Hello everyone! Just your Horrormadam here to bring you another astounding horror author, A.R. Braun. I enjoyed Grimoire so much that I started reading up on him and he is not only extremely talented as a writer but I also read about him on Amazon and found out that he is also diverse in all of his endeavors. As well as his many writings he has taken Okinawan and Shotokan karate, kung fu, krav maga, and taekwondo and practices self-defense once a week, along with boxing and wrestling, which he’s also studied. He works out like a football player every other day when he’s not working out with the medicine ball or jogging. You can reach him on Twitter as @ARBraun and on Instagram as a.r._braun. So let me ask him some questions so you can get to know him and get started reading his work!
1. Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been a full-time horror author for almost thirteen years. I’ve been a horror-movie fan since I was five—The Blob with Steve McQueen on Creature Feature—and I got inspired to write when I had to read “The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe at high school when I was sixteen. I was never the same. When I was seventeen, I bought every issue of Chillers mag, which had articles of horror movies, as well as horror short stories by up-and-coming authors. By the time I was eighteen, I had the whole Stephen King collection. I want to say I’m an extreme-horror author, but then again I don’t, because I think regular horror is scarier than extreme- or bizarro horror.
I’m also a one-man-band. I overdub the guitars with the vocals, bass, and drums so it sounds like a group. The main project is black-death metal, but I have side projects: power metal, traditional heavy metal that’s thrashy, and speed metal/thrash.
2. When and why did you get into writing?
I was writing stories for my friends to read by the time I was eighteen. I got into it seriously when I read On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I realized I could really do this professionally.
3. Why horror?
Because it’s fun. It’s a rush when a horror story or movie actually scares you.
4. What authors inspired you?
So many. King, Koontz, Ira Levin is my favorite author, Shirley Jackson, Gary A. Braunbeck, Jack Ketchum. The Not is my Coffin County by Gary Braunbeck, and Only Women in Hell is my The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum, both with an original spin, of course. Only Women in Hell is based on the case of Joseph and Elisabeth Fritzl from Austria, like Jack‘s The Girl Next Door, which is based on reality.
5. What scares you?
The Devil. Demons: a black mass is a black smoke that’s demons, and if you ingest it, you kill people. Bouncing on my bed because I’m possessed. Seeing things out of the corner of my eye, then I turn, and nothing’s there. A feeling of being watched. Cops, bedbugs, ghosts, insane women. I prefer to write about people who go insane, or ghosts or demons because they’re real, and it’s scarier. No one is scared that vampires are going to come after them in real life.
6. Music plays heavily in your writing, favorite artists, styles, influences?
I like black metal/death metal, and power metal. There’s a new thing where you can be both black metal and death metal like Behemoth, Belphegor, and God Dethroned—it’s a thing—and I am that. Heavily influenced by Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Nile, Marduk, Immortal, and Nocturnal Rites.
7. Where do you get your ideas?
I got my ideas for “Cryptid” and “Dark Web” from videos on YouTube. This has given me some of my best ideas. It’s a great place to research. Dybbuk boxes, MK Ultra mind-control glitches, what the best weapons were in medieval times, you name it, it’s on there. Also, with “Cryptid,” I’ve been reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies about cryptozoology—the study of hidden or unsubstantiated animals. I’ve released Dogman of Illinois, my new novel about a cryptid. And, of course, “You Can’t Go Anywhere” was influenced by the news. I tried to go too far with that one so Grimoire would be a banned book. Getting banned, or having people faint or run out of the room or have a heart attack while reading my tales, it’s a dream.
8. If you weren’t a writer what else would you pursue?
Well, I worked regular jobs for twenty-one years, but I can’t imagine doing anything else than writing horror (and metal music). And you don’t have to retire. You can write books at a desk ‘til you die.
9. Do you have any favorite horror films and or tropes?
Yes. I actually have two lists: my 101 Scariest Moments like on the Bravo Channel, and my top 400. Right now my favorite movie is Doctor Sleep, but if you asked me what my all-time favorite is, it’s probably Fulci’s The Beyond.
Paperback cover for Grimoire, as one with a golden pentagram, is the ebook.
I want to thank A.R. so much for taking his time to answer my questions and introduce me to such an amazing and fear-inducing author! Make sure and get his books now, just don’t expect to sleep for a while after. Here are a few of the links!
Hey guys! The book recommendations are just flowing in! Here is an amazing book containing short stories that you can get on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for free, for a limited time. So while we are all inside reading from home to prevent the spread of the virus, check out Keith Anthony Baird’s- And A Dark Horse Dreamt of Nightmares!
Hello everybody! Sorry, I have been gone for a while, life is crazy. And as we all find ourselves in this crazy time of the Corona Virus where we need to hunker down and wait for it to slowly dissipate what better time to give you some authors to read! This newest installment is about the book Wicked Awake by the fabulous Merrill David! Firstly, I will let Merrill tell you himself about his great new creation…
My literary Sci-Fi / Horror Fiction titled WICKED AWAKE has
approximately 120,000 words. I applied a great amount of detail,
science, and research in my tale. I believe it will hold your interest
with a brisk paced, clever storyline that I would compare to Max
Brooks’ “World War Z” crossed with Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda
Strain” (but with humor). WICKED AWAKE is horrifying at times yet very
funny in places.
In my novel, WICKED AWAKE, Dallas Police Sergeant Jake Hathaway is on
duty one February afternoon when he parks his patrol vehicle in front
of his brother’s middle-classed house. He leaves his K9 partner Roscoe
in the marked police sport utility vehicle and walks inside to wish
his one-year-old nephew a happy birthday. What should be a joyous
occasion quickly sours as Hathaway is attacked by two creatures that
were once his brother and sister-in-law. No longer recognizable, their
faces do not appear human. Their eyes are saggy and swollen, with
dilated tiny pupils. These THINGS are not dead, nor fully alive, but
somewhere in-between. This would be just the beginning of an
But Unbeknownst to Hathaway, he himself was
partially responsible for this contagion. Years earlier he allowed a
group of Federal Government scientists to conduct top-secret
experiments on a few of the soldiers in his U.S Marine Corp unit. Now,
Jake must find a way to end the outbreak before THEY end HIM, along
with all of humanity.
Doesn’t that just sound amazing and might I add very timely? Let’s get to my questions to learn more about this fantastic horror writer…
1. Why Horror and Sci-Fy?
Growing up, I loved watching horror and Sci-Fi type programs on TV and going to the theater or renting movies (again aging myself! For those who remember Blockbuster). I was also very into Marvel Comics (never got into DC for some reason) and horror novels. Some of my favorite television programs were the Incredible Hulk (with Bill Bixby and, of course, Ferrigno) and The Twilight Zone, as well as reruns of the original Planet of the Apes movies (not really feeling the re-makes). Some of my favorite movies were the Friday the 13th series (until Jason went into outer space, then they lost me), Halloween, Freddy vs Jason was greatness! I also loved Nightmare on Elm Street, The Fly with Jeff Goldblum, Fire in the Sky (an alien abduction film that was supposedly based on true events), those bizarre Faces of Death films. I also dug the People Under the Stairs, the Ring, the Strangers, the Saw movies, the Hellraisers, The Exorcist, Jeepers Creepers, Joyride. And of course everything zombie; Evil Dead, World War Z, Zombie Land, Shaun of the Dead, I Am Legend, Army of Darkness.
