Chilling Chat: Episode #185 – Kathrin Hutson

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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.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Family Haunts and Fears

Family Haunts and Fears 

by Kristin Battestella

These families are less than comforting for each other when it comes to ghosts, cults, and suburban frights.

Before I Wake – Mike Flanagan (Oculus) directs Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush), Thomas Jane (Dreamcatcher), Annabeth Gish (The X-Files), and Jacob Tremblay (Room) in this 2016 Netflix dark fantasy drama. In spite of the never working, always home in their mansion rich blonde white people, we hope for the couple who lost a child now making a fresh start by adopting a very special but sleepless eight year old. Group therapy’s been helping our fellow insomniac mom cope – getting the psychological metaphors out of the way while showing how our husband and wife have reacted differently to such grief. Their new son, sadly, takes out his books and flashlight to stay up all night, sneaking some serious sugar because he fears the man who eats people when he sleeps. Strange images increase about the house, and instead of the typical jerky husband, it’s nice to have a trying to be helpful doctor. The therapist, however, dismisses mom’s encounters with creaking doors, breaking glass, and ghostly figures as lucid dreams or sleep deprived waking hallucinations. Our couple is always in front of the television not talking about how they can inexplicably see and touch their late son in tender moments giving and taking away before he disappears in their arms. Naturally, they take advantage of this gift, putting on the coffee to stay up while their current dreams come true son sleeps. He can help them heal, and with such fanciful graphics, one almost forgets how they are deluding themselves by using his dreams to fix their reality. When mom drugs his milk and cake with child sleeping pills, we know why. Dad may bond with the boy, but it’s unique to see a multi-layered woman both experiencing the horror and contributing almost as a villain who thinks she’s right. The monster may not be super scary for audiences accustomed to terrifying effects, but this is about kids fearing unconscious ghouls and waking nightmares not scaring viewers. Previous foster parents are committed after talking of demons when the boy’s dreams come true, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing – unlike the adults who realize, do it anyway, then justify their response as mercy. If he can’t wake up, they can’t defeat the black vomit and flesh consuming monsters. Unfortunately, convenient hospital connections provide old records and birth mother details while the caseworker never notices the ongoing file is lifted by the subject. Confining the boy leads to a house of horrors with moths in the stairwell, cocoons, creepy kids, gouged eyes, and bathtub bizarre – which are all fine individually. However, the story backs itself into a corner by resorting to a state of mind scary at the expense of the personal fantasy, unraveling with explaining journals and a parent sugarcoating someone else’s memories so obvious Freudian questions can do the trick. With this thick case file, how did no child psychologist figure this out sooner – especially with such legalese and real-world missing persons? Rather than essentially letting mom get away with sacrificing people to overcome her grief, the finale explanation should have been at the beginning to further appreciate the boy’s torment. Despite a kind of, sort of happy non-ending, the parents dealing with a child dreamer plot makes for a mature reverse Elm Street mixing family horrors and fantastics.

Death at Love House – Couple Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart) and Kate Jackson (Dark Shadowsare writing a book on Lorna Love and stay at the Old Hollywood starlet’s creepy manor in this 1976 television movie. Gothic gates, winding drives, old fountains, and broken statues accent the past torrid and vintage bus tours, and there’s a freaky shrine, too – the preserved corpse of our beauty lying in a glass coffin. Of course this print is obviously poor, but the retro Hollywood scenery, Golden cinema looks, and seventies California style make up any difference. I wish we could see the arches and wrought iron better, but the VHS quality kind of adds a dimly lit ominous to the Mediterranean villa as retro commercials provide a vintage patina. Housekeeper Silvia Sydney (Beetlejuiceisn’t very forthcoming about enchanting portraits of the starlet, and newsreels of her funeral show a man in a cape with a black cat among the mourners. Malleus Maleficarum spell books on the shelf, sacrificial daggers, and crusty director John Carradine (Blood of Dracula’s Castle) suggest Lorna was more evil than lovely, and talk of mirrors, souls, passion, and rivals like Dorothy Lamour (Road to Bali) add to the character unto herself à la RebeccaWithout over the top visuals or in your face action for the audience’s benefit, the performances here carry the scandalous scares – jumping at the horrors as thunder punctuates terrifying encounters in the dark. Apparent heart attack victims, destroyed pictures, and warnings to leave Love House lead to locked doors, gas mishaps, and steamy showers while phonographs provide chilling music as Lorna seems to be looking out from the silver screen film reels with her hypnotic power. Bewitching dreams relive the past and wax on eternal youth as the ghostly obsessions grow. At times, the spiral stairs, red accents, and swanky are more romantic, but phantom ladies at the window and rumors of fiery rituals create sinister. Our husband is said to be going through the scrapbooks but he’s not getting any work done, remaining in denial about the basement tunnels, cult altars, pentagrams, and mystical symbols. Although the Mrs. seems calm somehow once the truth comes out, too, the creepy masks and wild reveals make for a flaming finish. There are too many tongue in cheek winks for this to be full-on horror nor can one expect proper glam and glory in such a brisk seventy-four-minute network pace. However, this is good fun for a late-night Hollywood ghost story full of meta vintage.

Kill List– Financial arguments, unemployment, and stressed parents shouting open British director Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise) 2011 slow burn while fade ins and outs create a disconnected passage of time amid his mundane routine, tearful phone calls in her native Swedish, and brief playtime with their son. Clearly they are trying to keep it together just for him, but recession talk and conversations about their military past make dinner with friends more awkward. Despite some wine, laughter, and music; tensions remain alongside bloody tissues, mirrors, and creepy occult symbols. Foreboding rainbows, eerie skies, and contracts signed in blood lead to fancy hotels, mysterious clients, guns, and stacks of cash. This sardonic, violent lifestyle is normal to our hit men – want a hot tub, put on a nice suit and kill a few people to make money for your family! Things should be looking up, but past mistakes, religious conflicts, and hits gone wrong interfere with the fine dining, friendly chatter, stakeouts, and casually executed executions. The deliberate pace may be slow to some, however full moons, hallway zooms, and binocular views set off the lying in wait preparations, silencers, and worship regalia. Thumping body bags miss the dumpster and victims aren’t surprised their time has come, but off screen implications disturb both our hardened hit men. They are the righteous torturers breaking knee caps and bashing hands! Dead animals, blood splatter, off list hits, dirty crimes, and graphic skull work are not for the faint of heart as the kills become messy and out of control. Ominous women in white, blood stains, infected cuts – this violence is going far beyond their normal work but there’s no getting out here. Nothing good can come from this dreary potboiler as the kills increase from ironic to curious and ultimately brutal in a final act providing throwback shocks and a sense of realism straying into unreliability. Night gear observations at a fancy estate begat torches, chanting, robes, and masks. If you’ve seen enough cult horror, the ritual foreshadowing is apparent, however there’s a warped cleansing to the rain, drumbeats, and sacrifice. Gunfire, tunnels, knife attacks, screams, and unknowns make for gruesome turnabouts that bring the consequences home in a silent, disturbing, grim end.

