Archive for July, 2015

twisted

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Self-Published

Length: 370 Pages

Release Date: December 15, 2014

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Michaelbrent Collings latest novel, Twisted, focuses on the Douglas family as Blake, his wife Alyssa and son Mal eagerly await the arrival of the new addition to their family. The family has fallen on hard times as of late, but the impending arrival of the baby has the family bursting with hope and optimism for their future. However, things quickly take a turn for the worse as they learn their daughter was born with a rare condition that threatens her life and strains the family. As they head home and try to cope with their new lives, a sinister entity that has been slumbering in their home for centuries awakens and feeds off of the stress and sadness that hangs heavy throughout the Douglas household.

As they begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences, they each begin to feel the pressure of their circumstances. Blake struggles to maintain his sanity and control and periodically slips into fits of anger that bring his childhood fears to the surface. The Douglas family decides to temporarily move into an antique-like home in an attempt to get some peace. They breathe a sigh of relief at first, thinking they are safe. However, it isn’t long until the family realizes the evil that lurked in their home has managed to follow them. What follows is a series of horrific events that strains the sanity of the Douglas family and forces them into a showdown with the entity that has been terrorizing them.

Collings incorporates a pretty creepy element to this book with the inclusions of excerpts from a fictional book on the practice of memento mori, the practice of taking photos of the dead. While this is creepy to us, in the past it was a common practice as a way to celebrate the dead. Collings uses this chilling practice as a basis for the events that play out over the course of Twisted. There are excerpts of journal entries detailing the practice and notes from scholars who unearthed them and published them as a first-hand examination of the process. These excerpts seem out of place until a photo album of similar photos is discovered in the antique house the Douglas family seeks refuge in.

Collings does a great job of building up his characters in this novel, particularly Ralph Hickey, a bike messenger with an extraordinary gift (or burden if you listen to him). His arms are filled with odd tattoos like hearts and teddy bears. He has the special ability to see spirits and they frighten him.  That is why he takes a job as a bike messenger and he is so fast, he is attempting at every turn to outrun them and avoid facing his reality. I loved his character, but he was introduced sort of randomly into the story and we never get a really good back story about him.

Although Collings does a great job with his characters, the story often hits lulls with too many point of view shifts and many of them are long. It does help build up the novel and explain the events through the eyes of the characters and how they deal with the strange occurrences that plague them, but it often takes the reader right out of the story. Although there were a few style choices that didn’t quite work for me, Twisted is a unique spin on the haunted house genre and Collings manages to craft some truly creepy moments. There is one scene involving centipedes that will absolutely make your skin crawl! I definitely recommend checking out Twisted if you enjoy a good ghost story and I am looking forward to reading more of Collings work in the future.

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Michaelbrent Collings Official Website

Purcahse Twisted on Amazon

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Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from author Ronald Malfi, who recently released his excellent new novel Little Girls (review) through Kensington. I absolutely loved this genre-bending novel and not only would I recommend this to other horror fans, but fans of other genres as well. Check out Ron’s post below to learn about the importance of titles and how he came up with the titles for some of his books.

Before I turn over the blog to Ron, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates which run through August I believe and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book!

WHAT’S IN A NAME,

or WHY THE FBI IS PROBABLY MONITORING MY EMAILS AND GETTING READY TO SERVE SUBPOENAS ON THE STAFF OF THE HORROR BOOKSHELF

by Ronald Malfi

ronaldmalfiLG

I’m a big fan of a good title. I labored over this when considering the title of my current work in progress, and whenever I’m writing, no matter how deep I get into a novel, it never seems wholly real until I’ve got a title to slap on the front page. A good one. In fact, more often than not, the title of a story is usually one of the first things I come up with, as it’s sort of tied hand-in-hand with the story itself. Shitty book titles are just the pits, man, and there are some particularly bad ones in the horror genre—titles that sound like the author pulled two random words from some hat, a variation on Mad Libs for the dark arts. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. (And no, I’m not going to list real-world examples.)

