Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Brian Kirk, the author of the psychological horror masterpiece We Are Monsters (review) which is out now through Samhain Horror. I was hooked on We Are Monsters from the very first page and was highly impressed with Kirk’s complex characters, reality-warping plot and stunning prose. This is one of the most impressive debuts I have read and easily my favorite book of 2015. Kirk’s post takes a look at what makes a human monster and the questions that helped him create We Are Monsters. We Are Monsters is a truly remarkable book and I hope this post encourages you to grab a copy and experience the journey for yourself!

Before I turn over the blog to Brian, 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 and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

What Makes a Human Monster

By Brian Kirk, Author of We Are Monsters

we are monsters

Most horror stories feature a monster of some sort. Oftentimes this is a supernatural creature divined from some malevolent origin intent on causing death and destruction. What’s interesting about these stories is how the humans typically defeat these monsters in the end, implying, whether intentionally or not, that we are actually the scarier and more ferocious of the two creatures at war. We are more intelligent, more cunning, more ruthless and relentless. We are the superior killers.  

Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated with monsters of the human variety, and spend perhaps more time than I should studying them. Let’s think about this for a second, who are the most dangerous among us? The ones who commit the vilest and most barbaric acts?

Politicians, you say? Oh, you’re killing me!

Seriously, though. If I were to create a list (so saying as I proceed to create a list) of the most heinous of our kind, I’d include the following, in no particular order: pedophiles, serial killers, rapists, and cannibals.

These are the people you definitely don’t want living next door. But who are these people? How did they get this way? What turns an innocent toddler into a monster that feasts on human flesh?

It’s difficult to say. Some of it’s nature, some of it nurture. Some people are born with abnormal brains, while others have their minds altered through prolonged exposure to trauma or violent environments. One thing that may be safe to say is that no one grows up wanting to become one of these perverted, and violent predators. I don’t think anyone with a normal, healthy brain and upbringing consciously decides to begin engaging in these acts rather than, say… go to dental school.

It’s an innate calling, an urge. An irresistible compulsion that defiles our dream that we’re all basically good. That evil does not exist in this world. That we’re more than hairless monkeys born of violence and blood-thirst.

What do we think when we see violent and heinous acts? When deranged killers walk into elementary schools and gun down innocent children? Evil is what comes to mind, isn’t it? Insane.

But not insane like an illness. Insane like a demonic possession.

I wonder about that. Is insanity more like an evil possession, or more like a disease?

Some may say, “Who cares. What’s the difference? The acts are evil and should be punished.”

While I absolutely agree that people with irresistible pedophiliac urges cannot be allowed to roam freely in society, I wonder what should be done with them. What if, instead of being deviant predators, these people were otherwise normal human beings afflicted with a disease or deformity that could be corrected or cured? What if it was your brother who inexplicably had these urges, or your son?

Let’s say we could identify and diagnose the people with this disease before they ever acted upon its urge. Would we send them to prison? Would we kill them? Or would we quarantine them while we worked to develop a cure? The same way we would treat someone who inadvertently contracted small pox and was now a health hazard to the rest of humanity.

Heck if I know. I’m just intrigued by the question. I’ll tell you this, though. If the urge to harm others is, at times, caused by a “disease” or deformity of the brain, much like how the mutation of a cell can lead to cancer, it is by far one of the worst diseases that can afflict an individual. And its contagion is among the most damaging to society as a whole.

These are difficult questions involving an uncomfortable subject. They are questions that inspired the nature of my debut novel, We Are Monsters.

In We Are Monsters, a troubled, yet brilliant psychiatrist is working to develop 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.

This novel asks challenging questions. As the venerable review site, Ginger Nuts of Horror said, “Parts of the story are heartbreaking, parts will make you angry, and the whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”

But I believe they are questions worth asking. I hope you’ll check it out.


Purchase We Are Monsters: AmazonSamhain PublishingBarnes and NobleKoboOmnilit 

Thanks for having me on your site! Here’s my contact info in case anyone is interested in forming a virtual friendship.

Brian Kirk

 Twitter

 Facebook

 Goodreads

We Are Monsters tour graphic (1)

This guest post originally appeared on Hunter Shea‘s blog. Hunter is an incredible writer and another one of my favorite authors, be sure to check out his books too!

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about We Are Monsters! – #WeAreMonsters #asylum #mentalhealth #psychologicalhorror

We Are Monsters Synopsis

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum. 

He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

Praise for Brian Kirk

“Keep an eye on Brian Kirk. His ambitious debut, We Are Monsters, is a high-voltage thrill, like watching Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor and Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners on split screens. ” — Jonathan Moore, Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Redheads

We Are Monsters is fantastic — a frightening and intense thriller and one hell of a debut novel. I was blown away. Brian Kirk is exactly what readers need — a talented new voice with original, awe-inspiring ideas that can push the genre forward.” 
Brian Keene, best-selling author of Ghoul and The Rising

“Brian Kirk’s debut We Are Monsters is a smart, elaborate novel that weaves together the best and worst of us. Complex, terrifying, and still humane, this book moved me to both horror and compassion, and that’s a difficult thing indeed. Easily the best book I’ve read this year.”  – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy.

