13 Things You Didn’t Know About J.H. Moncrieff

We were both sworn to secrecy, but J.H. Moncrieff and I first met while we both had books at the same publisher. We belonged to a top secret support group. Yes. We all suffered from PTSD (Publishing Traumatic Stress Disorder) and needed the support of one another. Deep friendships were made, and we all looked out for each other. Except for one person. She vanished, although one of her woolen gloves was found just outside a Books A Million in Detroit with a half-chewed bit of hamburger and a few pennies.

From there, we hooked up this past year’s StokerCon on the Queen Mary,  partnering up for a well-attended joint reading. Of course, reading her work was most impressive. This is someone who won Harlequin’s Gillian Flynn award this past year, and her expertise in suspense is terrific. She’s launching a new batch of books The Ghostwriter Series, with the first two having just been released. Please do check them out.

It’s always fun to break out of the usual interview format, and I always love doing these ’13 things…’ posts. Here, J.H. does not disappoint, and there are some truly fun and interesting facts. So here’s . . .

13 Things You Didn’t Know About J.H. Moncrieff

  1. I think The Sound of Silence is the most beautiful song ever written. It’s the song I want played at my funeral.
  2. Even though I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was five years old, I also desperately wanted to be a forensic psychologist. Sadly, I let a high school teacher talk me out of it. It’s still the road not taken.
  3. If you see me shaking, it’s not because I’m nervous. I have an inherited condition called essential tremors. It usually doesn’t bother me, but in times of heightened emotion or fatigue, it can be really noticeable. It’s a pain whenever I have to do a reading, because people assume it’s nerves when I’m actually just pumped and excited.
  4. The accomplishments I’m proudest of happened not through fiction but through journalism. Articles I wrote connected a blind man to a surgeon who restored his vision, and resulted in a grandmother keeping custody of her ailing granddaughter.
  5. During childhood, I had a lot of accurate premonitions, to the point kids teased me about it. But I wasn’t above bullshitting—I once claimed X-ray eyes were how I knew what was in a teacher’s locked cabinet. (I didn’t have a clue what was in it, but since the cupboard was locked, my “knowledge” was never put to the test.)
  6. After I started blogging about unsolved mysteries, the families of missing people began contacting me for help. This has made me feel both honored and sad, because I wish I could do more.
  7. I have several bizarre phobias, including worms and going down escalators. I’ve mostly overcome the worm one in order to garden. I can go down an escalator, but it feels like I’m having a heart attack every time. It’s a great incentive to take the stairs.
  8. My best friend came to visit me after she died.
  9. Even though I’ve been to Shanghai twice, my general rule is I can’t visit a place more than once until I’ve seen every country on my bucket list. Five more trips to go!
  10. In spite of my love of dark fiction, I’ve read way more literary novels than horror, and I’ve read much more non-fiction than fiction. I read about 80 full-length books a year.
  11. I once inadvertently pissed off Kiefer Sutherland. I hated interviewing celebrities because it was difficult to get them off script. I always challenged myself to ask a question that would make them pause and think. With Sutherland, I asked him why he was often cast as the villain (this was before 24). For some reason, this got under his skin. He was quite snarky with me.
  12. My first published fiction story ran in my hometown newspaper when I was in grade four. It featured a bunch of vampires devouring everyone.
  13. I used to work in a haunted museum. I was showing some reporters around late at night when we heard (and felt) someone coming up behind us. No one was there. That’s about as frightened as I’ve ever been in my life.

J.H. Moncrieff’s work has been described by reviewers as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin’s search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016. Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year. Monsters in Our Wake, a sea monster tale with a twist, was an Amazon horror bestseller.

The first two books in her new GhostWriters series, City of Ghosts and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, were released in May 2017.

When not writing, J.H. loves visiting the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

To get free ebooks and a new spooky story each week, check out her Hidden Library.

Connect with J.H.: Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

New Releases!

It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve updated my Bibliography, and with several new releases just out or coming soon, I thought it high time to do so.

 

Scales & Tales front cover

Scales and Tales: Finding Forever Homes
I was very honored to have spent the last year editing the charity anthology Scales & Tales: Finding Forever Homes. This book benefits three local animal adoption programs, and was released as a limited edition of 500 print copies at Comic Con in San Diego. There will be a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on August 28th, so please stop by and purchase a copy (or two!) and meet some of the terrific authors.

Los Angeles, CA William Wu Books 2016. First edition, limited to 500 numbered copies. Contains new stories by Tim Powers, Marv Wolfman, Lisa Morton, Jason V Brock, Sunni K Brock, William F. Nolan and more, including Clive Barker and Ray Bradbury. All proceeds benefit 3 adoption programs in Los Angeles: Southwestern Herpetologist Society, Kitt Crusaders, and Star Paws Rescue.

51vbSxOXycL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

“Eternal Valley”
In Cemetery Riots

In my short story, “Eternal Valley” a family relocates away from the city in order to help their sick son have a fighting chance. When he falls ill again, his father must make a journey to summon a doctor. On his way, he meets a mysterious woman who tells him of an entity in a lake that just might be able to help. Here’s the rest of the table of contents.

Imagine yourself in a cemetery. Void of all light at the base of a tree. But it’s no ordinary tree. This tree abounds with the dead. Now envision that each tree limb is a short story with its own vision, its own length of words, and its own insanity.With that said, beware of the widow makers and the strange foreboding dwelling beneath. Remember, nothing’s heavenly in Cemetery Riots. Cemetery Riots is a new collection of dark cautionary tales edited by T. C. Bennett and Tracy L. Carbone. With great pride, we introduce you to our stories and their authors… THE WAITING DEAD by Ray Garton, ABUSED by Richard Christian Matheson, CHILDREN’S HOUR by Hal Bodner, CARMICHAEL MOTEL by Kathryn E. McGee, THAT STILL, BLEEDING OBJECT OF DESIRE by Chet Williamson, LUNCH AT MOM’S by Tracy L. Carbone, FATHER AND SON by Jack Ketchum, THE DEMON OF SPITALFIELDS by Karen and Roxanne E. Dent, ERASURE by Lisa Morton, THE WINDOWS by T. C. Bennett, CERTAIN SIGHTS OF AN AFFLICATED WOMAN by Eric J. Guignard, THE MAN WHO KNEW WHAT TIME IT WAS by Dennis Etchison, THE RE-POSSESSED by James Dorr, CLOWN ON BLACK VELVET by Michael Sebastian, THE CELLAR by Kelly Kurtzhals, ETERNAL VALLEY by John Palisano, BLOOD by Taylor Grant, AMONG THE TIGERS by William F. Nolan, ALL OUR HEARTS ARE GHOSTS by Peter Atkins, THE ITCH by Michael D. Nye, and DRIVING HER HOME by John Everson.

Beauty of Death cover
“Mulholland Moonshine”
In The Beauty of Death

It’s the turn of the century in old Hollywood. It’s a time when being gay was even more dangerous than it is today. Falling in love has always been dangerous, and transformative, so when the object of your affection invites you up into the hills for a camping trip, and leads you to a mysterious body of water, you drink, and to hell with the consequences!

The Beauty of Death Anthology, edited by Bram Stoker Award® Winning Author Alessandro Manzetti.

Over 40 stories and novellas by both contemporary masters of horror and exciting newcomers. Stories by: Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Edward Lee, John Skipp, Poppy Z. Brite, Nick Mamatas, Shane McKenzie,Tim Waggoner, Lisa Morton, Gene O’Neill, Linda Addison, Maria Alexander, Monica O’Rourke, John Palisano, Bruce Boston, Alessandro Manzetti, Rena Mason, Kevin Lucia, Daniel Braum, Colleen Anderson,Thersa Matsuura, John F.D. Taff, James Dorr, Marge Simon, Stefano Fantelli, John Claude Smith, K. Trap Jones, Del Howison, Paolo Di Orazio, Ron Breznay, Mike Lester, Annie Neugebauer, Nicola Lombardi, JG Faherty, Kevin David Anderson, Erinn Kemper, Adrian Ludens, Luigi Musolino, Alexander Zelenyj, Daniele Bonfanti, Kathryn Ptacek, Simonetta Santamaria.
Cover Art by George Cotronis


COMING SOON! 
13346551_10201892623753141_8788014962900180884_n“Paso Robles”
In The Junk Merchants: A Literary Tribute to William S. Burroughs
(Coming Soon)

“The Space Between”
In My Peculiar Family
(Coming Soon)

13177626_1281508775210658_8510075328662696611_n

VOICES OF THE DEAD preview at Shades & Shadows

cropped-Header
Last July, I was one of the featured readers at Los Angeles reading series Shades & Shadows. We had a full house, and it was wonderful to premier the first chapter of VOICES OF THE DEAD, the sequel to DUST OF THE DEAD. Many readers have asked me what happened after the events of DUST OF THE DEAD, and here’s the first taste.

While you’re there, I urge you to check out the other podcasts. The readings are short . . . around seven minutes each . . . so you can get a good taste of a new author without too much time. They’ve all been pretty damn good, if you ask me.

Podcast Episode 5!

 

“Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” wins Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

I’m floored that “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop” from the anthology 18 Wheels of Horror, edited by Eric Miller, has won the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. It was an amazing night—sitting at a table with R.L Stine, Tony Timpone and Anne Serling. Wow. Earlier in the evening I was honored to present Tim Waggoner with the very first Mentor of the Year Award. Tim’s been an amazing ally of mine the last several years, and has saved my sanity on a few occasions when dealing with the roller coaster world of publishing. I know: that seems ridiculous. Publishing? Isn’t that a bunch of old men in a room filled with cigar smoke, rare whisky, and rare editions bound in leather? Not at all. Every small victory is hard won. This was a big one.

With that? Here’s what I read after winning the award.

13177626_1281508775210658_8510075328662696611_n

The Bram Stoker Award is a beacon. It’s that neon sign on a rainy side street in an unfamiliar city, luring you into a dark and cozy bar. There’s a song on the jukebox played by Damian Walters … something about singing about your scars … at the bar Gene O’Neill can tell you all about the Algernon Effect over a coffee … where behind the bar Kate Jonez will tell you how you might change your luck if you ask for just the right drink … and where at the end of the bar you might be tempted to open Allyssa Wong’s small bottle with something dark inside whispering your name … and I’ll have a story for you, too … about a boy and his Dad who get separated by the embodiment of pure evil … but even that is not enough to sever the tie between them.

Thank you so much to everyone who read and voted for my story.

All these great stories are to be celebrated and sought out. Horror fiction is in such a huge renaissance right now that if I started reading my TBR pile now, I’d still never get through the sheer amount of amazing works being produced all over the spectrum: from literary, to matinee, to the weird, to the bizzaro: I love all of you and walk with you on the nighttime streets, listening for when the darkness talks back to us, and writing it down when we can.

Thank you to the many in our community who’ve helped me over the years: Lisa Morton, Gene O’Neill, Hal Bodner, Deborah LeBlanc, Joe Nassise, Gary Braunbeck,  Bentley Little, Tim Waggoner, Nancy Holder, John Everson, Joe McKinney, and everyone else, and especially the good folks of the Los Angeles Chapter, who continually inspire me.

Thanks to Eric Miller, the editor behind 18 Wheels of Horror, whose sure guidance shaped Happy Joe’s into the story it is today.

Thanks to my Dad and my mom and my brother, who have always supported their strange child through his many passions over the years.

Thanks to Fawn, who found my ghost heart and made it whole again. Your positive influence is nothing short of inspiring and continuously galvanizes me.

And all my love to Leonardo Gabriel. This one’s for you, Kiddo!

Happy Joe's graphic

***

18 Wheels of Horror on Amazon

Happy Joe’s Rest Stop wins Bram Stoker Award from Horror Society

2015 Bram Stoker Award Winners Full List

http://news.sys-con.com/node/3813621

 

 

13 Things You Didn’t Know About Stuart R. West

Stewart West-1

Stuart R. West’s novel Demon with a Comb-Over quickly won me over. At first, I believed I was in for a saucy romp. Soon, though, the story turned in some of the creepiest moments in a book I’ve read in recent memory. We learn that Charlie has accidentally singled out a man who he initially thinks is a good target during one of his stand-ups. Turns out it’s actually Kobal, who, naturally, turns his own sites on Charlie and his long-suffering daughter. It’s a brilliant twist.

Here’s the thing that makes it all work for me. Charlie is painfully real. His passion is standup comedy, but he is not so good at it. He perseveres, regardless. I think most of us can relate to that. We all want to be great at what we’re passionate about. When we’re not, and the world cruelly tunes us out, it can make most abandon ship. On the flipside, it can make a dedicated few work harder and try harder, hoping there’s some magic, missing quotient for them to discover. That’s where Demon with a Comb-Over feels like a classic tragedy, and succeeds. It’s also very funny, at turns. Having reached out to Stuart, I found him to be equally funny and charismatic as his book.

We also both have been crouched under the Samhain tent as the hurricane has hit. Our last books with the imprint didn’t get the push or attention as much as we’d hoped, so we thought we’d do what we could, and talk about them here. I do hope someone takes on Stuart. I mean, check out this bit about something that almost came out from Samhain:

Dread and Breakfast. Think “Psycho” but with a bunch of damaged, darkly amusing characters: a psychotic, religious married couple; a germophobic mobster; an embezzling wallflower accountant; a hitman who puts family first; an abusive husband; a charming but sociopathic cop; a woman on the run fighting for her young daughter’s life; and of course, Jim and Dolores Dandy, bread and breakfast owners and serial killers.

Welcome to the Dandy Drop Inn. A finer bed and breakfast can’t be found in the Midwest. Hospitality’s the name, murder’s the game. Kick your shoes off, warm up next to the cozy fireplace during the winter storm. Delight over the chocolate pecan pie, everyone’s family here. Don’t fret about the mounting bodies piling up. Try not to let the other strange guests get under your skin, it takes all kinds. And whatever you do, don’t go into the cellar. Business as usual at the ol’ Dandy Drop Inn. A wonderful getaway you won’t soon forget. You just might not survive the night.

I also thought it’d be fun as hell (get it?) to do something a little fun instead of a straight interview. So here’s …

13 Things You Never Knew About Stuart R. West!

*I was in an alternative/art performance band where I played a mentally unstable person (“Cousin Bo”). I wore pajamas on stage, swung around a saxophone and rarely played it. I also shaved my head on-stage with fake stage-blood which once caused the bar owner to call 911.

*I saw Dr. Joyce Brothers in lingerie! I worked at a PR firm. My job was to take photos. When my fellow gal worker went with me, she knocked on Dr. Brother’s door. The doc asked, “who is it?” She answered just for herself. The door opened. My eyes, my eyes!

*Back in the day, I was a world-class videotape trader. The best in the business. I accumulated 30,000 movies from across the world, mostly horror, a lot of them unsubbed and undubbed. Late last year, my “nest egg” went the way of a dumpster. Mold happens. One of the saddest days of my life. My wife and I spent two solid days carrying them out from the basement.

*As a school-skipping kid, I once shared a cigarette with Frank Gorshin (in town for a radio interview to plug his comedy review at “The Golden Buffet”). He was standing on the lawn of the radio station. I told the girl I was with who he was (Batman’s “Riddler”). She didn’t believe me, so we went forth. He ended up signing her paperback novel of (can’t remember the title) a tale of demonic and sexual possession.

*After college, I tried stand-up comedy. Burned worse than my protagonist, Charlie, from my novel, Demon with a Comb-Over.

*For over twenty years, I was a graphic artist and manager of a big North Kansas City publishing company. And I still don’t trust my talents to do my own covers.

*I’ve written 12 novels, put out by three publishers. I also have a children’s picture book coming late in the year. Eventually I’d like to try my hand at most genres. Except erotica. Not that there’s anything wrong with it! I just find it boring after a while. Still…it sells!

*When I was in grade school I knew I wanted to be a writer. Just took me a while to get there.

*I’m married to a college professor of pharmacy, a world-renowned specialist in natural products. Her drug expertise (um, not the kind I specialized in during high school!) comes in handy for some of my thrillers.

*True confession time! I love bad movies. Absolutely adore them. Give me a schlocky, awful Andy Milligan piece of junk over Titanic any day. During a recent visit, my nephew checked out my DVD collection. He asked, “Don’t you ever watch any good movies?” “Um, no,” I said. Don’t judge me!

*My friends and I almost kidnapped “Skippy” from Family Ties back in the day during a spring break in Texas. Long story, that.

*In high school, I worked at a McDonald’s for one day. When I blasted the tartar sauce gun too hard (which shot the fish sandwich off the table), I found it pretty funny. My boss didn’t.

*I brought my daughter up watching horror movies. I was so proud of her the other day when she gave a lecture to my young nephews about the trajectory of the Nightmare of Elm Street saga. She did it with confidence, knowledge, acting out and humor. My girl!

http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/

Stuart R. West

http://www.amazon.com/Stuart-R.-West/e/B00B419X5C/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

http://cemeterydanceonline.com/2016/03/review-demon-with-a-comb-over-by-stuart-r-west/

519BJkYUlFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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…

Mystery Meat Logo-2.jpg

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 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

pic 1

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.

pic 2

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.

pic 6

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.

pic 5

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.

pic 4

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

pic 3

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

WeAreMonsters_Print LBD_3071_BW_SM

 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

 

Horror Selfies!

Photo-on-9-23-14-at-4.03-PM__1412169765_186.77.192.109
Today launches the Horror Writers Association’s new site, HORROR SELFIES! And look who’s there getting into trouble!

John Palisano

Hell Comes To Hollywood 2 features “Welcome To The Jungle” Out October 1st!

Hell 2 cover

Great news! My short story, “Welcome To The Jungle” is appearing in “Hell Comes To Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales of Tinseltown Terror”.

The book is a sequel to the acclaimed “Hell Comes To Hollywood”. Hell 1 was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, and got many great reviews from places such as Fangoria, Aint It Cool News, and many others.

Hell II contains 22 short fiction stories, all set in the Hollywood entertainment industry, and are mostly written by people with a connection to The Industry; actors, screenwriters, directors and so on. Hollywood horrors, written by Hollywood pros.

All types of horror stories are present, from ghostly thrillers, to gruesome monsters, to vampires, supernatural killers and more.

I call it a horror movie/horror fiction mashup.

Hollywood horrors, written by Hollywood pros.

Or just a Hell of a good time.

The print book is 374 pages long, and is a 6”x9” Trade paperback. there are Ebooks for all platforms, and an Audiobook for iTunes and Audible users as well.

DESCRIPTION FROM THE BACK COVER:

A film crew tracks a creature in the forest—or is it tracking them…? A producer sells his soul for the rights to a comic book, but the deal isn’t what it seems… The hideous secret to an mega-star’s fame lies in the bottom of his hot tub… An actress buys a smartphone and gets far more than she bargained for… A reality TV show pushes contestants to insane limits… A Hollywood movie palace worker gets trapped in a ghostly nightmare…

Take a behind the screams tour into the dark heart of show business and see the cast of bloodthirsty monsters, power-mad directors, starving zombies, deal-making demons and more horrific creatures tear up the screen! Buy your ticket, bloody the popcorn, and settle into your seat—and don’t forget to turn off your Hell phone…

http://www.BigTimeBooks.com

or at the Hell Facebook PAGE at:

http://www.Facebook.com/HellComesToHollywood

HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD II sales info:

EBOOKS:

KINDLE PRE-ORDERS can be made RIGHT NOW, for wireless delivery on October 1.   Kindle pre-orders would be AWESOME to help drive our Amazon sales rank when the  book officially goes on sale OCTOBER 1 2014.

The link to the Kindle book is:   http://www.amazon.com/Hell-Comes-Hollywood-Twenty-Two-Tinseltown-ebook/dp/B00NIEJ0JM

GOOGLE PLAY BOOKS will be available on October 1.

APPLE/iTUNES BOOKSTORE, Barnes and Noble NOOK and other E-Reader platforms are pending, but hopefully will be available on October 1 as well.

PRINT PAPERBACKS:

Trade Paperbacks will be available from Amazon.com on 10/1. RETAIL PRICE will be $14.99 + shipping.

MULTIPLE AUTHOR SIGNED COPIES are available exclusively at Dark Delicacies book and gift store in Burbank, CA.  www.darkdel.com or call (818) 556-6660.

October 18th signing

we will sign for walk-ins as well as pre-orders.  Please PRE-ORDER from Del before the event to ensure ample supply.  Hell #1 SOLD OUT over 100 copies at the signing, with many disappointed readers!

Fans can pre-order un-signed books from Dark Delicacies as well, same price. Support your local bookstore!