Help Wanted and Dark Blessings

I have read two anthologies recently that I want to talk about. The first one is Help Wanted: Tales of On The Job Terror from Evil Jester Press. This book is edited by Peter Giglio and has short stories by Joe McKinney, Gary Brandner, Henry Snider and many more. As if work wasn’t already scary enough, this book gives you more reasons to be scared. Help Wanted is an excellent anthology that includes some great stories by some master storytellers.

One of the stories includes Agnes: A Love Story by David C. Hayes, which tells the tale of a lawyer named Jack who feels unappreciated at work and by his wife so he starts a relationship with a photocopier. They get along well until the photocopier starts wanting the lawyer to kill for it. The thing I liked about this story was how the author makes you feel sorry for Jack. His two co-workers are happily married and love their jobs while Jack is married to a paranoid alcoholic and he hates and works at a job he can’t stand. You completely understand how he can fall in love with a copier because he is a lonely soul that no one understands except the copier of course.

Another story in Help Wanted is Work Life Balance by Jeff Strand. In this story a man works for a company that starts to let their employees do what they want at work. It starts with letting them come to work a little later than usual, then the employees are allowed to hug and kiss on the job. Things get really out of hand though when the company starts letting employees carry knives and stab each other, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their job. This story is meant to be more funny then scary but still has its scary moments. Jeff Strand does a great job mixing humor and horror in this story.

Another good story in Help Wanted: On The Job Terror is The Chapel Of Unrest by Stephen Volk. This is a gothic horror story that takes place in the 1800’s and has to deal with an undertaker who has the duty of capturing and embalming a ghoul who has been eating dead bodies in a graveyard. Stephen Volk through his use of  imagery in describing the graveyard, the chapel and the clothes of the time, transports you into an 1800’s gothic setting that reminded me of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

One more story in this anthology that I have to mention is Expulsion by Eric Shapiro which tells the tale of a mad man going into a office to kill his fellow employees. This is a very short but very powerful story that gets you into the mind of a disgruntled employee but manages to end on a positive note. Though there were stories I didn’t like in Help Wanted, all in all its a very good anthology. I highly recommend this book but if this one doesn’t appeal to you the people at Evil Jester Press have some other good anthologies available including: Evil Jester Digest Volume 1  and Attic Toys.

The other anthology I want to mention is from Biting Dog Press called Dark Blessings by John Paul Allen. Included here are short stories dealing with a road trip to hell, a child with an unusual appetite and a closet lover with deadly intentions. Dark Blessings was really a surprise for me, I hadn’t heard of John Paul Allen but I read some good reviews and decided to give it a shot.

The first story in this anthology is called Pit Stop at Hoo Hoo Hollow which follows a young couple on their way through West Virginia who have made a career out of scamming the elderly out of money. During  a stop at Poogan’s Pass they end up where they didn’t expect to go and pay for their misdeeds. While this story is not bloody like some horror stories, it manages to scare in away you wouldn’t think about and makes a point that even if you think you are going to get away with something, karma will get you in the end.

The next story in Dark Blessings is called Runs Like Rabbit and follows the story of a native american boy named Runs Like Rabbit that has to give up his heritage and move with his family so his father can take a job in the white man’s world. The family gives up their names and rejects the gods that they once worshiped in search of a better life. The family soon finds out its not easy to leave their heritage behind as they become isolated. Runs Like Rabbit leaves the family and they all pay in the end. The thing I love about this story is it makes you feel the pain and loneliness that Runs Like Rabbit feels but then the story leaves you with a surprise ending that changes your feelings.

Keeping with the theme of John Paul Allen’s anthology which seems to be that all humanity is good but there is a dark self destructive side to it that makes us suffer. My favorite story in this book a love story called Marquee which has to deal with mistreating the ones you love, paying for your mistakes and letting go. The story follows a man named Scott who mistreats a mentally handicapped person named Duffy, but later finds out that he is connected to him through past lives. Duffy holds the key to Scott fixing his relationship with his wife. To talk to much about this story would give it away, it’s a different kind of love story that shows that sometimes to prove you love someone you have to let them go.

