Category Archives: dark fiction
How would you describe your writing style?
Mixed-genre perhaps, or a potpourri? That is, my most recent book Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth is a mosaic novel, or novel-in-stories, with elements of horror, dystopic science fiction, science fantasy, and dark romance blended in together, and in a style I think of as baroque – tending toward lush and literary. However, I’ve also had stories in mystery magazines that are more bare-boned, in some cases perhaps even noir. The idea for me is that the type of story will ideally suggest the style, with The Tears of Isis (to drop another title) as a possible example, a collection that begins with a poem, then a stream-of-consciousness story, and so on, ending with its title story in a fairly no-nonsense, straightforward style.
What draws you to dark fiction?
One of my primary interests is character. In my opinion the best fiction, in any genre, is that which makes its reader think, to think about what it means to be human whether in terms of relating to the world, or building new worlds as in science fiction, or intimately with just one other person, or even within the folds of one’s own mind. This last is where I think horror and dark fiction excel, in putting a character under the greatest personal stress and examining how that character then copes, or even just survives. The vampire has bitten, now what does one do? And does its playing out induce the reader to think how he or she might react as well, perhaps not to a vampire bite as such, but to other, hopefully no longer quite as extreme pressures they might be under in everyday life?
Such an eloquent response, it makes me want to sit down and read some James Dorr tonight. Please tell us about your latest release, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth.
On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul – an eater of corpses – explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest that leads us through the 16 stand-alone chapters, about half in fact already published in various venues as complete short stories, loosely inspired by a pair of quotations from Edgar Allan Poe, of the most poetic subject being the death of a beautiful woman (which also informs, in its way, my previous book The Tears of Isis) and of the boundaries between life and death being “at best shadowy and vague.” If these statements be true, and in an already dying world, can love be a power to even transcend death?
Looking through your Amazon page, I noticed how much you’ve been getting your fiction out there in different anthologies and magazines. Are there any of these publications that stand out in your mind as a particularly memorable experience, whether it was a lot of fun to participate in, or maybe for charity, or a badass theme?
So many things, and where to start? One story that comes to mind is called “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” one originally written for a horror anthology that turned it down, then was rejected by a succession of other horror markets until I switched gears and sent it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine where it was accepted – the first that I sold there and, at the time, one of my first wholly professional fiction sales. (It is in addition written in a mannered style, which was taking a chance for me back then, but in a sense prefigured the style later used in Tombs.) Then there’s “Moons of Saturn,” a science fantasy story that’s almost a reverie based on an astronomy book I had on the solar system, which went to Algis Budrys’s magazine Tomorrow, another early (and in my opinion, validating) professional sale. For another, “Avoid Seeing a Mouse,” which went to Max Booth III’s alternate history anthology for Dark Moon Books, Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories, and played a role in bringing about The Tears of Isis. And for a fourth, perhaps “King Rat,” written in part as an allegory on world politics and economics, that first appeared in Gothic.Net and was reprinted in Bleed, a charity anthology for The National Children’s Cancer Society.
James, I also had a story in Bleed. It was a terrific book! But now I want to know more about your 2013 collection, The Tears of Isis. It has received some great reviews. How long did it take you to put this collection together, and what do you think has made it so successful?
In that The Tears of Isis was assembled from stories already written, it didn’t take that long at all. Max Booth III had just started Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and, having recently published me in Zombie Jesus, invited me to submit a collection to his new company. For the contents, I was to have a completely free hand as long as it came in within a certain word range, choosing and arranging the stories myself. As it happened, I’d been playing around in my head with a couple of possible collection ideas, so I emailed back suggesting I get back by about Halloween, which would have been two or three weeks, with a definite yes if I thought it feasible, then get a manuscript together by about Thanksgiving – this would be aiming for a publication date for the next spring or summer, in time to be out before that year’s World Horror Convention.
So the dates worked out. Since the stories were already written (which isn’t quite true, I did write one short one to be combined with an existing poem, while one other story was as yet unpublished) it was more a case of compilation and one thing I learned, the process was both a challenge and fun. By analogy to the sculptors in the book’s opening poem and closing story, in choosing materials from an unformed “basket” of stories from which to form a loose theme (in this case of beauty and death; of the artist conferring on his or her model both immortality, and through its objectification, a kind of destruction) and then fitting and arranging them into it, I had the thrill of watching as until-then-unrelated works formed of themselves a cohesive and artistically satisfying whole.
Wow! That sounds like a unique collection of stories, for sure. Do you keep a notebook or file of potential story ideas? If so, how many do you think you actually end up using?