Voice from the Stone – It’s post-war Tuscany and dilapidated castles for nurse Emilia Clark (Game of Thrones) in this 2017 tale opening with church bells, toppled statues, and autumn leaves. Letters of recommendation and voiceovers about previous goodbyes are unnecessary – everything up until she knocks on the door is redundant when the Italian dialogue explaining the situation is enough. Her charge hasn’t spoken in the seven months since his mother’s death, and sculptor dad Marton Csokas (Lord of the Ringsis frazzled, too. Our nurse is strict about moving on from a family, and although her unflinching English decorum feels like you can see her acting, this may be part of the character fronting when she wonders if she is qualified for the case. The mute son is likewise an obedient boy if by default because it takes speaking to object, and he listens to the walls to hear his dead mother. Period furnishings, vintage photos, mirrors, and candles enchant the interiors, but the stone and stucco are spooky thanks to taxidermy, strange old ladies, creaking doors, winding stairs, and broken tiles atop the towers. Wooded paths, overgrown gardens, and old bridges lead to exploring the flooded quarry, cliffs, family crypts, and stone effigies. This estate has been in the late wife’s family for over a thousand years, and forty generations are buried beneath the rocks. Noises in the night provide chases and dead animal pranks as our nurse listens to the walls to prove it’s just the settling house, rattling winds, or bubbling pipes talking. Progress with the boy takes time while billowing curtains and melancholy phonographs linger over somber scenes as she grows too attached in wearing our late mother’s clothes. Unlike her, our nurse sits docile and silent when posing for his sculpture before fantasizing some saucy as he carves. She can care for father and son – talking to portraits of the Mrs. and listening to tombs to further ingratiate herself into this family. Desperate, she hears her now, too, in eerie interludes and spooky dreams that add aesthetics yet feel like weird seventies horror movies nonsensical. Wet perils and violent slaps begat illness, but questions on whether this fever is real or psychological unravel with fog, wheezing, heartbeats, and buried alive visions face to face with the dead. Although some may dislike the ambiguous nonanswers and stilted style or find the derivative Rebecca or Jane Eyre mood and outcome obvious, the slow burn period setting makes this an interesting piece for gothic fans not looking for outright horror a minute.

 

For more Frightening Flix, revisit our Horror Viewing Lists including:

Haunting Ladies

Witches and Bayous, Oh My!

Mirrors and Superstitions

PR: Mocha Memoirs, Hollow Men

PRESS RELEASE: Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC released Todd Sullivan’s Korean dark fantasy adventure story, Hollow Men. The story follows a group of individuals seeking heroic status. Much like Roland’s ka-tet in Stephen King’s Dark Tower or JRR Tolkien’s fellowship in Lord of the Rings, these individuals are brought together to solve a problem.

Men from South Hanguk undertake quests to gain social standing, to stand above their peers, to make names for themselves. 
To become heroes.
Few ever return.
Ha Jun, sixteen years old, possesses a glyph sword crafted in foreign lands. Alongside a soldier, a knight, and a monk, he travels across the country to destroy a demon lurking beyond the running trees of Naganeupseong Fortress. Accompanying them is the dark elf, Windshine, who emigrated to South Hanguk from her own war-torn country centuries ago.
Distrusted by the people of South Hanguk, Windshine has the Emperor’s protection and is tasked with recording the valiant acts of quest groups battling creatures born from nightmares. Ha Jun becomes drawn to Windshine as they near Naganeupseong Fortress, but when he discovers the blood connection between the demon and the dark elf, he will either succumb to his fear, or rise up and become a hero.

 

About the author: Todd Sullivan studied in Korean language at Sogang University and currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan. He’s fast at work on the next adventure.

Hollow Men is available at the Mocha Memoirs Press website and Amazon. You can also order the paperback from brick and mortar bookstores.

Chilling Chat: Episode 170 | Tim Reynolds

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Tim Reynolds grew up in Toronto, Ontario, but has called Calgary, Alberta home since 1999. He lives a quiet, peaceful, cluttered life with his dog, two cats, and a collection of Tim Reynoldsmusical instruments he has neither the talent nor the self-discipline to play. 

An internationally-published writer/photographer/artist he writes his stories “from the character on up”.

Tim is an intelligent man with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of writing, inspiration, and night terrors.

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

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s wonderful to be here!

NTK: How old were you when you first became interested in horror and dark fantasy?

TR: I was going to say I was 12 when I saw the chillingly bizarre movie The Other but then I remembered that I was much younger, probably less than seven, when I was sick in bed and Mom had moved the TV into my room but not checked what was on the channel. It was The Incredible Shrinking Man. She caught me watching it right about the time he was being chased by the giant— to him—spider. As for reading the literature, I was probably 17 or 18, after I discovered The Lord of the Rings in English class. It was much darker than the detective stuff I’d been reading leading up to then.

NTK: Did Tolkien influence your writing? Who is your favorite horror writer?

TR: He did have a huge influence because I’m pretty sure every fantasy author I read after him was influenced by him, so it was inescapable. This is going to sound strange, but I had to stop reading horror. I got night terrors as a kid and still get episodes as an adult, and what I read or watch has a big influence on my very vivid dreams and nightmares. That said, I was once a voracious Stephen King reader, as well as Dean Koontz. King would be my favourite, though, because his stories can terrify without full-on horror.