Each story here is a gem and shows humanity at its worst and best. Another story here that I found disturbing but illustrates how good comes from something bad was Prader-Willie which tells the story of three boys left to watch a girl with special needs. The story shows that things aren’t always what they seem. Dark Blessings is psychological horror at its best and I look forward to reading more from John Paul Allen.

A Peter Giglio Doubleheader

I’ve just finished reading two books by Peter Giglio who fans of this blog may remember was featured in episode 69 of Horror Addicts. The first novel I want to talk about is from Hydra publications and is called Anon. Rory hates his job, the town he lives in and the woman he’s married to. He would like nothing better then to fix everything that went wrong, especially his relationship with his ex-fiance Faith, but he feels trapped and doesn’t know how to fix it. Then one day he gets called into a meeting with his boss at Anon Financial services. Anon gives him the opportunity to fix all of his problems but the question is what does Anon want in return?

Faith has moved on to a happier life without Rory. She is married to a minister named Cale and they have twin daughters named Dawn and Michelle. Michelle has a strange gift and knows something evil has arrived when Rory reappears in Faith’s life. In order to stop the terror that is invading her family, she will have to listen to ghosts from Rory’s past, learn to use her powers and put down an evil corporation. Rory also has powers and will stop at nothing to get the life he missed out on, with Faith.

The thing I loved most about Anon was how Rory’s story is presented. The book follows Rory from when he was a child to the present and you start to like the character despite the fact that he isn’t always a good person. I found myself sympathizing with him when he breaks up with Faith and goes to work at Anon. I also found myself wanting to see him change his life and get what he wanted even though it meant the destruction of Faith’s Family.

What made the book so much better then the average horror novel are the characters in the book. Peter Giglio does a great job of making you fall in love with a character weather he is good or bad. I also liked Faith’s family and wanted to see them survive what they we’re going through. Most of all I hoped Rory would overcome Anon’s influence and become the hero.

Though I mainly liked Anon there were a few parts that I didn’t care for. I would have liked to see more from Faith’s point of view and I would have liked  more description on how how Anon’s power worked. A description is given but I found it a little hard to follow. There were also two scenes that I didn’t like in the book one was when Rory and Faith take Michelle away from their grandparents and there was a gunfight in a hotel that I thought was unnecessary. Another thing I would have to tell reader’s of Anon is to stick with the story and don’t stop reading. There was one point where I felt the story was getting confusing and almost stopped, but as the story went on everything did get explained.

Anon is a good psychological horror story that makes a great point about all of us having evil and good within us. We make the decision on what path we want to take but there are others that can influence are decisions and control us.

If you don’t care for psychological horror and you want your horror bloody and over the top, then you might want to check out Peter Giglio’s Balance from Evil Jester Press. The Blast, a worldwide snowstorm that blanketed the whole planet and brought with it a terminal virus. It came without warning in October and left just as suddenly, but before it left, infected humans started to change and eat the flesh of the living.

The story takes place after the blast and follows six main characters in the zombie infected world, as they try to find balance in their lives. The characters include Geoff, a sad man trying to find what he wants in life and is in love with Amanda, a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants either and is about to be in a fight for her life. The next couple is Ginny a young mother who is trying to save her family and her husband Shane who seems to know more about the zombie virus then anyone, but has his own agenda. The last couple is Cassandra who is a romance novelist having an affair with a married man named Joe who loves his car more than his wife or mistress.

Balance follows the stories of these six people and during the course of the book you see them all go through changes, some of them even become zombies and part of the story is told from the zombie’s point of view. This is what I think makes Balance one of the best zombie stories I’ve ever read.

