Kill Switch: An Overview

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During the early months of 2018, Emerian Rich and Dan Shaurette began brainstorming the theme of the next HorrorAddicts.net anthology. Dan approached Emz with an interesting idea. He wanted to create an anthology inspired by Tech Horror, something like the NETFLIX television show, Black Mirror. The prospect excited Emz. All they needed was a name.

They came up with several during the coming weeks. Everything from Glitched, to Future Dark to Kernel Panic to Digital Dread. Nothing clicked until January 19, 2018.

Dan: Kill Switch?

Emz: That’s it!

And, Kill Switch was born.

Dan chose the Vampire/Android cover and the submission call went out. Authors responded to the theme and the submissions began to roll in. Everything went smoothly until Father’s Day, 2018. That was the day Dan suffered a medical emergency. He would survive but he wouldn’t finish the anthology.

Emz was torn. She didn’t know whether to shelve the book or not. After weighing the pros and cons, a single thought came to her mind. What would Dan do? The answer was simple. He would press on.

That’s where I came into the picture. I’d joined HorrorAddicts.net as an interviewer, reviewer, and publishing assistant just a few months before. As Emz took over editing the anthology, I stepped in as Head of Publishing. We assembled a submissions team with Laura Perkins and J. Malcolm Stewart (followed later by Kate Nox and Cedar George) and went right to work.

A month passed as the team sifted through manuscripts looking for technical gems to fill the pages of the anthology. In the end, they decided on thirteen stories. The authors were notified and the anthology announced. Phase one was complete.

Several months of formatting and editing followed. We worked hard on every story, cutting and polishing the technical gems until they were perfect diamonds. At last, on May 9, Kill Switch was ready for the world.

And so, with pride and a deep sense of accomplishment, HorrorAddicts.net presents to you… 

KILL SWITCH

Edited by DAN SHAURETTE and EMERIAN RICH

With stories by:

DANA HAMMER / MOW-BOT

Mike’s new Mow-Bot is the answer to his weekend chore dreams until the neighbor’s cat disappears.

TIM O’NEAL / REMS

A doctor eager for publication and fame unethically tests a wound debridement technology with disastrous results.

NACHING T. KASSA / PHANTOM CALLER

An elderly woman enlists the aid of two repairmen when her pest elimination program goes haywire and begins attracting ghosts.

EMERIAN RICH / SOULTAKER 2.0

A game programmer in the final stages of launching a new version of the MMORPG “SoulTaker,” finds a bug even he can’t fix.

DAPHNE STRASERT / IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Daemon is willing to do whatever it takes to get the girl of his dreams and if his Iriz eye implant can help him do that, he doesn’t care what else it does.

GARTH VON BUCHHOLZ  / HAÜS

A five-year-old boy is left home alone while his parents travel overseas, but his smart-house will keep him safe, right?

JERRY J. DAVIS / TRAVELS

In a near future world where viewers are addicted to a television station featuring a hypnotically seductive sphere bouncing on an endless, surreal journey through unspoiled natural environments, Dodd is the only one who is “awake” enough to fight back.

GARRETT ROWLAN / GO GENTLY

In a future world where no one except fake grandparents live past the age of 65, Enid needs to land the job that will save her life, but a trip down memory lane may prove more difficult than she expects.

CHANTAL BOUDREAU / STRANGE MUSIC

An audio-sensitive college student is the only one who can hear the difference in a mechanical birdsong that attacks her little sister.

H.E. ROULO / ANGELS DON’T FEAR HEIGHTS

A man uses technology to control his daughter from beyond the grave, will she ever be free?

BILL DAVIDSON / INTELLIGENIE

A terminally ill woman discovers a frightening secret when she issues a deadly order to her personal robot.

LAUREL ANNE HILL / 13TH MAGGOT

A scientist working with bioengineered medical maggots fails to document her obvious erroneous observation, only to later realize her horrific mistake.

PHILLIP T. STEPHENS / SUBROUTINES

A computer programmer looking for his missing children in a legendary ghost house encounters a malevolent AI.

And, though I’ve stepped in as Head of Publishing, I could never fill Dan’s shoes. With much love, we dedicate this book to you, Dan. Thank you. We hope you enjoy it.

