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Uncomfortably Dark Interviews

Find interviews from all your favorite horror creatives here!

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INTERVIEWS: Welcome
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06/01/2024

MIKE LOMBARDO

Award-winning filmmaker, writer, FX artist

If you had two minutes to pitch Dead Format to a new fan, what would you say?

It's about a VHS collector who is dealing with the aftermath of his dad dying. When he hears that the video store he used to go to as a kid is going out of business he goes to buy out their horror section and discovers a mysterious tape he's never heard of. Unfortunately for him, "Next To Die" is no normal film and he unleashes a supernatural evil that begins to slaughter everyone around him. 


I know you are doing an Indiegogo crowdfund campaign for this film. What are some of the
rewards we can expect to see, and do you have a favorite one?

We've got all sorts of cool stuff ranging from the movie on blu-ray, an ultra- limited edition VHS, video store membership cards, & a chapbook of essays by myself, Brian Keene, Samantha Kolesnik, and Nathan Ludwig about our memories of growing up with video stores in the 80s/90s. My personal favorite though is the "Tapehead" perk, its a Video Castle rental case that was actually featured on screen in the movie and signed by me. We made a bunch of different ones for fake movies like Mennonite of The Living Dead and Leper Con, and even I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday II: Simon's Quest! We also have actual vhs boxes for the various fake movies and are in the middle of doing photoshoots for them. The "Staff Picks" perk is a screen used one of those signed by me.



What can you tell us about this film, and your co-producers/co-writers roles in the production?

I'm used to largely being a one-man army, so having Samantha Kolesnik, Nathan Ludwig, and of course Brian Keene on board has been an absolutely wonderful experience. They've been helping to guide the project through the backend business stuff and they've been really great about giving everything structure. I can be a very chaotic creative when I'm in the midst of a project, so it's especially awesome having experienced people helping to keep things on track. The thing is we were all fans of each other before we became friends and collaborators so everything is based on a mutual respect for each other's work. We've also all been through the wringer of making films and the festival circuit so I feel like we're a veterans going into battle. We know where the potential pitfalls are and can help each other navigate around them.

Your first feature film, I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday, won multiple awards on the festival
circuit. What was that experience like?

The fest circuit for White Doomsday was a delirious and wonderful dream. During the four years it took to make the movie, I never could have imagined how far we would end up getting with it. The sheer amount of awesome people we met at the screenings and the friendships that blossomed because of it are things I wouldn't trade for the world. It was exhausting traveling all over the place and promoting the screenings, but it was the first time in my life that I really felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. It just felt right, and I am eternally grateful for every festival that played us and every person who came out to see the film.

Speaking of ‘White Doomsday’, how is this experience with ‘Dead Format’ different from
producing ‘White Doomsday’?

The biggest difference between making the two films is the experience I have now from making White Doomsday. I feel like I've been battle hardened and that really helps. When we have meetings, it's all very realistic expectations and plans. We all know what to expect, at least to as much of a degree as you can know on an indie film. When we were making White Doomsday, I spent every night staring at the ceiling questioning whether or not I was going to be able to pull the movie off at all. Imposter syndrome was my best friend. I think that after my experience on White Doomsday, I have a lot more confidence in my own abilities and with the team I have behind me, I'm comfortable taking bigger risks and tackling bigger stuff on Dead Format.

What can you tell us about your film-making process and how it differs from your writing
thought process?

Filmmaking is so much fun because you get your hands dirty. I love making props and getting bloody doing special FX. It's also so much more focused on problem solving than writing prose. When I write a story, it's just me and the page, its a very solitary act. I can really dig into myself and explore my own head. On a film set, I'm constantly surrounded by people who all have questions and I'm making a hundred micro decisions every minute. There's just a ton of practical concerns with getting the shot or an effect not working and how you're going to solve that problem in the moment. Film is much more immediate. I feel like its the art of compromise, and those compromises shape what your end result will be, as opposed to writing where you aren't bound by physical and budgetary restrictions, only your own head.

Which media do you find the most enjoyable? Film or writing, and why?

Its hard to really pick one because I love them both and they are also so wildly different. making a movie is such a rewarding experience because you get to see the culmination of all the craziness on set you went through to stage a scene come to life, and that's an incredible feeling. Writing is more satisfying on a personal level. Every time I finish a story, I feel like I just unlocked some hidden meaning in my own head, and I understand myself a little better each time I do it.

Name a dream project. Who would you work with, and what would the script be?

My dream project is called Masterwork. I know that sounds pretentious, but that's part of the joke. It's about an indie filmmaker who decides to quit his day job as a commercial videographer to pursue his dream of make a feature film and how the decision ruins his life. It's an achingly personal mix of existential crisis, self-parody, and love letter to the masochism of being an indie artist. If Dead Format goes well, it will be my next feature. I've literally been planning it for the last 15 years.


What has been the best thing that you have learned about the horror industry itself?

I've learned that for the most part, despite the subject matter of the art, the horror community are some of friendliest and most supportive people you'll ever meet. They don't hold comedy movie or historical drama conventions. Horror fans are fans for life, and they have been so much more supportive and non-judgmental than most of the "normal" people in my life.


Is there anything else that you would like to mention here that we did not touch on?

