 – 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 Beneath Strange Stars (TL;DR Press). She often tweets and doodles when she should be writing. 

NTK: What is your favorite form of divination?

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

NTK: Have you ever had your tea leaves read?

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

NTK: What is your favorite tea?

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

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

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

NTK: What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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

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

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

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

HH: Anything that might harm my kids. 

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

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

Chilling Chat: Episode #205 – Kevin Ground

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

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

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

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

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

KG: The Woman in Black by author Susan Hill

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

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

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

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

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

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

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chilling Chat Special: Simon Osborne’s Ghost Bus Tour

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Simon Osborne was born in 1970 in Cornwall, UK, and started acting professionally in British TV at the age of 10. At the age of 17, he played Prime Minister Pitt the Younger in BBC TVs Blackadder 3. He appeared inSimon and Penny Osborne many productions before and after but is best known for Blackadder. Later, he studied history and has spent a few years working in heritage in Wales, UK. 

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

SO: Thank you.

NTK: You recently participated in the Ghost Bus Tour. Could you tell us what that is?

SO: Yes, it is in a few cities, but it was the London one my wife and I recently took a tour on. It is an old Routemaster London bus, but instead of the usual Red, it’s painted Black. These Routemasters all date from the 1950s and 1960s, but they were still in use when I lived in London in the 90s. Some still run in the centre of London. This one has tables and lamps. The destinations displayed on the front are changed to make them sound more frightening such as ‘Drowning Street’ instead of ‘Downing Street’. The guides are actors and give you a tour of Central London while telling you some of the ghost stories that are related to each historic place you pass. There are some electronic special effects, and the whole thing is very entertaining, but also informative. Johnny Depp once went on the London Ghost Bus and recommended it!

NTK: What was the name of the bus you boarded?

NecrobusSO: The London Necrobus which, according to the London Ghost Bus Company, was used to carry corpses across London at night until the 60s.

NTK:  Why? Was it transporting them to morgues or cemeteries?

SO: Yes, ready for burial, but I think that maybe just a story the company give to set the scene. Corpses were actually moved around London by train.

NTK: Wow! That is so creepy! Did you have to buy tickets to ride the bus? How do you join the tour?

SO: You should book in advance, the bus wasn’t full when we were on it, but at busier times it is full. You can book directly with the London Ghostbus Company or many of the online ticket sellers.

NTK: What was your experience like? Was it scary? Funny?

SO: It was more funny than scary. I knew most of the history the guide was telling people, but I did learn a few things too. One of the stops was at a hidden graveyard near London Bridge. I didn’t know about this before we went there. It’s called Crossbones Graveyard, and it was used from Medieval times up to the 18th Century. They buried people who weren’t considered good enough for ordinary graveyards, such as ‘Ladies of the Night,’ there. When it stopped being used it was soon lost, but in the 1990s when an extension of the London Underground was being dug, they suddenly came across bodies! Archaeologists from the Museum of London were called in. They discovered that this was the lost graveyard that they knew was near London Bridge but had been lost for about 200 years! They found about 150 bodies, but they think that is only about 10 per cent of them. It is now closed off by high railings, but you can look in through the gates.

There are also stories of ghosts, Jack the Ripper, and executions.

NTK:  Wow! Who was the tour guide? Was he the conductor of the bus?

SO: Yes, just him and a driver. He was very funny, and the special effects added to what was going on. It’s definitely more fun than scary, but you are learning real history, stories that are believed to be real ghost stories, and the lost graveyard was very real!

NTK: Could you give us an example of one of the ghost stories?

SO: There was one very funny one, which is supposed to be true. We stopped in a quiet but wide street near the Bank of England. Here, there had been reports from different people over many years of a ghost called Fanny who makes a scratching sound in the night. It all happened in just one building in a narrowGhost Bus Interior street just off the wide street called Cock Lane. Obviously, you can’t help but laugh when you realise that the story is known as Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane. It most likely didn’t sound as funny when this ghost was first reported a couple of hundred years ago.

NTK: (Laughs.) That is funny! You mentioned special effects before. What kind of special effects were used on the bus?

SO: We sat upstairs, and the guide gives his guided tour from the stairs. So, everyone can see him, there are cameras around the bus and a screen at the front. The speaker system is occasionally ‘taken over by spirits’ and you hear them speaking rather than the guide. You are also asked to carry out rituals to send them away. I don’t want to give too much away as you don’t want to know too much if you get a chance to go on one of these tours.

NTK:  How long was the tour?

SO: A little over an hour, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes. It leaves from Northumberland Avenue, just off Trafalgar Square. When the tour finished, we recovered by having a drink in The Sherlock Holmes Pub, nearby.

NTK: What was it like to drink in the Sherlock Holmes pub? Is there a lot of memorabilia in there?

SO: Yes, it’s full of Holmes memorabilia! I had walked past it many times when I lived in London, but this was my first time inside. I even had a pint of Sherlock Ale.

NTK: That’s great! So, aside from riding the Ghost Bus, what have you been up to lately, Simon? Any Simon Osborne Necrobusfuture plans Horror Addicts should know about?

SO: Still waiting for the Shadow Chasers series to be aired. As you know, I filmed an episode of that in Cardiff about four years ago, but it has been delayed by the Pandemic. I am about to start a business giving talks in historical locations. This will be mostly me dressed as a Victorian or Edwardian (which is how I dress anyway) and telling the history of the places and such things as the history of Gentleman’s fashions of the times.

NTK: Awesome!! Thank you for chatting with me about this, Simon!

SO: Thank you.

Addicts, you can find Simon on his website and on Twitter. And catch his first Chilling Chat here.

Best in Blood: Lucifer Fulci

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By the light of day, David Mark Stashko practices social work with special attention to addiction, recovery and homelessness. He is also an avid cryptozoologist and paranormal/supernatural explorer. He writes books and speaks about these topics in various circles and under the moniker of “Light, Darkness and Dreamscapes.”

lucifer-fulciAt night, David often transforms into Lucifer Fulci, a character he created in 1994 for death rock legends, Penis Flytrap. Since the inception of Fulci, he has created/participated in horror conventions, numerous solo records, multiple extreme horror books, various short movies, music videos and is the co-creator of his current band, LORDS of OCTOBER, with fellow author and filmmaker, Paul Counelis AKA Uncle Salem.

Fulci is partnered with his Wife, Scarah Stashko, who creates the majority of the art for all his projects and is his morbid media muse for all things strange and beautiful.

Lucifer won Best in Blood for Season 16. Here’s what he had to say after the announcement.

Lucifer Fulci: “Thank you from the bottom of my black heart for voting me best in blood for season 16. It’s a great honor as ever. I thank you. I love you.”

Please enjoy the following interview with Lucifer.

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

LF: I was probably about 7 or 8. I saw a commercial for The Exorcist on the tele and told my parents that I wanted to watch it. They told me not to, and if I did, I could not sleep in bed with them. I watched it.

And then I went to sleep in bed with them

Since then, I have had the infection of horror.

NTK: (Laughs.) Is The Exorcist your favorite horror movie? If not, what is?

LF: That is the loaded question of all time. To answer it plainly, it might be. I simply cannot say.

To give you a longer answer, a more real answer, it changes from time to time.

So, for today, I have been having a love affair with Dawn of the Dead again. And Zombie.

But The Exorcist has to be the one that will always remain closer to my little black heart

and a million more. I love so many of them and so many are meaningful to me. Really, it is so hard to say.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show at this time?

LF: Lovecraft Country, most likely, as I have just discovered it and am having a love affair with it. Also, Raised by Wolves is a close second…for right now.

I finally finished the Outsider and love that, too, but not as much as those other two.

NTK: Lovecraft Country is based on a book. Do you have a favorite horror novel at this time?

LF: That is another loaded question. It is easy for me to say that I have a few all-time faves, like Ninth and Hell Street by Chas Balun and Off Season by Jack Ketchum, but I also love to say how I love my own books a lot. That is kind of cheating…but each time I open an old one up, I think like, if I had not written it, I would love to be reading it. I recently read a portion of my book Vile Witches for an event called The Fall of April Ghouls Days…and I found that I actually enjoyed it greatly. But I dunno if that is cheating, to answer it like that.

NTK: (Laughs.) I don’t think so. What author has influenced you the most?

LF: Lovecraft, for sure. It was Chas Balun who really mentored me before my first novel, and I love his work, but over the years, Lovecraft has influenced me so much in my writing, in my music..its undeniable.

NTK: Did his work inspire any of your stories? What inspires you in your writing?

LF: Yes, by all means, there are a ton of short stories, like in my Collection of Horror series, just all over there, but I have a novella called The Elder Thing that was greatly inspired..and Wormutanous. I love my Howard Phillip.

It all depends on what inspires me…

it’s like…

Really, I get inspired by so many elements of the supernatural…music…Halloween…love stories, too. And then it’s just what I feel..and I try to not do the same things all the time..but that happens sometimes.

I used to want to make the goriest book ever made..and then I kept outdoing it..again. And again.

So yeah…

All kinds of things…from another world.

NTK: You’ve mentioned music and you’re a musician as well. Do you feel writing songs is the same as writing stories? Or do you feel you have to use a different part of your brain for each?

LF: Good question. It is similar, in many ways, yes. There is a lot of me that, when I create, it just sort of happens. When I sit at the keys and type, and the same with music…and then I try to organize it. I would have to say that with music, I have, so far, a broader range of emotion. I have a lot more love songs that I do stories about love.

NTK: What inspired “Blasphemy?”

LF: That is a kind of funny story, because like I was saying before, I have tried to outdo one gore book over another..over the years..but for this one, I felt a real desire to touch into the satanic type of realm. Just for fun. Not to mention, I had made a new friend around the same time. Her name is Soma and some of her images, art, creation, they inspired me. She is also the cover model for that book. So, in a lot of ways, she inspired me…but it is a work of fiction. She is not really a demon…or is she? (Laughs.)

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

LF: Definite outline. I will come up with an idea..and then I will think of the full story, break each idea down to chapters and then start from there.

I tend to jump around sometimes, but I still stay pretty grounded in the core story.

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

LF: I am their master, their Lord. I am in control of all of their little lives…unless they gather their own self-awareness. Then the game is over.

NTK: (Laughs.) You’re a cryptozoologist and supernatural/paranormal explorer. Have you ever participated in any paranormal investigations?

LF: Yes, the real deal. I have been a part of, party to, and experienced more than the scope of this conversation allows. What I can say, with no reservations, is that it is all real. All of it. There are other worlds before our very eyes and things within it. Sometimes they speak and show us, other times, they sing in our dreams, but yes, I have known for many a year that this world is only one of endless worlds… if we keep our eyes open equally as our spirits, we shall feel what most people fear.

At one point, many years back, I channeled a spirit to a family I knew in Los Angeles and answered questions I could not have known the answers to. It was strange and wonderful

And it allowed some kind of closure to previous issues they had. And I had no idea it was happening until it was over.

I don’t mean to sound hokey at all, these things have just been with me for many years.

NTK: What is your favorite curse?

LF: My favorite curse? I am not sure I have one! (Laughs.) But I do like that movie, the Curse of La Llorona. It was pretty cool.

NTK: How about your favorite curse word?

LF: Well, I am not sure. I can bet you 666 dollars that my friends would say that it is FUCK. There are just so many ways to use it. I hardly ever use it in anger, unless I am by myself.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Lucifer! You’ve been a wonderful guest!

LF: And you have been a wonderful host. Thank you for this opportunity

Now, Addicts, enjoy this music video from Lucifer’s band Lords of October!

Addicts, you can find Lucifer on Ghoul Cast, in his short horror film The Idol, and in his former band–Penis Flytrap. You can also read his Guide to the Italian Cannibal Film.

Chilling Chat: Episode #204 – Comika Hartford

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Comika began her career writing and performing at the historic LORRAINE HANSBERRY THEATER in her hometown of San Francisco with Rhodessa Jones’ award-winning company Cultural Odyssey beforeComika Hartford graduating from Emerson College in Boston. She’s a co-producer of the LGBTQ series DYKE CENTRAL *available on Amazon Prime* the horror/sci-fi podcast DOMESTICATED and is co-founder of DOPE SISTA magazine out of Atlanta. As a life-long fan of cutting edge episodic television she went on to win the IndieFEST Award for Excellence, The Independent Shorts Awards Platinum Award, Top Shorts Best Web Series and the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival Best New Media Award for her original web series THE GREY AREA as well as Best Plot Twist from The Horror Bowl Awards and best horror short at the Phoenix Monthly Film Festival for her thriller anthology pilot HINTERLAND ZOO, Episode 1.

 NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Comika! When did you first discover horror and what got you interested in it?

CH: Well, it was actually an accident, I got my mom’s friend to let me watch Jaws when I was five and I was so traumatized that I could only take shallow baths for months! Years later, I was fascinated by the bts shots of the production, once I saw it was all pretend the drama and power of the storytelling had me. Been a horror weirdo ever since!

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie and why? 

CH: I’ll always love Alien and not just because I share a birthday with our queen Sigourney Weaver, but I’m loving the psychological gutting of Squid Game. (I know it’s not a movie…but it kinda is!)

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

CH: I’m loving Two Sentence Horror series, Melody Cooper is killing it! 

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why? 

CH: Oooh… Gonna have to go with Le Fanu’s Carmilla, it’s so deliciously bisexual.

NTK: How is acting in horror different from acting in a drama?  

CH: It isn’t. By that I mean it’s still making the unreal feel real. However, the supernatural elements create stakes that are radically different than other genres and that’s why we all love heavy hitters like Toni Colette or Colman Domingo. They bring their bloody guts and soul to the work.

NTK: Which do you enjoy most? Producing, directing, acting, or writing? 

CH: Ah, I’m really just a creepy writer lurking by a shrubbery. In a Michael Myers mask. 

NTK: Love it! As an LGBTQ woman of color, what do you enjoy most about the horror community? 

CH: Elvira. *smiles in fangirl*

NTK: As a fan of The Twilight Zone, what do you think of the new reboot with Jordan Peele? 

CH: Ah-Mazing! I think Serling would be proud, he was all about social commentary. His screenplay Seven Days in May is very timely after the Capitol riot. 

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

CH: Q: Are you really a witch, or are you just joking?

        A: *quietly strokes the toad in my purse*

NTK: (Laughs.) That’s great. When you’re writing and you create a character, does that character have free will? Or do you control everything they do? 

CH: They literally lead me around. I’m just following their footsteps to the ending.

NTK: What piece of advice do you have for the up-and-coming horror creative?

CH: Write that shit. Edit later. Nothing comes out perfect. So. Write. That. Shit. 

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

CH: My micro episode horror series The Interview will be on the Rizzle App later this year & my award-winning web series The Grey Area is on the Paraflixx platform. I have some larger things coming up in 2022 that I can’t share yet… But soon. Sooooon! *pets toad again witchily*

NTK: Thank you for chatting with us, Comika!

CH: Thank you!

Chilling Chat: Episode #204 – Geneve Flynn

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie and why?

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

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

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

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: Thank you for chatting with us, Geneve! 

Addicts, you can find Tortured Willows on Amazon.

CoverSep Tortured Willows

Chilling Chat: Episode #203 – Valjeanne Jeffers

chillingchatValjeanne Jeffers

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

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

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

VJ: Thank you for having me.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

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

NTK:  What do you like best about that movie?

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

Spike Lee placed a message in each story.

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

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

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

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VJ: Thank you! And you’re welcome!

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

Chilling Chat: Episode #201 – Crystal Connor

Crystal Connor grew up telling spooky little campfire-style stories at slumber parties. Living on a steady literary diet of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean R. Koontz and healthy doses of cinema masterpieces such as The Birds, Friday the 13th,Wordsmith Crystal Connor Hellraiser, The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone; along with writing short stories specializing in the Science Fiction & Horror genres since before Jr. high School, it surprised no one that she ended up writing horror novels! 

Crystal is a fascinating person and a thought-provoking author. We spoke of writing, her influences, and her literary father. 

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

CC: Thank you so much for having me.

NTK: What got you into horror and how old were you?

CC: Gosh, that’s such a good question. I’ve always told really good horror stories. When I was little, I was invited to all the slumber parties because I told her really good horror stories. (Laughs.) It’s something that I’ve always done. I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to be a horror author—it just happened by happenstance, so yeah.

NTK: Did you watch horror movies at the slumber parties? What is your favorite horror movie?

CC: I don’t remember watching horror movies at slumber parties, unless I was the one hosting them. Horror is something that’s always been in the peripherals of my life. I grew up watching the black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Dark Shadows, Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, Hellraiser, Stephen King, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. You know, horror’s always been a part of my life, and I always like things—you know—darker around the edges.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

CC: I think my favorite TV shows growing up was a tie between The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. I believe science fiction and horror are fraternal twins and there’s a lot of stuff in those two series that are just like downright unsettling. So, growing up—ya there would be a tie.

NTK:  Do you have a favorite horror novel?

CC: Ok, so people actually raise their eyebrows when they hear me say this, but my favorite horror novel of all time is the Book of Revelations in the King James Bible. Now, I grew up in a Christian household and I’m a Godfearing person. I don’t think I’m a Christian because, of course, I’m not living according to the scriptures. But the book of revelations has shaped my writing and me as a person. From a very young age that was the first story that I read from start to finish without stopping, and it’s just so terrifying. I mean, I was just like terrified, right, ‘cause I think I might have been like 10 or 11 years old and I’m super seduced by images and that book is so visually terrifying that it stuck with me. The visuals and the things that were prophesized that are going to come to pass if we don’t change our ways of living—so, yeah, it’s the Book of Revelations that has shaped me as an individual in my personal life and in my writing life as well.

NTK: So, do you have a favorite horror author?

CC: My favorite horror writer, besides myself, hands down has to be Stephen King. I didn’t take any writing classes and when I write, I just kind of dislike writing everything down as it comes to me. But Stephen King is the person who taught me how to write. He is my mentor even though he doesn’t know it. So, when I’m working on a scene and I’m struggling through it, I usually just read a book from Stephen King to see how he did it, and then, I kind of copy that style to get me out of whatever hole I’m in. Whatever I’m like struggling to get by. The very first King novel that I read was Pet Sematary and of course, I’ve read everything that he’s written after that. He’s my favorite horror writer because he’s my literary dad. (Laughs.)

But there are so many amazing horror authors now, that there’s no way that I would be able to name them all. Some women who have been influential in my career would be like Linda Addison, Eden Royce, and Sumiko Saulson. There’re so many of us, and that’s a really good thing.

NTK: That’s great! As a person of color, what has your experience in the horror community been like? Good? Bad? Both?

CC: It’s been a combination of all three. With my first novel, The Darkness, the editor working on it suggested that people would not connect to my two main characters which are both strong black women leads but don’t fit the stereotypical idea of a black woman in the media, you know. So, that was really shocking to hear as a first-time writer coming up. But luckily, I didn’t take her advice and I stayed true to my story. And then, six months after it was published, I was the recipient of two international book awards. It’s been amazing because I’ve had people come up to me saying that they didn’t know that there are black people writing horror.

I think my favorite part of being a black horror writer, is meeting other people of color who are creating horror content. This has just been so incredible. But it’s a double-edged sword, because the assumption is black people are unable to write really good horror, but it is a compliment and because I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit. I’ll take the compliments where I can. (Laughs.)

But it’s incredible to see how people are now recognizing our work and also enjoying our work. Last night, I went to see a private screening of Candyman, and it just brought me to tears to see people of color creating stories of horror that are mainstream. So yeah, this is just incredible.

NTK: You often review movies and books, what did you think of Candyman? Had you seen the original?

CC: Yup. I saw the original and the new movie blew me away. It is not a reboot. It is not a sequel. It is a continuation of the story, and it was so amazing, that I left the theater just numb. My advice to everybody is just to go see the movie, but keep in mind that it’s told from a different point of view. So, the first Candyman was produced by, you know, a white crew, white writers, and predominantly white actors. But this time around, we’re telling our side of this story. So, for me, it was more horrific than the first one. But it is every bit the type of movie we have grown accustomed to and get excited about.

When the movie has Jordan Peele’s name attached to it, it’s just hands down incredible. It was beautiful, and it was frightening, and even the kill scenes were almost elegant. I hope you get to see this movie.

NTK: What inspires your writing? What inspired you to write My First Nightmare?

