Chilling Chat: Episode 178 | A.F. Stewart

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A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she 91998279_2985631954792617_8123098902787260416_nalways had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author, she’s published novels, novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry. 

A.F. is a wonderful lady with a very dry sense of humor. We discussed writing, folklore, and villains.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, A.F.! Thank you for joining us today!

AFS: Glad to be here.

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?

AFS: Good question. I suppose my first introduction to horror was through local folklore and the Nova Scotia ghost stories when I was growing up. Also Grimm’s fairy tales with witches and cannibalism. Probably elementary school age, around age eight to ten.

NTK: Ooh! What kind of ghost stories? Can you give us an example?

AFS: There are so many ghost stories in this province and around all of the Altlantic Candian provinces. One of my favourites is the story of the burning ghost ship that appears off Mahone Bay.

NTK: Cool! Did this story inspire you to become a horror writer?

AFS: No, although the folklore certainly influences my writing. I actually started writing horror by accident. I wrote a nice, sweet short story for a writing group, but it threw my rhythm off and I had writer’s block after that. To bring back the deserted muse, I decided to write a horror story about Jack the Ripper. I’ve never looked back.

NTK: Awesome! Speaking of influences, who is your biggest influence in horror writing? Who is your favorite author?

AFS: I say Ray Bradbury is my biggest horror influence. I know most people think of him as a sci-fi writer, but quite a few of his short stories, like “The Emissary,” are very creepy. And Poe as well, was an influence. My favourite authors are fantasy though, with Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay in a tie for first place.

NTK: Bradbury has a distinctive style, almost poetic. You’re a poet as well. Which do you prefer, poetry or prose?

AFS: Poetry, definitely. I love writing both, but poetry is closest to my heart. It’s also a lot of fun to combine horror with poetry and write wickedly dark poems.

NTK: What gets your creative juices flowing? Are you inspired by dreams?

AFS: Strangely enough, I’ve never had a dream inspire my writing. Maybe they’re just too weird. My inspiration comes from many things, usually odd or mundane stuff. One of my recent short stories was inspired by the loud roar of a plane, and a couple of days ago I was contemplating whether you could dispose of a body in the garbage after seeing the recycling truck. And for the record, I decided it was not a feasible method of body disposal.

NTK: (Laughs.) What inspired you to write “Blood on the Looking Glass?”

AFS: That came from a prompt in a writing group. They posted a picture of a woman standing on top of a giant skull, wearing these striped stockings and a pinafore-like dress. It struck me with this Alice in Wonderland kind of looks and the first line of the story, “We’re all mad here,” said Alice, popped in my head. The rest of the story flowed from there.

NTK: Do you outline your stories when you write them? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

AFS: With short stories, I generally don’t outline. I usually start with a beginning line or a paragraph and an ending, either in my head or written down and then join the two together. For novels though, I do scene outlining, character backstories, worldbuilding, maps, and all the fun stuff.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you direct their every move?

AFS: My characters are stubborn and refuse to listen. I have nice plans all laid out, and then they come along and make announcements that change everything. That’s what happened with Edmund in Chronicles of the Undead; he refused to stay in Oxford and I had to rework part of the plot to set things in London. It happened with the Nightmare Crow as well, who gave me a new motivation halfway through the series. A couple of characters have announced sexual preferences and one decided she was on the villain’s side. They are very irksome, my characters.

NTK: Your characters sound awesome! Which do you like writing more? Heroes or villains?

AFS: Villains! I love writing villains. That’s probably why I have two books of stories from their point of view. The villains get to have more fun, but sometimes they try and take over the book. I had to rein in my pirate in Renegades of the Lost Sea because my main character wasn’t getting enough page time.

NTK: Do you enjoy villains in the movies too? What’s your favorite horror movie?

AFS: I love the movie villains, though I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to horror. I tend towards the more psychological stuff like The Others and Crimson Peak.

NTK: Favorite horror TV show?

AFS: I’m a huge Supernatural fan and I loved Penny Dreadful, and as a big Bruce Campbell fan, the Evil Dead series would be on the list as well. And the Hannibal TV show; I loved that.

NTK: Favorite Horror novel?

AFS: I haven’t read too many horror novels, but Something Wicked This Way Comes would be a favourite.

NTK: Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

AFS: A favourite curse? Interesting. I like the idea of cursed objects, things that bring the owner bad luck or misfortune. I also like the idea of the Celtic geis, which is a prohibition against doing a certain thing. If they break the prohibition they usually bring terrible calamity or death upon themselves. And of course, the mummy’s curse is always a fun one to play with.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books and poems do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

AFS: Right now I’m working on finishing up my contemporary Arthurian legends series, The Camelot Immortals. But I’m also writing a historical paranormal/fantasy series set in Venice that will have a lot of dark Italian folklore and dead bodies. Plus I have a steampunk horror series with vampires on the backburner. And recently I’ve been toying with the idea of a standalone horror novel.

It’s also National Poetry Month, so no doubt some dark poems will pop up on my website.

NTK: Awesome! You’re keeping busy. Thank you for chatting with us, A.F. It’s been fun!

AFS: Thanks for having me, I enjoyed it and yes it was great fun.

Book Review: The Place of Broken Things by Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti

Reviewed by Voodoo Lynn

The Place of Broken Things is a new book of poetry penned by Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti. They take the reader through a fascinating labyrinth of pain, remembrance, and longing.  Though the book may be short, the verses are filled with haunting imagery that burrows into your very being. It carries you to places like Angkor Wat, Provence, and imaginary Harlem. With each poem, you are transported to a new broken place where you learn about the suffering of each subject. The use of language is flowing and free, nothing about it seems forced. I even learned a couple of new words.

Throughout the book, the contrast between a cold and harsh modern reality and the deep, rich inner life of the characters is enthralling. Perhaps it’s not escapism so much as a philosophical lease on life. There are several references to religion. One of my favorites is in the poem “Cathedral Lane.” In it we are taken through the morning life of a homeless Native American in a large city. Many of the poems in this collection are set in busy cities which we tend to think of as dark and grey but here they take on a new and colorful life through the character’s eyes.  The homeless man is Navajo as the poem makes reference to a sun deity-Nandzgai and a night deity-Chahalgel. Although the man is destitute, he still manages to see the world in a beautiful, serene and timeless way, which is in stark contrast to his cacophonous and grimy surroundings. My favorite line is: 

“Somewhere in the distance the sun returns, sliding up from the horizon, as night retires he opens his eyes to greet the passing of Now from one sky god to another…”

One poem that stuck with me is ‘Animation’. It caught my attention right away because of the format of the poem itself was visually interesting. The poem’s setting is in an office and talks about, what reminds me of a Borg invasion in the Star Trek universe. The office is thrown into chaos as all the metal and wiring coalesces into a humanoid being saying “join us.” What follows is a futile attempt to escape, ultimately leading to assimilation. When the poem first starts out, it formed into two moderately sized diamond shapes. Then, as the escape ensues, the sentences expand outward, and then become smaller, like a triangle. It does it again. And then, finally, as the worker is captured and is being taken over by the metal and wires, the sentences become smaller until it ends in one word, “join.” Because of the physical shape of the poem, I felt like I was experiencing what the office worker felt. The actual description of the process of assimilation is succinct and very effective. The end description will always stay with me:

“Flesh body knitted with steel, eyes empty, weeping blood floats in front of me. Wire caresses my face, enters my ears, metal loops bind me to the walls…”  

It just sends shivers down my spine. With the current rise in A.I. and predictive programming technology in our everyday life, this poem takes on a whole life of its own and forces the reader to wonder, what if? 

