Chilling Chat with Daphne Strasert

chillingchat

Daphne Strasert grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with her loving family and a menagerie of animals too long to list. She began writing in first grade and continued writing into herDaphne Strasert teenage years. She attended Rice University, where she taught a semester course titled Werewolves, Zombies, and Why We’re Afraid of the Dark: A Brief History of Monsters. She later graduated with degrees in Computer Science, Psychology, and Cognitive Science.

Daphne now lives in Houston with her husband. She writes novels, short fiction, and blog posts. In 2017, she placed third overall in the Horror Addicts’ Next Great Horror Writer Contest.

Daphne is an intelligent and erudite woman. We spoke of writing, psychology, and college courses on monsters.

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

DS: Of course. I’m glad to be here

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

DS: I was probably 8 or so when I discovered horror existed. My parents were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and there was a dark scene where a vampire jumped out and I remember finding that really frightening. I went into a sort of horror hibernation after that because I thought that horror was way too scary for me. So, while I found the premise of horror movies really compelling, I was too afraid to watch them. Instead, I gravitated toward the Disneyfied monsters that came out during the late Naughts like Twilight and a number of paranormal romance novels. It wasn’t until college or so that I reconnected with the genre through the classic Universal monster movies like Dracula.

NTK: Did this re-connection help you discover other films? What are your favorite horror movies?

DS: Absolutely. It acted as a springboard into the genre as a whole. I followed actors and directors that I enjoyed into darker films that pushed my limits until I realized that I wasn’t nearly as afraid as I thought I’d be. It came down to a matter of taste. Horror, like every genre, has different flavors. I discovered that my preferred “flavor” tended toward the paranormal or psychological rather than the slasher movies that I had always associated with the genre. And, once I’d stepped in, I could see how the themes related and how different movies learned from and played off one another. I enjoy looking at horror from a historical perspective and watching how it evolves. My favorite movies are the ones that turn expectations for the genre on their head. I rank Hush very highly for that reason. They took the very basic, generic slasher concept and retooled it. It stars a Scream Queen who literally can’t scream for help and the entire production takes place in a single location. They managed to up the tension and remain true to the tropes while creating a genuinely gripping movie.

Of course, I’m also a sucker for the classics, so Dracula is a must-see. And, gothic romance like Crimson Peak also ticks off all the right boxes.

NTK: Awesome! You’ve become quite the connoisseur of horror. Where do you find inspiration?

DS: Much of my inspiration comes from things that I personally find terrifying. I’m an easily frightened person. I get inside my own head a lot. For me, scariest situations are the ones where the villain/monster/etc. doesn’t necessarily think they are doing anything wrong. They’re acting in their own self-interest. So, starting with a fairly normal situation and twisting it until something terrifying comes out works pretty well. It’s a practice of continually asking myself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?”

NTK: Wow! How did this process lead to your story, “Cabin 12,” from Campfire Tales?

campfiretalesfinalDS: Well, I was a camp counselor for my first job! And honestly, nothing is quite as terrifying as being a camp counselor for all eternity (Laughs.) Patrolling at camp is routine, but everything that happens after that in the story takes things another step darker. Finding something forgotten, being trapped, being assaulted, with a dash of the unexpected—that pulls together a good tale. Add into this that the kids from Cabin Twelve aren’t bad, per se, just lonely, and the story is both frightening and somewhat realistic.

NTK:  You have a degree in psychology, does it help you create realistic characters?

DS: I suppose, in a way, it did. But really the degree and the realism of my characters come from the same desire: to understand people. I’ve always been interested in people and why they act the way they do. My characters are deeply rooted in my people-watching observations and I studied psychology for the same reason. My characters perhaps have a more scientific basis, but most of the feel of the writing is from my personal experience.

NTK: What kind of control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will? Or, being part of your personal experience, do you have complete control over their actions?

DS: I’ve always been flummoxed by writers who say their characters ran away with them. I don’t feel as if my characters have control over their own narratives. They certainly don’t always get what they want. But all of my characters are grown from a single kernel of inspiration. Everything else about them has been built around that to make them into a three-dimensional human being/vampire/werewolf/etc. So, while I don’t force them into anything, none of their actions ever come as a surprise. If they did, then something about the character didn’t add up. I didn’t understand them correctly. My characters are under my control in that I control their personality and inclinations. If they wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do, then I need to make a different character.