CC: Oh my God, what inspired me to write My First Nightmare was when my fans would come up to me at conventions and ask me to write a children’s novel. I don’t write for children so for the first two years I absolutely refused to do it. But it did start growing in the back of my mind and when I reached out to an artist, and explained what I wanted to do, the numbers he came back with is what really propelled me to write the book. It could afford the artwork that’s in that book.

The idea for My First Nightmare was to introduce children to the horror genre through the stories of urban legends, myths, and monsters from actual cultures from all the way around the world.

But not from cultures that we are heavily bombarded with. So, there’re no Egyptian monsters, there’re no Norse monsters, I really spent a whole entire year researching the monsters that I wanted to be presented in this book so that it’s truly a diverse horror novel for children and even adults who want to, like, put their toe into the waters of horror.

NTK: So, when you write your characters, do they have free will? Or do you direct their every move?

CC: I think this might be true for all writers but there comes a time in the story where the characters take over. I usually just start writing with an idea and about a third of the way through, I’m just hanging on for the ride. With my Spectrum Trilogy, I was not expecting that to be a trilogy. That was just gonna be a medical thriller/science fiction/ horror book about a child that was created in the lab. But because I didn’t let myself stay in a box, I ended up with a complete trilogy with the genres of time traveling, sorcery, and military thriller. It’s just people who read that series are blown away that I wrote it in the first place, and then the second thing they always ask is how I kept everything straight. And the answer is—I have no idea. (Laughs.)

NTK: (Laughs.) That is cool! What advice do you have for other authors?

CC: My advice would be to always have fun and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel like writing that day, or if you have writer’s block. And I’m also gonna share a cheat code: watching movies counts as research!

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

CC: I’m currently working on two books. They’re both standalone. One is YA. The other book I’m working on is a straight adult horror novel called The Family.

And, as far as HorrorAddicts is concerned, whatever they throw my way. I have been able to prescreen and review some of the most amazing horror movies that are out there, and that’s one of the things that I love so much about working for HorrorAddicts. It’s my tribe. That’s my tribe.

NTK: That’s wonderful! Thank you for joining me today!

CC: This was really fun. Thanks for interviewing me.

Chilling Chat with Adam Breckenridge

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Adam Breckenridge is a Traveling Collegiate Faculty member of the University of Maryland Global Campus, where he travels the world teaching US military stationed overseas and is currently based in South Korea. He has eighteen shortAdam Breckenridge story publications and, in addition to Horror Bites, has most recently appeared in Clockwork, Curses and Coal from Worldweaver Press and Mystery Weekly.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

AB: I think it was the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books that first put me on to horror. Those books were an obsession of my childhood and even inspired me to try writing some scary stories of my own, one of which I distinctly remember causing my dad to double over in laughter.  I’ve gotten a bit better at the genre since then.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

AB: A couple of years ago a friend asked me for a top twenty-five list and, after a considerable amount of hemming and hawing I finally set The Shining at the number one spot, though it’s not a designation I would take too seriously.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

AB: I think Stranger Things has stood out the most strongly for me. Tales From the Crypt was another formidable childhood experience, though I recently went back and revisited the show, and time has not been kind to it.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

AB: In a pinch, I’d probably say The Turn of the Screw. I remember hating it the first time I read it, but I was forced to read it again for a class on gothic literature I took in college, and it really clicked for me the second time. It’s one I continue to revisit periodically with great fascination and served as a key inspiration for “Deathly Fog.”

NTK: What inspires your writing? How do you come up with your ideas?

AB: I think I have as many answers to that question as I have stories I’ve written, but the most common sources of inspiration are other works I’ve read, either because their ideas inspired ideas of my own or I got pissed off at the wasted potential of a story. Dreams, my experiences with traveling and living abroad, and just idle pondering have all borne creative fruit for me as well.

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

AB: I’m always a little suspicious of writers who claim they can’t control their characters. They’re your creation and they’re entirely yours to do with as you please but being able to do that does require you to understand the nature of the characters you created.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

AB: My phobia is heights. My greatest fear is probably a slow, painful death.

NTK: Have you ever written a horror story about your own experiences?

AB: Not really about my own experiences, no, but I have based a couple of horror stories off of dreams I’ve had. I wrote one based on an anxiety dream I had when I was in my grad program that was so dark and disturbing that I was never able to get it published. The moral of the story is don’t go to grad school.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

AB: I recently discovered the works of Thomas Ligotti and he was a revelation to me. I don’t think I’ve encountered a contemporary horror author who’s done more to redefine what horror can be than he has, though Brian Evenson comes close.

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

AB: By the time you’re reading this, my short story, “The Train Up Mount Silence,” should be available to read through Mystery Weekly (and if not, you won’t have to wait long). After that even I don’t know. I’m constantly submitting my work and only time will tell where it winds up so keep an eye out for whatever comes.

Chilling Chat: Episode #199 – Sandra Becerril

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Sandra Becerril was born in Mexico City and is a writer, author and director. Her books include The Street of the Witches (2004 ), Blue Whisper (2007 ), The Name of the Clouds ( 2011),  Before Me, After (2012 ), The Night Pirates (2013 ), Whosandra3 - Sandra Becerril Are You Thinking of Killing (2014 ), Love Me More (2015), the thriller bestseller Valley of Fire (2018) with Random House Mondadori, (winner of the international Best Noir Novel in Spain), Your Corpse in the Snow (2019), and The Silence of All Dead—which has been translated into more than 10 languages—(2021).

Sandra is the translator and anthologist of Nightmares (in Spanish 2019) and the first Mexican to write for Masters of Horror in Hollywood. She directed the films, The Hideout, They are Here, and the documentary War and Compassion. She has written several documentaries and TV series and has directed and written dramas of terror. She is recognized as the most prolific and important Mexican horror writer of her generation.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror? What got you involved in it?

SB: I was five-six years old. My parents told me not to see The Exorcist, so, of course, I saw it. And they were right. I got traumatized but enchanted with the story. I discovered that I wanted to take the sleep of people as The Exorcist did to me. I started to write stories since then.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

SB: Everything inspires me. I love scaring people; I love writing stories. And I write all the time.

Maybe it’s because I find the dark side of everything, but I’m inspired by atmospheres, people, certain situations, everything.

NTK: What inspired El Silencio de Todos Los Muertos (The Silence of All the Dead)?

SB: During my childhood, I lived in a house that terrified me. And not just me, it scared children and adults so much that people stopped visiting us.

I had to take that inspiration and create a novel.

The voices of the characters are from the point of view of when they are children because under that gaze, we believe that everything can be true, we see terror with innocence, we do not seek further explanation.

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

SB: They have a will of their own as long as they are within the world that creates them.

I try to model them well, to know them better than anyone else so that they act with logic in the midst of the situations they are experiencing.

I try not to help them.

I like to make them suffer and see what they will do next, what they are made of.

NTK: As a person of color, what has your experience been like in the horror community?

SB: As a Latina, it has suddenly been difficult to open the doors of my own country to get out of there with my stories to the outside world.

Once outside it is easier.

The first time that a producer in Spain or the United States trusted my stories, it was easier. The complicated thing is the first time.

And yet, I have suffered discrimination, for being a woman, for being a Latina, for being a single mother, even for writing terror, and for not dedicating myself to a more “serious” genre.

So, I would say that it has been a good experience and sometimes a bad one. It all depends on how you look at it. Everything is learning to move forward.

NTK: Are any of your stories based on personal experience?

SB: I am not my characters although many think I am.
However, the construction of my stories and the characters that act in them are based on real places, or on situations (not mine) that I have heard or investigated. This is because I like people to believe that this can happen, it is the magic of terror, breaking the barrier of credulity. And for that, you need to feel that they can be real, even if they are fantasy.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

SB: Nosferatu (1922) and Macario (1960).

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

SB: I Am Legend.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

SB: It used to be The Twilight Zone and now also Dexter.

NTK: You are the first Mexican to write for Masters of Horror. Could you tell us about that experience?

SB: It was wonderful.

Writing for directors who scared me when I was little is a great experience and every day, I learned something new.

There are a couple of them who are the men from my nightmares (they know it).
That showed me that any dream can come true, no matter if it’s about creating monsters and scaring people. Any dream is valid.

I also felt nervous, that is, those figures of terror that I admire so much were reading and directing my stories.

It was something surprising that I didn’t quite believe until I went to the set and said: this is true.

NTK: You’re also a director. Tell us a bit about your films. Do you enjoy directing? How is it different from writing? How is it the same?

I started directing for fun. First, it was a feature film that I did not love how it turned out, but it was in festivals. Then another feature film (They’re Here), where I already had more experience and also knew the story very well, and then several television series. In each experience I have learned a lot, everything I should do and not do. And they have been wonderful experiences.

I really like directing but I like writing more. This is because directing takes a lot of time, a lot of patience. And in that time, let’s say two years when you prepare a project, I can write maybe six scripts. I feel like writing is a more personal job. A film does not only belong to the director or the scriptwriter, it belongs to a whole team, the art team, the costumes, the makeup, the casting, etc. It’s very different. Writing is lonely and your story is only your responsibility.

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

SB: My new novel, The Loneliness of the Birds, will be released in Spain in September. It is a horror-thriller.

Also in September, the anthology Nightmares will be available in the US by Gauntlet Press, where I brought together Mick Garris, Richard Christian Matheson and Lawrence Connelly. The cover is by David Slade and also includes a text of mine with a foreword by John Skipp. The anthology is collectible, signed, and for horror collectors. This same anthology will be translated into Italian by the Independent Legions and will be out in January and it will be in Spain in February.

I’m also writing a thriller series for HBO and adapting The Silence of All the Dead into a feature film; it’s almost going into pre-production.

I am a jury member of several international festivals such as Feratum and Espanto, so I have to see many films.

NTK: Thank you, Sandra!

SB: This was fun! Thank you!

Addicts, you can find Sandra on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #198 – L. Marie Wood

L. Marie Wood is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is the recipient of the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper, as well as the Harold L. Brown Award for her screenplay Home Party. Her short story, “The Ever After” is part of the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. Wood was recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction.

L. Marie is a fun and vivacious lady. We spoke of writing, vampires, and The Realm.

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

LMW: Thank you so much for having me!

NTK:  What have you been up to since we last talked?

LMW: Oh my gosh, so much! After Slay came out, my third novel was released. It is called The Realm and it’s about a man who wakes up in an afterlife he never expected with a responsibility that he doesn’t know if he can shoulder. It is a fast-paced novel, and I am so over the moon about it. In May of this year, my first novella was released by Mocha Memoirs Press. It is called Telecommuting and it is a purely psychological horror tale about a man who finds himself utterly alone for most of the time. We follow him as he navigates this new normal, all the while wondering when he will hear the whispering…because we definitely do. My first and second novels, Crescendo and The Promise Keeper respectively, will be re-released by Cedar Grove Books at the end of July.

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

LMW: Believe it or not I was five years old! I started writing a story and it was just… dark!

I didn’t associate the term “horror” to it, but that’s what it was, it was psychological horror. And I still write in that sub-genre today.

NTK: Was it inspired by a book or a movie? What inspires your writing?

LMW: No—it literally came from out of nowhere, which is actually, how I find inspiration now.

Sometimes an idea for a story just comes to me. Could be something I saw–some detail about how someone was dressed or something they did maybe even the weather or catching a glimpse of someone making a facial expression they don’t realize is being noticed. When I go looking for inspiration, I can’t always find it.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you? The one you could identify with the most?

LMW: I identify with the villains and Darth Vader’s cool calmness is just so awesome to me, I’ve always wanted to emulate that. You know… should I have the need to subdue someone… you know what I mean! (Laughs.)

Then I was always partial to Bruce Lee—like I wanted to kick like him and the sound effects—heck yes. So, combine those with my favorite horror antagonist—vampires!!—and you have a really kick-ass villain. I can’t say I’ve seen this character yet… maybe Blade…wait—DEFINITELY Blade! And I have to say that I never realized that I am Blade until JUST NOW. I always saw myself more like Jerry Dandridge.

NTK: Did you see yourself as Chris Sarandon? Or Colin Ferrel?

LMW: Definitely Chris Sarandon. He was sooooo smooth.

So I guess I am the female Blade… I’m going with that. (Laughs.)

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you have a favorite horror movie?

LMW: I do! Angel Heart! Being the psychological horror lover I am, I love a movie that has twists and turns and makes me think. I find something new every time I watch that movie!

NTK: That movie is so awesome and underrated! Did you like Robert De Niro’s portrayal of the Devil?

LMW: I did, even if it was a little ham-handed… Louis Cypher HAHAHA! He looked awesome though, just enough to make sure you know who he was and what was going on, but easy enough to miss if you aren’t trying to focus on the flick.

NTK: Exactly! Do you have a favorite horror television show?

LMW: Horror Tv shows are difficult. I was a Walking Dead Fan for years and then… I mean, ok and…? I loved The Haunting of Hill House and Lovecraft Country but those are just season-long entries. AHS – I’ve really only enjoyed one whole season – the one with Cuba Gooding Jr…Roanoke.

So… I might have to say no…?

But if the stand alone, one season and one shows count, I will definitely say Haunting of Hill House. Creepy as hell, that one.

NTK: What about favorite horror author?

LMW: That is a harder question than you might realize! I adore Ira Levin’s work, the way he spun a yarn was like no one else. Very casual, conversational, it’s like he is sitting with you on a park bench or while waiting in line at the movies and telling you this creepy thing. I find that my own writing is a lot like that—like we’re having a conversation, only what I am saying is scaring the bejesus out of you. Reading his work just feels good to me.

At the same time, I love Stephen King. His ability to make the mundane spooky is so unsettling and I really love that! Finally, Shirley Jackson has psychological horror in her pocket. Her work just creeps up on you and you don’t even know why you are afraid, but you are. Read “The Lottery”… you may find yourself shivering—either because you might be the one to get stoned, or go along with the stoning and not even know why!

So my fave… Shirley Ira King. Hell of a pen name!

NTK: (Laughs.) That would be! Do you have a favorite horror novel?

LMW: I do, and interestingly enough, none of those three wrote it! Quietus by Vivian Schilling. It is so lyrical! I remember thinking that I wished I could write something so tight, so beautifully done. No purple prose. No fluff. Just amazing control and beautiful execution. I fangirled a bit when I read it and contacted her (this is like 2002 or 2003). Had to tell her it was an amazing experience reading her book.

NTK: That is so awesome! What did she say?

LMW: She was so kind. We actually spoke for a while—she was gracious about the compliment I lavished—I can only imagine that she was red-faced… I was laying it on thick because this book is… chef’s kiss!

She encouraged me to write after I told her I was actually writing my novel. Wonder if she ever read it…? Wow, how cool would THAT be??

NTK: Tell us about your book, The Realm. What’s it about and what inspired it?

LMW: The Realm is about a man who finds himself in a predicament that he never ever thought possible. The story starts with him awakening in the afterlife, but this space is nothing like he had been taught to expect. Patrick has to run… right away if he wants to save his family and himself. It is a high-energy story that never let’s you settle down. So much fun! As for inspiration, I’ve always been interested in what lies beyond the stars and this story allowed me to create a world in the space – an alternate reality. It also allowed me to do the cross-genre work that psychological horror so often lends itself to. It is a lot of fun.

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

LMW: My characters do what they want to do when they want to do it. They routinely defy me.

And I can be as upset as I want to about that, but they do not care. I like to say that I sit back and watch the show and just write it all down for posterity.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror community?

LMW: Good, actually. I have been lucky enough to not have experienced a lot of what I have heard about. I started being active in the community in about 2003 and met some wonderful people from everywhere. Had signings, broke bread, shared stages, etc. I took a bit of a break for a number of years and when I came back in, I encountered the same. But as a person of color, I know that my experience isn’t everyone’s and that there have been some challenges that my fellow creatives have encountered. I can only help to be one of those people who helps pave the way, ease the way, help others along.

NTK: You’ve won some interesting awards. Could you tell us about the Golden Stake and about the UMMFF award for The Black Hole?

LMW: Ahh the Golden Stake Award! Seriously, I love that thing, it is literally a golden stake with blood on the tip!!!!! I wouldn’t even bring it back with me—left it in London to be shipped over so that they didn’t take it from me in customs, because, seriously, how could I have explained it?? (Laughs.)

My second novel, The Promise Keeper, is a psychological vampire horror tale! I must say, it felt AMAZING to go over to London during the 200 year anniversary of the publishing of The Vampyre by John Polidori and WIN this coveted award! We drank cocktails out of syringes later that night—it was a freaking blast!

As to The Black Hole, it is a very timely screenplay about colleagues who compete with each other on the paintball field along with a group of their friends. And let’s just say this… all is fun and games until the paintballs fly. My undergraduate degree from Howard University is actually in Film Production. Years later, I went on to get an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University that has a focus in Screenwriting. It is my second love and I am back to doing it with a vengeance. This particular screenplay won best Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi Screenplay at the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival.

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

LMW: Tons, actually! I mentioned that my first two novels are coming out again in July. Then we prepare for the release of book two of The Realm series – Cacophony. This comes out in October from Cedar Grove Books, and I am just so ready for people to meet Gabby! I have a few more things coming out in 2022, including a neat project that I am working on with Falstaff Books. Please visit my website and sign up for the newsletter to get updates!

NTK: Thank you for joining me today, L. Marie! It’s been a pleasure!

LMW: Thank you so much for having me! I enjoyed the discussion!

Addicts, you can find L. Marie on Facebook. Check out her book, The Realm, available now.

Chilling Chat: Episode #197 – ON TIME – Alisha Costanzo

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Alisha Costanzo holds an MFA in Creative Writing as well as a BA in Communication Studies and a BA in English (writing). She spent three years as a line editor for Sapphire Blue Publishing and is a college professor and publishedAlisha Costanzo author.

She and Anthony S. Buoni founded Transmundane Press in 2014. They are co-editors of the anthology, On Time.

NTK: What got you into horror and how old were you?

AC: My first Goosebumps book when I was eight. After that, I claimed a corner of the living room with a small bookshelf and a purple bean bag chair where I read my ever-expanding collection of horror books.

NTK: What’s your favorite horror movie?

AC: Don’t laugh, but it’s Scream. The satire did me in, and the music, and Matthew Lillard. I’ve seen that movie more than three hundred times now…

NTK: What’s your favorite horror TV show?

AC: Tales of the Crypt. I used to watch it when I was seven or eight, and one episode had a man faking his death on an autopsy table. Then, he died for real, and the punch line was that feeling was the last thing to go as he got cut into. I loved that ending so much. I have a habit of loving really messed-up endings to stories.

NTK: What’s your favorite horror novel?

AC: I have a hard time with this one. A lot of what I read mixes genres, but I’m going to go with Season of Passage by Christopher Pike. It mixes mythology, science fiction, and horror into a beautifully dark story with a wonderfully horrific ending.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

AC: Another difficult one. My all-time favorites are Christopher Pike, of course, R.L. Stine, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and Flannery O’Connor. The first two shaped my reading and writing when I was young. The last three haunt me, nearly daily, from my MFA work. They wrote formative stories for my education, and they showed me that darkness and horror can be celebrated by everyone.

NTK: What inspired you to create the anthology, On Time? How did it come about?

AC: My business partner, Anthony, had the idea during a brainstorm. We have a list that we keep of anthology ideas, and we both had stories brewing for the time theme. That’s how we knew it was time. No pun intended.

NTK: What do you look for in a story? How did the stories in On Time make the cut?

AC: Voice, action, and imagery. I want to be grabbed on the first page by a character. Since we get hundreds of submissions, it’s hard to justify reading past page one or two if I’m not feeling it. One way this happens is if there’s potential–in the writing and the story. A hint at a twist or interesting perspective will keep me going, too, when the writing isn’t fully polished. Oh, and concrete details. Those are always helpful!

NTK: What was it like working with over 70 authors?

AC: Crazy. It was crazy. We’ve done it several times now, and the process always improves and evolves. This one had a bit more stress, but all of our authors stuck together and were so supportive of each other and the project, and thankfully, everyone was understanding about delays. Most of our writers have day jobs, and so many were teachers and nurses and worked in high-stress jobs during the pandemic. They made me really proud of our community. My absolute favorite part was, and always is, reading the interviews and guest posts because I get to learn so much about our authors and their stories throughout it.

NTK: What’s your best piece of advice for the anthology editor?