The last poem I want to talk about is “She, on Sunday.” This one fascinates me. It talks about an older woman remembering her past, and her obsessive need to repeat certain memories and how she’s become trapped in a small room, perhaps in real life, perhaps in her own mind- I’m not sure. This poem is tied together by the author’s musical references throughout. They mention Yann Tiersen, I know this name. As it turns out he was responsible for the soundtrack to the whimsical film Amelie, one of my favorites. If you are not familiar with the film, there are a few piano instrumentals in it that express a deep sense of longing, which is a perfect companion to the poem. I strongly encourage you to YouTube this music and listen to it while reading to get the full effect. There is a strong connection to the character’s obsession with her memories and her obsession with certain music. The imagery throughout the poem is amazing. You get to see something so unassuming and ubiquitous and have it transformed into a surreal Escher-esque image. For example, take someone playing the piano and have it described to you as follows: 

“…moving cold fingers, pressing blurry fingerprints on the ivory keys, bleeding curves, lines and black and white mazes which vibrate following the coils of a music theme…” 

This poem also has one of my favorite lines in it: 

“…like women’s scents in the days when the incense of spring begins to burn…”

So lovely.

The Place of Broken Things is filled with such magnificent imagery and sadness, it is sure to satisfy many. There are over thirty selections to choose from, some written individually, and others are a collaborative effort between the poets- all are worth checking out. If you are in the mood to indulge yourself in darkness and pain, then I suggest reading this book and know that you are not alone. The Buddha said, “all life is suffering.” As it turns out in the end, that is something we all have in common.

Book Review: This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle

This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle is a fascinating tome of narrative poetry and a cornucopia of dark treats. The author, Frank Coffman, is an accomplished poet, and the tales woven throughout the verse are wondrous.

This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle

Coffman’s work begins with the description of a book, one of great power. It is, like Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, bound in human skin and inked in blood. The difference is, this volume is authored by a sorcerer and augmented through the ages by seven others.

The first part of This Ae Nighte, details the sorcerer’s creation of the book and his quest to cheat the devil. (He aims to keep his soul though it is bound for Hell.) The second part concerns individual stories contained within the book. Here, you’ll find vampires, werewolves, and other horrific monsters familiar to those who enjoy dark fantasy.

 

I also enjoyed “The Killing Man,” “Convert,” and “The Strigoi.” These poems spark the imagination. I could almost see the monsters, the forests, the blood, and the hang rope in my mind’s eye.

I loved this book. Coffman’s verse is beautiful, precise, and captivating. My favorite poems involved the sorcerer’s transformation into a Lich (a creature animated by the soul of a dead sorcerer.) He is all-powerful in this form and in control of terrifying monsters. No one can stop him, save one. And, believe me, this hero isn’t what you’d expect.

Frank Coffman

As a novice poet, I appreciated Coffman’s introduction to each poem. (I didn’t know a sonnet from a strophe until I’d read this book.) For those eager to learn about poetry, he provides a “poem glossary” at the back of the book. For the more advanced reader, he’s supplied a new and interesting style.

I highly recommend This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle. Not only is it a great read for dark fantasy fans, it will also appeal to the Horror Addict in everyone.

Chilling Chat Episode 162 Mary Turzillo

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Mary Turzillo’s latest novel is Mars Girls, Apex 2017.  Her Nebula-winner, “Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl, are read on themary International Space Station. Her poem, Lovers & Killers, won the 2013 Elgin Award. She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction, Stoker, Dwarf Stars, Nebula, and Rhysling ballots. Sweet Poison, with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award. Satan’s Sweethearts, also with Simon, came out in 2016.  She lives in Ohio USA, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis. She represented the US in the World Veterans Cup in foil fencing in 2016.

Mary is a brilliant and witty woman. We spoke of history, writing, and the nature of evil.

 NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Mary! Thank you for chatting with me today.

MT: I am so flattered to be asked!

NTK: You are, primarily, a Science Fiction author. How did you get involved in writing Satan’s Sweethearts?

MT: That’s really two questions. I’m a science fiction writer who has these little dark twinges in my fiction. I just can’t help it. A guy is stuck in a prison on Mars, trying to stop a biological catastrophe, and suddenly he’s being chased by an eight-foot-tall sex doll. Somehow that just popped into the story. I think I’m a natural horror writer who has a science-fiction worldview. As to how I got into writing Satan’s Sweethearts, Marge Simon and I know each other from still another world: she was a high muckety-muck in the small press world. And of course a genius poet besides the horror work. So, I knew her name and was delighted to actually meet her. We clicked right away and started writing poems back and forth to one another. At first it was humor stuff, like her poem about a gay dragon who prefers knights to maidens. Then we wrote some poems about evil cats. Eventually, Marge and I decided on doing more serious work and we did Sweet Poison together. That evolved into explorations of women murderers and torturers and other offenders. Marge has one poem that is so dark I shudder every time I even think about it, about a slave-holder, obviously a psychopath, who used her helpless slaves as targets for horrendous experiments and disembowelings. We felt the world needed to know that women are not all angels, that in addition to “Me, too” there were also men and women who were abused and murdered by powerful or insane women. (“Delphine LeLaurie’s Upstairs Room” is the poem I’m thinking of, by the way.)

NTK: So, you’re a horror writer at heart? What got you interested in horror?

MT: I suppose early reading: Poe, History of World War II, The Conquest of Mexico.

And, my mother had a very dark imagination.

NTK: Was she your first influence?

MT: Well, she did buy that complete collection of Poe stories and poems for me, so, yes, definitely an early influence.

NTK: How did you like collaborating with Marge on Satan’s Sweethearts?

MT: It was fun, and it was scary. Marge is a genius. I asked her once how many poems she had published, and she said she had completely lost track, that’s how many there were. Marge has a dark sense of humor, and we would get into it about some of the evil babes we were writing about. Sometimes both of us felt the poems were giving us nightmares. But it was all about truth, about the true nature of human beings, and we had to persevere. We developed a close friendship through this project. Very much in tune with each other’s fears and hopes and sense of humor.

NTK: Do you think humans are more frightening than any supernatural entity? Do you tend to write about the darkness in the human soul?

MT: Hmmmm. “More frightening than any supernatural entity.” What a question! I think most, if not all, of the supernatural entities in horror fiction, poetry, and cinema are extrapolations of stuff that human beings have inside their imaginations. Two things that astonish me: 1) how could a Jeffrey Dahmer walk among us? For that matter, how could a Delphine Lalaurie have lived a civilized life with nobody suspecting her evil actions? 2) How do we, ourselves, and I mean myself, come up with these horrific ideas—and yet be noble enough not to act on them? Women are seen as being lesser offenders, but I think it’s not because they are more civilized, but because they are more skilled at hiding their evil. Take the “baby farmers” that Marge and I wrote about (Amelia Dyer, for one). They took on infants pretending to do day-care for working mothers, and then summarily killed the babies, and sometimes with great pleasure, as with Dyer’s enjoyment watching children die as she slowly strangled them with tape. Yes, I know, we have the Golden State Killer, but actually his tally is LESS than Amelia Dyer’s. I think we tend to think about her murders as “oh, well, the mothers were just low-class working girls, maybe even prostitutes.” Hello? These baby farmers (and Amelia was only one) were SERIAL KILLERS with kill-scores of the magnitude of Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. Babies are totally helpless. Bundy’s and Gacy’s victims fought back.

NTK: Do you think it’s easier for these women to get away with crimes because of their social status? Or because no one believes a woman would do such things?

Satan's SweetheartsMT: Oh, Marge and I talked and talked about that. Some women got away with it because of social status—Delphine is one example. Some got away with it because they had political or gang-related power. Bloody Mary and Queen Ranavalona were the supreme authority in their countries. I don’t know how Ranavalona is regarded by historians, but she was basically a serial killer supported by her country’s laws. Then take one “heroine” that many people think is wonderful because she was a female ruler in a time when women did not become Empresses: Wu Zetian. She killed her own baby in order to keep her position. Good lord. Another favorite example of mine is Ching Shih, the female pirate. The poem is called “The Sister.” Oh, and it’s really noble to be a pirate? She nailed men’s feet to the deck for fornication. She tied cannon balls to the legs of women who “strayed,” despite the fact that she had started life as a prostitute.

Shall I continue with examples of “how they got away with it”? For one, they preyed on children, as with Enriqueta Marti (“Mother Marti”) whose deaths often weren’t investigated.

We tried to find women who hadn’t been as much in the news, and we also tried to give a fresh perspective on their activities. We found that sometimes actions that would have been considered evil if done by a man were “heroic” if by a woman.

NTK: They preyed on the helpless. That’s really frightening. Who do you think the worst villainess is in Satan’s Sweethearts?

