Category Archives: writers

Interview with author James Dorr

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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WIHM Interview – Kelly Evans

It’s been a great Women in Horror Month, and there’s still time for one more interview. Let’s get to know author Kelly Evans.

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How long have you been writing?

Since I was a kid. Especially horror. I wrote a series of short horror stories in high school last period English class, left them in my friend’s locker and she’d read them to her morning physics class the next day. I had a bit of a following apparently.

What draws you to horror?

I love being scared. Everyone does, don’t they? But I love figuring out what, exactly, will scare people. And then finding the words to express that horror.

Do you write any other genres?

I also write historical fiction. I’m currently working on a 3 book series about the queens of Anglo Saxon England, the first of which came out last year. I’m also shortly releasing a historical horror novel, set during the Black Death.

Is there a genre you’d like to attempt but haven’t?

I enjoy humour, but I’m not sure I could write an entire novel. I DO write satirical historical articles though.

Do you think women horror authors have a hard time getting acknowledged?

Yes, absolutely. Horror, especially the more graphic stuff, has always been aggressive and fearful, something associated with men. But women can be aggressive, believe me. We can also go softly softly, creeping into your subconscious and scaring the pants off you before you know we’re even there.

What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written and why?

I had to write a novel for a master’s in writing I was doing. *I* enjoyed the story but my tutor hated it, just didn’t understand what I was trying to do. THAT was tough; I lost interest in the book and never finished it.

Who are some amazing female authors (from any genre, any style, any time-period)?

I’m a big fan of medieval female authors, it’s nice to get the perspective of a group of people who have often been swept aside in favour of their male counterparts. Julian of Norwich, Margery Kemp, the Paston Letters, Hildegarde of Bingen, all worth taking a peek at.

Besides writing, what brings a smile to your face?

Clever humour. My cats. And, mainly, my husband!

Did you have a favorite book as a child?

I adored The Cat in the Mirror by Mary Stolz, about ancient Egypt. Also No Flying in the House by Betty Brock, and of course A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. All made a huge impression on me.

Here’s a tough one: What’s your favorite color?

Forest green.

What are you working on now, and where do you see yourself in the future?

I’m getting my historic horror ready for release, then continue with the second in my Anglo Saxon women series. I also write satirical medieval articles for my website each month, which are a LOT of fun. I’m retiring soon and will be writing full time, historical fiction and some more horror!

Where can we find you on the web?

website: http://www.kellyaevans.com

Twitter: @Chaucerbabe

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kellyevansauthor/

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Thanks for your support this WiHM!

Remember, there are always female horror writers out there hungry for more readers, all twelve months of the year!

WIHM Interview – Sheri Williams

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…

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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?

Everywhere.

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www.thesheriwilliams.com

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WIHM Interview – L Bachman

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…

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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?

Black.

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?

Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/writerbachman

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/authorlbachman

Facebook Fanclub:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/bachmanblasphemer

Website for Writing:
http://lbachman.wixsite.com/lbachman

Website for Design:
http://lbachman.wixsite.com/bachmandesigns

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Ashes of Another Life – a horror novella

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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:author

 

“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

KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Another-Life-Lindsey-Goddard-ebook/dp/B01KDD4ZCC/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472084771&sr=8-1&keywords=ashes+of+another+life

PRINT: https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Another-Life-Lindsey-Goddard/dp/0997971703/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1472084771&sr=8-2&keywords=ashes+of+another+life

Interview with author Mark Sheldon

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…

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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!)

http://buff.ly/2aC0Y2S

 
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.

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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

 

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More Regrets Than Glories, by Rick Powell

A collection of dark poetry just hit the market, written by friend and talented author, Rick Powell. You may remember Rick from his guest appearance on April 3rd, 2015, when he shared a few poems from his book, My Soul Stained, My Seed Sour. A little over a year later, Rick is back with his new book, More Regrets Than Glories, and another poem to share. If you enjoy what you read, consider picking up a copy of the book, please.

KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/More-Regrets-Than-Glories-collection-ebook/dp/B01GANL3U6?ie=UTF8&keywords=more+regrets+than+glories&qid=1464492710&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

PRINT: http://www.lulu.com/shop/rick-powell/more-regrets-than-glories/paperback/product-22694866.html

 

The Coachman

The dark coachman stopped at my house this Autumn night,
I was hesitant as I stepped up to the cold seat to sit at his side,
His countenance was in shadow from the hood of his aged cloak,
We started on without a word as through the forest we did ride.

I then wrapped the thick wool blanket around my thin, pale form,
Ma said I have had the chills for days and nothing could cure my ill,
Pa had no money since this year the crops were bad all around,
I asked “Where are we going?” but the coachman’s voice was silent still.

