Category Archives: novels
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, HORROR FAMILY!
I just finished Ashley R. Lister’s novel, Conversations With Dead Serial Killers, and I don’t believe I could have read this book at a more relevant time. The internet is rife with controversy over the recent Dahmer series. In the newly released horror movie, Terrifier 2, there’s a dinner table conversation in which the sister scolds her brother for dressing as a real-life murderer for Halloween. Every year at this time, as we embrace the “spooky season” vibe, we also ponder that fine line between tragedy and entertainment. Our Halloween traditions are a balancing act between honoring the dead and celebrating the monsters who hunt and kill them.
In Ashley Lister’s horror novel, Conversations With Dead Serial Killers, this same moral struggle is presented as we follow two con-artist brothers who exploit the deceased for profit. Derek and Clive Turner are not the most likeable guys, but a dastardly duo who’ll keep those pages turning! While Derek feigns psychic abilities and pretends to communicate with the dead, pocketing undeserved money from their surviving loved ones, Clive’s obsession with serial killers escalates to fatal proportions. This book is unique in that we’re not rooting for the main characters to overcome adversity or rise above. We are rooting for their demise. Even as antiheroes go, these siblings are a couple of bad apples who don’t inspire much empathy on the part of the reader. That’s not to say this book isn’t inspiring. It is a thought-provoking concept; the pace was 100% perfect for me, personally, and Lister understands how to use blood and gore without losing the plot to it.
There are a handful of interesting characters who play a lesser role in this depraved downward spiral of a plot, and honestly, they felt pretty real. That tells me they were written well, no matter how small their individual parts. My favorite was Sam (and I imagine a fan favorite as well), a ghost who’s come back from the dead to haunt these assholes and set them straight!
Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is sprinkled with so many fun facts about serial killers that even if you think you know it all, you’ll find a brand new nugget of trivia somewhere in these pages. Most importantly, though, it tries hard to remind us that these murderers and their victims were fact, not fiction. It makes the reader question why we put these scuzzbuckets in the limelight… while simultaneously putting them in the limelight. Seriously… horror fam, true crime fam, what is wrong with us? Lol.
I really enjoyed reading Conversations With Dead Serial Killers. I don’t have a rating system, but since it’s Halloween, I’ll give it 5 out of 5 pumpkins. Please, do check this book out for yourself! And before you go, get to know the author below!
Until next time, stay safe out there, boils and ghouls!
Ashley Lister is a prolific writer of fiction across a broad range of genres. He’s written more than one hundred short stories, articles and academic papers, and is currently working on his 63rd full length novel. Aside from regularly blogging about writing and reading, Ashley also teaches creative writing in the North West of England. He has completed a PhD in creative writing where he looked at the relationship between plot and genre in short fiction. Ashley’s current writing is an exploration of the horror genre which includes his series of novellas exploring his own interpretation of Lovecraft’s Innsmouth, the highly acclaimed Raven & Skull, a study in the horror of working in an office, and Conversations with Dead Serial Killers, a story about society’s obsession with the darkest souls.
Brought to you by DirtyLittleHorror.com
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!!!
It’s still Women in Horror month, so please take a few minutes and get to know author Sheri Williams. I already knew she is a fun, amazing person and a talented writer, but there were a few things I didn’t know. Let’s find out…
How long have you been writing?
Um….since second grade? No. I really started writing about 4 years ago.
What draws you to horror?
I like to kill people. Sounds horrible, but it’s true. I’m a super optimistic person and I try to be happy, so the anger has to go somewhere. Every annoying parent at school drop off…..they all die horribly in my stories.
Do you write any other genres?
Oh yeah. Romance. Fantasy. And middle grade under a pen name 😁
Is there a genre you’d like to attempt but haven’t?
Ummm. I’ve sorta tried a bunch, in different variations. I really love Gothic stuff so would love to play around with that more.
Do you think women horror authors have a hard time getting acknowledged?
Definitely. It just doesn’t seem to be as recognized. Although, the real fans are rabid!
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written and why?
My first book. Fairy tale romance. It’s still the book I’m most proud of.
Who are some amazing female authors (from any genre, any style, any time-period)?