MT: The worst villainess? Oh man! Aileen Wuornos was a baddy, but I think she was of diminished intelligence. Of course Delphine was one of the most horrific. I guess I might settle on Ilse Koch, the “Red Witch of Buchenwald.” She was the one who wanted the skins of victims so she could make pretty lampshades out of them. Heaven help us. The Jewish religion frowns on tattoos, so maybe some Jewish people were spared that final indignity (although they probably still died).

NTK: Going back to your writing, where do you get your ideas? Do they come from dreams? Or is the door to your unconscious mind cracked open allowing the darkness to slip in?

MT: I don’t know so much about how Marge gets her ideas, but mine come from reading. I should mention that my sister, Jane Turzillo, is an author of historical non-fiction and several of her books focus on women offenders: Wicked Women of Ohio from the History Press.

NTK: When you write a character, how much control do you exert over said character? Do they have free will?

MT: Do [my] characters have free will? I know there are brain malfunctions that cause people to do awful things. Mary Ann Cotton, who poisoned twelve of her babies, might have pleaded post-partum depression. But no. I think we have free will. We think horrible things. We don’t have to act on them.

NTK: Is Poe your favorite author? Who is your favorite horror author?

MT: Stephen King and, a close rival, Joe Hill. They not only terrify, they also have an underlying message about the nobility of the human soul. I think that’s necessary to horror. Aristotle said “pity and terror.” Without the pity (and maybe hope), horror is just a road to depression, insanity, suicide. I like Peter Straub for the same reason.

NTK: Do you have any favorite horror television shows? Any favorite horror movies?

MT: Movie: an old favorite of mine is SCANNERS, with (spoiler alert) the exploding head scene. Some Dr. Who episodes are horrific enough. TV? Not sure. In the old days (three years ago, maybe?) the really scary stuff wasn’t so much an element. I haven’t kept up with TV enough to know what’s good now. I love Game of Thrones, but that’s not really horror. Oh, I guess it has some horror elements, the Wildings, the decapitations etc., but it’s really SF/fantasy, with the emphasis on fantasy. And lots of sex.

NTK: Mary, why do you think humans create monsters in literature? Why do you think Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde exist?

MT: Naching, no matter what age we live in, the Middle Ages, prehistory, the Holocaust, the present day, the world is scary. Your best friend can die at any time. You get in a car bonsai babies screen.jpgand you could be dead 50 minutes later. You see a pink ribbon and immediately worry about that last mammogram. Our parents died. Hell, my son died! Nothing can protect us from war, disease, accidents, serial killers, drive-by shootings, poisoned lettuce (seriously, who saw THAT coming?). So we need to make sense of the world. In horror fiction, bad things have causes. So we think, Oh, he died because a malignant alien lived in his microwave (By the way, a Nebula winner had this premise). “But I don’t have a microwave, so I’m safe.” Or we think, “We all die, but there is reincarnation, or heaven, or at least a meaning to our life, or even just a cessation of pain.” It’s the human condition. Aristotle said tragedy provided catharsis. (And Greek tragedy was pretty horrific, what with eye-gouging, father killing, hunting for the body of your fiancé in a dung heap.) We need to make sense of the fear and the horror and pain. If nothing else we know that others have suffered and either survived or left a legacy.

NTK: Mary, what does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

MT: I’m working on something a little sunnier right now. This girl is a high school fencing competitor, but every time she does a flying attack called a fleche, she time travels to one of Jupiter’s moons—five billion years in the future. One of the leading characters is a giant cat who becomes her mentor. No horror in it. Or at least, not much. Knowing me, the horror will suddenly pop up.

NTK: Awesome! And, speaking of fencing? You compete, don’t you? Could you tell the Addicts about that?

MT: It was sort of a reaction to my son’s death. He was very interested in swords and sword fighting. I’ve always wanted to fence, so I took it up. I get my nasty urges out in it. It’s very aggressive. You stab people. Oh, they’re wearing protective gear, but still! You STAB people. Talk about the evil in people’s souls. By the way, I was at one time the 6th best foil fencer in my age category in the US. (Now, I’ve dropped down to number 11.) I also represented the US in fencing in my category in a World Cup in Germany two years ago. My husband fences, too. I get to stab him sometimes. And vice versa.

NTK: Your husband is a writer too. Does he enjoy your darker works?

MT: I hope so. He has to live with me, no matter what he really thinks. I so far haven’t written anything that actually scares him. I’m still trying.

NTK: As you know, season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

MT: Let me think…hmmmm. Sometimes, I tell telephone solicitors that I’m a voudou adept and that parts of their bodies will fall off with every minute they stay on the phone with me. Who knows? Maybe it actually works. My favorite verbal curse is “Shitfire!” Got that from my sister.

NTK: (Laughs.) Those are great curses. Thank you so much for chatting with me, Mary. It’s been an honor and a pleasure.

MT: The honor and pleasure are all mine! Thank you SO MUCH!

Addicts, you can find Mary’s work on Amazon.

Satan’s Sweethearts took second place in the Full-Length Book Category of the Elgin Awards on September 21, 2018.

Chilling Chat Episode 162 Marge Simon

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Marge Simon lives in Ocala, FL. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side,” and serves on Board of Trustees.  She is the second womanmarge 2016 bw to be acknowledged by the SF &F Association with a Grand Master Award. She has won the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, Elgin, Dwarf Stars and Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Silver Blade, Bete Noire, Urban Fantasist, Daily Science Fiction, You, Human; Chiral Mad 2 and 3; and Scary Out There, to name a few. She attends the ICFA annually as a guest poet/writer and is on the board of the Speculative Literary Foundation.

Marge is a talented woman with a great sense of humor. We spoke of collaborations, war, and evil women. 

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Marge. It’s an honor to speak with you.

MS: Thanks for doing this, Naching!

NTK: You’re welcome. Let’s begin with WAR: Dark Poems, your new collaboration with Alessandro Manzetti. Tell us a little about the book.

MS: The collaborative experience has been incredible in many ways. Alessandro invited me a couple of years ago now, at the Stokercon in Vegas. He and his lovely wife, Sanda, took me to lunch (and Paolo de Oriezo was also there.) Sanda gave me a t-shirt that said “I heart Roma” (that’s where they were living before they moved to Trieste)—what lovely folks! And, as I sipped my Chardonnay, he asked me if I’d like to collaborate on a collection. I said, “Oh, yes! And, what is the topic?” “War,” he replied. I was instantly amazed and excited and of course I said, “YES!” War is one of my topics for poems of all sorts. It’s true.

It was a totally new experience to collaborate with a man who has such a fine grasp of history—he had me researching all of our collaborative work just so I could get a grasp of what his poem stanzas were about. I learned so much (and here at my age, you would think I’d know it all—NOT!)

NTK: What’s it like to collaborate on a poetry book? Did you write poems together? Or, did you each contribute your own work?

MS: Poems together? I guess you think Marge writes one line or stanza and then Alessandro writes another until it’s done? No, not like that. Alessandro would start the collaborations—which was fine with me! He’d send me maybe five-seven stanzas and that was the base for me to go with. So, I’d write more when I had the right response in mind (“response” meaning continuation.) Sometimes, we’d move stanzas around so they worked better.

Alessandro kind of mapped out the book’s progress as we went along. Individual poems and collaborative poems—he is a maestro at such details.

NTK: That’s awesome! You drew inspiration from each other. And, the poems mesh together so well. Did you have any individual contributions you’d like to expound on?

WAR: Dark Poems by [Manzetti, Alessandro, Simon, Marge]MS: I do. The Mandingo Wars [for one.] I was going for finding wars around the world in history and was thinking, Roots and Kunte Kinte (being Mandingo) and all about the Mandingo Wars against the French, led by Samory Toure. [I ]also (being of Scottish descent) had to include the Battle of Culloden which is so well reenacted in Outlander. Found a song about it, quoted that at the start of the poem. AND, another particularly sad war which ended with the Trail of Tears and the horrors of the once proud Cheyenne Nation being moved thousands of miles on foot from their reservation and homeland. I felt very strongly about these events. Then, too, I had to address the unconscionable deeds of Dr. Mengele in “Chocolates for Twins.” No magazine would take it for publication. But, these horrors DID happen.

