Image by Ray Dauphinais

Uncomfortably Dark presents the 2022 Fall Dark Dozen Interviews!

12 Authors! 12 Weeks! 12 Questions! 

Who will be the darkest?

 
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09/24/2022
Daemon Manx

Author & Publisher

What made you want to become a horror writer?
I struggled with addiction and anxiety for much of my adult life. When my demons landed me in prison, I found the only way to deal with them was to get the dark thoughts out of my head and onto the page. Writing about the horrors I endured and witnessed in the prison system was the only thing that got me though that difficult time. I was able to take a tragic situation and turn it into an opportunity. 


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
My favorite thing about the Horror industry is the support this community extends to one another. I don’t think you’ll find anything quite like that anywhere. Our members are eager to lend a hand when someone is struggling, encourage those who need it and offer advice when it is asked for. I have reached out on multiple occasions when I needed answers and direction, and the community was always there to help. 


Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:
Night of the Living Dead. Let me start off by saying that there have been far more graphic and extreme movies since, however, timing is everything, and trust me … less is more. I was too young to see Night of the Living Dead when it first came out, but I did get the chance to see this black and white classic at a very young age. The tension and the threat of the unknown is prevalent and revealed in the very first scene. The suspenseful music leading up to the attack in the graveyard and Barbara’s dramatic escape is an adrenaline rush of terror. Then when we find out these creatures are actually eating their victims … damn! Sure, zombies have now been forced down our throats ad nauseum, but, for a ten-year-old boy who had never seen anything like George Romero’s classic, it was the most disturbing thing imaginable. To this day when I enter a house, I always look to see how quickly it can be boarded up … just in case.


Darkest or most disturbing horror novel read:
The Stand does it for me. The idea of a superflu escaping from a government lab and wiping out the population is some disturbing shit. The fast-moving spread of Captain Trips is told with such vivid description and clarity it has made The Stand one of the few books I must read over and over. The characters are relatable, the story is possible, and now relevant, and the message resonates. 

Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:
Being eaten alive by fire ants. Enough said!


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:
Every now and then a movie comes along that really hits the mark. Shaun of the Dead nails it for me. It is funny and dark and chock full of Easter eggs. I am biased, being a bit of an undead junkie, still I think Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright truly hit gold with this telling of a zombie outbreak overrunning London. Peppered throughout are hints and tributes to the genre and the movies that paved the way. Throw in the comedic talents of Nick Frost and Pegg and you have a true classic that must be watched at least once a year.


Imagine you are trapped in a cage match with a horror villain of your choosing. You can take one other author with you and one weapon, who do you pick and what weapon do you choose? 

As a villain, I feel pretty confident taking on any of those silly puppets from puppet master … sorry … not scary! And although I think I could take any one of those little guys myself, I choose Wrath James White and his bare hands to accompany me in this cage match, battle to the death. I think a lot of us will be choosing Wrath to stand by our side in this, and for the authors who didn’t, I need to ask a question of my own. Are you nuts?


Name a horror movie you personally could not finish and explain why?
Oh damn … too many to count. The movie that comes to mind is the one with Jason in Space. I don’t even know which number that was, and truthfully, I stopped caring after Friday the 13th Part 2. The one that takes place in the future in outer space is unwatchable, just speaking for myself, don’t get offended. I think the point where one must hit the stop button is when the guy says, “It’s okay, he just wanted his machete back.” Sorry I’m out, there are too many good ideas out there to keep rehashing the same old tired ones and to then do it poorly.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world and have you ever written about it?
When I was in prison, I was haunted by recurring dreams where I would finally be released only to get sent back to prison the very same day. Now that I am home, being a good boy and reporting to my parole office as instructed, one would think those nightmares would be over. One would be wrong. I don’t have them all the time, but occasionally I am plagued by the same nightmare; I find myself back in the prison; forced to wrap my head around the fact I have once again jeopardized my freedom. I will never get the chance to experience the simple things, walks in the wood, cutting the grass, playing with a dog, and I will never see my loved ones again. These nightmares shake me to my very core. I have never written about them, until now that is. But there will be a story one day … probably a memoir.

Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be trapped in and why? Name the book and author, if not you. 
The Boy in the Center of the Road is a short story of my own that takes place in the mind of a young boy suffering from a concussion and traumatic injuries. He has just been hit by a car while riding his bicycle and the nightmares that replay in his head on an endless loop are horrific. In his unconscious state he believes the crippling headache he feels is caused by a knotted cable being pulled through the center of his head. It is accompanied by a constant gnawing sound and severe tension as the knots catch on the soft tissue of his brain and the line is pulled from his forehead faster and faster. It sounds like wet Styrofoam squeaking against his grey matter; like rats gnawing on wet Styrofoam and the tissue of his brain. There is no way for the boy to escape and his nightmares lasts weeks. 
I wouldn’t want to experience that … again … because I already did once. I was that Boy in the Center of the Road. I was hit by a car when I was ten and suffered several cracked vertebrae, a massive concussion, and a broken femur. The telling of the nightmares I had are as real as I can remember, the sound of the wet Styrofoam, the sensation of the knotted cable, and the ceaseless gnawing of the rats … it was all too impossibly real. Originally published in Dark Moon Digest issue:46, available soon in Manxiety. 


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 
I think we just covered that one, wouldn’t you agree?


What one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? 
I need to clarify one thing first. I wouldn’t give my younger self advice that would alter my path. I believe I have been defined by my mistakes as well as my successes and think it would be a disservice to deny myself any of them. I would, however, tell myself to cherish every moment and never waste time. It is the one commodity that will absolutely run out. We only get so many days to do the things that truly count; enjoy the sun, hold someone’s hand, tell another that you love them. Because when the hourglass runs out of sand … that’s it, my friends. Carpe Diem!

Daemon's Bio:

Daemon Manx is an American speculative-horror author. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and the Horror Authors Guild (HAG) and has been featured in magazines in both the U.S. and the U.K. He has recently been nominated for a Splatterpunk award for his debut, Abigail in the best short story category. In 2021 he received a HAG award for his story The Dead Girl.

In 1991, Daemon was involved in a motor vehicle accident with Ronald Reagan's motorcade, when he crashed into the former president's limousine on a New York City Street shortly after Ron and Nancy stepped out of the vehicle. No one was injured, except for maybe the pride of the secret service agent who was directing traffic.

After an on-going battle with addiction, Daemon spent eight years in the state prison system where he fought to turn his life around. He earned a college degree, discovered his passion for literature, and on October 31st will celebrate ten years clean and sober. 
Daemon recently opened his own company, Last Waltz Publishing, an indie horror label focused on undiscovered voices and elevating new authors. He lives with his sister, author Danielle Manx and their narcoleptic cat, Sydney where they patiently prepare for the apocalypse. There is a good chance they will runout of coffee far too soon.

 
 
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09/17/2022

James Carlson

Author & Publisher

What made you want to become a horror writer?
I’ve always loved words—looking at them, arranging and rearranging them, musing on their meanings, considering their possibilities, stringing them together into stories and poems and journal entries. At first, in my teens and twenties, I wrote a lot of poems and journal entries. Just for myself. Later, after becoming an avid reader, I worked as a music journalist, reviewing albums and interviewing bands and singer/songwriters for several publications. But fiction was where my true passion lied, so I decided to try my hand at the genre in 2017 or 2018. And that’s what I’ve done ever since.   

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
Admittedly, I don’t love the industry for the same reasons I love the genre. My fondness for the former cannot be confused with my affinity and passion for the latter. When it comes to the horror industry, I love the people, the community. Indie horror feels like a considerably nerdier punk scene, at least the one in which I grew up, with its DIY attitude and strong unity and outsider ethics. And I love being part of that. 

Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:
That’s a difficult answer because I’ve watched so many horror movies, and they’ve all affected me differently. But one of the most visceral, brutal, and disturbing movies I’ve ever seen is the French film Frontier(s). Haven’t watched it in a long time, yet it stays with me. 


Darkest or most disturbing horror novel read:
Though I’ve read Ketchum, Lee, Laymon, etc, the book that first shook me was Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. Reading that collection is where my love for horror fiction began. Barker has an elegant way of presenting his dark and gory tales. While reading Books of Blood, I remember thinking to myself, “This isn’t basic shock content; this is art!”  


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:
Not very creative, I know, but drowning and burning alive both seem positively horrific to me. They’re not just excruciatingly painful; they’re drawn-out and scary. I’d rather have a piano fall on my head from a tenth-story balcony. 


