How would you describe your writing style?
Mixed-genre perhaps, or a potpourri? That is, my most recent book Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth is a mosaic novel, or novel-in-stories, with elements of horror, dystopic science fiction, science fantasy, and dark romance blended in together, and in a style I think of as baroque – tending toward lush and literary. However, I’ve also had stories in mystery magazines that are more bare-boned, in some cases perhaps even noir. The idea for me is that the type of story will ideally suggest the style, with The Tears of Isis (to drop another title) as a possible example, a collection that begins with a poem, then a stream-of-consciousness story, and so on, ending with its title story in a fairly no-nonsense, straightforward style.
What draws you to dark fiction?
One of my primary interests is character. In my opinion the best fiction, in any genre, is that which makes its reader think, to think about what it means to be human whether in terms of relating to the world, or building new worlds as in science fiction, or intimately with just one other person, or even within the folds of one’s own mind. This last is where I think horror and dark fiction excel, in putting a character under the greatest personal stress and examining how that character then copes, or even just survives. The vampire has bitten, now what does one do? And does its playing out induce the reader to think how he or she might react as well, perhaps not to a vampire bite as such, but to other, hopefully no longer quite as extreme pressures they might be under in everyday life?
Such an eloquent response, it makes me want to sit down and read some James Dorr tonight. Please tell us about your latest release, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth.
On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul – an eater of corpses – explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest that leads us through the 16 stand-alone chapters, about half in fact already published in various venues as complete short stories, loosely inspired by a pair of quotations from Edgar Allan Poe, of the most poetic subject being the death of a beautiful woman (which also informs, in its way, my previous book The Tears of Isis) and of the boundaries between life and death being “at best shadowy and vague.” If these statements be true, and in an already dying world, can love be a power to even transcend death?
Looking through your Amazon page, I noticed how much you’ve been getting your fiction out there in different anthologies and magazines. Are there any of these publications that stand out in your mind as a particularly memorable experience, whether it was a lot of fun to participate in, or maybe for charity, or a badass theme?
So many things, and where to start? One story that comes to mind is called “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” one originally written for a horror anthology that turned it down, then was rejected by a succession of other horror markets until I switched gears and sent it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine where it was accepted – the first that I sold there and, at the time, one of my first wholly professional fiction sales. (It is in addition written in a mannered style, which was taking a chance for me back then, but in a sense prefigured the style later used in Tombs.) Then there’s “Moons of Saturn,” a science fantasy story that’s almost a reverie based on an astronomy book I had on the solar system, which went to Algis Budrys’s magazine Tomorrow, another early (and in my opinion, validating) professional sale. For another, “Avoid Seeing a Mouse,” which went to Max Booth III’s alternate history anthology for Dark Moon Books, Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories, and played a role in bringing about The Tears of Isis. And for a fourth, perhaps “King Rat,” written in part as an allegory on world politics and economics, that first appeared in Gothic.Net and was reprinted in Bleed, a charity anthology for The National Children’s Cancer Society.
James, I also had a story in Bleed. It was a terrific book! But now I want to know more about your 2013 collection, The Tears of Isis. It has received some great reviews. How long did it take you to put this collection together, and what do you think has made it so successful?
In that The Tears of Isis was assembled from stories already written, it didn’t take that long at all. Max Booth III had just started Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and, having recently published me in Zombie Jesus, invited me to submit a collection to his new company. For the contents, I was to have a completely free hand as long as it came in within a certain word range, choosing and arranging the stories myself. As it happened, I’d been playing around in my head with a couple of possible collection ideas, so I emailed back suggesting I get back by about Halloween, which would have been two or three weeks, with a definite yes if I thought it feasible, then get a manuscript together by about Thanksgiving – this would be aiming for a publication date for the next spring or summer, in time to be out before that year’s World Horror Convention.
