Erik Henry Vick: Horror Author Interview (2018)

I had the good fortune to meet Erik on Twitter and he quickly became a favorite of mine with his wit and intellectual comments. After reading his book Demon King I was thoroughly intrigued and had to learn more about him, his wife Supergirl, their rottweiler named after the thunder god and their two crazy cats. Erik has done so many amazing things. Erik has a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S.C.S., and a Ph. D. in Artificial Intelligence.  He has worked as a criminal investigator for a state agency, a college professor, a C.T.O. for an international software company, and a video game developer. Whew I am tired just writing all of his accomplishments! So let us find out more about this talented man!

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Why horror/fantasy?

~My fiction has always had a dark streak. When I was young, I heard the adage: “Write what you read.” At the time, I was reading a lot of science fiction, with a smattering of horror, so I thought I should write science fiction—dark scifi, granted, but scifi. I wrote some cyberpunk and tried very hard not to recognize that as much as I love reading scifi, I’m wasn’t that great at writing scifi. Let me put it this way—my “scifi” was frequently compared to Dean Koontz or Stephen King 😊

 

When I returned to writing fiction after being disabled, I first had the idea while re-reading one of my favorite authors, Stephen King—specifically I was reading the Dark Tower series and thought it would be cool to write something with the same depth, with the same “Epic Quest” quality. I had been playing around with an idea in my head about a serial killer that was a wendigo, and the Blood of the Isir series was born. It was so easy to write dark fantasy, and even easier to write straight horror, I was sure I found the right genres. Having said that, I do have plans for a scifi horror novel at some point.

What and who are some of your favorite horror films, books, and authors?

~I love Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Robert R. McCammon, Anne Rice, Ambrose Ibsen, Joe Hill, Walter Jon Williams, and many, many more.

As for films, I seem to be drawn heavily to scifi horror like the Aliens franchise and Pandorum, but I also love original movies like the Babadook, Gerald’s Game, A Quiet Place (I love, love, loved this movie!), The Others, etc. Having said that, I almost never turn down a horror movie.

What I dread in either setting is formulaic, repetitive stuff. You know what I mean… “So-and-so has sold a gerbillion books writing about butterflies, so my next book will be about butterflies. I’ll call it ‘Butterflies on a Train!’” Yech.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work in A.I.?

~I spent most of my time trying to make artificial characters into something more than talking heads. My Ph.D. explored building synthetic personalities by basing character drives and emotions on trait-based personality theory (from psychology). I also did some work in Natural Language Understanding and machine learning.

Also can you tell us about some of the video games you helped develop?

~I worked on Madden directly, and as a character AI adviser on many others under the Electronic Arts umbrella. Probably the most fun I had in the game industry was working on a project that never made it into production—an MMO concept set in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe.

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I love the Hank & Jane IRL, would Supergirl like to comment on you and or your work?

~Direct from Supergirl:

Erik is one of those people who is good at everything he tries. This amazes and annoys me in equal parts. At the time he got sick, he was a professor at a private university. We had moved thousands of miles from family a few years prior so he could take the job. It was a difficult time and eventually, even with all the help and support the university provided, he had to stop working. I remember the day I filled the car with the contents of his office. The next few years are a blur to both of us, him due to pain and medication and me due to working and handling the family and house stuff. I do remember that we started to go for drives as a way for Erik to get out of the house and for us to chat.  We have always been the kind of couple who enjoys spending a lot of time together.

At some point Erik began talking about wanting to write a story with a character that had RA. I encouraged (or nagged, potato/potahto) him at every turn because I wanted him to have something of his own again and be more than the RA. I told him we didn’t need to worry if it ever got published or how long it took to write but that the writing was what he needed to do. We set up the office with a recliner and a swing arm for his monitor and keyboard so he would be able to sit long enough to write more than a sentence or two. There were flares that interrupted and the writing went in fits and starts for a while but eventually he had something.

Any interesting stories (that you can tell) from your criminal investigative days?

~I can’t say much from the investigative days, but my experiences drive my writing, to be sure. There are far more horrible things in the world than we give it credit for. One of the scariest moments in my life was an interview with a homeless man when gradually realizing the depth of his paranoia and persecutory delusions, then discovering he was armed with .45 caliber pistol.

My years working on a psychiatric intensive treatment unit also fuel my work—in fact I am developing a concept for a novel or two pulled directly from my time there, and parts of Demon King came from this part of my life, as well (and not just the obvious bits 😊).

What would you like people to know about you?

~I have a so-called invisible disability. It’s not really invisible—it must easy to see based on the glares I sometimes get when Supergirl pumps the gas, holds the door open for me, or cuts my steak in a restaurant. It’s especially not invisible for my family and friends. It has changed me-physically, but it has not conquered me, and it has not changed who I am at the core (a big, dumb, stoic Viking). For more about my pointy-stick collection, please see:

https://erikhenryvick.com/2017/06/11/how-can-you-do-that/

https://erikhenryvick.com/gear/

Even with this stupid disease, I love life. I’m a positive person most of the time, and I try to have fun with whatever I’m doing because that’s the best sharp, pointy, monster-poking stick I can find. I love to laugh, and I love meeting and talking to people.

