Chilling Chat Episode 158 Mercy Hollow

Mercy Hollow was born in Florida, where she was terrorized by alligators, fire ants, rabid raccoons, sharks, drunken college students, and 100% humidity. She lived on three continents (four if you count the foreign realm of her imagination) and planted her feet in San Francisco. She has a love of hockey, motorcycles, and anything deemed weird. She writes about gritty underworlds, twists, deception, strong men, stronger women, and a hidden part of Chicago you’ve never seen. She is a freelance editor and workshop facilitator.

Mercy is a woman of many talents with a fascinating past. We spoke of forensic psychology, writing, and her take on good and evil.

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

MH: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me on.

NTK: You have traveled the world and visited many continents. What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

MH: While I’ve had some interesting, blood pumping, and challenging situations overseas, the scariest was in my home state of Florida. I was lost alone in the Everglades at night for hours with only a lighter.

NTK: Wow! How did that happen? And, how did you get out?

MH: I may have made a bad decision of who to hang out with for the evening. We had a disagreement and they left, taking the boat with them. I have a good sense of direction and a strong desire not to be eaten by alligators so I took my time, avoided the water, and eventually found a path.

NTK: Good job! Did this incident inspire you to become a horror writer? What got you interested in writing horror?

MH: With my previous career in forensic psychology, I got to delve into the darkest parts of people’s minds. See what people were capable of, both to cause ill and overcome tragedy and disaster. I love stories that capture these emotions and could get inside me. Characters that stuck with me, grabbed on, and wouldn’t let go. Writing fiction was a great escape from the real life hardships I saw every day in my job. But, I like dark things. Nighttime is my happy place, so my writing tends to flow to struggle and fight against it.

NTK: Did you solve any crimes during your time in forensic psychology?

MH: I worked with a lot of violent offenders and victims of violent crimes. I was involved in cases, prevention, and rehabilitation. I worked with all the agencies involved, from probation, parole, jails, and mental hospitals to court, police, schools, foster care, and emergency rooms. A team of people working together to make the streets and homes safer and help people that need it, including the offenders. I got to understand and see the other side of violent crime that many don’t. There are stories beneath every action and choice.

NTK: Did you draw on this experience when you wrote Scythe? Did it help you develop your villains as well as your heroes?

MH: Definitely. To me, villains aren’t evil. And, heroes aren’t good. They make the choice they make for a reason. What life throws at you and what shelters you from it is a huge influence on people. The three brothers that rule the Legion in Scythe have all been dealt a bad hand and each deals with it differently. All in their own special shade of darkness. The heroes in the Legion are trying to overcome that darkness but they struggle with the choices they made that got them Claimed in the first place. It also played a part in the Legion itself. When someone is Claimed, the antigen in their blood chooses their designation in the Legion that they will have for the rest of their life based on their personality. Who they truly are. So, they have to face and embrace this part of themselves or suffer the consequences.

NTK: This is an interesting view of good and evil. Less black and white. You’re dealing with shades of gray. Which brings me to the Paranormal Romance aspect. What makes your romance unique?

MH: It’s a blending of genres. Think paranormal romance meets Game of Thrones, in modern day Chicago with horror and suspense. Each book in the series is focused on two couples—a main and sub couple—whose storylines intertwine and influence the others. The world and plot of the Legion also impact the couples. It looks at struggles and hope in relationships, from couples to families, friends, and roles in society, as well as the society itself.

Scythe: Legions of the Claimed by [Hollow, Mercy]NTK: You’ve spoken of the choices which shape your characters. How much control do you have over them? Do you give your creations free will?

MH: Sometimes, I fool myself into thinking I have control over them. Then, they go and do something that ticks me off or they make a choice I want to yell at them for making. Or worse, I see their end coming for them and I can’t stop it. I spend a good amount of gray matter energy brainstorming and plotting, and finding character arcs but, at the end of the day, there are always surprises and places they take me. And, they always yell at me when I try to take them somewhere they wouldn’t go.

NTK: Do you enjoy psychological horror? What horror do you like to read?

MH: I do! From the classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, to Misery, The Shining, The Handmaid’s Tale, Red Dragon, and Silence of the Lambs. I love reading about the fear of anticipation, the lengths people will go to or be pushed to, the tricks the mind plays, and how people adapt to or resist the extraordinary.

NTK: What horror films and TV shows do you enjoy?

MH: I liked the movies of the books I mentioned previously. I’m an Alfred Hitchcock fan. I liked the different take on characters in Penny Dreadful, Grimm, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale series, The Leftovers, Black Mirror, Crazyhead. There are so many great ones. I love quirky and humorous horror as well.

NTK: Those are great shows and films. Which Hitchcock film is your favorite?

MH: Psycho, of course. But, I also really like The Birds, Rear Window, Rope, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, To Catch a Thief. He had a great way with anticipation, getting the mind to react to things it didn’t see or fear things it projected it would see.

NTK: Do you think werewolves, vampires, and other monsters are psychological representations of the human psyche?

MH: I think we all have a little monster in us that could be drawn out in the right or wrong situation. Monsters represent our desires and fears. Our darkest moments. Our possibilities. They can be vulnerable and raw and passionate in ways people often don’t let themselves be.

NTK: Do you have a favorite monster?

MH: I have a soft spot for Frankenstein. He’s innocent yet brutal, lost but discovered. He’s weakness and strength. His life is complex, but he longs for the most basic human need—belonging and companionship.

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

MH: Cursing people to get exactly what they want and it bringing them great misfortune and ruin. I do like psychological torture.

NTK: Mercy, what does the future hold for you? What books or stories do we have to look forward to?

MH: Grim, the next book in the Legions of the Claimed series, comes out next month. I’m currently working on book three, entitled—Vegan. I’m also working on several young adult fantasy novels. I’m a freelance editor specializing in fantasy, paranormal, horror, sci-fi, and run workshops at conferences. I love getting to work with other writers and assisting them in getting their stories out for people to enjoy.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Mercy. It’s been a pleasure.

MH: Thank you and HorrorAddicts.net for having me on and giving me the good fortune of being Cursed.

Addicts, you can find Mercy Hollow here on Facebook and Twitter.

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David’s Haunted Library: Siphoners

 

Four people from different backgrounds, they have nothing in common except one big problem. They have the power to siphon people’s life force but sometimes they kill their victims. Little by little they are losing control over their powers and people are disappearing or dying.

Through a set of random encounters, the four siphoners: Donovan, Seth, Avanti, and Frederick find each other. They discover that someone is controlling them and there is more to their powers then they realized. They are now on a quest to find the source of what makes them different and along the way, they find a future they never expected

Siphoners by Evan Bollinger is a psychological horror novel with elements of Science Fiction. The Siphoners are never called vampires but to me they came acros as psychic vampires. This book was like a mixed bag for me. It is a good book but I felt it could have been better. There were some action scenes where I wasn’t sure what was going on and I got tired of the sex and drug references.

Out of the 4  main characters I only liked two of them and in all cases I would liked to have gotten to know their personalities better before we got into their powers. Avanti was one of the ones I liked, she comes across as a strong woman who happens to have a problem she doesn’t understand. The other one I liked was Donovan. My favorite part of the book was seeing him get to college for the first time and hearing about how he has been sick his whole life. We then see him realize how he is a fish out of water in his new dorm and he doesn’t really know how to act. At this point he doesn’t realize he has powers and thinks he’s just weird.

I would have liked to see more scenes where Donovan is trying to fit into his surroundings but can’t. Instead the story goes straight for his powers being out of control. This isn’t a bad book though. I love the concept of siphoning life force but I thought the story could have been told a little better. The book has its moments though and I would be interested in further installments of the series and I would read more writings of Evan Bollinger.

Kidnapped! The Revival of the Psychological Horror Film by Sumiko Saulson

The Revival of the Psychological Horror Film

Many believed 2016 was hexed. A strange rise in celebrity deaths and rampant international terrorism reinforced the impression. There were viable explanations for the trends, such as Baby Boomers entering their golden years. Nonetheless, the superstition persisted.

