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UDH Presents Icons & Legends 
2022 Summer Series

Join us as we meet some incredible authors that have become icons & legends in their field.

By definition, a legend is an “extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field”. An icon is defined as “a person worthy of veneration, reverence or great respect”. For this series of interviews, I am deeply honored to present more than a dozen incredible authors who fit one or both terms, for myself and for many others, in the world of horror and dark fiction.


Many of these authors have been around the industry for a few years, some have decades of experience, all are widely known, have multiples books published, and have or have had their hands in multiple aspects of the industry. Whether they branched out into different genres, got into editing, publishing, film or television, they all have stories to tell and wisdom to share. Join us as these worthy individuals share their interviews, their stories, and their experiences.

 
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09/03/2022
Lee Mountford

Modern Icon

To close out our summer series, modern horror icon Lee Mountford of the UK joins Uncomfortably Dark to discuss all things horror and writing. Lee has been a favorite author of mine for many years, so when I began creating this list for the interview series, I knew he had to be on it. Lee was gracious enough to accept and has been a delight to correspond with during the process. I happily present him to you today and hope you enjoy his interview as much as I did.

Did you always want to be an author?  
Yes! Even at a young age, I always loved to write stories—horror stories in particular—and it’s something I kept up throughout the years. I always hoped I would be able to actually get some books out into the world, but in truth, never thought it would happen.

Have you always been a horror fan? 
Oh yes. The first book I remember reading was a Ladybird children’s version of Dracula (Ladybird being a publisher who specialised in books for young children). I also recall a book on ghosts in the library of my primary school (our version of an elementary school here in the UK) that I used to read all the time. From there, I graduated to Point Horror, then Stephen King (bit of a leap) and never looked back. Same for TV and film – when I was old enough, horror became my go-to genre, and that hasn’t changed.

What defines “horror” for you?  As compared to suspense, thriller, or action? 
Great question. I know everyone will have different answers for this question, and in fairness I don’t think there is one definitive way to resolve it. For me, though, I think it all comes from the author’s intent when writing the book. Are they looking to thrill, or are they looking to actually get under the skin of the reader and creep them out or scare them? I think other genres can certainly have elements of horror in them, which is great, but to be classed as pure horror, I think the main aim should be to scare, unsettle, or disturb the reader.

From the early 80’s & 90’s standard of sending submissions via snail mail to the current trends of self-publishing, digital, ebooks, audible, Vella, and godless, how have you had to adjust your writing style and/or knowledge to keep up with trends in the publishing & social media crazy world? 
To be honest, I’ve never tried going down the ‘traditional’ route of submitting to a publisher, outside of some short stories. When I first learned about self-publishing, I researched it heavily and found a way to publish exactly the kind of stories I wanted to tell without having to abide by any set criteria from a publishing house. It seemed like a great way of getting my work out there and I have always found the independent scene is the most fertile for horror in all forms of media (film, video games, music, artwork, and comics). Self-publishing, to me, seemed to be the literary equivalent, and something I wanted to be a part of. Since putting out my first few novels, I’ve never looked back. I’m not saying I would never try the traditional route—I’ve actually sold the Czech Republic rights to Haunted: Perron Manor and Devil’s Door which will be through a trad publisher over there—but the offer would have to be something that appeals to me. Not just financially, but how well the book would be supported on and after release.

You have had an extensive writing career, including short stories, novels, novellas, and collections, all with various publications and publishers. Of all of those, can you pick one that was the most impactful for your career and what was the impact? 
Hmmm, that’s tricky one. I think, if I had to pick one, I would say The Demonic, as it hit the market really well and, more than any other book, helped build my readership. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite in terms of story, but for what it has done for my career, I can’t really look past it. Plus, I incorporated a ghost story and some real life events from my home town of Ferryhill, so it was quite personal for me.

Tell us a bit about your new latest book or WIP.  Where did the idea come from and did your process for this story differ from any other? 
I’m actually writing three books together that will all be released at roughly the same time. They are the first three books in a new series, which will be called the Darkfall series. It is set in the 1880’s, in the UK, it is a kind of Lovecraftian tale of horror mixed with some dark fantasy. I’m hoping to capture the mystery and eldritch horror Lovecraft is known for and infuse it with some brutal, gritty, and unflinching scares. I’ve had the idea for this series for a while but was holding off writing it for a little while until I felt the time was right… which is now. 
The process is pretty similar to my other series, Haunted, in that I wanted to get three books out together to give readers plenty of material to dive into right out of the gate. However, the world building here has been much more extensive, and that has been quite an enjoyable process.

What has been your favorite character or favorite novel to write and why? 
Outside of my WIP, I think the three main characters in my Haunted series—Sarah, David, and Father Janosch—have been my favourites, as I feel I have gotten to know them really well over time. That didn’t stop me from putting them through hell, though, and I don’t like my characters to be safe in my stories, so even my favourites can be killed off. In fact, that is often what happens, as I think the emotional gut punch will be just as strong for the readers if I’m feeling it as well.

What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career and why?   
This one is easy, and it’s the interaction with my readers and the amazing feedback I get. It’s such a humbling thing to get nice messages, pretty much daily, from people who enjoy your work and reach out to tell you. When I put my first book out into the world, I honestly didn’t expect anyone to read it, so it’s still sometimes difficult to believe there are people out there who willingly buy and enjoy my books. But knowing that is true now… yeah, that makes me feel pretty damn proud.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
Horror people are my tribe. Interacting with other horror authors is always awesome (everyone I’ve spoken to has always been kind and genuine), and horror readers are the best people in the world. So, to be able to speak and interact with them constantly just makes being a horror author even more incredible. It’s something I’m very grateful for.