Misti Murphy, she’s my wifey. She writes dead sexy contemporary romance. I’m a huge P. Mattern fan. Quenby Olsen writes fantastic books. Huge fan. Can’t forget Lindsey Goddard, that chick is awesome. And then there’s Anne Rice and Anne McCaffrey….my heroes.
Besides writing, what brings a smile to your face?
My daughters. My hubs. Books. Doctor Who. Geeky stuff in general. And donuts.
Did you have a favorite book as a child?
Alice in Wonderland. Still my favorite to this day.
Here’s a tough one: What’s your favorite color?
Blue, color of my hair and the Tardis.
What are you working on now, and where do you see yourself in the future?
A middle grade alternative history, magical realism. And a paranormal (occult) thriller with a horror aspect.
Where can we find you on the web?
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
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! 🙂
Continuing my participation in Blood Moon Rising – a month long tour of horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy authors, today we sit down with Essel Pratt and learn all about him and his dark writings.
Hi, Essel. Thanks for joining us.
Your work ranges from fantasy to horror. In which genre do you feel more comfortable writing?
When I was younger, I was a huge fan of fantasy. C.S. Lewis was, and still is, my all-time favorite author. However, when I was in high school I read the Tommyknockers and was instantly drawn in to Stephen King’s brand of horror. I also watched a lot of horror movies since I was very young. I came to the realization that fantasy and horror shared similar elements that are interchangeable in many aspects. Then I started reading Clive Barker and came to the conclusion that he is the C.S. Lewis of the horror community. I started intertwining the elements of fantasy and horror within my imagination and the images of many future stories manifested within my mind. Naturally, when I started writing seriously I leaned toward the horror genre, but still hoped to start my fantasy masterpiece. Most of my short stories are horror in composition, but Final Reverie, my first novel, is fantasy. In regards to which I feel more comfortable writing, I really don’t find much difference between writing the two.
Your novel, Final Reverie, has some great reviews. Can you explain a little about it?
Final Reverie grew out of a short story I wrote called “Brothers”. The characters had different names, but grew into who they are in Final Reverie. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world after all technology ceases to exist. A large explosion destroyed the world as we know it, waking Mother Nature from her sleep. Her magical essence was released and split into both good and evil magic. The being created by the evil magic was contained by heroes of the past, but not destroyed. In Final Reverie, the journey of Franklyn and Chij takes them on the path to destroy the evil entity and restore balance to the world, with the help of the heroes from the past.
When I finished Final Reverie, I realized that there is so much more to tell about the past. So, I decided to do something weird and write the trilogy in reverse. Currently, I am working on Abiding Reverie, which is the middle book in the series, and tells the tale of the heroes that entrapped Nafets, the evil being of magic. The last book will tell of how Mother Nature was awakened and how she restored magic to the world.
Two of your latest shorts were published in Rejected For Content 1 & 2, containing “tales deemed too hardcore for other publishers”. Wow. Curiosity piqued! What is so offensive about these stories?
When I wrote Puienne Teur De Cheveaux, it was for a book about strong trans women characters, but crossed a line of mystery, sex, and the unnecessary. The main character is Detective Mansfield, a strong woman detective that doesn’t take any crap from the male dominated police force. She goes through some scenarios that push the line even further than I should have gone, but it seemed natural for the story. When I wrote Marre De Cetter Merde, I knew that it had to be included in the second Rejected book. It tells the story of Detective Mansfield’s beginnings, and is literally a shitty story. I actually wrote a third short story in the Detective Mansfield universe, but have decided to turn it into her first novel.
How did you end up writing for the Inquisitr? What has the experience been like so far?
In the past, I wrote for a couple of video game websites, Infendo and Nerdzy, but left them because I was simply too busy. I missed writing articles and the practice that it provided for much bigger short stories and novels. I was reading a news article on the Inquisitr one day and just happened to click a link regarding writing for the Inquisitr. On a whim, I filled out the app, sent some samples, passed the test, and here I am. I love writing for the Inquisitr, it allows me to write about any news topic I feel comfortable writing about and helps me in research for the stories I write.
If you had to pick a short story to be read by someone who’s never read your work, which one would you choose?