Some may argue that I’m guilty of this very sin. In particular, I’ve heard readers comment on the peculiarity of the title to my novel Floating Staircase. “Seriously?” they say. “Floating what? This is a ghost story?” Yeah, I get it, but for me, man, I just loved that title. And it wasn’t until the title jumped in my head that the whole book came together. (Prior to that, Staircase’s working title was Rooms of Glass, which I also liked, but it didn’t fit the story as well. I believe my protagonist Travis Glasgow’s publisher is called Rooms of Glass Books in the final novel, or at least in one iteration of the manuscript.)

Similarly, it was one afternoon when the name “Skullbelly” jumped in my head for no apparent reason. With it came the image of a Bigfoot-esque humanoid creature whose belly would distend as it devoured its meals—which, in the case of the novella I wrote based on this idea, happened to be a trio of young campers. The skin would stretch taut to near translucence so that the bones of this creature’s victims could be glimpsed in mid-digestion. And just like that, on the power of a single name, a single word for a title, the entire novella Skullbelly formed in my head.

And if I can be blamed for the somewhat uninspired title of my 2010 thriller The Ascent, rest assured that when it was published overseas in India, the title was changed to the more enigmatic Canyon of Souls.

Which brings me to my newest novel, Little Girls. I’ll admit off the bat that my wife came up with the title. Prior to her suggestion, I had been using the working title Sadie, which is the name of the evil little girl in the novel. I felt the book had an old-school horror feel, and wanted to allude to novels of that ilk, such as Peter Straub’s Julia, Stephen King’s Carrie, and books like that. But I agreed with my wife (as I often do), and went with the catchier title Little Girls.

Everything was fine for a while. But then the emails from my agent started coming in, subject lines going something like “Let’s Talk About Little Girls” or “How Far Have You Gotten With Little Girls?” Once the book was sold and I began corresponding with my editor and his staff, as well as my publicist, email subject lines began getting more and more…well…awkward. When the publicity photos showed up in my inbox, my wife happened to be peering over my shoulder and glimpsed the subject line “LITTLE GIRLS PHOTOS!” And if you think that’s bad, you should have seen some of the early iterations of the hashtags on Twitter about the book. We finally settled on #LittleGirlsMalfi, which is bad enough, although I feel some of the earlier attempts were even worse.

Nonetheless, I dig the title. I think it’s perfect for the book, despite all those weird email subject lines and Twitter hashtags. And if the FBI is monitoring my computer—and maybe yours, too, since you’re reading this—we’ll all have a viable excuse for when they come knocking on our door. Although your neighbors may not believe it.

So grab a copy of the book and give it a read this summer, preferably while at the beach or while riding some form of mass transit. This way, you may just have a stranger come up to you and ask how far you’ve gotten with Little Girls.

Happy reading, you creeps.

###

Little Girls tour logo

About Little Girls

ronaldmalfiLG

From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…

When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Purchase Little Girls: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
FearNet

Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”—Suspense Magazine

About Ronald Malfi

Malfi headshot

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. 


He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at www.ronmalfi.com.

Giveaway

Sign up to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls by Ronald Malfi by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter link below. Be sure to follow the specifics you can do each day to gain more entries.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjE4/?

Today I am happy to welcome back Russell James to The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of Q Island (review), which is out now through Samhain Horror. If you are a fan of apocalyptic fiction, this is one book you will definitely want to add to your summer reading list. We talk about Q Island, his upcoming work and horror conventions. A big thank you to Russell for stopping by to answer my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour!

Be sure to enter the blog tour giveaway following the interview for a chance to win one of two audiobook copies of Dreamwalker. 

writer's stop1

Thanks for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf Russell, it is nice to have you back!

Thanks for having me back, Rich.

Q: What sort of events helped inspire you to create Q Island?

In 2008 I watched the events that unfolded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina came ashore. Parts of the city were isolated, power out, communications disrupted. The scariest thing was how quickly the structure of society unraveled. Looting seemed to happen instantly. There were stories of people abandoning their public sector jobs to save themselves before others. I remember a nightmare scenario about people in a blacked-out hospital who were too sick to be moved, but caregivers had to evacuate. The Superdome became Hell-on-Earth. This was real life horror on a big scale.