My only complaints about Balance was that there was one time where the story changed from being in the present to the past which confused me and I was curious as to how much Shane knew about what was going on. Besides that Peter Giglio does what he seems to do best, he creates characters that you can’t help to fall in love with wheather they are good or bad. My favorite character in Balance is Cassandra who doesn’t let a little thing like being a zombie stop her from helping two people in love.

I don’t know of any zombie stories that look at the zombie’s point of view which to me made Balance an original take on the zombie genre. I also liked that the fact that the main hero in Balance was a zombie. Balance is a fun bloody zombie tale that I think you will enjoy even if you don’t like zombie stories.

Horror Addicts 069, Peter Giglio

Horror Addicts Episode# 069
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
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13 Questions with Peter Giglio

Not only is author Peter Giglio our featured author for the up coming episode, he is also a member of the Masters of Macabre!

The story he has written for episode 69: Future, is titled Trust; and as Peter stated, “The story will appear later this year in Tales of Terror and Mayhem from Deep within the Box, edited by Charles Day and Jessica A. Weiss (Wicked East Press). With this story I explored the notion of friendship gone awry and the deterioration of the Good Samaritan in modern culture. I also wanted to write a horror story with a cat that didn’t die. I’m tired of felines coming to bad ends in horror. I love cats!”

Though, Peter only has one novel and one novella published, all of his work is available in both print and e-book form. Giglio was kind enough to share some information about his novels Anon, A Spark in the Darkness, and Balance. “Scott Bradley said that Anon is, “Richard Yates meets Bentley Little.” I think that’s a fitting description, and also my intent. I wanted to explore how anxiety seeps into the culture and allows people to turn blind eyes to institutional evil. It’s, in part, a novel of possession, but not demonic possession. Here are the first notes I made on the novel: We are the demons. We are the monsters. We bring sentience to good and evil. And the more evil we allow, the more evil we become. I should also remind everyone that Anon is available from all online booksellers in print and e-book format.”

A Spark in the Darkness is my new release. Joe McKinney, the acclaimed, Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Apocalypse of the Dead, said that it, “Puts the bite back in the vampire tale.” I’ll say this, no sparkly vampires here! But there is a spark, and that spark is humanity. This is the work I’m most proud of. Here’s the summary: On the final day of her second life, Edie returns to the family she abandoned five years earlier. Edie is not merely a vampire, she’s a Goddess…one of the vanishing race of beings the vampires need to keep their kind alive. But being dead has taught her much about life, and Edie’s determined to destroy the evil thing she’s become. For something has changed within her, something almost alive in her dead soul. But can a single spark in the darkness be enough to save all she holds dear? I worked with an extremely talented editor this time out, Annetta Ribken. And the publisher, Etopia Press, was wonderful to work with. A Spark in the Darkness is available from all major online booksellers and it’s only $3.99.”

“I don’t have a release date for Balance yet, but it’s coming soon. It’s a kick-ass zombie novella that will take you places other zombie stories don’t. Eric Shapiro (author of Stories for the End of the World ) and his talented wife Rhoda Jordan (screenwriter and star of the motion picture Rule of Three) were my first readers, and they were so helpful! A large chunk of the story is written from the POV of zombies! That’s an idea that will cause some to bristle. Good. I like challenges and Balance was definitely a big one. It’s also a terrific story and I hope everyone will read it. Here’s what I randomly wrote on a post-it that seeded the idea: Zombies—What’s Inside?!?!  I just had to answer the question, and I think everyone will be entertained by my conclusions.”

With such a wide range of horror creatures, I was curious as to what Peter’s research was like for each story. “Most of my research is done online, but I’m very careful to cross-reference sources to ensure the facts are accurate. I also reach out to people with specific knowledge based professions and/or studies. But a lot of my writing doesn’t require copious research. The best research, as always, is to live a full life and write what you know. At the beginning of a project, I figure out what I don’t know and I learn it. My process changes all the time, but one thing always stays the same: Cut out everything that drags the story down! I abhor predictability and filler, so when I edit, I take out the bits that don’t delight me and rework the stuff that seems too obvious. Lately, I’ve been writing longer outlines, step-by-step beat sheets. Discoveries still occur through composition, but I find this gives me a chance to think the details through before I hit the page. At the end of the day, the right process is the one that works, and every project is a little different, so I don’t know if I’ll ever land on any one way of doing things.”

Not only is he an autor but Giglio is an Executive Editor for Evil Jester Press. Before that, however, he “worked in Corporate America for 15 years. His previous jobs have inspired some of his work, but he will admit that he  didn’t have bad jobs with mean, angry bosses. Peter does love to explore evil in the workplace, feeding his fascination with institutional horror. His new anthology, which was previously mentioned, is centered on workplace terror, and he is very proud of it.”

He also added that, “through my job I’m bringing a few classic horror novels back into print and working with authors to publish their novels. My goal here is to improve the quality of horror fiction available, giving equal consideration to authors and readers. EJP’s first anthology, which I edited, is called HELP! WANTED: Tales of On-the-Job Terror, and features Stephen Volk, Jeff Strand, Joe McKinney, Gary Brandner, David Dunwoody, Lisa Morton, Amy Wallace, Vince A. Liaguno, Scott Bradley, and many more terrific authors. My goal here was to bring a new kind of anthology into the horror realm. I will continue to do that. Regarding my writing, my short term goal is to crack a New York house. My long term goal is to become a Bestselling novelist and working screenwriter. With Scott Bradley, I’ve written a screenplay that’s generated some buzz in certain circles. Fingers crossed that it becomes a film, but I’m realistic. These things take time. And I need more than patience; I have to work hard and smart. I think I’m doing that. At least I hope so.

Having the past carreer that he has, I wondered what had gotten Peter into the horror genre in the first place. This is what he had to say, “I read Stephen King as a kid (still do, by the way) and immediately fell in love. Growing up, 50% of my theater-going experiences were horror related. I like that horror is generally honest, willing to look at the underbelly of humanity and not just the pretty stuff on the surface. I think we learn more about ourselves if we explore tragedy, pain, and evil. Ignoring these aspects of our nature allows them, in many cases, to fester and thrive. I’ve noted that horror fans and writers are some of the most generous and decent people in the world. There, in my humble opinion, is a reason for this. I don’t like horror that only seeks to injure; for instance, straight-up torture porn is not my bag! But I do love—and I mean LOVE!—splatterpunk! Innovators like John Skipp remind us that horror hurts. That’s good. But Skipp, who is my favorite author from the splatterpunk movement, also writes about hope and love and courage and redemption. Characters we care for go through hell, and it makes The Light at the End (fittingly, the tile of Skipp’s first novel) all the sweeter.”

Giglio fans, be sure to keep an eye out for Peter’s current projects. “I’m writing a novel with Scott Bradley under contract. It’s called The Dark and it’s really scary and exciting! As I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to get a film made, another collaborative project with Mr. Bradley. My zombie satire, “The Power of Words,” will soon be released in Hollie Snider’s terrific anthology, Live and Let Undead.  And my zombie novella, Balance, is coming soon. I have several planned novels and anthologies, so 2012 should be an exciting year for me.”

Peter also had some parting words for all you readers out there!! “Yes! If you love books, support authors by buying them. I hear so much whining about the death of print. Yet, when I question folks further, I find they don’t routinely buy books. “I can’t afford them. Times are tough,” they say. I understand. But we hold the power, folks. If you want supply, you must demand with your dollars. Starbucks is not going to stop making coffee, because people mindlessly shell out $4-$5 for a 20 oz. latte. Immediate gratification, right? Wait…I thought you were broke? Think about where you put your dollars, as limited as they might be in the current economy. Feed your brain with a book and make coffee at home for a fraction of the cost. We determine the world in which we live! Sure, reading won’t cure all of society’s ills, but it sure doesn’t hurt. In short, buy more books!”

For more information on Peter Giglio, check out his website:

http://www.petergiglio.com/