Image by Mathew MacQuarrie

2021 Dark Dozen

It's back. The fall Dark Dozen interview series, exclusively by Uncomfortably Dark. 12 Questions! 12 Authors! 12 Weeks! Stay tuned to see how your favorite authors handle the Dozen! 

12 Dark Decisions for them to make, will they laugh or cry? Will their choices delight or disturb you? Get a deeper glimpse into your favorite authors and see what makes them tick! 

 

Dark Dozen Schedule

11/06/2021

Aron Beauregard

11/13/2021

Carver Pike

11/20/2021

Lee Franklin

11/27/2021

Ruthann Jagge

12/04/2021

Candace Nola

 
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The Dark Dozen: Ruthann Jagge

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

Well, the one I still find the most disturbing when mentioned is the 2008 French film “Martyrs.”

It’s original, bleak, and impossibly brutal. Cringes.


Darkest Horror Novel Read: 

Tough question. I’d say Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.” 

Not only because of the grief and dread he writes so well, but also because you’re left with the question “what if?” lingering long after it’s finished. It sticks with you.


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Slowly. I’ve lived on my own terms for the most part, and have tried to do it well. To be ill or compromised to a point of not being able to enjoy every day would be tragic and the worst- case scenario for me.


Best Dark Comedy ever watched: 

“Fargo.” Brilliant screenplay, amazing dialog. Characters you connect with immediately and the story never stops rolling. I watch it at least once a year, it’s so well done.


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended: 

Probably one when I was a teen, at the NY State Fair, I think? It wasn’t so much the scary bits, but there was a hall of mirrors. I couldn’t make my way out of the mess and screamed a lot. Still have nightmares of pounding on bent glass. Most memorable for sure! 


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

“Pinhead” from Hellraiser VS “Hannibal Lecter.” Both are seductive, and each is capable of the most horrible death imaginable. Intellectual monsters as it were, a match of wits and threats to the bloody end.


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

“Hostel.” Gratuitous violence, boring storyline, distressing social undertones. Unpleasant with few redeeming qualities for me.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world? 

Easy.  Anything bad happening to one of our grandchildren. Hand’s down.


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

The Onion Men. I say this because I still remember it. They looked like normal humans wearing black hats, but when they removed them, their skin fell away in layers like an onion. Go figure? 

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

Acceptance from so many creative and cool folks. Lots of brilliant and unique thinkers who have great work-ethics and are very quick to share ideas and information. It’s an amazing community! 

What made you want to become a writer/podcaster/artist in this field? 

I’ve always loved the darker side of things. There’s a pull to the unknown, the impossible, and the unthinkable, whether one validates it or not. To be able to create characters and situations that defy or embellish reality is exciting!  


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

Rules are in place for a reason, but every so often, push your luck to the absolute limit! Listen to your intuition and be willing to work hard. Be fearless.

 

The Dark Dozen:
Lee Franklin

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

The literal darkest horror movie I have ever watched could be anyone of the Batman movies. But seriously the psychological dark movie would have to be the first one of the Saw franchises. It was, for me such a new concept and I loved it. 

Darkest Horror Novel Read:

At first, I was going to say Richard Laymon’s Endless Night. I was deployed to East Timor and it was my first foray into splatterpunk genre. I remember thinking “yes, now this is horror,”. But more recently I finished reading Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica. Cannibalism is a gut twister for me at best. But this was done so matter of fact, the horror of it rationalized and understated it really took a bite out of me.  

Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Alone, with only my animals to feast from my rotting corpse. Actually no, not alone. Stuck with some gluttonous necrophiliac with a saggy ball sack and body odor issues. Yes, I know I’ll be dead, but I WILL KNOW, and it would be fucking awful. 


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

Zombieland 1 & 2. I’m not a huge consumer of comedy but I enjoyed watching these with my family. “One more clean shot to the head and that woman could’ve avoided becoming a human happy meal” 


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

I haven’t actually been to a haunted house (insert sad face of despair). But after my stepfather passed from cancer in my late teens weird stuff would happen around the house. Lights would turn themselves on and off. And, back in the days of have 10 deck CD player was the bees-knees and flicking it on random made you a DJ, my step-father’s favourite song Going To San Francisco would always be in the first 5 songs. Creepy… So, I guess I have been in a haunted house (insert smug smiley face).


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

I think all the best ones have been done. But if you have read my book Berserker; Green Hell (and if not, why haven’t you) I would like to see Ezeljah pitted against Predator. I think that would be a real even match.  Or we could just chuck Freddie Kruger in a pit with Cruella just so he can tear her to shreds for being such a mega bitch. I mean, yeah kill people but who kills puppies for their fur, who??? Yeah, let’s get that bitch fucked up. 




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

The House That Jack Built. I struggled with the cold killing of the kids. As a mother of young boys, it was a bit too close to home. Other than that, I found it mind numbingly boring and did not with the narrator bit at all. 


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

Having to bury one of my sons. 


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

Don’t laugh, but… I was about 8 and it was from that movie Monster Squad. I can’t remember the details, but I remember it messed me up for a few nights. Predator didn’t even do that. 


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

The people are genuinely the sweetest, humble and kindest people I know. Yeah of course there are dickheads, but we can kill them off in our next story. I think because we write all this darkness from our souls it leaves so much more room for the light. We tend to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We know what it is like to be societies “unspeakable” the weirdo, crazy and outcast and we embrace that and each other. 


What made you want to become a writer in this field?

I have so many people from my past that I want to cause pain, anguish and suffering to? No? Ok, I grew up reading across all genres, whatever story took my fancy. I never read horror specifically, but I did grow up watching a swathe of horror and action movies. I find comfort in them. One day, I saw a friend post a submission call for a hardcore horror story, to push boundaries. I gave it a bash and here we are. I found my voice and it is slick with blood and the obscene but also the most truthful to myself. 