I wondered what would happen on even a bigger scale, in a scenario where there wasn’t the knowledge that eventually, waters would recede and help would arrive. I thought about a quarantine, and hometown Long Island was the perfect candidate. A few bridges, a tunnel and some ferries were all that would kept people from getting out. Pretty easy to contain and all of a sudden millions of people have their own Katrina scenario.

Q: In the acknowledgements you mentioned that you started Q Island a few years ago and shelved the story for awhile. What prompted you to start writing it again and were there any major changes to the story from the initial version?

The world building aspect of the quarantine zone got overwhelming. Is there power and water? Who pays for that when hardly anyone can work? How are the seas sealed off? What about food? How are separated families managing? How quickly would the island run out of gasoline? Cell phone and Internet traffic would swamp the systems. It was just one thing after another, with me double thinking each scene to make sure that whatever the characters were doing would really be doable in that environment. I didn’t think I could keep it all straight for the year it usually takes to write a novel.

Then I read Quarantine by Joe McKinney, about a city in Texas isolated as a plague hot spot. He really pulled off the world-building well. That showed me it was possible, and while I’m no Joe McKinney, I thought I might be able to pull it off.

Q: The last time you stopped by The Horror Bookshelf to talk about Dreamwalker, you described yourself as a “seat-of-the-pants” writer. Q Island has a few different plot points taking place, was it difficult to keep them all moving forward and connected?

There are three plotlines in Q Island. One is Melanie Bailey trying to get her son Aiden safely off the island. The second in Dr. Samuel Bradshaw working with the CDC to find a cure in a makeshift lab at the closed JFK airport. The third is Jimmy Wade, a low-life crook who gets the opportunity to rise to the top of a criminal gang. Eventually, the stories all come together, but they were nearly unrelated in the beginning. I wrote chunks of them separately, then had to sequence the chapters so the stories unfolded in parallel. There was a lot of rearranging and rewriting so that the big picture of when quarantine drops, when supplies get short, when the military intervenes, all happened at the same time for everyone.

In the end, I lost a scene I really liked, where Dr. Bradshaw’s infected wife breeches JFK security. It just didn’t fit anymore.

Q: I loved your creation of the Paleovirus and its ability to infect people in a myriad of ways. Did you have any specific inspiration for the creation of the virus and its spreading mechanisms?

The Paleovirus mutates through its lifespan. Tadpoles into frogs and caterpillars into butterflies are the most well-known physical species transformations. The gender of alligator egg embryos shift in relation to external temperature while they are in the nest. I just took those ideas down to a more cellular level. The spore manifestation let the virus spread much more quickly to accelerate the quarantine timeline.

Q: Speaking of the versatility of the virus and its ability to spread, I also thought the effects that manifested in the victims were pretty unique! I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but while the victims display the same symptoms, it also has unique effects on each person. How did you come up with that idea?

It’s evolution. A million dead ends and a few successes. The virus did its last bit of dirty work tens of thousands of years ago on species now extinct. Now that it affects a new species, one with much more genetic diversity, a few outliers on the human genome bell curve will likely react differently. A few people in the story react VERY differently.

Q: The events of Q Island seem like they could take place over a few different books are there any sequels in the works? Possibly learning more about why the virus is so varied among its victims?

I’m 30,000 words into another novel set on Q Island. In this one, one main character, who was trapped off-island when the quarantine fell, has lost contact with his family and has to smuggle himself back in to help them. Life on the island has gotten even worse. The longer people exist without the framework of a moral society, the more depraved the scenario becomes. And it seems like evolution has indeed taken its next tentative step forward.

Q: One of the main characters in Q Island, Aiden, has autism spectrum disorder. What inspired you in creating Aiden’s character? Was it challenging for you to write?

Characters who seem useless or a burden can get very interesting when all of a sudden they are indispensable. People around them sudden realize, “Hey, that kid is a human being after all.” I wanted to have that happen here, and an autistic child is the kind of kid a lot of people just look at as an encumbrance they are glad they do not have to manage.

