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 165 David Leinweber

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David Leinweber is a historian with over 25 years of experience in the college classroom. He has published numerous articles, reviews, essays, and academic reference worksDavid Leinweber (including works on folklore, the occult, mythology, magic, and religion.) Dr. Leinweber is also a lifelong guitarist and pianist whose music has been featured in numerous venues, ranging from festivals and clubs to television, radio, theaters, and art galleries.

David is an amazing professor and an accomplished musician. We spoke of horror, inspiration, and the legacy of Dracula.

NTK:  Welcome to Chilling Chat, David. Thank you for chatting with me today. Could you tell us about A Song of Dracula? What is it about?

DL: A Song of Dracula is a romantic musical, loosely based on the classic 1897 novel by Bram Stoker, and also Jane Eyre.  It features a collection of original spooky songs, along with a few tavern singalongs.

It is about a young girl named Madeleine who arrives as a governess at a great estate in England, like Jane Eyre.  There is a romantic interest with the head of the estate (also like Jane Eyre).  However, witchcraft, vampirism, and a ghost enter into the story.  I really wanted it not to be gory or sensationalistic, however—no hissing or blood.  It’s a romantic story.

NTK: What inspired you to write this musical?

DL: Well, I’ve been a lifelong horror fan, especially of the old Victorian novels like Carmilla and Dracula, as well as the classic horror films.  I wanted this to be a production that evoked the romance and the historical/geographical settings of the old films, especially Hammer Films.  I also wanted it to be something that could range in targeted audiences from adult theater groups to community or high-school productions.

Interestingly, the word vampire does not appear in the story, though it’s obvious that is what is going on.

NTK: How much research went into A Song of Dracula? Did you try to incorporate songs appropriate to the time period?

DL: I would say that the play/musical reflects my long interest in horror, romance and gothic lit, if not flat-out research.  I did try to evoke spooky songs that have the spirit of a gothic estate.  There are also some tavern tunes that would be good for sailors or other port-city type characters right out of central casting (Laughs.)  However, I think the songs could be interpreted in a number of different ways.  I mostly envision them as spooky, romantic ballads.  But several could be done in a range of styles, including a few that could be hard-rock with electric guitar, and a light show.  I think a lot would depend on the director’s ideas.  For me, though, it’s a romantic Victorian gothic story, first and foremost.

NTK:  What do you think the attraction to Dracula is? Why does he have such a lasting legacy?

Bela LugosiDL: Great question.  I certainly think one could point to the classic psychological themes, like the fear of death, or subliminal sexual desires.  I also think that a good vampire story often has a folklore quality to it, and evokes a sense of being bound in time.  I sometimes think the classic elements of the Dracula tale don’t appear as much in vampire stories of the present-day when so many film studios want to update the classic elements.  Call it cliche if you want, but some of the classic horror tropes were very powerful and we should try to transmit them to the next generation.

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

DL: Pretty young.  There was a guy on TV in Detroit when I was a kid called Sir Graves Ghastly—a Saturday matinee movie host who came out of a coffin hosted old horror movies, told bad horror jokes, read kids’ birthday cards, and all that.  I used to watch him every Saturday.  I remember all the “House of” horror movies he showed, which were truly classics, among many others.  I also was a big Dark Shadows fan, though pretty young at the time.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror film?

DL: Another great question.  Hard to answer though (Laughs.)  I actually like some of the quiet, spooky films like Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.  But I think the Hammer films are my favorite, especially the three horror films they did that were loosely based on CarmillaThe Vampire Lovers, To Love a Vampire.  There was something special about the horror films of the late sixties and early seventies—it was still the hippie era, with all the creativity and mood that came out of it.  The fact that there were Drive-in Movies back then also created a big demand for lots of movies.  They weren’t all exactly Citizen Kane or The Godfather, but they were usually pretty fun to watch, and often surprisingly good.  That was also before Star Wars came out, which changed Hollywood into more of a Blockbuster mindset and the tasteful little movies, including B films and Drive-in Movie titles, became less common.

NTK: As a musician, did you find these soundtracks inspiring?

DL: Yes, a lot of those films had fine soundtracks.  The film I mentioned Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, in particular, had a really distinct soundtrack— quiet piano and flutes and guitar lines that really created that sense of loneliness, haunted locales, and, towards the end, isolation and fear.  That soundtrack really gave that sense of going back in time.  The Hammer Film, Lust for a Vampire, also had a really strange, very ‘sixties’ sounding tune—“Strange Love.”  It’s almost comical to watch it today because it can seem dated and out of place in the film, but it was actually a pretty eerie musical effect.

NTK: Who do you think portrayed the best Dracula?

DL: Of course, I like the Lugosi and Lee Draculas.  But Lon Chaney also did a good job and John Carradine.  But a sometimes underrated and/or less noted version was the Frank Langella 1979 Dracula, a very fine production.

NTK:  Do you have a favorite horror novel?

DL: Well, I guess the obvious choices would be Dracula and Carmilla.  But beyond those two classics, I remember that Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot really scared the heck out of me when I first read it, along with the 1979 miniseries.  When I was a kid, I used to read a lot of the cheap paperback horror novels, too, though I don’t have time for that anymore and I’m not sure if there is as big a market for them as there used to be.  Horror novels were kind of like horror movies.  They made a lot of them, which meant that there were often some quite good ones mixed in with others that weren’t’ so good, but it was always fun to read through the find the gems.

NTK: Do you think there’s any truth to be found in the folklore surrounding vampires? Do you think there are personalities who could be considered vampiric?

DL: Another great question.  Well, I certainly can see how the folklore had its roots—all the classic fears of premature burial, blood-borne diseases, or wasting away.  I also think the classic vampire motif that mixes terrible fear with desire is very powerful, for everybody.

And yes, I do think there are people who could be considered vampiric.  Not sure I want to give any names (Laughs.)  I think there are people who have a way of draining your energy and vitality.  They get stronger and richer, while you get weaker, more uncertain, and lose your zest for life.  But I guess the most classic vampire is a romantic attraction, and sometimes even kind of tragic and sad in the way they kill what they love.

NTK: David, what does the future hold for A Song of Dracula? Where can Horror Addicts see the musical? And, do you have any other upcoming horror projects?

DL: Well, I’m really hoping to have a good theater production do the musical.  Of course, Dark ShadowsI’d even love to have it turned into a film.  But first and foremost, it’s a theatrical production.  I’m still working on finding the right theater to debut the show, but hopefully soon.  I also enjoy writing ghost songs and am compiling a list of ghost songs to release as a song cycle.  My song “Daphne,” about the Kate Jackson character Daphne Harridge on Dark Shadows, remains my favorite song and it was the ghost song I wrote that got me the most inspired along these musical and storytelling lines.  Kate Jackson loves the song, which was encouraging.

NTK: Thank you so much for joining me, David. It’s not often we gain insight from an awesome educator like yourself.

DL: Thanks again for your interest in my musical and thoughts about horror.

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!!!

 

My Darling Dead: Episode 1 – The King

 

 

As a hurricane is preceded by calm, the kingdom of Dandoich had known peace and prosperity for many years. The townsfolk fought, argued, lied, cheat, stole and generally behaved as humans do, but they were content within their sphere of existence. There had been the odd uprising against this noble or that plantation owner, but it was swiftly quelled by the kingdom’s royal guards, often without too much bloodshed. A true civil war had not happened in centuries.

King Wendell had been ruling the throne for over sixty returns of the season and had taken care to extract the maximum enjoyment from his posting as he was able. Wary of the fate of his own father, Rockney the Beheaded, he exercised his kingly power with discretion, well aware that he was ultimately at the mercy of his own people whose population far outnumbered him. As a result he was well loved by his subjects, who knew their grievances would be fairly heard out and attended to in a fair and just manner.

Today, the bells were tolling as though for a wedding, but with one tone missing. The bell carrying the middle C note had been silenced, and the altered tone of the bells told of the christening of the princess, and all hastened to the square to bear witness. Christenings were the common practice in the kingdom, but the christenings of royalty were done by a fairy, and many of those living in the kingdom today had never beheld a fairy in the flesh. They were mystical beings, rarely seen unless they chose to reveal themselves.

Queen Hespa looked at herself in the mirror, her gown’s dark green blended with her red hair nicely but she could have shattered the mirror and used its shards to cut her own throat. Her smile remained frozen as her ladies in waiting bustled about her, adjusting a stitch here, a loose end there, an unbasted seam somewhere else. They were a hive of activity about her and she wondered, once again, if today would be the day she would take her own life.

The king, ensconced in his own chambers, looked up from the wench servicing him to beckon another to refill his glass with the honeyed mead he preferred. Another set his ceremonial crown on his head, and he could feel his neck creaking. He never wore the enormous heavy thing except for formal occasions, and his daughter’s christening would definitely qualify if nothing else would. He took a mighty drought of mead and hiccuped. It was his third such mug, but with the fairy Esmeli appearing tonight, he would need all the strength and nerve he could get. He glowered at the servicing wench, who had paused for breath.

“Did I tell you to stop?”

Dutifully, she returned to polishing his boots.

The princess Alasin, not yet two months old, wriggled in her crib as her nurse changed her. She had no idea that her very existence would bring about the ending of the way of life that so many generations before her had enjoyed. She did not know that her father’s affair with the fairy Esemli would plunge the kingdom into turmoil for years to come. She simply slept, dreaming baby dreams, oblivious to the world around her.

Two guards stood at the entrance to the castle, bedecked in garlands and flowers to mark the christening day. Both felt like the posterior of an equine, but knew better than to remove them. The only soldier who had done so was now on latrine duty for being out of uniform.

“Cor,” grunted the larger guard. “’ot as ‘ell today.” He spit.

The other nodded, yawning and exposing several yellowing teeth. “Aye.”

“’most noon,” said the first, squinting at the sky.

The second looked to the sky as well, nodding as he did. “Aye.”

“I never seen’t a fairy before,” the first continued, looking up at the sky as though he expected her to drop from the clouds. “They purty?”

The second licked his lips, unaware he had done so. “Aye.”

The first guard chortled and scratched himself. “Where do a fairy come from?”

“D’no,” the second said, shrugging. In his mind, he came upon a fairy in the woods, missing most of her clothes, chest heaving. His manhood throbbing, he walked up to her and…

“I’ll thank you, sir, to remove that filth from your head this instant,” a cool voice whispered in his ear. The guard jumped a mile, colliding with the larger guard who was still staring at the sky.

Esemli stood with her hands on her hips, long blonde hair waving in the gentle breeze. Her dark green tunic and leather boots were of the deepest forest greens and browns the guards had ever seen. Her green eyes matched them perfectly as they radiated scorn at the second guard, who at that moment felt the size of a worm.

“A thousand apologies, Milady,” he stuttered, stumbling over his words as inane jabber raced through his head. “I was… you see we…”

Esemli held up her hand and the guard’s voice froze in his throat, though his mouth still worked, attempting to speak. “Do not finish. You will go inform the Lord Wendell that I have arrived and await his pleasure in his receiving room.” So saying, she lowered her hand and swept past them through the door they guarded as the larger guard followed, leaving the second guard to regain control of his vocal cords and pray the fairy did not speak of his discourtesy to the king.

When King Wendell arrived in his receiving room, the windows had been covered and the torches burned with a dark red light, casting large shadows in the room’s corners. Esemli’s blonde locks were a muted bright spot in the dim room, and the king made his way toward her, blood rushing unbidden to his loins.

“My lady,” the king said gravely as he approached her.

Esemli turned, the shadows giving her face a sinister cast as she smiled and dropped her tunic from her shoulders. “My lord,” she whispered, and moved to greet him.

Queen Hespa stood outside the receiving room door, listening to the sounds coming from within. There were no tears from the queen, only rage. With the strength of fury she raised a foot and kicked the door open with a bang. The sun was behind her coming through a window slit and it fell neatly through the door and illuminated the king atop the fairy.

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Timothy G. Huguenin

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Timothy G. Huguenin lives in the dark Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. He is the author of the Appalachian horror novels When the Watcher Shakes and Little One. His tghugueninshort fiction has appeared in various places including Hinnom Magazine, Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep, and Horror Tales Podcast. Timothy is an active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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

I was in middle school, I think, when my parents bought me a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories for Christmas. I loved it! I still go back to Poe often. I get the feeling that he is more often talked about than actually read. His work is still unique and effective today.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

If you judge this based on the most books I’ve read by any one horror writer, I suppose you would say Stephen King wins. I’m constantly amazed at his ability to make characters that I absolutely buy into. Even the ones who are mostly just exaggerated stereotypes are somehow still so lifelike and believable. This talent allows him to take the whackiest idea and turn it into a compelling story. However, over the last couple years, I’ve been turning more toward the weirder side of horror. Authors like Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti have been very influential on my recent writing. Lastly, I want to mention Michael Wehunt. I think his work is fabulous, and more people need to read Greener Pastures.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

It happened and kinda freaked me out. My wife explained to me what was really going on, but it was a very strange experience when I didn’t understand it.

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

Generally speaking, I have a basic framework for how a character will react to things, and their personality and actions grow out of that as I write and continue to develop/get to know them. I try not to be too forceful. I am mostly a “pantser.” There is something about it, especially when the story is going smoothly and quickly, that feels as if the characters have their own will, even though I am the one creating them. I suppose it depends on how you define “free will.” Everyone’s will is limited to some degree by something. So “free” must always be relative, whether you are talking in terms of writing fiction or in terms of philosophy.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

The contest forced me to try some things I normally wouldn’t do and write a few more things that I might not have written otherwise. One of the short stories I wrote for the contest was my first conscious attempt at pure cosmic horror (not a requirement for the prompt, btw, just how it turned out). It did not score well with the judges, but I consider it one of my best pieces. Agree to disagree, right?

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

I probably could not do it again, at least in the foreseeable future. I just don’t have the time or the mental space for it. I have enough writing projects I need to focus on, as well as other things I need to work on in life, like work, school, and my marriage. I am not a good multitasker.

