Terror Trax: Sarah Black of Valentine Wolfe

Valentine Wolfe is an accomplished and talented band. The self-described Victorian Chamber Metal Duo, consisting of Sarah Black and Braxton Ballew, resides in Greenville, South Carolina. They are married, have been making music since 2006, and have accomplished much during the past eleven years. Valentine Wolfe has produced albums, played conventions, and scored Shakespeare plays. They were HorrorAddicts.net’s Official Theme Band for seasons 10-12 and won Season 11’s Best Band contest. This honor was awarded during the finale of Season 12.

Recently, I discussed the award and various points of interest with Sarah Black. She is a gracious lady and provided many insights into the world of Valentine Wolfe.

NTK: Hello, Sarah! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

SB: Sure thing!

NTK: Valentine Wolfe was the winner of Best Band for Season 11. How do you feel about this award?

SB: I am very excited and honored by it.

NTK: Did you and your husband expect this win?

SB: I did not expect it at all! But, we do both love horror. I love reading horror fiction, and I love horror movies, and my favorite TV show is Hannibal. So, maybe, this love of horror comes through in some of our music.

NTK: What kind of horror fiction influences you? Do you have a favorite author?

SB: Right now, I am really liking Neal Stephenson, although he may not be considered horror. I also really like Stephen King. I also really love Mary Shelley and I am looking forward to reading Frankenstein again soon.

NTK: Which of King’s book or stories is your favorite?

SB: I really enjoyed Salem’s Lot and also, Mr. Mercedes.

NTK: Did you enjoy the film adaptations of his books? What horror movies are your favorites?

SB: I have not seen any film adaptations of his movies but I am excited to try some. I do love the Frankenstein movies! I also love Crimson Peak. That one has great music and great costumes, and it just looks so good.

NTK: Do those films inspire your music when you compose?

SB: Absolutely! And, since next year will be the 20th Anniversary of Frankenstein, we are going to try to do something with it. We’ve done programs at schools in the past for our Edgar Allan Poe music and had great success with that, so for this year, I think we’ll try to work up a program about Mary Shelley.

Sterling School, in Greenville, has been super receptive to us coming out and playing our Poe songs for the kids during the month of October, when they study him. So, we want to have some meetings with the teachers and coordinate something about Mary Shelley.

NTK: Will you make a new album in the vein of Once Upon a Midnight, your Poe-themed CD?

SB: We want to meet with the teachers first and let them help guide the focus of the project to see what will be the best fit. But, yes, we probably will have an album similar to Once Upon a Midnight.

NTK: Do the kids show a lot of interest in your programs? Do you get a lot of questions after your performances for them?

SB: Yes! The kids love it! They are encouraged to sit still and be very polite but then Braxton will tell them that since we are playing Metal that they can get a little crazy. It’s so cute to watch!

The teachers have tried to keep the question and answer section after our performance more related to Poe questions but the kids are interested in us as musicians as well. It is so nice for us to show kids that making their own stories and playing music that they like is a viable lifestyle choice.

We performed for Sterling School’s month of “Poetober” in previous years. The school wanted to have their own little convention and we played at that as well. The kids all did their own panels and it was pretty impressive.

NTK: Speaking of conventions, have you played any lately?

SB: The last one we played was the Atlanta Steampunk Expo. It just started up this year. We had such a great time there. We performed a live and improvised score of the film Nosferatu. The next one will be Marscon.

NTK: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’d like to score a silent film. How was the scoring of Nosferatu received?

SB: Everyone said they really enjoyed it! And, we were so happy to get such a great opportunity.

We scored The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari earlier this year at a convention called Monsterama and then we also did Nosferatu at the Main Library here in Greenville, SC.

NTK: How is scoring a film different from composing an original song?

SB: It is very different for me! I have been used to writing songs out and then practicing them and then performing them. Improvising live is a bit exhilarating and terrifying! I love both experiences and I hope to be able to continue to do both in the future.

NTK: Valentine Wolfe has provided the theme song for the last three seasons of HorrorAddicts.net’s podcast. How did it feel to hear your song, “Broken Pieces,” as their theme song?

SB: That was so cool! I am very excited about that!

NTK: Now that your time as the main theme song is up, will you submit a new song to the Band Contest?

SB: We just might! I love that the theme is, “This Place is Cursed.” It has inspired me to start writing a song with those lyrics and if I finish the song in time, I will certainly submit it! I don’t want to take up space that could go to a different group and I wouldn’t want anyone to get sick of us, but I do love this theme so I was inspired to get writing. We’ll see what comes out of it.

NTK: Do you have any other future projects to share with our readers?

SB: We are still in the planning stages, but hopefully we will have some kind of Mary Shelley project for next year. I’m not sure yet if it will be an EP or a full-length album yet. We did an album in 2015 called “The Ghosts of Christmas Past.” I have been super excited about the idea of playing a Haunted Dickens Christmas Show or maybe doing something similar to that. So, I would also like to get more holiday music together for next year.

NTK: Sarah, I could talk to you all day. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Good luck on your future endeavors and congratulations on your Best Band of Season 11 win.

SB: Thank you so much.

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HorrorAddicts.net 122, Dario Ciriello

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Horror Addicts Episode# 122

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

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dario ciriello | glass android | mario bava

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

27 days till halloween

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February DARK LOVE Month

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Dark Love: What is your definition?

For many of us Horror Addicts, we’ve been led down a dark and cynical path that calls for anti-Valentine’s Day parties and biological heart jello molds. So what are you planning for the big day?

February 14th for seven very unlucky gangsters in 1929, meant death. It’s also the day many wars were started, countries were liberated, and Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame) was born. So what does this day, and the subsequent bleeding out into the rest of the month, mean to you?

For me, I have to confess, I think of Morticia and Gomez. My own dark romance has caused this day to be full of thoughts of my husband. It’s so great to be able to share the same tastes, dark sense of humor, and sense of macabre beauty that we both love. Even as we become more “elder-goth” than our once youthful selves, we still enjoy the darker things in life.

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I know some of you are gagging at that thought of spending the rest of your days with the same person, but for you I say, embrace your individuality and enjoy your quick hookups! Valentine’s brings many latex-covered delights. If you are in Florida, you may attend the Valentine’s Fetish Ball, or in British Colombia, the Sin City: Valentine’s Ball, or Toronto, the Opera House Fetish Ball. Maybe your tastes fall a little less fetish and a little more dark and sinister? You might want to check out the Endless Night Vampire Ball in NYC, or the Robotic Valentines Vampire Underwear Party in Oklahoma (Robots+Underwear+Vamps? Yeah, that might be weirder than the fetish balls. Hhhehe).  Maybe you just want to get your aggression out? Try the San Francisco Valentine’s Day Public Pillow Fight, which happens annually. maybe you’d just like to stay home, watch a good murder movie, or read a good book? Whatever your choice this month, let your love of horror and dark love… flourish.

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When I recently asked in our Facebook group, what you, the addicts thought of Dark Love, Horror Addict A.D. Vick said, “Ah, you pose an interesting question. To me, dark romance involves feelings and desires that go beyond anything that a person would ordinarily talk about in mixed mainstream company. These things often lie within our psyches, but are forbidden. How about the eroticism that may exist between a vampire and his/her victim? Imaging desiring such a being and relishing in being the willing victim who is willing to offer life’s essence to the blood drinker who is not only seductive, but has the power to mesmerize? How about relationships between the living and the deceased, who have somehow broken between the dimensional barriers of the living and the dead. A witch who has strong powers of seduction might come to mind. I would even call a romantic encounter that begins at a metal show dark. Anyway, those are just a few things that I would consider dark love.”

Kbatz said, “Wuthering Heights perhaps is a good example for me. It is just so twisted and demented and endearing or sentimental yet it is almost a touch too from the grave hehe. Probably why I prefer it to Jane Eyre.”

Mimielle said, “Secret things, hidden desires…the things that make us stir but that we don’t talk about except maybe long after midnight in whispers, by candlelight. And maybe chocolate.”

What is your definition of Dark Love? What are the unique ways you express it? What are some desires you find titillating that “norms” don’t, but we, your fellow addicts understand?

Guest Blog: Touched by a Ghost by Loren Rhoads

Touched by a Ghost

by Loren Rhoads

            After I paid for the first Haunted Mansion retreat, I worried what I’d do if the mansion really was haunted.  I wouldn’t be able to drive to Mount Tamalpais for the long weekend, since I couldn’t leave my family without a car.  If I caught a ride with a stranger, I would be trapped at the mansion.  What if things got really bad and I was afraid to sleep?  I wouldn’t be able to slink out to my car and sleep in it.

            HMP2coveritunesI also couldn’t call my husband — assuming the isolated mansion got cell reception — to come and get me in the middle of the night.  No way could I ask him to get our seven-year-old up, put her in the car seat, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and rescue me from the ghosts.  If I went, I had to stick it out.

Probably, I told myself, if it got that bad, someone else would have the sense to want to leave.  I could ride back to the ferry or a bus stop with them.

Of course, I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t face an all-out Poltergeist-style freak out.  As I packed for the weekend, my new worry became that I’d spent a couple hundred dollars to write for a weekend in a haunted mansion — and nothing would happen.  The ghosts would ignore us, or they’d prowl around downstairs while we were all upstairs asleep.  How disappointing would that be?

See, I have a healthy respect for ghosts.  I’ve seen their shadows since I was a kid.  Generally, they don’t do anything more than make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I feel cold and slightly jittery.  Most of the ghosts I’ve seen were people I knew, or at least people I recognized.  They weren’t trying to scare me.  My body’s reaction to them was scarier than anything they ever did.

Rain hadn’t told us much about the ghosts that she’d encountered in the mansion.  She wanted us to have our own experiences, to form our own opinions.  So I went into it blind, knowing no one other than her.

I met Scott and Eunice for the ride over to Mount Tam.  Eunice had come up from Southern California; Scott would drive the two of us from San Francisco’s Marina District across the Golden Gate.  I was relieved to find them your typical very nice horror writers.  They made me feel comfortable, like I wasn’t making a terrible mistake going away with strangers to a haunted house for the weekend.

We arrived at the Haunted Mansion in the middle of Thursday afternoon. As we carried our bags into the mansion, Rain was standing in the grand staircase.  She offered to give us a tour, so we could pick our rooms for the weekend.  We hurried to move our luggage into the first-floor parlor and followed her up the stairs.

The second floor was a maze of interconnecting rooms that encircled the stairway.  Almost everyone else had come with a friend with whom they planned to share a room.  Since I was solo, I wavered between asking to share someone else’s room or taking a room of my own.  Would the ghosts be more or less likely to mess with me if I slept alone?

There were only eight of us there that first night, rattling around in a house that seemed able to sleep a hundred.  Rain said we would all stay on the second floor, even though that was where she’d had the most intense of her ghostly encounters.  Most of the second-floor rooms were pass-throughs:  each dormitory-style room connecting to the next.  I don’t sleep well at the best of times, so I wasn’t eager to choose a room where people might walk through in the night to use the bathroom.  Since I wander a fair amount when I can’t sleep, I also didn’t want to wake anyone else.

Rain’s tour paused outside a little blue room tucked between a suite — reserved for the one married couple among us — and dead space.  I’m not sure what lay on the other side of the wall: maybe a linen closet?  It wasn’t another guest room, anyway.

The blue room felt very restful to me, very welcoming.  It helped that it only had one door, which faced the bed, and a window that looked out on Mount Tam.  The energy felt inviting.  When I stepped inside and saw the artwork hanging above the vanity — a piece of white silk featuring a bright Chinese phoenix — I had to have that room.  I wear a phoenix tattoo on my left arm.  The room and I shared a kinship.

*

            My little room proved to be a great haven, especially after I set my suitcase in front of the closet.  Not that I thought anything was going to come through there — or that I felt the suitcase provided much of a barricade — but I’ve seen Poltergeist too many times.  You never know with big empty spaces.

I settled into the double bed, feeling safe in a way I wouldn’t have in a room with more doors.  I closed my eyes, exhausted and slightly drunk from Rain’s good Argentinean wine.

Sleep wouldn’t come.

I thought I heard whispering voices, then a man speaking, but Yvonne and Weston had the suite that shared the minuscule balcony outside my spider-guarded window.  I gladly put on my headphones to block the voices out.

As I lay there in the dark, trying to sleep, the light in my room kept changing.  Smudges and smears of light flashed through the well of shadow that lay between the bed and the vanity.  The sliver of light coming in around the door grew wider toward morning, as if the door was inching open, but it wasn’t.  Even so, I didn’t turn my back toward the center of the room.

Finally, about 4:30, I told myself that I really needed to get some sleep.  I rolled onto my stomach, clutched the pillow, felt myself relax.  Sleep was washing over me when someone touched my hair.

Someone touched my hair.  Electricity thrilled through me.  I knew I was still alone in the room, but opened my eyes anyway.  The room remained silent and empty, holding its breath to see what I would do.

It occurred to me that a spider might have fallen from the ceiling on to me. However, the sensation of being touched hadn’t felt like something practically weightless dancing across my head. My hair is just not that sensitive.  Something the size of a hand compressed the hair on the right side of my head.  Without a doubt, someone touched me.

“Hello,” I whispered softly.  “It will be dawn soon.  I’d really like to get some sleep before then.  Can we talk in the morning?”

I waited, but nothing more happened.  Sleep was remarkably easy to find.

 ***

 CIMG0977-headshotThis is an excerpt from an essay I wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, published by Damnation Books in 2013.  I served as editor for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, published by Damnation Books in 2014.  Both books in the series collect fiction and poetry inspired by our retreats at the mansion.  They also include reports of the hauntings we experienced and evidence reports by the GhostGirls.

The third Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat is in the planning stages for September 2015.  You can see the details and register for it here: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

December HAUNTINGS Month

mansion-header (1)December is HAUNTINGS month here at HorrorAddicts.net. Have you ever seen a ghost? What about hearing footsteps when no one is there? Possibly you’ve just FELT like someone was there when you were the only one in the house?

This month we will be exploring HAUNTINGS, both true and fictional. We’ll be talking to Paranormal Investigators and about Haunted Locations you can visit. Please send any haunting stories you would like to share to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

I’ve seen and felt many things during my life, but the one location that sticks with me the most is a church we used to go to in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the child of a minister, I spent many hours hanging out in the halls of various churches. This particular church I spent more time in because we were the blizzard shelter for the area. I even had my own little hide out in the office area with sleeping bag, pillows, and my trusty stuffed seal named Softy. Me and Softy used to curl up and sleep to the sounds of people being fed and sheltered a couple of doors away.

I’m not sure of the church history, I was only 6 at the time, but the place had more “creepy” energy than any other place I’ve ever been. Sure, I was young so some of that came with the fear of being alone in a large building when my parents were doing other things, but I witnessed several hauntings.

woman-in-black-6Once, when they were decorating the stage for a play, I watched as several of the church men set up a large wooden set with holes cut out at varying heights. In the play, actors would stick their heads out of the holes and say jokes or sing (kinda like Laugh-in). After the sets were all up, the actors tried it out, popping in and out of the holes like they would later during the play. I laid on one of the pews and watched. When I woke up in the same position a hour later, everyone was gone. The stage was still lit, but all the adults had gone home. My mother called me and said I had five minutes till we would leave. I sat up, grabbed Softy, and started for the foyer. Hearing something behind me, I looked back and saw a couple of kids playing with the sets. They were sticking their heads in and out of the different holes and making funny faces. Mom called from the door and said we were locking up.

“But what about the kids playing on stage?” I asked.

“What kids? Everyone is gone,” she said.

I looked back and there were no kids. Mom and I investigated the stage, but still found no one around.

That wasn’t the last time I saw kids in the church and the most terrifying one was a girl in a yellow dress that had a red bloody ring around her neck. I was never really frightened by the ghosts in the church, but remembering the happy girl motioning for me to follow sends chills up my spine today. I’m sure my parents thought I was just being an imaginative six-year-old, but as I got older and have experienced other occurrences of the supernatural, I realize that church was definitely haunted.

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But what are hauntings? Are they ghosts trapped between the worlds? Are they simply imprints of previous events? Are they demons or evil creatures playing with our minds? What do you think?

Ghost Sighting: Resurrection Mary

Since the last episode of horror addicts was on the 1930’s, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my favorite ghost story: Resurrection Mary.   The story of Resurrection Mary takes place near Chicago Illinois in a town called Justice. Mary is a ghost that haunts Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and the Resurrection cemetery.

Mary was first spotted in the 1930’s. People have described her as a young woman with blond hair, wearing  a white party dress with a shawl and carrying a purse. Men have reported picking her up hitchhiking near the Willowbrook ballroom, sometimes she asks to be taken to the cemetery. She  gets into the car and disappears before the driver reaches their destination. Many people have claimed to have seen Mary. Sometimes she just appears in front of cars driving down Archer Avenue and sometimes she appears in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle and slowly fades away.

Mary’s early appearances started when several motorists who drove past the Resurrection cemetery kept claiming that there was a young woman who kept trying to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The story changed after that, some people  say that they met Mary at the Willowbrook Ballroom which at that time was called the O’ Henry Ballroom. People said that they would dance with the girl and then she would then ask for a ride home. The directions she gave would lead to the cemetery, she did not speak when she got into the car and then mysteriously vanished when they got to the cemetery.

Many people have also claimed that they have seen Mary walking along Archer Avenue and when they ask her if she wants a ride she disappears. The strangest thing about Mary was that most people who saw her in the 30’s all described her as looking the same from her blond hair, blue eyes, and party dress to her shawl and the small purse that she carried.

Other descriptions of Mary were much more terrifying than a vanishing ghost. Some drivers have said they were driving along when a young woman bolted out in front of their car and screamed. Then the driver heard a sickening thud followed by the woman being thrown through the air and striking the pavement. When the driver would go out to check on the girl, they found no trace of a body. The Justice police department has had several reports of people coming in and crying that they had struck and killed a woman but could not find the body.

No one knows for sure who Mary was in real life but the story that most people believe is that in the winter of 1930 there was a young woman dancing at the O’ Henry Ballroom with her boyfriend. At some point in the evening they got into a fight and Mary stormed out of the ballroom and started to walk home along Archer Drive. She was then struck by a hit and run driver and left to die in the road. She was buried by her grieving parents at the Resurrection Cemetery.

Most appearances of Mary happen in the winter and most of the sightings of her were in the 30’s and 40’s but reports of Mary have never stopped. Mary has become a legend and is considered to be Chicago’s most popular ghost.  There have been books written about her and even a movie was released about her a couple of years ago but it didn’t do Mary justice. The only way to really find out about Resurrection Mary is to take a drive along Archer avenue and maybe you will find Mary walking along the road  by herself, trying to get back to the cemetery.

Do you have any favorite ghost stories that you want to share with us,  leave a comment and let us know.