What did I know about autism? Nothing. But my wife knew it all. She is the principal of a private school for children with learning disabilities, almost all of them low and very low income. She’s had children all along the autism spectrum in her classrooms and worked with each parent on finding what their child needed to be successful. I spent an awful lot of time discussing Aiden’s character with her. The good news is it paid off because I’ve had a number of readers with autistic children tell that the portrayal rang very true.

Q: Put yourself into the shoes of a resident on Q Island. What would your plan be for survival?

It is all about self-sufficiency and security. Those two things are kind of mutually exclusive, because both are full time jobs. So people would have to band together to specialize in tasks. And I’m not trusting any of those crazy people trapped here with me. I’m kind of thinking sailboat, fishing tackle, and lots of firearms. Put some water between me and those Paleovirus victims.

Q: Similar to the previous question, based on a pure survival standpoint, which character of Q Island would you want to form an alliance with in the event of an outbreak?

I’m sticking with Tamara. She’s the kick-ass nurse who takes no crap from anyone and is so cool in an emergency that she can treat herself when she gets stabbed in the eye with a butterfly needle. She has medical skills, and her toughness is well-tempered with the compassion to apply those skills with care.

Q: Your next novel for Samhain is called The Portal and is scheduled for release next June. Is there anything you can tell readers about that?

The Portal is a return to seriously supernatural thrillers.

It seems that there is a device that can open a permanent doorway between Hell and Earth, and the two realities align to make that possible every three hundred years. The Portal is hidden in a small island community off the north Atlantic Coast and Satan has arrived to find it and open it up. Scott Tackett runs the hardware store and discovers a disconcerting family connection to the Portal. Allie Layton has limped home psychologically spent after a flame-out of a Hollywood career. These two former lovers see if they still have any common ground as they try to stop what would certainly be the end of the world. And the bad guys are sure lined up against them.

Q: You are going to be at Scares That Care in a few days. What are some of your favorite things about going to conventions?

I always go to horror cons, and the people are the greatest. Fans there are commonly characterized by non-attendees as sick, twisted weirdoes. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

They are people who love the genre, appreciate a scare, like to peer over into the dark side without actually stepping in. They get into the Halloween spirit out of season and wear some amazing homemade homages to their favorite characters. Everyone is just having a blast.

Now that I’ve been to a few cons more than once, I have returning fans that say how much they liked my last book and are back to buy an inscribed version of my latest release. That is just so amazing. I wrote for years with an audience of one, nearly every author does. When you finally get published, you wonder if the book will connect with people, if readers will enjoy it. Online reviews are a great boost, but inperson reviews can’t be beat.

Thanks again for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf Russell! Is there anything else you would like to let readers know?

A good portion of horror readers cross over into sci-fi. If you are one of them, I’m in several anthologies that benefit Doctors Without Borders. One is space opera, the other two are time travel-themed. You can go to my Amazon page and see all of them. They are under a buck or free through Kindle Unlimited, so give them a try knowing that every cent of the royalties go to Doctors Without Borders the day after the monthly the Amazon deposit happens.

LINKS

Russell James’ Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Add Q Island on Goodreads

Purchase Q Island: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror

Q Island tour logo

About Q Island

Q Island is the sixth novel (a novella collection with three other authors makes seven) that Russell James has published with Samhain Horror under legendary horror editor Don D’Auria! He’s also published various other books and short story collections that may be found on Amazon.

It’s an epidemic. An ancient virus is loose on Long Island, NY. Its black-veined victims become sociopathic killers, infecting others through body fluids or a post mortem release of spores. Chaos rules. The island is quarantined.

Melanie Bailey and her autistic son Aiden are trapped. Aiden is bitten, but survives. He might be the key to a cure, if she can escape what the world now calls Q Island. Further east, gang leader Jimmy Wade has also survived infection, and become telepathic with a taste for human flesh.

Wade sets his followers on a search for the immune boy who can make him a god, if only Wade can consume him. A scrappy, one-eyed nurse and a retired pipeline technician agree to help Melanie escape, but it’s a long shot that they can avoid the infected, Wade’s tightening grip and a military ordered to keep everyone on Q Island.

Praise for Russell R. James

“James has a talent for combining action-packed vignettes into a powerful, fast-paced whole.”

Library Journal on Black Magic

(Five Stars, A Night Owl Top Pick) “I loved the story so much that I’m eagerly waiting to read more from him. He carefully and very intricately wove his storyline to have elements of mystery and suspense throughout. I now have a new favorite book I’ll read over and over again.”

Night Owl Reviews on Dark Inspiration

“The book had me at the edge of my seat. The writing is so vivid I even jumped a few times. If you’re a fan of the genre, love ghosts and are drawn to the supernatural, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book!”

Long and Short Reviews on Dark Inspiration

James fills the novel with compete characters that are easy to care about and cheer for (or against) when appropriate. There is a very strong human element to the novel that allows the reader to sink into the story and become involved in its events.”

The Examiner

Dreamwalker is the first Russell James novel that I have had the pleasure to read and it was an absolute blast! I am definitely looking forward to exploring his previous and upcoming works. There is something for everyone in this novel – action, horror, fantasy and a hint of romance. Highly recommended!”

The Horror Bookshelf

“This could very well be the best horror novel of the year.”

Examiner on Q Island

About Russell James

Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has several horror short story collections, including Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness, as well as some science fiction collections. Now, Q Island, released July 7, 2015 and he’s already under contract for his next book for 2016.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.” He and his wife share their home in sunny Florida with two cats.

To find out more about Russell R. James, please visit his Website or follow him on Facebook! Join him on Twitter, @RRJames14. Also, feel free to drop him at a line at rrj@russellrjames.com.

Giveaway

Rafflecoper giveaway for two audiobook copies of Dreamwalker. Two winners will each win one code for a free audio book, open everywhere. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway, you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates. Contest ends August 31, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Rafflecopter Code to Enter:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b19/?

 

 

QIsland

BOOK INFO

Length: 327 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: July 7, 2015

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of blog tour

Earlier this year I reviewed Russell James’ Dreamwalker, a book about the dreamwalker Pete and his struggle to save the real world and the dream world from the evil presence of Jean St. Croix.  It was the first novel of Russell’s that I read and I had an absolute blast following Pete’s adventures. What I liked about the novel besides a unique premise, was James’ ability to create interesting characters and the impressive world-building that went into Twin Moon City. It was through Dreamwalker that I became a fan of James’ work and when I heard he was releasing a book about an ancient virus epidemic, I knew I had to give it a read!

In Q Island, an ancient virus that was entombed below a sheet of ice for thousands of years has been unleashed across Long Island and has plunged the city into chaos. Those who are infected with the virus develop black veins and an insatiable desire to kill and cause destruction in their path. The virus manifests itself much like the flu in some ways with fever, bloodshot eyes, headaches, red streaks on the skin and dark veins. The virus turns the infected incredibly violent and they can achieve superhuman strength for brief periods of time. The disease sends people into a hyper violent mode in order to better spread the disease.

As the island begins to descend into complete chaos and insanity, the government quarantines the island in an effort to keep the virus in check which traps Melanie Bailey and her autistic son Aiden on the island. Despite numerous close calls and deadly run-ins with the infected, Aiden is able to survive the infection. He may be the key to curing the Paleovirus, but only if Melanie and her friends are able to get him off the island.

On the other side of the island, Jimmy Wade is embracing the changes on Q Island. Before the outbreak of the Paleovirus, Jimmy was just a scrawny, small-time criminal who was at the mercy of mobster Madman Mozelle. Now, Jimmy has risen through the ranks of the underworld to lead a gang seeking to rule Q Island. He has survived the infection of the virus, but becomes increasingly violent and has a penchant for feasting on the brains of his victims. When he learns of Aiden’s ability to survive the virus, he launches a manhunt to track him down. Jimmy believes consuming his brain will make him immortal. As Jimmy begins closing in on Melanie and Aiden, they must rely on each other and their allies in an attempt to escape Q Island.

There is a large cast of characters in Q Island and James is able to weave their individual plot-lines together flawlessly into a compulsively readable story. Whether you are reading about Melanie and Aiden’s struggle to survive, Jimmy Wade’s violent rise as a criminal warlord or Dr. Bradshaw’s quest for answers about the Paleovirus, each story-line is riveting and there is not a dull moment to be found in the entirety of Q Island.

My favorite thing about Q Island is the unique creation of the virus. I have read a ton of apocalyptic fiction where a virus gets out and it usually spreads much like you would expect, through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. James’ Paleovirus, however, is a nasty creation that has multiple ways of spreading. I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll just say that even if you are able to survive the superhuman psychopaths roaming the streets that are infected by the virus, you better hope you aren’t in the area after you take one down!

Not only did I enjoy the way the virus was developed, but I thought James’ portrayal of the infected was unique and pretty terrifying. When I originally read the synopsis for Q Island months ago, I thought that the virus was going to more or less turn people into zombies. While I wouldn’t have minded that approach, I was pleasantly surprised that James’ decided to go in a different direction with this book. While the virus transforms them into bloodthirsty maniacs who are technically dead, they do not lose all of their human attributes. They are still aware of their actions and have the ability to develop strategies and work in teams, which is what makes them so lethal.

Q Island was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I am happy to say it was everything I hoped it would be. It is full of great characters that you can’t help but root for (well, except for Jimmy) and offers plenty of action-packed scenes that will thrill fans of just about any genre. If you are have an interest in apocalyptic fiction, Q Island is an essential addition to your reading list!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a chance to win one of two audiobook copies of Dreamwalker, courtesy of Russell James and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Russell James’ Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Add Q Island on Goodreads

Purchase Q Island: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror

Q Island tour logo

About Q Island

Q Island is the sixth novel (a novella collection with three other authors makes seven) that Russell James has published with Samhain Horror under legendary horror editor Don D’Auria! He’s also published various other books and short story collections that may be found on Amazon.

It’s an epidemic. An ancient virus is loose on Long Island, NY. Its black-veined victims become sociopathic killers, infecting others through body fluids or a post mortem release of spores. Chaos rules. The island is quarantined.

Melanie Bailey and her autistic son Aiden are trapped. Aiden is bitten, but survives. He might be the key to a cure, if she can escape what the world now calls Q Island. Further east, gang leader Jimmy Wade has also survived infection, and become telepathic with a taste for human flesh.

Wade sets his followers on a search for the immune boy who can make him a god, if only Wade can consume him. A scrappy, one-eyed nurse and a retired pipeline technician agree to help Melanie escape, but it’s a long shot that they can avoid the infected, Wade’s tightening grip and a military ordered to keep everyone on Q Island.

Praise for Russell R. James

“James has a talent for combining action-packed vignettes into a powerful, fast-paced whole.”

Library Journal on Black Magic

(Five Stars, A Night Owl Top Pick) “I loved the story so much that I’m eagerly waiting to read more from him. He carefully and very intricately wove his storyline to have elements of mystery and suspense throughout. I now have a new favorite book I’ll read over and over again.”

Night Owl Reviews on Dark Inspiration

“The book had me at the edge of my seat. The writing is so vivid I even jumped a few times. If you’re a fan of the genre, love ghosts and are drawn to the supernatural, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book!”

Long and Short Reviews on Dark Inspiration

James fills the novel with compete characters that are easy to care about and cheer for (or against) when appropriate. There is a very strong human element to the novel that allows the reader to sink into the story and become involved in its events.”

The Examiner

Dreamwalker is the first Russell James novel that I have had the pleasure to read and it was an absolute blast! I am definitely looking forward to exploring his previous and upcoming works. There is something for everyone in this novel – action, horror, fantasy and a hint of romance. Highly recommended!”

The Horror Bookshelf

“This could very well be the best horror novel of the year.”

Examiner on Q Island

About Russell James

writer's stop1

Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has several horror short story collections, including Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness, as well as some science fiction collections. Now, Q Island, released July 7, 2015 and he’s already under contract for his next book for 2016.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.” He and his wife share their home in sunny Florida with two cats.

To find out more about Russell R. James, please visit his Website or follow him on Facebook! Join him on Twitter, @RRJames14. Also, feel free to drop him at a line at rrj@russellrjames.com.

Giveaway

Rafflecoper giveaway for two audiobook copies of Dreamwalker. Two winners will each win one code for a free audio book, open everywhere. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway, you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates. Contest ends August 31, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Rafflecopter Code to Enter:

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Today I am happy to have Ronald Malfi on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of his new genre-bending novel Little Girls (review), which is out now through Kensington. We talk about his writing process, the inspiration behind Little Girls, his upcoming work and other cool stuff!

Be sure to enter the blog tour giveaway following the interview for a chance to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls. A big thank you to Ronald Malfi for stopping by to answer my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for inviting me to participate on this blog tour!

Malfi headshot

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! For those who may be unfamiliar with your work, how did you first get started in writing and what led you to pursue it professionally?

Since I was a young kid, I was always fascinated with stories. I loved movies and books, and even before I could read, I would relish every chance to go to the library, usually with my grandmother, to pick out books for her to read to me. When I learned to read and write, I began scribbling my own short stories, often accompanied by pictures that I drew, and that passion just never left me. By the time I was in middle school, I had gotten myself an old manual typewriter, and would write a few pages every day. I wrote with such fervor back then, pumping out several short stories a week. They were awful, of course, but I just recently went through some of them and was pleasantly surprised at the passion in them, despite how crudely written they were. When I got older, I pursued publication, and submitted a hefty share of short stories to various magazines. I did this all throughout high school with nothing to show for it except rejection slips, though I never grew discouraged; I knew the rejections were just part of the process, and anyway I seemed to sense that I was still maturing as a writer, so those rejections didn’t get me down. I had also started writing novel-length manuscripts, and by the time I was in college, I had accumulated maybe a dozen novels. It was during my college years I wound up getting published in a variety of university magazines and won second prize (I think) in an international writing competition—for poetry, no less. Since high school, I knew I wanted to write professionally, so I had always been working toward that goal. After college graduation, I selected what I thought was my best manuscript and proceeded to submit it to various publishers, mostly small presses. It was eventually sold to a shoddy little outfit but managed to earn me some street cred and a small following.

I read in one interview that when you were in high school you would share your stories and manuscripts with your friends. How did that help shape your writing?

In high school, I would share my writing with anyone interested in reading it. But few people in high school were interested in reading, my friends included. But my close friends were cool about it, and often I would go over to their houses and use their word processors or computers (I didn’t have a computer back then) and spend all afternoon writing at their houses. Their feedback was genuine—they told me what they liked and they told me what they didn’t. In a way, it made me conscious that I was writing for an audience, and to listen to that audience, while also remaining true to the stories I wanted to tell.

What is a typical day of writing like for you? Do you have a set process or is it something that varies depending on the day?

I used to write about 15 pages a day. I’ve got two young children now, so that’s slowed down a bit, but the hallmark of the process is still the same—namely, sit down and do it and usually lose myself in the story for a few hours. I don’t outline or take notes, so I’m not only the writer but also the first reader, so I travel through the story as I create it, seeing what works and what doesn’t. For daytime writing, I’ll plow through a whole pot of coffee. Nighttime writing usually involves a glass of whiskey and some jazz playing low in the background.

You have mentioned in the past that your writing process is fairly organic and doesn’t involve a lot of notes or outlines. While I was reading “Little Girls”, I was impressed with the different plot threads and how they all fit together perfectly. Is it hard to keep the story you are working on organized using this approach while you’re writing?

Because I don’t outline or really know exactly where a story is going as I’m writing it, I’ll spin-off a lot of what I like to call “lifelines,” or these random events that may or may not turn into twists or subplots during a later iteration of the novel. I leave myself room to tie those loose threads together, in other words. I generally edit as I go, and as I get to around the three-quarters point in the story, I usually have a pretty good idea how to tie things up. That’s when I start tightening those loose threads, going back and tweaking them so they fit better with what I want to happen. Many of the unused lifelines get scrapped—I just delete them. On occasion, I’ll leave one of these lifelines dangling just because I like the nuance it adds or something about it just speaks to the story as a whole.

You have written a variety of novels with different publishers and “Little Girls” is your first novel with Kensington. How did you end up working with them?

I’d had a few conversations with folks at Kensington back when I was still with Dorchester—all those editors swim in the same pool—and always had my sights on them. After I’d written Little Girls, I saw it as a perfect novel for Kensington. They’ve got pretty strong horror and thriller lines, and I always saw my work balancing between both genres. I spoke to my agent about approaching Kensington and that’s exactly what we did. The rest, as they say, is history.

What was your inspiration for writing “Little Girls”?

The idea for the story came to me in two parts—the story of a man suffering from dementia who had a dark past he was slowly forgetting, and the daughter who would come in after the man’s death to dig up the pieces of his past that he’d left behind. I also wanted to approach this “ghost story” in a different way than the traditional specters or apparitions floating about, so to speak. In this book, the “ghost” is an actual person—a person who may not be the person everyone thinks she is. I’m very happy with what I think is an original take on the traditional ghost story.

“Little Girls” is a ghost story, but it seems the book is really driven by drama surrounding the Genarro family and the secrets buried in their past. What appeals to you about a more subdued approach in horror?

Oh, I think it’s much more believable and easily digestible when horror is grounded in real life. It provides an anchor, something we can all understand and relate to, which makes the horror elements, even when they’re subtle, all the more terrifying.

You have written books in a variety of genres besides horror, is there any type of genre you haven’t explored yet that you are interested in pursuing?

I feel I’ve explored all the genres I’ve really had an interest in, with varying success, but even all of those tales had some dark elements to them. I always seem to come back to that. I don’t worry too much about genre when I’m writing, and I suspect I’ll continue to work that way. It’s less about wanting to write in different genres than it is about what type of story I want to tell.

What drew you into the world of horror and what is your favorite thing about the genre?

I’ve always loved the genre, even when I was a kid and was terrified of pretty much everything. Had you known me as a small child, you would have thought horror would be the last genre I’d be interested in, but I think that maybe that fear fostered my interest and curiosity in it. My favorite thing about the genre is probably the camaraderie of the authors and, to an even greater degree, the loyalty of the fans. Attending conventions and book signings is always a treat, given how wonderful everyone is.

What horror novel had the biggest impact on you as a writer and who are some of your favorite current writers that you recently started reading?

Well, the book that made me decide to try writing my own stories when I was younger was Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon, a decidedly un-horror novel. Much of King’s oeuvre influenced me throughout my adolescence. From there, I fell in love with the works of Peter Straub and Ernest Hemingway—an unlikely duo, I suppose—and both of those authors showed me just how far you could get away with something in fiction. Lately, some authors I’ve enjoyed are David Mitchell, Andrew Pyper, Stephen Dobyns, and Benjamin Percy’s novel The Wilding was a treat.

If you could choose any writer to collaborate or talk about writing with, who would you choose and why?

Probably Kristopher Rufty. I love the guy, we’re good friends, and we’ve already talked about working on something together. He’s got a very visceral style, something that I thought would compliment my moody, introverted prose. It would be great fun to do something totally off-the-wall together.

Horror writers are generally big fans of the genre as well. What sort of horror novel have you always wanted to see that has not really been explored?

I always love when I happen upon a genre novel that bends the genre rules, breaks the conventions, and becomes its own animal. Many casual readers of the genre think if you write horror, you write like Stephen King, about monsters and vampires and the like. For me, horror has a broad and luxurious definition, and I am in awe of those rare authors who are able to explore those depths valiantly and with a unique voice. For me, I don’t need monsters populating the books I enjoy—heck, I don’t even need anything supernatural in it to call it horror. Suck me in with a unique tale that’s not afraid to be its own thing.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’ve recently turned in my next novel to my editor at Kensington, called The Night Parade, about a father and daughter on the run from the government while a disease ravages the population. It’s an end-of-the-world novel, something I never really thought I’d write, but it’s a very intimate story about a father and his daughter.

Little Girls tour logo

About Little Girls

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From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…

When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Purchase Little Girls: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
FearNet

Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”—Suspense Magazine

About Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. 


He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at www.ronmalfi.com.

Giveaway

Sign up to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls by Ronald Malfi by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter link below. Be sure to follow the specifics you can do each day to gain more entries.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjE4/?