The short answer is “no.” My relationship with the muse is not a sunny one; I have to wrestle her for ideas and, if I get one, I usually try to develop it at least a little bit right away. At that point I’m likely to make some notes on a piece of scrap paper or the back of an envelope, but I’ll still try to get to work with it on the computer within a few days. (One exception: in the case of a series of stories – I have one ongoing, for instance, about the original vampires who allegedly came to New Orleans – or a created world, as in Tombs, I may keep a folder with common information, such as maps or naming conventions.)
You write poetry as well. Who are some of your favorite poets, from any era?
To go to possible extremes, I consider Edgar Allan Poe and Allen Ginsberg to be major influences. To them I might add Byron, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Chaucer, the Greek tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (these in translation, of course), any number on up to Kipling (who, after all, even wrote a poem called “The Vampire”).
Where can we find your poetry?
I’ve been lax in marketing poetry lately, though I will have a short poem in the current (Fall 2017) Star*Line. I do have a book of poetry, Vamps (A Retrospective), available from White Cat Publications as well as (although in print only, I think) Alban Lake. Also my early collections Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret both contain poetry sections. (These latter are technically out of print but can still be found on Amazon, et al.)
Is there any genre you’d like to attempt but haven’t tried yet?
I consider enough of my work to be cross-genre that it’s hard to answer. I’ve never written straight romance or straight westerns (or western romance, for that matter), but if I tried it’s likely that horror elements would sneak in. (Also erotica might be fun, but again. . . .)
What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?
I like watching movies, particularly science fiction and horror, but comedies too and some documentaries. I also lead and play tenor in a Renaissance recorder consort.
Where can we find you on the web?
I recommend that people follow me on my blog at http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com to keep up on my latest doings. Feel free to comment too if the spirit moves. Also I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.dorr.9 and my Amazon Author page (lots of book titles, but most of them are anthologies where I might just have a story or poem) is at http://www.amazon.com/James-Dorr/e/B004XWCVUS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1380306038&sr=1-2-ent
It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn’t know quite what — ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others’ deaths. Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection. Tombs is a beautifully written examination of the human condition of life, love, and death, through the prism of a dystopian apocalypse.
James Dorr’s latest book is a novel-in-stories published in June 2017 by Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. Born in Florida, raised in the New York City area, in college in Cambridge Massachusetts, and currently living in the Midwest, Dorr is a short story writer and poet specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. His The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). He has also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full time non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician, and currently harbors a cat named Triana.
Devils and demons are a staple of horror literature, and I adore them in novels, novellas, and short stories. Funny enough, I feel the opposite about demonic possession in films. There are a thousand-and-one possession movies, and all of them use more or less the same plot, same tricks. But the written word is full of possibilities. It doesn’t suffer the restrictions of film and gives us room to examine the idea of demons from varying viewpoints. The loss of control, the loss of one’s self, is so frightening in a horror book.
Lately, I’ve read a lot of novels based around this very idea – possession, the devil, and ancient evil. I enjoyed each title, though no two were alike. Here are some of them – a list I’m calling Half A Dozen Devilish Books.
by: Sara Gran
I decided to buy this book when someone recommended it in the comments of a Facebook thread. The status asked something like: “What was the last book that genuinely scared you?” I read this book in a day, which is a record for me. I’m normally a slow reader. The story moves along quickly, yet you really get a sense of the narrator’s desperation, her loss of self-control, and her fear. What would you do if you thought you were possessed by a demon? Who could you turn to? Who would listen?
A Head Full of Ghosts
by: Paul Tremblay
Was teenager, Marjorie Barrett, a victim of demonic possession, or was she mentally ill? Years later, her sister looks back on their family’s dark past to unravel a tragic mystery. This book was full of suspense and chills. I absolutely loved it.
by: John Langan
Some might question my inclusion of The Fisherman here. It’s not about devils, or demons, or Hell. The Fisherman tells the tale an ancient evil capable of possessing humans, and manipulating them through their grief and sadness. Sounds pretty demonic, right? This is a slow-moving, crawl-under-your-skin-and-stay-there sort of book. I had to include it on the list.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)
by: Jonathan L. Howard
I’ll admit, this book was not exactly my cup of tea. Not every book is going to become a personal favorite. But I see the value of Johannes Cabal for lovers of supernatural fantasy and dark comedy. It’s a lighthearted adventure through Hell and back, and especially if you love a good series, this might be a better match for you than it was for me. It did make me laugh a bit, and I gave it 3/5 stars on Goodreads. There are several more books to follow this one, including: Johannes Cabal the Detective, Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute, The Brothers Cabal, Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day: And Other Tales of the Necromancer, and The Fall of The House of Cabal.