NTK: I’m sorry to hear about your night terrors. Do they keep you from watching horror movies and TV shows?

TR: They do, for the most part. I do try to watch the critically acclaimed ones like Bird Box, where it’s more about suspense than pop-up scares.

I also don’t mind the occasional zombie one—World War Z is my favourite—or vampire one— 30 Days of Night.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

TR: I’d have to say that Black Mirror is the only one I’ll watch, and while many wouldn’t call it horror, I believe that its view of where we are headed as a species with tech is truly horrifying.

NTK: Have your night terrors inspired your writing? Where do you find inspiration?

Waking AnastasiaTR: They certainly have. My most recent fantasy novel The Sisterhood of the Black Dragonfly has a couple of monster-popping-up fight scenes and the creatures in it have a similarity to some of the ones I fled from in my childhood dreams. But sometimes my dreams inspire more than a scene. My previous novel Waking Anastasia about a young man who awakens the ghost of Anastasia Romanova came from a dream. My inspiration can literally come from anywhere. A figurine in a shop, a challenge from a friend, a smile and a wave from a complete stranger…

NTK: Do you have any advice for people suffering from night terrors?

TR: Yes, actually! Avoid dairy before bed! Especially pizza. There’s something in it that makes my dreams go off in a wild direction like I heard acid trips of the 60s do. And vitamin B complex before bed—or any time—can lessen anxiety somewhat.

NTK: Let’s talk about characters. Do your characters have free will? Or do you dictate their every move?

TR: They very much have free will. Once I create a “whole person,” meaning one in which I know their back story and motivations, I let them roll with the scene. I control what needs to happen in the scene, but I let the conversations and quite often the actions be completely organic, in other words, flowing forward from what was just said or done.

That said, I’m having trouble with my latest one because the two characters are very much based on real people, one of which is me. I keep second-guessing myself if that makes sense. And the horror, in this case, isn’t in the story, it’s the writing because it’s a romantic comedy.

Also, I recently wrote a horror short from the point of view of Jack the Ripper. However, because it was very fact-based, I couldn’t give him too much leeway.

NTK: Do you outline and plot the story?

TR: I do now, but I’m also very flexible once I start writing. RomComs are very structured, so I have to hit certain story beats near a certain page, but I usually have a loose structure/outline with everything to make sure that I put the clues where they need to be. I’m becoming much more methodical in my writing as I mature as a writer because while it’s lovely to just go off and write whatever the freak I feel like, if I want bigger publishers to notice my work and make offers, I need to use outlines to keep me on track and not let me write madly off all directions.

NTK: Going back to the works of Stephen King, which is your favorite?

TR: Oooohhhh… Tough question. I haven’t read any in a while, but I loved Hearts in Atlantis, The Stand, and the four novellas of Different Seasons. My stand-out King novel is an odd choice but I love it for its simplicity: Gerald’s Game.

NTK: Aside from the RomCom, what does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

TR: As a reply to writing the RomCom inspired by my life experiences, I’m writing a dark, bloody, nasty 19th century urban vigilante novel in which I will kill off the types of villains that I feel are plaguing us now—child sexual abusers, rapists, one-percenters who think the rest of us are simply here for their profit or use…. or I will write the sequel to my unpublished semi-cozy detective novel that my agent is currently trying to sell forSisterhood of the Black Dragonfly me.

NTK: Awesome! Looking forward to them!

TR:  Thank you! I try to write stories that are as much fun to read as they are to write, even if they scare the bejeesus out of me and the reader. Joy isn’t all about laughs, as every horror writer/reader knows.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Tim!

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s been fun, and I appreciate you making me think on a Friday morning when the weekend and non-thinking is so close I can taste it.

Addicts, you can find Tim at his Blog and on Twitter.

 

 

Book Review: This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle

This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle is a fascinating tome of narrative poetry and a cornucopia of dark treats. The author, Frank Coffman, is an accomplished poet, and the tales woven throughout the verse are wondrous.

This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle

Coffman’s work begins with the description of a book, one of great power. It is, like Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, bound in human skin and inked in blood. The difference is, this volume is authored by a sorcerer and augmented through the ages by seven others.

The first part of This Ae Nighte, details the sorcerer’s creation of the book and his quest to cheat the devil. (He aims to keep his soul though it is bound for Hell.) The second part concerns individual stories contained within the book. Here, you’ll find vampires, werewolves, and other horrific monsters familiar to those who enjoy dark fantasy.

 

I also enjoyed “The Killing Man,” “Convert,” and “The Strigoi.” These poems spark the imagination. I could almost see the monsters, the forests, the blood, and the hang rope in my mind’s eye.

I loved this book. Coffman’s verse is beautiful, precise, and captivating. My favorite poems involved the sorcerer’s transformation into a Lich (a creature animated by the soul of a dead sorcerer.) He is all-powerful in this form and in control of terrifying monsters. No one can stop him, save one. And, believe me, this hero isn’t what you’d expect.

Frank Coffman

As a novice poet, I appreciated Coffman’s introduction to each poem. (I didn’t know a sonnet from a strophe until I’d read this book.) For those eager to learn about poetry, he provides a “poem glossary” at the back of the book. For the more advanced reader, he’s supplied a new and interesting style.

I highly recommend This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle. Not only is it a great read for dark fantasy fans, it will also appeal to the Horror Addict in everyone.

Submission Call for Guest Blog

This is a site FOR HorrorAddicts, BY HorrorAddicts.

Deadline: Ongoing

Guest Blog is your chance to share just a little bit of your work with the HorrorAddicts.net readers.

*200-1000 words flash
*Must be horror or fit in one of our **Approved Themes below.
*This is for free posting on our HorrorAddicts.net blog, exposure only, with link back to your work.
*At the end of the submission, please include your bio (100 word max), url, and attach a cover pic or author pic.
*Send all submissions to: horroraddicts@gmail.com, SUBJ: Guest Blog

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**APPROVED THEMES: Dark Fantasy, Monster, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Clockpunk, Alternative, Goth, Metal, Industrial, Avant-garde themes. Erotica only if it tastefully falls into horror / goth / fetish culture. If your submission is in the Science Fiction / Fantasy / Thriller / Suspense or any other genre, please email before submitting with a 2-3 line query. If it seems like it fits, we might make an exception.

