Kidnapped! Kealan Patrick Burke Interview

 

1) When you told stories with your other family members, did you compete to see who told the best stories?

At home, we didn’t really tell each other stories. We read them. Book discussions were common in the household. Still are, as a matter of fact. Oral storytelling was more of a rural thing, and in that regard, my grandfather held court with outrageous tales of ghosts and devils. Nobody tried to compete with him, though. There wouldn’t have been any point. He was the master!

2) At what age were you that you knew you would be a writer?

As soon as I had the cognitive ability to recognize ambition, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I lost myself in books as soon as I could pick one up, and though I had brief dalliances with other ambitions (criminal lawyer, astronaut), this was always what I was going to end up doing.

3) You have had quite a bit of profession, other than being a writer, which did you enjoy most? I hear being an editor of a website is loads of fun 😉

Oh yes, being a fiction editor was a very rewarding experience. I also really enjoyed fraud investigating and bar work. At the opposite end of the scale were the security guard, salesman, and waiting jobs, which, while they are all perfectly respectable lines of work, did nothing but suck the life out of me because they involved being verbally abused and treated like dirt most of the day.

4) What do you do for inspiration for stories?

Nothing. They come to me out of the blue, or from the things I see and hear around me. Inspiration is not something that requires any effort whatsoever. It’s making good stories out of them that takes all the work. 

5) Do you model stories from life experiences or do you model it from characters you conjure?

Certainly, there’s a lot of my life experience at play in the stories. To write real people, you must know them. To craft a convincing world, you must know your own. But often, the characters will run away with themselves and tell me the story rather than the other way around. That’s always the best part: the feeling of just being along for the ride rather than driving the car.

6) In this recent novel, Blanky, what inspired you to write this story?

I wanted to study the worst kind of grief and loss and the effect it has on people, how it affects relationships, how it contaminates love. This was the goal long before I came across a vintage child’s blanket on Etsy. It was pretty much as I describe it in the story: old, faded, with weird bunnies stitched into it. Once I saw that I had all I needed to write Blanky.

7) You are a Bram Stoker winner, how did you feel when you won?

Elated. I’d been reading horror novels throughout my teens that declared the author a “Bram Stoker Award-Winner” on the cover. I remember telling myself that one day I would win one, with no real conviction that it would ever happen. Then it did, and other than the wicked cool statue, it was a lovely acknowledgment from my peers, and an honor to share a category with some of my biggest influences.  

8) Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

Oh yes. It’s a dreadful thing to have the will to write when the words won’t come. Usually what I do is write conversations, just the dialogue, no descriptions or speech tags, and see where it goes. This almost always works. When it doesn’t, I quit trying and go find other non-writing-related things to do until the muse kicks in the door.

9) What is your favorite monster? Human villain?

My favorite monsters are the quieter, less showy ones, the ones that are averse to monologues and showboating. The ones that hide in the dark, so you never see them coming, like depression, disease, loneliness, insecurity, grief, envy, rage. Us, basically. And how do you defeat a monster if it’s you?

10) How can we find you on social media, website, and purchase your books?

My website is kealanpatrickburke.com. You can find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kealan.burke, Twitter @kealanburke and Instagram: @kealanpatrick

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Kidnapped! Decor by Selah Janel

I love the sights and sounds of fall in general, and they all seem to come together in October. The skies are a more vivid blue, the air is crisper, and I love the changing leaves. As a kid, I loved walking through them to hear them crunch, loved looking at them fluttering from the trees, and absolutely hated raking them. In my teens, we had a big yard, and that was always one of the things that I absolutely dreaded. Though I think the kid in this story dreads it more, heh.

Decor

Very little got Dennis Johnson to move quickly – his son screaming was one of those things. He was out the door and in the large front yard in under a minute. It was hard to miss his son’s tall, lanky frame, especially since he was hopping around, kicking up dead leaves in a vivid autumnal spray. For just the slightest moment he thought maybe the kid was having him on, but up close Kevin was pale and babbling. “Kevin, what is it?”

The leaves crunched under his son’s sneakers with every frantic step. “Call the cops! Holy shit, Oh my God, Dad, it…holy-”

He barely dodged the flailing rake and quickly yanked it from his son’s shaking hand. “Calm down! What’s going on?”

He pointed and turned away, muttered curses turning to whimpers. Kevin was fourteen and already a smartass who usually didn’t care about anything. The lifeless arm sticking out of a leaf pile definitely was more incentive than any advice he’d ever tried to give. It would be a shock to anyone’s system, something so grotesque sitting in the middle of something so pleasant, though he supposed, in reality, it was death on death.

Dennis stared at the limb, the gnarled fingers, the flecks of blood under the nails. Some of the skin on the wrist looked to be wasting away, and the cloth of the sleeve was torn and moldy. His stomach clenched in shock – not like you saw an arm on your lawn every day – but sanity took over. “Really, Kev? I can’t believe you fell for that.”

What?” His son’s disbelief was almost comical.

You think it’s gonna jump out at ya? Come on, dude. It’s October!” He rolled his eyes and poked the arm with the end of the rake for emphasis. “What, you think your old man’s too old to have some fun? I just haven’t gotten the other stuff out of the basement yet.”

The poor kid shook his head as he tried to come back to himself. “What?”

I thought I’d get started on the decorating early this year.” He shrugged as if it explained everything in the universe. “I didn’t think you’d freak out about it.”

His son stared at him in disbelief. “This was a joke? You think this is funny? Dad, holy shit, what the actual hell?The teen shook his arms out, ran his hands through his dark hair, and started cursing for a whole other reason. For a minute he looked like he was ready to grab the rake and bludgeon him with it.

Dennis moved the object to his far hand and stepped back, gauging his son’s reaction carefully. “Don’t let your mom hear you talking like that. Geez, Kev, you about gave me a heart attack screaming like that! What’re you doing out here so early, anyway?”

The kid had gone from scared to defensive in a heartbeat. “I thought if I got it over with I could-”

Play video games all weekend. Uh-huh. You’ve gotta study, too, kid.” As it was, bags were scattered across the lawn and it looked like he’d spread the leaves out more than he’d added to the piles he’d started a few afternoons ago. “Go on, you’re making a mess out here. I’ll finish up. Go do your homework.”

Kevin’s face scrunched and he shook with unreleased adrenaline. “I…fine, whatever. You’re a sick man, Dad,” he grumbled and stomped up toward the house.

You have no idea,” he shot back automatically. Kevin grumbled something and slammed the front door, the typical end note to most of their conversations these days.

Dennis took a few deep breaths of his own, giving himself a few moments to gather his calm and get over his disappointment. When he was sure the teen had gone inside he walked to where a leaf bag was already partly filled and dragged it over to the offending object. Grumbling, he grabbed the lifeless arm and dragged the attached body out from among the golds and oranges that hid it. “How the hell did you get out of the basement…I thought I finished you.” With a quick glance to make sure the neighbors weren’t out on a Saturday morning, he bent and felt the neck. “Well, you didn’t make it far and you’re gone now, so no harm was done.” It took some doing to shove the body into the bag on his own, but he wasn’t going to call Caroline out here for something so trivial and upset Kevin even more. His reactions alone made it obvious he wasn’t ready to help with Halloween decorating yet. “Dumb kid. Everyone knows skeletons are scarier than bodies.” He grunted at the effort it took to drag the bag back to the basement’s outside door. He had to pause three times across the large, sprawling yard before he made it to the concrete steps. “Must be gettin’ old,” he sighed. Back in the day acquiring, storing, and maintaining their decorations had been so much easier. It made it all the more disappointing that Kevin just wasn’t ready to have that talk yet. Dennis braced himself as he dragged the bag back down the steps and inside, making a mental note to tell Caroline their boy wasn’t ready for extra responsibility just yet. While he was at it, he also made a mental note to check the lock on both the outside door and the door to the upstairs. First, though, he’d make sure to poke around all the other piles Kevin hadn’t gotten to yet.

***

 

Selah Janel loves Halloween, but writes horror and dark fantasy all year round. She has stories in several anthologies and magazines and co-wrote the collection Lost in the Shadows. Her fantasy/cross-genre novel Olde School combines a lot of fantasy and horror elements together (along with fairy tales and the just plain strange), and her shorter e-book only titles explore a range of genres and ideas. Catch up with her and see a full list of her titles at http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ or follow her on Twitter @SelahJanel

Kidnapped! Automatism Press: Black Light Monsters By Martha Allard

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Black Light Monsters

by Martha Allard

I grew up watching Saturday morning creature features. Sir Graves Ghastly, the movie host I favored, was silly, but he had a taste for Hammer Horror. It seemed as though there was a Dracula movie every Saturday morning. My favorites starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. By the time I was fifteen, I was half in love with Christopher Lee as Dracula, with his hungry eyes. He was equal parts tragedy and cruelty. He seduced his prey with a sleek coldness that was mesmerizing. Each time his Dracula met Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing, there was a part of me that hoped that he might escape the stake. Still, I admired Dr. Van Helsing. Peter Cushing changed my idea of what a hero could be. He was five inches shorter than his costar, almost delicate in contrast, but with a spine of steel. He was as much an outsider as Dracula and faced with odds that were overwhelming. He knew the rules, knew how to drive the stake in or spill the dawn into the room. Growing up in the 80s as I did, isolated and gay in a small town, I took comfort in his victories, while at the same time mourning for Dracula.

My book Black Light is about a rock band on the rise and a psychic vampire. It’s filled with snatches of my childhood. It was inevitable that these movies worked their way into my views of vampirism.

black-light-cover

In the book, Albrecht Christian is the psychic vampire. He feeds by taking energy from his victims, through touch. He is addicting and, unlike the psychic vampires we come across in life, Christian knows what he is stealing. When we meet him, he is still mourning a lover that he nearly consumed and looking for a replacement. He sees his world with hungry eyes. He is smooth and hard and seduces his prey with his sheer presence. But that is a front for a man who is dying of loneliness, as I imagined Lee’s Dracula to be.

Asia Heyes is the band’s bass player. He also a reflection of my teenaged self, at home on Saturdays watching the struggle between light and dark played out from a place of safety. Asia’s world is punctuated by old horror movies. He meets his first girlfriend in a bar called Corman’s, named for Roger, the great schlock movie maker. Asia is put at ease by the presence of a fake mummy slouching in one of the shadowy booths. The place he is most at home in Los Angeles is an old cemetery that he recognizes on his first visit. He’s seen it in movies. When Albrecht Christian crosses Asia’s path, Asia recognizes the monster. Asia wishes, like I did as a kid, that they were in a horror movie because then Asia could be a hero.

Black Light is about rock and roll and falling in love for the first time, but the traces of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are woven deep into the story. I don’t think I realized how deep until I finished it.

Martha’s blog: https://marthajallard.blogspot.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2esmiJj

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-light-martha-j-allard/1123812854

Publisher’s page: http://automatismpress.com/black_light.html