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

I would like to say ditch the douche bag and get an education. But in truth, I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t had all the experiences that brought me to this point, molded this person. I feel these experiences good, bad and goddamn awful make my writing richer for having lived them. I mean if I had ditched the douche bag and continued with education, I might have become… a literary romance writer (shudder) excuse me I think I just vomited in my mouth a little bit. 

 

Berserker-Green Hell

by Lee Franklin

“Berserker: Green Hell is one of the best Military Horror novels I’ve ever read.” 

The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer


Book Synopsis: 

Something lurks in the northern shadows of Vietnam. 

Known as the Reapers, Pinny and his special group of soldiers are sent to collect dog tags from their fallen comrades only to uncover the sinister underbelly of the Vietnam War, and a monstrous secret beyond comprehension. 

Pinny might survive the war, but can he save his humanity?

From the Author:

Initially inspired by an anthology call, Berserker was a short story that ran into an odd length novella finally into the short novel before you. The entire process was a massive learning curve, and still a helluva lot of fun. They say to write the books you want to read, so that is what I did. Realistic, high action with an actual story and characters that you can grow to love or hate. Do not read this book expecting a white, American hero, you will be disappointed. I loved writing the battle and hand to hand fight scenes, my experience both in the Australian Army and in martial arts coming particularly handy.  If you love movies like Predator, Overlord and The Odd Angry Shot, you will definitely love Berserker: Green Hell. 

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A Review of Berserker: Green Hell

Berserker Green Hell is a roller coaster ride through extreme horror as seen through the eyes of a young Aussie soldier in the stifling green hell of Viet Nam. The heat, humidity, and overpowering menace of the jungle and its natural inhabitants are not the only things hiding in this landscape. Pinny and his squadron are sent in after skirmishes to bring back tags and to report on their findings, not quite a clean-up crew and not meant as first contact with the enemy Viet Cong either. 


All hell breaks loose as Pinny, Taz, Doc, Snowy, Hammo, Cam, Chook and Wog-boy delve deeper into the jungle, coming upon one small village that shows them nothing but blood and gore, it becomes apparent that something much more than a gunfight happened here. Pinny, a trained tracker, notices footprints in the mud leading the opposite direction, much larger footprints than most soldiers have. They are attacked several times by men much larger than they should have been, only lending more confusion to the chaos.  


Fleeing deeper into the jungle, their sense of unease ever growing, they try to make their rendezvous point for extraction but another attack from something overwhelms them, something huge, that stands upright, with massive claws. Soon after, they encounter a squad of US soldiers and a mysterious American base, hidden deep in the jungle, where it should not have been. Rescue at last, or was it? Pinny and his remaining guys have no choice but to follow the American’s into the mysterious base, where they hope to recover and regroup with a new plan for extraction.  Things go from bad to worse as new discoveries are made in the depths of that hidden base, things that may cost them not only their humanity but their souls.  This novel plays out like a military movie with some of the most horrific scenarios I have ever read.  Four gory gold stars for Berserker: Green Hell. 

 
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11-13-2021
Meet Carver Pike

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

Wow, that’s a tough one, and it’s funny because the first film I thought of was actually the brightest dark horror movie I ever watched. Midsommar is my answer. That movie stuck with me long after I watched it. There’s something about cults that freaks me out. Love it or hate it, Midsommar was unique in the way it kept most of the movie in broad daylight but was still able to carry out its mission of that creeping dread washing over me.

Darkest Horror Novel Read:

I’m not sure what the darkest would be, but I’ll go with the scariest, and it’s not really a novel. The Devil in Connecticut, the book the movie The Conjuring 3 was based on, scared the shit out of me as a young teenager. It was out of print for a long time but after the movie came out, they republished it with the movie cover on the front. I can’t wait to read it and see if it still holds up. Unlike the movie, the book focuses on David’s haunting and possession. He’s the little kid shown only at the beginning of the movie and in flashbacks. 


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

At one point, I would have said drowning. Now, I think if it came to it I would just take one big gasp of water and ride it out until I died. Burning alive has got to be terrible. The way people scream when they’re burning. Nope. Not for me.


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

I can’t think of any dark comedies, but I’m loving the horror comedies that have been coming out lately. Like Final Girls, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, and Fear Inc. I might even add Cabin in the Woods to the list. That one seemed to kind of poke fun at horror movie tropes. 

Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

I really haven’t been to many haunted house attractions, but there was one I went to as a teenager called Silo X that was awesome. They shut down an entire shopping center and turned it into this haunted house with a story about a nuclear spill that caused all the horrors. I remember one of my best friends took off running when the guy wielding the chainsaw came out of the wall. We didn’t see him again until we exited the haunted house. I can’t wait for the signing I’m doing at the Haunted Majestic on Oct. 30th in Huntington, WV. That one should be great.



Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

I’d love to see a real battle, not the fan made one floating around, between Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. Michael is my all-time favorite slasher, but I have a feeling Jason would win that one. He’s just too damn big and brutal. But I’d be rooting for Michael.

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

A horror movie I couldn’t finish. Wow. I think I’ve finished every one I’ve started unless it was just too boring. I can tell you I almost didn’t finish High Tension. I loved that movie up until the bullshit twist ending. If you go back and watch the movie, that ending made no damn sense and as soon as the reveal came, I was like, “Fuck this shit.” A twist has to at least make sense. 

What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

Losing Jules or any of my kids. That and dying before I’m able to do something worth being remembered for. 

