Kill Switch: The Origin Story

In January of 2018, when our then Head of Publishing, Dan Shaurette, approached me about doing a tech horror anthology, I was all for it. I was enjoying the Black Mirror episodes that had just popped on Netflix and I had always been inspired by tech breeding horror. From the time I’d seen Electric Dreams back in the eighties, to the tech-watching-death Brainstorm, to Arnold Schwarzenegger saying, “I’ll be back” in Terminator, I’d been fascinated with tech doing horrible things. But now, as we sit at the edge of a precipice where these devices are no longer science fiction, but a reality, the horror of what really could happen is terrifying.

January 15th, 2018

Dan Shaurette: Hey, I saw your post about tech horror and I, too, am digging the genre these days.

Emerian Rich: Let’s do it!

Next came the name and Dan and I brainstormed that for a bit. Everything from Glitched to Future Dark to Kernel Panic to Digital Dread was brought up, but when Dan said Kill Switch, something just clicked.   

January 19th, 2018

Emerian Rich: No, I’m waiting for one to sock me in the face.

Dan Shaurette: Kill Switch?

Emerian Rich: That’s it!

Dan had already found the awesome vampire android cover and we were on our way.

March 9th, 2018

Submission Call: Tech Horror Kill Switch

“The Future is Broken.” – Black Mirror

What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future? When technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we have created? Artificial intelligence, robotics, bionics and cybernetics, clones, and virtual reality. These are a few of my favorite things. The technological singularity is fast approaching, and post-humanity is a frighteningly dark future.

First and foremost, your submission must be a horror story and contain something emotionally, physically, or mentally horrifying. Secondly, the technology should be front and center, not just a deus ex machina. Whether it be a modern technology we are creating now with a purpose yet fully realized, or some new horror as yet to be discovered. We are looking for stories in the same vein as NETFLIX’s Black Mirror.

Post-apocalypse is welcome, as are dystopian societies, but technology must have brought them about. Supernatural elements are welcome in conjunction with the technology. What we don’t want is aliens attacking humanity as the core conceit.

However, as we started to receive submissions, something was going on with Dan. He had a series of health issues and on Father’s Day of 2018, he suffered a medical emergency similar to a stroke. I waited for news on how he was doing. Would Dan come back to us? Or was this his time to go? Weeks passed where the family wasn’t sure of the outcome and finally, we got the word that Dan would survive, but that he wouldn’t be able to finish out the anthology.

My heart sank. We at HorrorAddicts.net were stunned and in a frozen state of denial. Dan, the dude who had always brought humor and brightness to our lives would no longer be on the crew and his book… What would we do about the book?

It was a tough decision. First, I had no help to produce the book with Dan gone, but even more, should I continue his vision without him at the helm? It was a tough decision. I spent hours considering canceling the book. I wrote out a pros and cons list. I spoke to Dan and his wife on text, on the phone, and considered what the impact would be should we cancel the publication mid-stream. And then I asked a question that I had joked with Dan about many times in the past. I simply asked,

What would Dan do?

And the answer I could hear in my head as clear as day was…

Dan would want the book published.

Dan had imagined a handful of stories he was going to write for the anthology. We talked about it daily. He’d poured his heart and soul into planning the book. So why shouldn’t Dan’s dream be realized?

We decided to go ahead and complete his dream of publishing this book. The fact that we have finished it for him makes me sad that he was not able to be involved very much, but it also fills me with happiness that we could see it through.

Naching had come on during this trauma and really helped pull me through. She has been an integral part of this publication as our new Head of Publishing and I couldn’t have done it without her!

I hope you enjoy this book and the plethora of ways tech can kill you. Should make for a fun read. 🙂

There is a little secret in the beginning of the book in binary code.

00110100 00100000 01000100 01100001 01101110

Which translates to: 4 Dan

I am glad this book is out for your enjoyment and the best thing about this book promotion will be when I am able to hand Dan the print copy when I see him this summer and watch the elation in his face as he realizes his dream has come true.

Thank you Dan.

