Chilling Chat: Episode 170 | Tim Reynolds

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Tim Reynolds grew up in Toronto, Ontario, but has called Calgary, Alberta home since 1999. He lives a quiet, peaceful, cluttered life with his dog, two cats, and a collection of Tim Reynoldsmusical instruments he has neither the talent nor the self-discipline to play. 

An internationally-published writer/photographer/artist he writes his stories “from the character on up”.

Tim is an intelligent man with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of writing, inspiration, and night terrors.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Tim. Thank you for joining me today.

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s wonderful to be here!

NTK: How old were you when you first became interested in horror and dark fantasy?

TR: I was going to say I was 12 when I saw the chillingly bizarre movie The Other but then I remembered that I was much younger, probably less than seven, when I was sick in bed and Mom had moved the TV into my room but not checked what was on the channel. It was The Incredible Shrinking Man. She caught me watching it right about the time he was being chased by the giant— to him—spider. As for reading the literature, I was probably 17 or 18, after I discovered The Lord of the Rings in English class. It was much darker than the detective stuff I’d been reading leading up to then.

NTK: Did Tolkien influence your writing? Who is your favorite horror writer?

TR: He did have a huge influence because I’m pretty sure every fantasy author I read after him was influenced by him, so it was inescapable. This is going to sound strange, but I had to stop reading horror. I got night terrors as a kid and still get episodes as an adult, and what I read or watch has a big influence on my very vivid dreams and nightmares. That said, I was once a voracious Stephen King reader, as well as Dean Koontz. King would be my favourite, though, because his stories can terrify without full-on horror.

NTK: I’m sorry to hear about your night terrors. Do they keep you from watching horror movies and TV shows?

TR: They do, for the most part. I do try to watch the critically acclaimed ones like Bird Box, where it’s more about suspense than pop-up scares.

I also don’t mind the occasional zombie one—World War Z is my favourite—or vampire one— 30 Days of Night.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

TR: I’d have to say that Black Mirror is the only one I’ll watch, and while many wouldn’t call it horror, I believe that its view of where we are headed as a species with tech is truly horrifying.

NTK: Have your night terrors inspired your writing? Where do you find inspiration?

Waking AnastasiaTR: They certainly have. My most recent fantasy novel The Sisterhood of the Black Dragonfly has a couple of monster-popping-up fight scenes and the creatures in it have a similarity to some of the ones I fled from in my childhood dreams. But sometimes my dreams inspire more than a scene. My previous novel Waking Anastasia about a young man who awakens the ghost of Anastasia Romanova came from a dream. My inspiration can literally come from anywhere. A figurine in a shop, a challenge from a friend, a smile and a wave from a complete stranger…

NTK: Do you have any advice for people suffering from night terrors?

TR: Yes, actually! Avoid dairy before bed! Especially pizza. There’s something in it that makes my dreams go off in a wild direction like I heard acid trips of the 60s do. And vitamin B complex before bed—or any time—can lessen anxiety somewhat.

NTK: Let’s talk about characters. Do your characters have free will? Or do you dictate their every move?

TR: They very much have free will. Once I create a “whole person,” meaning one in which I know their back story and motivations, I let them roll with the scene. I control what needs to happen in the scene, but I let the conversations and quite often the actions be completely organic, in other words, flowing forward from what was just said or done.

That said, I’m having trouble with my latest one because the two characters are very much based on real people, one of which is me. I keep second-guessing myself if that makes sense. And the horror, in this case, isn’t in the story, it’s the writing because it’s a romantic comedy.

Also, I recently wrote a horror short from the point of view of Jack the Ripper. However, because it was very fact-based, I couldn’t give him too much leeway.

NTK: Do you outline and plot the story?

TR: I do now, but I’m also very flexible once I start writing. RomComs are very structured, so I have to hit certain story beats near a certain page, but I usually have a loose structure/outline with everything to make sure that I put the clues where they need to be. I’m becoming much more methodical in my writing as I mature as a writer because while it’s lovely to just go off and write whatever the freak I feel like, if I want bigger publishers to notice my work and make offers, I need to use outlines to keep me on track and not let me write madly off all directions.

NTK: Going back to the works of Stephen King, which is your favorite?

TR: Oooohhhh… Tough question. I haven’t read any in a while, but I loved Hearts in Atlantis, The Stand, and the four novellas of Different Seasons. My stand-out King novel is an odd choice but I love it for its simplicity: Gerald’s Game.

NTK: Aside from the RomCom, what does the future hold for you? What do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

TR: As a reply to writing the RomCom inspired by my life experiences, I’m writing a dark, bloody, nasty 19th century urban vigilante novel in which I will kill off the types of villains that I feel are plaguing us now—child sexual abusers, rapists, one-percenters who think the rest of us are simply here for their profit or use…. or I will write the sequel to my unpublished semi-cozy detective novel that my agent is currently trying to sell forSisterhood of the Black Dragonfly me.

NTK: Awesome! Looking forward to them!

TR:  Thank you! I try to write stories that are as much fun to read as they are to write, even if they scare the bejeesus out of me and the reader. Joy isn’t all about laughs, as every horror writer/reader knows.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Tim!

TR: Thank you, Naching! It’s been fun, and I appreciate you making me think on a Friday morning when the weekend and non-thinking is so close I can taste it.

Addicts, you can find Tim at his Blog and on Twitter.

 

 

Kill Switch Chilling Chat with Dana Hammer

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Dana Hammer is the author of several short stories which have been published in various magazines, journals and anthologies. She has never used a lawnmower.Dana Hammer

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

So young I can’t remember the age. I used to stay up late watching Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the Crypt. My family and I used to tell stories about Betsy the Child-Killing Doll. I was like, five at the time. It’s always been a pretty big part of my life, which is a good thing.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

I don’t know. I like to think I have my own style.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Mow-Bot?”

My husband is very in to automation. I am not. He purchased a robot vacuum cleaner, and it was bad news. It kept trying to get my feet with its little flippers. Sometimes it ate electrical cords. Sometimes it didn’t obey me at all. It had an “accident” and now it is gone from my life forever, thank god.

A robotic lawn mower is the logical extension of these kinds of terrifying home automation appliances.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

Of course, they don’t have free will, they’re fictional characters, who I created. I can make them do whatever I want.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

No, music is too distracting. I like it silent when I write. I do like to create playlists that I listen to BEFORE I write, to get me in the mood.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Same place everyone does.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

That’s a hard one! It, The Hole, The Stand, Hannibal.

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

Again, so hard to pick! The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Get Out, The Bad Seed.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Tales from the Crypt!

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

Right now I’m working on screenplays. My short story, “Spider” was optioned, and turned into a short film, which should be released in October of this year. My screenplay, Red Wings won the Vancouver Badass Film Festival Best Screenplay award, so I’m trying to get that produced. My novels, Dead Viking Rehab and Pazuzu Versus the Fucking Fairies are now available for purchase, so you should purchase them.

 

Kill Switch Chilling Chat with Tim O’Neal

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Tim O’Neal graduated from UC Berkeley. He served ten months in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and is currently working on a dual Masters in nutritionTim O'Neal science and exercise physiology. When he is not studying, he plays guitar or explores California by bicycle. “REMS” is his first short story.

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I was 15 years old.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Stephen King inspired me to write horror after I read The Shining in high school. I told myself I wanted to write something as well done and scary as that.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “REMS?”

I was bored working at my day job in a gray cubicle beneath the fluorescent lights. I had an idea for remote controlled maggots and how much fun that could be. I scribbled down a few things in a nearby notebook (complete with doodles!). After a few years, those ideas developed into the current story.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I think the best writing happens when you can hypnotize yourself into a state of creative unconscious. The most believable fiction occurs when you take yourself out of the driver’s seat and ride shotgun, letting your characters do what they wish; however good or bad the result.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I used to listen to music like Green Day while writing. But I outgrew the practice. Now I mostly write in silence. It helps me focus.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration just by letting my unconscious mind turn over different thoughts, ideas, images, visuals, sayings; basically anything that happens to me in a day gets churned up and blended together. Sometimes you get a gem.

KSCoverSmall7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. I have so many favorite horror novels. The Shining is up there, of course. So is Justin Cronin’s The Passage. As well as Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

I normally don’t watch horror movies. I prefer comedies.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Stranger Things!!

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I continue to write every day, writing down ideas, editing old stuff, and putting down new ideas. I hope that, in time, more of my stories will find homes with attentive readers.

Kill Switch Origins

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Addicts, have you ever wondered what inspires an author to write a horror story? What event sparked terror in a writer’s brain? Well, wonder no more. Some of our Kill Switch authors have been kind enough to provide us with a peek inside their twisted minds. We hope you enjoy these Kill Switch Origins.


Subroutines: Writing from the Scrap Heap of Memory

I checked through the drafts in my Ulysses app and discovered I wrote the original version of “Subroutines” for an online writers’ group two years ago. I believe the theme of passing through doorways. (The other writers’ doorways led to heaven.)

Most likely I was working on a second story or poem that involved code, and the link from entrapment to endless loop was a natural segue.

I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to write. I work with scraps and found images I drop into memory and then fish them out at random. Most of my stories begin with an image, dust motes dancing in sunlight, a woman’s hair spreading into the water, a spot of blood on a pillow. It doesn’t matter what image I retrieve, that’s the one I work with.

Once I find it, I fashion the image into a metaphor that represents character flaws, motivations or self-deception. The endless loop in subroutines is a metaphor for the patterns that define our lives. The loop traps us but escaping the loop derails us as often as it resets our course.

Once I fashion the metaphor, I turn it loose in the story’s garden to see where it crops up. Sometimes I get flowers, sometimes I get weeds, which is fine. Weeds and wildflowers cover my lawn (which pisses off the neighbors who like their yards neatly trimmed). I want my mind as messy as my yard.

~Phillip T. Stephens


As regards the origin of my story, “Go Gently,” honestly I can’t recall…it’s been years of rejections and rewrites…all I have is the memory of the preacher Gene Scott—I think that’s his name—asking for Kruggerands on his weekly message. He was the model for Dr. Jack Carl in my story.

~ Garrett Rowlan


My short story, “HAÜS,” was inspired by a discussion I had with a relative who installs digital security systems in homes, commercial buildings, and public facilities. I wondered, “How diabolical would it be to have an advanced security system so effective and deadly that even a small child who was ‘home alone’ for a while would be safe against armed Intruders?”

~ Garth von Buchholz


[“In the Eye of the Beholder”] I worked in the field of User Experience Design for a few years and saw a number of interesting design concepts for augmented reality. Combining the digital world with the real world has been technology’s inevitable direction for a while now. Considering how connected our lives are through social media, this combination is increasingly problematic. What is privacy in a world where everything goes online? What’s happens when our digital selves merge with our actual selves? And what happens when they start to take over?

~ Daphne Strasert


[“Soultaker 2.0”] I always liked the idea of a sinister power claiming parts of us as we play video games. There have been so many studies on how video game playing can affect our bodies and minds while playing. What if the effects were irreversible?

~ Emerian Rich


My story was inspired by a real invention. It’s a small white box which uses ultrasonic sound to repel pests (spiders, mice, etc.) from your residence. My husband and I bought these devices online. You just plug them into any outlet and switch them on.

After a while, (when the device no longer worked. I guess the mice grew accustomed to the sound) I began to wonder about these things. What if they could repel pests, but attracted something else to the house? The idea bumped around in my head until I heard about the Kill Switch submission call. Then the whole idea clicked into place and “Phantom Caller” was born.

~Naching T. Kassa

Chilling Chat: Episode 167 | Selah Janel

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Selah Janel was blessed with a giant imagination, even if it made her gullible enough to wonder if fairies lurked in the woods and vampires waited in abandoned barns outside of selahtown as a child. As an adult, she writes in various genres, including horror and dark fantasy. Her work has been published in multiple anthologies, magazines, e-books, and a short story collection. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her faeries to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.

Selah is a wonderful and natural storyteller. We spoke of acting, writing, and the creative process.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Selah.

SJ: Thanks for having me!

NTK: When did you discover horror? How old were you?

SJ: Oh, man. I’ve been aware of the genre my whole life. I was such a gullible scaredy cat as a kid—relatives convinced me all sorts of things were real and coming to get me. I was also super curious—I was the kid that would sneak off at the video store and read the boxes of every horror movie even though I couldn’t even sit through the movie commercials. When I hit junior high, I began to read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, got into urban legends, that kind of thing. In college and doing theater, I got into Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King…I’d hole up in bookshops on my non-show days and read when I was away working. And then, I began to do work on haunted houses, so I felt like I had to up my game and learn the genre. It’s been a slow progression my whole life!

NTK: How do you work with haunted houses? Are you a ghost hunter?

SJ: I mean haunted houses in the entertainment sense—amusement parks. For about ten or eleven years, I did a lot of work in that area. It started with performance to make some side money, and, because I also do costume work, it turned into that and character design and some concept work on ideas and themes for different houses and mazes. Not that I haven’t seen some really odd things in actual haunted places, but in this case, it’s all entertainment!

NTK: Oh, I see! What is the strangest thing that ever happened while you were performing in a haunted house?

SJ: Oh, man. It’s all on a scale of weird, really, because these are situations you just don’t walk into during normal life. Performance-wise, it was more about the people coming through. They get weird ideas of what’s allowed and tend to forget there are people under the makeup, so I got really good at being aggressive and chasing people out of the maze— I was the main character in the last room—so they wouldn’t try to grab me and try anything. Tech-wise, a lot of meetings you’re talking about things that sound insane—what’s the right amount of blood, which zombies need which clothes, etc., though a lot of that is safety and logistics, too. For me, nothing will beat the night I was walking between buildings to put some things away and these club cars zoom up and start chasing me. It’s like one in the morning and, at first, I’m blowing it off because there are people decorating, but they weren’t slowing down, so I take off running and get cut off by one. The headlights were blinding and I was already tired and freaked out, so when the guys driving these things jumped out and I saw they were covered in blood and had fangs I about lost my mind…until I realized they were friends of mine who were also working late setting things up after a rehearsal. Pranking each other during those runs is definitely a thing.

Also, I was in the Friday the 13th theme park show. Jason killed me five times a night. Six on Saturdays! (Laughs.)

NTK: That is really scary! (Laughs.) Did this job inspire your story, “Wallpaper?”

SJ: In terms of how I think of things, probably. Even doing costumes we’d usually tour the houses or zones and look at the rooms to get an idea of the environment so things could match up. As far as direct inspiration, it started with a picture I was given for the Ladies of Horror Flash Challenge—those participating get a picture and have to do a flash piece for it. “Wallpaper” started as my original idea for it, but it went long on word count so I tucked it aside and did something else. But physical places and the possibilities in them definitely intrigue me. We all go through our lives so quickly these days, it was interesting to think that something as innocent as wallpaper could change a life.

NTK: Awesome! What’s your creative process like? Do you plot? Fly by the seat of your pants? Or a little of both?

SJ: I do some of each. I like to have a beginning and end point at the very least unless it’s a flash piece. For me, those are more about moments with a small plot arc. For longer pieces, usually a concept or idea will hit me and I’ll sit with it a while. I want to make sure there’s an actual story there. If I get more ideas or feel really excited I’ll jump in and aim toward the end goal. Usually, while I’m writing things will change direction or characters will make different choices than I’d planned. I try to stay open to that because some of my better ideas and story moments have come from that instinct.

NTK: So, your characters have free will? You don’t control them?

MoonerSJ: I’d say they have input, but I’m controlling the reins. If something doesn’t feel true to them then I’m not going to do it. I’m willing to change direction to a point, but if a moment doesn’t fit the story it doesn’t fit the story. I do think that sometimes I can get really in my head plot-wise, wanting to check off boxes, so those are the times where if something comes out of nowhere, I’ll at least explore it. It’s definitely a balancing act.

NTK: What horror authors have influenced you? Who is your favorite author?

SJ: There are so many! Ray Bradbury. All of his work is exquisite, and I love his use of description and little emotional moments that build his stories. In his horror work, he’s so good at his endings. I think he said that he wanted things to feel like someone missing a stair, and that’s exactly what it feels like, this okay…wait, oh my god! I also really love Neil Gaiman. His use of folklore makes me so happy, and he just really GOES there in some of his pieces. Emotionally, he’s a dark, beautiful, uncomfortable, fantastic ride. I read Nancy A. Collins’ Sonja Blue books in my early twenties and they’re amazing and horrifying. The world building is so good underneath the layers of atrocities and nihilism. It really showed me that I can be a woman author and still go in hard if I want to. I like a lot of Clive Barker, love Shirley Jackson. I love a lot of horror comics and manga— I feel like so many people are missing out because they don’t realize how good the stories in those forms are. You can’t beat Junji Ito for creepy body horror. In terms of a favorite author, that’s so hard! Probably a tie between Bradbury and Gaiman, though there are a LOT right behind them.