“A tightly woven tale from an author who has a heart, and that makes me excited to see what else Kirk has in store for us. The whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”  – Ginger Nuts of Horror

“Brian Kirk’s debut novel We Are Monsters is a sure bet. A hippy-trippy jaunt that goes deep into the baser things we keep bottled up… and what happens when they’re freed. Highly recommended!”  – John F.D. Taff, Bram Stoker nominated author of The End In All Beginnings.

“A disturbing, gets-under-your-skin debut novel. I expect to read much more from Kirk in the future.” – Robert Ford, author of The Compound and Samson and Denial.


“Cleverly told. Psychologically complex.” Scarlet’s Web

“A gorgeous display of conceivable terror that resonates long after reading.”  – Ranked as one of the Top Ten Horror Novels of 2015 by Best-Horror-Movies.net

About Brian Kirk

brian kirk

Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys. He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy. We Are Monsters is his debut release. Feel free to connect with him online. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.

See more about Brian at: http://briankirkblog.com/ 

Follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter. He’s found on Twitter at @Brian_Kirk and looks forward to connecting with you.

Giveaway

Click the rafflecopter link below and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card from Brian Kirk! You can perform several tasks for entering each day here or at each stop that posts the giveaway link. Best of luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI1/?

Advertisements

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Glenn Rolfe, who recently released his thrilling werewolf novel Blood and Rain (review) through Samhain Horror. Glenn is one of my favorite writers and I knew I would read every book of his after I discovered his brutal and haunting debut The Haunted Halls. Blood and Rain is an absolute blast to read and offers a unique spin on the werewolf mythos, so I highly encourage any horror fan to pick up a copy of this stellar novel. I loved Glenn’s take on the werewolf curse and his characterization and attention to setting and pacing are top-notch. Glenn is an extremely talented author and already has locked in a few spots in my “Best of the Year list”, so I am happy to have him back on The Horror Bookshelf. Not only is Glenn a great author, but he is consistently sharing and promoting the work of other writers in the horror community. As an aspiring writer myself, Glenn’s post definitely hit home for me and his positive outlook and work ethic serve as an inspiration.

Before I turn over the blog to Glenn, 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 and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win some of Glenn’s books!

Staying Positive

By Glenn Rolfe, Author of Blood and Rain

blood-and-rain

Positivity breeds positivity. That mantra can get a writer through many situations big and small. It helps you keep the belief and faith, even when you hit a wall, that your story will tell you where it wants to go and how you plan to go about getting the finished draft published. Not everyone is going to get your story or love that you wrote a werewolf story without leaving the werewolf’s identity a mystery. You will get rejected, but if you have written the story you wanted to write (which, it most certainly should be if you’re submitting it) you must have faith that your baby will be adopted and find a home.

Tomorrow, Annie… the sun will come out tomorrow.

Another place where staying positive comes into play is in promoting yourself and others in your genre/field. Once you get published (and you will-see how good that positive thing feels?) you will get hit with a bunch of nice or great reviews by people that get your story and love your characters. Brace yourself. You will also get someone that hates it. You’ll get someone who doesn’t understand, or can’t relate to your characters or say…all of your great ‘80’s references. And you know what? That’s okay. Nobody writes a story that everyone likes and just because that one reviewer speaks poorly of your beloved work, it doesn’t make that person an asshole. Read it and let it go. Or do as some in our field do and don’t read it at all.

No means no, and that’s okay, too.

I had only been writing for eight months when I did the unthinkable…I emailed one of my favorite horror writers and asked him if he would be willing to beta read the first three chapters of my very first novel. Was this ballsy? Maybe. But you know what? The worst I was going to get in response was NO. And that’s fine. But you know something? That writer said, “sure.” He read my first three chapters and gave me a bucket full of great advice. Nuggets like “even if you’re going to kill a character that only appears in one chapter, you MUST bring that character to life, otherwise it comes off like a big screen cheap thrill” …that’s not quite verbatim, but you get the gist. Since then, this writer has remained one of my mentors in the horror writing business. It pays to try. It pays to go forward with a positive mindset.

We can only control what we do, not what others do.

In our world as writers, we can only control what WE do. We write our story, compromise on parts when we have to, and sell our story to anyone willing to listen. That’s what we can do. Once you sign a contract, you become an employee. Once you work for someone else, you have to play by the rules and policies of that company. Regardless of what happens, you can always choose to quit, but if you signed your contract that story is staying put until its contracted time expires (there are exceptions, but hopefully you don’t run into a crazy publisher that intentionally fucks you-makes changes without your approval, refuses to pay you, etc.). But we’re staying positive, remember? Publishing is a business. It’s not always pretty, but you can only control what YOU do. Sometimes our bosses will make changes in management, marketing, and other venues for a variety of reasons. Some we understand, some we do not. It has happened in my day jobs too many times to count. It has also happened in my real job. It sucks, and it is scary, but I can only control what I do and the attitude that I carry forward. And that is what I choose to do. I took a few days to consider all of the information received and realized what in the heat of the moment I forgot, to stay positive, and that, I can only control what I do. It sounds naïve to some I’m sure, but I had to make myself look at the bigger picture. Right now, I’m walking in the big unknown. Only time can show us whether or not the shake up is for the best or not. Whether that happened to your Customer Service Manager at Wal-Mart or to the CEO of your Hospitality Group, only time will tell. If you want to keep your current job, you must learn to roll with it. You must learn to roll with the punches. You can always choose to punch out; I’m staying on the clock and getting back to what I control. I’m getting back to work.

