Once Upon a Scream Author Spotlight: V.E. Battaglia

Horroraddicts.net Publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon a Scream. Remember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon a Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is V.E. Battaglia and recently he talked to us about his writing:
What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?

OnceUponAScreamFrontMy story is called “The Boy and his Teeth,” and it’s about a young boy who loses his first tooth and learns about the do’s and don’ts of dealing with the Tooth Fairy.

What inspired the idea?

Basically, I woke up one day and thought to myself, “Is there a proper story about the tooth fairy?” I wish I could say it was more complex than that, but it was a genuine curiosity. Of course, when I say a “proper story,” I mean an old, original Grimm’s Fairy Tale. I grabbed my volume of Grimm’s and read through a bunch of them and I didn’t see a single thing. So, I scratched out the first draft on the spot, which was extremely stylized. It was entirely in the Grimm’s tradition. I later did some editing to make it a bit more modern, but I still have (and really like) that original draft.

When did you start writing?

I started writing (if you could call it that) when I was rather young. My mother worked at a bakery at one point when I was a kid and, depending on her shift and my school schedule, sometimes I would end up spending some time there with her. In their stock room, which smelled mostly of a strange mix of dough and cardboard, they had an old typewriter. It was a little beaten up, but it still worked. I was barely old enough to spell my name, but I used to sit down there and type out “stories” to tell her later.
What are your favorite topics to write about?

I’m not really picky, if I’m being honest. It’s more a matter of what fits in with whatever I have in 27832260mind. Obviously, I’m attracted to dark topics. I’m into monsters and ghosts and aliens and all the things that mash into the category labeled “Horror,” but I especially like if I can somehow tie them together with the psychological aspects of a character. So much of what makes something horrific is within an individual. It’s very personal. I think the writing should reflect that, if at all possible.

What are some of your influences? 

I love Clive Barker. He’s a big personal favorite, primarily because he knows exactly how to walk the line between what is attractive and repulsive. And he doesn’t cheapen it. He shows it to you in all of its glory. He doesn’t look away from the scary parts. That’s a line I stole from Jack Ketchum. Jack Ketchum is another influence. He once described his visceral brand of writing very simply. He said most authors write-up to the point of a terrible thing happening, and then they look away from it and divert you somewhere else while it’s happening. In his case, he just doesn’t look away. It was more eloquently stated by him, of course, but I love that idea. I don’t have the same freedoms as those big names, but whenever possible, I do my best not to look away. And then there’s Thomas Harris. You can sum him up in a single name: Hannibal Lecter. His novels are a master class in character development. Oh, and of course, obligatory Stephen King reference.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

28699646That is such a difficult question. I can babble for days about this and never be done. One thing that I love about horror is that it is so reflective. We always place ourselves in the situation in a horror story. How many times have you heard someone say, “If I was there, I would have moved out of that house. Just move out!” Probably every time there’s a sudden ghost appearance. Or, “Why is she just standing there? I would have been GONE the second that thing showed up.” I’d guess every time the hulking terror descends from the rafters with drool flowing down its many teeth. (Yes, I’m still questioning why Lambert just stands there in Alien. RUN!) I think horror forces its audience into the shoes of the characters more so than any other genre. You’re not just a spectator. You’re there. And that’s because we often see pieces of ourselves in the characters. Everyone, like it or not, has been in a situation that made them a little nervous at some point and chosen to stay. Just like the people in the haunted house. And everyone has frozen at the sight of something terrible and shocking. Just like Lambert. They’re universal experiences. We can all relate. We see shades of ourselves somewhere in the characters. And that’s the scariest part.

What are some of the works you have available?

I have a story called “The Well,” that was published in the Zen of the Dead anthology through Popcorn Press. That released this past Halloween. It’s a fun collection of stories and horror-themed poetry to celebrate the Halloween season. There’s some really cool stuff in there. A bit more recently, Cohesion Press released another anthology in their SNAFU series called SNAFU: Hunters. I have a story in that one called, “Outbreak.” That one is a military-horror anthology and it’s really awesome. I liked every single story in it. It’s a very unique and varied anthology with all manners of ghosts, ghouls and monsters to deal with in all different time frames and settings.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m working on a bunch of projects at once. Without getting into too much detail, I have a story in the works that deals directly with the Halloween season and with its mythos. That one is a lot of work, but its such fun too. I’m also working on another piece that involves a woman who wakes up one day and finds a small hole in her wall that wasn’t there the day before. Maybe she ignores it. Maybe she gets curious and tries to figure out why it’s there. Hard to say. But you know what they say about curiosity and cats, right?