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

I went through a phase, a phase that lasted most of my childhood into adulthood, where I’d dream almost every night about Michael Myers stalking me. I loved the Halloween movies. Still do. They’ve always been my favorite horror films. And I wouldn’t say I was afraid of Michael when I was awake. Not really. But damn if he didn’t scare the shit out of me in my dreams. I could be having the funniest, sweetest dream and then see Michael walk past the window and be like, “Ah, shit. Here we go. Hold on to your hat.” I just knew the dream was changing and I’d be running for my life until it was time to wake up.


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

The people. The readers, the other authors, just the people in general. Everyone is so cool. It’s crazy when you think about it. We’re the ones either writing, reading, or watching people get killed in brutal fashion. We love that shit. We eat it up. Yet everyone is so down to earth and nonjudgmental. It’s like we get all the meanness out of us through creative means. 


What made you want to become a writer in this field?

I’ve always had a fascination with horror. I started watching horror movies as a young kid, my favorite cartoon was Scooby-Doo, and my favorite books were Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and whatever other scary books I could find. Goosebumps came after my childhood, but I did start reading RL Stine, Christopher Pike, and all those other YA horror authors at a young age. I can write and talk about other genres. I’ve written erotica and romantic suspense under other pen names, but my passion is and has always been in horror.


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

Take your happiness into consideration too. As much as you want to please everyone else around you, you are important, and you might not suffer so much from depression if you keep that in mind. Also, you may not know it yet, because you haven’t started taking writing seriously, but you end up being pretty good at it, so don’t doubt yourself. You can do it.

 
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11-06-2021
Meet Aron Beauregard

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched: 

The movie Found is not really well known, but I think more people should check it out.


Darkest Horror Novel Read: 

American Psycho is really an incredible book. Many people get lost in the excessive descriptions in the book. But if you step back when you’re done, and look at the totality of the book, you can see that Ellis painted the perfect picture of a sociopath.   


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die: 

Death by 1000 paper cuts. A slow and deliberate demise gives you plenty of time to chew on your mistakes, as well as your pain.

Best Dark Comedy ever watched: 

Very Bad Things or The Burbs. There are others that I could list but these two in particular are some of the best. The Burbs is more lighthearted while Very Bad Things just seems incredibly plausible. 

Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended: 

Lizzie Borden House. I became possessed there in the midnight hour.

Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

 TBD


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

There is no horror movie I couldn’t finish for reasons like panic or fright. There were some that completely bored me that weren’t even “so bad they’re good.” But those sucked so bad I can’t really even remember them. 

What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world? 

1984. George Orwell’s view of how the future might turn out couldn’t be more terrifying. People stripped of their basic freedom, zero privacy, a submissive lifestyle becomes accepted as the norm. It’s probably so scary because it HIGHLY plausible and in fact being piloted in some countries. With each year that passes and the evolution of technological advances we inch closer and closer… Fuck that.

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

There was one that was recurring that I had as a child. I even had a name for it. I called it “Chocolate Mountain.” There was this big brown mountain erupting with chocolate, and me and my brother would always be running toward it excitedly. Then, once we got close, he would always turn around brandishing new nightmarishly sharp teeth and try to eat me.


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

 The community is really cool. People are typically supportive instead of spiteful. 


What made you want to become a writer in this field? 

I suppose the most truthful answer is morbid curiosity. Since a child I’ve always been fascinated with evil, taboo, and bizarre. Even before many of the hardships I endured, that profound fascination was just somehow ingrained in my DNA. Some people are just born weirdos. 

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

Start writing NOW and never stop.

 
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10/30/2021
Meet Jeff Strand

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

I'm not sure that the entirety of Found (2012) counts, but the final five minutes--and that closing shot--are about as dark as it gets. 


Darkest Horror Novel Read:

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. Other books might have worse things happen to their characters, but the emotional impact of this one is unmatched. 


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Drowning under the ice. That would suck. 


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

Shaun of the Dead. Also my favorite movie, period. 


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

Netherworld in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Nothing else even comes close. But I'll also mention the prison one at Scream-a-Geddon in Florida, where as long as you wore a glow-in-the-dark necklace giving consent, the actors could touch you! 


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

Hannibal Lecter vs. King Kong. Let's see if Dr. Lecter is clever enough to get out of that one!


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

Almost all the stuff I watch is based on recommendations from friends, so it's been a long time since I've shut a horror movie off before the end. I think The Human Centipede is a genuinely great movie, but I the first sequel was a piece of crap and I wanted to turn it off, so I'll go with that. 


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

Sharks with spider legs.


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember?

I was never really inclined to have scary dreams as a kid. It was always, "Uh-oh, I didn't study for finals...and what happened to my clothes?" Almost three decades after graduating college, I still have dreams about realizing that I forgot to attend a class all semester.


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

The people! It's the greatest group of people you'll ever find. Even if I started writing exclusively lighthearted inspirational romance novels, I'd want to hang out with my horror-writing friends.


What made you want to become a writer in this field?

I became a serious horror fan in high school, so though I started out wanting to write comedy (and I still write the occasional non-horror comedy) it was inevitable that I'd eventually turn to the dark side.


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

Leave bad agents sooner rather than later. 

 
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10/23/2021
Meet Daniel Volpe

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched: 

I guess it would be a horror movie, because it’s quite horrific and that movie is A Serbian Film. It was fucked up, dark, and perverted. Not for the weak.


Darkest Horror Novel Read: 

I think Jack Ketchum’s, The Girl Next Door. This book was based on true events and shows the pure evil of people.


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die: 

Buried alive is pretty much the worst thing I can think of. Yes, it’s not necessarily painful, but the fear and dread of suffocating in the darkness just makes my skin crawl.


Best Dark Comedy ever watched: 

I’m not sure if it qualifies as a comedy, but I feel like there are a few comedic scenes in Requiem for a Dream. This movie is fucked up, and shows the darkness behind addiction. The short scenes of levity have nothing on the soul-crushing bleakness of the movie.


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended: 

When I was about 8, my grandfather took me to a haunted house in Lake George. I don’t remember a thing about it, because I had my eyes closed the entire time. It scared the shit of me and yes, this was the same grandfather who rented me A Nightmare on Elm Street at the age of 4.


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why? 

Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. I think it would be funny to watch them slowly walk around each other for 2 hours.


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

I started watching The Lighthouse and was so bored by the half-hour mark, I stopped. A movie I wish had stopped earlier was Midsommar. Straight up, hot garbage.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world? 

I think for any parent, it’s the loss of a child. That scares me more than anything.


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

I remember being chased by a shadowy figure, like death. I would try and force myself awake and when I’d wake up, I’d see this being in my room. Scared the shit out of me.


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

The readers without a doubt. They’ve been so welcoming to a newbie and really embraced me. A very close second is the other authors. Everyone has made me feel like I’ve been around for decades, not months. A great group of people for sure.


What made you want to become a writer  in this field? 

I don’t think I ‘became’ a writer, I think I was born this way. I’ve always been a storyteller and now I just write them down. Some people even pay me to do it, which is pretty damn cool.


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

Buy stocks.

 
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A Review of Talia

Daniel Volpe has outdone himself with Talia and simultaneously set the bar even higher for those in his league. The story of Talia, the iconic character from Volpe’s “Billy Silver”, is crafted with the surgical precision of a neurosurgeon wielding his sharpest blade. This origin story, of a young woman with big dreams, a young woman that becomes something more than even she would realize, delivers a twisted tale of gruesome gore, and greed, with absolutely no punches pulled.


Like a champion boxer, dancing around the ring, Volpe delivers Talia’s story through carefully planned uppercuts, gut punches and a jaw-dropping TKO, that will leave readers shook and weak in the knees. I loved every round, every word, every earth-shattering blow.


I honestly don’t know if I’m to be more impressed with the author or the editor, seeing as how the editing was every bit as precise as the story was. Zero filler words exist in this story, zero fluff, just grit, grime, and gore in a sublime tail that pulled me right in and kept me, enthralled and cringing, until the very end.


Talia, is beyond uncomfortably dark, she is a work of art. Five seriously sick stars.

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10/16/2021 
Meet Christine Morgan

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

Vivarium


Darkest Horror Novel Read:

I Am Not Sam, by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McGee


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Staked out under the sun with fire ants and dehydration


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

Shaun of the Dead

Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

The 13th Door in Portland, when my contortionist cousin worked there as a scary zombie nurse


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

Jigsaw vs. Hannibal Lector, but it would be a debate rather than a physical fight


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

House Shark. I tried, I really did, but the stupid was too much to handle.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

Loss of the ability to think and communicate. 

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

I had a recurring dream that my hands and head were puffing up, inflating like big weird clumsy balloons


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

The community of weirdos and finally feeling like I BELONG somewhere!


What made you want to become a writer in this field?

Just always gravitated toward it, even as a kid, though it took me a while to convince myself I was good enough to try


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

Get your thyroid checked and head that cancer surgery shitshow off at the pass. Oh, writing advice? Do it, go for it, dive in, embrace the darkness, have fun!

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A Review of Lakehouse Infernal

by Christine Morgan

Christine Morgan takes us on a field trip to Florida, where the once tranquil Lake Misquamicus lies walled off behind a military guard and has been left by much of the country to rot. Why? Because the lake literally contains a part of Hell, 6 billion gallons of liquid ooze, blood, sewage, filth, and rot along with whatever else was burped up by Hell itself in the exchange for fresh water. Not many people venture to this now forsaken part of the country except thrill seekers, holy rollers, and criminal types.  

Enter in a week full of just that, a carload of college kids, off on spring break to visit their old lake house, a bus of religious folks headed to do battle with the denizens of Hell, and a drug-runner that crashes into the murky depths of the lake of ruin, that discovers that, yes, he does, have a guardian angel, who suddenly appears at his side. Set them loose behind a solid wall and let them mingle with the now mutated folks of the small lake side town and the creatures, monsters and demons that have crawled up from the depths of Hell. Folks that do not believe what they have heard, kids that are too arrogant to listen to logic and reason, and religious folks that believe they are fully prepared for what awaits them.  

It took me several hours to process my complete feelings after having finished this book. There was SO MUCH in this book. I mean this in the absolute best way possible, this was like every B movie that I have ever loved, mashed together with a blender, poured into a pie baked with bits of Richard Laymon and Edward Lee and perhaps a dash of demon, baked at 500 degrees until crisp and served up with a heavy dose of whiskey and crystal meth on the side. This was a rollercoaster ride of the most depraved, most disturbing, and most demonic hilarity that I have ever read. If you have a twisted sense of humor, and love horror and a good time, you need to get this book. Right now, go to Amazon. I'll wait.  


Back? Good. Now then, as I was saying, this book is horror comedy gold at its most primal level. This was ten stars, if I could give it ten stars, hell, I give it 666 stars. Well done, Ms. Morgan, well done.  

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10/09/2021
Meet Kenzie Jennings

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

Eden Lake, mainly because it was utterly believable. I knew kids like that.


Darkest Horror Novel Read:

Pressure (Jeff Strand) tied with The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Anything slow that involves agonizing pain (e.g., ionizing radiation exposure, drowning and decompression, dismemberment)


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

In Bruges


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

You know…I’ve never been to one! I’ve lived in an actual haunted house though. (Although I never saw the ghost.)


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why? La femme from Inside vs. Beverly Sutpin from Serial Mom, two incredibly dangerous women who hold strong views about motherhood. They’d be inventive in the match, I think. May the best mother win.


