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

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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

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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 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

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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

Chilling Chat: Episode #189 – Lucifer Fulci (David Mark Stashko)

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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.”

At 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 is an amazing writer and musician with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of the paranormal, writing stories vs. music, and H.P. Lovecraft.

 

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

LF: Of corpse. I am honored to be here. Horror addicts rules. Thank you for having me

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..

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

LF: The future looks grim and bedazzled by horror…so it’s awesome! Currently, my solo record called The Elder Sign is near completion. There are a few songs and videos for it out there now, but I have been taking it slow since the pandemic struck. I love it, though, it’s a lot of heavy metal fun. For my band, Lords of October, we are about to start working on our next effort, Cryptozoology, again. We have had enough of this COVID and are taking measures to practice safely and record, too. We had only begun that record when Covid hit. Lots of groovy ghoulie songs. I have a story, along with my Lords of October frontman, Paul Counelis AKA Uncle Salem, on a new Bigfoot compilation called “Unimaginable.” It’s a lot of fun…I use my real name, David for that story…and another book of my own called The Anomaly. So much more, really…I do a podcast now, I Love Lucifer, and then there are other books, films…all kinds of stuff that people can read about at

There is more stuff always brewing…I just wanna get back into the world and play live again. I miss the people. I miss putting on the makeup and becoming Lucifer.

I could go on, too, ya see, because I am working with a lot of talented people, always, usually the guys in my band and the guys behind the Flint Horror Collective, which is a group I am a part of here in Michigan.

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 #188 – Jason LaVelle

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Jason LaVelle is an author and photographer from West Michigan. When he’s not spending time with his beautiful wife and four children, LaVelle works at a veterinary clinic, helping Jason LaVelleanimals of all kinds. With his two pugs, Dragon and Mr. Sparkles, his Chihuahua, Mari, and his annoying dachshund, Lady, LaVelle pretty much lives in a zoo. After he’s done playing with the dogs and tucking the kids into bed, LaVelle ventures down into the basement, where his cat, Leah whispers in his ear like a demonic muse, forcing him to explore the paranormal world inside his mind.

Jason is a wonderful writer with a sharp mind. We spoke of writing, podcasts, and Stephen King. 

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

JL: Thank you for having me, I’m very glad to be here.

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

JL: Oh goodness, probably too young. My dad read a lot of King, Koontz, and Barker, and by the time I was in 6th-7th grade, I was pilfering books from his shelf.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror writer?

JL: Good question, I think Stephen King was always my favorite growing up, but now the lines between horror, dark fantasy, and psych thrillers are being blurred. I would still say King, but some of my favorite authors (Pierce Brown and VE Schwab) write fantasy with many horrific elements.

NTK: Did King influence your writing? Why did you become a writer?

JL: I think King has certainly influenced me, but not necessarily in the types of stories I tell, but how emotion and fear can be used to create horror without necessarily needing blood and gore. I started writing in 8th grade, just trying to let out creative energy, I was a hyper kid and writing let me channel some of that extra energy.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

JL: Wow, I do not know. I can tell you which one has affected me most profoundly recently. Duma Key, a King novel, I read it a few years back, and the climactic scenes in that book really shook me to the core, stayed with me a long time.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

JL: I don’t actually watch much horror, my wife doesn’t like it and we are quite joined at the hip. I enjoy movies like I Am Legend, Bird Box, and A Quiet Place, but most of the time we watch WW2 documentaries or Brooklyn 99!

NTK:  What inspires your writing?

JL: Ah, the old question we all fear! It’s life though, that inspires me. I hear stories from family and friends, I see things in the world, and I use those experiences to build the foundations of my stories. So at their core, everything I write has truth.

NTK: What inspired “Teddy Bear Picnic?”

JL: Ha! Actually a dream my wife had, she told me about it and I decided it would make a cute story.

NTK: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JL: Mostly a pantser, but I’ve been plotting my current WIP. That said, it’s not going well, (Laughs) so I’m not sure if plotting is going to work well for me. I like to keep the plot in my head, if that makes sense.

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

JL: Eh, people talk about characters doing their own thing, but really it’s all me. Sometimes I wish they’d take over and do a little writing for me, but they’ve been reluctant so far.