How do you combat writers block?

~I don’t really suffer from writer’s block. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I shouldn’t write, and most of the time, I’m bright enough not to waste time on those days, I just go relax with a good book or movie. I mostly have the reverse problem. I have far more ideas than I can write in the time my Personal Monster™ allows me. I’m rapidly filling up a digital notebook of ideas, beginnings, endings, characters, etc. Hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out a way to write faster (or develop implant technology that sucks the stories directly from my head while I sleep).

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Any advice for other writers facing their own “personal monsters”?

~Push that monster out of the way and get to work. Find a way to do what you need to do. Experiment, take notes—whatever is necessary. DO NOT LET THE MONSTER WIN.

Do you have a personal mantra?

~If I do, it involves Personal Monsters™ and sharp, pointy sticks. Or maybe something funny.

I want to thank Erik and Supergirl so much for taking the time to answer my questions and give us such a personal look inside this amazing authors mind!

You can learn more about Erik and his books here : https://erikhenryvick.com/

 

 

Horror Fan: A Poem (2018)

Horrorverse, Universe

A Place that I like

I might run into Freddy, Jason, or Mike

Halloween is our Christmas

And frights just delight

Love to be scared on a dark stormy night

Gothic or classic, Paranormal or slasher

Monster or Giallo or just a gore splasher

We love all the terror that horror rouses

We even go out to real haunted houses

Movies or art, music or books

Sometimes can get us some real dirty looks

But love it or hate it

We really don’t care

Cause we are really just looking 

For our next big scare

9/20/2018

 

Gary Scott Beatty: Webcomic Designer Interview (2018)

Gary Scott Beatty has been coloring comics since 1999. He also writes and designs his own comics and books and has designed the Webtoons Webcomic the Gods of Aazurn. He also has does  book cover art along with digital painting illustrations and Jazz illustrations. I was very fascinated to find out about online comics being a comic book lover myself. So let us get to the questions so you can go out and start reading these amazing comics also!

Why a horror comic?
~When I began the Gods of Aazurn stories in the Indie Comics #1, #2 and #3 anthologies they were dark fantasy, positive myths cynically turned to despair.
There are horror elements in every genre of entertainment. Where would Shakespeare’s Shylock be without his demand for a “pound of flesh?” Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” without Cobain swearing he doesn’t have a gun? “Game of Thrones” without winter coming?

Horror is drama, that place in a story when you see that the dark places gaining the upper hand. Why not horror? It’s everywhere.

Who are some of your favorite comic artists and writers?

~I recently got halfway through a top 10 list of comics that most influenced me before writing and drawing Gods of Aazurn weekly on Webtoons.com took over my time.

That list included Enki Bilal, Philippe Druillet, Moebius and (later) Richard Corben in Heavy Metal Magazine #1; Barry Smith and Roy Thomas on Conan the Barbarian #7 (1971); Robert Crumb on Big Ass Comics #2 (1971); Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez on Love and Rockets (1982-1996); Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, Peter Milligan and more on the original run of John Constantine: Hellblazer (Jan. 1988).

How did you get into coloring and comic art?

~I just always wrote and drew stuff. I wouldn’t recommend anyone get into this if they intend to pay the rent. For me, it’s always been a compulsion to tell stories.

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Do you think there is higher intelligence out there?

~There’s certainly a higher intelligence than me

Where did you get your love for Lovecraft?

~I first remember reading H.P. Lovecraft and other Strange Tales magazine reprints in paperbacks in my early teens, most likely attracted by some trippin’ cover art. I’m not sure where I bought them, but I own a set of Arkham House hardcovers from 1963 that I’ve felt compelled to reread over the decades.

Why do webcomics and not physical copies?

~I have graphic novels readers can buy. They can find them from my publisher, Caliber Comics, by going to http://strangehorror.com/

That website is also a good way to get to the free webcomic. Webtoons.com has a pretty long URL for Gods of Aazurn, I usually just go through http://strangehorror.com/ because it’s easier to remember.

Tenacious readers usually figure out that online reading is just reading, and go back and forth without a second thought. Google Books, for instance, is where I go to read Lovecraft’s contemporaries and influences, like Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany.

Tell us about the new “Welcome to Dunwich” webcomic.

~They are frightful and dark and divine, and their subjects despair. Earth humans are lucky. So far, the Gods of Aazurn do not care about us, even enough to reach down a mighty hand to be cruel. That’s about to change.

As of this writing I’ve posted nine stories that could be read individually or as chapters. The Rescue is a story that begins to pull the others together.

The Rescue is in actuality a teaser for the bigger GOA story coming after the newly colored and formatted Welcome to Dunwich, beginning September 19.

Welcome to Dunwich is a nicely self-contained story with an eerie beginning and horrifying end illustrated by Mark Bloodworth. Unfortunately for me, I also like the characters, and they won’t leave me alone, so I may have to do more story in the town of Dunwich. After all, the twins have yet to be born.