AC: One of the hardest balancing acts I have as an editor is cultivating a stylistic preference without imposing my voice on an author. I do my best to make suggestions amongst a few steadfast rules, aka I pick my battles. Writing is personal, so I like to keep that in mind while trying to be honest and pushing my authors.

Also, I want to remind editors in the middle of the process how rewarding it is.

NTK: What does the future hold for you and Transmundane Press? What new books are in the works?

AC: We have a new anthology we’re planning to finish up our elemental series. It focuses on earth, and we’re pretty excited to collect some excellent stories for the final piece. After that, we’re thinking of making a hardback set out of the four (UnderwaterOn Fire, In the Air, and the earth-themed anthology).

Addicts, you can find Transmundane Press on Facebook.

Chilling Chat: Episode #196 Part II – Dan Rabarts

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Dan Rabarts is an award-winning author and editor, four-time recipient of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award and three-time winner of the Australian Shadows Award, occasional sailor of sailing things, part-time metalhead and father ofDan Rabarts two wee miracles in a house on a hill under the southern sun. Together with Lee Murray, he co-writes the Path of Ra crime-noir thriller series from Raw Dog Screaming Press (Hounds of the Underworld, Teeth of the Wolf, Blood of the Sun) and co-edited the flash-fiction horror anthology Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror, and At The Edge, an anthology of Antipodean dark fiction.

His steampunk-grimdark-comic fantasy series Children of Bane starts with Brothers of the Knife and continues in Sons of the Curse and Sisters of Spindrift (Omnium Gatherum Media). Dan’s science fiction, dark fantasy and horror short stories have been published in numerous venues worldwide. He also regularly narrates and produces podcasts and audiobooks.

NTK: How did you become involved with horror and how old were you?

DR: Aside from strange nightmares being some of my first actual memories? My first taste of horror was the Fighting Fantasy gamebook, City of Thieves by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, back when I was about 10, but the book that really bit hard and held on was Stephen King’s IT, which I read at the tender age of 14, and never looked back. Then in my teens, I read a LOT of Hugh Cook, a kiwi author who blended SF with fantasy and horror like he was just mixing up cheese and chilli omelettes and frying them in the skulls of his enemies, and after that I found anything that didn’t have at least a hint of darkness about it just didn’t appeal. When I started writing for reals, it didn’t seem to matter if I was trying to write SF or fantasy or even something vaguely literary, the horror just crept on in and made itself at home among the words.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

DR: Ridley Scott’s Alien, although Event Horizon is a very close runner-up. Followed by Shaun of the Dead. But from a purist horror perspective, I’m going to say that actually, I really like The Ring.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

DR: Black Mirror, hands down. Season Two in particular.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

DR: Phil Rossi’s Crescent is a stunning deep space horror debut, even more so if you listen to it in his own sultry voice from when he released it as a podcast novel. Another excellent book which I first discovered in audio, but is now only around in ebook is Jack Kincaid’s Hoad’s Grim. And right now I’m really enjoying Gemma Files’ Hexslinger series.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

DR: I find that inspiration is a sort of building-block exercise, with small ideas clattering around in the corners of the old think-box until enough of them collide together to create some resonance, their own light. Often when I start to write, if I’m just free-writing without a particular theme in mind, one of these mash-ups will drive an urge to figure out what’s in the middle of that light, by breaking it down in words. So in short, I find inspiration by soaking up lots of random stuff all the time and surprise myself by seeing what comes out on the page at the end of the day. Oh, and simmering rage at the vile injustices of the world and my role as an artist to balance those scales with words.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience been in the horror community? What improvements could be made?

DR: Ever since I started to find my voice as a Māori writer, I have had far more feedback to the tune of please do more of this, than anything negative. In Aotearoa New Zealand, we’re on the long hard road towards reconciling the damages wrought by colonialism, and overcoming decades of ingrained racism and inequality is a huge challenge. But we’re getting there, slowly. Māori voices in literature tend to focus on the literary, both historic and contemporary, so bringing my perspective to the speculative genres has offered readers a fresh look at not only the sort of stories we in Aotearoa can tell, but it has also allowed me to explore some of these social issues through the lens that the speculative offers. Someone famous once said something along the lines of “Those of us who have the ability to express ourselves, have a duty to do so, on behalf of those who have not”. Writing Matiu in the Path of Ra, who exists not only along the fringes of race and the law but also the fine line between this world and the next, between sanity and madness, allowed me a fantastic opportunity to really delve into what that phrase means to me, and to exercise my need to speak out, and give voice to those who cannot.

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

DR: I usually find out what my characters have done the day after I write it. You know, I tell Lee that I’m working towards the plan, but really it’s the characters who take charge and tell the story. I can’t be held responsible for all those unexpected explosions and body parts that litter the pages. It’s all them.

NTK: (Laughs.) What’s it like working as a collaborative team? What is your writing process like? 

It is my duty to make sure that while we’re following all the rules of telling the story we planned to tell, we’re making sure that if the story wants to take itself off at a tangent for the benefit of the story, that I enable that to take place. The story has a right to be heard. It’s a highly dynamic process.

NTK: Lee said, “Dan writes that bad-ass character, Matiu Yee, so well, I have to wonder what he got up to when he was younger…”

DR: Well, to answer your question Lee, I used to do my fair share of walking the streets at night, looking all gloomy, but that was mainly because I didn’t have a car, which was sad. Not because I was secretly an enforcer for a seedy dog-fighting ring in the backblocks of the Hutt Valley AT ALL. I even have witnesses who’ll back me up on that. Dependable, reliable people, who you don’t want to mess with. As you can tell, part of my role in this partnership is often to deliver the comic relief and smile darkly for the camera.

NTK: (Laughs.) What’s your best piece of advice for the new writer?

DR: Finish what you start, have faith in what you create, and follow through by getting feedback, revising your work, and submitting. You won’t know if you can sell a story until you dive in and start selling stories.

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

DR: My main focus right now is Children of Bane, a grimdark/steampunk/comedy fantasy series about unlikely hero Akmenos, an imperial cook accused of political assassination most foul, who has to save the world armed with little more than good intentions, salt and pepper, and an armload of food-related puns. I’m currently working on the final chapters of Book Four in the series, titled Daughters of Dust, but anyone who’s keen to try something dark yet wildly absurd can take a bite out of Brothers of the Knife, where it all begins (the first couple of chapters are up to read over at my website).

Chilling Chat Episode #196 Part I – Lee Murray

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Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning author-editor from Aotearoa-New Zealand (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows), and a two-time Bram Stoker Award®-winner. Her work includes military thrillers, the Taine McKenna Adventures,Lee Murray supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (with Dan Rabarts), and debut collection Grotesque: Monster Stories. She is proud to have edited seventeen volumes of speculative fiction, including international Bram Stoker Award®-winning title Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women co-edited with Geneve Flynn. Her latest work, released May 2021, is non-fiction title, Mark My Words: Read the Submission Guidelines and Other Self-editing Tips co-authored with Angela Yuriko Smith. She is co-founder of Young NZ Writers and of the Wright-Murray Residency for Speculative Fiction Writers, HWA Mentor of the Year for 2019, NZSA Honorary Literary Fellow, and Grimshaw Sargeson Fellow for 2021 for her poetry collection Fox Spirit on a Distant Cloud. 

NTK: How did you become involved with horror and how old were you?

LM:  If horror is what scares us, then I guess I was involved as soon as I could breathe. Although only diagnosed in the past five years, I’ve lived with anxiety (and depression) for most of my life. As a tiny child, I believed that the crunch of the pulse in my ear against my pillow was a wolf prowling under my bed. Yes, I had a rich imagination even back then—and there aren’t even any wolves in New Zealand! Also, anxiety isn’t really acknowledged in Asian cultures, at least it wasn’t back then, so I spent a lot of time worrying about things that made me uneasy. In an anxious mind, scary things escalate. But I guess you’re asking about my involvement with horror writing, which has only really been over the last decade. Taken in by the notion ‘write what you know’, I started my writing career with a light-hearted chick-lit novel, and while I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot about writing, I realised that the plot complications faced by my ambitious but misguided heroine weren’t resonating for me; I wanted to explore deeper issues, topics like otherness, expectation, and oppression, and those themes naturally led me to the dark side. So, not long afterwards, that wolf-under-the-bed experience became “Peter and the Wolf”, a story which appeared in the award-winning anthology Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror. The story went on to inspire a panel discussion, an essay, and is currently being developed as an animated film. It was also where Dan and I started our collaboration.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

LM: Okay, this is where I admit that I don’t watch ‘horror’ movies because I am a wimp. They give me nightmares. Keep me awake. I stayed up late and watched The Trilogy of Terror nearly half a century ago, and it still gives me nightmares. Then there was Friday 13th Part Something, which I saw at the movie theatre with friends at around thirteen, and for weeks afterwards I smashed the wall and screamed in my sleep, so my father put his foot down and said, “No more horror movies for you.” Of course, I still watch some horror because it’s a genre that exists on a spectrum, ranging from unease through to entrails and gore; some movies allow me that horror fix without setting off my rather pathetic threshold for nightmares. The same doesn’t apply to books; I can read extreme horror and it doesn’t seem to have quite the same effect. That doesn’t mean horror literature fails to elicit fear in me—quite the opposite—but my brain seems to compartmentalise those responses, allowing me to distance myself from the imagery as soon as I put the book aside. (I have some horror researcher colleagues, and now I’m thinking I must ask them if this is a known phenomenon…)

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

LM: See above. However, I can do the next best thing, and read responses by my learned colleagues to those shows, which gives me great insight into the interpretation, even though I might not have seen the work. For example, I loved reading The Streaming of Hill House: Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption edited by Kevin J. Wetmore, perhaps because the essays allowed me to enjoy the programme vicariously, with a measure of distance—book to film to book. Also, those essays were so accessible and scarily entertaining. Recommended.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

LM: Aargh! Such a difficult question because I read so widely in the genre, and there is so much great horror to enjoy. I can see Dan shaking his head, too. How are we supposed to answer this question? We love dark works. You’re asking us to single out just one? How about one for each day of the week? One for different periods of your life? One to reflect a current mood? For summer? For Halloween? For a rainy Sunday afternoon? To encourage a love of dark literature in a new reader? [wails!] How about I tell you about some upcoming works that I have had the privilege to read prior to release, and that everyone should be looking out for over the next few months? For example, there’s Garrett Boatman’s Floaters, coming in September from Crystal Lake Publishing, a historical horror novella which pitches a horde of undead, risen from the Thames River, against the city’s gangs. Pulse-pounding stuff. There’s James Chambers’ science fiction, fantasy, and frankly bizarro short story collection, On the Hierophant Road, coming later this year from Raw Dog Screaming Press. If you like your fiction dark and weird, and superbly crafted definitely grab a copy of Chambers’ incredible collection. Poet Jamal Hodge has The Dark Between the Twilight coming, an exciting collection of speculative poetry exploring abuse and depression; dark themes, but Hodge makes space for hope and restoration. And finally, I’m currently enjoying David Rose’s gritty military horror, Lovecraft’s Iraq. That title, right? I’m about fifty pages in and it’s pretty damn good so far.

NTK: Awesome! Thank you for those recommendations. What inspires your writing?

LM:  Everything. Oh, you need me to narrow it down a bit? In the last year or so, I’ve been focused on short fiction rather than longer works, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a number of stories commissioned by some fabulous horror editors. In those cases, the editor-publisher typically suggests a theme to write to, and it’s always exciting to come up with something fresh that the other invited authors haven’t considered. I especially like writing at the intersections of culture and have been exploring aspects of my Asian-Kiwi heritage in my work—in poetry, prose, and also non-fiction.

NTK: Speaking as a person of color, how has your experience been in the horror community? What improvements could be made?

LM: In my view, the horror writing community is extremely inclusive, perhaps because horror is already a subversive genre, addressing the things that provoke fear—and, sadly, one of the things people fear most is the ‘other’. Anyone different or out of step. Horror writers get that; after all, we’re the people who write the books that everyone hides under the bed. We’re all weird here, so we’re going to recognise you as one of our own, embrace those differences, and celebrate them. We’re going to hold space for your stories, and not just during WiHM or Pride Month or Mental Health Awareness month. Of course, dialogue is just the first step, but the success of Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women has shown me that the community is not afraid to explore issues like Asian otherness and persecution, even at a time when anti-Asian sentiment is high.

NTK: What inspired Blood of the Sun?

LM: Well, it’s the third book in collaborative supernatural crime-noir series written by Dan and myself, so I guess we can say we were intrigued to see what might happen to our intrepid brother-sister sleuths, Penny and Matiu Yee. The only way to do that was to knuckle down and write it! The book ties together a lot of the story threads introduced in the previous two books, including story arcs for some much-loved characters, and culminates in an epic finale on Auckland’s Mount Maungawhau (also known as Mount Eden). We had great fun writing it once we got underway, but the book had a slow start because not long after we’d penned the first chapters, New Zealand suffered the Christchurch mosque shootings. We’d included a massacre early in the narrative, and it shook us to see something so horrific and so unexpected, at least in a New Zealand context, playing out in real life. It affected us so much that we had to put the book aside. We seriously considered starting over with a completely different narrative, but eventually we decided to push on, and I believe it was the right decision, since the book is arguably our best collaborative work to date.

NTK: What’s it like working as a collaborative team? What is your writing process like?

LM: Writing with Dan has been one of the most frustrating and fulfilling experiences of my life. He’s like my baby brother, vastly annoying yet I can’t help but love him to bits. I think the depth of our friendship is the basis of our success. (Also, because as the Lucy-van-Pelt big sister, I am very bossy and like to get my way!). The Path of Ra series is a dual protagonist narrative with Dan writing smouldering bad boy, Matiu Yee, who walks with one foot beyond the veil, while I write his uptight big sister Penny, who is a science consult to the police. We write chapter-about in a he-said, she-said approach, each of us drawing on our personal backgrounds to inform the characters and the plots, with the bickering yet affectionate tone readers see on the page perfectly summing up our collaborative relationship. (Actually, Dan writes that bad-ass character so well, I have to wonder what he got up to when he was younger…)

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

LM: It’s a negotiation. Sometimes, I’m in control, guiding them through the prescribed plot events, but occasionally they surprise me. Which is as you would expect, because fully authentic characters have all the foibles and whimsy of real people.

NTK: What is your best piece of advice for the prospective mentor?

LM: You’re not making a mini-me; instead, your job as a mentor is to give your mentee the tools they need to be the best version of a writer they can be, in terms of craft and also professionalism, and offered at the mentee’s own pace. (But mentors know all this. Mostly, I want to say thank you to all the hardworking selfless heroes who step up to give their time, expertise, and encouragement to support our emerging writers. You rock!)

NTK: Congratulations on your Bram Stoker Award wins!! How do you feel about the projects which won the awards? What made you choose to do these projects?

LM: Thank you! I’m still reeling from this kind acknowledgement from my horror colleagues. It hasn’t really sunk in. I’m so proud of both these projects. Grotesque: Monster Stories was the response to an invitation by Steve Dillon of Things in the Well, Australia, who encouraged me to put together a collection. His confidence in my work was the impetus, because I wasn’t convinced I was sufficiently established to have a ‘best of’ album. But I looked at my back catalogue, determined that monsters loomed large, selected a few stories to include, wrote some fresh ones, and we released my debut collection smack in the middle of the pandemic. I think that timing had a lot to do with its success. New Zealand’s response to the pandemic has been held up globally as an example of good practice, so perhaps there was an interest in escaping here through story. I’m certain that was the reason, in part, for the success of Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. Attacks on Asians were on the rise, and I think readers were looking for stories that explored that otherness, either out of solidarity, or just as a means of informing themselves. And of course, Geneve Flynn and I were absolutely thrilled to be able to assemble such a fantastic lineup of contributors. Our authors simply wrote themselves out of their skins, overwhelming us with the beauty and horror of their work. The Bram Stoker Award has my name on it, but it is their work which resonated with readers. I’m extremely grateful.

NTK: As an editor, what are you looking for in a story? What kind of stories interests you most?

LM: Editors are all looking for the next big thing: something innovative, evocative, ground-breaking. Relevant. Something that lifts the hair on the back of our necks, while at the same time making us shiver at the beauty of it. (But editors are simple creatures too, and at 2 am when we’re reading the 876th submission for an anthology call, any well-crafted story which fits the submission guidelines and isn’t written in Comic Sans is going to make us happy.)

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

LM: My most recent book, released just over a week ago, is Mark My Words: Read the Submission Guidelines and Other Self-editing Tips, which I have written with Angela Yuriko Smith, the publisher at Space and Time magazine and this year’s HWA Mentor of the Year. The book was intended to be a hand-out for a Horror University course we presented for the HWA (which is still available online), but being conscientious Asian girls, we got a bit carried away and our ‘little handout’ turned into a book of close to 50,000 words packed with tips and suggestions from our horror editor and publisher colleagues (including Horror Addicts editors). We hope the book will help writers get their work off the slush pile and into the hands of editors. We also hope it will save our hardworking mentors the trouble of repeating things like ‘use a serif font’ or ‘remove all the TABS!’ ad infinitum. And prompted by our work in Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Angela Yuriko Smith and I are also working on Unquiet Spirits, a collection of essays exploring Asian monsters, with personal responses from horror writers of the Asian diaspora. Coming up in August, I’ll be taking up my Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship in Auckland, where I’ll be working on my poetry collection, Fox Spirit on a Distant Cloud, an exploration of the New Zealand Asian women’s diaspora through the lens of the shape-shifting fox spirit. I can’t wait!

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Emmy Z. Madrigal

HHBannerEmmy Z. Madrigal is the author of the Regency novella, Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe.  Her previous works include the Sweet

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Dreams Musical Romance Series and the novelettes Anime Girl and Anime Girl 2.  Emmy has been praised for her realistic

portrayal of modern female characters and their will to survive in a world of adversity, prejudice, and economic hardship.

Her story, “Hungry Masses,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

EZM: I read gothic romance as a kid, but when I started reading gothic literature as a young adult, I found the works of Bronte, Dickens, and the awesome book Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen that inspired me to write. The whisper of mystery in a romance story has always called to me.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

EZM: Any story that involves two people connecting on a deep, intimate level.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

EZM: I know it’s not a traditional Gothic horror, but Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is delightful. It’s not exactly scary for her…there is presumed fear, it’s all planted in her head because of rumors. But the reason I like it so much is because it is about a gal who enjoys reading Gothic horror and her quest to find a love that understands that. I think Mr. Tilney is the perfect picture of a mate who will support her Gothic horror habit.

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

EZM: I’ve most recently enjoyed Rebecca. It’s an old story that was first a book, then a Hitchcock film, and now we have the 2020 version. I love the style of the movie. The sets and costumes were fabulous. The story is similar to Jane Eyre. If you knew your husband was a killer (or torturer) of his first wife, could you stay with him? Could you cover for him? It’s a tale that can resonate even today. What would you do if you found he killed his wife? Even if he had a good reason?

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

EZM: Kinda. The ship is based on a true vanished ship from history and I chose names based on the passenger list.

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

EZM: Generally, no. I do chart out or write certain plot points I want to cover, but the story flows the way it wants, even if I don’t want it to go that way.

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

EZM: Generally, they are just playing out a scene in my head. Is that me? Or them?

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

EZM: I think recently, it’s been the insecurity of life. I would never want to lose any of my family or friends.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

EZM: I like romances where both people are completely devoted to the other. I am not a fan of cheaters. So, I am drawn to the classic stories like Romeo and Juliet, or a lot of Jane Austen storylines where the love stays true despite adversity. They may not speak their love for months, years… but it is still alive and never wavers.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

EZM: I don’t have just one. It’s all those paperback Gothic romance writers I read as a kid.

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

EZM: I am really looking forward to my novel coming this year with HorrorAddicts.net Press, Northanger, a modern rewrite of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I also have a few romances coming out from Meant to Be Press.

If you like vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings, you can check out my octo-gal short on Audible, Ink Dreams.

Chilling Chat: Episode #195 – Eugen Bacon

Eugen Bacon is an African Australian computer scientist who has mentally re-engineered into creative writing. Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Foreword Book of the Yeareugen bacon - Genni Matty Awards, Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Her novella Ivory’s Story was shortlisted in the 2020 British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards. Upcoming: Danged Black Thing, a short story collection by Transit Lounge Publishing (2021) and Mage of Fools, an Afrofuturistic dystopian novel by Meerkat Press (2022). 