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Kill Switch Origins

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Addicts, have you ever wondered what inspires an author to write a horror story? What event sparked terror in a writer’s brain? Well, wonder no more. Some of our Kill Switch authors have been kind enough to provide us with a peek inside their twisted minds. We hope you enjoy these Kill Switch Origins.


Subroutines: Writing from the Scrap Heap of Memory

I checked through the drafts in my Ulysses app and discovered I wrote the original version of “Subroutines” for an online writers’ group two years ago. I believe the theme of passing through doorways. (The other writers’ doorways led to heaven.)

Most likely I was working on a second story or poem that involved code, and the link from entrapment to endless loop was a natural segue.

I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to write. I work with scraps and found images I drop into memory and then fish them out at random. Most of my stories begin with an image, dust motes dancing in sunlight, a woman’s hair spreading into the water, a spot of blood on a pillow. It doesn’t matter what image I retrieve, that’s the one I work with.

Once I find it, I fashion the image into a metaphor that represents character flaws, motivations or self-deception. The endless loop in subroutines is a metaphor for the patterns that define our lives. The loop traps us but escaping the loop derails us as often as it resets our course.

Once I fashion the metaphor, I turn it loose in the story’s garden to see where it crops up. Sometimes I get flowers, sometimes I get weeds, which is fine. Weeds and wildflowers cover my lawn (which pisses off the neighbors who like their yards neatly trimmed). I want my mind as messy as my yard.

~Phillip T. Stephens


As regards the origin of my story, “Go Gently,” honestly I can’t recall…it’s been years of rejections and rewrites…all I have is the memory of the preacher Gene Scott—I think that’s his name—asking for Kruggerands on his weekly message. He was the model for Dr. Jack Carl in my story.

~ Garrett Rowlan


My short story, “HAÜS,” was inspired by a discussion I had with a relative who installs digital security systems in homes, commercial buildings, and public facilities. I wondered, “How diabolical would it be to have an advanced security system so effective and deadly that even a small child who was ‘home alone’ for a while would be safe against armed Intruders?”

~ Garth von Buchholz


[“In the Eye of the Beholder”] I worked in the field of User Experience Design for a few years and saw a number of interesting design concepts for augmented reality. Combining the digital world with the real world has been technology’s inevitable direction for a while now. Considering how connected our lives are through social media, this combination is increasingly problematic. What is privacy in a world where everything goes online? What’s happens when our digital selves merge with our actual selves? And what happens when they start to take over?

~ Daphne Strasert


[“Soultaker 2.0”] I always liked the idea of a sinister power claiming parts of us as we play video games. There have been so many studies on how video game playing can affect our bodies and minds while playing. What if the effects were irreversible?

~ Emerian Rich


My story was inspired by a real invention. It’s a small white box which uses ultrasonic sound to repel pests (spiders, mice, etc.) from your residence. My husband and I bought these devices online. You just plug them into any outlet and switch them on.

After a while, (when the device no longer worked. I guess the mice grew accustomed to the sound) I began to wonder about these things. What if they could repel pests, but attracted something else to the house? The idea bumped around in my head until I heard about the Kill Switch submission call. Then the whole idea clicked into place and “Phantom Caller” was born.

~Naching T. Kassa

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 4 Quick Questions with Daphne Strasert, Emerian Rich, and Naching T. Kassa

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

 Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name Emmy 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 

Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror author. She resides in Eastern Washington State with her husband, Dan, their three children, and their dog. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.

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

DS: I like to listen to music while I write. I find that lyrics are good when I’m thinking emz1smallabout my stories, but when I actually write, I prefer instrumental music. Two Steps from Hell is a personal favorite.

ER: It varies depending on what I am writing. I try to find a genre or theme song for the character I am writing and play it when I’m writing an intense scene with them. If I am just writing, in general, it’s either 90’s Goth, big band Jazz, or 80’s.

NTK: I love to listen to KISS, Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Steppenwolf—anything from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One of my favorite and most inspirational CDs is music by Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann composed music for most of Alfred Hitchcock’s films and it’s terrific for writing horror.

2.) Where do you find inspiration?

DS: I find it helpful to look at art and design concepts. Pinterest has a great platform for artists to post fantasy, science fiction, and horror concept art. I keep several boards of inspirational images and quotes that relate to my stories.IMG_1979

ER: Everywhere. I used to think I had to go to a certain place or see a certain film to create, but really, I am always creating in my head whether my pen is to paper or not.