The media responded with excessive coverage of real-life brutality. It often included graphic video imagery, such as ISIS executions. News footage became more violent than the latest episode of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. To worsen matters, with the popularity of social media, people were getting instant updates on the world’s latest tragedies twenty-four seven. Oversaturated by non-stop coverage, our appetite for bloodthirsty gore-centered horror began to taper off. In theaters, we saw a resurgence of the psychological horror film in theaters. Torture porn like Purge: Election Year became harder to find. Creepy, suspenseful horror movies like as Lights Out and The Boy abounded.

Psychological horror relies on suspense and character development. It preys upon primitive fear of the unknown. Classic psychological horror films include Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho and Jacob’s Ladder. While not completely free of the gore and nerve-shattering jump cuts splatter films rely upon, these movies use mystery and dramatic tension to weave a sense of dread.

The VVitch, one of the most successful films of 2016, fits into this subgenre. It creates a chilling atmosphere by introducing supernatural elements gradually to build anticipation. It doesn’t rely on special effects for its punch. Using character behavior to convey danger, like The Shining and The Amityville Horror before it, the movie creates a portentous atmosphere before any real danger comes into play. Ouija: Origin of Evil is another psychological horror film which combines the suspense of psychological horror with more traditional creature makeup, special effects and sound effects. This is similar to classic supernatural thrillers such as The Exorcist, and The Omen

Not all psychological horror films are supernatural. Jordan Peele’s debut horror film Get Out combines science-fiction elements with horror, akin to The Stepford Wives and Invasion of the Body Snatchers before it. Like many films in this subgenre, it involves mystery, placing a skeptical protagonist in an unnatural setting that prompts his investigation. In this film, a black man, Chris Washington, goes to meet his white girlfriend’s parents, who live in a gated community. As the audience follows the protagonist through this seemingly ordinary town, a series of surreal, strange events ensue. He notices something is very wrong with the people of the town, and the fabric of reality begins to unwind around him.

While some psychological horror movies such as The Forest and The Conjuring 2 are not very good, award-winning non-comedy horror tends to fall into this subgenre. Only 14 horror movies have ever won Academy Awards. Oscar-winning psychological horror films include Sleepy Hollow, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Misery, and Black Swan. They use careful plotting, excellent writing, and convincing acting to engage audiences instead of cheap thrills, gimmicks, and special effects.

 

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 About the Author: Sumiko Saulson is Sumiko Saulson is a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer, winner of the StokerCon Scholarship from Hell and 2nd Place Carry the Light Sci-Fi Short Story Award. Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She ranked 6th place in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.

David’s Haunted Library: Dead Over Heels

David's Haunted Library

33115353Veronica is looking for true love, it hasn’t been easy and now she thinks using a little magic may help. It works in the form of Sebastian and they hit it off instantly. Their first date is in a haunted restaurant and as luck would have it their romantic dinner is the scene of a supernatural encounter. They notice a young couple dining, but no one else does, and Veronica along with an apprehensive Sebastian decides to investigate further. They discover that they have a connection to the couple in question and they may be the only ones who can set the ghosts free.

Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun is a paranormal love story with  elements of horror and mystery. There is a lot going on in this book in a short period, and I loved how the story begins with a little foreshadowing to let you know this love affair is not your average affair. Everything was described in great detail from the characters emotions to the various settings.

I enjoyed how the couple’s relationship developed from the description of their first date to the point of when they realize that something strange is going on in the restaurant. My favorite part was when Veronica sees a couple very much in love and wishes that someday she can have something like that, not knowing what’s coming to her. There was also a scene where Veronica compares being abandoned to putting on a worn pair of jeans. With this line, I felt fully invested in this character and was hoping for a happy ending.

I loved how the author got you to like the two main characters before anything bad happened. During the second part of the book you get to witness the two changed by a paranormal revelation and they realize nothing will ever be the same. My one problem with the story is how it ended, without giving much away, it felt like there was no closure.  With that said, the writing was very good and I like how what happens in the past affects what happens in the future, showing that some things and people are connected. This is a good little ghost story and I would love to read some longer works from Theresa Braun.