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

The Human Centipede 2. There are scenes involving coprophagy in a number of films, which are all certainly revolting enough, but I don’t know if it was the squirting diarrhea or what in HC 2… I had to shut it off and go throw up. That was just nasty. I’m not a fan of that kind of nasty.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

The very idea of dying. I mean, that’s it. You’re over. You’re done for. There’s no going back. End of discussion.


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember?

I had a monster living in my wall. I used to call him Wallface because that’s basically what he was, a giant face in the wall…with a wide mouth…and monstrous teeth. You know the rest.


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

Getting to know other depraved souls, of course.


What made you want to become a writer/podcaster/artist in this field?

It was the cheapest form of therapy.


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

Don’t let anyone tell you your art is worthless. Oh, and don’t get in a relationship that takes up all of your creative time. I’ve lost a lot of years due to that.

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Red Station

By Kenzie Jennings

Red Station is another Splatter Western published by Death’s Head Press. If you have not yet heard of these books from Death’s Head, you really should take the time to pick one up and read it. I have loved each one that I have read so far, and Red Station is just one more shining example of excellence. 


This story follows a weary band of travelers on a stagecoach, on their way to their respective new lives in the American frontier. This leg of their journey will see them to a halfway house of sorts, where they will rest for the night, enjoy a hot meal, and warm beds, before they set off on the final leg of their journey. As you might imagine, the travelers are tired, sore, and hungry after so long in the cramped quarters of the rickety coach as it bounces along the dirt and dust of the prairie.  

They spend the hour or so of their journey chatting with each other as they begin to look forward to their rest stop for the evening. There is a doctor who is searching for a missing friend, a young pair of newlyweds on their way to join family out west and an elegant young woman named Clyde, in a beautifully made red dress.  

Clyde seems to be the most mysterious of the set with the doctor running a close second behind her. The newlyweds are just honest to goodness kind folk with a baby on their way and their lives ahead of them. Clyde and the doctor both have seen more and experienced more and their mannerisms and reluctance to share too much tells us that there is much more to be discovered.  

Once at the rest stop, a massive homestead owned by a friendly German family with two young daughters, things begin to go awry, as the family are not as nice as they seem. Before dinner is over, the long anticipated restful night unfolds into an evening of blood, gore, and pain. Chaos strikes from all directions as the weary travelers try to survive “Red Station.”   

I will say that for my personal preference, I would have liked a bit more backstory on the travelers and the German family as well but that does not distract from the overall story. I was left with a few questions, but I do hope that maybe Kenzie Jennings will share another part of this story with us sometime in the future, because I can easily see a second or third installment.  

I am giving this five out of five stars for a remarkable story, lots of action and gore, some unexpected twists and turns and one hell of an enjoyable read.  

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10/02/2021

Meet Rowland Bercy, Jr. 

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

Not really sure if these would be considered horror but, Eraserhead and Requiem for a Dream both leave me feeling very unsettled after watching them.  So much so that I will turn them off or avoid them; especially Requiem for a Dream depending on my mood or state of mind. 


Darkest Horror Novel Read:

One that immediately comes to mind is, The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum.  I remember just being pissed off the whole time I was reading it.  Body horror, like deformities also disturb me, so Snake Jaw by Andrew Gallacher freaks me out a bit. 


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Definitely getting attacked by an alligator or shark.  I love water and swimming but also fear drowning.  Or not so much drowning, as drowning while being ripped to shreds by hundreds of sharp, gnashing teeth.   


Best Dark Comedy ever watched: Without a doubt, Cabin in the Woods.  The plot of the movie was engaging.  There was a menagerie of fantastical creatures, and I’m a huge cryptid fanatic.  Also, while I am often not a fan of CGI if it is done well, I don’t mind it so much.  The CGI and practical effects in Cabin in the Woods were outstanding. 


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

I can’t be sure of the name, but I think it’s called The Nightmare Fear Factory in Canada.  There was a section of the house where the roof seems like it’s about to collapse on top of you.  We all hit the floor when it happened, it was hilarious.  


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

Nancy from The Craft.  Fiona Goode from American Horror Story, Coven.  That would be one hell of a witch war I would pay money to see.


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

There are none that come to the top of my head that I couldn’t finish, but I will say that I wasn’t impressed with Mother.  Not that it wasn’t a decent movie.  I’m just not big on psychological horror.   


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world? 

I can’t think of anything that truly scares me.  A few years ago, the neighbor in the townhouse next to the one I use to live in died unexpectedly.  I slept with the lights on for about a week after.  I don’t know what it was that freaked me out about the situation because I’m not afraid of death, at least I don’t think I am.  


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember?

Unfortunately, my dreams don’t stay with me for very long after waking, so I cannot recall a specific childhood dream of mine that was particularly upsetting to me. 


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

I have always loved horror in general, but since becoming a contributing member of the community, I can honestly say the support and encouragement from readers as well as other authors has been overwhelming.  When I wrote my first book, I had no idea how it would be received but I have been pleasantly surprised, and am eternally thankful to all members of the industry/community. 


What made you want to become a writer/podcaster in this field? 

I had the idea for my first book, Unbortion floating around in the back of my head for years.  I always said to myself that someday I would see if I could accomplish getting the story out of my head, and into print but was always too “busy” or “pre-occupied” to do so. 

After a   pretty devastating heartbreak (long story), I needed to do something to distract myself from the pain I was going through. So, with that, and my sister as motivation, I finally decided to tell my story.  Upon completion of Unbortion I had discover a side of myself I didn’t even know existed, and wanted to continue writing.  Now I’m three novellas, and two short stories in and I am loving it. 