So the dates worked out. Since the stories were already written (which isn’t quite true, I did write one short one to be combined with an existing poem, while one other story was as yet unpublished) it was more a case of compilation and one thing I learned, the process was both a challenge and fun. By analogy to the sculptors in the book’s opening poem and closing story, in choosing materials from an unformed “basket” of stories from which to form a loose theme (in this case of beauty and death; of the artist conferring on his or her model both immortality, and through its objectification, a kind of destruction) and then fitting and arranging them into it, I had the thrill of watching as until-then-unrelated works formed of themselves a cohesive and artistically satisfying whole.
Wow! That sounds like a unique collection of stories, for sure. Do you keep a notebook or file of potential story ideas? If so, how many do you think you actually end up using?
The short answer is “no.” My relationship with the muse is not a sunny one; I have to wrestle her for ideas and, if I get one, I usually try to develop it at least a little bit right away. At that point I’m likely to make some notes on a piece of scrap paper or the back of an envelope, but I’ll still try to get to work with it on the computer within a few days. (One exception: in the case of a series of stories – I have one ongoing, for instance, about the original vampires who allegedly came to New Orleans – or a created world, as in Tombs, I may keep a folder with common information, such as maps or naming conventions.)
You write poetry as well. Who are some of your favorite poets, from any era?
To go to possible extremes, I consider Edgar Allan Poe and Allen Ginsberg to be major influences. To them I might add Byron, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Chaucer, the Greek tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (these in translation, of course), any number on up to Kipling (who, after all, even wrote a poem called “The Vampire”).
Where can we find your poetry?
I’ve been lax in marketing poetry lately, though I will have a short poem in the current (Fall 2017) Star*Line. I do have a book of poetry, Vamps (A Retrospective), available from White Cat Publications as well as (although in print only, I think) Alban Lake. Also my early collections Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret both contain poetry sections. (These latter are technically out of print but can still be found on Amazon, et al.)
Is there any genre you’d like to attempt but haven’t tried yet?
I consider enough of my work to be cross-genre that it’s hard to answer. I’ve never written straight romance or straight westerns (or western romance, for that matter), but if I tried it’s likely that horror elements would sneak in. (Also erotica might be fun, but again. . . .)
What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?
I like watching movies, particularly science fiction and horror, but comedies too and some documentaries. I also lead and play tenor in a Renaissance recorder consort.
Where can we find you on the web?
I recommend that people follow me on my blog at http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com to keep up on my latest doings. Feel free to comment too if the spirit moves. Also I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.dorr.9 and my Amazon Author page (lots of book titles, but most of them are anthologies where I might just have a story or poem) is at http://www.amazon.com/James-Dorr/e/B004XWCVUS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1380306038&sr=1-2-ent
It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn’t know quite what — ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others’ deaths. Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection. Tombs is a beautifully written examination of the human condition of life, love, and death, through the prism of a dystopian apocalypse.
James Dorr’s latest book is a novel-in-stories published in June 2017 by Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. Born in Florida, raised in the New York City area, in college in Cambridge Massachusetts, and currently living in the Midwest, Dorr is a short story writer and poet specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. His The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). He has also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full time non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician, and currently harbors a cat named Triana.
It’s always exciting to see an indie publisher grow, expand, and achieve new successes. Today I will spotlight just a handful of the titles over at www.burningwillowpressllc.com, not only to let readers in on some great fiction, but also because owners Edd & Kindra are amazing people who work hard to give their authors the best. Dedicated, creative people are what drive Burning Willow Press to meet its full potential.
If you see a book that interests you, consider picking up a copy. Pretty please??
Hell Gate: Book One, by Josh Matthews
Sixteen-year-old Jason McCreary is living a nightmare within a nightmare. Not only is he trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by demons from Hell, he also shoulders the burden for humanity’s fate as it was his mother who opened the gates in a scientific experiment gone wrong. In a last ditch effort to redeem his family name and erase his guilt, Jason joins a squad whose mission is to travel to Paris and close the Hell Gate. Once there, they discover an environment more frightening than anything they could imagine and demons more terrifying than they had ever encountered before. Time is now against them. Can Jason gain his redemption along with the respect of his peers, or will a new web of lies threaten to rip apart his world and jeopardize his team’s only chance for success?