7) What is your favorite horror novel?

That is a tough one. Just off the top of my head, I’m going to say Revival by Stephen King. But Dracula really made a great impression on me. It often depends on the mood I am when I read something, and the environment. These things greatly shape our feelings toward a book, more than we probably realize. I read a great deal of Dracula in a small tent during a violent thunderstorm in the Cherokee National Forest. I’m not sure if I will feel the same way about it next time I read it. One of my favorite books of all time, which I have read many times and always loved, is 1984 by George Orwell. Few people would consider it a horror novel (especially those outside our little camp), but it captures that creeping sense of dread that I look for better than almost any other book that claims to be horror.

8) Favorite horror movie?

I’m not sure if it is my favorite or not, but I finally got around to watching Carnival of Souls and really loved it. Though I’m not sure it totally made sense.

9) Favorite horror television show?

NGHWEdPSmOK, maybe I’ll disappoint some people with this because there’s a lot of really better polished and very popular horror TV shows that have been made since then, but I really love The X Files, which wasn’t always horror but did have plenty of monsters.

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

You’ll probably see some more of my short fiction being published this year. I have a novel manuscript that I’m trying to find a good fit for. As far as works in progress, I am about 5,000 words into a new novel, but most of the writing I’ve done this year has been on a short story that turned into a novelette and may even keep growing to novella length. Not sure what’s going to happen with it. We’ll see.

 

You can find Timothy on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

 

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Cat Voleur

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Cat Voleur is a horror blogger and writer of dark speculative fiction. She is following up her traditional education with studies in linguistics and parapsychology. When she is notMe at work or school, she’s enjoying a nice book or stressful video game in the company of her many feline friends.

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

I was about 8 when I acknowledged that horror was a genre, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to it. I grew up loving scary stories and some of my first favorite movies were the black and white horror classics.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

My favorite author would be Joe Hill. He consistently amazes me with his work, and has written some of my favorite novels and short stories. I’d say Stephen King is one of my strongest influences, for better and worse, because reading him taught me to include a lot of detail – much of which has to be edited out later. Some of my more recent influences would be Clive Barker and Max Lobdell.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

The piece I have included in the collection is actually nonfiction. When I read that prompt, it was just the event that I was taken back to and I tried to write it as faithfully as I could remember.

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

I think a lot of that depends on the project. The longer a piece is the more the characters control me, but I feel like I have a certain level of authority when writing something a little more structured, like flash fiction.

I remember recently I was trying to explain my writing process to a friend, and I described myself as a sort of “Jigsaw” in regards to my less polished ideas. I set up these really dark scenarios based off of my assumption that I know the characters who will be experiencing them, but sometimes they surprise me with their will to survive or think outside the box.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

I learned a lot of things about myself participating in the contest, a lot of personal things regarding my limits as a creator and my writing process.

The most important thing that I learned about writing horror though, would be how connected it is to other genres. I think one of the hardest aspects for me was that it required the contestants to write in many different tones for many different mediums that I would never have expected from a horror contest. The challenge I found most difficult was the comedy commercial script. Some of my favorite horror films are the self-referential slashers that rely very heavily on dark comedy, but I had never considered writing comedy as something I should try to improve on until this contest.

It was difficult, but learning about all the things that tie into horror made me a  better writer.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

I would absolutely do it again.

The one thing I’d do differently is I’d stick it out to the end. At the time I was participating in the contest, there were just so many personal things going on in my life that felt out of my control. I ended up switching jobs, moving across the country, there was a lot of my drama with my extended family, and I was struggling with a relationship that I didn’t realize was very unhealthy and actually harmful to me. When I also fell ill, it felt like one thing too many, and I just wasn’t turning out the quality of work I wanted to be submitting, so I dropped out.

That might have been the right thing at the time because I got worse before I got better, but I’ve learned a lot since then. I have more control over my life than I realized, so if I got another opportunity to compete in something I feel this passionately about, I’d feel confident in prioritizing it higher than I did last time around.

7)What is your favorite horror novel?

My favorite horror novel is The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker.

Aside from being an intimately disturbing read, I’ve never found a horror novel that reads quite so poetically. It’s some of the most beautiful body horror ever written.

8) Favorite horror movie?

My favorite horror movie is Cabin in the Woods because it’s got a little bit of everything. It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s emotional, and it’s so intelligently written. It pokes fun at the genre while simultaneously expressing a deep love for it, explaining tropes along the way. You can enjoy it as a casual fan, or watch it over and over to pick up every last horror movie reference they squeezed in. It’s been my favorite movie since I saw it in theater, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

9) Favorite horror television show?

NGHWEdPSmThe Haunting of Hill House, hands down.

I’ve been a Mike Flanagan fan for years now, but he handled the source material so brilliantly that I don’t even have to worry about being biased; the show’s just good. It’s scary, it’s gorgeous, and there are always new things to discover if you are in the mood to watch it again.

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

Now that I’ve had plenty of time to recover and get my life back on track, I feel confident in saying that the future holds more horror writing for me.

I have a few very dark, experimental short stories under consideration right now and am about to start querying for my first two longer projects. Of course, I’m still blogging about the genre whenever I can find the time.

You can find Cat on Twitter and please, check out her Portfolio Site.

 

 

 

 

 

Irish Horror Author : Iseult Murphy

 Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Iseult Murphy

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country? What is your connection to Irish Heritage? Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from? Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?

Hello! My name is Iseult Murphy. I live in County Louth on the East Coast of Ireland, about 40 minutes from the capital city of Dublin.

How and when did you start writing?

I am fortunate to be the youngest of a large family, and I have a lot of siblings who are interested in reading and writing. I started writing my first novel when I was 7. In my teens, I won several short story competitions, and in my twenties I began to take writing more seriously and started submitting my work to publications.

Why write Horror?

I have always been drawn to horror. The world is a scary place, and I think the horror genre gives us the most freedom to explore our fears. They can be surface fears, or societal fears or deep seated existential fears. Horror is a safe place to shine a light on the struggles of life, revealing the best of us in the worst situations. It is also great fun.

What inspires you to write?

I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes my dreams inspire my stories, other times it is an overheard conversation or a headline in the news. I am very inspired by the natural world. I love animals and finding out about their behaviors and life cycles. There are some creepy things happening out there in nature! I also am very interested in myths, legends and folklore. Most of those tales are pretty dark, which is why I like them. One of my stories, ‘The Village Shop’, was inspired by a speech and drama festival I attended. One of the trophies was sponsored by ‘The Village Shop’, but village was spelled wrong, and it made me wonder what kind of things were sold in a vile-age shop.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

I think so. I love the myths and legends of Ireland. I’ve written several stories that deal with elements from Irish mythology. My short story ‘Heart of Gold’ has leprechauns, Irish gods and the amadan – a creature from Irish folktales who is said to wander the roads in August, and if you see him you will go insane.

What scares you?

Zombies. They are everywhere now, so most people have a plan on how to survive the ZA, but I’ve been planning my strategy since childhood. Body horror always gets me. Scott Sigler’s Infected made my skin crawl in all the best ways. I am very interested in transformation, both physical and psychological, and anything that explores having your identity being destroyed, or being trapped in a way that stops you from being able to communicate, really scares me. I read Kafka’s Metamorphosis when I was in my early teens, and the idea of being trapped as a giant bug without being able to communicate, and being forced to accept the changes to your life because of your physicality, really got to me. I know it has a deeper message, but the actual surface level story really made my skin crawl and stayed with me. Jeff Vandermere’s Southern Reach Trilogy gets to me for those reasons as well.

Who is your favorite author?

I have so many! My top 5 are Bram Stoker, Richard Matheson, Garth Nix, Peter S Beagle and J.R.R Tolkien.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I like to plan everything out in meticulous detail. I love world building, drawing maps and character sketches and filling notebooks on theme and mood. I have an atmosphere, or color palette, that I want to come across with each piece I write, so the story is percolating in my head for a while to work out the best way to bring that across. I like to shut off the internal editor, which is hard to do, and write the first draft as quickly as possible. The second draft is for bringing the story closer to my original vision.

Tell us about your current projects.

I have recently finished a novella about a woman who sets out to discover what she is, after surviving being burned at the stake. I am also working on two dark fantasy novels, and I’ve just started planning a horror novel, as I’m in the mood to write something gritty and dark.

Zoo of the Dead and other horrific tales by [Murphy, Iseult]What have you written and where can our readers find it?

My collection of 9 horror short stories, 6 previously published and 3 new, is called Zoo of the Dead and Other Horrific Tales and is widely available wherever eBooks are sold. Subscribers to my newsletter at http://www.iseultmurphy.com get a free short story every month. This month’s story, ‘Return to Hades’, is the story of a space mutant who journeys into the past to be reunited with a loved one.

 

 

 

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Iseult Murphy lives on the east coast of Ireland with two cats, five dogs, a kakariki and a couple of humans. She writes horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. Her work has appeared in over a dozen venues, including The Drabblecast and Alban Lake’s Drabble Harvest. A collection of her horror short stories,  Zoo of the Dead and Other Horrific Tales’ is available on Amazon and other eBook retailers.

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with JC Martinez

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JC Martinez writes fantasy, science fiction and, of course, horror.  An author still living his dream of telling stories as best as he can, JC Martínez will try his hardest to make your skinIMG_0346 crawl, give you delightful nightmares, and take your breath away.

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

Honestly, too young to remember how old I was. This past December, while I was cleanin’ out my closet, I found some short stories I wrote when I was less than ten years old, and even though they don’t scare me right now, they were a way to express that feeling of nervousness that horror had created in me. Sometimes, I think I’ve always had a fascination with the unknown, with the things that lurk in the dark. I like that uneasy feeling that makes your spine tingle. It tickles pleasantly.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

Ray Bradbury. He, of course, has been an influence, and all the other authors and artists that I like have been essential for my development as a writer. It’s impossible for me to build a list of every single person that has made me the man I am today, so let’s just say I am grateful I can experience the works of the countless masters that have shaped my taste in art.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

My feelings. I have a certain disaffinity to tongues and saliva in general. They make me feel uncomfortable, the traces of a viscous liquid left by a damp limb as they slowly enter your body through your pores. Yeesh. Most of my writings stem from what I find unagreeable, but taken to a dreadful extreme.

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

I can’t help but think that this one is a trick question. On the one hand, my characters only exist because I create them. On the other, most of the times, I don’t know what they’ll do until I make them do it. For me, that counts as free will, but not for the characters. That makes it sound as if I had a god complex, but I really don’t. It’s just that my brain, even when I don’t actively acknowledge it, will always continue the process of creating worlds and giving the characters the most appropriate actions under any given circumstance. The only thing they can do is fall to command.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

Many things. Mostly, how to deal with emotions and that the only thing a writer can do is to make the best they can with the ideas they find interesting.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

Sure. Probably. If I got in again with a good 100-word story. I don’t know what I’d do differently. Speculation has never been my strong suit outside fiction. They say humans are like rivers, in that they change through time. Under a different perspective, and amidst other circumstances, I really don’t know how I’d behave.

7) What is your favorite horror novel?

I don’t have one. The Martian Chronicles is hands down my favorite book, and while it has some scary bits, it’s not a horror novel. I’m fond of way too many stories, styles and ideas to have just one favorite. I like John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Bram Stoker’s portrayal of a genuinely monstrous Dracula. I like Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and the transgressive fiction that is Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted. I’m fond of the funnies that are David Wong’s John Dies at the End and Joe R. Landsdale’s Bubba Ho-Tep.

NGHWEdPSm8) Favorite horror movie?

I don’t have one either. There are just too many sub genres that it’s impossible to pick a single movie. Alien, The Omen, The Exorcist, Halloween, Fright Night, 28 Days LaterConstantine.

9.) Favorite horror television show?

Hannibal.

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

All I can say is that from now and until I leave this mortal coil, I’ll continue to deliver the best stories I can come up with.

 

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Abi Kirk-Thomas

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Abi Kirk-Thomas lives in the UK and studied as a theoretical archaeologist in Wales. She lives with her husband and 2-year old chocolate Lab called Adam. She’s currently studying AEKirkmassage therapy. She loves reading horror and dabbles from time to time in poetry.

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

I was 18 when I discovered horror.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

Andy McDermott is my favourite author, he’s more sci-fi/action but I’ve always had some action in my horror stories to keep up the pace.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

I hardly write poems but I always thought that if there was a zombie apocalypse and there was a vampire left in the world what would happen to them. It was pure chance I came up with the poem, I wanted to mix in comedy with romance and sadness.

4) How much control do you exert over your characters?

All my characters have free will, but I do find if I’m writing something that is shocking for readers, I do cackle like a witch.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

I learned that, sadly, writing isn’t for me. It’s a hobby but it’s fun. I would not participate in any further contests.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

I do write but it’s only for fun. I would not participate in the contest. I found I like free reign on what I write. Contests take the fun out of writing what you want.

7) What is your favorite horror novel?

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

NGHWEdPSm8.) Favorite horror movie?

Battle Royale.

9) Favorite horror television show?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer but it wasn’t scary.

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

As I’m not writing, I’m starting up my massage business. But, I wish all those the best of luck publishing their works.

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Adele Marie Park

chillingchat

Growing up on an Orcadian island, surrounded by folk tales and the sea helped Adele Marie Park become a writer.  She believes horror is paranormal. It is as solid as your Adele picheartbeat when you’re home alone and the floorboards creak upstairs.

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

My family had a farm on the Orkney island of Rousay. Around five years old I can remember the authentic folklore of Orkney being explained to me as very much alive. There was a field next to the house that had a knowe, that’s Norse for mound, and it was not only a trow, (troll) house but also where they had burned a witch. So, whether true or not that’s when I got my first taste of horror.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

I have several favourites, but Stephen King has influenced me and so has Poppy Z Brite and of course I cannot leave out Anne Rice. Those three have influenced me greatly.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

Japanese culture and music, especially Visual Kei, is a favorite and as the piece prompt was about horrific musical instruments, what better than to combine Japanese Yokai with music.