2. How did the idea for this particular book come to you?
I knew I wanted to start with a zombie novel but always loved horror shows and movies. And my favorite horror flavor has always been zombie. I would load up on Walking Dead and the movies, always telling my wife and kids how those stories could have been better (like the zombies in World War Z were way too fast, everyone knows the real DEAD are slow! Ask George Romero). So my wife suggested that since I was such an expert, I should write my own novel. At first, I thought she was joking, but she wasn’t- so I did it!
3. When did you start writing and how did you get into it?
It was actually about 5 ½ years ago that my wife encouraged me to start this project. But there were a couple of major setbacks along the way that slowed me down. I had a brain tumor removed a few years back (maybe that’s why I had, and still have, some of these deranged thoughts?). Just a year later my wife, having no prior medical issues or warnings, suddenly passed away from a heart attack. I went through some very dark and blurry times since then. For awhile I was getting drunk just about any time I wasn’t having to work. My writing was replaced by depression and destruction for quite some time. But I finally found some peace and got back on track, so here I am!
4. Who are some of your favorite authors and or influences?
Some of the novels I have enjoyed the most are The Strand, Andromeda Strain, Max Brooks’ World War Z and Zombie Survival Guide, Bird Box, The Amityville Horror, The Shining. I just started to read Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout and enjoying it greatly! And of course, I like Steven King’s stuff. But who doesn’t, right? I really find myself digging those writers who combine action with some portions of humor mixed into their stories. So I emulated those writers and that style. I believe I injected a good amount of humor into my story. I tried to write a zombie story that was smart but also funny (maybe that’s why I love the Dead Pool movie so much!) One person who read my book so far commented that it is “extremely clever and brisk-paced. The narrative is witty, even when horrifying.” I like that he chose those two words WITTY and HORRIFYING to describe my work, as this is exactly what I was aiming for. If I was a rock group instead of an author, I might be compared to the band Tragedy, a metal band that put their own spin on Bee Gees songs. Or better yet, I might be more like that Death Metal Band that plays Weird Al Yankovic tunes. Is there such a band? There should be! But I also attempted to make WICKED AWAKE smarter than the average zombie book by applying a great level of detail, science, and research into it. Hopefully, I have succeeded!
5. If it isn’t too personal, why did you get out of Law Enforcement?
I retired with over twenty-five years on the job as a cop in North Texas. It was a great career but I am ready for it to be over. Being a police officer has changed over the years. Right after the 9/11 tragedy, cops and firemen were considered to be heroes. Parents encouraged their kids to wave at us and be friendly with us. Nowadays cops are hated and targeted. Firemen are still loved (apparently I chose the wrong career), but not the police. Kids are told to question all authority, especially Law Enforcement. And I get it, I think politics and some of our past leaders are partly to blame, although I’m not going to act like I don’t realize there are some very bad officers out there who have done some really fucked up things. In my book, I mention one seasoned training officer in particular who acts as if he is untouchable, above the law. But for every bad cop like that exists, I would say there’s another nine who are honest and professional. Also, keep in mind that even the cop haters are the first to call 9-1-1 for help when their house is being burglarized or their car is getting jacked.
6. You are a fan of Marvel Comics. Which ones are your favorites and if you could have superpowers, what would they be?
Growing up I was very much into SpiderMan, the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and PowerMan, but my favorite character was the Punisher. That character has been somewhat of an influence in the way I portrayed my protagonist, Jake Hathaway. Hathaway was a Marine and then goes on to become a Dallas Police Officer. He promotes to be a Sergeant and is also a training officer, then a K9 handler.
He goes from being a standup military and police figure to someone who does some very dark things. He does these things for the overall good, but they still appear somewhat tainted to someone from the outside looking in.
7. Just for fun, if they make a movie of your book, who would you picture starring in it?
Maybe Rob Gronkowski could make his acting debut in this role. But he may be too busy wrasslin’. It would have to be someone about his size- 6’5’’ and up, in his late 20’s to early 30’s. The guy would have to be built like a damn Mack truck. Or maybe some newcomer who looks like a brunette version of Rocky 3’s evil Russian boxer guy, played by Dolph Lungdren. But he would need to have darker hair and simulating more of a New York accent than that fake Russian one. Anyone remember Dolph Lungdren? Is that dude still alive? He would be 62 now… Dolph- if you’re reading this; are you available?
8. What else are you working on, or what can we expect from in your writing future?
I’m already about halfway through with WICKED AWAKE part 2 and I’ve also been throwing around the idea of writing a book about my experiences in writing a book. And about my struggle to figure out this social media stuff. I’m not sure which of those two reads will be scarier…
I want to thank Merrill for taking his time to answer my questions! And after you are done reading this, go to some of his links to find out more or just connect!
Hey readers! Just your Horrormadam here to bring you another amazing author Jeremy C Shipp! He is a writer of weird horror, adventurous fantasy, and idiosyncratic science fiction all combined into this wildly visceral and blood-curdling works of fiction. I was so glad he introduced himself and his works to me will always be a fan. Now let’s get to the questions!
Can you please tell my readers little about yourself?
My name’s Jeremy C. Shipp, and I’m an author of weird horror tales. My short stories have appeared in various publications such as ChiZine, Cemetery Dance, and Apex Magazine. My books include the Bram Stoker-nominated novel Cursed and the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella The Atrocities.
When I’m not writing, I’m butlering for cats in a semi-haunted Victorian farmhouse. The ghosts took the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” to heart, so they spend much of their time napping and rarely perform.
The main question I always want to know about, why horror? What drew you to the genre?
I have always been a fiend for horror. As a kid, I would play pretend with my brothers, and we would imagine ourselves as vampires and werewolves and grim reapers. I grew up watching dark and bizarre films like The Dark Crystal, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and House II. I’ve always been fascinated by monsters and magic and the darker mysteries of the universe. I can’t say why exactly. But, for me, writing horror feels right.
What are some of your favorite horror films and or books?
As far as horror and gothic books go, I love The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, Hell House by Richard Matheson, Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. And some of my favorite horror films are The Witch, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, A Dark Song, The Love Witch, The Shining, The House of the Devil, Evil Dead II, Dead Alive, Audition, Trick ‘r Treat, Psycho, Ringu, Ju-on, The Happiness of the Katakuris, The Funhouse, The Thing, The Descent. I could probably go on forever, but I suppose I shouldn’t. Eternity is a long time.
What actually scares you?
I’m afraid of sadism and bigotry and death. I’m afraid that humans won’t do enough to stop climate change. I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of mimes with sharpened teeth. I’m afraid of the man with translucent skin who lives under my floorboards because he keeps spoiling the ending of movies that I haven’t seen yet.
If you could have a dinner or poker game with your favorite authors alive or dead, who would it be and what would you like to discuss with them?
For my dinner guests, I would invite Charlotte Brontë, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kurt Vonnegut, Arundhati Roy, and Shirley Jackson. At first, we would discuss world events, and the writing process, and the human soul. But rather quickly I’d realize that we were all a bit stressed about the state of the world and our fast-approaching deadlines. And so, during dinner, we would decide to play Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on the TV, and we would make fun of the film MST3K-style while we ate. It would be a good night.
As an author, do you have a writer‘s kryptonite?