NTK: Fascinating. Are you a plotter, then? A pantser? Or both?

DS: I am an absolute plotter. I love my plans and outlines. I will start a story by collecting scenes that come to me as I live my life, but before any real work begins, I map out the plot, usually in an excel spreadsheet. I know the number of scenes—even the number of words—that need to happen between each major plot event. Humans love stories, but we love them to be told in a specific way, with rising action and turning points and a climax with resolution. People find stories compelling if they have the right structure. I stick with that structure in general. I might be more experimental as I gain experience but for now plotting works for me.

NTK:  You taught a class at Rice University for a semester. Could you tell the Addicts a little about that?

DS: I did! It was called “Werewolves, Zombies, and Why We’re Afraid of the Dark: A Brief History of Monsters.” That class really is a highlight in my life. Each week I looked at a different monster—werewolves, zombies, vampires, mummies, aliens, etc.—and examined the roots of the mythology. Monsters appear in many forms across different cultures, but the same ideas tend to pop up over and over again. I collected those to paint a picture of how our modern interpretations of that monster appear. The way pop culture portrayed each monster has changed over time, typically going through a cycle of scariness, sexualization, oversaturation, silliness, and obscurity. You can see this clearly with vampires, who went through the sexualization and oversaturation part of the cycle fairly recently. We also talked about the underlying fears that seemed to form the basis for each monster.

NTK: Do you think monsters are manifestations of the psyche (i.e. vampires are narcissists)? What monster is your favorite?

DS: Monsters show both what we fear and what we desire—and often what we’re afraid to say we desire. Vampires, specifically, seem to be a manifestation of the human desire for immortality and youth, while expressing the fears we have regarding death and the idea that maybe the dead won’t stay that way. It can depend on whether you fear what the monster will do to you or if you desire to BE the monster. My favorite monster is the Werewolf. Werewolves are portrayed in so many different ways, it’s difficult to pin down what exactly I like about them, but I think that they are overall such a tragic creature. More than other monsters, I think they embody the human struggle with our darker selves.

NTK: What author has influenced you most? What is your favorite book?

DS: Christine Feehan has written an incredible paranormal romance series about vampires that I’ve followed for more than a decade. Despite the romance tag, it was the closest that I came to horror for most of my life. She created an intricate world that was well researched and based on Bram Stoker’s mythology. In my own stories, there really is no escaping her influence, even if I don’t write erotica. She wrote incredible, deep characters and never skipped the flaws that made them real. My favorite book is usually whichever I most recently finished reading (Laughs.), but for staying power, Jane Eyre ranks at the top. I would categorize it as gothic romance, so it includes that whisper of ghosts and monsters that kept me engaged.

NTK: What TV shows keep you engaged?

DS: I have been watching a lot of documentary series lately. Netflix has a great selection. I focus on nature shows like Planet Earth or documentaries on cults, serial killers, and prisons. I will go through those like popcorn. My queue can’t keep up.

NTK: Let’s talk about the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. You won the PostcardsfromtheVoid.PNGCampfire Tales Challenge with “Cabin 12” as well as several other challenges. What was your overall experience?

DS: The Next Great Horror Writer Contest was such a whirlwind. That was the first public experience I had as a writer. So often, writers don’t get any feedback on their work aside from a lukewarm rejection letter here or there, so getting consistent, in-depth feedback was a wonderful thing. The deadlines forced me to produce more than I’d ever made before. I was fortunate to be able to pitch my novel to Crystal Lake Publishing as a finalist. Even though I didn’t win—Congratulations, Jonathan!—I was so grateful to be able to hear someone seriously consider it.

NTK: Daphne, what does the future hold for you? What do HorrorAddicts have to look forward to as far as publications?

DS: I’ve had several short stories published this year, including through HorrorAddicts.net. I also appeared in the Texas Emerging Authors anthology by Z Publishing. One of my pieces appeared in Postcards from the Void, an anthology by Dark Water Syndicate. It went on sale at the end of September.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Daphne.

DS: Thanks, Naching!

 

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.

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.

Dreamweavers

26031463When people have something horrible happen in their past they often turn to therapy to help cope with the trauma. Dreamweavers Inc. is on the cutting edge of therapeutic research and is using lucid dreaming techniques with neuro-stimulation to teach patients how to control their dreams and conquer their personal demons. Some of Dreamweaver’s patients include Toni who is being stalked by an abusive ex husband and Travis who can’t get over the death of his wife and son. The two meet and fall in love and dream therapy seems to be helping with their problems.

Another patient at Dreamweavers is Nick, a man who use to be loved by women but whose face is now scarred after an auto accident. Nick feels that the world has wronged him and is using his dreams to kill anyone who has a better life then he does. Seeing how happy Toni and Travis are, Nick decides to make them his next victims.  The two new lovers have to enter the dreamscape and stop Nick in a dream world where anything can happen. Dreamweavers by Kerry Alan Denney is a novel that looks at the world in a unique way.

I loved how Kerry describes his characters and how they feel. For example in the beginning of the book we get to know the character of Travis and Kerry gives us some subtle hints of how Travis feels about the world around him. The first thing we see is Travis performing a selfless act in saving some children who are drowning. We then see him on the beach alone with his only companion being his faithful dog. We then have a reporter come up to him and ask him about saving the kids in the water. When the reporter asks for an interview she calls him sir and Travis thinks to himself when did I go from being buddy and dude to being sir. In this subtle moment you realize who Travis is, he is a lonely man who is sad that he is getting older and is not sure of his place in the world.

Kerry also does a great job in making the villan in the story, Nick  a complex character. Nick may be evil but it’s how he sees the world that makes him interesting. His face was scarred from performing a selfless act, he was trying to save his aunt from a burning car and it left him damaged in more than one way. What’s interesting about him is that Nick sees himself as a freak due to his scars and this causes him to act evil. The thing is while he sees himself as a freak, the rest of the world doesn’t see him as looking that bad. Nick doesn’t realize this, he perceives himself as a twisted freak and acts that way.

Dreamweavers is all about analysing how you see the world and asking yourself is the way I look at the world reality or is how I see it a false perception. A doctor at Dreamweavers Inc. tells her patients while they dream to constantly question if what they are seeing is reality. I loved this concept and found it as something you can apply to your every day life. Dreamweavers is a psychological horror story and philosophy book wrapped up in one and one fun thrill ride.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life Author Spotlight: Sumiko Saulson

23676179Sumiko Saulson has written several horror novels and has been featured on the horror addicts podcast before. For Horror Addicts Guide To Life  she wrote an article called The Addicts Guide To Cats. In it Sumiko gives us some hints on what not to do with your kitty. One thing you definitely don’t want to do is bring your cat back from the dead.  To read Sumiko’s article along with several other articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To Life. Recently Sumiko was nice enough to tell us what she likes about horror:

What do you like about the horror genre?

The horror genre addresses our deep, dark fears of the unknown. Many horror stories are about surviving or at least attempting to survive the worse. Often, they are stories about why we fight to survive against all odds. Sometimes, they are stories about the underdog overcoming, but even when our brave heroes and heroines die, they are valiant in the struggle. I’m not sure if all human beings are deeply concerned with their own mortality, but I certainly was, from an early age. How can we enjoy our life story when we know it inevitably ends in death? Or does it? Perhaps there is an afterlife. Perhaps we can continue as the Undead. If we can’t continue, perhaps our brief lives can still have meaning. I think all horror addresses some visceral fear of the unknown, where death is the greatest unknown of them all.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books or TV shows?13564711

My first horror novel was Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story,” which I read when I was 11 years old. My first favorite horror novel was Stephen King’s “The Stand.” I don’t think “Dune Messiah” by Frank Herbert was a horror novel, but it probably should have been. It certainly gave me nightmares. Both of Christopher Rice’s horror novels, “The Heavens Rise” and “The Vines” were excellent, but I’m not sure when the will be a new one, since he’s writing porn.. uhm I mean erotica, lately.

I know this is kind of weird but, “Bones”- that fifteen year old horror film with Snoop Dog – is in fact, one of my favorite horror movies. I also love the Tony Todd film “Candyman” – and generally, I adore Tony Todd. “Bride of Chucky” and “Spawn of Chucky,” and “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” are other favorites, as are the original three Raimi “Evil Dead” films, particularly “Army of Darkness.”