I looked back to my home and at the windows dark as the blackest pitch,
The forest beyond my house was even more dark and silent in the night,
My memories of the last days were muddled and I hope to be well soon,
I hope that this fever will pass and I will be better by the morning light.

I remember my parents talking about the Doc at the edge of the other town,
They were most frantic as my Ma kept a cool rag on my burning head,
I passed in and out of the blackness as I heard them arguing about what to do,
I felt my skin was braised by the fires of Hell, even though cold sweat filled my bed.

Why would they send me with this coachman, when my health was most dire?
Why did they not come with me, my only family that I have ever known?
Why does this dark horse that pulls us seem to be a beast out of a nightmare?
Why do I see a deathly grin of the coachman, when the Autumn moon is shown?

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“Damaged Goods” nominated for best horror short story in the P & E Polls

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”.)

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So, please, show your support by casting a vote. It would be much appreciated! http://critters.org/predpoll/shortstoryh.shtml

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VOTE NOW at http://critters.org/predpoll/shortstoryh.shtml!!!!!!

Interview with author Essel Pratt

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.

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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.

Favorite authors?

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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScottLPRATT
https://www.facebook.com/EsselPrattWriting
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EsselPratt
Blogger: http://esselprattbooks.blogspot.com
Website: http://esselpratt.wix.com/darknessbreaks
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ScottPrattEssel_Pratt
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7280467.Essel_Pratt
Inquisitr: http://www.inquisitr.com/author/scottp

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Interview with horror author Shaun Meeks

I’m participating in Blood Moon Rising – a month long tour of horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy authors hopping from blog to blog. 🙂 Today we’ll get to know writer Shaun Meeks and learn about the horrors he’s created. Shaun was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. He owns his own company and is a former semi-pro skateboarder, but penning tales of terror is his true passion. Let’s pick his brain, shall we?

Shaun

Hi, Shaun. Thank you for joining us. I guess I’d like to start by asking: Why do you love the horror genre?

One of the main things I’ve always loved about horror, whether it’s watching it or reading it, is how good horror gets you right at the core and has a tendency to linger. We’re all afraid of something, and being able to tap into that primal fear is what I love to do. It’s also something I love to experience. Sitting in bed and reading a great story and feeling the need to put it down because it struck a nerve is something that most books just don’t do for me. A great example of that was when I read The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. I actually needed to stop and take breathers during it because I felt overwhelmed by what I’d just read. Not an easy thing to do.

Your novel, Shutdown, concerns one of my favorite topics: genetic experimentation! Can you explain a little about it?

Without giving too much away, the story starts with a dig in Egypt where a forgotten tomb is found. In it, there is something that is not fully human, but there are traces of what could be a man or woman there. A genetics company, GenCross takes the body and tries to replicate the DNA and give birth to a living specimen of the mummified corpse. In a way, using genetic experiments in a story is a way to play with the themes found in books like Frankenstein and many by H.P. Lovecraft, not to mention Stan Lee. The idea of how we “play God” and try to bring a new lifeform, find some missing key to evolution can be done in so many different ways, I think there are always fresh ways to build on the theme.

Your short stories are everywhere! Congrats. If you had to pick a short story to be read by someone who’s never read your work, which one would you choose?

My first thought is always to suggest Taut. It first appeared in Zippered Flesh 2 and is one of those stories that people really gravitated towards. Even Ellen Datlow added it to her list of honorable mentions in Best Horror of the Year 6. It’s pretty good at showing what I tend to do in stories, which is go inside the character’s head and draw out emotional as well as physical pain.

In the end though, it depends on what it is you like. For YA stories, there’s Angel in the High Tower, if you like ghosts, Despair. For people who like Victorian Steampunk I’d say Miriam and for war story lovers, The Soldier.

What is the hardest part about writing a novel?

Editing. I take as much time as I can with the editing process, but I tend to be the type of person who can go over and over a story and change it each time. Even if I read it ten times over, I will want to add and cut things.

What scares you?

That’s a tough one. I’ve spent my life trying to face many of my fears as best I can so they aren’t there, but if I’m sitting around and look over and see a bug crawling on my arm, you’d see a less than cool and calm Shaun freaking out to get the damn thing off. I think that is part of why the scene in Taut is so accurate. I know how parts of it feel.

As far as any other fears, I guess the idea of isolation to a point (as an introvert, a big part of me always seeks isolation, but not too far), failure and drowning. When I was a kid, I nearly died in Lake Ontario. I was three or four, and can still see it now. I managed to get my stubby legs tangled in seaweed, tripped and couldn’t get back up. I fought and fought and after swallowing four disgusting mouthfuls of water, I stood up. My parents didn’t even notice it, but I never forgot it.

Some of the “future works” listed on your website include screenplays. As an author, I’d love to discuss this with you because I, too, have an interest in writing screenplays. What drew you to the idea? Do you have any specific plans for the production of your scripts once they’re complete?