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

EB: I was seven or eight and it was night. I was sprawled on a couch in the living room with my mother. She must have forgotten I was there, or perhaps she thought I was asleep. She was watching TV, a British horror I Don’t Want to be Born, sometimes titled Sharon’s Baby, starring Joan Collins, Eileen Atkins and Ralph Bates. The drownings, the stabbings, the hangings, the decapitations.

They stayed with me, that trail of death surrounding a sinister infant whose evil refused to give in to exorcism.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

EB: A few, actually. You never really think of Toni Morrison’s works as horror, as she’s stunningly literary. But BelovedSulaThe Bluest EyeGod Help the Child… Scenes in her stories haunt you, like forever.

I am enamoured with multi-award-winning Australian author Kaaron Warren, who’s mastered the art of shadow existence in her fiction, skilfully personifying conflict, the unknowable or evil in her perturbing text that threatens your very sanity in all things spectral. Read Tide of Stone or Into Bones Like Oil, you’ll get what I mean.

I adore J. Ashley Smith, another Australian author, who writes with solemn beauty and malevolent darkness. His text is poetic and ghoulish—Ariadne, I Love You is his latest offering.

But, ultimately, it’ll have to be Mary Shelley for Frankenstein, right?

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

EB: So, there’s Shelley’s Frankenstein­—we’ve established thata novel ahead of itself with its promethean theme in gothic horror. Its descriptive narrative approach uses letters and first-person perspectives of primary characters like Dr. Frankenstein and the beast he’s created from the dead.

Offering personal insight through this first-person point of view, Shelley shares with the reader her curiosity in the characters she has developed: like Dr. Frankenstein and his clinical attitude but deeply feeling nature; he is a scientist who feels heart and soul, ardent in his pursuit of an experiment that brings to life a monster. Like the creature Frankenstein has created, that is drawn to him but whom he abhors, calling it a daemon. It is shaped in the figure of a man, runs bouncy. It is yellow-eyed, muscles and arteries visible through yellow skin. It is proportionate-limbed, its hair a lustrous black, its lips straight and black. And it too feels, just as deeply, and becomes fiendish when it is miserable. And the doctor’s abhorrence keeps it miserable. The reader understands its solitude, its longing, its repugnance with itself and its deformity.

There’s world-building, aesthetic descriptions of valleys and glaciers and hill summits and vast mountains, precipitous ascents and places of desolation. Frankenstein elicits a mild kind of fear, largely arising from its dealings with a creature resurrected from the dead (paranormal effect), one that the reader can both relate to (in its pining) and loathe (in its manipulations).

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

EB: Blade, Blade, Blade. It can’t be Blade without Wesley Snipes: half-human, half-vampire.

I love all adaptations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and totally Underworld—Kate Beckinsale is my secret crush.

NTK: What is your favorite television show?

EB: Roots—horrific, as it was. I’ll never forget Kunta Kinte—how is this story not a horror. I feel rage each time I think of those days of slavery. Arabs did it too in East Africa, dhows full of famined slaves—scarecrow thin—to Oman.

Sadly, we still have all forms of slavery still happening today, and people who unsee it.

Lovecraft Country took me places, to gloom, hope, and fuck you, Lovecraft, and every friggin’ white supremacist.

NTK: Where do you find inspiration?

EB: Stories are everywhere! I write on a longing, a memory, a trigger. It may be a word, a phrase on TV, at the train station… Ideas float everywhere, and something just strikes, refuses to let go. I feel, I smell, I listen, I see… my mind locks onto something that won’t let go.

NTK: What inspired the story, “Unlimited Data”?

EB: It was a commissioned story for a Cyberfunk anthology. I was walking along the Tan track in Melbourne, when suddenly I remembered seeing this job ad: ‘Must have a smart phone’. It inspired this story of a woman in the village in Old Kampala—she gives all for her family, because her husband’s job needs unlimited data.

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

EB: I’ve been blessed to be part of a community of writers, on and off social media, for example the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA), Writers Victoria, Writing NSW—where I sometimes teach, Horror Writers Association (HWA), Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA).

I offer something different as a person of colour in Australia, who is also a migrant. There’s some openness to my writing, but I feel that Australia is not quite there. I have a bigger community of support in the US, UK, and the rest of the world, I think.

There’s a big community of black speculative fiction writers, and a sense of homecoming with the African Speculative Fiction Society that administers the Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

NTK: What is your best piece of advice for the new writer, someone who’s just started in the business?

EB: Edit, edit, edit. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to find voice, to mature.

Join a supporting organisation of writers fascinated with the genre(s) you write, for example Horror Writers Association. See also if there are local writing organisations that offer you valuable resources and a sense of community. You’re not alone.

Rejections are never personal, sometimes they feel like it. One literary agency replied with the line: “Please remove us from your spam list.”

Guess who’s laughing at them now?

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

EB: I have a literary speculative collection, Danged Black Thing, out by Transit Lounge Publishing in November 2021. It has stories with urgency about love and migration, gender and class, patriarchy and womanhood, climate change and bad politics… about women and children in societies where men hold all the power.

I also have an afrofuturistic dystopian novel, Mage of Fools, out by Meerkat Press in March 2022.

In work is a dark, illustrated collection of microfiction—the illustrator Elena Betti is something else! I wrote it during the peak of the pandemic and events surrounding Black Lives Matter. Interesting conversations happening right now, I hope to announce a placement soon.

Addicts, you can find Eugen on her Website and on Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Naching T. Kassa

HHBannerNaching 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 Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter.Nachingwriterpic2019
Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant and staff writer for Still Water Bay at Crystal Lake Publishing.

Her story, “She Woke at Midnight,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

NTK: My interest in Gothic Literature began The Hound of the Baskervilles, but my interest in Gothic Romance began with the movie, Jane Eyre, starring George C. Scott and Susannah York. I loved the ambiance of the film: the candlelight, the moan of the wind outside a frosted window, a fireplace whose light keeps back the gloom. It inspired me to read the book by Charlotte Bronte. I love how Jane is torn between doing what is right and her love for Rochester. I also love the supernatural aspects of the story. From the Red Room to the moment when Jane hears the voice of Rochester calling her from miles away.

How do you define “romance”?

NTK: To me, romance is abandoning selfishness and giving your all for another person. It’s riding your bike twelve miles to your loved one’s house just to see them for an hour. It’s giving something to a person and expecting nothing in return. It’s being there for them when they’re at their best AND their worst. My favorite films are about people who fall in love and through that love, become better people. I think true romance is love that brings out the best in us.

What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

NTK: Dracula. It’s the best Gothic horror story ever written.

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

NTK: Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s so dark, and lush, and beautiful. I love the settings, the beautiful costumes, and the plays on light and shadow. It’s the best adaptation of the novel ever made.

Are your characters based on real people?

NTK: When I first started writing, they were. But now, they’ve taken on a life of their own. The best characters do.

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

NTK: Definitely by the seat of my pants. I love surprises and an outline is far too rigid and inorganic for me to adhere to.

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

NTK: My characters have absolute free will. I gave up trying to decide their fate a long time ago. Their behavior and their path are decided by their actions.

What are you most afraid of?

NTK: Flying sandwiches with vampire teeth.  I was terrified of them as a child.

What is your favorite romance?

NTK: It’s a tie between Groundhog Day and The Family Man.

Who is your favorite horror author?

NTK: Dean Koontz. He has a beautiful style, he scares the heck out of me, and his stories are filled with hope. I like my darkness tempered with light.

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

NTK: I’ve written several Sherlock Holmes stories and they’ll be published in the next year. I’m reading my story, “The Darker Side of Grief,” at Stokercon. (The anthology it appears in, Arterial Bloom, has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award ®.) I also write for the fiction series, Still Water Bay, on the Crystal Lake Publishing Patreon page. You’ll find some exciting stories there. Finally, I’m editing a mystery/romance anthology for Meant to Be Press. Look for it in November.

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

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Daphne Strasert

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Daphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has published many short stories through HorrorAddicts.net, Dark Water Syndicate, and Crimson Streets. When not writing, she plays board gamesDaphneStrasert-1920x1080-1024x577 and knits. Her interests include monsters, murder mysteries, and things that go bump in the night. 

Her story, “Companions,” appears in the Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology                                                                                                        

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

DS: I was originally drawn to the aesthetic that was often used in gothic movies: big haunted houses, frail heroines in long skirts, dark corners, and misty moors. From there, I found the works of Poe, the Bronte sisters, Stoker, and Shelley. I liked the slow burn of the horror and the doomed romance that was often featured.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

DS: Romance is the longing to be with another person, to know everything about them and share yourself in turn. Romance means wanting what is best for the other person. The desire to protect your love, whether from physical harm or emotional torment is strong. I believe that true romance can only exist between equals.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

DS: I will always love Dracula. It was the first true gothic horror story I read and remains the only book that ever truly scared me. I appreciate how many variations have come from the original work and the many interpretations that it inspired. But the original still remains as impressive as when it was first published.

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

DS: I love Crimson Peak (that may be a common answer to this question). I think it’s an underrated film from Guillermo del Toro. The costumes and set created a fantastic atmosphere. The film mixed horror (both jump scares and situational horror) with romance and tragedy. Most importantly, the story was motivated by a strong female lead.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

DS: No.

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

DS: I always write using an outline. During the initial inspiration phase, I will write scenes as they come to me and keep them in a “sandbox” for later use. Once the story starts to come together, I outline the scenes I need to pace the action and emotional arcs, then fill in the scenes I haven’t written yet.

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

DS: My characters are completely at my mercy. I create them to fit the plot and tone of the piece. If I find that the actions they need to do are out of character for them, then I spend time rethinking their character. I build them so that they will work within the world I want, so I’m rarely surprised.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

DS: I really, really hate zombies. I’ve never liked zombie movies (it doesn’t matter if they’re slow zombies or fast). The idea of society collapsing, leaving nothing that we recognize is terrifying. I don’t want to be part of rebuilding the world from scratch while also running from cannibalistic corpses.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

DS: Jane Eyre stands out as my favorite. Jane is a strong woman who refused to compromise herself for her love (even when that was painful to her). She did not allow herself to be beholden to a man who was more powerful than her. When she found out about Mr. Rochester’s secrets and failings, she did not overlook them, but held him accountable. The romance was only fulfilled when they could truly have an equal partnership.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

DS: Meg Hafdahl. She wrote the Willoughby Chronicles (including Her Dark Inheritance, which I reviewed for HorrorAddicts.net) as well as a number of non-fiction books about the horror industry. She’s a true horror fan herself.

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

DS: I am always working on new short stories. My story “Blood and Ivory” will be published in the Sonorous Silence anthology by Pavor Press. I am also drafting a new novel that features a haunted house.

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

     

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Emily Blue

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Emily Blue is a ghostwriter and top-rated freelancer on Upwork.com. She pens sickly-sweet romance novels so she can afford to buy food for her pet parrot (and overlord.) When not writing, she collects craft materials and occasionally usesEmily Blue them.

She has stories published in A Room is Locked: An Anthology, Volume 1 of The Monsters We Forgot anthology, and Clockwork Dragons.

Her story, “Lady of Graywing Manor,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

EB: Fantasy was, and always will be, my first love as a writer, but gothic stories hold a special place in my heart. I’ve always liked horror, darkness, mysteries, moody atmospheres, basically everything that defines the feeling of the genre. But it’s the human element that interests me most. What drives people? What motivates them? How do they react in a situation and why? Can they adapt? Or not? How far can a person be pushed? I always want the answers to those questions and gothic literature creates perfect opportunities to ask them.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

EB: Romance is a feeling that runs deeper than the purely physical. It’s more than lusting, though it is a desire. It’s an action, a reaction, a mood, a situation. But that could mean anything to anyone. To me, if you strip romance of all its meat and tendon and gristle, down to the skeleton, it is a willingness to do something that doesn’t have to be done.

You don’t have to stop and watch the sunset. You don’t have to kiss and look into the eyes of someone else. But you want to. For you, and for them, you want that. So, you do it. And that’s romance.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

EB: It’s a little stereotypical, but I’ve always enjoyed Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. My favorite story from Poe is “The Masque of the Red Death.” I’m really into plague stories and apocalyptic fiction and “The Masque of the Red Death” hits all the right notes for me, as well as being beautifully descriptive.

And my favorite story from Lovecraft is “The Outsider” because I am also a wretched creature who occasionally leaves my dwelling to seek out human contact.

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

EB: I’d have to say The Woman in Black really made an impression on me when I saw it in theaters. My mom and I like to go see horror movies together. The movie theater setting really, really enhances a good horror film. The Woman in Black just hits you and keeps hitting you, and the scenes in the marsh… You should go watch it if you haven’t. Watch it on the biggest screen you can get. Turn the lights off, too.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

EB: Not for this story, no.

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

EB: For short stories, I often write out the series of events before I go to write the story. Not always, but pretty often. I had to, and wanted to, do research for this story. A lot of that didn’t make it into the story, but that wasn’t what it was for. Knowing the technology of the time and how life went for the average person helps to create a framework for the story, potentially influencing the decisions the characters make. You probably can’t just flip a switch to turn on the lights if electricity wasn’t a common household commodity, and you can’t use matches to light a lantern if matches weren’t on the market yet. Small things, small details, which really are important.

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

EB: Sometimes they have free will. But Clara and Freesia did exactly what I expected them to.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

EB: The ocean. Whales. Being alone. Being alone in the ocean with a whale.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

EB: Does my own relationship qualify?

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

EB: Some of Stephen King’s work resonates with me no matter how often I read it. I also like H. P. Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert McCammon, among others. I could never pick just one when I like so many different aspects of each.

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

EB: I don’t know what the future has in store for me. My current project is a titled Reeds Don’t Break, a novel about loss, love, antique stores, and lake spirits. I’m in the process of editing. No idea when it will be done. I’m not rushing it. It’s too special to me for that.

Addicts, you can find Emily on Amazon and Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – 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.Tara Vanflower

Her debut solo album, This Womb Like Liquid Honey, was released in 1999. This was followed 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.   

Her story, “Blood and Dust,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology                                 

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?  

TV:  Watching horror films as a child. 

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

TV: All the complications associated with a relationship between two people that is derived from their love. It’s torturous magic.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

TV: I don’t know. Probably ones that doesn’t exist outside of my mind based on ideas put forth by others.

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

TV: I like elements of a lot of films, but nothing is perfect to me. If I was forced to pick a favorite, I think Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Gary Oldman is just too perfect, and the film looks beautiful.  

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

TV: Neither of the characters in the short story I wrote for Haunts and Hellions is based on real- life characters. 

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

TV: I never write an outline. I have a vague idea where I think a story will go but I allow my characters to have the freedom to tell me their story. 

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

TV: They absolutely have free will. They tell me, I don’t tell them what they’re going to do. They often make surprising choices.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

TV: Death. The death of everyone I love and time itself.

NTK: What is your favorite romance? 

TV: I think Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet give me everything I want and need in a romance. But also, Violet and Roman.  

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

TV: I am currently working on new versions of all my print books. They are being redesigned with beautiful interiors and altered covers. I am also working on three other manuscripts. Two are related to my current world, another is a collaboration with Timothy Renner folklore-inspired short stories that he will illustrate.  I also have another big project in the works, but I’m not authorized to spill the beans yet.

Addicts, you can find Tara on Facebook and Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Rowan Hill

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Rowan Hill is an author currently living on a volcano in Italy who loves to write across horror and science fiction. She hasRowan Hill an affinity for writing flawed female protagonists who occasionally murder. Her writing credits include Cemetery Gates, Kandisha Press, and Curious Blue Press among others.

Her story, “Love Never Dies,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

RH: I mean it started in my Bachelors with the Greats, isn’t that how everyone gets the fever? Bronte, Shelley, Stoker. Ones on the forefront of the genre and delivered so much tension with simple looks and little to no blood.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

RH: Honestly, I love a good dose of the physical in a guilty romance novel. But we all know romance can be as much as a look and a gasp of breath. The intricacies of ‘showing’ not telling can give a flush to the cheeks more importance than a simple “I love you.” 

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

RH: Is it any surprise if I say Jane Eyre? I mean, it’s my go-to when I need a reset on what makes a good story and how to make more with less. But if I want something to really give me the shivers, I turn to Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. For more modern gothic, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia hit it out of the park and is the first I would recommend.

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

RH: Will I sound trite and predictable if I say Coppola’s Bram Stroker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves? Besides having all the classic characters in their intended setting, I adored the side story of Lucy becoming ensnared by Dracula right under everyone’s noises, seeing the lure of the monster while romancing Mina Harker is always masterful.

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

RH: I always know where I want to end up, but yes, absolutely the seat of my pants.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

RH: As a writer? Failure, obscurity, missing an obvious typo. Many of the things I think all writers can agree on. As a normal person living in our current era where people can randomly shoot you? Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is legit my nightmare. If the apocalypse happens, I’m screwed.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

RH: This is taking it old school, but Johanna Lindsey is my OG of romance. Some of her older novels are problematic, but there is no denying that she makes you feel. The Callahan-Warren series, one of her last before her passing in 2019, was so fun and definitely my favorite.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

RH: Oh man, there are so many. Besides the Greats previously mentioned, I am a fan of Riley Sager’s four novels so far and anyone who can do quiet horror well. The indie scene had lots of great talent emerging in the last ten years, and it is impossible to name just one.

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

RH: I have several short stories in other anthologies coming out in the next few months and hope to have my first novella creature feature published sometime in the next year. 

Addicts, you can find Rowan on Twitter.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – R.L. Merrill

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R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that willMerrill_RL-Headshot stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

Her story, “The House Must Fall,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.        

 NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

RLM: The moment I learned a woman named Mary Shelley created Frankenstein’s Monster. Or when I watched Vincent Price in the House of Usher. Or when I read a YA mystery (still trying to find this book as I forgot the title) about a young woman determined to learn the dark secrets about the Bronte sisters on the misty moors. Edgar Allan Poe is my literary hero, vampires are real, and someday I will live in a house with a secret passage.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

RLM: Romance has two distinct meanings for me. I write romance novels, which are about the journey between lovers and must have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happily For Now (HFN) ending. But romance, generally, is about channeling wants and desires and yearning for another. Romance is how we express our love of another, and there are many flavors of romance. I love it all, from the sticky sweet to the creepy dark. It’s what makes the world go round, am I right?

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

RLM: I’d have to say Frankenstein, followed closely by Dracula, but I’m also a huge fan of Poe’s stories such as “Ligeia” and “House of Usher,” not to mention “The Raven,” which is my favorite.

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

RLM: The Legacy, 1978. It stars Katherine Ross and Sam Elliot as Americans drawn into the bloody family history of a mysterious man in England. It’s gorgeous—of course I’m talking about the house and the cinematography and not the young real-life couple and Sam Elliot shirtless—and it’s creepy and it will suck you in until the end.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

RLM: Not the human characters, but I modeled Mercer Manor on the real-life Millbrae Mansion, which sadly burned down in the mid-1900s. It was an incredible home, elaborate and mysterious in 1800s California history. Someday, I will at least go to visit the site where it was located. I also did research on the founding of the University of California, Berkeley, and I can’t wait to go back and walk the paths that Montgomery and Sterling would have passed as some of the first students of the new school.

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

RLM: I’m a plotser. I tend to write a synopsis now, but much of the story is organic and comes to me as I write.

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

RLM: It’s interesting you ask this, because I’d say fate plays a huge role in both my contemporary and paranormal romances as well as my horror tales. I’ll let readers be the judge.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

RLM: Kids. My own children in peril, but also elementary-aged kids.

I also have this recurring nightmare. I’m in a dark club and I’m watching a comedian, and for some reason he targets me. And then he’s coming down off the stage and he’s saying horrible, awful things about me, to me, and he keeps getting closer and closer, and the rest of the crowd joins in laughing at me until they’re all crowded around me, sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, and they’re pressing in on me and laughing while I scream and tuck into a ball and then they’ve devoured me.

And zombies.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

RLM: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, which I’d describe as a gothic romance. Rowan and Michael have a love for the ages. Also, in contemporary, Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt is incredibly beautiful. I’d also have to include the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I recently watched the show and remembered how much I loved their romance.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

RLM: I cut my teeth on Stephen King and then discovered Anne Rice. Their stories changed my life and when I decided to start writing, I kept their stories and the feelings I got from them in the back of my mind and I tell myself someday I want to write books that leave readers with similar feelings.

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

RLM: June will bring a contemporary LGBTQ romance as part of the Love Is All charity anthology. August will see the release of my M/F contemporary romance, More Than a Spanish Tour, which is based on my 2018 trip to Spain. In September, I will release the follow-up to last year’s supernatural suspense Healer, called Connection. Horror Addicts just might dig this series because while there’s romance, there’s also a boarding school full of child victims of trauma who have been gifted with unimaginable powers and an evil megalomaniac hell-bent on revenge. I’ve got a revenge tale as part of the Wicked Intentions anthology in October as well as a new funny paranormal romance tale in the Magic and Mayhem Universe. So yeah, the rest of this year will be super busy, but I can’t wait to get these stories into the hands of readers!

Addicts, you can find R.L. on Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Kevin Ground

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

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

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

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

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

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

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

KG: The Woman in Black by author Susan Hill

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

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

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

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

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

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

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

KG: My love of short stories is developing and expanding to encompass the world of novellas. Four of which will be published in an anthology in the run-up to Christmas 2021. Set during the cold winter months leading up to Christmas in Victorian England. The anthology is entitled Cold Shadows. I invite you and your guests to draw closer to the fire as winter closes in about you.

I have also completed a novella that I will publish ready for Christmas 2021 entitled Bonecreake (The strange tale of Maudy Jiller) A very challenging piece single mothers struggling to raise their children will identify with.  Victim or villain? This mother’s struggles encompass every woman’s worst nightmares. No matter the age they live in.

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

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – N.C. Northcott

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Author N.C. Northcott was born in London and now resides on a plateau near a river with two cats and Yorkshire Terrier. They love writing urban and historical fantasy but also dabble in horror, steampunk, science fiction, mystery/thriller and romantic comedy. An avid photographer who also dabbles in painting and procrastination, their next project is an urban fantasy about a transgender sorceress set in modern-day America, near Boston. As they just invested in a magical electric bread maker, there will be somewhat less writing and considerably more sandwiches in their future.

Their story, “The Siren and Bowery Jack” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

NCN: I read Dracula when I was younger.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

NCN: Where love is a primary motivator of the story, not just some side gig for the heroine.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

NCN: Dracula.

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

NCN: The Others with Nicole Kidman. It has a cool (though obvious) twist and isn’t too shock-and-guts in terms of its horror.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

NCN: The protagonists… no. But some of the other characters were real people, historically.

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

NCN: Yes. I have used an outline with great success but now tend to write a list of scenic/plot needs and then write from the seat of my pants. An excellent book for people like me is Take Your Pants Off by Libby Hawker. Reading it changed how I write, for the better.

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

NCN: In this story they have free will in the moments, but because the story had to go somewhere specific, I was the puppet master all the way. That’s not always the case with my novels. A key villain in my current WIP suddenly became a heroine and I had to change her name and back story.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

NCN: Losing my animals (two cats and a dog) and my home.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

NCN:  Movie: You’ve Got Mail. Novel: Replay by Ken Grimwood.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

NCN: Stephen King or Dean Koontz.

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

NCN: So so much! I just finished draft two of an urban fantasy set in Boston, am editing my rom-com set in Toronto, am researching a scifi ecothriller set on another planet, my agent is trying to find homes for one scifi novel, one literary thriller, and one mystery series. Oh, and I applied to go to the moon on SpaceX’s Starship in 2023 with Yusaka Maezawa. Dream big or stay home!

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – B.F. Vega

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B.F. Vega is a writer, poet, and theatrical artist living and working in California’s Bay Area.  Her poetry has been published in The Literary Nest, Sage Cigarettes, Walled Women, and Blood & Bourbon among others. Her first book of poetry, AB.F. Vega Saga for the Unrequited, will be published in August of 2021 by Fae Corp Publishing. She is still amazed when people refer to her as a writer, every time.

Her story, “Californio Fog,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

B.F.V: That is quite the rabbit hole. It probably started with “The Egypt Game” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder which I read in the third grade. It sparked my love of Egyptology, which led eventually to Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard, and that of course led to Victorian and Edwardian literature as a whole which got me to Poe, Stoker, Gilman and Shelley.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

B.F.V: I read this question to my ex and he laughed for a good five minutes. I like stories of two equally strong-willed people finding each other. Romance as a literary term gets a bad rap, because everyone automatically thinks Harlequins (which if that’s your thing cool), but as a historian, I actually have to remind myself that it doesn’t refer to a specific period of art history. When I hear romance I immediately want to find a building with flying buttresses so I can read a Rossetti poem while drinking an aperitif and listening to Chopin.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

B.F.V: The Last Man by Mary Shelley hands down.

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

B.F.V: Bram Stokers Dracula was foundational for me when it came to how you can reinterpret classic horror and make it relevant to the present time. Plus the costuming, my god, the costuming is gorgeous.

However, I think Guermillo De Toro’s early works are often overlooked as either magical realism or supernatural horror, but all of them have strong gothic and romantic era elements to them. He really has an eye for the beauty of the strange and macabre. If you enjoyed Pans Labyrinth I highly recommend The Devils Backbone.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

B.F.V: I’m pretty sure that I’m not allowed to answer this. They are not based on any singular historical figure no, although the historical figures named in the story are real people.

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

B.F.V: It really depends. Sometimes I know how a story will end before I know anything else about it. When that happens then I generally do an outline to make sure it gets there. Also, if I am working on longer pieces like novellas or full books I will outline to remind myself of the plot. For short stories, I tend to start with a general idea of characters and setting, when that happens I free-write.

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

B.F.V: Again it really depends. Some characters absolutely do whatever the hell they want regardless of what I think they should be doing. Other characters I have to poke with a sharp stick to get them to move at all. Oddly, I usually have one of each type of character in my longer works.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

B.F.V: Considering I have both a Canadian and an American Arch-nemesis, I probably shouldn’t answer this.   In terms of horror though, isolation is the thing that gets to me more so than jump scares or slashers or anything else. It’s the fog in The Others or the ocean in Jaws and Ghost Ship. It’s the lack of contact with the outside world in Night of the Living Dead. What is terrifying to me, and I think a lot of people, is that place where you are utterly reliant on yourself and nobody can save you.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

B.F.V: Thornyhold by Mary Stewart followed closely by Jane Eyre.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

B.F.V: Ugh, I have to pick?! Well, I choose Bram Stoker because he and I share a birthday so I feel an affinity to him.

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

B.F.V: My story, “Jezebels and Harlots,” about cousins fighting a Bokor in Kentucky, was just released as part of the Good Southern Witches anthology by Clear Blue Press. I have numerous shorts and drabbles in both the Drabbles of Dread series and the Dark Holidays series by Macabre Ladies Publishing including my favorite drabble I have written which is “Mallard Lake.” It’s about a ghost in San Francisco that haunts that other lake in Golden Gate Park. Not horror, but my chapbook, A Saga for the Unrequited, is being released by Fae Corp Press at the end of August 2021 and, as you can guess, is heavily influenced by my early love of Poe and Christina Rossetti.

Addicts, to keep up with her lunacy, follow her author page on Facebook or on Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Episode #194 – Haunts & Hellions – Emerian Rich

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Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. 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. Emerian is aemz2 podcast horror hostess with an international audience and a vehicle with which to promote, HorrorAddicts.net.

She is the editor of Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology and author of the story, “Left Behind.”

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

ER: As a child, I found gothic romance in the thrift store I was allowed to borrow from. I fell in love with the lighthouses and ghosts!

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

ER: A love story at its most basic level. I can’t really enjoy a story, even a horror story, without a little romance involved.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

ER: Funnily enough, my favorite Gothic horror does not truly have a love story involved. It is The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is the story of a woman married to a despicable man, only unlike Jane Eyre, he does not have any redeemable qualities. In this story, it is more about a true friendship between a wife and a servant who protect each other under horrible circumstances. Sometimes the bond of friendship can be a truer love than a romantic relationship.

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

ER: I really love Crimson Peak. Even though she loses her love in the end, I like the fact that despite his sister, the guy ultimately chooses true love over a twisted relationship. I also love all the gothic settings and costumes.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

ER: Not in this story. It all came from my imagination. I did study the polio epidemic quite extensively, though.

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

ER: Seat of my pants, always. (Laughs.)

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

ER: My characters usually choose their own way. I don’t really have any say about it.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

ER: You’ll laugh… Monkeys.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

ER: Something with an edge of danger or excitement to it. 

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

ER: Anne Rice. I love how she threads love through her stories. Even when they are blood-thirsty vampires, her characters are always seeking and sometimes discovering love.

NTK: Which do you like better, editing or writing?

ER: Most definitely writing. However, it was loads of fun reading all the submissions and picking which ones fit my ideal.

NTK: What inspired Haunts and Hellions? Why did you want to edit such a book?

ER: Gothic romances were the first sort of fantastical fiction I read as a child. When I saw a cover with a windswept gal by a haunted lighthouse, I fell in love with the genre. I wanted to collect a group of stories, written by authors of today, that have that spooky, gothic feel.

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

ER: I’m working on my third novel in the Night’s Knights series, Day’s Children. I really want to get this puppy done. It’s been a long time coming.

Addicts, for news on Day’s Children and other works, visit Emerian’s website. You can find her on Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram.      

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – Lucy Blue

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Lucy Blue lives in a decrepit old house in a small town in South Carolina with her husband, artist and game designer Justin Glanville, and her dog, preternaturally brilliant and adorable Jack Russell terrier, Luke. Formerly a historical andLucy Blue reading paranormal romance writer for Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, she is now a writer and managing editor for Falstaff Crush, the romance line from Falstaff Books.

Her story, “My Ain True Love,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

LB: My grandmother had a set of leatherbound “classics” in her bookcase when I was a kid, and one was the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe. She read me “The Raven,” and I liked it, so I went back and read the whole book – I think I was about eight. Scared the living shit out of me, but I adored it. And I’ve been an addict ever since.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

LB: As a literary genre or a concept? For me, romance values feeling over facts, a willingness on the part of the characters, the creator, and the audience to let themselves go to the point of being ridiculous to feel, for real or vicariously, a connection that goes beyond empathy or sex.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

LB: It changes, but I’ve always loved Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” – talk about a creepy romance!

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

LB: I love Ken Russell’s “Gothic,” with Gabriel Byrne and Julian Sands as Byron and Shelley and Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley. It’s completely over-the-top and extremely grotesque, but the actors are all amazing, and it captures that over the top ecstasy of a gothic romance.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

LB: Very much not.

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

LB: I use an outline but deviate from it a lot in the actual writing.

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

LB: Since they’re imaginary, no, I’m deciding their fate for them. I don’t subscribe to that “oh, my characters went their own way and told me what they wanted” approach to writing—I tend to think of that as a first draft that probably needs a lot of work. I don’t trust my subconscious quite that much.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

LB: Being buried alive.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

LB: Either Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, or Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, depending on the day. I also really like Possession by A.S. Byatt.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

LB: Stephen King or Anne Rice.

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

LB: My next publication after this will probably be a horror novel called The Devil Makes Three, coming out later this year from Falstaff Books. And I have a collection of horror/romance short stories featuring witch heroines called Eat the Peach out now.

Addicts, you can find Lucy on her website.

Chilling Chat: Episode #193 – Angela Yuriko Smith

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Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018AYSmith 2019 - Angela Yuriko Smith Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA’s poetry contest in the dwarf form category and has been nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize for poetry. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine, a 54-year-old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction.

Angela is a kind and intelligent person. We spoke of poetry, prose, and publishing.

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

AYS: Thank you for having me, Naching! It’s a pleasure to be here.

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

AYS: Far too young, probably. My first experience with horror was watching the first Friday the 13th at a dive-in theater with my parents. I was sitting in the back seat of an old International Scout and I was positive a knife was going to drive up through the seat and kill me. The end of that, the moment when Jason comes out of the water… probably ended any enjoyment I would ever have for lakes and oceans.

So, I was probably…5?

NTK: Is Friday the 13th your favorite horror movie? If not, what is?

AYS: No, and I’m terrible for watching movies. In horror especially I’m usually disappointed. The two I’ve loved recently though were Midsommar and Parasite…. though Parasite wasn’t too horrible…but I loved it.

NTK: Do you watch horror TV shows? If so, do you have a favorite?

AYS:  I do have a list of horror TV shows I want to watch if I can ever find the time. The Haunting of Hill House is one. I should say, if it counts, my favorite horror is black comedy. Does that count? In that case, I could say Rocky Horror Picture Show (LOVE) What We Do in the Shadows… anything like that I adore.

NTK: (Laughs.) It does count. Do these sorts of shows inspire your writing? What inspires you?

AYS: I always have such a tough time with questions like this. It’s never one thing. It’s more like a story exists already and I get to find it. Somethings in the news will be clues, a word someone says… something I witness. But the story already sits there waiting for me to find it. Then the news item, etc. is the key that unlocks it. Terrible way to try to describe it, I know. I often think of it as being a medium working a Ouija board to communicate with something outside. The keyboard is the Ouija board, the mouse is the planchette and I’m just sitting at the computer listening for the voices to tell me what to say.

… and that’s when someone considers if I need to be committed. I’m harmless, I swear!

NTK: (Laughs.) That is a terrific way to describe it! Reminds me of how Michelangelo described his process of creating art! Who is your favorite horror author?

AYS: Oh, so many. Neil Gaiman is my all-time favorite everything author. Peter Straub, Edgar Allan Poe of course! Ray Bradbury—I just finally read Something Wicked This Way Comes. My favorite horror books though, were those Alfred Hitchcock anthologies of short stories. My favorite story of all of those is by Theodore Sturgeon called “Shadow, Shadow on the Wall” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum. These books had such a huge influence on me that when I happened across Hitchcock’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame I burst into unexpected tears. I didn’t cry for anyone else, but those stories he shared meant everything to me growing up. That’s probably why I still gravitate toward the short story as a form, and enjoy publishing other people’s short stories. Somewhere, a dark, twisted little child needs these… or just that dark, twisted little child in each of us.

NTK: You, yourself, are a publisher now. How did you become the publisher of Space and Time Magazine?

AYS: By accident. I’ve been self-publishing since I started fiction in 2011 and that has gone well for me, but a few years ago I noticed I was creating a stagnant vacuum for myself. I decided to start submitting to magazines and I started looking for where my friends were publishing. I saw Christina Sng had just published in a magazine called Space and Time, so I went to the website. There, instead of submission guidelines, I found a letter from current publisher Hildy Silverman about how the magazine needed to close after over 50 years of consecutive publishing. It began in 1966 with Gordon Linzner. I probably would have just paged on to look for a different market, but at the end of her letter, she mentioned it would be great if someone else could keep publishing Space and Time. I couldn’t get that out of my head. I had published a local arts news ezine a few years before and had learned layout from my last newspaper job. There was no reason I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to put in all the work and time a magazine requires so I gave it a lot of thought. I had finally made the move to quit the day job and be a full-time fiction writer and poet. I really just wanted to focus on my own writing. But here was this piece of history needing a home… all these authors, like myself, needing a place to publish. Poets, artists… I felt like if I just walked away it would be a really selfish act on my part. My husband and I had a big discussion about it and agreed to take it on, if only to keep it going until someone better came along. So, I emailed Hildy. About two issues into it I absolutely fell in love and went from “keeping it alive until someone else came along” to “this is my baby and I love it.” Adopted baby, but the love is real. Interesting side note, Hildy and I made it official on my 50th birthday completely by coincidence. We also bought our house on the same day. I’m not sure what gifts could top a house and a magazine after that.

NTK: That’s terrific. Thank you for keeping Space and Time going. What do you look for in stories you publish? What makes a story a Space and Time story?

AYS: Well, not to cop-out, but I do the same thing to find fiction I love as I do to write it. I’m really going to sound addled, but I feel like the current issue already knows what it wants to be, so I get all the stories Gerard (Hourner) has from our first readers. I print them all and as I pick them up. They will just feel right, before reading them. I probably shouldn’t reveal too much of my eccentricities, but I do feel like there is a click before I even read it. Those go into one pile. Then I read everything. Inevitably, the ones that clicked will all work together perfectly. Then my co-publisher and husband (Ryan Aussie Smith) reads them all without me telling him which ones I liked, and he almost always makes exactly the same selections. Then comes the painful part… fitting what we want into the budget. There’s always at least two stories that break my heart because we just don’t have the budget and room for them. As far as what we look for, aside from the mysterious click, anything that breaks the rules will always be my favorite. Experimental, new combinations, unexpected new uses for old tropes, calls to break down the status quo and begin something new… theoretically, I like the idea of anarchy, and while I don’t see it working in reality (unless we evolve) I do love it in literature.

It is almost supernatural though how the perfect stories, art and poetry will all come together with a theme, but completely unrelated to each other until they are in print.

NTK: That is a cool process. So organic! You’ve mentioned your background in journalism. Do you think it has influenced the way you write short stories?

AYS: Yes, absolutely. The very first publisher and editor I ever worked for (Jason Pippin, Community News, Browns Mills, NJ) gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten. He asked me what reading level should I be writing for. I think I answered a college reading level. He told me no, I should always write for an 8th-grade reading level. He said the idea isn’t to dumb down, but to be concise and clear. The purpose of publishing anything is to communicate something to the widest possible audience as clearly as possible. I believe Hemingway also said something similar. One of my personal achievements is writing for the same newspaper Hemingway did (Kansas City Star). Other things newspaper writing taught me is to write fast and accurately, grab a reader fast and let the nut graph set up the rest… oh, and never wait on the muse. She is selfish and will let a writer starve to death before she speaks. Honestly, fiction and nonfiction are two sides of the same coin. You have to make nonfiction glow with a creative interpretation, or you get a dry as dust account. But if your fiction doesn’t have some kind of reliable root in what the reader can understand, the story has nothing to grab on to. But ultimately, fiction or nonfiction, the point of it is to communicate. That’s the same.

NTK: Such great advice! Let’s talk about characters. Do your characters have free will? Or do you direct their every move?

AYS: No, all my characters absolutely have free will. They never listen to me. I often argue with them and try to control them, but they will do continue to do what they want. After I learned to accept that things have gone much better. I’m a lazy writer. I sit down, let my mind wander and they do whatever they want. Often, I’m amazed at how they wrap things up. They are much better at creating stories than I am.

NTK:  You write both poetry and prose. Do you feel you have to switch your brain up when writing the two? Or do both come from the same place?

AYS: They both come from the same place, but the difference is like speaking two different dialects. I speak differently when I’m talking to a group, when I’m talking to teenagers, other writers and the cashier in the grocery store. I might say the same thing but in completely different ways for each of them. That’s also how I think of poetry and prose… and I think it even holds true between genres. Because of this, I recycle ideas a lot. One of these is the idea of being dead as being “post-consumer.” It turned up as a line in a poem I wrote, was put in a story later, showed up again as a line in a poem, had an appearance in a non-fiction piece I did and is the theme of the collection of poetry I’m working on now. Expanded of course, but the idea of things we use up (animals, people, friends, products) and the waste that creates (homelessness, abandonment, betrayal, global warming). Same idea, different ways to communicate.

NTK: As a person of Okinawan descent, how has the horror community treated you?

AYS: I would say the horror community has treated me very well. As you have also probably experienced, horror writers are some of the most loving, nonbiased people I know. Of course, we all have bias naturally, but as a whole, I think the horror community keeps an open mind, and heart, more than any other group I could associate with. As far as my place as a writer of mixed Asian heritage, the support was overwhelming. It was Bryan Thao Worra, my first HWA mentor, that asked why none of my work reflected my Asian experience. My answer was that I didn’t feel Asian enough. I don’t belong to either world. He suggested I let that experience of “otherness” show up in my work instead of suppressing it. That first story was “Vanilla Rice” and it was my break-out piece. That was sold to Where the Stars Shine which won Alberta Best Speculative Book of the Year (I think for 2019). It’s been reprinted in Black Cranes, a Bram Stoker finalist this year (crossing fingers!) along with an original story of mine. That story really began Bitter Suites, also a Bram Stoker finalist. I think that just speaks to the credit of the horror community for the amazing inclusiveness they share.

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

AYS: I’ve got a few stories and poems coming out in different anthologies. One of which is Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas. I’m about to release my poetry collection (Krakan Fever) for this year, written with my daughter Kyra Starr. It will be her first poetry book. I have released a paranormal romance called Soft Deadlines to the brand new Kindle Vella program, I’m wrapping up the third and final novella to the Bitter Suites series to be released by the end of the year, writing a book on manuscript submission (Mark My Words) with Lee Murray to be released next month in conjunction with a Horror University class (“Manuscript Magic”) we will be teaching on the same topic, a sequel to The Christmas Spiders (children’s book), working on my next poetry book (Post Consumer) which I am so, so, so excited about and of course, we have three more issues of the magazine for this year. Oh, and we’ve done a collaboration with DreamForge Magazine and Uproar Books for Worlds of Light and Darkness, an anthology of some of our favorites that we’ve published. Then there’s always the fun stuff we get to do with the magazine: Iron Writers Competition, Flash Battles, the Exquisite Corpse, a brand new open mic event on third Fridays and in June we will be announcing all the details for our own awards called The Linzners (for Space and Time founder Gordon Linzner).

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Angela! It’s been a pleasure!

AYS: Absolutely! It’s an honor being here. HorrorAddicts is one of those wonderful, loving and all-inclusive things that are part of what makes our community so great.

Addicts, you can find more information about Angela on her website.

Chilling Chat: Episode #192 Nicole Givens Kurtz – Slay Book Launch

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Nicole Givens Kurtz is the author of eight novels, and over 40 plus short story publications. She is a member of SFWA and her science fiction novels have been named as A Carl NGK2017Brandon Society Parallax Award’s Recommended title-(Zephyr Unfolding), Fresh Voices in Science Fiction finalist (Zephyr Unfolding), Dream Realm Award Finalist in Science Fiction (Browne Candidate), and EPPIE Finalist in Science Fiction (Browne Candidate). Her short works have appeared in, Serial Box’s The Vela: Salvation, Baen’s Straight Outta Tombstone, Sycorax’s Daughters (Bram Stoker Finalist in Horror), and White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade Anthology. 

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

NGK: I discovered horror when I was about 10 years old. The teacher read us the woman with the silk scarf around her neck during Halloween. I immediately fell in love with the story, and I sought out other scary tales. Because I’m an 80s child, that search led me to Stephen King.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

NGK: The first horror character I felt represented me was Susannah in King’s Dark Tower Series. She was the first Black woman I read. Although aspects of her personality and her treatment plagued me for years, I still felt represented in that she was Black, I was Black, we were both women and she was her authentic self.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

NGK:  My favorite horror authors are Ed Kurtz, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, and L.A. Banks.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

NGK: My favorite horror novel is We All Live in the Castle.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

NGK: The Crow.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

NGK: The Dark; Lovecraft Country.

NTK: How did the idea for the anthology, SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire come about?  

NGK: SLAY came about due to many conversations I have had with authors about the lack of Black vampire stories in the wake of L.A. Banks’s death. Sure, there have been other Black vampires, but they remained on the perimeter, in the background, window dressing. We wanted stories like Banks wrote, that centered Black people, Black vampires, and Black slayers in the forefront. What would that look like now? So, the idea was born to seek out short stories for an anthology to answer that question and to fill the void.

NTK: What was your slush pile like? Was it difficult to choose stories from the ones submitted? 

NGK: It was incredibly difficult to choose stories. It is likely they’ll be a volume 2 at some point because I had more solid stories than I could fit into the anthology. It’s already 29 stories strong.

NTK: Putting you on the spot here, which story of the 29 is your most favorite?

NGK: Oh, this is definitely asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I loved them all, for various reasons, but the stories that lingered the longest after I read them were, Craig L. Gidney’s “Desiccant,” Steven Van Patten’s “The Retiree,” L. Marie Wood’s “The Dance,” and Alledria Hurt’s “Uijim.”

NTK: What’s it like running a small press? 

NGK:  It is incredibly stressful, especially in the challenging times we are in now. It is also rewarding in so many ways. The flexibility to tell stories that otherwise may not have made it past the gatekeepers of large publishing houses, is why I do this work.

NTK: Who did the cover art for this anthology? It’s terrific!

NGK: Taria Reed did the cover and it was one she had created as a pre-made cover. She has semi-annual sales and I selected it and another one for my personal horror stories, but when the idea for SLAY came about, I thought this cover would be perfect. Taria also came up with the title of the anthology, SLAY. I added, “Stories of the Vampire Noire.” Taria is a true talent and if authors need cover art, she’s one of the best around and a mainstay on my list of artists.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been?

NGK: I have developed solid relationships with people in the horror writing industry, like Anya Martin and Linda Addison. But the writing community in horror as well as other genres, are reflections of what is happening in the United States. The acceptance of racists, misogynistic, and hate-filled attitudes and beliefs are allowed, even encouraged in some circles, to be out and proud. The horror writing community is reflecting that, because people who embrace those beliefs write horror (and other genres) too. I have encountered racists attitudes in the community. Yet, I know there are writers actively combating these ills, just as there are people in the U.S. actively protesting and battling the celebration of hatred.

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

NGK: I’m actively working on the sequel to my fantasy mystery, Kill Three Birds: A Kingdom of Aves novella. I am also working on revising my science fiction opera, Zephyr Unfolding. I don’t have any horror topics on tap for now, but that can easily change as my Muse’s first love is horror and suspense.

NTK: It was a pleasure chatting with you, Nicole!

NGK: Thank you for having me, Naching and Horror Addicts.

Addicts, you can find Nicole on Twitter, Facebook, Other Worlds Pulp, Patreon, and you can subscribe to her newsletter.

TBM HORROR EXPERTS-Mocha memoirs press - SLAY tw banner white 2

 

HOW CON: How to Conduct an Interview

How to Conduct an Interview

By Naching T. Kassa

Welcome to HOWCON 2021!  I’m Naching T. Kassa, and I conduct Chilling Chat Interviews on the HorrorAddicts.net Blog. I also interview for the Horror Writers Association Newsletter.

Why should you learn to interview? Here’s the answer. You can meet many people through interviewing and, for a writer, meeting people is essential. We need to network to get our work and skill out before the right people. Also, it gains the attention of potential publishers. Publishers look for websites and blogs which conduct interviews to showcase their writers. Think about it. Someone could come to your blog for the interview you’ve done and stay to look at your books.

The following are two lists. The first is a DO list. These are things you should do to conduct an interview. The other is a DON’T. Avoid these things at all costs.

DO

  • CARE—Whether you are assigned an interview or whether you write one up for your blog, always—ALWAYS—care about your subject. This is a person you’re speaking to and not a lump of cheese. You’re not Oprah or Barbara Walters. You’re not Geraldo Rivera. The subject is doing you a favor by granting an interview. Don’t ask them what kind of underwear they wear and what color. It’s rude and creepy. The least you can do is care about your subject. Treat them with respect.
  • CONTACT YOUR SUBJECT—Always contact your subject prior to the interview. Don’t just turn up and start asking questions unless they suggest it. Give your subject options for interviews. Ask them what date and time are best for them. Since all my interviews are done online, I make it clear they are text only and we will not be speaking on the phone or through Skype. I then ask whether they would like to do a text interview through Facebook Messenger or e-mail. (Facebook Messenger is my preferred way of interviewing. It shortens the time taken to conduct the interview, is easier to transcribe, and allows you to see whether your subject is finished writing or in the process of writing their answer.)
  • PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW—This is a VERY important step. A successful interview depends on your research. If this is an assignment, read the information you are provided with. If there is none, or you are interviewing on your blog, Google your subject. Look at their website. If they’re a writer, check out their Amazon page. If they’re an actor, check out YouTube or watch their movie. If they’re a musician, check out their music. If you don’t know your subject, you won’t ask pertinent or interesting questions.
  • WRITE OUT A LIST OF QUESTIONS BEFORE THE INTERVIEW—Always write a series of base questions before you conduct an interview. (Since I interview people involved in the horror genre, I like to ask them how they became involved in horror, what they’re favorite horror movie is, etc.) You can use the base questions to keep you on point. I tend to go off on tangents when interviewing because my questions are organic and are reliant on the subject’s answers.
  • ALWAYS INTERVIEW THE SUBJECT ON TIME—Make sure you contact your subject at the agreed time. First impressions are important, and you are conveying professionalism and trust by being WHERE you’re supposed to be, WHEN you’re supposed to be.
  • HAVE FUN—Interviews often start stiff because, usually, neither you nor the subject know one another. Be sure to ask questions which are interesting to your subject. This will engage them. Let’s face it, you don’t want an interview where all the answers to your questions are either yes or no.
  • –OPTIONAL—HAVE A CONVERSATION ON THE SIDE—I like to converse with my subjects during the interview. How do I accomplish this? I speak to them in parentheses. At the beginning of the interview, I tell the subject that nothing within the parentheses will appear in the interview. Then, as I ask questions, I can give them my true reactions. I interviewed Nancy Holder—the well-known horror writer and Sherlockian—and throughout the interview, we discussed how much we adored Sherlock Holmes. None of this appeared in the interview. It was just a fun conversation that made both of us feel more at ease. Someone who’s having fun will tell you more than someone who isn’t. And, don’t feel bad if the person doesn’t message you back in parentheses. You’re letting them know how you feel. People appreciate that.
  • ASK PERMISSION—If a subject tells you something in private conversation, and you think it would be good for the interview, ask permission to add it.
  • SHOW APPRECIATION—Once the interview has concluded, thank the person for their time. Again, your subject deserves care and respect. Plus, you may want to interview them again one day.
  • EDIT YOUR INTERVIEW—What I mean when I say edit, is make sure the grammar and spelling are correct in your interview. (You don’t want to post an interview where you misspelled your subject’s name, do you?) Also, read it over carefully. If some tangent questions could fit in a better place, and they will not ruin the context of the question, then move them.
  • E-MAIL INTERVIEWS WITH A SET SERIES OF QUESTIONS—Sometimes I have to interview multiple subjects on a deadline. When this happens, I usually come up with a series of ten questions which I send to all of them. This is not my preferred way of interviewing. It’s a bit too impersonal for me. However, many people do it and do it well. It’s all a matter of taste.
  • TELL THE SUBJECT WHEN THE INTERVIEW POSTS—It is essential you tell your subject when and where their interview will appear. I like to inform my subjects the day of and I like to share the link with them. Your subject will then share for you, bringing attention to your site and your work.

Ok, we’ve covered the good stuff. Here’s the bad.

DON’T

  • DON’T MAKE THE INTERVIEW ABOUT YOU—An interview is not about you. The subject isn’t here to talk about your new book or your website. Don’t ask questions that pertain to yourself.
  • DON’T STALK YOUR SUBJECT—Researching a person is not the same as stalking. Do not be Snoopy McSnooperson and go to their Facebook account to investigate their friends, relatives, and pictures. Only research what is essential to the interview. Again, unless you’re Oprah or Barbara, you don’t need to know about their personal life. Not unless they bring it up and give you permission.
  • DON’T GET OFFENDED—If you are an easily offended person, interviewing is not for you. Some people may be grumpy or difficult. Be professional at all times.
  • DON’T MOVE ANSWERS OUT OF CONTEXT—When editing, do not move the answers out of context or add to the answers. You are there to report what the subject says. You are not there to put words in their mouth.
  • DON’T BE MERCENARY—Do not ask your subject to like your Facebook page, write a review for your book, or otherwise endorse your work. Networking is all about reputation and if you do this, you’re creating a bad reputation for yourself. The subject will let you know if they’re interested.

Remember: the most important rule when interviewing anyone is to CARE about them and RESPECT them. It’s the best way to network and the best way to be—well—human.

Asian Horror Month: Chilling Chat: Jess Chua

chillingchat

Jess Chua is a writer and editor for a personal development podcast. Her micro-fiction was a runner-up in the Mysterious Photograph contest at Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She enjoys yoga, healthy cooking, and spending time with her pets.jess_bnw_wc

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

JC: I was possibly five years old when I first started learning about ghosts. I’ve been savoring taking my own sweet time exploring the genre since then.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

JC: Hmm, it’s hard to pick just one. Some of my favorites include Psycho, The Shining, Pet Sematary. The Stepford Wives (1975). Alien, Silence of The Lambs, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

I recently added some Asian horror movies (like Third Eye and 23:59) onto my Netflix queue and look forward to checking those out.

The Ring (Japanese; 1998) was very creepy, too! I watched a little bit of it long ago and will need to finish watching it someday…

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror television show?

JC: I was very drawn in by Bates Motel and Kingdom (South Korean). I found the latter’s portrayal of zombies refreshing.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

JS: Psycho was a slim book that packed a punch. I enjoyed the pacing and range of human emotions in Pet Sematary.

Aside from novels, I enjoy short stories in this genre as it allows me to check out different worlds and characters in a short amount of time.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

JS: I’ve been a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe since I was sixteen. His haunting tales of the macabre stay with me long after I’ve finished reading them.

I almost have the full collection of out-of-print books by the late Singaporean writer Damien Sin, so he’s definitely another one of my favorite horror authors. I appreciate the originality and authentic, local flavor of his writing.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

JS: The highs and lows of the human psyche and human behavior.

NTK: If you were to meet a reader for the first time, and they asked for a recommendation from you about one of your works, what is the one book or story you would recommend to them?

JS: I would probably recommend a dark fiction chapbook that I’d like to compile in the near future. It’d be a convenient way for a new reader to check out my writing style and ideas.

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

JS: I think a 50-50 approach is fun to take. The characters sometimes have free will within a set idea that I have beforehand of what I’d like them to experience or be like. Visualizing the scenes they’re in is always a creative and analytical exercise.

NTK: What is your favorite monster?

JS: The Pontianak (a malevolent female spirit in Malaysian and Indonesian folklore), King Kong, or Godzilla.

NTK: As an Asian writer in the horror community, how has your experience been?

JS: As a writer of mixed ethnicity (Chinese-Eurasian) who has lived in different countries, it’s sometimes difficult to find the right balance in a story or piece of creative work. It can become very anxiety-inducing to think about whether the characters or story is inclusive enough to readers of different cultures and backgrounds. I try to stay focused on the plot and characters, and if race or geographic setting is integral to the story, then I do my best to write about it in an authentic way.

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

JS: I’d like to continue working on short stories and reading the horror anthologies on my bookshelf. One of my stories will be published in a Gluttony-themed anthology and I have some Singapore-based ghost stories in mind. Southeast Asia has a rich variety of paranormal lore which have stayed with me, even though I’ve lived halfway across the world for over a decade now. Thanks for checking out my interview–and best wishes for 2021!

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Enjoy Last Call a short story by Jess Chua at HorrorAddicts.com on January 8, 2021

Chilling Chat: #SWP – Loren Rhoads and Emerian Rich

lorenLoren 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: 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.

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name emz1smallEmmy 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.

In our round table interview, these talented ladies spoke of their newest creation, The Spooky Writer’s Planner. 

NTK: What inspired The Spooky Writer’s Planner?

LR: I am a planner junkie. To be honest, I have trouble deciding what to do next, especially if projects have multiple steps, so I really need a planner to take the stress out of deciding how to move forward on a project. I kept buying new systems, hoping to find one that would tame my chaos, but no single system ever had all the forms I wanted or needed. I tried cobbling together a bunch of different systems, but it was ugly and frustrating.

ER: I wanted a planner that fit my needs better than any of those on the market. I’m kind of a planner fanatic. I buy several every year to try and “Frankenstein” one planner that will fit all my needs. I was talking to Loren about this and she has the same problem, so we join forces to create this one. We figured, even if no one else finds it helpful, at least we’ll have our perfect planner in our hands.

NTK: How did the planner come about? What started this awesome collaboration?

LR: I turned to Emerian and asked if she would consider designing the perfect planner for me. Once we got talking about the project, she realized that she could make a planner that was perfect for her, too.  So, then we started sending our favorite planner pages back and forth, talking about what worked for us and why. That part was really fun.

I think she was startled by just how many planners I’ve tried over the years, though.

NTK: Who came up with the name?

LR: I credit Emerian for that. We went back and forth between Spooky Author’s Planner and Spooky Writer’s Planner, but I think she made the right choice to make it more inclusive.

ER: I think it was a collaborative brainstorm.

NTK: What are some of the problems you’ve encountered with other planners? Did you address these specifically when creating the Spooky Writer’s Planner?

LR: Other author planners that I’ve experimented with focused on things that weren’t useful to me. The one I started with last year spent pages on choosing editors and logging finances. The one I used in the middle of the year spent an enormous amount of time on figuring out how many hours you have to write in a week, then on choosing projects you can finish in those hours.  Which required a much better understanding of how long projects take to complete than I have!

So, we stripped our planner back to what we really need as authors: a place to track submissions, a form for developing characters and one for world-building, weekly lists of deadlines, a way to track big projects, a game for collecting rejection slips as a way to inspire us to take chances on pitching to new markets, a system to celebrate successes… I am so bad at tracking things that I sat down earlier this month to figure out how many pieces I’ve had published in 2020. It was way more than I thought! I kept coming across interviews I’d forgotten I’d done.  I need a place where I can log all of that and be able to track it better.

ER: Planners usually don’t address the needs of a writer’s life. They don’t account for charting progress or keeping track of submissions. So, often, a writer will have a planner and then other books or sheets to keep track of all that. With this planner, writers will have all that information all in one place. Easy to track and most of all, easy to access. We’ve also made the planner customizable. If you want a print book, we have that, but if you only use certain sheets or certain spreads, you can get the digital copy so you only print what you use.

NTK: There are inspirational quotes and tips included in the planner. How did you choose them and how did you come up with them? Are these tips and quotes personal to you?

LR: Years ago, I belonged to a writers group called the Red Room Writers Society. One Christmas, they gave us each a little red leather-bound book called a Commonplace Book, for collecting quotes that inspired us. Every time I see something about writing, I copy it down in my Commonplace Book. I’m really thrilled to share some of my favorite quotes in the planner.

A lot of the tips came from a seminar Emerian and I did at BayCon a couple of years ago. The topic was “How to Get Out of the Slush Pile.” We talked about what you can do as an author to improve your chances with an editor. Emerian suggested we include some of that in the planner, which I thought was a great idea.

ER: The tips and tricks are things we’ve learned during the combined 50 years of publishing experience we have. We give tips on publishing, submitting, marketing, and social media. We’ve also got quick tasks listed. Only have five minutes? We give you ideas on how to use that time to benefit your writing schedule.

NTK: Is the planner available in print and digital forms? Where can Horror Addicts find it?

LR: Yes!  Emerian wanted a book-style planner. I wanted to be able to print pages as I needed them and keep them in a three-ring binder. So, we each got what we wanted! The paperback version is available on Amazon. The digital download is for sale on Etsy.

ER: They can find it on Amazon for the print version and Etsy for the digital version. We show the different types with pictures and examples, here.

NTK: Do you have any plans for future collaborations?

LR: I would love to work with Emz again. For a long time, I’ve been in awe of how many things she accomplishes and how incredibly creative she is.  She was really a driving force in getting this planner done. I did a lot of the “fun” work, pulling together sample planners and daydreaming about the pages I wanted, but she did the hard imaginative design work. I kibitzed and proofread—which I love—but she had to make my suggestions real. She made the process really fun for me.  I hope it was as much fun for her!

ER: I am so thrilled to be collaborating on this planner. Loren has been one of my favorite creators for years, even before I knew her, I admired her ‘zine Morbid Curiosity. Now that we’re friends, I’m still inspired every day by the way her brain works and the fun topics she comes up with, so you never know! PS… we’ve just been told we’ll be sharing a fiction TOC soon, so… stay tuned!

Chilling Chat: Simon Osborne

chillingchat

Simon Osborne was born in 1970 in Cornwall, UK, and started acting professionally in British TV at the age of 10. At the age of 17, he played Prime Minister Pitt the Younger in BBC TVs Blackadder 3. He appeared in many Simon Osborneproductions before and after but is best known for Blackadder. Later, he studied history and has spent a few years working in heritage in Wales, UK. His wife Penny also works in heritage and his son William is studying film at University in the UK. As well as being a behind the scenes blogger, Simon is now considering going back into acting.

NTK: Welcome, Simon! Thank you for joining me today!

SO: Thank you for having me, Naching.

NTK: How old were you when you decided you’d like to be an actor?

SO: I think about eight or nine when I first seriously did. A BBC series was being filmed in my remote Cornish village, and I thought ‘I could do that!’

NTK: Where did you start? Did you start in plays or did you go straight to television acting?

SO: Straight to TV professionally, but I had done amateur Pantomimes in my village first.

NTK: Could you explain what Pantomimes are for our American audience?

SO: I just thought of that! (Laughs.) They are sort of comic morality stories, usually of Medieval folk origins and often have musical numbers in them. Traditionally the young male lead will be played by a young woman, and an old woman part will be played by a man. Although a moral tale the main theme is fun. Sort of comedy musical fairy tales.

Peter Pan is one and Cinderella.

NTK: Did these pantomimes prepare you for acting on television? Or are the skills used completely different?

SO: It prepared me for performing, gave me confidence in my acting abilities and experience in live performance.

NTK: What was your first television role?

SO: I played the lead role in a sort of Horror story for British schools made by Thames TV. It was for children so not too scary.

NTK: Was that “The Shadow Cage?”

SO: Yes, it’s from a book of short stories by the late author Philippa Pearce. “The Shadow Cage” being the main story.

NTK: What is the story about? And what was your role?

SO: It starts in Victorian England. An old woman is accused of being a witch. One night her cottage is burned to the ground, and her with it. Skip to modern day and a farmer ploughing where the remains of the cottage are. He digs up an old bottle with some dried strange powder inside. This bottle ends up in the hands of the farmers nephew Kevin (that’s me!) Having this bottle causes dreams of Victorian England, the witch, and makes him walk around at night in the village followed by whistling spirits! Or are they?

NTK: Are you a fan of horror or scary stuff?

SO: Not always! I don’t like needless blood and things, but I definitely think much more atmosphere can be caused by tension and what you don’t see. I loved staying up late at night as a child to watch black and white horror films like The Mummy! I think being black and white added to the atmosphere, tension and enjoyment.

NTK: Was this the Universal Mummy or the Hammer version? Which do you like better?

SO: Probably Universal but would have watched them both! I think I found Hammer stuff scarier as a child. Both good.

NTK: Do you like mysteries?

SO: Yes, I am a huge Conan Doyle fan! I love Sherlock Holmes, but also his other darker stuff

NTK: What is your favorite work by Conan Doyle?

SO: Outside of Sherlock Holmes, I think Lost World.

NTK: What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes story?

SO: Hard one! I think Hound of the Baskervilles and Valley of Fear.

NTK: Did you ever act in a television mystery?

SO: I did an episode of a series called Rockliffe’s Follies where I was in a gang that took on a girl they believed was a witch that caused their leaders bike to crash! We didn’t win! (Laughs.) But I do have another Sherlock story—not acting— but I always wear Victorian style clothing. I visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street with my family some years ago. I was wearing lots of Tweed. I sat in Sherlock’s chair by the fire and found it hard to get away! I had to pose with my pipe with all the tourists that came in, as though I was Sherlock Holmes! They must have thought I worked there!

NTK: (Laughs.) Oh my gosh! That’s great! Do you have a favorite actor?

SO: So many, but I think love lots of old ones! Charlton Heston, and Leslie Howard for drama, Terry Thomas for Comedy, Doris Day, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire for Musicals! Modern ones, I do like a lot of Brad Pitt’s performances, but also Idris Elba, and I love a lot of Kevin Costner’s work! Strange answers! (Laughs.)

I like Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes though.

NTK: You’ve worked with some fine actors, including the son of Sir Alec Guiness. He told you some interesting stories. Would you like to elaborate on that?

SO: Yes, Matthew Guinness, I never knew he was Sir Alec’s son until years later! Very talented and very funny! He knew I was interested in the supernatural and I was doing a project on it while I was away filming with him for a month as schoolwork. I was always interested in it as my grandmother Ruby who lived with us as I was growing up was born on Halloween. People always said she was a White Witch!

Matthew told me stories of things he had experienced while filming other TV and film stuff! One which involved an old woman who roamed around a manor house he was staying in at night, her cane banging on the ground as she walked but when looking to see her, she was never there! She kept two huge hounds. A little scared of this, Matthew locked himself in his room and fell into a deep sleep. When he woke he found he could hardly breathe. One of the huge hounds was lying on his chest! It wouldn’t move! Then the old lady’s cane was heard outside the room, the dog jumped up and was suddenly gone! Matthew ran and checked the door! It was still locked! He had lots like that.

NTK: Spooky! And so cool about your grandmother! Are you interested in seances and ghosts?

SO: A little! I had to with my grandmother! (Laughs.) I’m sure I’ve seen and felt things!

NTK: Ok, let’s talk about one of your biggest roles, Pitt the Younger on Blackadder. Fans of the show can read your blog if they’d like to see how you got the role and that link will be provided. What I’d like to know is if you have any funny stories to share with us. First, what was it like acting with Rowan Atkinson?

SO: Rowan was very friendly, quite quiet, but very, very funny! He could pull faces that only he could pull! He was always trying to make the rest of us laugh if we were on camera and he was off.

NTK: What about Tony Robinson?

SO: Tony was the first cast member I met! He was so friendly from the start, he really made me feel part of the Blackadder family right away.

NTK: And how was Hugh Laurie?

SO: Hugh was also very funny! He was always putting on voices particularly Dick van Dyke’s bad cockney accent! He would play the piano during breaks too.

NTK: You have a very famous speech in the episode in which you starred, “Dish and Dishonesty.” How did you feel when you first read those lines?

SO: I read it for the audition first. My first thought was that’s a nice big bit to do. I only realised I had a lot more as well as that when I got the full script in the post after I had been chosen to play the part

NTK: You delivered it beautifully! I can see why you got the part! Did you have an opportunity to meet Stephen Fry?

SO: Yes, he watched my episode being filmed as he was in the audience that night, but I met him in the BBC Bar afterwards! The BBC Bar was on the top floor of the Studios and it was always full of actors after filming

NTK: Oh wow! Did you meet a lot of actors there?

SO: Mostly just things I was working on. I did once go drinking one night in Glasgow with John Hurt! That’s another story though.

NTK: What was Stephen Fry like?

SO: Very nice, very friendly, very tall! (Laughs.) I met him standing at the bar! I am only 5 feet 6 inches tall. Stephen is well over 6 feet tall!

NTK:  Blackadder is an historical comedy. Is this what got you interested in history? Or were already a history buff?

SO: I’ve always loved History! Georgian history is one of my favourites! I love Admiral Lord Nelson, who was exactly the same height as me! (Laughs.)

NTK: Do you have any supernatural history tidbits for us?

SO: The first world war was full of stories! The Angel of Mons, the phantom Piper, the phantom soccer player! Modern historians try and now poo poo these stories, but the men who were there said they happened. I am not a big fan of such historians. I will always believe the words of those who were there before I believe someone writing about it a century later.

NTK:  What did you do after Blackadder? Did you continue acting? Or did you find a new career?

SO: I did a few things after but nothing as big as Blackadder! The last few years I’ve been working in Heritage (Historical sites) but I am thinking about getting back in to acting again.

NTK: By the way, did you know you have an IMBD page? It says you worked on things with the musician Sting. Is this true?

SO: Yes, I think it is about 3 different Simon Osbornes though. Not just me. I never worked with Sting but I did look after his cat once.

NTK: You did! How did that come about?

SO: Living in London in my early teens, we lived next door to an Irish Rock group called Cruella De Vil. They knew Sting and looked after his cat while he toured! One time he was touring, and they were too, so for about a week I had to look after the cat while both Sting and the group were away.

NTK: That is so cool! You have had a very colorful and fascinating life!! What do you have planned for the future? Anything our readers should know about?

SO: I may go back into acting, but for now writing the blog is making me remember a lot of my own history! I will be writing more behind the scenes stuff, fun History stuff, and my History—including other acting work, my travels, and my time in the British Army!

NTK: Thank you so much for chatting with me today.

SO: You’re welcome!

Addicts, you can find Simon on Twitter and on his blog.

 

 

Chilling Chat Special: Best Band 2020- Destini Beard

Destini Beard is a dark lyrical soprano in the Gothic and Horror soundtrack genre. She debuted as the first vocalist for the Horror Soundtrack group, Midnight Syndicate. Her two albums, “The Dark Masquerade,” and, “A Time Forgotten,” have been enjoyed by fans for over a decade. Performing across the US and abroad, she continues to add a dark twist to all her musical creations. Her song “Farewell Forever” was featured in the award-winning Horror/Soundtrack album from the 10th annual Rondo Hatton Awards. Her albums were featured on Rue Morgue radio, Dark Beauty Magazine, and are played nationwide on the award-winning Rock/Metal radio show “Rock Solid Pressure Show”.  Continue reading

Chilling Chat: Authors of SLAY – L. Marie Wood

L. Marie Wood is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is the recipient of the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper, as well as the Harold L. Brown Award for her screenplay Home Party. Her short story, “The Ever After” is part of the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. Wood was recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction.

L. Marie is a fun and vivacious lady. We spoke of writing, vampires, and The Golden Stake Award.

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

LMW: Thank you so much for having me!

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

LMW: Believe it or not I was five years old! I started writing a story and it was just… dark!

I didn’t associate the term “horror” to it, but that’s what it was, it was psychological horror. And I still write in that sub-genre today.

NTK: Was it inspired by a book or a movie? What inspires your writing?

LMW: No—it literally came from out of nowhere, which is actually, how I find inspiration now.

Sometimes an idea for a story just comes to me. Could be something I saw–some detail about how someone was dressed or something they did maybe even the weather or catching a glimpse of someone making a facial expression they don’t realize is being noticed. When I go looking for inspiration, I can’t always find it.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you? The one you could identify with the most?

LMW: Interestingly enough, the first character that came to mind isn’t from the horror genre, so I am still thinking about that one (Laughs.)

I identify with the villains and Darth Vader’s cool calmness is just so awesome to me, I’ve always wanted to emulate that.You know… should I have the need to subdue someone… you know what I mean! (Laughs.)

Then I was always partial to Bruce Lee—like I wanted to kick like him and the sound effects—heck yes. So, combine those with my favorite horror antagonist—vampires!!—and you have a really kick-ass villain. I can’t say I’ve seen this character yet… maybe Blade…wait—DEFINITELY Blade! And I have to say that I never realized that I am Blade until JUST NOW. I always saw myself more like Jerry Dandridge.

NTK: Did you see yourself as Chris Sarandon? Or Colin Ferrel?

LMW: Definitely Chris Sarandon. He was sooooo smooth.

So I guess I am the female Blade… I’m going with that. (Laughs.)

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you have a favorite horror movie?

LMW: I do! Angel Heart! Being the psychological horror lover I am, I love a movie that has twists and turns and makes me think. I find something new every time I watch that movie!

NTK: That movie is so awesome and underrated! Did you like Robert De Niro’s portrayal of the Devil?

LMW: I did, even if it was a little ham-handed… Louis Cypher HAHAHA! He looked awesome though, just enough to make sure you know who he was and what was going on, but easy enough to miss if you aren’t trying to focus on the flick.

NTK: Exactly! Do you have a favorite horror television show?

LMW: Horror Tv shows are difficult. I was a Walking Dead Fan for years and then… I mean, ok and…? I loved The Haunting of Hill House and Lovecraft Country but those are just season-long entries. AHS – I’ve really only enjoyed one whole season – the one with Cuba Gooding Jr…Roanoke.

So… I might have to say no…?

But if the stand alone, one season and one shows count, I will definitely say Haunting of Hill House. Creepy as hell, that one.

NTK: What about favorite horror author?

LMW: That is a harder question than you might realize! I adore Ira Levin’s work, the way he spun a yarn was like no one else. Very casual, conversational, it’s like he is sitting with you on a park bench or while waiting in line at the movies and telling you this creepy thing. I find that my own writing is a lot like that—like we’re having a conversation, only what I am saying is scaring the bejesus out of you. Reading his work just feels good to me.

At the same time, I love Stephen King. His ability to make the mundane spooky is so unsettling and I really love that! Finally, Shirley Jackson has psychological horror in her pocket. Her work just creeps up on you and you don’t even know why you are afraid, but you are. Read “The Lottery”… you may find yourself shivering—either because you might be the one to get stoned, or go along with the stoning and not even know why!

So my fave… Shirley Ira King. Hell of a pen name!

NTK: (Laughs.) That would be! Do you have a favorite horror novel?

LMW: I do, and interestingly enough, none of those three wrote it! Quietus by Vivian Schilling. It is so lyrical! I remember thinking that I wished I could write something so tight, so beautifully done. No purple prose. No fluff. Just amazing control and beautiful execution. I fangirled a bit when I read it and contacted her (this is like 2002 or 2003). Had to tell her it was an amazing experience reading her book.

NTK: That is so awesome! What did she say?

LMW: She was so kind. We actually spoke for a while—she was gracious about the compliment I lavished—I can only imagine that she was red-faced… I was laying it on thick because this book is… chef’s kiss!

She encouraged me to write after I told her I was actually writing my novel. Wonder if she ever read it…? Wow, how cool would THAT be??

NTK: That would be mind-blowing! I hope she did. Speaking of your writing, what attracted you to the Vampire Noire? Why did you want to write a story for SLAY?

LMW: I love vampires. Always have been drawn to them as opposed to werewolves or zombies.

I like to tell my stories from the psychological horror perspective, but sometimes the fear isn’t what you were bargaining for. Vampires let you play, they let you experiment, there is such flexibility with them. I guess I couldn’t resist!

NTK: What inspired your story? Was it something that just came to you?

LMW: Yep—always is. A song did it this time—the rhythm… I don’t even think I ever found out what it was… (Laughs.)

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

LMW: My characters do what they want to do when they want to do it. They routinely defy me.

And I can be as upset as I want to about that, but they do not care. I like to say that I sit back and watch the show and just write it all down for posterity.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror community?

LMW: Good, actually. I have been lucky enough to not have experienced a lot of what I have heard about. I started being active in the community in about 2003 and met some wonderful people from everywhere. Had signings, broke bread, shared stages, etc. I took a bit of a break for a number of years and when I came back in, I encountered the same. But as a person of color, I know that my experience isn’t everyone’s and that there have been some challenges that my fellow creatives have encountered. I can only help to be one of those people who helps pave the way, ease the way, help others along.

NTK: You’ve won some interesting awards. Could you tell us about the Golden Stake and about the UMMFF award for The Black Hole?

LMW: Ahh the Golden Stake Award! Seriously, I love that thing, it is literally a golden stake with blood on the tip!!!!! I wouldn’t even bring it back with me—left it in London to be shipped over so that they didn’t take it from me in customs, because, seriously, how could I have explained it?? (Laughs.)

My second novel, The Promise Keeper, is a psychological vampire horror tale! I must say, it felt AMAZING to go over to London during the 200 year anniversary of the publishing of The Vampyre by John Polidori and WIN this coveted award! We drank cocktails out of syringes later that night—it was a freaking blast!

As to The Black Hole, it is a very timely screenplay about colleagues who compete with each other on the paintball field along with a group of their friends. And let’s just say this… all is fun and games until the paintballs fly. My undergraduate degree from Howard University is actually in Film Production. Years later, I went on to get an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University that has a focus in Screenwriting. It is my second love and I am back to doing it with a vengeance. This particular screenplay won best Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi Screenplay at the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival.

NTK: Awesome!! You have a novel coming out on October 29th. Could you tell us about it?

LMW: Yes, absolutely! My third novel, The Realm, is about man’s greatest fear and it starts FAST!

There is much running, many things lurking in the shadows, and pure, unadulterated fear waiting for the protagonist and for you, if you dare to read it! This is book one of a series that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

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

LMW: This year I have been lucky enough to be either an official selection, semi-finalist, or finalist in over fifteen other festivals! I have eight screenplays making their rounds out there—and I am so excited to see that each of them have gotten industry nods!

NTK: Thank you for joining me today, L. Marie! It’s been a pleasure!

LMW: Thank you so much for having me! I enjoyed the discussion!

Addicts, you can find L. Marie on Facebook. Check out her book, The Realm, available now.

“The Realm drops you into a bizarre and disturbing vision of the afterlife where the dead will never rest in peace. L. Marie Wood’s compulsively readable and fast-paced tale grabs you and doesn’t let go. Hang on tight!”

– Kirsten Imani Kasai, Author of The House of Erzulie

In The Realm, L. Marie Wood presents readers with a cast of nuanced characters against the backdrop of an intricate world where nothing is simply black and white or right and wrong. The “sins of the father” takes a refreshing detour from triteness and makes us accomplices to the main character’s ( Patrick’s) endeavors.

– R. J. Joseph, author of Monstrous Domesticities

Chilling Chat Special: Eric Shapiro

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Eric Shapiro is a writer and filmmaker. Called “the next Philip K. Dick” by author Kealan Patrick Burke, Shapiro is the author of six critically acclaimed fiction books, among them the novella “It’s Only Temporary” (2005), whichEric Shapiro appeared on Nightmare Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Horror Books, and numerous short stories published in anthologies alongside work by H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and many others. His nonfiction articles have been published on The Daily Dot, Ravishly, and The Good Men Project. His first feature film, “Rule of 3” (2010), won awards at the Fantasia International Film Festival and Shriekfest, and had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest. His second feature film, “Living Things” (2014), was endorsed by PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) and distributed by Cinema Libre Studio. In 2015, he won the 19th Annual Fade In Award for Thriller Screenplays. He was a founding partner of Ghostwriters Central, a writing and editing firm which has received positive notices from The Wall Street Journal, Consumers Digest, and the TV program “Intelligence For Your Life.” Eric has edited works published on The Huffington Post and Forbes, as well as two Bram Stoker Award-nominated novels. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.

Eric is an intelligent and experienced writer. We spoke of writing, horror themes, and filmmaking.

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

ES: Thank you for having me!

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

ES: Ohhh, I think I was about six or seven; my cousin Steve told me about Danny from The Shining, saying, “Redrum.” Firsthand, I think I was ten, watching The Lost Boys with my cousins Lauren and Jessica and my sister Stephanie. We weren’t expecting it to be so dark, but it was great.

NTK: Is Lost Boys your favorite horror movie? What is your favorite horror film?

ES: I think my first early favorite was Witchboard, which I saw a couple years later. I liked how tight and melodramatic it was. I’d probably still like it, but it’s been awhile. My favorite recent horror movie, as in from this century, is Martyrs, the original French version, which is a great movie regardless of genre. Maybe my favorite since the year 2000.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV series?

ES: I don’t! I’m so behind on series, and movies too since I became a dad nine years ago. I’ve just lately been catching up more during Covid.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror novel?

ES: It’s absolutely Stephen King’s IT, which I read in 7th grade and which devoured me like no book before or since.

NTK: Who is your favorite character in IT?

ES: Well, I had to upgrade Stan Uris in my mind since I’m Jewish. He’s not the deepest character in the book, but I pictured myself as a more detailed version of him. I actually wrote some fan fiction in junior high from Stanley’s point-of-view, to get into him more. (laughs)

NTK: As a Jewish horror writer, how has your experience in the horror community been?

ES: Oh fine. The horror heads are generally very cool people, usually sensitive and looking for fun. I just became an HWA member after years of flirting with it, and everyone I’ve interacted with has been very welcoming and warm.

NTK: Going back to King, is he your greatest influence? What author has influenced you most in your writing?

ES: Pound for pound, it’s probably him, with Chuck Palahniuk as a close second. Or rather I should say that since Palahniuk came later, King is a more foundational influence. I actually prefer King when he wrote/writes as Richard Bachman—he’s tighter and less sentimental. I like that side of him. Palahniuk’s work taught me a lot about sculpting every sentence, though he’s not about narrative and suspense the way King is—and the way I usually am.

NTK:  What inspires you to write?

ES: Lately it all starts with a character. It’s the psychology of a character interacting with the society around them. I have ideas all the time for worlds and stories but it’s usually the extreme characters I follow through on. Like I’ll picture a guy or a woman and get a feel for him/her, and want to see where it leads. I worked professionally as a ghostwriter for 17 years, though, and am still not completely out of the burnout. It’s been a gradual healing process of writing for joy instead of under pressure, and finding my own voice and insight again.

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

ES: Total free will. I think I know where it’s going in general, but it often ends up nowhere close. And I’ve found that if I force them to do something it comes out stiff. If you let them lead, you end up learning their whims and instincts and limits, which brings them to life more.

NTK: What inspired Red Dennis?

ES: I co-own and write for a local newspaper in Silicon Valley and a local woman essentially tried to “cancel” me. It was all on the basis of my opinion-editorials. The attempt ended up backfiring. But it made me so angry that I started wondering how far I’d have to be pushed to lose my mind. Fortunately, I put the energy into something constructive! We always have that choice.

NTK: What is your favorite horror theme? Do you enjoy good vs. evil? Transgression horror? What interests you most in a horror story?

ES: I think it’s transgression. Psychosis. Cruelty. Blind ideology or selfishness. Also, I’m addicted to suspense. So, my stories are often about people who are running out of time. They have pressing deadlines to achieve this or that. That’s where a lot of my narrative focus goes: structuring a scenario where the protagonist is pressed for time or has a looming obligation or encounter.

NTK: You’re also a filmmaker and screenwriter. Which is more difficult? Writing a screenplay? Or writing a novel?

ES: Definitely a novel. You have to populate the whole world. Whereas a screenplay has less words per page and is a detailed blueprint for something else. As for making a movie, though…well, a novel is much easier, as least in terms of what it does to you physically…

NTK: You spoke of ghostwriting earlier. Do you feel ghostwriting helped you become the writer you are today? Was it easier to learn the craft writing under a different name?

ES: I think so. That’s where I got the 10,000 hours of experience. I was always stealing time to work on my own projects but couldn’t really go full-fledged, beyond novella-length, until 2019, when I switched to the newspaper full-time. That gave me time to work on my books over the course of months, as passion projects. And all the experience gave me a lot of confidence and discipline to push. Each day is always hard for writers, especially when starting off the day. But building up the muscle over time helps you feel more oriented and in command of the words.

NTK: Hemingway and Jack London worked for newspapers. Do you feel newspaper writing has also helped you in your writing?

ES: Absolutely. The reporting has muscled up my command of pure facts and research. The op-eds have fine-tuned my approach to persuasion and finding moral clarity in a piece. More people have read my work as a journalist than in any other form, which is ironic since I’m “known” for writing horror. People in my city will say, “Did you read his article? The horror writer’s?” But they’ve never read my books! But the journalism has sparked a new wave of awareness in the books, so it all works together.

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

ES: Good question! I just republished my whole backlist of six dark fiction titles, and Red Dennis was new this year. Also new this year was a nonfiction book to inspire people’s writing called Ass Plus Seat. Right now, I have a movie in the works with horror legend Greg F. Gifune, but it’s on delay due to the pandemic. I will say I’m acting in it, which I’m ridiculously excited about. We should be announcing more soon…

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today. It was a pleasure!

ES: Likewise! Thank you so much, Naching!

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

Chilling Chat Special: Authors of SLAY – Craig Laurance Gidney

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Craig Laurance Gidney writes both contemporary and genre fiction. He is the author of the collections Sea, Swallow Me & Other Stories (Lethe Press, 2008), Skin Deep Magic (Rebel Craig GidneySatori Press, 2014), Bereft (Tiny Satchel Press, 2013) and A Spectral Hue (Word Horde, 2019).

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

CLG: When I was in elementary school the local channel, for some reason, played horror movies at four o’clock, and that was when I was first introduced to horror cinema. Movies like Trilogy of Terror and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark were a part of my after-school rituals. I’d watch them before doing homework!

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

CLG: The Wicked Witch of the West. She reveled in her malevolence, and was stunningly green.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

CLG: Shirley Jackson. My horror tastes tend to subtle and atmospheric, and she was the queen of this flavor of dark fiction.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

CLG: The Haunting of Hill House.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

CLG: The Exorcist.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

CLG: The Channel Zero Anthology series. I was sad to see that it wouldn’t be continued. Each season featured surrealistic horror stories that were like catnip to me.

NTK: What inspired your story in SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire?

CLG: The old Environmental Protection Agency’s building in SouthWest DC was a major inspiration for “Desiccant.” The irony of the EPA building being a source of “sick building syndrome” was too rich to pass up!

NTK: What attracted you to the Vampire Noire? Why did you want to write a story for Slay?

CLG: I was invited by Nicole.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

CLG: Everything inspires me! I find the most mundane occurrences appear in some of the strangest fiction I’ve written. The “sick building” idea, for instance, has been bouncing around in my brain for a decade.

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

CLG: It varies from project to project. But the characters in my short fiction tend to have tighter leashes.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been?

CLG: It’s complicated. In one-to-one, meatspace interactions, most everyone I’ve met has been perfectly professional. Online, it’s a different story. My tiny portion of horror fiction—the Weird/Cosmic Horror subgenre—-is chockfull of Lovecraft fanboys who minimize, ignore or, in rare cases, agree with his toxic White Supremacist ideals, and it makes for some unpleasant online interactions.

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

CLG: I have a bunch of stories coming out in anthologies in the Fall. My fairytale novel Hairsbreadth is being serialized by Broken Eye Books. And I have an audio story coming out from Tor-Nightfire sometime.

Addicts, you can find Craig as @ethereallad on Twitter and Instagram.

Chilling Chat Special: Authors of SLAY – Sumiko Saulson

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Sumiko Saulson is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Zhe is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic Women, Scry of Sumiko Saulson Mixy AwardLust, Black Celebration, and Wickedly Abled. Zhe is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”
Zhe has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco Bay View.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

SS: Both of my parents were huge horror fans. They played horror movies and television programs in the home when I was a kid. My mom got mad at my dad for taking her to see Rosemary’s Baby when she was eight months pregnant with me. Her favorite TV series was Dark Shadows, and she watched it all the time when she was pregnant with me, and when I was an infant. I remember seeing It’s Alive at the drive-in theater when I was five. My brother and I saw a lot of old seventies horror classics as little children, so it started very early for me.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

SS: Without a doubt, Kevin Foree as Peter in the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead movie. That was the first horror film I saw with an African American protagonist. I was very excited and rooting for him. Afterwards, my dad tried to show me the original Night of the Living Dead starring Duane Jones as Ben, but I just found it depressing. He fights through all of the zombies only to be more or less racially profiled and killed at the end. I preferred the triumphant, action-hero-like Peter. I imagine that the scene where he contemplates suicide, then decides to go for it and try to escape, is a nod to the first movie.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

SS: When I was 10, I read my first horror novel, which was Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. This lead to me reading Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman when I was 12, which lead to a more or less lifetime love of Stephen King. However, LA Banks and Christopher Rice have both usurped his title since. I do not currently have a favorite horror author. Over the past four years, I have had a series of deaths of family members and close friends, and my concentration has become too poor for pleasure reading. I have stuck with assigned readings, which, when I was in college a couple of years ago, lead to an increase in my already large collection of owned and read Toni Morrison novels. I still believe that Sula and Beloved both belong in the annals of horror, and perhaps The Bluest Eye as well.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

SS: The Stand. Heh. I feel so basic right now.

NTK: Favorite horror movie? 

SS: Bones, that 2001 horror film starring Snoop Dog. I fell into a deep depression after 9/11. I went through a divorce immediately following it, and had a nervous breakdown. Bones was literally the only thing that made me laugh or smile at the time.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show? 

SS: Supernatural. Although it is going off the air now, and it really isn’t as good as it used to be. I am going to be forced to find a new favorite very soon.

NTK: What inspired your story in SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire

SS: I really loved the Oscar-Award Winning 2016 film Moonlight and decided that I wanted to make my vampire story tell a tale of black man/man love. However… it IS a horror film, so it might be a little more Bones than Moonlight

NTK: What attracted you to the Vampire Noire? Why did you want to write a story for SLAY?

SS: Well, I already write a lot of African Diaspora characters, and I really love vampire stories. So, it stands to follow that I would be crazy about this concept. And I love that luscious cover art.

NTK: What inspires your writing? 

SS: A lot of my writing is inspired by personal trauma, of which I have survived a great deal, dating back to childhood. Horror writing helps me to process my inner demons, and have more control over my internal dialogue and conflict. I am also very inspired by current social issues, sort of like Jordan Peele is, and so I write a lot of political and social horror.

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

SS: Free will. They sort of write themselves after a while. When I plan their every move, the writing becomes stilted and really isn’t as good.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been?

SS: It’s been a mixed bag, although there have been a lot of good experiences. I find that the African American and African Diaspora speculative fiction communities – that is, Black Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Weird, Horror, etc.. writers are very supportive of one another. Women in Horror are also very supportive of each other. And there are a lot of allies. But there are definitely glass ceilings in mainstream horror, and the old boy’s club gets resentful when people break through them or try to shake things up. There are still far too many people who believe that only a middle-aged white cisgender heterosexual man is qualified to write horror.

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

SS: I have a paranormal romance novel that I am working on and an interested publisher. Someone has an option on one of my short stories for an anthology movie of black women horror writers and directors. I just finished co-writing a script for a black vampire movie called Despoina: Dark Chanteuse with James Leon. I also have a poem in the upcoming HWA Poetry Showcase, so I am very excited about that.

Addicts, you can find Sumiko on Facebook, Twitter, and Tik-Tok as @sumikoska. Zhe can be found on Instagram as @sumikosaulson.

 

 

Chilling Chat Special: Authors of SLAY – LH Moore

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LH Moore’s speculative fiction and poetry have been published in all three Dark Dreams anthologies of Black horror writers; Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters; Black Magic Women; the collaborative Chiral Mad 4 and upcoming Chiral Mad 5 and SLAY anthologies; the StokerCon 2019 anthology; Fireside, Apex and FIYAH LHM Bio photo_webMagazine. A DC native exiled in Maryland, Moore is a historian and loves classical guitar, graphic novels, and video games. 

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

LHM: My mom took me to see The Exorcist (*gasp*) when I was three. She said I jumped up at one point and shouted “Oh Mommy! He FELL!”  I would watch Count Gore and his Creature Feature on DC’s channel 20. I always loved scary stories and in Jr. High School my local library had a sale and I spent the summer reading almost everything Stephen King wrote at the time.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

LHM: I can’t say I ever identified with a character. If anything, I relate very much to FInal Girls in an “Oh no, I’m getting through this and surviving!”

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

LHM: Tananarive Due, but I never want folks to forget L.A. Banks. Not only a great writer, but a great person who was kind to me when I was a newbie writer years ago.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

LHM: Oooo…IT will still reign supreme for me as I’ll never forget how I felt as a young person reading it. So much “WTF?” to me.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

LHM: Hard to choose! Get Out for its social commentary. Let the Right One In (Swedish) for its quiet. Cabin in the Woods because it was so surprising to me. The Blade series. But honestly, I find movies that are about things that really could happen to be scary as hell. Open Water messed with me for a long time.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

LHM: Right now? Lovecraft Country!! The real-life horrors of Jim Crow-era racism had me up on my feet pacing back and forth like “MY HEART” and nervous as hell more than the monsters!

NTK: What inspired your story in SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire?

LHM: Funny enough, it was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. That whole mystery and expectation of womanhood and the tropes that go along with it. I wanted to write something light-hearted and almost humorous, which is different for me.

NTK: What attracted you to the Vampire Noire? Why did you want to write a story for Slay?

LHM: Writers of African descent have so many stories to be able to draw from. That well is deep and open to so many interpretations beyond that of the traditional neckbiter. I thought it was important to be a part of that representation and new storytelling.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

LHM: My heritage. The stories my grandma and auntie told me. History. And anxieties that create pure nightmare fuel.

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

LHM: I have an idea of how they are as individuals and roll with it.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience been in the horror writing community?

LHM: Let’s just say that there is still room for improvement. I’ve been an HWA member for over ten years now and Linda Addison is a force to be reckoned with. When she encouraged me to renew, who was I to say “No”? Besides, the more Black and POC authors are represented, the better. We are out here doing this work.

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

LHM: I have more to come, believe me! Definitely, some longer form works in the pipeline.

Addicts, you can find LH on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #190 – Nicole Givens Kurtz – Slay Book Launch

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Nicole Givens Kurtz is the author of eight novels, and over 40 plus short story publications. She is a member of SFWA and her science fiction novels have been named as A Carl NGK2017Brandon Society Parallax Award’s Recommended title-(Zephyr Unfolding), Fresh Voices in Science Fiction finalist (Zephyr Unfolding), Dream Realm Award Finalist in Science Fiction (Browne Candidate), and EPPIE Finalist in Science Fiction (Browne Candidate). Her short works have appeared in, Serial Box’s The Vela: Salvation, Baen’s Straight Outta Tombstone, Sycorax’s Daughters (Bram Stoker Finalist in Horror), and White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade Anthology. 

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

NGK: I discovered horror when I was about 10 years old. The teacher read us the woman with the silk scarf around her neck during Halloween. I immediately fell in love with the story, and I sought out other scary tales. Because I’m an 80s child, that search led me to Stephen King.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

NGK: The first horror character I felt represented me was Susannah in King’s Dark Tower Series. She was the first Black woman I read. Although aspects of her personality and her treatment plagued me for years, I still felt represented in that she was Black, I was Black, we were both women and she was her authentic self.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

NGK:  My favorite horror authors are Ed Kurtz, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, and L.A. Banks.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

NGK: My favorite horror novel is We All Live in the Castle.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

NGK: The Crow.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

NGK: The Dark; Lovecraft Country.

NTK: How did the idea for the anthology, SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire come about?  

NGK: SLAY came about due to many conversations I have had with authors about the lack of Black vampire stories in the wake of L.A. Banks’s death. Sure, there have been other Black vampires, but they remained on the perimeter, in the background, window dressing. We wanted stories like Banks wrote, that centered Black people, Black vampires, and Black slayers in the forefront. What would that look like now? So, the idea was born to seek out short stories for an anthology to answer that question and to fill the void.

NTK: What was your slush pile like? Was it difficult to choose stories from the ones submitted? 

NGK: It was incredibly difficult to choose stories. It is likely they’ll be a volume 2 at some point because I had more solid stories than I could fit into the anthology. It’s already 29 stories strong.

NTK: Putting you on the spot here, which story of the 29 is your most favorite?

NGK: Oh, this is definitely asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I loved them all, for various reasons, but the stories that lingered the longest after I read them were, Craig L. Gidney’s “Desiccant,” Steven Van Patten’s “The Retiree,” L. Marie Wood’s “The Dance,” and Alledria Hurt’s “Uijim.”

NTK: What’s it like running a small press? 

NGK:  It is incredibly stressful, especially in the challenging times we are in now. It is also rewarding in so many ways. The flexibility to tell stories that otherwise may not have made it past the gatekeepers of large publishing houses, is why I do this work.

NTK: Who did the cover art for this anthology? It’s terrific!

NGK: Taria Reed did the cover and it was one she had created as a pre-made cover. She has semi-annual sales and I selected it and another one for my personal horror stories, but when the idea for SLAY came about, I thought this cover would be perfect. Taria also came up with the title of the anthology, SLAY. I added, “Stories of the Vampire Noire.” Taria is a true talent and if authors need cover art, she’s one of the best around and a mainstay on my list of artists.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been?

NGK: I have developed solid relationships with people in the horror writing industry, like Anya Martin and Linda Addison. But the writing community in horror as well as other genres, are reflections of what is happening in the United States. The acceptance of racists, misogynistic, and hate-filled attitudes and beliefs are allowed, even encouraged in some circles, to be out and proud. The horror writing community is reflecting that, because people who embrace those beliefs write horror (and other genres) too. I have encountered racists attitudes in the community. Yet, I know there are writers actively combating these ills, just as there are people in the U.S. actively protesting and battling the celebration of hatred.

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

NGK: I’m actively working on the sequel to my fantasy mystery, Kill Three Birds: A Kingdom of Aves novella. I am also working on revising my science fiction opera, Zephyr Unfolding. I don’t have any horror topics on tap for now, but that can easily change as my Muse’s first love is horror and suspense.

NTK: It was a pleasure chatting with you, Nicole!

NGK: Thank you for having me, Naching and Horror Addicts.

Addicts, you can find Nicole on Twitter, Facebook, Other Worlds Pulp, Patreon, and you can subscribe to her newsletter.

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Chilling Chat Special: Authors of SLAY – Steven Van Patten

TBM HORROR EXPERTS-Mocha memoirs press - SLAY tw banner white 2

Brooklyn native Steven Van Patten is the author of the critically acclaimed Brookwater’s Curse trilogy, about an 1860s Georgia plantation slave who becomes law enforcement SVP-15 copywithin the vampire community. In contrast, the titular character in his Killer Genius series is a modern day hyper-intelligent black woman who uses high-end technology as a socially conscious serial killer.

SVP’s short fiction includes contributions to nearly a dozen horror anthologies, including the Stoker Award-nominated New York State of Fright. A collection of short horror and dark fiction stories entitled Hell At The Way Station, published by his company Laughing Black Vampire Productions and co-authored by acclaimed storyteller, Marc Abbott hit shelves in 2018.

Along with a plethora of other honors and accolades, SVP won three African-African-American Literary Awards in 2019, two for Hell At The Way Station (Best Anthology and Best In Science Fiction) and one for Best Independent Publisher. He’s written about everything from sleep demons to the Harlem Hellfighters of WWI for episodes of the YouTube series’ Extra Credit and Extra Mythology, He’s also a contributor for Viral Vignettes, a charity-driven YouTube comedy series benefitting The Actor’s Fund.

When he’s not creating macabre literature, he can be found stage managing television shows primarily in New York City and occasionally on the West Coast. Along with being a member of the New York Chapter of The Horror Writer’s Association, he’s also a member of The Director’s Guild of America and professional arts fraternity Gamma Xi Phi.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

SVP: I’m not even sure. Probably six. I have blerd in my blood. One of my first fights as a 2nd grader was over a Planet of the Apes action figure.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

SVP: That’s easy. Blacula. I even use William Marshall as an alias when I’m someplace I have no business being.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

SVP: Stephen King still has my heart, even after all this time. Crazy, I know.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel? 

SVP: That is tough. Truthfully, I am forever torn between DraculaFrankenstein, and Salem’s Lot.

NTK: Favorite horror movie?

SVP: Again, it’s like Pringles! You can’t pick just one. This one changes and adjusts according to mood, but today it’s The ExorcistAliensAmerican Werewolf in LondonBlaculaDracula 1972Dracula (Frank Langella), Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Silence of The Lambs.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

SVP: I love the anthology stuff like Tales from The Darkside, and Creepshow, but NBC is responsible for a great yet shortlived Dracula series and well as their take on Hannibal. I am currently falling in love with Lovecraft Country.

NTK: What inspired your story in SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire?

SVP: Well, I had already been doing the epic vampire thing in my Brookwater’s Curse series. One day, I got it in my head to do something a little more earthy. That’s when I came up with the grumpy old black man who is a retired monster killer angle. So it’s fun, but it’s also an exploration into how we don’t always recognize how heroic our parents really are.

NTK: What attracted you to the Vampire Noire? Why did you want to write a story for Slay? 

SVP: Truth is, I had already written this and had been meaning to shop it. When you’re out here playing the short story game between novels, you always have a few extra bullets in the chamber on the off chance someone asks, “hey do you have x,y, and z handy?” Then you can just say yes. I try to stay prepared.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

SVP: When I started out, my mission statement was “I must create strong, fully developed POC characters for the horror genre.” That hasn’t changed, per se. I think the difference now is that I’m actually having fun now because I’m stronger, if that makes any sense. Whereas my focus was lasered-aimed on one thing, now I have all sorts of ideas coming to me.

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

SVP: That kind of depends. I usually have a game plan going in, and that game plan gets thrown out the window midway. The story ends up needing more. The character ends up needing more. I end up needing more.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been? 

SVP: Well, the thing I did wrong was taking too long to find everybody! Outside of a couple of debates about Lovecraft’s racism, it has been tremendous for me to be fully accepted into the culture. Currently, most of my commiseration is courtesy of the NY chapter of the HWA. And I love every one of them. And I wish I was able to spend more time with them, as well as several of the people in this anthology, but the day job, (I also stage-manage a variety of TV shows) keeps me pinned down. I miss a lot of conventions and other things because of that. I would love to see more of everyone!

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

SVP: As I answer you, I am currently in Macon, Georgia working on a Game Show. When I am done with that, I am fully committed to one more vampire novel, (Brookwater’s Curse 4), One last serial killer novel, (Killer Genius 3), and two more sequels to Hell At The Way Station, the anthology I co-wrote with Marc Abbott. There will also be more short stories, more Black History stuff like the “Burning of Black Wall Street” episode I did for the Youtube Channel Extra Credit, and even some comedic stuff. I am going to be very busy. People can keep up with me by finding me on social media or visiting my website.

Addicts, Steven uses his full name on Facebook but goes by @svpthinks on Twitter and Instagram