NTK: (Laughs.) Who is your favorite monster?

JL: Hannibal Lecter.

NTK: Do you enjoy realistic horror as opposed to supernatural horror?

JL: I do, and that’s what I like to write. I enjoy realism with a touch of the paranormal, just enough to scare me, but not so much that it isn’t believable.

NTK: You mentioned Dean Koontz earlier. He’s famous for the inclusion of dogs in his books. You’re an animal lover, do animals play a part in any of your books and stories?

JL: Oh yes, I love including animals. They are a wonderful and enriching part of our world, and I like including them in fiction. I have a whole story, “The Life of Pets,” which deals with the treatment of animals in our society, consent, and ethical care.

NTK: You have a podcast, don’t you?

JL: I run two, Spilling Ink, which is an author roundtable type show every Saturday night, and Unafraid, an audio podcast sharing stories from the LGBTQ+ community.

NTK: Is it difficult running a podcast?

JL: Ha! No, running a podcast is actually pretty easy nowadays, and fun. Talking to new people every week, learning their stories, and enriching our lives with them, that’s good, that’s fun. But there are a lot of podcasts, so getting mine in front of people who will enjoy it is the tough part. Without a large advertising budget, podcasts like mine rely on word of mouth growth.

NTK: Who is your favorite guest? Your best interview?

JL: Ha! I’ve had many wonderful guests. My favorites are usually authors, because they really know how to tell a great story. On the Unafraid podcast, Amanda Jette Knox joined me, and she gave a fabulous interview. On Spilling Ink, I hosted Ellen Hopkins, and the conversation with her was just brilliant.

NTK: What is your favorite curse word?

JL: Definitely fuck.

NTK: (Laughs.) And what is your favorite curse?

JL: Hm, that one’s a bit tough, never really thought about it. In my current WIP, one character is a Romani woman, and she uses a curse. I actually learned quite a bit about Romani curses. She says “May I suffer, may I suffer if I can’t protect you.” It was an emotional scene, and I like that. But most Romani curses are like that, they aren’t something that’s flung onto someone else, they are usually about the user.

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

JL: Sometime next year I’ll be releasing a novel co-authored with Rebekah Jonesy. This will be a paranormal thriller based on actual events. It’s very dark, very cool, I think you’ll love it.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Jason! You’re a great guest!

JL: Thank you for the interview, that was nice.

Addicts, you can find Jason on Facebook and Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #187 — MJ Preston

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MJ Preston is a horror author and artist living in Canada. He has written about everything from native monsters hunting in modern-day, with his straight horror, The Equinox, to MJHeadshotmind-controlling, bone-eating aliens, in the epic, Acadia Event, and now he’s taking you into the mind of the darkest monster of them all. The serial killer, in his latest project, The Highwayman Series. From book One, the titular Highwayman, and now, Book Two, titled Four, MJ Preston pulls no punches as he introduces us to serial murder as it really is, dark, ugly, horrific, and deadly.

MJ is an intelligent man with great taste in horror. We spoke of writing, real-life horror, and unique curses.

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

MJP: Thank you for having me.

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

MJP: I think that would be around four. I’m not sure how I heard about Frankenstein and Dracula, just as long as I’d been cognizant of my surroundings, I’ve gravitated toward everything horror and monster related. I loved the old horror comics and even sent away for the six-foot real life Frankenstein monster which turned out to be a poster. I joined the club early on.

NTK: Is Frankenstein’s Monster your favorite monster? What monster do you think is the scariest?

MJP: Frankenstein’s monster was definitely my favorite. Frankenstein was the first real book I tackled while reading as a preteen. I identified with these creatures in that they were outsiders, which at times I found myself in different peer groups. And how can you not love the monster? He is a metaphor for our failings and even today we don’t heed the message. Scariest monster for me would be the Devil himself. Raised in an Irish Catholic family, I have family members who really believe in Prince of Darkness. He’s most frightening for me, because he comes with a smile, and has haunted my dreams for over four decades.

NTK: What is your favorite horror film?

