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Interview with Kenneth W. Cain

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:

kwc

 

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.

embers

 

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!!!

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You CAN judge a book by its cover – a look at the work of Brett Williams

Hiya, horror freaks! Today I’d like to discuss the horrifying works written by friend and colleague Brett Williams. This is an author who is not afraid to “go there”. Though he writes in more than one genre, his horror books tend to gravitate toward the extreme and taboo, in the same vein as Edward Lee.

bw

I have read three of Brett’s books to date. The first one, From Murky Depths, was a light read with none of the depravity of the latter two, High Octane Damnation and Family Business. I, myself, don’t read much extreme horror. Believe it or not, violence is not really my thing. Lol. Who woulda thought? But despite my sub-genre preferences, I DO recognize a well-written, solid piece of fiction when I see it, and Brett Williams always delivers.

What am I getting at with this preamble? Well, as you can imagine, writing extreme horror containing graphic and sexual content always brings in bad reviews, and I guess I’m tired of seeing it. I’m tired of reading reviews claiming a book is garbage just because the reader picked out the wrong type of book for him or herself. There should be no surprise that Brett’s book Family Business contains rape. The cover image is a mostly naked woman behind bars! Did the reader think this sexualized woman behind bars was starring in a romance role? Doubtful. The truth is, the entire novel is oddly compelling from start to finish whether you want to keep reading or not, and the reader who posted the bad review that inspired this blog was probably just disappointed in himself for staying glued to the whole thing! What a sicko! Hahaha. I joke, I joke.

Anyway, I’m here to shout from a mountain top (or from my couch) that you absolutely CAN – in fact SHOULD – judge a book by its cover before you dig in. If there’s a lot of sexuality and blood, or if it’s named “Lucifer’s Whore” for instance, and you still decide to open up those pages and start reading, you just forfeited your right to leave a terrible review based on graphic content, in this blogger’s opinion.

So… there’s my two cents. Seems obvious. I don’t buy a thong swimsuit and complain it shows too much butt cheek. Use your brains, folks. Buy the books you’re likely to enjoy. In fact, here are some covers for books written by Brett Williams. Please, JUDGE THEM accordingly and then decide… do you want to know what’s inside? (I bet you do NOW. Lol.) 🙂

bw-1bw-2bw-3bw-4bw-5

To find out more about this author, please visit: http://brettwilliamsfiction.com

The Power Of A Short Story

Short fiction can be a powerful thing–an incredible thing. In fact, I have a confession: My name is Lindsey, and I’m addicted to short stories!! Horror anthologies and story collections fit my lifestyle to a tee (the lifestyle of a mommy who’s lucky to experience ten solid minutes of peace). If I can be transported to another place and experience the beginning, middle, and end of a tale in one sitting, what beats that?

Even for the light reader, or those who don’t read at all, you might be surprised how many episodes of Tales From The Crypt, Masters Of Horror, and Twilight Zone started out as short stories. Or how about Creepshow… Fear Itself… Tales From The Darkside… I could go on and on.

I’ve had this blog since March, and it suddenly dawned on me…. I need to make a list of short stories that have stuck with me long after reading. Maybe I’ll get some of you non-readers out there to pick up a book. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that you don’t have to invest two weeks in a novel to enjoy the written word. Short scares pack major punch.

Some of the stories below can be found in more than one publication. I’ve simply referenced the book where *I* encountered each story. Let us begin…

FOET by F. Paul Wilson (book: Aftershock & Others: 19 Oddities)

aftershock

This collection is full of great stories, but the story that stands out most in my mind is entitled “Foet”. It deals with the issue of abortion, and what makes it such an effective and well-executed tale is that no matter what your stance is–pro-life or pro-choice–you’re going to feel an unsettling stir of emotion. Completely enthralling.

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NEED

and

WHEN IT IS DECIDED THAT THE WAR IS OVER by Gary Braunbeck (book: Rose Of Sharon)

rose

There were two stories in this Gary Braunbeck collection that affected me deeply. “Need” is the story of a struggling mother whose harrowing decision for her children will leave you speechless.

