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:
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Uncovering Stranger Things on Amazon:
Sycorax’s Daughters on Amazon:
HWA Poetry Showcase, Volume V:
Monstrous Domesticity on Amazon:
Black Magic Women on Amazon:
Anne Radcliffe Academic Conference at StokerCon 2019:
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:
A Plague of Pages:
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N7MPMGN
AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N7MPMGN
Get in touch with John on Twitter – https://twitter.com/john_f_leonard
John F Leonard Author Pages:
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B01BHUE6Z6/
Hey guys, I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite new authors Ellie Douglas. In conjunction with this being Women in Horror Month I wanted to interview a woman whose work is so visceral and thought provoking, chilling with both gore and wonderfully thought out horror narratives. I recommend most highly and if you are a fan of the horror genre, you can not go wrong with any of her works! Ellies books personify horror.
She is a multiple award-winning author who comes from New Zealand. She is also a freelance graphic artist who designs and creates beautiful, imaginative, and professional pre-made book covers and coloring books. She has also spent ten years working with autistic children.
So let’s get down to it and ask her some questions:
What is it that drew you to the horror genre?
That is a good question. A lot of things have drawn me into the horror genre. It started from a very early age. I would sneak up and watch horror movies that my dad was watching. He did not know I was there. I’d be watching from behind the half-closed living room door. I was scared, actually I was terrified, but I loved the thrill of it. I believe watching horrors from such a young age is what sparked my love of horror. It grew from there. My brothers and I would do some seriously crazy things after watching movies like Friday the 13th for example. After watching that, we were being silly kids and decided to pull a prank on our mother. So we ripped the head off of one of my dolls, stuck a screwdriver into it, leaving the top part of the screwdriver sticking out through its now matted hair. Then we poured tomato sauce all over it. Smeared it with black and blue ink to look like bruises and dirt and then we put it on a plate and left it in the refrigerator for our mother to find. Needless to say when she did, she gave us the thrill we were after when she screamed bloody murder; however, when she was calm and realized it wasn’t a real babies head, we got into big trouble. My brother was 14 at the time, and I was 13. So it’s really been running through my veins since I was a young girl.
Who are some of your favorite authors or books?
Some favorite authors. Stephen King. James Herbert. Dean Koontz.
Your short stories are so intriguing. How do you decide whether to keep them short or to develop them into a novel?
I had already written five full sized novels, and I wanted to challenge myself by writing short stories. I discovered I was good at it. I enjoyed it a lot and kept ongoing. Some of those shorts will be turned into full-sized novels. Deciding to keep them short was the challenge, and because of that headspace I was in I already knew ahead of time that they were going to be shorts 🙂
Where do you get your inspiration for your writing?
I get my inspiration from so many different things. Sometimes I will create a cover of a book before I’ve even written it, to use that as my muse. Other times it will come from something I’ve experienced. Other times from movies or books. Wherever I am, be it at home, or out and about, ideas hit me hard and fast. My imagination is pretty wicked.
Being a graphic artist where do you get your ideas for your custom book covers?
As with the answer above, it can come from anywhere. Something I’ve read, watched in a movie or TV show, something the kids have said or done. Images elsewhere, my inspiration for creating covers and for writing both arrive from the same place. Also talking to people, finding out what they want and working with them often ignites my imagination, and it just takes off.
How did you get into developing adult coloring books?
I have always loved to color and thought how fun would it be to have a zombie coloring book. I’d not seen one, ever. Especially in this country, New Zealand. So I created my first adult coloring book and then decided I would make more. They are fun and very therapeutic, plus they make excellent gifts to give to the adult who has everything.
What inspired you to create an online casino slot game?
I love playing the slots, and I hate wasting money. So I thought why not make a game that I could play. One that would give me the best of both worlds. It would be the kind of game that one would win no matter what. No losers in that game. I need to say unfortunately it has been taken off the market due to the people at ITunes claiming that it shows too much skin. One of the characters from a fairy game is wearing a bodice that shows too much cleavage. So they pulled it down. I can not get it back up at this time, due to not having the money needed to remake that particular game.
“Hounded” has won multiple awards. Why do you think zombies resonate so much with horror fans?