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What do you want people to know about you?

~As little as possible. Mystery makes me interesting.

I’m not one to dwell on past accomplishments. I’ve been producing stories for decades, but the best ones are available to read now! My world is at http://strangehorror.com/

For more background and behind the scenes, people can sign up for my Fan List there. I usually post something engaging and entertaining once a week.

Do you have a personal mantra?

~I’m not a big believer in mantras, Horrormadam. There is so much that is true in the world and it’s the journey that leads to discoveries. There is no formula, other than stay sharp, keep thinking and be hyper-aware. Sort of the same skills it takes surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Such true words, I want to thank Gary Scott Beatty so much for taking the time to introduce me to webcomics and for taking the time to answer my questions. You can learn more here at : http://strangehorror.com/ and http://www.garyscottbeatty.com/

 

 

Dark Carnival

Cryptic circus

Darkness dancing

Visible blood

Twice enchanting

Romance long dead

Loves forgotten

Heart once red, now is rotten

Come & play, come &play

To fight again another day

Nostalgia gone

Memory lost

Came back again

Too much at cost

Eventide no longer dancing

Cosmic blood just advancing

The fault in our stars

Aren’t ours, aren’t ours

But the sanguine ground

To which we are bound

Laughs loudly

At our twilight carnival

Damian Maffei: Interview (2018)

I had the definite joy of speaking with Damian Maffei from the new Strangers: Prey at Night but also from such films as Closed for the Season, Christmas With the Dead, Wildfires, and I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday.

The new Strangers is about a family’s road trip taking a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it weirdly deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive.

I really enjoyed the film and Damian’s performance in it but he does not consider that acting and he should know. He was born in Queens, New York on June 27th, 1977 and went to school for acting at William Esper Studio in Manhattan where they teach the Meisner technique and the “Reality of Doing” with such notable alumni as Christopher Meloni, Steve McQueen, and James Caan. So lets ask him a few questions :

Why do you love horror?

~Who knows. I’m sure there’s some psychological reason for it. I just know that when I’m searching for a new movie to watch, I’ll immediately browse the horror genre. Or if I’m trying to get something going creatively, push a project, it’s in the genre. Dark, brutal, most of the time. I just know that when I was a kid, and I was sneaking downstairs to watch something on TV… I’d try to find a horror movie.

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So I wanted to find out about some of his favorite horror films, films, and the actors and actresses in them.

~Fave Horror: Alice Sweet Alice (1976) with Paula Sheppard as Alice and also starring a young Brooke Shields, Jaws (1975), Alien (1979), Alien III (1992), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Christine (1983), and all time favorite is the original Black Christmas (1974). He is huge fan of the slasher sub-genre in horror.

He also for TV shows loves House of Cards and Glow.

Some favorite actresses- Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim VS the World, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Sigourney Weaver (Alien and Ghostbusters franchises), Amy Adams (Sharp Objects, and Nocturnal Animals).

Actors- Kane Hodder (Jason X, Victor Crowley, Hatchet , Jason Goes to Hell), Guy Pierce ( Memento, LA Confidential), Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises).

The Most fun I had talking to Damian is when he said Weekend at Bernie’s was his favorite horror comedy, I had never thought of it that way but he is right it was a very macabre film when you think about it. But we both agree it is actually time for a reboot of the film and in this day and age we would flip the script so that the roles played by Andrew McCarthy and Johnathan Silverman from the 1989 version would now be played by Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon with Damian as the new Bernie! I would definitely pay to see that!

What do you want people to know about you?

~Oh, I don’t know. That I’m out here just trying to do some quality work, make the most of whatever time I have in the things I’m lucky enough to be in. And when I’m not menacing people onscreen I’m usually being overpowered by my 3 sons and 10 pound dog. My favorite decade for movies, particularly the genre, is the 70’s. By far and away.

Any funny stories from sets?

~On Prey at Night I charged Lewis at the pool and swung so hard I lifted my entire body into the air and fell on my back. I was embarrassed, and pissed off, so I just laid there for a couple of seconds not moving or saying anything. But… I had the sack on my head, so everyone thought maybe I had knocked myself out. I’ll do another Strangers one, there’s a scene in a van where I get in, and the other character is sort of pinned to the seat via this wood plank that’s gone through the windshield. So I get in, and there’s all glass on the dashboard. Fake glass though. Looks real! Movie magic. So I sit down, and I get the idea to just… Play with the glass a little bit before I turn my attention towards the radio. Wipe some glass and blood off the dashboard. Little cleanup. So I do it. Johannes liked it, told me to keep it in. So I did it again on my next take. Take after that, I sit down in the car, start to wipe the glass off, and I feel my skin being penetrated and let out a yelp like a sleeping puppy being poked in the ass with a knitting needle. Apparently, during the other character’s shifting in his seat, the wood plank had shaved off a sliver of actual glass from the window, and it landed in the glass pile. You can tell the difference if you give it a real good look, but not when you’re in the zone, man! Anyway… For all that, the bit didn’t even make it into the theatrical cut. And to think I bled for it…

Do you have a personal mantra?

~A personal fave is Ray’s “I’m not going to listen to this, I’m not going to hear this now.” from The Burbs. I trot that one out often. Otherwise I like to bastardize Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” and appropriate Galaxy Quest’s “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.

I want to thank Damian so much for taking his valuable time to speak with me. I am a fan of his and as I look on IMDB there is an upcoming film that he will be in called Haunt by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods both known for being writers for A Quiet Place and Nightlight. Damian could not tell me much about it except that it was one of the most fun times he has had shooting a film. IMDB’s description is as follows: On Halloween, a group of friends encounter an “extreme” haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some nightmares are real. The film is still in post-production but it sounds like a lot of fun and I for one am looking forward to it and Damian’s performance in it!

If you would like to learn more about Damian I have included some links:

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0535541/?ref_=tt_cl_t5

https://www.instagram.com/damianmaffei/

Edmund Lester Author-Interview (2018)

I had the extremely fun chance to interview author I.E. Lester for my site. I enjoy his books immensely and I hope that you will check them out and read them also! This is going to be fun so lets get down to the questions!

In a Parallel Life you got the music scene down, are you a musician? Do you play an instrument? Any fun stories?

~Thanks for the praise on the music part. But no, I’m not a musician. Although I am married to one. My wife is a saxophonist in a jazz band. I did try my hand at playing guitar… and bass guitar… and drums when I was younger but I was completely terrible at them all and decided the world would be better off without me polluting the air with my pitiful attempts at making music. Trust me, it was bad.

I am however a lifelong fan of music, of rock music, folk music and most especially progressive rock and have music playing at all times when I’m working/writing.

Hmm, funny story? First one that comes to mind was back from my school years. A number of my school friends formed a band, as teenagers do, and did actually play a number of gigs around the Birmingham area. Being my size, I’m more than two metres (between 6’7″-6’8″) tall and back then played rugby so was well built, I used to help out with the band, carry the instruments and help work the door, collecting the moneys on behalf of the band.

Before each of these gigs I would have the usual conversations with the venue’s regular door security team and it one key topic would be the age restrictions. Depending on the type of venue this was either 18 or 21. We could not allow anyone in if they were under that age at it could risk the publican’s license. All makes sense, except for the fact I was 17 when we were doing all this. My being there broke the conditions. I guess being my size they just assumed I was old enough. No one ever checked.

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What are some of your favorite bands and what music helps inspire your writing? (I listen to a lot of John Carpenter 😉)

~The first band I ever listened to seriously back in the late 70s was the Who. I saw a documentary about them on TV and liked the music. I badgered my mother after seeing it to take me to a music shop so I could buy an album by them, and came away with a double LP compilation of the first ten years of the band. I absolutely loved it and was hooked on music from that point.

The Who are still a favourite although they have been joined by many others over the years. Here’s a sampling – Rush, Dream Theater, Bruce Springsteen, Yes, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Metallica, Tom waits, Iron Maiden, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, Pink Floyd, It Bites, Tanita Tikaram, Suzanne Vega

I could go on.

I find any of these excellent music to inspire me when writing. But there are some artists I struggle to listen to when writing. I quite like the surreal pop/rock of They Might Be Giants but as the lyrics are such a stand out part of each of their songs I find they get in the way of my own words.

I’m listening to Neal Morse’s Testimony 2 as I complete this interview. I find his music, his solo work, and in the many bands he’s been part of, absorbing – well maybe his prog work. His non-prog, more singer-songwriter isn’t quite my thing, even though I do like a lot of singer-songwriters.

Why write horror?

~The first adult books I ever read were horror books albeit by accident. I was reading Roald Dahl’s kids books borrowed from the school library and with Christmas coming up my mother decided to buy me a couple as a present. Only she didn’t realize Roald Dahl wrote adult horror stories as well as children’s books and that’s what she bought. I was nine… and I loved them. That was my fate sealed.

Add to this the fact I watched more horror films over the years than I think I can count, most of which were truly terrible, and I have this repository of horror-ness lodged into my brain so I guess it’s natural that when I think of ideas for stories a significant number of them are going to be dark.

Horror also fits well for someone who lives in a country like England. There are just so many places here that seem a little spooky. This country is filled with castles, prehistoric sites like stone circles, Gothic churches – history wherever you look. To me old places naturally go with the idea of ghosts and other supernatural creatures. Just take a look through any of the folk tales from all over Europe and you’ll find a lot of supernatural

The town where I live (Ashby de la Zouch) has hundreds of years of history, traces of which you can see by walking around if you just take the time to look.

That and the other reason – if someone annoys you in life you can write them into the story then make them suffer.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books, and authors?

~My favourite horror writer has to be Stephen King, the Stand, admittedly not a straight up horror book, being my favourite of his. But add in Misery, It, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, the Shining (plus, plus, plus) and you have an incredible body of work.

But I also love Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon (the Stake is brilliant), Brian Keene, Phil Rickman, Graham Masterton (has to be Tengu or Manitou) and James Herbert (Secret of Crickley Hall, Fog, Rats).

I do tend to find British horror differs a lot from American. As mentioned above I find creepy in history. But a lot of American horror, given the shorter history, has it in people. There’s a lot more tales of teenagers with freaky powers, puberty seemingly being a big bad switch on in US horror, maybe it’s something in the water, and lot more of the hicks in the middle of nowhere horror. The UK doesn’t have enough space to have towns and villages that cut off from the rest of civilization so I don’t think those stories would work here.

With films I have an all-time favourite – the original Halloween. Absolutely brilliant film. I thought Saw was great and have enjoyed the rest of the series although none are a patch on the first. I enjoyed the latest version of It although find it falls short of being a great on one count. It doesn’t have Tim Curry. I think if I’d not seen the TV mini-series and Curry’s performance I would consider it great. Bill Skarsgård was great but Tim Curry is one of my favourite actors.

What inspires you?

~Anything and everything. I know it’s a trite answer but it’s true. I’ve found ideas reading science papers (yes, I’m that sad), history books, visiting odd places, reading about other cultures, antiques I’ve bought at antique fairs (the Intersection is based on an old movie projector), and watching movies, especially bad movies.

My novel the Stairs Lead Down came from one movie session. I was watching a particularly terrible horror movie with my wife and at the end I went on a rant about just how bad I thought it was and how I’d have done it different. So she said, ‘Ok, do it’. Well I went through the plot of the movie (I wish I could remember which one it was) and started making changes. Pretty soon I’d thrown away everything single aspect of the film story – the location (I moved it from the US to the UK), the characters (the original had adults, my leads are teenagers), the basic story (I think it was zombies or something like zombies in the original, mine has ghosts and a necromancer), and pretty much everything else besides. The film, in the end, was a catalyst to get my mind going, and for that I can thank it. Still wish I could remember which film it was, but having watched thousands of horror movies I lose track.

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How do you get past writers block?

~This is a tough one. To be truthful I don’t know. I do know that when I’m not in the mood for it forcing it is a bad idea; or at least with regards ending up with anything publishable. I have a file on my hard drive of random typing. If I’m stuck I open it and start putting words down. Not words in a random sense, I do form them into sentences which tend to be linked. But I don’t worry about characters, plot or anything like that. I just go for stream of consciousness rambling. It’s led to more than one story.

It doesn’t always work, though. When I’m truly stuck I find getting away from the keyboard is the best idea. When it comes to starting a new story, there’s something far easier about doing it with pen and paper. And I find it works even better when I’m not able to do anything other than scribble down thoughts. If I’m in a writing funk and there’s a TV nearby it’s hopeless. I’ll spend an entire evening skimming through YouTube watching total rubbish.

But put me in a car in the middle of nowhere for several hours with a notebook and pens (always take a spare) and great things can happen. I’ve whiled away many hours filling pages with my barely legible scrawl and by the end of these hours usually found I have a new story underway. My current work in progress, a Gothic horror novella called Alabaster started in just such a way two weeks ago.

Why write a YA book and was is hard for that mindset?

~When I was creating the plot for the Stairs Lead Down I wasn’t thinking about writing a ya book. I just wanted to come up with a story I liked enough to try writing. When I’d molded into the plot I liked I found my focus was on a pair of fourteen year old twins. With that focus it felt kind of natural to aim it at young adults.

As for hard, not really. My thoughts about ya fiction is there should be little difference between it and adult fiction, once you take out the obvious no-nos for ya books. So no erotica, no over the top violence or language and all should be good. Well it would as long as the content of the plot isn’t outside the life experience of your average teenager. I’ve often said that (apart from the erotica I mentioned above) the only subject I don’t think would be suitable for younger readers is political intrigue. But I am happy if someone proves me wrong. Young adults are on the cusp of being adults. They should not be treated all that differently, so a good young adult book should be readable by all age groups from then up.

But it’s an odd thing, classifying a book as young adult. My two novellas, the Intersection and a Parallel Life, feature no content more obviously adult than the Stairs Lead Down; maybe the occasional curse word but that’s it. But the main character is a 49 year old accountant and the things that happen to him are in the “odd” category so it probably wouldn’t appeal to a younger reader.

What do you want people to know about you?

~I’m tall. I may have mentioned that – Two metres, one centimetre, or a little over six feet seven in old measure. But I’m friendly, so don’t get scared. And I’m not as pompous as I seem to be.

What scares you?

~I used to say nothing did. But after my wife’s serious illness at the start of this year I know that was just a flippant reply. My biggest fear, one I came too close to experiencing, would be to lose her.

Do you have a personal mantra?

~I have a couple of thing I try to live by. Enjoy life and be nice to people.

I want to thank Mr. Lester for taking the time to answer my questions because there is nothing better for me then getting to probe the minds of the people whose works I enjoy! If you want to learn more, we have included the following links:

@ielester on Twitter

Books:

In the UK

Stairs Lead Down

A Parallel Life

The Intersection

And in the US

Stairs Lead Down

A Parallel Life

The Intersection

 

 

 

David H. Thornton: Interview (2018)

 

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I have the unmistakable pleasure of being friends on Twitter with the amazing David H Thornton, who you might recognize as Art the Clown from the fantastic horror film Terrifier. The more I read about him the more intrigued I became. Art the clown does not speak yet David gets across every notion of Art’s intent and action, then I come to find out he is a  voice actor to with a wide range of voices and inflections. Color me curious to find out more about this compelling man and actor. Lets get to the questions!

How long did makeup take and was it really uncomfortable?

~ It took about 3 1/2-4 hours to apply uninterrupted, though usually longer since Damien was doing my makeup and would occasionally have to leave me to go film or set up shots. The mask itself was not uncomfortable since it was molded and glued to fit my face. The teeth were not bad since they were also molded to my teeth, but they did make me drool a lot. Because of this, Damien was constantly touching up my makeup around my mouth. The contacts were the worst for me since I don’t like things in my eyes. I truly suffer for my Art!

Art doesnt speak much, everything was expressed by your face or your body. Did you study improv or actual clowning?

~ I didn’t take professional classes on clowning, though I am a lifelong student of it and learned from the performances of those that perfected the craft before me such as Chaplin, Harpo Marx, Keaton, Carrey, and Doug Jones. My two biggest influences, however were Rowan Atkinson and Stefan Karl. I would watch Mr. Bean over and over when I was younger to learn from Rowan and applied that knowledge to many characters that I played. However, it was not until I understudied Stefan Karl (who you might know as Robbie Rotten) as the Grinch for 5 years, that I personally had someone that could mentor me and help me fine tune my skills in this area. Stefan was a master at physical comedy and I learned much from him over those years. Sadly, he recently lost his battle with cancer. I intend to carry on his legacy in my own way.

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Are you a fan of horror?

~Oh yes! Very much so! Though I was a little late to the game since I only got into horror when I was a senior in high school since my mom never liked those movies and would not want them played in the house. I was basically dragged to Scream 2 by my friends and discovered a love for the genre. I have not stopped watching since!

Favorite horror movies and or books?

~Movies: Top 5 (besides Terrifier) are; Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Omen, The Exorcist, and Halloween. Books: I am a very big Stephen King fan and just finished “It”. Any of his will work here, especially The Stand or The Dark Tower Series. Also “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark”, and “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey!” Loved those books as a kid!

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How did you get into voice acting and how many voices can you do?

~ I discovered my first voice in the 1st grade during story time when a girl in my class passed me a note asking if I would be her boyfriend. I let out Goofy’s “Gawrsh! Ah hyuck!” and a new passion was born. Who Framed Roger Rabbit introduced me to the legend that was Mel Blanc. When I discovered that one man did all of those voices, I wanted to learn to do the same and took it upon myself to do so. Any time I hear an interesting voice, I feel compelled to learn how to mimic it. Now I do well over 200+ character voices (I lost count years ago) and have turned that into a career that I enjoy doing! I’d love to be the voice of Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse one day

Any great impersonations?

~ That is such a Sophie’s choice since I do so many! I’d say that some of my best are Bugs, Krang, Mickey, Shaggy, and Barney Fife though.

What style of acting did you study?

~Oddly enough, none. I actually have a degree in teaching and did not go to school for acting. I simply learned from watching my superiors and people in general and adapted to what worked best for me over the years.

What would be your ultimate role?

~ The Joker, bar none. He’s my favorite villain of all time and I love him dearly. I do play him on a web series called Nightwing: Escalation. However, I would love to play him on tv or on the big screen. I’ve seen so many great live action portrayals of the character, but not a single one of them was what I think is a true depiction of the actual character from the comic books. In my mind, Mark Hamill’s is the closest, and is what I base my version largely off of. I’d love to bring my version to the masses one day.

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Any other special skills?

~ LOL! I can put my feet behind my head. Ladies? 😉

What would you like people to know about you?

~That I feel extremely fortunate to have a career that I truly love doing and that I am eternally grateful to my fans for giving me this chance to live my dream. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

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Any personal mantra?

~It is a lesson that I learned 16 years ago when my mom passed away from cancer and also a similar mantra that Stefan Karl lived by: Live the life that you want. We only get one shot at this world, so why not live it to its fullest and pursue the dreams that you have? You never know what you may be capable of until you try. Life is now.

You can find David at https://www.facebook.com/david.h.thornton and https://twitter.com/DavidHThornton and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm7476686/

 

 

Susan Leighton: Interviewing the Interviewer! (2018)

Writer, interviewer, podcaster, Susan Leighton does it all. It has been my distinct pleasure to have been speaking with Susan on Twitter for quite awhile now and she is so genuine and extremely entertaining and just a pleasure to speak with. I have read so many of her amazing articles and interviews that I thought it would be fun to interview the interviewer. So lets get to it!

Do you even sleep you have so much going on? 😉

~LOL. Yes, I do. I just keep weird hours for now because it is the nature of the beast. Since I am not a “brand” name I have to hustle to get my work out there. Plus, I am branching out of the niche world and going full throttle into pop culture. I have always been an entertainment person so I am fortunate to have different venues that want to hear what I have to say.

Why horror? And how did you get into it?

~From a child on, I have always been intrigued with realms that are beyond our current frame of reference. I wanted to be an astronaut so I studied the planets which fostered an interest in the concept of other worlds. The paranormal, science-fiction, horror, these are genres that I have always loved. However, that being said, I am more of a pop culture person. While I am predominantly known for what I have done at 1428 Elm, I am now writing for sites that fuel my other passions like Heroic Hollywood and TV Series Hub. I can also be found every Friday night espousing or ranting depending on the topic at Nerdrotic Podcast with Gary Buechler and Dennis Bithoulkas. I have started my own podcast with my buddy, Abby Fagan called Unrestricted Content. I try to keep my options open and also, I love challenges. Anything that is going to push me, I am going to want to try.

What are some of your favorite horror films and books?

~Wow. Where to begin. I got my first taste at a young age when my Mom introduced me to Vincent Price in The Oblong Box. From there, Psycho, The Shining, The Dead Zone, Bubba Ho-Tep….oh, yeah and this thing called Evil Dead. And the book Duma Key by Stephen King.

What are some of the best things to do on Halloween?

~Turn the lights down, throw on a decent horror flick or psychological thriller, grab some popcorn and a Patron martini. And if you’re in the mood, maybe a costume. You know, for later.

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How did you get involved with covering Bruce Campbell?

~Man. You are asking the tough questions, Jaye. I asked my editors at 1428 Elm if I could write a little something up for Bubba Ho-Tep’s 15th anniversary. I didn’t know if they would be into it. They were very enthusiastic. In the meantime, we created an Ash Wednesday thing plus I was on the Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 beat which turned into something else entirely. I knew he had a book coming out (Hail to the Chin) so I decided that I was going to interview him. No one had tried it before at the site and I thought what the hell? He is a hard cat to track down but I gave it my best shot, he responded and my first chat went live in September of last year.

Have you met him? Any fun stories?

~Yes, I have met Bruce on several occasions. In February, we sat down for an on-camera interview and then for a print interview during the PR party for Ash vs Evil Dead S3. My last time conversing with him was at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis. As for fun stories, none of them involve him but more about me and logistics, bad makeup and comedy of errors. Part of those experiences will be in a book I am writing. Fiction, of course.

What are some of your favorite tequilas and any suggestions of pairings with horror films?

~I am strictly silver tequila although I have had my share of Anejo and Mezcal in the past. Yes, I have had the worm and nothing trippy came out of it. As for drinks, I love Patron Martinis and Espresso Martinis with Patron. I think if you are going that route, then by all means reach back into the past and grab Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant or the Exorcist.

Any great horror festival stories?

~Well, up until now, I was a con virgin. Since HorrorHound Weekend, I am no longer one. Let me just tell you, logistics are a bear. The festival was held in a terrific venue in downtown Indy which I remember from 15 years ago when I attended a business conference. However, the panel discussion room felt like it was a secret passageway and I could never quite get there. On Friday, which was the very first day of the con, I was at the hotel bar kicking back with a few friends and some drinks. Panel time for Evil Dead 2 rolled around so I split. Even though I had a map, I kept pulling a European Vacation thing with this policeman. Me: Hey, Officer. Insert laughter. Officer: Didn’t I just see you? Me: Yep. Officer: Evil Dead, right? Yeah, it was that kind of night. I did manage to find the room though.

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Any favorite interviews?

~Joe Lansdale was a proud moment for me. I have always enjoyed his writing. Dee Wallace was another coup that I was happy to score since she is in the pantheon of scream queens. Dana DeLorenzo, Lindsay Farris, Ray Santiago and Arielle Carver-O’Neill were the best. I had so much fun chatting with them. Oh, and one more. Damn it. I wish I could remember his name. 😉

Do you have a personal mantra?

~Keep it classy or I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

I wanna thank Susan for taking the time to speak with us and say what fun it was, such great answers! If you want to learn more about Susan you can find her at:

https://www.facebook.com/SusanontheLedge/

https://1428elm.com/  for horror genre news and commentary

And on Twitter @SusanontheLedge

Also @heroichollywood  @tvserieshub  @content_podcast @Nerdrotics

Clarissa Jacobson Interview (2018) Lunch Ladies

Clarissa Jacobsen is the wondrous writer of Lunch Ladies a short horror film touring the film festivals now. Lunch Ladies is about two burnt out high school Lunch Ladies who do whatever it bloody takes on their quest to become Johnny Depp’s Personal Chefs. I highly recommend it and can not wait for it to become a feature length film. The film is directed by J.M. Logan who worked on visual effects for Apocalypto and Production Manager for The Circle starring Tom Hanks. The films two main stars are Donna Pieroni as Seretta and Mary Manofsky as LouAnne our intrepid lunch ladies. The ladies have shared a miserable existence as high school lunch ladies serving up rubbery chicken parts, ammonia-treated government meat and whatever else the cash-strapped national lunch program sends their way. This year is going to be different: The twin’s Cheesy Burger Bites recipe is the Grand Prize Winner of Johnny Depp’s Cook for Kid’s Charity Event. Convinced this is their ticket out of high school hell town and that “The Depper” will hire them to be his very own Personal Chefs, their dreams are shattered after a snotty head cheerleader pushes them one step too far. This forces the Lunch Ladies to ask themselves – WWJD? What would Johnny do?

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I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Clarissa previously for the House of Tortured Souls, but now that I have my own site I wanted to check in with my friend and see how she is doing with the movie on the circuit:

You have been doing a lot of traveling for promotion and awards, any fun stories?

~I have been having the time of my life attending festivals and every single one has something wonderful or crazy that happened. One of the funniest situations happened at Mórbido Fest in Mexico City where I traveled 1,850 miles to see the Lunch Ladies for our international premiere and never got to see the film.  The first screening I got stuck in a Day of The Dead Parade trying to get to the theatre.  You’ve never seen traffic like you’ve seen in Mexico City, now triple that for the Day of The Dead.  I left an hour and a half early to get to the film – the theatre was only 10 minutes away.  I thought I had enough time.     I didn’t know about that parade.

The cab driver I had dropped me off on the side of the freeway because we were at a standstill and said “Go that way” he pointed to a park telling me to cut across to get to the theatre.  I was in a dress and it was about 100 degrees and I was running through the park, lost –  my Google Maps wasn’t working and there were Day of the Dead floats coming at me.  I was sobbing trying to find that damn theatre with people from Mexico City stopping trying to help but no one seemed to know where it was.   Finally another poor cab driver took pity on me but that ended up being a fiasco as well, because he tried to avoid traffic and we went all over the city ending up in an Uber accident.  Once again I got out of the car, and ran – this time, I don’t know how but I found the theater – I made the Q&A soaked to the skin from sweat with mascara running down my face.

The second time the film played I got there three hours early only to find out after sitting for two hours that it had been canceled.  So, I decided to go see my friend Catya Plate’s movie – Meeting MacGuffin and then Gisberg Bermudez’s movie The Whistler.  That ended up being a massive fail also as the Uber driver who was taking me got in another accident.  I left the next morning for home only having seen two shorts the whole festival.  Yet,  in the funniest way the whole thing was perfect.

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Favorite place you got to go and why?

~The favorite place I’ve been to would be Clermont-Ferrand. Though Imagine Fest in Netherlands was amazing too, and Nightmares Fest in Ohio was a joy.  All of the fests that I’ve attended have been great, and have had really wonderful things that happened.  But so far, my top is Clermont-Ferrand.   The thing about Clermont-Ferrand is the audience loves short film so much that every single screening has people lined up around the block.  There’s just a lot of passion for short film there.  Opening night the film played to 1000 people and every seat was filled.  The programmers at Clermont have also been incredibly kind to me and have since taken the film to two more festivals, one in Marseilles and one in Korea.  Imagine they treated me wonderfully too… and Nightmares was the first place the film won an award and I met so many great people there.

How are plans for the feature film going?

~I’ve just been plugging along with the feature – that is trying to find that financier to take the project. It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s a lot of amazing things happening on the horizon and I’m hopeful.

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Any new projects on the horizon?

~I haven’t had time to write much because Lunch Ladies has taken up so much of my time, but I have many other projects in the wheelhouse, two of them – Stella by Starlight which was optioned by Bev Nero Productions and Norman Stephens is picking up steam and Psalm Du Sang – a story about Elizabeth Bathory – was optioned by the director, Gisberg Bermudez. The same Gisberg I met at Mórbido Fest.

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Have you got to discover any new fave horror films or books?

~The discovery I had was “Don’t Look Now” – Joe Bratcher, my writing mentor had recommended it to me a while back and finally I was able to see it. They call it a thriller, but I think it’s pretty horrific – it was fantastic and terrifying.  I had nightmares.
~How do you like the horror fans?

I love horror fans so much – these are my people – they are smart, supportive, artistic and non-judgmental.

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~Have you got any rest at all?-hehe

Rest? Actually things are good right now – because my job ended and I’m taking a few months off to do things with the film – so life is good right now – I’m getting 8 hours!

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I want to thank Clarissa again so much for taking her valuable time to speak with me and let us know how her short film is going. Please check it out you will be really happy you did!

https://www.lunchladiesmovie.com/

You can also follow the film and Clarissa at @LunchLadiesFilm on Twitter and https://www.facebook.com/lunchladiesmovie/

And to check out my previous interview on the fantastic House of Tortured Souls just click on http://houseoftorturedsouls.com/lunch-ladies-2017/

 

 

 

 

 

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