by: Tim Miller
I don’t read much extreme horror. And I’m certain that statement is something extreme horror authors hear all the time and get sick of hearing, but hey, as sub-genres go, it’s simply not for everyone. That being said, I picked up a copy of Cassie Kills because I admire the author’s imagination and energy. It was a dark and depraved read, and kept me entertained throughout. I’m told some of the more graphic parts were edited out to meet Amazon’s requirements, but this was graphic enough for me as-is! A sick revenge story and a journey through a world worse than Hell.
by: Stephen King
This is an oldie but a goodie. To be honest, I didn’t read much King in my youth. I didn’t have the patience for his story layers and – let’s face it – the enormous word counts! I’ve been reading him more in my thirties, and so far, this one ranks among my favorites. Store owner, Mr. Gaunt, is everything you could ask for in a Devil. Sly, experienced, charming, mystical, and terrifying. The shop he just opened up in Castle Rock has something for everyone. And I mean everyone. Won’t you step inside?
So there you have it. The six most devilish books I’ve read lately. Feel free to comment with your own devilish suggestions.
It’s always exciting to see an indie publisher grow, expand, and achieve new successes. Today I will spotlight just a handful of the titles over at www.burningwillowpressllc.com, not only to let readers in on some great fiction, but also because owners Edd & Kindra are amazing people who work hard to give their authors the best. Dedicated, creative people are what drive Burning Willow Press to meet its full potential.
If you see a book that interests you, consider picking up a copy. Pretty please??
Hell Gate: Book One, by Josh Matthews
Sixteen-year-old Jason McCreary is living a nightmare within a nightmare. Not only is he trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by demons from Hell, he also shoulders the burden for humanity’s fate as it was his mother who opened the gates in a scientific experiment gone wrong. In a last ditch effort to redeem his family name and erase his guilt, Jason joins a squad whose mission is to travel to Paris and close the Hell Gate. Once there, they discover an environment more frightening than anything they could imagine and demons more terrifying than they had ever encountered before. Time is now against them. Can Jason gain his redemption along with the respect of his peers, or will a new web of lies threaten to rip apart his world and jeopardize his team’s only chance for success?
Edging, by Michael Schutz
Intenze is the newest designer drug. Take it, and nightmares come alive. “Edging” is a better rush than the Tower of Terror. It’s a fraction of the price of a Six Flags admission. And it’s the most addictive high that the tiny suburb of New London has ever known.
For Rick Carlson, the junkies roaming the streets don’t even scratch the surface of what worries him. He’s trying to win back his cheating wife. He’s trying to protect his residents at Belmont Assistant Living from their own drug-addled grandchildren. And he’s trying to save his twin boy and girl from their mother’s murderous paranoia.
But he can’t save them all.
The fears of all those who edge summon the Thirst—a living miasma that thrives on terror. It is bringing a storm. And time is running out.
Skin Deep/ Ordinary Monsters, by Frank Martin
What happens when an overbearing family drives a teenage girl into the arms of a mysterious, pale stranger? How can a high school junior explain having strange dreams of a Nazi concentration camp after being bitten by his neighbor’s monstrous dog? And who will win when two iconic creatures of the night clash on a desolate WWI battlefield? Dive into a world of werewolves and vampires with SKIN DEEP and ORDINARY MONSTERS, two standalone stories featured in a dual novella from author Frank Martin. And don’t forget to check out the bonus comic short HORRORS OF WAR found in both ends of this double-sided work of pulp and terror.
Coma Hell, by Kevin Wimer
(Kevin has a short story with Burning Willow Press and is eager to have a longer work published with them. Here’s a glimpse at his current book, though not published with Burning Willow. He is one of their anthology authors, so I said, “That counts!” Lol.)
Jack Roberts awakens from what he was told would be nothing more than a routine sinus surgery. There is never anything routine with any surgery. Jack never gave that a thought and he should have. Jack might have changed his life and been a better man.
The panic beeping sound of alarms echoed with a flurry of activity around Jack’s hospital bed. The scream of a nurse calling for a doctor. The voice of a doctor yelling we are losing him and for everyone to stand back.
The bright flashing red hot light seared through Jack’s body as the world around him spun out of control. The voice of the doctor now tense with anger as his words echoed through Jack’s head. The only word that Jack could make out was coma.
Jack was now lost in the darkened world that would become his very own private hell.
A Mighty Rolling Thunder, by Kerry Alan Denney
The end of the world is just the beginning of the terror…
Spring 2024: Two spirit hordes break through from another dimension, and half the world’s population vanishes. The spirits possess the survivors, dividing them into two groups: those who fight to retain their humanity, and marauders who destroy everything in their paths.