For full submission requirements, go to: SUBMISSIONS

Penny Dreadful’s Sembene: The Stereotypical Death  

Penny Dreadful’s Sembene: The Stereotypical Death  By Alicia McCalla

 

          One of my favorite shows to watch is the dark, suspenseful Penny Dreadful. The show fills me with foreboding—sometimes my stomach lurches with the twisty tentacles of fear and trepidation. The heroine, Vanessa Isles, is a dark fantasy protagonist at it’s best—the tortured soul with ambiguous morals, shades of gray, that make you think about the decision, is it right or evil? Watching her descent into Hell just creeps me out but like the kid who peeks through open fingers, you’ve just got to keep watching the train wreck. 

         Penny Dreadful is so marvelous, though, because all of the main characters sit on the edge. The monsters’ point of view gives rise to all sorts of questions that we REALLY don’t want to think about. Frankenstein and his monster, the uncontrollable Werewolf, the Hunter, and then there’s Sembene.  For the most part, he is a moral compass. He takes care of the monsters, gives them advice, and is always ready for the supernatural battle.  At some point, we find out that he was previously a slaver and sold his own people into slavery but we never go to much into who he really is… Penny_dreadful_sembene_01

        Herein lies the problem. With such depth and character development of the others, why don’t we learn more about Sembene, for most of the first episodes, I assumed that he was a powerful Okomfo, Shaman, or Witch Doctor but that idea never quite materialized. Then, I thought he was perhaps and ancient warrior or hunter who was the mystical teacher or mentor of Sir Malcolm Murray, in one episode his voice calls and returns the man from being lost in the valley of death but that story line didn’t develop either.        

    Finally, I just became aggravated when at the end of the last season, Sembene had been mentoring Mr. Chandler who in the end, eats him and well, Sembene graciously accepts his death. 

      What? I screamed at the TV screen.  Of all the characters that I’d connected with, Sembene’s character had been the most intriguing to me and then he was gone. Disappointment. Why do Black folks always have to die like this in horror shows?  

      Stereotypical. Sigh. 

Well, for a little while I had high hopes.  

If you enjoy Dark Fantasy stories with People of Color as the protagonist, come check out my work.  I try to keep the tension high and unexpected characters get murdered, too.

***********

Alicia McCalla RiseAlicia McCalla is a native of Detroit, Michigan, who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She works as a school librarian and enjoys traveling as well as spending time with her husband and son. Visit Alicia at: www.aliciamccalla.com to receive your free eBook boxed set and sign-up for e-updates, giveaways, and sneak peeks of her upcoming novels. Alicia McCalla

 

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM – LAST CHANCE!

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM
OUS

“Happily ever after” is for children. This book prefers to evoke the grim warnings of our oldest fables. We are seeking frightening fairytales, fables, and folklore. We want to feature your own new tales or new takes on old classics. Stories of seelie and unseelie alike. Are the things that go bump in the night there to help or harm us?

Submitted stories should deal with fairies or fairy tale settings, and must also be considered horror, evoking a classic fear and dread reminiscent of the fables of old. If you are submitting a new take on a classic fairy tale, the original story and characters must be in the public domain. The setting can be our world in the past, present, or future, or a fictional setting, or the exploration of both. Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

Manuscripts Format:

  1. Font either Courier or Times New Roman.
  2. Double spaced, font size 11 or 12 point.
  3. Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
  4. 1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
  5. Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.
  6. In the body of the email, give us:
    1. 100 words or less bio about you.
    2. One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
  7. In the subject of the email state: ONCE UPON A SCREAM/Author Name/Story Title
  8. Send to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2015, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-8,000 words, ideal length 5,000
Payment:$5.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/15). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to:horroraddicts@gmail.com

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM
OUS

“Happily ever after” is for children. This book prefers to evoke the grim warnings of our oldest fables. We are seeking frightening fairytales, fables, and folklore. We want to feature your own new tales or new takes on old classics. Stories of seelie and unseelie alike. Are the things that go bump in the night there to help or harm us?

Submitted stories should deal with fairies or fairy tale settings, and must also be considered horror, evoking a classic fear and dread reminiscent of the fables of old. If you are submitting a new take on a classic fairy tale, the original story and characters must be in the public domain. The setting can be our world in the past, present, or future, or a fictional setting, or the exploration of both. Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

Manuscripts Format:

  1. Font either Courier or Times New Roman.
  2. Double spaced, font size 11 or 12 point.
  3. Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
  4. 1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
  5. Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.
  6. In the body of the email, give us:
    1. 100 words or less bio about you.
    2. One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
  7. In the subject of the email state: ONCE UPON A SCREAM/Author Name/Story Title
  8. Send to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2015, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-8,000 words, ideal length 5,000
Payment:$5.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/15). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to:horroraddicts@gmail.com

An Interview with Eden Royce

Our featured author for episode 121 of the horror addicts podcast is Eden Royce. Eden is no stranger to horroraddicts.net. She was one of the contributing authors to Horror Addicts Guide To Life and in episode 112 of the podcast Eden read an excerpt from her book Containment.  Recently Eden Royce answered a few questions on her writing:

When did you start writing?

20563870The first writing I did was when I was five. It was a finish the sentence contest in the paper. From what I remember it started like this: You climb into the attic and find…

My response was: “A TV and I sat down and watched Bugs Bunny.” My mother still has the newspaper clipping somewhere. I’ve taken several breaks from writing since then, but I’ve been (sort of) consistently writing since 2007.

 

What subjects do you like to write about?

I love writing Gothic horror and dark fantasy, most especially about the magic systems of indigenous peoples. My roots are in Southern conjure and that pops up often in my work. I’ve realized recently that a lot of my work falls into the category of magic realism, where everyday events and situations exist alongside magic and aren’t considered by the characters to be out of the ordinary.

You’ll also find demons and devils featuring prominently in my stories as well, and not always as the villain. I write the occasional historical piece as well.

I like to change and mix genres, especially when I’m feeling stuck on a story or disenchanted with writing. (It happens…) So I’ve also written steampunk, literary fiction, poetry, and romance, all with varying amounts of success.

