Odds and Dead Ends: The danger of the future in ‘A Warning to the Curious’ by M. R. James

“May I ask what you intend to do with it next?”

“I’m going to put it back.”

The 1972 Christmas adaptation of the classic M. R. James ghost story, A Warning to the Curious, perfectly captured the unique terror of the story, a terror that was at the heart of most of James’ classics. In the tale, an amateur archaeologist finds himself on the trail of an ancient Anglian crown said to protect the ancient kingdom from invasion, but is pursued by its ghostly protector intent on keeping it hidden. What drives the story is that the past should remain in the past, admired from a distance but never defiled for personal gain, lest destruction be wrought on more than just the individual.

For note, I’m going to discuss the story in detail, so, spoilers ahead. Just a little warning to the curious.

The idea of a ghostly companion isn’t something new; for one such example, Sheridan Le Fanu used a disturbing rendition of a demonic presence in Green Tea, about a man who had his third eye opened to a demon, which takes the shape of a monkey with glowing red eyes that haunts his every waking moment. As James was a great admirer of Le Fanu’s work, and helped compile several volumes of his stories, he would have obviously been aware of this story, and the ghostly companion idea.

For James, however, he uses this device for more than just scaring people. James in his personal life was most at home in the old libraries of Cambridge and Eton, as a medievalist and scholar. He was, for all intents and purposes, very much afraid of radical changes of life, especially through technology and social upheaval. The First World War is said to have affected him tremendously, to hear and know of his students, and friends, dying in the trenches abroad. All of this helps us understand where James comes from when his story puts so much emphasis on maintenance of a status quo, of letting the past lie.

It’s interesting to me that in both the original short story and the BBC adaptation, the main character, Paxton, is going through a period of personal lifestyle change. In the short story he is in the process of moving to Sweden, and spending a last few weeks in England before he follows his belongings abroad. In the BBC version, Paxton has been a clerk for twelve years before his company folded the week before, and he decided to follow up on the story of the Anglian crown as a result of nothing else to do, and nothing left to lose; a chance of making a name for himself. The curiosity in finding an ancient relic, and using it to begin a new life (economically and socially on the screen, as a metaphorical omen of good luck for a new beginning in the original), morphs into Paxton’s eventual undoing.

Even the title spells out the intended meaning of the text; don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. And that in both versions of the text, the re-burial of the crown doesn’t deter the spirit from pursuing Paxton, is further proof that the uncovering of the artifact is not simply a physical defiling of the past, but an endangerment on a larger scale. By removing the crown, there is danger of the shores being invaded, bringing about that social upheaval and radical change that James feared so much. To deter others from doing likewise, and having knock-on effects which negatively influences the wider world, the guardian of the crown must end Paxton’s life. This punishment for curiosity is famously central to H. P. Lovecraft’s stories. Lovecraft would have had the protagonist end up insane, or gods breaking through into our dimension in some way. Lovecraft himself wrote of M R James in many letters and articles, praising him as a master of weird fiction, so the connection between the two writers is certainly there.

In our own days of great social change, with the world going through unprecedented times, the antiquated verse of James’ ghost stories might seem a little stilted. Yet he seemed to express that fear in all of us with the best, that the change overcoming the world might contain some ghosts to be feared. How we choose to take his warning for the world, is up to us, but it seems chilling nonetheless that James was putting into fiction exactly what many people fear will happen if one kicks the hornet’s nest of the past. For an old-fashioned Victorian like James, he wanted the comfort of his history. For any change to happen, we must be prepared to face whatever consequences we unleash.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-If you want more M. R. James, here’s a link to an article I did a few years ago, comparing the device of very literal ‘deadlines’ in James’ Casting The Runes and Koji Suzuki’s novel, Ring: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/odds-and-dead-ends-analysis-of-casting-the-runes-and-ring/

Odds and Dead Ends: Hyde and Seek

Why Stevenson’s classic still haunts us

It’s hard to think that Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, could be anything like a surprise today, with the story so deeply ingrained in the popular conscious, at least at a basic level. But when the story was unleashed in 1886, it changed the face not only of gothic fiction but everyday thought. It altered how we look at ourselves. Its names are used so frequently as short-hands that we don’t even realise we use them. Its story is so potent because, at some instinctual level, we’ve known it all along.

That both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are two halves of the same person is so obvious to us now, that it is hard to remember that this was the novella’s major twist. Although the concept of the doppelganger had been used before; never quite like this. In an age of scientists beginning to look at the mind, Stevenson kick-started the psychoanalytic influence of popular culture. That later Freudian theories of the ‘id’ and the ‘ego’ would so closely mirror Henry Jekyll splitting his consciousness into its good and evil sides, is only to be expected. Studies into schizophrenia, insanity, and other levels of mental illness,  still the property of the scientist in the asylum, just beginning. That this madness could spill into the streets of London was unthinkable.

What I think captivates us most is that the moral dilemma proposed in the story is so deeply personal and human. After a single transformation, Jekyll gets a taste of his new, unrefined freedom. The dark activities that Hyde participates in thrill him, excite him so much that he voluntarily changes over and over again. When he realises that it’s getting harder to remain as his good side, something seems to change in Jekyll’s narrative. This is something much older, instinctual, a kind of self-possession. And when he thinks he is rid of Hyde for good, temptation strikes again, leading to the downward spiral that spells out his doom.

Therefore, we ask ourselves questions. Is evil inherent in all of us, and is it only a matter of time until temptation unleashes it? Once a single crack appears, have we set up an inevitable chain of events that will lead to our final demise? Though Jekyll’s potion may have rattled the initial cages, eventually Hyde possesses the key to his own lock. What about those of us who are perhaps weaker than he? Will one day our darker sides discover that the cell door, if rattled hard enough, will break on its own?

By now, the doubling trope is so old and worn down that it is hard to see it as new and refreshing. And yet, just like most of our movie monsters, time and time again it crops up. The reveal in Fight Club is one of the most well known in cinematic history, and even The Usual Suspects has a trace of it. Primal Fear (another Ed Norton movie, and another movie from the 90’s; perhaps there’s a follow-up article on the prevalence of doppelgangers in that particular decade?) also follows through on this concept. Psycho is perhaps one of the most influential examples of this theme being carried across, and Stephen King has used it several times in his various writings. Any ‘evil inside’ story is dubbed ‘a modern-day Jekyll-and-Hyde’. How many stories can you think of that receive this kind of treatment?

One of the best doppelganger movies of recent times is Jordan Peele’s Us. If you haven’t yet seen it, I highly recommend you do so immediately. Peele takes the concept and fills it with additional meaning. It isn’t just evil inside, but all of our lost hopes and griefs, all of the unfilled desires. The Untethered are our lost childhoods let loose and raging at the world. Life has crushed its dreams into the cookie-cutter pattern of capitalist aspirations that never manage to satisfy.

Never before have we been so aware as a people that, sometimes, we’re just as bad as the monster’s we have dreamed up to take our place. When before we created entities to embody our fears, we now project them as altered versions of ourselves as an attempt to come to grips with the evil inside. We don’t create avatars and fill them with our darkness anymore, because the avatar staring back at us is every bit ourselves as we are right in the beginning.

Even in The Exorcist, Karras must eliminate all doubt that the disturbances in the McNeill household are not being caused by Regan herself, before he can convince the Church that an exorcism is needed. He must go into the investigation with the initial belief that Regan, as a result of the breakup of her parents, the overworking of her mother, and her journey through puberty into adulthood, has unleashed a subconscious identity with parapsychological powers. In this story, demons are less readily-believed by the Church than Regan unknowingly having a ghostly Mr Hyde.

And so the legacy of Stevenson’s story lives on. Through its dozens of adaptations, its thousands of reworkings, and the endless imaginations his characters have inspired, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has touched us all because, very simply, it gets us to ask ourselves a very potent, and disturbing, question. “Am I evil?” I don’t think there’s a person in the world that hasn’t at some point thought they had a bad side waiting to destroy the world, and perhaps this little novella is the reason we all started looking at others, and ourselves, with a little more trepidation than we did before.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: @KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Fight Club. 1999. [Film] Directed by David Fincher. USA: Fox 2000 Pictures.

Primal Fear. 1998. [Film] Directed by Gregory Hoblit. USA: Rysher Entertainment.

Psycho. 1960. [Film] Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. United States of America: Shamley Productions.

Stevenson, R. L., 2006. Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In: R. Luckhurst, ed. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales. New York: Oxford, pp. 1 – 66.

The Exorcist. 1973. [Film] Directed by William Friedkin. USA: Hoya Productions.

The Usual Suspects. 1995. [Film] Directed by Bryan Singer. USA: Blue Parrot.

Us. 2019. [Film] Directed by Jordan Peele. USA: Monkeypaw Productions.

Odds and Dead Ends: Scary Shadows | Analysis of H G Wells’ ‘The Red Room’

 

H. G. Wells might be more known for his science-fiction novels, such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, but some of his short stories might as well have been written by H. P. Lovecraft. The Red Room is a straight up ghost story in the same vein as M. R. James. It’s a little gem of a story, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts as to what makes it such a delight.

The Red Room details the protagonist taking up a challenge of sorts to stay in a cursed castle bedroom overnight. The opening sets this up nicely in what might now seem a cliché. The opening line that ‘“I can assure you,” said I, “that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me,”’ is reminiscent of Jack Torrance in Kubrick’s The Shining saying ‘“That’s not going to happen to me”’ when Ullman speaks of the previous caretaker going insane.

This single line perfectly sets up the beginning of the character’s arc (from skeptic to believer), tells us the genre of story (supernatural), and the character of the protagonist. His skepticism is reinforced when he says that ‘I half suspected the old people were trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of their house’. He is ‘abbreviated and broadened to an impossible sturdiness in the queer old mirror at the end of the room.’ He sees himself as a rock, immovable against anything that passes his way. However, the mirror has changed his appearance, and just as he sees himself to be a rock in a storm, his faith is soon to be changed.

The protagonist’s disbelief in ghosts is due to a fear of age and dying. It is said that he is ‘“eight-and-twenty”’, which is twenty-eight for those who don’t speak century old English, making him a young man. This is in contrast to the three elderly people who apparently live in the castle. This fear of their age presents itself when the protagonist remarks that ‘There is, to my mind, something inhuman in senility.’ Age removes human qualities, and so something very old is to be seen as disgusting, or feared. Spirits, dead for many years, must be terrifying to him.

As the protagonist leaves the group for the room, they are described as ‘dark against the firelight’, which is one of the many allusions to shadows peppered throughout the opening. This further links them to the spirits that will eventually come to haunt our protagonist. Just a little later the protagonist himself expands on this idea, even remarking that ‘their very existence, thought I, is spectral.’

Along with this is the line ‘“It’s your own choosing.”’ This line is repeated like a mantra throughout the opening, and though it may be a bit overdone, the message is clear. By disobeying the warnings given, he brings the doom upon himself. This cliché also gets played up in The Cabin in the Woods, when the group ignore the warnings not to go up to the cabin. You get what’s coming to you.

Soon, even before we enter the room itself, Wells drops the recurrent image that will pervade the remainder of the piece, that of moving, sentient shadows fighting against the candlelight. There’s something very primal about this opposition, very simply a play of light against dark, of good against evil. ‘My candle flared and made the shadows cover and quiver.’ That the shadows are anthropomorphised, being said to have ‘came sweeping up behind me, and another fled before me into the darkness overhead’ is disturbing. Light has to be controlled by man, dependent on him, but the dark can move as it wishes.

The repetition and enhancing of this play of ghostly shadows is what drives the remainder of the piece. ‘The door of the Red Room and the steps up to it were in a shadowy corner.’ The protagonist must move into the realm of darkness if he is to attempt to hold out against it. The room itself is a ‘huge shadowy room with its black window bays,’ full of dust and ‘black corners, its germinating darkness.’ And against all this the candlelight has very little effect, ‘a little tongue of light in the vast chamber; its rays failed to pierce to the opposite end of the room.’

Despite being disturbed by ‘some impalpable quality of that ancient room,’ the protagonist tries to ‘preserve my scientific attitude of mind,’ and examines the room ‘systematically.’ He lights several candles throughout the room, illuminating all that he can, but despite this he still puts his revolver ‘ready to hand.’ Have all his efforts been in vain? He tries to maintain that he is in control of his emotions and that his ‘precise examination had done me a little good,’ and yet ‘I still found the remoter darkness of the place and its perfect stillness too stimulating for the imagination.’ All the build up at the beginning of the story begins to pay off, as our anticipation for ghosts and ghouls overrides the common sense saying that there is nothing there. Every mention of a black spot, a shadow in the rafters, is somewhere we search for ghosts in between the lines, looking for subtext. We are literally jumping at shadows.

A draught enters the room, and soon the candle in the alcove begins to flicker, which ‘kept the shadows and penumbra perpetually shifting and stirring in a noiseless flighty dance.’ An attempt to light more candles gives us his humorous remark that ‘when the ghost came I could warn him not to trip over them.’ Though this line is obviously a joke to himself, he’s brought ghosts into his everyday vocabulary, thinking of them as existing in his world. He’s begun a path away from disbelief into acknowledgement.

And then the candles start to go out.

Now that Wells has ratcheted up the tension by implication alone, he brings on the scares. The alcove, where the deepest shadow has been, is suddenly in darkness again. A candle has gone out. When trying to relight it, two more go out. The shadows do not give him time to bring back the light, and immediately move in for the kill. Again the comparison of the darkness to calculated activity is drawn, as ‘the flames vanished as if the wick had been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb.’ The protagonist moves closer and closer to hysteria, and ‘a queer high note getting into my voice somehow.’

The protagonist, hysterical, again breaches into the realms of ghostly belief by exclaiming that ‘“those candles are wanted… for the mantel candlesticks.”’ He begins to fight against the shadows’ continuous extinguishing of the candles, ‘the shadows I feared and fought against returned, and crept in on me, first a step gained on this side of me, then on that.’ It is a fight that he can only lose because as was said many times at the beginning, it was a fate of his own choosing.

And yet the ambiguity is still maintained, because the draught was never initially shown to be ghostly in nature, and when he picks up another candle, ‘abruptly this was blown out as I swung it off the table by the wind of my sudden movement.’ Wells continually holds the reader in suspense of wanting to see something overtly supernatural, so that we voraciously follow the protagonist’s stumbling with our own clumsy speed, running headlong through the pages. It is Wells at his finest.

His escape from the room is even deliberately non-supernatural, battering himself up by his own stumbling in desperation and anxiety. And in the end, the final revelation of the nature of the malevolence in the room is a beautiful touch. ‘“Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms.”’ It is described as being a supernatural force, but it is entirely possible to view it as a kind of mass hysteria. Somewhere creepy that instills fear that causes people to essentially, accidentally kill themselves in terror. The disorientation of a sudden acceptance of the possibility of spirits, of the loss of a guiding light, combined with his fear of age and decay, all fuel a Todorovian fantastic story. It’s a wonderful touch to end the piece.

In conclusion, The Red Room is a masterfully crafted ghost story that should be remembered with the best. A great build up to a frantic fight of the rational vs. the irrational part of the brain, with memorable descriptions of the sentient shadows, in a spooky gothic castle. It’s inspired my own work[1], and I hope that you’ll find something delightfully spooky from it as well.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

King, S., 1977. The Shining. United States: Doubleday.

The Cabin in the Woods. 2012. [Film] Directed by Drew Goddard. USA: Mutant Enemy.

Todorov, T., 1975. The Fantastic. New York: Cornell University.

Wells, H. G., 1896. The Red Room. [Online]
Available at: https://repositorio.ufsc.br/bitstream/handle/123456789/157356/The%20Red%20Room%20-%20H.G.%20Wells.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
[Accessed 23 06 2019].

Wells, H. G., 1897. The War Of The Worlds. United Kingdom: Pearson’s Magazine.

Wells, H. G., 1931. The Time Machine. New York: Random House.

[1] For those interested, the piece in question, The Voice-Snatcher, will be released in The Sirens Call #45 at the end of June/beginning of July.

David’s Haunted Library: Cold Cuts

Antarctica is a hard place to survive in, it’s even harder when there are mutant penguins with tentacles running around. Ozzy is a pop culture geek and a junk food junkie while Ben takes himself seriously and is Ozzy’s polar opposite. Both are environmental scientists working in a lab at the bottom of the world in Antarctica.

They thought that putting up with each other, the isolation and the cold temperatures would be the hard parts of this job, but they thought wrong. Little did they know that the terrorist organization called The Order Of The Red Wolf has a Nuclear reactor that is affecting the whole continent causing Penguins to become monsters. There are no happy feet in this story.

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen has action, horror and comedy with a story that moves along at the speed of light. It also manages to give us some memorable characters. One of them is Ozzy who transforms from an overweight misfit to an action hero with a love interest by the end. The story also has some strong female characters such as Terra and Lorelei who aren’t trained to fight but do a good job of it when they have to. The only negative part of this story is that we aren’t given a lot of information on The Order Of The Red Wolf which is the group that created the mutants in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

What I really love about this book is how it goes from gruesome to funny. Every time there is a scene with Penguins tearing someone apart you also seem to get a scene that is laugh out loud funny. This book has one of the funniest sex scenes that I’ve ever read in a book and there was another great moment that will make you look at the paintings of Bob Ross in a whole new light. Another scene that I enjoyed was when one of the characters gets attacked and keeps fighting off the penguins and repeating to everyone that: “My guts came out.”

Looking at Robert Payne Cabeen’s bio you can see that he is an artist and a screenwriter and it shows in this book. At the back of the book there are several drawings of what the mutant penguins look like but also the way the action is described paints a picture for the reader. As I was reading this I found myself envisioning the whole thing as a rated R summer blockbuster movie. For example towards the end there is a great battle scene between the humans and penguins complete with background music.  I found myself laughing because I kept thinking how awesome this would look on the big screen. Cold Cuts is a lot of fun, it has that perfect mix of horror and humor that I like to find in a book.

David’s Haunted Library: Kind Nepenthe and The Lucky Ones Died First


 

Deep in the wilderness of Humboldt County in Northern California lies a pot farm where a young woman named Rebecca wants to teach her five-year old daughter how to live off the land. Along with her boyfriend Calendula, they are helping a man named Coyote who is growing marijuana and is in need of help harvesting it. Calendula and Rebecca are hoping to live the hippie lifestyle and get enough money together from the harvest to buy their own farm.

It won’t be an easy task, living close by is Diesel Dan who helped start the farm and Coyote owes money to. Dan lost everything due to drugs and a stint in prison, but now he looks to make amends for his past and set an example for his soon to be born granddaughter. Coyote is strung out on pills and barely keeping his head above water and he wonders if he can come up with the money to pay everyone. To make matters more complicated the farm is home to an old legend and the ghost of a boy who is looking for a playmate.

Kind Nepenthe by Matthew Brockmeyer is a story about what happens when you dream big and reality slaps you in the face. All of the characters in this story make decisions that they hope will make their lives better but each decision comes with drastic consequences. For instance, we have Rebecca and Calendula who are working hard to get the money together for a farm but they have to deal with things like Coyote disappearing and threatening not to pay them and several other problems. They both get to the point where they wonder if all of this is worth it and their personalities start to change with Rebecca wondering if she ever cared for Calendula in the first place.

Another interesting character is Coyote who is regularly thinking of the wife and kids he left and you see how the drug lifestyle he has led has ruined him. I also enjoyed the relationship between Diesel Dan and his son. Dan is hoping he doesn’t follow in his footsteps as a drug dealer but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree even though Dan is trying hard to change. My favorite part of this book was watching all of the characters deal with the pressure of their lives falling apart.

Whether you like Kind Nepenthe depends on what you are looking for in a story. As a human drama, this book is excellent, I loved all the characters including the ones that do bad things such as Diesel Dan’s son. The book is sold as a ghost story though and it felt like that was an unnecessary part of the book. While there is a ghost and some elements of horror here it didn’t add anything to the plot and I felt that if you took out the supernatural parts it would have been better. All in all, though this was a really good read and I’m looking forward to more from Matthew Brockmeyer in the future.

In the English countryside lies the small town of Hambleton where tourists come to get away from the big city. Life changes for the village when an earthquake awakens a hungry and horny cryptid from a 60+ year hibernation. Now the monster is killing everyone in its path and the only ones who may be able to stop it are a group of potheads, a former Nazi, and a bigfoot hunter.

The story in The Lucky Ones Died First by Jack Bantry is a pretty simple one, a creature is on the loose and no one seems to be able to stop it. The descriptions I read this book called it splatterpunk and compared it to the work of Richard Laymon, who was one of my favorites. Going into it I thought that the whole point of this story was to be as gross and offensive as possible. The problem is that the book isn’t descriptive enough to be that offensive. The story has several characters and a monster that aren’t described in much detail. The plot moves along at the speed of a freight train and it’s over before you know it. It felt more like a detailed outline than a real story.

I’m not saying that The Lucky Ones Died First is a bad book, I’m just saying that it could have been a lot better if the characters were given more description. I didn’t know enough about anyone in this story to feel emotion for them. It kind of felt like the author was embarrassed and didn’t want to go into a lot of detail, so the sex and death scenes suffered for it. There was a lot of potential in this story and if it had another 100 pages or so it could have been a great horror tale.

The Lucky Ones Died First does have some fun moments though, for instance, the two closing scenes put a huge smile on my face. This book has the feel of a cheesy blood-soaked monster movie. If it was a movie I would have loved it but as a book, I wanted more. All this being said there were enough good ideas in this book to make me want to read whatever novel Jack Bantry comes up with next.

David’s Haunted Library: Whispered Echos and The Devil’s Children

We all have something we’re scared of. In the back of our heads, we hear a little voice that reminds us about our darkest fears. It’s like a Whispered Echo that just repeats itself over and over again. Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson is an anthology that looks at things that scare us so much that we never forget it. This book contains 12 stories set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula showing it as a place where strange things happen.

What’s interesting about this anthology is that the stories are presented in chronological order by the dates that were written. The first story was originally published in 1983 and the last one was written this year. So what you have in this book are stories from a horror writer who’s writing improves a little with each tale told. You also get a good look at what goes on in the mind of Paul Olson and how he has evolved as a horror writer.