Artist Livi DeSilva is fleeing from possessed killers when she meets Conor McLain, a man suffering from amnesia. Outnumbered and outgunned, Livi and Conor team up and fight off homicidal lunatics and ruthless gangs, only to end up cornered by their deadliest foe: billionaire Victor van Danz, a psychopath who commands the new world’s dark forces. Victor craves immortality, and kidnaps Livi. He believes that when he kills Livi in front of her collection of canvases and absorbs her life energy, he will transform into a god.
With only Conor, two amazing dogs, and a band of plucky children to aid her, Livi must harness the power of the spirits inside her and use it to defeat Victor–or die in the clutches of a madman.
“Kerry Alan Denney has created the perfect blend of King’s The Stand and Koontz’s famous dogs. A Mighty Rolling Thunder is a well-written thrill ride of a story you won’t want to miss. A must-read for all post-apocalyptic genre fans!” – Monique Lewis Happy, critically acclaimed Managing/ Acquisitions Editor at Winlock Press
Secrets of the Slain, by Lindsey Goddard
Secrets of the Slain A collection of poetry and short stories created to tantalize your senses and wreak havoc on your mind, each tale further challenging your perception of what reality is and what it is not. Be prepared to see inside of the soul of Lindsey Goddard and share in her “Secrets of the Slain”.
Choice Cuts, by David Owen Hughes
Choice Cuts: A collection of one of the finest splatter-fuelled horror the genre holds, an unflinching set of short stories that will stay with you, horrors that set root into the back of your psyche & taunt your sanity to its limits.
Here lies fourteen tales of all that is baneful & bloodthirsty from David Owain Hughes, an author with an unflinching love for all things close-to-the-bone, grim & grotesque. Once you delve into these pages you will come face to face with an unstoppable force of pure gore. Readers of a delicate disposition may want to put this tome back on the shelf, while those of you who feel ready to be dragged along into the minds of the deranged & disturbed, the murderous & malignant who watch & wait…
Packed with fast-paced thrills & many, many spills. You’ll come face to face with what lies beneath the surface of the mundane & ordinary, step foot into the maze of murder, mania & madness…just be sure to come out in one piece, not just another choice cut.
We had the disquieting dioramas of stealth-like shocks & spills of Laymon…now we present you with Hughes’ own approach towards the antagonistic execution in the realms of the fear & mayhem that can strike when you least expect it. If you’re a fan of Laymon & Lee, you’ll devour Choice Cuts.
Hello again, my wicked readers. The kiddos have gone back to school, so I’m going Back To Scares.
I was a ghost
who never did post.
I’ll soon be the host
who thrills you most.
Haha. Okay, that was an awful poem. Suffice it to say, I am breathing some much-needed life (and DEATH) back into this blog.
On today’s agenda, an amazing interview with author Kenneth W. Cain:
What draws you to dark fiction?
I was raised to be a fearful man, which has hindered my enjoyment of life. Somewhere in my teens I started rebelling against that fear, embracing my fears, rationalizing them. It was and still is very much a process. But, I suppose that confrontation sparked my interest in the unknown, as I’ve always had this need to expose the darkness. To shine a light on it in hopes of uncovering the unknown. There’s so much we don’t understand about ourselves, about this world, the deep ocean and darkest forest, space and beyond. It can make one feel very small and insignificant. That’s my draw.
Embers, your latest book of short stories, has received some awesome reviews. How many stories are included in the pages of Embers, and what inspired you to put this collection together?
There are 25 stories in Embers. That means it’s chock full of fun, and that’s always what I aim for, to make sure there’s something for everyone. And that’s part of the joy, seeing what stories jive with this person and that, what the takeaway is. For me, it’s a journey, all of this writing business. It’s the same with a collection. It’s all about laying bricks to a path that leads through a horrific garden. Each step has a precise space, that hopefully allows the reader to journey along with me. And if I’m successful in creating this walkway, maybe they see through my eyes, if only for a brief moment. That’s the fun of it.
You have written both short and long fiction. Does your process differ for each?
Well, I stumbled into this business in 2010 with These Trespasses, which actually began as a blog series believe it or not. At that point, I was far from finding any sort of stride, and I think the story suffered because of it. Same with some of my other earlier work, as I’d been away from this all too long, and had not progressed at all, and needed to rediscover myself. So I suppose it was originally more of a hobby for me then, sorry to say.
At some point more recently, I started falling in love with the written word again. Those who have spoken with me in person or on the phone know of my desire to learn more of the craft. It’s something that excites me, and I think that’s starting to bleed into my writing the correct way (pun intended). So there’s a process to my writing now, that more or less is me getting the story out, no matter how big or small, and refining it over edits for layering and tension and emotion, characterization and all.