NTK: So what is your favorite novel?

SJ: American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I get something new out of it every time I read it. It’s unsettling, relevant, and the world and character building are exquisite. The car raffle gets me every time!

NTK: Is American Gods also your favorite horror TV show? If not, what is?

SJ: I’ve only seen the first season so far— I’m one of those that likes to wait til a season is out so I can watch it all at once. I think American Gods does a lot right—there’s a lot of people who would like it to be more like the book, but I don’t have any big complaints on the first season, and I love that they give the female roles more time. In terms of my favorite, I’m probably going to have to say the original Twilight Zone, though I haven’t seen the new one yet to compare, so that’s not me taking a stance on anything! I love anthology shows, and to me, there was such a great aesthetic there. Not all the episodes were great, but because of sheer volume, I think people got exposed to a lot of great “what if” lines of thought that gets under the skin.

NTK: What’s your favorite horror film?

SJ: I feel like the moment I give any answer besides this, people are going to come after me, so it has to be The Lost Boys. Granted, I haven’t seen it in years, but I first saw it in its entirety at a low place in my life and when I was really getting into the genre. Despite the eighties-ness, there are real stories of family and connection going on, and the production design is so cool. It felt accessible enough to me at a time when everything felt above my head while I was still in school for theater and felt like writing could only be a sometimes hobby. Along came this movie into my life and it hit me, “Oh wow, I could do something like that.” If we’re talking any other horror movie, I still kinda pick and choose because I’m more of a wuss than people realize, but I like a lot of Japanese horror, and I liked most of A Quiet Place, loved The VVitch and The Babadook.

NTK: You have experience with acting, who do you think is the best actor you’ve ever seen in a horror film? Who really made it believable?

SJ: Oh man, that’s so hard! The performance that’s really impressed and haunted me within the past few years—from what I’ve seen—is Essie Davis in The Babadook. She juggles a very real portrayal of grief with dealing with the stress of motherhood and the difficulties her child is experiencing. She just goes there in a way that for me is really raw and true. This isn’t just running away from a monster—this is dealing with so many layers and juggling emotions. You feel for her character and you dislike her in places. She comes across as so human, which can be so hard to do, to portray a role like that naturally. There’s a bit at the end when she’s been through hell and is standing in the basement just experiencing the aftershock of things—it’s intense. And when you compare that to the fact that she’s also Miss Fisher, which is WAY on the other end of the genre scale—I never would have initially believed it was the same person. Those are the types of surprises I love and the performances that really impress me.

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

SJ: I feel like I’m mid-transition at the moment. I had to really take a breath and figure out where I was going and what I wanted to do a year or so ago, and make changes Lost in the Shadowsaccordingly. I’m doing a lot of writing at the moment, a lot of submitting, so as far as concrete projects, that’s still in flux, though I think a lot of artistic life is like that, more than a lot of people realize. I’m editing some books I hope to shop around in the future that I’m really excited about, and writing things of all different lengths. I’ve also been exploring screenwriting and learning from that, so really while there’s nothing I can talk specifically about at the moment, I think there are going to be some really cool things down the road.

NTK: Thank you so much for joining me! You were a great interview!

SL: Thanks again for having me! This was so much fun!

Addicts, you can find Selah on Facebook and Twitter.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 4 Quick Questions with Daphne Strasert, Emerian Rich, and Naching T. Kassa

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 Daphne Strasert is a horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has been published in several anthologies including Crescendo of Darkness and Postcards from the Void. Daphne Strasert

 Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal. Her romance/horror cross over, Artistic License, is about a woman who inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net 

Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror author. She resides in Eastern Washington State with her husband, Dan, their three children, and their dog. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.

1.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

DS: I like to listen to music while I write. I find that lyrics are good when I’m thinking emz1smallabout my stories, but when I actually write, I prefer instrumental music. Two Steps from Hell is a personal favorite.

ER: It varies depending on what I am writing. I try to find a genre or theme song for the character I am writing and play it when I’m writing an intense scene with them. If I am just writing, in general, it’s either 90’s Goth, big band Jazz, or 80’s.

NTK: I love to listen to KISS, Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Steppenwolf—anything from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One of my favorite and most inspirational CDs is music by Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann composed music for most of Alfred Hitchcock’s films and it’s terrific for writing horror.

2.) Where do you find inspiration?

DS: I find it helpful to look at art and design concepts. Pinterest has a great platform for artists to post fantasy, science fiction, and horror concept art. I keep several boards of inspirational images and quotes that relate to my stories.IMG_1979

ER: Everywhere. I used to think I had to go to a certain place or see a certain film to create, but really, I am always creating in my head whether my pen is to paper or not.

NTK:  Things just come to me. They just seem to slip through the door between my conscious and unconscious mind.

3.) What is your favorite piece of “Tech” horror?

DS: I really enjoyed Ex Machina. The intersection of technology and humanity has always fascinated me (I have degrees in computer science and psychology).

ER: I really enjoyed some of the Black Mirror episodes. My favorites were about tech that we are just around the corner from like “Fifteen Million Merits” and “Nosedive.”

NTK: Ok. People may disagree with this, but it was scary to me. My favorite piece of “Tech Horror” is the movie, WarGames starring Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman. A young guy accidentally hacking into a military computer and initiating WW III? It was really frightening, especially when you’re growing up in the shadow of nuclear war.

4.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

DS: I’m currently working on my second novel, a mystery, that I will be submitting the KSCoverSmallagents and publishers later this year.

ER: Wow. Do any of us know? I hope I will keep writing and become a better writer as I go–which is always my goal. I could wish for cloning to become a thing so that I could be more than one person and write all the millions of ideas in my head, but I’m sure it would inevitably go bad and the world would be overrun by Emz. Now, THAT would be a horror story.

NTK: I have a short story coming out in the anthology, Dark Transitions, published by Thirteen O’clock Press. I’m Editing Dark Divinations for HorrorAddicts.net, and I have a story in a big anthology I’ve been trying to get into for several years. I just about fainted when I found out I was accepted.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Garth von Buchholz

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Garth von Buchholz is an author of dark poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and drama. His poetry books include Mad Shadows and his fiction has been published in various Garth von Buchholzanthologies. Garth is also the founder of the International Edgar Allan Poe Society. He lives in Canada on Vancouver Island. 

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

Probably about six years old. I had a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, some of which were pretty disturbing for a young mind. But they were so profound and compelling because they spoke the truth about good and evil and death and tragedy, so I loved them. Later I was enamored with some of the classic horror films I saw on TV as well as reruns of old horror shows such as The Twilight Zone.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Edgar Allan Poe is my muse. I’ve written scholarly articles about Poe’s work, was interviewed about Poe for the Washington Post and was the founder of the International Edgar All Poe Society in 2009, the 200th anniversary of his birthday. But back in college, I realized that I couldn’t just mimic him, I didn’t want to try to write like a 19th-century author—I needed to find my own 20th-century voice.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “HAÜS?”

“HAÜS” is about the coldness and ruthlessness of technology. I’ve been working in digital media since the 1990s. A relative of mine owns a wireless security camera company, and after we talked about his work installing security systems in homes and businesses, I wondered if there would ever be a home security system so diabolically deadly that not even a group of skilled home invaders could penetrate it.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I’m like God—my characters can do what they want while they’re still alive, but ultimately I know when they will die and how.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I’ve done it before, but the problem is that when I’m playing a good song and I’m really in the fever mode, writing intensely, the song comes to an end and that distracts me. Or, I put something on loop but eventually, the looping starts distracting me too. Usually, Radiohead helps me.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

Many times my inspiration is from some news story I’ve read. Fact often converts into fiction very seamlessly.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

How can I decide on one? Legion by William Peter Blatty or The Stand by Stephen King.

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

The Exorcist III (based on the novel Legion)

9.) Favorite horror television show?

The Stand (miniseries, 1994) And, I’m so excited to see the new TV miniseries being developed.

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I’ve started a manuscript for a novella about a freakish wild beast who stalks a mountain near a town. Also, I’m continually writing dark poetry with horror themes. I’d like to write poetry that actually scares people. That’s an ambition.

Addicts, you can find Garth on his new Blog.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Jerry J. Davis

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Jerry J. Davis writes quirky science fiction and fantasy stories often involving gods and goddesses, the true nature of reality, and more often than not, beer.Jerry J. Davis

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I’m more of a sci-fi horror or comedy-horror person, so I’d have to say to me, when I was a young kid, Godzilla and The War of the Worlds movies were horror. I used to have nightmares where I’d hide in the closet from the aliens who were looking for me. Or maybe those were real childhood experiences and I have repressed abductee memories? Hmm. No wonder I drink.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Philip K. Dick, Tim Powers, and Chuck Palahniuk are my biggest influences. Fight Club and Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk especially.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Travels?”

The original inspiration was from MTV back when it first came out–when it was 24 hours of non-stop music videos–because it had a very weird and strong hypnotic effect on everyone around me. I could literally walk into a room full of people, do just about anything I wanted, and walk out, and no one would even realize I had been there.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I give my characters goals, and let them loose. It’s like I wind up a bunch of spring-powered toys, aim them, and let them bounce off one another to see where they end up.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I listen to psychedelic music with either no lyrics or lyrics in languages I don’t understand, so that it sets the mood but doesn’t interfere with my internal dialog.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

I find inspiration everywhere. I have a brain wired for story. Sometimes it’s more a curse than a gift. I also can’t spend an hour in a day without imagining some catastrophe or horrible thing happening.

 7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

The Stand by Stephen King.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallFavorite horror movie by far is Army of Darkness, followed closely by Alien and Aliens.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

I don’t really watch TV, but I have seen a couple seasons of American Horror Story. My favorite one was about the witch coven and having Stevie Nicks playing herself as the great white witch. That was brilliant.

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

The future is a horror story unfolding before our eyes. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Garrett Rowlan

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Garrett Rowlan is a retired sub teacher for LAUSD. Garrett RowlanHis novel To Die, To Sleep was published by James Ward Kirk.   

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

Around the age of six, I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon and it scared me, and later Blood of Dracula. I viewed many horror movies at the Park Theater on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. It is now a 99-cent store.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon were two influences in my early 20’s. George Orwell in high school. In later years, I found much to ponder in the work of Jorge Luis Borges.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Go Gently?”

When I was a kid, we meanly joked that all old people be killed off; now that I’m old, that doesn’t seem so funny.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

In longer fiction, my characters have some free will. In short fiction they are, as Nabakov once said, “galley slaves.”

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

All kinds of music, but ambient isolationism (Thomas Koner, Eno, etc.) is the best.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

Riding the bus around LA, going to movies, I find lots to see and ponder.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Revival by Stephen King is good. Elizabeth Hand is good. Lately, I’ve discovered Paul Tremblay.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallThe Haunting, the original black and white. Saw it on the night I graduated from junior high.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

I don’t watch TV much. No cable or streaming access. I used to love The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

My novel, Too Solid Flesh Melts, was just published by Alban Lake and The Vampire Circus is due to be published this year–or next?–by Barking Rain Press. Also, I will have two stories in The Best of The Moon. And, another story will be published in the inaugural issue of All Worlds Wayfarer.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Chantal Boudreau

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Chantal Boudreau is a speculative fiction writer from Sambro, Nova Scotia with a focus in horror and fantasy. She has published in Canada in the anthologies Tesseracts 20, Dead Chantal BoudreauNorth, Clockwork Canada, and Chillers from the Rock, amongst others.  Outside of Canada, she has published more than fifty stories.

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror? 

I was aware of horror from a young age.  I always enjoyed scary stories as a child, and I remember watching Tales of the Unexpected and reading horror comics when I was still in elementary school.  I started reading my sister’s horror novels as a pre-teen, which is also when I got to first see the original Dawn of the Dead.  I was hooked from then on.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

I can’t say it was one author.  When it comes to horror it would be a mixture of Tanith Lee, Stephen King, and Fredric Brown, primarily, but there were many other influences.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Strange Music?”

Waiting for the bus one day, I heard a familiar birdsong that was just a little “off.”  My imagination grabbed the moment and ran with it.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I start off giving them traits and thoughts, directing them into the plot, but after a certain point they develop to a point of realism where they start doing their own thing.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

Yes-I listen to a lot of alternative rock, Finger Eleven, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars, etc., and some darker pop-Peter Gabriel, Pink, and Billie Eilish, for example.

6.) Where do you find inspiration? 

Everywhere-things friends or family say, experiences from my past, my own worries and fears, something I see or hear that happens to spark my imagination.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

I’d have to say Stephen King’s It.

KSCoverSmall8.) Favorite horror movie?

That one’s harder.  I love the classics, like George Romero’s zombie movies, and modern horror like Get Out but I’d have to say the one I found the most visceral and sensory was Perfume.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

I was a fan of Z Nation, despite its camp, and sad that it was canceled.  I’d say my favourite right now is Santa Clarita Diet-it is quirky, gross and fun.

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I’ll just look into my crystal ball…seriously, I have no clue.  I keep putting something out there and hoping things will stick.  I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep dreaming.

Addicts, you can find Chantal on Facebook and Twitter.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with H.E. Roulo

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H.E. Roulo’s short stories have appeared in several dozen publications, including Nature and Fantasy’s special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. She is the author of the PlagueHERoulo_Feb2011_small Master series. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec Award Finalist. 

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I don’t recall my first discovery of horror—after all, it’s always there even in children’s books like Berenstain Bears Spooky Old Tree.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

My favorite books are sci-fi/horror crossovers, especially if they’re post-apocalyptic like Z for Zacharia by Robert C. O’Brien or The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. I loved C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy, starting with Black Sun Rising.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “Angels Don’t Fear Heights?”

I actually thought that “Angels Don’t Fear Heights” would be a flash piece just of the scene with the lawyer. The idea was someone so controlling that he continued to dominate even after death. I imagined the vengeful dead person returning to savor leaving the protagonist out of the will. How perfect, then, to have the solution be to dig up the body and cash in on the tech that had made it possible. From there, the idea of this undead-yet-dead person still popping up to control someone’s life was eerie enough I had to write it. Regrettably, I had to give up on the graverobbing treasure-hunt for the body, since it was stronger this way.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

Characters always act in ways logical to them, so sometimes they can’t take the path I had planned. Still, I always know the end of a story before I begin and it’s just a matter of steering them where they need to go.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

Many authors can’t listen to songs with lyrics while writing, but that’s not the case for me. I know my writing is going especially well when I suddenly notice we’re in the middle of a song I wasn’t hearing because I was so focused. I listen to everything—in fact, new is usually better so I put songs on shuffle. Sometimes, however, if there’s a song with just the right mood I’ll quickly put it on repeat until the scene is fully written.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration isn’t the problem, it’s all around us if we pay attention. Creating an idea that’s full enough to support a whole story is the problem. I wish I could remember my various inspirations throughout the day to bring them together into one story because that’s when it gets interesting.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Favorite questions are hard for me. I rarely have that kind of loyalty to anything. I like novelty. My favorite things are the stories, songs, and televisions shows I haven’t seen yet and that surprise me. I rarely consume anything twice. Today, I’ll fondly recall the horror of certain stories in the anthology Unaccompanied Sonata by Orson Scott Card.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallI’m a big fan of anything post-apocalyptic and dystopian. I had to read Cormac McCarthy’s grim and hopeless The Road after seeing the movie. I also love time travel and alternate realities. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind impressed me when it came out. Coherence and the movie Primer kept things interesting.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

The Black Mirror series has me hooked.

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I have several books I’m sitting on right now, including the sequel to my YA Zombie sci-fi Plague Master: Sanctuary Dome. I also have a sci-fi vampire book looking for a publisher, and a superhero novella written from the point of view of the villain called Heart of Marble.

 

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Bill Davidson

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Bill Davidson is a Scottish writer of horror and fantasy. In the last few years, he has placed over thirty short stories with publications around the world including with Ellen Bill 4Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Anthology and large distribution magazines. 

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I was about 18 when I scared the crap out of myself reading Salem’s Lot. But long before that I was hooked on the old Hammer Horror films, watched them any chance I got–I started at about 12.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Stephen King and Elmore Leonard. Sorry, that’s two, not counting Neil Gaiman.

3.)    What inspired you to write your piece, “Intelligenie?”