This is really tough, but I would probably narrow it down to three. The first would be Pubienne Marre De Cette in Rejected for Content: Splattegore because I absolutely love Detective Mansfield and her blunt attitude. The next would be Thus is Life in Serial Killers Quattuor, a first person story about a serial killer that cares for his victims in an unnatural way. Finally, I would suggest Bourbon Street Lucifer in Mardi Gras Murders, a story that takes place during Mardi Gras and may blossom into a larger novel one day, possibly with Detective Mansfield as the main character.
Can you tell me a little about your contribution to J. Ellington Ashton Press?
J. Ellington Ashton Press is an amazing press. I love that the company is like family to the authors. Everyone is treated as equals and everyone is willing to help each other to be a better writer. I was lucky enough to be asked to become chief of acquisitions and to work as an editor for JEA, which has allowed me the opportunity to view various areas of the publishing world. The staff lives across the world, which gives a wide range of views and experiences, which may make us one of the most diverse presses out there and allows us to be available for our authors nearly 24 hours a day, since we have staff in the U.S., U.K. and even Australia.
What scares you?
This is a tough question because I cannot think of anything that actually scares me. I’ve watched horror movies since I was very young, and think I became immune to that sort of fear. However, I think if I had to choose, I would be scared of not learning. I have gone back to school to get my bachelors, I love to research, and learning is just part of me. If that were taken away, I cannot imagine what I would become.
What are your favorite horror movies?
Since I grew up on horror movies, I can easily say that Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween are among my favorites. However, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser series is at the top of my favorite horror movies list. Clive Barker created the perfect anti-hero when he created Pinhead. He does what he does simply because that’s who he is. He isn’t out for revenge, to prove a point, or a psychotic antagonist. He is just Pinhead, he has a job, and he does as he is supposed to. He is sort of like a genie without the wishes.
My all-time favorite authors are tied between C.S. Lewis and Clive Barker. Each has been able to create a brand new and believable world filled with intrigue, danger, and hope. Harper Lee, William Golding, Stephen King, and Joe Hill are others that I look up to with high regard. However, there are many smaller names that I look up to equally as much. Some of them are Charles Day, Peter Giglio, Jim Goforth, Stuart Keane, Shannon Giglio, Robert Shane Wilson, Amanda M. Lyons, T.S. Woolard, Catt Dahman, Dona Fox, Michael Fisher, and so many more to name. I apologize if I left anyone out, there are just so many out there that have influenced me in one way or another.
Nice. I very much approve of that list. Now… I have to mention the anthology Fractured Realms because you and I both have poems in it! I loved yours, entitled “If I Had One Wish”. The perspective you chose was very moving. I almost cried at the end! What inspired this poem?
I am glad you liked it, “If I Had One Wish” was quite far from my normal writings, yet still contains a bit of real horror. I am currently going to school to get my Bachelors in Psychology and have volunteered at a local facility that caters to adults that have autism, Downs’s syndrome, and other mental handicaps. When Fractured Realms came around, I felt that I had to write something for it, something that told of how a person with autism feels and might think to themselves. I felt a lot of emotion while writing it and am glad that others were able to feel that same emotion while reading.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever written?
Lately I have written some weird stuff, but I think one of the firsts was in Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers 2, titled “Makin’ Bacon”. It is an odd tale of a pig man, a woman, butt bacon, and unintentional cannibalism, without going into too much detail. I guess another strange piece was my children’s book titled ABCs of Zombie Friendship. It started out as a joke project that I would work on with both of my daughters. They backed out, as teenagers often do, and I submitted the story to my publisher. She loved it, started the artwork, and within no time it became a reality. I never intended to write a children’s book, but am so glad I did.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on multiple projects. I am writing a couple short stories for some open anthologies, my next book Abiding Reverie, and planning a couple more books that I plan to write. Alongside the writing, I am also working on edits for a couple authors and writing for the Inquisitr. I am also trying to finish a few books so I can finally write reviews that I promised. I used to write quite a few book reviews, but have not written as many as I would like to, lately.
Where can we find you on the web?
I try to have quite an active web presence. Facebook is my most active spot, but I can also be found on Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, and many more. I will place the links below.
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ScottPrattEssel_Pratt