NTK: These horrors should be remembered and these subjects should be published! Do you think society is too sensitive when it comes to historical horror?

MS: Good question. Some PC factions don’t even want to admit or know about history’s worst realities because they involve “trigger words” or “child abuse” or POC abuse. Hey, it happened and we should face that, swallow it, and think (in my opinion.)

Niemoller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because, I was not a Socialist. Then, they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because, I was not a Trade Unionist. Then, they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because, I was not a Jew. Then, they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

There is a quote inscribed on the front of the Colorado University library “The Roots of the Future lie deep in the past.” That is my “go-to” for so many points.

NTK: WAR does make people think and it does and it does approach some difficult subjects. Vietnam is a forgotten war these days and the poem, “Little Miss Saigon,” really captures the flavor of that time. How did that particular poem come about?”

MS: Alessandro began “Little Miss Saigon,” and of course I had to go find out more about what was going on there. Then, I found out about the razor blades that the young street girls somehow ingeniously inserted in their vaginas as a way of revenge. For, indeed, you can imagine the life they had to look forward to as fodder for the occupying Yank soldiers.

And, that’s the part I contributed. I still wonder how I did it. But it was “there” waiting to be written.

NTK: It is a powerful poem. What inspires you, Marge?  And, what poets have influenced you?

MS: Oh, let’s see. WHAT inspires me? Do I have to pick? I have many contacts, many friends, read a lot of books, am on Goodreads, am with Ladies of Horror where Nina D’Arcangela gives us visual prompts and we can write poems or flash fictions—then they appear for others to see after the deadline.

Poets? A long list of past and present poets. I always say that once I read Stephen Crane’s poem in 12th grade on the chalkboard of my advanced English class, I knew the world made sense. It was like finding out I wasn’t alone.

NTK: Are you primarily a visual person? Is it easier to find inspiration in a painting or a song?

MS: Inspirations are when and where they occur. I don’t go looking for them. They happen, is all!

NTK: Do you think poets have a different perception of things as compared to the rest of the world?

MS: I think each poet, if true to themselves, has their own views and voice. But, the best express it in a way that has substance and resonates to others (not to all, you can’t reach everyone.) My husband, Bruce Boston, usually uses that as a standard—has substance, resonates. I love that. It fits well.

NTK: It does. Going back to collaborations, you’ve also written a book called, Satan’s Sweethearts with Mary Turzillo. How did you like working with Mary?

MS: Mary Turzillo and I have collaborated joyfully on numerous collections (some about cats and dragons, Dragon’s Dictionary, and Dragon Soup. We also wrote Sweet Poison together, which garnered an Elgin Award from the SF & F Poetry Association.) BUT, Satan’s Sweethearts is not fun or funny in any respect. Mary is a horrible person to collaborate with. We are not on speaking terms except all the time. I can’t wait to see her again, for a fact.

Satan's SweetheartsNTK: (Laughs.) Did you write Satan’s Sweetheart’s in a similar manner to WAR? Or was it a different process?

MS: Different entirely. We picked various very nasty, most wicked women in history and wrote independently about what we chose. But, some we did collaborate on. One being Ma Barker (who was really an angel compared to others.)

NTK: What poem are you most proud of in Satan’s Sweethearts?

MS: I’m most proud of two. “Aileen” (about Florida’s own serial killer who became the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair) and “Delphine La Lourie’s Upstairs Room” and you can’t imagine what she did to her slaves. Look her up if you want to know.

NTK: Of all the people you’ve collaborated with, is Bruce Boston your favorite?

MS: Actually, Bruce is daunting, very daunting. Our collaborations are exciting and rewarding for sure, and I must do my penultimate best—or try, anyway! It’s a challenge but that’s what life is. The best of it is to challenge yourself to exceed expectations.

Also, I don’t like to and won’t name favorites to collaborate with. I welcome challenges.

NTK: Do you have any advice to share with up and coming poets?

MS: Read. Read authors old and not that old. Read poets whose work speaks to you and think about the how and why. Don’t imitate. Incorporate. And, please—personal angst poems are fine for what they are for. They get you through the lusts and loves of yore but, you’re not the only one! Read Sara Backer, read Bruce Boston, read (I could go on and on.) But, wait! Join the SFPA (Science Fiction Poetry Association), and then READ!! You will find horror as well as dark and light fantasy, and speculative from some of the best in the field. It’s a community of poets and readers of poetry who are all grown up now. So join and learn!

And the SFPA, like the HWA, is an international association!

NTK: As you know, Season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

MS: I’m sorry, but I’m not into curses very much at all, really.

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

MS: The future? You hold my future in your hands, Naching. Be kind. I don’t know what’s coming tomorrow. Some irons in the fires, if that’s what you mean. And, I hope to meet lots of you readers next year at Stokercon in Grand Rapids!

NTK: I see a long and glorious future ahead, Marge. Thank you again for taking the time to chat. It’s much appreciated.

MS: Loved your questions and thanks for the interview.

Addicts, you can find Marge on Goodreads and Amazon.

Satan’s Sweethearts took second place in the Full-Length Book Category of the Elgin Awards on September 21, 2018.

Parts of this interview were published in the July 2018 edition of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and are reprinted with Editor Kathy Ptacek’s permission.

Chilling Chat Episode 152: Valjeanne Jeffers

valjeanne-jeffers-author-picValjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College and author of ten books including Immortal and Mona Livelong I and II. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies including, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures, Sycorax’s Daughters, and The City and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler. She was honored as a “Seer” by the HWA Diverse Works Inclusion Committee in 2016 and is a screenwriter for the horror anthology film, 7 Magpies (in production.)

Valjeanne is a remarkable woman. During our interview, she shared some interesting facts about her early life, creating characters, and her upcoming projects.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Valjeanne. You have a varied background. Your parents are English teachers and you have an MA in Psychology. How does this inform and affect your work?

VJ: Because my parents were English teachers, I came in contact with writers at a very early age. They were in and out of our house wherever we lived. I remember my mother cooking for them…poets, writers, artists and I got a chance to sit in on their discussions.

NTK: Wow! What writers?

VJ: This was years ago, so I can’t remember very many names. Quincy Troupe was one I remember. Another regular visitor to our house was Eugene Redmond. I re-connected with him about nine years ago and he published me in his anthology Drumvoices Revue (poetry.) It’s been a huge honor because my poetry appeared in an anthology with some really famous folk.

We did have a library and I was reading Richard Wright and Chester Himes from age 9 or 10. The authors I read had a huge impact on me. Himes and Wright’s use of magical realism influenced my writing horror and science fiction.

NTK: Did this interest in Himes and Wright lead to your writing Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective?

VJ: Yes, and I had other influences. Mona Livelong is an urban novel. And, Robert Beck (believe it or not) and David Goines brought this out. You know Robert Beck as “Iceberg Slim.” He’s notorious for his anti-heroes but he’s also a brilliant writer.

Tananarive Due and Brandon Massey are also huge influences, especially when it comes to writing horror.

NTK: Which of their works are your favorite?

VJ: For T. Due, it’s My Soul to Keep (the series.) For B. Massey, it’s Within the Shadows and into the Dark.

NTK: You’ve spoken of Stephen King and Dean Koontz as favorite authors. Which one do you like best?

VJ: Stephen King. Definitely. He has been a huge influence.

NTK: Which of his books do you like the most?

VJ: The Talisman and The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three.

By the way, earlier, you asked about how my MA affects my work. It helped me construct personalities and also “character careers.”

NTK: What made you choose the career of “paranormal detective” for Mona?

VJ: I had been toying with the idea of a paranormal detective for a while and I decided to take the plunge and just do it.

NTK: What’s the process of creating a character like that? Do you decide what she’ll do and won’t do? Do you decide what powers she’ll possess?

VJ: Characters for me are based on people I have known and sometimes, those I see on TV that week. I take someone and add and subtract the things I feel they should have. And, some, (Tehotep from Immortal, for example) come straight out of my unconscious. Both Mona and Karla (Immortal) are based upon a young woman who babysat me in California. She was coping with the death of her mother and brother and raising her two remaining siblings.

NTK: Did Tehotep come from a dream? Or, did he just come to you?

VJ: Tehotep came to me in waking dreams, bit by bit. As far as their [character] abilities go, that’s a process of imagination. Since I decided early on that Mona would be a sorceress, I had to decide what she could and couldn’t do. Her powers had to be limited. If that makes sense.

NTK: Let’s talk a little about Sycorax’s Daughters. How did you become involved in that project?

VJ: Two of the editors, Linda Addison and Kinitra Brooks, contacted me. They said they were publishing Sycorax’s Daughters and asked if I’d be interested in submitting something. Of course, I said yes!

NTK: How did it feel to be included among such original voices? Sycorax’s Daughters is an anthology like no other. All the writers are women of color.

VJ: I was blown away! We made (are making) history and to be a part of this—it’s incredible!

NTK: It was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

VJ: Just to be nominated was incredible.

NTK: Could you talk a little about 7 Magpies?

VJ: Yes. What would you like to know? It’s still in the works.

NTK: Is it an anthology film? What is the significance of the Magpies?

VJ: It’s a film anthology. Each person involved contributed a story or poem. We got the Magpies from the creator, Lucy Cruell. It’s based on a nursery rhyme. “One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.

I contributed an excerpt from Immortal III: Stealer of Souls to the film. All the screenwriting will be done by screenwriters Lucy chooses. Here’s a description of the film from the website:

“The first horror film anthology written and directed by Black (or African-American) women. Authors include: Tananarive Due, Sumiko Saulson, Eden Royce, Crystal Connor, Valjeanne Jeffers, Linda D. Addison, and Paula Ashe. The directors are: Lucy Cruell, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nicole Renee, Robin Shanea, Lary Love Dolley, Meosha Bean, and Rae Dawn Chong.

NTK: What did you think of the adaptation process? Was it difficult bringing your excerpt to the screen?

VJ: Actually, I looked at what Lucy wanted and chose stories I felt were appropriate. She picked the Immortal III excerpt. That one was my favorite too.

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

VJ: Quinton Veal (my cover artist and guy) and I are planning on releasing Scierogenous II: An Anthology of Erotic Science Fiction and Fantasy. Scierogenous I was well received.

I’m also writing Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective III: The Case of the Vanishing Child.

NTK: Will you include horror stories in Scierogenous II?

VJ: Maybe. We’ve got a great crew so let’s see what they come up with.

NTK: As you know, season thirteen of HorrorAddicts.net is CURSED. Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

VJ: Sorry, I don’t have one.

NTK: If you were to have Mona face a curse, what would it be?

VJ: (Laughs) Girl, I don’t know.

NTK: (Laughs) Ok, thank you for chatting with me, Valjeanne. It’s been a pleasure.

VJ: Thank you so much.

NTK: You can find Valjeanne’s work at the following link:

http://tehotep.wixsite.com/immortaliiiaudiobook

And, you can follow her on Twitter here at: @Valjeanne

Book Review: The Hatch by Joe Fletcher

The Hatch  is a book of poetry by Joseph Fletcher.

Drawing upon Edmund Burke’s definition of the sublime—the odd beauty associated with fear and self-preservation; our astonished delight in what destroys, what overpowers and compels us toward darkness—these strange poems mine the sinister fault lines between weird fiction, expressionism, gothic horror, and notions of the absurd, cracking the mundane shell of our given metaphysical order. In the traditions of Nerval, Trakl, Schulz, Tadić, Poe, and contemporaries Aase Berg and Jeff Vandermeer, the wonderful disassociation brought to bear on the reader lies in the conjuring of unprecedented worlds, their myths and logics, their visions and transformations—worlds that resist interpretation almost successfully, and reveal to us the uncanny and nightmarish.

On first impressions, this book boasts an incredible cover which conveys an uncanny look at the emotion contained within. Each poem embraces the reader with a mountain of emotion and collapses upon them until every emotion spirals into a dark chasm. If I have to be honest (which I do because…well, this is a review), the poems aren’t what I’m used to.

Admittedly, I’m not a poetry expert. With that said, I am used to-and prefer-another style. Don’t let that stop you from reading this book though, because this author delves deep. If those kind of poems are what you’re looking for, then this is the book for you. I’m more used to poems with more rhyme, and gentle flow but Fletcher’s style rocks you out of your comfort zone and causes you to scramble for the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the end, you will feel every scar-emotional and mental-this author has experienced in some way throughout his life. I recommend it to anyone who wants a little something different. Rinse your pallet and give this one a go

Book Review: Sycorax’s Daughters

Sycorax is an unseen sorceress and presence in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She is present in the memories of men and though invisible; she is the force behind her son, Caliban.  The anthology, Sycorax’s Daughters, introduces us to women like her.  Women whose existence as storytellers is outside mainstream entertainment. Black women who weave stories of enchantment and horror.

And, they excel at it.

Sycorax’s Daughters is imaginative, lyrical, intelligent, beautiful, and terrifying. The editors, Kinitra Brooks, Ph.D., Linda D Addison, and Susana Morris Ph.D. chose powerful stories, poems, and novel excerpts. When you read them, you step into another world.

The book begins with a “Tree of the Forest Seven Bells Turns the World Round Midnight” by Sheree Renèe Thomas. In this tale, a man’s journey to meet his lover’s mother meets with chilling results. The story is a perfect introduction to the book. It gives a taste of what’s coming.

Within these pages, monsters receive fresh and startling retellings. Vampires aren’t tired, Transylvanian Princes. They are far more deadly and erotic. Mermaids are outcasts among their own kind, demons require vengeance, monsters prey upon males (and wear interesting footwear), paranormal detectives investigate, and ghosts seek to leech off the living.

My favorite story concerns a woman called Naomi and her spirit partner, Alexa. Though Alexa can possess Naomi, she is not a demon. Rather, she is an ally, one who aids Naomi in her chosen profession. Alexa also disapproves of Naomi’s choice in men and must take matters into her own hands. I hope the author will consider turning this tale into a book. The world she created is amazing.

The book ends with an afterword (in the form of a poem) by Linda D. Addison. It’s called “Sycorax’s Daughters Unveiled,” and it’s a fitting and beautiful piece.

I’ve read many anthologies. Most have included big name horror authors. None of these previous anthologies thrilled me as much as this one. I kept expecting to find a lump of coal among the gems.

I never found one. I don’t think you will either.

#NGHW Top 6 Poetry Excerpts

These are the top 6 poems from the Horror Poetry challenge.

Poem 1:  Under the Water by Sumiko Saulson
Over sea, floating ye, staying abreast of watery crests

Midwinter air caresses curls unfurling over briny sea

Cool wet skin, paper thin… I can see your soul within

Every capillary pumping blood, intestinal processes digesting food

Your loving heart plain to see… how intimate your transparency

 

A sea-deep mystery, stories untold, windows into your ancient soul,

Your eyes speckled, flecks of gold cascading within jet black coal

Encasing your exquisite charms, enfolded within my fragile arms,

I am the contemplator of your delicacy, hear ye now my mortal pleas

May your ethereal heart, thorny spine and eternal love be ever mine

 

Adrift on my back, your tentative fingers in mine entwined

Long slender tail wrapped around my thighs, tendrils twixt toes

The smooth flesh of your undercarriage where barnacles grow

My flesh puckers where their tiny mouths burrow into my skin

Digesting the healthy white blood cells within


Poem 2: Siren’s Song by Riley Pierce
Through crashing waves and dying light

I fight, I fight, I fight the night.

Many begged to turn away,

But on this final course I stay.

 

The siren sings again tonight,

And so I wait until I might,

Find her perched upon the rocks,

With eyes of red, and golden locks.

 

She’ll sing her song, but just to me.

I’ll belong to both her and the sea.

My crew, at last, they hear her song,

And I’ll be hers before too long.

 

Mystic music through the air;

It moves like wind and lingers there.

It seeps into their ears, my crew.

Yes! My god! The tales are true.

 

The moon is up, it pulls the tide,

And our wooden ship from side to side.

The wind has blown, all light is gone.

This ship will not survive the dawn.

 

A sacrifice to her, I bring,

Shall earn me last to see her sing.


Poem 3: Flesh Passion by Fiend Gottes
All my desires, I’ve fulfilled them all
A deviant well overflowing from hell
Demons speak, voices tell me all
Spewing forth they entice dark desire
Dark visions boil in my mind
Bathe in blood of the pure
Snuff life within the eyes

Dreams of death dance within my mind
With my hands I strangle out their life
Yearning to know
Where is my sorrow

Then I saw
Beauty profound
I felt confusion
Ache in my heart
Time stood still
Could she be?
Warmth in the cold
Or merely a dream


Raven hair floats upon the breeze
Electric blue eyes mesmerize me
Olive skin glistens by the moon
Her soul cries a song only I hear
The voices tell me she is mine
For me to taste, me alone
Heart no longer stone

Feel her flesh
Vanquish her light
Eternal smile
Echo of her screams
My need to feel
Her last moment
My need to feel
Something pure


Poem 4: A Warning on Wings by Jonathan Fortin
His prayer was drawn in blood, the circle like a door

He sat beside the threshold, book open on the floor

This will never work, to himself he sighed

But he was so lonely that every night he cried

 

He was a somber man, not blessed with good looks

Hated by his village, he found solace in books

Tonight he stripped naked, legs crossed, arms spread

He whispered the words that from the pages bled:

“For you I’d be the greatest that I could ever be

I would do it all, anything you ask of me.”

 

The circle was no prison; he did not seek a slave

Nor mindless copulation, which would bore him to the grave

No, he sought the thing that was most beyond his reach:

A love felt too deeply to be bought or breached.


Poem 5: The Only Thing That Remains by Jess Landry
Summertime blossoms as you take your first steps

onto a path laced with dirt and stone.

Though your feet know the way,

your heart’s lost count as to how many times

you’ve walked this forgotten road,

you’ve watched the sun rise,

you’ve heard the same birdsong echo from the trees.

A leafy canopy sways high above,

a cathedral ceiling with light piercing through.

Lilacs in bloom follow the morning breeze;

olive grass as high as your dress’s frayed hem

ebb and flows like the sea,

the wind teasing them along to its silent rhythm.

Your hands swing at your sides and you breathe in,

remembering what it was to take a breath,

remembering how he took it away the first time you met—

steely eyes, blithesome smile—

how his touch was as warm as the sun’s.

The path clears to an opening,

an unkempt field forgotten by man and time,

and there he stands,

as always,

like a lighthouse on a cliff of a pear-coloured ocean.


Poem 6: A Vampire and a Zombie by AE Kirk
I shall tell you a tale of a romance most deluded,

Between a zombie and a vampire and nothing else included,

They once came together during the end of the world,

The vampire was a man and we think the zombie was a girl,

 

He tried to attack her, but all she did was groan,

He bit her rotten skin, all she did was moan,

He pulled back and frowned, looked at her dry-bloodied face,

Flicking the maggots off, she was the last of the human race,

 

She had no toes and half of a head,

She was the only body to keep him warm in his bed,

And although she craved no blood, nor food, or sleep,

He made up his mind, for her he would keep,

 

They went for long walks; rotting corpses did they pass,

They played with dead dogs, birds, cats it was a blast!

Then every evening, they sat and stared,

At the crumbling city around them, which they could never compare


Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net

Linda Addison On Winning A Bram Stoker Award

Linda D. Addison is the award-winning author of four collections including How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend. She is the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award® and has published over 300 poems, stories and articles. Linda is part of 7 Magpies, a film project involving 7 black female horror authors & filmmakers based on the old nursery rhyme. Catch her latest work in the upcoming anthology Scary Out There (Simon Schuster). Linda was kind enough recently to answer a few questions about winning the Stoker and her work in general:

How did it feel being the first Black Bram Stoker award winner?

2002 NYC Linda Mom First Stoker color2LA: It was mind-blowing experience (to quote a cliche). I literally was so excited to be on the final ballot with people who were my heroes that it didn’t occur to me that I would actually win. The awards were in New York City so my mother came up from Philly for the awards banquet. It was amazing to receive it and have my mother there (she passed in 2009). She was my biggest supporter and it meant everything to me for her to see this great honoring. I could barely speak. I did get it together enough to make my mother stand up and wave to everyone. It’s one of my happiest memories.

I didn’t realize then that I was the first Black award winner until someone bought it up and I looked back at the history of HWA Bram Stoker winners. One awesome thing that came out of winning was that my high school, Germantown HS, in Philadelphia asked me to speak at a graduation.

For what did you win the award for?

LA: I received the HWA Bram Stoker award® for “Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes”, a poetry collection published by Space & Time, with an introduction by one of my favorite authors, Charlee Jacob and cover by Colleen Crary, interior illustrations by Marge Simon.

When it came out I had the first book signing set for Sept 11, 2001 in Rockefeller Center in NYC. Yes, that day! I had the book propped up on my desk at my day job as a software developer. When that day came to an end I couldn’t even look at the cover. The first poem is called ‘Fire/Fight’, which I write years before 9/11 but suddenly was too relevant.

As NYC and I tried to find a new normal after the Towers were destroyed I slowly returned to my book. I was interviewed a couple of times about the book title and opening poem.

What is it about?

LA: It’s a poetry collection I put together around the concept of transformation after destruction. There are three sections titled: Things Gone Bad, In Between, Transformation. The poems cover many kinds of loss and transformation, for example: a mother mourning a lost child, a lover loss of self, a revengeful lover, even a human losing their soul to a Voodoo Goddess.

What other stories have you received nominations for?

LA: After “Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes” I was nominated for two collections that I wrote alone and won for both: “Being989336 Full of Light, Insubstantial”, which was 100 poems (Space & Time, 2007) & “How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend” a collection of short stories and poetry (Necon E-Books, 2011).

A collaborative collection, “Dark Duet” of music inspired poetry written with Stephen M. Wilson, published by Necon E-Books 2012, was on the final ballot. This was a very special collection for me. Stephen approached me with the project and I was excited to work with him because he did poetry that made shapes on the page and I wanted to try something different. We worked seamlessly together and I’m extremely proud of this book. Unfortunately, Stephen died from cancer in 2013.

My fourth HWA Bram Stoker award® was received in 2014 for “Four Elements” with Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon & Rain Graves, published by Bad Moon Book. The book has four sections for the four elements, Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Each of us picked an element, mine was Air which I wrote as a person who travels through time and space. I’ve known the other authors for years and it was a great honor working with them to create this collection.

When did you start writing?

LA: I would say I’ve spent my whole life making up fairy tales, poetry, etc. I started writing to see myself in print when I was in high school. I had a couple of poems published in my high school magazine. Once I got out of college I started seriously submitting work (and collecting a good number of rejections), eventually the rejections became acceptances around 1994.

What inspires you to write?

LA: Everything around me, the news, my past, my hopes for the future, all the positive and negative things that humans do to each other and the planet. I moved from NYC in 2014 to Arizona and went from a city kid to being surrounded by mountains and nature. The mountains  and desert have an overall settling effect on me which help me focus.

What advice would you give other writers?

13264877LA: Write, write, write. Write every day, even if only for a few minutes. I believe most writing happens in our subconscious so if we sit down each day the subconscious gets to know, ‘ah so I can show up now’ and it will pour out what it’s been mulling over.

Know that even when you’re not putting words on paper/computer you’re writing. Living is writing. Everything we do feeds creativity, even in the most un-obvious ways.

Don’t edit while writing first draft, just get it out. This is a rule I often struggle with because I know the quality I want, but I also know it’s important to write it from beginning to end and the editor mind doesn’t help that for me.

Read (all kinds of writing, even the kind you don’t do), listen to music, go to art shows. There is such energy from creating and it’s important to feed all the senses.

Once your work is as good as you can make it Send It Out! Don’t spend time wondering if it will be accepted or not, just get it out the house and start something new. If it comes back and you can make it better, do it. If you can’t make it better, Send It Out anyway. We writers are not the best judge of our work. For sure, your writing will get better the more you write, not necessarily rewriting the same piece.

What are some books that you have available?

LA: All of the books I mentioned above are available as print and/or eBooks. The links are on my website.

What are you working on now?17263849

LA: I had a story, “Twice, At Once, Separated”, published in the first Dark Matter anthology years ago, that I’m developing into a SF novel. The novel is a new form for me and I’m learning a lot about writing while tackling it.

The end of last year I started writing daily twitter poems (which also show up on my FaceBook page) just to get my poetry fix in each day. I write them with very little editing because I didn’t want to get off the novel track, but I really needed to get some poetry writing in.

Folks can check my site for updates on work that will be coming out this year, like poetry I will have in the upcoming “Scary Out There” horror anthology for young adults (Simon Schuster) edited by Jonathan Maberry, including work by fantastic authors like R.L. Stine, Joyce Carol Oates, Christopher Golden, Lucy Snyder, Marge Simon, Nancy Holder and others.

I’m attending several events this year (see my site) and I will have work in the WHC 2016 souvenir anthology as well as teaching a poetry workshop at StokerCon.

Where can people find you online?

LA:

Website: www.lindaaddisonpoet.com

Facebook=Linda D Addison

Twitter=Linda Addison@nytebird45

Instagram=nytebird45

 

FreeFiction Friday: The Sin-Full Man

The Sin-Full Man

by

Elliot Thorpe

I watch you walk and move and talk
Knowing that I cannot stay away
I need you here I want you now
I care not for who is in the way

My feelings for you grow stronger day by day
Until I can no longer breathe
Others have had you but I want you for me
For my pain there can be but one reprieve

From without your life I stare and wonder
How you feel, how you smell, how you taste
To un-know you now is truly not enough
So I will own you and soon with all haste

Watch over your shoulder and take care of yourself
Keep everything safe you must
Let no one harm you or take you away
For you will satiate my lust

My appetite is wanton wholly for desire
for nourishment, for satisfaction, for you
You will not ignore me, you will not escape me
I know every little thing you do

I will have everything, you will give me all
Every inch of you will be mine
There is never too much, always too little
You will love me and our love will shine

Every waking moment I feast on what you are
Until my body is consumed and full
Your flesh is ripe and aching to be had
So I know I will still find the pull

Under my hands you will be piece by piece
There is nothing to subdue me, exultantly
Your blood will I drink to warm my belly
You will feed my gluttony

Mine you are mine I want nothing more
But wear you I really must
Like a familiar shape over my trembling frame
All other memories gone to dust

Take me now as I take you
Raw, passionate and alive
You will lay before naked and bare
Under me I will feel you writhe

All of you, nothing else of you
You have no say in what I need
I will rip out your tongue so you cannot speak
Yet you will experience my greed

You will never be without me, forever at my side
No need to go anywhere but here
We will exist in one place, have everything to hand
Languor in our own special sphere

Why would you run? Your legs I would remove
To save you the agony of movement
You have no need to go anywhere else
Just stay forever in the moment

Do not be afraid of being alone
For loneliness is the criminal of time
With me you will never be solo
Your acceptance will begin to climb

Lay with me, stay with me
Covered in a love-soaked cloth
Unconscious desire you will find
To do nothing together but sloth

You won’t leave me, I will not let you
Don’t try to because when push comes to shove
I will hurt you to keep you and hold you close
So don’t dare cross me or betray my love

You make me angry, so very very angry
With your beauty and unalloyed skin
I don’t just love you, I hate you as much
My feelings are not borne on a whim

I detest what you stand for, your purity and light
It turns my stomach so
But don’t leave me, I cannot be without you
I will never let you go

You will be who I want, no more no less
I will take you down a one-way path
Don’t look up, don’t look around
Or you will feel the power of my wrath

I wish I wish, I wish for you, never a day goes by
When I don’t want you so completely
And what you must know to be true is true
That you and the others will not defeat me

So you have no choice, no room to move
For I will get what I truly want
I will possess you, and be with you
You will remove all discontent

Take leave of my senses? Never! I could not
For that would mean I lose my heart
The blood in these veins pumps for you
I cannot stop what I must start

There is no limit, no cost I would avoid
It’s not a matter of money
You are priceless, unique and a treasure to behold
Everyone, see how they will envy!

I will not share you but will let people know
That before you there was just a hole
They need to see what you mean to me
How much you bless and poison my twisted soul

I fear you will wonder, of what you might miss
Or what you might find that are lies
They will see in but you will not see out
For I will pluck out your eyes

Your face, your body, I worship it all
I want everyone to grasp how you’re in my head
So I will put you on display, in a box of glass
Eternal, forever and dead

You will be preserved, beautiful and pure
Like a butterfly, for you I will not hide
Never to age, never to whither
And never to dull my pride

***********

Elliot Thorpe 4566a-1024x683

Elliot Thorpe (Twitter: @elliot1701) is a freelance writer, having worked with the sites Den of Geek, Shadowlocked and Doctor Who TV.
In 2005, he scripted ‘Doctor Who – Cryptobiosis’ starring Colin Baker and his first horror novel ‘Cold Runs the Blood’ was released in 2013. Some of his short stories have been published in the anthologies ‘Grave Matters’ and ‘The Extraordinary Lives of People Who Never Existed’. He has also contributed to and co-edited ‘Seasons of War –Tales From A Time War’.
He has a column in the San Francisco-based magazine ‘Search’, and is currently writing a biography of Dean Martin.  https://elliotthorpe.wordpress.com

Live Action Review by Crystal Connor: Moments: A Small Poetry Collection by Ursula K Raphael

51rbyHkk4pL._UY250_ I didn’t read the forward so I was completely caught off guard by the collection of poems that make up Moments.

Ursula K. Rapheal is known within the horror community as AstraDaemon and it would be hard pressed to find a zombiephile worth their weight in salt who doesn’t know who she is. Many of us who write horror wait months, sometimes longer, to have our books reviewed by her. And she is also one of us, an author, the author of The Survivor and Out of the ashes.

I was so expecting to be plunged into darkness as I wandered around the deep crevices of a twisted and tortured mind, but what I found instead were the warm heartfelt Moments of a young person’s life.

Some of the poems made me smile, others made me feel like I was reading someone’s diary. The Mosh Pit made me laugh out loud, I saw The Last Time coming, and Paper Doll tugged at the heart-strings.

The heartbreak over an unfaithful lover, the heartbreak of growing up and growing apart from  your sibling, the fits of uncontrollable laughter in the study hall, and for the love of cats, if I were to describe this collection as a whole I would say it’s the lyrical equivalent of Instagram.

Winter is coming … and that means Christmas. If you have a friend or loved one who isn’t into #allhorroreverything like we are, or you read outside the genre and want something rich and textured to read while waiting for the bus, subway, or tram this is the perfect gift electronic stocking stuffer or treat yo self gift.

Divine Descent

 

by Lillian Csernica

 

I see a ragged goddess

In gowns of modern style

The sacred paint upon her

Makes her mouth a bloody smile.

Goddess dancing, laughing loud

Your hair is protein fire

Bangles clashing, you are proud

The iPod is your lyre.

See them now, your servants there

They revel at your feet

Smoking cloves, they dress to scare

In nightmarish conceit.

Find them, Goddess, in your shrine

A poor unworthy lot

Unfit to serve, O Divine

And yet, they’re all you’ve got.

Tell me, Kali, does it shame

You, so fleshless and obscure

Left to children playing games

Your bloody reign once sure?

**********

Lillian’s fiction has appeared in Fantastic Stories, These Vampires Don’t Sparkle, and DAW’S Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI and XXII. Her Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333. Lillian reviews horror short fiction for TangentOnline. Visit her at lillian888.wordpress.com.

 

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Author Spotlight: Dean Farnell

Dean Farnell writes quirky songs & poetry, mainly paranormal / horror themed as a bit of fun. The songs are recorded in one single take so are raw demos in effect but have still been played on over 600 various radio stations and podcasts all over the world. For Horror Addicts Guide To Life  Dean wrote a poem called “The Kings Of Horror” which is about the masters that got us into the genre, such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and all the other greats of horror. To read Dean’s poem along with several articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To Life. Recently Dean was nice enough to tell us what he likes about horror:

 

What do you like about the horror genre?

deanWhat I like about the horror genre: one reason is the strange thrill of being scared, For years people have flocked to cinemas and bought books to basically get frightened which seems bizarre yet millions of people like to do it.
Monsters, aliens, ghosts, witches etc. are also of great mystery to us humans and provide hours of debate regarding to their existence. I personally love the Halloween toys, clothes, and accessories which adorn the shops in October great time of year.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books or TV shows?

My favourite horror films were the Hammer Horror films from ’60s and ’70s.  I must have been about 11 when my dad used to let me stay up late to watch them on a Saturday night.  Anything with Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, Werewolf would fascinate me.  I like the basic not over produced feel about those films. My Ultimate classic favourite films that I love are Psycho, Halloween, The Birds and the Salem’s Lot series with David Soul.  They are hard to beat for a horror thrill.

For TV Shows it’s the fabulous Addams Family and The Munsters all day long.  I can watch them for hours, horror and humor are a terrific combo.
Although I write horror poetry I never really did read horror novels but I could not resist reading “Jaws” when it first came out.
P.S. and of course not forgetting The Horror Addicts Guide To Life.

In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?

Regards which way I live the horror lifestyle is really just writing horror poetry and promoting my self-written horror themed songs which I send off to radio stations mainly in the USA.
Do also enjoy catching up with a vintage Hammer film.

Where can we find you online?

The quickest way to find my songs poems is by Googling my name and links will direct you to my past work. People can find my past work online through iTunes, Amazon, my facebook page , youtube, Tunevibe.com, Indie charts, 365 live Radio.

Free Fiction Friday: Dark Soul by Emerian Rich

punkprintThis is a throw back… reaching into the writing crypt for my very first publication credit. A poem of my youth that can still make me feel like I did back then. I’ve since realized, this is a symptom of our age. For many of us Dark Souls… we’ve had to come a long way to be comfortable with ourselves. For some of us, the path was to much to bear and we miss you dearly. For others, they are still trying to drown themselves in poison to be able to function in our world. For us rare few who have seen it to the other side, stay strong!

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

Dark Soul

By: Emerian Rich

If the world was as dark as my soul…

But it isn’t, I’m isolated.

 

What a powdered, pink mother

Gives birth to is all her

Fear of death.

 

But we aren’t scared anymore, are we?

 

A childhood of fear has turned into

Hopelessness,

Helplessness,

Finally, fearlessness.

 

We are strong aren’t we?

We are jaded and mean.

We are heartless and rude.

 

Sometimes I cry at the things I’ve done,

For loving myself,

For doing what I want.

 

Where do I go to get rid of the guilt

From that house with the white picket fence?

 

I try to drown it in all types of poison.

Torture to my body and soul.

 

But there’s no hope at last

I’m dying from it.

The guilt of my mother’s past.

 *****************

If you have poetry to share with us, please send it to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

Evil Sirens Sweetly Singing

by Lillian Csernica

 

mindyarn.blogspot.com

Wake to the world of the darkness

Wake! to the world of the Night.

Burn with the fires of Hecate

Ache with the Devil’s delight.

 

Live in the land of Jung’s Shadow

Dance in the mind’s shady gloom

Dive into Charon’s black waters

Swing on the bellrope of Doom!

 

Hark to the Muse of the Lethe

Smash sanity’s last painful shard

Revel with your nightmare secrets

Give voice to the soul’s darkest bard.

 

Cry with your soul’s hundred voices

Fling wide the crypt in your heart

Bathe in the hungers within you

Damnation is only the start!

**********

Lillian’s fiction has appeared in Fantastic Stories, These Vampires Don’t Sparkle, and DAW’S Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI and XXII. Her Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333. Lillian reviews horror short fiction for TangentOnline. Visit her at lillian888.wordpress.com.

 

Without a Map by Nikki Harlin

Without a Map

by Nikki Harlin

 

i only know who

i am in the stairwell, in the basement. there—

the hand tearing through the floor boards

gropes for an ankle

to love

in the corner i tell myself

that is a portrait

when it is clear

it’s not

a mirror

i know

i’ve passed before

footprints appear behind the sound of circling hooves

in a dry field I cannot find

the door out. a scare crow leans in the wind, its hair a fire

i started to see in the stalking dark.

***********

Nikki Harlin is an MFA student at Cal State San Bernardino where she writes poetry and is a staff editor for Ghost Town Lit Mag.

Book Review: Fearworms by Robert Payne Cabeen

shapeimage_7Poetry can be beautiful rhythmical combination of words that let you know about how the writer feels. It can also be a rhyming set of words that are meant to scare the pants off of you. Fearworms by  Robert Payne Cabeen is the type of book that will make you laugh and scare you into sleeping with the lights on. Horror poetry is a genre that  can be a lot of fun, who doesn’t want to laugh and be scared at the same time? Fearworms does just that.

Robert Payne Cabeen gives the definition of Fearworms as stanzas of a horror poem that repeat in a person’s mind, leaving a feeling of dread.  This book does that as it inspires you to want to infect others with these disturbingly fun poems. You will find 12 poems in this book that cover such subjects as Krampus the Christmas demon, cannibalistic clowns, mad doctors, zombies, ghosts and a love story that’s out of this world.

My favorite poems in this book was The Promise and Rule 44. Both poems are rather gruesome love poems. While I’m not into love stories, these two really got to me and shows how a great rhyme can bring a story to life. The Promise talks about keeping a promise to a loved one in the zombie apocalypse which is heartbreaking and well told. Rule 44 takes place in space and has a very unusual love story that I have reread several times because it’s hauntingly beautiful. These two poems show that not many words are needed to tell a great story.

While The last two poems I mentioned are more serious, Fearworms also mixes horror and humor quite well. The first poem in the book is called Clowns. Many people are afraid of Clowns and this poem gives you more reason to be afraid. This one is about a man who stumbles into a cannibalistic clown convention and things don’t go to well for him. This isn’t the only story here that deals with cannibals, there is another one called Uptown Ribs that will make you laugh and probably ruin your appetite forever. Another great humorous poem here is Doctor Volmer which tells the tale of a doctor and the creatures that he makes. One thing this poem taught me is that you shouldn’t trust old people in need of help.

Fearworms is a work of art, not only because of the beautiful artwork that’s in it, but also from the poetry. This is a book that really shows the power of words. Robert Payne Cabeen states in his intro that he hopes that people will recite his poems out loud and make them their own. That’s what his poems did for me. They painted a picture in my head and not only did I want to share them with others, I also wanted to try writing poems of my own. Fearworms is the kind of book that you want to read out loud and in front of people so they can feel the same sense of joy and horror that you feel. Storytelling has never been as much fun as it is in this collection.

fearworms.com/Fearworms/Audio_Previews.html

fanboycomics.net

fearworms.com

 

Free Fiction Friday: Michael Lee Johnson

Spirits of the Schizophrenic Dead

By Michael Lee Johnson

I am linked to the spirit world

by my own choice, character;

I connect with these people

because I thought they were lonely.

I use simple, plain language like you would understand.

I toss gold coins around their houses,

hear tinny sounds jumping out of the walls

screaming at me with human voices.

They say back to me that I was within their walls.

I tell them they are crazy.

My life is leading into the spirits of walking dead.

I am linked to the spirit world.

This night, in front of my cottage,

I toss my evening cape and all my

vampire clothing into the ocean.

I grab all my cassette tapes, the ones

I talk to them with, my poems, my dreams my nightmares-

toss them all into the ocean tonight at once,

waves belch.

I feel like a crossword puzzle,

parts missing my words,

jackhammer pounding my skeleton face.

But, now I am no longer haunted by a dictionary of the past,

my therapist is now my best friend.

We take photographs of each other,

we share them with no one.

I’m alive, but lonely, and enjoy the taste of bagels.

I touch them and they feel secure, safe within me.

Speakers of spirit world silence.

-2008-

(R-2013)

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

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era: now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 750 small press magazines in 27 countries, he edits 9 poetry sites. Michael is the author of The Lost American: “From Exile to Freedom”, several chapbooks of poetry, including “From Which Place the Morning Rises” and “Challenge of Night and Day”, and “Chicago Poems”. He also has over 71 poetry videos on YouTube. Find out more at: http://poetryman.mysite.com/