The true horror of today is corporate greed-the only sanction the multi-nationals care about is loss of profit and they will see people die and the planet burn if it means they turn a dollar. Then you look at the amount of time, energy and money being spent on developing AI and think, what resource might the multi-national company’s get hold of that will provide the same thing more easily? One thing the world has no shortage of is humans.

Also, at the time of writing, US scientists have just revived part of a dead pig’s brain, which was a major inspiration despite the fact that it hadn’t happened when I wrote my story. Proving that SF authors get inspired by things that haven’t happened yet.

4.)    How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I start with an idea of a story, and of the main characters. But, my characters always seem to develop ideas of their own and, frankly, I love it when that happens. That’s where the good stuff comes from. Free will? Not really.

5.)    Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I kind of feel I should. I like to imagine myself listening to something highly cultural whilst producing erudite prose. But it just distracts me, so I don’t.

6.)    Where do you find inspiration?

Other writers, the news, overheard conversations, things I see on trains.

7.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

That’s hard. It’s probably IT, but I recently read Man With No Name by Laird Barron and loved it.

8.)    Favorite horror movie?

KSCoverSmallEven harder. I’m going for the one that really did scare me when I went to see it at the movies-Alien.

9.)    Favorite horror television show?

The first few series of True Blood.

10.)  What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I’m writing hard! I’ve written three novels and about sixty shorts in the three years since I left my job in local government. It’s hard finding a publisher for my longer stuff, but I’m determined to do it. My horror novel The King of the Crows is properly scary. Really!

Addicts, you can find Bill on Twitter.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Laurel Anne Hill

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Laurel Anne Hill has authored two award-winning novels, most recently The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press), a gripping spirits-meet-steampunk tale set in an Laurel Anne Hill Promotional 2015alternate 19th Century California. Laurel’s published short stories total over thirty. She’s a Literary Stage Manager, speaker, anthology editor, and writing contest judge.

1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I was eight years old when my mom took me to see the scary science fiction movie The Thing from Another World. Afterwards, I had nightmares for weeks. Sometime between age seven and ten, Mom took me to see Dracula (starring Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff). No nightmares from those two films. I became hooked on classical horror.

2.) What author has influenced you most?

Many authors have influenced me a great deal. If I can only name one, however, I’ll say Ray Bradbury.

3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “13th Maggot?”

An article in the newspaper about medical maggots caught my attention. Plus, I worked several years in the field of regulatory compliance for a biotechnology startup company.

4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

I give my characters a lot of personal space during the first manuscript draft or two. After that, we generally need to have some serious discussions inside of my brain. Often my point prevails, but not always. For example, in “13th Maggot,” ongoing drafts held complicated conflicts between my main character and the woman she works with in the lab. The complexity detracted from the main story, but it took my protagonist great effort to show me why we needed a change.

5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I used to listen to music often when writing, or before sitting down to write. This music connected me to my protagonists’ emotions. The pattern changed during the final years of my husband’s life. David—my beloved—was the co-protagonist in my daily life, our joint story written with each sunrise and sunset. These days, I’m trying to reintroduce music to my writing experience. I concentrate on the same sort of music as before: general classical, world, baroque organ, ballet and opera favorites, 50’s favorites, bagpipes, and other music David and I used to listen to together.

6.) Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! Rain hitting my face. Tulips blooming. The sound of a steam locomotive’s whistle. The early morning taste of coffee. The odor of pine trees. Sunrises and sunsets. Shadows on the bedroom ceiling in the dark.

7.) What is your favorite horror novel?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course, tied for first place with several others, such as The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

8.) Favorite horror movie?

The Shining, without a doubt.

KSCoverSmall9.) Favorite horror television show?

The six o’clock news.

10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I’m going through the process of finding a freelance fantasy/magical realism editor for my novel-in-progress: Plague of Flies. Sand Hill Review Press has expressed interest in the final product. Plague of Flies is not a horror story, but blends true horrific events with fantasy and magical realism in 1846 Mexican California, during the Bear Flag Rebellion, when the USA stole Alta California from Mexico.

Kill Switch Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Phillip T. Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens writes and rescues cats in Austin, Texas. He publishes several times a week for Medium. He is a  contributing author to our new anthology, Kill Switch

1.)    How old were you when you first discovered horror?Phillip T. Stephens

Other than life as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid in general? I don’t remember my exact age, but I remember the event. I was in elementary school, and my father insisted I accompany him to a youth retreat for high school students. The facility was creepy, but the moment of crisis occurred when he showed a movie at midnight (don’t laugh) Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. Toward the very end of the movie is a quick shot of the mummy’s bones, which for some reason I can’t explain having watched the movie a dozen times as an adult, scared the living bejeezus out of me. I couldn’t sleep that night.

The next day we went for a hike around the lake. (If you’ve seen Tarkovsky’s Solaris, think of the lake at Kelvin’s parents’ house.) We rounded a bend and I spotted a moss covered stick poking from the water, a stick which, at that moment, I mistook for a human finger.

I couldn’t sleep by myself for months. Instead, I slept on a cot in my sister’s room, which probably contributed more to my adult neuroses than the moments of terror I experienced at the retreat.

2.)    What author has influenced you most?

Walker Percy, but I suspect you mean horror writer. From a literary standpoint, Peter Straub, but from a writer’s standpoint Steven King. I lived for each new release for several years until The Stand, which became the manual for everything I never wanted to do as a writer. I loved the story, but the prose was atrocious. I continued to read him until It when I couldn’t pick up another book.

This doesn’t change my respect for what he’s accomplished, and I faithfully followed his exploits with Joe Bob Briggs (John Bloom), redneck film reviewer as long as Bloom’s column ran.

3.)    What inspired you to write your piece, “Subroutines?”

I was working with a writing group on the topic “passing through a doorway.”

4.)    How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

If I like the direction they’re taking, they’re free to do as they please. If I think they’re interfering with the story, I’ll slap them down in a heartbeat.

5.)    Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?

I have, but I also write with the TV on.  Looking back, I’d say my biggest influences are Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, and Brian Eno.

6.)    Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve trained myself to take inspiration from scraps of information and passing thoughts. I often riff off (aka rip-off) strands of conversation. But it could be a reflection in a window, an asshole ordering coffee, or something that passes the corner of my eye.

7.)    What is your favorite horror novel?

William Browning Spencer’s Zod Wallop. Think night terrors wrapped in a meltdown and surrounded by a mind fuck. Spencer is a brilliant writer that few readers know.

KSCoverSmall8.)    Favorite horror movie?

Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Many consider it science fiction, and it is, and others find it tedious, but this movie exemplifies Tarkovsky’s ability to make beauty from debris. The movie explores the premise: what happens when you discover what your heart truly desires?

9.)    Favorite horror television show?

Twin Peaks. Nobody twists angst into terror better than Lynch.

10.)  What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

That depends on the publications to which I submit. My life is in the hand of good editors like you. I’m making the final corrections to the novella version of my #TweetNovel Doublemint Gumshoe which I posted Tweet-by-Tweet for the better part of a year. Think the mob, digital gangs, the tech industry, aliens, nanobots and the dumbest detective who ever lived. We’ll see what happens.

You can find Phillip on Twitter and Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Episode 166 Isobel Blackthorn

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Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side Blackthorn_Isobelare Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. Her Canary Islands’ collection begins with “The Drago Tree” and includes “A Matter of Latitude” and “Clarissa’s Warning”. Her interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey, and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. Her short story, ‘Lacquer’, appears in the esteemed A Time for Violence anthology.

Isobel is a gracious and charming woman. We spoke of inspirations, influences, and surprising characters.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Isobel! Thank you for joining me today. Could you tell the Horror Addicts how old you were when you discovered horror?

IB: I discovered horror when I was sixteen and sat petrified in the movie theatre watching The Omen. Then came Rosemary’s Baby. I am not sure which was more terrifying. I could not bring myself to watch Carrie or The Exorcist. I was too easily spooked.

NTK: What author has influenced you most?

IB: Both King and Stoker were my early influences. Now I have been introduced to the novels of many horror authors, including the magnificent Sangré by Carlos Colón, a vampire tale like no other, and Return to Hiroshima by Bob van Laerhoven, which is as classy as noir thrillers get.

NTK: What inspired you to write The Cabin Sessions?

IB: The Cabin Sessions arose out of a combination of factors that were going on in my life at the time. That was how the book started out.

NTK: How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

IB: As soon as I started writing The Cabin Sessions, a minor character stepped forward and took over the narrative. Nothing like that has happened to me as a writer before or since. It was a very dark and confronting process, giving her the freedom to express The Cabin Sessionsherself. I had my own internal horror story going on inside of me during the writing process as a result.

NTK: What is your creative process like? Do you outline before writing? Or do you just write as the mood strikes you?

IB: A little of both. I start out with an idea, which gradually gathers substance. I conjure a few characters, the setting, and the bones of a plot. Then, once I have enough, which usually takes a year, I start writing. I let the voice come, the narrator. Once I have the narrator, I write the first chapter and see where it takes me. Then, there is usually a bit of figuring out before I write the next few chapters. After that, I only plot when I have to. Sometimes I know the ending, sometimes I don’t.

NTK: Where do you find inspiration?

IB: I am inspired by everything. I follow my passion and it leads me all over the place. Every book I write is unique as a result. Horror is a vast genre and as soon as The Cabin Sessions came out and I tried to define it–it’s a dark psychological thriller–I began to explore all the other kinds of horror fiction out there and wondered where I was heading next. I decided I had an appetite for dark thrillers and as soon as I was introduced to Giallo, I was sold. My novel, Twerk, set in a Las Vegas strip club, draws on Giallo tropes.

NTK: What is the difference between a thriller and a horror story?

IB: A thriller follows certain rules and does not necessarily contain any horror tropes. Horror is all about the tropes. Horror is there to shock, to horrify, to revolt. Thrillers seek to thrill. I write dark thrillers and there is enough horror in them for all but the most hardline horror aficionados.

NTK: In your opinion, why do people enjoy horror? What attracts them to darkness?

IB: People like the adrenalin rush. It’s the same as a roller coaster. You are wobbly when you get off and kinda pleased it was over, then the rush fades out and you are in the queue for the next ride. It is very addictive.

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

IB: I have written three dark fiction novels and a few dark short stories. One has just come out in A Time for Violence, an anthology including shorts by Richard Chizmar and Max Allan Collins, Paul D. Brazill, Andrew Nette, Joe R. Lansdale, Elka Ray, and Tom Vater. My story, “Lacquer” forms the first chapter of a noir thriller set in San Francisco and Singapore.

I’ve also been shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge prose prize and my story will appear in the anthology.

NTK: Congratulations, Isobel! That’s awesome! Thank you so much for chatting with me.

IB: Thank you so much for this, Naching!

You can find Isobel on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

Chilling Chat: Episode 164 Christa Carmen

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Christa Carmen’s work has been featured in myriad anthologies, e-zines, and podcasts, including Fireside Fiction Company, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2, Outpost 28 HorrorAddictsphoto_Carmen,ChristaIssues 2 & 3, Third Flatiron’s Strange Beasties, and Tales to Terrify. Her debut collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, is available now from Unnerving, and won the 2018 Indie Horror Book Award for Best Debut Collection.

Christa is an intriguing and intelligent woman. We spoke of writing, inspiration, and influential authors.

NTK: Thank you for joining me today, Christa.

CC: Thank you so much for having me!

NTK: Could you tell the Horror Addicts how you got interested in horror?

CC: Some of the first books I devoured were the ones in the Bunnicula series, as well as the Goosebumps and Fear Street books by R.L. Stine. I actually had a rather bizarre experience when I was in third grade… I went to a friend’s birthday party (I say ‘friend’ lightly, I think she was more of an acquaintance), and it was a slumber party. There was talk that we were going to partake in some mystical thing called a “Double Feature,” but when the movies in question were revealed, my nine-year-old self was horrified. After being subjected to Leprechaun and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, I walked around in a very Elm Street-esque, sleepless daze for about a week before the memories of those terror-inducing films began to lessen. I steered clear of horror after that for about four years, then gave it another change with Halloween when I was about thirteen. Though I still ruminated long into the night over the chances of Michael Myers making his way into my bedroom, something about this experience must have struck a chord within me, because from that moment on, I was hooked.

NTK: Who are your writing influences?

CC: I’ve split this list between authors who inspired me to first pick up a pen and authors who inspire me to continue writing on a daily basis. That list of authors I grew up reading and wanting to emulate includes R.L. Stine, as well as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Dean Koontz, Frank M. Robinson, Mary Shelley, Margaret Mitchell, Sarah Waters, Sidney Sheldon, Harper Lee, Edgar Allan Poe, and Dan Simmons.

The authors who inspire me to continue writing, who challenge me to be the best writer I can be, include Carmen Maria Machado, Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Jessica McHugh, Nadia Bulkin, Ania Ahlborn, Jac Jemc, Alma Katsu, Christina Sng, Elizabeth Hand, Joyce Carol Oates, Claire C. Holland, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Renee Miller, Theresa Braun, Seanan McGuire, Kelly Link, Damien Angelica Walters, Lauren Groff, Roxane Gay, Annie Hartnett, Agatha Christie, Jennifer McMahon, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, J.K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen Dobyns, Michael McDowell, Jack Ketchum, Caroline Kepnes, Ruth Ware, Sarah Pinborough, Gillian Flynn, B.A. Paris, Joe Hill, John Palisano, John Langan, Nicholas Kauffman, Grady Hendrix, Sara Tantlinger, Dean Kuhta, and Calvin Demmer. Mind you, this list might seem long, but it is imperfect and ever-growing!

NTK: It’s a great list! Christa, where do you find inspiration? And, what inspired “This Our Angry Train?”

CC: I find inspiration everywhere, as cliche as that may sound. I’ve had stories spring from the strangest of places as well as from the most innocuous ones, from a flock of extremely over-sized turkeys roosting on tree branches that seem destined to collapse beneath their weight to everyday hummingbirds sipping from their plastic feeders, from a cyber attack that led to enigmatic photos appearing on my cell phone to your regular old post or news article scrolled past before bed. In some instances, the inspiration behind a story is a great deal more direct than a reader may anticipate, and in the case of “This Our Angry Train,” the events that led to the story were indeed a matter of life informing art.

In the summer of 2016, I attended an event in Brookline, Massachusetts that featured Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay, Kat Howard, and Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Joe Hill ended up mentioning Kelly Link’s “The Specialist’s Hat” over the course of the discussion, and I spent the train ride back to Westerly reading Link’s bizarre and thoroughly unsettling story. Upon finishing it, I experienced this strange half-waking dream during which I became certain I was no longer on the same train I had boarded.

When I sat down to write my story of a train as an extension of a young woman’s fears that she is not as far removed from the bad decisions of her past as she might have thought, that she may, in fact, be heading backward without even realizing she’d changed direction, my pen couldn’t move across the page fast enough. After completing the first draft, it occurred to me that the story might benefit from an element of connective tissue, some incantation all the characters on this midnight train to madness know and feel the need to recite.

I knew of Joyce Kilmer from his poem, “Trees,” but I simply Googled ‘poems about trains,’ and found “The Twelve-Forty-Five” after a minimal amount of research. In the same way that the excerpts from ‘An Oral History of Eight Chimneys’ are weaved throughout the narrative of “The Specialist’s’ Hat,” the stanzas from “The Twelve-Forty-Five” are meant to break up Lauren’s train ride fever dream, and ultimately contribute to the mounting horror.

Something Borrowed Something BloodsoakedNTK: Where do your characters come from? Do they have free will? Or do you direct their actions?

CC: While I want my stories to be character-driven, I usually come up with the idea for a story first, and the character is contained within that story idea. For example, if I wanted to tell a story that says something about women being routinely disbelieved, and how this is a serious a problem whether it’s within the plot of a horror film or in real life, at, say, a doctor’s office where an M.D. is telling a woman that everything is fine because he believes she is exaggerating her symptoms, or when a woman is kidnapped or killed by her stalker because the police didn’t believe her when she said he was a threat, then I would start to write the draft of that story, and find my protagonist coming to life from one scene to the next, fulfilling the needs of the narrative.

I used to think I directed my characters’ actions pretty much across the board, with occasional surprises where they’ve gone off in a direction I didn’t see coming. With that being said, I’ve found that my characters are acting of their own free will more and more, and I can probably chalk that up to feeling more comfortable with my story-telling abilities the longer that I write.

NTK:  You spoke of Halloween earlier. Is that your favorite horror film? If not, what is your favorite?

CC: I do love the original Halloween (and the remakes that Rob Zombie directed, which might earn me a few groans of disgust from die-hard Carpenter fans), but the 2013 remake of The Evil Dead is my favorite horror film of all time. I love it because, in addition to existing within the Evil Dead universe, it introduces fans to a new protagonist in Mia. Plot-wise, it’s pretty straightforward: Mia is brought to a rundown cabin in the woods by her brother and her friends in order to detox from heroin. That everything this Ash Williams-worthy heroine endures after her arrival is borne while simultaneously going through cold turkey withdrawal, propels this film into territory that, for me, far surpasses a simple supernatural horror film or a wannabe Evil Dead installment heavy on the gore.

The film is like a perfectly constructed layer cake. The death scenes are memorable, the horror is palpable, and yet, there is an entire subplot in which a very real and fleshed-out character is struggling to overcome a very real and highly formidable affliction. Writer/director Fede Álvarez’s decision to have Mia’s addiction provide the foundation for her strength in fighting off the evil that possesses first her, and then her friends, is truly commendable. It gives the Final Girl’s gumption the backstory it deserves.

I’ve always found the final scene to strike such an intensely visceral emotional chord: as the blood-rain pours down, Mia’s evil doppelgänger prophesizes, “You’re gonna die here, you pathetic junkie.” To which Mia responds, like an addict who has crashed to rock bottom and is finally on the verge of change, “I’ve had enough of this shit.”

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

CC: Unsurprisingly, my favorite show (although sadly, it was canceled after only three seasons), is Ash vs Evil Dead. With her character, Kelly Maxwell, Dana DeLorenzo does Bruce Campbell AND Jane Levy proud.

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

CC: I have a fair amount of forthcoming fiction and nonfiction this year, including a Outpost 28 Isue 2.jpgpiece of flash fiction entitled “Shadows” in Issue 4 of Outpost 28, planned for July or August of this year, and a reprint of a story called “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” to air on The Wicked Library podcast (the story originally appeared in Issue 2 of Outpost 28) There have been a few delays in publication, but I have two stories coming out with Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, “Shark Minute” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, the first as part of a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark tribute anthology, the second on The Simply Scary Podcast Network. I’ll have a story appearing in a middle-grade graphic anthology coming out in October of 2019, and I have two other stories coming out in unannounced anthologies, later in the year. My nonfiction essay, “A Ghost is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” will be published in a scholarly anthology of articles on Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House series. I also have a story, “And Sweetest in the Gale is Heard” appearing in the Not All Monsters anthology, edited by Sara Tantlinger and to be released by Strange House Books in the fall of 2020.

After that, I hope to release either the novel I’ve been working on for the past two years, Coming Down Fast, or the new novel I’ve planned for my thesis at Stonecoast (MFA program at the University of Southern Maine), which is a historical horror novel, the details about which I won’t say too much more.

NTK: Congratulations! We’ll look forward to it. Thank you for chatting with me, Christa. You’re a delightful guest.

CC: Thank you so very much, Naching and HorrorAddicts for having me, and for posing such fun and horror-centric questions!!!

 

Chilling Chat with Naching T. Kassa

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Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with DanImage result for naching t kassa Kassa, her husband, and biggest supporter.

Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a Writer/Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net. Her latest short story, “Audition,” can be found in the anthology, Crescendo of Darkness.

Naching is a strange and busy lady. Today, she hands the interview reins to the person who knows her best, Nani K.

Nani K: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Naching! Thank you for joining me today. It’s been a while.

NTK: Yes, the last time we spoke was during the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. You grilled me.

Nani K: (Laughs.) I did. But, I still have questions for you.

NTK: Ask away!

Nani K: How old were you when you discovered horror?

NTK: About three. My father introduced me to King Kong when it appeared on TV. I also had weird dreams. One of these involved a demonic sandwich.

Nani K: What? A demonic sandwich?

NTK: I slept in a bunk bed and my older sister slept above me. I thought the corner of her blanket was a sandwich with wings and vampire teeth. I have a rather vivid imagination.

Nani K: I guess! Is that why you wrote “The Face” the way you did? It’s frightening but, it’s also funny.

NTK: I wanted to write something different, something kids could enjoy as well as adults. Campfire Tales are usually told by children and I think funny and scary go hand-in-hand. Look at Scooby Doo or Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The two most memorable things in the world are things that frighten us and things that make us laugh.

Nani K: Did you write this story with a certain person in mind?

NTK: I actually wrote it for my 12-year-old grandniece. (Hi, Mylie!)

Nani K: Do you often write for a certain reader?

NTK: Yes. I write for my husband. If he reads the story while watching football, and doesn’t look up at the screen, I know it’s a good story.

Nani K: What do you think makes a good story?

NTK: As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I’d have to say characters. It’s their decisions which shape and drive the narrative. Sherlock Holmes has so many quirks. He can solve mysteries using minutiae, disguises himself (even his roommate can’t recognize him,) and has a code of ethics that sometimes goes beyond the law. When Doyle killed him off, people mourned him. (They even wore black armbands!) They treated him as though he were a real person. The best stories have believable characters. And, a moderate amount of description.

Nani K: You don’t like description?

NTK: Too much description bores me and I skim through it. As a reader, I like using my imagination. Give me an idea of how things look. Don’t describe every little crack in the wall or fiber in the carpet.

Nani K: What is your writing process like?

NTK: Usually, I start with one scene and allow the characters to work toward it. The germ of one story began with a vampire sitting in a lawn chair outside the window of a house. Another, involved a small girl handing a woman a river rock.

Nani K: Why do you write horror?

NTK: I enjoy scaring people. When I was little, and it was dark, I’d hide in the doorway of my bedroom. When people passed by on their way to the bathroom, I’d jump out and yell “Boo!” They didn’t like it at the time, but they laughed later. I think people enjoy that little rush of adrenaline, that feeling when your heart speeds up and your skin tingles. That’s why they love horror books, podcasts, and films.

Nani K: Speaking of horror films, what’s your favorite?

NTK: My favorite horror film is The Exorcist III starring George C. Scott and Brad Dourif. It was released in 1990 and it’s terrific. Very subtle, not as “in your face” as the first. William Peter Blatty wrote the original novel it was based on and the screenplay. He also directed the film. There are some serious scares in it. One has to do with a nurse on her rounds in a hospital. Brrr!

Nani K: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

NTK: I love The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Thriller (Watch “Pigeons from Hell” it has a silly title but it’s terrifying,) but two of my favorites are Kolchak: The Nightstalker and Supernatural. Love my monster hunters. You can’t get much better than Carl Kolchak and Sam and Dean Winchester.

Nani K: Do you watch The Walking Dead?

NTK: Sorry, not a zombie person. I like monsters who have brains, not those who eat them.

Nani K: Do you have a favorite horror novel?

NTK: I have two. They’re the only books which actually frightened me. The first is Psycho, by Robert Bloch. The second is Watchers by Dean Koontz. Highly recommended.

Nani K: What is your favorite campfire tale?

NTK: My most favorite is, “The Man with the Golden Arm.” It’s about a man with a golden arm and the thief who steals it after he dies. The ghost haunts the thief in a rather surprising way.

Nani K: Naching, what does the future hold for you? What works do the Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

NTK: Well, aside from “The Face,” I have a few things coming out for HorrorAddicts.net, a story in an upcoming anthology, and I’m working as a temporary intern for Crystal Lake Publishing. Oh, and my poem, “Call Me Mary,” just came out in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Vol. V.

Nani K: Thank you for chatting with me again, Naching.

NTK: Always a strange and surreal pleasure, Nani K.

Addicts, you can follow Naching on Twitter and through her website.

 

Chilling Chat with Harry Husbands

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Harry Husbands spends the majority of his day in an office. In the evening, he writes furiously all the disturbed imaginings dwelled upon while completing banal admin tasks.Harry Husbands He crafts tales with subtle terror that are dipped in humor and roasted slowly over an infectious passion for all things horror related. He also performs and records songs from his house in Peterborough, England.

Harry is an unassuming, gentleman of horror. We spoke of writing, inspirations, and influences. 

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

HH: No problem at all, Naching. Thanks for having me.

NTK: How old were you and what was the first thing that got you interested in horror?

HH: It’s hard to say exactly what age it was because I always remember being interested in horror. A very early memory is going to—what we would call—a fancy dress shop around Halloween time. I was so intrigued by the scary masks and props.

NTK: Did you like horror movies as a kid?

HH: I loved horror movies as a kid, even though they’d give me nightmares. I was scared of a lot of things, but I was equally fascinated. I watched The Exorcist when I was quite young after begging my parents. I couldn’t sleep for many nights afterward, but it was worth it.

NTK: Did this love of horror movies and horror lead to writing? Why did you start writing horror?

HH: Absolutely. I was massively into Goosebumps—as most other wee ones were at the time—and I thought the idea of being a writer was really cool which probably tells you a lot about the kind of kid I was. My Nan had an old typewriter and I got to work on my first novel. It was about being stranded at sea and surrounded by all kinds of monsters. I think it ended up being three pages long but I was hooked on the notion of being able to create my own scary stories. The fact that I could weave creepy tales from my own noggin was addictive.

NTK: You’re an accomplished musician and songwriter. How does this talent transfer to your writing?

HH: It’s all about manipulating the form to try and evoke an emotional reaction from the listener or reader. They’re completely different ways of doing it, but the basic idea is the same. In music, you can use a dissonant chord, or a slightly out of tune note; in writing, you can use a well-placed adjective or a short, punchy sentence. A lot of my songs tend to end up as stories, and two of the albums I’ve done have been concept albums. I guess storytelling is just a part of who I am.

NTK: Do you have a muse?

HH: I don’t have a muse—not in particular anyway. It sounds like a cop-out answer, but I’m inspired by so many things it’s hard to pin it on just one.

NTK: Where do your ideas come from? Do they just come to you out of the blue? Do you dream them? Or both?

HH: Everywhere and anywhere. We live in a fascinating world, in fascinating—and scary—times, so there’s plenty of places to pick ideas from. I’ll have a bunch go through my head and it’s about picking a good one then nurturing, feeding, and burping it; eventually, it will become something bigger and often completely different from the initial image or thought that entered my head.

NTK: How did your story,“Goose Meadows,” from Campfire Tales come about?

HH: Like most story ideas I’ve had, it came partly from a real-life situation and partly from the dark place in my brain where all the horror I’ve absorbed lurks and festers. Goose Meadows is a real place, not far from where I live, and I did drunkenly walk around it at night time after someone’s 18th birthday party. I didn’t come across anything eerie or supernatural, only a large amount of litter. Throw it in the dang trash, folks.

NTK: That’s amazing you came up with this story from such a mundane incident. Do you exert much control over your characters? Do they have free will?

HH: I’m definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer so I have little control. I don’t plan anything other than a very basic premise for the story; it’s up to them how it turns out.

NTK: You wrote “Goose Meadows” for the Next Great Horror Writer Contest. Did you enjoy the contest? What was your overall experience?

HH: There were elements of the contest I enjoyed very much, and other elements I didn’t enjoy so much. I had only just begun to take writing seriously when I entered so it was eye-opening, for sure. I started to realise just how many writers there were in the world all doing exactly the same thing as me, and that’s equally inspiring and kind of soul-crushing in a way. I suddenly didn’t feel like I was doing anything that was worth selling to a publisher. I have never had much confidence in myself and that made it difficult for me. After either not hearing anything about something I wrote on the podcast, or having negative comments, I started to try and tailor my later pieces so they would do well in the contest which was a big mistake. What’s so great about fiction is that every writer has something unique to bring to the table, based on their own lives, and I think I should have stuck to what makes me unique rather than trying to fit into what might get me some good feedback or better points.

NTK: What do you think makes a good Campfire Tale?

HH: It has to be scary. Simple as that. It’s the only reason people actually do the whole campfire tale thing—they want to be scared. Annoyingly, as a writer, that’s one of the hardest things to do.

NTK: What authors have influenced you?

HH: So many! As I mentioned the Goosebumps books earlier, I’d have to say R.L Stine. The obvious answer, Stephen King. There’s also Shirley Jackson, M.R James, Adam LG Nevill, and many, many more.

NTK: You have a very dry wit and sense of humor. Do you enjoy comedic horror?

HH: I do, very much so. They’re my two favourite genres combined. I love when I find comedic horror done right because I think it’s so hard to do. Being funny is tough, being scary is tough, being funny and scary is extremely difficult and rarely done right. It’s such a treat when it is, though.

NTK: Which horror/comedy movie is your favorite?

HH: It’s tough,campfiretalesfinal but I’d have to go with Shaun of the Dead.

NTK: Is that your favorite horror movie? What is your favorite?

HH: I’d say The Exorcist is my favourite. For me, it has yet to be beaten in terms of sheer terror.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

HH: I really loved the Masters of Horror series because I enjoyed seeing all of the director’s different styles.

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

HH: I really have no idea what the future holds for me. I’m just gonna carry on creating in whatever capacity feels good to me. At the moment, I’m mostly into writing and recording music and might have some new songs uploaded soon. I should have a story coming out in a new anthology, hopefully early next year, that’s admittedly more bizarre than horror. I dunno, we’ll see!

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me today, Harry. It was fun.

HH: No need to thank me, Naching. It’s been fun for me too.

Addicts, you can find Harry on Twitter.

Campfire Tales: How “The Face” was Born

The cool autumn night is filled with the pungent scent of smoke and singed hot dogs. A cheery blaze stands at the center of camp and friends gather around. They bring marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, and the delicious thrill of fear.

It’s October. Time for campfire tales. Time to tell you how “The Face” was born.

“The Face” was my contribution to The Next Great Horror Writer Contest’s Campfire Tale Challenge. It’s the tale of Agatha Gray and her elderly mother, Dorothy. Dorothy’s mind has slowly deteriorated, but her psychic talent is as strong as ever. And, good thing it is, because a supernatural entity known only as “The Face” has come to kill them. Will they escape its gnashing teeth? Read Campfire Tales and see. For now, I’ll tell you how it came about.

I have always found disembodied heads frightening. Maybe, it stems from a game my little sister and I played as children. Or, maybe, it comes from something more sinister.

My sister and I played many games in my parents’ bedroom when we were children. It was a small, cheery room with wood paneling and long, light-blue curtains on the windows. The closet didn’t have a door. It had curtains too, ones which matched the windows. My mother had made them of a shiny, satin-like fabric.

The “scary game” began with my little sister standing in the closet. She would hide her body in the curtains, covering everything but her head. Then, she would open her eyes and mouth real wide and walk forward. It was creepy and scared the pants off me.

Ok…that is a bit lame. But, I frightened easily as a child. You’d be scared too, if you’d seen what I saw. This was years before my sister invented the game, but it happened in the same place.

I was three at the time and my mom had put me to sleep in her room. I’m not sure what woke me, but when my eyelids fluttered open, I found a head floating at the foot of the bed.

The face was green and glowed in the dark. It stared at me with wide eyes and a wide mouth. Then, it came toward me…

I screamed. Screamed for my mom. Screamed for my dad. Screamed for anybody.

No one came.

I can’t remember what came after that. Maybe, it was just a dream and I woke up. Maybe, my mom came in and it vanished. I guess I’ll never know—not consciously anyway.

I recently discovered that several of my stories involve disembodied or decapitated heads. Is my unconscious mind trying to tell me something? Perhaps, “The Face” has the answer.

Tell me if you find it.

Chilling Chat with Jess Landry

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Jess Landry is a graphic designer by day and a writer by night, though sometimes the two intertwine. You can find her work online with The Sirens Call and EGM Shorts. In print, herJess Landry stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Where Nightmares Come FromThe Anatomy of Monsters, Killing It Softly, and Ill-Considered Expeditions.

Jess has been working for JournalStone Publishing for several years. She is the Managing Editor and also runs JournalStone’s newest imprint, Trepidatio Publishing, where her goal is to publish diverse stories from diverse authors.

She currently resides in the icy wastelands of Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband, two lazy cats, and her young daughter, who she hopes one day will come to love the genre as much as her mother (if not, she may have to disown her).

Jess is a smart woman with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of Women in Horror, writing, and what it’s like to be an editor.

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

JL: Thank you, Naching! This is going to be fun.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

JL: I think I was pretty young! I have very fond memories of watching shows like The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (Canadian public television at its best!) and raiding my aunties library for the latest Stephen King books. I’d always had a love for Halloween, so the progression into reading and writing horror seemed only natural.

NTK: Is King your favorite author?

JL: He definitely played a huge role in my love of the genre. The first book I read of his was The Drawing of the Three, and from that point, I was hooked. For a long time, I thought he was the only horror author around (my parents didn’t exactly run to the bookstore to buy me all the horror books). But after some time of just reading him, I realized there were so many more authors to read. It wasn’t until I read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker that I had a “whoa” moment. Barker became my absolute favourite from page one of that book.

NTK: Does Barker influence your writing? What got you into writing?

JL: I admire Barker and his no-holds-barred style; his imagination blows me away (I mean, there’s a secret world inside a carpet? There’s a mosaic that you can travel through time in? Say wha?). When I write, I try not to limit my imagination, I try to think of all the crazy ideas he’s had that have translated perfectly on the page, but I feel the subject matter he writes about is something I could never tackle because there’s a raw honesty woven in his pages. As for what got me into writing, I really can’t recall. I’m an only child so I’ve always kind of lived in my head and did my own thing. I was a voracious reader and movie watcher when I was younger, and I still am. My dad kept a creative writing assignment from grade 1 where I wrote about a dog who goes trick or treating, so I guess it’s always been in my blood to get a little spooky.

NTK: You wrote, “When the Wind Leaves a Whisper” for the Next Great Horror Writer Campfire Tale challenge. Where did that idea come from?

JL: When we received the challenge last year, the first thing that popped into my brain was the show Are You Afraid of the Dark? and the midnight society gathering around the campfire. I loved that show as a kid so trying to think of a concept that someone might tell around the fire was a lot of fun—I even rewatched a few episodes for old time’s sake! I find the woods to be scary as hell (…I’m more of an indoor person!) so it felt only right that my story takes place in that environment.

NTK: What was it like being a NGHW contestant?

campfiretalesfinalJL: It was awesome being a NGHW contest. I had no idea what to expect coming into it—would it be challenging enough? Would I be able to make time to complete the tasks?—but it ended up being a great exercise in writing. I found myself writing things that I probably wouldn’t have considered in the first place, and also found myself in constant of awe of everyone else in the competition. Everyone worked so hard and kicked so much ass, and every time a show went live, it was always nerve-wracking to hear the feedback and to hear where you placed in that specific challenge. The best part for me was trying to keep up with the rest of you!

NTK: Do your characters have free will? How much control do you exert over them?

JL: I’d like to think I have some degree of control over the fate of my characters, but sometimes they surprise me. I’m writing a screenplay right now and had written up a super-detailed outline before I plunked the story into the proper formatting. Everything was going to plan, then all of a sudden, I found my story slowly drifting toward another ending. I tried to keep it on track with what I had already planned out, but no matter what I tried, the characters seemed to be working toward their own, new-and-improved ending. Sometimes, you just have to let your characters take the reins!

NTK: You’re the Managing Editor for Journalstone Publishing and Publisher for Trepidatio Publishing. What’s the best thing about being an editor?

JL: The best thing about being an editor is how damn hard it is, especially being a writer, too. The authors that we bring in to JournalStone and Trepidatio are ones that I admire, ones whose work I love. To be lucky enough to spend often months at a time tackling their stories, helping hone them, and getting to know the authors in the process is something I never thought I’d be able to do. I started at the bottom of the totem pole with JournalStone, reviewing books and movies for Hellnotes (JS owns the site). After a while of doing that (which I still do on the rare occasion), I asked if there was anything more I could do to help out, particularly on the publishing side. Chris Payne, JournalStone’s president, was kind enough to give me a shot, and it wasn’t long after that I was getting my hands dirty. Much like the NGHW contest, editing is tough. You’ve got to forget about your own style, your own nasty habits, and put yourself in the mind of the writer whose work you’re looking over. You’ve got to think of anything and everything, be it grammar-related issues to historical references. You have to immerse yourself into someone else’s world, and you have to put your own work aside. It’s bittersweet in that sense—I love being able to do what I do with JournalStone, but my own work has definitely suffered because of it.

NTK: What’s the worst thing about editing? Any pet peeves?

JL: The worst thing about editing—be it my own stuff or someone else’s—is when it feels like nothing’s coming together when nothing you do can fix what’s wrong the manuscript. That is the absolute worst. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it usually helps to take some time away from words and computers and anything that overworks your brain. Just let it sit. That’s my unofficial motto.

NTK:  You spoke of some television shows earlier, is the Hilarious House of Frankenstein still your favorite show? Or have you moved on?

JL: Oh man, I haven’t watched that in years! Actually, I did see a short segment on the national news a few days ago about someone in Toronto (I think) who created the Billy Van museum (he played all the characters in the show). I’ll have to go check it out next time I visit. But I love how this obscure Canadian show from the 1970s still affects so many people today. I’ve definitely moved on to bigger—but not necessarily better—things. For modern shows, I love Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Walking Dead, and I used to love American Horror Story, but it’s kind of lost me now. For older shows, my go-to was (and always will be) Tales from the Crypt…the HBO live-action show and the cartoon! The best of both worlds. Plus, there was a short-lived Tales from the Crypt kids’ game show that I watched religiously. I was always jealous of the kids on there (and still am, frankly).

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

JL: I have two: An American Werewolf in London and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Hands down. No contest. I could watch those two movies on repeat for all of eternity and never get tired of them. I could probably also put on a one-woman show reenacting both of them, but I doubt anyone would want to see that (and how would I do the werewolf-morphing and head-growing-legs scenes?). I also need to give shout-outs to other favourites: Army of Darkness, Suicide Club, Suspiria, Trick ‘r Treat, Hellraiser, and many, many more. I love a good (and even bad) horror movie. If I had more time, I’d make it my goal to watch every single one on Netflix (but not Amazon Prime—the selection on there is…interesting).

NTK: You seem to enjoy horror/comedy. Does that element find its way into your work often? I remember, during the contest you wrote a piece called, “Fang Blingz” and that was great!

JL: I love a good horror/comedy. I grew up watching Ghostbusters and Army of Darkness and Dead Alive and all that good stuff, but I’ve never actually tried to pull it off (with the exception of Fang Blingz in the NGHW contest!) It’s definitely something that I would love to try and do in the future, though the thought of attempting to be funny (and having people legitimately laugh at what I wrote) is probably the scariest thing that I can think of!

NTK: Let’s go back to Trepidatio publishing. Could you tell the Horror Addicts a little about that Journalstone imprint?

JL: Yes! Trepidatio was originally the brain-child of Horror Writers Association VP (and all-around good guy) John Palisano, though he made the tough decision to part from it and then it fell into my lap. When it did, I was like, “What the hell am I supposed to do with an imprint?”, but it soon became clear that this was an amazing opportunity to publish authors that I knew were talented, that I knew were on the brink of big things, that I knew were under-represented. So I set out and made it my mission to publish diverse stories from diverse voices. As of right now, I’ve published eight books (four collections, four novels), and four of those are from female authors. I have five more novels and collections coming out between now and early next year, and all five are by women. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.

NTK: You’re a proponent of Women in Horror. Who are some women writers you think deserve more recognition?

JL: I’m a very big fan of SP Miskowski, and I’m lucky enough to be working with her right now on her latest novel. She’s someone who I admired long before I knew her, and I believe her work is some of the best there is. I also love Helen Oyeyemi, Tananarive Due, and Ania Ahlborn, among many others. There are so many women writers out there who deserve recognition, and I’m more than happy to try and help them obtain even a sliver of it.

NTK: Jess, what does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to Fantastic Tales of Terror: History's Darkest Secrets by [Golden, Christopher, Anderson, Kevin J., Maberry, Jonathan, Yardley, Mercedes M., Gaiman, Neil, Massie, Elizabeth, Chizmar, Richard, Lansdale, Joe R., Waggoner, Tim , Bailey, Michael , Vincent, Bev , Wytovich, Stephanie M., Gonzalez, Michael Paul, Palisano, John , Morton, Lisa , Landry, Jess , Bunn, Cullen , Liaguno, Vince , Little, Bentley , Wellington, David , Baumgartner, Jessica Marie, Castle, Mort , Moore, Paul , Strand, Jeff ]look forward to?

JL: The future is busy…which I am grateful for! The anthology Lost Highways: Dark Fiction from the Road was just released in July, and it has a short story of mine called “The Heart Stops at the End of Laurel Lane” in it. I have two more anthologies coming up, including Monsters of Any Kind from Independent Legions Publishing, which has my story “Silt & Bone” in it—that’s out the last week of September. Fantastic Tales of Terror comes out late October from Crystal Lake Publishing, and my story “Mutter” is in there. And then a story I wrote for the NGHW contest called “Scordatura” will be in Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles, out in February 2019. Plus there are a few great things coming out from HorrorAddicts.net, including this Campfire Tales anthology.

Phew!

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Jess! That was really fun!

JL: Thanks, Naching! Always lovely chatting with you!

Addicts, you can find Jess on Facebook.

 

Chilling Chat with Daphne Strasert

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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 163 Theresa Braun

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Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She teaches English literature, Theresa BraunCreative Writing and, in the evenings, a college writing course.  Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her work appears in The Horror Zine, Sirens Call, Schlock! Webzine, Hardened Hearts, and Strange Behaviors, among others.

Theresa is a remarkable and thought-provoking woman. We spoke of writing, travel, and her interest in ghost hunting.

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

TB: Thanks so much for having me.

NTK: How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

TB: That’s a really great question. I think I can trace it back to Sesame Street. The Count was one my favorite characters and I’m not sure that I realized he was a vampire. Then, my Scooby Doo days came along and I was a goner. When I was old enough to read I grabbed Nancy Drew and soon graduated to darker YA books from there.

NTK: Did this lead to an interest in writing horror?

TB: I don’t think I knew I wanted to write horror all the way back then. I was also very attracted to unicorns and such. But I think reading horror and watching horror movies and television shows helped to eventually steer me that direction. I’m rather happy that my generation had The Addams Family and The Munsters, as well as Elvira.

NTK: What horror movie inspired you to write? Is it your favorite?

TB: That’s a great question. I think I’d have to say Poltergeist was an inspiration, along with The Amityville Horror. There was a period in my life where I wanted to get my hands on a lot of the classics. The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby are also big influences on me. And I’m really fascinated by The Exorcist. But I also recall watching a lot of horrible B movies like Basket Case, for example.

Laughable horror is like its own guilty pleasure!

NTK: You mentioned The Munsters and The Addams Family. Are these horror comedies your favorite horror TV shows?

TB: I watched The Munsters, but I didn’t like them as much as The Addams Family—probably because they weren’t as dark as the latter.

NTK: Your stories exhibit a certain amount of darkness. Where did you get the idea for “Heirloom?”

TB: That story came from a couple of different sources. I had an idea for that grim past life the main character experiences. And, at the time I had been talking to a good friend who is a therapist. She mentioned one of her patients to me (anonymously, of course). Since she is really petite, I started to put myself in her shoes and played around with the idea of gender power play. Then I started to think how awful it would be if that client/patient was connected to her in a big way, a way that spanned several lifetimes. What kind of lessons could be learned? The mirror kind of came in last. I’ve always had a fascination with them, and with antiques. They’re like these crazy portals, according to people who believe in the paranormal. Funny thing is that my entire living room wall is a mirror. Sometimes I wonder if spirits or energies are visiting me from time to time. Hopefully, nothing like what happens to my protagonist in “Heirloom” will happen to me.

NTK: That’s awesome! And, it’s a little frightening too. You know a thing or two about spirits. Can you tell the Addicts a little about ghost hunting?

TB: Sure, that’s one of my favorite topics. I used to live in a haunted house in Winona, Fountain Dead by [Braun, Theresa]Minnesota, which is the inspiration for my latest novel Fountain Dead that comes out in November. Back then, I didn’t really have an interest in looking for ghosts. I was more concerned with ignoring the goosebumps or the feeling that I was being watched. My dreams were pretty crazy as well. I had several vivid nightmares about these water-logged women who came out of this pool outside, a pool that didn’t exist. Anyway, I’d have to say that the hobby of ghost hunting didn’t take hold until sometime in my thirties. Whenever I’d travel, I’d take the walking ghost tour. (Venice was a particularly amazing tour, by the way.) Eventually, I started getting tape recorders to capture EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and I snapped a lot of pictures of orbs and weird light anomalies. I’ve gotten some really spooky pictures and some eerie recordings. Some of them sounded rather demonic, to be honest. In Key West, I left a tape player on ‘record’ while I went to sleep. When I woke up, the device was cracked/broken. That kind of set me back a bit for a while. Now, I try to do a lot of my capturing of phenomena with apps on my cell phone, or dowsing rods. Just paying attention to vibes is another really good indicator of activity. That is the short version of my focus on the subject. I’m always on the lookout for new haunted destinations and future places to visit. The Stanley Hotel and the Winchester House are pretty high on the list at the moment.

NTK: Where do you think ghosts come from? Are they manifestations of the departed? Or are they something else?

TB: That has to be one of the deepest questions I’ve been asked in a long time. I think they come from different sources. For me, most paranormal activity is a result of either an energetic imprint of the person or their actual spirit that is at unrest. They are trapped either in a loop, like a videotape, or they don’t fully understand that they need to move on. They might have unfinished business like trying to get someone to solve their murder, or something along those lines. But, I’ve also read that some people are so psychically powerful that they kind of project things onto the physical plane. Some poltergeist activity can be that, for example. Some people think that ghosts can be a manifestation of the mind. Or maybe the spirits are able to use a person to manifest here in this dimension. I think that all of these variations are entirely possible. At a minimum, we are all made up of very strong energy. It makes sense that this has the ability to stay behind after we are gone.

To be honest, part of me regrets not having become a parapsychologist. Isn’t that a real career?

NTK: It is! (Courses are available at the University of Edinburgh.) What do you think of Ed and Lorraine Warren?

TB: I think they are really interesting. How courageous of them to go into some of the most active locations to try to find answers about the paranormal activity. There have been times that I’ve been skeptical about them, but why wouldn’t you call these experts to help you out? Although, I think that some of the Hollywood versions of them have made them look a bit like caricatures. Some have even made them farcical.

NTK: Did any of your later experiences become fodder for your books? Did you write about Venice? Or Key West?

TB: I try to weave as much of this stuff into my writing as I possibly can. I’ve used parts of the Venice experiences, but haven’t really tapped into that fully. Probably will return to it in the future. The haunted house novel is probably the experience that I’ve written the most about. It’s rather personal, since when I was writing it I had the house in mind the whole time. I was surprised at how much really came back to me. I hope readers enjoy it. As far as travels and the paranormal things I experience, I keep really detailed journals. That way I can look back at it for both the memories, and also for fiction material. A recent trip to Transylvania turned into a vampire story, for example. Even though I didn’t set out to write a vampire story, I couldn’t talk myself out of it. I’d say that trip offered more inspiration than most. The Key West trip wasn’t that eventful, paranormal wise. Other than the recorder breaking on me, not much else happened. However, the Key West ghost tour is pretty fantastic. Lots of weird stuff happens in Florida!

NTK: Are your characters usually based on real people?

TB: Not always. However, I like to look to real people to give me some material I can work with. I pay attention to the news and watch a lot of supernaturally rich reality shows. There are so many of them that are great. I do think that my most well-rounded characters have some tether to reality, though. They are either partly linked to people I know or are an aspect of myself. Write what you know, right?

I’m also not immune to listening in on strangers’ conversations in public. And I’m sure I’m not the only writer who does that.

NTK: Do you exert much control over your characters? Do they do things you don’t expect?

TB: I’m making that up as I go along, since by nature I’m somewhat of a control freak. I like to have control over myself and things around me; however, the older I get, the more I’ve had to just go with the flow often. There are times when there is nothing you can do about the traffic jam making you an hour late. I’ve had to give the same license to some of my characters. A few times I push them into corners and they scream at me—metaphorically, that is. I have a few writer friends who talk to their characters. So, far that hasn’t been my experience. Most of the time when I don’t let my protagonists do what they need to do, I hit a writer’s block that doesn’t clear until I delete the problematic scene and rework the mess I’ve gotten them into. So, they don’t talk to me, but they do throw up the red flags for me to see.

NTK: Indeed. Do you belong to a community of ghost hunters? Is there such a thing?

TB: If I had the time, I’d totally search those out. I imagine they exist. That is totally something I’d be willing to look into at some point in the future. Right now, I feel like IDead Over Heels by [Braun, Theresa ] barely have time to write.

Not enough hours in the day!

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

TB: One of the projects I’m looking into is putting together a collection of short stories. As my brain is recovering from finishing my latest novel, I’m wondering if I’ll write a sequel. I’ve set it up that way, just in case the inspiration strikes. Otherwise, I’m hoping that the muses have something else cooked up for me. I have several notebooks and journals I can scavenge through. To make a long story short, I’m looking forward to what story needs to be written next. It’s hovering in the ethers as we speak. I just need to tune in. It’ll probably be something ghostly. And it will probably involve a romance.

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

TB: Ah, so many curses to choose from! Those Egyptian pharaoh stories are pretty intense. Imagine discovering a tomb and thinking you hit the jackpot, only to die a short time later? And, who would think that would really happen to them? Although that is scary, I think that the more mundane curses can be the worst ones. What I mean is that whatever we say to another person can have a lifelong effect, and if negative, can curse a person to suffer with those words. Someone’s life may even fulfill a negative prophecy as a result. I tell my students to always think about that when they speak, especially when it comes to bullying. We also discuss that in literature, too. When Mercutio dies and curses those two houses that has a detrimental effect on Romeo. It can be that simple. I heard on the radio that a woman told her kid that words are like toothpaste out of the tube. You can’t put it back, once you’ve spoken. Therefore, we need to be careful when wielding our words.

I’ve played around with this idea in some of my stories. Dialogue can get rather interesting from time to time. Muhahahahahah!

NTK: (Laughs.) Thank you for chatting with me, Theresa! That was fascinating.

TB: This has been a lot of fun! Thanks so much for this!

Addicts, you can follow Theresa on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.

 

Chilling Chat Episode 161 H.R. Boldwood

H.R. Boldwood is a writer of horror and speculative fiction. In another incarnation, Boldwood is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was awarded the 2009 Bilbo Award for creativeHR Boldwood PIC writing. Publication credits include: Killing it Softly (Digital Fiction Publications); Short Story America Volume I (Short Story America Press); Bête Noire (Charm Noir Omnimedia); Everyday Fiction (Everyday Fiction); Toys in the Attic (James Ward Kirk Publications); Floppy Shoes Apocalypse II (Nocturnicorn Books); Pilcrow and Dagger (Pilcrow and Dagger Press); Quickfic (Digital Fiction Publications); Sirens Call (Sirens Call Publications.)

Boldwood’s characters are often disreputable and not to be trusted, so they are kicked to the curb at every conceivable opportunity. No responsibility is taken by this author for the dastardly and sometimes criminal acts committed by this ragtag group of miscreants. 

H.R. Boldwood is a generous and funny woman. We spoke of her villains, writing, and evil clowns in space.

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

H.R.: You’re welcome, Naching. It’s always nice chatting with you. Thanks for having me.

NTK: What got you interested in horror? Did it begin in childhood?

H.R.: I wrote my first horror story in the 7th grade as a homework assignment. The title was, “The Reincarnation of Sir Thomas Moore.” My teacher loved it and sent it to his old college professor.

NTK: Awesome! What did the professor think? Did this event start your writing career?

H.R.: The professor was very impressed and even though I was still in grade school, he had Northwestern University send me a card asking me to consider attending Northwestern when the time came. But, when the time came, I didn’t want to go to college. Silly girl. I finally went to college when I was in my forties. I got married and raised my children and started writing again about 10 years ago. I’ve always gravitated toward horror because it’s just too fun to write.

NTK: What writers influenced you?

H.R.: I love Poe. Just adore him. And, King and Koontz. I sometimes write in an archaic Victorian voice. In the right story, that voice can produce a massive creep factor. Now, I love Josh Malerman. His prose is out of this world awesome.

NTK: Which do you prefer? King or Koontz?

H.R.: Tough one. I love them both for different reasons. King is a masterful storyteller and Koontz’s prose is almost lyrical. I guess King, but it’s really too close to call. My favorite King novel is The Shining.

NTK: I interviewed Josh Malerman recently, and he spoke of an “invisible Wendigo drummer,” which got him into the rhythm of writing. Does the archaic Victorian voice work in that way? Or, is it your muse?

H.R.: No, it isn’t my muse. But, the cadence of the language and the crisp, articulate tone produce some of my best prose. It’s as if I’m speaking.

NTK: You’ve spoken of your characters as, “dastardly.” Could you elaborate on that? Who, of your creations, are your favorite villains?

Corpse Whisperer 2H.R.: Oh, my! My favorite villain is Mister Weasels, the killer clown. He’s featured in several of my short stories about The Barlowe Brother’s Carnival. In fact, I have a new story titled, “Mister Weasels and the Cosmic Carnival,” scheduled to appear in Kevin J. Kennedy’s Carnival of Horror anthology, due out around Halloween!

NTK: That’s terrific!

H.R.: Killer clowns in space!

NTK: (Laughs.) Congratulations! You seem to have quite a few stories set at carnivals. (“Madame Zelda,” for example.) What do you think makes carnivals frightening? Do you have a personal experience with them?

H.R.: I went to a sideshow carnival as a teen and it freaked me out a bit. The Barlowe Brother’s Carnival is eternal. There are many secrets inside the big top! Killer Klowns forever!

NTK: (Laughs.) You must enjoy horror/comedy. Is Killer Klowns from Outer Space your favorite movie? What are your favorite horror movies and television shows?

H.R.: Not my favorite but fun to watch. The Exorcist is my all-time favorite. I liked Midnight Texas, a couple of the American Horror Story seasons. As a kid, I loved the old classics, The House on Haunted Hill, and The Screaming Skull. They scared the bejebes out of me!

NTK: The classics are great. You mentioned The Shining earlier. What did you think of the movie?

H.R.: Not my favorite. They made the hotel too modern and took out the animated hedge animals. And, Shelley Duvall was too much of a victim.

I like Jack Nicholson but, like Stephen King said, the story was supposed to be about his descent into madness. In the movie, Jack was pretty much crazy from the start.

NTK: He’s a real villain, though. Who do you think is more important to the story? The hero? Or the villain?

H.R.: I think the villain. The right villain makes the hero great. Without a wonderful villain, who cares about the hero?

NTK: What makes a great villain?

H.R.: Complexity, dark humor, and spot-on dialog. Sometimes, it’s not about seeing the monster. Sometimes, it’s about seeing just enough to know you don’t want to see it. Like the creature in Alien. The creature was a mother, protecting its brood. Complex. People are not Flat Stanleys, they have complex natures, so our villains should too.

NTK: Do your creations have free will? Or, do you control them and their actions?

H.R.: The stories often write themselves so those miscreant characters of mine are always getting me into trouble. I always say, don’t blame me for what my characters do.Killing It Softly: A Digital Horror Fiction Anthology of Short Stories (The Best by Women in Horror Book 1) by [Cunningham,Elaine, Fiction, Digital, Holder,Nancy, Sydney,M.J., Rose,Rie Sheridan, Boudreau,Chantal, Blackthorn,Rose, McBride,Tracie, Gill,Carole, Rath, Tina , Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert]

NTK: If a movie was made about Mr. Weasels, who would play him?

H.R.: Well now…maybe the guy who played Boyd Crowder on Justified, Walton Goggins. He’s creepy looking with a too-big smile. Or…James Purefoy, the actor who played Joe Carroll on The Following. He’s the very essence of evil.

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

H.R.: Historically, any mummy related curse is always awesome. Voodoo curses are another favorite.

NTK: H.R., What does the future hold for you? What books or stories are in store for Horror Addicts?

H.R.: Well now, I’ve been a busy beaver. I will have a story titled, “The Haunting of Bellehaven,” in Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror. It’s an anthology that benefits the American Cancer Society and it’s coming out within the next several months. My story, “The Birthright,” will appear in Greek Myth Anthology published by Fantasia Divinity this fall. My story, “Lambent Lights,” a Victorian voiced piece will appear in an anthology titled, The Book of the Dead, published by Black Hart Publishing in Scotland. It comes out September 5th. Oh, and my stories, “Don’t Fuck with Mister Weasels,” and “Mutants,” will appear in an upcoming edition of Gruesome Grotesques. I’ve also got a couple of stories out there in pending land that may find a home.

And, finally, I’ve signed with Third Street Press to publish The Corpse Whisperer series, an adult urban fantasy series featuring my character, Allie Nighthawk.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, H.R. You’re a terrific guest.

H.R.: You are so welcome! It’s a blast to talk about writing with other horror lovers. Thank you for having me and I hope everyone enjoys the podcast.

Addicts, you can follow H.R. on Twitter  and Amazon.

 

Chilling Chat Episode 157 Shannon Lawrence

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in anthologies and magazines, including Once Upon aShannon Lawrence Scream, Dark Moon Digest, and Space and Time Magazine. Her first solo collection of short stories, Blue Sludge Blues and Other Abominations, was released in March. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.

Shannon is an intriguing and talented woman. When I sat down with her, we discussed her work, psychological horror, and the scary stuff which permeates her life.

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

SL: I’m excited to be here!

NTK: You’ve led quite an adventurous life and several frightening things have happened during it. Could you tell us a little about these events?

SL: The earliest crazy thing that happened was when a serial killer was after my mother. I was in the car, but was only about three at the time, so have no personal memory of it. His M.O. was to run women off the road then grab them when they got out to deal with it. He followed her from work at a movie theater she managed and tried to run her off the road multiple times. Luckily, he ended up following her into a rural area she knew well but he didn’t. She lost him by getting far enough ahead that he lost visibility around the curves. She pulled into a long gravel drive and shut the car off so he wouldn’t see her lights. He drove right past. He was caught not long after when he drove into a ditch not far from the crime scene. He had to call a tow truck.

I’m not sure my life’s terribly adventurous, but weird and scary stuff does follow me around.

NTK: What kind of weird and scary stuff?

SL: I’ve had brushes with kidnapping attempts a couple times. With one, the guy had taken my photo while I was outside playing. He started knocking on doors (we lived in a big apartment complex at the time) with my photo saying he’d lost his daughter and asking if anyone had seen what apartment I went into. He actually knocked on our door. My mom answered, and here’s this guy showing her a picture of me asking if she knew what apartment I might be in.

NTK: That’s really scary.

SL: Another time, a guy tried to get me into his car by asking if I knew how to get out of the neighborhood. I was all of about nine, and already knew there was no way an adult could be confused about it the way it was laid out. When I responded, “The same way you came in,” he lunged for me. I ran into a stranger’s house and screamed, “Mom!” He took off and I never saw him again.

I’ve been chased by a shark (a tiny one) that beached itself coming after me twice, been in a cattle stampede, and was stalked by a guy in a big van for about a year. So on and so forth.

NTK: Do these events shape your writing?

SL: I’m sure in their own way they’ve influenced my propensity toward horror and similar dark tastes. There’s also the fact that I spent my first seven years at movie theaters. My mom took me to work and gave me the run of the place until I started school. And then, I still spent evenings, summer and such, watching movies. Plus, my parents enjoyed horror and my grandma loved it. She took me to horror films frequently. Much to my parents’ chagrin.

NTK: What movies did you watch? Which were your favorites?

SL: I can say the most memorable one she took me to was Cat People. I was all of five. That story stuck with me and may be why I love black leopards so much. Viscerally, I was never able to forget the changes and a scene where someone pulls the flesh off with their teeth. She [Grandma] tried to take me to see Jaws 3D, but I believe my parents put the kibosh on that one.

NTK: Did your parents become more encouraging when you grew older? How do they Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations: A Collection of Horror Short Stories by [Lawrence, Shannon]feel about your writing?

SL: They’ve always been encouraging. It was on their bookshelves that I found Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, and other authors. They always took me to the library so I could get true ghost stories and horror to read and, when I got interested in King’s books in elementary school, they didn’t discourage me. They read everything I put out, and my mom posts after each story she reads. They also got me a Gremlins lunchbox when I was a kid in the 80s and the coloring book, which I still have. (I wish I still had that metal Gremlins lunchbox. It’s probably a collector’s item at this point.) In general, they’ve always enjoyed fiction and movies, and they’ve shared that love with me. And, at no point did they try to discourage me from being a writer “when I grew up.” I’ve had so many writer friends whose families have told them writing isn’t a real job and things of that nature. I never heard those words from my parents and I’m deeply grateful for that. They also accepted my love of all things freaky; they just mitigated it where they could, as any good parent should, until I was mature enough to run with it.

NTK: Who is the better writer? King? Or Koontz?

SL: Oh no! I loved them both fairly equally but I will say that King came out ahead for me. My maiden name started with a “K” and kids at school would call me Shannon King because I always had one of his books with me to read at school. Some of them repeatedly. It’s been a while since I read Koontz but I remember his descriptions. There was always bougainvillea and I had an image of it in my head even though I didn’t know what it actually looked like. But, King’s stories pulled me in and kept me there. His people were always so real to me.

NTK: Did King’s work inspire you to write?

SL: Definitely. Not to say I write like him, but I was definitely inspired by him. I love the way he makes even the most ludicrous thing seem possible.

NTK: Do you have a favorite King novel? What are your favorite horror books?

SL: The Shining is probably my favorite. I’ve used it in horror workshops where I like to ask what the real monster in the story is. It’s about a regular person’s inner demons, really, with the supernatural mixed in. Some of my other favorite horror novels would be The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (anyone who can still disturb me at this point is going to be top ten,) and The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale. The opening scene in The Bottoms with these kids having to walk a long way in a rural setting with something stalking them is intense and so well done.

NTK: Do you enjoy psychological horror more than other kinds? Do you write psychological horror stories?

SL: I’m an equal opportunity enjoyer of horror but, if forced to pick a favorite, I’d definitely go with psychological. I find humanity far more frightening than any monsters [because of] their capability to do evil, but beyond that, their capability for indifference and for human blunder. Psychological suspense requires from the reader/viewer that they care and that they decipher the nuances of the story to feel the full impact. But, I also like a good old-fashioned squirm-inducing monster movie. My writing is a similar mix of psychological and monster. I think writing a non-monster can be a lot of fun, but the psychological pieces are more emotionally involved and can be harder to write. Not in terms of getting words on paper but harder to sink into that particular story and character.

NTK: What is your favorite monster and why?

SL: I like the Xenomorphs from the Alien series. They’re different and stand out from the others. I don’t feel anyone’s created anything close to them in all these years. Elements of them have been borrowed, but it all started with the Xenomorphs. Plus, they’re cool to look at. I was always a Pennywise fan too. What a disturbing character. He can take on your fears, get to you through the plumbing, and take on many guises.

NTK: Pennywise is awesome. What did you think of the clown appearances in 2016? Do you think it was a publicity stunt? Or something else?

SL: I was amused by most of the clown stories, but I love scary clowns. There were some harassing an apartment complex where they were trying to draw kids into the woods, and those didn’t amuse me. They seemed to be something different from the rest. I’d love to officially know whether it was a publicity stunt or whether a couple people did it, leading to more people saying, “Why not?” I don’t think it was a publicity stunt just something that snowballed. There’s a history of people dressing up as clowns to freak people out. I think I saw articles going back years of an individual standing around somewhere public at night dressed as a clown and those stories went viral. Want to go viral? Stand on a street corner at night in a clown costume and don’t say a bloody word. No one can identify you and articles will be written about you.

NTK: Getting back to entertainment, what TV shows do you enjoy?

SL: There were so many good horror shows in the past, like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, etc. I watched all of those in repeat but I remember watching the original V with my dad as well as The X-Files. And, probably a few others that I can’t think of right now. I adore a horror comedy, so a recent favorite would be Z Nation. It’s preposterous and fun. I’ve also been enjoying Black Mirror, and did a panel on that at Denver Comic Con that was shockingly well attended. It’s great fun to get to talk to a captive audience about a show a show you enjoy! Especially in a setting where they can talk back about it so a good conversation happens.

NTK: Have you been on many panels at cons? What’s it like?

SL: I’ve been really lucky to be a regular panelist at Denver Comic Con and Mile Hi Con, which is also here in Colorado. It’s not something I would have thought I’d enjoy and yet I really love it. It’s unpredictable because anybody in that room can ask questions including your fellow panelists but it leads to great conversations and sometimes unexpected introspection. I’m always a little nervous that they’ll ask me something I can’t answer, and there are those questions where I need a moment more to think but get called on first, and then I think of something so much better to say later. But, it’s always still fun. I can go into a panel in a terrible mood and come out of it happy as a lark because of interactions.

NTK: It’s cool you interact with fans. Do you feel it’s important to write to them? Or, like Stephen King, do you tell yourself the story first?

SL: I tell myself the story first. I imagine I could do better if I wrote to the audience, but it stops being fun if I’m forcing myself to write something for other people instead of for me. Once writing stops being fun, it’s no better than the daily slog.

NTK: What’s your favorite question you were asked at a comic con?

SL: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Yet, I’m drawing a blank. One of the DCC panels I was on this last time was Letters Written from Hell: The Horror Writing Process. Someone asked if writers and readers of horror are damaged or demented. The consensus was that we’re not. That we are, in fact, saner than those who don’t partake of dark fiction. Because we get to exorcise our pains and fears on the page whereas others are trying to squash it down and cover it with something else. It’s interesting to hear what people think of the horror authors they read, how disturbed they think they must be to write the things they do, when it turns out most of us are quite emotionally balanced. Of course, it can be tempting to put on the mantle of freakiness, to be the part, but underneath it, not so much.

NTK: Great answer. Shannon, as you know, season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

SL: I like any curse that has someone stuck facing their own dark propensities. The type that punishes someone for their transgressions, giving them no way to explain it away or push it down.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works can Horror Addicts expect to see?

SL: I’ve got short stories coming out in a few magazines and anthologies. One I’m really excited about is Fright into Flight, edited by Amber Fallon and put out by Word Horde. It’s all female horror authors and there are amazing women in that anthology that I’m incredibly privileged to be included with. I’m also shopping a dark fantasy novel to agents and working on a couple horror novels. And, I’m always writing horror short stories because they’re my first love.

NTK: Wonderful! Shannon, thank you for chatting with me.

SL: Thank you so much! I enjoyed the questions you asked. Thank you for making it interesting.

Addicts, you can follow Shannon here on Facebook and Twitter.

Chilling Chat Episode 153 Lori Safranek

Lori Safranek spent several years as a newspaper reporter in Nebraska before trying her hand at fiction writing. In addition to her Freaked Out series, she’s contributed to the anthologies Simple Things, Final Masquerade, Dead Harvest, Fifty Shades of Decay: Zombie Erotica, Cellar Door II, and Slaughter House: Serial Killer Edition. She also contributed a short story to Tim Baker’s novel, Unfinished Business, and has published stories in The Sirens Call eZine.

Most recently, Lori put her sideshow characters into the Zombie Apocalypse with her story, “Freaked Out Zombies,” which was featured in Tales from the Zombie Road.: The Long Haul Anthology.

Lori has a great sense of humor and a quick mind. We discussed several things, including: her past occupation, the creation of characters, and her love of zombies.

NTK: Hi, Lori. Thank you for chatting with me today.

LS: No problem!

NTK: You were a newspaper reporter before you became a fiction writer. How did this occupation shape your work?

LS: I believe, and found to be true, that every person has a story to tell. An interesting story! So, I love hearing those stories, from the person I sit next to while waiting for a haircut to an old college friend. If you listen, everyone has done something that makes a great story.

Fiction of course, can be anything I create, but I tend to call from the stories I’ve heard over the years and use them for inspiration.

NTK: Did these stories inspire your Freaked Out series?

LS: Yes, in a lot of ways. I met a woman tattoo artist on a visit to New Orleans. She was pretty much covered in tattoos, but I also met a young man who is in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most tattooed man ever. His name is Matt Gone and he was a cook in Cooper’s, a great bar/restaurant in the French Quarter. He, like so many people, left the city after Hurricane Katrina. He’s been on TV many times. He’s a very nice guy. Anyway, their willingness to devote themselves to all this beautiful artwork inspired my character, Smudge, The Tattooed Man in the Sideshow.

The Snake Handler, Lily Dean, came from a cousin’s love of snakes. And, my fascination with the snake handling churches back in the Appalachians. I’d see TV shows about those churches and found it fascinating. And, I’ve written articles about people who own snakes and how they keep it safe, etc.

Steiner, the owner of the Freak Show, his name comes from a bar in the neighborhood I grew up in. My parents thought that was hilarious.

NTK: You also have a character called Marie. Where did she come from?

LS: Oh, Marie! I have to admit, she’s got a lot of me in her. Sassy, fat, and not willing to be ashamed about it. But, years ago, I found a graphic I was going to use in some artwork I was doing. It was a painting of a fat lady from the circus, her name was “Sweet Marie.” I fell in love with the image. She was eating in the painting but her hands were dainty and she was quite pretty. So, when I decided to do a Fat Lady, I made her lady-like and sexy, and also confident. That was important to me. I made sure Marie wasn’t stuffing food in her face on stage. And, I made her have a successful online video cam career, because wow, do you realize how many men are into big girls? I never knew until I joined Facebook!

Marie’s tattoo of wings on her back comes from my nephew’s wife, who has the same tattoo and I love it.

And, the reason I had the other character attack Marie out of jealousy was representative of how women are so often jealous of one another. We think it’s based on attractiveness but Marie weighs nearly 500 pounds! And, she’s still pulling in male fans all the time! It makes her attacker so jealous she comes to hate Marie. I think that’s so sad. Marie is my favorite character in the Freaked Out series.

NTK: Do each of your characters allow you to explore a different theme?

LS: Yes, they do. My snake charmer, Lily Dean, is a lonely person. She’s rejected by her father because she refused to use her abilities to trick churchgoers, thus making her dad and the preacher money. When Lily Dean shows up in the Side Show, she’s down to her last dollar and all she cares about is feeding her snakes. She needs a family and luckily, she is hired and pulled right into the Steiner group. Marie mothers her, of course.

One of the things about the series is that I have Steiner insist that all his freaks be honest. No trickery. If you say you can charm snakes, no tricks! Lily Dean can use her mental powers to get the snakes to do what she wants them to do. Smudge, the tattooed man, can prove his tattoos really do move around on his body. And Jason, that Alligator Man, does indeed have skin that looks like alligator hide. He has a medical condition (I looked it up, it’s real!) that causes his skin to look that way.

NTK: How much control do you exert over your characters? Some writers are god-like and decide everything their characters do, while others give their characters more free will. Where do you fall in the spectrum?

LS: They really don’t give me that much choice, the little devils! They tend to do what they want. I’m kidding. But, it does feel sometimes like the character takes over. I can have a plan in my head, but I start typing and suddenly the character is smarter than I gave them credit for or possessing traits I never even knew about. That is a wonderful feeling for a writer.

NTK: So, they become real not just to you but to the reader as well?

LS: I hope so. I have people tell me they really love Marie. And, my husband thought Smudge was a very authentic character. Smudge is a rather rough guy, covered with tattoos and very tall and built. And, he swears quite a lot. He reminds me and my husband of some of my family members, which is why he says it’s a realistic character. It’s hard not to use those characteristics, I think.

Oh, but I did get a bad review on Amazon, that said Marie was a terrible book because it was obvious the writer (me) had never been fat. Of course, I’m pretty darn big and I have no idea what she meant. Evidently, Marie did not seem real to that reader. I got a kick out of that, though.

NTK: What got you interested in freakshows? Why did you use this as a background for your horror?

LS: Good question. My good friend, Jim, is constantly going to rock concerts and when we were in college, he would often stop by my house after the concert to give me his review. One night, he tofreakshow-lori-safranek-7ld me about this really different opening act that was a freakshow. It included fire eaters, sword swallowers, people who could hammer nails into their tongues—all kinds of things. It was called the Jim Rose Circus. I thought that was amazing. It seemed after that this Circus was everywhere I looked. I watched a documentary about it, read a couple magazines about it. Pretty soon, I couldn’t get freak shows out of my head.

I also read a true crime book about a man who was known as “The Lobster Man” (Grady Stiles.) His son and wife conspired to kill him. It was a fascinating look into the circus world.

I kept thinking about the freakshows and like I said, I had that Marie graphic. One thing led to another.

NTK: Do you find your newspaper background affects your style? Hemingway and Jack London wrote like reporters. Do you write with a Who, What, Where, etc. mentality?

LS: It really does affect my fiction writing and sometimes that’s not a good thing. It can become dull. My editors have told me to “add description!!!” more than once. I sometimes challenge myself to be flowery and overly descriptive just to kind of break my “just the facts, ma’am” style. I don’t really enjoy reading overly descriptive fiction though.

Having been a reporter also impacts my ability to suspend disbelief when reading and writing horror. I’m often thinking, “Wait! That could never happen!” And, of course, it’s FICTION! Anything can happen! (Laughs.)

NTK: Were you interested in horror before writing the Freaked Out series?

LS: Sure. I had a couple short stories published in horror anthologies before I wrote Marie. And, I’ve read horror all my life.

I’m not into horror movies, though. They scare me too much.

NTK: Who are your favorite authors? Who inspires you?

LS: That changes over time, I think.

The last few years, I’ve read a lot of zombie fiction, which I love. Mark Tufo is wonderful, of course, I love how he tempers the violence with humor. His characters are well done, too. David Simpson is a new favorite, really good writer.

I’ve always been a big mystery fan, and people like Lawrence Block (who writes dark stuff) influence me.

One of my biggest influences, since I’ve been on Facebook, is Trent Zelazny. He’s been a good friend and his writing is unique and just inspires me to strive to write more clearly and with less muss and fuss.

NTK: Is Trent related to the writer, Roger Zelazny?

LS: Yes, Trent is Roger’s son.

NTK: Are zombies your favorite monsters?

LS: Yes, zombies are my favorites but I do like vampires. I was really into werewolves for a while. Zombies, though, they’re the big deal.

NTK: What is it you like most about zombies? Is it the apocalyptic aspect?

LS: That is really important to me, it creates great tension, of course. I like the driving hunger of zombies. Shoot them in the guts, they keep seeking brains! Chop off their arms, still, they move forward! It’s hard to survive them. I don’t like fast zombies, really. I like them slow and dumb. Like my men. (Laughs.)

NTK: You recently wrote a short story about zombies featuring your Freaked Out characters. Tell us a little about that?

LS: Now, that was fun! David Simpson, author of the Zombie Road series, created an anthology where he allowed writers to use his world to write a short story. He invited fans, whether they were writers or not, to contribute. The proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a great organization.

I love David’s books which are about a group of truck drivers, mostly vets, who survive the apocalypse and travel to Oklahoma to set up a small town. These truckers are resilient and smart. Anyway, I used my characters, Jason, Blade the Sword Swallower, Lily Dean, Smudge, and Gypsy the psychic/medium. Jason, Blade, and Gypsy were traveling to pick up Lily Dean and Smudge in an RV. They bring weapons (Blade’s swords and knives) and in exchange, get some fuel to get back to their fellow freaks who are holed up at Marie’s home.

David’s characters are all so down to earth and pretty tough and mine are really…um…freaky! It worked pretty well, though.

NTK: You said you don’t watch horror movies. Do you watch Zombie movies? What about The Walking Dead?

LS: I don’t watch The Walking Dead. I watched a couple episodes and I didn’t like it. I do like Z Nation, even though it can be silly as hell. I recently binge-watched iZombie. It’s a pretty interesting concept, but not realistic based on the usual zombie tropes of unthinking zombies. The main character eats brains, but also other foods, which isn’t normal for zombies. It’s good, though.

And, zombie movies—I loved Sean of the Dead and The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. And, of course, the George Romero movies.

My favorite, horrifying horror movie I really enjoyed was 30 Days of Night. Awesome.

Psycho was the first horror movie I saw and it scared the pants off me. I was about 12.

NTK: What are your future plans? What do we have to look forward to?

LS: I have a couple ideas for books but the first idea just hasn’t blossomed and I may have to give up on it. The other is about the zombie apocalypse but it’s a comedy. And, I’ll keep writing short stories, which I enjoy so much. My stories have been published in a few anthologies.

NTK: In your story featuring Smudge, he must deal with a curse. And, as you know, Season 12 of HorrorAddicts.net is CURSED. Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

LS: I think curses have to be individual. As in, if I wanted to curse someone, I’d have to know them a little and make it their worst nightmare.

If someone wanted to curse me, they’d say, “Lori, you are cursed forever to watch sports on television, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!” I would just curl up and die.

I think, with most people today, the worst curse would be to make their cell phone not work. Or, only work sporadically.

NTK: (Laughs.) Thank you for the chat, Lori.

LS: Thanks so much!

Book Review: Varying Distances

The first page of a fiction collection is an introduction to a writer’s mind. The further you go, the deeper you delve into their psyche. In this manner, you can reach any world of their invention and join any journey they imagine. Ray Bradbury and Somerset Maugham were masters of short fiction. If you were to combine the work of these authors with a dash of Rod Serling, you’d have Varying Distances by Darren Speegle.

Speegle’s stories range from the bizarre to the fantastic. He is well traveled and the stories reflect several cultures, both in setting and flavor. The first forays into his collection seem to begin with his unconscious mind and slowly work forward to the conscious. It’s much like a sleeper awakening from a dream. The first story in the collection, “In the Distance, a Familiar Sound,” is as poetic and disjointed as the character searching for the meaning of consciousness. Linear time doesn’t exist.

Each story gains clarity as you move through the pages. Against his will, a painter is commissioned to capture the soul of his subject on canvas, contractors in Iraq encounter a strange and menacing vehicle, Halloween is explored through the eyes of a god-like being, a hitman has trouble discerning between human and machine, a man finds he cannot escape the horror of his past or the people who populate it, an addict sees parallels to his life no matter what country he visits, a woman leads a man to Germany and a haunted house, a man searches for the beast which murdered his aunt, and a confused taxi driver must take a man to his destination.

My favorite story, “For Love of War,” falls in between the fog and clarity. The contractor in the story falls in love with the woman who saves him and discovers she’s more ethereal than mortal. Speegle’s prose borders on lyrical and you can easily imagine this story as a ballad.

“A Puddle in the Wilderness,” is a frightening story. In this tale, aliens masquerade as backwoodsmen alà Deliverance. Pity the poor couple who fall prey to them. (Warning: mature themes are addressed here.)

If you’re a lover of the bizarre, you’ll love this collection. Step inside Speegle’s mind and stay a while. The worlds within are amazing.

Book Review: Sycorax’s Daughters

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

And, they excel at it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David’s Haunted Library: The End Is All We See

The End Is All We See  contains two horrific stories from M.F Wahl and A.J. Brown. The book begins with intros from each author saying that when they met they wanted to try an experiment together. This book became that experiment. Both authors felt that their writing style complimented each other nicely and they both had story ideas which happen after an apocalypse.

The first story is Purple Haze by M.F. Wahl. It follows a band of survivors who left Earth in a spaceship in order to find another Earth-like planet to live on. The ship crash lands on a beautiful looking planet but there are only three survivors. The crew realizes their situation is bleak and things get worse as they explore outside the ship and discover something in the air is making them want to harm themselves and each other. Purple Haze becomes a blood bath with a shocking ending. M.F. Wahl uses vivid imagery to describe her characters situation and the planet they are exploring. What happens to the explorers is described so well that it’s enough to make you thankful for the air you breathe.

The next story is Run For The Flame by A.J. Brown. It starts simply enough with a bunch of teenagers behind a protective wall, about to race up a snow covered hill. There is more here than meets the eye though, they are living through an ice age and the wall they live behind is breaking down, their only hope is a tower on top of the hill.  The teenagers have a short period of time to retrieve a flame in the tower before they freeze to death. The problem is nobody has ever survived the run and without the flame, the community will die. This was an excellent story, the ending was a little confusing but I love all the characters. They are in a race against time, facing an impossible task but each one has a different emotional reaction to the situation. You feel for all of them and watching them go through what they do is excruciating.

What both of these stories have in common is a fresh spin on an old idea, they both take place after a catastrophic event and what transpires next is something that I haven’t seen in Science fiction or horror. Both authors tell an excellent story and the length of each one can be described as perfect. They’re short but pack a punch that you might not recover from.  To say their experiment worked is an understatement and I hope this isn’t the last collaboration between these authors.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Shadow People And Cursed Objects and Wicked Gardens

David's Haunted Library

28810445I have two anthologies that I want to talk about and they have one thing in common. They both include a story from Horror Addicts hostess Emerian Rich. The First book is Shadow People and Cursed Objects edited by C. Le Mroch. There may be a lot of ghost anthologies out there but what makes make this one different is that it challenges you to guess if each ghostly tale is based on a true story or not. At the end of the book  is a section that gives background info on each story and tells you if its true or the author’s imagination.

Shadow People and Cursed Objects has thirteen tales that are well written and delightfully spooky. The first story is The Busby Chair by Alice J. Black. In this one, a boy is dared by his classmates to sit in a cursed chair in a museum. According to legend, a ghost will come and kill you if you sit in his chair. I loved the atmosphere here and how it includes an old legend and kids doing something dumb due to a dare. This was the perfect set up for the rest of the anthology.

