A Statement from your new Vice President of the Horror Writers Association

From the Trenches: A Pull Toward the Unknown

So let’s get the motorcade rolling. There’s no time like yesterday to fly the dark colors of our horror flag for all to see.

In mainstream media we are seeing tremendous numbers supporting horror television shows and films. AMERICAN HORROR STORY is rivalling shows like the SOPRANOS in acting nominations and wins. THE WALKING DEAD continues to bring in hordes of viewers. Yet something is missing. Horror fiction continues to be mixed in with fiction at bookstores. There once was a time when horror had its own section at major chains. Borders kept theirs until the end. Others have done away with these separate sections, unless individual stores choose to have them.

We need to storm the gates by proving beyond any doubt that horror fiction is as viable and as urgent a genre as possible. Spend two minutes viewing a news feed and you’ll see our world is overrun with horrific things and themes. Art is supposed to reflect the world. Art helps us put things into perspective. Art allows us to vent, to heal, to hurt through it without hurting others. That is where horror speaks to so many profoundly.

Modern horror is not the simple slashers of the 1980s. It’s a rich and varied world, with equally strong voices coming from women and men of many different colors.

How does this tie into my duties as your new Vice-President?

It is through the above realizations that I’ve worked to spread the word about horror literature. This genre and its practitioners have saved me more times than I can recall. I’m not alone in that experience.

Throughout the years we’ve seen the HWA membership ebb and flow. I’ve been lucky to see the work of several excellent presidents. The present team of folks are rowing that forward, carrying the work of our predecessors, while making our own mark, and setting the table for those who will follow. Lisa Morton has come into her own as President, bringing to life many amazing initiatives, and making sure everything behind the scenes is running seamlessly. I’m honored to be the right-hand man for her and for the HWA.

At our final meeting of the year at the HWA LA Chapter, I announced that I am doing what I am for my fellow authors because I am horribly selfish. I believe there is plenty of space for the countless great works being produced, especially in the Weird, Bizarro, and alternate horror genres. The imagination is astounding and absolutely riveting. I want to share these works with everyone.

When I was twelve I spotted the rack of horror books at the local Waldenbooks (remember those?) and the neat flip cover of Stephen King’s Night Shift caught my eye … you know … the one with the eyes in the fingers? Well, I picked it up and had to have it. I read through it and was hooked. That was it. I knew, somehow, I’d have to be involved in this horror book world. I want that for the next kid who is wandering through a store. I want that pull toward the unknown to be answered. Let’s all be there to welcome them home.

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“Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” makes the Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot, and other news

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Thrilled to say that my short story, “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” has advanced on to the Preliminary Ballot for short fiction for the Bram Stoker Awards.

“Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” appeared in Eric Miller’s anthology ’18 Wheels of Horror’ last year. Here’s a bit about the story:

“When Greg looses his father at the infamous Happy Joe’s highway rest stop, he must fight his way through impossible odds at surviving a horrific slaughter by the Man in White Without a Face.”

Thanks in advance to those who’ve read and recommended: “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop”.


NEWS: I have a good amount of work being released over the next few months. My first short fiction collection, “All That Withers” is coming in May from Cicatrix Press, I have short stories in “My Peculiar Family”, “Cemetery Riots”, “41-14” and more, the next Fangoria has an article I co-wrote with Tim Chizmar, I have a story in the upcoming Dark Discoveries…and I am now Vice President of the Horror Writers Association. I’ll have a public statement on that as soon as the organization releases it. This role feels like a natural progression and I’m pinching myself it’s real. Thanks for all your support. It’s a very exciting period.

The truth about STAR WARS, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Robert Englund

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful actor Robert Englund about his work. The magazine didn’t run the entire interview, and this amazing story was left off the table. Considering there’s a new STAR WARS movie with Luke Skywalker, I figured it was high time that folks heard Robert’s story, and putting to rest a lot of speculation and rumors about what really happened. Here’s the man himself:

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“That story . . . that’s that internet shit with lazy reporting. The story is that Mark Hamill and I go way back. Mark was always hanging around. I had a really cool apartment in Laurel Canyon–a Schindler apartment–the famous architect. I was living with my girlfriend, Jan Fischer, who wrote Lost Boys, and Mark was always over there because he was working at the Mary Tyler Moore studios, which is where CBS is in the Valley, so Mark was always over at my house, and he’d always come over in the afternoon with a 6-pack of Heineken, and we’d sit around and wait for our agents to call. And we’d hang out in my cool apartment and we’d watch old episodes of Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart. They were on in the afternoon, and we’d drink some beers, and we’d watch them, and wait for the phone to ring. I’d been on an interview for Apocalypse Now, for the surfer, because I’m a surfer. That was the part that went to one of the famous Bottoms brothers. I didn’t get the part–I was too old–and I wanted to be up for the cook–the part that Frederick Forest played, but I didn’t get that part because I was too young. I had long, blonde curly hair. I was all tan and buff. I was in a pair of tight green Levis, with a pair of old combat boots, and a thrift shop military shirt on, with the sleeves rolled up, and they sent me over at the Star Wars office, which was right across the hall. They sent me over for Han Solo. They just looked at me for Han Solo for twenty minutes. They put me on film for Han Solo, but they told me they thought I was too young, because originally they wanted him to look a lot older than Luke Skywalker. I think it was originally Tom Selleck they were considering. I was too young for Han Solo, but I was over there, and saw the sides, and I went home, and there was Mark on the couch, cracking a Heineken, watching Mary Tyler Moore. I sat down and told Mark all about it. Mark got on the phone with his agent, and I think he went out the next day for Luke Skywalker. That’s the story.

And what happens is, the lazy internet reporters tell this shit wrong. They just truncate it. I was never up for Luke Skywalker. But I told Mark about it, and he went in and got it, and nailed it.

We were all hanging out back then, and Mark was working on a TV series with Gary Busey and a great old cowboy actor, Jack Elam, who had a cockeye…a funny eye that alwys looked to the side.

We were into the Mary Tyler Moore/Grant Tinker stable. We loved William Sanderson, the toymaker in Blade Runner. I knew Gary back then. We all knew each other. We were all aquaintences and friends. That’s the Star Wars story. I got in the office first, and I wasn’t right for anything, and I told Mark to get over there. Mark nailed it down.

When Mark came back from London after finished STAR WARS, we were the first to see him. He told us all the stories about Tunisia and Alec Guiness and Kenny Baker, and having a crush on Carrie Fisher. Mark is a fanboy. Mark actually had letters printed in FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine and Mark knew it was going to be huge. He knew how big it was going to be. Mark knew STAR WARS was going to be the biggest thing in the world. That was everything Mark ever wanted to be was STAR WARS. In real like, Mark is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. He’s like Monty Python-he’s very funny. And no one’s cast him to be really funny yet. He was very good in the national tour of AMADEUS. I’d love for someone for someone to have him play some obnoxious agent, like Jeremy Piven did in Entourage. I think he’d be great doing that.”

And that’s that! Quite an enjoyable story. I’ve been a huge fan of Robert’s work since I was a kid with ‘V’. My folks brought me to a Star Trek convention in Boston as a kid and Robert even made a nice comment about my brother and my cat mask. It’s so cool to have spoke to him about this and his amazing career.

“Flowers” to appear in Dark Discoveries #33

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Got a brand new short story “Flowers” in the upcoming issue of Dark Discoveries. Having a piece of short fiction in a national magazine has been a goal of mine for ages. So excited it’s finally come true. Hope you all dig it. And there are some phenomenal folks in this issue. Check it out.

Dark Discoveries – Issue #33 THEME: Bizarro  Laird Barron! ONLY SUBSCRIBERS TO DD CAN ORDER THE LIMITED EDITION OF LAIRD’S NEW CRIME NOVELLA *MAN WITH NO NAME*!

This issue:
All new Fiction by: Cameron Price, John PalisanoMax Booth IIIMP Johnson, Mary A. Turzillo and Shane McKenzie!

Interviews with: Laird Barron, Hal Duncan and Thom Metzger

Articles on: “Bizarro Punk” by David Agranoff, “Bizarro World Got Me Dirty and Wet” by L. Andrew Cooper, “Coffee – Bootlegging – Labyrinths” by Aaron J. French and Bizarro Comic by Phil Differ and Gavin Boyle

Columns from Mike Davis, Laird Barron, Robert Morrish, Chris Kelso, Donald Tyson and Richard Dansky!

Don’t miss it! Order here: http://journal-store.com/fiction/dark-discoveries-issue-33/

Urgent! Please check out the My Peculiar Family Kickstarter!

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With a week left to go, the “My Peculiar Family” Kickstarter campaign has a lot of ground to cover. I’m thrilled to have a new piece, “The Space Between” included. This story takes place in the semi-fictional Connecticut town of Whistleville, loosely based on Norwalk, my hometown. Whistleville has featured in many of my stories, and especially in my first novel “Nerves”.

“The Space Between” tells the story of a young composer who struggles at work at a hat factory by day, and who finally has one of his compositions performed, only there are some rather horrendous results to its listeners. It was fantastic researching the details from a few hundred years back, and the project what Whistleville may have been like.

I was first asked to appear in “My Peculiar Family” quite a while ago, and its setup was irresistible, and the story immediately came to mind. I sure hope that “My Peculiar Family” receives the funding it deserves, and that readers will be able to read “The Space Between” and the other stories in this volume. Below is more about the book, the contributors, and where you can go to learn even more. Please do consider being a patron for this project, and sharing helps more than we can say.

MY PECULIAR FAMILY

This anthology features original never before seen stories by:

Christopher Golden and James A. Moore, Stacey Longo, Jason J. Mooers, Robert Mayette,William Meikle, F. Allen Farnham, Samantha Boyette, David Schechter, Rob Watts, Kristi McDowell, Karen Gosselin, George O’Conner, Derrick Belanger, Bracken MacLeod, John Pallisano and Tracy Hickman.

Original artwork by Peter  Vinton, Jr. and Sara Richard

The individual stories are based entirely on a package each author was given containing a tintype, a name and an occupation/fact about that person.  And yes, some of those tintypes are the ones we found in the attic that fateful day.The stories run the gamut of genres from fantasy to science fiction to horror and beyond, simply based on the  the authors inspiration from the picture.This book represents the combined efforts of 18 talented writers, 2 amazing artists and a dedicated editorial staff. The funds raised will go directly to them and cover production costs. After fulfillment the book will be available for purchase on the Sci Fi Saturday night website.

Join us as we discover the stories of My Peculiar Family.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/285514212/my-peculiar-family-an-anthology

A guest post from Catherine Cavendish

Over the past year I’ve gotten to know some excellent new authors. One whose book I truly enjoyed was Catherine Cavendish. I’m thrilled that she is a guest here as she sheds some insight into her newest novella, ‘Dark Avenging Angel’. Please consider trying one of her books if you haven’t already. Also: Amazon reviews are more helpful than people realize. Please-please-please review the works you’ve read. It truly does make a difference to the authors. Thank you. –john–

Revenge of the Churel

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My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. One such character is a churel – a female ghost of South Asian folkore, well known in the Indian sub-continent.

There are variations on her origins. She may have died in childbirth, during menstruation, or as a result of poor care while pregnant. It is said that if a woman (especially one from the lower social classes) dies in pregnancy during the five-day Hindu Festival of Light (Diwali), she is even more likely to turn into a churel. Whichever is the cause, the churel is an angry and vengeful spirit who returns from the dead to suck the blood (and other bodily fluids) of her male relatives.

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Churels are most often found in and around graveyards, abandoned battlefields, crossroads, thresholds of houses, toilets and a host of squalid locations.

They can take the form of a hideous woman with sagging breasts, backwards facing feet (toes at the back, heel at the front), long sharp teeth, a black tongue and unkempt hair. The churel frequently roams naked, and has a pot belly and claw-like hands. Some churels have unusually thick lips, or even no mouth at all. Some have pig-like features with long fangs or tusks.

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A churel can also be a shapeshifter – able to transform into a beautiful young woman, in order to lure any young male relation she wants. When she has got him where she wants him, she then drains him of his virility, turning him into a prematurely aged, grey-haired old man. Once she has finished with him, she moves onto the next male relative until her vengeance is satisfied. This thirst for revenge may be so great that it involves more than her own family. She may go in search of other young men on highways, or at crossroads, where she lures them in her enchantress guise. In some stories, she will imprison her victim in a graveyard and use him – little by little – sexually and by draining his blood until he withers and dies. There is even a story of a young man who was seduced by a churel, ate the food she gave him and returned to his village the next day as an old man.

In some traditions, the churel may transform and become a servant of the goddess Kali, joining with her to feast on human flesh and blood.

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So how do you prevent yourself becoming a victim of a churel? The solution is quite simple, men should treat their wives well. Look after them in pregnancy and childbirth. If that fails though – and the wife falls sick and dies, the best methods are to bury rather than cremate her body and perform certain rituals. The body may be bound. Nails and other bindings may be used to imprison the would-be churel in her grave, and the woman should be remembered – with love and honour – in songs and prayers, so that her spirit doesn’t feel forgotten or neglected.

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Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

Omnilit

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About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

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An interview with author Brian Kirk

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 A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Kirk during pitches at World Horror. I was helping out a small press at the time. I was immediately impressed with his presentation, personality, and sincerity. When I looked over his manuscript, I was even more impressed. I’m thrilled it landed at Samhain and is gaining much well deserved accolades and publicity. Here’s a short interview with Brian. 

JP: Can you tell us a little bit about We Are Monsters?   

BK: Certainly. We Are Monsters is my debut novel, literally making it a dream come true. Although all books are basically dreams that have come true when you really think about it. I mean, isn’t a book basically the end result of someone extracting the contents of some subconscious dream-state into the material realm. But that’s off topic, and perhaps too esoteric for this early on in the interview. My apologies.

We Are Monsters is a story about a brilliant, yet troubled psychiatrist named Alex Drexler who is working to create a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

JP: What inspired this story?     

BK: I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape.

I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil or deranged, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options.

I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it.

JP: How did you get started writing?    

BK: Reading and writing have been the two things I’ve enjoyed above all else for as long as I can remember. And I realized I had somewhat of a talent for telling stories early on, as students started looking forward to hearing my stories read aloud in class. My English teachers all encouraged my writing, and I won a poetry contest in 5th grade from a homework assignment that my teacher submitted on my behalf.

But I always considered it frivolous fun and knew that one day I’d have to get serious and find a line of work that I could turn into a career. So I studied marketing and took a job at an ad agency. But the urge to write stories never left. In fact, it grew stronger the farther away from it that I strayed. I returned to it a few years after starting my “big career,” writing short stories in the evenings and on the weekends, and then I began submitting them for publication. After accruing a massive stack of rejections for a couple of years, I finally sold one. Then another.  After a while I decided to quit my full time job at the ad agency to work freelance and write a book. That’s how We Are Monsters came about.

JP: What was the path to publication like for you?    

BK: Publishing my first short story and first novel were two entirely different experiences. For one, my writing was understandably amateurish when I first started out. With each story, my work got a bit more refined. The only way to learn how to write is by writing, which unfortunately results in the decimation of story ideas that could have been good if written with more skill.

And rejection stings, no matter what. Two straight years of generic rejections slips is humbling and will make you question your ability. But that just makes that first acceptance that much sweeter, I think.

Short stories helped me to refine my craft, but I didn’t really find my voice until I started writing We Are Monsters, which took about a year to write. And then I spent another five months or so rewriting, sharing with readers, and rewriting more. I considered pursuing agents, but didn’t feel like it was the right book for a large, traditional publisher. It’s a bit too unconventional. So I decided to seek out the proper fit on my own.

I knew about Don D’Auria, the head editor for the horror line at Samhain Publishing, from his work at Leisure Books, and was intent on pitching him. I flew from Atlanta to Portland for a ten minute pitch session with him at the 2014 World Horror Convention. The pitch went well and he asked to read the manuscript. I sent it to him and two weeks later he offered a contract. I was so excited I almost threw up in my lap.

JP: What’s in the future for you?    

BK: I’m excited to have We Are Monsters out in the world. Early reviews have been encouraging and very kind. It has the potential to be a polarizing book, but the people who get it really seem to enjoy it. So I know it fundamentally works, which pleases me.

I’m currently writing the second book in a planned trilogy of dark thrillers. The first book is complete and currently being considered by various agents. I hope to be able to share exciting news on that soon. We’ll see.

JP: What would people be surprised to find out about you?    

BK: Aside from writing fiction, I’m a father of five-year-old identical twin boys: the rarest form of human offspring (a very technical term for kids). Only fraternal twins are hereditary; identical twins are a random anomaly. So it came as quite a surprise. In fact, the first thing I did when I found out was Google search the phrase, “The best thing about having twins.” I needed a pep talk.

Fortunately, it turns out I didn’t. We were blessed with wonderful boys. Raising them has been a special privilege.

JP: Where can readers find and follow you?

BK: Thanks for asking. Anyone interesting in learning more about my work or striking up a virtual friendship can find me through any of the following channels. Thank you very much for having me.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Monsters-Brian-Kirk-ebook/dp/B00VNK4PL6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434202454&sr=8-1&keywords=we+are+monsters

Website: http://briankirkblog.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brian_Kirk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brian.kirk13

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142176.Brian_Kirk

 

Spotlight On: John Palisano #SummerofZombie

Dying Days

Summer of Zombie 2015 SPOTLIGHT ON: John Palisano

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What is your latest zombie release?

DUST OF THE DEAD

Quick description of it (no spoilers)

Reboot the apocalypse!

For a while, it looked like the living had won.

The war against the walking dead lasted almost a decade, but it’s mostly over.

There are only a few straggling zombies left to take care of.

Los Angeles has returned to its lattes and long commutes.

It’s up to a small Reclamation Crew to clean up the Zoms left behind.

But when the undead dry up, their skin turns to dust.

Now the hot Santa Ana winds deliver a new threat…

because the Zoms were only the beginning of something far worse.

Something unique about it.


It’s after the first zombie apocalypse has mostly ended, and a small group works to cleanse the few remaining reanimates. The story is not centered…

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Alessia Giacomi – Summer of Zombie 2015

Dying Days

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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A. Giacomi is the author of the wildly entertaining Zombie Girl Saga, a four part series from Permuted Press. Eve Brenner: Zombie Girl is A. Giacomi’s debut novel. You can catch the latest updates about her writing on her blog: http://www.poeticzombie.com

A. Giacomi is a wife, and mother to one small human child. She is a Canadian born writer, educator, and artist. She proudly waves her York University Alumni flag and continues to thirst for knowledge and devour books. She is a zombie enthusiast, lover of all things Tim Burton, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marvel, Star Wars and just generally just loves film, essentially she’s a fangirl.

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Jack Wallen – Summer of Zombie 2015

Dying Days

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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Jack Wallen is a seeker of truth and a writer of words. Although he resides in the unlikely city of Louisville, Kentucky, he likes to think of himself more as an interplanetary soul … or so he tells the reflection in the mirror. Jack is the author of numerous tales of dark, twisty fiction including the I Zombie series, the Fringe Killer series, Shero, The Nameless Saga, and much more.

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