Who are some of your influences?

 The women in my family—some of them hoodoo conjure practitioners, some of them teachers and Renaissance women—have influenced me the most. I feel their stories need a voice.

As far as other writers, I find myself re-reading Poe and Du Maurier for all of the creepy disturbia. Modern authors I 25558451love include Jewell Parker Rhodes, Margaret Atwood, and Terri Windling. I also love mythology and epics, so I have to add Aesop and Homer and Virgil.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

I find it fascinating that horror has some of the staunchest fans in fiction. A genre dedicated to unnerving and terrifying the reader seems to grow every year even though security and safety are otherwise a priority for most people. Maybe reading and watching horror creates and atmosphere of a controllable fear, so it can be processed as excitement or intensity. Horror is such a primal emotion.  Everyone experiences it in one form or another.  It crosses age, race, culture, gender to become something that unites us.

I also find horror is a genre that lends itself well to fusion: horror/comedy, sci-fi horror, horrotica…all of these blend terror with strong, established genres and increase its chilling reach.

What subject do you plan on reading about for episode 121:

My theme today is Southern Gothic horror.

Southern Gothic horror stories use the macabre, and the grotesque, to explore the ideals and the social issues of the American South—with all of its flaws and imperfections intact—while keeping the creepy, unsettling characteristics of Gothic fiction: fear, horror, madness and death.

It also employs magical realism, where magical elements and events occur in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations.

There are many great works of Southern Gothic literature, but few of them include people of color as strong point of view characters—even fewer in the horror genre—and I wanted Spook Lights to do that. My great-aunt was a local rootworker and one of my fondest memories is sitting at the dining room table listening to her stories. Even after my move to England last year, these stories have stayed with me. So, I’m sharing with you an excerpt from my Southern Gothic horror short story collection, Spook Lights.

Where Can we find you online:

edenroyce.com

darkgeisha.wordpress.com

About Spook Lights:

Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these tales of Southern Gothic horror: A woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, A witch doctor’s niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who keeps a 100% confession rate….

These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character-fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich marshes-housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated. The true horror is in what you can’t see…until it’s sitting right next to you.

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

“Eden Royce delivers a sultry and spicy dose of Southern Gothic. The stories are rich in flavor and clever in metaphor, the horrors completely surreal or-far more unnerving-all too possible. She brings a refreshing perspective to the table that paranormal lovers are sure to enjoy.”  -B.D. Bruns, author of The Gothic Shift

“You don’t just read these tales, you are there and a part of them from start to end. You can smell the grass, feel the moonlight, get goosebumps with a cool breeze – and your hair will stand on end. And death – sometimes you can smell death.”  –The Horror Review

“You can feel the warm thick air, the rich history and legends, the desperation of the impoverished, and the deep horror of the betrayed.” -Roma Gray, author of Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon

Eden Royce is descended from women who practiced root, a type of conjure magic in her native Charleston, South Carolina. She currently lives in Kent, The Garden of England.

Eden is a writer for The 7 Magpies project: a short horror film anthology written and directed entirely by black women. She reviews books for Hellnotes, and writes a regular feature for Graveyard Shift Sisters, where she interviews black female authors and reviews their work.

When she’s not writing, she’s watching quiz shows, or perfecting her signature dish for Masterchef. More about Eden’s brand of horror is on her website: edenroyce.com.

 

 

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM

SUBMISSION CALL: ONCE UPON A SCREAM
OUS

“Happily ever after” is for children. This book prefers to evoke the grim warnings of our oldest fables. We are seeking frightening fairytales, fables, and folklore. We want to feature your own new tales or new takes on old classics. Stories of seelie and unseelie alike. Are the things that go bump in the night there to help or harm us?

Submitted stories should deal with fairies or fairy tale settings, and must also be considered horror, evoking a classic fear and dread reminiscent of the fables of old. If you are submitting a new take on a classic fairy tale, the original story and characters must be in the public domain. The setting can be our world in the past, present, or future, or a fictional setting, or the exploration of both. Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Gaslamp Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

Manuscripts Format:

  1. Font either Courier or Times New Roman.
  2. Double spaced, font size 11 or 12 point.
  3. Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
  4. 1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
  5. Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.
  6. In the body of the email, give us:
    1. 100 words or less bio about you.
    2. One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
  7. In the subject of the email state: ONCE UPON A SCREAM/Author Name/Story Title
  8. Send to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2015, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-8,000 words, ideal length 5,000
Payment:$5.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/15). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to:horroraddicts@gmail.com

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Author Spotlight: Steven Rose Jr.

Steven Rose Jr. writes horror and dark fantasy, including an anthology called  The Fool’s Illusion.  For Horror Addicts Guide To Life  Steven wrote  two articles in the book entitled Horror And Dark Fantasy and Tomb Toons and Kid’s Horror. In his essays Steven gets into the differences between horror and dark fantasy and gives us a history of horror aimed at children. To read Steven’s work, along with several other articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To LifeRecently Steven was nice enough to tell us what he likes about horror:

What do you like about the horror genre?

18521949Ever since I was a little kid (4 or 5) I’ve loved that sense of mystery and the unusual that the darkness and grotesqueness of much horror conveys. Because I like the unusual, I like the supernatural monsters and alien/mutant creatures of horror; a lot of sci fi, especially in film, overlaps with the horror genre.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books or TV shows?

One of my favorite all-time classic horror movies is The Shining, a movie that is so chilling that I was not able to watch it all the way through until several years into my 20s. I love the classic Universal monster movies, especially the Frankenstein and Wolfman films. When it comes to Dracula, however, I just can’t get into Bela Lugosi’s enactment of the vampire (although I’ve liked a lot of the other horror characters he’s played, especially the mad scientist ones). I like Christopher Lee’s enactment of Dracula in the British Hammer films much more. Lee portrays the vampire a lot more realistically, in my opinion. (Lugosi comes across as over-acting the part.) When it comes to contemporary horror films, I have not really seen a lot of newer horror films that I really like. A couple that I were really good and are post-2000 are Universal’s remake of the Wolfman and the Alien prequel, Prometheus. I thought they did a great job giving a gothic ambience to the Wolfman re-make and Prometheus gave interesting background to the earlier Alien movies without info-dumping (a term us fiction writers use that refers to background information in a story where it’s not needed).
Favorite books: I like Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, especially “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”; I like Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu; The Manitou by Graham Masterton; Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts; the list is nearly infinite especially since there’s so many horror short stories that I really like because I’m a big lover of the short story in general (that’s what I normally write, as far as fiction goes.) But my favorite classic novels of horror are Frankenstein and Dracula, not only because they star monster characters who have been most iconic in modern horror but also because it conveys so much meaning on a literary level.
Television: I haven’t really been a big fan of horror television, although I’ve liked many of the dark supernatural episodes of the original Twilight Zone, such as one about a living ventriloquist puppet that torments its owner and another about the ghosts of murdered Jews who come back to haunt their Nazi oppressor. I like television horror-hosted movie shows such as Elvira’s Movie Macbre of the ‘80s, Sven Goolie’s show and Mr. Lobo’s Cinema Insomnia of today and the 1970s’ Creature Features hosted by Bob Wilkins in which this last one I grew up with. Horror- hosted movie shows such as these often feature B-rated flicks that are so horrible they’re good which I like right up there with the, believe it or not, A-grade or big budget horror films. I like the pop culture of the eras many B movies grew out of and reflect, especially the 1950s through ‘70s.

Another television show that I’ve always liked, although it’s not supernatural horror, is the original Outer Limits. MV5BODk0Nzg3OTAwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM0OTIzMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Many of the episodes were dark, featuring menacing monsters from other planets or from mad science experiments. And even though I’ve only seen a couple episodes since it debated about two years ago, I thought Sleepy Hollow was pretty good. Even though it’s way off course from Washington Irving’s short novel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as a TV show and so within itself it’s been made really good and utilizes the Biblical apocalyptic theme well during this trending time of post-apocalyptic zombie themes (even though Sleepy Hollow isn’t a zombie series like Walking Dead is, in which this second one I was never able to get into by the way.)

In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?

I wear horror fandom tees, such as ones with Cthulhu prints, skull images, Universal Monster tees. I wear a ‘70s long-hair style and a full beard, which most people seem to be scared of the ‘70s. [laughs] I collect horror memorabilia, especially skull figurines, and use Halloween items I’ve bought on clearance for year-round interior decorating. For example, I have a “painting” of a figure that metamorphosizes from an 18th century naval captain to a dead pirate captain that was manufactured as a Halloween decoration but I hang it in my living room year-round. I don’t dust off the cobwebs in most places in my house. I’m fascinated with crows since they’re so much like ravens and so I’ll take extra effort to avoid hitting them while driving on the road no matter how much an angry driver in back of me is blaring his/her horn or yelling curses to me for “holding up” traffic. I call our local countryside coyotes “little wolves” or “mini wolves”, and I’ll stand several minutes outside at night admiring the full moon. For me, rain and thunder storms are beautiful weather (especially in fall and winter). Also Halloween is like an autumn version of Christmas to me, and so is my ancestral Day of the Dead which for me the two don’t contradict each other. Other words in my Lexington of horror that I use in everyday settings: I call my apartment maintenance man and the cemetery groundskeepers “caretakers”; I don’t call the underground level of a house a “basement”, I say “cellar”; I’ll say “coffin”, not “casket”; I’ll say “grave-“ or “tombstone”, not monument; and I never call a cemetery/graveyard a “monument park”.

My sense of humor tends to be pretty dark too. I listen to pop music by horror-inspired bands, especially the Groovy Ghoulies (who are no longer together) and the Phantom Jets, both who are local to my home area of Sacramento. But a few of my favorite horror rock songs by more notable artists are Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”, the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Time Warp” and, of course, Bobby Boris Pickett’s classic “Monster Mash” which was probably my very first rock song I really got into.

What are you currently working on?

I was working on a second book of short fiction which I originally planned to release in August of this year but it looks like it won’t happen that soon. That’s because I’m trying to submit some stories to some magazines and, because many literary magazines don’t want simultaneous submissions, I would have to write up some new stories for the book. I plan to title it The Hidden. However, if my short story submissions don’t follow through, then the book release may not be delayed for too long (hopefully no later than the fall, ideally in time for Halloween).

Where can we find you online?

My book of short fiction, The Fool’s Illusion, is available on Amazon in both print and e-format (Kindle) [http://www.amazon.com/Fools-Illusion-Steven-Rose-Jr/dp/1491092548/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431652461&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fools+illusion]. You can sometimes find sample stories of my book at my blog, A Far Out Fantastic Site (faroutfantastic.blogspot.com) as well as ones I have not yet compiled in a collection. Not all of my stories in Fool’s Illusion and on my blog are necessarily horror but most are dark to some degree. I also have a sci fi “column” at the news site, Examiner.com.  [http://www.examiner.com/scifi-in-sacramento/steven-rose-jr ] My Twitter page is @StaRosep2, The Fool’s Illusion Facebook page is [https://www.facebook.com/TheFoolsIllusion?ref=hl] (you may have to be logged into Facebook to see it), or you can email me at strosejr@gmail.com.

Happiness And Other Diseases

10687036_10152720329052246_3965942528566808353_nLets face it, love isn’t  easy. No one knows that better than Flynn and Charlotte, they fell in love at first sight but the world seems to be against them. Flynn has been having nightmares and they are starting to cross over into reality. No one believes Flynn and his therapist decides it would be best if Flynn spends a little  time in a mental hospital, where he meets Charlotte.

Charlotte is half human, half somnali and is the daughter of the Greek God of erotic nightmares,  Brash. Being somnali means that Charlotte can enter dreams and prey upon humans, causing them to die in their sleep. Nyx, The Greek goddess of the night, knows that Brash’s children are killing humans and decides to put a stop to it. She states that if Flynn survives the torture from the somnali, she will grant Brash’s family more power, but if Flynn dies, she will turn all the somnali into humans.  Which is a fate worse than death for god like creatures.

So now Flynn is under the protection of Charlotte and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. If Flynn lives, many humans will die, but if he dies, somnali can no longer kill humans in their sleep. To say that Charlotte and Flynn have a complicated relationship is an understatement. The big question in this book is: does true love really conquer all?

Happiness And Other Diseases by Sumiko Saulson is a tragic love story that includes dark humor, greek mythology and some moments of pure horror. I love how the horror and humor are mixed, such as when one character is getting eaten by an animal in a dream. Another character shows up in the dream with popcorn and does commentary on the nightmare. I also liked when Brash describes how Charlotte handled a cockroach problem.

The main reason why you should want to read Happiness And Other Diseases is for the love story. This is not your average romance that you see in other books. Both Flynn and Charlotte have issues, their relationship starts in a mental hospital and that should tell you something. Flynn has no friends, no jobs and a mythological creature wants him dead. Things can’t get worse, but then Charlotte comes along and his life starts to get better. Of course things getting better for Flynn isn’t necessarily a good thing. Which is where the tragedy lies in their relationship. One scene that I thought was beautifully done was when one of Charlotte’s sisters makes living voodoo dolls from Charlotte and Flynn’s DNA. Then she demonstrates that even when she separates the dolls, they struggle to get back together.

Another thing I liked about their relationship is that their roles are reversed. When they meet for the first time Charlotte kisses Flynn’s hand, Charlotte is like a knight in shinning armor and is the leader in the relationship. Flynn is a broken man and Charlotte puts his pieces back together, he gets his life back and even though Charlotte likes to torture him, Flynn likes it. One scene I thought was funny is was when Flynn is in Brash’s home. Brash makes him bow and then laughs to Charlotte saying “He’s just so subservient.” Flynn is a strong character though, he knows the responsibility he has to the world and takes it seriously.

One thought I had while reading this book was that given the circumstances of Flynn and Charlotte’s relationship  there is no way this book can end happily.  I also thought that if Sumiko doesn’t give Charlotte and Flynn a happy ending, I’m going to be upset. Well I can’t tell you what the ending is but I will say that I was satisfied and you should give Happiness And Other Diseases a try. There are not many romances out there like this one.

Forever Man

16112466The town of Kinsey is a quiet place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Not much happens there until one night a mutilated body is found and a Seventeen year old girl who happens to be the daughter of police chief Izzy Morris goes missing. The only suspect in the murder is a black man who came into town at the same time the murder took place. To make matters worse for Izzy, not everyone in town is cooperating with the investigation and a second  strange man has been spotted around town.

Something evil is lurking in the woods around Kinsey and only the local banker’s autistic son seems to have an idea of what’s happening. The townspeople are trapped in the middle of a war between good and evil that has raged for years and will kill several innocent victims before it’s done. This is the storyline behind Journalstone Publishing’s Forever Man.

This story can best be described as a supernatural horror mystery with deep characters and a lot of action. This is Brian W. Matthews first book and it is excellent. The second scene where a werewolf type creature attacks two victims is chilling and really set the tone for the book. The monster may be terrifying but some of the characters in the story came across as even worse.

The characters are what really made this book great. For instance the third scene of the book focuses on Izzy Morris and her husband Stanley. I loved it when Izzy looks at her husband in bed and remembers how their relationship use to be, but now she looks at him and realizes she is not sure if she loves him anymore. Then as they both find out that their daughter is missing, you see how differently they  handle the situation. They both want to find their daughter but have different ways of doing it and they both have to suffer the consequences. Stanley and Izzy’s relationship is very reflective of what most middle-aged married couple’s relationships are like and I liked it being in the book.

Another character I liked that could be considered a main villain is  Jack Sallinen. Jack is a troublemaker from the beginning,   he won’t cooperate with the investigation, he talks down to the police chief and treats one of his sons named J.J. like garbage. His other son is Kevin who has a rare form of autism. Make no mistakes Jack is bad in the story, but the reason he acts how he acts is because he believes that it will help his son Kevin. Despite all of Jack’s flaws you feel a sympathy for him because what he does is out of love. I also liked how Kevin and Jack’s relationship affects J.J. and what he does about it.

The only bad thing about Forever Man was that I wanted to know more about the main villain and hero’s background. We know in the story that they have been battling each other for a long time but we don’t know much more than that. Also I noticed that the police in the story broke a lot of rules and it made me wonder if this was normal for small town cops. Mainly I enjoyed the book, I loved how the settings are described and the creature was great. One of my favorite parts was when it is revealed that the monster is not a mindless beast and can’t be stopped easily. Forever Man is a great horror novel that will stick with you when your done reading it and give you some nightmares to boot.

Endless Home

bigfrontcoverEHImagine being trapped in a house with no way to escape. The attic has a satanic altar, there are spiders with eyes on their backs running around, blood is dripping from the walls, paintings and dolls come to life and a phantom stalks the hallways. These are some of the horrors that you will witness in Kirk Warrington’s Endless Home.

The story begins with the main character Maya along with her boyfriend Neal, mother Thelma, sister Dawn and friend Leroy trying desperately to escape from the home of satanic serial killer Heston Graves. The windows won’t break and the door won’t budge. Things get worse for the unwilling house guests as the rooms start to fill with blood and they are forced to escape to the attic, which looks like a place where satanic rituals are performed.

Thinking that they have found safety in the attic, they start to look for a way out again and the wall opens up into a long hallway. The house is unnaturally large, there are doors that go on forever and behind every door knob is a nightmare waiting to be unleashed. Endless Home is like a haunted house on steroids and those trapped inside are going to have to go through hell and back.

One feeling I had while reading Endless Home was that this would make an excellent horror film. The imagery that the author uses is disturbing and you almost feel like your trapped in the house with the victims. There are some great suspenseful scenes in this book. I loved it when Dawn and Maya had to battle a room full of evil dolls and when creatures came out of  a painting to stalk the trapped house guests. I constantly had a feeling of unease while reading because I didn’t know what was going to attack Maya and the others next.

I also liked the depth of the characters in the story. You find out early on that Maya is pregnant with Neal’s baby but she’s not sure if she wants the baby or Neal. You felt sorry for her as she deals with everyone influencing her decisions and at the same time I felt mad at her for the way she treats Neal. One scene in particular that I really liked in the book was when it looks like Neal is about to die and Maya finds herself feeling sad, but then she gets mad at herself for feeling that way.

One of the  things I didn’t like about Endless Home was how all the characters got trapped in the house. I found myself rolling my eyes at the explanation given and I figured there would be more to it later on, but it never came. I would have also liked to hear more about Heston Graves in the story. I felt having a serial killer in the house would have added more suspense to the story but even without him there is a lot of good scares in this book. Endless Home has all the elements that you could want in a horror novel and was a really fun read, I highly recommend it.

Stolen

Stolen_800px_KindleFairy tales don’t always have happy endings and sometimes there is a lot more to the story that we don’t know. In the book Cinderella’s Secret Diary (Book 1:Lost), Ron Vitale told what happened to Cinderella after she married the prince. Cinderella’s life didn’t turn out like she planned. In the end of the book Cinderella is living with her daughter Phoebe in America in the late 1700s. In Stolen:Cinderella’s Secret Diaries (Book 2) by Ron Vitale, its 10 years later and Cinderella is still in America and on the run.

The book begins with Cinderella, her daughter and their friend Rene’e on a prairie in America heading west in a wagon. Ten years ago Cinderella discovered she was a witch, Rene’e is also a witch and has been teaching Cinderella to use her powers. The trio of women want to keep their freedom and  live in America but dark forces are calling them back to England.

A witch hunter named Jeremiah has been hunting Cinderella for months. He plans to return her to England so she can use her powers to help England win the war against France. French Emperor Napoleon is under the control of the Faerie Queen Mab who wants to destroy Cinderella’s powers and rule all of Europe. Cinderella wants to stay out of the war but another force is also pulling her back to England. Cinderella never got over her former lover Henri and she goes to him in her dreams. Queen Mab and the witch hunter are using Cinderella’s dreams to track her and soon Cinderella finds herself trapped in a war that only she can stop.

Stolen is a book that works on many different levels and it can fit into several different genres. The story could be considered science fiction with its use of time travel, fantasy with the use of  magic, horror as the spirit of pestilence ravages the countryside and alternate history as the story gets into Native American history and European history. There is also is a lot of great battle scenes in the book.

Along with the theme of loving the wrong person and dealing with loneliness the book has great characters. The two main characters in Stolen are Cinderella and Queen Mab, they  both  love someone who doesn’t love them and are lonely.  The two women make mistakes that effect everyone around them and the book ends up being about them correcting their mistakes and growing from them.

I loved how Queen Mab is presented as being evil but as you get to know her you sympathize with her and you see her as a shade of grey. All of the characters in Stolen are shades of grey, the villains have  their good points and the protagonists have their bad points. They have their own agendas and everyone in the book reminds you of someone you would meet in real life.

My only complaint about the book is that there was almost too much going on. A little over half way through the book, the story gets into time travel and the characters visit so many different locations and times that I found myself getting a little confused.  That being said I still was excited to see what would happen next.

Stolen is a fast paced action packed thrill ride with fascinating characters and beautiful settings. I felt that Stolen was better than the first book in the series and I am very curious as to where Ron Vitale will go with the third book in the series. Stolen has something for fans of all genres and  you owe it to yourself to give it a chance.

Steven Sylva-aRT – R.I.P. Ray Bradbury: A Very Sad Loss to Science Fiction/Fantasy

Photo Credit: Alan Light/Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a sad [time] for many of us sci fi/fantasy fans since one of the greatest writers ever in the two genres passed away [Tuesday, June 5th]–Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury was one of the first science fiction writers who I seriously read. The very first novel by him that I purchased and read was The Martian Chronicles when I was a senior in high school. From then on I was hooked. I’ve read and collected nearly all his books of fiction and although I haven’t read as much of his nonfiction books, the few that I did are totally awsome! Other fiction of his that I’ve read have been, Fahrenheit 451, the second book that I read, and The Toynbee Convector which I bought the summer immediately after my high school graduation and just before I entered my freshman year of college. Later I collected and read The October Country, a collection of his dark fiction, his dark fantasy novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, I Sing the Body Electric, and many more that I still have stacked and/or buried away somewhere in my bedroom.  I doubt I’ll ever get rid of any of them unless I can find older editions of some of them since I am a collector of vintage paperbacks and jacketed hard cover books because of their great art and the very eras it depicts. That is another thing Mr. Bradbury was in love with–the sci fi art of early pulp novels and magazines.

However, Mr. Bradbury was not merely a science fiction/fantasy writer. To label him as such would under rate him way too much. Ray Bradbury was a great writer period. He could and did write in almost any genre of fiction though speculative fiction was his biggest. He also wrote mystery, romance, and romantic (as in highly metaphorical and sentimental, not necessarily as in love) stories and has done equally well in them.  His great poetic prose has transcended genre so much that his work is even required reading in the high schools.

I remember reading in my high school senior advanced English class one of his short stories adapted into the Martian Chronicles. It was about a horror expert who flees to Mars to make his own automated haunted house in a future where Earth has outlawed all things fantasy. Unfortunately, as much as many English teachers assigned their students to read his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451–about a future society that illegalises books–none of my high school English courses selected that one for us to read. So I went out and purchased a copy and read it on my own. In reading it I discovered more than ever how dangerous censorship can be to both society and individuals.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Bradbury at CSU, Fresno in the ’90s when he gave a presentation on his literary and artistic career. I was enchanted when I actually shook his pen-calloused hand just before he signed my copy of his Martian Chronicles at the book signing table. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak a second time during the 64th World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles during the summer of 2006, although that time I didn’t get a chance to have him sign another copy of one of his books.  But I am so greatful that I spoke to him in person and had a book signed by him that first time.

One of the things I feared most in all my life is the day Ray Bradbury would die as all of us do sooner or later.  I knew when that would happen there would be no more new stories from him.  Sadly, that day has come.  But he’ll always be with us when we read his work and talk about him as I am doing this very moment.  Also, I believe his spirit will echoe through us new generation of speculative fiction writers who were influenced by his work and his beliefs on art and creativity. I was definitely influenced.

Mr. Bradbury, we will miss you but will always remember you and continue reading your ingenious work. May you rest in peace.

–Steven Rose, Jr.

 

(Original post can be found here: http://faroutfantastic.blogspot.com/2012/06/rip-ray-bradbury-very-sad-loss-to.html?spref=fb )