MJP: I would have to say that John Carpenter’s adaption of The Thing. I went to that movie in 1982 with a bunch of buddies in British Columbia. We lived out in the burbs and had a small cinema, so all five of us piled into a car and drove to Vancouver to see it. All the way there I listened to them harangue me, THIS BETTER BE GOOD. Three hours later we walked out in awe. John Carpenter’s masterpiece of psychological terror. Kurt Russel’s finest hour. 

NTK:  What is your favorite horror TV show?

MJP: Now I am going to date myself. I still love Kolchak: The Night Stalker. And all the kids are saying, “Who?” To which I reply, “Greatest creature a week show ever!” They had robots, vampires, Wendigos and how could you not love Darren McGavin as Kolchak, in his cheap straw newsman hat, slightly off white suit and sneakers. It was a great show, but I was sucker for them all, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, even then there was so much great writing.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

MJP: My favorite horror novel is the apocalyptic Swan Song by the brilliant, Robert R. McCammon. It was the second novel, I discovered by this author, who I think is a rare gem in the world of horror. McCammon tells a different version of the apocalypse, substituting nuclear holocaust for Pandemic and I think that resonated with me more that King’s The Stand, which I also loved but not as much. Sorry, Steve.

NTK: (Laughs.) Is McCammon your favorite author? Which author has influenced you most?

MJP: I’m what they call a reader with a wandering eye. I’d say at the moment John Sandford is my favorite author, but McCammon would be my favorite horror author, because he’s a southern boy with a big imagination that include anything from three-arm mutant P.I.s to Vampire Bikers. As to what author has influenced me most, I can’t say that any one writer has influenced me. Every book I read leaves some sort of an impression and I’d need a long list to fill that order. King, McCammon, Sandford, Steel, Connelly, Shelley, Stoker, etc. They all influence me.

NTK: What inspires you to write?

MJP: It’s a sickness really. I am a voyeur of sorts. You won’t catch me peeking in people’s windows at night, because I can’t run worth a spit. I kid… I think writers are at their core, voyeurs of this nutty world that surrounds us. I will study the faintest smile or grimace in a stranger and store it somewhere in the filing cabinet in the back of my mind for later use. Does that sound pompous? Okay. Here’s what inspires me. A simple question. “What if?”

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you allow your characters free will? Or do you plan their every move?

MJP: You mean I get a say? Up until recent publication of The Highwayman Series, I never wrote a recurring character and therefore never got comfortable with where they were going until we got there. I don’t outline, I write by the seat of my pants and when I take on a project I just keep going until it’s over. I don’t preplan anything, which can be frustrating, but a bonus of that is this: I get to be the first one at the scene of the crime and it is as new to me as it will be to you. And that’s cool.

NTK: That is cool! Do you have a favorite character among those you’ve written?

MJP: Yeah, I probably got fifteen, but I’ll narrow it down. The Equinox – Old Jake Toomey, Chocktee Elder, Veteran, scare of nothing. Acadia Event – Big Garney Wilson, based a real character from my Ice Trucking Days. The Highwayman Series Book 1 & 2. Detective Lonnie Perkins. (Perk) A skinny drink of water from Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll leave it there or I will go on all night and there will be restraining orders. (Laughs.)

NTK: Did any of your real life experiences make it into your books?

MJP: Well, my second book, Acadia Event was largely autobiographical minus the Irish gangsters and bone eating aliens. I drove the north as an ice trucker just south of the arctic circle for three seasons. Everything I saw there, twisting curtains of the northern lights to a giant white wolf stalking the tundra found its way into Acadia Event. My fears and trepidation about driving a loaded fuel truck up some of the most dangerous roads in the world went into the book. Protagonist, Marty Croft, is pretty much me, when he’s not being muscled by gangsters or saving the world from bone eating aliens. Lucky Bastard.

NTK: Any strange stories from your years as a soldier?

MJP: I think there has always been a soldier’s presence. In Equinox, one of the local cops, nicknamed Oddball, is an Afghanistan Veteran. In Acadia Event, two central characters are soldiers and some of the story reaches back to those days. Even in Highwayman, there is a soldier. My family has served in the military all the way back to my Irish roots in the 1200’s. My great-great-great (not sure how many greats) grandfather was Jenico Preston. Check Wiki. He put down the Irish Rebellion. My son is a soldier, my nephew was, my brother. My family has always served. Someday, I hope that service is no longer needed, and peace becomes achievable. So, yeah, they get the nod, and experiences always find their way in whether through personal reflection or other sources.