The entire writing process feels a bit like kryptonite to me. Everything is hard and frustrating, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I suppose my most potent kryptonite is my tendency to hyperfocus on one particular sentence or word. I can spend way too much time trying to compose the perfect sentence when I should simply move forward with the story and come back later. When will I ever learn? Probably never.
How much of yourself do you include in your writings?
I tend to only include some small bits of myself here and there. Perhaps a fingernail clipping or a pint of blood or a chunk of the spleen. In Bedfellow, for example, Tomas likes to hang out in a secret, leafy, magical space that exists between his neighbors’ fences. In reality, my brothers and I truly did play in such a gap. Vampires and werewolves and grim reapers crept among those fallen leaves.
What would you tell your younger self as a writer?
I first started writing short stories in 4th grade, so I would tell my elementary school self to invest all his birthday and yard work money in Apple stock.
When I was a teenager, I first started getting stories published, and I would tell my teenage self not to sell the Apple stocks, no matter how tempted he was to buy an electric guitar and a car with air conditioning.
I would also tell him that rejection letters are a normal part of a writer’s life and not to take them too personally. I would tell him that he shouldn’t stop himself from reaching out to other writers for advice and for help
When they make the movie of your life, would it be drama/comedy/horror and who would star as you?
I’d like a Jeremy C. Shipp character to appear in a Bill & Ted reboot in the distant future. In the movie, monsters overrun the Earth, and Bill and Ted travel back in time to get a monster expert to help them. They assume that I, as a horror writer, would somehow be able to deal with the vampires, werewolves, and other creatures. Ultimately, we end up befriending the monsters, and the world is saved. Jeremy C. Shipp would be played by a descendent of Sam Rockwell, because he’s an amazing actor, and he looks a bit like me, I think.
What do you do for fun or relaxation?
I enjoy watching great movies and excruciatingly terrible movies. I’m not much interested in mediocre films that exist somewhere in between.
I read books as if my life depended on it, and it probably does.
I like trivia games, even though I don’t have the mind for it. Ask me when the War of 1812 started, and I’d probably get it wrong.
One of my favorite things in the world to do is to watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise with my partner. Hard as I try, I still haven’t written a horror story as terrifying as those shows
What are you working on next or whatever other projects you are on that we should look out for?
I’m working on a currently untitled novel that will be published by Meerkat Press in 2021. Here are some details:
In Shipp’s newest novel, we will follow Seraphina Ramon into a once-abandoned amusement park now populated by a community of cultists. To our left, a dragon-themed roller coaster rests on the blackened earth, curled up like a dead snake. To our right, an animatronic Humpty Dumpty falls off a concrete castle and shatters on the ground, only to reform itself moments later. Up ahead, cultists giggle as they meditate in a hall of cracked mirrors. This is the last place in the world Seraphina wants to be, but at the same time, she will stop at nothing to investigate the cult that almost killed her sister. And the best way to find out the truth about this bizarre cult is to join them.
Also, I finished writing a horror screenplay a couple of weeks ago, and I’m hard at work on another.
In addition to all this, in my secret lab, I’m genetically engineering a miniature version of Cthulhu about the size of a dachshund. I’m hoping to create a couple hundred of them in my first batch. Gods, goddesses, and various other ethereal beings keep warning me not to do it, but I’m sure they’re just overreacting.
I would like to thank Jeremy very much for taking the time to answer my questions and for his amazing storytelling talent! If you want to learn more I have included some links for you to check out!
Hello readers! Just your Horrormadam here bringing you another fabulous author to read and get to know about, Sarah Blair. Her book Darkness Shifting: Tides of Darkness Book One is an engaging and effective inter-weaving of the paranormal, a detective, thriller, and Arthurian legend. I am also a huge fan of King Arthur lore and found the idea very intriguing so wanted to introduce her work to all of you and let you get to know the woman herself! Let’s get to the questions…
First can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m an X-Phile for life. My Hogwarts house is Gryffindor. I definitely believe ghosts are real. I’m a wife and mommy. Happy to be a Southern heathen who also loves sweet tea and porch sitting. Why thrillers/horror/monsters?
Ever since I was little, I’ve enjoyed mysteries and the macabre. One of my earliest memories is snuggling up with my aunt in her big bed to watch Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Clue is my favorite board game. Who knew murder could be so much fun? I’m also obsessed with The X-Files. It’s scary sometimes, but also has a few light-hearted monsters of the week. I don’t believe for a second that all monstrous creatures are bad. Sometimes humans can be quite monstrous themselves. That blurry line is what I find most intriguing. When did you fall in love with Arthurian legend?
The ideals of chivalry are romantic, but I don’t think I truly fell in love with Arthurian legends until I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. I’d never heard the story from the perspective of the women in the legends before and it really sucked me in. It’s an enormous book, and I read it before kindle and smartphones, so I lugged it all around New York City where I was living at the time. I literally couldn’t put it down. Then, a few years later, I had the opportunity to study in Wales as an exchange student. Of course, I had to visit Glastonbury and Bath. It quickly became my favorite place, and I went back several times over the course of my stay. It’s not an exaggeration to say it truly feels magical there. What made you want to write?
The fact that Chris Carter insisted on keeping Mulder and Scully’s relationship purely platonic for so long drove me to write X-Files fanfiction, just so I could get them to kiss. Even from the time I was young, I would act out elaborate stories with my Barbie dolls, so I suppose I was telling stories from a very early age, I just didn’t realize I could write them down for other people to read. When I was 11 years old, I read The Giver by Lois Lowry. The second I finished the book and turned the page wanting more and realized there wasn’t any, (I refuse to read any further books in the series that have come out since, because I value that ending so dearly.) I remember very distinctly thinking that was the kind of story I could, and very much wanted to write myself. When I got to university and found out that I could major in Creative Writing, there was no other choice for me. What authors and or books influenced you?
In addition to Bradley and Lowry, probably the biggest influence on my genre of writing was Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake vampire hunter series. I deeply value Anita’s evolution as a character and how she’s changed over the years. Hamilton never held back, choosing to always include everything her characters experienced, both good and bad. That definitely had an influence on me, since I’d never read a book that captured such a wide range of experiences so well. Usually either the sex or the gore gets glossed over in order to appeal to a certain audience, but Hamilton brought all of it to the page. What new projects are you working on?
Currently, I’m working on completing the Tides of Darkness Series. There are three more books planned, a prequel that takes place three years before Darkness Shifting, plus two more books that occur directly after the events in Darkness Shifting. There is also a new series I’m mulling over, but I don’t know enough details to share just yet.
In addition to writing, I’m also a producer and co-host of The X-Cast: An X-Files Podcast, so if you’re a fan of The X-Files, you definitely don’t want to miss out on that!
It brings me great pleasure to introduce a new book out called The Vampire and the Black of Night by my pal Blackie. We met in the horror community on Twitter and he has fast become a great influencer. It was really great to find out about his book and wanted to make sure other people got to know him and his writing. The book is evocative, bringing back stories reminiscent of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight and A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest with a great blending of fear, intrigue, and romance. So let us get to his illuminating answers to my questions:
1. When did you first realize that you were a fan of horror?
When I was five-years-old. The Blob played on Creature Feature, put on by the Acri Company in the Quad Cities, then years later I worked for the Acri Company in Peoria, Illinois: meant to be. My love of horror grew from there as I continued to watch brutal horror as a little boy—my sick parents let me—Trilogy of Terror with the killer voodoo doll, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Carrie, Salem’s Lot. I can still remember jumping when Carrie’s hand came out of the grave, what a rush! It just grew from there.