Advertisements

My Darling Dead: Episode 3 – The Cursed

The Kingdom of Dandoich lay in the grip of autumn. Frost coated the ground in thick layers every morning and the chill of the night did not fade until the sun was high. Grilled meat for suppers had given way to hot, savory stews. Hollow gourds had faces chiseled into them and were set outside to ward off evil spirits. The last crops were being harvested, numb fingers digging into the frozen dirt with thoughts of when it would all be over. But always, there was a shadow hanging over the kingdom, one which necessitated looking over one’s shoulder more often than in the old days.

Since the fairy’s so-called christening, old-timers agreed around the fires at night, the kingdom had never been the same. The castle had ceased to be a place of solace and refuge and had become a symbol of uncertainty, capable at any point of sweeping down and wreaking havoc upon their simple lives at a whim. The rains came less and the crops were poor, leading many to take on the life of a highwayman to feed their families, roaming the road and preying upon unwary travelers. Violence became the first and only response for many and the number of murders skyrocketed.

Those who had attended the christening hastened to spread the tale of the fairy’s vengeance and the shrieking queen who had ordered them all from the room. None of them had clearly heard what Esemli had screamed at the end, but their imaginations were only too happy to fill in those gaps in their knowledge. They whispered darkly to their neighbors about the supernatural powers possessed by the fae, both real and imagined. Their neighbors, in turn, hastened to spread the stories to their own circles. Gradually, the fairies grew to be feared, then hated, by many in the kingdom. The fact that most of the people in the kingdom had never seen a fairy, and that those who had laid eyes upon one had only done so at Princess Alasin’s christening, did not stop their tongues wagging.

The fairies were not as scarce as they seemed to the peasantry. Some were capable of invisibility, while many had powers of disguise. Still other fairies were bolder, trusting the oblivious nature of human beings to protect their identities. This had been done by the fae for thousands of years, but now, they were angered and insulted by what they heard on the lips and thoughts of the peasantry. Emboldened by Esemli’s act against the royal family, they brought their influence to bear on the peasantry and were driving the kingdom into a darkness inhabited by strange creatures whose minds had snapped.

“’ey, you dere,” screamed the peasant Supik, raising a scythe in a businesslike manner as he stood framed in the door. “Git outta me ‘ouse!”

The target of his ire was a small, skinny man dressed in rags which barely clung to his filthy frame. Ratlike, he sniffed around the floor of the peasant’s main room, ending up under the small table. His nose brushed the small stiff body of a mouse, the latest casualty in the peasant’s constant war against pests. Before the revolted Supik could say another word, the skinny rat-man had opened his mouth and taken a great bite of the carcass, biting it cleanly in two and chewing with relish.

With difficulty, the peasant swallowed his lunch again. “Cor, what th’ bloody ‘ell is wrong wid youse, mate?” He held out the scythe, keeping the heft of the weapon between the two of them. “You c’n eat all th’ mice ’round ‘ere ya can find but ya gotter do it ousside, got it?” He stood out of the doorway, gesturing with his scythe, his unease growing.

The rat-man was not listening. He had finished his horrible meal and continued his search throughout the hovel, sniffing around the hearth where some stew had slopped out of a large kettle when Supik had stirred a little too enthusiastically. The peasant frowned and tightened his grip on the scythe.

“’ere, mate, yew gotter get outta here. Me missus and liddle ‘uns will be back ‘ere any minute an-”

Without warning, the rat-man leapt to his feet and shrieked, no words, just a sound of rage and insanity. He charged at Supik, hands raised like claws. Supik, who was not expecting anything of the sort, fell over himself in his haste to exit the building and landed on his rear at the foot of his stairs. Pain exploded up his spine from his tailbone and he howled. Over his exclamation, he heard the clatter of his scythe and saw it out of reach across the dooryard. His eyes had no sooner absorbed this fact than they flew back to the direction of his front door in time to see the rat-man scuttle down the stairs on all fours and seize his leg.

Supik bellowed in fear and agony as the rat-man sunk his teeth into Supik’s leg, gnawing and shaking his head left and right. Supik’s hands scrabbled around the yard attempting to pull himself away but the rat-man hung on, splintered teeth ripping into the peasant’s flesh and carving out great chunks. The peasant was roaring, bellowing as he thrashed, kicking for all he was worth and attempting to pull himself to safety.

Like a limpet, the rat-man clung doggedly to the peasant’s flailing legs. Just as he could feel the rat-man’s teeth scrape the bone in his leg, Supik felt a bolt of pain crash into his flailing right hand as it connected harshly with a large rock. Seizing it, he leaned up and swung with the same motion, connecting the rock with the skull of the rat-man with all the force he could muster.

Thwock!

The rat man continued gnawing, but his eyes were glazed, his jaws working slower. One bloody eye rolled in its socket, coming to rest on the peasant. Supik screamed and brought the rock down on that eye again, and again, and again, until the thing clutching his legs looked no longer even remotely human and the rock in his hand was reduced to wet gravel.

Logbook of Terror: Tamerlane’s Tomb!

A fictional representation of a real Cursed Location – Tamerlane’s Tomb

It is a brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoon. Birds are chirping overhead, the sky is a radiant, cloudless blue. A soft breeze carries laughter and conversation of nearby tourists to my ears. It is a beautiful day, and I am scared out of my mind.

I can’t understand how these crowds of people file and shuffle in and out of this grand, horrid mausoleum without a seeming care, visiting the burial ground of a blood-thirsty conqueror, of a state-sanctioned maniac, a psychopathic butcher who brutalized and murdered millions. Yet here they are; the masses, oohing and aahhing in awe and wonder. They don’t know. They can’t hear them, but I can; I can hear the whispers of the deadTimur reconstruction03.jpg

I want to leave but the dead won’t let me. There seems to be an invisible wall or force of some sort keeping me here. Every evening for the past week I’ve followed the train of mindless tourists as they leave to board the shuttles that will take them back to the resorts, and every time I near the property’s edge, I blink and I am back in the tomb. Last night I was able to climb aboard one of the shuttle buses. I didn’t know where it was headed and I didn’t care, as long as it carried me away from this cursed place of blood and murder and damnation. Once I was seated and the bus began to move, my heart was cheered with thoughts that I was able to be gone from this cursed place. About a block away, I was overcome with tremendous weariness and fell into a deep slumber. When I awoke, I was alone on the stone floor of the tomb, my hands pressed fast against the resting place of the bones of Timur the conqueror. I cried aloud into the night and no one heard me or came to my aid. And still the dead, the countless victims of Timur, whispered in my mind, filling me with horror. Their voices swirled around my head, spinning faster and faster. I saw oceans of blood spilling into the tomb. Waves of crimson crashed against the stones. I rose and ran from the oncoming flood. Falling, my head crashed against Timur’s earthly cell and I fell into blackness.

When I came to the sun was high in the sky. I was dressed in clean clothes, in line with a mob of tourists filing into the tomb, with no memory of how I’d gotten there. A tour guide spouted off facts about the dreaded conqueror. My hands shook. Sweat broke on my brow. Immediately, I fetched my pen and pad from my satchel which was slung over my shoulder as usual and began scribbling the words you now read. Please send help immediately, for last night while my mind swirled in the deepest dark, the spirits charged me with a heinous duty which I must carry out for it weighs on me with the weight of immense obsession. I must open Timur’s resting place. I must disturb his bones. I must activate the curse anew and bring chaos, world-wide war, and terror to the earth! The spirits demand their vengeance, I am their servant, and I must obey! Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, please send help now; stop me before it is too late!

Logbook of Terror: Lake Ronkonkoma

Lake Ronkonkoma by Russell Holbrook

A fictional representation of a real Cursed Location – Lake Ronkonkoma

Watching the sun set over Lake Ronkonkoma, with the streaks of orange and yellow light glistening and reflecting off the water, is a breathtaking experience. On that particular evening, I was so moved by the sight I had tears in my eyes. After several minutes of gazing at this natural wonder, pondering life and the universe, and feeling an enveloping sense of awe at the wonders of our world, I decided to finish rowing across the lake and have dinner at the Light House. Although my friends had all told me that crossing the lake in my rickety craft was a bad idea at best, I’d decided to do it anyway, because, after all, well-intended advice is made to be ignored.

I rowed in silence, easing my boat along with wide, sweeping movements of the oars. My craft glided across the water, sending out ripples in its wake. While passing the center of the lake I peered down into the water. My eyes searched the darkness. I wondered if it could possibly truly be bottomless, as some of the locals claimed. I tried to fathom an endless expanse of water, ebbing and flowing down into eternity. Perhaps there exists a parallel dimension beneath the water’s surface? A watery heaven or a liquid hell, one filled with mermaid angels and another full of demonic denizens of the deep? No one knows and perhaps no one ever will. I stopped my musings and focused on reaching the Lighthouse. The late summer light was fading and my stomach was growling. I rowed faster.

About a hundred or so yards from shore, as I mentally perused the restaurant’s menu, thinkin of what I might order, a loud thud rang out from the bottom of the vessel. My heart jumped into my throat. My eyes shot to the floor of the boat. It was still fully intact. The craft rocked back and forth. I cried out and grabbed the sides. Another crash rocked me from side to side, nearly capsizing me. A third crash lifted the front end before letting it crash back into the water. I screamed and slammed my oars against the water, panicking to speed myself to shore.  Cursing and wailing, I screamed for help, thrashing the oars furiously against the water, fleeing for my life. Closer and closer I came to the sandy shore and hope filled my heart that I would survive.

The Legends of Lake Ronkonkoma-1Mere feet from the water’s edge, she ascended from the water with a shrill, horrifying cry -the lady of the lake, flying through the air before me! Frozen with fear while simultaneously enraptured by the lady’s morbid beauty – her grand, pale curves, her blank eyes, her wet, pitch black hair. She landed in front of me, her bare feet lighting on the floor of my boat, her hands wrapping tight around my throat. Before I could acclimate my mind to the reality of the events that had suddenly turned my life into a living nightmare, I was pulled from my boat and thrust down into the murky depths.

I flailed my arms and legs, I wrestled with the water maiden’s hands, but it was no use, for her strength could not be overcome. Down, down I went, further and further into uncharted depths. The pressure on my frail human frame was so intense that I passed from pain into ecstasy. Seeing that my life was fleeting, the lady released her grip on my throat. She took my hands in hers. I watched her bare breasts sway in the water’s ebb. Tiny fish and creatures of the deep eased past, observing our descent. The lady ran a soft, silky finger over my cheek, and, just before my skull imploded, I thought I saw her smile.

Odds and Dead Ends: Rustic Terror

Why The Wicker Man Still Scares Us by Kieran Judge

Released in 1973, Robin Hardy’s British pagan horror movie takes a policeman (played by Edward Woodward) onto the Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate a girl’s disappearance. Despite a bad remake with Nicholas Cage, and a spiritual sequel that failed to impress, the original film still has the ability to deeply disturb on a strange, fundamental level. I’m going to outline why I think The Wicker Man, despite its age and lack of blood and monsters, still manages to thrill and scare today.

When Howie arrives on the island, you’re initially greeted by great aerial shots of the little plane flying past the rugged terrain of the island, merely a white speck against the blue ocean. For the rest of the film, Howie is completely removed from the traffic in the pre-credit scenes, away from the churches and the police stations (these scenes re-added in the director’s cut). As Martin-Jones writes of the film, ‘The wilds of Scotland are thus considered a potentially treacherous location where a more ‘primitive’ attitude to life and death persists and duplicity and double-cross are deadly commonplaces against which the unwitting outsider must guard.’ (Martin-Jones, 2009). We’re on our own now in a cut-throat world.

And you get this impression right from the start. Upon landing, Howie asks the townsfolk to send a dinghy out so that he might come ashore, and their reply is they can’t do so without permission. Even announcing himself as a policeman seems to have little to no effect. Not only is this an island from which one cannot easily escape except by plane, but it is an environment where the people are dismissive, if not yet overtly hostile. It’s going to be hard going at the very least to find our missing girl.

The more we explore the culture, trying to get to the very heart of the matter of the missing Rowan Morrison, the more we feel we are intruding too far into a completely different world. Their pagan rituals are everywhere, from the maypole dancing and education at the school, to the chocolates being sold in the local shops. The Christianity that Howie holds so dear to him, (the virtues that Edward Woodward says are the most important values to him of all, in the DVD’s video commentary (The Wicker Man, 1973)) are up against a brick wall that we slowly, horrifyingly, realise is actually a trap, ensnaring us. Kbatz has a great review of the film from a few years ago in which she discusses some of the conflicts between the different religions, and I highly recommend you go and read it if you haven’t already: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/kbatz-the-wicker-man/

Many people have commented on the music in the film, with the cast and crew on the DVD commentary saying that it fits the movie like a glove. I’ve known people to find the songs funny at times, which I think is telling in itself. It isn’t the usual score to a thriller film. Around 13 songs, based on traditional Scottish tunes and poems, form a surreal background to a completely alien world. It’s unnerving, and people trying to laugh it off may be a form of emotional relief

This also highlights that all of the people are genuinely enjoying the festivities. All of the townsfolk are smiling and treat Howie with the greatest of respect because, again referring to the audio commentary, they believe they are doing him the greatest service by plotting to make him a martyr. They believe they’re doing the right thing. And that’s one of the most terrifying things upon reflection, they believe in their hearts that they are rewarding him.

And then of course, for Howie, things go sour in the final act. Like the rotting apples and the crumbling churches, everything falls apart for the modern values of the western world embodied by our policeman. When he tries to leave he finds the plane broken and sabotaged, technology failing. Worshippers with animal masks watch on, and when Howie turns around they hide again. There’s a definite air of malice now, a concrete threat to Howie, and what was unease throughout the film suddenly becomes fear.

As we reach the climax of the film, we, like Howie, are clutching at straws. From feeling like the imposter in a strange land, Howie puts on the outfit of the fool and becomes the imposter. Now we’re in the very midst of the danger, aware that they intend a human sacrifice, and the very Christian policeman has to imitate the very thing that goes against his core values in order to carry out his job. The snapping hobby horse are the jaws of death. It’s a personal conflict of monumental importance, a moment where the personal micro tensions and the theological macro tensions come to fruition, and we have to hope that the man we follow will win out.

The entire parade is dragged out as long as possible for maximum tension. The scene with the sword dance in the stone circle is particularly tense, because for a moment we suddenly realise that there’s the possibility the worshippers know Howie is in the outfit. Thrust into the line, he has no but to go into the ring of swords and trust and hope his disguise holds out. With the chop! chop! chop! we have again a perverse soundtrack, substituting the war drums of conventional movie scores for a pagan call for death.

And then we arrive at the final scene. Howie is thrust into the Wicker Man, crying for his Lord, and we suddenly have to hope for the traditional horror movie to return. Horror films always save the protagonist, give us some kind of catharsis, but there’s nothing to be found here. The helicopter doesn’t arrive, rain doesn’t pour as an act of God and douse the flames licking at the wood, Howie doesn’t manage to escape and run to freedom. The cries for Jesus and the singing of traditional hymns are drowned out by the chanting ring of happy pagan faces as the head finally crumbles, burned to a crisp.

The Wicker Man takes our traditional western values and puts them into a world that has reverted to the past. The crusade Howie goes on fails to convert the islanders to the ‘modern’ ways of thinking. We leave the film having watched the protagonist having journeyed to a strange, unnervingly backward land and burned alive to appease ancient gods. We as an audience, his modern kin, have failed him. In a world of cut-and-paste zombie flicks, ghost girl movies, and lacklustre monster films, there’s just something about rustic terror of The Wicker Man that manages to unnerve. Everything comes together and culminates in a film that defies all the conventions, brings together the best cast and crew possible, and leaves the viewer having watched one of the most terrifying final scenes ever put to film.

 

Article by Kieran Judge

Follow Kieran on Twitter: KJudgeMental

 

Bibliography

Martin-Jones, D., 2009. Scotland global cinema: genres, modes and identities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

The Wicker Man. 1973. [Film] Directed by Robin Hardy. UK: British Lion.

Irish Horror Writers Interview With Sean Murray

Irish Horror Writers Month – An Interview with Sean Murray

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country?

Hello, my name is Sean Murray and I am from New York.

What is your connection to Irish Heritage?

My family is from Cork.   I live far away in the US.  I haven’t visited yet, but I plan on it!

 

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing at the age of 14, short stories and lyrics. The themes usually leaned heavily toward the macabre.  After writing many songs for bands such as HERSISTER and Black Cat Sessions, I switched gears and began writing screenplays.

Why write Horror?

I’ve been a fan of the genre since I was a kid. In all forms:  movies, books, magazines and beyond.  I write other stuff as well, but horror is my usual output.  I’ve always been drawn to explore the darkness.

What inspires you to write?

Ideas flow through my head all the time, I’m not sure what it is that makes me write, but just being alive is inspiring. I don’t know why I feel the need to write stuff out,  I just do it.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

I feel that is connected in ways that are really hard to explain, but yeah. Certain characters and settings are based on my personal cultural experiences.

What scares you?

What scares me most is the fragility of life. How any one of us can go at any given time.  Life can change in the course of a second, and to me that is terrifying.

Who is your favorite author?

Mary Shelley. Frankenstein was emotionally brutal.  For me that’s where horror works best-when it’s emotionally driven.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I write everyday, usually at night. I get ideas all the time, and I let them spin throughout my mind over the course of the day.  When I hit the keyboard in the evening, I refine those ideas.  For me the process is pretty smooth, as I’ve already worked the idea out in my head.

Tell us about your current projects.

Interment – a horror film, currently in post production, which will be released later in the year. This film is also my directorial debut.

Unto Decease – currently filming.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

Interment , which will be released in April, 2019. This is a horror film which was                                                   produced by MDMN Films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt865664

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Sean Murray is an actor/writer-director from upstate NY.  Early roles in horror films such as “Sociopathia”, and When Blackbirds Fly” led to a desire to work behind the camera as well as in front of it.  After serving as assistant director on the films “A Line Between All Things”, and “Crush”, Sean focused on directing.  The feature film “Interment” is Sean’s directorial debut, and will be released later this year!

Horror Author Jeff Strand gets Ferocious in 2019

An Interview with Jeff Strand

Horror author Jeff Strand is already having a ferocious 2019 following a productive 2018, which featured five new releases from the four-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated writer.

ferocious.jpgStrand’s first new release of 2019 is the Kindle version of Ferocious, an action-packed novel about wild zombie animals on the prowl in a forest where Uncle Rusty and his teenage niece Mia live off the grid in a cabin.

Strand’s horror novels, Pressure and Dweller, earned Bram Stoker Award nominations, but the versatile author has also written young adult comedies, horror comedies, and even a romantic comedy.

Check out his website and ridiculously long bio here. Purchase the Kindle edition of Ferocious here.

Strand, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, agreed to an exclusive interview with HorrorAddicts.net about his new book and shares news on a couple of other future projects. He even answers the question if there will be a second Wolf Hunt sequel.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

HORROR ADDICTS: Undead animals? What sparked the idea for Ferocious?

STRAND: I had no story idea when I wrote the first chapter — I just liked the idea of this gruff, antisocial guy living in a cabin deep in the woods suddenly having a baby thrust upon him after his sister died. So, then it became, “Okay, what can go horribly wrong in their lives?” After much brainstorming, I settled on “zombie animals,” which isn’t a unique concept but certainly an under-utilized one.

HA: In the more than 40 books you’ve released, Uncle Rusty and Mia from Ferocious are two of my favorite characters that you’ve created. I love their relationship from the moment she asks her uncle, “Did you get the tampons?” Where would you rank them among your character creations? Do you like certain characters you create more than others?

pressure.jpg

STRAND: It’s fun to write a really nasty villain like Darren in Pressure or Ivan in Wolf Hunt, but I’ll admit that it’s more fulfilling to create characters that the reader really likes. In a book that has “once it gets going it never stops” pacing, it was really important that you start rooting for these characters early on. I’m honestly not sure where I’d rank them. At gunpoint, forced to choose, I’d say that Kevin and Rachel from Blister are my favorite characters, followed closely by the heroes in Cyclops Road. I switched the order after I typed that the first time. Then I’d cheat and say that it’s a tie between Uncle Rusty and Mia, George and Lou from Wolf Hunt, Todd and Amy from Kumquat, Frank and Abigail from Bring Her Back, the family from Sick House, and Toby and Owen from Dweller. None of these are individual characters — I tend to like my own characters based on how they interact with each other.