Can you tell us one of your favorite experiences from your career and why did that experience stand out so much for you?
I mentioned above the best thing for me is the interaction with readers, so because I don’t want to repeat an answer, I will give a different one here. I have to say it was really cool when my novel, The Demonic, broke into the top 135 books on the whole of the Amazon store. There are literally millions of books for sale on there, so to be in the top 135 of all of them was just mind boggling to me.

With such a long career behind you, can you tell us a bit about what being an icon in this industry means to you? 
I can honestly say I’ve never considered myself an icon in the industry. My first book came out 5 years ago and, while I’m eternally grateful for the success I’ve had and readership I’ve built, it still feels like I’m just getting started. However, if I can ever help other authors who are just getting started, I’m always willing to do so. There are plenty of readers out there for everyone. 

What legacy would you like to leave behind, or rather, what is it that you want to be known for? Simply as a great author, a leader in the field or something more defined? 
I’ve hard to think really hard on this answer. Of course, I would love if my work was remembered fondly by the horror community, and if it outlives me and is still being read after I’m dead and gone, that would be phenomenal. But also, I want to be remembered for being a good person, which is really important to me. So, if my headstone were to read: ‘here lies Lee Mountford, not a bad author, and definitely not a dick,’ I’d be happy with that.

Which authors or horror creatives (male or female) have most inspired you, living or dead, and what was it that inspired you? 
I know Stephen King seems like an easy answer, but he always stands out, because I remember reading his work and thinking, ‘I wish I could do this.’ And so, I tried. So far, it’s worked pretty well. On top of that, I really love the horror Lovecraft pioneered, and that really resonated with me. His writing can be overly verbose for me taste, and some of his views were obviously horrible, but the ideas he came up with about the cosmic horror, and vast, unknowable, and uncaring entities existing above us, really fired my imagination. There are loads of living horror authors that continue to inspire and amaze me today, but those two are probably my main sources of inspiration.

What one piece of advice would you give to new and emerging authors in the industry?
Finish what you start. That was a big thing for me. Before 2017, my hard drives were like digital graveyards for half-finished works. In 2017 (well, late 2016) something clicked, and I decided I wasn’t going to be distracted by new and shiny ideas anymore, at least not until the current WIP was finished. That was the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. I think a lot of people will struggle with the same issue I did, where they start off full of enthusiasm on a project, but when it dies out, the work starts to meander, and the story eventually dies. I’ve realised the work of a writer is to push through during those times when you aren’t crackling with enthusiasm. You have to put in the time to break a story. It takes discipline, but that is something that can be curated, provided you are committed enough to make writing one of your priorities in life. If you find you struggle to make time to write, cut something else out of your life. Do you spend a few hours on an evening watching TV? Stop it and fire up your word processor. Stuck in an endless loop of scrolling social media on your phone? Put it down and start writing. 
Once you have your first book done, decide what route you want to go down (traditional or self-published) and attack it with everything you have, all the while continuing the work on your next book.
Rest when you’re dead.   


Lee's Bio:
Lee Mountford is a horror author from the North-East of England. His first book, Horror in the Woods, was published in May 2017 to fantastic reviews, and his follow-up book, The Demonic, achieved Best Seller status in both Occult Horror and British Horror categories on Amazon.
He is a lifelong horror fan, much to the dismay of his amazing wife, Michelle, and his work is available in ebook, print and audiobook formats.
In August 2017 he and his wife welcomed their first daughter, Ella, into the world. In May 2019, their second daughter, Sophie, came along. Michelle is hoping the girls don’t inherit their father’s love of horror, but Lee has other ideas…

 
 
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08/27/2022
Jonathan Janz

Modern Horror Icon

Did you always want to be an author?  
When I was super little, I wanted to make movies, so the desire to tell stories was present in me for as long as I can remember. I didn’t get the urge to write novels until I was maybe eighteen, but then it hit me hard. I didn’t have the time or the discipline to make a serious go of it until later on, but the fire was there even then. 

Have you always been a horror fan? 
Yes. I grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and I always celebrated my birthday (October 27th) at the same time I celebrated Halloween. My mom and I watched THE TWILIGHT ZONE and IN SEARCH OF…, and she also used to bring home albums of Edgar Allan Poe stories from the library. I was destined to love horror. I really don’t think I had a choice. 

What defines “horror” for you?  As compared to suspense, thriller, or action? 
I’m weird about this, but I find horror in all sorts of places that others don’t. Since horror is an emotion, I believe it exists in historical stories, in romances, in westerns, in theatre, everywhere. But more to your point, I’d say horror occurs in suspense/thriller/action movies when the anticipation is commingled with dread. It’s that feeling that we’ve come untethered, that the safety net is gone, that pushes a story into horror territory. 

From the early 90’s publishing submissions via snail mail to the current trends of self-publishing, digital, ebooks, audible, Vella, and godless, how have you had to adjust your writing style and/or knowledge to keep up with trends in the publishing & social media crazy world? 
I’ve made a conscious choice to not follow trends but to be as knowledgeable as I can about the business. I never write something because it’s hot or I think it will sell, but I do look to see what’s driving sales in the industry so I can perhaps utilize it from a marketing perspective. Really, this part of the business is another business, so people like me with full-time jobs are at a disadvantage. I’ve got a family to spend time with and to support, and they come first. So basically, I do my best at all this, which is often woefully less than I’d like to do.  


Tell us a bit about your new latest book or WIP.  Where did the idea come from and did your process for this story differ from any other?
That’s a fun one! My current WIP is VEIL, a sci-fi horror novel. Like so many of my stories, the seeds of this one came from many places. I’ve loved the sci-fi horror combination since ALIENS, and that film continues to influence me. Josh Malerman’s BIRD BOX clearly impacted this book too. But aside from its influences, I think VEIL really stemmed from a single image. I imagined what would happen if someone were simply yanked into the sky, and everything grew from there. 

What has been your favorite character or favorite novel to write and why? 
Wow. Great question but a tough one. Probably the closest characters to myself are the hardest but most rewarding to create. They’re hard because they require so much vulnerability. They’re rewarding because they tend to ring true. So, a few would be Will Burgess from CHILDREN OF THE DARK, David Caine from THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, and the protagonist I’m writing now for VEIL, John Calhoun. 

What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career and why?   
I can tell you an early one that meant the world to me. Brian Keene chose THE SORROWS as his best horror novel of 2012, and that lifted me up more than I can explain. 

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
The people. I love my readers, and I love my fellow writers. Really everything about it is extraordinary. There’s so much love. Conventions are a blast, as is interacting with readers online. Talking on the phone with my pals is always enlivening and seeing my books on shelves never gets old. So really, all of it is amazing. 

Can you tell us one of your favorite experiences from your career and why did that experience stand out so much for you?
Meeting heroes like Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale. Those were surreal, unforgettable experiences. I was too nervous to approach Joe, so Brian tricked me into it. But when I talked to Joe, I realized he was as warm and kind as he was online. 

What legacy would you like to leave behind, or rather, what is it that you want to be known for? Simply as a great author, a leader in the field or something more defined? 
I think I’d like to be remembered for the following three things: perseverance, a constant dedication to improving and honing my craft, and kindness. There’s so much you can’t control in life and in this business, but the aforementioned things? I can control those. People might be born with more talent than you, but you can still outwork them. You can either assume you know everything, or you can remain humble and continue to grow. And lastly, there’s never an excuse for intentionally mistreating someone. Kindness always matters, and I do my best to make others feel loved and accepted rather than excluded. 

Which authors or horror creatives (male or female) have most inspired you, living or dead, and what was it that inspired you? 
There are many people out there who inspire me, people like Josh Malerman and Caroline Kepnes, for example. But the one who got me started, has always (metaphorically) been with me, and will continue to help me through his writing is Stephen King. King made me a reader when I was fourteen, inspired me to write when I was eighteen, and still inspires me today. I would love to meet him and tell him how much he has meant to me. So much about him has inspired me, but probably what resonates the most is how he came back from that terrible accident. There’s a chapter about it in ON WRITING, and every semester I begin my Advanced Creative Writing class by reading the chapter with my students. It really demonstrates the power of writing and what a gift it is. 

What one piece of advice would you give to new and emerging authors in the industry?
I think what I said earlier suffices: don’t quit, keep learning, and be kind. You do those three things and no matter what disappointments you endure; you can sleep at night knowing you’ve done your best. 

Jonathan's Bio:

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels. He is represented for Film & TV by Ryan Lewis (executive producer of Bird Box). His work has been championed by authors like Josh Malerman, Caroline Kepnes, Stephen Graham Jones, Joe R. Lansdale, and Brian Keene. His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, his novels Children of the Dark and The Dark Game were chosen by Booklist and Library Journal as Top Ten Horror Books of the Year. He also teaches high school Film Literature, Creative Writing, and English. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter at the below link. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads. 

 
 
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08/20/2022
Staci Layne Wilson

Industry Icon

Staci Layne Wilson has been an industry constant for most of her life, having grown up in both the music and publishing world. She is a large supporter of the horror world, especially its authors, and can be seen promoting many others even as she continues to drop amazing releases in record time. I am honored to know her and to introduce her today.

Did you always want to be an author? 

Yes—my mom was a book author and magazine writer, and I remember growing up with her talking about ideas, research, deadlines, royalty checks, etc.! Even when I was really small, like 4 or 5 years old, I was writing and illustrating my own stories, and stapling them together like chapbooks. I got my first job as a professional writer, a columnist in a national print horse magazine, at the age of 12.


Have you always been a horror fan?

Absolutely—kudos again to my parents. My mom for letting me read her Stephen King novels when I was way too young, and to Dad for showing me Vincent Price in The Pit and the Pendulum one night way past my bedtime.


What defines “horror” for you?  As compared to suspense, thriller, or action?

Horror has so many possible facets, that it’s hard to define. But what would separate it from its adjacent genres would be a supernatural aspect.


From the early 90’s paperbacks to the current trends of eBooks, audible, Vella, and godless, how have you had to adjust your writing style and/or knowledge to keep up with trends in the publishing world?

The method of conveyance may be different, but I can’t say I’ve adjusted my “style” – writing to market usually doesn’t work for me. I just have to be myself, write stories and books that I myself would read, and then connect with like-minded readers.


