Uncomfortably Dark Presents:

The Rusty Chair!

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09/24/2022
Caitlin Marceau

Author of This Is Where We Talk Things Out. 

Tell me about the concept for This Is Where We Talk Things Out. How did it originate? 
So, this story is kind of an amalgamation of a few things, but before I explain I need to preface this with the fact that I love my mom. We’re really close, we have a great relationship, I love her to bits… but also, she’s always been a bit of an over-protective mom. So, part of this story was me taking that idea of a helicopter parent and seeing how far I could push it and how toxic I could make it. Another part of it was inspired by my personal life and the events in it. My cousin, Matthew, passed away very unexpectedly in 2020, and part of me really wanted to explore the lengths a parent would go to keep their family together… for better or worse. 

What was your favorite part of writing this story? 
The whole process was a blast. Writing the initial draft of this story was so so fun for me. I was really inspired by the idea and excited to work on it, so I actually wrote the full book in what I joke was a two-week fever dream (but was actually two, maybe two and a half weeks of intense writing). I mean, it’s not uncommon for me to write a lot and write it fast, but this project really felt like I was chasing lightning. If that makes any sense and doesn’t make me sound like a total snob!

What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story and what was the hardest scene to write? 
I think, weirdly, the hardest part of writing this story was opening myself up to unresolved trauma and giving myself the space to be vulnerable while writing this project. Like, I was a really unhappy and extremely difficult teenager, and I struggled with my relationship with my mom during those years, so tapping into that was difficult at times. As for the hardest scene to write, it would have to be when Miller is thinking about how her father wrestled with Alzheimer’s, because that’s my current situation with my grandmother. She helped raise me, I was super close with her growing up… and now I’m a stranger to her. So, navigating that was definitely tough and it left me feeling emotionally naked when I was writing the story.

Do you personally relate to any of the characters?  If so, which one and why?
I mean, not Sylvie! I definitely don’t relate to her. I guess, realistically, Miller is probably the character I most relate to, but only because I know what that distance in a mother-daughter relationship can feel like and how it can weigh on you. 

What has been the best thing that you have learned about the writing craft and/or the publishing industry itself?
That people in the industry sincerely want you to succeed. Like, I think a lot of newer writers think that publishing, especially indie publishing, is filled with competition and cut-throat writers—that was certainly the environment my professors painted for me in university—when in reality it’s a bunch of really supportive, kindhearted, exceptionally talented individuals all wanting to support and uplift each other. It’s such a great world to be a part of and I’m grateful every single day that I get to work with such wonderful people. 

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
The community! Honestly, the horror community is arguably the most passionate, supportive, kind community I’ve ever belonged to. I know there are others out there who feel the same way, but they’re wrong because the horror community is the best community to belong to. And that’s absolutely a hill I’m willing to die on. 

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? 
Tamora Pierce. When I was younger, I asked her for writing advice, and she told me to write the stories that I wanted to read. That’s what I did and what I continue to do, and I haven’t looked back since. 

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?    
There are a couple really exciting ones, actually! My second collection, Femina, is coming out from DarkLit Press on December 3rd, and my third collection, A Blackness Absolute, is coming out in 2023 from Ghost Orchid Press. If that wasn’t exciting enough, my horror-comedy series, Laughlin Hills Community Magazine, is getting a full run from DarkLit Press! It’s such a weird little passion project of mine and I’m eternally grateful that they’re taking a chance on it (and me)! 

Caitlin's Bio:
Caitlin Marceau is a queer author and lecturer based in Montreal. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing, is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association, and has spoken about genre literature at several Canadian conventions. She spends most of her time writing horror and experimental fiction but has also been published for poetry as well as creative non-fiction. Her work includes Palimpsest, 23 McCormick Road, Magnum Opus, and her debut novella, This Is Where We Talk Things Out. Her second collection, Femina, is slated for publication later this year with her third one, A Blackness Absolute, set for publication in 2023. For more, check out CaitlinMarceau.ca or find on social media at @CaitlinMarceau. 

 
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09/17/2022
Alexander Laybourne

Author of Chronicles of the Unknown.

If you had to pitch Chronicles of the Unknown to me as a reader, what would your pitch be?
Chronicles of the Unknown is an emotional story that deals with the horror of grief and the terrifying consequences it can have when left untreated. 


When did you first get the idea for this storyline, and how long did it take you to write it, from conception to finish? 
The idea for the storyline came to me after I watched a documentary about the suicide forest in Japan. I wanted to write a different sort of novel from what I had written before, and so I decided to focus more on the emotional side of things. 
As for how long it took me to write, that is a long story and an even longer answer. I think this novel took about two and a half years in total, from start to finish. However, I think eighteen months of that were me going through a lot of personal stuff, where I didn’t write at all. 


What was your favorite part of writing this story? 
To be honest, and without sounding too dopey, I think my favorite part of writing this story was actually finishing it. My life changed dramatically between starting this novel and finishing it. For a good year or more, it looked as though I was never going to write anything again. I enjoyed writing every part of this book, but my favorite is simply the fact that I finished it. 


What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story, and what was the hardest scene to write? 
Aside from finishing it, as I alluded to above, the hardest part of writing this story was probably getting the emotions right and that family feeling in the Power home. Andre’s home is not a place where anything happens, but it is his hub. It is the central point from which everything expands. I wanted the scenes there to be realistic and as genuine as possible. That’s why I also wanted to keep it separate from any of the action or horror elements of the story. It’s kind of like a save room in Resident Evil. You know the horrors might be standing just outside the front door, but while you are on the right side of the threshold, you’re safe.

 
Do you personally relate to any of the characters?  If so, which one and why?
I really relate to Andre, the main character. I wanted to make this novel a largely character-driven piece. Andre’s life and his grief needed to be palpable. I want his journey to really resonate with people outside of the storyline. While this is a horror novel, it is really a tale about grief and learning how to forgive yourself and live again. 


What has been the best thing that you have learned about the writing craft and/or the publishing industry itself since your start? 
I’ve made a lot of mistakes during my time as a writer. Some I’ve made several times, in fact. But the main lesson I’ve learned and which I think is vital to everybody is not to worry about the opinions of others. You can’t please everybody, and at the end of the day, art is meant to be subjective. Write your story, love your story and be proud of what you create. Each new story might be your best yet, but at the same time, it is never going to be the best you will ever create. We are continually learning and evolving as writers. I’m proud of this book and genuinely think it's some of the best stuff I’ve written in years. However, I also genuinely hope that in five years, I won’t think the same. 


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
To be honest, I don’t really feel like I’m a part of it right now. That’s by no means a slight on the genre or industry. It’s simply that I’ve been quiet (absent) for so long that I don’t really feel like I know what’s what anymore. 
I think, as with any industry, there are positive and negative aspects. I feel that we are very lucky in the horror niche that the majority of people are friendly, welcoming, and helpful. There are some fantastic groups on Facebook, including Writing Horror, that encourage conversations and interaction. 


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? 
That’s a tough question. I think my early work was certainly inspired by a combination of Clive Barker and Stephen King. Nowadays, I think I draw inspiration from everybody I read. I don’t seem to have the ability to stick to a main author these days. I have such a vast number of books I’ve collected over the years that I’m readying one new author after another. Every book has something I can learn from. It might be something positive, but even a bad book teaches certain things. 


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?    
I’m currently working on a myriad of things. Probably too many. I’m working on books two and three of the Chronicles trilogy and also writing a bigfoot horror novel for Severed Press. I’m also writing my first D&D-inspired tabletop RPG campaign together with a friend of mine. We’re hoping to have that ready for the start of next year. 

Alex's Bio:

T.J Donald is the alter-ego of horror author Alex Laybourne. The decision to move to a pen name for the Chronicles of the Unknown novels was of deep personal significance. 
Under his real name, Alex has published some twenty-five novels, novellas, and short story collections. His debut novel Highway to Hell remains one of his favorite stories, while his zombie novel Diaries of the Damned remains his bestselling title. 


Born and raised in the East of England, Alex moved to Holland and lived there for close to fifteen years before relocating back home. He now lives in a nice quiet neighborhood with the coast and the countryside a few minutes’ walk away with his fiancé, their one-year-old son Tobias and a host of dogs, fish, and guinea pigs. 


Alex can be found on social media, predominantly Facebook. He doesn’t have a website or use an author page. If you want to connect, send a request, and brace yourself. 

 

Chronicles of the Unknown

By T. J. Donald

Grieving the loss of his wife, Detective Andre Power was a man living on the edge. All he wanted to do was keep his family together and hold onto his sanity in the process. The last thing he wanted was to be pulled back into active duty on the hunt for a serial killer intent on making his victims’ deaths look like suicides.

As Andre fast approaches breaking point and the killer sets their sights on his youngest son, Andre is forced to accept that dark forces are loose in his town. With time running out, Andre must make new allies and prepare for a battle that threats to destroy the little hope he had left in a happy life.

**FULL REVIEW** 

Chronicles of the Unknown follows a grieving detective as he comes to terms with the death of his wife, while navigating single parenthood alone.  When he stumbles across a pair of bodies during his morning jog, he finds himself thrust back into the police work that he was not quite ready to return to. With the help of his best friend and partner, they begin to investigate what appears to be an open and shut case, but things soon take a much darker turn, darker than either of them could have imagined.  
With excellent character building, and layers of tension woven throughout, TJ Donald has created a highly engaging story that reads like a thriller but sits firmly in horror as the twists unfold at breakneck speed.  
4 Stars. 


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09/17/2022
Mike Lombardo

Author of Please Don't Tap On The Glass

Tell me about Please Don’t Tap On The Glass. If I were to ask you to pitch it to me as a reader, what would you say?
Please Don't Tap on the Glass is a collection of stories that range from dark, depressing and serious, to gross out comedy. It'll have you tearing up one moment and then feeling guilty (and maybe a little nauseous) for laughing the next.


What was your favorite part of writing this collection?
Since the stories were written over the course of many years, each story is kind of a snapshot of where my head and life were at the moment. Seeing it all together in one book is like a weird autobiography with tentacles and snuff films added for flavor.


What did you find was the hardest story to write and why?
I'd say I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday was the most painful, as it was written as a way for me to cope with my mom being in the hospital with kidney failure. I was dealing with the reality of watching someone I loved fading away and being powerless to help them and the story came very much from that feeling of hopelessness.

Do you personally relate to any of the characters or any one of the stories?  If so, which one or who and why?
A lot of the characters in these stories are based on aspects and experiences of myself and close friends, so definitely. I put the most of myself in Kevin from Dead Format and Aaron from PlayPlace. Both characters were based on very specific times in my life and personal things I was dealing with while I was writing.


Do you have a favorite story overall in the collection? If so, which one and what makes it a favorite?

That's a tough one. My personal favorite is a tie between Dead Format which deals with nostalgia and the death of video stores and Weekend at Escobar's which I think is the strongest (and darkest) piece in the book.

What has been the best thing that you have learned about the writing craft and/or the publishing industry itself?
The best advice I've ever gotten about writing was from Brian Keene. He told me that you need to bleed on the page and that is something I have always taken to heart when I write.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
I love my fellow creatives in this world the most. There is no other genre with creators and fans like the horror world. Despite what outsiders might think, horror people are the nicest and most supportive people you'll ever meet. They also have the biggest imaginations and often use horror as a way of dealing with personal issues and anxieties in a cathartic way that I don't believe other genres can quite do.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead?
My favorite writer and one of the biggest influences on me is Edward Lee. I love his extreme novels, but he also writes extremely introspective, poetic, and philosophical stuff too. Being taken seriously has always been a personal struggle of mine because of my bizarre mix of comedy and horror, and I relate to Lee's career for that reason. He gets written off by a lot of people but there is so much depth and beauty to be found scattered among the entrails if they would just look for it.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?    
I am currently adapting Dead Format into a screenplay, and it will likely be my next film project. I've expanded the story a bit and upped the emotional punch and I feel like the mix of melancholy nostalgia and b movie horror is the perfect representation of my life and style.


Mike's Bio: 

Mike Lombardo grew up on a steady diet of Goosebumps, scary story books, 90’s Nickelodeon, and horror PC games. He is an award-winning independent filmmaker, writer & FX artist who runs Reel Splatter Productions. In 2017, his first feature film, I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday, played the festival circuit around the world, taking home 7 awards including multiple Best Picture and Best Actress wins, and over a dozen nominations.

His debut short story collection, Please Don’t Tap on the Glass and Other Tales of the Melancholy & Grotesque, was released in August of 2022. He is the star of the award-winning documentary, The Brilliant Terror, from Lonfall Films, which chronicles the world of indie horror and the lengths that low budget filmmakers will go to get their projects made.  


If you would like to experience more of his insanity, you can find him online at www.ReelSplatter.com, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and on moonlit nights wandering the ruins of defunct video stores mourning the death of physical media. 

 

Please Don't Tap On The Glass

By Mike Lombardo

Eleven stories of grief, existential dread, extreme horror, and gross out comedy.

After discovering a tape he’s never heard of at a video store closing sale, a VHS collector discovers that sometimes nostalgia comes at a terrible price in Dead Format. In Weekend at Escobar’s, a man finds himself smuggling drugs across the border stuffed inside the corpse of a cartel boss he’s trying to pass off as living. An eighteen-year-old virgin’s first trip to the porn store goes horribly awry in Just Like the Real Thing. With supplies and hope dwindling as they struggle to survive in a fallout shelter, a mother gives her son one last Christmas in the original short story that inspired the award-winning film, I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday.


These and more await as you are invited to gaze into the depths of the twisted mind of filmmaker Mike Lombardo, just be careful you don’t tap on the glass, you might not like what you stir up...

**FULL REVIEW**

I found this collection to be refreshing, highly original, and enjoyable overall.  Everything from the anxiety-ridden but deeply heartfelt introduction right down to the last page of text, Lombardo gives us his life experiences on the page, fictionalized and horrified, of course. There is humanity in these pages above all else, real emotions and dialogue, well-placed humor when warranted, all penned in some of the most creative short stories that I have read this year.  I will not pick a favorite here, as I would be hard-pressed to do so, but I will say that I strongly recommend that you add this to your TBR, immediately, if not sooner! 
4.5 Stars. 


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09/10/2022
Ashon Ruffins

Author of Descent of a Broken Man

How did “Descent of a Broken Man” come about?  Where did the idea come from? 
Believe it or not, it came about with me just writing down my thoughts and struggles during a rough time in my life. Trying to trudge through everyday obstacles, suffering from depression and anxiety, I needed a coping mechanism, so I wrote.
The idea just popped into my head while watching a horror movie. What if I built a fictional horror story centered around two people. A man (antagonist), who later became James Corbin, that suffered as well and fell so far in life that hopelessness and desperation takes over. It leads to some very poor decisions by him that has severe consequences. The protagonist, Nola Maor, who also has a very interesting story that intertwines with James.

What was your favorite part of writing this story?
Developing the characters and their part in the terror of the story. The human experience and the consequences from our decisions can make for some compelling stories. So, developing the intricacies of their personalities and the world around them led me to some fun story telling. 

What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story and the hardest scene? 
The hardest part was drawing from my own experiences with mental health struggles but also interviewing others who had those struggles as well. Unfortunately, too many people, especially us men close ourselves off and refuse to talk to a professional. Hearing those stories and revisiting my own was difficult. 
Without giving too much away, the hardest scene was in Chapter 8 when the sum of the events in James’ life manifests itself in a horrific way. It’s a turning point that has consequences for everyone involved.

Do you personally relate to the main character, James Corbin?  If so, which one and why?
I definitely relate to James, mostly for the reasons I mentioned before. I don’t agree with the way he handles things, but the character is very relatable. 

What has been the best thing that you have learned about the writing craft and/or the publishing industry itself?
The best thing I have learned about the writing craft is the amount of work and passion that is put into it by the authors and publishers alike. The relationships between the authors and readers is one of the more impressive things I’ve run across. The writers spend months putting everything they have in a story, often sacrificing time and sleep to get it to their vision. In return, readers spend their free time and money supporting that art and submerging themselves in the world someone else created. It’s all pretty fantastic.

What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
The community and the diversity. The people that tell horror stories through print or through screen and the people that enjoy it are some of the nicest and fun people to be around. The community is not huge but it’s usually pretty passionate on both ends.
The diversity in the style of stories is also one of my favorite aspects of the horror industry. From the paranormal, the slasher, zombies or monsters. There are so many ways to tell stories and using the different sub-genres. I love it. My favorite type of story is like Cloverfield. It’s where the shit hits the fan and no one knows why or how it all happens. In my opinion, that’s how it would unfold in real life. People panicking, constant news reports, confusion, and fear. It’s completely terrifying. 

Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? 
When it comes to authors, the one that has had the most impact on my writing style is Dan Brown. The way his stories unfold, from the different points of view, it keeps the mystery and keeps you wanting to read to see where the story goes.

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
Well, Descent of A Broken Man is the first in a three-book series. The series is called Uncovered Darkness and I’m currently writing book 2 which should be available this upcoming Spring of 2023.    

Ashon's Bio:
Ashon Ruffins is a native New Orleanian and a military Veteran. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, while also holding certifications for several other professions. He has had two short stories published, The Late Lunch, and The Closet, both of which can be found on his website. Descent of a Broken Man is his debut novel.

 

Descent of a Broken Man

By Ashon Ruffins

James Corbin is an ambitious high school history teacher who resides in the lively, yet dangerous city of New Orleans. He suffers from severe depression and anxiety and is on a downward spiral, unwilling to seek the help he desperately needs. His troubles are compounded by a lack of progress in his professional career, his disintegrating marriage, and lack of respect from his peers. While his struggles threaten to cripple him, the city is marred by a series of brutal religious murders.

However, it’s soon clear that there is not only one, but two murderers wreaking havoc on the city. While police chase the murderers, James focuses on his quest for professional success and self-worth from his research. Unfortunately for him, the research leads to the discovery of a nefarious essence, which unlocks a darkness and brings James face to face with a monster of his own. Within some people, there is something… off. Something dormant. A terror that, if found, will leave a path of pain in its wake.

**FULL REVIEW**

In his debut novel, Ruffins pens a multi-layered story of mental illness and the ever-present battle of good vs evil.  The story follows a heavily depressed teacher named James Corbin, who struggles with multiple inner demons including broken dreams, a failed marriage, anxiety, and depression as he tries to determine a way to cope, to find a way through his darkness. Detective Nola Maor is well-written, strong female character struggling with her own crisis of faith, and a desire to prove herself in the male-driven world of police work.  A rash of murders sends this story into a high-octane race against time as the story reveals just how dark it can get, for all involved.  
Ruffins brings to light many issues surrounding mental illness, how it is perceived, and the effects of letting it go untreated all while blending it into one astonishingly captivating tale. 
4 stars. 


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08/20/2022
Russell R. James

New Release: Demon Dagger

Available August 25! 

How did “Demon Dagger” come about?  What was the original concept and what was your favorite part of creating this story?

Demon Dagger is the first story I‘ve written where the inspiration created the middle instead of the beginning or the end. I live in Central Florida and love to visit the theme parks. Watching the costumed characters one day I thought how you really don’t know who is inside the big smiling character head. It could be anyone.

Being a horror writer, of course that led me to wondering if it could be a bad person, someone intent on exploiting this moment where people drop their guard in a supposedly safe environment. This idea became pivotal scene in the middle of the book. So, for the first time I had to write outward from the middle instead of from the start to the finish.


It’s a known fact that authors tend to write parts of themselves and their experiences into their characters. How much of Deputy Drew Price do you identify with?

I wish I could say I was a bad-ass demon hunter like Drew, but, alas, no. Drew’s mentor Lincoln instills in Drew a love of cars and car restorations. I definitely have that in common with Drew and have done a lot of auto restoration work over the years. The inspiration for Lincoln’s Chevelle project named Gabriella is my own 1970 Chevelle named Valerie. Folks getting my monthly newsletter also get to keep up on all the happenings in my garage.


What other character was the most fun or most impactful for you to write in this story and why?

I really enjoyed writing the character of Marvin, who has a complex, difficult past. I won’t put any spoilers in here. Originally, he was going to be in for a scene as a way to deliver some information Drew needed. But the more I thought about him, the more interesting he became, and by the time the book was done he’d become an important part of the main plot.


You reference the 1901 experiment of Duncan MacDougall in this story. How much research did you do on this experiment and why did you feel it was integral to the story?

This experiment was fascinating. Dr. MacDougal wanted to measure the weight of a human body just before and just after death. If the postmortem weight was lower, he would attribute that to the departure of the soul from the body. I did a lot of research on this, including reading the professionally reviewed paper he had published on his work.

He was no crackpot. His methods were soundly scientific for the day and included precise scale calibrations and an accounting for all possible weights including the air escaping collapsed lungs. The ethics of having someone die of natural causes on a scale are dubious, but it seems they were all volunteers. Of his six experiments, he believed three were unspoiled by his own errors, and the average weight loss was 21 grams for those three individuals. His hypothesis was that was the weight of the departed human soul.

In my story, the demon feeds on human souls to survive. It trades a person his soul for a shortcut to fame or fortune or whatever. But that soulless person now lacks a moral compass, and becomes a psychopath, a result the demon neglects to inform him is part of the deal. This result figures into the story in several key places.


How much research did you do on Demonology to prepare for this book and what was the strangest or darkest thing that you read about during that research?

I had already done a lot of demonic possession research in writing Lambs Among Wolves that was released last year. While that book had significant religious overtones, this one was going to approach if from a secular angle.

There are a number of very scary accounts of what the Catholic Church certified as true demonic possessions. The descriptions there are pretty horrific about what happens to the possessed person’s body. In this story I hewed a line much closer to how possession works in the TV series Supernatural.


How has your time in the Army influenced your writing style?

Because I have military background, I don’t feel I need to shy away from military references, combat scenes, or weapons use. In my book, Dark Vengeance, there were extensive helicopter scenes fighting the longarex creature the witches release. Military and para-military characters regularly show up in the Grant Coleman Adventures series from Severed Press. In the Ranger Kathy West Adventures series, she discovers that some of our national parks were secretly created to keep dangerous animals in the middle away from the rest of us. All three books in that series touch on the actual military background of the specific park’s founding, and I felt comfortable writing the backstories Kathy uncovers.


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

The every-horror-writer-cliché answer here is Stephen King. His books were the first commercial fiction I ever read that really captivated me and kept me reading late into the night. But I don’t think I’ve consciously looked at an author’s style and tried to emulate it. I think that would make the result less genuine.

The one exception to this was when I wrote the Civil War Gothic horror novella Blood Red Roses. I wanted the story to sound period correct, so I read Edgar Allen Poe for weeks before writing to better get a feel for that era’s language and cadence. I guess I hit the nail on the head because the story won an international competition.


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

Through the extensive touring I’ve done at cons, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people from the horror community The best thing about it is that it actually is a community. It seems like one big supportive family, and everyone is happy to give help and advice to everyone else.

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

In addition to Demon Dagger, Quest for the Queen’s Temple has just been released. This story set in 1938 follows a treasure hunting couple who go out in search of the lost treasury of the legendary Queen of Sheba. What they find are giant monsters defending the city and supernatural threats within. This adventure tale is the first of the Rick and Rose Sinclair series.

Later in the year, Grant Coleman’s sixth adventure, Atoll X, will be coming out from Severed Press. Here he will be going to a billionaire’s new resort tin the South Pacific to catalog some discovered fossils. When he and some others are shipwrecked on a nearby atoll, they find that it’s inhabited by creatures that should have gone extinct a long time ago.

Russell's Bio:

Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching late night horror. After flying helicopters with the U.S. Army and a career as a technical writer, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight, including horror thrillers Dark Inspiration, Q Island, and The Playing Card Killer. He authored the Grant Coleman Adventures series starting with Cavern of the Damned and the Ranger Kathy West series starting with Claws. He resides in sunny Florida. His wife reads his work, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."


Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com, follow on Twitter @RRJames14 or through Facebook, or say hello at rrj@russellrjames.com.

 

Demon Dagger

Book Review

“A hugely entertaining story of all-too-human heroes battling soul-devouring demons.

James' best novel yet!" — Tim Waggoner, author of We Will Rise.

“Demons. Possession. Stolen souls. And a body count that’s rising. Demon Dagger delivers all this and more as novice demon hunter Drew Price must stop one of Hell’s most powerful archdemons before the creature destroys Drew’s family. Russell James doesn’t pull any punches as this story races to a thrilling climax.”
– JG Faherty, author of The Wakening and Sins of the Father.

Full Review by Candace Nola

Demon Dagger is one of those books that immediately pulls you in and makes you need to know more. The characters are engaging and relatable with a plot so full of tension and ever-increasing horror that you cannot help but to read one more page, then one more chapter. The story follows Drew Price, a man that has had an unusual gift since childhood. He can see when a person is possessed by a demon, in all its evil glory. He no longer sees the person in their human form but rather the full-on demon inside.  A multitude of therapy sessions brings him to a man named Lincoln who begins teaching him how to hunt demons.  

As time passes, Drew grows up, becomes a deputy, and is married with a young son but suddenly finds himself chasing demons once more after a decade of silence. One demon, Nicobar, begins a personal grudge match against Drew, setting his sights on Drew’s young son. The story evolves into a race against time and for the soul of his son as Drew begins to hunt Nicobar to settle the score and save his son.  

Russell James has woven a masterfully crafted tale of suspense, danger, intrigue, mystery, and raw horror as the story is driven along by the rich cast of characters. This will be on the list for this year as a favorite read.  I highly recommend to all that love demons and danger.

4.5 stars.

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08/06/2022

Spotlight on Madness Heart Press

Interview with John Baltisberger

Tell us how Madness Heart Press was created and why?
I hate this story because it makes me sound like an elitist. Understand first that I didn’t have a real job at the time, I was driving Lyft after being laid off from Volpi. I had self-published a handful of bad books, but really had no knowledge of the industry or connections, or any idea what I was doing. My wife picked up a copy of the “Creepy Pasta” Anthology at a bookstore, and after sitting with it for about 4 minutes, I emerged from the bathroom and yelled “I think we can do this better.” That was in mid-2018. In 2019, we released our first Anthology Creeping Corruption followed quickly by the first volume of Trigger Warning, Body Horror.  On that anthology we published an author local to me, named Susan Snyder, who was an attendee of KillerCon, and who insisted we come with her. 
From KillerCon 2019, we made really the connections and friendships which have defined us as a company moving forward.


Tell us what readers can expect to find in its catalog? 
Almost anything. We started with the idea of publishing just dark literature, anything dark at all. But it has grown and shrunk since then. We have a much narrower scope in terms of subject. We publish Splatterpunk, Bizarro, and Experimental Literature. Our goal is to publish books we don’t think you’ll find in other publisher’s catalogs. We want to be unique.


For your imprint, Aggadah Try It, what is the concept for this line and what kind of content readers can expect, and how does it differ from Madness Heart selections? 
Aggadah Try It is a special imprint, as opposed to horror it is a speculative fiction press, so any genre fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror can be found there. But it must be Jewish in nature and written by Jewish authors. It was created specifically because I couldn’t find a home for my own Jewish Urban Fantasy, and I knew other Jewish authors were having a similar issue, so I said, to hell with it, I’ll make my own home for it.


Lastly, Madness Heart Games, is another imprint. Why gaming and what can gamers expect to see from this line? 
I don’t know yet. This is our newest Imprint, and it’s mostly to home my own projects as a game writer and designer. We have two games, one prototype (Numinous Brutality) one Beta (Godless League Adventures) and one game that’s in the works (Morkkabeans, which is in Kickstarter right now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ranthalix/morkkabeans-1-1) 
But the intent is for these games to follow our thought process from MHP, transgressive and experimental games.


If you have open submissions, what is the process for authors, if they would like to submit a manuscript and what is the usual process and turnaround time when vetting a story for possible publication?
Once a year we do an open call for the Trigger Warning series, and once a year we open submissions for pitches. That said we’ll probably change around our pitch call next year, as it's been a bit of a headache lately. Our goal is to find new books and new authors. 
When we read submissions, I just take the story, I don’t read the cover letter I don’t look at the name, I just read the submission. I don’t want to play favorites to any authors, and I want everyone to have an opportunity to show what they are made of at MHP.


What advice would you give to a new author that wanted to submit to your press or any other one? 
First, don’t be an asshole. We’re part of the community, and we publishers are of a community as well, so when you’re a jerk to anyone in the horror or literary community, we’ll hear about it. We do talk.
Beyond that, just submit, follow submission guidelines, and take the plunge. The worst we can do is say no, or not respond. But you’ll never know if you’ll get accepted until you send it in.


What are you looking for in a manuscript as a publisher?  What key elements would make a manuscript stand out to make it past the slush pile? 
For short stories, don’t be boring or predictable, if at any point I think, how much longer is this, it’s a no.
For books? I like weird. I want you to ignore genre and boundaries, I want you to write something that when I describe the book, people laugh because they can’t wrap their mind around the concept. When I say transgressive and experimental… emphasis on the experimental.


Being both publisher and author, what is your favorite role, if you had to choose? 
I don’t know, being a publisher is exhausting, it’s expensive, and often times there’s a paranoia of trying to figure out if someone is talking to you because they like you or because they want you to publish them. When your friends send you a manuscript, and it’s not right, that’s a frustrating feeling too.
Then, as an author, I have the same problem every other author has, I have to search for a publisher, I have to face rejection, I have to watch books flop. Both aspects are pretty thankless, and I’m grateful to my family and friends for supporting me through the lows and the highs.


What has been your greatest or most memorable moment in your career so far, with regards to your publishing or writing experience? 
At the 2019 KillerCon event, I snapped a picture of a panel with Wrath James White, Ed Lee, John Skipp and Brian Keene. After the panel, Edward Lee, the guy whose books I had bought since high school and been reading forever, came up to me and asked me to text him that picture.
I was beside myself. Then because of the pandemic, we had the 2020 KillerCon online, and Ed Lee was getting the J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement award. Due to me being the tech guy for KillerCon, and various issues, I got to talk to Ed, basically interview him for the event. 
I then got a chance to do it again with John Skipp in 2021. Two literal giants of my genre and industry, and I got to sit down with them, as a novice, and a nobody and interview them. I still get chills about how amazing and sweet those two guys are.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention, personal and press related?
Three things, because they are currently happening!
1)    We have an open submission for an anthology edited by Christine Morgan.  https://madnessheart.press/submissions/trigger-warning
2)    Madness Heart Games as an open Kickstarter we are trying to fund currently. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ranthalix/morkkabeans-1-1
3)    My new book, Sheyd of Gray, part of the Book of Ze’ev series, drops on Amazon and Godless on August 14th!


John's Bio:

John Baltisberger is an award-winning author of speculative and genre fiction that often focuses on Jewish Elements. Through his writing, he has explored themes of mysticism, faith, sin, and personal responsibility. Though mostly known for his bizarre blend of Jewish mysticism and splatter, John defies being labeled under any one genre. His work has spanned extreme horror, urban fantasy, science fiction, cosmic horror, epic verse, and he has even written a guide for mindful meditation. Beyond his writing career, John is the Publishing Editor of Madness Heart Press, a press focused on transgressive and experimental horror. He also runs the Jewish Speculative Fiction press Aggadah Try It, and the game company Madness Heart Games, where he works as the Creative Director. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife and his daughter.

Awards:

  • Gold Medal – Godless Horror 2022 (Unclean Verses Cantos I & II)

  • Silver Medal – Godless Horror 2022 (The Crimes and Passions of John Stabberger Season 1)

  • Best Editor – Critter Annual Reader’s Poll 2019 (Madness Heart Press)

Nominations:

  • Poetry Full Book – Science Fiction Poetry Association, Elgin Awards 2019 (Configuration Discordant)

  • Best Novella – Horror Author’s Guild 2021 (Abhorrent Siren)

  • Best Collection – Splatterpunk, Awards 2021 (War of Dictates)

 
 

Upcoming Releases

Madness Heart Press

 

August

  • Muerte con Carne by Shane McKenzie

  • Sheyd of Gray by John Baltisberger

  • The Bighead by Edward Lee

September

•    Last 5 Minutes of the Human Race by Michael Allen Rose

October

  • Mummy of Canaan by Maxwell Bauman

  • Salamander Justice by Tamika Thompson

  • Warlock Infernal by Christine Morgan

November

  • Hauntologies by Ben Arzate

December

  • Sightless Among Miracles by Ellyn Bache

  • Beneath the Unspoiled Wilderness by Nikolas Robinson

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07/02/2022
Kyle Muntz

Author of The Pain Eater

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

I got a lucky break with publishing when I was 17, which has been both a weakness and a strength for me. Now that I’m a few months from my 32nd birthday, I barely remember a time I wasn’t writing! I think I just love stories, and the only thing that ever seemed worth doing was to create some of my own. But The Pain Eater is especially important for me since it’s my first novel after taking a long, multi-year break to develop a video game. The book feels like coming home, but also like a new beginning, since my writing has changed a lot in that time.

Why did you choose to write horror, and do you write in other genres?

I’ve always been interested in body-horror—that sort of uncomfortable twist in your gut when the lines of the body break, or shift, and your brain has struggle with the strangeness of this thing that shouldn’t be. But this is my first time writing a full-length horror novel. I would loosely describe myself as a multi-genre writer, since I’ve also got a lot of interest in SFF and literary fiction and tend to hop genres a lot between projects.

What most inspires your ideas for your stories, real-life, bits of dreams or something else?

This was the first novel of mine to draw a lot of influence from real life. It’s not autobiographical, but it’s set in my hometown in the late 2000s—right when I happened to be an angry teenager. Oddly, though, the decision to draw from reality came very late. Before starting the current manuscript, I’d had a much longer, more elaborate (and more disgusting) idea about a completely different group of people becoming so bonded with a supernatural creature they actually fused with it... like a sort of big, leaky flesh-blob kind of situation. The Pain Eater doesn’t go in that direction, but it’s full of little moments where I was aware I could have done something extremely weird. The actual book turned out much subtler but still has that strangeness lurking beneath the surface, which is a particular balance I really liked.

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

The inspiration for this novel was surprisingly specific. The year before starting The Pain Eater, I’d become obsessed with Nathan Ballingrud’s collection North American Lake Monsters. In particular, I really loved how the stories were essentially literary realism and would work completely fine without horror elements—but then something (some shade of the character’s personalities or their fears or anxieties), would shift and become something surreal or terrifying. It’s a very particular balance I’ve never seen pulled off so well, and I was sort of obsessed with doing something similar at novel length rather than a collection.


What was your favorite part of writing this story?

All but the last fifty pages or so came very smoothly and easily. I wrote most of it at about 3000 words a day over the course of a month, and it was like being possessed. I had never imagined a book could crawl out of my brain so fully formed, and when I look back, I’m still not sure where certain scenes came from.

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

Currently I’m in the early stages of planning a science fiction/horror novel about settlers on a planet where the local lifeform is a form of parasitic “seed” that sprouts in living tissue. Mostly I’ve been fixated on the terrible image of, say, being bitten by a creature the size of a dog—then within a half an hour, you’ve got these mucky black tendrils growing out of the wound, and they move.

I’ve also got two manuscripts I’m working on publishing—a “mecha” novel influenced by Japanese anime, and a completely realistic literary novel about a small-town evangelical church trying to eradicate the local “satanic” music scene. But if people enjoy The Pain Eater, I’ll almost definitely write another horror novel, because it’s a genre and setting I really enjoy.


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

Definitely the people. So many of the readers, reviewers, and writers in the horror community are incredibly kind and supportive, and they’re always hunting for new stuff to read. I’m really grateful for all the support so far and can’t wait to see how readers feel about the book when it comes out!


Kyle's Bio:

Kyle Muntz is the author of The Pain Eater (Clash Books, 2022) and Scary People (Eraserhead Press, 2015). In 2016, he won the Sparks Prize for short fiction. He is also the writer and designer of The Pale City, a dark fantasy role playing game released for PC in 2020. Currently he teaches literature and writing at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China.

 

The Pain Eater

Synopsis:

The Pain Eater is the story of two brothers from Michigan reunited after the death of their father. They’ve never been close, but now they have to live together―and it gets more difficult when one discovers a strange creature, vomited from the body of a dead cat. A creature that eats human pain. It feels good: too good. Soon, he wants to hurt himself more, just so the pain can be taken away. But the more the creature becomes a part of his life, the more he damages everything around him. Some wounds are too deep to ever heal.

Review:

The Pain Eater follows two brothers in the wake of their father’s, one is still a teen, the other is fresh of out of college. The characters are well-written and complex, the family dynamics are strained, typical of a home where parents are divorced and leading separate lives. The brothers are still dealing with their feelings about the divorce, their mom, and the death of their father when the random cat the younger brother had been caring for, suddenly dies on their back lawn, but not before something else wrenches free of its sickly body.

Michael, the younger brother, is more intrigued by the creature than scared and invites it inside. Over the days that follow, he learns exactly what the creature is capable of, in fact, he shows his best friend and his older brother just what the creature can do. 

Muntz has penned an enjoyable coming-of-age story with a disturbing twist that I did not expect. The story takes several horrific turns as it unfolds, and the creature begins to grow more bizarre by the day. The characters are relatable and the family tension that flows through the story as things unfold only add to the overall storyline.

4 solid stars for The Pain Eater.

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06/25/2022
Norman Prentiss

How did “Haunted Attractions” come about?  Where did the idea come from?

The whole “Other Father” series grew out of a short story that I hadn’t been able to write. After the story lay ten years on the back burner, I figured out the voice of the narrator…and at the same time realized it was a series rather than a single tale. I borrowed the main idea from the sole supernatural incident in Jane Eyre, when Rochester calls out to Jane from miles away and she hears him telepathically. In my variation, Jack can send images to his partner’s mind (but, since I’m a horror writer, the images distort reality in disturbing ways). Jack dies a few years after the couple adopts a daughter, and Dad Shawn narrates their youthful adventures to help Celia remember her other father.

Is this collection a direct tie-in to “Odd Adventures with your Other Father”?

Absolutely! “Haunted Attractions” picks up a few summers after the first book leaves off. In this book, the adventures focus on particular places that amplify Jack’s telepathic power – letting people other than Shawn see the images, for example, or giving them physical presence. They visit an amusement park ride, a mysterious theater, a haunted house, and a concrete replica of Stonehenge. Also, I like that you refer to these books as collections. They each collect a handful of adventures in the ’80s, short story to novella length, but there’s also a lengthy frame tale that takes place in the present and weaves between the adventures.

What was your favorite part of writing these stories?

I love the characters, and the freedom to toss them into weird situations. Jack’s image-making power offers me fun opportunities to transform the environment. There’s a good bit of humor in the stories, some gruesome imagery at times, but also a lot of emotional stuff about love and family. Things can get wacky, but the overall story touches on serious issues.

What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story?

Fitting everything together! In “Odd Adventures” there’s a hidden connection between the adventures and the present-day frame tale, but it’s not clear until late in the book. With “Haunted Attractions” I had to work harder to connect the two time periods throughout, so the telling of each adventure was motivated by an issue in the present. Also, I started the book before Covid and finished it during the lockdown. The shift in schedule was a big adjustment!

What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?

I’ve made a lot of detours in my writing life. I spent a decade as an academic writer, another one as a poet. When I finally got back to my first love, horror fiction, I initially saw those detours as lost time. If I’d stayed with horror from the beginning, I’d have a lot more fiction publications today. But then I realized that those other modes of writing, and the other jobs I’ve lived through (teaching and editing), all contributed to what I’ve been able to accomplish in fiction.

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

I like how flexible the genre is. Horror effects can appear in any kind of story, so that means we can choose from a large variety of approaches. The people I’ve met at conventions, too, readers and authors alike, have been wonderfully diverse and welcoming.

Have you always been a horror fan?

From the beginning. In between these two “Other Father” books, I wrote “Life in a Haunted House,” which is about a young fan (like I was!) obsessed with a low-budget movie director. That whole book is kind of a love letter to monster movies, and to the monster magazines that featured them. As a supplement to that book, I wrote tie-in novelettes that pretend to re-tell 4 of that fictional director’s movies. And the covers of the book and tie-ins were designed by Lynne Hansen as a kind of homage to Famous Monsters and other movie mags.

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

Not often from movies, and I rarely remember dreams! Sometimes I get an idea after misreading part of another story. Most of my stuff is inspired by real life. My advice to horror writers is, “Take real life, and make it worse.”

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

I love Douglas Clegg’s voice, and the way he structures a story. T. M. Wright’s “quiet horror” style really helped me with atmosphere. M. R. James is important to me also. Further back, I love the ghostly stuff in Shakespeare.

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

I finished my first year at a new teaching job and have launched myself into the third book in the series, Strange Encounters with your Other Father. I also have my first full-length story collection coming out soon from Cemetery Dance, In the Porches of my Ears, and an omnibus of my year-long flash fiction project, The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar. I should also mention that I recently serialized a free novella, “The Canyon of Terrible Lizards” featuring Jack and Shawn from the “Other Father” series, available to read at Cemetery Dance Online (see link below). 

Norman's Bio:

Norman Prentiss is the author of Odd Adventures with your Other Father, Life in a Haunted House, and The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar. He won a Bram Stoker Award for his first book, Invisible Fences. Other publications include The Book of Baby Names, Four Legs in the Morning, The Fleshless Man, The Halloween Children (with Brian James Freeman) and The Narrator (with Michael McBride), with story appearances in Dark Screams, Postscripts, Black Static, Four Halloweens, Blood Lite 3, Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and five editions of the Shivers anthology series.

 
 
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06/04/2022
Meet John Durgin

How did “The Cursed Among Us” come about, the concept behind it?

It really was the perfect combination of many things. First off, the group of kids in the book is based off myself and my close friends in high school. We used to film horror movies in the woods and were obsessed with slashers. We actually had a serial killer in our hometown in the late 70s/early 80s, and there was an actual episode of Unsolved Mysteries based on the story. That is where the overall concept started, and then I really wanted to honor my love for COA books and somehow tie in the occult. Presto, I had a story.


What was your favorite part of writing this story?

I think it would have to be reliving so many of my childhood memories and finding a way to mix the min the story. So much of what happens between the boys bantering and scenes at the school were real memories. The nostalgia aspect of it was a blast and writing all the scary scenes with Jessica was so much fun as well.


What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story?

I haven’t really told anyone this yet, but the character Ryan was based on a close friend of mine who happened to take his own life shortly after high school. His scenes were so tough to write, especially toward the end of the book. He was a horror/action movie junkie, and I knew from the very beginning in writing it that I wanted him to have a crucial role in the book to honor him.


Is there a character that you most relate to?  If so, which one and why?

Howie is based on me in my childhood, so he is the easy answer here. Although, I will say, the character in the book deals with a rough homelife, an abusive dad, and has it real tough. I did not have that at all. While many of the stories about Howie disagreeing with stupid rules his dad made were true, I felt the character was not sympathetic enough if the worst thing he had to deal with at home was getting MTV blocked (that really happened, thanks Dad!)


What has been the best thing that you have learned about the writing craft and/or the publishing industry itself?

The best thing I have learned while writing this book, is finding my process. This is the first book I have ever written, let alone put out into the world. So, I was learning as I went! I have written some short stories and comic books, but I went into this shooting for a novella because I had no idea if I had a novel in me yet. Getting that first draft done is so crucial, and I learned early on from some author friends to get it done no matter what, then go back and worry about plot holes/grammar issues, etc. in your revisions. I moved a few chapters around in future drafts and added chapters to fill plot holes on the second draft.

As far as publishing, I self-published this book intentionally. I wanted to prove myself as a writer with my first book before trying to get picked up somewhere. But for self-publishing, I learned so much. The process of getting a cover artist, editor, formatter, etc. And then making sure to get beta/ARC readers well in advance of release to help build the buzz for the book. Technically, I had the book done in March. I was so tempted to release it quickly but forced myself to wait 3 months with the intention of marketing/promoting.


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

How fun it is, and how all of the horror folks I have had the pleasure of meeting are legit the most down to earth people and so much fun to be around.


Have you always been a horror fan?

1000% yes. I got into Goosebumps in middle school and never looked back. Reading IT in 8th grade and knew right then and there I wanted to write horror novels and/or scripts.


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

It is a combination of all of the above. I took a comic writing class ran by the legendary Scott Snyder, and he talked about the importance of putting some of yourself into every story. Movies are a huge part of my life and inspire so many scenes to include in my writing.


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

Stephen King made me want to write, Brian Keene is who made me chase the dream. Those two and Ronald Kelly have also inspired my love of small-town folks in scary as hell situations. I grew up in a small town so that always attracted me in their writing.


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

My next novel I am close to 20k words into, it is titled INSIDE THE DEVIL’S NEST.   The short pitch is it’s Ozark meets The Shining. I don’t want to give too much away, but it hits the ground running from page 1 and doesn’t let up. If a family on the run from the mob who hides out in an abandoned campground once owned by a cult that vanished one day and is considered haunted, this might be the book for you.

I also have a few comics I wrote coming out through Livid Comics which I co-own. Jol issue 2, which is a Christmas themed horror series, as well as Dead Ball issue 1-2, a series about a 1900’s baseball player who gets involved with some evil carnies, all should come out later this year. I have a few short stories I am hoping to get accepted, and I am also working on my own short story collection.


John's Bio:

John is a proud HWA member and lifelong horror fan who decided to chase his childhood dream of becoming a horror author. Growing up in New Hampshire, he discovered Stephen King much younger than most probably should have, reading IT before he reached high school—and knew from that moment on he wanted to write horror. He co-founded Livid Comics in late 2020. John also co-launched a podcast called The Livid Comics Lair, where they talk with many of today’s best horror authors, comic creators, and all things that go bump in the night like UFO and paranormal investigators. His true passion was always to write horror novels, and in 2021 he started submitting short stories in hopes of getting noticed in the horror community and launching a career. He had his first story accepted in the summer of 2021 in the Books of Horror anthology, and an alternate version of the story in the Beach Bodies anthology from DarkLit Press. Coming up, John has multiple stories to be released in the prose and comic world in 2022, including his debut novel The Cursed Among Us set to release 6/3/2022.

 

Book Review

Release Date: June 3, 2022

Synopsis: 

Synopsis: It has been twenty years since the serial killer known as The Black Heart Killer terrorized the town of Newport in 1979. Life mostly returned to normal after the killer was captured. All the townspeople have to do is stay out of the woods where the bodies were abandoned—their chests ripped open, and their hearts torn out…


Howie Burke and his friends decide rules are meant to be broken. That’s what fifteen-year-old kids do. On a beautiful fall day, they decide to go out in the woods to film a horror movie when they stumble across a mysterious grave. What they don’t know is that they are about to release an evil on the town unlike anything in their home-made movies. They will soon uncover the secrets of the Black Heart Killer, and what it truly means to be cursed.

Review:

In his debut novel, John Durgin pens an intense small-town coming of age story that focuses on a group of friends, all just fifteen-years-old. Their small town has a dark past involving a serial killer that ravaged the town. After the killer was stopped, the town has done all they can to move past it, and Howie and his friends are forbidden to enter those woods where the victims were found. Being good kids, they try hard to do just that, but they are always horror movie buffs and film their own horror movies around town.  One afternoon finds them deep in the woods, exactly where they should not be, and a simple move unleashes a chain of events that they cannot take back.

Durgin’s characters are perfectly flawed young teens, each one relatable, right down to their easy banter. The tension kicks off early on and is increased with each chapter. With lots of action, dread, and fear oozing from every page, and characters that are easy to invest in, “The Cursed Among Us” is a fabulous debut novel.  I hope to see more from John Durgin very soon.

4 stars.

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Black Sky

06/04/2022
Eric Wright

Publisher and Editor

Have you always been a horror fan?

Yes! I also like many other genres as well.

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

I like making new connections and friends. Some of these connections have led me to new things like finally being in a movie. Although I was only in two really short scenes, it was a lot of fun!

At what point did you decide to become a publisher and why magazines instead of books?

About 6 years ago, I started a Facebook group called Horror Magazines and Comics Group.       I wanted to present something for the group and the original idea was to make a magazine reprinting some of the weirdest and most gruesome horror comics from the public domain. After consulting with my good friend Mike Howlett who is the author of The Weird World of Eerie Publications, he said “The market is oversaturated with reprints… don’t do it” so after a few days of thinking… Midnight Magazine was born. It was something more original and from that point on, it spawned a sister magazine, Midnight Tales for all the fiction stories. Strange World came much later, and it is a different breed.

You are an editor, publisher, and book reviewer, what is your favorite role, if you had to choose?

Right now, my strength lies in editing and publishing, I would have to say editing, because it is fun to read and edit someone else’s work before it gets printed for the first time.

Tell us about the concept for MIDNIGHT MAGAZINE and what readers can expect to find in its pages?

Midnight Magazine is a homegrown horror ‘zine, featuring creator interviews, movie and comic reviews, loads of art, anecdotal articles, sometimes a 3-page comic story, etc. It covers everything from VHS tapes, records, movies, comics, books… the whole shebang.

Same question for MIDNIGHT TALES, concept, content, and how it differs from Midnight Magazine?

Midnight Tales was created due to the fact that we were getting a lot of fiction submissions and those stories needed a home! This title is a Horror/Sci-Fi/Weird Tales-style short fiction with a few pages of art gallery spread out between stories.

Lastly, STRANGE WORLDS is another magazine, but with a much different approach. Talk to us about the concept behind it, how it got started, and content within.

Strange World is a weird 70’s throwback of exploitation photography stuff, but with modern models and photographers, along with articles, art, reviews, and interviews. This title was born from the minds of two different people, me and James King, photographer extraordinaire. James messaged me one day out of the blue to let me know how much he liked Midnight Magazine. Over the course of the year, while becoming good friends and tossing ideas around, we came up with the idea of a zine to promote models, modeling photos, art, and articles that just didn’t fit Midnight. Strange World is the place for it.

How can a reader subscribe or purchase to the magazines and how often are they released?

We have a website for orders, and it is www.midnightmagazine.bigcartel.com We are only shipping within the USA as postal prices for international is at a high right now, however if you are outside the USA and still want to order a book or two, you can reach out and ask for a shipping cost and we’ll go from there. We try to release all the titles two times a year, but right now we put them out when we get the time and the contents. After all, we’re just a small independent press doing everything at home in between our normal work schedules.

If you have open submissions, what is the process for authors, if they would like to submit a story, review, or article for the magazine?

I have a Blog at www.midnightcrypt.com that has submission guidelines on the right side of the page.

I would also like a direct connection to talk about the subject in general and any one can contact me by email at midnightmagazine2017@gmail.com and we can go from there!

All Titles are part of M.C.E. - Media Crypt Entertainment and all titles are contributor driven. If you contribute to these labors of love, you will receive a contribution copy of the zine!

What has been your greatest or most memorable moment in your career so far, with regards to your publishing or writing experience?

I would have to say the most memorable parts is making friends and fans, whether you are a minute up the road, out of state, or in another country!

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

We are about to scratch the surface of Strange World 3 and it should be out mid to late summer.

Eric's Bio:

Eric Wright lives in Northeast Ohio with his wife Angela. He is a collector of Movies, Music, Paperbacks, Comics, and Magazines. He writes the “A Day in the Life” column and reviews paperbacks for The Haunted Bookshelf section of Midnight Magazine, He has written one fiction story “Rumors” in the first Midnight Tales. Eric is the editor and publisher of all Media Crypt Entertainment product. There are no awards here… the brand has its cult following and we are usually happy with the occasional good word or someone discovering our brand!