2. What are some of your favorite horror films?
All Hallow’s Eve with Art the Clown, which went there with extreme horror—SPOILER ALERT!—beheading the kids. Hereditary, which revived American horror (for the longest time only other countries were doing horror), and the usuals: The Exorcist, The Shining, Jaws.
3. When did you get the writing bug?
I knew when I watched The Ring that I wanted my first monster to be a little girl. I was up half the night thinking that creepy kid was going to come out of my TV. I came up with the idea for a Wiccan horror novel with a sadistic little girl who’d been through the mill, losing her parents who were killed gorily, and she was becoming a Hedge Wiccan—Hedgers can hurt people, no “harm none, do what thou wilt”—and going after a man, this Christian at her church. It demanded to be written. Of course, I gave it the ax because it was my first novel, so I put it under the bed and wrote another one, a horror novella called Under the Bed, in the Closet, Dread, which was a little better. I’ll provide that at the end of one of my novels, for the other two are around 50,000 words, not 90,000 like my current one. From there it just infested me and took over my life.
4. Favorite authors and or books that inspire you?
Everything from Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, to The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith and iZombie by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, the latter a series of graphic novels. It just has to interest me and not have sparkling vampires or other twinkly monsters. Then I can put up with the romance.
5. This book is a little different themed, what made you want to write about it?
I don’t consider it different themed at all. Dracula by Bram Stoker had romance as well as terror. For me, it’s just natural. In real life, we have fears, but we also fall in love, have sex, get married. Also, it was a challenge to write about romance as a guy, and I rose to it.
6. What is it about vampire lore that you think find so interesting?
Honestly, I think it’s because Nosferatu lore and vampire-and-human hookups are sexy. I saw this vampire skin flick on Skinemax, and it was just so fucking hot I can’t tell you. Just burnt me up on my couch. The Hammer films knew this.
7. What did you find difficult about the writing and publishing aspects of this book?
I embraced everything difficult. I think it’s better to rise to the occasion then bitch and whine that it’s too hard. The hardest was writing 80,000 words of this stuff. I had to go through things too quickly, the protagonist’s marriage and child, which shouldn’t have happened till the sequels, but it’s also cool that there’s so much going on. Vampire ancients from other countries were tricky too. I had to learn other languages. No agents would touch it, but that doesn’t bother me. So many great books had to be self-published. I’m thinking of Ania Ahlborn and Seed, as well as her other novels. I’m going to see the challenges though.
8. What are some of your hobbies?
Fitness: eating right, martial arts, weightlifting, jogging. I just became a black belt in Kung Fu, and I’ve been taking Karate forever. Extreme metal. Right now, I’m listening to tons of Malevolent Creation and God Dethroned. I’m a musician too, a one-man band. I have guitars, a bass and drums.
9. What are your next projects we should look out for?
I wrote a rough draft of a werewolf novel and another one of a zombie novel. The zombie book is the best, in my opinion. Both have plenty of romance and agony. I’m going to take on sci-fi at NANO in November, and I’m reading sci-fi right now to learn how to do it. Next year at NANO, fantasy. I have two erotica short stories I’m going to put out as eBooks.
I want to thank Blackie so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I hope you will enjoy his work and keep a look out for new projects. Have included the link to his site and his Twitter handle so you can explore and learn more!
Hey everyone! Just your Horrormadam here bringing you another amazing author Nick Stead! When reading most literature on werewolves, it becomes apparent that most authors follow the same banal, over-worked imagery. A human is cursed with a wolflike appearance and then they generally kill indiscriminately. Nick Stead has written a very refreshing story arc, where a person has a supernatural lycanthropic event but actually takes on all the aspects of a real wolf. Their social aspects and pack mentality, alpha vs beta, communication and scenting behaviors. Nick’s books are such a joy for me to read because they are such a divergence from the norm. I wanted to introduce you to his work and asked him a few questions so that you may better understand this talented writer! Let’s get to it:
My first obvious question, is why horror? When did you first fall in love with it and what made you want to write in the genre?
I think I’ve always had a love of monsters and things with big fangs and claws so it probably started there. Ghosts and skeletons fascinated me as well–I’m struggling to remember a time when I wasn’t into anything horror! I can’t think of a specific moment from my childhood that started my love of the genre–I know I used to enjoy cartoons like Scooby Doo and would watch them religiously. But my first real taste as a kid was probably the Goosebumps series. Those books probably deepened my attraction to the creepy and the macabre and my love of the genre only grew from there.
It was actually my cousin, ‘Lady’ Sarah, who got me started writing. She’d done a few short stories and got sick of me nagging her to write more so she suggested I start my own and helped brainstorm the first three chapters of what would eventually become Hybrid. I’ve always had a love of fantasy as well but I was getting more and more into horror as I developed into a young adult and started to discover all the classics like Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser. The more I found to watch and read, the more of my own horror stories I wanted to write. My first book was always going to be a werewolf horror though–I’m too obsessed with them for it to ever have been anything else!
Why did you go with werewolves?
I’ve always been obsessed with wolves and werewolves for as far back as I can remember. There’s just something about the idea of turning into a wolfish creature that really appealed to me when I was younger and it’s something I never grew out of! In many ways Hybrid started out as my own personal werewolf fantasy. The lore I used in the series is a mix of my favourite myths and my own ideas–I like to put my own spin on existing mythology where I can.
What are some of your favorite books and who are some of your favorite authors?
Horror wise, Graeme Reynolds’ High Moor trilogy ranks among my all-time favourite werewolf horror stories and I’m really enjoying S.L. Mewse’s Primal Progeny werewolf series as well. I did used to enjoy Darren Shan when I was younger but I’ve not read any of his stuff in years, and I was enjoying the Anita Blake vampire hunter series till it got a bit too much in the relationship’s wayside of things and not enough of the horror for my tastes. I think the last one of them I read was book 12 or 13 so I must be well behind on those by now.
Fantasy wise, I’m a big Terry Pratchett fan–love his Discworld series! Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle is awesome as well, reread all four books a few times and I never tire of them. I also love G.R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and am still mourning the end of the TV adaptation–hope we get the next book soon! I have to mention Harry Potter as well even though I haven’t revisited that world since the last book came out which must have been in my late teens/early twenties (I’m 31 now). And Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files!
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein needs mentioning too. We studied the original novel for GCSE English Literature and I really connected with that story and the character of the creature in particular. In fact, there are parts of Hybrid heavily inspired by Shelley’s novel, including the prologue–I love how she starts with the letters Captain Walton writes to his sister, as for me it gave it a sense of reading about real events that had actually happened rather than just the usual narrative prose of fiction. So I wanted to bring that same feeling into my own story, but instead of letters I went with the second person opening as a way of bringing the reader directly into the story. I really wanted to give that feel of being there with the character as he tells you about his ‘real’ life as a werewolf.
What are some of your favorite horror films and influences?
I love the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and Hellraiser 1 and 2–both Freddy and the Cenobites definitely inspired some of the more creative deaths I’ve written. American Werewolf in London still has the best transformation scene to date, in my opinion, and I never tire of watching that. In fact, it’s more or less how I imagined and described my own character’s transformation in Hybrid and I still remember my excitement at seeing that being brought to life on screen for the first time. The look of the fully transformed wolf doesn’t quite do it for me though. I’m very fussy with my werewolves and if they don’t live up to the right mix of wolf and man I end up being disappointed. Van Helsing still comes in first place for my favourite movie werewolves–those are almost perfect, if only they had tails!
I also love the werewolves in Dog Soldiers and The Howling of course. The prequel to Underworld is another fav–it’s the historical setting in that one that does it for me, probably because of my love of fantasy. And Ginger Snaps is great for its humour and the slightly different take on werewolves with the way they permanently shift into a wolfish creature rather than just under the full moon.
And of course, there’s the 90s adaptation of Frankenstein. This one is the closest I’ve seen to the original book and was a huge influence on my teen self, along with the novel as mentioned above. Seeing Shelley’s story brought to life in a way which I feel really does the book justice (and it’s rarely I say that about a book to screen adaptations!) was almost magical.
In your Hybrid series, like the author Darren Shan you chose to use your own name as the main character, how much of yourself is reflected in the character?
There’s a lot of my teenage self in the first book, particularly in the earlier chapters before the character starts to change and grow darker as a result of his curse. Hybrid is actually a really personal story on a lot of levels and there’s probably more in there than fans realise which mirrors what my real teen self was going through in school. I was bullied, and I did suffer with severe depression, partly because of the bullying and partly because of the way things were at home, so the chapters where the character sinks into a similar state were written straight from the heart and much of that raw pain of my teen self survived through to the final edit.
Hunted and Vengeance are more or less pure fiction, and the character is much darker in those books and more adult. We all have those dark urges from time to time, the things we fantasise about doing to people who anger us for whatever reason, and I think a lot of that inner darkness comes out in my fictional self. It’s the perfect place to channel it without actually killing anyone!
In your writing, the specificity of the wolfs thoughts and actions astonished me. How did you get into that mindset?
I used to watch tons of nature documentaries on wolves and other predators so I think a lot of it probably comes from that, plus my own beliefs and passion for animal rights. All the stuff I learnt on real wolf behaviour I was able to bring in to his character, but I wanted to make it clear the monstrous side to him is purely down to the werewolf curse and the darkness of his humanity–wolves have been given a bad enough reputation as it is!
When I first started writing I actually found it easier to do the wolf’s character than the humans. Not sure what that says about my teen self!
Why do you think people are so interested in lycanthrope mythology?
I think it speaks to that primal part of us we’ve tried to separate ourselves from over the millennia but can never quite escape. We all have a favourite animal and things about that particular species we admire. I think for earlier civilisations who lived in much greater harmony with the natural world, the idea of shifting into other creatures and taking on their traits to become better hunters or fighters captured their imaginations, and it’s something that has stayed with us as we’ve continued to evolve. Lycanthropy as a curse came much later and historically was always as the result of witchcraft rather than the modern idea of a bite or a scratch passing it on. I think that horror side of things was a way of rationalising human monsters at times, before we came to understand more about the human mind and all that can go wrong with it. And in the modern day I think werewolves are a way for people to continue exploring all that remains uncivilised in our species and the wilder side to our natures.
The Hybrid series was a long journey for you, can you explain your process and how it led you to being published?
It certainly was, and to think at 15 I was young and naïve enough to believe when it was ready for publishing it would just happen!
After my cousin helped with brainstorming those first three chapters, the scenes we’d come up with started writing themselves in my head and it wasn’t long before I started working on them, amid my last year of school and exams and moving up to college. I would be in lessons daydreaming and my imagination would be going places in the Hybrid universe and coming up with all these scenes till I realised it wasn’t just a short story I had on my hands or even a novel, but an entire series! I’d also get narrative writing itself in my head and would have to commit it to memory if I couldn’t get away with making notes mid-lesson. Then the day would finally finish, I’d go home and get any homework out of the way and write for the rest of the evening (well, not quite the entire evening, every evening–some nights I’d want to read another author’s work or catch up on TV or enjoy some time on the PlayStation 2!). On weekends once homework was done, I’d devote some time to writing and some time to my other hobbies. I think it took me about a year to finish the first draft of Hybrid so I’d have been 16 when I finished writing it, then it ended up being sat on my PC for the next few years virtually untouched because I was too busy enjoying student life.
I got serious about being published again once I finished my studies–it was the only career that really interested me, despite doing a couple of different courses in my college years to try and find a back-up plan in case making a living as a published author never happened for me. But when I went back to this ‘masterpiece’ my younger self believed would be an instant bestseller, it was something of a reality check. I soon realised it needed a good rewrite, so I then spent an intensive year doing just that.
I’d not heard of beta reading at that point but a few friends begged me to let them read it so I did do, and two of those I still use for beta reading now. They say you should never use friends and family as beta readers because they never give you honest feedback, but I’m lucky that the friends who beta read for me are very good at picking up on any issues and feeding that back to me. So once I’d tested it on those brave guinea pigs and acted on the feedback I was given, I then started sending out submissions to all the big agencies I could find who would accept supernatural horror.
This was probably the hardest part of the whole process. It’s always disappointing to get a rejection letter–that’s one thing you have to learn to deal with as a writer. But so many places just don’t bother to acknowledge they’ve received your submission at all and it’s so soul destroying to go through weeks or even months of waiting and hoping you’ll receive a reply expressing interest and asking to see the full manuscript (as the initial submission is only ever a sample of your work, usually of the first three chapters, and a synopsis), only to finally accept, it’s probably another no. I did try chasing up one or two who never replied but didn’t even get an answer to my email asking if they’d received it!
I must have spent three years submitting to agencies (as it’s frowned upon to do a big blanket submission so I was restricting myself to sending out to a handful of places at a time) before I finally found Wild Wolf Publishing. They thought the story showed promise, but they felt the manuscript needed more work before it was ready for publishing, so I then did another major rewrite to fix what they felt was the main issue–namely that some parts read too YA while others were more adult, and it needed to be consistent for one or the other. I’d always intended it to be for adults so I edited out a lot of the really YA stuff, though the first one still ended up in the teen/YA section on Amazon, anyway! But Wild Wolf loved the new edited version I sent them and didn’t take long to write back asking to see the full manuscript. Things happened really quickly after that–it took only a month to hear back on the final decision once they’d read the full thing and it was the good news I’d been dreaming of all those years–they wanted to publish it for me.
Wild Wolf has been very fair with things like royalties and giving me a say in the cover design. It’s been much harder than I ever anticipated to try to make a name for myself though! As Wild Wolf are only a small publisher, I have to do 99% of the work marketing myself and chasing opportunities for doing readings and signings. Sometimes it feels like the world is against indie authors and publishers but I live in hope that someday I’ll be one of the big names in horror, even if it takes years of hard work to get there.
I have read that you are also going to be working in the dark fantasy genre, what themes are you going to be exploring?
The premise is basically immortal beings playing a game, using the fantasy world like a chessboard and mortals as pawns, which I touched on in my short story, Immortal Game. I wrote that one for a competition and when I shared it with the other members of Huddersfield Author’s Circle they all enjoyed it and told me to carry on with that world, then when I got into live action roleplay it really inspired me to write a short piece based on my experiences at my first larp event. The character in the piece is essentially the same one I play at larp but the world it’s set in is my own. So that then led to a load of ideas for developing the concept I’d got in Immortal Game and the two immortal characters in that story but set in the fantasy world of the larp inspired piece rather than modern day earth like Immortal Game. I’ve got tons of ideas for the gods and demons attached to that world, as well as the mortal main characters caught up in the game they’re playing, but it’s going to be a big project with all the world building so I haven’t done much with it yet.