You have had an extensive writing career, including short stories, novels, novellas, and collections, all with various publications and publishers. Of all of those, can you pick one that was the most impactful for your career, and what was the impact?

I’ve found that while I love writing fiction, especially short stories, my nonfiction has done better in the marketplace. Fortunately, I *love* nonfiction (both to read and write), particularly true crime and darker subjects. That’s why I’m so thrilled that people are responding to my new book, “Rock & Roll Nightmares: True Stories, Volume One,” which debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller List for books about rock music.


Tell us a bit about your new latest book or WIP.  Where did the idea come from and did your process for this story differ from any other?

“Rock & Roll Nightmares: True Stories, Volume One,” is an offshoot of the first three books in the series, which are fiction and horror. They are scary stories set in the world of rock music in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. So, for the nonfiction edition, it’s still nightmares but in this case, they are true. I write about the 27 Club, Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicides, Plane Crashes, Strange Phenomena (December 8, and the Buddy Holly curse). I like to think of the book as Hollywood Babylon, but for rock music instead of movies. I had so much ground to cover, I had to break it up into two volumes.


What has been your favorite character or favorite novel to write and why?

I have a series called Immortal Confessions, and it’s about a couple of rock ‘n’ roll vampires, Ashara and Liam. Technically they’re paranormal romance, but I’m not a fan of the genre so I’ve made my books somewhat unique. Believe it or not, some of the biggest fans of the series are straight CIS males. Though I wouldn’t say they’re “guy” books at all; it just seems that all kinds of people can connect with the characters and are enjoying their adventures throughout history. It’s fun!


What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career and why?   

Well, I’ve been at this for decades so it’s hard to pick just one. I like having #1 sellers and getting awards as much as the next person, but to be honest, I’ve heard from a few readers who’ve told me that my books have gotten them through difficult times or made them look at situations differently and that is what really sticks with me.


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

How authors are also readers, and we all help each other out by recommending books we’ve read and loved.  


With such a long career behind you, can you tell us a bit about what being an icon in this industry means to you?

Well, I don’t feel like an icon, but I guess never giving up counts for a lot! I just can’t imagine not being an author; it’s in my bones.


What legacy would you like to leave behind, or rather, what is it that you want to be known for? Simply as a great author, a leader in the field or something more defined?

I’m really just here to entertain, and to a degree, inspire. If my books can inspire readers to seek out music they haven’t heard before or to learn about a place or moment in history that I’ve written about, then that is enough for me.


Which authors or horror creatives (male or female) have most inspired you, living or dead, and what was it that inspired you?

Anne Rice, of course. I can’t say I loved every one of her books, but they are so layered with history, religion, and travel, that (especially as a younger reader) I learned a lot. It’s like what I mentioned above—inspiration for the reader to seek even more beyond the book. I’m also a fan of film directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Dario Argento, and Mary Harron.


What one piece of advice would you give to new and emerging authors in the industry?

Don’t give up. And don’t read the one-star reviews!


Staci's Bio: 

Staci Layne Wilson is an L.A. native who enjoys traffic, wildfires, and earthquakes—but since her move to Las Vegas, she’s learned to love 110-degree summers, drive-thru wedding chapels, and casinos that still reek of the Rat Pack’s cigars. She has been a professional writer since the age of 12 when she was hired as a columnist for a national magazine. When she's not writing books, she is making movies (Cabaret of the Dead, The Ventures: Stars on Guitars, and The Second Age of Aquarius). Catch up with Staci at: www.stacilaynewilson.com

 
 
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08/06/2022

Paul Carro

Modern Icon

Paul Carro was one of the first authors that I interacted with when I began my own author journey. He has been a strong supporter and inspiration of mine since day one and maintains a strong social media presence where he documents his own journey and constantly encourages and supports others along the way. With a lengthy career in television and film behind him, Paul has turned his love of horror to writing. Paul is quickly becoming a modern icon in the business and someone to watch. 


Did you always want to be an author?

Literally yes. I learned to read before kindergarten and could not get enough. At age six I started typing out Moby dick, copying it from a volume I had and making some changes along the way. I think the whale became pink. I thought that was how one authored a book back then. Then in fifth grade a short story I wrote was submitted for publication in an anthology of Maine authors. It was there that I was published alongside Stephen King, though my story was not a horror tale. 


Have you always been a horror fan? Yes. I was a comic nerd starting around age five and I would find these mazing old comic magazines called Creepy at yard sales. They terrified me so I had to hide them at night so I could sleep but I loved them. I started reading Washington Irving, M.R. James, and Ray Bradbury very young and they were my gateway. Poe and King and others would come later.


What defines “horror” for you?  As compared to suspense, thriller, or action? To me it is ordinary people experiencing extraordinary circumstances, most of a type they might not survive, and if they do, will be forever changed by. From that jumping off point, horror can take many forms, but it is the unthinkable or the unknowable interfering in one’s life.  


From the early 90’s publishing submissions via snail mail to the current trends of self-publishing, digital, ebooks, audible, Vella, and godless, how have you had to adjust your writing style and/or knowledge to keep up with trends in the publishing & social media crazy world? 
I urge all writers never to chase trends. Trust me, there are thousands of Sharknado rip-off screenplays floating around out there now. How is that working out for those writers? The way to maximize a trend is to already have work that is complete that matches a trend as it strikes. Then, maybe, one can take advantage of the moment. But otherwise, I urge people to simply write what they are passionate about. 
The only thing I have adjusted to both in my TV development pursuits and even in my novels is to lean into shorter chapters or segments where possible. People’s attention spans gave gotten shorter with the advent of social media and the internet. I find the reading experience benefits people when they can get through a chapter or two during a break while they read on their phone.
Last, I love tech. Anything that makes my job writing easier I will latch onto. There are some great products out there and many more on the horizon. Those are tools; however, they will do nothing to enhance your writing. That comes through repetition and practice.   


You have had an extensive writing career, including short stories, novels, novellas, and collections, all with various publications and publishers. Of all of those, can you pick one that was the most impactful for your career and what was the impact? 
It was a screenplay called Penance. Before I sold it, every studio in town was meeting with me. Being new to LA and the Hollywood scene, it was a major thrill to experience being on the lot of every major studio in town and getting invited to premieres by producers wanting the script. That was the first script I ever showed in Hollywood, and it sold so that was a thrill. Now if the movie would only finally get produced, but it is in good hands, hopefully someday…     


Tell us a bit about your new latest book or WIP.  Where did the idea come from and did your process for this story differ from any other?
My newest book is The Salem Legacy. It only differed in that there is an actual history behind the story, so I had to do research, but understand the book is fiction so I took liberties where needed for purposes of the story. Having said that, there is a plenty of accurate information within the book. Also, the modern-day characters (we flashback to 1692 in the novel) are fully aware of Salem’s history, so I had to make their knowledge be accurate to history because they cannot know things I as the author made up. I went at it as if they are real people in modern times and had access to the same Google that we all do. Where I changed things as the author, I supplied that information to the characters as needed. They learned of the changes I made to the past throughout the course of the novel and the revelations led to dire situations for all involved.  


What has been your favorite character or favorite novel to write and why? 
A non-horror character. Nolan Walker. I am I long time comic book fan and transitioning from screenplay writing to novels uses different writing muscles. Because horror was so important to me, I did not wish to write my horror novel first. Instead, I wrote my love letter to comic books first. 
Nolan is a 16-year-old kid who only wants to play video games and hang out with his neighbor Alden who he has a massive crush on. His father died when he was young, so his mother means everything to him. When she develops late-stage cancer, he feels hopeless until these strangers visit him in the hospital. 
It turns out there is a dimension where teenagers only are superheroes and this one kid kept them all in check except that super-powered kid perished battling a great villain. Nolan is the other Nolan’s interdimensional twin so they offer to cure his mom, but he must travel with them to pose as their world’s greatest superhero.
So, he saves his mom, but also loses her. When he gets to his new world, things are slightly different. His mom there is identical but a social media PR executive who has no time for him, and his crush Alden is five years older than him, not to mention the bully in his real world is his best friend in the new. Poor Nolan. The kid keeps his chin up through it all. Yeah, he’s my fave.


What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career and why?  
My anthology series, The Little Coffee Shop of Horrors. I devoured every single horror anthology at a young age. I lived for those and could not get enough. Something about bite sized stories with bite always got me. When I was sixteen, the local bookstore in the mall had me curate their horror anthology section. (I did not work there BTW, was only a customer.) They knew I had the knowledge of which ones were great and they would order any I asked them to. So now to see mine sell alongside the very names I have read my whole life just takes my legs out from underneath me. I post on my social media frequently my proximity to certain authors. It is not bragging, and it is not about the ranking, it is the pure joy of seeing my name (and Joseph’s, the co-author of the series) alongside such greats.   


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
I am late to the party as a participant, but I have followed the industry for years. My screenwriting and TV years were never in the horror side as much as I wanted to go in that direction. I was known for thrillers and drama and got placed in that box for decades now. I am happy to have finally received my ticket and am finding the people to be the nicest. That is what I love. Dee Wallace took me in on Thanksgiving a couple of years early in my screenwriting career when I could not afford to fly home. That shows you how nice people in the horror community are. 


Can you tell us one of your favorite experiences from your career and why did that experience stand out so much for you?
It would have to be The House. To finally write in the horror field was beyond thrilling. And to have the book so well received only added to that.  


What legacy would you like to leave behind, or rather, what is it that you want to be known for?

Simply as a great author, a leader in the field or something more defined? 
I just want some kid who is probably too young to be reading my stuff to discover it and not be able to sleep for some time, but then have him or her become fans of the genre and eventually write their own stories. 
Allow me to mention a ripple effect of what authors can inspire, and how it can change one’s life. Stephen King was known for offering “dollar babies.” For one dollar, he would allow directors to make films of some of his stories, only they could not monetize them.
Because of that I reached out to an author, Jon Cohen, who wrote a story for a Twilight Zone project. I worked out a dollar baby and made that into my senior thesis film. After graduating college, I worked retail trying to decide what to do when I received a call from someone who saw that 30-minute short. He asked if I would come to LA and run a video production company.
I answered yes without hesitation and moved to LA from the east coast, knowing no one. I worked their several years and used it as a launching pad for my writing career. Had Stephen King never done dollar babies, I might never have left the eat coast and might never have pursued my dream. 
I want to instigate a ripple effect for other younger creatives who discover my work.


Which authors or horror creatives (male or female) have most inspired you, living or dead, and what was it that inspired you? Joe R Lansdale, King, Poe, Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Ellen Datlow, Charles L Grant, Dennis Etchison, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Matheson, Bradbury, Lisa Tuttle, and Clive Barker to name several. 


What one piece of advice would you give to new and emerging authors in the industry?
Don’t talk about your ideas to anyone and FINISH them. I say do not talk about them not because someone will steal your idea, (they won’t) but because the more you talk about it, the less gas in the tank you will have left to write about it. And as mentioned, finish it. 
I believe it was Jordan Peele who said the best screenplay was a finished one. Also, understand you will get better over time so the sooner you start, the sooner you will develop your skills. 

Paul's Bio:

Paul Carro was born and raised in Maine and escaped the winters by moving to Los Angeles where he worked in film/TV in multiple capacities. A longtime comic book and horror nerd, Paul finally returned to his literary roots, writing novels in both genres. When not writing, watching horror flicks, listening to horror podcasts, or reading horror books, Paul can be found hiking all over the state.  

 
 
Desert Highway

07/23/2022
Brian Keene

Legendary author, friend, and supporter of the indie community.

Many in the horror community do not need an introduction to Brian Keene, but I am going to give one anyway.  There are a rare handful of people in the community that work tirelessly at their craft and at championing others within the industry. Brian is one of those rare humans that encourages, supports, and uplifts others every chance he gets. I am honored to know him, humbled that he knows me, and deeply honored to present him today, as a legend within the genre.

Did you always want to be an author?

When I was little, I went through a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut. But yeah, by the age of eight, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I figured it out reading comic books. I saw the credit box, and it said, "Written by..." and a light bulb went off in my head. I was like, "This is a job a grown up can have." My path was pretty much set after that.

Have you always been a horror fan?

Oh, absolutely. My early influences were all horror based. Comic books like Man-Thing, Werewolf By Night, Occult Files of Doctor Spektor, and The Witching Hour. Movies like Phantasm, The Omen, Jaws, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Adult books like Stephen King's Salem's lot and F. Paul Wilson's The Keep, though even my kid's books were horror themed -- The Ghost of Windy Hill, and The House With A Clock In Its Walls. Horror wasn't the only genre I liked. I was into science fiction and fantasy and westerns and all kinds of other stuff. But horror was my favorite and the one that brought me the most comfort.
   
What defines “horror” for you? As compared to suspense, thriller, or action?

I tend not to define it. I leave that up to the marketing people who stamp it on the spine of books or shelve it in the appropriate section at the store. But in general, good horror should make you uncomfortable. It should inspire fear in you, right?

From the early paperbacks to the current trends of ebooks, audible, Vella, and godless, how have you had to adjust your writing style and/or knowledge to keep up with trends in the publishing world?

Well, the nice thing about having done this now for over twenty years and having been a fan and student of the genre for thirty years before that, is that I've seen all the trends. None of this stuff is new. Take Vella, for example. It's serialized fiction, something that's existed in the genre since Varney the Vampire. The only thing that is different is the delivery system. The things that happen in publishing -- none of it is new. It has all happened before and it will all happen again. Stick around long enough, and you learn how to spot those cycles.

I do guess my writing style has evolved, though. And I guess that's normal. I mean, we evolve as people. Ideally, we never stop growing or thinking or learning, particularly when it comes to questions about the world around us and the other people that inhabit it with us. I think the same goes for writing. Take Stephen King for example. Carrie was a young author's book. If he tried to write that novel in his seventies, I think it would have been much different, and not nearly as effective. But the reverse is true, as well. 11/22/63 is an older person's book. It benefits from perspective. Had he tried to write it as a younger author, I don't think it would have been nearly as effective. I'm 54. The novels I wrote at 34 are very different from what I write now, because they were written from a different perspective and with different knowledge of the world.

You have had an extensive writing career, including short stories, novels, novellas, and collections, all with various publications and publishers. Of all of those, can you pick one that was the most impactful for your career and what was the impact?

The obvious choice would be The Rising. Came out in 2003 and became a best-seller and has been in print continuously since then, and has sold an estimated half a million copies, and -- not to brag -- it (along with Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic and Boyle's 28 Days later film) jumpstarted our modern zombie craze that absolutely consumed pop culture there for a while. I could stop writing books tomorrow, and for the rest of my life, I'd still get a check every month for The Rising. There's something to be said for the security that comes with that.

But the not so obvious choice is End of the Road. It starts ostensibly as a memoir of a cross-country book signing tour, and a sort of half-assed post-Danse Macabre examination of the horror genre, and then it turns into this treatise on grief and growing older and... I put all of myself into that book. It was exhausting to write. But also rewarding. I've done talk therapy. Ive taken the pills. This was better and more rewarding and more fruitful than either. And it meant something to me that academia noticed it, and both fans and critics loved it. It was nice to be nominated for a Bram Stoker Award again with it. I mean, I won two of those and was nominated for another four, but that was all between 2001 and 2003. Then... nothing. Crickets until 2020 and End of the Road. So that felt good. (laughs)
   
Can you tell us a bit about the Scares That Cares organization and how you came to be involved with it?

Since its founding in 2006, the Scares that Care charity has raised over $340,000 for organizations and families with a child impacted by illness, burns, or breast cancer. We’ve achieved that success through various fundraising efforts, including online donations, marathons, dinners, dances, telethons, AuthorCon, and – of course – our annual Charity Weekend convention. Our board of directors (on which I serve) and our staff are volunteers. There are no paid positions. And we're all either horror fans or horror professionals. I've known the founder, Joe Ripple, since 2000. We both used to work for another convention. When he started the charity, he asked if I'd like to be involved. And it has been an honor.    

You hosted a podcast for many years, The Horror Show with Brian Keene, and you are also a host on the Defenders Dialogue podcast. What has been some of your favorite experiences with each show?

Defenders Dialogue... just the fact that each week, I got to talk about 1970's Marvel Comics with one of my best friends. There was a lot of simple joy in that.

The Horror Show... the times we got entirely off topic and just laughed for an hour or two. Those were always nice. But I don't know... we were on the air for almost six years. It was a very popular show. But it became too popular, almost... in a way. There's a lot of emotional pain that I still associate with the show, there at the end. I don't need to rehash it here. People who listened will know what I'm talking about. People who didn't listen...well, its old news anyway. Suffice to say, there were things there at the end that took an emotional toll on me, and on Mary, and on Dave, as well. Dave carried that with him for a long time. And he's gone now, so he's beyond it. But Mary and I still have some scars that I doubt will ever truly heal. It's hard for me to remember the good times. I only remember the trauma.
   
Tell us a bit about your new latest book or WIP. Where did the idea come from and did your process for this story differ from any other?

I have several. I'm finishing up a graphic novel adaptation of Stephen King and Richard Chizmar's Gwendy's Button Box. I'm on the final draft of a novel called Invisible Monsters. I'm serialzing a novel called Island of the Dead for Vella. And I'm on the first draft of Splintered: The Labyrinth Book 3. The only real change to my process is the first one. Gwendy's Button Box isn't my work, so I am constantly mindful and respectful of the source material. I want to get everything -- every panel and every word balloon -- just right. So, it's taking me much longer with that than it would my own work.
   
What has been your favorite character or favorite novel to write and why?

This sounds like cheating, but it's true -- every one of them is my favorite while I'm working on them.

What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career and why?

There are always two people I think of when I answer this question. The first was a young mother in Canada. Her toddler had cancer and was in the hospital for a very long time. She stayed there in the hospital with him, lived there basically, and she read my books while he was sleeping. She told me how my books were the only thing that distracted her and got her through.


And I think of a guy who was stationed in Iraq during the war. Same thing. He was at a forward operating post, and that's a scary situation and makes you feel very alone, but what got him through it was reading my books. 

So, that's what I'm proudest of. I'm proud that something I made up about zombies or giant worms or sentient darkness or vampires got somebody through their lunch break, or their commute, or study hall. If my pretend monsters offered you a respite from the very real monsters in your life, then there's nothing greater or more fulfilling.
 
With such a long career behind you, can you tell us a bit about what being an icon in this industry means to you? What legacy would you like to leave behind, or rather, what is it that you want to be known for? Simply as a great author, a leader in the field, or something more defined?

I mean... I came into this industry as a fan. If I die tomorrow, it will be as a fan. So, to have been able to help guide this genre? To have put my own stamp and contribution on something that has given me so much personal joy over the years? That's a very humbling thing. I'm deeply honored that I've been allowed a place here. As for legacy and what I want to be known for? I don't think that's for me to say. I think that will be up to others.
  
Which authors or horror creatives (male or female) have most inspired you, living or dead?

Let's do a Top 10 list (in no particular order):

1. Steve Gerber
2. Stephen King
3. F. Paul Wilson
4. J.M. DeMatteis
5. Joe R. Lansdale
6. Hunter S. Thompson
7. Alan Moore
8. David J. Schow 
9. John Skipp 
10. William Hope Hodgson


What one piece of advice would you give to new and emerging authors in the industry?

You can teach writing, but you can't teach patience, and so much of becoming successful in this business is patience. Read every day and write every day, of course. But also, be patient. It does not happen overnight. Look at friends of mine like Paul Tremblay or Stephen Graham Jones. People think they suddenly burst onto the scene a few years ago. No. They've both been doing this as long as I have. They were patient for all that time, and that patience has now paid off with big success for them both. Writing is the car, but patience and determination are the fuel that keeps it running.

Brian's Links:

Newsletter: https://briankeene.substack.com/
Website: https://www.briankeene.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrianKeene
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/BrianKeene

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BrianKeene1

 
 
Purple Satin

07/16/2022

Linda D. Addison

Modern Icon

Linda D. Addison is an inspiration to many, for me, she is a true success story. She has a long history in this industry and has had to overcome a bit more than others, due to being a person of color in this industry, long before the climate was accepting of it. She has an incredible story to tell, powerful images to share through her words and her journey, and she is truly a kind person. I am overjoyed to present her to you today as one of our modern icons. 

Did you always want to be an author?  
LDA: Oh yes, I always wanted to make up stories. Like most children, I had a very active imagination and my mother told original tales to us, so I just thought it was natural to make up stories.  The first time I saw a book when I was in kindergarten, I knew that I wanted to create something like that. Of course, I had no idea what was involved! 

Have you always been a horror fan? 
LDA: I haven’t always written horror, even though I loved watching scary movies with my family growing up. I started writing science-fiction & fantasy, until I graduated from college. I think I had to feel comfortable facing my own demons before I could write horror myself.

What defines “horror” for you?  As compared to suspense, thriller, or action? 
LDA: It’s been said “horror” is an emotion. For me to write horror I have to be willing sit in the middle of fear/anger inside. I believe this has a lot to do with why I didn't actually start writing horror until I graduate from college. There was a lot of fear around me growing up and I needed time to process that. That's a big part of what I consider horror: a scenario involving fear. Even though suspense, thriller and action can incorporate those emotions in the storytelling, for horror invoking a version of fear to the reader as a major part of its center.

From the early 90’s paperbacks to the current trends of eBooks, audible, Vella, and godless, how have you had to adjust your writing style and/or knowledge to keep up with trends in the publishing world? 
LDA: I have been fascinated with math and science my entire life, so it’s pretty easy embracing any new trends that come along. My science-fiction brain is still very active, so between that and the fact that my day job, before I retired, was in software development, I’m way open to new, cool things.

You have had an extensive writing career, including short stories, novels, novellas, and collections, all with various publications and publishers. Of all of those, can you pick one that was the most impactful for your career and what was the impact? 
LDA: Yikes, it’s hard to pick one. I’ve had so many unthinkable life-changing events. The earliest publications that really pushed me into another level was when I was published in Sheree Renée Thomas’ Dark Matter anthology in 2000. I was published professionally before 2000, but I didn’t go to many conventions, so few knew I was Black until Dark Matter came out. Also, it was the first time I was on the Honorable Mention on Year’s Best Science Fiction.


Tell us a bit about your new latest book or WIP.  Where did the idea come from and did your process for this story differ from any other? 
LDA: I have quite a few things coming out in 2022, but at this point some of them haven't been released yet so I can't talk about them too much, but two stories that are coming out in July and August are both written from a different point of view than expected. The story for Classic Monsters Unleashed (July) is inspired by the Blob, the second story coming out in August in the Predator: Eyes of the Demon anthology is quite a different take on predators from a different point of view. In general, I am always curious about writing from someplace that I haven't seen before.
With poetry I often go back to seeds that I have in journals and develop them into poems. One that I'm proud of came out in June in the "Hybrid: Misfits, Monsters and Other Phenomena" anthology, is a poem called Fracking-lution. Years ago, when I lived in New York City some of the trees were full of plastic bags that had blown into them and tangled in the branches. Over the years the bags had become tattered plastic and I wondered what would happen if they turned into a different kind of life form. I wasn't able to find the rhythm in that image to write the poem until this year, but the image never left my imagination.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
LDA: I had early support and input from some well-known horror authors like Dallas Mayr, Peter Straub, Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon and others. Over the years the horror community has continued to be receptive to my work and honored me in ways I didn’t expect. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to share the light that I have been given with other new creators in our community and see them also thrive.

Can you tell us one of your favorite experiences from your career and why did that experience stand out so much for you?
LDA: There are so many amazing experiences, so I'm going with the latest: receiving the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) Grand Master of Fantastic Poetry award in 2020 and then my poem, Summer Time(lessness), receiving first place in the SFPA 2021 RhyslingAward—Short Poem Category. I have the award next to a framed photo of my mom because when we were young, she used to sing Summertime to us. She had a beautiful soprano singing voice and sang in jazz clubs before getting married, later she sang in her church choir. Although she passed in 2010, I still feel her energy around me, and I know she would've smiled at this poem receiving such an incredible award.

With such a long career behind you, can you tell us a bit about what being an icon in this industry means to you? 
LDA: For every way that I have been honored, it’s a direct path to be able to lift others up. Paying it forward is very important to me.

What legacy would you like to leave behind, or rather, what is it that you want to be known for? Simply as a great author, a leader in the field or something more defined? 
LDA: Trying to define what my legacy would be is hard. It's something that others will say when they think of me. I try to live in the present moment, allowing writing to come through me, and work with others to support their creative process.

Which authors or horror creatives (male or female) have most inspired you, living or dead, and what was it that inspired you? 
LDA: A early horror influence were the fables that we read in elementary school. Back then they were hard and edgy: children were eaten, creatures killed other creatures, etc. Those tales didn’t scare me, I was more fascinated with the imagination it took to write the stories. Later in school I read authors like Poe, Baldwin, Kafka, Hemingway, Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, Cheever, and Toni Morrison. I love the music in their writing, and the darkness, the shadows. Then I discovered Stephen King, Peter Straub, Doug Clegg, Tananarive Due, Karen Taylor, Jack Ketchum, Charlee Jacob and Tom Piccirilli. I enjoyed and learned from how they told their stories, the language they used to pull me in and make me hungry to read all the way to the end.
There have been so many poets and authors that I've read and learned from, and the learning continues as I discover new writers.

What one piece of advice would you give to new and emerging authors in the industry?
LDA: The most important thing for me is writing as authentically as I can, that means on first writing just put down what comes without editing or worrying about anything other than the story that comes through. Everything else can be done in rewrite, but a piece has to go from beginning to end in order to be edited, to be published.


Linda's Bio:

Linda D. Addison is an award-winning author of five collections, including How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, and the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®. She is a recipient of the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award, HWA Mentor of the Year and SFPA Grand Master. She is a member of CITH, HWA, SFWA, SFPA and IAMTW. Look for her in 2022 anthologies: Black Fire—This Time (Willow Books); HyBriD (Hybrid Sequence Media); HWA Other Terrors (William Morrow Paperbacks); Predator: Eyes of the Demon (Titan Books); Chiral Mad 5 (Written Backwards). Her site: www.LindaAddisonWriter.com.