NTK: What is your favorite curse word?

MJP: Favorite curse word? Hmmm. I was a soldier for 12 years, drove a truck for over 20 years. Somewhere in that cesspool of poetry, I’ve been threatened with someone using my eye socket as device of sexual pleasure. I’ve been told where the best part of me ran down. I’ve heard stuff that would make truckers cringe. My favorite curse word is the one that starts a fight. But I’m a grandfather, so I’ll keep it clean, and besides, I got nothing left for the swear jar. If that isn’t good enough read my books. But honest, I’m outta dough.

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

MJP: Well the curse of Wendigo sickness is a favorite. Wendigo sickness or madness comes upon a people when they indulge in the practice of cannibalism. The stories from the indigenous people of North America are absolutely enthralling. Roughly 35 miles from where I am giving this interview, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, a native guide and trapper named Swift Runner was hung in the late 1800’s after he butchered his entire family and ate them. His defense was Wendigo madness. Stories like this inspired my first novel, The Equinox and another horror story called “Black Mountain Harvest.”

NTK: That’s awesome! What does the future hold for you, MJ? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

MJP: A new Highwayman book will be coming. After that, I’m going back and writing a juicy horror novel chock full of monsters. Titles are TBA. Whether I’m writing about mythical monsters, invading aliens or the most terrifying monsters of all, serial killers, I will always be immersed in the darkness. Its where all the cool readers and writers and filmmakers hang.

NTK: MJ, you’re a really fun interview. Thank you for chatting with me.

MJP: Thank you for having me.

Addicts, you can find MJ on Facebook and Twitter.

Chilling Chat Special: Nancy Kilpatrick

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Award-winning author Nancy Kilpatrick has published 22 novels, over 220 short stories, seven story collections, and has edited 15 anthologies, plus graphic novels and one non-Nancy Kilpatrick 1fiction book.

She is a wonderful lady and a legendary writer. We spoke of her new book, audio narration, and Dracula.

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

NK: My pleasure!

NTK: Nancy, you’ve been busy since last we spoke. Can you tell the Addicts about your new book?

NK: Yes, of course. There two new novels. One is Book Six in Thrones of Blood. Book Six should be the end of the series, although originally I’d viewed it as a seven-book series. There are things I need to tie up so I’ll see how it goes. The other book is a sci-fi/Horror novel and I’m close to the end and have been for some time now. It’s absolutely frustrating working in the real world with a fantastical story because this one is partially set in space and every bloody day, things up there change so I have to change the story to coincide with what is actually known. Still, I’m on it! Aside from that, I’ve recently revised and updated my Power of the Blood series and it’s now out fresh and new in eBook. That was enjoyable to do. It led to me doing some audio readings for that series and two novellas.

NTK: How did you like recording audio? Was it easy or difficult for you?

NK: VERY difficult. I hate reading my own work, or I should use the past tense because I’ve changed a bit. I haven’t done live readings at events for maybe fifteen years. I never feel as if I can convey the reality of the stories that live inside me in a way that gets that across orally. I began with a little piece to test myself with the audio. I wrote, “Black Knight Blue Queen,” and kind of dark fantasy and recorded it under ten minutes. It took forever to do that. It’s not the best but I did get better. Then I tackled the two novellas Vampyre Theatre and Wild Hunt. They are about two-three minutes each. Again, a lot of reading aloud and then recording and re-recording. Finally, I did the four books in the Power of the Blood series and again, maybe twenty readings aloud for each book and ten recordings for each until I felt okay about them. Those are two-three minutes each but for Book Four which is 3.5 minutes because I wanted the entire scene in. Now I’m tackling the five existing books in the Thrones of Blood series. Again, hoping for two-three minutes each. We shall see. But, I have become fond of the process. I can’t say I love it when I screw up reading or slur words or my throat gets so dry the words come out as if from a hell demon instead of a human being. But, there’s something I like about this process so I’m continuing, imperfectly. All of the readings are on my website.