NTK:  Things just come to me. They just seem to slip through the door between my conscious and unconscious mind.

3.) What is your favorite piece of “Tech” horror?

DS: I really enjoyed Ex Machina. The intersection of technology and humanity has always fascinated me (I have degrees in computer science and psychology).

ER: I really enjoyed some of the Black Mirror episodes. My favorites were about tech that we are just around the corner from like “Fifteen Million Merits” and “Nosedive.”

NTK: Ok. People may disagree with this, but it was scary to me. My favorite piece of “Tech Horror” is the movie, WarGames starring Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman. A young guy accidentally hacking into a military computer and initiating WW III? It was really frightening, especially when you’re growing up in the shadow of nuclear war.

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

DS: I’m currently working on my second novel, a mystery, that I will be submitting the KSCoverSmallagents and publishers later this year.

ER: Wow. Do any of us know? I hope I will keep writing and become a better writer as I go–which is always my goal. I could wish for cloning to become a thing so that I could be more than one person and write all the millions of ideas in my head, but I’m sure it would inevitably go bad and the world would be overrun by Emz. Now, THAT would be a horror story.

NTK: I have a short story coming out in the anthology, Dark Transitions, published by Thirteen O’clock Press. I’m Editing Dark Divinations for HorrorAddicts.net, and I have a story in a big anthology I’ve been trying to get into for several years. I just about fainted when I found out I was accepted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) What inspired your piece?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Naching on Facebook and Twitter.

Jess can be found on Facebook.

Campfire Tales, How “Cabin Twelve” was Born

“Cabin Twelve” wasn’t the first story that I wrote for the NGHW Campfire Tales challenge. I started with an entirely different concept about a lake monster that lured victims into the deep using the reanimated bodies of its previous kills. While I still think there is a good story lurking in there somewhere, no matter how many iterations I went through, it never felt right for the challenge that had been set. I wanted to end my story by giving the reader a sense of danger, as if their fate could be the next one told in hushed voices around the fire.

In the end, I scrapped that text (not really, never really—I save everything) and went back to what I knew best. Horror writing allows me to confront my own fears from real life in a safe, secure environment. I drew on my own experiences as a camp counselor to write “Cabin Twelve.”

There are stories more horrifying than those told around the fire to scare the kids. Counselors really don’t tell the campers about the real dangers: drowning, injury, exposure, loss. We want to frighten them, but only with things in the realm of the impossible. The true horror stories of camp are those of children’s lives cut short. As a counselor, my biggest fear was for the safety of the children under my care. I wanted to bring that out of the shadows in “Cabin Twelve.”

Campfire stories always have an element of the unexplained, a bump in the night, a monster that comes from shadows, things that should be dead, but persist. This spurred the idea of featuring the children that had died at camp through the years but somehow stick around. Once I had a group of children, I loved the idea of them all staying in a ghostly cabin just like the other campers.

I fell in love with the kids from “Cabin Twelve.” I want to work with them more, show more of their story. I think they lend themselves to a horror/comedy setting. Maybe I’ll write a series of short fiction that follows these strange, grim children through their immortal childhoods.


Horror Bites:
Campfire Tales
New Reading
Only .99 cents!

 

Dear Reader,

You’ve been invited to a very special night of Campfire Tales, hosted by HorrorAddicts.net. Meet us at Old Bear Creek, just past Dead Man’s Curve. Dress warm. We’ll be waiting.

Four scary tales told by Next Great Horror Writer finalists and woven together by a trek through the woods you’ll never forget.

“Cabin Twelve” by Daphne Strasert
When a camp counselor goes on patrol, she finds an extra cabin in the woods that no one knows about…or do they?

“The Face” by Naching T. Kassa
An ailing mother and her daughter are terrorized by a disembodied face.

“When the Wind Leaves a Whisper” by Jess Landry
Girl Scouts in the 40s experience a frightening occurrence in the woods.

“Goose Meadows” by Harry Husbands
Two friends out drinking at night discover the real horrors of Goose Meadows.

Chilling Chat with Daphne Strasert

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

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

Daphne is an intelligent and erudite woman. We spoke of writing, psychology, and college courses on monsters.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Daphne! Thank you for chatting with me today.