As far as TV shows go, Supernatural.

In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?

When I had a 93 Crown Vic I used to pretend it was a Chevy Impala and I was Dean Winchester while bumping some old ass 70s tunes on the radio, does that count?

I think I’m a standard issue old school goth chick, and I have headstone book ends all over my house and a coffin-shaped jewelry box.

What are you currently working on?

I’m editing “Insatiable,” the third book in the Somnali trilogy. The first was “Happiness and Other Disease,” the the second “Somnalia.” They are dark fantasies based in Greco-Roman mythology, but the third book also has Hawaiian mythology, which makes some sense since the central protagonist is half Hawaiian. I can’t really say much more without giving spoilers for the first two books, but let me just say that things get really bad for mankind in this third book and I really feel for the humans. And there is a lot of weird, transgressive sex involved.

Where can we find you online?

sumikosaulson.com

https://www.facebook.com/authorsumikosaulson

https://twitter.com/@sumikoska

The Kryptos

Movie Review by C. A. Milson
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Kryptos

Stars: Michael Saguto, Jill Thiel, Brian Rooney and Nahum Zarco

Directed by: Omar Haro

IMDB Rating: N/A

Plot: “Tommy is a little boy, Tommy wants to play with toys, Tommy knows it’s time for bed, But no one knows what’s in his head.”

 My Tagline: “Home Alone – The Horror Cut”

The Kryptos – A psychological horror that explores the mind of one child with the supernatural events that go on in his home. Or at least, that is the way it is meant to come across. Although I did like this movie, there were a few things which did jump out at me, which I do need to point out. Early on in the piece, we see the mother (Jill Thiel) talking on the phone with the family doctor, during which we hear him say “I’m sorry about your husband..” In the next scene, we see her going on a date with her boyfriend (or new boyfriend), Freddy. If there was a period of time between these events, then that needed to be explored.

The other scene which I had a gripe with was when Freddy leaves her place and the next minute she receives a phone call saying that Freddy has been in an accident. Her reaction was, to say the least, dry and emotionless. For someone who was meant to be in some form of relationship, I expected to see her rush out the door, or at very least, be in tears at the news of her boyfriend. But was there? No…. Rather, she decided to sternly talk to Tommy (her son) then decide to get dressed and leave. I don’t know about you, but my first reaction would be to get to the scene of the accident to see if my other half was okay, rather than mouth-blast a child then spend 20 minutes getting dressed.

Along comes the part of Tommy hearing voices…. I wont say too much here as that will give away the whole film, but there are some scenes with Tommy that you have to see. It will leave you wondering if their house is haunted or he has deep psychological issues. Either way you look at it, the film will leave an impression on you.

A well done short film (18 minutes), on a very modest budget, this was quite enjoyable to watch. I would have given this film a higher rating, but had to deduct a few points due to the bad acting of the role of the mother.

VerdictHome Alone without the Wet Bandits

My Rating: 6 out of 10.

C.A.Milson is an award winning horror author of 4 books (and counting); Founder of ASJ Publishing, and seldom film producer. He resides in Melbourne, Australia and likes to spend his time in his backyard hobbyfarm of 13 chooks, and draws inspiration from the horrors that lay in wait in the darkness. C.A.Milson can be found at: www.asjpublishing.com and: www.facebook.com/C.A.Milson.Author

 

Crime Seen

20574075Detective Evan White is hunting a killer but not just any killer. The man he is tracking  killed his wife and he’s taunting Evan via the phone. Evan wasn’t supposed to get involved in the investigation but he couldn’t stay away. The killer is looking to kill everyone Evan loves and because the killer is already dead, he may be unstoppable. With the help of his partner Angela, Evan will have to stop the murderer before he kills again.

The best words to describe Crime Seen by Michaelbrent Collings would be, interesting. This novel was an original idea and I can’t think of another book like it. Reading it does have its drawbacks though. While it is an excellent novel you have to read it all the way through to fully understand everything that’s going on. When I first started it I felt like I was reading a book that started 1/3 of the way through but the beginning makes sense when you get to the end.

There was one point where I thought I was going to stop reading it because there were things going on that I didn’t understand but I stayed with it because I liked the characters so much and all of my questions were eventually answered. My favorite character was Angela Listings. She is described as small and beautiful in the book, but looks are deceiving. Listings is a tough cop but has a soft side and a great backstory.  My favorite scene with her was when two of the characters are talking about how to stop the bizarre killings and what they think is going on. Listings hears this and says she is  leaving to be among the sane. I like how she tries to simplify everything to keep from being scared when she doesn’t understand. If she still doesn’t understand, she lets her gun and fists do the talking.

I also loved the character of Tuyen,  she is another tough female character but she is different from Listings. Tuyen is Vietnamese, and has a rough life. She works in a voodoo shop along with a second job and she believes in a lot of old superstitions that were passed down from her grandma. She is also psychic and I liked how she helped Evan find the answers he needed to stop the killings, even though she found out that her beliefs wouldn’t save her from the killer.

Crime Seen is a paranormal mystery like you’ve never read before. I loved the concept in this story of finding the truth to end what’s going on. I also liked how Michaelbrent Collings doesn’t explain everything until the end.   Without giving anything  away, Evan’s reaction to seeing Angela at the end was the best part of the book. Even though he knows whats going on, he’s still happy because of the people around him. If that doesn’t make sense, read the book and it will. Crime Seen is a masterpiece, it may seem like it has holes but I think Michaelbrent was just making sure you got to the end before he made you understand his vision. I got to the end and now I’m looking for more books from Mr. Collings.

Charla by Alex Beresford

13826052There are two things that really drew me to  Charla by Alex Beresford. The first item was a warning in the beginning of the book that said you shouldn’t read the demonic summoning at the end of chapter two. Because if you do an unwanted demon will come into your life. The second item was the first line of the story which was: “She always hated her daughter.” That got my attention right away how can a mother hate her daughter. Well Charla hates her daughter Amelie and has since day one. Amelie is now an adult and Charla has decided that its time for her to destroy Amelie once and for all. She does this by summoning a demon to ruin Amelie’s life.

Things start off slowly, the demon starts doing things like making noises, showing small glimpses of itself and then he causes Amilee to hurt herself. Little by little Amilee starts to lose her mind and then things get even worse. Amilee has no idea that her mother is the cause of all her problems or that her mother hates her, she gets some help from a friend but it may not be enough to stop the demon or her mother.

Charla is one disturbing read. It starts as psychological horror and then turns into a hard-core horror fest. This novel is excellent but it’s not for everyone. If you like romance don’t look here, if you like comedy, don’t bother, if you like sunshine and happiness forget about it. If you want a well written novel with fascinating characters and great pacing that keeps you on the edge of your seat, then Charla is for you.

I loved how the action builds slowly throughout the book and the atmosphere was creepy. There is one scene I enjoyed where Amilee and a friend uses a Ouiji board on a stormy night that was subtle but scary. You knew something was going to happen but instead of the author delivering a big scare he hints at things to come by having a spirit communicating with them and then showing a glimpse of something which makes Aimilee question her sanity. I felt the scariest part of the book was how Aimillee starts questioning everything she believes. There is nothing scarier then doubting your sanity and Charla really showcases that fear. I think even if you took the demon out of this book, it still would have been a great psychological horror story.

Another thing I loved about this book was the depth behind the characters. You kind of want to feel sorry for Charla after you hear her life’s story but then you see what she does to her daughter and you can’t. You also see Charla react to her husband wanting to divorce her and you can relate to her, but at the same time her attitude about how life has wronged her and how she reacts makes you hate her. Then there is Amilee who on the surface seems to have everything going for her, but then you see how insecure she is and you see how wrong her mother’s perceptions of her daughter is and you feel sorry for her.

If you read Charla your still going to be thinking about it long after your done with it. I think it’s a powerful novel that takes your worst fears and brings them to life. If I had a list of favorite horror novels Charla would have to go on it, but its not for the faint of heart.

Solitude

13564711Imagine being in your car one day and suddenly all the people vanish. The cars, trucks and buildings are still there.  The animals are still there also but they’re not how they use to be. The world is a different place, there are forces at work that are changing everything and they may never be the same.

This is the story behind Sumiko Saulson’s Solitude. Solitude is about seven very different people and how they react to being alone after civilization disappears. One of them goes mad and talks to people who aren’t there. One goes to the zoo and frees all the animals and two others treat the whole situation like they are trapped in a video game.

When I first heard of Solitude I really liked the idea. The concept of being totally alone is a fear of mine and I was curious as to how each character would react, but there is more to the story then that. Solitude also gets into mythology and the supernatural as you find out why things are the way they are.

There is a lot to like about Solitude. One of those things is how the city of San Francisco itself is a character. Even though I’ve never been there ,  I felt I had been when I was done reading it. Sumiko really did her homework in the writing of this book. Each time there was an isolation as its called in the book,  it corresponds to an earthquake that really happened. The book also gets into religion and touches on the subject of how something sinister can effect us on a personal level and how our world can be changed when something wants what we have.

One of my favorite scenes in the book was when a spirit takes over one of the character’s bodies and cries as he realizes that another character has died. At this point you are thinking that the spirit is evil and even the person whose body the spirit takes over wonders if the spirit is faking, but you soon find out that the spirit is not what it seems. I also liked the character of Angela who seems to be at the mercy of several external influences. I looked at her as a tragic character, she comes across as evil in the book but she doesn’t try to be, she just reacts to things in her environment the wrong way.

If I was to compare Solitude to anything, it would probably be to Stephen King’s The Stand or Beneath The Dome. You can also compare Sumiko’s writing to Anne Rice. The subject matter may not be the same but Anne Rice  got into her character’s heads and Sumiko Saulson does the same thing. By the end of the book I felt I knew each character personally and it was hard to see them suffer.

I would classify this book as psychological horror. Because Sumiko doesn’t seem satisfied giving you a book that will entertain you and give you a couple of quick scares. No that’s to easy, Sumiko wants to make you think and then give you nightmares. Twice while reading this book I stopped and thought about the ideas that Sumiko was trying to get across, such as being at the mercy of forces greater than yourself and the idea of a world within a world.

The tone of the book is a little depressing and I would have liked a couple more action scenes but  this is a great read. A sequel to Solitude is on its way called Disillusionment and I for one look forward to seeing where Sumiko goes with it. If you ever wondered what it would be like to be alone and at the mercy of powerful spirits, you should check this one out.

What is horror?

The_ScreamNot long ago I got an email from an author who was upset with me because I had talked about one of her books on this blog; and I had said her writing combines horror and mystery. In her email she said that she does not write horror. She continued to say that horror is all about blood and guts and shocking people and she doesn’t do that, what she writes is paranormal mystery. I replied to her that to me, paranormal falls into the horror genre and horror can be a lot of different things, not just blood and guts.

This lady’s email really got me thinking, What is horror? I asked people in the horroraddicts.net facebook group and several people responded. One of the people who commented was Chantal Boudreau who said horror is about a lot more than gore. Chantal wrote her own blog post on what horror is which you can read here. Most of the other responses on what horror is, said that it’s a broad topic that can  be a lot of different things but basically horror is anything that scares you.

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_NightmareSo even though one author sees paranormal mystery as not being horror, other people say paranormal does fit into the horror genre. Paranormal includes anything that doesn’t have a scientific explanation such as ghosts, psychic powers or extrasensory perception. People are scared of what they do not understand, and since paranormal deals with the unknown, I think its horror.

I would even go a little farther with this and say there are a lot of different sub genres to horror. Comedy such as The Addams Family or The Munsters fit into the horror genre. A lot of science fiction can also be classified as horror such as Alien or The Terminator. For me personally, I think hospitals can be scary places, so a show like ER can fit into the horror category for me. Even police dramas such as Criminal Minds or The Following can be horror because these shows deal with serial killers and that definitely fills most people with a sense of fear.

To me  even though I would consider the Friday the 13th movies, which I never liked, and The Nightmare On Elm Street movies, which I loved, horror; I didn’t find them very scary. So to me something doesn’t have to be scary to be considered horror. As I’ve gotten older I find movies don’t scare me anymore but books still do. That being said I still enjoy watching horror movies but I look at them as more funny than scary. I would still throw them into the horror category though.

So to me horror just describes something that is dark, different or misunderstood, not necessarily shocking or scary. So to everyone out there, what do you consider horror? What scares you? Do you consider something horror if it doesn’t scare you? Can scary sounding music fit into the horror genre? Also what makes you love horror? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

The Nightmare Project

thenightmareproject200x300There is nothing more horrifying then not being in control of your own mind and body.  Julia Montgomery has to live with that fact everyday. She suffers from nightmares and two years ago she killed her husband and has been a patient in an insane asylum ever since. Julia wants to get back home to her two children but she might be a danger to herself and her children.