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

Most of my characters tell me what they are doing. However, if it goes against the plot then I can reign them in.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

It was a sharp learning curve which brought my writing under criticism, the harshest critic being myself. I plunged down into darkness and rose again to the light. I found my writing voice and that is priceless.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

If my workload was less than it is now, then yes, I would do it again and this time around, I know my style has improved. Also, I would have an assistant to read the questions for me as having dyspraxia meant for at least two of the challenges I scored low because I didn’t understand the questions and thought I did.

nghwedpsm7) What is your favourite horror novel?

Just one? Okay, Christine by Stephen King

8) Favourite horror movie?

The Conjuring directed by the master, James Wan.

9) Favourite horror television show?

Supernatural just keeps on giving.

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

I have just been signed by Black Wolf publishing for my horror novel Wolfe Manor and will also have a horror short story in the next publication of Dan Alatorre’s award-winning anthology. The 2nd book of my fantasy series, Wisp, will be published this year and I plan to work on an illustrated companion book to go with the trilogy. I can’t stop writing, there are too many stories in my head. Wait a moment, that’s a great idea for a horror story.

You can find Adele on Facebook.

Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Jonathan Fortin

chillingchat

Jonathan Fortin was named the Next Great Horror Writer by HorrorAddicts.net and is a graduate of the Clarion Writing Program. His novel Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is a JonathanFortinAuthorPhoto_Sepiaforthcoming release from Crystal Lake Publishing.

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

I remember getting into horror as early as first grade when I started reading the Goosebumps books. Then in middle school, I became obsessed with Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and wrote a trilogy of short vampire novels. However, I was an anxious, easily-terrified child, so I didn’t fully embrace horror until later in life. Now, I’d always been drawn into darkly magical worlds, even in the video games I adored (American McGee’s Alice, Planescape: Torment, Vampire the Masquerade, etc.) But because I was so sensitive, it was rare for me to watch horror movies in my youth. That changed when I went to college, and began trying to face my fears and challenge my limits. I realized then that I’d been a horror fan all along–I had just been too scared to accept it.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

My favorite author is Neil Gaiman. Not always horror, but certainly dark. Other authors who have influenced me include China Mieville, Alan Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, Holly Black, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Carlton Mellick III, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, Patrick Rothfuss, Haruki Murakami, and Junji Ito. Lately, I’ve been digging the work of Joe Hill and N.K. Jemisin.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

“Consumption” is about the anxiety of losing your identity in a homogenized office culture. For my day job, I work in a call center. Environments like that make it difficult for people to be authentically themselves, as you can easily be judged by coworkers if they learn that you’re different from them in some way. For work to run smoothly, you must conform to a larger whole–losing your identity in the process. I’ve always been highly individualistic, and struggle to conform to social expectations, so I’ve never liked the idea of being consumed into something larger than myself. I didn’t get to explore this theme as deeply as I wanted because of the length requirements, but that was the fear that drove me to write this story.

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

Generally, I develop characters so that their behavior will naturally drive them into the stories that I want to tell, but I love it when they surprise me by doing things I don’t expect or react to each other in ways I never planned. In the past I’ve tried to force characters to act in ways that didn’t feel authentic to me, but as any writer will tell you, that just doesn’t work. So in my experience, characters NEED free will if you want the story to feel real. That doesn’t mean I won’t carefully manipulate the world around them, though.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

You never know whether you’re really all that into a story idea until you try to write the damn thing.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

Since I won, I don’t really see the point in doing it again. I’m too busy trying to live up to the title, haha. But if I were to do it again, I would try harder to strengthen my nonfiction submissions (articles, interviews, etc.).

nghwedpsm7) What is your favorite horror novel?

Hard to choose, but a few that have stuck with me are Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Silk, and Dan Simmons’ Drood. If I could include graphic novels, Black Hole by Charles Burns and Providence by Alan Moore would also be serious contenders.

8) Favorite horror movie?

Crimson Peak, Oldboy, The Thing (1982), and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, among many others.

9) Favorite horror television show?

There seems to be a pattern of four here, so I’ll say Carnivale, Hannibal, Penny Dreadful, and Stranger Things.

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

At some point, my novel Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus will be released from Crystal Lake Publishing. HorrorAddicts is also putting out my short story Requiem in Frost, from the contest’s musical challenge. I’m working on a few other novel projects right now, and have a completed (if rough) first draft of one that I’m very excited about. My hope is to complete a polished, publishable draft of my second novel and then find an agent for it.

You can follow Jonathan on Facebook and Twitter.

Irish Horror Author : Emerian Rich

 

 Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Emerian Rich

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country?

I am Emerian Rich and I live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. I write Horror, Romance, and ever so often SciFi. I’m the Horror Hostess for HorrorAddicts.net and am also an artist, graphic designer, and book designer.

What is your connection to Irish Heritage?

I am 5 generations from the cross-over, but it’s a part of our heritage we’ve kept pretty close with it.

 

Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from?

County Down in Northern Ireland.

Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?

No and no. It’s one of my live goals to travel there.

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing stories when I was in Middle School. I had received a journal for Christmas. I started writing about my own life, but by half-way through I was so bored of my own life, I decided to write how I wished my life would be. This new me got to go on adventures, solve crime, and experience things I could only dream of. My first novel was when I was 13. 89 pages of big, bubbly cursive in pencil on white, lined notebook paper. However, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until in my 20’s.

Why write Horror?

There’s something special about a story when it can horrify you and make you feel safe at the same time. I enjoy creating stories and characters that people can experience horrific situations through without leaving the comfort of their reading nook. Most people’s lives are nice and safe—which we want them to be—but there isn’t much excitement in living our daily lives. We need to escape every once in a while and dream the impossible. Sometimes the trauma the characters go through can help us work through our own.

What inspires you to write?

Beautiful locations, interesting history facts, and most of all, my dreams. Day dreams of what I wish I could do and sleeping dreams where my subconscious goes off the rails.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

As far as it being part of who I am, it’s all in my writing. My heritage did inspire one particular character most of all. The Irishman, Markham O’Leary, in my Night’s Knights Vampire Series is a direct inspiration from my own family heritage. I patterned him loosely off of my grandfather and his family.

What scares you?

What scares me in a good way is Classic Horror or Horror with a classic slant. Movies like The Woman in Black, Crimson Peak, and Ghostship have the mysterious darkness to them that I have enjoyed all my life.

What scares me in a bad way is the real-life trauma our world is going through right now. Hate crimes, domestic violence, mass murder, and the simple fact that a large part of the population no longer has respect for life in general.

Who is your favorite author?

I can never name just one. Anne Rice has been a favorite for a long time along with Andrew Neiderman and Jane Austen, but recently I’ve been delving into horror classics like The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell, and The Willows by Algernon Blackwood.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I generally have so many ideas I can’t possibly write them all down fast enough. My novels are big, enormous ideas that simmer in my head for quite a while before I actually start writing them. If I’m writing a short story, I usually get the email from the publisher or see the call and get inspired by the idea or the cover. Then I think about it for a few days. In a day or two I’ll think of something awesome I want to do. I usually get the beginning and the end and write it down (long hand) as much as I can. When I have a pretty solid first draft, I read it into my phone and email it to myself. Once it’s on my computer I make it pretty, flesh out the descriptive parts, sure up the dialogue and fill in the missing bits. Then it’s ready to send to my betas.

Tell us about your current projects.

I have just finished a modern rewrite of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s sort of a Clueless-meets-Lydia Deetz-from-Beetlejuice YA Romance about a Horror Addict who falls in love over winter break in New York City.

I am writing my third vampire novel, Day’s Children, and have a few other short Horror stories coming out in anthologies this year.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

Readers can find out about my vampire series, Night’s Knights, and all the other fun stuff I do at: emzbox.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. 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. You can connect with her at emzbox.com.

#HOWConference – Last chance to chat?

 

Join us tonight
Thursday, February 28
for our LAST CHANCE CHAT
Live on ShoutBox Chat
9 pm pacific / 12 mid eastern

You can still chat with HorrorAddicts.net year-round by…

Joining our FB group

Women Writer’s Group

Following us on Twitter

Subscribing to our blog

Listen to our podcast on iTunes

Hope to see you tonight!

And if you’ve missed any of our awesome articles/panel discussions, check out:

Scare Yourself and Your Readers – Dina Leacock

How to Make Your Horror Tourniquet Tight – Laura Perkins

The Embodiment of YA Horror – Laura Perkins

Gary Frank Author Interview

Overlooked Elements of Promotion – Loren Rhoads

Christine Norris Author Interview

Brainstorming 101 – Laura Kaighn

Brian McKinley Author Interview

Importance of Networking – Ilene Schneider

Of course, our HorrorAddicts.net staff has come through with several horror articles and general writing tips, too:

Submitting Your Short Story – Naching Kassa

Self-Publishing Checklist for Newbies – Emerian Rich

How Not to End a Sentence with a Preposition – Kristin Battestella

Getting Out and Staying Out of the Slushpile – Emerian Rich

Vampires versus Vampires – Kristin Battestella

Baby Steps for New Authors – Emerian Rich

There’s just so much to see and do out HOW! We’ve already decided to keep using the Forum and the ShoutBox Chat for more HorrorAddicts.net perks and events! Browse our Online Conference today, tomorrow, at your own pace anytime – and be sure to tell us What You Think of HOW!

#HOWConference – Welcome Our Guest Authors!

 

 

The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference has several workshops, videos, and inspirations from locals near and far! Here’s a list featuring some of our Guest Authors:

 

Scare Yourself and Your Readers – Dina Leacock

How to Make Your Horror Tourniquet Tight – Laura Perkins

The Embodiment of YA Horror – Laura Perkins

Gary Frank Author Interview

Overlooked Elements of Promotion – Loren Rhoads

Christine Norris Author Interview

Brainstorming 101 – Laura Kaighn

Brian McKinley Author Interview

Importance of Networking – Ilene Schneider

 

Of course, our HorrorAddicts.net staff has come through with several horror articles and general writing tips, too:

 

Submitting Your Short Story – Naching Kassa

Self-Publishing Checklist for Newbies – Emerian Rich

How Not to End a Sentence with a Preposition – Kristin Battestella

Getting Out and Staying Out of the Slushpile – Emerian Rich

Vampires versus Vampires – Kristin Battestella

Baby Steps for New Authors – Emerian Rich

 

There’s just so much to see and do out HOW! We’ve already decided to keep using the Forum and the ShoutBox Chat for more HorrorAddicts.net perks and events! Browse our Online Conference today, tomorrow, at your own pace anytime – and be sure to tell us What You Think of HOW!

 

 

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: Chat Transcripts!

 

Did you ever want to start a podcast but don’t know how?

Do you want to submit material but don’t know what the editor wants?

Never fear! At The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference, our Podcast Hostess Emerian Rich and our Head of Publishing Naching T. Kassa have answered your questions in two live chat sessions via our HOW Forum.

 

Missed the chats, did you say? HOW Con has you covered once again with our chat transcripts! Emerian discusses podcasting, publishing, and the changing trends in horror while Naching, editor of the upcoming Dark Divinations anthology, shares insights on the submission process and the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.

Both transcripts can be found in HOW’s Horror Workshop section alongside more articles and tips from authors including Dina Leacock and Mercy Hollow and video interviews with witch author J.L. Brown and vampire writer Brian McKinley. There’s so much to see and read at HOW!

 

 

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference : Video Workshops!

In addition to Workshop Exercises and Writing Essays from Our Horror Addicts, staff, we’ve included our Previous Video Coverage of Writing Events and Special Author Interviews as part of the HOW Conference!

Panel Recordings, Author Interviews, and Keynote Speeches include:

 

Terri Brisbin – Romance Panel
 
E.P. Bell – Non Fiction Panel
 
 
Kristin Battestella – Fiction Panel, yes that’s me :-X
 
Karen Castaneda – Children’s Panel
 
D. L. Cocchio – Young Adult Panel
 
Jennifer Eaton – Young Adult Panel
 
 
K. Edwin Fritz – Horror Panel
 
Tina Gabrielle – Romance Panel
 
 
Marie Gilbert – Young Adult Panel
 
William Gold – Paranormal Panel, Fiction Panel
 
Maria Imbalzano – Romance Panel
 
Nadine Jasmin – Fantasy Panel, Romance Panel
 
J. Lauryl Jennings – Speculative Panel, Fiction Panel
 
 
Dina Leacock – Speculative Panel
 
Jane Lueder – Non Fiction Panel
 
K.A. Magrowski – NaNoWriMo Community, Horror Panel
 
 
Christine Norris – Paranormal Panel, Author Interview
 
Caridad Pineiro – Young Adult Panel
 
Ilene Schneider Rabbi Author – Networking Night
 
Linda Silver – Children’s Panel
 
J.P. Simmons – Paranormal Panel
 
Loretta Swift – Fiction Panel
 
Char Webster – Author Interview
 
All our Panelists are entitled to one of our HOW badges as a token of our gratitude to link to your website so everyone can enjoy and share your on camera wit and wisdoms! THANK YOU!
You can find ALL Our Videos at the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference in One Place thanks to our Handy Video Index here:

http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/thread/65/huge-video-panelists

HOWConference: Live Chats!

The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference is offering Several Live Chat Events with our Publishers, Editors, and Staff. Join us at HOW to ask Your Questions!

Sunday, February 24
CHAT with AN EDITOR!

Sunday February 24 4 p.m. Pacific/ 7 p.m. Eastern Naching T. Kassa, Horror Addicts.net Publisher and Dark Divinations anthology Editor will be chatting with HOW!
Naching is a wife, mother, horror writer, and Head of HorrorAddicts.net Publishing. She’s created 17 short stories, two novellas, a poem, and co-created two children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to the Demonic Visions series. She took second place in Horroraddicts.net’s Next Great Horror Writer Contest and one of her poems was included in The Horror Writers Association’s Poetry Showcase Vol. IV.