Mr. Olson has a few different themes that he works with in this book. One of these themes is individuality. In a story called The Visitor, a man visits the town of Patterson Falls every year in Autumn and when he does, someone gets hurt. The people in town finally get fed up with this routine and decide to confront him but they don’t get the results they are looking for. This same theme comes into play in two other stories in the book with a man suffering the consequences of not being like everyone else.

My favorite story in this book is They Came From The Suburbs. You could call this a zombie story but its a little more complex than that. David Finley works in a mall and notices that the same people show us every day and seem to mindlessly wonder the mall and shop. He calls them the quiet ones but he soon finds out that if they can’t consume anything there will be hell to pay. I love the message about how some people go through life blindly doing things having no real life at all and how it affects others. This was a perfect little horror tale that had a Twilight Zone feel to it.

Another good story here was Bloodybones which includes ghosts, a serial killer and a mystery. What I liked most about this story is the descriptions of the setting. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is as much a character here as the people in it and I loved reading the description of an area that I’m familiar with. Olson’s using of Michigan and Wisconsin in his stories reminds me a little of how Stephen King uses Maine in his stories.

Whispered Echoes could be looked at as a philosophy book disguised as a horror anthology. Paul Olson writes about staying true to yourself, loyalty, love and not letting the past define you. These themes are all presented in short horror stories that pack a punch. This is the kind of book that young horror writers should read because it shows that good horror can deliver a  message and your writing will get better over the decades if you stick with it.

Harry and Adam grew up together in a small New England town. They were never the most popular kids in school but they had a good time watching horror movies, drinking alcohol, exploring abandoned buildings and hunting imaginary demons. Flash forward to the present, life is not going well for either person and they decide to move back to their old hometown to relive their childhood. When they get there they discover that something strange is going on in their old stomping grounds.

People are seeing ghosts, Adam is having visions of his old teenage girlfriend who has been missing for 13 years and a local historian has sealed off a newly discovered tunnel that may have the answers to some old mysteries. We soon find out the demons that Harry and Adam hunted may have been real and they may be the only ones who can stop these strange happenings. As Halloween night rolls around, Harry and Adam put a plan into action to stop the evil that is plaguing their town.

The Devil’s Children by Benjamin Blake is the kind of book that I love reading. It’s a simple horror story about a couple of outcasts who notice something strange is going on and realize that they are the only ones who can stop it. I love the characters in this book, Adam and Harry reminded me of a couple of people I knew in high school and the way they both changed by the end of the book showed that they had a lot more depth than your average character in a horror novel. I also like how the story is told from the present with flashbacks showing how they use to be in the past. The one thing I didn’t like about the book is that it seemed to take a long time to get into the action of the story. While I liked the characters enough to keep reading, it could have used a few more scares in the first half of the book. The Devil’s Children is sort of a mixed bag but it has enough good parts to make it worth your time. Despite what I didn’t like about this book, I’m still looking forward to what else Benjamin Blake comes up with in the future.

 

 

 

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: Stephanie Ellis

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is Stephanie Ellis who took some time to tell us about the book and her writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

My story, Hands of Time, takes place in the subterranean world of Wonderland, in the dark dungeons and cellars no one ever really thinks about. Their existence, never referred to, must be real, after all the Queen of Hearts was always arresting her subjects and demanding their beheading. So, where did these miscreants go and who despatched them? This is where the Executioner comes in, a hooded figure shrouded in secrecy … like the world he inhabits. And like all people with a trade, he has his apprentices. These are his hands, one of whom will become chosen as his successor. Together with the TimeKeeper, who is in charge of the Queen’s clocks, he selects Rab as the one to follow his trade. But how is this choice made and what happens to the other hands … well, you’ll just have to read the story.

What inspired the idea?

“Off with their heads!” The line that everyone remembers. But whether you read the book or watch the film, you never see much of the Executioner. I wanted to know more about him and his world. I also played around with the different meanings for the word ‘hands’ – hands on a clock, work hands, actual flesh and blood hands (although not for long!!) and linked them all together. And suddenly an idea was born.

When did you start writing?

Several years ago, mostly privately and just ‘scribbling’, I didn’t think about doing anything more serious. Then about four years ago I saw a submission call for a horror anthology, thought it looked like fun, so had a go. It wasn’t successful as it didn’t quite fit but the feedback was positive so I tried again and this time got in. The then editor, Theresa Derwin (now of Quantum Corsets), was extremely supportive, and took other stories of mine for other anthologies. This encouraged me to try the wider market and here I am. Slow but sure.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

The darkness of the soul! Whatever I write, it always ends up dark. Some stories feature a bit of blood and gore but it’s not by any means all ‘slice and dice’ and only a few have standard horror tropes, ie tend to avoid vampires and werewolves. I prefer to hint at darkness, build up a sense of horror in setting and atmosphere, twist what might seem innocent at first.

What are some of your influences?

It goes without saying that Stephen King is one of them, he is amazing at creating such a real sense of place and time. He also shows that horror can be written in many different ways and he is certainly never repetitive. Ray Bradbury, particularly for Something Wicked This Way Comes, again the atmosphere, the characters, and its gothic feel. Then there’s Shirley Jackson, Edgard Allan Poe. But it’s not only these more famous authors. There are other writers I’ve met online, particularly a small Flash Fiction community called the FlashDogs and they have pushed me to raise my own standards. We compete against each other weekly in flash competitions and there are some amazingly dark people amongst them, particularly David Shakes, Mark A. King, Tamara Rogers to name but a few. The latter two have also recently published their first novels.

Another influence isn’t a book or a writer but a place. I grew up in an isolated rural area in a country pub, The Cider House in Shropshire . And something that’s always stayed with me is the atmosphere of that area and the feelings it generated: getting off the school bus and then facing the long walk home along narrow country lanes in gathering dusk; of the stillness before storms when birds stopped singing, branches stopped rustling and everything seemed to be waiting; of fog shrouding the fields and woods around the pub and walking through those mists and becoming totally disoriented. It always made me feel there was ‘something else’ at work around us and that’s an element I try to include in my writing.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

The evil man can do, how it could even be considered. I just can’t comprehend how some people can commit the atrocities you hear of in the world today. What is it that drives them? Is it this idea of the Devil, is it a disturbed mental state? Who actually pulls the strings to create the nightmares? Perhaps there is more ‘out there’, a supernatural realm. Horror allows you to explore this darkness, consider the ‘What Ifs’. It makes you think and shakes you up but always delivers you safely on the other side … it keeps the monsters between the pages.

What are some of the works you have available?

I have had a number of short stories published in horror anthologies, all available over at amazon but I would like to mention the following in particular:

The Infernal Clock, co-edited by myself and David Shakes which has a story for every hour of the day. It features two of my stories, The Graveyard Shift-a new take on the Sandman legend-and Whispers which centers on a dysfunctional family in a haunted house.

Weird Ales Volume 1 (edited by the wonderful Theresa Derwin) which includes my story The Yowling, cider-making taken to a whole new level!

Masks edited by Dean M. Drinkel (again, another very supportive editor) which contains my story The Face Collector, a gothic story in which the Devil always collects.

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished my novel Black Switch, a near-future, industrial-type horror I suppose you would call it. What happens when humans run out of fuel, out of electricity but then discover a way of turning the lights back on; a way which could only be described as immoral. If you discovered someone had the ‘capacity’ to become a human battery, would you plug them into a Generator just so someone else could have a hot bath? Would you, could you trade another person just to save a member of your own family knowing what that trade would lead to?
The book is now out with a small group to beta-read before I take any further steps with it. To get over the nerves whilst I await their response I’ve started to mull over ideas for a new novel and since my Hands of Time story featured an Executioner, the whole idea of what ‘makes’ an executioner has stuck in my mind.

Where can we find you online?

I’m @el_Stevie on Twitter and can also be found at http://stephellis.weebly.com/ where my blog is usually only randomly updated. I’m hoping to improve on that slightly this year though.

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: K.L. Wallis

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is K.L. Wallis who took some time to tell us about the book and her writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

My story is called ‘Half Past’. It is about a woman who follows a mysterious man though the subway and somehow travels back in time to the late 1800s where she finds the world turned on its head; instead of the patriarchal norms of the past Alyssa finds herself in a world where women are the superior sex and the moral boundaries of the 21st century no longer exist.

What inspired the idea?

I’m not quite sure. I experiment with my writing, and I think that is what ‘Half Past’ is. Hearing about the theme of this anthology pushed me to see if I could meet the challenge.

When did you start writing?

I wrote down the initial idea about a year ago, but due to having limited time to work on my own writing, I only really started to pull it together a few weeks before I submitted it to Horror Addicts.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I write a lot of Gothic fiction, but to different degrees depending on the story. I find a lot of my work crosses a couple of genres. I find most often I end up writing mythology and legend or fairytale inspired stories.

What are some of your influences?

I am quite heavily influenced by music, things I have seen on television shows, things I have read in other literature, or real life history or mythology. I like to explore in my writing why people do the things they do, quite often writing from the point of view of the villain.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Horror ties in well with my Gothic focus, so I guess it’s a natural theme for me to write about. Horror is interesting as it shows the darker side of humanity, and in the manner of fairytale, is often cautionary. As I am currently researching in my honours thesis, horror ‘figures’ – such as the Grim Reaper, vampires, zombies etc. – are often the physical manifestation on the page (or screen) of deeper human fears.

What are some of the works you have available?

My short story Briar was published as a part of last year’s Horror Addicts Anthology – Once Upon a Scream. Three other of my short stories – A Woman Scorned, Burnt and In Limbo – were published online in the July, August and September issues of The Australia Times – Fiction.

What are you currently working on?

My honours thesis is currently absorbing all of my spare time, unfortunately, leaving me little time to write creatively. I have however, several incomplete stories I hope to return to very soon – a retelling of a Greek myth, a vampire novel and a chic lit I started forever ago.

Where can we find you online?

My online presence is minimal at the moment – another thing I am hoping to work on later in the year. My business website can be found at: https://restrictedquill.wordpress.com/.

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: N McGuire

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is N McGuire who took some time to tell us about the book and her writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

The story that I wrote for Clockwork Wonderland is Riddle. The Mad Hatter’s tea party gets a little more twisted.

What inspired the idea?

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I can remember, but maybe even before that – making up fantastic stories about the lives of my toys.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I don’t think that I have a favorite. Generally I write whatever funny idea ping-pongs around in my head long enough that it get’s written.

What are some of your influences?

Christoper Pike, R.L Stine, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Ernest Hemmingway, Margaret Atwood, Lynn Townsend, Charlaine Harris, Jen Lancaster, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling – if I keep going this list is going to get pretty darn long…

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Killing without the mess or arrest

What are some of the works you have available?

Riddle is the first publication I have under the pseudonym N. McGuire. My other publications are more adult (sex, sex, sex) in nature.

What are you currently working on?

World domination.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on most social media as @oopswrongcookie or at www.oopswrongcookie.com

 

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: Dustin Coffman

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is Dustin Coffman who took some time to tell us about the book and his writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

King of Hearts. It’s kind of like a prequel to the original Alice in Wonderland.

What inspired the idea?

As a long time fan of the tale, I have always wanted to know more about the whole backstory of Wonderland, like how things were before Alice showed up, so I thought I would give it a shot. I must say…I really like the outcome.

When did you start writing?

The earliest I can remember writing is in the first grade. I kid you not, I used to have my teacher help me spell everything. I even remember one of the stories, about a kid, a stone dragon, and a wizard. I guess I was just born a story-teller.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

That’s a hard one. I guess horror would be my bread and butter, but that isn’t always my favorite. I would probably say fantasy is up there, along with Sci-Fi. I’m a nerd so I enjoy embracing that sometimes as well. I burn myself out on horror a lot and take a break to try something new, I don’t want to be remembered for one thing.

What are some of your influences?

R.L. Stine is the first person I started to read as a kid. Then I moved to Anne Rice, and Stephen King and finally Jim Butcher. These four authors have molded me into the writer I am today and if you look closely, you can see their influence in my work.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

It’s such an open field. Why do you think Stephen King has never quit? There is just so much to write about. I love it, I find ideas in the strangest places. I could be driving to the store or cleaning or cooking and boom a random thought will pop in my head. “Man it would suck if- or it’s kind of freaky how that looks like.”

What are some of the works you have available?

I have three books out right now, one of which is a novel while the other two are short story collections. Damien the Newborn Devil is a vampire story about a young man in New York City who has the worst luck around, it has gangs, sex, blood and everything a good vampire book needs. Twisted Tales from a Twisted Mind is my first short story book. It has tales ranging from a killer Easter Bunny to hell hounds to a real local ghost story. Blow Your Mind, is vol 2 and it has even more stories to keep my readers happy. This is probably my favorite of the three because I feel it has my best work in it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m always doing short stories, they’re fun and easy checks, so they keep me going. But I’m working on my next vampire novel, and another stand alone novel I have been wanting to do for a long time. Plus I’m still in every issue of Horrorcore Magazine so busy, busy, busy!

Where can we find you online?

I’m pretty much on everything, but my site and Facebook is the best place to find all my stuff. 

 

David’s Haunted Library: The Final Reconciliation and Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters

Thirty years ago a new progressive rock band exploded onto the music scene called The Yellow Kings. The band was made up of 4 teenagers with big dreams who released an ep and toured America, eventually landing a record contract. Along the way, they meet a young woman named Camilla who has an odd influence on the band. After their first tour, The Yellow Kings went out to Los Angeles to record their first album, a concept album called The Final Reconciliation. Little did they know it would be their last album and very few people would ever hear it.

The album was shelved after The Yellow Kings put on an album release party in an L.A. nightclub where they planned to play the full album for the first time. The concert ended in a disaster which killed almost 200 people and left only one band member alive. For the first time since that fatal night, The Yellow Kings lead guitarist and sole survivor Aiden Cross has agreed to be interviewed about the events leading up to that tragic night.

The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling is inspired by Robert W. Chamber’s “The King in Yellow.” Written in 1895 it was also the inspiration behind some of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. In the 1895 story, it was a play that if read brings madness to the people reading it. In this story if you listen to the full album it creates chaos. I wasn’t familiar with the source material but loved how it was presented in this book. The idea of a heavy metal album opening a portal to another world and making people go crazy is a great concept.

This cosmic horror novella is more than just a new twist on old mythology, though, it’s also the story of kids from a working class background achieving their dreams and worst nightmares at the same time. One of my favorite parts of this book was when three members of the band return to their hometown from their first tour and you see the background they come from. They don’t get a warm welcome, their parents don’t understand the bands need to follow their passion instead of working a blue collar job. In a short time, The Yellow Kings achieve a high level of success before it all comes crashing down. You know early on that it’s all going to end in disaster, which leads me to what I didn’t like about the story. You knew what was going to happen from the beginning, it’s just a question of how we’re going to get to the final result.

The Final Reconciliation is a great little horror tale that mixes music, mythology and a coming of age story all into one. The description of The Yellow Kings kingdom comes to life brilliantly and the final scenes in the Nightclub disaster were wonderfully grotesque. Todd Keisling does an excellent job of setting a mood of dread and keeping it going throughout the book. I think most of all I loved the concept of a progressive rock album being the key to a world of terror. If you are familiar with the Cthulhu mythos you shouldn’t pass up this book.

Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters by Frank Martin is a different kind of horror book. It includes two stand alone pulp fiction style horror novellas and a comic.  The first story is called Skin Deep “A Vampire Story Of Love.” The story centers around a  girl named Laura who is a track and field star in high school, rebelling against her parents. She sneaks into bars and complains that her parents pushed her into track, but her attitude becomes a big problem when she meets a Cajun vampire who teaches her a lesson in love she won’t forget.

Skin Deep is the kind of story that comes to mind for me when I think of pulp fiction. It’s a simple story with simple characters and its a lot of fun when the vampire shows himself. The beginning is boring but as the story moves along it gets better. I loved the vampire and the final gory scenes in the story are excellent. Skin Deep is a story that has its flaws, such as parents that Laura thinks are overbearing but in reality come across as non caring, until the end. Laura also has a sister named Jessica who has a story that is never fully explained. That being said the scenes with the vampire in it make this story worth it and we even get a nice message about not having to live the role that people expect of you.

The second story is called Ordinary Monsters and is about two teenage best friends whose friendship is put to the ultimate test when an old family secret is revealed.  This is an excellent werewolf story which touches on such subjects as the Nazi concentration camps, dealing with anger and how far loyalty will go. I love the scenes from the werewolves point of view and the description of the change from human to werewolf was brilliant. This story represents why werewolves have always been my favorite monster. It’s all about a person dealing with an inner rage that they have no control over, this book is worth your time for this story alone.

Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters also includes a beautifully illustrated comic that tells the story of a werewolf and vampire doing battle during World War 2. I felt both of these stories got off to a slow start and had the feel that they were coming from a first time writer, but both got better as the monster was introduced into the story. This book is a fun read that fans of a good monster story will love and with cover art like that, who can resist.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: Housebroken and Night as a Catalyst

David's Haunted Library

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]Blake is a rich man with a wife and teenage son. Things look perfect on the outside and he thinks they are about to get better when he moves across the country to a new home in a gated community in California. After they settle into their new home a strange person comes to their door selling magazines, Blake refuses to buy and sets off a chain reaction of events. Now Blake and his family are at the mercy of two sociopath kidnappers.

These kidnappers don’t want money though or to torture them. What they want is to observe Blake and his family for one week to see how they became so successful. There is a catch, though if you break one of their rules the kidnappers have promised to torture them and they have proof to show how vicious they can be. Blake is caught in a game of survival  his perfect life starts to erode  and he has to reevaluate what is most important.

 I loved the concept behind Housebroken by The Berg. You can tell that the kidnappers come from a rough background and the idea that they just wanted to see what made these rich people different is an intriguing idea. After awhile you start to see that Blake’s life isn’t as perfect as it looks and it doesn’t take a lot to make everything come undone. What I liked best about this book is that all the characters were shades of gray. There were times that the kidnappers came across like they weren’t bad people and you could have sympathy for them and there were times when Blake’s family showed that each one had a dark side. I cared about all of these characters to an extent and in the beginning, I even liked the kidnappers and could understand their point of view, though the story gets more complex as it moves along.

As much as I loved the characters though there were also scenes in this book that came across as so ridiculous that I almost wanted to stop reading. I don’t want to give anything away but at one point there was a scene with a car and also by their pool where I was asking how was that even possible and then there was an escape attempt where I was just scratching my head in confusion. There was also a scene with a doctor that I thought wasn’t necessary at all.

Despite its flaws I did enjoy this book, there are some well-written scenes and I loved the depth given to the characters and how their feelings are described. The best part of this book though is how you feel for the family. At first, they come across as a normal slightly dysfunctional family, then it gets revealed that they may be even worse than the reader thought. You still care for them though because you see how despite their conflicts they are still counting on each other to survive. Housebroken is a page turner and even though the story has its problems, it’s still good enough where I was wondering what else has this author written.

25459659Night As A Catalyst by Chad Lutzke is a collection of 18 horror stories that are short but pack a punch. Most of these stories would be considered flash fiction and while I admit to not liking short horror stories a lot, I thought the atmosphere in these stories was really good. Another thing I liked was at the end of each story Chad Lutzke tells where he got the idea from, which made each story more personal.

One of the stories in this book that I really liked was One Up A Tree. It’s about two hikers lost in the woods that come upon a cabin. When the owner comes home and finds the two people, he shoots first and doesn’t ask questions. One gets away but is soon trapped by the sadistic cabin owner. For such a short story I was surprised at the depth of the characters here. In the beginning, we find out that the two hikers are friends that drifted apart over the years and are trying to rekindle their friendship. Being able to relate to them makes it that much scarier when they meet the cabin owner. There is a scene in One Up A Tree where the cabin owner gives one of the hikers some meat. I knew where the scene was going when the hiker starts to eat but it was still terrifying to think about.

A good flash fiction piece here if you are a cat lover is Collecting Cats. It’s about someone who finds injured cats and nurses them back to health. What makes this story interesting is how the cats react when they find out about the one injuring them. This book has a lot of good short ideas and another story that follows this formula is Moving Made Easy which is a story about teleportation. This one has a really good Twilight Zone ending.

My favorite story here is Birthday Suit. It follows a group of friends who are at a house for a birthday slumber party, they go up into a tree house and one of the kids sees something amazing and horrifying. This one mixes nostalgia and horror. In particular, I liked the conversation the kids have in the tree house as they look into other people’s homes. They talk about things like what old people do all day, girls at school and of course horror movies. This one reminded me of sleepovers I had as a kid and the shock ending made it a great tale.

Night As A Catalyst is a perfect book for horror fans who like to read but don’t have a lot of time. I say that because each story here is quick, to the point and packs a good scare. As a fan of the genre what more could you ask for, this book is a lot of fun and a quick read. If you like horror anthologies then Chad Lutzke’s book is one you shouldn’t pass on.

Once Upon A Scream Author Spotlight: Shannon Lawrence

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 Shannon Lawrence and recently talked to us about her writing:

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

My story is called The Black Undeath. It combines a mystery illness, born of the plague and leprosy, with Rumpelstiltskin, creating an entirely different sort of zombie. Can the queen discover the creepy little man’s name soon enough to save her infant son from becoming just like him?

What inspired the idea?

Oddly, what inspired the idea never made it into the story. I attended a talk by Connie Willis, in which she mentioned that people in neighboring towns would hear the church bells ringing the number of plague deaths. Eventually, the bells might fall silent. This factoid crept into my head. It was chilling. Can you imagine listening to the plague creeping closer, only to hear the silence fall?

I didn’t just want to talk about the plague, so I did some research. I found out missionaries/priests traveled to leper colonies frequently, and that they were a significant source of the plague getting around to communities, as they traveled everywhere, often being exposed and exposing others before they even knew they’d contracted it. So I wondered what would happen if the plague met leprosy. Then my story was born.

When did you start writing?11707855_951758641533653_102589758655846839_o

Earlier than I can remember for sure, but my love of writing began developing in fifth grade. It was my first time writing to a prompt, which was an exercise my teacher used off and on throughout the year. She frequently singled out my stories, putting them on display.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I’m partial to all things horror, though I’ve yet to write a vampire. A fact which took me by surprise when I realized it. I tend toward Native American mythology in terms of monsters, in both my horror and fantasy. And I’m partial to human monsters, though I write plenty of critters with fur and tentacles.

What are some of your influences?

I hate to sound like a cliche, but Stephen King was my first influence in writing. I consumed his stories from middle school forward. I aspire to be able to write characters with the rich depth his characters show.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

71N9-A84f4L._SL1000_It’s fun. I love to get a rise out of people, to scare them, to make them check over their shoulders or get up to check the windows and doors. I once tormented my family on a late night drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon, convincing them that we were being followed. We were going through a heavily wooded area, lined here and there with abandoned shops. The moon couldn’t get through the trees. A car behind us kept pace, whether we accelerated or slowed. Not only were the hairs on the back of my neck up by the time I was finished, but my dad was subconsciously pushing the gas pedal further and further toward the floor, even though he knew full well we weren’t being followed.

I find horror cathartic in many ways. What the people in these stories go through is worse than my problems any day. It’s helpful to immerse myself in their fears instead of my own.

What are some of the works you have available?

Most recently, The Deep Dark Woods, an anthology, where you can find my short story The Blue Mist. It’s about a prospector in Estes Park whose job becomes cleaning up the remains left behind by the Blue Mist. But one day he hangs around too long.
 
I also had a piece come out in Devolution Z Magazine. This one is entitled Blue Sludge Blues and involves a tentacled creature in a rest area port-a-potty. 
 
For free reading, I had a little piece published online at The Flash Fiction Press. Nice Night for a Splash is about a not-so-nice woman with her eyes on the prize.
What are you currently working on?
I’m having some fun with a story that started out as an experiment (can I write a story along the lines of horror comedies like Tremors, Lake Placid, and Shaun of the Dead, in which they rely a lot on sight gags?), and has become the start of a novel. I’ll give you a hint: there are squirrels.
Where can we find you online?
I can be found at http://www.thewarriormuse.com/. All my social media links are there.

Press Release: Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein coming in March!

Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein coming in March!

 

77643c0c-cf6c-468a-b989-815bac633727In a world where every creature of legend has stepped forward from the shadow to exist shoulder to shoulder with humankind, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meet for a final showdown.

New York City has become a macabre melting pot. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new immigrants and they are chasing the American dream. The Night Things have become part of the system. But many humans feel the creatures are dangerous ticking time bombs.

Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein is a new novel by Terry M. West. It features a battle between the biggest icons of horror in a world gripped with fear over the Night Things. The fate of the Night Things and humanity itself hangs in the balance of this monumental confrontation.

The Magic Now universe began with the book, Monsters and the Magic Now. Here are some review blurbs for that book:

“A grippingly twisted saga. West depicts this macabre world with style and dark humor.”-Bram Stoker Award® winner Lucy Taylor

“Will definitely leave an indelible mark deep within your soul!”-DIABOLIQUE MAGAZINENight Things Paperback Cover

“Only Terry M. West could spin a tale so dark and brutal and still make it transcend horror and become a work of literary craftsmanship.”-Kevin Lintner, SANITY’S GRAVEYARD 

“Equally disturbing and powerful.”-Bob Milne, BEAUTY IN RUINS

“[Monsters and the Magic Now] is a nightmare on acid. It is beautiful, deep and sad.”-Heather Omen, THE HORROR NATION

“One of the most powerful and disturbing- yet incredibly entertaining things- I have read in decades. “-Michael Donner, Captain Creeper

“[Monsters and the Magic Now] is a super edgy, blood-thirsty tale that made me uncomfortable and left me wanting more. I love this story!”-Zachary Walters, THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS PODCAST

“What true horror is all about.”-SCARLET’S WEB

“Terry M. West has created an unnerving horrific masterpiece!”-GEEKDOM OF GORE

 “I cannot overstate this: Horror fans looking for something truly original that will get under their skin need to read [Monsters and the Magic Now].”-author DS Ullery

“The story is full of dark places inhabited by dark characters – both in human and monster form.”-Stuart Anderson, The 5th Dimension

Critically-acclaimed horror author Terry M. West continues his Magic Now series with this standalone novel that presents a world only a slight shade darker than our own.

Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc. will release Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein onMarch 18th, 2016 in Kindle and paperback versions. Dracula will grace the Kindle cover while Frankenstein will be featured on the paperback edition. An audio-book will follow. It is available now for pre-order at this universal book link: http://bookShow.me/B019SFEHQK

****Terry M. West is a filmmaker, author and Active member of the HWA. He was a finalist for two International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi Hot List. He has been at it since 1997, but recent years have seen a strong rise in his popularity. His website: www.terrymwest.com****

Mark Justice 1959-2016

61RFKPxBZVL._UX250_I woke up on the morning of February 10th thinking it would be just another day. As I was getting ready for work, I did a quick check of facebook and was sad to see that Mark Justice had passed away.  I didn’t know Mark personally but I bought many horror novels thanks to his show Pod Of Horror, including a zombie apocalypse book he co-wrote with David T. Wilbanks called Dead Earth.

Being the horror literature fan that I am, I instantly fell in love with his podcast Pod Of Horror. It started back in 2005 and over the years included interviews with big name horror authors such as Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry , Clive Barker and many more. Horror writers and book publishers don’t always get the attention they deserve, but Mark’s podcast put the spotlight on them and due to his background in radio, his show had great production values. In addition to giving horror writers a voice, Mark had a wicked sense of humor and the podcast included comedy sketches with characters such as a Grim Reaper named Grim Ricktus and Chinese Dracula.

Mark Justice was also a storyteller. He wrote a regular column for his local newspaper and he had 15850196several short stories that were included in such anthologies as The Phantom Chronicles, Vol. 2 and Captain Midnight Chronicles. He also released an anthology of his own short stories called Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye and made the journey into pulp fiction with a Western/Zombie novel named: The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation (Volume 1)  He even edited an anthology called: Appalachian Winter Hauntings: Weird Tales from the Mountains

I was Really sad to hear of Mark’s passing, I may have never met him but because of his show I felt like I did. It was because of Pod Of Horror that I heard of horroraddicts.net. Back in 2009 on an episode of his show was a promo for the horror addicts podcast. So I gave it a listen and loved it, not knowing that I would eventually become a part of it. The world will be a sadder place without Mark Justice. Luckily we can still buy his books and listen to old episodes of Pod Of Horror and remember him for his humor and how he helped so many horror authors get noticed.

http://podofhorror.com/index.html

http://markjustice.blogspot.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Justice/e/B0034O22ZK

http://www.briankeene.com/2016/02/10/mark-justice-r-i-p/

David’s Haunted Library: The Unsaintly

22890862Isabel has dedicated her life to serving others. She is the daughter of the Blanche of Castille and Louis VIII and raised as a Catholic. She had a path she was supposed to follow but instead she chose to serve God and become a nun. Isabel is pure of heart and has suffered from stigmata, you could say she has a gift at showing compassion for others. Little does she know that her faith and kindness has made her  a pawn in the battle between heaven and hell.

In her monastery, angels in disguise are watching over her and God and Lucifer are fighting for her soul. One angel was put there by god to record her actions and Lucifer is also there in the form of a priest.  Isabel suffers through demonic possession and she watches the people she loves put in danger. She is put to the ultimate test of faith in the battle of good and evil and along the way she will have to accept some dark truths.

The Unsaintly by Lisa Vasquez is set in 1254, a time when religion was taken much more seriously then it is now. I was drawn to this book because I liked the idea of someone who is presented as almost saint like being stuck in a battle of good versus evil. In the beginning you get to know Isabel and you like her because she has humanity’s best interests at heart. Isabel to me is a tragic character, you see that all of these eyes are on her and she is forced into some rough situations and you root for her to keep her faith.

While Isabel herself is my favorite part of this book I also liked the setting. This story wouldn’t have worked if it was set in a different time period  and I liked how the monastery and the  armies battling towards the end are described. In the beginning of the book I also enjoyed the discussion that Lucifer has with God. Among the two you get the feeling that they are really shades of grey rather than black and white, but with the human characters you have an easier time telling who is good and who is bad. There is a lot going on this book, considering that it deals with the question of faith and what we believe to be right and wrong, you know it’s going to be a serious novel that draws you into a different world.

The Unsaintly is no light read, this is a dark story and a little bit depressing. The good people in this book suffer and there is no humor to lighten the mood. I feel that Lisa must have really done her homework on this book. Its been a long time since I’ve read the bible but I remember what my perceptions of god and Lucifer were and the way they are presented in this book match how I saw them when I was a kid. This is a well written book and you can tell that Lisa put a lot of thought into how the characters and setting should be. This is a great horror novel that will have you questioning how you think about God.

David’s Haunted Library: Young Blood: The Nightbreed Saga

25008322Spending the evening at the carnival seemed like a fun idea but for Madison it was the night everything changed. She was found later that night with her throat torn apart. She woke up in the hospital with no memory of what happened. She feels hungry but not for food, she wants blood and controlling her hunger isn’t easy. Her memory starts coming back to her and she remembers the carnival they visited was run by vampires and they had children trapped in a trailer.

Madison soon learns that her family has a few secrets and she has a destiny that she has to fulfill whether she likes it or not. As one of the undead, Madison may be the only one strong enough to save the children and put an end to the vampires that took her life. She must also figure out how she can live as a vampire and keep her humanity.

Young Blood: The Nightbreed Saga by Phillip Tomasso is actually written by a father son team and I think you could best describe it as a coming of age vampire story.  There are lots of vampire books out there but to me this sub genre never gets old because every author puts a fresh spin on an old idea. In Young Blood the character of Madison is your normal girl next door but by the end of the story she is a completely different person. You feel for her because she is just a high school girl who wanted to have a fun night with friends and then her world was torn apart. We also see that she comes from a broken home and she has several issues with her mom’s new boyfriend.

Madison is a character you can easily relate to because she has a lot of the problems that normal teenagers have. You care about this girl and you want to see her get a happy ending. I love how the character goes from a happy normal kid to a warrior and along the way she thinks to herself how she is going to keep her friends and protect the ones that she loves. Madison puts everyone’s needs before her own and despite her noble deeds nothing seems to work out for her. She is a tragic character but she never stops trying and I couldn’t stop reading because I had to see what would happen to her.

Despite liking the story I did have some issues with it. There is a spirit that accompanies Madison and we never find out a lot about him until the end. There is a lot going on in this book and I think it could have used another 100 pages to explain everything, but I think this was done on purpose. This is the first book in a series and it felt like the authors were just trying to lay down the groundwork for future stories. Also some of the action scenes needed to be a little better. With Madison being a new vampire she should have had more problems dealing with the older vampires in the carnival. That being said I found Young Blood to be an entertaining read that held my interest to the end and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Madison in future Nightbreed books.

“A Dark and Winding Road” by Matthew Weber

Hello fellow Addicts.  D.J. Pitsiladis here with another dark and sinister review to offer you.

23356124A Dark and Winding Road” is a collection of dark short stories that range from park animal vengeance to a government program to take care of people deemed too much of a burden or danger to their families and society, and finally a teenager so bullied he calls upon a demon for revenge.  No two stories share the same scare factor, so be prepared for some horror filled variety.

I really enjoyed this book.  It got my blood pumping in all the right spots and made me wish at points that I didn’t need to put it down for such essentials as work and sleep.  In some ways, it reminded me of Stephen King’s earlier anthologies in how fun the stories felt.  I very much recommend this book for anyone looking for a fun break away from the norm.

Until next time….

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Ink

cover_ink_454Brian is the creator of a series of popular graphic novels starring a character named the highwayman. The Highwayman is a supernatural being who comes to earth when a person is unjustly killed and his motive is to help the victim get the revenge they desire. Success for Brian came with a price, after being continuously stalked by an obsessive fan, he became a prisoner in his own home.

This all changes though when he is talked into going to a convention and meets a female illustrator named A.J. Hart. A.J. has demons of her own but the two hit it off and decide to collaborate on a project. One day a mysterious bottle of ink arrives on Brian’s doorstep, they use the ink and it starts to bring their creations to life. They now have to stop the creatures they created from destroying everything in their path and bringing on the apocalypse.

First thing I thought when I read the description for Ink by Glenn Benest and Dale Pitman was that it was a great idea for a book.  There is a lot going on in this story, we have a love story between the two artists, we have the highwayman’s story from the graphic novel and an apocalypse story in the real world. There is almost too much going on here, Ink is a mixed bag, the characters are all interesting. This includes Brian’s dog who has a big part in the story, I can’t say I’ve read to many books that focused on the dog’s viewpoint, but this one does.

While I loved the characters the story was slow-moving and the sub plot of the Highwayman didn’t really interest me even though I did like the character. I got the impression while reading the Highwayman’s story that the author just threw it in because it was important to show what kind of book that Brian and A.J was writing. Every time we cut away to the Highwayman I found myself being bored and just wanting to get back to Brian and A.J.’s story. That being said I did enjoy hearing the reasons why Brian created the Highwayman.

The best part of this book is the love story between A.J. and Brian and this is coming from a person who doesn’t like love stories. When you hear what they’ve gone through in their lives you can’t help but root for them and you get to see how the two of them working together makes them better people. There are some great horrifying moments in this book such as when Brian’s obsessed fan sneaks up on him in a dark theater and again in a parking garage. Then what really tops it off so well was when the fan says why she is doing what she is doing.

This book has its share of scary moment but best of all it works as psychological horror by getting into how A.J. and Brian are effected by their stalkers.  One good scene that was in this book that really showed how Brian was affected by his obsessed fan was when we see him making an elaborate meal for two and then find out that no one is joining him and he is eating alone. Another part of this book I loved was when Brian was reading letters from his fans and you see how caring for his fans affects his life. While I have to say I had my issues with Ink, it was pretty good and I look forward to more from these two writers.

As Above, So Below and Negative Space

20708447As Above, So Below by Loren Rhoads and Brian Thomas is not your average boy meets girl love story. This story is more of an angel meets succubus, they fall in love and both have agendas type story. It all started when the succubus Lorelei goes into a night club in Los Angeles and sees the angel Azaziel. Azaziel has been cast out of heaven and Lorelei has the task of getting Azaziel to become one of Hell’s minions. Lorelei thinks its going to be easy to turn the angel, little does she know that Azaziel has an agenda of his own.

Azaziel has claimed the soul of a young woman named Ashleigh and wants to use Lorelei’s body as a host for Ashleigh so he can show her a night of love in exchange for him being able to save her soul. After Azaziel puts Ashleigh’s soul in an unsuspecting Lorelei, Lorelei flees and tries to find someone to exorcise Ashleigh from her body. If things aren’t already complicated enough,  the city of Los Angeles is swarming with harpies, demons and angels all trying to get Ashleigh’s soul and punish Azaziel and Lorelei.

As Above, So Below is a complex novel that could be called paranormal romance but it also works as horror and erotica even though the sex scenes aren’t over the top like some erotica books I’ve read. The best part of the book was the characters. Since Lorelei is a succubus that has works for Hell, you expect her to be an evil character. In reality she is a sympathetic character that I liked quite a bit. I felt that she was much more compassionate than Azaziel. I would have thought that Azaziel would be the ultimate good but you quickly find that he is more of a shade of grey. None of these characters acts like you think they would act and the lines between good and evil are blurred.

Another thing I liked about the book was the amount of research that had to go into it. This book gets deep into theology and as I read, I found myself thinking this is probably how angels and demons would really act.  The idea of a human possessing a succubus was an original concept and I enjoyed how there were different situations where each one had to take over the body.

It may sound  strange but As Above, So Below reminded me a little of Romeo And Juliet because it’s a forbidden romance and they represent two groups of people who are at war. There were some memorable scenes in this book, in particular at the end where a battle between good and evil takes place in Los Angeles which also seemed like a character in the book. One of my favorite lines in the book was when Lorelei’s demonic master Asmodeus states that “Demons deal in truth, life is painful.” I found myself liking the demons more than the angels in this book. If you enjoy theology and the idea of angels and demons at war among us, you need to check this book out. You won’t be disappointed.

18336919Changing over from Angels and demons to unexplained phenomenon. I also recently read Negative Space by Mike Robinson. The story follows a painter named Max Higgins who is starting to become popular by collecting photos of missing people and putting them in his paintings. He feels he is giving these lost people a home in his art. His impulse to do this comes from dealing with people disappearing from his life as a kid.  Among them was his father. One day someone recognizes a face from one of his paintings and he has to look into his past to find out why his father went missing.

Negative Space starts with a bang, leaving you with a mystery to figure out as you see mother and son try to defend themselves against some unknown attackers. At this point you get the impression that this story is going to have a lot of action. Then Mike Robinson throws you a curve ball and changes directions as he gets into the main character’s search for meaning  after a tragic upbringing.

The characters in this book were great. I liked how it was set during the L.A. riots of 1992. I liked the use of metaphors in the story. A big part of this book is about describing art and the way everything is described in the story, you get the impression that you’re reading a painting. This book seems to really be about looking for a deeper meaning to everything that happens around us and you have to give the book points for originality. This is a good read but short, I felt that it could have been longer in order to explain more of what’s happening. All in all though it was an entertaining read and different from what I’m use to. I found at the end I was curious to see what else Mike Robinson has available.

An interview with Mark Slade

meOur featured author for episode 113 of the podcast is Mark Slade. Here is what Mark had to say about his work and what draws him to the horror genre:

 

 

 

When did you start writing?

I was 14.Iwrote a story after watching a movie on Elvira and quickly realized how bad that was compared to The Twilight Zone, Hammer films and Alfred Hitchcock Presents that I had been watching. I thought I could do better than that movie on Elvira. actually, I was wrong.  I wrote for years then stopped in my late twenties. I picked it up again at age 41 after a friend urged me to.

What kind of stories do you like to write?

Mostly I like to write stories with surprise endings. I love doing Twilight Zone type stories which is actually a huge canvas with fantasy,horror, and sf. I’ve always tried to find a good bridge between stories in the style of my fav writers like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Joe Lansdale, Dennis Etchison,  and Clive Barker along with influences from Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote,  and too many to list. Robert E. Howard has been a great influence as well, and I love Manly Wade Wellman and John Collier! no one ever talks about Collier. It’s a shame, he was really good.

Could you tell us where we might read some of your work?

Horrified Press has published a lot of my stories in their anthologies. They published my weird/western “A Six-Gun and the Queen of Light.” I have a book published by Sunbury Press called Electric Funeral. and some audio dramas I wrote for 4077th/all better audio productions. I have to thank Jeff Niles and Viktor Auralis for giving me the chance to write scripts for their audio dramas. I’m having a blast doing it.
I’m also in Demonic Visions anthologies edited and published by Chris Robertson. I also write a column called FROM THE GRAVE for Horror Metal Sounds website, run by Kenneth Gallant. Kenneth is hoping to transition to print soon. I get to look back on old favs from horror and underground categories. Maybe one day collect all of those articles in book form.
Could you tell us about Nightmare Illustrated magazine?22529373
Unfortunately NI is over with. It never really took off. It was meant to be in the style of EC comics what they called picto-fiction. It was hard to explain to artists how to do that, so I gave up and accepted what art I could get for the stories. some issues are better than others. I think issue 2 is the best. But we got to involve some good writers and artists. Got to have interviews with Joe Lansdale and a few others.
BIZZARE VOL 1
Could you tell us about your story in Bizarre Fantasy?
Bizarre fantasy is a comic book anthology edited with Gavin Chappell. in the same vein as Heavy Metal Magazine. got a lot of great art and some cool stories. That’s one thing I have to hand it to Nathan Rowark and Gavin Chappell. They are really good at giving writers and artists chances to express ideas and start-up projects. They’ve been good friends in these endeavors.
What’s the difference between writing a story that would be considered bizarre fiction as opposed to other genres?
I really couldn’t tell you. It’s all genre oriented aimed at those who like pulpy type of fiction. Really it’s more a name for the volumes coming out.
What do you like about the horror genre?
The fact that characters experience worst kind of situations and make it out changed people. Also that they are gruesome stories. Or funny. Sometimes the weirder the story, the better.
To find out more about Mark Slade check out his blog: http://bloodydreadful.blogspot.com/

Press Release: Dark Is The Sea

Dark is the Sea by Heather Blanchard

dark-is-the-sea_book-coverMystery, witchcraft and intrigue take centre stage in Heather Blanchard’s shadowy debut tale of a reluctant young witch, forced to her darkest potential in fighting for all that remains of her tragic family.

Rowan Munro had always wanted to be normal, but abduction as a child and the disappearance of her mother soon after had ruined any chance of her fitting in. Crippled with grief and with no trace of his beloved wife, Rowan’s father resides himself to loss, moving what remained of his small family away from Dorchay. After years of listless moving he settled what lit- tle was left of his small family in London where his devastation would drive him, fatally, to drink.
At just eighteen Rowan is left alone without immediate family, and finally succumbs to her great aunt Kit- ty’s offer to return home, in spite of the painful memories that surely await her. Gathering her meagre be- longings she boards the Caledonian Sleeper headed straight for Dorchay, quietly intent on finding an- swers to the questions that have plagued her since her fraught childhood.

En route north to Scotland the mystery only intensifies. But as she encounters a strangely familiar figure on the train, Rowan’s inquisitiveness gives way to fear, keeping her distance from the alluring young man. On arriving, Rowan is greeted by a welcome sight in aunt Kitty, and for a brief time feels at ease with her surroundings. But as Rowan realises things may not be what they seem in these once known surround- ings, Kitty reveals a shocking truth about her family’s sorcerous powers. Rowan comes from a long line of witches, and for once in her life, she’s no different.

More terrifying than this unbelievable truth, the reluctant young witch learns she’s marked for death by the Hunter – a callous and vengeful predator tasked with rounding up and destroying Rowan’s kind to the very last – and is forced to master her long-hidden abilities in order to fight back. Did this dark force mur- der her mother, and how could she stand a chance of stopping it? Caught in an overwhelming spiral of disappearances, murders, and unseen threat, the increasingly fearless teenager is about plunge headlong into a world she never could have imagined. Committing her mind, and body to the dark arts, she begins to wrest control of her own destiny.

Dark is the Sea is the must-read debut from Heather Blanchard, driven by a fiercely modern heroine, it’s sure to draw in fans of dark fantasy, the supernatural and beyond. Wrought with twists and turns, her vividly realised characters are planted firmly in the dark and misty locale of remote Dorchay, in a coming of age story like no other. Blanchard will have you squirming at the edge of your seat, and desperate for the next chapter of Rowan Munro’s tumultuous journey toward the fulfilment of her destiny.

About Heather Blanchard: After her career in early education, Heather moved into writing and her stun- ning debut, Dark is the Sea is the culmination of two years painstaking work. She is currently studying for an M.A. in Gothic Studies, and lives in the South of England with her husband, Paul. Visit www.darkisthesea.com for more details.

Cheap Reads: Disease

Cover_SmallI have only one selection for Cheap reads this time around and that is Disease by M.F. Wahl. This is a six part serial that takes a look at life after the zombie apocalypse. When I first started reading this it reminded me of The Walking Dead because its main focus is on how human survivors change as they deal with the fall of civilization. It didn’t take long though to realize that the story for Disease is much better then The Walking Dead and I think this is how people would act when zombies take over the world.

Disease begins after society has collapsed. The first characters we meet are a young woman named Casey and a boy named Alex who are on the run. You see how desperate they are as they explore a house that’s crawling with zombies. They battle the undead and get excited as they find an unopened can of dog food.  Casey and Alex are slowly starving to death and a can of dog food is like a godsend, if there is a god in the zombie apocalypse.

Things aren’t bad for everyone though, we also meet a woman named Lot who has started a new society in a hotel. Lot and her followers have everything they need and they started trading with other survivors that have set up their own communities. Lot’s hotel looks like a little utopia in this world where zombies rule, but not everything is as it seems.

Meanwhile Casey and Alex meet up with a group of Lot’s followers led by Danny and it looks like they have finally gotten the help they need. The hotel for them is a blessing and a curse and they soon realize they may have been better off with the zombies.  Because some people are bigger monsters than the zombies outside.

If you’re a zombie fan, Disease is a must read. M.F. Wahl describes her zombies in gruesome vivid detail. All the zombie scenes are so well described that reading it is like watching a zombie movie. One of my favorite scenes was towards the end as a freshly turned zombie rises out of a shallow grave but the scariest parts of this book don’t include the zombies, the people are scarier. One character in particular in this story is the physical embodiment of evil and the way the author shows how evil she is by using innuendo was brilliant. Only one person sees past the facade of the villain in the story but he has his own agenda. I would love to talk more about the story but I don’t want to give away any of the surprises.

Disease is a fresh look at the zombie genre. I liked how the book had both fast and slow zombies and how some zombies were smarter than others. Most of all I enjoyed the characters and how each one of them is a shade of grey.  They all have a sense of right and wrong but when it comes to staying alive, what is right goes out the window. Another thing I liked about this book is how unpredictable it was. There were four times while reading this book that I was shocked because something happened that I didn’t see coming and that’s what I like to see in a great horror story. Disease is the kind of book that I would show to someone when they ask why I like to read horror and I can’t wait to see what M.F. Wahl comes up with next.

 

 

Being There: A Commentary on Extreme Horror

alice I am all over the horror writing scene as a writer, an editor, opinion-giver, and more. I watch trends and try to predict them, but at no time has there ever been so many variables. Some may feel we are zombie/vamp swamped, but while those are still favorite topics, there are so many more sub-genres than ever before. It reminds me of the 60s-70s influx of new horror.

There is some badly written material, I agree, but there is just as much badly written horror from those who are with huge presses as those who self-publish. I don’t see the difference except for the ones who are getting paid enormous sums for shlock. I also don’t want to talk about the B-horror/ commercial writing (that many of us have done to support the other writing we wish to do).  It has a place if we trust inSharknado 2  and the other films and books; by far, it is entertaining and I still indulge. I want to talk about the rest.

I had to get the rest off my plate to get here, to the trends I am seeing in horror that are interesting. One is the splatter-punk/ splatter-gore/ extreme horror genre. I like it. I describe it in a book’s forward as not shooting tequila, but snorting it. Occasionally, it’s fun to read those types.  I prefer them, actually. Why? Again, some are bad, some are B-list, and so on, but I like those that are spot-on, well written, and brutal. They get a bad reputation because they often contain explicit sex (and sex is so bad, right?), and because they have gore, and because of the unconventional, profane themes.

That is the real kicker. The other elements, we can set aside, and maybe complain about, but the themes are Image85
what bother us. Extreme horror magnifies the themes. I love the subtlety of The Lottery or inFrankenstein; I get the social and personal over tones, but sometimes… There are times I want to snort the tequila.

Some of the extreme horror stories I have read recently are raunchy, profane, and rough. They are also very honest, and they hit some disturbing themes harder than the more subtle pieces can.  One, recently, blew me away. Pubienne Tueur de Cheveux by Scott Pratt has given me nightmares. It reads as a piece that contains sex, language, and a mature theme. It seems just a simple, extreme piece, and all would be fine if that were the end. Instead, it bothered me deeply as a social piece of writing. Within, hidden very well, are these ideas that are disturbing.

Pratt discusses a woman’s place, treatment of sexual abuse victims, legal politics, sexual preferences, and the difference in power/strength/bitchery that some face. The story may be wrapped in a nice package of sexual overtones, gore, and offensive (but honest and real) action, but the real horror is within the very theme.

I am fascinated with these types of stories.
How clever is it that the writers hide deep commentary within the fancy gift-wrapping? The stories are so honest and they cut so deeply, that they simply must be hidden within a special means of dispersal. What else but the horror genre can cover the deeper meanings? To me, that is a new trend of horror that I am in love with. I am enjoying reading the stories, but have mixed feelings.

rejected                Several other presses have rejected these that I have been pouring over. Why? Oh, the theme mainly, if the publisher was savvy. If the one who read it was not as deep-thinking, then the stories were tossed back for the content (sex, gore, language). I get amused; I get scared. That is, I get amused and scared when I read the stories and when I consider the fact that I am going to release them.

I am a writer of commercial horror (read B-shlock), thrillers, zombies, and some more classic type, literary horror. I have one or two extreme books as well. Of 35+ books, I have found the shlock and the extreme sell the best. That was kind of what got me here, to being the editor who might release stories that no other press will touch. Why do those of mine sell the best? What is the trend?

Honesty.

In my commercial works and in the extreme, I am free to be as honest and brutal as I please. I can hit home the ideas we don’t want to always think about: abuse, intolerance, bad parenting, and my favorite: bad family traditions. I get to say what I feel, but wrap it up in a pretty package of gore and violence, and hide my social commentary. I hide the honesty within the sex. I put the real fear behind the shadows of some foul language. In this way, I can deliver my story, nicely tucked into  something that seems like fun, but is in no way light. Does this make sense? I hide the real fear and horror behind a story of pretend horror that is overdone and extreme. And guess what? It sells and people love those pieces the most.

Some don’t get it. A few rant and rave and call me on the fake horror. That makes me laugh. They don’t get it. Ablood and water campground killer few do get it, and they love what I have said. They are also scared by both the real and the fake. That’s when I have hit it out of the ole ball park, when I get them and then they get the message behind the horror.

I get it. I really get it. So when I read one of these schlocky, profane, or bizarre stories, I know what the author is truly saying. I get the real message of sheer terror that is hidden in gossamer layers and tied with silken bows. Those stories really scare me. They really are, at times, like snorting tequila. They hurt.

I like the trend, but not everyone does or will. It’s way too much for some. Unfortunately, some very smart readers will refuse to read this type of story when the pieces are secretly written for the most intelligent of readers. It’s a subgenre that kicks those that it is aimed at, but isn’t that the idea? Kick and hit? Gut-punch and eviscerate?

Horror will always be fun and have the B-list, commercial fun stuff; it will always deliver the books that are excellent, classic and literary, but there is room for a new sub-genre. There is a place for theintelligently profane. It may take a while to be recognized for brilliancy, but it’s strong in a (fitting, very apt) hidden subculture of writers and readers. It’s the Jimi Hendrix, the Kurt Cobain, Elvis, Jim Morrison and the Janis Joplin of the literary world. They were once considered “dangerous to the youth” and only admired by a few. Today, they are viewed as revolutionary. Motown was once thought to be a bad influence. None of those musical giants harmed music; they changed it for the better.

I feel the intellectual profane horror will do the same. It will take a while, but in time, names we may not know now ( Goforth, Misura, Fisher, Johnson, Dabrowski, Ropes, Woods, Kirk, Pratt, and more) will be whispered about. They will be called revolutionary or so emulated that they may be forgotten, but I am thrilled to say I was there. No, I didn’t get to see Hendrix play live at Woodstock, but I am getting to see a few as they begin the revolution, and to me, brother, that is big time.

Horror is a’changin’.

And the best part, is, I get it. And I am there this time.

**********************

Catt Dahman’s Bio:

catt1I am with Severed Press and JEA Press and an Indie published author; I have 35+ books all over the place. I write thrillers, horror, and sci-fi. In addition, I am CEO of J Ellington Ashton press that is over a year old and has grown seven times over in the first year. I have has been writing for more than 30 years, have taught in public schools(some good experiences), private schools (not as good pay or experiences), and college (Literature and that was enjoyable!). My degrees are from A & M. I studied psychology, criminal psych, sociology, art, literature…yeah…liberal arts, right?

I am a native of Texas; I has lived all over the US, but am currently back in the Fort Worth, Texas area where I live with her husband, son, 7 cats (I do not horde them. One had babies!!!!!), one dog and a ferret.
I have been a public speaker, director for a charity, dabbled as a PI, been a waitress, interior designer, and lasted one day as a sales person at a retail clothing shop. And I am a mommy, which is the best job. I now write full time, working on horror, thrillers, sci-fi and more. (Dinosaurs to serial killers to zombies, to sharks to vampires to weird westerns, to time travel, to all things spooky. I like any story I can turn dark and chilling, but often, I hear that I am a “gory, scary” writer, which is fine by me.

http://www.cattd.com

http://www.jellingtonashton.com

Cheap Reads

206_SomeoneWicked_Amy_1For this post I want to take a look at anthologies. One anthology I’ve read recently is Someone Wicked which was edited by Weldon Burge and JM Reinbold and available from Smart Rhino Publications. This book is a collection of 21 tales by the Written Remains Writers Guild that cover such genres as horror, comedy, fantasy and mystery. This is one impressive anthology, every story here is well written and each story is different from the last.

One good story in Someone Wicked is Reckonings by Gail Husch. I loved how the main character describes herself in the beginning  and then she gets into all the little things that she does to get vengeance on the people who annoy her. This is a simple story but the way everything is described paints a picture and makes it come to life. The way this one was written made me think this is going be a great anthology and all of the other stories here are just as good.

Reckonings is a  quiet, psychological horror story with a touch of humor. To show the diversity in Someone Wicked the next story is The Flenser by Billie Sue Mosiman. This horror story goes more for the gross out effect but still manages to have interesting characters and a good shocking ending. The Flenser is about a man who gets a job cleaning flesh off of skull so they can be sold to medical facilities. I did not know jobs exsisted like this and it was interesting reading about how these people would interact with others and what their idea of fun might be.

One of my favorites in this book is Mirror, Mirror by Chantal  Noordeloos. This is a dark fantasy story that looks at the legend of bloody Mary. This story begins in 1852 and is told by a girl named Sophie who along with her mother lives on a  plantation. Sophie has a step sister named Marie-Louise who is a bully and likes to make Sophie’s life hard. In addition to bullying, Sophie has a hard life and her mother along with others end up dying under mysterious circumstances. Sophie feels like an outcast and makes friends with some of the slaves. Here Sophie finds out about the cursed mirror in the house. I loved how this story was told with all the details of life in the mid 1800’s and I liked Sophie’s relationship with the slaves. This was one great horror story on a legend that I didn’t know much about.

In addition to the excellent horror stories in this book there is a mystery here called Missing by JM Reinbold, along with some good takes on fairy tales such as Sisters: A Fairy Tale by Liz DeJesus which I would love to see expanded into a novel. I also loved the dramatic Impresario by Maria Masington, this one takes a look at one young person’s descent into drug addiction that I think sadly a lot of people can relate to. This book even has some stories that are just for laughs such as The Semi-Aquatic Blue Baker of Borneo by Justynn Tyme which is a hard story to explain, it just has to be read. This anthology has it all and is a book you shouldn’t pass up. There are also two other anthologies from Smart Rhino that you might enjoy:


13489986Zippered Flesh edited by Weldon Burge

Monstrous transplants. Appalling amputations. Bizarre implants. Nightmarish forms of body enhancements. Disturbing, perverse, often gut-wrenching stories–all between the covers of this anthology. Here are 20 tales by some of today’s best horror, suspense, and science fiction writers, including Graham Masterton, John Shirley, Scott Nicholson, Michael Laimo, Lisa Mannetti, L.L. Soares, Armand Rosamilia, Aaron J. French, Christopher Nadeau, Michael Bailey, Adrienne Jones, Charles Colyott, J. Gregory Smith, Michael Louis Calvillo, Jezzy Wolfe, Jonathan Templar, P.I. Barrington, Elliott Capon, Rob M. Miller, and Weldon Burge. The stories are not for those who are faint of heart or squeamish, or who are easily offended by nasty language, bloody violence, and freakish body augmentations. You’ve been warned!

Broken: Stories of Damaged Psyches edited by Weldon Burge

This is a collection of five horror/suspense stories by Weldon Burge, including:

SIZZLE — A philandering doctor meets a hill man who wants the “sizzle” cut out of his brain

ANOTHER HIGHWAY FATALITY — A college girl, driving alone late at night during a heavy storm, is stalked by a car with a missing headlight

WHITE HELL, WISCONSIN — A snow plow driver, plowing back roads in rural Wisconsin during a blizzard, fights for his life against elusive assailants

PERMANENT DETENTION — A stressed-out teenager believes his History teacher is actually one of the living dead

BLUE EYE BURN — A Vietnam veteran is haunted by a terrifying incident involving a young Vietnamese girl

Cheap Reads

Hey Horror Addicts, for the last couple of seasons of the horror addicts podcast I had a regular blog post/segment called Free Fiction Friday, where we gave away a paperback book. For this season I’m switching things up a little and instead of giving away a book I’m going to promote some cheap horror books that you can find on Amazon for less than $5.oo. For my first post I’m going to look at books that are available from the Horror Addicts staff. If you still want a free paperback book or to promote a book you wrote, shoot me an email at horroraddicts@gmail.com and We will hook you up.

21719117From our hostess Emerian Rich we have Night’s Knights. Vampires on a quest for knowledge attempt to create the perfect offspring, but from the shadows an even more demonic evil threatens their immortality. Markham is a simple Irish immigrant striving for the American dream in 1860 when coach robbers cause his untimely death. Severina is an exotic beauty from the jungles of Brazil whose family is brutally murdered by the same man she later calls a lover. Julien is a knight who serves as guardian angel to his family but has no clue about his predestined fate. Will a powerful mortal named Jespa be the one to save them all?

5791268Next up from Dan Shaurette we have Lilith’s Love. Donovan, lonely and getting over the recent death of his parents, asks his long-time friend Christian to move in with him when he relocates back home again to Phoenix from Los Angeles. After the Vampire Hunters find Lilith in New Orleans, she and her Wiccan friend Anna decide to go where they think no one would expect to find vampires — The Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, AZ. Christian, who is also a Wiccan, meets Anna at a Samhain event (Halloween). The chemistry between them is immediate, and when they introduce their roommates to each other, Don realizes Lilith is not only the woman of his dreams — but that she is the woman in his dreams at night.

12348944From our movie and TV guru Kristin Battestella, we have Fate And Fangs Love: Ann and The Viking. The Vampire Family has a long and torrid past, present, and future. In FATE and FANGS, the family’s Occult scholar Professor A. James shares vampire vignettes of love, punishment, struggle, debauchery, lust, humanity, and resurrection. In this medieval tale, scorned vampire mistress Ann leaves vampire family patriarch Antonio behind, travels across Britain, and encounters a wayward Viking named Eric. Will Ann accept her true vampiric nature and turn her Nordic lover into a vampire?

Also our events guy Mark Vale has a book called Silhouette available. Aaron Tate moves into a new house in a little town he doesn’t feel comfortable in. It could be he’s feeling lonely as the new kid, or it could be he doesn’t like the backyard. Or more precisely, the swamp behind the backyard.

21337311 (1)In addition to these four books from our horroraddicts staff we also have two anthologies available. The first is The Wickeds: A Wicked Women Writers AnthologyHorrorAddicts.net presents thirteen horror tales from up-and-coming women writers. This diverse collection of revenge, torture, and macabre is sure to quench any horror addict’s thirst for blood. Between these covers reside werewolves, demons, ghosts, vampires, a voodoo priestess, headless horseman, Bloody Mary, and human monsters that are perhaps the most disturbing. With an exclusive interview of The Wickeds by Sapphire Neal. Lock your doors, bar your windows, and enjoy stories from: H. E. Roulo Jeri Unselt Linda Ciletti Emerian Rich Marie Green Hollie Snider Jennifer Rahn Michele Roger R. E. Chambliss Arlene Radasky Kimberly Steele Laurel Anne Hill Rhonda R. Carpenter All proceeds will be donated to LitWorld, a non-profit organization that uses the power of story to cultivate literacy leaders around the globe.
hahdfront-coverOur second anthology is Horrible DisastersHorrorAddicts.net proudly presents Horrible Disasters. Thirteen authors from around the globe share their visions of terror set during real natural disasters throughout history. Travel back in time to earth shattering events like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and the Winter of Terror avalanches, 1950. What supernatural events went unnoticed? What creatures caused such destruction without remorse? Stock your emergency kit, hunker in your bunker, and prepare for… Horrible Disasters. Proceeds go to help disaster relief globally by way of the Rescue Task Force.

 

 

 

African American Horror Writers Part 2

devilswakeLast Febuary to celebrate Black History Month, I did a post on African-American Horror Writers which you can read by clicking here. Some of the authors in that post included L.A. Banks, Maurice Broaddus, Wrath James White, Brandon Massey, Octavia ButlerJermiah Jefferson and a few others. Since that post went up I’ve had other authors leave comments so I wanted to expand my list. So if you’re looking for a good read I’m sure you will find something by the authors listed below.

First up, I want to mention Tananarive Due. While Tananarive is primarily looked at as a Science Fiction writer some of her novels can also be looked at as horror. In 2012 Tananarive co-wrote a zombie novel with her husband Steven Barnes.  The book is called Devil’s Wake, its set in a post-apocalyptic future where a school bus full of  young people try to escape the walking dead and human raiders as society crumbles around them. Tananarive Due is also the writer of the African Immortals series which has been compared to Anne Rice’s Vampire chronicles. The storyline is about an Ethiopian sect that traded their humanity to be immortal.

15823995Also I briefly mentioned Andre Duza in my previous post on African-American horror writers. Andre writes hard-core horror mixed with with humor and social commentary. He has written several short stories and novels including Dead Bitch Army about a zombie woman out for revenge after the apocalypse. Another of Andre’s novels is  Jesus Freaks which takes place on Easter morning in 2015. Detective Phillip Makane woke up to a world of bleeding rain, a homicidal ghost and thousands of zombies along with two men with powers claiming to be Jesus.  Andre Duza has also written the hardcore pulp novella about dog fighting and black magic called Son of A Bitch with Wrath James White.

Just recently I heard of another author named Sumiko Saulson. She has written three novels and a collection of short stories called Things That Go Bump In My Head. One of her novels is called  Solitude which is about people who wake up and find they are all alone  in San Francisco. The story follows the characters as they try to figure out what happened as they explore the deserted city. One review I read for this book compared it to Stephen King’s The Stand and The Dark Tower. Another one by Sumiko is The Moon Cried Blood which is about a woman named Leticia who is growing up in Los Angeles in 1975 and has just discovered she comes from a long line of witches.

bumpheadcoverGetting back to the zombie theme you might want to check out George L. Cook III’s The Dead War Series. There are three books in this series, they are set in the future and tell the tale of an army battling the undead. Some of the reviews on this one say its a fun time and not to read it on a full stomach.

Another author with some good horror titles to her name is L. Marie Wood. Her debut novel is Crescendo: Welcome Home death Awaits. This one is about a man haunted by a family curse. When he dreams, people die and now he has to try to break the curse and keep from going insane. Some of her other works include Caliginy and The Promise Keeper.

Next up is Qwantu Amaru who’s book One Blood won a 2012 international book award, a National Indie Excellence award and several other honors. One Blood tells the story of Lincoln Baker a man in prison who orchestrates the kidnapping of the daughter of the governor of Louisiana. He also  resurrects a family curse which goes back to slavery. This book has received great reviews and has been recommended by Brandon Massey.

Writing more for the young adult audience is A.J. Harper. A.J. started the Night Biters series which is geared towards fans of Harry Potter and Twilight but with much more ethnic diversity and in an urban setting. The story follows 16 year old Jamilah and 14-year-old Omari who arrive in Oakland to live with their aunt and Uncle. They are given a mysterious CD that gives them information about the danger of vampires and they soon became caught up in a street war between vampire gangs.

Another Author that I need to talk about is Tize W. Clark. Tize has been 6136585referred to as the new king of horror. His first novel is called The Maze which is a horrifying journey from the streets of New York to the Mountains of New Mexico and back. Another book by a new author is The Dark Side Of Grace by M.L. Cooper. This is a paranormal romance novel about two lovers that try to uncover the truth about their family’s haunted slave past.

Keeping with newer authors, If you are into short horror fiction check out Afro-American Stories Of Fright From The Old South by Darnell Wright which also comes with a down home southern recipe. If you like psychological horror check out Abstract Murder by A.L. Peck. The description of this one says that if you like Pulp Fiction and Silence of The Lambs then you will want to check this one out. One more independent author that was brought to my attention by Sumiko Saulson is Ron Huston whose first novel is called The Rogue Prophet. This is a classic tale of good versus evil set in a place of worship. I also don’t want to forget to mention J. Malcom Stewart who wrote The Eyes Of The Stars which I have reviewed on this blog.

This is an incomplete list of African-American writers and comes mostly from comments made after my first blog post on the subject. If you’re looking for more authors check out Nerdy girl’s blog post here. If you have anyone else to add, please leave a comment.