Edging, by Michael Schutz
Intenze is the newest designer drug. Take it, and nightmares come alive. “Edging” is a better rush than the Tower of Terror. It’s a fraction of the price of a Six Flags admission. And it’s the most addictive high that the tiny suburb of New London has ever known.
For Rick Carlson, the junkies roaming the streets don’t even scratch the surface of what worries him. He’s trying to win back his cheating wife. He’s trying to protect his residents at Belmont Assistant Living from their own drug-addled grandchildren. And he’s trying to save his twin boy and girl from their mother’s murderous paranoia.
But he can’t save them all.
The fears of all those who edge summon the Thirst—a living miasma that thrives on terror. It is bringing a storm. And time is running out.
Skin Deep/ Ordinary Monsters, by Frank Martin
What happens when an overbearing family drives a teenage girl into the arms of a mysterious, pale stranger? How can a high school junior explain having strange dreams of a Nazi concentration camp after being bitten by his neighbor’s monstrous dog? And who will win when two iconic creatures of the night clash on a desolate WWI battlefield? Dive into a world of werewolves and vampires with SKIN DEEP and ORDINARY MONSTERS, two standalone stories featured in a dual novella from author Frank Martin. And don’t forget to check out the bonus comic short HORRORS OF WAR found in both ends of this double-sided work of pulp and terror.
Coma Hell, by Kevin Wimer
(Kevin has a short story with Burning Willow Press and is eager to have a longer work published with them. Here’s a glimpse at his current book, though not published with Burning Willow. He is one of their anthology authors, so I said, “That counts!” Lol.)
Jack Roberts awakens from what he was told would be nothing more than a routine sinus surgery. There is never anything routine with any surgery. Jack never gave that a thought and he should have. Jack might have changed his life and been a better man.
The panic beeping sound of alarms echoed with a flurry of activity around Jack’s hospital bed. The scream of a nurse calling for a doctor. The voice of a doctor yelling we are losing him and for everyone to stand back.
The bright flashing red hot light seared through Jack’s body as the world around him spun out of control. The voice of the doctor now tense with anger as his words echoed through Jack’s head. The only word that Jack could make out was coma.
Jack was now lost in the darkened world that would become his very own private hell.
A Mighty Rolling Thunder, by Kerry Alan Denney
The end of the world is just the beginning of the terror…
Spring 2024: Two spirit hordes break through from another dimension, and half the world’s population vanishes. The spirits possess the survivors, dividing them into two groups: those who fight to retain their humanity, and marauders who destroy everything in their paths.
Artist Livi DeSilva is fleeing from possessed killers when she meets Conor McLain, a man suffering from amnesia. Outnumbered and outgunned, Livi and Conor team up and fight off homicidal lunatics and ruthless gangs, only to end up cornered by their deadliest foe: billionaire Victor van Danz, a psychopath who commands the new world’s dark forces. Victor craves immortality, and kidnaps Livi. He believes that when he kills Livi in front of her collection of canvases and absorbs her life energy, he will transform into a god.
With only Conor, two amazing dogs, and a band of plucky children to aid her, Livi must harness the power of the spirits inside her and use it to defeat Victor–or die in the clutches of a madman.
“Kerry Alan Denney has created the perfect blend of King’s The Stand and Koontz’s famous dogs. A Mighty Rolling Thunder is a well-written thrill ride of a story you won’t want to miss. A must-read for all post-apocalyptic genre fans!” – Monique Lewis Happy, critically acclaimed Managing/ Acquisitions Editor at Winlock Press
Secrets of the Slain, by Lindsey Goddard
Secrets of the Slain A collection of poetry and short stories created to tantalize your senses and wreak havoc on your mind, each tale further challenging your perception of what reality is and what it is not. Be prepared to see inside of the soul of Lindsey Goddard and share in her “Secrets of the Slain”.
Choice Cuts, by David Owen Hughes
Choice Cuts: A collection of one of the finest splatter-fuelled horror the genre holds, an unflinching set of short stories that will stay with you, horrors that set root into the back of your psyche & taunt your sanity to its limits.
Here lies fourteen tales of all that is baneful & bloodthirsty from David Owain Hughes, an author with an unflinching love for all things close-to-the-bone, grim & grotesque. Once you delve into these pages you will come face to face with an unstoppable force of pure gore. Readers of a delicate disposition may want to put this tome back on the shelf, while those of you who feel ready to be dragged along into the minds of the deranged & disturbed, the murderous & malignant who watch & wait…
Packed with fast-paced thrills & many, many spills. You’ll come face to face with what lies beneath the surface of the mundane & ordinary, step foot into the maze of murder, mania & madness…just be sure to come out in one piece, not just another choice cut.
We had the disquieting dioramas of stealth-like shocks & spills of Laymon…now we present you with Hughes’ own approach towards the antagonistic execution in the realms of the fear & mayhem that can strike when you least expect it. If you’re a fan of Laymon & Lee, you’ll devour Choice Cuts.
Hello again, my wicked readers. The kiddos have gone back to school, so I’m going Back To Scares.
I was a ghost
who never did post.
I’ll soon be the host
who thrills you most.
Haha. Okay, that was an awful poem. Suffice it to say, I am breathing some much-needed life (and DEATH) back into this blog.
On today’s agenda, an amazing interview with author Kenneth W. Cain:
What draws you to dark fiction?
I was raised to be a fearful man, which has hindered my enjoyment of life. Somewhere in my teens I started rebelling against that fear, embracing my fears, rationalizing them. It was and still is very much a process. But, I suppose that confrontation sparked my interest in the unknown, as I’ve always had this need to expose the darkness. To shine a light on it in hopes of uncovering the unknown. There’s so much we don’t understand about ourselves, about this world, the deep ocean and darkest forest, space and beyond. It can make one feel very small and insignificant. That’s my draw.
Embers, your latest book of short stories, has received some awesome reviews. How many stories are included in the pages of Embers, and what inspired you to put this collection together?
There are 25 stories in Embers. That means it’s chock full of fun, and that’s always what I aim for, to make sure there’s something for everyone. And that’s part of the joy, seeing what stories jive with this person and that, what the takeaway is. For me, it’s a journey, all of this writing business. It’s the same with a collection. It’s all about laying bricks to a path that leads through a horrific garden. Each step has a precise space, that hopefully allows the reader to journey along with me. And if I’m successful in creating this walkway, maybe they see through my eyes, if only for a brief moment. That’s the fun of it.
You have written both short and long fiction. Does your process differ for each?
Well, I stumbled into this business in 2010 with These Trespasses, which actually began as a blog series believe it or not. At that point, I was far from finding any sort of stride, and I think the story suffered because of it. Same with some of my other earlier work, as I’d been away from this all too long, and had not progressed at all, and needed to rediscover myself. So I suppose it was originally more of a hobby for me then, sorry to say.
At some point more recently, I started falling in love with the written word again. Those who have spoken with me in person or on the phone know of my desire to learn more of the craft. It’s something that excites me, and I think that’s starting to bleed into my writing the correct way (pun intended). So there’s a process to my writing now, that more or less is me getting the story out, no matter how big or small, and refining it over edits for layering and tension and emotion, characterization and all.
To answer your question more specifically, it’s more about the story and less about the process. My characters lead me through, and only they know when their story has been fully told. I give them that control, give into the fiction. That’s actually helped me to a large degree I think, as I’m seeing through their eyes with more clarity these days.
Which part of writing is your favorite: outlining a plot, developing characters, crafting a setting, or writing dialogue?
Well, I’m a panser, so it wouldn’t be outlining. I’ve tried time and time again with no success. As for the rest, I suppose it’s more of a combination of those three. Dialogue is part of the characterization. Also, setting is a bit like a character in that we need to breathe life into it. There’s a look and feel to everything, a sound or sounds, and smells. It’s about hitting the senses to best create a painting of a real life scene with moving parts and feeling. When you hit it, with all the right beats, you know it, and that creation is a beautiful thing.
Which part/s do you struggle with?
Well that’s a tough question. I’d say I struggle with it all because I’m never really satisfied. At times, I’ll revisit something I’ve written in the past and rue over my mistakes. And yes, there’s always mistakes. Not necessarily in the sense of grammar or misspelling, but in layering and character flaws and dialogue, voice. Such has been the case as I dive back into my trilogy and revisit my earliest efforts. But that’s also been a rewarding process. This business is all about growth for me, and that in itself is an endless study.
Are you involved with any creative projects, aside from writing?
Creative is such a broad word, but yes. Many in fact. I perform much of the formatting and graphic design tasks for The Lovecraft eZine and others upon request. I’ve also been editing quite a bit lately, too. Occasionally, I’ll paint and/or draw. Art was one of my first passions. My reef tanks are also creative in a way, I suppose.
If you could sit and talk with any three authors, living or deceased, who would they be?
That’s a tough question, as there are so many whose minds I’d like to pick. Currently, though, I guess that would be Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, and Richard Matheson.
What are your hobbies and interests when you’re not writing?
Well, my family is my biggest interest. I enjoy spending time with them, whatever we’re doing. But there’s also my reef tank and growing corals. Painting, riding my bike, going to the gym, baseball (I coach my son’s teams), the beach. Actually, a good friend enlightened me to see the beauty in anything long ago, and ever since, I tend to take interest in most anything, which isn’t always easy as you could imagine.
Are there any genres you’d like to attempt but haven’t tried yet?
I don’t read a lot of science fiction. I used to, so I’m not opposed to it, but I’m not always one who gravitates to what some classify as “hard” science fiction. Again, it’s not that I don’t like it, just that I don’t always prefer it. Maybe (occasionally) something gets lost in all that overly technical jargon and pulls me out of the story, I’m not certain. Whatever the case, I’d like to revisit that shelf (so to say).
What can we expect to see from Kenneth W. Cain in the near future?
Right now, I’m rewriting my trilogy. I’m not certain what I’ll do with it afterword, whether I’ll try to find another publisher or self publish the series, but I do need to put in the work. I’m also working on a young adult horror novella and two new novels among other shorter projects, and possibly a new collection. Editing wise, I’m doing some work for a small press right now, but soon (October 1st) I’ll be editing volume 5 of Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales From The Lake series. That’s a project I’m really looking forward to.
Where can we find you on the web?
Most of my links to connect can be found here: https://kennethwcain.com/contact
Wow, what a fantastic interview. Thank you so much, Kenneth W. Cain!!!
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! 🙂
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)
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.
WHEN IT IS DECIDED THAT THE WAR IS OVER by Gary Braunbeck (book: Rose Of Sharon)
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.
SEX, DEATH, AND STARSHINE by Clive Barker (Books Of Blood Volume One)
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. 🙂
CALL FIRST by Ramsey Campbell (book: Alone With The Horrors)
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.
SPARKS FLY UPWARD by Lisa Morton (book: 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.
THE THINGS THEY LEFT BEHIND by Stephen King (book: Just After Sunset)
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?
LOVER, COME BACK TO ME by Tim Waggoner (book: Tales From The Lake Vol. One)
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.
So there you have it. Just a FEW short story suggestions from this fiction lover to all of you horror fans. Now… get reading!!
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