 

Safe Place: An Interview With Indie Horror Filmmaker Nick Hunt

Greetings HorrorAddicts.

Recently we had the extreme pleasure to interview indie filmmaker Nick Hunt. Nick Hunt is the writer and director for Safe Place which is going into production in February. If you ever wanted to have a little insight into what goes into getting an indie movie made then check out this interview:

What is Safe Place about?

mv5by2zmztnlntitodk5nc00ytgzltlizdctzmiwyti1ndhizgyzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjyzodi0mjc-_v1_sy1000_sx1000_al_SAFE PLACE it is about this terrible tragedy that happens to this family man Chris Craven, where he loses his grip on reality and is forced into this life of fear and seclusion, he crosses paths with Lori and her 5 friends and when they find themselves in distress he wants to save them from themselves and the world outside, and will do it by any means necessary, even if it means taking them out of the world, one by one.

Where did the idea for Safe Place come from?

SAFE PLACE comes from a few different inspirations. The title was an inspiration from the actual government signs which basically are in front of buildings that can be a sanctuary of sorts during dangerous situations. The mv5bmjdhndjjywytnmrmmy00mzq5lwixzwetodlmmzmzywmyntnjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjyzodi0mjc-_v1_sy1000_cr007721000_al_idea I gathered from that was well…what is the place that was supposed to be your escape from danger wasn’t safe at all, and was actually equally or even MORE dangerous. The rest is really a work of inspiration from the world outside. We all are individuals and we all have singular opinions which are what makes us human. The world isn’t a great place by any stretch, and some people have in other’s eyes warped views about the world, and exaggerated views. To some those aren’t exaggerated views, to some its reality. The violence, the turmoil outside isn’t something we as a society or as individuals can escape; we simply have to fight to make it out alive. The last part of inspiration really came from the fans. What do the fans want to see? I tried as hard as I could to still sit in that audience’s perspective’s chair and live as an audience member throughout all of this. We are evolving, we are changing, and what we want to see on the screen is changing. We want the emotional experience brought back to horror. Gone are the days you’ll see the clichés running rampant that you’re used to. SAFE PLACE strives to break barriers in a lot of different areas down to the way it’s written, the way it’s portrayed, the characters, the violence, the story, the effects, everything!!!

How long did it take to write the script?

The original script was written over 10 years ago and if I remember didn’t take that long, the rewrites an revisions of the screenplay since have been the longest and most arduous of the tasks making sure to get all of the emotional experiences, the tension and those characters right and realistic and true to my vision.

How did you get the money together to produce the movie?

mv5bywzjnju2ytktntcyns00yjy3lwi2yzetytu0nwq3njhhnti4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjyzodi0mjc-_v1_sy1000_cr0012941000_al_Some of the money came from private sources and private investors, and we are still trying to procure the final remainder of the funding for things like marketing, film festivals, etc. The good thing is we save a lot of money by the fact we have 99% of our equipment and that’s a big expenditure we don’t have to really worry about which is a huge relief.

How did you get the cast together for the movie?

For this film I really sought out feedback from other filmmaking friends and looked for presence and positivity, people who popped, there was no auditioning; these people were mostly brought on sight unseen. I did that because I had a feeling about the group and I thought they personified who I was looking for, especially when my niche is giving opportunities and breaking barriers in horror for having strong female characters, strong LGBTQ characters, strong minority characters, and even giving talents that are disabled the ability to showcase, in a genre that’s usually pretty cut and dry. We have a cameo appearance shooting next month in December with Lloyd Kaufman who is of course is a legend in the business whom I simply reached out to through Facebook and wanted to be a part of SAFE PLACE almost immediately after hearing about it! My main actress is Ashley Mary Nunes (ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE, upcoming DEATH WARD 13) who is just kick ass and amazing, destined to be the next big scream queen; We have character actor Dominick Santarsiero portraying Chris Craven our antagonist, and the rest of the cast is led by a group of young and up and coming talent the likes of Yvelisse Cedrez, Katy Votapka, Timothy Noble, John Gettier, Nathaniel Matos, Nick Graffeo & more!

