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Watch this page for the best author interviews, special features and new horror news!

This week we have author Dan Franklin, here to talk about his new release, The Eater of Gods! Check out his full interview and book review below! 

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05/14/2022
Dan Franklin

The Eater of Gods

How did “The Eater of Gods” come about?  Where did the idea come from? 
The idea actually started with Mark Sieber, the critic and all-around horror guru who wrote the He Who Types Behind the Rows books. He had an essay about how these classic old monsters were essentially dying out, and that he hadn’t read a mummy story in a long time that took an effort to honor the original mythology design. I was supposed to be working on something else, so naturally I abandoned all that and instead spent the next six months getting unhealthily obsessed.
I love the darker, emotional side of horror. It also helped that I’d just come off having family die unexpectedly and one of my best friends lose their little brother to cancer. The mummy mythos is not a cheery one nor the cheesy one we think of from most movie representations. It’s dark and hurt and angry, and it works as a platform for so many fascinating ideas.

What was your favorite part of writing this story? 
My favorite part of writing the story was probably chasing down some poor Egyptologist from Canada and harassing her with questions about east Libyan regional hieroglyphics from circa the eighteenth dynasty until she sent me several hundred pages of hieroglyph translations, probably to make me leave her alone. She requested her name not be mentioned. The internet is a strange place. Not much of the research ever makes it in, but I love doing it.

As this was your debut, what did you find was the hardest part of writing this story? 
This is my debut, but it’s not at all the first novel I’ve written! Been writing about one a year for almost a decade, was writing sporadically for the decade before that. My office is littered with manuscripts, most of which have never been read by anyone other than an extremely patient line editor. I guess the hardest part of writing it was the same as any other one. You commit an absurd amount of your life in worship of an idea that may or may not ever work out, you love it and hate it and fill it with your soul, and then you try not to throw up while you share it with people.


Also, what was the best thing that you learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?
That it’s a community. That you can write something with a few people in mind and their enthusiasm can propel an idea forward. It gets easy to look at the industry as a money-making enterprise, and of course there is that element to it, but it’s also much more.


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
My favorite thing about the genre is probably how wildly pervasive it is. It’s the center of entertainment. It’s the heart of what drives almost every story. The Earth pivots around the sun and our lives pivot around death. The ugly edge of mortality is the core of every conflict, the meat of every emotional payout. Horror can handle the ideas so openly and directly that it ends up, in my opinion, as the most diverse center of ideas in entertainment. And the people are great.

Have you always been a horror fan?
I’ve always been fixated on horror. I’m not sure if I’d say I was always a fan. I spent a good portion of my childhood hiding under blankets during Alfred Hitchcock movies, absolutely green with that sick kind of dread that makes your sweat stink and keeps you from sleeping. But on the other hand, I also desperately wanted to give that same feeling to other people, because it’s so damn cool.

Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real life events, dreams, bits of movies?
That’s a hard one. I don’t have much of a system. I find an idea that interests me and then I spend the next year or so obsessing over it and poking at it until it snowballs through real life events and emotions and turns into something I can love. Or occasionally until it turns into an unfortunate mess that I have to regretfully take out back and kill. It can go either way.

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? 
I’m not sure! I have a massive list of authors who I love, from the usual Stephen Kings and Joe Hills, Kealan Patrick Burke and Robert Matheson and Scott Smith, all the way to sitting in high school and reading The Great Gatsby and The Bluest Eye and realizing that they are definitely defensible as horror too. Beautiful writing is everywhere. Horror is everywhere. Malfi, Gifune, Hodges, Lovecraft, Poe, McCarthy, Rothfuss. Prentiss. All sorts of names. There’s so many that just make your soul ache when they hit their stride. Hard to pick a single one. But I’d lick Joe Hill’s toothbrush.

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I just finished up one project and I’m plowing my way into the next. Can’t talk about the newest one because it’s too new, but I absolutely adore it so far! I’m going to try to put more effort into publishing things, going forward.

Dan's Bio: 
Dan Franklin wrote his first attempt at a horror novel when he was seven. It was terrible. He has, since, improved.

The winner of several local awards for short stories and an occasional poem, Dan Franklin lives in Maryland with his extremely understanding wife, his cosmically radiant daughter, and a socially crippling obsession with things that creep. The Eater of Gods is his first published novel.

He works as a freelance editor for a handful of presses and makes sure that the books you purchase at Cemetery Dance Publications get to you. He has worked, at least briefly, in an appalling number of various jobs from surveillance to insurance adjusting to customer service, practicing and teaching Krav Maga and physical fitness training, restoration-oriented gunsmithing, entertainment and even a brief stint making pizzas.


You can find more information regarding him and his projects at DanFranklinAuthor.com or add him on social media as Facebook.com/DanFranklinAuthor.

 
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Book Review
The Eater of Gods

by Dan Franklin

Brief Synopsis:

In the dying village of Al Tarfuk, long among the war-stained dunes of eastern Libya, Professor Norman Haas learns the location of the tomb that had been his wife’s life pursuit. The final resting place of Kiya, the lost queen of Akhenaten, whose history had been etched from the stone analogues of history for her heresies against the long absent pantheon of Egyptian Gods.

Dan Franklin’s debut supernatural thriller is a tale of grief, of loneliness, and of an ageless, hungry fury that waits with ready tooth and claw beneath the sand.


Review:

I loved everything about this story. I was fascinated with ancient Egypt when I was a child, so the history and the details in this book really struck a chord with me. This read like a thrilling treasure hunt adventure dipped in darkness. The trip to the village is woven with hints of tension, glimpses of danger at every turn but once they discover the tomb, the pace and the adrenaline ramps up as you are taken through an underground maze of terror.

Franklin penned an intricate story with heavy layers of intrigue, history, danger, fear, and loss. I will be re-reading this at some point, just to experience it all over again.

4.5 stars.

Reviewed by Candace Nola 

 
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05/07/2022
Nick Roberts

Author of The Exorcist's House
Published by Crystal Lake

How did “The Exorcist’s House” come about?  Where did the idea come from? 
A couple of years ago, I was watching a documentary on the famous paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. There was a room in their house where they kept “haunted” items from previous cases. It was even a museum for a while where you could visit the infamous Annabelle doll, among other curiosities. When the show was over, I wondered what the next resident of that house would think if they moved in without knowing its history. What if those artifacts really were cursed?

This was the genesis of The Exorcist’s House. The basic premise is that a husband and wife and their teenage daughter move from Ohio to an old farmhouse in West Virginia. Their plans of renovating and flipping the property are sidelined when they are tormented by a demonic presence in the basement. After researching the history of the house, they discover that the previous owner was an exorcist, and they’ll have to face an ancient evil if they want to survive.

My goal with this book was to create loveable, realistic characters and then send them on a rollercoaster ride into Hell. I wanted the horror to begin on page one and keep that momentum throughout. If it wasn’t scary, entertaining, or moving the story forward, it got cut.

What was your favorite part of writing this story? 
I love writing dialogue. I grew up studying screenplays, so that aspect comes naturally to me. With this novel, the two main characters are a husband and wife in their 30s. They go on this dark journey together, so I knew there was going to be a lot of talking as they tried to solve this mystery. Even though they have their own secrets, they are happily married when we first meet them. The scenes where they endure hardship or must rely on one another were refreshing for me to write. It was so tempting to have them break down and splinter, especially knowing what they’re up against, but they strive to remain partners amidst the chaos. Their dialogue just flowed out of me. From their first scene together, they had a natural rapport that required zero effort on my part. It was a pleasure to watch them in the funny scenes as well as the dark ones.  


What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story? 
The hardest part of writing this book was balancing exposition with the plot’s momentum. A lot of key events have happened prior to meeting our main characters, so I had to jump around in time and figure out entertaining ways of making sure the reader knows everything they need to without slowing the pace of the narrative. We want to see what’s going on with the family and the horrors they endure, but as they dig deeper into the history of their house, we are finding things out as they are. When the characters start to feel confused or feel that something just isn’t right, hopefully the reader is experiencing this with them. 
 
Is there a character that you most relate to?  If so, which one and why?
I relate most to Daniel Hill, although there is a little of me in all the characters. Being a married man in my thirties, I naturally latched onto his perspective. His daughter is in her teens and mine is only five, so it was interesting to write their relationship and project a little bit. As a psychologist, he’s drawn to the inner workings of the human mind; I’m also fascinated by what makes people tick. He fights to stay positive and retain his sense of humor no matter how bleak his situation becomes, which is something I strive toward. 


What has been the best thing that you have learned about the writing craft and/or the publishing industry itself?
I knew that I had to commit to hitting a daily word count no matter what if I wanted to ever get something written. Without that discipline, everything else would be irrelevant. When I finished my first novel a few years ago, I thought that was going to be the most difficult part of the process. Oh, how naïve I was. I had no knowledge of query letters, agents, open calls, indie publishing presses versus the big publishing houses, or the “postproduction” aspect of the process.

There was a lot of trial and error, but I eventually got my first novel, Anathema, picked up by J. Ellington Ashton Press. Although I’ve had several short stories and two novels published, I still have so much to learn about the business side of this. Working with Crystal Lake Publishing on The Exorcist’s House has been a wonderful education in itself, and I look forward to being a lifelong learner in this field.


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
By far, my favorite part about being in the Horror industry is the sense of community. Horror fans band together and support the artists/authors/filmmakers in a way that’s just different from other genres. It’s the passion for the content that unites us. Horror has always been the outcast of the film and literary world, so when fans find one another, we just immediately share a strong bond. I also enjoy contributing to a genre that elicits a strong reaction in its audience. Horror, like comedy, is a genre that is seeking a desired effect. When it’s done successfully, the audience is scared or disturbed or both, and when you are that engaged in the content, you are fully in the present moment. To be thrilled is to feel alive. 


Have you always been a horror fan?
I’ve had the horror bug for as long as I can remember. It started with drawing monsters as a kid for my family. Discovering R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps books and Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy was a formative experience. (I am still recovering from Stephen Gammel’s nightmarish illustrations.) Those, coupled with Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? anthology horror series, cemented my early love for the genre.
When my parents would take me to Blockbuster Video, I would sneak to the horror section and gaze in wonder at the glorious VHS covers—all those inviting images just begging me to pick them up and take them home so they could scare the shit out of me. I was never allowed to, of course, though I did manage to trick my dad into renting Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Jason didn’t even reach the Big Apple before Dad kicked my bedroom door off its hinges and hit the eject button on the VCR (only a slight exaggeration).
Our local library was another spot for me to cop my genre fix. While my mom would take my younger sisters to the children’s area, I would slink over to one place in the adult fiction section where I knew I would find some scary covers. All I had to do was just look for K-I-N-G on the book spines.


Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real life events, dreams, bits of movies?
Most of my inspiration comes from daily life. I can hear a song that evokes a certain mood or overhear a conversation that jumpstarts my imagination. I’ve also found that ideas like to permeate when I’m doing a mundane task: driving, taking a shower, running, etc. My brain naturally tries to fill these lulls with stories. Thankfully, writer’s block has never been an issue for me. My biggest challenge is carving out time in my schedule to devote to writing. Most likely, I’m walking around with a head packed full of ideas.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? 
Clive Barker’s Books of Blood taught me to be unapologetic in my horror. I had that mantra in mind while I wrote my first book, Anathema. Cormac McCarthy seems to steer the reigns of my keyboard in my short works. Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Bible, The Exorcist, and A Head Full of Ghosts were all watching over me as I wrote The Exorcist’s House. It’s cliché for a reason, but Stephen King has been there from the beginning and continues to inspire me while simultaneously making me feel like chucking my MacBook out the window after reading something as brilliant as Revival.

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I am presently working on the final chapter of my doctoral dissertation researching how possible stigma associated with substance use disorder could affect the employment outcomes for people in recovery. 

There are two short stories kicking around in my head right now. One involves a romantic getaway to a luxurious cabin going horribly wrong, and all I can say about the other one is that we shouldn’t take gravity as we understand it for granted. I’ll get to work on my third novel at some point this year.

Nick's Bio:

Nick Roberts is a native West Virginian and a graduate of Marshall University. He is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the Horror Authors Guild. His short works have been published in The Blue Mountain Review, Stonecrop Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Haunted MTL, The Indiana Horror Review, and anthologies by publishers, such as J. Ellington Ashton Press, Dead Sea Press, and Sinister Smile Press. His novel, Anathema, won Debut Novel of the Year at the 2020-2021 Horror Authors Guild Awards. His second novel, The Exorcist's House, was released in 2022 by Crystal Lake Publishing.

 

The Exorcist's House

Book Review by Dark Rose

Synopsis:

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia.

Along with his wife and teenage daughter, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. They are initially seduced by the natural beauty of the country setting. That soon changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes.

Local legends about the previous owner being an exorcist come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.


Book Review

Hi Darklings,


This story follows a few POVs, a family of three and a half who just bought a house in the country & are planning on fixing it up, and a trio of construction workers who did some updating on said house, but mostly focuses on the patriarch of the family.


There are some well-worn tropes here: an evil entity, an ominous house, family moving to house in the country, creepy basement, demonic possession or haunting. However, the story contains some of the best characterization (all the characters too) I've come across in a while. And, it definitely had parts that have me the creeps/had me checking over my shoulder more than once. 

What I liked: the breadth and depth of the characters


What I didn't: some small editing errors and the tropes were a bit cliche.


As an addendum to that con, I irrevocably believe that this story has earned a place among the greats of demonic books & I will be semi-exclusively suggesting it to anybody looking for this type of horror.


4.5 orange eyes

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Lindy Ryan

Under Her Skin Anthology Interview

Tell us where the concept for “Under Her Skin” originated? 
Toni and I knew we wanted to produce a showcase of poetry from women and femmes in horror, and we wanted to make this an ongoing series. One of the first tasks we set to when designing the concept was to identify themes that are resonant to women and female voices, and body horror is something that we feel women have an especially visceral and complex relationship with. We wanted to not only produce an incredible anthology, but to create a platform to amplify the voices of all women-in-horror to come together to share their most raw, most earnest, most powerful stories, and we really felt that poetry was the perfect vehicle for that.


Was this an invite only or open call project?  If open call, tell us about the selection process and how many submissions you had to read through. 
As the inaugural showcase, Under Her Skin was a totally open call. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, so we went into submissions intentionally blind and with open arms, ready to receive what poets shared with us. The response was tremendous! We received hundreds of submissions from all over the world, and we read, experienced, felt each and every one. Selecting the poems for our ToC from this massive pool was difficult and rewarding, and we truly feel like we’ve created something very special. We can’t wait to get started on the next showcase!


What was your favorite part of putting this together? 
As silly as it might sound, my absolute favorite part of building Under Her Skin was creating the community of incredible women and femmes whose voices we are honored to share in the collection, as well as being able to share this work with the world. The horror community-at-large has been so incredibly supportive of this collection, and I am forever grateful for everyone who has been a part of it.

 
Do you have a personal favorite in this anthology, if so, why is it a favorite?
I’m not sure it’s possible to have a favorite poem, and these things are never static but ever changing and evolving (one of the most brilliant aspects of poetry, I think), but one of the pieces I’ve connected to the most is “These Men Are All One Monster” by Cassondra Windwalker. Cassondra is an author and poet I’ve known and worked with for quite some time, and I am forever in awe of her voice. There is a line in this poem “with the last breath I stole from the sea/I made snakes of my hair/and with my starving heart turned yours to stone”—that line touched me on such a deeply profound level that I think often of carving it on my skin to stay with me permanently.


The artwork is stunning, inside, and out; what can you tell us about the artists and how the design process fell into place?
It’s important to note that when I say we wanted to create a women-in-horror showcase, I don’t only mean the words on the pages between the covers. As a publisher, our guiding mission at Black Spot Books is to amplify underrepresented voices in horror, and we do our best to serve that mission in every aspect of our work. For this collection, I knew we wanted to showcase women from all areas of the horror community. Najla and Nada Qamber remain our artists-in-residence at Black Spot Books, and they did a phenomenal job of completing the cover treatment and interior design of the book, adding to and preserving the beauty of Lynne Hansen’s cover art. Lynne herself is a powerhouse of artistic vision—in fact, I saw the art that became the cover for Under Her Skin before we’d ever even named the project. I took one look and fell completely in love, and instantly messaged her to buy the piece. Interior illustrations were provided by the one-and-only Marge Simon, who is simply one of my favorite people of all time and someone I hold in tremendous respect. Under Her Skin would not be the stunning collection of poems it is without these women’s work to make it shine.


What made this project so important to you and what impact do you hope it makes?
Under Her Skin is a beautiful, brutal monster. It, like the women whose voices fill the pages, is fearless. I hope that readers embrace that raw power, that incredible force, and find in it power and vindication and healing. I hope that this collection—and those that follow in the series—help readers not only to embrace dark prose, but to appreciate the experiences of women.


If you could only select 5 pieces from the book that people must read, what would they be and what makes them stand out to you as a must read? 
It’s a torturous task to choose only five! But, some of those I think are must reads (in addition to Cassondra’s mentioned above) are: “Snakeskin” by Stephanie M. Wytovich, “To Bloom in Blood” by Sara Tantlinger, “Religion for Women” by Patricia Gomes, “Our Lady’s Bird” by Carina Bissett, and “Shameful” by Lee Murray. Of course, I recommend the remaining seventy-odd poems as well.


Are there any other current projects in the works for you and Black Spot Books that you would like to mention?
Of course! We’ll soon be announcing our upcoming women-in-horror anthology INTO THE FOREST, a collection of twenty-two all new stories inspired by the Baba Yaga. I am super excited about that collection, which includes stories from several Stoker Award®-winning authors and New York Times bestselling authors, but freshly hatched voices from around the world. It is I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. We’ll also be opening the call for submissions for our second poetry showcase soon, too, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for that one (there may or may not be a hint to the title in that sentence, too!).


Lindy's Bio:
Lindy Miller Ryan is an award-winning author/editor, short film director, and professor at Rutgers University. Prior to her career in academia, Ryan was the co-founder of Radiant Advisors, where she led the company's research and data enablement practice for clients that included 21st Century Fox Films, Warner Bros., and Disney. She is the founder of Black Spot Books, a small press with a mission to amplify voices of women-in-horror, serves on the Board of Directors for IBPA, and is co-chair of the Horror Writers Association Publishers Council. Ryan was named one of Publishers Weekly's Star Watch Honorees 2020. She has published numerous academic texts as well as writes clean romance novels under the name Lindy Miller, which are being adapted for screen. LindyMillerRyan.com 

 
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03/26/2022
Mark Allan Gunnells

New Release: When It Rains

How did “When It Rains” come about?  Where did the idea come from?

The idea originally came from a YouTube video my husband was watching about a real-life incident. Back in the 90s, a mysterious slimy rain fell on a small town in Washington State, and some claimed coming in contact with the substance made them sick. No one died from it, but no one ever definitely determined what caused it. This sparked the idea in my brain, and I began to play around with such a rain falling all over the world at the same time and the kind of paranoia this might cause. When I hit on the twist at the end, I knew I had a story worth writing.


What was your favorite part of writing this story?

My favorite part was the channel it provided for my anxiety. You see, I wrote this novella during the first two months of the pandemic when I was furloughed from work. Everything was scary and surreal and uncertain, and to keep myself sane, I threw myself into this novella. It actually helped to have this outlet, and it makes the story very special to me.


Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real life events, dreams, bits of movies?

I would have to say all of the above. Everything is fair game, piling onto the compost heap of my imagination until a flower blossoms. This story was initially inspired by real life events, but dreams, movies, songs, bits of conversations I hear, the name on a tombstone, a trip I take … anything can trigger a story idea. And sometimes I can’t even point to anything in particular; some ideas seem to spring out of the ether.


You have been a writing machine over the past year, is there a favorite book or story that you enjoyed writing more than the others or a character?

It’s hard to have favorites because every story I write exists because I was passionate about it during the writing, and it was my favorite set of ideas and characters at the time. I will say I have a particular fondness for my novella 2B because it was an idea I had carried for decades and was afraid I’d never be able to make work, but I finally got the thing written and think it turned out to be something special. I also have a fondness for my new novella When it Rains because as I said before, it came at a time I really needed a story into which to channel my anxiety and it really did that for me.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead?

I have a lot of combined influences. Rod Serling and his show The Twilight Zone is right at the top of that list. At a young age, it gave me a sense of horror that I carry with me now. Subtle, sometimes ambiguous, the real world but slightly off-kilter. You can call it my horror aesthetic. King also influenced me because he took horror out of the gothic castles and foggy moors and put it right down the street. Writers like Barker and Poppy Z. Brite also taught me you could be openly gay and explore that in horror fiction. Anne Rice told me you could be weird and extravagant, and it was okay. Those are the biggies that come to mind.


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

Horror has a limitlessness to it that I find exhilarating, and I have also found that other horror creators can be some of the kindest and most generous people out there.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

I have a novel coming out this year called Lucid, as well as a collection called Twilight at the Gates. No specific dates for this yet, but one should be in the summer and the other the fall. I have recently completed a novella called Septic for a publisher, and I am early into a new novel called Imposter Syndrome that has me very excited.


Mark's Bio:

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all, he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf. Mark can be found on Facebook, on Twitter @MarkAGunnells, and on his blog at .

 

Review from Dark Rose:

Hello Darklings!

Here's another one to add to your never diminishing tbr.


This story has such well-written and realistic characters, the tropes are somewhat worn but beautifully articulated. This novelIa does have a similarity to King's writing style with heavy doses of sci-fi. Just fabulous. 


I truly enjoy stories that have the characters react like a human would in reality and this story handles that aspect beautifully. I also like apocalyptic horror because it often says something about the human mind, condition, and adaptability. 


Favorite character: Dana

 It honestly made me question how I would react in some of the situations. 

 All around a very impressive read... and that ending. 


4 gelatinous blobs.

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3/26/2022
Ezekiel Kincaid

New Release: The Dawning

How did “The Dawning” come about? Where did the idea come from?

The book was inspired by a haunted painting of a little girl in the house I grew up in. The story was originally supposed to be a horror fantasy about a young girl who could travel back and forth between the Ethereal Plane and earth as she encountered creatures in both realms. The series took a dramatic turn when the ghost of a young girl appeared to me. I started to write her story and the tale quickly turned into a dark ride into the depths of hell. There were many strange paranormal events that happened around the writing of this series, all which I talk about in the Foreword of The Dawning.


What was your favorite part of writing this story?

Probably when I finished! All joking aside, the book was exhausting to write and took a lot of focus and energy given all the strange events surrounding it. It’s hard to explain but never have I written a book like this nor had the spiritual atmosphere around any of my writings like I did this one. This series is my magnum opus of horror and I poured everything I have into it.


Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real life events, dreams, bits of movies?

I draw my inspiration from several sources. For example, my latest book I am writing was inspired by true events in my life. My previous book, Johnny Walker Ranger: Demon Slayer, was inspired by my love for Bruce Campbell and growing up in the South. Another series I am wrapping up for Raven Tale was inspired by my love of studying Ancient Near East cultures and the Old Testament. And as mentioned earlier, my current series was inspired by dreams and the ghost of a young girl.


Is there a favorite book or story that you enjoyed writing more than the others or a character and if so, what makes it your favorite?

Johnny Walker Ranger is my favorite character to write. He is sarcastic, politically incorrect, and has no filter. He is balls to the wall and comes up with terrible ideas, but God always bails him out. I enjoy writing him and his supporting characters because they always give me a good laugh and I when I sit down to write, I have no idea where the story will end up.


Tell us about your Johnny Walker Ranger character? What do you like most about him?

Johnny is the most hilarious, lovable asshole you will ever meet. One minute, you’ll be cheering for him, and the next? You’ll want to put him through a wall. Underneath all his redneck bravado he has a heart for God and a desire to do the right thing. The problem is his dumbass self and his whiskey-soaked brain get in the way most of the time. He is a demon slayer extraordinaire, and his stupidity makes him one hell of a brave dude. 


Do you expect to continue his story into a series?

Absolutely. I am finishing up Volume 2, along with working on a comic book series as well as writing a screenplay for Johnny.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead?

I’d have to say Clive Barker and Richard Matheson. For me, Barker’s Damnation Game is the apex of horror writing. It is one of the most well written books around, along with great character development, an intriguing story, and a plot that keeps you guessing.


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

I love how supportive and helpful other writers, editors, publishers, and people in the industry have been. I have met some awesome folks and made some lifelong friendships. These relationships have help me become a better writer and a better person.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

Right now, I am wrapping up a two-book series for Raven Tale about Lilith. I have a background in theological studies and ancient cultures and use this to dive deep into her mythos. I draw on her pagan and Jewish roots to craft a story about love, lust, and revenge. Keep an eye out for The Crucifixion of Lilith and The Resurrection of Lilith.

I am also working on my first ever vampire novel entitled Man of the Sun. The story follows Samson and Ruth on a secluded, claustrophobic journey through the New Mexico desert as they seek to unlock the mysteries of Samson’s past and try to secure a future for the two of them. It has a very Phantasm feel mixed with From Dusk till Dawn.

Ezekiel's Bio:

Ezekiel Kincaid has been published by Stitched Smile Publications, Grinning Skull Press, Lycan Valley Publications, Shacklebound Books, Horror Bites Magazine, Black Hare Press, Jakob’s Horror Box, Ghost Orchid Press, and Fantasia Divinity. His flash fiction story, Deliquesce, won an honorable mention in the prestigious Dark Regions Press Lone Survivor writing contest. He also writes for the House of Stitched Magazine, Horror Bound, and Puzzle Box Horror. His first horror comedy novel, The Adventures of Johnny Walker Ranger: Demon Slayer, was released by Stitched Smile Publications on February 14th, 2020. I also have an upcoming novella, The Vengeful Lambs, with Stitched Smile Publications. He also has a werewolf novelette, The Memoir of Darius Fischer, by Grinning Skull Press. His current book, The Dawning, is out now from Raven Tale Publishing. 

Ezekiel also served as a pastor for twenty years and has three theological degrees. He is an avid Bruce Campbell fan and also enjoys training in martial arts. You can find him on Twitter (@EzekielKincaid) Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ezekethefreak) Instagram (@ezekielkincaid) and WordPress (https://ezekielkincaid.wordpress.com)

 
 

Nightmare Nirvana

by Aron Beauregard

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2/19/2022
Aron Beauregard

Author of Nightmare Nirvana

How did “Nightmare Nirvana” come about?  What was the original concept and what was your favorite part of putting this together?

I’ve always been a huge fan of campfire tales, and urban legends. The book series Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark in particular were some of my absolute books on Earth. Alvin Schwartz took urban legends and rehashed timeless tales with his own unique spin on them. The book was incredibly impactful on me. I’m not sure I can put into words just how impactful. While I’d read books prior to those, truly believe that those are what actually made me LOVE reading horror.


I wanted to do something that paid homage to these books (and if you notice, the book is dedicated to Mr. Schwartz and the legendary, and equally important illustrations of Stephen Gammell, among other childhood influences of mine). There is a distinct difference between homage and hackery, which is something that I wanted to make clear with this project.


In my opinion, the way to pay homage without seeming like you’re ripping something off is to do it your own way. Therefore, the stories in my book don’t have a crumb of truth to them (with the exception of just one, but the story itself was never an urban legend, I made it one). I consider them “modern urban legends” because they have no prior history. Maybe someday, when I’m rotting in some graveyard, they will take off and be retold by others. We can always dream. Secondly, my stories are written in my own unique style. There are no boundaries to any of these tales, and readers should prepare themselves for that element.


Speaking of no boundaries, the same goes for the artwork inside the book. Going back to Stephen Gammell, I wanted the art to have some vibes of his work, meaning that they’re incredibly creepy. I didn’t want to replicate his style, in fact, when realizing that Stefan Ljumov was the right artist for the job, we discussed this in detail. I think he has a great original art style that reached the tier of creepy I needed to make this project a success. We worked together tirelessly for over a year creating these illustrations. I was very lucky that he remained so committed to such a long job. It was risky because there are 69 illustrations in the book. I’m just grateful we got to the finish line in seamless fashion. Never a single argument or disagreement.


The sheer number of illustrations was one reason I decided that this book didn’t make sense to put on Kindle. Additionally, Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark wasn’t on fuckin’ Kindle when it came out. I know it probably is now, but if you ask someone who bought the book when it came out, they’d probably scoff at the idea. Maybe I’m just old school, but I wanted this book to be different. Something that people could sit down and feel in their hands. I spent tens of hours on the layout of the book alone. By far the most exhaustive layout process I’ve ever dealt with.

Some of my readers, understandably, may be a little upset that it’s not on Kindle. But I think if the decide to get the physical book, or read this, they’ll understand why. A project like this is just simply not designed for digital consumption. Additionally, I probably spent close to $5000 making this project happen and more hours than I can count (or probably should have). It was by far, without question, the most expensive project I’ve ever done. 


Last but not least, obviously the incredible cover of horror oil painter Zack Dunn that graces the cover is a big reason that people are going to have interest in this project. I was able to work out a deal to use the art upon purchasing his painting “The Red Widow.” I loved his title for the painting, and it gave me a really cool idea. I thought, what better way to pay homage to his work and open up Nightmare Nirvana than by basing a story around The Red Widow in his painting. He was really awesome to work with and supportive of what I’m doing. Who knows, if this is successful enough, hell, I may do another. 


Do you have a personal favorite story in this collection, if so, why is it a favorite?

It’s really hard for me to choose, but I think if you had a gun to my head, I’d say either “One Night Stand,” or “The Carousel.”

Without spoiling anything, One Night Stand is just plain disgusting and nightmarish. One of those things that you just pray isn’t possible so it can never happen to you. But at the same time, you wonder…

The Carousel is just very imaginative and almost magical. Also, the imagery in those tales is just absolutely fantastic and pairs with the stories perfectly. This story really takes the reader elsewhere I think, which is something special.


Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real life events, dreams, bits of movies?

Easily real-life events. I rarely remember my dreams (maybe one a month if I’m lucky) so I’m always kind of jealous when I hear about other people having such an incredible resource to tap into. However, I’ve led a pretty fucked up life. I could whine about it or harness it. I’ve chosen to do the latter. I sometimes say, “I didn’t choose horror, horror chose me.” As difficult as the dark times have been, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Those midnight moment are the moments that make us who we are.

As far as movies go, overall, I’ve had some influence but that’s really minimal. I prefer to try and do things that haven’t been done before.


Can you tell us about the artist and some of what that process was like, working with him to create this collection as you envisioned it?

It was a lot of writing back and forth. Because Stefan lives across the globe, I really needed to be detailed with the descriptions. English also wasn’t his first language, but that was never a problem or hindrance to the project. There was one funny moment I remember when requesting the artwork for the story “Upper Decker.” For anyone who is not familiar with that term please Google it at your own risk! Stefan wasn’t familiar with it, not because they don’t have it in his country, but because they call it something else. So, he hands the unfortunate task of Googling it, and we both had a great laugh about his findings.

The illustrations needed to be detailed for this, so usually we did batches of 4 or so at a time and it maybe took him 3-4 weeks to complete each batch. So, just based on the math I think it was about 18 months it took us to render the interior illustrations. But to answer your question, what was it like working with Stefan? It was one of the more enjoyable experiences of my career. He’s a kind person who collaborates extremely well.


You have been a writing machine over the past year, is there a favorite book or story that you enjoyed writing more than the others or a character, outside of this collection?

Thank you, the floodgates have opening, and I feel like I’m on a roll. The character of Richard Bronstein, in my next release is an incredibly depraved individual. I can’t say much, or it’ll spoil it, but this is one of the darkest and most unique characters I’ve ever written. For those intrigued, “Modern Hysteria” will be released on Amazon on 4/1, or possibly even a little before.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead?

This is a tough one, that I flip flop on from time to time, but I’d have to say Brett Easton Ellis. Reading American Psycho in high school, I never realized that books could get so dark and violent. I really think that style of storytelling appealed to me, and without knowing that books could get so diabolical, who knows, I might not be where I am today.

Clive Barker is a close second.


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

The reader connections. I get a lot of people that say, “Aron, I haven’t read a book in years. I came across your work, and it got me back into reading.” That’s the ultimate compliment. Especially in this day and age when attention spans are so short and it’s easy to be hypnotized my all the technology we’re inundated with. If you can get someone back into reading and excited at this point in time, you’re doing something right. Not just for yourself, but for them.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

So, releases in the near future include the aforementioned “Modern Hysteria,” a collection being put out by Jack Bantry titled “Exits: A Collection of Contemporary Urban Legends,” my collaborative effort “Survivor’s Guilt” with Matt Shaw, a 3 chapbook series with Dead Sky Ink, and a couple of other things that I can’t quite talk about yet. Keep your eyes peeled though because there are some crazy projects I’m about to announce.


Aron's Bio:

Aron Beauregard is the 3x Splatterpunk Award-Nominated author of such depraved works as The Slob, Yellow, and Wedding Day Massacre. Additionally, he has written 15 books and been included in many others. He is a host on both the Written in Red Podcast & Evil Examined Podcast. His love for the macabre and nagging morbid curiosity will continue to fester until the day he is stuffed in the dirt. But he hopes his books live on long after he becomes worm food and continue to make people uncomfortable evoking both physical and mental reactions.

 
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01/22/2022
Interview with Myk Pilgrim

Contributing author to "Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard."

What do you like about the Gothic Fiction genre?

The gothic vibe is addictive, it feels the way a good Halloween yarn is supposed to. Sitting by the fire while the wind screams murder outside. There’s a comfort in that, it feels the way we are supposed to feel telling each other stories in the dark.

It never gets old, and time doesn't seem to tarnish the feeling.


Who is your favourite Gothic author? Why?

HP Lovecraft. Though I didn’t discover any of his writing until I hit my twenties, I had been drawn to anything inspired by his work for my whole life up until that point. When I first read Shadow over Innsmouth it got into me in a way I’m still trying to disentangle.

But mostly, I love how his work has evolved so far beyond him. It’s become a prime focus for LGBTQ+ and BAME creators and allies of all stripes.


What’s your favourite cemetery?

I love the Stirling graveyard here in Scotland. It’s overlooked by Stirling castle and unbelievably green. There are stone angels everywhere, immense tombstones erected by men who were seriously overcompensating. Most of them were bank managers.

The space feels like hope, although I can’t fully put my finger on why. Maybe because I got engaged there.


Describe your writing voice.

I write lush supernatural horror with a sense of humour and an unapologetic cathartic streak.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

There were definitely others but the one that sticks out is a super edge lordy tale about angels, demons, and the end of the world. I wrote it for school when I was about 13.

A pregnant woman wanders the wasteland looking for one of the last angel cities, she carries some form of demon child that she will give some overtly biblical name. In the manner of all things the child will fall in love with one of the last angels, blah blah blah, save the world.


I came back to it at 19 thinking it was cool and before I knew what I was doing, started turning it into a book. As of today, the only part of it that survives is the original school paper.

Writing as an adult, my first proper published story was "Brownie". I was lucky enough to have it accepted in the Dark Places Evil Faces 2 charity Anthology in 2018. Still can't believe I have a story alongside so many of my heroes.

It's an imaginary friend story, with a Lovecraftian bent, and a critter who loves nothing more than chewing off ears.

https://www.pugnaciouspress.com/mykpilgrimfiction


For readers who are new to your fiction, which of your books would be a good start?

A Fish Doesn't Know deals with gaslighting, finding oneself, and as always, there’s a monster. If you haven't heard it yet, go pour yourself a stiff drink (preferably whisky), stoke the fire high, put your feet up, and give yourself to the saltwater.

It's cathartic as hell. I hope it hurts you in the way fiction is supposed to make you ache.

Erika Sanderson blew it out of the water with her performance. I’m so grateful to her for bringing it to life.

You can currently get it free on this link:

https://www.pugnaciouspress.com/mykpilgrimaudiofiction



ABOUT THE AUTHOR, MYK PILGRIM

Myk Pilgrim is partially bald by genetic mishap but totally bald by choice.

He lives with his wife in a tiny cottage, in an even littler Scottish town where he spends every free moment consuming stories and watching films.
He writes supernatural horror fiction with a sense of humor and an unapologetic cathartic streak – but only when he runs out of excuses not to.

Myk’s work has appeared on the Wicked Library podcast, 13 Wicked Tales, Dark Faces Evil Place 2, Frisson Comics, Sirens Call Magazine, and in Bite-sized Horror collections Poisoned Candy, Bloody Stockings, Rancid Eggs, and Devil’s Night.

ABOUT THE BOOK,

AMONG THE HEADSTONES: CREEPY TALES FROM THE GRAVEYARD


This anthology, edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest - and creepiest - graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.


Here you'll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.


You'll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.


Now let's open the gate - can you hear it creak on its hinges? - and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.


But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement... They may be right behind you.


Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones

The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.) 

The paperback is already published.

 

Meet Mercedes Yardley

Bram Stoker Award Winner

Hi Mercedes and welcome to Uncomfortably Dark. It’s such an honor to be interviewing you for my website. Thank you for making the time.  I am sure you are very busy these days, with your writing career and your work with the Vegas chapter of the HWA. 

MMY: Yes, thank you for having me! Things certainly are busy, but I like it best that way. The world felt like it slowed down due to Covid, but we soon filled our time back up. And yes! My colleague and I formed the Las Vegas chapter of the HWA. It’s wonderful to hang out with like-minded people in the city and discuss horror. Vegas is the perfect setting to discuss the dark and gritty.


So today is about Classic Monsters Unleashed and your part in that, but first, let’s start with a bit about you. What made you want to become a writer and when did you first begin writing professionally?

MMY: I always wanted to be a writer. Always. For Christmas I’d ask for notebooks and colored pens. I loved telling stories and I especially loved writing them down. I liked sitting down in a quiet place away from everyone and letting my imagination take over. I started submitting stories in about 2010, I think, and my first collection came out in 2012. It feels like I’ve been writing forever, but in the scheme of things, it really hasn’t been all that long.


I can relate, my fascination with becoming an author began in early childhood as well. Did you always want to write horror or do you write in other genres?

MMY: Oh, goodness, no. Horror had such a stigma to it. I didn’t write horror. I just happened to write things that turned dark quite quickly. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I fully embraced the horror genre after understanding what it is. Horror isn’t simply blood, guts, and slash. It’s dread. It’s a feeling. It’s something beautiful that we all experience. It’s that sharp, primal feeling like a knife in the gut. We all know what it feels like, but if you call something “horror,” then society immediately deems it as something tawdry. That isn’t the case at all.


I agree 100%, horror carries a very unfair stigma with it and most readers that shun it, don’t know how many truly beautiful stories they are missing out on. What most inspires your ideas for your stories, real-life, bits of dreams or something else? 

MMY: I’m inspired by everything. The first novel I ever wrote, which I still haven’t published, was a surreal thing inspired by dreams. I wrote dreams, mostly nightmares, down in a book so I could remember them. I rifled through my dream book and pulled out what ended up being major scenes in that book. I’m inspired by things I see in the news or something that a person says. My short story “Big Man Ben” was inspired by a Dear Abby letter, of all things. My book DARLING, which is coming out next summer, was inspired by a song. While I was driving, I heard Placebo’s “Follow the Cops Back Home” on the radio, and something about that song struck me so deeply that I had to pull over. I saw a scene in my head and that’s where the book stemmed from.


That’s amazing, to be so deeply inspired by a moment like that. Along those same lines, which author has most inspired or influenced your writing style, alive or dead? 

MMY: I’d say Gabriel Garcia Marquez because he was my introduction to magical surrealism. I didn’t know you could write like that, so dreamy and ephemeral and not completely tethered to reality. My favorite thing about magical surrealism is that you don’t have to explain everything; it just is. That acceptance of the bizarre is extraordinary.


That is one of the truly beautiful things about writing, some things can just be as the writer sees them, with  no explanation. The power to create a new world from ink and a blank page. Speaking of influences, how has being a Stoker award winner influenced your writing or career since 2015, if at all? 

MMY: Winning the Bram Stoker Award felt like validation from my peers. I was, and am, so grateful. As an author, you sit in your little corner, put your head down, and work. I write for myself, not for anyone else, and it can feel solitary at times. I was so happy to learn that my colleagues, people I love and respect, enjoyed my work. For about three months there was a slew of interview requests and invitations to different projects, but it all settled down quickly. I’m still very pleased with my award, but the award is currently hidden under paperwork and piles of clean laundry. 


What was your inspiration behind your contributing story in “Classic Monsters Unleashed”? I understand that Dorian Gray was your monster of choice. The story of Dorian Gray has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I’m excited to read your take on such a classic tale. 

MMY: I love The Picture of Dorian Gray. It’s so elegant and sinister. My take is about a young influencer on social media and how her online persona is vibrant while her physical body breaks down. I’m fascinated by society and the way we react to things. With social media, people often live two completely separate lives. There’s your real tedious life with your meatsack body and then there’s this online persona that is basically performance art. I was intrigued by that idea.


Well, your entire story premise just accurately describes 99% of online personalities and could not come at a more relevant time.  I’m anxious to read it now.  So is Dorian Gray your favorite classic monster, if so, why?  If not, then which monster is and why? 

MMY: My favorite classic monster is probably Dracula. Again, it’s the sinister elegance of his character. He’s charming and exquisitely dressed. He sucks the blood from your body. How intimate, painful, and horrifying is that? I love monsters that don’t look like monsters, probably because they remind me of humans. We can look so ordinary, but we’re the ultimate monsters.  


Another Dracula fan, as am I! I love the entire concept of Dracula, the era, the fashion, the idea of a being existing like that, the intelligence such a person might carry and acquire from centuries of living. I could go on, but it’s not my interview! Moving on, if you could write one more story on a classic monster tale, what might it be and why? 

MMY: I’d like to write about the Bride of Frankenstein. She’s a character completely without a voice. She’s created as an intended mate, never given a name, and is murdered five minutes later. I’d love to explore what her life would look like if she escaped and was given a chance to make her own decisions. 


That is a horrifying story, especially to hear it summed up so bluntly. I would love to read your version of it, if you ever write it. 

What was your reaction to the news that “Classic Monsters Unleashed” raised more money than any other horror anthology in the history of the Kickstarter platform?  I thought it was a huge achievement. 

MMY: I was so happy to hear that! The team behind the anthology is amazing. James Aquilone is kind and professional. Not only did everybody work hard for the Kickstarter, but I love that horror is having this new renaissance right now. Society is really identifying with horror, and it’s getting a small bit of the appreciation it deserves.


I agree 100% and it’s long overdue.  What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

MMY: The Horror industry is a very close-knit community. I didn’t expect that. People run in the same circles and most of the people are fabulous. They’re nice, they’re creative. They’re quirky. We openly discuss our fears, so most are well-adjusted and there’s an open camaraderie there. There are always outliers, of course, but most of my colleagues are empathetic, caring individuals. 


Again, I agree 100%, the horror community is unlike any other and I am so glad to be a part of it.   So, what piece of advice would you give to new authors? 

MMY: Write for yourself and not somebody else. So many authors wilt if they get a rejection or a bad review. It’s fine. Print that rejection out and use it to light your cigarette. Keep your power and keep going.


Last question before I let you go, are there current projects that you would like to mention?

Yes! I’m part of the Black Mariah novella series coming out from Black Spot Books. It’s a very cool, epic conspiracy theory project that several different writers are involved in. You can find the books on Amazon. Also, my Southern Gothic novel DARLING is coming out during the summer of 2022. It’s emotional and quite dark. I love it dearly. 


Mercedes Bio:

Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, the Stabby Award-winning Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and Nameless. She won the Bram Stoker Award for her story Little Dead Red and was a Bram Stoker Award nominee for her short story “Loving You Darkly” and the Arterial Bloom anthology. Mercedes lives and works in Las Vegas with her family and strange menagerie. You can find her at mercedesmyardley.com.

 
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Meet Owl Goingback

3 Time Bram Stoker Award Winner

Hello Owl. Welcome to Uncomfortably Dark, so excited to have this opportunity to interview you. I want to thank you for your time in doing this interview. I can’t imagine how busy you must be. You have a long career behind you and I can only hope to achieve a fraction of what you have done. Congratulations on such an inspiring career! 

Let’s just dive right into a few general questions before we get to Classic Monsters Unleashed and your story there. 

What made you want to become a writer and when did you first begin writing professionally?

I grew up in the rural Midwest, living in a mobile home on five wooded acres at the edge of a national forest. Friends and playmates were nonexistent, so I turned to reading books to alleviate the boredom. I read mostly horror, fantasy and science fiction, escape fiction that sent me on amazing adventures and helped me survive a very lonely childhood. Books were important to me, and I wanted to write my own stories in the hopes of entertaining others as I had been entertained.

My first professional sales actually occurred when I was still in high school. I was in several English classes that required students to write a five-page fiction story per semester. A lot of my classmates had no interest in doing the assignment, so I offered to write their stories for a fee. I made sure to change up my writing style for each story, so the teacher never realized they were written by the same author. 

I stopped writing when I left high school to join the military, and didn’t take it up again until several years after I got out of the Air Force. And I only did it then because my wife challenged me to prove I could write after watching a Stephen King interview on television. My first published sales were self-defense articles for martial arts magazines, but I switched to fiction because it paid more and I didn’t have to worry about taking photos. 


I can relate to a lonely childhood. I spent a lot of afternoons and weekends just reading for hours. I read more than I can remember doing anything else.  So what most inspires your ideas for your stories, real-life experiences, dreams that you have had or something else? 

Sometimes it’s life experiences. My Nebula Award Nominated short story “Grass Dancer” was inspired by events that took place at a powwow during the beginning days of the Gulf War. But I do a lot of research into folklore, strange tales, history and the paranormal, and that is a great place for inspiration. A lot of my novels and short stories also draw upon the myths and culture of my Native American heritage.  


I find that life experiences influence bits of my writing with the rest coming from dreams and nightmares. I think most authors are influenced by parts of their own lives more so than anything else.  So did you always want to write horror or do you write in other genres?  

I stick mostly to horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Those three genres allow me the freedom needed to write everything from children’s books to novels. 


That makes perfect sense. Those were and still are the genres that I most often read.  As life tends to influence our writing, so do the authors that we read. Which author/s has most inspired or influenced your writing style, alive or dead? 

Growing up, I read a lot of Poe, Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, Andre Norton, and Edgar Rice Burroughs and think they have probably influenced my writing style the most. I also read a lot of Ray Bradbury, but nobody can write like him. I don’t even try. His stories flow like poetry. 


Poe is my favorite author and that began my love of horror novels and stories, but even more so, the era in which he wrote.  I understand that your story in Classic Monsters Unleashed was inspired by “Dracula.”  In my opinion, the most classic of all the classic monsters. I have had a long-standing love affair with all things Dracula. What can you tell us about your take on this classic tale?

Dracula is a fascinating character. Not only is he a vampire, but he’s also a shapeshifter. His ability to change into a wolf excited me the most, because it’s similar to Native American legends of shapeshifters and skinwalkers. I wanted to take Dracula out of the urban setting of 1800s Europe and put him on the American frontier, blending his legend with those of this country. I also wanted to put him up against two of the biggest names from that period of history, rugged individuals who were already seeing their way of life, and the things they cherished, coming to an end. 


Your story sounds fascinating and I can't wait to read it for myself. Would you consider “Dracula '' one of your favorite monsters, if so, why?  If not, then which monster is and why? 

Dracula is definitely one of my favorites, but I don’t think of him as a monster. He’s more of a victim of circumstance, forced to drink the blood of others in order to survive. He is intelligent, well dressed, and can be quite charming--provided he’s not sinking his teeth into your neck. And I know a lot of people, myself included, who are creatures of the night and would probably fit right in with that lifestyle. 


I would have to agree, if I could, I can honestly say that I would. If you could write one more story on a classic monster, what might it be and why?

I would like to do a Creature from the Black Lagoon story. I’ve always been a fan of the original movie because the backstory is very believable. I would set it here in Florida, where all the underwater scenes for the original movie were filmed, tying in Native American folklore and urban myths about the Lizard Man. That would be so much fun to write, I’m smiling just thinking about it.  


That would be a great story to read.  The Creature from the Black Lagoon is another one of my favorite tales. What was your reaction to the news that “Classic Monsters Unleashed'' raised more money than any other horror anthology in the history of the Kickstarter platform?  I thought it was an incredible campaign with a lot of great perks for the backers, aside from the book itself. 

Actually, I wasn’t too surprised. There are a lot of us “monster kids” out there who love the original Universal monsters, and are dying to read new stories featuring Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, and the rest of the gang. 


I would have to agree. Everyone loves a good monster story. Aside from the monster tales, what is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

I love everything about being in the horror industry. I get to write stories that give readers chills, sometimes even causing them to sleep with the lights on, and I get to hang out with masters of the macabre. Best of all, it allows me to carry in my heart the love of all things spooky and the magic of Halloween. 


Well said and what can be better than that? What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

My novels and stories are my legacy. And, as a writer, I really couldn’t ask for anything more than that. 


And finally, before you go, are there current projects that you would like to mention?

I’m currently working on several short stories and a new novel, but don’t like to talk about works in progress for fear of jinxing the projects. 


I can understand that. So we shall part ways here and I wish you all the best for the upcoming projects.  I look forward to having you back at some point in the future and I look forward to more of your stories! 


Owl’s Bio:

Conceived in Oklahoma, and born in St. Louis, Owl Goingback grew up in the rural Midwest. He has been writing professionally for over thirty years, and is the author of numerous novels, children’s books, screenplays, magazine articles, short stories, and comics. He is a three-time Bram Stoker Award Winner, receiving the award for Lifetime Achievement, Novel, and First Novel. He is also a Nebula Award Nominee, and a Storytelling World Awards Honor Recipient. His books include Crota, Darker Than Night, Evil Whispers, Breed, Shaman Moon, Coyote Rage, Tribal Screams, Eagle Feathers, and The Gift.


In addition to writing under his own name, Owl has ghostwritten for Hollywood celebrities. He has also lectured across the country on the customs and folklore of the American Indians, served in the military, owned a restaurant/lounge, and worked as a cemetery caretaker.


Owl’s lives in Winter Park, Florida, and is currently working on a new novel and several short stories. To find out more about the author, visit his website at www.owlgoingback.com.

 
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Meet Michael Knost

Bram Stoker Award Winner

Hello Michael.  So great to have you with us today. Thank you for taking the time out to answer a few questions. I am sure you are very busy with your writing career which is quite long and impressive, as a Bram Stoker nominee and award winner, Amazon best seller and a long list of books, both fiction and non-fiction under your name. Kudo’s on such excellent achievements! 

Let’s just dive right in with a few general questions before we get to Classic Monsters Unleashed and your story there. What made you want to become a writer and when did you first begin writing professionally?

I started writing nonfiction articles and books for the broadcasting industry. I managed radio stations and had several magazines ask for particular pieces. When I caught the bug to write, I decided to try my hand at science fiction, fantasy, and horror—genres I loved reading since grade school.


I can relate. I grew up reading those genres as well. What most inspires your ideas for your stories, real-life experiences, dreams that you have had or something else? 

Almost always real-life experiences when it comes to characterization. Also having a number of things bounce into my life at the same time, which triggers a “what if” moment.


Real-life influences seem to be a common thread for many authors. I know bits of my life cross over into some of my own writing. I understand that you write in several genres, is there one that you prefer over the others or do you go wherever the story needs you to? 

Usually where the story leads, but I almost always end up writing horror. Horror is what fascinates me most.


I can relate. Horror seems to be where my talents take me as well, even though I do love reading other genres. Speaking of influences, do you have an author who has most inspired or influenced your writing style, alive or dead? 

Theodore Sturgeon. At least that’s what I’d like to think.


I can see how he would be a big influence, he was a great voice in fiction, notably science fiction. So tell us about your contribution in “Classic Monsters Unleashed”? What inspired you to tell this particular story? 

Mine is an origin story for Count Orlok, the Vampire from the 1922 silent film Nosferatu. And the reason I wanted to write this one is because I have another monster in the tale who I have written about before . . . and that monster becomes pivotal in the origin story,


I see. Nosferatu has always fascinated me. I’m excited to read your take on this story. Would you consider this monster to be your favorite classic monster, if so, why?  If not, then which monster is and why? 

I wouldn’t say Count Orlok was my favorite, one who always intrigued me. Frankenstein’s Monster is probably my favorite.


Frankenstein is always a great choice. Lots to explore there. If you could write one more story on a classic monster tale, what might it be and why? 

Again, probably Frankenstein’s Monster. I’d love to have a mad doctor piecing sections of brains instead of body parts. Could you imagine the possible outcomes?


I can imagine some of those outcomes and I bet the resulting stories would be horrifying. Speaking of outcomes, what was your reaction to the news that “Classic Monsters Unleashed” raised more money than any other horror anthology in the history of the Kickstarter platform?  I thought it certainly raised the bar for others that may follow. 

Yes, it raises the bar. But, I also thought how great it is that we are still interested in these monsters we grew up with, and can’t seem to get enough of them.


I absolutely agree, nothing better than a great monster tale. What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

The people. The authors, editors, publishers are all like a huge family. And for the most part, everyone tries to help everyone else.


Everyone says the people. It’s a running theme with the horror authors that I interview and I have interviewed quite a few over this past year or so. I think that is an awesome tribute to the people in the community. They should be proud of that fact. What legacy do you hope to leave behind? 

I’m not sure about a legacy, but I pride myself in helping a number of writers make their dreams come true through my writing books, classes, workshops, and speaking engagements.


I can see that as a legacy. The ability to take our experiences and help others achieve their goals is an incredible legacy to aspire to. Which brings us to our last, but not least, question. Are there current projects that you would like to mention?

Writers Workshop of Horror 2 is coming out even as we speak. It is a collection of essays and interviews focusing on the art and craft of writing horror and dark fantasy. From bestselling authors like Stephen King, Anne Rice, and R. L. Stine, to up-and-coming writers just making their mark, this anthology is chock-full of advice and information writers of any level will find valuable and useful.


Michael’s Bio:

Michael Knost is a Bram Stoker Award®-winning editor and author of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and supernatural thrillers. He has written in various genres and helmed multiple anthologies. His Writers Workshop of Horror won the 2009 Bram Stoker Award® in England for superior achievement in non-fiction. His critically acclaimed Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is an Amazon #1 bestseller. Return of the Mothman, Barbers and Beauties, and Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth were all finalists for the Bram Stoker Award®. 

Michael received the Horror Writers Association’s Silver Hammer Award in 2015 for his work as the organization’s mentorship chair. He also received the prestigious J.U.G. (Just Uncommonly Good) Award from West Virginia Writers Inc. His Return of the Mothman is currently being filmed as a movie adaption. He has taught writing classes and workshops at several colleges, conventions, online, and currently resides in Chapmanville, West Virginia with his wife, daughter, and a zombie goldfish. www.MichaelKnost.com

 

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