Good, good, good, good vibrations…

Please put positive vibes out there, people. Life is full of cheap shots. We must learn how to take the hits and figure out how to keep moving forward.

I hope this post makes someone feel good.

Pay it forward. Lift up someone in your field or your life that you think deserves to know how much you think of them or their work.

Stay tuned!

-GR

###

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Blood and Rain: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

blood-and-rain-tour-logo1

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Blood and Rain! – 

#BloodandRain #Werewolves #WereRolfe #Horrortober #horror #halloween #scaryreads

Blood and Rain Synopsis

The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.

Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.

Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past.

Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend? One night can-and will-change everything.

Find Glenn Rolfe at: http://glennrolfe.com/ or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Praise for Blood and Rain

Praise for Blood and Rain~

“A major new talent rises from the Maine woods…Rolfe is the real deal, and Blood and Rain is a classic monster novel, full of blood and teeth and the kind of razor sharp writing that makes the pages sing. Small town horror is back, with a vengeance!” –Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Sparrow Rock, Diablo: Storm of Light and Day One

“With slashing claws and blood-soaked fur, Blood and Rain will have you howling in terror and delight. A welcome addition to the werewolf mythos, and proof that we’re in the presence of a rising star in the genre. Highly recommended!” –Ronald Malfi, author of The Floating Staircase

“Rolfe tells a tale that captures your attention like King without all of the wordiness. He also spills the red stuff like Laymon…” – Into the Macabre

“Blood and Rain is a monumental piece of horror fiction. It represents everything I love about werewolves, creature features, siege films, and everything else in between. It is still early in the year, but this is a clear cut candidate for my favorite book of 2015.” — Horror Underground

“Wow! Easily one of the best werewolf books I’ve ever read.” – Hunter Shea, author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

“Some good ‘ol fashion violence and gore…” – Jason Parent, author of Seeing Evil

“Glenn Rolfe takes a swing at the werewolf genre and hits a home run.” – Russell James, author of Q Island and Dreamwalker

“…not just another werewolf story, Rolfe has managed to take the werewolf to a-whole-nother level…” – Horror Novel Reviews

“The best werewolf novel I’ve read since Jeff Strand’s Wolf Hunt.”–Horror After Dark

About Glenn Rolfe

glenn-bw-profile

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

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

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and the forthcoming, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will be released in March, 2016.

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

Excerpt

Stan Springs stared at the curse in the night sky. His curse. He clenched his jaw, and bit back the grunts that demanded release from within his sweat-covered body. His muscles tightened and took turns throwing fits. He could feel his heartbeat’s thunderous barrage at work inside his heaving chest. It was only a matter of minutes before the changes would come.

He ripped his gaze from the clouds, moved away from the window and knelt down next to the bed against the concrete wall. He slipped one shaky hand beneath the mattress and found the small incision he’d made when he first arrived at the institution. He had traded a guard, a heavyset fella by the name of Harold Barnes, his prized Ted Williams rookie card in exchange for a copy of the key. Parting with this gold mine had been necessary. Stan Springs had nothing else of value with which to barter. Harold trusted him enough to make the swap; he told Stan there were crazies here by the dozen, but he could tell that Stan was not one of them.

No, Harold, I’m something far worse.

Key in hand, Stan stepped to the unlocked door and cracked it open. The hallway was clear. He moved down the corridor, as stealthily as during his heydays working on the force in New York. Hearing footfalls ahead and to his left, he fell back and pressed his large frame against the custodial door. Hidden by the entryway’s shadow, he watched Nurse Collins—a tall, thin woman with a dark complexion—pass fifty feet from where he stood, before she disappeared into the nurses’ break room.

Barefoot and dressed in only a Red Sox T-shirt and his sleeping shorts, Stan made a break for the staircase across the hall. His breaths were coming faster now. If he didn’t hurry, he wouldn’t make it outside. He crept down the steps leading to the main hallway.

Through the small window on the stairwell door, he could see Harold Barnes’s haunted jowls illuminated by the laptop screen in front of him. The old man’s eyes were closed, his mouth open. Harold hadn’t even made it an hour into his shift before he was out. Stan knew Harold also ran his own antique shop in the neighboring town of Hallowell. He’d told Stan that working both jobs on the same day, which was sometimes unavoidable, made it difficult for him on the night shift. It was another shared nugget Stan had stored away for nights like this one—the nights the beast in him needed to get out.

Easing the door open, Stan skulked his way along the shadows on the wall, and tiptoed to the main entrance door. Despite the cramps now rampaging through his calves and thighs, he slipped the procured key into the lock, slow and steady. The door clicked open, and he stepped out into the night.

As the cool breeze brushed against the sweat of his brow, the tendons and bones in his face began to shift. The rest of his body followed suit. He dropped to one knee and cried out. His skin, his scalp, his eyes, his muscles were all too tight. He reached behind him and managed to push the door shut.

If you could see me now, Harold.

The private roads out front were deserted. He launched from the building’s stairs and landed on the lawn below, making a beeline for the woods to the left of the large property.

He was twenty feet from the forest when the change hit him like a massive wave, crashing him to the ground. His muscles clenched and squeezed and tore, while the bones of his face continued to crack and grow. His teeth began to fall out in place of the monster’s. Down on all fours, he crawled to the tree cover and vomited. A mix of last night’s cafeteria meat loaf, black coffee, loose teeth, and blood splashed the ferns before him. Stan’s fingers extended as his claws dug into the soft soil of spring’s floor. He moaned and grunted his way through the rest of the fluid process.

In full beast mode, Stan Springs stood and howled at the cloud-covered sky. The creatures of the night became ghosts among the trees. He felt the strength flowing through him and the hunger begging to be sated.

He burst forward, headed north. Despite Stan’s best effort to control the beast’s killing zone, he found himself heading home.

Giveaway

For a chance to win a print copy of Glenn Rolfe’s short story collection, Slush, or a chance to win your choice of any of his titles in e-book format, go to the link below for the Rafflecopter sign-up. Good luck! The print copy is only good for those in the United States. Questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b22/?

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Hunter Shea, who recently released his excellent new novel The Dover Demon (review) through Samhain Horror. I loved Hunter’s unique approach to the famous cryptid sighting and the exploration of the “what happens after” aspect of paranormal experiences and I highly recommend this novel to horror fans and those who are fascinated by creepy, unexplained phenomena. Check out Hunter’s post below to hear about his own UFO experience. I have a huge interest in UFOs and aliens (despite them scaring the hell out of me), so I would like to thank Hunter for sharing his story with The Horror Bookshelf!

Before I turn over the blog to Hunter, 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 and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed print copy of The Dover Demon!

Out of this World

By Hunter Shea, Author of The Dover Demon

the-dover-demon

I’ve never had a close encounter with a being from another world, but I did see something in the sky one night that deeply affected the way I view our place in the cosmos.

It was an early evening in the fall of 1987. My sister needed to be picked up from her job at Kids R Us at the mall. For some reason, three of us piled in the car to get her – my mother, my girlfriend (who is now my wife), and me. My mother drove, even though I was 19 and had my own car. We went to the top of the small parking garage and waited for sis to come out. It had been a nice day, giving way to a clear night.

I got out of the car to get some air, staring at the headlights of passing cars on the New York State Thruway behind us. Suddenly, cars started to slow down, pulling over to the shoulder. First it was one, then another, then several that were going in the opposite direction. People got out of their cars, all of them looking at the sky.

My first thought was, what the hell are they looking at? I craned my neck back to see what all the fuss was about. It couldn’t be a blimp. They flew over all the time. What I saw knocked the breath from my lungs.

In the middle of a star-filled sky was a huge black mass, slowly moving overhead. There were very bright lights on the edges of the mass, solid orbs emitting a white/yellow glow. I could track its movement by watching stars disappear behind it while others reappeared as it hovered to the south. Its size was breathtaking. I know people always use the football field analysis when they try to describe things like this. For my money, I would say it was roughly the size of two baseball fields.

The most terrifying part is that it didn’t make a single sound.

When my sister got to the car, she joined all of us as staring at this silent, floating city. She immediately started crying, begging for us to leave and just get home. My mother, girlfriend, and I were too entranced to move. We watched it progress down the highway, heading for New York City.

Eventually, we got in the car, keeping it in our sights. By the time we got to my house, the craft was turning towards New Jersey. Then the incredible entered the realm of the fantastical. Whatever it was exploded with light, zooming toward the heavens without making a single sound until it disappeared. My heart raced so hard, I could barely breathe. We looked at each other, dumbfounded. Was that what we think it was?

It made the paper the next day. Thousands of people witnessed the same thing. The official explanation – lightweight planes flying in formation. How those planes blacked out the stars between them could never be explained.

Needless to say, my passing interest in UFOs went into overdrive. I didn’t go full on conspiracy theorist, but I have educated myself as much as possible to all the potentialities. I do know one thing. We are not the only creatures in this vast universe. The question now is, what did we see that night? What have millions of people witnessed in the skies over the past 70 years, if not more?

In the words of the post on Fox Mulder’s wall – I WANT TO BELIEVE.

###

Purchase The Dover Demon: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

Dover Demon tour logo

Follow along the tour using the hashtags #TheDoverDemon #HunterSheaLovesCryptids #Monsters #Cryptozoology #cryptids

Hunter-loren-museum

A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon. 

Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link: http://huntershea.com/2015/08/30/the-dover-demon-raises-his-round-little-head-cryptid-novel-release-day/

The Dover Demon Info and Synopsis

  • File Size: 1032 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2015

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

About Hunter Shea 

hunter-shea-photo

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk MonsterTortures of the Damned, Sinister EntityForest of ShadowsSwamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal,  and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors, and anyone else living in the horror lane.

He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaways

On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIx/?

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 be hosting a guest post by Samhain Horror author Matt Manochio as part of the blog tour for his debut novel, The Dark Servant. Matt talks about one of the only novels that managed to scare him as he was reading it. Check out Matt’s post below to see what book that was and the inspiration it provided for The Dark Servant! Be sure to check out the end of this feature for details on a pretty cool giveaway from Matt Manochio and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity! My review for The Dark Servant will be posted on December 3, so be sure to stop back and check out what I thought of the book.

 

DarkServant_The_v4

Thank you to The Horror Bookshelf for hosting me and for reviewing my book. As I write this, I don’t know what The Horror Bookshelf thinks of The Dark Servant. We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight the one novel that, as I sat reading it, scared me to the point where my pulse raced.

Books typically don’t spook me. Movies scare me because they provide the visuals and audios—books don’t. Authors provide the words and you use them to paint the picture and turn the phonograph.

Frank Peretti’s Monster, came out in 2005, and I didn’t pick it up until a few years later. I’d never heard of either the author or book, but the cover caught my attention and I read the jacket copy. It intrigued me enough to buy. Mission accomplished on the publisher’s side. Here’s a bare-bones description:

A husband and wife venture into Idaho woodlands. They camp out the first night and hear unholy screams in the darkness. The husband witnesses a gigantic beast snatch his wife and bound into the darkened forest. Now he’s hell bent on rescuing her.

There’s certainly more to it than that, and truth be told I don’t rank it anywhere near the top of my favorite books list. But Frank did something only one other author—Stephen King, in Pet Sematarymanaged to do. And Frank did it better.

The Pet Sematary scene was simple enough: Louis and Jud went walking in the woods (at night, of course) to the graveyard. Stephen’s description of their journey through the dark woods gave me the chills. (Truth be told, I was in either middle or high school when I read it, and didn’t bother finishing the book. And it wasn’t because those few lines frightened me into not wanting to keep going. It didn’t hold my attention. Hey, it happens.)

Monster scared me when the campers first hear pained cries made by some unseen horror in the woods. Frank wrote it in such a way that I could hear the screams—or at least imagine the terror those campers felt not knowing what made them. Frank’s description of those tormented cries, and the frightened campers’ reactions to them, let loose the butterflies in my stomach and chest. My house was quiet, nobody was home when I read it. My attention was on that book and that scene. And it creeped me out. I remember thinking at the time: this doesn’t happen to me. It amazed me that Frank was able to pull it off. I don’t want reprint the passages here word for word. I want you to discover them for yourself, if you’re so inclined. (And yes, I finished Monster.)

I attempt to pay homage to Frank early in my book. Monster was running through my mind as I wrote the scene in December 2012. And I honestly hope it jangles readers’ nerves as they read.

– Matt Manochio

Matt tour graphic 1

About Krampus

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

 The Dark Servant Synopsis and Praise

Santa’s not the only one coming to town …

It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!”
Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!”
Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.”
Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!”
David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.”
Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.”

Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.”
Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.”
John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.”
Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.”
Jon McGoran, author of Drift

About Matt Manochio

MattHeadshot

Photo Credit: Eric Schnare

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer. The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s LotJurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

See more about Matt and his book on his website: http://www.mattmanochio.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MattManochio) and Pinterest.

Tour Giveaway!

For everyone! Create a Pinterest board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.

Second rule: You must pin Matt’s book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link.

Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.

Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.

Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!

Prize: A “Santa Checked His List and I’m on the Naughty Side” package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

There might be shipping limitations. Check back to tour page before entering if you live outside the U.S. for updated information.

Example:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/its-old-world-christmas/

And a board about Matt:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/the-dark-servant-matt-manochio/

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Dark Servant on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Matt Manochio) at hookofabook@hotmail.com, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

I am excited to announce that today I am hosting a guest post from John F.D. Taff as part of his blog tour for his stellar novella collection, The End in All Beginnings, which is out now through Grey Matter Press . If you are curious to see what I thought of his collection (even though the word “stellar” should give it away) and happened to miss my review, you can check that out here. John is one of my favorite authors and those of you who are longtime readers may know that John was one of the very first authors featured on this blog when it launched. So, it is an honor to have him as a guest poster on The Horror Bookshelf! I want to thank John, Tony and everyone at Grey Matter Press for asking me to take part in the media tour. I hope you enjoy learning about the inspiration behind the stories in this collection and be sure to enter the giveaway for an e-copy of The End in all Beginnings following the guest post!

eiabadvance_panelcover

I thought I’d wind up this blog tour for The End in All Beginnings here at The Horror Bookshelf by getting a little more personal. Yep, that’s right, by letting you get a little glimpse into the person that wrote the stories.

Anyway, I thought I’d walk through each of the stories and discuss why I wrote them and what they mean to me. I’ll try to make it a bit different than the notes about the stories found at the back of The End in All Beginnings, so that you get a little different insight.

“What Becomes God”

First, I like the title of this story…a lot. I chose it for its ambiguity. It can be read any number of ways, and each of the different meanings it has are all applicable to the story. That makes me smile. I spend a great deal of time on naming stories, because I think that the title (in the best of all possible worlds) should give you some insight into the story. I have my fair share of stories that are titled, simply, “The _______,” but you should view those as defeats, at least in my case. Sometimes my stories don’t come right out and slap you across the face with their meaning, so I like the title to provide a clue.

That said, “What Becomes God” is a tribute not just to my childhood, but childhood in general. My childhood was spent in your average suburban tract house neighborhood, carved out of a gigantic, ancient woods that stretched for miles to the Missouri River. You know the type? Most of the houses on postage-stamp-size lawns. Most of the houses of the ranch variety. Most of the houses look the same. Nary a tree in sight, at least mature ones, because the developers ripped them all down to put up the subdivision. Sure, you know the type.

Lots of young families in that neighborhood, lots of kids my age, and we spent a lot of time together in those woods—hiking, playing, exploring. I had a great group of friends, and I borrowed much of those memories for this story. Particularly I wanted to explore the theme of friendship at that age, because I don’t think we ever have friendships that are that deep or open afterward. No, as we grow older, other forces shape our friendships—puberty, high school, social pressures, jobs, families, etc. But at the age of the characters in the story—you know, around 10-12 years old—it’s a lot less complicated. It’s that uncomplicated friendship I think we’ve all experienced that I wanted to recapture.

And, of course, what you’d do to save that friendship, that friend.

That’s what the whole story hinges on, at least to me. And that’s where its power is. Sure there’s the whole religion/sacrifice thing going on, but to me the heart of the story is simple: friendship. As I grow older, I hang on to my friends all the more closely. It’s a relationship every bit as important to me as spouse or family, and when I realized that I wanted to portray that in the story, that’s when the horror became apparent to me.

What would you do…what would you sacrifice for a friend? And should you?

“Object Permanence”

Here’s the story in the collection that you either get or you don’t. I’m constantly making comparisons between horror writers and comedy writers. We’re similar in that we both want you to “get” it. And if you don’t, there’s no amount of explaining that will help.

“Object Permanence” is a story that sort of carries on the same theme as “What Becomes God,” which is to hang or to let go. All of our decisions in life, it seems to me, can be divided into these two camps. So, obviously, charting a course through life boils down to knowing when to do one or the other. Hanging on too long is problematic, but letting go too soon is no better a choice.

I think memory is a terrific thing. You have, stored up in the great vaults of your head, memories of all the wonderful and awful things that have ever happened to you. Some are great to haul out, dust off and relive every once in a while—birthday parties, first dates, kisses, successes. But I also think that, as we grow older, a certain golden light begins to creep in and make our memories seem a great deal more attractive than how the actual events really were.

That’s when nostalgia becomes that old folks’ whining that times were much better when they were young. Or the old-age belief that the world is going to hell in a hand basket because kids’ hair is too long, skirts are too short, pants are sagging, morals are degenerating or America is going down the dumpster. That’s using memory in a negative, destructive way that I wanted to explore in a story.

“Object Permanence” took that idea and magnified it a thousand-fold. What if there were people who could hold everything in their memory just as it was, keeping everything in the real world set, static, never changing. Sounds great on the surface, but when you really start to think about it, that kind of nostalgia is poisonous. Extrapolating that out, sometimes nostalgia in general is poisonous, because it sometimes prevents you from seeing how good the world has become…or that things weren’t really all that wonderful back in the good old days.

That’s the whole point of the story, to remind us old people that the times, they are a’changing, and we’re better off respecting that.

“Love in the Time of Zombies”

Ok, the funnier story. As I’ve said many times before, I don’t do zombies often. I really don’t do classic horror monsters often, because…well, because who cares, really? I mean, they’re mostly overdone, mostly other people’s ideas. If I can’t bring something new to the table, why bother. So mostly, I leave them alone.

So, the zombies in this story aren’t what the story’s about. They’re background noise; something for the two main characters to play against. The story is about unrequited love. As with the universal theme of childhood friendship I explored in “What Becomes God,” I thought that most people have gone through a bout or two of unrequited love in their lives. Remember that Dan Fogelberg song, “Auld Lang Syne?” (Sorry for putting that earworm in your head…and that’s a hint about an upcoming story of mine in another Grey Matter Press collection.) If the line “Just for a moment I was back in school/And felt that old, familiar pain” doesn’t cause your breathing to hitch a little, then you, sir or madam, are dead beyond reviving.

Who among us hasn’t loved someone where that love wasn’t returned at the same level or at all? That’s a pain that is unique in its feeling, but universal in its application. And why wouldn’t it be? I mean, for all the serious studying and researching, we’re no closer to understanding love than was Bill

Shakespeare or the cavemen. So we think we can control it? Yeah, right.

“Love in the Time of Zombies,” despite its undead setting, is really all about that single problem. How do we control with whom we fall in love? Answer: despite how troubling it is, we can’t.

“The Long, Long Breakdown”

More of the holding on/letting go argument, this time between a father and a daughter at the end of the world. And despite the apocalyptic setting, the story’s not about the flooding or the mass extinction of mankind. Nope, it’s the smaller-scale story, the tug-of-war between a father trying to hold on and a daughter desperately wanting to be let go.

You have kids? I do. As they grow older you begin to think, quite seriously, about the world they’ll be inheriting. You think of all of the bad things that are out there, all of the seemingly worse on the horizon. And you worry…you worry about this broken world you’re set to give them.

But, and here’s the thing, they’re not looking at the world like that at all. They’re probably eager to get to it, anxious to get out there and explore and experience. They see the horizon, the same horizon that you do, and in their world, the sun’s coming up, not going down.

The appealing part of this story, to an older gentleman like me, is the fact that we senior citizens don’t necessarily have to relegate ourselves to the trash heap in order to step aside and let our children retain their wide-eyed engagement with the world. We serve a purpose, if we’ll just get out of our own way and accept it. And that purpose is to act as a bridge for our children, from the old world to the new. That kind of thought gives me some comfort in my old age.

“Visitation”

This one’s a sort of quasi-sci-fi, quasi-ghost story. Here’s where I get to share my love of science fiction with you. I started reading the usual sources—Seuss, the Berenstain Bears, Scholastic books—but progressed from there in this manner: comic books to science fiction to fantasy to horror. But I spent a lot of time in science fiction, reading everything from Heinlein to Asimov, from Bradbury to Clarke.

Along the way, I read a lot of science fiction that crossed the boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy. My two favorites are Jack Vance and Robert Silverberg, especially Vance’s The Dying Planet and The Demon Princes, and Silverberg’s Majipoor series. I like the ’50s gee-whiz, aww-shucks patina these two authors’ stories have. A lot of science fiction these days has kind of lost that feeling, and that’s too bad. I wanted this story to harken back to those old science fiction tales, to have that feeling that science fiction can still evoke an innocent kind of awe, at least on some level.

I still love science fiction, though mainly on TV or in movies. I’m a big Star Trek fan, though not quite so much of the two newest movies. Loved the darker incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. But reading science fiction has lost something for me. I think all of the darker, dystopian sci-fi is great, but I still long for those earlier, rosier styles of science fiction where we looked out on the great unknown with more wonder and a little less weariness.

And that’s it. Stop by and see me sometime at johnfdtaff.com or follow me on Twitter @johnfdtaff. And you haven’t gotten a copy of The End in All Beginnings yet, why are you waiting? Pick up a copy today.

John F.D. Taff

ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS!

I am giving away a free e-copy of John’s novella collection to one lucky winner courtesy of the awesome people over at Grey Matter Press. All you have to do is enter at the Rafflecopter page and a winner will be announced on the 27th!

About John F.D. Taff

johnfdtaff

John F.D. Taff has published more than 70 short stories in markets that include Cemetery Dance, Deathrealm, Big Pulp, Postscripts to Darkness, Hot Blood: Fear the Fever, Hot Blood: Seeds of Fear  and Shock Rock II.   Over the years, six of his short stories have been named honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror.

His first collection, Little Deaths,  was published in 2012 and has been well-reviewed by critics and readers alike. The collection appeared on the Bram Stoker Reading List, has been the No. 1 Bestseller at Amazon in the Horror/Short Stories category and was named the No. 1 Horror Collection of 2012 by HorrorTalk.   Taff’s The Bell Witch  is a historical novel inspired by the events of a real-life haunting and was released in August 2013. His thriller Kill/Off  was published in December 2013.

Taff’s short story “Show Me” is featured in the Bram Stoker Award-nominated anthology from Grey Matter Press, DARK VISIONS: A Collection of Modern Horror – Volume One.   His tale that breathes new life into the zombie apocalypse, “Angie,” appears in the Grey Matter Press volume OMINOUS REALITIES: The Anthology of Dark Speculative Horrors.   His “Some Other Day” will be published inDEATH’S REALM,  coming from Grey Matter Press in October.

More information about John F.D. Taff is available at http://www.johnfdtaff.com.

I am excited to welcome back Hunter Shea to The Horror Bookshelf! Hunter is back with a guest post about his latest novel, Hell Hole, and the Weird West genre. I am a huge fan of Hunter’s work, and Hell Hole is a wild thrill ride of a novel that is packed with horrifying entities and a must- read for horror fans. You can check out my review here if you happened to miss it the first time around. Check out his post below to learn about the Weird West genre, the inspiration behind Hell Hole and some other great authors! Be sure to pick up a copy of Hell Hole, I would also like to give a very big thank you to Hunter for his awesome guest post and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for allowing me to take part in the tour!

Weird West meets Hell Hole

Hell Hole

Did you know there was a subgenre of horror/sci-fi called Weird West? I actually had no idea these types of stories had a specific classification, even though I’d read a few books and had written my own, Hell Hole.

Now, what is Weird West fiction? According to our old friend, Wikipedia, it’s defined as : “a literary sub-genre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre,[1] usually horror, occult, or fantasy.”

My first experience with this very special, wonderfully strange genre, was through comic books in the 70’s and 80’s, all within the pages of Jonah Hex – that burned up, seemingly immortal arbiter of justice in the wild west. As a kid, I just thought he was cool as hell, a superhero that was also a cowboy and mean as a pitbull. Jonah Hex combined my love for cowboy tales and horror.

As I got older, I found the amazing tales of Joe R. Lansdale, one of my literary heroes, in my local library. The first book I read was Zeppelins West, a mélange of western, horror, science fiction and humor. I’d never read anything like it and was blown away. I promised myself that one day, I’d write a book in that same vein, as Lansdale seemed to have the same loves as me. My practice run was my college honors thesis on cowboy culture in America. No horror there, but at least I was getting the history down.

Cut to many moons later. Embarking on my fifth book for Samhain Publishing, I said, “It’s time, dammit. Let’s circle the wagons, build a fire and tell one whopper of a tale.” Over the course of 3 feverish months, I spun the story of Hell Hole. Set in 1905, a decade after the official days of the wild west were dead and gone, a hero was born in the person of Nat Blackburn, former cowboy, Apache scout, Rough Rider and now New York copper. Of course, he had to have a right hand man, a mysterious bad ass called Teta, a Dominican gun for hire who had saved Nat’s life in Cuba under Colonel Roosevelt.

Sending them into what is today an actual abandoned mining town, Hecla, Wyoming, I threw the kitchen sink at my boys. Writing it was like immersing myself in absolute stream of conscious. The story is littered with ghosts, black-eyed kids, wild men (what we call Bigfoot today), and so many other bizarre creatures, I almost couldn’t keep up. When people asked me what I was writing, I’d say, “Uh, well, it’s this kind of horror western with lots of nuttiness and men being men.”

If I only knew I could have answered the question with 2 simple words : Weird West. That would have made things so much easier.

So now I’m one of those Weird West guys, along with writers like Lansdale, Eric Red and Jonathan Janz. That’s some pretty good company.

Think I’ll go out and buy me a new spittoon.

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal and Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thrillerMontauk Monster is published by Kensington/Pinnacle.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. His next book from Samhain Horror, titled Hell Hole, is set to come out in August 2014 and is his first western horror.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from author Hunter Shea, who recently released his excellent new novel The Montauk Monster through Kensington/Pinnacle. If you are like me and consider yourself a huge cryptid fan, trust me when I say this is one book you will absolutely want to add to your collection! I am a huge fan of Hunter’s work and excited to have him as a guest on the site. Check out his post below to learn more about The Montauk Monster and his thoughts on beach reads!

montauk monster

What, exactly is a beach read?

I was just at my local bookstore and saw a row of shelves under the banner: Great Beach Reads. Truth be told, most of them were geared towards female readers, with a lot of book club recommendation stickers on the covers. Do they think guys don’t read while soaking in the sun? Do we just check out the sports page in the newspaper, tuck it away, slip on our shades and watch the bikinis traipse on by?

Okay, plenty of guys do exactly that. But a great many others read actual books. So when it comes to deciding what to pack in the ol’ beach bag, how does one choose?

Beach reading to me is something light. When you have your toes in the sand and the surf is churning, you want an ice-cold Corona in your hand, not a pint of Guinness. When you’re hungry and you look into the picnic basket, some chilled fried chicken and fruit hits the spot, not a plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

The same goes with a summer beach read. Crime and Punishment is NOT a beach read (though by all means, read it – a classic that you can’t put down). The theme is too heavy, like that meatloaf and Guinness. Jurassic Park was a great beach read when it came out. It was fun and fascinating and fast as hell once the dinosaurs got loose. Any book by Tess Gerritsen is a great beach read – superbly written mysteries that will make you forget to turn before you burn. War and Peace was demonstrated not to be a good beach read in the Jimmy Stewart movie, Mr. Hobbes Takes a Vacation. Every time he sat in the sand to read it, there was a distraction, and you can’t keep track of all those Russian names unless the book has your undivided attention.

Heavy. Light. The weight of words and ideas. These are the things that form the boundaries of beach and non-beach reads.

When I sat down to write my latest book, The Montauk Monster, knowing it was going to come out in June, I had the words beach read in the forefront of my mind. I wanted to create something that provided chills and thrills, a trip on the rollercoaster by the boardwalk. And if it was going to be a beach read, why not set it in a beach town like Montauk? Throw in some monsters and government conspiracy and let the good times roll. It’s not Crime and Punishment, but that’s because it was never meant to be. It’s a beaded bottle of Modelo and a slice of watermelon, the scent of coconut heavy in the air. The Montauk Monster is best read under a beach umbrella, the gentle roll of the surf in the distance. Just be wary of what you see out of the corner of your eye.

Was that a dog coming out of the water? Or was it something else? Push your shades up the bridge of your nose and keep reading. Everyone knows monsters are allergic to sunscreen.

ABOUT HUNTER SHEA

Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal and Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster is published by Kensington/Pinnacle.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. His next book from Samhain Horror, titled Hell Hole, is set to come out in August 2014 and is his first western horror.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.