Chilling Chat Episode 154 Crescendo of Darkness with Emerian Rich

Emerian Rich is the author of the Night’s Knights Vampire Series. She’s been included in many short story anthologies and also writes romance under Emmy Z. Madrigal. She is the horror hostess of and Editorial Director for the San Francisco Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. Find out more about Emerian at:

Our lovely horror hostess is a real scream. She took time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about Crescendo of Darkness, editing and publishing, and the new submission call.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Emz. Thank you for chatting with me.

ER: I am so excited to be on here. I never get to chat with you except about business.

NTK: Crescendo of Darkness is the eighth book in the series of anthologies. How did it come about?emz1small

ER: I had been thinking about doing a music-themed horror anthology for a while. I had read A. Craig Newman’s “Circe’s Music Shop” back in the 90s—Yes! The 90s!—as part of a crit group I was part of online. The story stuck with me. I just loved it. So when Jeremiah Donaldson E-mailed me to say he wanted to do a music anthology, I said, “Yes! Under one condition…We have to have this guy’s story in the book.”

NTK: So, “Circe’s Music Shop” set the bar for the anthology?

ER: Yes, in a way. However, Jeremiah has a much different view of music than I do. He knows more about guitar/rock and you will see that a lot of the stories go down that road. For me, music is more melodic and dramatic. My favorite stories in the anthology are the ones that put off a spookier piano-y vibe. I think we got a really nice mix because we were both reviewing them.

NTK: Did you look for stories to surround “Circe’s Music shop?” What was your criteria for the stories you chose?

ER: We did not look for stories that fit with A. Craig’s. He might have put the idea in my head but, when we were reading, we just graded them by how much they moved, scared, or touched us. We were open to all interpretations. Press has a system for populating our anthologies. We have a team of four readers. The Editor, me, and two others from staff. We all read and grade. Whichever stories get the top grades, we publish. The Editor has veto power and can fight for one if it’s not in the top of the list but, mostly, the highest graded ones (meaning the ones that all of us enjoyed) are the ones that ultimately get into the book. Except yours, which won an award when graded by pros. Congratulations, by the way.

NTK: Thank you! “Audition” was a fun story to write for the Next Great Horror Writer Contest and I’m so honored to be included in Crescendo. We have another NGHW finalist included in the anthology. What attracted you to Daphne Strasert’s story?

ER: Well, as you know, we were only allowed to publish one story from the competition, that being yours, which we felt was the best out of the group. However, we allowed the other contestants to submit something else. When Daphne’s new one came in, I was happy to see it, because she is also a great writer. We graded hers just as all the others and she rang in to the top grades as well. I can’t speak for the others on the submission team, but for me, not only was Daphne’s so different from the others—starring a music box, not an instrument—but it’s also a really creepy story. Daphne’s voice is so fresh and contemporary. I could see this story being made into a movie like The Ring.

NTK: There are fourteen authors included in the anthology and you have a wonderful variety of stories. Can you give us a quick run-down of what the reader can expect to see within these pages?

ER: First, we have a good number of guitar-based stories. Your story, “Audition,” “Circe’s Music Shop” by A. Craig Newman, “Loved to Death,” by Sam Morgan Phillips, “While My Guitar Gently Bleeds,” by Benjamin Langley, “Six String Bullets,” by Cara Fox, and “A Whisper in the Air,” by Jeremiah Donaldson really reflect the cover. Then, we have piano themes in “Solomon’s Piano,” by Jeremy Megargee and “They Don’t Make Music Like That Anymore,” by Kahramanah. There are cursed objects like Daphne Strasert’s, “The Music Box,” and Sarah Gribble’s, “The Legend of Crimson Ivory.” “Lighthouse Lamentation,” by R.A. Goli involves a haunted lighthouse, while Calvin Demmer’s, “Keep the Beat,” is about a cursed village. H.E. Roulo’s, “Become the Music,” is about a child who is allergic to music and my story, “Last Lullaby,” is a re-imagining of the Phantom of the Opera tale.