NTK: If you could have anyone record the reading for you, who would it be?

NK: I’ve never thought about someone recording my work. I have four audiobooks out that the publisher did through Audible. Four different actors read. Some I like better than others but they’re all good. And in truth, I don’t listen to audiobooks. I always think of those as something you’d listen to in a car.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror actor?

NK: I don’t know that I have one favorite. I like Julian Sands from the past in films, like, Boxing Helena and Gothic and Tale of a Vampire and others. I loved Alan Rickman in several films. I like Claes Bang in the BBC Dracula. Tom Hiddleston in Highrise, Crimson Peak, Only Lovers Left Alive. And I’ve liked Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd and Edward Scissorhands and others. It’s kind of like that. It depends on the film.

Of course, when you say ‘actor’ you probably mean male and female and etc. I have female actresses I like. Barbara Steele, for example. Nicole Kidman has done some good ghost films. Eva Green is a favorite in Penny Dreadful (the original series) and movies. Ingrid Pitt, but of course she’s gone.

NTK: You’ve written several books about vampires. What makes them so interesting to you?

NK: The vampire is eternally fascinating. They are perhaps the closest of the supernaturals to humans. They were human. I know a lot of people like werewolves and I guess the concept is interesting. But I also guess I haven’t known many or any men or women who become animal-like so it’s hard for me to get that Jekyll/Hyde change on the full moon. Vampires, you can play around with a lot because you can manipulate the supernatural elements and make them current. Wolves, not so much. The vampire has a lot of intriguing traits, from extended lifetime, power, sexual appeal, and they only put on a pretense when they want something and then quickly revert to their real state or even personality when they get what they want. They are dangerous and finding a way to write about them that keeps them dangerous is fun. I hate stories where the vampire is dispatched easily. That’s such a letdown. They are also, usually, attractive these days and not the hideous resuscitated corpses of the past—we leave that to zombies now, the brain-dead flesh eaters. That’s another aspect, the super attractive creature that can mesmerize you. Charmed to death.

NTK: Your Thrones of Blood series was optioned for TV and film. Any word on how that is going and has the Corona Pandemic affected it?

NK: Well, since people aren’t meeting more than 6-feet from one another, no movies are happening, or at least few are and it must be hard to shoot a film these days. Hopefully, that will change. So no, nothing yet. I hope COVID won’t run too long. Makes a lot of things hard.

NTK: Have you seen the new Netflix version of Dracula? If so, what did you think of it?

NK: I love it. I know it’s contentious, even on HorrorAddicts! I’ve watched it four times because I think it’s brilliant and everything in it hangs together. I know there are people who are purists and want to see a movie that replicates a book. I think that rarely happens. Dracula has been adapted hundreds of times to film and personally, I find the BBC version refreshing. I love, for example, that Episode One tackles Harker in the religious hospital. That’s skimmed over in the book in a sentence of two. I also like the action in Episode Two on the Demeter. Again, not in the book, just referred to as the ship that hit the rocks with the captain dead and tied to the wheel. I thought that was a clever approach. I also liked—and I have to say Episode Three was a little difficult the first time I saw it but since I’ve watched the BBC Dracula so much now, I ‘ve come really enjoy Episode Three. I know people who know Moffat and Gattis, who think they were too clever by half. But, I don’t care. I think it’s brilliant, including the casting. Bang makes a multi-faceted Dracula and Wells is so good in the dual roles she plays, with wonderful lines and so perfectly delivered, I now want to see both of those actors in other roles. It’s in my favorites list of Dracula films.

I think with Gattiss and Moffat you’re going to get creative. Anyone who has watched Sherlock should not be shocked or surprised by Dracula. That’s what those two guys do best. You either like their style or you don’t.

NTK: Who are your favorite Draculas? What actors have played him best?

NK: My Favorite Actors who have played Dracula. I may or may not like the film or TV show but I like how the actor plays the role of Dracula. In Alphabetical order: Bela Lugosi, Christoper Lee, Claes Bang, Frank Langella, Gary Oldman, Gerard Butler, Jack Palance, John Carradine, Keith-Lee Castle, Klaus Kinski, Louis Jordan, Luke Evans, Max Schreck, Rutger Hauer, Udo Kier, and William Marshall.