Where will the movie be made?

The movie will be shot in and around the Orlando and surrounding central Florida areas this February in a mere few months!

What did you do before you were a filmmaker?

Most of my career has been spent in customer service, hospitality and restaurant. I have worked as everything but a bartender, and am a great food service manager, and love to cook as a general hobby.

What are your favorite horror movies?

I love the original Fright Night, the F13 franchise, the Halloween franchise, the Child’s Play films, classic Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, all the Universal Monster Movies, I love foreign horror like Cold Prey, Frontier(s), Martyrs, Calvaire, Inside. At the end of the day though, anything and everything. Way too many to list!

 

What inspires you?

Hunger. The underdog. I love seeing that hunger that someone personifies come up and fuel them. I have had a lot of hard times in my life. Seeing someone make their way through the fire and flames so to speak inspires me more than anything else. Courage is a big character trait in my book. That’s why it is so important to me that SAFE PLACE really brings into light strong female characters, strong LGBTQ characters, and strong minority characters. This is a new day and age and the film world needs to keep up. The horror world more than ever!

What is the hardest part about getting your movie made?

The no money part is a huge thing, asking people for money, offering incentives, the business side, never thought it was something I’m good at, but I’m finding I am. The rejection sometimes. We originally had a lot of issues with a realtor with the original main location for the house, some casting issues, people I had hoped for not being able to commit. Besides that some days I sacrificed eating to boost a post on Facebook, or did something equally. It’s hard out there when all you have is your passion, now I’m starting to see it’s not just MY passion, but others that are fueling this project as well.

When will people be able to see the finished product?

The tentative release date is October 27, 2017 the final Friday before Halloween next year!

Where can people find out more about the movie?

You can follow us/me on Twitter @safeplacefilm or you can head on over to Facebook.com/safeplacethemovie where you can see the trailer, hear songs from the soundtrack, and lots more!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5632104/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: Hollow House

David's Haunted Library

30968911Willow Street was a place where nothing interesting ever happened. People went about their everyday lives and didn’t pay attention to the abandoned house at the end of the street. That was until the stench of a dead body came from the old Kemper home. Suddenly the lives of everyone living on Willow Street are forever changed.

News reporter Ben Traynor starts to investigate the death in the Kemper House and finds out there is much more here than meets the eye. The strong smell starts off a series of life altering events on Willow Street. Not only is the house cursed but so is the town and no one is safe from its influence.

Hollow House by Greg Chapman is a haunted house story on steroids. This is the first story I’ve read where the house haunts the whole neighborhood and it was this concept that made the story original. I’ve read a lot from Greg Chapman and was really looking forward to this book and it didn’t disappoint. What makes the story interesting is that it gets into the heads of everyone living near the house and they all react differently to the evil infecting the Kemper house and how they are on the surface is different then how they really feel.

One of my favorite characters in this book is a girl named Amy who is getting over a suicide attempt and trying to get her life back together. Though as she is contemplating why she prefers virtual friends over real friends she starts getting plagued by a spirit who wants to make her suffer. I felt Amy was a character that most teenage girls can relate to and was really rooting for her to find the happiness that she couldn’t find online. Another good character was news reporter Ben Traynor who comes across as a callous self-serving jerk early in the book. Later on, when faced with death we see a different side to him and despite his flaws, you learn to like him.  The characters in this story seemed so real and that was what kept me reading Hollow House.

Though I generally liked the book I did find the story to be confusing in places and I didn’t understand the ending. The characters in the book were so strong though that I never lost interest. I really enjoyed how complex all the characters were, they act differently in public than they do in their homes and when confronted with the supernatural they show what they are really like. This book is like a case study on what secrets can lie hidden in a small picturesque town. Greg Chapman knows how to create great characters and scare his readers. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: Housebroken and Night as a Catalyst

David's Haunted Library

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]Blake is a rich man with a wife and teenage son. Things look perfect on the outside and he thinks they are about to get better when he moves across the country to a new home in a gated community in California. After they settle into their new home a strange person comes to their door selling magazines, Blake refuses to buy and sets off a chain reaction of events. Now Blake and his family are at the mercy of two sociopath kidnappers.