To answer your question more specifically, it’s more about the story and less about the process. My characters lead me through, and only they know when their story has been fully told. I give them that control, give into the fiction. That’s actually helped me to a large degree I think, as I’m seeing through their eyes with more clarity these days.
Which part of writing is your favorite: outlining a plot, developing characters, crafting a setting, or writing dialogue?
Well, I’m a panser, so it wouldn’t be outlining. I’ve tried time and time again with no success. As for the rest, I suppose it’s more of a combination of those three. Dialogue is part of the characterization. Also, setting is a bit like a character in that we need to breathe life into it. There’s a look and feel to everything, a sound or sounds, and smells. It’s about hitting the senses to best create a painting of a real life scene with moving parts and feeling. When you hit it, with all the right beats, you know it, and that creation is a beautiful thing.
Which part/s do you struggle with?
Well that’s a tough question. I’d say I struggle with it all because I’m never really satisfied. At times, I’ll revisit something I’ve written in the past and rue over my mistakes. And yes, there’s always mistakes. Not necessarily in the sense of grammar or misspelling, but in layering and character flaws and dialogue, voice. Such has been the case as I dive back into my trilogy and revisit my earliest efforts. But that’s also been a rewarding process. This business is all about growth for me, and that in itself is an endless study.
Are you involved with any creative projects, aside from writing?
Creative is such a broad word, but yes. Many in fact. I perform much of the formatting and graphic design tasks for The Lovecraft eZine and others upon request. I’ve also been editing quite a bit lately, too. Occasionally, I’ll paint and/or draw. Art was one of my first passions. My reef tanks are also creative in a way, I suppose.
If you could sit and talk with any three authors, living or deceased, who would they be?
That’s a tough question, as there are so many whose minds I’d like to pick. Currently, though, I guess that would be Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, and Richard Matheson.
What are your hobbies and interests when you’re not writing?
Well, my family is my biggest interest. I enjoy spending time with them, whatever we’re doing. But there’s also my reef tank and growing corals. Painting, riding my bike, going to the gym, baseball (I coach my son’s teams), the beach. Actually, a good friend enlightened me to see the beauty in anything long ago, and ever since, I tend to take interest in most anything, which isn’t always easy as you could imagine.
Are there any genres you’d like to attempt but haven’t tried yet?
I don’t read a lot of science fiction. I used to, so I’m not opposed to it, but I’m not always one who gravitates to what some classify as “hard” science fiction. Again, it’s not that I don’t like it, just that I don’t always prefer it. Maybe (occasionally) something gets lost in all that overly technical jargon and pulls me out of the story, I’m not certain. Whatever the case, I’d like to revisit that shelf (so to say).
What can we expect to see from Kenneth W. Cain in the near future?
Right now, I’m rewriting my trilogy. I’m not certain what I’ll do with it afterword, whether I’ll try to find another publisher or self publish the series, but I do need to put in the work. I’m also working on a young adult horror novella and two new novels among other shorter projects, and possibly a new collection. Editing wise, I’m doing some work for a small press right now, but soon (October 1st) I’ll be editing volume 5 of Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales From The Lake series. That’s a project I’m really looking forward to.
Where can we find you on the web?
Most of my links to connect can be found here: https://kennethwcain.com/contact
Wow, what a fantastic interview. Thank you so much, Kenneth W. Cain!!!
Today we chat with L Bachman – artist, author, and woman in horror. She makes wicked cool book covers in addition to penning her own tales. Let’s find out more…
How long have you been writing?
I have indeed! I’ve been writing since I was young, but it was only a few years ago that I began taking it seriously after forcing myself to throw caution to the wind and take the leap.
What draws you to horror?
I struggled with the genre I was writing in. I couldn’t understand genres; still have trouble from time to time honestly. The way I thought was if it’s not something that frightens me, it probably wasn’t horror, never considering that some people may be frightened by the things I wasn’t frightened by. I felt perhaps my writing wasn’t ‘scary enough’ when I read it back so it mustn’t be horror.
After I understood what I was creating, it made sense to me like someone shining a light in the dark room of my understanding of genres. I enjoy writing horror more now that I understand it. Horror, scaring others, isn’t what I intend when I write, my focus is just getting the story out before I implode, but there is appreciation in why I do what I do for at least me.
Facing fears can be cathartic, relieving even, but until the story ends, the thrill and intensity taps into something deeply rooted in all beings. That is why I’m drawn to it, facing down ‘bad guys’ or ‘bad situations’ and overcoming the fight or flight that we all deal with when dealing with the adrenaline rush we can get when reading.