 

To chat with Naching, join us in the Shoutbox at the bottom of the #HOWConference Front page. If you have a question for Naching, post a “?” comment during the chat hour and the moderator will call on you.

Monday February 25 we are having not
One but TWO Live Chats at HOW!

First on Monday February 25 10 a.m. Pacific / 1 p.m. Eastern join Emerian Rich, HorrorAddicts.net Publisher & Podcast Hostess for Publishing 101

Creator and Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net Publishing Emerian Rich created HorrorAddicts.net as a place for horror addicts, by horror addicts, glorifying every aspect of the horror lifestyle. Emerian is the author of Night’s Knights Vampire Series, the Sweet Dreams Novel Series, and has been involved in dozens of podcast and story projects. She was the editor of the horror ‘zine DarkLives for ten years starting in the mid-nineties. To find out more about Emerian, visit her site at: emzbox.com

Next we are having an Evening Welcome Party!

Monday February 25 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific it’s a Shout Box Welcome Night Party with Kristin Battestella, Dark Fantasy author and HorrorAddicts.net Staff Writer. Yes, Yours Truly!

When other kids were playing with dolls and teddy bears, this South Jersey born and bred addict KBatz was watching Price, Lee, Hitchcock, Dark Shadows, Alien, anything and everything in analysis of what was scary and why. Be it vamps, scares, or weres, you name it-freaky or macabre and she is there-regardless of how you pronounce macabre. For more bent paranormal fiction and horror film, television, and literature reviews, find Kbatz’ insanity on the web at: vampfam.blogspot.com

Can’t Wait to See You at HOW!

 

Horror Addicts Online Writers Conference – A HOW How-to Video!

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz answers Your Questions about the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference and explains some of the Forum Technology and Live Events happening at HOW.

 

 

Join us February 24-28 for Writing Workshops, Author Videos, Publisher Chats, and More. It’s Free to sign up and So Easy you can do it in your Purple Peter Cushing PJs – say that Three Times Fast!

 

See YOU at the Conference!

 

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

HOW Facebook Event Page

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Be a Panelist!

Authors, Presenters:
Want to panel at HOW Con? Participate in 4 easy steps.

Step1: Join the free forum.
http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

 

Step 2: Figure out what you want to do.

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
~ Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level.

~ Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc.

~ Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event.

~ Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors.

~Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc.

 

Step 3: Submit ideas /worksheets, etc to our email.

“Don’t forget if you are interested in presenting a workshop as part of the HOW Conference, you should submit your materials to horroraddicts@gmail.com.”

Step 4: Wait for peeps to go and read your stuff during the con and answer the participate in forum discussion.

FRIGHTENING FLIX: Revisiting Poe Video Review

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz (and a special feline guest) discusses new appreciations in revisiting the short fiction of Edgar Allan Poe including The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell Tale Heart in addition to comparing and contrasting the Vincent Price and Roger Corman Poe Film Adaptations.

 

 

Thank you for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Horror Addicts.net – By Addicts, for Addicts!

 

Get involved: https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499/

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

Paranormal and Horror Author Panel – South Jersey Writers Conference

Moderator Brian McKinley joins authors William Gold, Christine Norris, J.P. Simmons, and J.L. Brown to discuss vampires, science fiction, young adult, paranormal, steampunk, urban fantasy, witches, and much much more on the writing process, world building, social media marketing, and author brands at the South Jersey Writers Conference November 10.

 

 

Videos also available from the South Jersey Writers Conference include Networking Night with mystery author Ilene Schneider and the NaNoWriMo address from speculative writer K.A. Magrowski.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/southjerseywritersconference/

Fiction and Genre Panel – 3rd Indie Author Day Event

Moderator and horror author Brian McKinley is joined by science fiction writer William Gold, humorist Loretta Wish, mystery and thriller author J. Lauryl Jennings, dark fantasy author Kristin Battestella (yes that’s me! Your trusty Kbatz!), and urban fantasy storyteller Laura Kaighn for the Fiction and Genre Panel at the 3rd Indie Author Day hosted at the Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.

You can see the entire 7 part video below or also view the Childrens and Non-Fiction Panel from the Indie Author Day.  For more photos and author events, visit the South Jersey Writers Conference, Facebook Page.

 

 

 

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.

 

THE WRITING CHAMBER: HOW TO SCARE YOUR READERS

Halloween is approaching and you know what that means. It’s time to get scared. Whether it’s through a haunted house, movie, or book this season we go towards horror for the thrill. Read horror, however, has a different audience reaction from watched horror. Horror films usually rely on the jump scare but that kind of reaction does not come easily from reading books and poems. So how do you scare your reader? The answer is simple: give them nightmares.

I’m sure you’ve read a book before that scared you so much that you weren’t able to sleep at night or you became paranoid. We know that is possible to write a story that enlists this kind of reaction and I’m here to tell you how to execute it in your writing.

There are two ways to scare your reader:
1. Creep Them Out
2. Get Too Close To Home

To creep out your reader you must think of what is creepy. For some it may be spiders and for others it may be clowns. Since the creepiness depends on the person, writing a story where your protagonist is trapped in a coffin full of spiders might be more creepy for others. However, a level of creepiness that is equal to every reader is ambiguity. Using fear of the unknown in your writing will ensure a creepy vibe to your story. You can accomplish this I multiple ways such as by having the identity of your antagonist unknown, missing faces from your characters, etc. Writing towards the creepiness factor will help your story produce the nightmares you need to scare your readers.

Getting your story close to home means that the horrors in your writing are believable and draws on reality so that it’s not a stretch for your reader to connect your story to their real life. You want your readers to believe that what happened to your protagonist can happen to them. You can do this by drawing on personalized fears that you or another have experienced. That is horror that is inspired by true events are the most scary to audiences, because it is all real with no fantasy. Getting your story too close to home means that your horror can happen to anyone and not just the fictional. Making your readers realize this will scare them with nightmares of their own life.

Now that you know a few methods to scare your readers, begin writing so this Halloween you can be the one scaring others through your words.

Chilling Chat Episode 162 Mary Turzillo

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

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

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

MT: I am so flattered to be asked!

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

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

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

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

And, my mother had a very dark imagination.

NTK: Was she your first influence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chilling Chat Episode 162 Marge Simon

chillingchat

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

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

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

MS: Thanks for doing this, Naching!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MS: Loved your questions and thanks for the interview.

Addicts, you can find Marge on Goodreads and Amazon.

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

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

Chilling Chat Episode 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.

 

Odds and DEAD Ends: Claustrophobic Killing

The Horror Legacy of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’

Agatha Christie probably isn’t a name you’d associate with horror. She was a crime author; the writer you snuggled up in the armchair with on a rainy afternoon for a good thriller with twists and turns. For the first two decades of her career, the famous detective with the little grey cells, Hercule Poirot, was her livelihood. And yet, in 1939, she unleashes And Then There Were None. This single novel redefined strategic, rhythmic, multiple murders in fiction and would come to change horror itself.

On the documentary The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, John Carpenter cites Christie’s novel as an influence on his adaptation of Campbell’s novella Who Goes There?. In the novella, dozens of scientists find an alien imitator in their midst which is ultimately defeated with only a few deaths. Carpenter’s The Thing is much bleaker, with just sixteen men left to fight and kill, and ultimately are left with two survivors and an uncertain future, desolate and alone.

Strangely, though a larger crowd might sound initially scarier, as they could be so many people, it is when there are fewer characters that the tension mounts. The walls have closed in. There aren’t seven rooms that a killer could be in; there’s only one. And, standing in the right place, you can be sure to see them. Carpenter reduces a few dozen characters to his sixteen, and Dame Christie had already done it with just ten.

Everything about the novel has the purpose of constricting the ten, subjecting them to as much pressure as possible, crushing them. The house is cut off from the rest of the world and those on the mainland have been told not to rescue them. We’re confined to the hallways of Soldier Island’s house, chasing shadows.

Added to this the dripping theme of guilt that Christie presents us with, permeating every sentence, every word of the novel, and we see that she is pressurizing the characters emotionally. The past catching up with them; they can’t escape the killer or their conscience.

But I’m not here to discuss the novel as a whole. What I want to bring to your attention is the legacy of its setup. Just look to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Though light-hearted, there are two episodes of the first series in which the S.O.S brigade are trapped on an island with a single house, in a storm, when a murder takes place. Suddenly everyone begins casting suspicions, doors are kept locked, shadows are seen outside. Though there is only a single murder, as opposed to the many in Christie’s novel, the setup is so similar it borders on parody.

To go even further, die-hard fans of horror-thrillers will remember the series Umineko no naku koro ni, or When The Seagulls Cry. Twenty people on an island in a storm being killed off systematically to appease an old legend. This direct homage is done not just because it’s a nice reference, but because the formula is so easy, simple, and effective. No communication to the outside world, trapped in one place, being killed off by a psychopath in the midst.

This claustrophobic killing rhythm has been replicated so many times now that it’s hard to think that it had an origin of some kind. And there were stories that used aspects of it before And Then There Were None, but none of them had the same impact.

Could you conceive of the modern slasher flick without some of the points mentioned? Could you imagine Alien if it was in a city with a nuke nearby? If the bridge in The Evil Dead were intact? Perhaps Saw II would be better if only two people died in that house? Maybe if the police didn’t keep them caged in the apartment, REC would have been vastly improved?

If you want maximum terror, you keep people confined. This isn’t just a claustrophobia thing; it’s the idea of escape. Freedom. You find what a character wants, and then take it away from them; it’s storytelling 101. In Scream, Sidney says that horror movies are just girls that ‘run up the stairs when they should be running out the front door, it’s insulting.’ But when the front door opens up to a cliff-face or the vacuum of space, there’s no option. We’re trapped. We are creatures constantly in need of control, and when we don’t have control of escape possibilities, we panic. We get scared.

Christie got the formula and nailed it. It hasn’t been beaten since. It’s the reason why The Mousetrap is the longest continuously-showing production of all time. It’s why Waters of Mars was one of the most terrifying episodes of Doctor Who in recent memory. It’s because it taps into our basic instincts and then removes them. We can’t fight and we can’t run. We can only try to survive and hope and pray. And anyway, as Leslie Vernon says, letting people escape ‘is really embarrassing.’ These killers aren’t going to let us off the island.

And Then There Were None is the perfect slasher prototype and should be revered and remembered as such. Agatha Christie wrote the essential horror blueprint. Fact.

 

Article by Kieran Judge

 

Bibliography

Alien. 1979. [Film] Directed by Ridley Scott. United States of America: Brandywine Productions.

Behind the mask: The rise of Leslie Vernon. 2006. [Film] Directed by Scott Glosserman. USA: Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Campbell, J. W., 2011. Who Goes There?. 1st ed. London: Gollancz.

Christie, A., 1952 – present. The Mousetrap. London: St. Martin’s Theatre.

Christie, A., 2015. And Then There Were None. London: HarperCollins.

Doctor Who – Waters Of Mars. 2009. [Film] Directed by Graeme Harper. United Kingdom: BBC.

John Carpenter’s The Thing. 1982. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Universal Studios.

REC. 2007. [Film] Directed by Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza. Spain: Filmax International.

Saw II. 2005. [Film] Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. USA: Twisted Pictures.

Scream. 1996. [Film] Directed by Wes Craven. United States: Dimension Films.

The Evil Dead. 1981. [Film] Directed by Sam Raimi. USA: Renaissance Pictures.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. 2006. [Film] Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara. Japan: Kyoto Animation.

The Thing: Terror Takes Shape. 1998. [Film] Directed by Michael Mattesino. United States Of America: Universal.

Umineko No Naku Koro Ni. 2009. [Film] Directed by Chiaki Kon. Japan: Studio Deen.

 

Chilling Chat Episode 160 Michele Roger

Michele Roger is an author and harpist living and working in Detroit. Her previous novel, The Conservatory, was published in 2014. Her second book, Eternal Kingdom: A Vampire Novel, was published in 2015 and made into a film script. Dedicated to furthering the reach of women in speculative fiction, she is a founding member of, “The Wicked Women Writer’s Group.” Her short stories have been published in anthologies in both the US and UK. As a harpist, she is the founder of the Michigan Conservatory. She was a Detroit Music Awards Finalist for best classical composer in 2015.

Michele is an innovative and artistic woman. We spoke of music, the creative process, and her advice for the burgeoning female writer.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Michele! Thank you so much for chatting with me.

MR: I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you for the invite!

NTK: You’re an accomplished musician. How does your background in music influence your writing?

MR: That’s a great question. In reality, there isn’t an easy answer. The two creative outlets sometimes inspire one another. That’s when it feels like a blessing. I can be writing a conversation between two people falling for one another and the music will start to play in my head. The epiphany will hit me that it’s not a song I’ve heard before. Then, I stop writing words and start writing notes on a music paper. Sometimes, the two outlets compete for my attention. I can wake up at 3 am with a story and the theme music and the entire movie score in my head. Then, it feels like a curse. Which do you act upon first? Honestly, it’s a good problem to have.

NTK: Do you find inspiration in dreams?

MR: My biggest inspiration is walking. But, dreams do come into play. If I set a story and its characters aside to do my day job teaching music or playing Harp concerts, the characters sneak into my dreams. It’s always the same dream to start. I’m asleep in bed inside of a glass box. The characters come and gently knock on the box while I’m sleeping. The characters return each night, knocking louder and eventually pounding on the glass until I finally start to write their story. Then, the dreams end.

NTK: Did The Harpist come to you in this way?

MR: Yes. The ghost in the story, Emma, came to see me first, as I was out for a walk. That night, I dreamed of her outside the glass box. She scared the hell out of me. But as a paranormal writer, that’s an advantage, I suppose. Elizabeth and Detective Flannery came to me the next day.

NTK: That’s a fascinating process. What is the difference between paranormal and horror?

MR: Paranormal, by my definition, is like a flavor of a story. There are elements that are scary or ghostly but those elements are just tools for telling a story. The Harpist is definitely paranormal. I’ve written two horror novels. The entire story builds and builds becoming more frightening at every turn.

Paranormal uses scary elements to tell a great story. Horror uses a story to convey something really scary.

NTK: Are your stories character driven? Or, plot driven?

MR: Depends on the story. My sci-fi book, Dark Matter was definitely plot driven. So was [ ETERNAL KINGDOM: A VAMPIRE NOVEL Paperback ] Roger, Michele ( AUTHOR ) Jul - 20 - 2014 [ Paperback ]my horror novel, Eternal Kingdom. But my latest shorts, like Addicted to Love and now this new novel, The Harpist, is far more driven by the characters.

I think, as I get older, the more I like how beautiful it is when characters are vulnerable.

NTK: How much control do you exert over your characters after they come to you? Do they retain their free will? Do they come to you with vulnerabilities?

MR: They come to me dragging their huge amounts of baggage. It’s just my job to spoon their personality and flaws out to the readers as needed.

NTK: What writers have influenced you most?

MR: My first love of literature bloomed after reading F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I read that Hunter S. Thompson said he wrote passages from The Great Gatsby over and over again to learn how to write well, I tried it. That’s when I knew I wanted to write. I didn’t realize I wanted to write speculative fiction, sci-fi, and horror/paranormal until I devoured Stephen King’s short, Thinner. Then, The Visitor series in the 80s and finally, Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, had me writing in the genre and never looking back.

NTK: Were you a reader as a child?

MR: I loved to read. It was always my escape.

NTK: What got you into horror?

MR: In 8th grade, a friend gave me a copy of Stephen King’s, The Eyes of the Dragon. It was a fantasy story he wrote for his daughter. I was already reading all the sci-fi and fantasy I could get my hands on secretly (my mom thought I should read romance) so King’s fantasy novel became my gateway drug into his other stories.

NTK: What do your parents think of your writing? Have they encouraged you?

MR: Before my dad passed away, he came to every signing and author event I had; often buying a copy of books he already had just to show his support. My mom is supportive of all my creative endeavors.

NTK: You said your mom wanted you to read romance. Do you like to write romantic scenes in your books?

MR: The first romantic scene I ever had to write, I was so nervous, I had to have a cocktail to get through it. Now, I have become much closer friends with my characters. I adore helping them find their loves. Maybe, that’s the difference between writing my first love scene in my early thirties and writing now at 46. I’m more comfortable with my own sexuality and hence, I’m more comfortable with the romance scenes of my characters.

NTK: That’s great! Do you enjoy horror movies and television shows? If so, which are your favorites?

MR: Hmm. I love Stranger Things but really, I don’t watch much TV or movies. I’m a print junkie.

NTK: What do you like about Stranger Things?

MR: I love the duality of worlds; one we can see, one only a select few can see. I also adore how much they’ve embraced the deliciousness of the 80s, right down to the plaid flannel shirts. Seeing the story through the eyes of kids is one of the best parts.

NTK: You’re a founding member of The Wicked Women Writer’s Group. Could you tell the Addicts how that came about?

MR: Early on in my writing, a publisher told me that it would be hard for him to market my work if I used my real name. Horror and sci-fi readers didn’t buy work written by women (or so he thought.) I didn’t want to hide behind a male pen name. Instead, I started a group for women who wrote speculative fiction. I wanted it to be a positive place for female horror writers to support one another. It’s become so much more and I couldn’t be more proud of all the members and our collaborations.

NTK: Very cool! Thank you for starting this group and giving women writers a place to get together. What advice would you like to give prospective women writers out there?

MR: Just this week, The Guardian published an interview with Phillip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials series, and president of a UK author society. He said that the publishing world isn’t supporting authors. Less than 30% of authors can make a living by writing solely as a career. For women, the percentage is even lower. Hence, my advice is this: 1. Buy the work of all authors you love. As a woman and a writer, we appreciate the grueling art form. Particularly, buy the work of female authors. Show appreciation with our dollars. 2. If monetary support is out of reach, support women’s writing by posting great reviews of their work. 3. Never give up on your dream.

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

MR: Curses are definitely a powerful female tool. My favorite thing about them is that they’re more frightening than a threat. A curse actually feels possible. My favorite curse? “I hope you have a kid just like you!” That curse came true in my two kids. And, I couldn’t be more proud.

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

MR: The Harpist (Cursed) will be released this fall 2018. A short holiday story with Elizabeth and Flannery is in the works and the sequel to The Harpist is already outlined and taking shape. As for music, I’m working on another Celtic harp album which will hopefully be released in the spring of 2019.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Michele. It’s been fun.

MR: Thank you so much for the interview.

Addicts, you can find Michele on Twitter.

Chilling Chat Episode 159 Patrick C. Greene

As a toddler, Patrick C. Greene created horrors in crayon before discovering comics and horror fiction. Despite nights spent hiding under covers, he was always drawn to dark tales.

After cutting his fangs on screenwriting Greene found his true calling in prose with the debut novel Progeny. He favors horror that is emotionally engaging, terrifying, and suspenseful.

Greene’s other works include the collection Dark Destinies, action-packed vampire novel The Crimson Calling, and The Haunted Hollow Chronicles: Red Harvest, coming Halloween from Lyrical Press.

Western North Carolinian Greene heeds his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of Horror, Kung Fu, and Doom Metal.

Patrick has a style all his own. We spoke of his childhood in Western North Carolina, writing, and his fascination with Faustian themes.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Patrick! Let’s get down to business. What got you interested in Horror?

PCG: Like many small fry, I was interested in dinosaurs, and that led to Godzilla movies, which have a good bit of genre crossover.

The first exposures to real horror came via a paperback collection of Tales from the Crypt comics I found on my father’s bookshelf, which I believe he confiscated from one of his college students.

He told me about the Universal monster series so I made a point of watching all of those I could find.

The third influence was the death of my Aunt Helen, when I was maybe four or five. I was just beginning to get close to her when she passed. Death was no longer a distant abstraction. I suppose I needed to understand just what it was. I still have drawings from then with images of corpses and skeletons.

NTK: Did your father encourage your interest in horror? What was your childhood like?

PCG: Yes, and in some ways, he was not aware he was even doing so. My dad was a novelist as well as a newspaper editor and often found himself covering gruesome crime or just bizarre stories. He had a police band radio that he monitored at night. Once, I recall him rousting my brothers and me from bed and piling us in the car. There had been a UFO sighting nearby, and if there was one to be seen, he wanted us to have that experience. He and my mother were very excited, but my brothers and I—less so, and more terrified of encountering the hostile variety of spacemen we’d seen on TV.

Another such incident involved a wildcat that had been heard near the mountain community where we lived. I can’t remember if anyone had lost animals or whatnot, but my dad took it upon himself to hunt the damn thing, and I went with him. It was a crisp clear night and we hiked into the woods. Several times, we heard its cry; like a screaming woman—chilling to the bone.

NTK: Did you grow up in Western North Carolina? Mountainous areas have a reputation for frightening stories. Did the geography influence your writing?

PCG: Yes, my parents discovered a few acres outside of Asheville and had a two-story log house built on it. There are quite a few ghost stories connected to the region and my dad was not shy about sharing them on camping trips and cold nights. There are flesh and blood dangers too, such as a pack of wild dogs; runaways and strays that had come together.

Oddly, I saw greener grass on the other side, so to speak. I had a long phase of wishing to be a big-city boy. Due to this longing, I was attracted to comics, films, and books that were set in seedy metropolises. Clive Barker, my favorite author, often sets his work in urban areas.

But I am in touch with the isolation of this geography (I’m back on that track now) and I do feel uniquely attuned to its scary potential. I’ve embraced the wilderness figuratively and literally.

Stingy Jack and Other Tales by [Greene, Patrick C.]NTK: Did this “scary potential” inspire the story “Stingy Jack?” How did that come about?

PCG: In a roundabout way. I’ve tried for a few years to grow pumpkins in my front yard, largely without success. I looked up ways to improve my chances and fell into a rabbit hole, as will happen, about the origins of Halloween, the reasons for Jack O Lanterns, etc. Stingy Jack, the face of the legend struck me as an interesting character in his own right. There are a good many tellings of this story but I had never seen one done as a prose narrative. Stingy Jack has the potential to be a seasonal symbol like Ichabod Crane.

NTK: You’ve written a book called, Red Harvest, which (like Stingy Jack) features the Devil. What drew you to the theme of those who sell their souls?

PCG: I fit the classic mold of a child born into traditional Christian belief, which I later came to question. Whether you view him as a real being or an archetype, Lucifer is a character of greater nuance than he’s given credit for: a wicked being of only hate and spite, seeking to destroy good and replace it with evil. One person’s idea of selling one’s soul can be another’s idea of taking personal responsibility for your life, come what may. Alternately it can be regarded as the necessary opposite to the essential goodness; each defining the other.

To me, Stingy Jack seems to be a simple lesson in planning ahead. Both Jack and The Devil are stuck in the moment of their decisions. The tale probably served as yet another variation on the boogie man theme that parents use to keep their children from going astray, which seems like lazy parenting if you think about it—which makes it the ultimate irony. I wanted to show the consequences that Jack’s actions have on others, on the world around him. Jack’s avarice and self-centeredness rival even Lucifer’s, and that’s why he is doomed; both tragic and terrifying because he will never change.

The “devil” in Red Harvest is a very different take than that of Stingy Jack. Fair to say, these two demonic fellows would scarcely know each other at all. Both take place on Halloween as well, so I hope readers will let me share their scares this season, and for many to come.

NTK: That’s a new and fascinating take on the old legend. You spoke of Clive Barker earlier. Did he influence your writing?

PCG: Clive Barker’s work seemed almost alien to me when I first read it, whereas King’s felt like home. A scary, spooky home.

I remember seeing Barker’s Hellraiser and thinking what a perfect horror show this is, with a living corpse in the attic, demonic entities threatening to come through the walls, and worst of all: a cold murderess dominating a supremely effed-up family. Red Harvest is likewise a horrific potpourri, and hopefully as well-drawn and tightly-woven.

Hellraiser led me to The Books Of Blood, and one of my all-time favorite novels, The Damnation Game—which brings us back to the Faustian pacts, now that I think about it.

NTK: What about King and Koontz? Of those two, who do you think is the best?

PCG: As a young adult, I appreciated Koontz and King in equal measure, and Intensity will always be a favorite too. But for sheer consistency of quality to volume ratio, King will reign for many years. He continues to get better, even after all this time, and leaves us writers with no excuses for not producing.

The Stand, Pet Sematary, The Talisman and Carrie all seem to have graced me at the perfect time in my life, or perhaps were so strong they molded my life to fit their stories!

NTK: Do you enjoy the film adaptations of Barker’s work?

PCG: For the most part, yes. I love Candyman, but I’m not the fan of Nightbreed that many Barker fans are. Midnight Meat Train and Lord of Illusions are great adaptations. Then there’s Rawhead Rex. That one had the potential to be another Pumpkinhead, but just fell apart. Maybe someone will give it another shot.

NTK: What horror films and television shows do you watch?

PCG: Lately I’ve been watching Hannibal, which is heads and shoulders above most TV horror fare. I did enjoy Penny Dreadful, though I think it got a little played out. I’ve kind of given up on Supernatural. I’m eager to see The Frankenstein Chronicles.

I’m finding the superhero fad to be a bit stale, which is sad because I was an enthusiastic Marvel reader as a boy. I like what Legendary is doing with Godzilla and Kong and I’m pumped for the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters!

I love the 70s and 80s feel, the way it’s incorporated into Stranger Things. I worked really Red Harvest (The Haunted Hollow Chronicles) by [Greene, Patrick C.]hard to reflect some of that in Red Harvest, along with elements of the 50s. Red Harvest’s town of Ember Hollow is like some time warp mix of 50s and 80s.

I’m about a year behind on all the big horror hits, but I’m also a fan of martial arts flicks.

NTK: Do you ever incorporate martial arts into your horror stories?

PCG: Oh yes. My novel The Crimson Calling contains several characters who are well-trained, particularly the heroine Olivia Irons, who is ex-special forces. She’s called upon to lead one faction of vampires against another. There a good many wild fight scenes in which martial arts are enhanced by the combatants’ vampire abilities.

Under Wicked Sky is a sci-fi horror novel I have had accepted by Sinister Grin Press, with plans for a 2019 release. The story centers around a post-global warming world in which the concept of law has essentially become meaningless, and guns are scarce. There are a good many brutal fight scenes.

Finally, the story “Cinderblock,” contained in the Stingy Jack collection, is about a boxer’s ghost who still has plenty of knockout power.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What projects do you have to share with the Horror Addicts? Any films involved?

PCG: I’ve become reticent to discuss film projects, as so few ever come to fruition! Both my bigfoot novel Progeny and the aforementioned Under Wicked Sky have been optioned for production and a martial arts web series I wrote is in some kind of limbo it seems.

Red Harvest is the first in a trilogy called The Haunted Hollow Chronicles, and I’m writing the second entry now with a release planned for next year through Kensington’s Lyrical imprint.

Beyond that, there are still plans for a follow-up to The Crimson Calling.

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

PCG: Stingy Jack is, of course, cursed to roam the In-Between until he finds someone gullible enough to be tricked into taking his place!

Another interesting curse that comes to mind is from King’s Thinner, with the main character wasting away, day by day, for his moment of carelessness.

The film Drag Me To Hell depicts a horrific and sinister curse!

NTK: Those are great curses! Thank you for chatting with me, Patrick. You’re a fascinating person.

PCG: Thank YOU Naching! It’s been a lot of fun.

MUSIC REVIEW – Live show: Freakangel + Neonsol + Advance

Hello and welcome to HorrorAddicts.net music reviews! This is Jeffrey Kohld Kelly.

Today we are going to do something a little bit different; rather than reviewing a new release I’m going to do a review of the Manchester date of the Freakangel & Neonsol show featuring Advance. This tour was courtesy of Beat:Cancer, a UK-based nonprofit organization doing their part to help find a cure through means of concert tours and compilation CDs, with additional support from Analoguetrash and DWA Records. As a newcomer to the UK, this was my first Beat:Cancer performance, and I was floored by the immense support the audience and musicians had for the cause and for each other. But more on Beat:Cancer later; for now I’ll get to the bands.

The first performer of the night was Advance, a Scotland-based “Dystopian Electronica” band with a beautiful combination of both intelligent and danceable synth lines. Their music was nearly reminiscent of genre veterans CHROM and Neuroticfish, but with a wholly unique approach. Their live sound was even more full and professional sounding than their recorded material, which may be in part due to the fact that their most recent album was released 3 years ago and they’ve grown more as producers over the years. Their live show, while somewhat lacking in energy on stage, seemed to provoke the most energy in the crowd. Between industrial dancing and singing along to more than half of the songs, it was clear that Advance had already made quite an impact in the Manchester area previously. Tom’s vocals exceeded his skill demonstrated in the album while live synthesizers provided by his accomplice Kimberley added just enough push to the mix to drive forwards and deliver more to the live show than could be accomplished in a studio record. Advance’s charismatic and dynamic live performance was actually my favourite of the night, and I would highly recommend everybody else to be sitting on the edge of their seats just as much as me to catch their highly anticipated and long-time-coming new album.

The first co-headliner was the Danish/Canadian synthpop act Neonsol, a band iconic for their songbird-style female vocals paired with the deep and brooding vocals of their male vocalist and live synth player. Despite the high number of Neonsol shirts circulating the audience, they didn’t immediately receive quite the same positive response as Advance. I can’t help but feel that most of this initial hesitation held by the audience and myself was due in part to the performance of their live drummer. While they may have had reasons for having him along, I found him to be almost an extraneous member as he only played a midi snare drum, and hit less than half of the songs’ snare strikes. What made me most concerned was the fact that throughout more than the first half of their set he was playing severely out of time with the backing tracks and sampled drum beats, causing the entire live show to feel out of time and sit awkwardly. These tempo issues may have been in part due to live stage monitor levels being a bit low; any band will tell you how frustrating and common this issue is. But whatever the case, I felt it took far longer than necessary for me to be able to properly sink into their performance and experience it how it was meant to be. However, when the band found the pocket they were looking for, the performance quality increased drastically and created the dark and moody swaying pulse they’re known for. Their song Manipulation was, of course, the show-seller accentuated live by the rumbling voice of their male vocalist’s backing vocals. The stark contrast in sounds is and was implemented in a lovely way, and any fan of synth-driven music should find Neonsol at the top of their record collection.

Finally Freakangel took the stage. The Estonian industrial metal band has gone through quite a bit of genre evolution over the years, moving from harsh aggrotech to a significantly more metal-driven and hardcore or even metalcore-influenced combination. The live show delivered far more on the metal front than the studio albums, Art’s guitars receiving significantly more of a central focus, topped by an incredible and energetic performance by their new Amazon warrior of a live drummer. The vocal performance did seem to suffer somewhat compared to the album versions of songs, Dmitri mumbling or moaning the lyrics between guttural screams rather than a powerful vocal delivery throughout; while he may have been trying to convey a certain vibe to the audience through this type of performance, I can’t help but think that the show itself would have been stronger as a whole had all members shown just as much energy. Curiously enough, despite being the main headliner of the night, a surprising amount of the audience moved to the back for their performance. This may have been in part because of the stiff genre divide in the night, starting with synthpop and ending in death growls. It’s possible that most of the people who came simply weren’t metalheads and had come to see Advance and Neonsol. Whatever the case, those of us who stayed at the front had a fantastic time and I hope that Freakangel will continue to deliver such high energy performances throughout the rest of their career.

For those of you who would like to know more about Beat:Cancer you can find information at the link provided below. Even if you’re not based in the UK you can support the cause by ordering merchandise or a copy of their latest compilation CD featuring the artists who performed at this show as well as many others. For those in the UK you can catch the next Beat:Cancer tour featuring Sirus throughout the UK this October!

For HorrorAddicts.net this is Jeffrey Kohld Kelly.

Advance:

https://www.facebook.com/advanceaudio/

Neonsol:

https://www.facebook.com/Neonsol/

Freakangel:

https://www.facebook.com/freakangelofficial/

Beat:Cancer:

http://beatcancer.info/

Chilling Chat Episode 158 Mercy Hollow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTK: Do you have a favorite monster?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Writing Chamber: The Best Ways to Write Information in Your Horror

When writing a story, it’s really easy to write with “then speak.” What I mean by that is when the story goes:

She walked to the house and then opened the door. Then she looked inside.

This is a very literal example of this writing faux pas, but it happens all the time. Now imagine reading a really intense horror story with this kind of writing. Just from language alone, it’ll change from spooky to boring. As the writer, you want to intensify the creepiness of your horror, not dull it out by how you write it.

By now you’re probably asking how. How do you write a horror while avoiding the use of then? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can never use this word but as the writer, you shouldn’t rely on the word then to describe your story. Instead, rely on this writer’s rule: Show, Don’t Tell. It’s pretty self-explanatory; show your readers what is happening in your story through descriptive imagery and don’t just tell it. Think of like painting a picture for your readers, so the images of your scenes are clear and detailed.

Keeping this rule in mind, our example from earlier changes from simple to scary.

She walked to the abandoned house of decaying wood and stood there with an uneasy feeling. As she opened the door, she heard the creaking of the rotting hinges. She looked inside.

These two examples tell the same story, yet one is undoubtedly a horror story and the other could be any kind of story. The second example clearly paints the story, giving the reader no doubt what kind of story they are reading. It draws the reader in, having them anticipate what other horrors await. This is why it is best to avoid “then speak” and write with descriptive imagery.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, there are ways to use descriptive imagery uniquely within your horror. Before I move on, it is important to note that there are more unique devices out there from the one I am about to tell you. I am only giving you a taste of the options and abilities that you have as a writer to help you get started because uniqueness in a story also comes from the uniqueness of the writer, which is why I can’t tell you everything. If I do, it wouldn’t be your story.

One unique wplaceholderriting device I am going over is shown through the horror film A Quiet Place, particularly the moment when the audience is shown the whiteboard in Lee Abbot’s office. Keep in mind that this is not a book but a movie, so the storytelling technique is different since the audience is viewing the story rather than reading it. However, looking at the way John Krasinski was able to provide multiple pieces of information in seconds of film is helpful when thinking about writing a story. There has been some speculation on this whiteboard, where people dislike it because they see it as Krasinski taking an easy way out from telling the story. I disagree because the information told through the whiteboard was necessary to understand the story and Krasinski was smart enough to utilize the technique of summary.

In writing it is often the case that writers need to choose what needs to be detailed in a scene and what information needs to be shown through summary. As the writer, it is sometimes better to use summary over scene when artists are dealing with time limits or word counts. However, it is important to note that summary and scene should have a relationship with each other in a story, where one does not overwhelm the other. A story with all summary and no scene could read as too fast moving and lacking details.

Summary can be done in multiple ways, depending on what the writer chooses. Krasinski uniquely decided to summarize through a single shot of a whiteboard. By doing this, the audience not only knows information about the antagonist of the story but we also get a taste of Lee’s character through seeing his survival method that comes into play later on in the film. Now imagining this summary technique in a book, the descriptive imagery involved is not only informational but it is also can paint a clear picture of whatever details you want your readers to see. Thinking about portraying information the way Krasinski did opens doors to us writers as we can imagine various ways to summarize information uniquely rather than simply telling the readers.

All in all, the use of descriptive imagery can go a long way when writing a story, and deciding when to use summary and when to use scene will help you write a well-rounded story that portrays everything that you want your readers to know. Now you can go and make your imagery as spooky and creepy as you want when you write your horror.

 

 

Chilling Chat Writing to an Invisible Drummer: An Interview with Josh Malerman

 Josh Malerman is an American author and also one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band, The High Strung. Their song, “The Luck You Got,” is the theme song for the Showtime television program, Shameless.

Malerman authored the books, Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel, and Unbury Carol. He has been published in Cemetery Dance, Scary Out There, Chiral Mad, Lost Signals, Shadows over Main Street, and Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. He resides in Michigan with his fiancée, Allison Laakko.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Josh.

JM: And, thank you for having me. This is exciting.

NTK: Your book, Bird Box, is set to become a Netflix film starring Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich. How did Bird Box come about?

JM: The book started out as any other to me … that’s not to say that I’m writing a string of ideas that arranged on an assembly line, without emotion, but all I began with was a woman, blindfolded, two children in tow, rowing down a river. I just liked the image and started writing their story. This quickly led to … ”What are they fleeing? What can’t they see?” From there, I started thinking of old fears, things that scared me a lot growing up. One of those things was the idea of infinity and how man isn’t capable of comprehending it.

So, I thought, what if infinity were personified in a semi-abstract way. What if the concept arrived on Main Street?

From there the book exploded in my hands. A mother attempting to navigate a river without being able to open her eyes. The rough draft was written in some 26 days. And, while the rewrites took forever, I’ll forever cherish those 26 days and sometimes, I feel like I’m still living them now.

NTK: Does your writing often begin with a single image?

JM: Some of the stories do. A single image or a title can be enough to say, “Hey, go sit down and give this one a shot.” Because, if you’re writing from a “free” place, if your mind is wide open, then you’re probably going to see that small image or idea bloom in double time. I try to stay open to tangents at all times. I try not to stick so tight to the original idea. So, with this in mind, yeah, sometimes a single image can jumpstart the whole shebang.

NTK: You’re also a singer/songwriter for the rock band, The High Strung. How does this background affect your writing?

JM: Every time I write, I do so with an invisible drummer in the room. I’m at the desk, hammering away, always playing to the beat of this unseen musician just out of sight. Like the Wendigo, if the Wendigo played drums. I realize how bonkers this sounds but I really can’t seem to get away from him and I wouldn’t want to. Whether I have a record playing in the room, or a soundtrack going on YouTube or the radio … the drummer is the one giving me the beat for every story. And, I can’t help but think that, since I play a lot of rhythm guitar in the band, there’s gotta be a link there between the band and the books.

NTK: So, would you consider the drummer a muse?

JM: Hmm. I haven’t thought about it like that. But, I love the question. Not a muse. More like … we’re both turned on by the same muse. In fact, the drummer might catch sight of said muse first, start playing, then I fall in, typing over what he plays.

NTK: You’ve written many unpublished books while touring. Do your experiences make it into your novels?

JM: I was just talking to my bandmate, Mark, about this today. I’m sure some of the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been have made it into the books. But, it’s not usually intentional. You know, people say, “Write what you know,” but there’s no way not to do that. So, what I think people really mean to say is, “write the feelings you know.” And a lot of that comes from shared experiences, right? Things you’ve done with your best friends, your lovers, the people you’ve encountered in life. I think it would take you and me going through a book scene by scene for me to say, “Ah, yes! This scene here was from this time in Iowa and this scene here was from that night in Mississippi!”

NTK: Let’s go back to the Bird Box film. How did this come to pass? How were you approached?

JM: So, my manager sold the film rights before the book was published. It had already been picked up by ECCO/Harper Collins but hadn’t even been rewritten with them yet. So, there are parts that made it into the movie script that used to be in the book but aren’t anymore. That’ll be interesting for me to see in a theater. Universal Studios optioned the rights in 2013. Netflix bought it from them in 2017.

NTK: Were you consulted when the film was written?

JM: No. I had no part in the writing of the script. I was on the phone with the prospective screenwriters. Conference calls in which each screenwriter told me what they had in mind, with Universal on the phone to listen to us talk about it. But, that was just so Universal could gauge the individual visions. The script was written by Eric Heisserer. He wrote Arrival and others. Awesome guy. And, I knew very well what I was getting into. Talk about an unknown author—my first book wasn’t even out yet.

NTK: Stephen King is well known for his dislike of Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining and the casting of the film. Are you happy with the casting? Do you think Sandra Bullock will make a good Malorie?

JM: I’ll tell you the same thing I told her. If I had written the script, directed the movie, and starred in it myself, it still wouldn’t be the book. So, I’m glad it’s in her hands and not mine. I’m thrilled she’s playing Malorie. She’s a magnificent actress, and I can’t wait to see her in a horror movie. After watching her film a scene in person, I said to her, “That was intense, huh.” And she said, “The whole story is intense!” I’m excited about it all. The cast, the director, the cinematographer—all of it.

NTK: You were on set when the movie was filmed?

JM: My fiancé, Allison, and I flew to California in January. We went on set on the Universal lot. Saw a scene filmed outside, another filmed on a soundstage. It was incredible. I never felt like I didn’t belong, but I also never felt like “big man on campus.” It was all unforeseeably natural. If it’s true that a director dictates the mood of a set, then Susanne Bier is a warm, intelligent, hard-working, welcoming director. We loved every second of it.

NTK: Susanne Bier is a Golden Globe, Emmy, and Academy Award-winning director. It must’ve felt good knowing you’d entrusted your work to her.

JM: 100%. And, you know, who knows how it will turn out, right? Just like a book … you sit down with an idea, a vision, and let’s hope it soars, right? But, I’m optimistic. Everyone I met is so good at what they do and I know the story came from as pure a place as I’ve ever visited.

NTK: Are you excited about Netflix providing the distribution? Or would you rather the film appear in the theater?

JM: I’m told there’s going to be a theatrical release as well. I don’t know exactly what that means, how many cities, how long, etc. But, in any case, I’m happy either way.

NTK: When will the film be released?

JM: I hear it’ll be around December 21. I don’t know when the premiere is going to be yet, but Allison and I are hoping to bring both our moms. Which is a pretty funny image. Allison, me, our moms, all drinking on a plane to Los Angeles.

NTK: You had a book released in April. Could you tell us a little about Unbury Carol?

JM: Unbury Carol is the story of an impending premature burial and the balance of characters who both want this to happen and don’t. Carol Evers “dies” a couple times a year, when she slips into deep coma states. Because it’s a western of sorts, the instruments the doctors use aren’t sophisticated enough to detect her beating heart when she’s inside, what she calls, “Howltown.” The problem is … what if everyone thinks she’s dead? And then … what if she’s buried alive because of it? Well, there’s one fella who hears about her funeral but knows she isn’t dead. So, he travels north on the Trail in an attempt to bust up this unnatural burial. But, make no mistake! There is no Prince Charming in this book. And, Carol’s gonna have to get the hell out of Howltown on her own.

NTK: Are you a fan of westerns and horror?

JM: Yeah, for sure. I’d like to see more of them. It’s a great setting for a horror story because, one, it’s pre-technology, which leaves a lot of shadows to play with and, two, the “outlaw” is always so “tough” and it’s refreshing as hell to find him or her face to face with something scarier yet.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror author or movie? What inspired you to write horror?

JM: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. Of the last 156 books I’ve read, I adored 153 of them. Would give them all five stars. For whatever reason, I’m a little more discerning with movies, but really I’ve got a wide scope of what I’m into. I just love the genre in general. To me, horror admits that it’s fiction. And, for that, I believe it.

NTK: Do you have any advice for the writers out there whose books may be adapted to film? Or, any advice for writers in general?

JM: Well, I’m still early into the “adaptation” scenario. It’s hard for me to impart “advice” other than to say something my girl, Allison, taught me: every time you wanna use the word “nervous,” use “excited” instead. It’s changed my life. As far as advice for writers? Get rid of the words “good” and “bad.” Write a “bad” book for crying out loud. Don’t let silly blanket words stop you from writing a novel. How awful. Get that first draft done. Because what you would rather have? Three hundred pages that need to be fixed? Or, no pages at all?

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

JM: Well, the moment belongs to Unbury Carol. And I’m going to let her have it. But, come Halloween, I have a limited edition novel coming out on Cemetery Dance. It’s called, On This, the Day of the Pig. And, my second book with Del Rey comes out next April. I’m writing scripts for a horror theater production to be performed here in Michigan. And, The High Strung have a new album, to boot.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Josh.

JM: Ah, THANK YOU. I’m excited for this.

This interview was  published in the June 2018 edition of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and is reprinted with Editor Kathy Ptacek’s permission.

Guest Blog: Journey into Darkness by Alyson Faye

Journey into Darkness

by Alyson Faye

I didn’t spring fully formed into writing for the horror genre; it’s been a gradual slither in that direction with side detours including children’s stories (albeit supernatural in plot) and poetry. However, the seeds were sown early on, for I was a voracious reader as an only child and trips to the local library where a highlight for me. I can recall vividly the covers of those Alfred Hitchcock Mystery compilation books and the Pan Horror paperbacks, which I consumed in vast quantities in my teens. Even now the mere sight or touch of one of those paperbacks makes the years roll back. Books are powerful. Portals to alien lands – including your own past.

Robert Westall’s oeuvre was raced through; two particularly stick in my mind:- ‘Scarecrows’ which sparked a real terror of the straw men in my heart, and his ‘The Watch Tower’ set in his own seaside hometown, Tynemouth in the UK. The creepy messages written in the dust really gripped my imagination. Another Northern British writer for teens was Robert Swindells, who doesn’t just write horror but when he does like his ‘Room 13’, it sticks with you.

I managed to trace a much-loved book (long lost to me) through the internet – joy!- It’s another time slip, supernatural haunting tale – ‘The Snowstorm’ by Beryl Netherclift, which I must have borrowed five times from the library. The children’s door to the past is via the snow globe in the library- hence the title.

No reading journey for a horror writer isn’t complete without nods to Stephen King and James Herbert. I read all of King’s early books, (particular faves ‘Cujo’ and ‘Carrie’). I did have a pet dog at the time which gave me concern whilst reading Cujo. With King of course the books were linked to the films/TV- so in 1979 the US TV movie of ‘Salem’s Lot’ starring a post- ‘Starsky and Hutch’ David Soul had me hooked and freaked out,  especially the scene where the vampire boy comes a-tapping at Mark’s window to be let in. Will he or won’t he gain admission? I slept all summer with my bedroom windows closed. Better to suffocate than be turned into one of the undead.

Let me not forget a nod in the direction of that TV staple, ‘Dr Who’. For me it was all about the Tom Baker years, which got surprisingly dark considering the show’s early screening time of 6pm ish. Monsters abounded in some cracking yarns:-  ‘Image of the Fendhal’ and ‘The Pyramids of Mars,’ especially influential though for me, was the classic show, ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’. I’ve watched it several times as an adult and it still gives me the creeps. That frisson of nostalgia and anticipation- I just love it. I relished the Gothic London Victorian setting and the demonic ventriloquist’s dummy equipped with the pig’s brain, which was in 1977, to an 11-year-old me, a real shocker.

Books and films have been my dual touchstones for all of my life; the two often being intertwined. The one leading to and feeding back to the other. I watched a lot of late night Hammer horrors on BBC2 growing up. Well, I watched a lot of movies, not just horror, period. I even used to review them in my diary and keep scrapbooks of cuttings and go to film memorabilia fairs.

In the days pre VHS and setting record on your TV- I know hard to imagine a world like that – you had to stay up late to catch something unusual- like John Barrymore in the silent 1920 version of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, and although special effects have come on a million light years since then there still is something visceral and feral in Barrymore’s transformation into the evil Hyde.

Lon Chaney’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (1925) mainly black and white but surprisingly for the year, with some sequences in two strip colour, was another stay-up till the early hours job. But oh the moment where the phantom’s mask is stripped away has stayed with me for 40 years. Chaney, in one silent close up, showed the pain behind the mask and the man within the monster. Brilliant. I’d watch him in anything.

One year BBC2 dedicated a whole season to the films produced by Val Lewton at RKO in the 1940’s- so in succession you could watch, 1942’s ‘Cat People’, then on the next night, ‘I Walked with a Zombie’ and so on through his film career. These were all low budget B films, short of cash but rich on ideas, photography and story. You never see the big cat attack the girl in the swimming pool in ‘Cat People’, it’s all shot with shadows and clever soundtrack effects, but it is scary as heck and put me off swimming alone for years. True story- I refused to swim in a basement pool in a hotel in Norfolk,UK until someone else got in- I was about 13 years old though.

I wrote an article on Lewton’s career which is up at https://womeninhorrorblog.wordpress.com/?s=alyson+faye.  (Thank you to Claire Fitzpatrick for encouraging me to write this piece and posting it).

In the second phase of my writing life, post-40ish, I have turned my hand to writing flash fiction for the first time as well as writing longer stories. My natural tendency, it became clear to me, is to write dark, weird and haunted. So I people my tales with feral children, demons, ghosts, assassins, abused women, mermaids, killer teens and the occasional vampire (often for some reason called Vinnie). My début flash fiction collection came out in January this year from indie publisher Chapel Town Books and is called appropriately, ‘Badlands’. A title, inspired, yes you guessed it, by the Terrence Malick 1973 film, (another memorable late night TV viewing where Martin Sheen made quite an impact and I never looked at relationships the same way again.)

I kept writing and always kept reading horror/supernatural writers, following their stories through the small horror mags – folk like Alison Littlewood (her first novel ‘A Cold Season’ takes some beating but probably her latest ‘The Crow Garden’ is her Victorian Gothic tour de force), Simon Avery and Mark Valentine, whilst avidly consuming Susan Hill’s ghost stories and everything by Sarah Rayne.

I read all of Rayne’s back catalogue in less than a year; her novels are a mix of psychological terror/horror/history. Try ‘Ghost Song’, if you want to dip in, its one of her best. I even wrote her a (rare for me fan email) and she kindly replied. Happily I will be interviewing Sarah Rayne about her latest book, ‘Song of the Damned’ and her writing career, after I approached her publishers and she agreed, (hurrah) and the interview will go out on the Horror Tree site. I should mention that through another interview I conducted for Horror Tree a new name in horror came my way, Australian writer, Deborah Sheldon, whose prize winning short story collection ‘Perfect Little Stitches’, is very scary, original and well worth seeking out.

Currently I am reading Laura Purcell’s début Gothic chiller ‘The Silent Companions’ and I am happily revelling in the oh so familiar Victorian landscape of widows, diaries, mysterious deaths, creepy servants, attics, diamonds and those ‘Companions’ of the title.

Much of my own horror fiction, like ‘Mother Love’  is Victorian Gothic (Women in Horror Annual 2), https://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Horror-Annual-Rachel-Katz/ and my latest story, all 6000 words of it, ‘Mr Dandy’ which I’ve written, on request, for an upcoming anthology, ‘DeadCades’ (to be published in October this year, by The Infernal Clock press, an indie co-run by Steph Ellis and David Shakes), http://infernalclock.blogspot.com/ has been influenced by many of the writers I’ve mentioned. ‘Mr Dandy,’ the ventriloquist’s dummy, is inspired both by Dr Who’s Weng Chiang and Ealing’s 1945 portmanteau horror/supernatural film ‘Dead of Night’ and the segment starring Michael Redgrave as the ventriloquist.

Tim Lebbon (especially his ‘The Silence’) and F. G. Cottam’s books require a mention too as significant influences. Cottam’s ‘The Colony’ trilogy are so well written you think it’s a real story happening to real people. Cottam is described, rightly as ‘one of the finest contemporary writers of supernatural horror.’ (Jan Olandese) I’d agree with that. He also writes real page turners.

One of the sites which published my horror drabbles and longer pieces regularly and thereby gave me encouragement, was The Horror Tree –  https://horrortree.com/. It is co-run by Stuart Conover (its founder) and the aforementioned horror writer Steph Ellis. https://stephellis.weebly.com/ It is a useful one- stop resource site for both reading horror fiction and for listing the many mags where you can submit. Lately the site has expanded into interviews with horror writers and book reviews.

I have watched a lot of horror films –some were seminal for me, like my first viewing of ‘Halloween’ and the 1980 version of ‘The Fog’ best watched at night, with drawn curtains in winter- I find. Remember Neil Marshall’s 2005’s ‘The Descent? where that foolhardy group of women cavers go down into the earth’s depths and you just know it will go pear shaped, they had no idea did they? I love the moment in a film/book where you know the characters’ world is going to topple into chaos, terror and death. It’s a hold your breath and feel the shivers creep up your spine time.

My top three films, probably, which I’ve watched in the last couple of years:- 2017’s ‘Get Out’/ 2018’s ‘A Quiet Place’/ 2017’s ‘Annabelle: Creation’. I often write about dolls in my stories, and have a habit of going to Museums of Dolls and Dolls houses in my spare time. I never liked them as a child, and I still don’t. Some girls do not play with dolls, ‘cos they know the dolls are watching!

I am a huge Guillermo del Toro fan, but it is a TV series he co-created, more than his movies which gripped me for 4 seasons – if you haven’t seen ‘The Strain’ ? Well you’ve not seen the best ever vampires/zombies post apocalyptic thrill ride of a show. So rush out and buy those DVDs now! Like I did. I was hooked. There were  human characters to root for and others to hate- each episode is in itself a mini movie (the supermarket zombie siege while just doing some grocery shopping is the best ever)- you’ll never late night shop at Asda alone again. Each episode had a horrifying jump scare every 10 minutes.

When I’m asked what I do – I say I write, and folk go ‘oh that’ s nice’ etc etc but when they ask what I write? That’s a different scenario- say horror, and their eyebrows go up and that look of surprise tinged with distaste creeps in. Know that look? For every horror fan out there and there are millions, there are just as many folk who really don’t like it. Yes my fiction might disturb or raise shivers, great! I want it to, but it is fiction, a story and a way I think of putting our fears out there and then putting them to bed in a story box. I think it is a genre which calls to you, why write it otherwise? You’ve got to love it to want to put in the hours, sweat and blood. Creatively speaking, not literally.


Badlands by Alyson Faye is up on amazon :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Badlands-Alyson-Faye/dp/1910542253

My blog:- www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com

 

Chilling Chat with a Dark Lady: An Interview with Nancy Holder

Nancy Holder is a New York Times best-selling author. She has written over 100 short stories and over 80 novels, including tie-in books for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Smallville. She’s written YA novels with her writing partner Debbie Viguiè, and has written comic books, graphic novels, and pulp fiction for Moonstone Books. Currently, she works for Kymera Press and lives in San Diego.

Nancy is a charming and gracious lady. Recently, she chatted with me about horror, her new project, and Kymera Press.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Nancy. I appreciate it.

NH: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for interviewing me.

NTK: Let’s talk about Kymera Press. How did you get involved with them?

NH: Some years ago (at least ten!) I was at a book signing at Dark Delicacies in Los Angeles, and I met a woman named Debbie Lynn Smith there. She had been a writer on the TV show, Touched by an Angel, and had decided to get her MFA in creative writing. (She was going to Stonecoast, the program at the University of Southern Maine. They were looking for an instructor who could teach horror, and I was interviewed and offered the position. Debbie was actually one of my students there.)

When she was working in Hollywood, Debbie ate tons and tons of microwave popcorn, and she developed a disease called Popcorn Lung. It is a horrible, hideous disease, and she sued Orville Redenbacher and WON. (She had a double lung transplant about seven months ago and is doing great.)

With her settlement, she decided to do something positive. So, she founded Kymera Press, which is an all-woman comic book company. All the writers and art team members are female. Her husband is the only full-time male staff member. She hired me to be one of her writers.