These kidnappers don’t want money though or to torture them. What they want is to observe Blake and his family for one week to see how they became so successful. There is a catch, though if you break one of their rules the kidnappers have promised to torture them and they have proof to show how vicious they can be. Blake is caught in a game of survival  his perfect life starts to erode  and he has to reevaluate what is most important.

 I loved the concept behind Housebroken by The Berg. You can tell that the kidnappers come from a rough background and the idea that they just wanted to see what made these rich people different is an intriguing idea. After awhile you start to see that Blake’s life isn’t as perfect as it looks and it doesn’t take a lot to make everything come undone. What I liked best about this book is that all the characters were shades of gray. There were times that the kidnappers came across like they weren’t bad people and you could have sympathy for them and there were times when Blake’s family showed that each one had a dark side. I cared about all of these characters to an extent and in the beginning, I even liked the kidnappers and could understand their point of view, though the story gets more complex as it moves along.

As much as I loved the characters though there were also scenes in this book that came across as so ridiculous that I almost wanted to stop reading. I don’t want to give anything away but at one point there was a scene with a car and also by their pool where I was asking how was that even possible and then there was an escape attempt where I was just scratching my head in confusion. There was also a scene with a doctor that I thought wasn’t necessary at all.

Despite its flaws I did enjoy this book, there are some well-written scenes and I loved the depth given to the characters and how their feelings are described. The best part of this book though is how you feel for the family. At first, they come across as a normal slightly dysfunctional family, then it gets revealed that they may be even worse than the reader thought. You still care for them though because you see how despite their conflicts they are still counting on each other to survive. Housebroken is a page turner and even though the story has its problems, it’s still good enough where I was wondering what else has this author written.

25459659Night As A Catalyst by Chad Lutzke is a collection of 18 horror stories that are short but pack a punch. Most of these stories would be considered flash fiction and while I admit to not liking short horror stories a lot, I thought the atmosphere in these stories was really good. Another thing I liked was at the end of each story Chad Lutzke tells where he got the idea from, which made each story more personal.

One of the stories in this book that I really liked was One Up A Tree. It’s about two hikers lost in the woods that come upon a cabin. When the owner comes home and finds the two people, he shoots first and doesn’t ask questions. One gets away but is soon trapped by the sadistic cabin owner. For such a short story I was surprised at the depth of the characters here. In the beginning, we find out that the two hikers are friends that drifted apart over the years and are trying to rekindle their friendship. Being able to relate to them makes it that much scarier when they meet the cabin owner. There is a scene in One Up A Tree where the cabin owner gives one of the hikers some meat. I knew where the scene was going when the hiker starts to eat but it was still terrifying to think about.

A good flash fiction piece here if you are a cat lover is Collecting Cats. It’s about someone who finds injured cats and nurses them back to health. What makes this story interesting is how the cats react when they find out about the one injuring them. This book has a lot of good short ideas and another story that follows this formula is Moving Made Easy which is a story about teleportation. This one has a really good Twilight Zone ending.

My favorite story here is Birthday Suit. It follows a group of friends who are at a house for a birthday slumber party, they go up into a tree house and one of the kids sees something amazing and horrifying. This one mixes nostalgia and horror. In particular, I liked the conversation the kids have in the tree house as they look into other people’s homes. They talk about things like what old people do all day, girls at school and of course horror movies. This one reminded me of sleepovers I had as a kid and the shock ending made it a great tale.

Night As A Catalyst is a perfect book for horror fans who like to read but don’t have a lot of time. I say that because each story here is quick, to the point and packs a good scare. As a fan of the genre what more could you ask for, this book is a lot of fun and a quick read. If you like horror anthologies then Chad Lutzke’s book is one you shouldn’t pass on.