Do you write any other genres?
At this moment, dark fantasy is the only one that any of my work can fall into.
Is there a genre you’d like to attempt but haven’t?
I’m working on some branching out stories from horror and dark fantasy, not a complete genre hopping, but casting out a twig to touch into those pools.
Do you think women horror authors have a hard time getting acknowledged?
I don’t think as much so now, but I can see how the history of women in horror was. There was a time when it was difficult to gain respect, for any woman writer. Many historic women writers took pen names that were either neutral or sounded more masculine.
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written and why?
The Painting of Martel was difficult; originally it was included in an anthology with a theme of killer clowns. I had never thought I’d write a story involving this theme and so it came hard to me, but I met my deadline. It’s been a year since it was in that anthology and after taking it, revamping it a bit, and working it into something more than it was I can say confidently that it will find a shelf space in being published on its own. May 1st, 2017 is when it goes live. Right now it’s for pre-order.
Who are some amazing female authors (from any genre, any style, any time-period)?
Personally, I find Mary Shelly and Anne Rice to be amazing writers.
Besides writing, what brings a smile to your face?
My family; my son makes me very happy, he’s so smart, and I could gush over my pride of all that he has accomplished. Family makes me truly happy beyond writing.
Did you have a favorite book as a child?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.
Here’s a tough one: What’s your favorite color?
What are you working on now, and where do you see yourself in the future?
Right now I’m working on several things at once. I’m writing The Burning Man, Mercy, and Necessary Evil. That’s the three I’m working on seriously, but I always have something in the works just put on simmer on the back burner.
Where can we find you on the web?
Website for Writing:
Website for Design:
When Tara Jane Brewer leaves her polygamous community behind after her family dies in a tragic house fire, she is plagued by ghastly images of death. Hunted by a member of the church who plans to bring her home to Sweet Springs at any cost, Tara Jane must fight to keep her freedom. But everywhere she goes, she sees the charred faces of her burned family, watching her, following her, all thirty-four of them, waiting for her to come home and resume her place in the family.
NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON from author Lindsey Goddard:
“Lindsey Goddard has an impressive talent for getting inside the minds of her characters — both innocent and malevolent — which makes her scenes of horror all the more disturbing.”
-Graham Masterton, author of Charnel House
“Lindsey Goddard is a fine writer and if you appreciate such a wordsmith, I want to highly recommend her work. This story is heart wrenching and horrifying all at once. It’s not so much about a cult as it is about being hostage to unyielding ideas. It’s about loss, love, and the cruelty family members do to one another. There is raw pain, deep understanding, and a deft hand telling the story. Watch this writer in the future. She’s got what it takes.”
-Billie Sue Mosiman, author of Edgar-nominated Night Cruise and the new thriller, The Grey Matter
Crystal Lake Publishing just released Sarah Killian: Serial Killer (For Hire!) and I had to know more about this book, so I tracked down author Mark Sheldon for an interview. Here’s what he had to say…
How long have you been writing?
Pretty much ever since I could. As early as Kindergarten I was writing little stories and making booklets out of construction paper and drawings. Before that, I’m sure I was making stories up and telling them, though I naturally don’t have too much recollection of that period of story making.
What draws you to dark fiction?
I think I’ve always had something of a morbid fascination. Earliest memory, I used to watch Murder She Wrote with my parents every Sunday night, and then act out the murders afterwards with my stuffed animals. That was definitely a hint that I was either destined to be a sociopath and/or a horror writer. And then I watched Jaws with my dad in the third or fourth grade – that was definitely a major turning point in my addiction to the macabre.
In your latest book, Sarah Killian: Serial Killer – For Hire, you take the reader into the secret world of assassins for hire. Was it fun writing an anti-hero novel?
It was fun – and very challenging, too. I’ve always loved the anti-hero stories that take the stereotypical villain and turn them into the good guy. Wicked, Dr. Horrible, etc. So that part was very fun. Normally, once I start writing I don’t stop until it’s done (other than to eat, sleep, and go to my day job, of course). Sarah, however, was a very difficult person to live inside the head of for too long a period, and the fact that the book is told from the first person made that connection to her brain even more visceral. As such, I had to take frequent breaks after writing a chapter or two, to work on something else for a while before going back to Sarah. That was a very unusual process for me.
What is your favorite personality trait of main character, Sarah Killian?
Her sarcasm. Definitely her sarcasm. That’s the part that I think allows us to look past her rather significant emotional character flaws and accept her as a human, and not just a psychotic sociopath. Also, she would probably murder me if she knew that I said this, but she’s something of a closet geek, which is just cute considering she murders people for a living.