Only that none of this would be happening without all the cool people who have given me and my projects a chance over the years. Be it picking up a Blu-ray or a book, screening a film at their festival or being cool enough to interview me. I appreciate each and every one of the people who helped get me to the point where I can make a new film, so thank you. Dead Format is only possible because of people like you, and I am eternally grateful for the help.

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 also the star of the upcoming 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. 

INTERVIEWS: Text
INTERVIEWS: Pro Gallery

05/11/2024
J.D. BUFFINGTON

Author of '41'

Tell us who J.D. Buffington is:

  • Where are you from?
    I have lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the majority of my life, spent a little time growing up in Tampa, Florida, but was born in Mountain Home, Arkansas. I also moved a lot, and to different east coast states when I was very young. I think I am “from” America.

  • What are your hobbies?
    I’m a media consumer. Reading and listening to fiction, comedy, and topical podcasts, watching TV & movies, and playing video games. Most of that, however, is usually some fantastical genre—horror, science fiction, fantasy—as I get enough of the real world in the real world. I’m content at home and if I’m not writing, I’m reading, watching, or playing something. I do like parks and wilderness and would like to take up hiking. I also dabble lightly in photography with a Canon EOS 2000D.

  • Do you have pets?
    Well, there’s this black cat named Nora Jones who lets us humans (myself, my daughter, and my wife) live with her. She tolerates two dogs; a lady Lab named Honeybear, and a long-haired, male, mostly non-aggressive and chill as hell chihuahua named Rasputin. We unfortunately did have to say goodbye to our nearly 19-year-old male tabby cat, Devo, recently.


Give us your two-minute pitch for ‘41’.

41 is my story, viewed from an age my mother never got to see. Having died at only 40, just days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and not even two weeks after my 22nd birthday, she died from an evidently self-inflicted gunshot wound under murky circumstances. My own life became a way to examine our lives and the worlds we both grew up in. It’s looking back on growing up through the turn of the 21st century. From being a free-range kid with a bike and an imagination, to an adult much more aware of his own mental health issues thanks to evolving understanding of psychological science and medicine. But 2020-2021 turned out to be as tumultuous a time as 2000-2001. I wanted to encapsulate how much the world had both changed, yet stayed the same; and how much I tried to avoid becoming my mom, yet ended up almost like her. However, there were efforts and changes I made in my life, and I proved to myself that cycles and inevitabilities can be broken and changed. This is an average American’s view on growing up in such a crucial moment in time, these last 40 years of pop culture, politics, and world events. How living with, and letting go of someone whom you love, is sometimes the only way to keep living. And how all of it, my personal human experience, led to becoming a storyteller.


What made you want to write your autobiography at this stage of your life? Tell the readers why this project was so important to you.

When I turned 40 in 2019, I knew I was approaching a milestone people don’t often discuss: surpassing the age our parents lived. If you’re lucky, that’s much later in life, but for me and my brother, it was at only 41. I asked him his thoughts on when he faced it, and he agreed it was a struggle, but he had confidence in my ability to handle the emotional turmoil I was facing. I had always wanted to share with the world the Irene Mulroney I knew, how we didn’t have a great relationship, but she was an artist who inspired me, helped mold me—for better or worse. Then the first reports of SARS-COVID-19 emerged, and early 2020, the world stopped. However, amidst the initial panic and pervasive fear, my anxiety began to quiet. The world was just as on fire as my brain was (incorrectly) telling me it was. It felt an awful lot like 2001, and I was thinking so much about my age, about my mom, how the world had gotten into this state, that I knew now was the time to tell the story, because the air tasted the same as back then, the wind was right. I started early work before I even turned 41, but the point of the project was to really examine how I felt about my past and the present at this age, at this time. I felt like nothing changes, but as I wrote, things can change. I did not put my daughter through the same emotional highs and lows as I experienced. Where I craved and still feel like I’m looking for stability, I provided it for my own family. My own story is a survivor’s story, but it’s not surviving a shark attack or plane crash, it’s surviving generational trauma and putting a stop to it. It’s not a manual, but it’s proof that we can survive anything and come out stronger for it, and that’s what became and is so important about the story I wanted to tell.


I found this to be a very compelling read, raw, honest, and heartbreaking. What was it like putting it all out there for the world to see and tell us a little about how you felt during the writing process?

One word: cathartic.
It was very difficult to write. To prepare for it, researching my own life and Irene’s (the actual work part of writing), I forced myself to read the police report of my mother’s death. To order her death certificate. To read old correspondence and articles she had written for a college newspaper, and articles written about her death. I reconnected with people to better inform parts of the story where they should be acknowledged. These were things I had been afraid to truly dig into and internalize, because I didn’t want to learn that suicide was something lurking in me. Instead, I learned how little of the truth is available, but with what little of it is there, my fears were somewhat alleviated.

I found myself forgiving both her and myself for parts of our lives and time together—and apart—that hurt us, as mother and son, and as individuals. But I also learned new details that reinforced difficult decisions I made in the past. Rising up out of the writing and then editing was like doing it all again, faster, and with knives pointed both at me and the book. I knew while I was writing it, because of what was going on in the world, a lot of people could potentially identify with big portions of my tale, if not the whole thing. I wrote this for me, for my mom, and our family, but I wanted to share with all walks of life that life is a survivable and worthwhile thing to experience.


What has the feedback been like so far? Are the reactions what you expected?

So far, people have complimented my “voice” and appreciated how open I am. What I have been happy to hear is that it’s also a page-turner. I definitely wanted to talk to my reader, for it to be something entertaining, but also enriching.


Let’s talk about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story/project, or do you have an established routine?

This piece was the most emotionally intensive, so I would say my personal experience through writing 41 was a little different from other projects, because those come from imagination-land and researching material not so personal and close to my life. On other projects, I’m a “plantser.” I don’t plot much, other than maybe writing down some beats I definitely want to hit, or writing sequences out of order and then working my way toward and through them. I playact scenes when I’m alone, holding multiple conversations from different points of view while driving or taking a shower. If it feels solid enough, if it’s something I can recite a few times and feel good about, I write it down, sometimes with a pen on paper, or in my notes on my phone. So, I plan in my head, sometimes longer than I should, but once my fingers hit the keyboard, the seat of my pants start flying.


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

The adage, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” is true. Wars are ended with treaties, declarations, and constitutions. And sometimes they are begun with books, or by banning them. The written word has always been important to me, to share our thoughts and stories through time, to learn from the mistakes we catalogued or be inspired by the harrowing accounts of witnesses. Writing can be immortality. Writing the most naked of our thoughts can change people’s lives. That’s the best thing I’ve learned about writing—be it fiction, news journalism, or historical documentation—it is the Fountain of Youth, it is the Faucet of Change.


What has been your proudest moment so far or experience?

As a human-being, being a dad to my wife’s daughter, and the day I adopted her. I was adopted, my mother-in-law was adopted, there’s a legacy of taking care of others and my daughter seems keen on pushing that positivity forward.

As a writer, every time I receive an acceptance feels like the first time all over again. “Yes! Somebody wants to share something I created!” But formulating, writing, editing, pitching, and finding a home for 41: An Autobiography before I turned 45 (this coming September, 2024) is the proudest I have been so far of my own writing and ability.


What is your favorite thing about being in this industry?

I have this concept in my head, and I have never shared this before now, that all of us writers are universes unto ourselves. We are the multiverse, and sometimes like what’s popular in the movies right now, we interact and even play in each other’s spaces. But we’ve been doing it since the dawn of storytelling! This idea-space that exists between us all is where we get our jobs from, and writers—horror, romance, literary fiction—are all coworkers who become friends and enemies and we snipe at each other and lift each other up, like any other industry, any other office building, any other house with more than a single person in it. But what I like about it is, we are all working from and in pursuit of our dreams, and we weave what the rest of the world relies on to keep going.


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

I am currently producing my next short story collection, titled Nothing But the Willows & Other Things That Are Not There, for Standing 8 Count Publications. It contains 18 new and previously published short stories. I am aiming for a summer release. I am also currently writing two new novel length works.

One, a new haunted house story, inspired by the recent Cursed Morsels anthology, Why Didn’t You Just Leave, which started as a short story, but was much more than the submission word limit by the time I realized I would not be able to whittle it back down to a short. The other is a cosmic/ecological horror spanning time, continents, and planets!    

                                                                                                                           

BIO:

J.D. Buffington lives in Tulsa, OK with his wife and daughter. He is an HWA Affiliate Member, with books, 41: An Autobiography from Anuci Press (5/12/2024), Come Hither No Malice from Standing 8 Count Publications (2023), and In the House of In Between from Velox Books (2023). He also has short stories, Warning Cry, The Shadow on Pitch, and The Last Tree, published and adapted for audio by the NoSleep Podcast. He can be found most conveniently at https://linktr.ee/J.D..Buffington

INTERVIEWS: Text
INTERVIEWS: Pro Gallery

04/06/2024
JP BEHRENS

Tell us who JP Behrens is:

  • Where are you from? I’m originally from South Jersey, but now live with my family in Connecticut.

  • What are your hobbies? Beyond spending most of my time reading and writing, I play board games and video games with my family and practice Kung Fu.

  • Do you have pets? One cat and soon to be one dog. Both belong to my kid.


Give us your two-minute pitch for WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE AND OTHER DARK FICTIONS.

We Don't Talk Anymore and Other Dark Fictions is a cornucopia of dark fiction! Stories about mysterious, giant cigarettes, telling hallucinations, the end of the world, ghosts, zombies, and an adventure featuring Van Helsing, Nietzsche, and a Baba Yaga. There’s something for everyone in this collection.


Do you have a favorite story in the collection? And if so, what makes it your favorite?

I’m happy to report that everyone who has read this has found a different favorite, which was partly my goal. My favorites are “Colossus of the Crossroads,” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” “Colossus” because of how subtle and strange it is. “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” because of its simplicity. Both leave the reader with a sense of hope and dread in equal measure.


Along those same lines, is there a favorite character in the collection that resonates more with you than any other?

No, not particularly. Every character is uniquely suited to their particular story within the collection so it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite in that regard. 


Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story/project, or do you have an established routine?

My process is always open to change if I think a particular habit may improve my work. I do write and get 1250 new words down every day. Over the next year, my hope is to increase that number to 2000. Meanwhile, I am also busy editing past work that I need to turn in. I’ve found I need to cling to a routine if I have any hope of getting all the work I need to do, done.


What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why?

Just time. I don’t have a good luck charm or such. I’m pretty good at getting work done once I get started. Getting started, however, is my biggest obstacle some days.


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

I’ve learned that if you keep working and focus on improving, opportunities for publication arise and your voice will be heard. Sometimes it feels like you’re punching a wall with nothing to show for your efforts, but eventually with skill and endurance, cracks will appear.


What has been your proudest moment so far or experience?

My proudest moment was getting the author copies of my first novel, PORTRAIT OF A NUCLEAR FAMILY. It was the first time I felt like my dream wasn’t as impossible as it had seemed only a year before that. Like I said earlier, cracks will eventually appear.


What is your favorite thing about being in this industry?

I get to work for myself. I mean there are deadlines and expectations, but all of that is under my control. If I focus on the work, which is both challenging and enjoyable, I can’t really go wrong. The support from readers is wonderful as well. They’re kind words keep digging deeper when I feel like I’ve already published my best words.

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

I am working on a sequel to the upcoming novella from Crystal Lake Publishing, MISSING IN MISKATONIC: A TRAVIS DANIELS INVESTIGATION. If I don’t drop the ball and readers respond well to it, there will be a nice series of books on the horizon. The feel I’m aiming for is Raymond Chandler and HP Lovecraft working in the writer’s room for the show Supernatural, but set in the late 1920s to early 1930’s. So far, it’s been a blast to write.

I’m also working on placing the first in a YA Fantasy series, THE PARABLES OF AVARATH: THE CHOSEN. The first one is written, and I have the idea for the overall series worked out. I just need to find an interested publisher.


BIO: 

JP Behrens is a graduate of Rowan University and the Yale Writer’s Workshop. His debut novel, PORTRAIT OF A NUCLEAR FAMILY sold over 1500 copies in its first year and continues to do well. WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE AND OTHER DARK FICTIONS is his first collection of short fiction. He spends his days reading, writing, and practicing Kung Fu. The rest of his time is dedicated to family. Sleep is a fantasy he hopes to make a reality once again someday.

INTERVIEWS: Text
INTERVIEWS: Pro Gallery
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03/30/2024
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH DAVID D. WEST

How long have you been writing?

I first started writing when I was in fifth grade. I took a pretty long hiatus and didn’t pick up a pen again until I was in college. But even back then, I would hardly call it writing. I would scribble down a few ideas here, a few scenes there, but I’d never actually finish a story. It wasn’t until 2019 that I finished writing my first story, and it gave me the confidence boost I needed to start finishing other projects. That’s when I first started identifying myself as a writer.

What made you want to become a writer?

Like most writers, I fell in love with books at a young age and wondered what it would be like to write one of my own. When I was 11, my mom made one of her back-alley deals and came home with a typewriter. She wanted to use it as a decorative piece in the house, but it only lasted a week before I moved it up to my room. I loved the way my fingers felt as they slid across the keys. I started by typing out lyrics to songs as I listened to them and then realized that I could write my own stories.

Do you only write horror stories or do you crossover into other genres?

I would say 95% of what I write is horror. I’ll occasionally dabble with some soft science fiction, but even that ends up having a horror bent to it. No matter what I write, though, I would call it dark fiction.

Several of your short stories are in various anthologies. Can you talk about those and tell us which one you are most proud of or had the most fun writing?

The story I’m most proud of has to be “While I’m Still Here,” which appears in Sans. Press’s Into Chaos anthology. I originally wrote it for a different open call asking for folk horror stories. I spent a lot of time fishing with my dad when I was younger, and we saw a lot of really neat places. I used some of those places and the people we fished with as the foundation for this story. Luckily, we never had an encounter quite like Luroy, the main character, does.

I’ve also had “Hallowed Ground” published in October Nights Press’s Tales from the Clergy, an anthology of stories inspired by the band Ghost. Music has a huge impact on my writing, and it was awesome to land a spot in an anthology built off a band’s catalog. I actually have a story forthcoming through Book Slayer Press in their Negative Creep anthology, featuring stories inspired by Nirvana songs.


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

My favorite thing has to be seeing how supportive everyone is in this community. I’m still a lurker and haven’t engaged much with other writers/readers yet, but I love how everyone hypes up, supports, and helps out their fellow writers.


What can you tell us about your current project?

I’m currently working on edits for my novel Silence in the Snow. To sum it up, three outcasts must survive the winter against an authoritarian sheriff and the malevolent spirit haunting their village. I pitch it as Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians crossed with Alexis Henderson’s Year of the Witching. I’m currently working with a mentor through the Horror Writers Association to make this novel the best it can possibly be, and I think we’ve been doing great things with it.


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

All it takes is some discipline, dedication, and determination, and that applies to more than just writing. These are three things my high school wrestling coach tried to drill into us, and it took me a few years to realize just how impactful these three traits can be. It wasn’t until I took that lesson to heart that I realized that my writing has potential.

What are your goals for 2024?

My pipe dream is to find an agent for Silence in the Snow. More realistically, I’d like to find a home for three of my short stories and finish the first draft of my next novel. I also want to get more involved in the horror community with my fellow readers/writers.

Where can readers find you?

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61555736736761

or on Instagram and Twitter @DavidWestWrites


David's Bio:

David D. West lives and teaches in the Pacific Northwest. The dark, gloomy atmosphere of the region makes its way into all of his writing, creating vivid worlds with rich descriptions that pull readers in. His work has previously been published through Black Hare Press, Sans Press, and October Nights Press. When he is not teaching or writing, he is exploring the gray beaches and dark forests of southwest Washington with his wife, son, and their dog, Buster.

INTERVIEWS: Text

2/10/2024
KRISTOPHER RUFTY

NEW RELEASE INTERVIEW:

LUCY

If you had to pitch LUCY to me as a reader, what would your pitch be?
Either Death Wish with a dog, or a reverse John Wick. 


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 actual book came to me not too long ago. Maybe last summer? But the bad guys have been in my head for a few years. I dreamed about them one night, from their appearances to their obsessive worshipping of disco music. They didn’t have names in the dream, so those came later. But I knew way back then that they needed to go into a story. Took me a while to find one, but Lucy was perfect.


What was your favorite part of writing this story? 
I loved writing about Lucy herself and her relationships with Austin and Nora. But I had more fun than I probably should have writing about the bad guys. They grew into multi-layered characters that I enjoyed spending time with, though they were awful, awful people.


What did you find was the hardest part of writing LUCY and what was the hardest scene to write? 
The hardest part was probably trying to remember that The Razors are bad. They’re killers, bottom line. But they were so dang likeable that it was easy to forget that.
The hardest scene had to be Lucy’s flashbacks…or her tragedy that happens in the book and puts her on her journey for retribution. It was tough going to those places, but the story went there naturally, and I just went along with it.


Do you personally relate to any of the characters? If so, which one and why?
Not too much. I might have a few things in common with Austin, especially with his writing path. But I’m also a cat lover and a dog lover. Always have been, so it was easy to write about somebody who has to learn how to care for a dog after years of being with cats. I always had several of each growing up and still have some to this day. But that’s sort of where the similarities end.
Oh, and I enjoy disco. Not as much as The Razors, but I enjoy it a lot.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? 
Several. Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Joe Lansdale, Bryan Smith, Edward Lee, Stephen King, Gil Brewer, Gary Brandner, John M. MacDonald, and so, so many more.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I’m already deep into my next two books. One is longer while the other is a shorter novel. At least, that’s how they’re shaping up to be.
The Redneck Zombies novelization is almost complete and will begin its polishes and edits over the next several months. I believe it’s set to be a late summer release. I couldn’t be more excited about that. It’s been a dream come true. I’ve said it so many times, but it’s the truth.  


BIO FOR KRISTOPHER RUFTY:
Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his three children and pets. He’s written over twenty novels, including ALL WILL DIE, THE DEVOURED AND THE DEAD, DESOLATION, THE LURKERS and PILLOWFACE. When he’s not spending time with his family or writing, he’s obsessing over gardening and growing food.
His short story DARLA'S PROBLEM was included in the Splatterpunk Publications anthology FIGHTING BACK, which won the Splatterpunk award for best anthology. THE DEVOURED AND THE DEAD was nominated for a Splatterpunk award.
He can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

For more about Kristopher Rufty, please visit: www.kristopherrufty.com

INTERVIEWS: Text

01/27/2024

DAN SHRADER

THOSE WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS

If you had to pitch THOSE WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS to me as a reader, what would your pitch be?

This is Volume One of twisted little tales that occur in the town of Towers Valley. Many of the plots are somewhat interconnected, whether through a shared character, event, or location. As you reach the end, you will witness the threads of these tales coming together in different ways.

The collection brings a wide spectrum of elements in horror, ranging from the extreme to science fiction in a way. Serial killers and cult-like families to unhealthy relationships and corrupt law enforcement. It delves into claustrophobic situations, introduces us to terrible human beings, showcases freaks of nature, and even pays homage to so many 80s tropes.

If you’re on the go and need a quick fix, it’s easy to bite off a piece of the book one story at a time.


How long did it take you to write this collection?

I have been working on this project for the past five years, with breaks in between to write other stuff. Those will be released later this year. With some of these stories in the collection, I have rewritten them multiple times and made changes after writing other stories. Eventually, the idea for the town Towers Valley came to me, and everything fell into place. Last year, I decided to combine all these pieces and send them off to the editor to create Volume One.


Do you have a favorite story or character in this collection? Which one and why?

I love all of them, but if you had to twist my arm, I’d go with “From the Gutters”. It’s hands down my favorite! There’s just so much packed into the small story and I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from it too. It might need a follow-up because the characters are awesome, and the story line can keep going. It brings back memories of the old 80s films I loved as a kid. It takes you on unexpected twists and turns.


What did you find was the hardest part of doing the collection or was a particular story harder to write than the others?

Everything. Writing stories you love and want to read is one thing, but turning them into a book is a whole different ball game. I consider myself fortunate to have received support from experienced authors in the industry. People who were willing to help and saying, “Hey, I’m here to show you how to do this and help you with this project. I’m gonna teach you the ins and outs.” It meant the world to me. Without their help, self-publishing would have been a daunting task. The editing, formatting, and understanding of covers, spines, and page numbers effecting the artwork of the book…. all of it! I just wrote. I’m a storyteller and that’s all I really focused on. I didn’t know any better, but I’m very lucky.


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

Clive Barker. His stories spoke to me, and I love everything he does.


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

Soulless Lonesome is a novella that I have coming out on February 29, 2024. It’s an awesome story—more of a noir-horror and has a lot of crazy elements in it. This is the one that gave birth to Towers Valley and has a character from Those Who Live in Darkness Vol One making an appearance.

The Devil’s Rite is a short story coming out May 1, 2024. Has a folklore/urban legend story line more or less about the past coming back to haunt you. Very twisted in so many ways. This, too, has a Towers Valley connection.

Some Anthologies I’m a part of as well with other great writers: Body Horror (Feb 20th) and Splatology (March 20th)


Bio:

DAN SHRADER, hailing from Southern Indiana, is a mastermind of spine-chilling stories that will stay with you. His life took a turn the day he stumbled upon a large box of VHS tapes, filled with titles: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, BLACK CHRISTMAS, and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. From that moment, an insatiable appetite for horror was awakened within his very soul. He draws inspiration from acclaimed authors like Clive Barker, Edward Lee, Kristopher Triana, and Brian Keene.

INTERVIEWS: Text

12/02/2023
RYAN HARDING

INTERVIEWED BY CHRISTINA PFEIFFER

1. If you had two minutes to pitch your book, TRANSCENDENTAL MUTILATION, to a new reader of your works, what would you say?

Transcendental Mutilation is the follow-up short story collection to my book Genital Grinder, a more ambitious exploration of several of those themes with some of my most outlandish and depraved imaginings. There are 10 stories, abstractly interconnected like before. Two of the stories—“The Seacretor” and “Angelbait”—won the Splatterpunk Awards for Best Short Story in 2019 and 2020. TM features some of my best writing, while still being sickly obsessed with the grotesque and insalubrious. They are about lost souls transforming themselves beyond the banal limitations of the flesh to something either greater or more horrifying. As the ad copy says, every journey begins with a single slice. Readers of Edward Lee, Chandler Morrison, Clive Barker, Bret Easton Ellis, etc., may be the ideal audience for this odd-yssey.


2. Is there a favorite story in the collection that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is?

Since I get to discuss one of my other favorites later, I’ll talk about “Angelbait” here. It’s the clear winner for the most repulsive story in the collection, something that disgusted me writing it, which doesn’t typically happen. I’m usually too worried about writing a scene the best way to dwell so much on the content, but “Angelbait” is inspired by some of the nauseating acts of people exalted as saints. I’m reminded of a line from Barker’s The Hellbound Heart, re: Frank preparing for a “spontaneous gesture of self-defilement” should the Cenobites request it. It’s a story about the conviction, horror, and absurdity of faith, miracles, and death, and though written for Regina Garza Mitchell & Dave Barnett’s (RIP) anthology The Book of Blasphemy, I try to avoid any hint of the didactic in my work. It’s not meant as a mockery or critique.


3. If readers wanted to get into your mind, musically, while you wrote some of these stories, what five songs would you pick?

I. “Devil Eyes” from the self-titled Mercyful Fate EP: “Temple of Amduscias” doesn’t exist without this one. This was originally intended for a King Diamond tribute anthology where each contributor would use a song from Mercyful Fate or King Diamond for inspiration. 


II. “Ion Storm” from Dodheimsgard’s 666 International. This is the song playing as Alec begins his odd-yssey through Painfreak in “Divine Red.” Would any club really be playing this plunge into the maelstrom? Probably not, but it’s an apt embodiment of the chaos of the scene.


III. “Welcome to Videodrome” - Howard Shore. The unsettling and foreboding sounds and score that opens the Videodrome soundtrack. Many of the Howard Shore soundtracks for David Cronenberg—also Scanners, The Brood, Crash, etc.—were particularly valuable in the creation of “Orificially Compromised,” a blatant Cronenberg homage.


IV. “Inner War” – by Antaeus and Aosoth. Originally an Antaeus song, though I love the “cover” of it by Aosoth, if you can really call it that (some crossover in band members). The Antaeus version has the edge of scathing rawness while Aosoth’s is fuller and shatteringly violent. Many characters in TM are preoccupied with an inner war of consciousness and oftentimes their bodies…and in the lyrics MkM advises to “cut your flesh.” (Every journey begins with a single slice…)


V. “Excoriating Abdominal Emanation” – Carcass. The polysyllabic word play of the Necroticism album may have had a more profound impact on me as a writer, but as a listener, I still prefer the less florid and far more bludgeoning era of Symphonies of Sickness. The rampant black humor and anatomical discourse has its own place in the collection, and there’s a build-up to the mayhem, as with the stories.


Bonus track: “Felch My Beef Broth from Your Sister’s Prolapsed Rectum” by the mighty Corpsefrother. RIP, Giallo Killer.


4. Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style?

As far as the style and to no small degree thematically, Clive Barker. The prose of The Books of Blood resonated with me as I was trying to evolve as a writer, and the beginning of The Great and Secret Show was revelatory with this idea of a hidden world and transcending the banality of the surface world. His characters always wanted to see what was secret, metaphysically and otherwise. He also emerged with the push toward the more graphic content of the Splatterpunks, and I appreciated that as someone who loved gory horror.


…And yet, there’s also Edward Lee. I felt like I had the voice figured out by the time I discovered his books, but his transgressive hardcore classicks from the late 1990s—including Header, The Pig, and The Bighead—and his collaborations with John Pelan (Shifters and Goon, in particular) awakened me to the possibilities of this new niche genre, which was far beyond the excesses of Splatterpunk. Even with the foundation of The Books of Blood, there isn’t Genital Grinder or Transcendental Mutilation without Edward Lee, either.



5. If you could have dinner with any three of your characters from TM, who would they be and why?

I. Otis from “Angelbait.” The guy is a maniac and surely has some appalling anecdotes to share.


II. Anna from “Divine Red.” Rob pretty much abandons life as he knows it for her, so is it evident why?


III. Kendall from “Last Time at Thanksgiving.” Speaking of appalling anecdotes, here is another useful dinner companion. Although by now, he may have forgotten his reservoir of impolite stories.


6. What are you most proud of thus far in your career?
The Splatterpunk Awards are admittedly most fulfilling. It really is great just to be acknowledged in the nominations, but I’ve been fortunate to win for Best Novella (with Edward Lee for Header 3—and sharing the drill with that legend is a career highlight unto itself!), Best Short Story twice (“Angelbait” and “The Seacretor”), and Best Novel (The Night Stockers, with Kristopher Triana). I’m off in my own little world (and inner war), so it feels like vindication that the work matters to readers. There may be something else on that level of vindication way off on the horizon, but we will have to see. 


7. What book are you currently reading and what was your last five star read?
I just finished Jonathan Butcher’s crazy new body horror collection, Something Very Wrong, which is the kind of madness you’d expect from the nutter behind What Good Girls Do, What Good Men Do, and Chocolateman! Now I am moving on to Thomas Harris’s Hannibal, having just revisited Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs through Audible, where most of my reading is accomplished of late. (I may be juggling it with The Scott Burns Sessions whenever it gets here, a book about Scott’s days producing death metal albums in the early days.) Current Audible read is Clive Barker’s Everville, and a few weeks back I also revisited The Great and Secret Show, which is an absolute 5-star work!


8. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Be patient and take the time to learn your craft. Learn what good writing is, which will be to your advantage because so many do not recognize it—particularly its absence. There is no stigma to publishing your own work now, so more people are publishing before they are ready. You only get one first novel, and you don’t want to look back at it even a year or two later with embarrassment, the way I would have if I could have published the first three novels I wrote with no middleman. It’s great if you can be prolific, but make sure it is not to your detriment. You have to give yourself the time to actually learn from experience. If you are endeavoring to write extreme horror, I would also encourage adopting a pen name.   


9. Temple of Amduscias is a brand spanking new story from you. Where did the idea come from and could we see more from this world in the future?
“Temple of Amduscias” is one of my favorites in the book, and I feel it has some of my all-time best writing. As I mentioned above, it was inspired by the song “Devil Eyes” from the Mercyful Fate EP and not more than a little Silent Hill. I had several false starts with it, and I would take one or two things that worked from a failed attempt. This resulted in a motif of zero/nothingness, reflecting the main character, Olivia (a name with an O or zero in it) and her exploration of Naughton (again, a zero or “naught”). Once I had that, the story finally took the shape I needed. Amduscias/the Woodsman is a concept I wouldn’t mind exploring again. I’ve kept a few notes here and there. I was already able to do something fun with a novella called The Profile (collected in the anthology Call Me Hoop), where the FBI agent Kessler is actually running interference for the killer in “Temple,” and InterphaZ from “Junk” and “Orificially Compromised” even gets in on the act, too.  


10. Are there any projects you are working on for 2024?

I am doing my damnedest to have a book out every year after only having a short story in 2022. Next year, it’s my intention to have my long-running collaboration with Bryan Smith released at last. No title or publisher yet, but it’s an insanely gory and black-humored novel where an alien munitions division tests out some of its tech on a small town. We’ve had a lot of fun doing it, just taking our time, but it is in the home stretch at last. That’s the one I’m most confident about, but I have some other books in the planning stages, so maybe one of those will also be ready for 2024. 


Thank you for the interview!

INTERVIEWS: Text

11/04/2023
Kevin Bachar

Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker, WGA screenwriter, and author

If you had two minutes to pitch your book “DREAD” to a new reader, what would you say?  

As a screenwriter, we’re always giving the ‘elevator pitch’, you’re told…“Sell me your movie in a sentence or two.” So, if I had to do the same for Dread, I’d describe it as a book existing in that dark place that borders the natural world and the supernatural world. Thousands of people have gone missing out in the wild and this is a collection of tales that offer up some horrifying reasons why.

As an Emmy-award-winning National Geographic director and cinematographer, I’ve swum with sharks, climbed the peaks of mountains, and explored the darkest of forests. In DREAD, I weave together terrifying true stories from my real-life adventures with twisted fiction from the depths of my frightening imagination. I dare you to open the pages and indulge in the dark side of nature. 
How was that? A little longer than two sentences, but I think that gives you a taste of where you’ll be going when you read Dread.

Is there a favorite story in the collection that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is? 

The old “Which is your favorite child?” question. I can’t give you one, but there are few that hit just a little harder for me as they are from real moments that I experienced. The first story in the collection, The Peak of Fear, has elements of a tale that was told to me while I was atop Mount Washington, hunkered down for the night in the Weather Observatory during a raging blizzard in February. We were trapped there, and the two Weather Observers stationed there shared with us some ghost stories. The Peak of Fear was born from that chilling, in more ways than one, that night. 

There’s also a story called, The Itch, which is about a woman hiking alone on the tundra who can’t escape the swarms of mosquitoes and resorts to a gruesome way to solve her insidious itch. This came about from a trip to Greenland where I was filming the calving of icebergs, and I met a woman who was being driven mad by the mosquitoes since she had forgotten to pack bug spray and a head net. And there’s Branching Out, which just scares the hell out of me, and I love it for that.


Tell us about your writing process. Have you found that it changes with every story, or do you have an established routine? 
My process is the seat-of-the-pants style of writing. I don’t really do extensive outlines or overthink an idea. I get some sort of spark and then start fanning the flames by putting words to paper. My routine is that I write every day, sitting at the laptop for the workday either crafting a story, doing research, or sometimes just staring at a white page. But, I’m also writing when I’m driving, sitting at the beach, or lying down with my head on the pillow—thinking about characters and places and what happens to those new friends that I created in my mind.


What can you tell us about your documentary/film-making process and how it differs from your writing thought process? 
There are some things that are the same. You have to come up with an idea, just like with a fictional story. Let’s say National Geographic wants a shark film. I now have to come up with a theme and story to build around sharks. Sharks and…what? What about sharks and boats? We all know in the movie Jaws that the great white shark attacks and sinks Quint’s boat at the end, but does this happen in real life? I begin researching to find out how often encounters with boats and sharks happen. I find some footage, and eyewitnesses to these encounters, as well as meet with scientists who have theories of why these interactions between boats and sharks take place. This all gets woven together and the film JAWS vs BOATS is born. In many ways, there’s more writing involved for a documentary than for a fictional story. To get to the final delivery of the JAWS vs BOATS film, you have to write a pitch, then a detailed treatment, shooting scripts, and then the final narration script. 


Which media do you find the most enjoyable? Film or writing, and why? 
I enjoy them both. The sheer adventure and moments of pure adrenaline from filming a great white shark or being there when they open a tomb filled with mummies just can’t be duplicated sitting at a laptop. But I also love creating new worlds and moments and breathing life into characters that I created and bring into existence with words.


What one thing must you always do or have while writing and why?
I need a cup of coffee at my side. Nothing else really, just a cup of java, black.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style? 
I don’t think there’s one. Every time I read a new book, short story, or screenplay, I find something that hits me in a way that makes me want to incorporate that style into my own writing. Whether it be a character description, sentence structure, or plot development. Like a chef tasting a mix of spices in a dish prepared by another cook. That chef might take that combo of spices, but instead of using them in a pasta dish, uses them in a soup, and changes the mix to make one spice a little stronger, and adds a new spice to complement the others. They’ve used some elements of that first meal they had but have altered it in such a way that it’s wholly new and original to the dish they created.
Does that make sense? I hope it does. If not, I do know I’m now hungry.


What has been the best thing that you have learned about writing and/or the publishing industry itself?
The best thing is that there are always new stories to be written and new readers to read them.


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
The thing I love about horror is that it incorporates so many styles and sub-genres. Ghost, monster, slasher, possession, demons, critters and creatures and a host of others are just a few of the themes you can explore. I also love that horror has the ability to engender such strong emotions, literally screams of terror, or howling laughter. Films like Happy Death Day, which had you at the edge of your seat, while also grinning from ear to ear. Or something as monumental as Sixth Sense which had you shuddering in fear and then crying like a baby. No other genre puts you on such an emotional rollercoaster.

What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I recently sold a screenplay to MarVista Entertainment, which is—wait for it–a shark thriller. DREAD is also part of a three-book series called Nights of Madness, and the second book in the series called CREEP, is out in January and available for pre-order now. And I’m also working on my first novel called INTRUDER. It’s about a woman, a dog, a cabin, and an intruder. And I’m still working in the documentary world as well. So, keeping busy!


Kevin's Bio:
Kevin Bachar is a three-time national EMMY award-winning documentary filmmaker and WGA screenwriter. The elevated horror film he wrote - The Inhabitant - was released through Lionsgate and is available on Hulu, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. If you watch National Geographic, PBS, or The Discovery Channel you’ve seen his work. He’s the idiot in the water with sharks or crawling into caves to film vampire bats. Through his journeys, he’s interviewed scientists who’ve enlightened him, heard folk tales that have frightened him, and he’s seen quite a few things that have filled him with dread.
Kevin won the 2018 Page Awards Grand Prize from Screenwriting, as well the top prize for Screencraft’s Action Thriller contest, which had creative execs from Bad Robot, The Donner’s Company, and the writer of DIEHARD, Steven de Souza, as judges. Complimenting his writing, Kevin has lectured and given presentations at prestigious institutions such as Rutgers University, American University, and the Rubin Museum of Art. He’s also a member of the Horror Writers Association.
You can stay updated on all of Kevin’s projects at www.kevinbachar.com.

Twitter/X, https://twitter.com/KevinPangolin , Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/kevinbachar/ , and TikTok, https://www.tiktok.com/@kevinbachar?lang=en .

INTERVIEWS: Text