DS: Of course. I’m glad to be here

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: Wow! How did this process lead to your story, “Cabin 12,” from Campfire Tales?

campfiretalesfinalDS: Well, I was a camp counselor for my first job! And honestly, nothing is quite as terrifying as being a camp counselor for all eternity (Laughs.) Patrolling at camp is routine, but everything that happens after that in the story takes things another step darker. Finding something forgotten, being trapped, being assaulted, with a dash of the unexpected—that pulls together a good tale. Add into this that the kids from Cabin Twelve aren’t bad, per se, just lonely, and the story is both frightening and somewhat realistic.

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

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

NTK: What kind of control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will? Or, being part of your personal experience, do you have complete control over their actions?

DS: I’ve always been flummoxed by writers who say their characters ran away with them. I don’t feel as if my characters have control over their own narratives. They certainly don’t always get what they want. But all of my characters are grown from a single kernel of inspiration. Everything else about them has been built around that to make them into a three-dimensional human being/vampire/werewolf/etc. So, while I don’t force them into anything, none of their actions ever come as a surprise. If they did, then something about the character didn’t add up. I didn’t understand them correctly. My characters are under my control in that I control their personality and inclinations. If they wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do, then I need to make a different character.

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

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

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

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

NTK: Do you think monsters are manifestations of the psyche (i.e. vampires are narcissists)? What monster is your favorite?

DS: Monsters show both what we fear and what we desire—and often what we’re afraid to say we desire. Vampires, specifically, seem to be a manifestation of the human desire for immortality and youth, while expressing the fears we have regarding death and the idea that maybe the dead won’t stay that way. It can depend on whether you fear what the monster will do to you or if you desire to BE the monster. My favorite monster is the Werewolf. Werewolves are portrayed in so many different ways, it’s difficult to pin down what exactly I like about them, but I think that they are overall such a tragic creature. More than other monsters, I think they embody the human struggle with our darker selves.

NTK: What author has influenced you most? What is your favorite book?

DS: Christine Feehan has written an incredible paranormal romance series about vampires that I’ve followed for more than a decade. Despite the romance tag, it was the closest that I came to horror for most of my life. She created an intricate world that was well researched and based on Bram Stoker’s mythology. In my own stories, there really is no escaping her influence, even if I don’t write erotica. She wrote incredible, deep characters and never skipped the flaws that made them real. My favorite book is usually whichever I most recently finished reading (Laughs.), but for staying power, Jane Eyre ranks at the top. I would categorize it as gothic romance, so it includes that whisper of ghosts and monsters that kept me engaged.

NTK: What TV shows keep you engaged?

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

NTK: Let’s talk about the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. You won the PostcardsfromtheVoid.PNGCampfire Tales Challenge with “Cabin 12” as well as several other challenges. What was your overall experience?

DS: The Next Great Horror Writer Contest was such a whirlwind. That was the first public experience I had as a writer. So often, writers don’t get any feedback on their work aside from a lukewarm rejection letter here or there, so getting consistent, in-depth feedback was a wonderful thing. The deadlines forced me to produce more than I’d ever made before. I was fortunate to be able to pitch my novel to Crystal Lake Publishing as a finalist. Even though I didn’t win—Congratulations, Jonathan!—I was so grateful to be able to hear someone seriously consider it.

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

DS: I’ve had several short stories published this year, including through HorrorAddicts.net. I also appeared in the Texas Emerging Authors anthology by Z Publishing. One of my pieces appeared in Postcards from the Void, an anthology by Dark Water Syndicate. It went on sale at the end of September.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Daphne.

DS: Thanks, Naching!

 

Chilling Chat Episode 154 Crescendo of Darkness with Emerian Rich

Emerian Rich is the author of the Night’s Knights Vampire Series. She’s been included in many short story anthologies and also writes romance under Emmy Z. Madrigal. She is the horror hostess of HorrorAddicts.net and Editorial Director for the San Francisco Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. Find out more about Emerian at: http://www.emzbox.com

Our lovely horror hostess is a real scream. She took time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about Crescendo of Darkness, editing and publishing, and the new HorrorAddicts.net submission call.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Emz. Thank you for chatting with me.

ER: I am so excited to be on here. I never get to chat with you except about HorrorAddicts.net business.