It’s hard to pick favorites, but one of mine was Bye Bye Blackbird by Emerian Rich. Set in 1926, it focuses on a shy woman who spots a raven necklace that she must have. Despite the shopkeeper refusing to sell, she ends up with the necklace after a series of events and wishes she hadn’t. What I love about it is how the twenties comes to life with references to flappers and the descriptions of the outfits they wear. I liked that despite the main characters getting warned about the necklace, they seem to think that the warning means something different and the woman with the necklace becomes a target. I loved the concept of a cursed object causing so much destruction.

Another story that stood out for me here is Doomsday Every Night At Five by Evan Dicken. The story looks at a simpler time where a young girl keeps seeing stories of the apocalypse on an old TV every night at 5. After awhile she comes to the conclusion that the people in the TV are watching her as she is watching them and there are things happening that she can’t control. There is only one way to end how she feels, I love the ending to this one.  I also enjoyed the next story in the anthology which again deals with a kid taking a dare. Fatty And The Nothing Man by Sean Ealy follows a boy named Fatty who decides to venture into a haunted house in order to impress his so called friends. Inside he meets the old woman who owns the house and finds that there is only one way to leave the house. What I liked here was how the woman talks Fatty into what she wants him to do and then Fatty makes a big revelation of his own. Does anything good ever come from a dare?

Another great one here is Pedro by the book’s editor C. Le Mroch. Did you ever have an invisible sibling that your parents talked about being perfect in every way? We’ll Peter had that, his name was Pedro and now Peter is an adult and Pedro is getting Peter’s son into trouble. How do you stop a ghost from causing trouble? Peter will find out that there is only one way to do it. This was an excellent story with a good message to it. There are no bad stories in Shadow People and Cursed Objects. The editor did an excellent job of picking the best of the best and the concept of deciding what is real or what isn’t also makes this book a must read. This is one book that you shouldn’t pass up.

The other anthology is Wicked Gardens Edited by Mark Slade and Gavin Chappell. This book is differentCfc5tMWWwAAYs7a than most books out there. In this collection, we have several stories that range from the bizarre to the horrific and they all have to do with an apartment building and a garden. Anything goes in this anthology and if I had to describe it in two words I would say it’s oddly original. I’m no stranger to Mark Slade’s work. When you read a book that has him involved you just need to check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride, and I did just that.

One of my favorite stories here was from Emerian Rich called The Garden. Belinda went to live with her Gram after her dad died and mom ran off. She feels lonely sometimes but the roses in Gram’s garden are always there when no one else is. I love the foreshadowing in the beginning of this story with Belinda being compared to the flowers that her grandma grows. There is also a good message about how your loved ones never really abandon you and you are strong enough to survive anything.

Another good one is Giving Up The Ghost by Mark Slade. This one has to do with an unhappy couple, a trapped spirit and a man who doesn’t want to give up his old apartment. I loved the idea of a spirit being kept against its will.

If you like strange, there is one tale in this book that really fits the bill. Apartment 6-A by L.A. Sykes is about a serial killer stuck in an apartment after the apocalypse. One word to describe this one is bleak. There is no light and no living people, just one man alone with the memories of his past killings and some dead bodies which he has conversations with. This was one deranged story.

This may be an odd little book but it’s not one that you should pass up. All of the stories and poems here show a lot of imagination and you have to love a book where anything goes. Wicked Gardens is the kind of book you read when you want to try something totally different because this book will remind you how creative horror writers can be.

 

Press Release: Crystal Lake Publishing releases The Dark at the End of the Tunnel

Award-winning screenwriter releases his mind-bending first short story collection
The Dark at the End of the Tunnel by Taylor GrantOffered for the first time in a collected format, this selection features ten gripping and darkly imaginative stories by Taylor Grant, a Bram Stoker Award ® nominated author and rising star in the suspense and horror genres.

Discover what happens when:

– A wealthy industrialist awakens after ten years in suspended animation, and finds out that the horrors of the past can never be left behind.

– A lonely man realizes that he’s gradually vanishing from existence, into a nightmarish limbo of his own making.

– An author stumbles upon an incomplete manuscript by his deceased father, and makes the grave mistake of trying to complete the story.

– A woman learns that the imaginary voices that haunt the delusional and criminally insane are, in fact, real.

This remarkable collection of short fiction exposes the terrors that hide beneath the surface of our ordinary world, behind people’s masks of normalcy, and lurking in the shadows at the farthest reaches of the universe.
Foreword by Gene O’Neill
Taylor Grant is a Bram Stoker Award® nominated author and an award-winning screenwriter. His short films Sticks and Stones and The Vanished both premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. His work has been seen on network television, the big screen, the stage, the Web, as well as in comic books, newspapers, national magazines, anthologies, and heard on the radio.

Several of Grant’s screenplays have sold or been optioned by major Hollywood film studios such as Imagine Entertainment, Universal Studios, and Lions Gate Films. He is currently working with a successful video game company to bring one of his stories to life as an exciting RPG game.

“A master class in storytelling…one of the best collections of the last ten years.” – Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award Winner, Dead City, The Dead Won’t Die

“… a cornucopia of horror from a master of the genre!” – Tim Waggoner, Eat The Night, The Way of All Flesh

“…written with the precise-concise language of a poet. Each story has an almost perfect closure….” – Gene O’Neill, Bram Stoker Award Winner, The Cal Wild Chronicles, The Hitchhiking Effect

“…beautifully crafted tales… a depth and humanity of which we all can relate.” – John Claude Smith, Riding the Centipede, Autumn in the Abyss

“As classic, elegant, deadly effective and efficient as a switchblade.” – John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award Finalist, Dust of the Dead, Nerves

“A master at balancing pure dread, raw untethered emotion, and brilliant characters.” – Robert S. Wilson, Bram Stoker Award nominated editor, author of Empire of Blood series.

Available on Amazon.com: http://getbook.at/DarkTunnel

For more information visit: http://www.crystallakepub.com/the-dark-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel.php

Press Release: Tales Of Dark Romance And Horror

product_thumbnail.phpI would like to announce the publication of my book, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror. It is a collection of short stories and novelettes that share in common some very human themes; romantic love, forbidden desire, seduction and the struggle against one’s personal demons. Then again, it’s about the monsters and dark beings that exist among us in the modern world we inhabit. We speak here of beings that lurk by the forest in the murkiest swamp lands, and we talk of the undead, blood-thirsty vampires that walk among us in the dark hours of the night.

Tales of Dark Romance and Horror is now available through the Lulu Dot Com book store, to which you will find the link below. In the coming weeks it will make its appearance at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and throughout the Ingram distribution network.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ad-vick/tales-of-dark-romance-and-horror/paperback/product-22203172.html

A.D. Vick is short story writer living in Northwest Arkansas and is the author of a blog entitled The Gothic DSCF1060Embrace, which features a variety of topics of interest to the Goth subculture. He is also involved with the maintenance and preservation of some historic cemeteries and spends his quiet time with one rather large cat named Mr. Gray. He enjoys listening to a variety of music, which ranges from heavy metal and dark wave to classical, and takes great pleasure walking through the woods and burial grounds that surround his home.

 

 

Book Review: Three from Alessandro Manzetti

23263531Every once in a while a collection of short stories comes along that’s not your average read. The Shaman: And other shadows by Alessandro Manzetti mixes horror, supernatural terror and distopic science fiction. This book may be short  it but still manages to pack in 6 stories and a poem. The first entry is called The Mount Meru. The story takes place in Tanzania and centers on a mother and son who are going to a sacred mountain and run into a group of raiders with plans on torturing them. There are more frightening things in the forest than raiders though, as a group of monsters come along to change everything. I didn’t fully understand this story but it was different than anything I’ve ever read and I liked the way Alessandro described everything.

Another story in this book is Regnum Congo which is based on The Picture In The House by HP Lovecraft.  Other tales in this collection look at a futuristic Paris where a Shaman finds missing people with an ancient ritual, a wolf in search of souls, a family who hides monsters in their basement and a neighborhood changed by the apocalypse. I thought some of the stories here were hard to follow but the dark imagery made this book a good read. There are some great ideas here and I found myself wanting more.

I also got another book recently that was co-written by Alessandro Manzetti and Corrine De 23493168Winter called Venus Intervention. This is a collection of poetry which is described in the introduction by Benjamin Kane Ethridge as a nightmare journey. The poems here will definitely give you nightmares as they describe horrors that you usually don’t see in poetry. Its divided into two sections which I liked because both authors have distinct voices and it really showed how different both poets are with Corrine’s more emotional section going first and Alessandro’s darker section following it up.

To demonstrate the difference one of my favorite poems here by Corrine De Winter was What Love Story Doesn’t End In Hell Or In A Whorehouse? I took this poem as being about love going bad, in a few short lines it managed to be funny and tragic and showed that Corrine doesn’t need a lot of words to get her point across and it gave us a dark love story that will stick with you. Going in a different direction, my favorite poem in Venus Intervention by Alessandro is Waiting, which is about a grim reaper looking down on Earth and describing what she sees. This one combines elements of horror and science fiction and paints a darkly disturbing picture. Once again this one was a completely different style of poetry and shows that you can say a lot in just a short amount of space.

23601440I don’t consider myself a fan of poetry. In fact I usually have trouble understanding it, but there were some great poems here that really moved me, such as Habit by Corrine De Winter which states that poetry is everywhere and in every person. Venus Intervention is a work of art and shows how powerful words can be.

The last book I want to mention in this post is Dark Gates-Roads To Hell And Limbo . This is another short story collection that includes two stories each by Paolo Di Orazio and Alessandro Manzetti. The stories here have to do with an apocalyptic future, the gates to hell and what its like to be in limbo. All the literature I’ve read by Alessandro Manzetti lean towards the genre of weird fiction and Dark Gates is no exception.

Alessandro’s two stories are called Lu’Lu and Limbus. Both stories focus on the futurisic slums of Paris. One deals with a prostitute and has a disturbing ending while the other deals with female gladiators in an arena. Alessandro paints a grim version of the future and does a great job of bringing it to life by describing violent scenes and having realistic characters that have seen the worst of society and lived to tell about it.

The other two stories are called Hell and Brain Dama, they are by Paolio Di Orazio and show a sharp contrast to the works of Alessandro. Hell deals with an old man who decides to check out a coffin in his attic. The coffin has been there since he was young and what lies inside just might be the old man’s worst nightmare. I liked how this dealt with the fear of getting older. The next story was Brain Dama, it takes place in present day Rome and gets into some creepy experiments being performed on brains. This was another story with a rather disturbing ending that left me smiling. This was a good anthology with some excellent twists that made me want to find more books by both authors.

Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: a review by Donald Pitsiladis

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a review by Donald Pitsiladis

Award-winning speculative fiction author Mike Robinson offers up 19 of his creepily provocative short stories in his new book, Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction.

A beer run becomes an interdimensional excursion. Two men settle their differences after discovering an extraordinary secret in the wilderness. A woman faces the bureaucratic logistics of a digital afterlife. A grieving man seeks to know where his wife was reincarnated. Strange lights in the sky begin to transform the lives of a small town. God and the Devil play billiards for people’s souls. A teenage deity’s science fair project sprouts a startling discovery.

These and more dream-like detours into the surreal, interstitial and inexplicable await within the pages of Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction.

Hello Horror Addicts!

I just finished reading a rather interesting collection of short stories called, “Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray” by Mike Robinson. It is billed as a collection of weird fiction, and I can attest that all of the stories in this book fit the bill. Whether it is a computer program that determines whether your consciousness survives virtually by weighing the entirety of the life you lead, fabulous gelatin that falls from the sky, or a hiking trail that steals your youth like a Venus flytrap. While they don’t fit any traditional definitions of horror, but they will make you grin and cringe at times.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and if I had to pick my favorite, there would be a tie between “The Cyclops Convention” and “Symbols of Atlantis”. The first because of the fun macabreness of it, the second because it is actually a very relatable story. It is definitely worth reading as light fare, a pick me up, or a palate cleanser between dark stories.

My rating is a 3.75 out of 5.

13 Questions with Laurence Simon

Now here is a name that all you HA listeners out there will know, Laurence Simon, a.k.a the creator of the 100 Word Stories series! That’s right, this week I was able to interview the master of short stories and even catch a glimpse of what goes on inside that head.

Laurence explained to me how his short stories got their start. “A college friend wrote 100 stories 100 words long, so I thought I’d give it a shot and write a few. They were about Abraham Lincoln, inspired by a play written by Woody Allen. Then, a few years later, some other friends created a site called 100 Words Or Les Nessman, where you had to write a 100 word story on a topic or write about the WKRP character. I recorded the stories I wrote for that site and put them on a podcast feed. When the Les Nessman site became unstable, people wanted to keep up the challenge aspect of that site, so I came up with the Weekly Challenge for others to participate in.”

And for those of you, like me, who have been wondering just how many of these stories Simon has written…well, I’ll let him tell you…. “I’ve written at least 1 a day for the past seven and a half years. My queue is stacked up through April of 2014, and there’s many more in the drafts pile. So if it isn’t over 4,000 by now, it’s close to that number.”

Animal lovers everywhere will appreciate what Simon feels is his best work so far, A Night On The Beach, which was written for one of his cats. In fact he cares for them enough that “every night before he goes to bed, he walks by the shelf that his cats’ ashes are on, and tells them that he misses them.” Laurence was also kind enough to share A Night On The Beach with us –

—————-
I wake up and shake the sand from my shoes. This happens every morning.

But I haven’t been to the beach in years.

Only in my dreams.

Sometimes, there’s driftwood in my hand, seaweed wrapped around my ankle.

Salt in my hair from the ocean spray.

On a shelf over my mirror, I’ve put my seashell collection.

All these things, I dream of. And bring back with me.

When I dream of you, take my hand, and let me bring you back.

I will leave my sadness on the sands of my dreams.

To be washed away with the tide.
—————-

Now I’m sure many of you have come across one of Laurence’s many websites, here is a look into his “isfullofcrap” site. “These days [isfullofcrap.com is] just an “About Me” placeholder. I used to run a daily political and current events snark blog called “The Blog Is Full Of Crap” there. And before that, I ran “Amish Tech Support.” But those days are over. My daily blogging is about Second Life, but that’s also fading. I’d rather just enjoy it than get all nitpicky on it, or rail against a privately-held company that develops features and pricing structures for customers that no longer exist and never will again. So, really, http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/ is where the real deal is. That’s where the the podcast dwells. (Until I give it its own domain and put isfullofcrap.com out to pasture.)”

Now my addicts, on to the horrifying part of this interview! Just kidding but I am gonna tell you a little bit about Laurence’s love of horror. According to him, “Fear is such a deep and raw emotion. Writers and directors who can manipulate you through it effectively are very rare. Stories that don’t rely on the supernatural or impossible are more powerful than ones that do. The Long Walk by Stephen King is my favorite horror tale. (To me, it’s horror. Deal with it.) But the moment that he wimps out and whips out a haunted demon-car or crazy-assed parallel universes, I want to smack him with the book and run him over with a van. The guy is brilliant without having to rely on that stuff. Okay, so a little magic or impossibility is necessary, but just a touch of it… one little tiny twist or spark. That’s all it takes. Good horror is when you hand someone a shovel, they dig themselves into a hole, can’t get out of it, pass through the drama as they try to get out of it by other means, and then go one step further into the really nasty stuff… the horror stage. If it doesn’t have a touch of hubris, then you’re only a victim to be added to the body count. Misery will always beat Christine in my opinion.”

“The traditional monsters are unbelievable. Give me something human or once-human, because real people are the biggest monsters of all. You’re going to laugh, but Willy Wonka was a horror movie monster to me when I was little. The man was witty, aloof, and bumping off kids one by one. Then, he told Charlie he broke the rules and… and…That’s usually when I had to go to bed. If you think about it, lots of movies are like that.
– Cut off ET when the alien is dead and Elliot is in the science lab.
– Cut off Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is watching Auntie Em in the crystal ball.
– Cut off The Ten Commandments when the Israelites have their backs against the sea.
Try it. (Especially on your kids.)”

And sadly, this brings us to the end of our interview kiddies. BUT fear not, there are more 100 word stories in your future. Here’s some things on the drawing board:

– More 100 word stories

– More 100-word entries for the A is for Avatar series (http://aisforavatar.com/)

– Collections of the stories in Kindle and other e-book reader formats.

– A feed of the stories in image format so people with WiFi picture frames can create slideshows of the stories

– Apple and Droid apps

– New refrigerator magnets of my best stories

For more information on Laurence Simon, you don’t want to miss checking out these websites!
http://twitter.com/isfullofcrap
http://twitter.com/100wordstories
http://www.facebook.com/100wordstories
http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/