Debbie was interested in adapting the work of women Victorian horror writers, and for a while, we were going to do a big graphic novel of Frankenstein to celebrate the 200th anniversary of publication. But, there are a LOT of graphic novels about Frankenstein out there, and it was a huge, ambitious project. So, we returned to “Victorian” horror. We cover what is called “the long nineteenth century” in literature, covering from 1770-1910-ish. I suggested the series title, Mary Shelley Presents.

NTK: What authors do you plan to cover in these graphic novels?

NH: Right now they’re comic books, but they will be collected into graphic novel form. Debbie just returned from C2E2, which is a popular culture convention in Chicago, and librarians are eagerly waiting for us to collect them into hardback so they can order them.

Our first issue was “The Old Nurse’s Story” by Elizabeth Gaskell. Right now, the team is working on, “Man-size in Marble” by Edith Nesbit. I just turned in the revision of “The Case of Sir Alistir Moeran” by Margaret Strickland. BUT … the coolest part is that I am actively searching for stories by women who have been marginalized or never/rarely anthologized. For example, I’ve just had a Russian story translated. It’s by a woman who is very famous in Russia but very little of her work has been published. She is in the fourth issue. And, I’m looking forward to an anthology of work by Victorian women who lived in the British colonies.

NTK: Are you adapting all of the stories for the comic books?

NH: Yes, I’m adapting all the stories, and once the anthology of the colonial work comes out, I’ll adapt some stories by those women.

NTK: How often will the comics be released? Monthly? Bi-monthly? Quarterly?

NH: Right now, quarterly. Kymera has five series in production. They are: Dragons by the Yard, Ivory Ghosts, Pet Noir, Gates of Midnight, and Mary Shelley Presents.

NTK: You’ve written tie-in novels for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Teen Wolf, and many others. How did this background prepare you for adapting the stories to comic book form?

NH: Well, I’ve written a lot of comics and graphic novels for Moonstone Books, so I’m familiar with the form. I’ve also taught classes in writing for comics and graphic novels and edited them as well. So, I have a background there. But, to answer your question, what I’ve learned from writing so much tie-in fiction (and nonfiction) is that it’s important to figure out what it is about that property that fans love and focus on that. Or, to figure out what the heart of the story is, and “push” that.

For example, Buffy was strong and passionate. And, like Buffy, Scott McCall was trying to learn to lead—in his case, a pack of werewolves. She was the Chosen One; he was the Bitten One.

In the case of our comics, I look for the theme of the story. The heart of darkness, as it were.

In the first one, “The Old Nurse’s Story,” the theme is regret/remorse/redemption.

NTK: Getting back to Moonstone, you wrote many stories centered around Sherlock Holmes. How did that help you in adapting Victorian stories?

NH: I love Sherlock Holmes. I am a devoted Sherlockian. I belong to a Sherlock Holmes scion and am planning to join a couple of other ones.

I read a lot of what is called, “Neo-Gothic” literature, such as the novels of John Harwood.

A student from Stonecoast and I are planning to start a blog about the long nineteenth century after she graduates.

The story I just adapted takes place in 1916. I novelized the new Wonder Woman film which took place around then, so I’ve recently “seen” my time period. And, I’m watching Peaky Blinders right now, too.

Also, we provide information about the writer of the original story (and we include the text of the original story in the comic), and I try to read a biography of the author.

NTK: What Sherlock Holmes Scion do you belong to?

NH: I belong to the Sound of the Baskervilles. We just celebrated our 38th year as a scion (I only joined recently). We are Seattle/Tacoma based.

NTK: Do you research when you write? Is that how you discovered the women writers?

NH: I do a lot of research, and it was easy to find a few writers to start with. There are anthologies of Victorian women writers of the supernatural and Debbie recommended Margaret Strickland. She has an amazing eye for what will translate to comic book form. I suggested obtaining translations, and so this first one, the Russian one, is very exciting to us both.

Grady Hendrix, who just won a nonfiction Bram Stoker Award® for Paperbacks from Hell, also pointed me to another anthology that is going to be very helpful.

NTK: Are comic books difficult to write?

NH: To me, writing comics is very difficult, but it’s really, really fun. It’s a lot like writing film scripts/screenplays, except that it’s pretty much on me to explain and show everything, whereas a film script is like a blueprint. I think of my script as a letter to the art team.

You have to figure out how to show things very, very quickly and keep the reader interested. And, you have to keep to a fairly stringent number of pages and panels, and to think visually.

NTK: How many artists work with you when you write a comic?

NH: This is the art team: Artist: Amelia Woo, Letterer: Saida Temofonte, Colorist: Sandra Molina, Art Direction: Kata Kane, and covers by Amelia Woo. In the first comic, we had Color Separations by Alejandro Garcia, who was assisting Sandra. The Editor is D. Lynn Smith, and Paul Daughetee does our Graphic Design.

NTK: Did you read comics when you were younger? If so, what were your favorites?

NH: I read tons of comics when I was younger. I subscribed to most of the DC lines. Superman, Lois Lane, Aquaman, also Katy Keene. And, scary comics that scared me so much I turned all the covers over at night before I went to bed.

NTK: Did you read House of Mystery and the other DC Haunted House comics?

NH: I don’t remember the horror series titles. But, they scared the tar out of me.

NTK: What made you decide on Mary Shelley as the narrator of these comics?

NH: Well at Kymera, Debbie and I had thought about that big graphic novel of Frankenstein, and scratched that, but by then I had read a ton of stuff about Mary Shelley—a number of biographies, other work of hers, etc. So, I thought about using her as a sort of “Crypt Keeper” to introduce the stories. Each story opens with her and the Creature discussing how his story has made her immortal, but other women writers have not been so fortunate. So, Mary Shelley breathes new life into stories by women that are “long buried” or “gathering dust.” Also, we try to add a bit of detail about Mary Shelley herself.

I just went to Italy for two months and went to many of the places she visited in Rome and Florence, including Percy Bysshe Shelley’s grave and the headstone honoring their son, William. I also went to Cadenabbia on Lake Como, where she visited with her son and his college buddies. And, I went to Viareggio, near where Percy drowned.

NTK: What a fantastic idea using her as the “Crypt Keeper.” Are comics the source of your inspiration when it comes to horror? Is that how you got into the genre?

NH: That’s a great question. Like a lot of horror writers, I was always drawn to horror. Weirdly, I just remembered that the first horror movie I ever saw was James Whale’s Frankenstein, which I watched with my mom. I loved creepy stuff even though it scared me so badly I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I watched The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Kolchak: The Nightstalker—stuff like that. I think that’s how I got hooked.

NTK: You’ve come full circle.

NH: That’s true! I have come full circle! I never realized that.

NTK: Mary Shelley Presents debuted at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con. How was it received?

NH: It was a big hit at Comic-Con. I worked in the Kymera booth, and we sold lots of issues of all the series we had out. I also did a charity signing at the California Browncoats booth. (The Browncoats are fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and I’m a Browncoat myself.) I usually sign for their charity drives if I’m at a con they’re at. I’ve signed at Comic-Con for them for years and years. So, I signed Mary Shelley Presents there, and we “sold out.”

I should also add that I did a Buffy Encyclopedia recently with my first editor, Lisa Clancy. (Lisa was the first to develop the Buffy publishing program, which was at Simon and Schuster at the time. She covered Angel, and I covered the Buffy show and all the comics—including Angel and Spike.) And, I covered the comic book canon. A TON of comics. Holy Moly.

NTK: What got you into writing the tie-ins? Was it the YA novels you wrote with Debbie Viguiè?

NH: No, I wrote tie-ins before I met Debbie. My first tie-in was a Highlander novel in 1997. Then, I started doing Buffy. I’ve also done Angel, Buffy/Angel crossovers, Wishbone, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Smallville, Saving Grace, Teen Wolf, Firefly, Kolchak, and Beauty and the Beast. I think that’s all of the TV shows. For films, I’ve novelized the new Ghostbusters movie, Crimson Peak, Hell Boy, and Wonder Woman. I’ve also written tie-ins for Zorro and Sherlock Holmes.

NTK: What else are you working on right now? What can we expect to see in the future?

NH: The new Firefly novel I wrote, Firefly: Big Damn Hero, will come out in October, and I’ll continue to work on Mary Shelley Presents. I have some short stories coming out, one of which is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. And, I’ll be working in the booth at Kymera Press at San Diego Comic-Con.

NTK: What advice would you give a writer who may be interested in pursuing a career in comic books or graphic novelization?

NH: Advice: read! (I’m surprised by the number of newer writers who don’t read.) And, try to attend comic book/popular culture conventions, even small ones if you can’t make it to the biggies. The “sequential art” world is pretty small so it’s possible to network. Also, there are a number of great “how to write comics” books out: Scott McCloud is one of the standards, and Dennis O’Neil.

And, if you’re interested in horror, JOIN HWA!!!

NTK: Great recommendations, Nancy! Thank you for chatting with me. Before we part, could you tell the readers where they can get a copy of Mary Shelley Presents?

NH: Thank you so much for having me! The easiest way to buy a copy is to go to the Kymera Press Website. There is a Wide Release Version  and a Limited Edition Version.

This is truly a labor of love for all of us at Kymera.

NTK: And, such vindication for a comic book company created by women.

NH: I love our art team. I’m so blessed.

This interview was  published in the May 2018 edition of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and is reprinted with Editor Kathy Ptacek’s permission.

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.

The Writing Chamber: An Introduction to the Art of Writing Horror

As a writer, I can tell you that the creation of a story and putting it into words for an audience to read is an art form. Just like any other art (like music, dance, or theater), becoming a successful writer is not about talent but instead, it’s about learning the craft to obtain the skill. Yes, writing a good story takes a skill that you’re not born with. Instead, you learn it.

This article will tell you all you need to know when writing a horror story, but take everything I say with a grain of salt because writing, like any other art form, is derived from artistic freedom. As the writer, you can take your artistry in any path, in any form, that you wish. That being said, it is important to note that literary genres have structures and techniques used to execute this art form, and writing horror is not different. As you may well know, the literary genre of horror has sub-genres. Through a marketing eye horror is one genre, but as a writer, you know that there are sub-genres underneath the branch of horror. As the writer, you can make the choice to mix and match these sub-genres or you can pick one to stick with for a story whether it be a poem, short story, or novel.

Let’s go over these sub-genres so as the writer you know what is available to you when writing in horror. First, there’s the thriller. This genre describes what readers will be experiencing while investing themselves in your story. Thrillers thrill the audience, giving suspense to the reader. Questions are often prompted by this genre such as:

Will she survive?

Does he know he’s being followed?

Forcing your reader to ask these types of questions is what makes your story a thriller.

Now that you know what a thriller is, there’s a technique you can use to ensure that your horror contains the thrill. The technique is called Dramatic Irony, which means that within your story you reader knows information that your character does not. Using Dramatic Irony places suspense in your story and puts your reader on edge as they are anticipating the moment when the character finally knows what the reader already knows. An example of this in the 1993 film Jurassic Park when Dennis Nedry deactivates the security system in order to escape with the stolen embryos. The audience now knows that the dinosaurs are free and they are in suspense until the characters are made aware. This example of dramatic irony only lasts a few moments within the story, but as the writer you can make the choice to leave the readers in suspense for as long as you want.

The next horror sub-genre is gore. The genre is pretty self-explanatory. Gore involves the bloody, gruesome, and morbid bits of a horror story. However, this genre has another sub-genre that branches off of it which is the slasher. An example of this classic horror genre is Friday the 13th. A slasher is essentially a story that derives from a mass murder. As the writer, you have the choice to make the murders as gory as you want. If you are struggling with deciding how morbid, bloody, gross, etc. you want your gore/slasher story to be a writer’s technique you can use is what I call the Reader Reaction. While writing your story think about how you want your reader to react. How do you imagine your reader responding while they are reading your story? Do you want them to want to vomit, to sit uncomfortably, or to simply say, “Ew.” Knowing how you want your reader to react will help you hone in on how much gore is in your horror.

The third sub-genre is the supernatural/paranormal. Although these two are very different, I have branched them together because the strategies and techniques used for executing these genres are very similar. In case you don’t know, the supernatural genre involves the use of mythical beings such as vampires and mermaids. The paranormal genre uses ghosts, demons, and any other spiritual being. Both of these genres have the story revolve around entities that question reality. With the supernatural/paranormal, it is easy to write the clichés to create another typical horror story, but as the writer you want to play on the uniqueness of your story. Give your readers something that they haven’t read before. A technique you can use to avoid writing the clichés is the Reverse and Opposite. Take a story and make changes to create something new. Some examples could be reversing gender roles, making your protagonist do the exact opposite, etc. Reverse and Opposite involves reversing aspects of your and making things the opposite from the original. Playing around with this technique will create interesting and new ideas that you probably wouldn’t have originally thought of. When using the Reverse and Opposite with the supernatural/paranormal, it opens your horror story to be more than just a story about a ghost or vampire because the horror plays with the unexpected, which can be truly scary.

The last horror sub-genre is mystery. A mystery is a story that involves the readers questioning aspects of your story, wondering what the answers are. This genre is mainly known as the classic murder mystery, but as a horror writer you probably want to go darker and more morbid than the cliché Agatha Christie detective story. To ensure that your mystery is as horror-like as you wish, use the techniques and strategies of the other sub-genres and go to town to make your story a true horror story. Going back to what I said earlier, the sub-genres of horror can be mixed and matched in whatever what you wish. You can write a gore mystery, or a paranormal one. Either way, there are so many options and techniques you can use when writing your horror story.

As the writer you have the artistic freedom to take your horror story in any direction that you want, using any techniques that you choose. The sky is the limit when it comes to writing. Now that you know the basics of writing horror, knowing the sub-genres and how to execute them, you can go to the drawing board to craft your horror story.