As for the Written in Red Podcast, to my surprise I was approached by Aron Beauregard and Daniel Volpe, and asked if I was interested in being on the podcast.  I had never been on, let alone part of a podcast and was nervous as hell, but I said yes and the journey with Aron, Daniel and Carver Pike has been nothing short of amazing.  I have so much fun recording with the guys, and have grown love, appreciate, respect and admire them all.  


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

Find something you LOVE to do, and nurture it.  After that, find an occupation centered around this thing that you love, and specialize in it.  If I had this knowledge at 18 years old, I would be a better skilled author.  Either that, or a world-famous, outlandish Cryptozoologist, or a world-traveling, eccentric Archeologist.  

Rowland's Bio:

Rowland Bercy Jr. is the author of Payback is a Witch, Pre-Thanksgiving Stress Disorder, and Unbortion, which won the 2020 American Fiction Awards and was a finalist in the 2019 International Fiction Awards. His greatest wish is to reside in a world inhibited by multiracial mer-people who derive complete and total nutritional fulfillment by consuming copious amounts of sweetened Condensed milk straight out of the can.  Until such time, he will regrettably continue to reside in the boring ass Houston, Texas area. 

Rowland’s writing career began three years ago and it has taken him on the journey of a lifetime.  In addition to setting him off on a new and exciting path, he has also had the good fortune to meet a slew of talented and inspirational fellow authors.  

When not reading or writing, he enjoys traveling, catching the latest horror flick at the local theater and role playing as a Gillman-sorcerer at his weekly Dungeons & Dragons meet-up.

 

Review of "Payback is a Witch."

Author-Rowland Bercy Jr.

 I had been planning to read this book for quite a while now and was finally able to get to it, by listening to it on audible, which was an incredible experience. If you have not yet listened to this audiobook, get it. I promise you will not be sorry. I’m sure reading it is great, but the audiobook is fully produced with a bit of music and some truly creepy effects that really set off the story. The narrator was perfect, his delivery, his tone, everything about the delivery of this tale was on point. 


I’ll just start by saying I fully loved this story, every detail, every moment, kept me invested in the events that were unfolding. This story follows a high priestess Wiccan that lives deep in the New Orleans bayous with her daughter. Both women are extremely powerful witches, the mother much more so than the daughter, as the younger woman is still being trained by her mother. Nevertheless, she is already quite powerful in her own right, as well as athletic and feisty.  


The ladies are also beautiful creatures of the night and nature and one day, five thugs decide the young girl is just beautiful enough to satisfy their carnal needs.  As she returns to the bayou from a supply trip to town, the young thugs stalk her through the swamp, not realizing that her mother is waiting nearby for her return. Hearing her daughter's screams, the priestess gathers her powers and sends aid as quickly as she can, but not before some unfortunate events take place.  


As the spell is cast and the daughter escapes, she swears vengeance upon the young men that disrobed and groped her so offensively. She returns to her mother where the pair begin to plan how to extract their revenge. Each thug meets a most vile and despicable end, properly befitting of their foul natures. 


I found myself holding my breath in some parts, laughing a bit at others and fully gleefully cackling along as each spell was cast on those that sought to harm the witch's daughter. This book was well-planned, well-written and fully researched with regards to spell-casting, wiccan practices and medical knowledge. Rowland Bercy is quickly becoming an expert at his craft and I cannot wait for more of his tales to hit the bookshelves.  Five stars for a super fun and immersive audible experience. 

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09/25/2021
Meet M. Ennenbach

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

Rosemary’s Baby or Ninth Gate, the atmosphere of the films were key to the feeling of darkness. That’s the secret ingredient. 

Darkest Horror Novel Read:

I don’t read many horror novels, I prefer short form for horror and Poe was the master of short horror. Between Tale Tell Heart and Cask of Amontillado.

Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

I imagine buried alive would be the worst. Clawing frantically, screams muted by six feet of soil. Torture wise, blood eagle hand down. 

Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

Impossible to pick  One of these: American Psycho, Sorry To Bother You, Strangelove, or Clockwork Orange. Natural Born Killers?

Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

The Winchester House. Hands down. 

Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

Dr. Decker from Nightbreed vs. Leatherface. Decker slowly carved him to bits because Cronenberg is God.

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

I’ve never DNF’d a horror film except for them being too boring or not appealing to me. And that list is quite long. 

What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

Living. Each breath is another closer to the grave. Life is only one hundred percent cause of death. 

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

I was watching as the doctor performed an autopsy on me. It was recurring for a week or so. I was around five. 

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

The people I have met and friends I have made along the way. 

What made you want to become a writer/podcaster/artist in this field?

I don’t know if I wanted to, exactly. I’m more a weirdo and poet. I guess PC3 (Patrick C. Harrison, III) basically pushed me head first in. 

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

They are all wrong. You can write, maybe not what everyone wants to read, but something that is only you. And that means more any day. 

M.Ennenbach's Bio:

a poet and writer with five books and two exclusive chapbooks to his credit and more on their way. His website,  Mike’s Manic Word Depot, is home to daily poetry and news. one third of the collective, Cerberus, with Patrick C Harrison III and Chris Miller. a proud father of two. he abhors capitalization in his poetry.

 

Notches

by M. Ennenbach

Notches is an excellent collection of short stories penned by M. Ennenbach. There is something here for every taste or personality. A bit of horror, a touch of tragedy and loss, the bleak despair of the human condition, the doldrums of just being caught up in our existence and finding the humor or will power to keep going.  

The opening story “Blue” is a desperate tale full of love and longing, and an unfolding mystery that grows more horrifying with every passing night. There are two more tales of loss and sadness, “Chances” and “Noises” that will have you remembering and grieving those time when you also faced such pain and loss. 

 
There is a gorgeous epic-length poem that is a beautiful telling of the tale of Persephone. I do not have words appropriate enough to describe this tale, you must read Notches for yourself and discover it with the same complete awe and wonder that I did. Several other tales are more surreal and bizarre, such as “T-rex and the Baby Doll,” “Coffee Machine” and “Customer Service” will make you chuckle and cringe as each situation unfolds with endings that are perfectly penned. “Customer Service" made me laugh out loud, several times, as did its follow-up story, “Interview.” Each story reads like a full-length novel so rich and relatable are the characters and emotions found within, regardless of the story they tell. 

 
Ennenbach is more than an author, more than a poet. He is the personification of the human condition. His ability to draw you in and hold you there, deep inside each story, to feel the pain, the grief, the despair, and desolation within, is almost unparalleled by authors today. 
He is truly an expert storyteller, no matter how he chooses to tell his story. Get to know him. Remember his name because you will be hearing it again, again, and again.  

Five Gold Stars for “Notches”. 

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09/18/2021
Meet Patrick C. Harrison, III

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched:

By darkest do you mean terrifying or fucked up? The most terrifying is probably The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and the most fucked up is either A Serbian Film or Nekromantic, which was a true delight to watch even though I saw it in a foreign language without subtitles. The final death scene in Nekromantic is hands down the best death in cinema.

Darkest Horror Novel Read:

Terrifying or fucked up? I’ll do both again. Most terrifying is probably Pet Sematary. Cliché, I know. Most fucked is…Dead Inside? Or maybe Cows. They’re both bonkers.


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Easy. You’re stripped of your clothes and strung up by your hands in front of a stadium full of people. Then your gut is sliced open and your intestines fall out on an ant bed that’s been stirred up and made angry. The crowd chants your name as the ants attack, biting at your innards and moving northward into your abdomen and across your entire body, inside and out. 


Best Dark Comedy ever watched:

Fargo. The humor is over-the-top dry and I couldn’t stop laughing. William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, and Steve Buscemi are all brilliant.

Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended:

In the little town of Farmersville, Texas, someone made a haunted house out of an old wooden house on the outskirts of town. It was a small place compared to the ones you can typically attend in the Dallas area. But the surprisingly good effects combined with the mystery and seclusion of the place made it quite scary. Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple of years. Now someone lives in that house. Pretty creepy.


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why?

Art the Clown versus Captain Spaulding! They’re both funny and brutal. One can imagine it would be a bloody and entertaining ordeal, with crude insults coming from Spaulding and various antics coming from Art. Not sure who would win. Who do you think?

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

Jeepers Creepers 2. It’s just plain stupid, with ridiculous teenage tropes and horrible acting. For a franchise that began with such a classic, part two should have had a better effort.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world?

Something bad happening to my children. I recently moved my daughter off to college, THREE HOURS AWAY! The thought of something happening to her and me not being able to get there within minutes is something I try not to think about. 

What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

Okay, this is a dream I had when I was probably ten or eleven, and it’s still vivid in my mind. I dreamed my Aunt Teresa was dressed up in armor and chasing me through the streets with an aluminum baseball bat. When she finally caught me, she started wailing on my neck with the bat. I remember screaming and pleading for her to stop. When I awoke—no joke—I had a sore throat that turned out to be strep.

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

Selfishly, I enjoy the recognition from my peers. When someone sends me a message saying they liked my story or asks how I came up with the idea or says the tale was so messed up that it made them feel sick (this happened recently), I love it. I don’t typically read reviews, but when someone goes out of their way to send me a message or email about a story or book, I find that truly gratifying.

What made you want to become a writer in this field?

As with any horror author in the modern era, I was influenced by Stephen King. Night Shift in particular. Other books that impacted my desire to become a horror writer are Ghost Stories of Old Texas by Zinita Fowler and Alfred Hitchcock’s Haunted Houseful. Shows like Unsolved Mysteries and The Twilight Zone also did their part to fuel my nefarious nature.


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

Start writing now! I was in my mid-thirties before I finally started taking writing seriously, despite it being a life-long dream. I often wonder where I would be now if I’d started ten or fifteen years earlier. 

Bio for PC3:

Patrick C. Harrison III (PC3, if you prefer) is the author of A Savage Breed, Inferno Bound and the Hell Hounds, 5 Tales That Will Land You in Hell, 5 Tales of Tantalizing Terror, Visceral: Collected Flesh (with Christine Morgan), and Cerberus Rising (with Chris Miller and M. Ennenbach); and his works can be found in numerous anthologies.


PC3 is also the co-owner (with Jarod Barbee) and editor-in-chief of Death’s Head Press, a Texas-based publisher of dark fiction. Follow PC3’s website/blog pc3horror.com for frequent horror movie reviews and updates on forthcoming fiction.

 

A Savage Breed

Patrick C. Harrison, III

This is my second review of a Splatter Western tale from Death’s Head Press.  Author, Patrick Harrison, III, brings a full gauntlet of terror, gore and fear into his Wild West tale of settler life gone wrong, deep in the American frontier.  This story was fun to read and disturbing at the same time.  

The setting is spot on, the language has that genuine Old West feel and there are characters to both love and to hate. This story is full of action, gunfights, barroom brawls and epic showdowns!  

The feared Tate Gang is about to be put to death, per the fullest extent of the law, when they pull off a shocking escape that would have made Houdini proud.  The three brothers Tate and their two other outlaws make their escape into the mountains with a kidnapped Indian woman in tow.  

Meanwhile, grizzled mountain man, James Haggard comes home to find his wife and child dead in a most gruesome scene. Distraught with rage, he vows revenge on every Indian he can find, unwavering in his assumption of who committed the atrocious acts.  