NTK: Crescendo of Darkness is the eighth book in the HorrorAddicts.net series of anthologies. How did it come about?emz1small

ER: I had been thinking about doing a music-themed horror anthology for a while. I had read A. Craig Newman’s “Circe’s Music Shop” back in the 90s—Yes! The 90s!—as part of a crit group I was part of online. The story stuck with me. I just loved it. So when Jeremiah Donaldson E-mailed me to say he wanted to do a music anthology, I said, “Yes! Under one condition…We have to have this guy’s story in the book.”

NTK: So, “Circe’s Music Shop” set the bar for the anthology?

ER: Yes, in a way. However, Jeremiah has a much different view of music than I do. He knows more about guitar/rock and you will see that a lot of the stories go down that road. For me, music is more melodic and dramatic. My favorite stories in the anthology are the ones that put off a spookier piano-y vibe. I think we got a really nice mix because we were both reviewing them.

NTK: Did you look for stories to surround “Circe’s Music shop?” What was your criteria for the stories you chose?

ER: We did not look for stories that fit with A. Craig’s. He might have put the idea in my head but, when we were reading, we just graded them by how much they moved, scared, or touched us. We were open to all interpretations. HorrorAddicts.net Press has a system for populating our anthologies. We have a team of four readers. The Editor, me, and two others from staff. We all read and grade. Whichever stories get the top grades, we publish. The Editor has veto power and can fight for one if it’s not in the top of the list but, mostly, the highest graded ones (meaning the ones that all of us enjoyed) are the ones that ultimately get into the book. Except yours, which won an award when graded by pros. Congratulations, by the way.

NTK: Thank you! “Audition” was a fun story to write for the Next Great Horror Writer Contest and I’m so honored to be included in Crescendo. We have another NGHW finalist included in the anthology. What attracted you to Daphne Strasert’s story?

ER: Well, as you know, we were only allowed to publish one story from the competition, that being yours, which we felt was the best out of the group. However, we allowed the other contestants to submit something else. When Daphne’s new one came in, I was happy to see it, because she is also a great writer. We graded hers just as all the others and she rang in to the top grades as well. I can’t speak for the others on the submission team, but for me, not only was Daphne’s so different from the others—starring a music box, not an instrument—but it’s also a really creepy story. Daphne’s voice is so fresh and contemporary. I could see this story being made into a movie like The Ring.

NTK: There are fourteen authors included in the anthology and you have a wonderful variety of stories. Can you give us a quick run-down of what the reader can expect to see within these pages?

ER: First, we have a good number of guitar-based stories. Your story, “Audition,” “Circe’s Music Shop” by A. Craig Newman, “Loved to Death,” by Sam Morgan Phillips, “While My Guitar Gently Bleeds,” by Benjamin Langley, “Six String Bullets,” by Cara Fox, and “A Whisper in the Air,” by Jeremiah Donaldson really reflect the cover. Then, we have piano themes in “Solomon’s Piano,” by Jeremy Megargee and “They Don’t Make Music Like That Anymore,” by Kahramanah. There are cursed objects like Daphne Strasert’s, “The Music Box,” and Sarah Gribble’s, “The Legend of Crimson Ivory.” “Lighthouse Lamentation,” by R.A. Goli involves a haunted lighthouse, while Calvin Demmer’s, “Keep the Beat,” is about a cursed village. H.E. Roulo’s, “Become the Music,” is about a child who is allergic to music and my story, “Last Lullaby,” is a re-imagining of the Phantom of the Opera tale.

NTK: Emz, as I mentioned before, this is HorrorAddicts.net’s eighth anthology. What made you become an editor and publisher?

ER: I’m not sure when I fell into all this. When I was in my 20s, I had a local ‘zine called Dark Lives. I would publish horror/goth authors and artists. In the early 2000s, I decided I better stop and get to work on my own novels. When I started HorrorAddicts.net as a podcast, I never even dreamed it would be what it is today. As you know, we are populated by fans and the staff that come to help spread the horror goodness. We became a blog and a site and a lifestyle for so many craving horror that publishing just seemed like a natural progression. Also, I love reading horror and I read so much by authors that haven’t been published before that I’m like…THIS is the stuff I want to read. But if no one is publishing it, then it can’t be enjoyed by other horror enthusiasts like me. I’m really interested in publishing things I like that may not fit the mainstream publishing system. Cool things I haven’t heard before. New ideas that aren’t the same rehashed formula we get in industry anthologies.