There may be one way out of the asylum for Julia and that is The Nightmare Project. This experimental procedure uses subliminal messages and aggressive psycho-therapy to control a person’s unconscious behavior. There is one person who the project didn’t work for and her name is Kaitlyn Summers. Kaitlyn was the youngest participant in the Nightmare Project, she didn’t survive but a part of her is still in the hospital and she is looking for a new body.

Jo-Anne Russell’s The Nightmare Project is a psychological horror novel that has some violent moments that will make you cringe but the scariest part of the book is the characters. Everyone has a dark side, for instance you have Kaitlyn who comes across like an innocent victim but you also see that she has a vicious temper and has murdered before. You also have Julia who just wants to be a mother again, but she has killed before and she wonders if she can be trusted around her children because she doesn’t have control of her mental state. There are also several doctors and patients in the story who all seem to have their own agendas and Julia doesn’t know who she can trust. Each person in this book is intriguing because they keep you off-balance wondering what their motivation is and if they are good or bad.

Another thing I liked about the book is the way the nightmares are described and how at times you are not sure if what is going on is a dream or reality. Like when you hear about why Julia killed her husband, you realize what Julia remembers is a dream and the reality of the situation is much scarier. While there are a lot of suspenseful moments in this book the two scariest moments for me were parts that weren’t meant to be scary. There is one part where an orderly named Ben tells Julia that she should not do the Nightmare Project. Julia says she has to so she can see her kids again  and Ben asks if she really thinks that will happen. At this point in the story you see the hopelessness  of Julia’s situation. You also see Ben as someone who can help her, but you soon find out he has secrets of his own. The scariest part for me though was when Julia is thinking about the feel of her husbands arms around her and how safe she felt with him. She may have killed her husband but she never stopped loving him.

If you find the  concept of mental hospitals, experimental therapies and not being in control of your thoughts fascinating and chilling at the same time you will love The Nightmare Project. This book is no light read, it will leave you with an uneasy feeling and you may not look at hospitals the same again. This is the first book in a series and I am really curious where Jo-Anne Russell will take this concept in the sequel.

A Peter Giglio Doubleheader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back From The Dead and other stories

If you check out the facebook group for horror addicts you will find an author by the name of Stuart Land. Stuart has written seventeen screenplays and four novels. He began writing in 1986 while working in the film industry as a sculptor. He worked on such movies as The Abyss, Predator, Aliens and Poltergeist 2. He also runs creative writing workshops in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Stuart has four novels available that mix horror, science fiction, and mystery.

One book by Stuart Land that really captured my interest was Back From The Dead: The True Sequel to Frankenstein. Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing on the front page of your local newspaper: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Creature Found…Alive! Frankenstein’s monster has been frozen in ice for 200 years and now he is ready to tell the tale on how and why he survived, how he lives in the modern world and what his perspective is on his origins.

Another book, taking place in the 1920’s, is Shadow House. This is a supernatural thriller about two men living in different times that share a terrible secret. In 1920 Massachusetts a murderer named PJ McAvoy believes that Aaron Molina is responsible for his family’s death so he devotes a lifetime of vengeance against this man who was born 50 years after him. Both men have paranormal abilities and can see visions of the other person. Aaron has to find out why there is a link between the two and stop PJ’s vendetta against him. This is a psychological horror story in the tradition of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

If you’re into vampires, Original Blood is a book you may enjoy. This is the tale of Zondra and Gailene, two people turned into vampires against their will. The story follows the two women as they deal with their transformation, one leads a Cinderella like lifestyle while the other one rises from a devastating background to become a powerful vampire leader.

The last book by Stuart is Epiphany which is a science fiction story based on fact. The story begins as the world is thrown into chaos as every girl reaching adolescence becomes spontaneously pregnant… and all their unfathered babies will be girls. Now all the world’s scientists, doctors, and mothers-to-be must find out what caused this and the solution to the problem before  humanity is bred out of existence.

For more information on the books of Stuart Land go to stuartland.com