Nearby, a wild young lass by the name of Elizabeth Hughes decides to make her way out into the world. Elizabeth is not your typical frontier girl; with a mouth fouler than an outlaw and an excellent shot to boot, she is cut from a different cloth. 


As they all travel on their different paths, they soon come to realize that something else lives in these hills. Something terrible hunts at night and there’s fresh meat in its territory. 

The tale weaves an intricate narrative around these characters, the Indians that inhabit the land and their stories, and the ultimate showdown in the mountains of Barrier Ridge.  

Five out of Five stars for this fantastic tale!

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9/11/2021
Meet Chris Miller

Author of Shattered Skies & Dust

Darkest Horror Movie ever watched: 

I really want to say Event Horizon. It has everything I find terrifying in it; cosmic horror, space horror, haunting, isolation, a race against time, all of it. However, though it was made on a budget of less than $10K (I think), I’d have to say FOUND is probably the darkest. The ending is the darkest thing I’ve ever seen.


Darkest Horror Novel Read: 

I’m gonna go with HEX on this one. Again, it’s the ending, though throughout the novel’s build up, you get a look into people in a town with a witch, and find out that, by the end, you were probably rooting for the wrong people. That one messed with me for a long time.


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Burning alive or buried alive. Or cancer. Fuck cancer.


Best Dark Comedy ever watched: 

Dead Alive by Peter Jackson! Zombies, cheesy, ass-kicking priests, and the most gore I’ve seen on screen this side of the Evil Dead remake, but all done with hilarious, gleeful abandon. A push lawnmower strapped to a man’s chest (blades out) becomes one of my favorite—and most hysterical—weapons ever.


Best Haunted House you’ve ever attended: 

In New Orleans on a haunted tour with my wife on our honeymoon. We visited several places, and got to go into a few. Saw the house featured in AHS, I forget which season, but has Kathy Bates torturing slaves in the attic. Hard to pick one, that whole tour was really cool.


Cage Match between two horror villains': who do you pick and why? 

Michael Myers and The Joker (yes he IS a horror(-ish) villain!). One is a silent killing machine, the other a prankster who always has another trick up his sleeve. I think Joker would win, but we all know Michael would keep coming back for rematches.

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

Never seen one I couldn’t finish (except if it was just boring), but I’ll never watch A Serbian Film. It’s repugnance for its own sake, like much of extreme horror is, and it has absolutely no redeeming qualities and I refuse to put those kinds of images in my head.


What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world? 

Losing any of my children.


What was the worst childhood nightmare that you remember? 

My granddaddy, after passing away, walking down the steps of our porch with a blood-dripping axe and black eyes and asking if I wanted to go down to his pond (which was something we always had done together). Chilled me to the bone and recurred several times.


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

It pisses off prudes and most critics. Who wholly miss the point of horror. 


What made you want to become a writer in this field? 

My granddaddy gave me the writing bug as a child, and I was drawn to horror because I always thought they kept it too watered down, and I was going to fix that, lol. Well, then I discovered I’m really more of a suspense writer in the process, and used that to force the horror and tension onto the reader.


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

Start writing sooner. Don’t waste so many years just existing. Grab your dream by the balls, snarl in its face, and tell it it’s your bitch. Then get to writing.

Brief Bio:

Chris Miller is a native Texan who has been writing from an early age. He began publishing in 2017 with his first novel, and has since published several novels—including the Amazon bestselling Splatter Western, DUST (also nominated for a Splatterpunk Award for best novel)—and has also been inducted into many anthologies. He is also one-third of the writing collective Cerberus.

When not writing, Chris enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, and reading. He is first and foremost a family man and is happily married to the love of his life (and best friend) Aliana. They have three beautiful children and live in Winnsboro, TX.

Facebook: facebook.com/chrismiller1383

Twitter: @CMWordslinger

IG: @chrismillerauthor

 

Dust

By Chris Miller

A splatter western by Death’s Head Press


Dust. What to say about Dust?  It’s dusty, dirty, often found in small towns, usually found in places that you don’t want it. It’s everywhere, until its not. One man in particular is looking for dust, or rather, Dust, a small town, seemingly hidden from sight.  One small town with a very big secret, a terrifying secret to keep thus the reason why some trick of magic keeps the trail from being found. If you need to go to Dust, you need a reason, and you need to know someone that has been there, or someone that knows things.

 I have been making  my way through the splatter westerns as fast as I can, but I took my time with this one.  Dust also takes its time, but this does not take away from the story. In fact, I feel like it sets the story up better.  The author allows you to travel along with James Dee, a man from another time. A man on a mission to find Dust and deal with the secret they are keeping.  James Dee saves a young man by the name of Denarius on the trail to Dust. Denarius is on the run from some awful bad men, and he is scared for his wife and child, whom he has left hidden back at their home but in spite of that, he pledges to accompany James Dee until he can pay back his debt. Denarius has no idea what he is in for, although James Dee tries to prepare him.

Another man seeks out Dust as well, a man by the name of Dreary, that seeks to control the secret of Dust. Dreary is nothing short of a gentleman, a feared gentleman, but a gentleman, nonetheless. His gang of men are almost as ruthless as he is and will follow Dreary anywhere he goes.  There is a lot hidden in this story and  if you try to rush through it, I guarantee you will miss something. This story needs to be savored like a fine wine or an exquisite Creme Brule.  Take your time, pour your tea or a nice whiskey and settle back in your favorite chair. You’re about to be covered in Dust.  Four Solid Gold Stars. 

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Zombie Rising and hands Out Of A Graveyard cemetery scary In Spooky dark Night full moon.

The Dark Dozen

12 Questions-12 Authors-12 Weeks!

Can you handle the dozen?