Where can we pick up a copy of Sarah Killian: Serial Killer – For Hire?
It is available on Amazon and other online retailers, and also through your local book stores (though you’ll probably have to specially request it at this point!)
In what ways have you grown as an author since deciding to become one?
As with life in general, growth like that is difficult to measure. With every sentence you write, you improve a little bit upon the one before it. The hardest thing is not going back and re-attacking the stuff I wrote ten years ago and just letting it be what it is.
Do your personal experiences affect your characters?
Definitely. Sarah a little less so, what with being a female and a sociopathic serial killer, but I definitely still managed to work myself into her character. Her mutilation of the Barney doll in the opening of the book was very therapeutic for me.
Recently you’ve been writing a 12-part series, The Noricin Chronicles. Wow. 12 parts! Please tell us more about this series.
This was actually my first series, and is all done now – I published the last book back in 2013. It wasn’t a horror/thriller series like Sarah Killian, more of a sci-fi/fantasy adventure. In a nutshell, I would describe it as Harry Potter meets the X-Men and The DaVinci Code. It tells the story of Dan Regal, a 12 year-old boy who finds out that he is a member of a secret race of humans with super powers, and goes to a school to learn how to harness and control those powers.
Which authors do you read for personal pleasure?
JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, Dean Koontz, Dan Brown, and Michael Crichton (currently re-reading Jurassic Park) to name a very few.
Are you working on any projects we haven’t discussed?
I have a sci-fi space thriller that is currently in the sketch phase. Sort of a mash-up of Lost, Aliens, and the game Doom. And then of course I will be starting on book 2 of Sarah Killian hopefully soon.
Where can we find you on the web?
My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/Author-Mark-Sheldon-237502636284937, and the page for Sarah Killian is: www.facebook.com/SarahKillianSKForHire
Now that I have something other than The Noricin Chronicles published, I will be working on getting a more generic website for myself up and running, but in the meantime my non-Facebook home base is the Noricin homepage, at noricin.webs.com
Blackwater Val is William Gorman’s first novel, but I never would have guessed that while reading. Keeping a steady pace, chock-full of enthralling plot layers and a strong, believable cast, this book reads like the author is a well-seasoned pro. Set in the year 2000, main character Richard Franklin must return to his hometown in Blackwater Valley, Illinois after a hit-and-run accident takes the life of his beloved wife and leaves him to raise their daughter, Katie, all alone. Little Katie, who sees and hears and knows things the rest of us cannot. Little Katie, whose dark curse and innocence left me pondering… If all the abused, mistreated, and murdered humans could speak to us long after death, we might never get a moment of peace. But in this darkness, there is a light, a strength that might hold hope for a small town, sinking into madness in the grips of something very old and very evil. Blackwater Val delivers on every emotional level: depth, compassion, suspense, mystery, fear, revulsion, and action. I highly recommend this book for all lovers of dark fiction.
William Gorman was kind enough to answer some interview questions for me, so without further ado, let’s meet the author. And consider grabbing a copy of Blackwater Val while you’re here: https://www.amazon.com/Blackwater-Val-William-Gorman-ebook/dp/B01ETZ73H4?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc
How long have you been writing?
Since I was in grade school, scribbling out ghost stories and vampire and werewolf stories in my loose-leaf notebook for certain unlucky classmates to read—the teachers loved that. I started getting stories published in the various small press magazines that were around in the ’80s and ’90s, then I put out Ghost Whispers: Tales from Haunted Midway, a collection of weird legends and ghostlore from my Illinois hometown. The local library there approached me shortly after about doing some bus tours and spooky cemetery walks, and they’ve been running ever since. The events all used to be free, but I hear they’re charging people now . . . so someone is making money. Sure isn’t me!
What draws you to dark fiction?
The imagery, I guess. The danger involved. In dark fiction there’s always something lurking just out of the light, something that when done correctly should haunt you long after you’re done reading it. A dark, supernatural side of our own reality. But for me it has to have characters that I care about; there also has to be some kind of justice in the end. The villains have to get their comeuppance, or else it’s too much like real life, where people get away with heinous deeds all the time.
Did you encounter any rough patches while penning your first novel? If so, how did you overcome them?
The ending was difficult. Pulling everything together and tying it up in a way that satisfied me and answered the questions. Mostly plain old procrastination is the hardest thing to overcome—it’s the true enemy. Just working through and actually getting the writing done each day. It’s tough, with all of today’s distractions.
In what ways have you grown as an author since deciding to become one?
I had to grow before I could even write Blackwater Val. I learned that I wasn’t ready to tell this story in my 20s or 30s, when I first tried writing it. I wasn’t mature enough. I hadn’t lived through enough yet to really know what the book was all about. Only later on, after I’d grown and found my own voice as an author, was I able to tell the story I wanted to tell.
What is your greatest achievement?
I’m not sure I have one. Finishing the novel ranks high, getting it published by Crystal Lake and actually getting it out there. Hmm . . . does making it through the ’80s alive count? I don’t know.
Do your personal experiences tend to affect your characters?
Yes, absolutely. The characters are all fictitious, but they are greatly influenced by things that have happened to me. So yes, my experiences affect the way my characters think and speak and how they act in any given situation.
Which authors do you most like to read for personal pleasure?
I’m always reading things by Stephen King, of course. I love going back and rereading his classics. Lovecraft and Bradbury, too. I like the old Sherlock Holmes tales by Conan Doyle. And every summer I make sure to read T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies—I just heard he’s finally going to finish a book he started decades ago, so that should be fun. If it happens!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently writing the follow-up to Blackwater Val, the sequel to it. It’s called The Rose Glass, and within the pages we get to see how Katie has grown into a young woman. And how much her powers have grown, as well.
Where can we find you on the web?
You can find me at http://williamgorman.weebly.com/ for right now. The site has links to my Amazon page and to Crystal Lake Publishing, my blog and other interviews, and I’ll be upgrading and adding to it as times goes on.
You can pick up a copy of the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Blackwater-Val-William-Gorman-ebook/dp/B01ETZ73H4?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc
Hi, all. Can I ask a wee favor? My short story “Damaged Goods” (which appeared in Issue 1 of Girls Rock Horror Harder e-zine) has been nominated for “Best horror story published in 2015” over at the Preditors and Editors poll. If you have read the story, or if you are a fan of my writing, please stop by and cast a vote for me!
HERE’S THE LINK: http://critters.org/predpoll/shortstoryh.shtml
Girls Rock Horror Harder author Sheri Williams has also been nominated for her story “The Piano” which appeared in Issue 2! Seeing either of these stories make it into the Top 5 would be amazing.
Here’s a little background on the e-zine. It features an all female line-up of kick ass horror writers, and it’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and e-book retailers. I have appeared in 3 different issues, but the story nominated in the Preditors and Editors polls – Damaged Goods – appeared in Issue 1. (That’s me on the cover right behind the word “girls”.)
So, please, show your support by casting a vote. It would be much appreciated! http://critters.org/predpoll/shortstoryh.shtml
VOTE NOW at http://critters.org/predpoll/shortstoryh.shtml!!!!!!
Wow. I went MIA for a while there, huh? Sorry. I got distracted by life. Okay, okay, maybe I SUCK at running a blog, but I love horror and I love you guys, so let’s get back on track with the ninth day of X-mas, and maybe we can finish this horror celebration before the twelve drummers quit their drumming.
Today we explore some authors/ books who made Santa’s naughty list with their X-rated fiction. Fans of Richard Laymon, Poppy Z. Brite, and bizarro fiction might find something new here, but I warn you, these books are not for the easily offended. Remember, that’s why they’re on the naughty list…
A Dark Autumn by Kristopher Rufty kept me in a perpetual state of WTF during the pivotal scene, which I will NOT spoil. Suffice it to say, this author thinks outside the box and brings something to the horror genre we don’t often see. The story is utterly gripping.
The Rejected For Content series contains all the stories deemed too bloody, too perverse, too offensive for the mainstream reader. Described as “The most hard-core, profane, gory, explicit short stories available. Each carries a message and some of those messages are unpleasant and terrifying. RFC is a collection of stories that other presses refused because of their shocking content, but each is a solid, well written piece that deserves a home. Demons, evil people, sea monsters, the unknown: there is something here to offend the most hardened reader.”
Now, here are three titles by author Tim Miller, who made the naughty list, big time!
Snuff films, human sacrifices, and horny mutant redneck women.
X-rated creepy religious cult!
A grown man who likes to play with dolls… only these dolls are real girls.
Moving along with the wickedness…
Candy, Blood, and Sex written by Hydra M. Star and illustrated by David Lipscomb pushes the boundaries of X-rated fiction by breathing new life into an old fairy tale in a very disturbing way.
Last but not least, I couldn’t pick just one title from these guys. STRANGEHOUSE BOOKS, founded by the wonderfully weird Kevin Strange has tons of bizarro and strange horror goodies to satisfy the most X-rated pallet.
See you tomorrow for the Dirty Dozen tenth day of X-mas. I promise I won’t disappear again until we see Day 12! 🙂