Where can we find you online?

I literally had no social media presence up until very, very recently. I’ve always felt like part of the mystery of a story is also in the mystery of the author. What’s the fun in asking “Who thinks of this stuff?!” when you can literally look up their life story, right? At the same time, if you can’t find me, that’s pretty useless for everyone. So, in light of that, I’ve started up a Twitter page (twitter.com/vebattaglia) and a WordPress (vebattaglia.wordpress.com). Twitter is a bit of a mystery to me. Part of me wants to publish a piecemeal story there. Part of me wonders if it will devolve into me complaining about my pen running out of ink. WordPress is going to feature everything from random updates to little behind the scenes stories about the origins of difference pieces I get published. There might even be one there now… Who knows?

 

Once Upon a Scream Author Spotlight: Nickie Jamison

Horroraddicts.net Publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon a Scream. Remember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well, they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon a Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is Nickie Jamison and recently she talked to us about her writing:

What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?

OnceUponAScreamFrontMelody of Bones is a mashup of the Grimm’s tales The Singing Bone and The Pied Piper of Hameln – stories of love, music, and betrayal.

What inspired the idea? 

My inspiration came from music. The idea came to me during a Valentine Wolfe concert at ConCarolinas. The band was promoting their newest album and the song Twisted Melody resonated with me and became my twisted fairy tale.

When did you start writing?

I don’t remember a time in my life that I was never making up and telling stories. My Barbies and other toys all had complicated and amazing backstories. The first story that I put to pen and paper was during 5th grade. It was a horror story that got me into trouble…apparently you’re not supposed to write about blood, guts, gore, dismemberment, and other gross things when you are a student at a private Conservative Christian Academy. Who knew? *shrug*

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I don’t think that I have a favored topic, I tend to write whatever madness is going through my mind at the present moment.

What are some of your influences?

I saw an R.L. Stine Fear Street novel in the Dollar Tree the other day and almost cried. Stine, 26607074Christopher Pike, Ann M. Martin, and I can name author’s ad nauseum, but my greatest influence is my dad. No one told him you aren’t supposed to read the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott FitzGerald, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, H.G. Wells, and Stephen King or Stephen Hawking to your kid as a bedtime story. I think I just broke my ad nauseum rule…oops.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

I’m fascinated by the types of fear that can be explored. You’ve got your good ol’ jump scare, but you can also play with the deep rooted fears and phobias.

What are some of the works you have available?

Most of my published works are in the Romance/ Erotica genre. You can find me on Amazon
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my first full-length novel, another fairytale, but modern and less gore.

Where can we find you online?

Once Upon A Scream Author Spotlight: Alison McBain

Horroraddicts.net Publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon A ScreamRemember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well, they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon A Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is Alison McBain and recently talked to us about her writing:

What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?

OnceUponAScreamFront“The Godmother’s Bargain” was inspired by the fairy tale of Cinderella. In the story, Cinderella is no innocent but seeks out the devil to make her dreams come true.

What inspired the idea?

I’ve always enjoyed reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and part of what I’ve enjoyed was the darkness of the tales. Most people are aware of the sanitized, Disney version of fairy tales, but I actually like the bloodier background, where toes and heels get chopped off the evil stepdaughters and pigeons peck out their eyes after Cinderella marries the prince. Since the original is so horrific, I wondered how I could make it even more shocking – and the answer turned into this story.

When did you start writing?

The first story I wrote was when I was in my single digits. It was a horror story explaining about why there were monsters in the closet. My answer: an interdimensional portal, of course. And the fight to “take back the closet” involved lots of blood and guts. Ah, good times.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I’m not sure I have favorite topics to write about – I prefer themes about transitions and change, about inverting the expected and taking a story in a new direction. Other than that, all subjects and genres are fair game.

What are some of your influences?27400522

I’d like to say pretty much everything influences me, but that doesn’t narrow it down too much, does it? So I’ll have to say one of the greatest influences on my writing was the very talented author, Tanith Lee. She was a pioneer in the genre, and the first woman to win the British Fantasy (August Derleth) Award for best novel. Her writing has always inspired me.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

It’s so much fun! This is where you can let your inner serial killer roam free, haha. The sky’s the limit in science fiction, but there really are no limits in horror.

What are some of the works you have available?

I have over forty short stories and poems published, most free to read online. A full list of my published and forthcoming works is on my website.

What are you currently working on?

Other than writing several short stories, I’ve been working on a speculative fiction novel set in a far-future colony light years from Earth. The original settlers go to war with the newer arrivals, a war interrupted only when a third wave of settlers arrive. Influenced by the modern hotbed topics of race, immigration and class concerns, the book is an epic, generation-spanning tale about family and survival.

Where can we find you online?

I blog and post writing updates and book reviews on my website. I am also the reviews editor at the magazine, Bewildering Stories official.

Mr. Peepers and The Quarry

There are three books that I want to talk about in this post. The first one is a short story by a new author named Akela Cooper. Akela has written a few short stories that are available through Biting Dog Press and she has been a staff writer for ABC’s V, She was also a writer’s assistant on Dexter and worked on CBS’s Jericho. She is currently a staff writer for the NBC series, Grimm.

One of Akela’s short stories is called Mr. Peepers and centers around a cat that may be more then just a cat.  A woman named Genny just found out that her brother died mysteriously in a farm house that he recently bought. She goes to the house to investigate and finds out that three other people had also died mysteriously in the house over the last year. When the bodies were found there was a cat named Mr. Peepers by the body and the look in his eyes is not the look of a normal cat. Could Mr. Peepers be the cause of the deaths? If so does Genny have what it takes to put an end to Mr. Peeper’s reign of terror?

When I read Mr. Peepers it kind of reminded me of a Tales From The Crypt episode. It has some humor to it and it has some violent moments that come across as funny and creepy at the same time. The story itself  is well written and even though I thought the ending was predictable, it still worked.  One of the best scenes in the story is where a woman has a run in with Mr. Peepers and things get a little heated. After that, lets just say that she doesn’t see to clearly anymore. 

Another short story by Akela Cooper that I recently read is Tinderbox Blues. A confederate soldier returning from war one day comes to a house of an old slave woman. The woman offers him some treasure if he gets a tinder box out of a pit for her. The solider decides that if the box is more valuable to the woman then the treasure, he must have it for himself and steals the box. Little does he know the box is cursed and he now must suffer the consequences.

Tinder Box Blues has over the top violence with a story that’s a little confusing. It reads a lot like one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or like a gothic ghost story of the 1800’s. I think the point of the story was to gross out and scare the reader and it does a good job of that. There is some great imagery to this story and it makes the story well worth reading, if you like scary old folk tales you will like this one.

The last book I want to talk about is a novel by Mark Allan Gunnels called The Quarry. The Quarry takes place at a picturesque college campus on the edge of a Quarry named Lake Limestone. The lake is 400 feet deep and the students are warned to stay away from it. It was formed in the 1950’s, when a work truck tapped into an underground spring, filling the quarry and leaving all the work vehicles at the bottom of the lake.  At least thats the story that everyone thinks is the truth.

One student on campus named Dale decides to find out what really lies at the bottom of the lake. He scuba dives to the bottom and comes back forever changed and this is when the horror really starts. People start dying on campus and something evil is stiring. Dale’s friends go on a search for answers to what lies beneath, but what they find has been there since the dawn of time and may be unstoppable.

The Quarry is one part mystery and one part horror. You dont know for sure what is in The Quarry and what is truely responsible for the killings until the very end. The book leaves you subtle hints as to what is going on, but leaves you guessing. The Quarry is not an over the top bloody horror story, its much more reserved then that. While none of the death scenes are gruesome or very long, they are still scary because  Mark Allan Gunnels makes you care about all of his characters and you don’t want to see them meet an untimely demise.

That is what maked The Quarry a great read, because you are invested in the characters. Even for the bad ones you get to know them, you feel for them and you see them change throughout the story. You see Dale change from a popular kid to a raging psychopath. You see his girlfriend go from self assured and confident to questioning everything she once believed and Dale’s freind Emilio goes from a timid coward, to finding out what kind of person he truely is. You also see the supporting cast go through changes, with each one being different from how they started out.

I had a couple of minor complaints about The Quarry. One was  that I wanted a little more action, I think the maint point of the stories was to build strong characters and see how their lives change when faced with extreme circumstances. So I guess to much action would have taken away from the character development, but I thought there were parts where a little more action could have made the story more interesting. My other complaint was that I was a little disappointed with the end. The ending was satisfying but I wanted a happy ending for all of the characters because I liked them so much. I guess its not horror if you don’t kill off a couple of people and make your main characters suffer. The Quarry is a masterpiece and I look forward to reading more from Mark Allan Gunnells.