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:
Now, horror comedy is one of my favorite areas of the genre. We have wonderful books by the likes of Jeff Strand, Danger Slater, Brian Asman, etc. But, when it comes to movies, my tastes lean more toward absurdist horror, like Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Blood on the Highway, Murder Party, Severance, What We Do in the Shadows, Shaun of the Dead, Rubber, and The Cabin in the Woods. But there’s a special place in my heart for Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.   


Imagine you are trapped in a cage match with a horror villain of your choosing. You can take one other author with you and one weapon, who do you pick and what weapon do you choose? 

Hmm. Good question. I’d probably battle those weak-ass robots from chopping mall with Gabino Iglesias (because he’s jacked), ultimately taking them out with a powerful electro-magnetic pulse. Or, if the battle were taking place in the waking world, I would battle Freddy Krueger with Danger Slater. We would get all hopped-up on caffeine and cocaine and throw hands with that dream-invading fiend. Our secret weapon would be a house cat with laser-shooting eyes. The advantage would be ours because we’d be too tweaked for Krueger to invade our dreams. Besides, we’d be in the waking world, our turf, where we could take him out.   

Name a horror movie you personally could not finish and explain why?
I turn off torture horror on occasion. Especially when the story takes a backseat in favor of shock and gore bombardment. Not a fan of that subgenre.  


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world, and have you ever written about it?
This answer has proven unpopular on a few occasions, but the one thing that scares the hell out of me in this world is religion. When people believe so blindly and fervently in the impossible, in things for which there is zero evidence, the psychology in itself is terrifying. But then there’s the matter of how each person interprets religious texts and acts on them accordingly. Some of those people are capable of anything because they’re doing it in the name of something for which there is no rational argument. Truly, as wonderful and beautiful as it can be, there are few greater horrors than humanity and its inventions. I’ve written about these very things several times. 

Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be trapped in and why? Name the book and author, if not you. 
A movie called 13 Tzameti was released in the early ‘00s. The simple plot revolves around an unlucky laborer who, thinking he might’ve found a way to earn some easy cash, finds himself in an underground gambling den. He soon learns that there’s no leaving. And then there’s the game—thirteen men standing in a circle, each with a gun aimed at the man’s head in front of him, and an additional bullet is added survivors’ guns each round. The tension was incredible. A terrifying concept, for sure. Not a book, I know, but it’s the first thing that came to mind.

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 
Oddly enough, I enjoy my nightmares. Always have. I think part of my sleeping mind recognizes that they’re dreams, which allows me to have fun with them…even if I’m in a dangerous situation, even if I’m dying. I don’t remember any childhood nightmares, regrettably. But in one of my more recent ones, humans discovered we were just parasites living in a colossal god-like being. We were the equivalent of the skin mites that reside on our own exteriors. Sure, we built towns and cities in the massive being. Sure, we composed symphonies and penned great literary works. But, in reality, we were nothing more than busy organisms living out our ephemeral existences, all of us locked into a symbiotic relationship with a greater being whose life spanned eons. It was really weird.  

What’s one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Have more confidence and self-worth, and know there is value in your efforts, because there’s just as much wonder and magic in you as in others.   

James' Bio: James G. Carlson is an award-winning author of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies from small presses. He has also released two collections of dark fiction, SEVEN EXHUMATIONS and THE EVER-DESCENDING STAIRCASE, as well as two novellas, THE LEGION MACHINE and MIDNIGHT IN THE CITY OF THE CARRION KID. From the weird state of Pennsylvania, James drinks too much coffee and writes at a desk surrounded by animals and family in the mad zoo he calls home.

 
 
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09/10/2022
River Dixon

Author & Poet

What made you want to become a horror writer?

I don’t consider myself a horror writer. I tend to lean more toward exploring the darker aspects of human nature and I suppose that lends itself to being more in line with what is considered horror.


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

I don’t know much nor really care about the “industry.” Industries are too often filled with nothing more than gatekeeping and mediocrity to hold my interest.


Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:

Not sure on that one. I’ve become pretty numb to most things visually.

Darkest or most disturbing horror novel read:

For some reason, the ending of Old Order by Jonathan Janz really stuck with me for a long time after reading it. I couldn’t shake it.


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Finding myself in a dark yet peaceful place and then being dismembered and sucked out with a vacuum.


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

The (de)evolution of the US political system.

Imagine you are trapped in a cage match with a horror villain of your choosing. You can take one other author with you and one weapon, who do you pick and what weapon do you choose?

For the author, Ernest Hemmingway and for the weapon, Charlie Chaplin’s cock.

Name a horror movie you personally could not finish and explain why?

Hereditary. I thought it was stupid and poorly done.

What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world and have you ever written about it?

Losing a child. Yes, I have written about it.

  

Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be trapped in and why? Name the book and author, if not you.

 In my book, Chapman, I would not want to be involved in any of the sexually depraved scenes that the main character finds himself involved in.

  

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember?

Being locked in a cedar chest.


What one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Get your head out of your ass and find Jesus.

River's Bio: River Dixon has unknowingly found himself trapped in the incessant heat and beauty of Arizona. It is here, along with his family, that he finds solace stringing together words in an attempt to find a structure or sequence that may one day make sense of all this.

 
 
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09/03/2022

Lee Murray

author - poet - screenwriter - editor

What made you want to become a horror writer?
Lee Murray: I think my original dream was to become an author of engaging well-written stories, tales that resonated with authenticity and truth, and which also entertained. And then as my career progressed, I leaned into horror, a genre which addresses humanity’s most important issues—the things which frighten us.


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
Lee Murray: In Aotearoa-New Zealand, there is a famous Māori proverb which says: 
He aha te mea nui o te ao (What is the most important thing in the world?)
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata (It is the people, it is the people, it is the people)
I think that same notion applies to the horror industry. 

Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:
Lee Murray: Although I love reading horror, I don’t tend to watch horror movies, since they give me night terrors and have since I was a teen—ever since I made the mistake of staying upon my own to watch The Trilogy of Terror. Recently, I have expanded into writing feature screenplays, and I’ve been forced to watch more film to develop my scripting skills. That said, I still close my eyes at the scary bits… 


Darkest or most disturbing horror novel read:
Lee Murray: More of a horror-thriller, but Greig Beck’s Beneath the Dark Ice, read late one night while my husband was away, made my heart pound so hard that I had to put the book down. I’m also going to give a shout-out to Kaaron Warren for her crime and punishment novel Tide of Stone, one of the most disturbing titles I have ever read. 


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:
Lee Murray: I don’t like small spaces and darkness, so possibly something like spelunking or drowning.


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:
Lee Murray: Not sure about best ever, but I enjoyed watching Get Out for its dark political commentary and even an element of slapstick. 

Imagine you are trapped in a cage match with a horror villain of your choosing. You can take one other author with you and one weapon, who do you pick and what weapon do you choose? 

I’m going to take Tori Eldridge, author of the Lily Wong thriller series and, more recently, Brazilian supernatural thriller Dance Among the Flames. Eldridge is a real-life modern kunoichi (female ninja), so I think she could handle any threat with her bare hands and her skill, while I make squeaky noises in the background. 

Name a horror movie you personally could not finish and explain why?
Lee Murray: I am Legend—that bit where the dog charges into the infested building. No…

What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world and have you ever written about it? What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 
Lee Murray: It’s no secret that I suffer from anxiety and depression. I’m like Piglet: I worry about Heffalumps, noises, everything. Almost fifteen years into my literary career, I am working my way through writing about all of those fears. And while I don’t recall any significant nightmares, as a child, I used to think there was a wolf pacing about under my bed (a symptom of my own anxiety—it was the pulse in my ear pressing against the pillow). I wrote about those night terrors in Peter & the Wolf, a flash fiction piece that first appeared in horror anthology At the Edge (now out of print). 


Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be trapped in and why? Name the book and author, if not you. 
Lee Murray: My poem, “A single Step”, was inspired by a YA novella of mine, Conclave 7, in which a group of teens are selected for an intergalactic contest by virtue of a Spartacus marker in their genetic makeup; it’s effectively a death sentence the youth, since no earth team has ever returned. In the novella’s backstory, an earlier team arrive on an unexplored planet only to be hunted by subterranean monsters that can detect their every footfall. What would you choose: to run towards a rapid brutal death, or wait for a slow inexorable one? I was excited to explore this notion further in a poem.


What one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? 
Lee Murray: What other people think about you is none of your business. Be kind, be you, and carry on. 

Lee's Bio:

Lee Murray is a writer, editor, screenwriter, and poet from Aotearoa-New Zealand. She is a four-time Bram Stoker Awards® winner, Shirley Jackson Award winner, and a USA Today Bestselling author. 

 
 

2022 Dark Dozen