“When It Is Decided That The War Is Over” shows the author’s ability to capture the tragedy of war like no other. I own another book from ’96 with a Braunbeck story that blew me away. It starred character James Ryan, president of the United States, who struggles with the hopelessness of war. “When It Is Decided That The War Is Over” revisits this character but with a new narrator, an end of the world account that will send a chill straight to your core, believe me.

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SEX, DEATH, AND STARSHINE by Clive Barker (Books Of Blood Volume One)

BooksOfBlood-Volume1

This story has Broadway flair, a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes drama of live theater actors, as well as the drama of…well… the undead. 🙂

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CALL FIRST by Ramsey Campbell (book: Alone With The Horrors)

alone

In Ramsey Campbell’s “Call First”, library worker, Ned, lets curiosity get the best of him. There is an older gentlemen who visits the library daily. This man always asks to use the phone before leaving, and he always delivers the same emotionless message into the receiver before hanging up: “I’m coming home now.” Ned is beyond curious about the mysterious daily phone call and decides to find out more about the man… but soon regrets it.

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SPARKS FLY UPWARD by Lisa Morton (book: The Living Dead)

the_living_dead

Sparks Fly Upward by Lisa Morton is one of those horror stories that makes you ponder some pretty heavy issues. The subject matter is controversial, but the story will knock your socks off.

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THE THINGS THEY LEFT BEHIND by Stephen King (book: Just After Sunset)

JustAfterSunset

Strange things are happening to Scott Staley almost a year after 9/11. Scott is unable to get rid of his survivor’s guilt, and things belonging to his deceased colleagues start appearing in his apartment. He tries throwing them away, yet they reappear. What can he do to cope with the deaths of his friends and co-workers on 9/11 that still haunt him a year after the tragedy?

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LOVER, COME BACK TO ME by Tim Waggoner (book: Tales From The Lake Vol. One)

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1

The opening story in Tales From The Lake Volume One scared me for the simple reason that water creeps me out… BIG TIME! Not bath water, pool water, or drinking water, of course, but those murky natural bodies of water where the depths are unknown and anything could be swimming beneath you. Tim Waggoner nailed my fear in this one. I had to take a deep breath after reading.

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So there you have it. Just a FEW short story suggestions from this fiction lover to all of you horror fans. Now… get reading!!

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.

essel

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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Horror podcasts, the best of dark audio fiction

Hey, everyone. If you’re like me, you enjoy a good horror story. It takes you back to a childhood campfire, right? Remember the bloody hook in the car door? The dead hitchhiker? All those tales used to send a shiver down your spine, but now you’re grown, and it’s hard to find the time to sit down and read a book to recapture that *scary story* feeling. Well, I’m here to help. I, too, have trouble finding time to read, and in those moments, it’s audio fiction to the rescue! Below I’ll list several places you can find audio fiction online. I’ve also posted some of my fave episodes.

I’ll start with Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. These guys put out TONS of free audio fiction and release it in ways that are easy to access, such as their Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/chillingtaleswi

Here is a favorite of mine. Super dark:

Next up is the NoSleep Podcast. I’m not going to post my favorite episode of every podcast I list here, but there is an episode of NoSleep that sticks out in my mind. The idea behind the plot is so damn scary, it actually made me shudder. The story I’m referring to is titled “21 Day Quarantine”, and you can find it on season 4, episode 4 here: http://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/?p=1566

nosleep-podcast-logo

Third on the list… Wait… why did I put this one third? I LOVE THE WICKED LIBRARY. Nelson Pyles of www.TheWickedLibrary.com has produced some of the most entertaining horror performances I’ve heard, including three of my stories! 🙂

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If you want to pick from lots and lots of episodes, start with the most recent season (http://www.thewickedlibrary.com/Hello/podcast/podcast-season-5) and work your way back. Or to sample it, just click below. I uploaded one of my Wicked Library tales to Youtube. Check it out:

All of this should give you a good starting point, but I am STILL not done! You MUST check out The Drabblecast:

drabblecast

www.drabblecast.org

And also, last but DEFINITELY not least. I truly enjoy the Tales To Terrify podcast

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www.talestoterrify.com/category/podcast

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That covers what I’ve been listening to lately, but there are other podcasts and audio fiction websites out there, just waiting to be discovered by YOU. Feed the hungry child in you. You know you’re hungry for horror!

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