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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Q&A with Hunter Shea


I have a guest on my blog today.

Hunter Shea writes awesome horror stories and has a very impressive backlist. And he's dropping in for a Q&A.

 
Hi Hunter. Congratulations on your latest release from Flame Tree Press.

Slasher movies are some of my favorites. Is SLASH a throwback to the 80s subgenre us horror fans know and love so much?

Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to write a slasher novel, but I needed to come up with the right killer. I was a teen in the 80s and feasted on everything from Friday the 13th to Maniac, The Slumber Party Massacre, and Microwave Massacre (a terrible movie, by the way). My ten best times in a movie theatre mostly involve watching Jason carve campers up while the crowd went wild. What people growing up today miss by watching horror movies at home is the shared experience. They were wild, wild nights. So, needless to say, a lot of ideas have been rattling around my brain pan for many years. Driving past the old, abandoned Nevele Resort in the Catskills, I suddenly had this concept of a killer called The Wraith. Wouldn’t it be cool to make a crumbling resort his home base? And wouldn’t it be fun to start the book through the eyes of a final girl who barely escaped The Wraith some years earlier? What would that do to not just her, but her friends and family and everyone associated with The Wraith’s victims? Once all of those questions started buzzing around, I had to sit down and write. 

When did you realise horror was the genre for you? 

Way too early. I mean, I was begging my father to wake me up when I was 6 so I could watch The Night Stalker with him. I’d been taken to drive-ins and local theaters to see every conceivable movie since I was a baby. Horror is the genre that stuck with me the most. As a teen, my walls were filled with either posters of girls in bathing suits (yes, I had the Farrah Fawcett in the red suit) or still shots of gory movies ripped from the pages of Fangoria. One wall would have a shrine to Victoria Principal next to heads being lopped off and Nazi werewolves from An American Werewolf in London blasting people away. I lived and breathed scary movies back then, and I still do now. 

I’ve noticed you have a thing for monsters and cryptids, when did your interest/fascination begin? 

Good old Leonard Nimoy and his series, In Search Of, got me hooked on Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. That show was both informative and downright creepy. I read every book I could find in the library about cryptids and monsters (there weren’t many). To me, it’s a natural progression from horror movies to potential real life monsters. It’s fun to write books about creatures people are familiar with and taking them to places maybe most people never even considered. 

It’s October, and for me that means celebrating Halloween all month. What do you do to celebrate the spooky season? 

First, I renamed the month many moons ago to Horrortober. Trademark pending. 😉 My goal each year is to watch at least one horror flick a day. When I’m done with each, I tweet out the movie and my rating system, which is x number of 9 tana leaves (for you Mummy fans). I also pick out certain books throughout the year that I save to read in Horrortober. My family and friends always meet up at the Chiller Theater con at the end of the month. And Halloween at the house is crazy. Last year, we got almost 600 trick or treaters. It’s a huge event for the neighborhood and the perfect way to cap off the season. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on my next Flame Tree Press novel, Misfits. It’s tense and it’s dark and it has a villain that I think quite a few people will recognize. It’ll be all complete and wrapped in a bloody bow by December. Your readers can follow my progress, and insanity, over at www.huntershea.com


Thank you so much for answering all of my questions. I look forward to reading more of your awesome books.

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I hope you enjoyed reading Hunter's very interesting Q&A as much as I did. 






Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 6 October 2019

ON THE NIGHT BORDER by James Chambers

Dark things stir in the night. When the world sleeps and quiet settles in, shadows assume sinister shapes, guilt and regret well up from the mind’s deepest recesses, and the lonely face their greatest fears. Darkness bares the secret truths whispered on the lips of the lost and the desperate. At night, terrors come alive. For those who journey too far into the dark, no escape remains—but there is a place from which to view these nightmares, a place…on the night border. 

The fifteen stories collected here come from the last edge of the light and deliver glimpses into the dreadful, the mysterious, and the strange. These stories offer readers unsettling and weird visions from across the border, visions out of history and from the world around us, visions of cosmic horror, personal madness, and agonizing heartbreak. 

A literary legend confronts the reality of a chaotic, uncaring universe. A young girl grows up in the shadow of a ferocious monster. A man seeks to kill his memories. Love defeats death in an odd world not unlike our own. An artist’s drawings unlock a terrifying truth of his adopted city. A mask burns. The mother of plagues offers a deadly future. 

Readers will find here all of these and many other visions of what lies on the far side of the line, including, by special arrangement, stories of Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak and Kolchak, the Night Stalker. Walk up to the edge. Listen to the whispers on the wind. Peer across at the terrors beyond from your vantage point…on the night border!


I was really excited when I received this collection of short stories because this is the first time I've read a book by James Chambers. And now that I have, I'll definitely want to read more.

Okay, this is going to be a long review because I've got a little something to say about every single story.


A SONG LEFT BEHIND IN THE AZTAKEA HILLS: 

What starts out as the sad thoughts of an artist who feels abandoned by love and muse going to a bar to drown his sorrows, soon turns into an unexpected encounter with a mathematician that throws him over the edge of memory and so much more... 

This is one trippy story that manages to twist mathematics, music, addiction, monsters and other dimensions together, while throwing in Jack Kerouac and heartbreak into the mix. 

MARCO POLO: 

A silly game turns into a horror story when one kid accepts the creepy dare of finding a mask inside a burnt-out store that is better left untouched... 

OMG, this situation escalated fast! It starts out harmless enough with one kid daring another to go and find something creepy. And when he does, they all get stuck playing a hideous game of tag with deadly consequences. 

LOST DAUGHTERS: 

All Drew wanted to do was help three girls who looked like they were going to jump from the bridge. Instead, he gets caught up in a nightmare that might be just what he needed... 

I loved everything about this story. The creepy girls. The Good Samaritan. The way it was written. The way the uncertainty and dread builds. And especially how it ends because sometimes, everyone needs to be reminded about what's really important in life. 

SUM'BITCH AND THE ARAKADILE: 

There's something in the woods that hunts the young. Jillian's mother told her so. Always warns the children about the Arakadile. But what's really going on is even weirder than she imagined...

I enjoyed this one. It's short, but definitely not sweet. It's also a really dense story, where so much about family, secrets and lies is twisted with the monster hunting them. Very clever tale! 

MNEMONICIDE: 

When you can't handle all the memories that haunt and hurt you, you might one day decide to kill them... 

This was quite the story. It's interesting, horrible and totally mad. The fact this man goes on a killing spree to free himself of the bad stuff is bonkers. But you know, it's very well writtem in a POV I usually don't like. And it's clever in its madness too. Plus, Angie... she was really something. 😳 

THE MANY HANDS INSIDE THE MOUNTAIN: 

What starts out as a straightforward situation about a guy who loves his town and his girl, even though he's unfaithful, turns into a macabre Halloween celebration of bloody proportions... 

Yikes! This one really got me with it's sharp turn. A tale of deception, love, revenge and greed with an awesome horror twist. And there's plenty of candy to give everything that happens an extra bittersweet dose. Great story that proves everything has a price, and that some people aren't as clever as they think they are. 

WHAT'S IN THE BAG, DAD? 

Garde's business is struggling. The circus/carnival scene and its performers just don't pull in the crowds they used to. And now that his wife has been gone for a year, his grief threatens to overwhelm him...

I've kept this brief and don't go anywhere near the heart of this very sad story. I loved the carnival feel and the array of characters. The twist is also very, very cool. But like I said, so sad. 

THE DRIVER, UNDER A CHESHIRE MOON: 

The driver is speaking to the woman sitting in the passenger seat beside him. He's talking about violence against kids, showing his scrapbook, sharing a few bits about his life, and that's not all... 

OMG. This story! It starts out a little disorientating because this guy is talking and talking inside the claustrophobic confines of a car, but once the narrative steps back and the big picture starts to come into focus... Wow. 

What an amazing story. It's violent and totally unapologetic about it. It's disturbing but totally takes you into territory you don't expect. 

LIVING/DEAD: 

Phil and Gustav are two friends heading to a pub to do a bit of speed dating. One is there in search of love, the other is there for moral support. But they both live in a world where dead isn't always dead...

This was a lot of fun. A bit of a zombie tale with a wicked and very original twist. Yet, it's also takes a very interesting look at how society reacts to change, and how love can destroy, fulfill or complete someone.

THE CHAMBER OF LAST EARTHLY DELIGHTS: 

In a world where it's encouraged to commit suicide by entering the Government Lethal Chambers, one man's life is torn apart when his family is affected and reality blends into nightmare... 

This is one weird tale. Told as journal entries by a very unreliable narrator, I was instantly drawn into this macabre version of 1920s New York and the crap this man goes through. The imagery in this one is vivid and gross, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

ODD QUAHOGS:

Big Gene is a good guy with a few problems. But none as big as what's happened to his wife... 

Whoa. This was something! It's mysterious, weird, and all-so wonderful in a cosmic kind of way. There's a lot to love about this story, especially the easygoing style it was written in, even though there's a lot to be terrified about. You really need to be careful with what lurks beneath the water.

A WANDERING BLACKNESS:   

An interesting story about a man who feels he deserves so much more than he has, and winds up getting himself into a pretty dark corner...

With names like Blackapple and Zarnak, this was a trippy story featuring some dark mystical magic and plenty of selfish motivations.

KOLCHAK, THE NIGHT STALKER: THE LOST BOY: 

Carl Kolchak, supernatural investigator and reporter meets with a lady who is convinced her toddler is not her child. He accepts the challenge and discovers a very interesting situation bound to cause a lot of trouble... 

I love supernatural investigators. I don't mind if they're PIs, special cops, journalists, reporters, or even of the made-up variety. And the mystery at the heart of this one was one of my favourite scenarios. There were no surprises here, but I loved it just the same.

PICTURE MAN: 

Ethan wakes up in hospital and doesn't remember how he got there. Even after reading about it in newspapers and on TV, he can't remember what happened in the subway. And when the memories start trickling in, he might wish he didn't know... 

Another great story! This one is about amnesia after an attack, and how sometimes not remembering a bad incident might be a blessing in disguise. Because what Ethan discovers is pretty nasty.

RED MAMI:

When sickness hits a village, it starts taking everyone with it... 

This one was just okay for me. Maybe it was because the subject matter was too real and the supernatural aspects didn't hit the right note for me.


Well. Wow. This book is certainly packed with dark delights. There's something here for everyone, and because I love variety in my horror, this was perfect.

Not only was there variety in the subgenres, but also in the writing style. These tales are full of nice narrators, bad narrators, unreliable accounts, interesting people, horrible people, monsters and everything in between. They're also told in first, second and third-person POVs, and everything works together very well.

I enjoyed the hell out of all fifteen stories, but my most faves were: Lost Daughters, The Driver, Under a Cheshire Moon, The Chamber of Last Earthly Delights, Odd Quahogs, Kolchak, the Night Stalker: The Lost Boy. These were the ones that really stood out for me.

On the Night Border is an outstanding short story collection by a very talented author. Every tale is different, but all cover some sort of nightmarish situation. Plus they all have one thing in common: they hooked me in right away and kept me there. 

I loved this collection!

I'd like to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy of this great book. I will definitely add this to my Keeper Shelf.





Friday, 4 October 2019

AN INVITATION TO DARKNESS by Hailey Piper

An Invitation to Darkness (Short Sharp Shocks!, #33)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few months ago, I had a novelette published under the very cool Short Sharp Shocks! series by Demain Publishing. Since then, I've been slowly buying some of the other books.

I decided to start with this one because I've been looking forward to reading it since I first heard about it on Twitter.

Captain Jamie Thames has decided to leave the high seas and wants to take her wealth to a quiet place where she can settle down. This leads her to the coastal village of Lucre Shores and Leavenworth Manor. A place that manages to enchant her as much as the lovely Lady Elizabeth Leavenworth.

But Leavenworth Manor has secrets hidden in its depths, and Jamie is determined to discover them all...

I read this excellent gothic tale in one sitting because I couldn't stop. The story dragged me in instantly, and demanded I keep reading until I discovered all the creepy mysteries alongside Jamie.

And I'm glad I did because it's filled with all the elements I love so much about gothic horror.

I also loved Jamie's voice. She's such an independent woman during a time when they weren't supposed to be. But she's strong, stubborn, passionate and such a romantic. When she sets her sights on this freaky manor and envisions what it can become, nothing (or no one) is going to get in her way.

The atmosphere was also great. The sense of location vivid. And the creepy factor was pretty high. Not to mention the pacing, which heightened the suspense.

I loved this dark tale of love, ghosts and curses.


Monday, 30 September 2019

THE APOCALYPTIC MANNEQUIN by Stephanie M Wytovich

Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats. 

This is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away. 

These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive. 

What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are. 

So tell me: who will you become when it’s over?


I was really excited when I received a paperback copy of this really nice book last week and couldn't wait to read it. I mean, look at that creepy/pretty cover, and the title.

So, as soon as I finished The Institute, I got stuck into it.

There are 90 amazing poems included in this collection. They come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is a surreal and very traumatic quality that sends your mind floating in a river of blood and ash, littered with the bones of the suffering.

I felt the pain and loss in every word. Saw the devastation with every line. And couldn't turn away. The more I read, the more I craved.

The way each poem painted a terrifying picture glowing with radioactive brightness, was only enhanced by the bleak clips that were playing inside my head. I felt like I was inside each poem, so scared of getting trapped, yet not wanting to escape because so much of the destruction was layered with beauty.

The macabre and the lovely twisted together in a way that still haunts me after reading the last word.

Usually, when I read a short story and/or poetry collection, I single out my favourites. I'm not going to do that with this book because, to me, every poem fits together in its own unique way. 

The sequence was perfect, and although I know they were individually written and self-contained, my mind totally perceived every end of days fragment as one brilliant masterpiece.

I think horror poetry is definitely something I need to read more of. Not to mention more of Stephanie M. Wytovich's work.

Apocalyptic Mannequin is as disturbing as it is elegant. It made me feel like I was lost in one of my own personal nightmares about the world dying after careless, greedy men choose to destroy the planet rather than admit they were wrong. I felt like I was a kid back in the 80s, constantly scared about the threat of nuclear war becoming our horrid reality. And just like I did then, when I read and watched as many doomsday stories as I could even though my distress was as deep as it was strong, I devoured every bit of this collection with raw terror beating inside my chest.

This truly feels like falling into a nightmare full of awful images told through beautiful words. A nightmare with a broken landscape full of death and ruin, dripping with dreamy and stunning imagery.

I'd like to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy of this book. It's one I will cherish and add to my Keeper Shelf.





 
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