NTK: Emz, as I mentioned before, this is’s eighth anthology. What made you become an editor and publisher?

ER: I’m not sure when I fell into all this. When I was in my 20s, I had a local ‘zine called Dark Lives. I would publish horror/goth authors and artists. In the early 2000s, I decided I better stop and get to work on my own novels. When I started as a podcast, I never even dreamed it would be what it is today. As you know, we are populated by fans and the staff that come to help spread the horror goodness. We became a blog and a site and a lifestyle for so many craving horror that publishing just seemed like a natural progression. Also, I love reading horror and I read so much by authors that haven’t been published before that I’m like…THIS is the stuff I want to read. But if no one is publishing it, then it can’t be enjoyed by other horror enthusiasts like me. I’m really interested in publishing things I like that may not fit the mainstream publishing system. Cool things I haven’t heard before. New ideas that aren’t the same rehashed formula we get in industry anthologies.

NTK: So, what is your favorite kind of horror? What movies, novels, and TV shows do you enjoy?

ER: I like classic horror. By classic, I don’t mean I always have to crouch by the light of the black and white set, straining my eyes to make out the grays of the darkly lit forest, I mean what we think of as classically spooky. The shutters banging, the ghost in the tower, the creaking doors, and melodramatic music. The Woman in Black, The Others, and Ghost Ship are some of my favorites. For TV, I am more into humorous horror themes like Reaper and Dead Like Me. But, I’m also a fan of shows like Ghost Whisperer, The Others (TV show from the 90s), and Midnight Texas. Reading is a whole different story. I really like Anne Rice and Andre Neiderman. My favorites of those two are Anne’s Pandora and Andrew’s Bloodchild. But, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to just sit and read for fun, it’s hard to pin any new author’s down. I am either reading shorts for anthologies reviewing a book for the show, or working on my own stuff. Oh, for the days of laying in bed or on the porch swing and reading! I want all those bored hours from my childhood back!

NTK: Do you write classic horror? Do your books and stories fit in that category?

ER: Now, that is something I haven’t been called on! Wow. I never thought about that. I have written a book like that, Artistic License. A woman inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. My vampire work would probably be considered more like dark urban fantasy. Gritty, street kids, and Hell kind of stuff. However, now that you mention it. I think my love of classic horror is really coming out in my work in progress. I am re-imagining Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in modern times. The heroine is now a goth girl who adores horror media. So, I’ve been injecting lines from movies, excerpts from classic books like The Grey Lady by Elizabeth Gaskell, and Witch House by Evangeline Walton, and even creating a little myself when seeing through the character’s eyes. Jane Austen is thought of as a romance writer but, this book (while it does have romance in it) is more like a love letter to all my favorite horror creators.

NTK: As you know, Emz, Season 13 is CURSED! We’ve talked about your favorite horror, what is your favorite curse?

ER: This is so tough! Omg…so many to choose from! Well, I can’t give you just one. I really like studying the curses surrounding the Titanic. I think it’s fascinating and just can’t get enough of the conspiracy theories there. I really like the Egyptian and mummy lore and the scarab devouring thing creeps me the hell out. But the coolest curses, I think, are the book curses. The ones we’ll be talking about later in the season about the books that have curses written inside them…“Those who lay their eyes upon this manuscript and have not pure intentions, shall be struck down by their maker,” kind of stuff. I had something happen to me in real life where I witnessed someone unable to read or decipher a book. It was a magick book that had an inscription in it about if the person didn’t believe or wasn’t pure of heart, they would not be able to read it. I could read every word as plain as day but, she was like…“What does it say? Is it some sort of code?” Really made an impact on how I consider book curses today. If that could work, why wouldn’t a curse in a book work?

NTK: What awesome curses! And, speaking of books, has a new submission call coming up. Could you tell us a little about Kill Switch and what you’re looking for?

ER: Yes, Kill Switch is Dan Shaurette’s brainchild. I will be looking for interesting, new, Black Mirror-like stories. I think Dan will have a more sci-fi accepting view, but they all must be horror, so I’m looking forward to reading some really great things. Tech horror is so interesting because we are living in an age where things like implanted chips and bionics are so close to us. Tech is going so fast and it’s not even the future anymore. It’s NEAR future. How will your tech terrorize the world?

Something new we are trying is a blind submission process. We will be grading stories before we know who wrote them. I’m interested to see how that turns out.

NTK: What does the future hold for you, Emz? What do we have to look forward to?

ER: Wow…you do ask the hard questions huh?

My goal is to keep writing and publishing unique and exciting horror with new ideas that we can all geek out on. Also, I plan to continue to support new horror writers and get their voices heard.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Emz! It’s nice to talk to the lady behind the scenes of our favorite podcast and blog.

ER: Thank you for the interview! It’s rare that I get to be on the other side of the couch!

Crescendo of Darkness is available for purchase now. The submission call for Kill Switch ends on October 31, 2018.

Jeremiah Donalson on Horror Writing

Counting Words

by Jeremiah Donaldson

It’s nearly time to attempt writing 50k words during the month of November. That’s 12500 words per week. 1785.7 words per day. 74.4 words per hour. 1.24 words per minute. And who can’t do 1.24 words per minute, right? Ah, but if it were only that simple…

I’ve figured these numbers up several times now just to double check them. Why? Well, this is my first attempt at Nano. I’ve known about it for years, but this will be the first time I’ve had a project of the right length to work on during the correct time frame. Even so, I’ve been biting at my bit for the couple months since I decided upon the project. 99% of me says ‘Go, go, go, mfer! The hell you screwing around until November for!’ and the other 1% says ‘Just wait, asshole. You already have too much stuff to work on.’ It’s not my fault both are right.

logomontageSo, I compromised. I did research and character outlines for this so deceptively simple undertaking while working on other stuff. For me, the challenge of Nano month isn’t writing 50k words. For me, the challenge is writing that many words on a single project.

I took a bit more than a year off from ‘real’ work that ended the first of September this year when I was forced to become a part-time corporate slave again. That time off was enabled by a car wreck I was in the end of 2012. I returned to writing in full force, catching up on the several bad years I had due to family issues. I firmly believe a person should rise early for best use of the day, and I fell into a 530 am to 10 am schedule. I spent 8-12 hours a day in front of the computer working on something, depending on other requirements of the day. Graphics. Research. Writing. Editing. Essays. Generally making myself visible and vocal online. For months. And months. The only days I took ‘off’ were the days that words dancing before my eyes, making it impossible to read or write anything. I’ve kept the same hideous pace doing ‘real’ work before also, working 80+ hours a week for months.

But there’s a secret to being able to do that. The 80+ hours a week got divided between three different jobs. I never looked at the same place long enough to get burned out. Same thing with massive hours working on writing and associated projects. But instead of going to a different job before I get burnt out, I just switch to something different when I bog down, because that’s the queue for change. The time taken to bog down could be hours, days, or weeks. It depends on the project and where I’m at. I’d estimate I’ve written nearly 50k words per month for almost the last year. My current project to be released before Nano starts will put me at approx 40k published words for the year spread between four projects. My Nano story will be project number five and will put me close to 100k words in a year by the time I finish editing in January.

However, to ‘win’ Nano month and close in on the 100k mark, I must put this work into a single project for a month without burnout. That’s that real challenge for me.

What is this post-apocalyptic, SF/horror shout out to epic heroes everywhere? Well, that would be telling. But look for the associated project from me around February if you want to check it out. Until then, keep reading and writing.


memarch2012Jeremiah Donaldson writes from London, Kentucky where he lives with his daughter. He is hard at work as a part-time corporate slave and starving artist.

Free Fiction Friday: Jeremiah Donaldson

Something This Way Flutters

By Jeremiah Donaldson

A breeze brought Carl some relief. Then the wind dissipated and he felt the Florida heat again. The exhaust from the highway didn’t help.

He stuck the hedge clippers in the ground and picked up his water jug. He’d had a heat stroke before, making him more sensitive to heat, and he didn’t relish the idea of a second. He drank half and dumped the rest over his head.

He tiptoed inside the house again to check on his eight month-old daughter, Rhianna. She still napped soundly in her crib. Just like he knew before going inside since the monitor bouncing on his hip was silent. He kissed his fingers and touched her forehead before exiting the house to go back to shaping the hedge that grew on three sides of the house. Only one bush remained when someone tapped on his shoulder.

Carl spun around.

The gaunt woman stood taller than himself by several inches. Rumpled clothing looked like she’d drove all day, and greasy hair spilled over her shoulders. Makeup had been smeared time and time again. Her eyes were rimmed with red. A burgundy Ford Explorer with tinted windows and Ohio tags sat in his driveway. Noise from the highway had masked her approach.

“Are you lost?” Carl pushed his sweaty hair back from his face.

The woman nodded. “My cell phone died. Can I use yours?”

“Uh, sure.” Carl handed her his cheap flip-phone.

“Thank you.” The woman smiled, draining blood from her lips and making her look years older than her indistinguishable age.

Carl nodded and went back to clipping the last bush while the woman walked to the front of the house. Moments later a paper fluttered against his leg. Road garbage. He always had to pick up stuff thrown from cars. He waded the paper up and noticed the driver’s door stood ajar on the Explorer. So his visitor littered the yard.

He looked and didn’t see the woman in front of the house. Carl approached the SUV, trying to see through the tint.

“You dropped something.”

No answer. Maybe she didn’t hear. He knocked on the window. No response.

The door opened with a slight pull to reveal a pigsty of empty soda bottles and chip bags in the floorboard. The rear seat overran with sheets of paper covered in writing. Another piece slid out from under the seat. He grabbed it and dropped it immediately. Goosebumps rose all over his body while his stomach flipped end over end.

He picked it back up. Both sides were covered in tiny print that repeated one phrase over and over: I killed my baby. His shaky hands held two sheets next to each other. They were the same. Not copied either. The woman had written it all with pencil. Thin lines gave way to thick as the pencil she’d used wore down before being sharpened. Carl reached into the back and grabbed a handful of the loose pages. They were identical. All several thousand of them from what he could see.


Carl bolted to the front porch. The door stood half open. He reached Rhianna’s room just as the woman picked her up, making her cry. His stomach knotted. The monitor on his hip repeated every sound a quarter second after it happened.

“Such a pretty girl.”

“Put her down!” He couldn’t tackle the woman. Yet. “I won’t call the cops if you just get out of here.”

“And leave such a baby behind.”

“Fuck, yeah!”

The woman put Rhianna back in the crib. “Then we’ll have to find out who walks out, won’t we?”

Carl tensed, looking for her to pull a weapon. She drove her shoulder into his chest, pushing him backwards to the floor. His right arm caught under her leg, and he took two boney fists to the face that made spots dance in his vision before he managed to ward off the blows. He grabbed her forearms only to be rewarded with a headbutt that brought tears to his eyes and a rush of warmth from his nose. He rolled her into the glass coffee table, shattering the glass under her weight.

The woman groaned while Carl found his feet and steadied himself with the TV. A deluge of blood poured from his broken nose, dripping to the floor like rain. He kicked the woman in the ribs. She slipped on the broken glass, going down on her hip. Rhianna cried louder in response to the noise.

“Get the hell out of here!” Carl knew they were useless words while he watched the woman struggle to her feet, cutting her palms on the glass. “Don’t make me hurt you. More.”

“You don’t know.”

Carl waited for her to finish the sentence. She didn’t. “I don’t know what?”

“YOU DON’T KNOW!” The woman charged across the short space.

Carl caught her knee in the thigh, but that didn’t hurt, being knocked into the corner of the TV table did. Her hands groped for his face. The manicured nails gouged down his cheek. One broke off and stuck in his skin. He grabbed the offending arm by the wrist and elbow, twisting. Something gave in the woman’s shoulder with a wet pop that he heard and felt. He gagged while she screamed so loud in his ear that he feared for the eardrum. He pushed her back. Her arm hung at a bad angle.

“Get out of here!”

The look on the woman’s face didn’t change. She aimed a kick at his crotch. He caught her foot and flung upward. Her other leg came out from under her and she went down, hitting her neck on the edge of the coffee table frame. She went into convulsions.

He waited for the body to stop moving before calling the police.


Jeremiah Donaldson lives in London, Ky with his daughter and pets. He’s currently working on multiple projects, including two that will be available later in 2014. He can be found at his home on the web 110, Season Finale, Halloween Special

Horror Addicts Episode# 110

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Co-Host: Camellia Rains

Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini


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Season Finale / Halloween Special

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b l o g  / c o n t a c t / s h o w . n o t e s #106, Bob Nailor

Horror Addicts Episode# 106

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini


68 days till Halloween!

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Plague: Aftermath

smallcoverplagueaftermathBefore you read our review of Jeremiah Donaldson’s Plague: Aftermath I want to mention that we have two paperback copies of this book to give away. Be one of the first two people to email us at and we will mail you a copy.

Plague: Aftermath is a horror anthology edited by Jeremiah Donaldson that looks at society after an airborne Ebola virus  ravishes mankind. This collection can also be considered a sequel to Jeremiah’s first novel called Plague. While his first book looked at how the virus started and spread,  Aftermath looks at what happens next. There are six stories in this book by five different authors that show you how desperate people can get when death is everywhere and just breathing can lead to a painful death

The first story in Plague: Aftermath is Anie and Dozer by S.S.  White, this one follows a man named Anie who is heading up into the mountains with his dog Dozer to escape the plague that is running wild through America. He is waiting on a friend he met online at a campground before he goes, but slowly he begins to realize that his friend might not make it. This story is more about psychological horror and is different from the other stories in this book. Though Anie doesn’t see himself as a social creature you still hear first hand how he worries about the people he sees on the way to the mountain and worries about having food for his dog along with the arrival of his friend. Anie and Dozer looks at how loosing everyone around you might affect you, even in the worst of circumstances people need people and this story looks at the horror of being alone.

The next story is called The Tomb by Matthew Wilson. This story follows a girl named Sam who is trapped in a house with her father who is infected by Ebola. The townspeople are outside planning on burning down the house with Sam in it, Sam doesn’t believe she is infected but she may not be able to escape the angry mob outside. The Tomb had some great suspense and shows how people can turn on people in a time of crisis.

The third one is Our Time To Go by Lindsey Shir-McDermott-Pour and looks at a doctor and nurse who leave the hospital they are working at and go on the run. The two have lost hope that a cure can be found and feel that it should be everyone for themselves. The main idea in the story is of loosing hope and what happens after you abandon everything. A good point is made here on keeping hope and being there for the ones you love.

The 4th story is Dear Miss Christie  by S.S. White and is a letter written by a girl named Sara who is looking at her bleak situation but still hoping that things will get better. This one reminded me of some of the letters that you hear about from people who have lived through a disaster. You can feel this woman’s fear in her letter and also see how she is a caring person as she describes the woman she is writing to.

Next up is Going To School by Ginny Bowman about a boy named Toby whose mother is trying desperately to make everything seem normal when nothing is normal anymore.  All Of A Heap by Jenner Michaud is next and deals with the same theme . Both stories look at a character who has lost someone and how they have to carry on even though they feel their world has ended. These were both heart wrenching stories that explore how we deal with loss and change.

The last story takes a 90 degree turn from the others, it’s an action packed tale called John’s Story by the editor of Plague Aftermath, Jeremiah Donaldson. This one looks at a soldier who has the task of taking down a religious cult, I liked the idea here and think it could make a great novel. All the stories here are well written and take a scary look at the human condition when things are at their worse and don’t have much to live for. This is a timely and chilling anthology due to the outbreaks of Ebola that have been talked about in the news lately and its is an anthology that you won’t want to miss.

To find out more on Plague Aftermath check out Jeremiah Donaldson’s website: 098, Mimi A. Williams

Horror Addicts Episode# 098

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini

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196 days till Halloween!

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