Sometimes, when I come up with an idea and start to play with it and see what is the best medium to use to make it come out right. Sometimes it’s a short story, a novella or a novel. Other times it might be a graphic novel. A few times, it’s been screenplays. I wrote my first screenplay back in 1992. It wasn’t a horror piece, but more of an ode to Hong Kong action flicks. A big shoot ‘em piece. Not sure what happened to it, but it was fun to write and I always promised myself I would write another one day. The one that I currently have partial done, is a horror-comedy. The idea is something more akin to Troma or old school 80’s horror and the only way it would work, in my eyes, was as a movie. I’ve been writing it to keep a low budget in mind so I could produce it myself, or with some friends. There are some truly insane scenes in this that I would love to see come to life and I think it would be one of the first times people would see the sense of humor I have, so fingers crossed.

What are your favorite horror movies?

That’s one of the harder questions. I grew up watching horror movies in the 80’s, so I’m always drawn to them. I loved the serious toned ones, the funnier ones and just bizarre movies. For that era, I’d have to say some of my favorites are Brain Damage, From Beyond, Night of the Creeps, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Fright Night, Nightbreed and Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead).

A lot of people hate on the new horror out, but I can think of some real gems over the last few years. I’ve tended to look at more foreign horror as well, since there seems to be some real gold coming from all over the world. I think some other favorites would be Clive Barker’s Dread, Martyrs, Ichi the Killer, The Babadook, Oculus, May, Three Extremes, The Descent, and if I keep going, this would go on forever.

Favorite authors?

This is another list that could go on and on, but over the years I’ve always tried to keep it to a list of ten. One of the best things about this list though, is how it’s always changing. Depending on what I’ve been reading as of late and the mood I’m in, the list can vary. For right now I think it would be as follows: Stephen King, Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Elmore Leonard, Joe R. Lansdale, Tim Lebbon, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Ray Bradbury and Caitlin R. Kiernan. I’ve had it pointed out that Elmore Leonard seems to be an odd choice in the group, but I’ve learned a lot from him as a writer and he has played a role in how I’ve developed my own style.

I have to mention the anthology Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror because you and I both have stories in it! I really enjoyed yours, entitled “Perfection Through Silence”, and one part in particular made my toes curl because I could almost feel the character’s pain from his injuries. The story had a nice balance between gore and suspense. My question is: Do you decide beforehand how much gore a story will have (a lot, a little), or do you just let the bloody details work themselves out?

Thanks for the mention of Perfection Through Silence. That was a fun one to write and is a great example of the process I go through. When I’m writing a story, much of the details like gore, violence, suspense and even how it ends, never come into play until I’m writing. I tend to be one of those people that will start off with an idea or just an opening sentence and I go from there. I explained that to a friend once and he thought it was strange, told me it sounded too much like the story writes itself, and in a way, he was right. I think if you go into something, meaning to make it over the top and super gory, it could backfire. At least that’s how it is with my process. Everyone is different. I tried to write a bizarro piece for a magazine, the only idea was to make it really over the top and it just didn’t come out that way at all. I learned a long time ago to just let things go the way they want, to let the blood run free.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever written?

That is actually an easy one. Whenever someone mentions my story Treats from At the Gates of Madness, they usually add in “what the hell were you thinking/smoking/drinking?”. To be honest, it was a story that got away from me. Originally, it was only supposed to be about a lonely man on Halloween night, watching humans disguised as monsters running the street when in the end he was a monster disguised as a human, hiding in his house and memories. Somewhere along the way, I decided to go down another road and there was Treats. If you’ve never read it, it’s not an easy one to get through as there is some very strange, disturbing and disgusting subject matter in it. That’s all I can say on it, hate to be one to spoil it for anyone curious.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m working on the edits of a new novel called Maymon. It’s a crime/occult/end of days horror novel full of monsters, demons, zombies, killers of the human kind and mayhem. Should be fun.

I also just started the second novel in the Dillon the Monster Dick series. This one, Earthbound and Down is a follow up to the soon to be released The Gate at Lake Drive and continues the story-line of Dillon, a monster/demon hunter.

On top of all that, I’m putting the finishing touches on Dark Reaches, my third short story collection due out in August, and seven different short stories. I tend to write 3000-5000 words a day and go back and forth between projects to keep it all as fresh as I can.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website is www.shaunmeeks.com
I can also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Shaun-Meeks/106128562748355
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaunMeeks
On Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100357493474555506507/posts
On Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5818641.Shaun_Meeks
On Amazon: www.amazon.com/Shaun-Meeks/e/B007X5KZLO/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1430468112&sr=8-2-ent
On Tumblr: http://shaunmeeks.tumblr.com

Thanks so much for the great questions. This was a blast!

My pleasure, Shaun. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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