I’d say one of the recurring themes across my work is the damage we’re doing to the planet and animal rights and there is going to be a sense of that in this one as well, but the corruption in that world will mostly come from the demons. It’s hard to say for certain before I’ve really started working on it (as I don’t do too much planning in advance – I’m more the type of writer who has an idea and just runs with it and sees where it goes!) but I think there’ll be themes of loyalty and betrayal like with my Hybrid series. It will be the kind of fantasy world that has magic and dragons but I much prefer writing anti-heroes and villains to out and out good guys; conflicted characters who have their own inner struggles which impacts the decisions they make, rather than just doing something because it’s right all the time. So it will definitely be dark fantasy rather than high fantasy, and there will probably be a good dose of my trademark gore in there.
What new projects should we be on the lookout for?
I’m currently in the process of moving my Hybrid series over from Wild Wolf Publishing to Miami Fox Publishing after the success of The Complete History of the Howling. The move will see a re-release of the first three books with brand new cover designs and they’ve had another edit for these second editions, plus there’s going to be just over 19,000 words of never before seen bonus content. This will take the form of a short story from a different character’s perspective to my fictional werewolf self. I had a lot of fun with that piece, building on the character’s backstory and exploring more of the history of the Hybrid universe, as well as doing a bit of a crossover with Vengeance and hinting at things to come in book 4.
Book 4 is now drafted and has been through a round of editing and is now going through the beta reading phase so I would hope to have that out later this year as well. And Hybrid fans can also look forward to another short piece in an upcoming werewolf anthology by Graeme Reynolds called Leaders of the Pack. My contribution is a prequel piece from the point of view of the werewolf who bites my character at the start of Hybrid. I’d written that one before doing the bonus piece for the second editions so there’s a little bit of a crossover with two of the characters from the prequel appearing in the second edition bonus story. I think fans are going to love it.
And finally (for now), in 2017 after finishing Vengeance I announced I was going to take a little break from the Hybrid series to work on my own take on the Pendle witch trials of 1612. It took a lot longer to write than anticipated due to the amount of research I had to put in–not just reading up on the trials and what we know of the people involved but into the time period in general to make sure all the little details were as accurate as I could get them when it comes to setting and things. I finally finished the first draft early autumn 2018 then went back to the Hybrid universe to do book 4 while the witches went through beta reading. I’m now about to start the next round of editing based on the feedback I’ve had and I’m hoping this one will also be out later this year, but it depends how much more work needs doing.
Many stories have been written about the Pendle trials but in my take on it I’ve really tried to put my own unique spin on the tale, weaving the supernatural into the historical setting and combining the horrors of the time with my twisted imagination. The feedback from beta readers has overall been very positive and is hopefully a good sign I’ve succeeded in doing the story justice. If anyone wants a little taster, this is another that started out as a short piece, though this one was written for a competition category ‘opening for a novel’ so it was written with the intention of being carried on with rather than a one off short story. It’s one of the free to read pieces I’ve published on my site and is currently titled The Reckoning. (Which works for this short opening but not the novel it grew into–I’ve still to settle on a title for the full novel.)
Hey everybody! I had the great fortune to interview an author and a phenomenal musician Jon O’Berg, He began playing piano at age 7, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine. He has done over a dozen albums ranging in style from atmospheric, to jazz, from funk to experimental, and from electronic to ambient. He has played with the amazing band Gemini Soul https://www.reverbnation.com/geminisoul. And he has written some absolutely fabulous books. I really enjoyed his horror novel Shatter Point which is a ghost story wrapped around the premise that everyone does in fact have a breaking point especially when an extreme haunt is involved,. So I wanted you to get to know him and for you all to check out his works, so let’s get to the questions!
My first obvious questions for horror writers, why horror?
I inherited a love of horror from my parents. Whether it was my mother telling ghost stories to neighborhood kids on warm summer evenings or my artist father painting skeletons, ghostly figures, and deserted buildings, horror surrounded me growing up. Horror speaks to one of our strongest emotions and often symbolizes issues such as social dysfunction and guilt. But even more significantly, for me, it provides the perfect vehicle for exploring the tension and ambiguity between what is real and what is imagined or unknown, which we must grapple with daily. That’s why authors like Paul Tremblay and Gemma Files especially appeal to me.
Do you have any favorite horror films or books that have influenced you or your work?
Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”—both the novel and the 1963 movie. The shocking twist in Thomas Tryon’s novel “The Other” made a huge impression on me. And although it’s not a horror book, I love “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has nightmarish elements with the Boo Radley house. Its concern with prejudice and social justice influenced my newest horror novel, which I hope to publish soon.
Have you ever gone to an extreme haunt like in your book The Shatter Point?
Are you crazy??? I wouldn’t last two minutes. Not my idea of a good time. I got the idea for the novel after watching a documentary on extreme haunts. That was close enough. I do like conventional haunted attractions, though. Living in Toronto, I’m fortunate to be near one of North America’s premiere haunts at Casa Loma, a castle that sits on an escarpment overlooking the city. Every October, the proprietors turn the castle and grounds into an impressive haunt. What could be a more appropriate setting for fright than a real castle?
Why do you think people are so intrigued with being scared?
I think it safely allows us to explore certain feelings and provides an emotional release. Kind of like riding a roller coaster, or the laughter after being frightened at a haunted attraction. I also think it helps us tame fears we have, such as fears of death and the disintegration of the body, and fears about loss of control. As one of the characters in my new novel says, horror is sort of like a vaccine that inoculates us. For a while.
Does anything frighten you?
Wasps. I can’t even be outside in the vicinity of those insects without coming unglued. Murderers. I’ve had close encounters with a serial killer, a mass shooter, and a colleague who chopped up his girlfriend—a triple whammy that continues to haunt my stories. And madness. The first time I experienced panic attacks, I thought I was losing my mind. These incidents, when they occur, are terrifying beyond anything I can describe.
You are a very talented musician, can you tell my readers a little about why you love music, how you pursued it in college and what your favorite styles and influencers are?
My mother wanted me to take piano lessons, which I did for seven years starting at age 7. I’ve always had a creative streak, and music provided an additional outlet beyond writing, making up games for my friends to play, and designing floor plans. In college I started out intending to become a writer, but after two years switched my major to music because, at that time, it came more easily than writing. I love how music and words go hand in hand to enhance each other. A very powerful combination. My tastes are eclectic, and I appreciate most styles of music from classical to rock to pop to jazz to rap. The style isn’t as important to me as the artist’s vision and how well it’s executed. Who’s influenced me? Meshell Ndegeocello, Tori Amos, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Herbie Hancock, Laurie Anderson, Todrick Hall, Esperanza Spalding, RuPaul, Joni Mitchell… I could go on.
Have you ever considered adapting your music to soundtracks for films?
I often get comments that my music (at least some of the instrumental stuff) sounds like a soundtrack. It would be fun to write music for a film.
You have done music for television, can you tell us more about that?
I wrote some background music for a couple of programs years ago—very light, inconsequential wallpaper music. It’s difficult because you’re trying to please a client who can’t necessarily articulate very well what he or she wants. So I didn’t enjoy that. But songs I’ve recorded have been used in programs on NBC, BET, Telemundo, the Hallmark Channel, etc.
Like your album Ghost Story, if it could be the soundtrack for a film what would you like to see happen in the film?
Hmm… Trying to tie together the different threads, it would be about demonic forces that unleash ghosts from catacombs under the earth to usher in the apocalypse. The ghosts cause people to do horrific acts against one another, like chopping off heads that they keep in a box. (Idea for a new novel?)
What new projects are you working on, or anything else we should be on the lookout for?
I just completed a novel about a drag queen and his female friend who run a horror podcast and share a passion for fashion, art, and horror. When they learn their apartment building might be haunted, they investigate with the help of their quirky neighbors, but uncover something sinister that threatens them all. And there will be a companion album of horror songs written by one of the characters in the story. I’m currently seeking a publisher. I also have an idea for another novel that I’ll start writing soon.
“The Shatter Point” is available at Amazon (https://amzn.to/2IAFL79) and other online retailers. My music is available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and most online sources.
In this interview I would like to present you with an amazing woman, a fabulous writer and intellect, and also an inspiration. Her name is Rhonda Jackson Joseph. She is a horror writer, a member of the Horror Writers Association, and a professor based out of Texas. Her analysis of gender, race, and, horror has really inspired me to look at all who indulge in this world of horror that we love so much. Primarily a man’s game, I want to look at the differences we all bring to the table. Male/female, black/white/yellow/brown, different religions, different countries, different sexual orientations… how we all see horror differently. So starting off my adventure, I bring you the great lady herself and her answers to my questions:
First, thank you so much for having me over for a chat, Jaye. I always enjoy talking with other women in horror.
Where did you get your love for the horror genre?
I grew up in a home always filled with books and magazines and the ones my parents didn’t think to hide were the horror ones. I’ve always had a dark nature, so I was drawn to these tales of monsters, weirdness and evil. My father was the one who collected these books and every now and then I would talk him into allowing me to watch the horror movies with him. I was really young, maybe 6 or 7 or so. The adult me is glad he didn’t have the best parenting judgement because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten all that exposure to the things I love so much.
What are some of your favorite horror films?
Some of my all-time faves are Blacula, the original Poltergeist, Pet Sematary, The Exorcist, Beloved and all the classic Universal monster movies. Recent additions to my list are Get Out, The Quiet Place, and Hereditary. Apparently, I’m drawn to sympathetic monsters and also utterly terrified by parenthood and societal horrors.
How did you get into writing?
Writing has always been how I best express myself. The written word never fails me, even when speaking does. I’ve been full of words since childhood, with a knack for telling stories. I also have a mother who always supported whatever I and my siblings wanted to do and she continuously praised my writing and encouraged me to continue the sharing of myself through words. My insatiable curiosity helps, too. I never run out of things to write about because I question everything, all the time. Everything that happens and my experiences are fodder for stories or poems. Even things that don’t happen are fair game. Writing is such a part of my being that I can just never quit.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
So many faves! I read way more than I write, which is good in some ways but terrible in others. I love classic writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley. I also like Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, and Tananarive Due. Stephen King is one of my favorites as is Linda Addison and Lori Titus. And L.A. Banks will forever be #writergoals.
Which books inspired you?
I mostly read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul as a child, so I was heavily inspired by their works to write my own creepy fare. The works of Tananarive Due and Toni Morrison inspired me immensely because they showed that black women could write riveting horror. But the most influential book overall in my horror writing was the Bible. I was raised as a Southern Baptist and those stories and the ways preachers would impart them were horrifying! I also liked the hidden messages and the ways the words could mean various different things.
I learned the word misogynoir while researching you. Can you explain it to my readers and how you feel about it or counteract it?
This is an excellent question! Misogynoir is a term coined by African American feminist Professor Moya Bailey to describe a specific hatred that is enacted upon black women. Misogynoir reflects an intersection of race and gender in the ways black women are victimized. I grew up feeling the weight of not just being black but of also being a woman, so the word feels right and encompasses the entirety of my experiences with such hatred in a way that the term misogyny ignores with its single focus on my being a woman.
One specific way I work to combat misogynoir is simply by daring to write black women’s experiences into the horror genre, as an unapologetic black woman. I write about black women being terrorized by monsters because so many experiences of black women are horrific. I write about black women being monstrous because we should be allowed to lean into this element and receive power and sympathy as other monsters do. I write about why we need these depictions, why the genre (really, the world as a whole) should embrace these characters and stories as relevant, lived experiences that encounter horror and monstrosity in various ways.
What drew you to writing in academia?
I often tell folks I’m an accidental academic. I attended graduate school primarily to get a degree that would allow me to work part-time teaching at the college level, where I would make more money than in any other part-time job. I also needed the flexibility so I could still care for my children. I didn’t know the pursuit of that degree and the people I would meet along the way would also create avenues for me to find a still growing corner of this discipline where I might be able to make valuable contributions. I honestly had no idea that writing about black women and horror from an academic standpoint was a thing. Then I met Dr. Kinitra Brooks at a horror convention and searched for everything I could find on her work about black women in horror and popular culture and I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. My entry into academic writing may have unintentional, but apparently, this is where I need and want to be.
What do you find truly horrific?
Ah…our existence is immersed in darkness and overrun by monsters. If I had to choose the most horrific things I’m aching over in this moment, I’d have to say humanity’s lack of empathy and the assassination of intellectual curiosity. It scares me that human beings can deny other humans their right to basic personhood and exalt their cruelty. Now, I wouldn’t say there was ever a time in my lifetime when this empathy existed in abundance, anyway, but I just would have thought we’d be beyond this point by now.
And I grew up surrounded by people who didn’t have advanced educations, sometimes not even through high school, and yet they still sought knowledge and facts to make decisions about their lives in general. Now we have folks who have multiple degrees who disregard facts and make illogical and unsound arguments in bad faith… and others blindly follow them. Critical thinking is pretty much dead, and it doesn’t seem it will even be resurrected as a zombie, so when it’s completely gone, it’ll just be gone.
If you could have a frank discussion with any five people in history: living or dead, who would it be and why?
This is a fun one! The chance to ask Mary Shelley about her writing process and inspiration for Frankenstein. I want to hear it from her without the filter of years of research. And meeting Edgar Allen Poe would be a dream. I often wonder how he managed to avoid ultimately succumbing to his demons before he did. I’d absolutely love to have a conversation with Margaret Garner, the enslaved woman whose story of matricide inspired Toni Morrison’s Beloved. As heart wrenching as it would surely be, I’d like to hear from her the desperation that drove her to murder one child and attempt to murder the others in an attempt to save them from slavery. I’d like to talk with Toni Morrison, too. I continue to be inspired by the way she uses words to make experiences immersive. I’d just want to shake her hand and hope some of her glitter rubs off on me. And James Baldwin seems like the kind of person I would seek out at a party, someone I could have stimulating conversations with while the world went on around us.
What are you working on now?
I work best when I’m juggling different projects, so I’m currently working on a few things. My main focus right now is an essay on the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House”, for a collection being compiled and edited by Dr. Kevin Wetmore. Also, I’m outlining two different academic book proposals for submission to publishers. In the background of these academic projects is a horror novella and a couple of chewed on and incomplete horror short stories that I hope to finally finish. By the end of the year, I’d like to have a collection of short stories to shop around to publishers.