NTK: So, what is your favorite kind of horror? What movies, novels, and TV shows do you enjoy?

ER: I like classic horror. By classic, I don’t mean I always have to crouch by the light of the black and white set, straining my eyes to make out the grays of the darkly lit forest, I mean what we think of as classically spooky. The shutters banging, the ghost in the tower, the creaking doors, and melodramatic music. The Woman in Black, The Others, and Ghost Ship are some of my favorites. For TV, I am more into humorous horror themes like Reaper and Dead Like Me. But, I’m also a fan of shows like Ghost Whisperer, The Others (TV show from the 90s), and Midnight Texas. Reading is a whole different story. I really like Anne Rice and Andre Neiderman. My favorites of those two are Anne’s Pandora and Andrew’s Bloodchild. But, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to just sit and read for fun, it’s hard to pin any new author’s down. I am either reading shorts for anthologies reviewing a book for the show, or working on my own stuff. Oh, for the days of laying in bed or on the porch swing and reading! I want all those bored hours from my childhood back!

NTK: Do you write classic horror? Do your books and stories fit in that category?

ER: Now, that is something I haven’t been called on! Wow. I never thought about that. I have written a book like that, Artistic License. A woman inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. My vampire work would probably be considered more like dark urban fantasy. Gritty, street kids, and Hell kind of stuff. However, now that you mention it. I think my love of classic horror is really coming out in my work in progress. I am re-imagining Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in modern times. The heroine is now a goth girl who adores horror media. So, I’ve been injecting lines from movies, excerpts from classic books like The Grey Lady by Elizabeth Gaskell, and Witch House by Evangeline Walton, and even creating a little myself when seeing through the character’s eyes. Jane Austen is thought of as a romance writer but, this book (while it does have romance in it) is more like a love letter to all my favorite horror creators.

NTK: As you know, Emz, Season 13 is CURSED! We’ve talked about your favorite horror, what is your favorite curse?

ER: This is so tough! Omg…so many to choose from! Well, I can’t give you just one. I really like studying the curses surrounding the Titanic. I think it’s fascinating and just can’t get enough of the conspiracy theories there. I really like the Egyptian and mummy lore and the scarab devouring thing creeps me the hell out. But the coolest curses, I think, are the book curses. The ones we’ll be talking about later in the season about the books that have curses written inside them…“Those who lay their eyes upon this manuscript and have not pure intentions, shall be struck down by their maker,” kind of stuff. I had something happen to me in real life where I witnessed someone unable to read or decipher a book. It was a magick book that had an inscription in it about if the person didn’t believe or wasn’t pure of heart, they would not be able to read it. I could read every word as plain as day but, she was like…“What does it say? Is it some sort of code?” Really made an impact on how I consider book curses today. If that could work, why wouldn’t a curse in a book work?

NTK: What awesome curses! And, speaking of books, HorrorAddicts.net has a new submission call coming up. Could you tell us a little about Kill Switch and what you’re looking for?

ER: Yes, Kill Switch is Dan Shaurette’s brainchild. I will be looking for interesting, new, Black Mirror-like stories. I think Dan will have a more sci-fi accepting view, but they all must be horror, so I’m looking forward to reading some really great things. Tech horror is so interesting because we are living in an age where things like implanted chips and bionics are so close to us. Tech is going so fast and it’s not even the future anymore. It’s NEAR future. How will your tech terrorize the world?

Something new we are trying is a blind submission process. We will be grading stories before we know who wrote them. I’m interested to see how that turns out.

NTK: What does the future hold for you, Emz? What do we have to look forward to?

ER: Wow…you do ask the hard questions huh?

My goal is to keep writing and publishing unique and exciting horror with new ideas that we can all geek out on. Also, I plan to continue to support new horror writers and get their voices heard.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Emz! It’s nice to talk to the lady behind the scenes of our favorite podcast and blog.

ER: Thank you for the interview! It’s rare that I get to be on the other side of the couch!

Crescendo of Darkness is available for purchase now. The submission call for Kill Switch ends on October 31, 2018.