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

NK: Curse? Well, as someone with a black cloud over her head, I tend to think of a curse as something one has to work though in life.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse word?

NK: Fuck. Said three times when facing a mirror.

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

NK: Definitely Book Six in Thrones of Blood: Imperliment of the Hybrids. Also, I really want to finish the Sci-Fi/Horror book. It’s one of those stories that can be seen either way. Like the movie Alien and it’s sequels. But it’s not that story or even like that. It’s the idea that it is seen as Sci-Fi by some and Horror by others, depending on your view. That’s what I’m going for.

Oh, and more audio readings!

Short fiction-wise, I have an original story called “Trogs” in Apostles of the Weird, edited by S.T. Joshi for PS Publications and that will likely be in paperback from a different publisher. I’m in The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors 2 with my original story “The Promise.” And I have a story in Lovecraft Mythos called “Always a Castle?” coming out soon from Flametree Publishing.. There are others, but that should do it for now.

NTK: Thank you so much for chatting with me Nancy, you’re a wonderful guest, as always!

NK: You’re kind. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Naching. I appreciate it.

Addicts, you can find Nancy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogspot.

Chilling Chat: Episode #185 – Kathrin Hutson

chillingchat

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating Kathrin Hutsoncircumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends. Kathrin is an active member of SFWA and HWA and lives in Colorado with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. 

Kathrin is a lady of incredible strength and humor. We discussed characters, inner demons, and real-life horror.

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

KH: Thanks for having me, Naching!

NTK: How old were you when you became interested in the darker side of things?

KH: I was ten. It probably started before that, but I’m not sure I can remember much before then.

NTK: What got you interested?

KH: I think the interest first came about as a way to process and orient myself within some fairly heavy changes in my life at the time. When I started reading and writing dark fiction and horror, my parents were going through a divorce that… well, we’ll just say it wasn’t exactly pretty. I’d just moved up to a log cabin in Pine Junction, Colorado, which was where my dad lived for years after that. I was isolated from friends (the few I had) and far removed from school and really any other kids. I don’t know if I can say exactly why, but going through my own darkness and “ten-year-old horror” made me turn not to the happier, fluffier side of fiction but to the complete opposite. I also went to a Catholic elementary school at the time, which also wasn’t very pretty. And I managed to sneak It by Stephen King into the school in my backpack and read that thing every chance I got.

I think it was more of an escape from my own life at the time and all the things I didn’t want to think about as a ten-year-old. A lot of the time, reading dark fiction and horror makes the scariest parts of real-life seem pretty okay in comparison.

NTK: Is Stephen King your favorite author? Who has influenced you in your writing?

KH: He is definitely on my list of favorites. Come on, it’s impossible to just pick one, right? His Dark Tower series is definitely my all-time favorite series. It would have to be since I’m reading it through for the 10th time right now. And I can definitely admit that his writing has seriously influenced my own. Beyond Stephen King, I’ve gotten a lot of influence (content more than style) from H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, and Jacqueline Carey. I definitely include those authors on my favorites list as well.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

KH: When I’m thinking about my “favorite” horror novels, I end up going straight for the ones that creeped me out the most! Which, oddly enough, are books that I’ve then set aside and said, “Okay, I made it through. What a ride! Probably won’t pick that one up again.” The first favorite in that regard – and still a favorite horror novel all around, if we’re not mashing genres – would probably still be It. And coming in at a close second is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. That one made me feel so gross when I finished it – in the best way, of course – that I considered giving it away immediately lol! Yet it remains on my bookshelf. Maybe I’ll work my way up to revisiting it one day. Who knows? I also really, really loved Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, which I know is a lot different than either of the others. That book was definitely my first foray into psychological horror where I actually very much rooted for the main character, despite him being the “horror”. The same thing goes for You by Caroline Kepnes. Yes, I read it before it became a show. No, I haven’t seen the show. But I love an author’s ability to show the insanely dark side of a main character, of a villain, and make the reader enjoy, appreciate, and feel empathy for them even when knowing how awful they are. That’s also something I try to emulate in my own work with morally gray – or completely blacked-out – characters of my own.