I believe that it resonates well because of the damage that zombies can do. In particular, my book Hounded is not about human zombies. It is about K9’s, man’s best friend turned zombies. Four legged zombies cause way more damage and are a lot scarier. It for me I believe is because of what they can do and how scary zombies are no matter if they are human or animal. They will tear you apart, and that’s a thrill we all love. Also, it is hyped up about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse actually happening. I personally don’t believe that one will happen. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would be cool and that I could instantly become prepared for one lol.
Can you tell us something about your work with autistic children and why it is such a passionate cause for you?
One of my own daughters is on the Autism spectrum. This is what got me started in working with other children who are autistic. It is very close to my heart. Raising a special needs child comes with a lot of difficulties, but it also comes with a lot of rewards too. For example, when you see them achieve mainstream goals for the first time, it is very rewarding.
What new scares or projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on a top secret project. I’m unable to say what at this time, but I can say that it is going to blow the minds of readers. I’m pretty sure readers won’t have seen anything like what I’m currently working on. Trust me, it will be something that readers will be very excited about.
My final thoughts is an offer of a short story, for free. If readers of your awesome blog are reading this and would love a taste of my horror, then I have one just for them. If you visit my website, you can join my newsletter and be rewarded instantly with a free book.
I want to thank Ellie so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such fabulous books! If you would like to learn more about her or you would like to read her work, just follow the following links:
https://plus.google.com/101411492847090012799 Google Plus
My next author interview is with horror writer Erik Handy. His stories are spine chilling and engaging, dark and imaginative and I really encourage you to check them out! So let’s get to the questions and find out what he says:
When did you first fall in love with horror?
I grew up in the VHS Boom of the 80s. My parents constantly rented just about everything horror and sci-fi. It was probably then.
Favorite horror films?
Fright Night, Predator, and The Fog.
Favorite horror authors and books?
I don’t really read anymore, but when I did, I liked Bentley Little a lot.
Favorite comic books?
Watchmen. It’s a well-told story first, comic book second, if that makes sense.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Sometimes from my hyperactive dreams. Sometimes from a stray thought.
Why are you the King of Horror and Suspense?
Because no one does it better than me.
You work and you write which probably doesn’t leave you with much time, but do you have anything else you do to decompress from these activities?
I’ll get all the rest I need when I’m dead.
Is there anything that scares you?
Knowing there is probably nothing after death. NOTHING.
I know you write screenplays. If you had all the power, which of your books would you like to see made into a movie and who would direct and star?
Just one?! Noooooo . . . . I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the stories in Demonica being filmed for an anthology a la Creepshow. A different director for each segment . . . John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and Rob Zombie. It’d have to star Jeffrey Combs and Brad Dourif in multiple roles.
Lastly, what projects are you working on for the future?
I’m cleaning up my screenplays for publication. After that, I’m going to reissue and finish my Demon Hero series. After THAT, a new short story collection, then maybe a new Bad Boogeyman novel. 2019 is going to be a busy year!
I want to thank Erik Handy for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to learn more about him or read his works, just follow these links:
Official site: ErikHandy.com
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00476PH5G
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/erikhandybooks/
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/ErikHandy
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB2-bhZHAXtuMUNrwJHKsdQ
Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/erikhandy
It is a new year and I would love to present you with a new author interview from one of my favorites, Ken Stark. I just love how he describes himself on Twitter…Horror writer, questionable painter, unapologetic nerd, and committed beer enthusiast. Author of the award-winning Stage 3 series of books.
As a fellow nerd I so enjoy his attention to detail and meticulous crafting of each novel. Exceptional characters, provocative scenarios, and fast-paced reading that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I encourage you to give him a read, but in the meantime get to know a little more about him here.
Where did you get your love of horror?
The books and movies and TV shows I remember from my childhood are almost always the ones that scared me. I can remember those scenes in perfect detail decades later while I’ve already forgotten a movie I might have watched only days ago. I’m not into gore for the sake of gore, but I’ve always loved any story that drops a normal, average person into a nightmare, because it’s just so easy to imagine myself in that spot.
As a writer, the prospect of having that same effect on a reader just thrills me to no end. If I can make someone hesitate for a fraction of a second before they throw back the shower curtain, or if I can send a chill down someone’s spine as they come home to a dark house and reach into the shadows for the light switch…. well hell, what writer wouldn’t want that superpower?
Favorite disaster films?
The Day After. It was a made-for-TV movie from 1983, and it was probably the first movie that accurately depicted the devastation of a nuclear war. Despite the subject matter, it was actually very subdued. Just real-life people struggling to keep their loved ones alive. It was chilling because it was plausible, and I’m afraid to say, it still is. Most disaster movie take place in one building or one city or one state, and it usually ends with our heroes making it out of that location to safety, but when the whole planet’s involved, it becomes a fight for survival in a microcosm. Powerful stuff indeed.
What scares you or just gives you nightmares?
Well, I do have one phobia, but come on, you don’t expect me to tell the world my Kryptonite, do you? As for nightmares, they are so few and far between that I honestly don’t remember what any of them were about. The only exception is one that I had after Stage 3 came out, and I found myself in the very world I’d created. It was certainly scary, but it was awesome! After all, here I am trying to give other people nightmares, and I gave one to myself. But I love that nightmare. Recalling the sensations I’d felt being plunged into that world helps me convey that sense of dread as I continue the series.
Favorite horror/ science fiction novels?
Oh, I fell in love with science fiction early on. I’m sure I’ve read every Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke book ever written. It’s tough to pick a favorite, but I’d have to go with the Asimov’s Foundation series. It astounds me that he was able to pack so much imagination into those books that spanned galaxies and centuries and still have it make perfect sense.
As for horror, I always fall back on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The man wrote not only a great book with a brand new monster, but look at what’s followed since. I can’t think of any other piece of literature that’s had that kind of effect on modern culture.
What inspires you?
My inspiration to write it simply the number of years I spent keeping my passion on the back burner. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but after a few disappointments in my younger days, I abandoned the dream. Of course I kept writing, but from then on, it was only for myself. Now that I’m doing it for real and can actually call myself a writer, I need zero inspiration. Give me a pen or a keyboard and I’ll write ’til I drop.
As for what inspires a particular story, those can quite simply come from anywhere. All it takes it a dark little tweak on reality and following it to its most horrifying end. Stuck in traffic? Look at the mousey little guy in the next car over and wonder what he might get up to in his spare time. Stopped-up drain? Just what horrible thing is down there, and why? Dining out? What if that chicken isn’t really chicken? Honestly, if you give your imagination free rein, anything and everything can provide inspiration.
What do you like to paint?
I taught myself to paint by watching Bob Ross wield that big ol’ brush of his, so most of my stuff is landscapes. I’ll throw in an elephant here or a deer there, and once in a while I’ll add a person, but I don’t paint people well. I did a few zombie pieces for an online promotion recently, and they were a lot of fun, so I’ll definitely be doing more of those. What do you think, would Bob Ross approve? ‘And let’s put a happy little reanimated corpse right here….’
Does music influence your writing?
No, not at all. I love music and I usually have something on while I write, but I’m barely even aware of it. You could fire a gun next to my ear when I’m writing and I probably wouldn’t hear it.
You have a lot of technological/ scientific information in your books, is this learned or researched?
A little of both, actually. I studied sciences through high school and into University, so some of that will naturally creep into my stories. Sadly, school taught me nothing about zombies, so coming up with a mechanism for getting the dead to walk was tricky, and it required a ton of research. What I came up with might stretch science to the limits, but my background made me want to at least try to make it plausible, and I think it works. Most of my research now is a quick Google search for the kinds of things that can get a person on an NSA watch list. Bullet velocities. Rate of decay of human flesh. Effects of blunt force trauma. You know, casual bedtime reading material.
What do you like to do when not writing?
Pat answer alert! When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Honestly, though, it depends on the weather. For most of the year, I’ll do anything that gets me out in the sun. In winter, I tend to hibernate, so I’m always either reading, writing or throwing paint at a canvas.
Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
I believe that everything happens the way it’s supposed to. That belief doesn’t help one iota when things go bad, but I do believe that it all happens exactly how it had to happen. There is a scientific theory that suggests that everything we know is really just information spread across the surface of the universe, in which case, time is an illusion and everything we think we experience is simply information stored in a 2D hologram. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s good to know that there are a few physicists out there who’ve got my back.
What can we expect from you next?
My plan this year is to write two books. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but I’m going to try. I will keep the Stage 3 books coming as long as someone out there likes them (including me!) but I want to alternate between those books and other books entirely unrelated and non-zombie. I think you’ll like what I’m working on now. I can’t tell you what it’s about yet, but it’s good and creepy!
Until then, I always have several short stories on my website that anyone can download for free and share around, and I plan on posting another every month or two. It’s just my way of thanking people for stopping by. The latest is ‘Killing Joe Prince’, about a writer who take hero worship a little too far. Make of that what you will;)
I want to thank Ken so much for agreeing to this interview and for giving such fabulous answers! I cannot recommend enough that you read his wonderful work. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope by reading such engaging responses from Ken that you will go check his work out as well.
Ken Stark’s Website: https://kenstark.ca/
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Stark/e/B01D911QC2
I will honestly say that I am usually not big on short stories because I like to get involved within a story and live there for awhile. But that being said, the book Trembling With Fear: Year 1 really changed my mind on this. Everyone of the stories were beautifully written and thoroughly concise in there execution. I got everything I expect from longer books with just many more stories to enjoy!
The book is an amalgamation of stories from the site the Horror Tree of which Trembling With Fear is a branch of. Horror Tree is a great resource for authors, whether they be established or new innovative and ingenious voices, as an outlet for their written material. Find more out about Horror Tree here:
I have borrowed the next information from the intro to the book Trembling With Fear: Year 1 so that you the reader can get an exact idea of what they do:
Trembling With Fear is a branch of Horror Tree which publishes original fiction every Sunday morning. In it, they have a minimum of one short story and three pieces of flash fiction on a weekly basis. They are not a static publication however, and have recently introduced serials as a new feature and no doubt there will be other developments. Please check the Trembling With Fear Submissions page for details on how to submit.
You can find that page here: https://horrortree.com/submissions/
And please pick up the book, it is a real slice of horror entertainment. So many diverse voices and ideas that there is something for everyone in it and you will not be disappointed!
It is available here at Amazon on Kindle or in paperback form with a 5 star rating!:
Roger Jackson another friend from Twitter was kind enough to let me ask him some questions about his writing. He is a Whovian and a self-proclaimed proud geek and an intelligent and fun one at that! So lets get to the questions!
What do you love about horror?
Its flexibility as a genre. We can have Horror stories so many elements, romance or comedy or social truths and yet the core ideals of the Horror story remain undiluted. It rarely plays well in the other direction. I can have a love story about werewolves and it still works as a Horror story, but throw a lycanthropy grenade into the middle of Verona and Romeo and Juliet’s asses are mine.
Why do you write horror?
All of the above, but I think the most straightforward answer is that my brain is wired to embrace the darkness. I didn’t have any parental or familial influence as a child, which rather wonderfully meant that I was left to my own devices, and I was always drawn to the forbidden, the scary movies and books and comics. They’ve always been the most comfortable and natural way to process the world around me, and in the end that’s what writing is, processing the internal and external worlds through one’s own personal filter.
Who are some of your influences?
I’ve been influenced more by concepts and events than by individuals, I think. Certainly, the more media I consumed, the more I saw what worked and what didn’t. I remember seeing my first dead body when I was perhaps five or six, a child a little older than me pulled from the mossy waters of a local river, and almost at once making the link between the fear and queasy excitement of the assembled onlookers and my own feelings when I watched a Horror movie. I saw that bridge between the real world and fiction, and I suppose that was a key point in terms of an influence.
Favorite books, authors, and films?
My favorite book would have to be Pet Sematary, if only because it’s so unrelentingly bleak. The pages are soaked in death and futility. I don’t really have a favorite author, though, because everyone brings something to the table. I have a least favorite author, but let’s not go there! Favorite movies? So many! The Devil’s Rejects, most likely, because the ending makes me cry.
Tell us about the art that is your heart-kintsugi?
Well … most people know that Kintsugi is the art of repairing ceramics or pottery with a lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Rather than throwing a broken object away, Kintsugi means to extend its life and make something beautiful out of its scars. A few years back, I was ill and at the same time experienced from someone close to me a level of coldness and cruelty that I didn’t think they were capable of, and as a result there was some emotional breakage. I picked up on the Kintsugi thing because that’s how I am now, proud of the scars I’ve been left with. Everyone should be proud of their scars. They’re symbols of survival.
What do you prefer British or American horror and why?
I’d have to say British. There’s a weird kind of glamour to a lot of American Horror, whereas the British stuff is often realistically ugly and decaying. Movies like Death Line or Mum And Dad or even Human Centipede 2 (set in London) have this wonderful texture of griminess and threat that’s often lacking in American stuff.
What are some of your favorite weird things, or what do you like to do that is weird?
Weirdness is subjective, but I love art like Goya’s Witches’ Sabbath, because I like things that subvert expectations or accepted morality. I don’t know if I personally do anything weird, but … if I pass a dead animal in the street, a crushed cat or slaughtered bird, I always take a snapshot on my phone. I have quite the collection, but I think that when the corpse has been removed and the last of the blood dispersed by the rain, it’s important to remember that the animal had lived at all.
What do you want people to know about you?
Probably that I’m not as scary as these answers make me sound!
Do you have a personal motto or mantra?
“Get Better, Not Bitter.”
I want to thank Roger so much for taking the time to answer my questions and you can read more of his work here:
I have a good friend on Twitter with a fabulous website called The Horrorcist from London, England. Great trailers, and movie reviews and amazing discussions on all things horror. I was fortunate enough to get to ask some questions from the team, so lets get to all the enlightening horror answers!
I just love horror! The way it makes the hairs on your arm stand is like nothing you’ll ever feel in another genre.
What scares you and your team?
I think for myself, the things that scare me have to be the supernatural paranormal side of things. I mean, it could happen right and if it did, the demons you’ll face are demons you’d never ever wanna face or could even imagine existed.
What is the best horror genre and why?
It’s hard to say what’s the best horror genre as I love them all to be honest. You’ve got your good old slasher for the gore side of things and then the paranormal side of things that really scare the shit out of you as well as a jump scare. If I really had to pick, it would be supernatural/paranormal Horror.
Some of your favorite slasher horror films?
My favorite slasher films will have to be your Halloweens, Friday The 13th’s, A Nightmare On Elm Street films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Scream.
Some of your favorite paranormal horror films?
Some of my favorite supernatural films will be the likes of Insidious, Sinister, The Conjuring, The Exorcist and Poltergeist to name a few. The list goes on haha oh, and I’d like to mention IT and The Final Destination franchise!
Some of your favorite Horror comedies?
My favorite horror comedies will have to include Shaun Of The Dead. I absolutely love that film. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are the perfect duo. Severance is also another good horror comedy along with the obvious, Scary Movie franchise.
What type of horror do you think we are gonna move into in the 2020’s?
I think we’ll see a lot more slasher films in 2020. The genre will stay host of your paranormal films still as that will be big in the coming years but, personally, I can see some more slashers hitting the big screen. This year’s Halloween will kick start the slasher hype again along with the news that another Halloween film is already in the works that could be released next year! Also, could we potentially see another Friday The 13th film? Who knows…
Favorite horror directors?
Some of my top horror directors will include a lot of other horror fans pick such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven and George A. Romero but, I’d also add James Wan, Andy Muschietti ,Scott Derrickson, and Tobe Hooper. I’d like to mention a couple of upcoming directors from the indie scene who are going to be a name in horror. Michael Kehoe and Charlie Steeds. Both these guys are super talented.
Favorite guest and stories from the Demonic Podcast?
I can honestly say every guest on The Demonic Podcast was amazing. It was great to hear about their roles in horror and how their journey began. The Demonic Podcast will be returning again soon for sure and I’ll be co-hosting alongside Zobo With A Shotgun and Rachael Rumancek.
I want to thank the Horrorcist so very much for taking the time to answer my questions! To learn more about the site and catch up on The Demonic Podcast just go to: