An Interview with Glenn Rolfe

When I first met Glenn Rolfe, I knew we were cut from the same cloth. We quickly talked about all things music and horror and had many common passions, from Springsteen to vintage Stephen King, to 80s metal to obscure punk bands. His career has been really taking off, and his writing output has grown tremendously. Each one of his releases has been different in story, but the characters are the kind of people you immediately feel comfortable with–like the guys you’d have a few beers with at the bar who’d give you a jump when that damn old thing won’t start on the way home. But Glenn being Glenn: there’s going to be something sinister lurking just behind that corner . . .

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From your first collection of short stories, I feel your writing has gone on to be more and more successful with each release. You’re on fire, creatively. To top off your writing, you also are a successful rock n’ roll musician and a very esteemed member of your day job. Not to mention being a dad. How do you juggle it all?
I have a lot of help!  I do a lot of writing on my overnight shifts at the hotel I work at. I don’t play in bands as much, but still do when I have a spare Saturday. My wife and kids are amazing. They deserve my home time and I give it to them.  Writing success? I think it comes from hard work, constantly doing something to promote yourself or others, and having a good story to push. I just got started at this, so I hope to only get better as an artist, as a writer, and as person.

Speaking of: you’re a rocker! We spoke about our mutual love of Springsteen and 80s metal at one of the Stoker awards. I loved the Abrahm’s Bridge nod. How much does that inform your work?
Loads. Yeah, Abram’s Bridge was inspired by “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, as you know, I’m also working on another Springsteen nod, “Stolen Car.”  I love to incorporate my favorite songs and artists into my stories. Everything from Alkaline Trio to the Boss to Taylor Swift.

Most highly creative people I know are multi-hyphenate great at several disciplines. We know about your writing and we’ve rocked out to some of your videos. Is there something else lurking inside? Painting? Filmmaking? Something like that?
Um…not that I’m aware of. I’ve been doing music since I was 17, but I didn’t start writing until I was 34…so maybe there is another avenue for me to discover down the road. I wouldn’t mind making a movie. I’ve heard my stories read like movies.  I’d also like to throw my hat in the publishing ring.

Each of your works feels different to me, as if you’re exploring different styles and stories. Blood & Rain is a rip-roaring action book, but your latest is a haunting slow-burn that quite literally pulls you in at the end. Are there any other styles you’re writing in?
I don’t want to write the same story over and over again. I like the idea of complete freedom when writing. I have a book on the back burner that has nothing to do with horror (also inspired by one of the saddest songs I’ve heard in recent times). I like the idea of going full alien invasion someday, but I feel like 90 % of whatever I do will still have a toe or two in the horror pool.

So far, you’ve been all horror, all the time, as far as the public has been concerned. Do you have any non-horror works?
Like I said, definitely. I have the sad story, real dramatic piece about a boy who loses his mother and a father who has to try and figure out how to help him get past the immense loss. I also have a crime novel drafted up in my mind about some real life stuff from a town about two hours from where I live.

Most people who attain success pretty much focus on themselves, yet, you have spearheaded many Samhain authors and you are always looking out for everyone else, thinking of new ways to promote your fellow authors, and promoting them by hand. You don’t have to do this! I think it’s amazing, but what’s behind this generous and all inclusive spirit?
I came from a punk rock scene where we were all trying to get out together. We were all celebrating each other and each other’s successes, each step forward, each show, each record. We were a family. I think I just carried that with me into this next phase in my life. The horror genre is very much like the punk scene. We’re the black sheep, we’re the underdogs, we’re the misfits forced to work and fight from the shadows. You would think that with the success of King and a handful of others, combined with the recent success of TV like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead we’d find a broader reach, but that just remains to be seen.

I believe we can prevail if we work together. Most of the presses I’ve worked with or talked to or seen on social media do a good job of working together. There’s always exceptions, but I think we’re a mostly solid community.

As for my supporting others, I’ve had published authors supporting me, giving me advice since day one. I figure it’s my duty to repay that unnecessary support by doing the same. Ronald Malfi didn’t owe me a damn thing, but he’s been a helpful hand from the start for me. Russell James, Jonathan Janz, and Hunter Shea listened to me when I was just a fan asking questions about getting published, getting better at the craft.  Paying it forward. That’s about the gist of things.

Most people would only think of one name when they think of ‘horror writer’ and ‘Maine’ –– but you are quickly rising in visibility, and people are noticing it’s not a one man show up there. I imagine there may be a horror writing scene brewing, kind of like Seattle in the late 80s. Any truth to that hunch?
There are plenty of aspiring and talented folks up here. Nate Kenyon is from here. Kristin Dearborn went to the same school as me.  Although he’s a transplant, Peter N. Dudar, who was nominated a few years back for Best First Novel (Stokers) for his novel, A Requiem for Dead Flies, lives about twenty minutes from me. April Hawks, Morgan Sylvia, and many, many more.

The small towns, creepy woods, and freaky weather tend to inspire the creative types that lurk up here.

 Being an author is changing drastically. When pretty much anyone can and have written books and uploaded them to Amazon, what distinguishes a pro from that onslaught? And how can readers know the difference?
You can’t know the difference without reading the work. There are good self-published books out there, but they do seem to be in the minority.

Best to go with reviews by people or names that you trust. Maybe if the cover looks like it was drawn by a 4th grader, steer clear. If you see the guy or gal responding poorly to negative reviews, that’s often a sign of unchecked ego. See Labbe, Rod.

Going with a book by a publisher is still the best barometer of professionalism. At least there’s a gatekeeper that agrees that the author’s story is worthy of being read. Even some of those are still misses, but the percentages are better going with traditional pub vs. self-pub.

What does the future hold?
I’m working on my next short story collection, the follow-up to Blood and Rain, a number of novellas, and much more. I have some plans up my sleeves in the wake of our publisher’s shake-up, but that’s down the road.

My next official release will either be my short story collection or my novella, Chasing Ghosts, which is coming from the fine folks at Sinister Grin Press in early 2017.

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BIOGRAPHY

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and his latest, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will also be released in March 2016. His next book, Chasing Ghosts, will be coming by 2017.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

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Praise for Things We Fear

Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I’ve encountered in recent years.” — Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh

“Glenn Rolfe’s new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die).” — Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage

“Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I’ve read about in recent times.” — Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid

“Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well. His previous books – Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town and Blood and Rain – have also served to show the extensive breadth of his imagination and Things We Fear carries on that trend. Quite simply, each story is fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable.” — Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel

“In this frighteningly real look at true horror, Rolfe manages to up the ante of tension while balancing genuinely heartbreaking moments, while showcasing his talent for creating unforgettable characters placed in equally unforgettable moments.” — David, Beneath The Underground

“There is a definite old school feel about this novella. It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax.” -Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror

Praise for Abram’s Bridge (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

“This is a stellar debut from Glenn Rolfe, a tale that will give you chills as much as it will make you question the hardness in men’s hearts and the spirit of redemption.” -Hunter Shea, Author of The Montauk Monster and Island of the Forbidden

“If you’re looking for a page-turning who-done-it with a touch of the supernatural and a solid all around story that satisfies, then look no further.” -David Bernstein, author of Goblins and Unhinged

Praise for Boom Town (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

“Short and sharp, Glenn Rolfe’s BOOM TOWN packs in in for a novella. An excellent blend of horror and sci-fi, with way more character development than you usually see in a shorter work like this.” -Russell James, Author of Q Island

“Boom Town is a fun, fast-paced read packed with action, copious amounts of alien slime and an aura of creepiness that is sure to appeal to both horror and science fiction fans.” -Rich, The Horror Bookshelf

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Purchase Things We Fear

Amazon

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Samhain

Purchase Where Nightmares Begin

Amazon (Kindle edition. Print link coming soon)

Barnes & Noble

Samhain

An interview with Cody Goodfellow

Welcome Cody Goodfellow! I’m not sure when I first discovered his works, but they immediately blew my mind with their craft and no-holds-barred attack. I felt that I was learning something new on almost every page. Cody also has a knack with atmosphere that I rarely see. In REPO SHARK, I swear I could feel that particular kind of heat and smell that air, and I felt the desperation and hopelessness. And that was before things went south. It’s something much of his work shares.

I’ll never forget standing in the Apple store where I worked, wearing those dreadful blue shirts (Hey! Are you a cop?) when in walked Cody one day with one of those massive Mac Pros. It felt like the asylum had come to set us all free. Since then, I’ve followed his work and have never been disappointed. Not only is his work fascinating and multi-layered, but the man is, as well. As you shall discover. 

1. When did you discover Lovecraft? What was that like for you?
Fittingly enough, it coincided with the onset of puberty. 

I’d read Stephen King in elementary school, and while it blew my mind and made me want to become a writer, it left me cold, philosophically. I lost interest in The Stand when it pivoted from being a plague novel to a checkers match between good and evil. I remember sitting in the dentist with the suction in my mouth when I got to the part in It where we learn that Evil is a spider, but Good is a friendly turtle… and it utterly lost all credibility for me.

Not to get into a religious argument, but for me, most supernatural horror fiction from the Bible and Paradise Lost on rings false, with its insistence that Evil only exists because God has a hard time accepting our unconditional love at face value. In the face of a dreary world that utterly rejected him, Lovecraft created an existentialist universe bereft of objective morality or benevolent higher powers that just resonated with my intuitive sense of how the universe works. Because it feels sometimes like the universe itself is alive, but whatever’s out there isn’t trying to test us, tempt or destroy us.

The trick is moving past Lovecraft’s cartoony monsters and pursuing that cosmic horror ethic into more sophisticated, less racially problematic spheres. That has been harder to do for people like me, but there is a self-conscious and self-serious streak in a lot of weird fiction that balks at the literal use of monsters, and isn’t all that comfortable just being scary. I salute those who need to feel that even their guilty pleasure fiction is very grown-up, but I relish the opportunity to reduce even only nominal adults to goose-pimpled children.

2. You’re known very much for your Lovecraftian and Mythos tales, yet, you seem to switch gears and be able to work in many other genres successfully. Your work with John Skipp veered more into the splatterpunk and straight horror areas, with a touch of the weird. What other helped steer your outlook as you were a developing writer, and what turns you on now?

My father and grandparents died when I was very young. Growing up, I I think I read classic and splatterpunk horror, cyberpunk science fiction, crime, fantasy and lurid history with an eye to anything that would re-sensitize me to the vital cruelty and weirdness of the world, and strategies for coping with it. Authors I favored found ways to use words to shock as images and sounds couldn’t, to achieve almost a form of synesthesia, with language you could taste and smell. People like Ballard, Burroughs, O’Connor, Koja, Gibson, Rucker, Peake, Crews, Ellroy and Schow, whose voices seethe with unique notes amid precise prose.

My lasting favorites proved that working in a variety of genres needn’t dilute the ferocity of your approach. I looked to people like Ellison, Shirley, Simmons and Moorcock, who mastered whatever style and genre suited the tale. An audience game to follow you through whatever you cook up next might be smaller, but they travel well and make for better company than fans who come to treat you like a magic vending machine. From reading all this stuff, I learned to cross-fertilize the tropes and techniques of different genres, mixing the expressionism of horror with the stasis/progress moral axis of cyberpunk, for example, as opposed to conventional good/evil, or using a very eye-level first-person confessional style from detective fiction to ground a particularly outlandish science fiction premise.

As I get older and try to take down bigger projects, I reach for graphic novels, or crime fiction like Thompson, Woolrich, and Stark’s Parker books when I’m not reading history or science texts, because the brutal economy of the language and gamesmanship of misdirection is good mental exercise. I wish I could say I found time to read more current horror fiction, but I’ve developed a mental callus or blind spot that generally makes reading the kind of stuff I write feel like more work, no matter how good it is. I think this is why I haven’t tried harder to break into comic books.
3. Your latest collection, Rapture of the Deep, collects several of your Lovecraftian tales, as well as a new, exclusive story. What can you tell us about this collection?
 
It’s actually got a couple new things… “Archons” and “Swinging” are original to the collection, because if you write stories at the length and scope Lovecraft did in his prime, you still can’t really sell them.

Rapture... is a dozen or so of my best Mythos stories. Instead of gibbering to the hardcore Lovecraftian choir, with these stories, as with Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk, my first two novels, I’ve tried to restore some of the mystery and lure in and seduce the uninitiated, representing the Mythos without an acolyte’s breathless urgency to EXPLAIN everything. Cthulhu has become “nerd bacon,” a welcome addition to any geeky mashup, but it’s also become commonplace and silly. But it’s still fair game for modern fiction the same way that vampires or werewolves are. The Great Old Ones have metastasized from one author’s vision to a body of metaphors for the other face of nature, for the alien and unknowable in the universe and in ourselves. 
 

What I think is most interesting about modern Mythos fiction, for those who find any of it interesting, is how successive “Lovecraft Circles” of authors have aligned in their intent. HPL’s peers and disciples all added their own gods, forbidden tomes and cults to the mythology, with the effect that some, like Derleth, Lumley and Carter, nearly murdered the subgenre they loved with cyclopean bricks of exposition and contrived, consonant-heavy monsters that lacked the uncanny, paranoid urgency of Lovecraft’s creations.

All of us today are working individually in HPL’s universe, rather than in any kind of true shared world; a duet with Lovecraft’s concepts and maybe a handful of his acolytes, disregarding each other’s convoluted updating of Innsmouth, R’lyeh, the Old Ones’ Antarctic city, etc. And a lot of it is responding to the mad love for the mystery and uncompromising alienness of the Mythos cycle by filling in every last shadow, until nothing that remains is all that strange, or until they become stock puppets like every other empty antagonist in “urban fantasy” series.

But of those still working with the Mythos and doing it well, you see authors reclaiming the core tropes of Lovecraft’s original stories and dissecting, exploring and in the best cases, reinvigorating the primordial cloud of unknowing that sets them apart from mere monsters. And they’re doing this while reclaiming the pantheon from the xenophobia that created it. However much of a direct influence you’ll admit his racism was upon his art, Lovecraft undeniably took refuge in dreadful illusions to contain his fear and revulsion of other cultures and people of color, and the mainspring of his horror is a frantic rejection of and obsession with the Other, but in the best Mythos fiction today, you see new and deeply nuanced ways of relating to the Great Old Ones that don’t marginalize other people, and thus make Lovecraft’s universe that much wider and weirder.

4. How did the Cthulhu Prayers and Breakfasts come to be? Those are definite highlights of any con.
 

All praises and acknowledgment are due Hierophant of the Horde Robert M. Price and Choirmonster Darrell Schweitzer, who founded the Esoteric Order of Dagon and initiated the prayer breakfasts at the original NecronomiCon shows in Providence in the 90’s. Brother Bob’s early sermons are collected in an excellent pamphlet called The Sermon On The Mound, and a hymnal of Schweitzer’s perversions of Christian standards can also be found wherever he peddles his wares. Later, Brother Bob presided over breakfasts at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival & Cthulhucon in Portland, where I was first recruited as a deacon, and later pressed to deliver a backup sermon and carry out ritual observances when Bob was laid low by hay fever.

I carried the torch down to San Pedro when we spun off a California franchise of the film festival and even took our show to steampunk heretics on the Queen Mary, but Underdeacon Froggy Mason and I quickly began to twist the unhallowed rites to my own ends, with more original song parodies, arcane PowerPoint demos and a more progressive philosophy that soon ran afoul of the official EOD heterodoxy.

After the gauntlet was thrown down in a stinging rebuke of the EOD’s reactionary politics, I declared a schism at the NecronomiCon prayer breakfast of 2013, and opened the Temple of Yog-Sothoth with a flurry of ululation and bubbles. Though an uneasy reconciliation at the 2015 NecronomiCon was documented in the New Yorker, the Esoteric Order of Dagon is to this day a nest of treachery and usurpers who cannot properly bring waffles to their web-fingered followers.

5. Okay: so I’ve always wanted to ask about your singing. I once saw you do a reading/performance  at a tiny art gallery and I believe it was you and Skipp that produced these out-of-this world country tinged harmonies, perfectly pitched, for a song within your story? Did you study singing? Grow up with country?

That was a weird fluke. I’d recently quit smoking, and wanted to see if I could sing properly once my lungs cleared, and Andrew “the Slow Poisoner” Goldfarb was in the house, so apropos of nothing, at the end of a Bizarro performance piece, we broke into Marty Robbins’ Cool Clear Water. I’m not a country fan by any stretch, and have never sung in a band or choir or a class, but I do have a soft spot for old Western tunes and cowboy crooners. I enjoy singing, but I’d pretty much only get in front of a crowd to do it again because I like making myself nervous. But I’m glad you enjoyed it…

6. Speaking of music: you’re also known as being an amazing connoisseur of amazing music that’s not widely known. Your mixes are epic, and run through so many styles one hardly has time to absorb them. Do you listen to music while you write? Does it inspire your work?
I don’t know who knows me as such things, but I’ll bite…

Music is my other favorite thing. I always have music on while I write and when I drive and think about what I’m writing. Lately, I’ve been listening to Mutant and Xen by Arca, Garden Of Delete by Oneohtrix Point Never, a lot of Venetian Snares and always, always, Amon Tobin. Generally it’s all instrumental, from classical and film scores to big band, exotica, space music and techno. It’s all vivid music that drives what Jim Thirlwell called “brain movies,” without trapping you in a singer’s narrative or pushy psychodrama. I always preferred it to vocally driven music of any kind, and after I put in ten years as a “radio research musicologist” basically playing Name That Tune at home in my pajamas to compile data for alternative chart ratings, a huge part of my brain was tied up remembering and recalling the lyrics of every song on the radio during the absolute nadir of rock music in America. Creed. Limp Bizkit. Barenaked Ladies. Godsmack. Losing the job when we finally became obsolete was like having a stroke in reverse. I had to relearn everything after having some fifty percent of my gray matter suddenly come back to life after it no longer had to recognize the slap-bass solo on any given Korn song.

An editor friend of mine tells me everybody in Hollywood is cutting to Junkie XL’s Mad Max score, to try to capture its clean, breakneck pacing, and I do pretty much the same. I make mixes of appropriate music for things I’m writing, and the tempo and attitude of the music totally influences the tone and rhythm of the prose. A book I’m doing now involves a lot of insider entertainment industry crap, and the narrator fancies himself a music supervisor, so he dictates the proper music for each scene. I’ve always composed and sometimes performed electronic music as a hobby; my college roommate and I scored a couple pornos in college. Sometimes I’ve collaborated with Skipp on stuff for films or as a goof. Everything is experimental music when you don’t really know what you’re doing…

7. You’ve made some excellent short films, including the hilarious and creepy, Lovecraftian “Stay at Home Dad”. Where you always interested in filmmaking and screenwriting? Is this a newer passion? Are you working on some new films?

I came to UCLA in 1989 to study film, but they scrapped the undergraduate production major my first quarter. I left school totally discouraged by what I’d seen and heard of the film industry, and to this day, every encounter with it makes me more grateful for the simplicity of writing. When I moved back to LA in 2007, I wasn’t looking to get into film, but my wife had run a post house and is an editor, and Skipp was busy picking up the fundamentals of directing when we first started hanging out. As Skipp has evolved into a bona fide filmmaker with Andrew Kasch, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to try different stuff—acting, scoring and stain removal, as well as writing—and meet the vast array of people you need to know and subordinate to your will to even dream of making a simple, short motion picture.

Our last film was Clowntown: An Honest Mis-Stake, which we’d hoped to parlay into a series, but somehow, it seems like clowns aren’t as universally beloved as we thought they’d be, so while we continue to look for a circus sideshow sugar daddy, I’ve been doing some acting and background work, and already have carved out a niche as a period junkie.

8. The Lovecraft Film Festival is an amazing gathering of films and Lovecraftian culture. It’s a lot more than just people sitting in a theater and absently watching movies. Can you talk a little bit about that experience? And they are also doing a crowdfunding campaign with some really cool perks. Spill!
We’ve picked up the torch from the Portland festival, which will be old enough to drink this October. Our fest, now in its seventh year, has been a very different experience, mostly because Portland is such a cozy town where all the weirdos regularly run into each other, where LA is a vast, distraction-infested wasteland, so just bringing together a crowd of highly evolved mutants like this is a massive undertaking. Our three-day show includes classic features and about four hours of new weird short films, but also weird lit readings and panels, art shows, the Mall of Cthulhu, gaming, filmmaker Q&A, SFX makeup demonstrations, a burlesque floorshow shadow cast of The Dunwich Horror…and some stuff I forgot. We use Kickstarter to sell our advance tickets and fly in guests, and we’ve only got about halfway to where we need to be WITH ONLY 12 DAYS TO GO. We’ve got a lot of neat swag and extra stuff for people coming to the show, from a professional portrait with a real live monster by photographer Joshua Hoffine to a chance to meet a fate worse than death in a Joe Pulver story, but we’ve also got a livestream package for folks who can’t make it out to SoCal, hosted this year by Mike Davis of Lovecraft e-Zine and Leeman “Ask Lovecraft” Kessler. So there’s no logical reason why everyone on earth shouldn’t make this a part of their lives.

9. Graphic novels are also high on your list. I know you’ve done work in that field, too. How is it different than fiction and/or films? Do you have anything in the works?

Writing comics professionally is one of those ambitions I’ve had to kind of let go of, in order to still enjoy reading them. The industry has been even less responsive to my overtures than the film world. Which is such a pain, because writing comics is the distillation of all that makes writing for film so exciting. You’re selecting exacting slices of moments to stand in for the whole scene, so it takes the persistence of vision that makes motion pictures work to its extreme. But where everything you write into a film is going to cost untold amounts of money and trouble to bring to life, in comics, you’re laying out the blueprint, and your partner the artist laboriously but somehow magically breathes it into existence. Everything, everything is negotiable. When an artist is in sync with your prose, it’s like making a film, and the best partnerships become as simple and fertile as jamming between musicians.

I’ve been privileged to work with Mike Dubisch on a lot of small projects and to have him do the cover art for REPO SHARK and ALL-MONSTER ACTION, but we’ve never successfully conned a real publisher into even considering something we did. The last time we tried at a convention, the editor in question begged off to use the restroom, walked ten feet away from us, and started a conversation with someone else. So, fuck those guys.
We did exactly the kind of graphic novel we’d love to read, that nobody else seemed to want to release. Next month, we’re putting it out through my occasional micropublisher, Perilous Press. MYSTERY MEAT is an epic tale of a company town forced to serve as guinea pigs for an artificial meat product, told through four graphic and one prose story in the classic style of EC and Warren horror anthology comix, but with the raw, uncensored and radical sensibility of underground books like Skull and Slow Death Eco-Funnies.

As soon as the dust clears from the film festival Kickstarter, Mike and I will launch a campaign to fund the printing, and we’re offering hyper-obscene backlight prints, highly objectionable Sikbrgr and Cannibal Cow T-shirts and scheming on a body horror coloring book with work from sickos like Gunsho, Skinner, Mike Bukowski, Nick “the Hat” Gucker, and worse.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll try to get my Name That Tune job back…

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PLEASE VISIT CODY GOODFELLOW’S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

CODY GOODFELLOW has written five novels, and co-wrote three more with New York Times bestselling author John Skipp. His first two collections, Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars and All-Monster Action, each received the Wonderland Book Award. He wrote, co-produced and scored the short Lovecraftian hygiene film Stay At Home Dad, which can be viewed on YouTube. He is also a director of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-San Pedro, and cofounder of Perilous Press, an occasional micropublisher of modern cosmic horror. He lives in Burbank, California, and is currently working on building a perfect bowling team.

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

Tsu

 

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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