HA: What actors should play Uncle Rusty and Mia if there’s a movie version of Ferocious?

STRAND: I never think of actors when I’m writing a book, and this question always has me going “Uhhhhh …” I truly don’t know. Hopefully, actors who are pleasant to work with and don’t lock themselves inside their trailer because their coffee was the wrong temperature.

wolf hunt.jpg

HA: Uncle Rusty lives off the grid in a cabin deep in the woods? Does that lifestyle appeal to you or are you one of those city slickers?

STRAND: There are flashes of it when I’m stuck in Atlanta traffic, but no, I’m a city guy.

HA: A story of undead animals run amok could go over the top and off the rails quickly, but you played it fairly straight considering the circumstances. You focused on the human survival element in Ferocious, but did you leave any crazy zombie animal ideas on the editing room floor?

STRAND: The book embraces the idea that not all animals in the forest are menacing, and it’s not only the “scary” ones that are undead. So, I played it straight from the perspective that if there was a zombie squirrel coming after you, this is how it would probably behave, and this is how you would probably react to it. And one of my favorite scenes is when an encounter with a rather non-threatening animal suddenly turns horrific. But there really wasn’t anything where I said, “Nope, that’s going too far.” Especially not with the final beast.

51ceNtV5S8L._SY346_.jpg

HA: I described Ferocious in my Amazon review as “pure B-movie creature feature fun.” Is that what you were going for or were you hoping to send an environmental message?

STRAND: No message. The only message would be “forest animals really suck when they become zombies.” This baby is pure B-movie creature feature fun!

HA: Uncle Rusty and Mia battle a number of undead animals in the relentlessly paced Ferocious. Have you ever been attacked by an animal?

STRAND: I’ve been bitten by a couple of dogs in my time, and at any given moment I probably have at least one cat scratch, but as far as “Let me tell you a gripping tale about the time I was attacked …” no, I don’t really have anything. A couple of years ago I was sitting out on the end of a dock on a lake, and a bear stepped out of the woods and walked right up to the dock. My thought process was, “This bear is almost definitely NOT going to come after me, but I’m prepared to dive right into that lake if necessary,” and “I want to take a picture of this, but I don’t want to be the dumbass who took a picture of a bear as it was charging him.” The bear moved along, and I survived the encounter.

HA: Are you a cat or a dog person? Do you have any pets that could one day become zombie animals?

STRAND: I love both of them, but I’ve only owned cats for the past 20 years. You can just leave out extra food and kitty litter and go to a writers’ conference and the cat will be fine. I’m not a world traveler, but I’m on the road enough that it wouldn’t be fair to a dog. Chaos the Cat is a gigantic blob and though he scratches me if I try to rub his tummy for one second after he’s decided that it’s time for this experience to stop, I don’t honestly think I’d fear for my life if he became a zombie. He’s not very ambitious.

HA: If you could be any animal, which one would it be and why?

51fGbCIiiEL._SY346_.jpg

STRAND: Being able to fly like a bird would be awesome. Though I probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I were a bird. Am I an animal with human thoughts, or am I full-on animal? Because, like, my cat has a wonderful life, but he doesn’t think he has a wonderful life. He thinks we never, ever feed him. Being a dolphin would be cool unless I was captured by one of those blowhole perverts. This question is too hard. Why do I have to answer all the questions? What kind of animal would you be?

HA: Any Jeff Strand news you can break for us Horror Addicts? Can you give us a sneak peek on any new projects on the horizon?

STRAND: After refusing to answer that last question, I hate to refuse to answer this one, too, but there’s actually nothing that’s definite enough to post on a website. Well, okay, I’m working on a thriller called Stranger Than Normal, but it may be a couple of years after it’s finished before it’s published, and it may not have that title. I know what book I’m planning to write after that, which would be the next one published, but that could change, and I’d hate to lie to your readers. That would reflect poorly on you as well. I’d feel bad if you lost the trust of your fans. How about this? Someday there will be a Wolf Hunt 3.

strand.jpg