See? It’s way too hard to just pick one!

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

KH: For the longest time, my favorite horror movie was The Ring. I saw that when I was ten or eleven. I remember walking around the gym during PE class and trying to tell my best friend about it. I got goosebumps, and my eyes started watering, and I just couldn’t shut up about it. Which I’m sure she really appreciated…

I honestly don’t watch horror movies – or movies in general – nearly as much as I read. But more recently, I really fell in love with this year’s remake of Invisible Man. Thankfully, I watched it at home with my husband, because I was shouting so loud at the screen that the movie theater would’ve been an awful experience for everyone else around me. That might take the prize for favorite horror movie. I thought it was fantastic.

NTK: (Laughs.)  Do you have a favorite television show?

KH: Oh, yeah! Come to think of it, I actually do watch way more shows than movies. Maybe it’s the 45-50 minutes that I can handle one at a time and still have more to look forward to!

I just finished watching the Netflix Original Dark. Oooohhh. That was incredible. Very creepy and dark and nihilistic in so many ways. And right up there with it is Amazon’s War of the Worlds. I know that’s more commonly considered Sci-Fi, but it has a lot of horror elements too. And then, of course, because I’m also a huge fan of Dark Fantasy – and I mean Grimdark dark bordering on Horror, or maybe just Horror in fantasy worlds – Netflix’s Witcher just got me on every level. I’ve read those books as well and played the videogames and I binge-watched that series like I haven’t watched anything in a very long time.

I also have to give props to Castle Rock and The Outsider. Stephen King’s just hard to get away from, right? By why would you want to? 

NTK: Indeed! (Laughs.) What inspires you? And what inspired you to write Sleepwater Beat and the series it originates from?

KH: What inspires me? A little bit of everything. Not really an answer though, right? I just love the places that dark fiction allows me to explore – or enjoy when I’m reading and watching shows. There’s that sense of taboo, of wondering how far I can really go in putting vivid characters first, fantastic story second, and then all the horror, despair, blood and gore, surprise, and chaos I can fit into one book. It’s a balancing act, which is super fun.

I guess I can say I’m inspired to write into such dark places by the fact that I’ve lived through my fair share of them personally. My parents’ divorce was just the start, but it eventually stretched down a long road that can to a head with heroin addiction and almost not making it out of that one. I know what it’s like to struggle with internal demons. I know what hopelessness and terror feel like on a very real level. And I draw from that in everything I write, no matter what level of horror the story contains. It’s usually quite a bit

The Blue Helix series, Sleepwater Beat and Sleepwater Static so far – there will be more – came from a desire to expose some of the darker, less-explored, marginalized communities in our world through a fictional lens and a noir, Dystopian flavor. That’s especially important with Dystopian Sci-Fi as a genre, and this series went to a place I never expected when both books released with incredibly eerie timeliness – when our reality was already so closely reflecting what I’d written months beforehand in each book. And these books are only set 11 years in the future! I can’t take credit for what happens in our real-world But I wanted to shed light on the fears, struggles, pain, and injustices faced by so many marginalized communities, hopefully, to open up more discussion about these things. In a way, I’m writing about what may seem “scary” to others in order to show that it isn’t actually as scary as they may think. At least not in the way they think it is.

And there’s plenty of psychological horror in this series, fistfights, explosions, creepy interactions, and chaos. My favorite combo 

NTK: It’s amazing how those things formed and shaped you and your writing. Since your stories are character-driven, do you allow your characters free will? Or do you plan their every move?

KH: (Laughs.) I’ve given up on trying to plan my own every move. My characters wouldn’t make it very far if I tried to hold them in an iron grip. They have as much free will as I can offer them while keeping on the general path of the story. Sometimes they learn their lessons quickly. Other times, I have to bash them over the head repeatedly. And even then, it takes a lot for them to climb back out of the pits I throw them into. Some of them never do. Or they make it out again and are completely changed, not always for the better. My characters are always surprising me, and that’s part of the fun. I rarely outline books, and even then, it’s a loose few thousand words from beginning to end. I definitely don’t sketch out my characters before I write them. That’s just my own best method for letting them grow organically, and it keeps things interesting. I get bored fairly easily if I already know exactly what’s going to happen.

NTK: You’ve talked about many of the real-life horrors which have shaped your life. Do you believe in curses? And if so, which is your favorite?

KH: That’s definitely one of the coolest questions! As far as whether or not I believe in curses, I’ll say that the only curses we truly live through are the ones we cast on ourselves. Knowingly or unknowingly. Just like with any curse, it takes a lot of work and dedication to “remove” said curse. I guess I’m living proof that it can be done.

And then that might be my favorite kind of curse to write or read/watch, too. The kind where the character’s greatest strength is also their greatest downfall. Where their own personal “hero” is also their “villain”. The scariest demons to face are the ones that have always been a part of us.

Okay, and there’s also Murphy’s Law lol! That feels like a curse, and when done the right way, it’s just so much fun.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse word?

KH: Fuck. Always and forever, FUCK.

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

KH: This is super exciting. I have at least one more book in the Blue Helix series coming down the pipeline. Book 3 will be a wild ride and probably the most violent out of all of them, if I’m being honest.

I’m also working on a new LGBTQ+ Dark Fantasy series, Vessel Broken, that is way darker and bloodier than any of my other fantasy to date with an insane occult influence. I’m aiming to have the first book, Imlach Fractured, out in November 2020, so there’s not much longer to wait. I’m so thrilled with this series, though. It’s brutal. I mean, the first chapter is a demonic ritual turned epic bloodbath, and everybody dies! Except for the main character. I swear that’s not a spoiler And I’m so excited to keep going deeper and darker and really let it take over with this series.

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

KH: Thanks so much for having me! This was a lot of fun.

Addicts, you can find Kathrin on Facebook, Twitter, Her Author Site, Her Author Facebook, and LinkedIn.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s Newsletter.

Chilling Chat: Episode #184 – Shannon Lawrence

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

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

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

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

“A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;

But were we burdened with light weight of pain,

As much or more we should ourselves complain.”

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

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

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

NTK: Are you a pantser or a plotter?  

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What inspired the story, “Dearest?” 

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

NTK: What’s your favorite cheesy horror comedy? 

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

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

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

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

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

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

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

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

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

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

SL: Thank you.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #183 – Jonathan Fortin

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

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

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

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

NTK: Do you have a favorite Victorian novel?

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

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

NTK: Do you have a favorite Victorian movie?

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

NTK: What inspired you to write Lilitu?

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What do you dislike most?

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

JF: Bollocks!

NTK: What’s your favorite curse?

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

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

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

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

JF: You’re welcome.

Addicts, you can find Jonathan on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Naching T. Kassa

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

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

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

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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

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

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

Are your characters based on real people?

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

What are you most afraid of?

Horrible things happening to those I love.

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

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

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

What’s the best part of editing an anthology?

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

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

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

What is your favorite form of divination?

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

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

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

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

Addicts, you can find Naching on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode #181 – Rob Bliss

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

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

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

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

NTK: What’s your favorite horror movie?

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

NTK: So, what are you most afraid of?

RB: Displeasing Mistress.

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

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

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel? 

RB: Necroscope by Brian Lumley.

NTK: Who is your favorite author?

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

NTK: What inspires you?

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

NTK: What inspired The Bride Stripped Bare? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

RB: Bumbaclot.

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

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

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

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Jeremy Megargee

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

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

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

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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

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

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

Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

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

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

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

What are you most afraid of?

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

What is your favorite form of divination? 

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

Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

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

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Alan Fisher

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

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

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

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie?

I can’t say I have a particular favorite.

Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

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

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

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

What are you most afraid of?

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

What is your favorite form of divination?

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

Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

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

 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Daphne Strasert

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

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

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

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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

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

Crimson Peak.

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

Are your characters based on real people?

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

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

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

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

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

What are you most afraid of?

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

What is your favorite form of divination?

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

Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

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

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

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Rie Sheridan Rose

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

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

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

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

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

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

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

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

Are your characters based on real people?

No.

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

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

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

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

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

What are you most afraid of?

I think probably dying alone. 

What is your favorite form of divination?

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

Who is your favorite horror author?

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

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

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

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

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