I would like to yell three shout-outs. The first is to announce that I will be making an academic presentation at the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference at StokerCon in May, called the “Rendering the Invisible Visible: Black Femininity in Horror”. It would be great to have some folks come out to join the conversation.
The second is for Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series, a collection of essays edited by Dr. Kevin Wetmore that made it onto the final ballot for this year’s Stoker Awards. The third is for Sycorax’s Daughter’s. edited by Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Linda Addison, and Dr. Susana Morris, which appeared on last year’s Stoker Award final ballot. I’m super proud to have contributed to these amazing books and I look forward to more works from these magnificent writers and editors.
I’m currently accepting abstracts for multidisciplinary academic presentations at the Multiverse Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Atlanta this October. Please see our call for papers on our website here: https://www.multiversecon.org/papers
I want to thank Rhonda so much for giving me her valuable time and insights! If you would like to learn more about her or her works, I have included some links for your perusal:
Hey guys, Jaye here again to bring you another amazing author for you to go check out: horror author John F Leonard. John hails from the England and is an author who can spin an incredible read from the usual and the mundane by turning the topics on their head. Beautiful character crafting and scenarios that will have chills running up and down your spine and leave you thinking about them long after you are done reading. A dash of social commentary, a morsel of suspense, and a huge dollop of terror will have you clamoring to read more! So let’s get to the questions for him:
Why horror? What got you interested in writing in that genre?
The simplest answer is that I like reading horror and I think you’re best writing something you would like to read. That was all I ever really wanted to do when I started out – write something for myself. A book I’d see and think, yeah, I fancy reading that. I’ve still got the same ambition.
It also depends on your definition of horror. For me, it has clear cross-overs with science fiction – apocalyptic and dystopian stuff – and yet goes beyond that. Elements of horror are found in a lot of the ‘mainstream’ genres. I wouldn’t want to tackle a romance, for example – believe it or not, I have been asked – but a horror romance, now that’s not entirely out of the question. : )
Who are some of your favorite authors, or inspirations or who inspired you?
Too many to list them all. Some of the earliest include James Herbert, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Stephen Donaldson, A.A. Attanasio, Robert McCammon.
It’s a toughie – the early ones are the easiest and still difficult – how far back to go, how do you identify/isolate influence?
I’m holding off on mentioning newer writers because I haven’t read enough recently. That’s a sad admission, but it’s the truth. There are only so many hours in my day and I’m spending most of them writing/working – that’s set to change, once I’ve got through my backlog of work/rejigged my schedule.
Your art work is amazing, any formal training?
I had an excellent education, and it included art. Your strengths (to whatever degree) are invariably your interests – Art, English, History. They were all subjects that fascinated me. Of course, that was a long time ago.
As far as art goes, I sold quite a few sculptures and paintings and came to the awful realisation that it wasn’t going to pay the bills. I drifted away, like you do. Got lost in trying to survive the world.
Sometimes you go back though, rediscover your first loves. Sculpture, drawing, painting – I wasn’t sure what I had left in me for those.
Language, the written word, was a different matter.
It felt like I’d never really explored what I could do there. I think the desire to write is probably the last great motivation I’ll have in my life. When that urge is spent, I’ll be happy to watch the grass grow.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere and anywhere. I have a list of ideas – it grows nearly as quickly as my To Be Read books and To Be Watched movies list. Reality and its subversion is something currently grabbing my interest. The Scaeth Mythos/Dead Boxes have their foundation in that concept.
What frightens you?
Mortality – my own and that of my loved ones. There’s a terrible fragility to life. It wasn’t something that concerned me when I was younger, but I worry about it a lot these days.
There are other things. Stupidity, for one. That scares the brown stuff out of me. Not being able to intelligently reason is a surefire recipe for bad decisions and worse outcomes. It’s great friends with greed, you often find them skipping hand in hand through the wastelands they’ve created.
Heights is another, more prosaic one. Not in and of themselves – nothing wrong with simply being up high, its height combined with a feeling of vulnerability. Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower is an amazing experience. Beautiful and breathtaking. Stuck at the top of a stepladder trying to fix your roof is insane!
Thinking on it, probably doesn’t count – comes under mortality.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Nothing very exciting. I love to read when I’m not knee deep in my own writing.
Television – I can vegetate in front of the box with the best of them. My viewing mostly consists of horror, science fiction, comedies. Some drama, although a lot of it is dross. Some sport, football and snooker. Current affairs (when you can filter the truth from what the networks want to give you).
I like a drink and relaxing with family and friends. Don’t do enough of that.
Sleep! I know that sounds factitious, but there’s nothing like a genuinely restful spell under the duvet.
Do you have a writing muse or mantra?
I don’t think so. Not sure I actually subscribe to the idea (on a personal level). I believe the need to create exists in most of us. How it comes out is down to the individual – art, writing, learning how to fix the plumbing. Whatever.
For me, the process isn’t always easy. It’s often hard work. Putting in the effort and hours. What makes it worthwhile is the end result. Well, sometimes anyway. Now and again, you finish up, wipe your hands on the oily rag, and find out you’ve written a turkey. Or the damn tap is still dripping : )
Whilst I love it, writing doesn’t belong on any sort of pedestal. It’s an admirable ability, but ultimately just another skill.
Where did the Scaeth Mythos come from?
It began with me asking family and friends to suggest a name for an Irish vampire (I’m of Irish heritage and very proud of the fact).
I was inundated by ideas – seems my folk can’t resist taking the pee. ‘Mick the Biter’ was one suggestion that made me howl with laughter.
Anyway, I cogitated and researched and eventually got to ‘The Scaeth’.
The vampire side of it also morphed into something else. Broadened into a bigger concept. The Scaeth is a kind of cosmic vampire. A parasite infesting the walls of reality. It’s hollowed out a space for itself and no longer resides in any universe, just plunders those it can access. Dips into them to interfere and feed. It loves to feed.
If you could have dinner with any 5 people, living/dead/real/fiction who would it be and why?
That’s a killer question! Can’t even begin to factor in fictional. This would change with my mood, but here we go:
R. Giger – The mind that created Alien, that’s all I need say. Plus, I’d try to persuade him to get me a Harkonnen chair.
George Best – knew how to enjoy himself and my favourite footballer.
Peter Cushing – a gentleman, part of the Hammer Horror crew so lots of gossip/insights.
Siouxsie Sioux (from the Banshees) – a punk presence.
James Herbert – ignited my love of horror and struck me as a bloke with hidden depths.
We’d need an extra seat – my wife is usually at my side for big events.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been busy lately with some shorter fiction, novellas of varying lengths. I may put together a collection of what’s already out there along with new, unpublished stuff. After that a novel is most likely.
My latest is A Plague of Pages – another story from the Dead Boxes Archive. In the same territory as Bad Pennies and Call Drops. Old school horror, to my way of thinking anyway, about the perils of writing under diabolical influence.
What happens when a normal guy wants to redefine himself and become a horror writer …it doesn’t work how he plans. Not surprising, there are supernatural, cosmic forces cooking the books, so as to speak : )
I want to thank John so much for taking the time to answer my questions and may I say his dinner guest list was inspiring. If you would like to know more about John, read his works or connect with him on social media, just follow these links: