Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Today I am happy to have John Quick on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of his excellent debut novel Consequences (review). Quick’s novel is a really fun summer read that will appeal to any horror fan, but particularly those who enjoy a good slasher story. Consequences is based on a real-life serial killer legend from Quick’s hometown and he uses that inspiration to craft a brutal novel that is full of great characters, plenty of action, and a formidable killer that will definitely give you the creeps! I really enjoyed Consequences and it seems Quick is poised for great things as he has signed to Sinister Grin Press for his follow-up novel.

During my interview with John, we talked about his writing process, his influences, the inspiration and history behind Consequences, bits of publishing stuff, and some of his upcoming work. This was an awesome interview and it was really cool to talk to John about his love of writing and some behind the scenes aspects of his work. A big thank you to John 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!

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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?

Thanks so much for having me!

I’ve always liked to read and write, so that part of it just seemed to come naturally. I was an only child, so there were many times growing up where I found myself with nothing to do other than to read. Thankfully, my parents encouraged that; they didn’t seem to care what I was reading so long as I was reading something.

I think it’s a natural extension of writing to eventually think about doing it for a living. I love to create, and I love even more to think about something I created maybe inspiring someone else to do the same. Ever since seeing pictures of John Skipp, Craig Spector, and David J. Schow in the leather jackets and sunglasses in Fangoria magazine years ago, writers have been like rock stars to me, and since I don’t have the musical talent to go that route, writing seemed like the next best thing [laughs].

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?

Since I got serious about it, I’ve been pretty consistent; I write at night, after the family’s gone to bed. I go out on my back patio with the laptop, smokes, and a couple of beers, and go until the night’s chapter is done—doesn’t matter how long it takes, and sometimes it can get a bit brutal [laughs]. I do have a day job, so there are times I’m exhausted when I get there, but the satisfaction I feel doing something I love every night makes it worth it. Mondays and Wednesdays are usually edit days; I’ll print out a manuscript, and jot down things with a red pen throughout the week, then plug them in on those days.

I have learned to take time off now and then, just not usually longer than two days running. If I do, apparently I get grumpy (according to my family [laughs]).

I have read your blog and see you were a big fan of shows like the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. What was it about these shows that appealed to you growing up?

I think it came from living out in the middle of nowhere, and the sense of isolation that came along with that. We had a couple of acres, and there wasn’t a house right next door on either side, so you could definitely walk outside and feel like you were the only person around for miles, even if that wasn’t the case. Beyond that, I’ve just always had a thing for the strange, and thankfully that never went away as I got older.

You mentioned on your blog that in July of 2015 you decided to start Consequences. Within that year, you ended up writing 10 first drafts, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment. What do you think helped spark that creative drive?

Just finally hitting a point where I was in the right mindset for it. I’d tried writing before, even tried going the traditional publishing route about ten years ago or so with no success. At that time, I had dreams of bestseller lists dancing in my head, and quitting my job on the basis of a single advance. As a result, it took me nearly a year to get one manuscript finished, and it was nowhere near ready for anyone else to look at.

Then I turned forty, and I realized that if I really wanted to do this, I’d better get to it before it was too late.

This time around, I just wanted to get something I’d written out there. I had no plans to quit the day job, and was of a mind that if I sold one copy to someone I didn’t know, I’d done what I set out to do. I’d also managed to get my hands on a copy of Richard Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale, and read the line “Write the books you want to read.” As soon as I read that, a switch flipped and the words started flowing. Everything that’s happened since has been beyond my wildest dreams!

You allow readers to track your progress on your blog and you have four works currently going on. I have always wondered with writers that are working on multiple projects simultaneously, is it difficult to keep them all straight? What helps you get in the mindset of each project?

Usually it’s not so bad, because there’s only one new thing going at a time. I did just take on the insane task of working on a dark fantasy novel at the same time I was working on a creature feature, and the headache that caused guarantees I’ll never try that again [laughs]!

I also think that since the other stuff is just edits, and the story’s already down on paper, it makes it easier to compartmentalize. Even if I see a new scene that needs to be added, or a scene that needs a complete rewrite, I tend to do it on the fly, working with my gut instincts.

As for mindset, Consequences had been simmering for a year before I put down the first word on paper. After that, it was habit. I sit down at the laptop at the right time, and my brain just switches on and says “okay, let’s do this!”

Consequences is a horror novel that is rooted in the real world, with its basis coming from a true life legend. Do you prefer to write horror that is more realistic or are you more drawn to horror with supernatural elements? What is it about each one that appeals to you if you enjoy both?

Honestly, it depends on the story. I enjoy both, but I tend to favor realism over supernatural stuff. Maybe it’s a result of reading so much horror and watching so many movies in my life, that the moment it occurs to me that something could actually happen, it becomes immensely more terrifying to me.

That said, there’s something almost primal about a good ghost story. I think most of us grew up hearing those tales around the campfire, and I know growing up in the rural south I heard more than my fair share. I’ve been to Chapel Hill to find the ghost that walks on the railroad track, and visited the Bell Witch cave, and many of the other haunted locations in Tennessee. So when it’s translated into literary form, it still manages to strike that same primal impulse.

What was the hardest part about writing Consequences, whether from a story standpoint or the process of getting the book out there?

As far as the story, there were a few things that were a little tricky, but mostly it came easily. Getting it out there was an adventure, though. I did four drafts of it, then sent it to a publisher who was in the process of undergoing staff changes (to not name names). It got rejected about six months later, then that publisher announced they were closing, so I guess I see why it didn’t make the cut with them [laughs]. I decided to get it out there, got volunteers to edit and do cover art, then things happened and both of them dropped out as well. I finally got it done the best I could, hit “publish”, and suddenly realized that the fun was just starting! I owe a huge debt to Tristan over at Sinister Grin and Erin at Hook of a Book for helping to guide me through the headaches that came after that!

What was your experience like self-publishing Consequences? Is that something you would like to continue with future works in addition to releasing with presses or is your goal to work with presses?

There’s something to be said for the complete creative freedom that comes with self-publishing, and I would definitely do it again. Now that I have a better idea what to expect from it, and what to do to make it work, I think I might could do it without wanting to tear my hair out [laughs].

I’m still in the early stages of working with a press, so it’s hard to answer whether I’d prefer working with them over doing it myself, but so far it’s been great. I do kind of like the idea that my biggest worry is writing the story itself, and not all the things that go on behind the scenes.

I don’t want to give away too much about Consequences for those who haven’t read it yet, but it seems like there is the potential for a sort of “spin-off” series. Do you have any plans to revisit those characters?

Also without giving too much away, things are set into motion in the epilogue of Consequences that have continued on. I’ve actually done four books in a series about a couple of the characters mentioned there, with the first book currently making the rounds in submissions. One way or the other, it’ll see the light of day eventually.

Was that specifically vague enough for you? <Insert evil laugh here>

You recently signed with Sinister Grin Press for the release of your upcoming novel, The Journal of Jeremy Todd. How did you get in touch with them?

Luck, mostly! I happened to stumble across an announcement that they were accepting open submissions back in November, and knew I had to send them something. I first found out about them because of Sixty-Five Stirrup Iron Road, and then looked at some of their other stuff and realized they were doing good stuff. Jeremy Todd was the closest to being ready, so I spent a week destroying my brain to get a final draft ready for them, and sent it on. I got a request for the full manuscript on Christmas Eve (an awesome present, I should say), and now here we are!

Is there anything you can tell us about that release?

It’s the story of a guy who was bullied so badly in high school that he’s become a total loser. The story’s told in the form of his journal entries leading up to his twenty year reunion, and we see how his mind degrades as he remembers more and more about his past, with gruesome and visceral results.

It’s also the darkest thing I’ve done yet, so take the time before it comes out to prepare! I know my wife really struggled reading it, and honestly, I struggled writing it, so hopefully that comes through on the page.

Do you have a preference between the novel format and some of the shorter formats (short story, novella, flash fiction, etc)? What do you enjoy about each style of storytelling?

While the ideas I come up with tend toward longer works, I love shorter ones, too. Maybe it was a part of that mindset thing, but I’ve finally started dipping my toes into the short story pond, and even have one coming out in an anthology this fall (Full Moon Slaughter, edited by Toneye Eyenot for JEA Press).

To me, the story is what dictates the length, not a conscious decision. Sometimes the point can be made fast, other times it takes longer. As long as it’s good, I’ll read it whatever format it’s in!

Reading your blog it seems like you have an interest in learning the ins and outs of publishing, even giving readers a look at how Consequence has been doing in various formats. What do you like about learning the publishing side of the business? I think it’s cool that you share what you have learned to help other authors or to help educate readers who are interested in that information.

I was a manager in a bookstore several years ago, so I got to see first-hand how things went on that end. There were always people coming in and wondering why we wouldn’t carry their PublishAmerica books, or pretty much anything that didn’t come from one of the major publishers. I started looking into it, and once I decided to do it myself, wanted to know exactly what I was getting into.

It also struck me that for the number of people actually trying to be writers, there was precious little valid information on what they needed to do to get their work out there. Internet searches give thousands and thousands of results, many of which contradict one another. Even books by big name authors give useful information, but when it comes to the publishing side aren’t as helpful as they could be, since those authors had some breaks that are more difficult to come by now.

So I figured I’d show what I went through during the process, so people could look at it and see that it’s not as easy as it’s been made out to be, and that there’s a lot more that goes with it than just hitting the publish button on KDP or Smashwords or whatever. I’m also one of those weird people who believe that if you’re going to do something, know everything you can about it so there’s no surprises anywhere down the line.

You give readers who visit your blog a very in-depth look at the inspirations for your stories and the “behind the scenes” look at your writing process. Is that something that is important to you, to let readers see how each book has come to life?

One of my favorite things in Stephen King’s short story collections is when he tells where the idea came from for each tale. Likewise, I love watching the “How it was Made” documentaries on DVDs and Blu-Rays. I actually remember seeing the specials on television about how they made Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark when I was a kid, so maybe that’s where it comes from.

But in any creative endeavor, I think people naturally wonder how it came to be. Writers have always talked about the age-old question of “where do you get your ideas”, so this is just my way of heading them off at the pass. Besides, I’m still so new to this that I get excited talking about my craft. Check back with me in fifteen years or so and maybe I’ll be a little grumpier about it [laughs].

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?

There’s actually four that clicked home for me and made me want to do something similar, and they’re kind of an evolutionary thing. First would be Pet Sematary and It by Stephen King, because of the way he was able to evoke emotion seemingly on a whim, and the turns of phrase he used that put you right there in the story. Then it was The Scream by Skipp and Spector, which I consider my introduction to the Splatterpunks. Rock n’ roll and horror have always been natural bedfellows, and this just slammed them together like Alice Cooper in book form. On top of that, this was more blood than King let flow, and had an edge that he also didn’t have. Then came Darkness, Tell Us by Richard Laymon, which was the book that made me realize I didn’t have to hold back, that I could just tell the tale full-bore and not worry if someone else flinched while reading it, so long as I didn’t flinch while writing it.

As to the current writers I just started reading, there’s way too many to list. I’ll limit myself to the last year or so just to make it manageable: Jonathan Janz, David Bernstein, Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea, Somer Canon, and let’s not forget the Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason!

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

I’ve been fortunate enough to get the chance to talk to some of my contemporaries whom I respect, thanks to social media and the wonderful online family that is the horror community. If there’s one that I would love to work with, or pick their brain, it would be Richard Laymon. I only regret that I didn’t discover his work while he was still alive, or maybe I’d have had that chance.

I know you have a ton of works in progress and you are fairly open with sharing that information, but is there anything else you are working on that you are excited about sharing?

My haunted house story Hidden Hearts just went out for editing, and I’m really excited for it to hit the release stage! It’s tamer in many ways than Consequences and Jeremy Todd, but it’s also the one that still manages to choke me up near the end, even after three drafts. I can’t wait for people to read it! I also am excited about getting the Cochran Investigations books out there (oops, minor spoiler!), just because since they were so fun to write, I’m hoping people will have just as much fun reading them!

Thanks again for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf John and answering my questions. I really enjoy your work and I am looking forward to reading more of your stuff in the future!

Thanks again for having me, and stay tuned! There’s much more to come!

LINKS

John Quick’s Official Website

Purchase Consequences: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Books-A-Million, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Consequences tour graphic v2

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Consequences!- #Consequences #summerofterror #crazyfreddy

Consequences Synopsis

It was a summer of blood and terror…

For seven friends, graduation night was supposed to be a time to celebrate the end of their high school careers and the start of their real lives.

But when an accident while partying at the local haunted house results in tragedy, they find themselves being hunted by a maniac for whom the stakes are decidedly personal.

Thirty years ago, Crazy Freddy hung his family up with barbed wire and skinned them alive. Now, the survivors can only hope for such a kindness as they are forced to accept that for everything they do, there will be CONSEQUENCES.

Praise for Consequences

“The character work here is pretty impressive, particularly for a first-time novelist.” – Michael Hicks, Author of Let Go

John Quick takes you inside the mind of a psycho path in this thriller. I read it in only two sittings because the pacing kept me turning the pages. Very well written, I enjoyed the dialogue very much, especially the young people being hunted by the killer. It felt believable and well developed.” – Michelle Garza, co-author of Mayan Blue

John Quick Biography

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John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world.

 His debut novel, Consequences is available now as a paperback or digital eBook. Watch for his next novel to come from Sinister Grin Press in 2017. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and three dogs that think they’re kids.

 When he’s not hard at work on his next novel, you can find him online at: http://johnquickauthor.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook and Twitter.

Would you like to feature?

If you would like to review Consequences or feature John with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com .

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Today I am happy to have Kristopher Rufty on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of his gut-wrenching novel Desolation (review), which is out now through Samhain Horror. Desolation is a truly visceral story that is full of darkness and heartbreak, but also forgiveness. What makes this story such a great horror read is that is entirely plausible. Rufty shows that ordinary people can snap under pressure and intense grief and that sometimes the aftermath is devastating. This novel had a huge emotional impact on me and although it is still early, I don’t see another book this year hitting me on such a personal level. Rufty puts his readers through an emotional wringer with Desolation, but it is one hell of a story and an essential addition to the bookshelf of any horror fan. During my interview with Kristopher, we talked about his writing process, his influences, the inspiration and history behind Desolation, and some of his upcoming work. A big thank you to Kristopher 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 check out the giveaways at the end of this post! The first giveaway is for two audio books, Oak Hollow andPillowface. The other giveaway is for a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfieldand Bigfoot Beach!

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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?

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the invite. Hopefully I can answer these great questions without sounding like a fool!

So many things led me to writing. I think I have different answers each time because there were a lot of forces at work. But mostly, it was because my overactive imagination needed a release. I found horror movies at a very early age. My mother sat me down to watch TV while she worked on canning. She saw a gruff, New-Yorker in a superhero outfit and assumed I was about to be subjected to some wholesome, child-appropriate entertainment. What I got while she was distracted in the kitchen was a horror movie host and a double-feature of FRIDAY THE 13th and FRIDAY THE 13th part 2. I think part 2 actually came on later that night, because I have a memory of being at a friend’s house and telling him how excited I was to watch part 2 that night. I was five years old. Part 3 had its network television premier a week later. After watching that one, I was hooked on horror from then on.

I read a lot as kid, Judy Blume and other children’s books, mostly. When I was introduced to comic books, a new world of creativity opened up for me. I went crazy with comics, devouring them all. Then I began to read horror comics and nearly went into a mental relapse from the sensation overload.

My dad loved it that I was a reader, so he pretty much just let me read whatever I wanted. Being a horror movie fan, I knew who Stephen King was because of CUJO and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. But when I realized he was an author, I wanted to read him. I saw HELLRAISER when I was in the fourth grade. Same story with Barker—when I learned he wrote books, I wanted to read them. I saw the Corey Haim—starring WATCHERS. Saw ‘Based on the novel by Dean Koontz’ in the credits. Add Koontz to the list. Couldn’t read enough of those guys.

But a friend put Laymon’s THE CELLAR in my hand and my entire outlook and approach on writing changed.

From the time I was fourteen, I fantasized about being an author. I’d write stories and scripts on my old Brother typewriter and hold the pages up to the mirror to see what my words looked from another point of view. I know that sounds strange, but I loved doing that. I used to imagine them in print, on the cream-colored pages of a paperback. That was my goal, to be like Barker and King, writing books and making movies all at once.

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?

Used to be a process. I was stubborn in my process. Being self-employed, I would usually get the kids up in the morning and ready for school. After I dropped them off, I’d come home, eat some breakfast, and sit down and write until lunchtime. Then it would be time to start work on my regular job.

Now we have a baby at home and that process no longer exists. I write whenever I can, which is okay because that’s how I used to do it before the last two years of being self-employed. My favorite time to write during this “whenever-I-can” schedule is early in the morning. I like being the first one awake, but that doesn’t always happen when I’m working third shift of the “whenever-I-can” schedule.

What was your inspiration for writing Desolation?

It came to me in a dream. Seriously. I dreamed scenes in vivid detail. In the dream, I was watching a movie and I saw the opening, the aftermath of the car accident. Then something scrambled and cut to a man invading a home, attacking a family. I woke up, confused and a little startled by the images I’d witnessed. I had to know what happened with the story. So I sat down to write it as my first novel, but I quickly became intimidated and decided to turn the story into an exploitation movie, in the vein of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. It floated around with producers for a few years before coming back home. Then I shelved it. But the idea remained and I began to come up with new takes on it. It made the story fresh to me again and I had to write it.

One of the things I loved about Desolation was that the two main characters are pretty complex. They each have faults and have done terrible things, but you can’t help but sympathize with each of them at different points of the story. Was it important to you to have readers connect with the Marlowes attacker even though he puts them through brutal situations?

Absolutely. That was crucial to me from the very beginning. When the story began to develop, I was looking at it solely from Dennis’s perspective. But as it went on, I began to understand Grant. I got to know him more and quickly realized that he’s not a bad guy at all. He just made a lot of bad choices that led him into a very dangerous situation. Not only that, he brought his family with him. That’s a huge fear of mine, failing my family, and Grant has done that. He’s in a different kind of desperation than Dennis, yet they are both connected in the middle, like a tug-of-war rope pulling back and forth.

I read on your guest post on Hunter Shea’s blog that Desolation has been around for 10 years and started as a novel and then as a script idea. What made Desolation such a challenging project for you?

Well, at first, I think I was just scared of my ability, or the lack of ability, to write it. I was still attempting to complete a full-length novel when the idea first came to me. I’d written many short stories, short novels, and a lot of screenplays. I decided to turn it into a script and try to get it made into a movie. I was overwhelmed by how many people came on board. Actors and actresses and producers from all over. People I’d grown up watching in movies were calling me at home to talk about it. But the financing never came through. It was shopped around and around, but the money just wasn’t there. It was a bad time for indie filmmaking then. But I’m grateful it never happened. I wouldn’t have been able to write the book.

You include letters throughout Desolation that help bring readers inside the mind of the man who attacks the Marlowe family. I loved these and thought they really captured the raw emotions that drive the course of the novel. What was your inspiration for these and what made you decide to take this approach?

Thank you for your kind words. That aspect of the novel came from personal experience. I lost my father in a motorcycle accident back in 2010 because of a person driving when they shouldn’t have been. It was hard for all of us, and I was struggling to accept he was gone. A friend suggested I write him letters, just tell him about my day, as if I were speaking directly to him. This friend thought that, with time, I would eventually no longer need to write the letters. I have to say the letters made everything worse. I quickly stopped writing them because doing so made the pain even stronger.

I’m not really sure when I decided to incorporate that into DESOLATION. But I thought it would be the right place to witness Dennis succumbing to his hate, reading it in his writings as Sonia, the woman who cares for him, reads them.

You have written works that contain supernatural elements and horror that includes real people and could actually happen in real life. What is it about each one that appeals to you and do you have a preference?

I just seem to go there naturally. They both appeal to me for the same reason, they need to be written. These ideas swirl around my head like the flakes of a snow globe. And I enjoy writing them, even if I try to hold back, or to keep it simple. My imagination doesn’t allow me to play it safe. I write without a safety net, whether it’s about tiny creatures or a man obsessed with revenge.

But after writing something like DESOLATION, I think I might prefer to write about monsters for a little while again. I’m not so sure it’s because something like DESOLATION could actually happen. I think it’s the shape the story left me in afterward. I was devastated emotionally and creatively. The bleak tone of the novel left me in a mess afterward. And writing about monsters, the supernatural kind, is a lot of fun. Writing BIGFOOT BEACH after DESOLATION brought me back, but there are wounds that are still there from DESOLATION.

You are also an experienced director and write movie scripts. Does your experience in film influence your writing or do you try to keep the two separate?

I do try to keep them separate. I haven’t made a movie in a few years, but even back then I didn’t try to blur them together. I used to forget that while writing stories, I didn’t have to adhere to a budget plan. I could write anything. Blow up anything. There was no special effect that couldn’t be afforded. Writing stories lifted a restriction that movies couldn’t. I could do anything I wanted to do. There was no reason not to.

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

Again, it was watching Friday the 13th when I was five years old. But what made me want to stay in horror was the fun. I got into horror during a great time period, the 80s heyday of splatter and cheese. I absorbed it all, read it all, and couldn’t get enough of it. Even now, I still prefer those movies I grew up on, and books like those that were released during the Zebra/Tor/Leisure days. There was never a short supply of horror. It was everywhere—bookstores, video stores, movie theaters, grocery stores, gas station magazine and bookracks. Everywhere. Seemed that when I was a kid, every place I went to had a horror section.

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?

If I had to pick just one, I’d have to narrow it down to two first. Jack Ketchum’s OFF SEASON and Richard Laymon’s THE CELLAR. Then to look at those two books, side by side, I’ll have to pick THE CELLAR. That book floored me. I couldn’t believe the stuff I read in it. Same for Ketchum. These were like the movies I’d grown up on, and here I had been writing stories and growing depressed because I didn’t think anybody would want to read stuff like this. Then I was pointed toward guys like Laymon and Ketchum, which led me to Lee, White, and the Splatterpunk genre. There were these types of books combining my favorite things from my childhood—monsters, demons, creatures, blood, gore, and…freedom. The freedom to write whatever I wanted. But these authors didn’t write to make it campy, or solely for shock factor. Their books were addictively intriguing and they helped me grow comfortable in the stories I was writing. After reading as much as I could by these guys and many others, I dropped the shackles that had been holding me back and decided to write as Joe R. Lansdale has said before, but much more bluntly: Write as if those who love you will never read it.

Current writers I really enjoy reading are my co-authors on JACKPOT. Shane McKenzie, David Bernstein, and Adam Cesare. I also love Alan Spencer’s stuff. He’s like me and writes with a childlike obsession for horror. Ronald Malfi is an amazing writer. He’s got a serious talent for combining quiet horror with a bit of splatter tossed in. Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz haven’t put out a bad book, either. They write so well that while you’re reading it, you think it must be easy to write that well. When you sit down to try, you learn that those two have a special gift and they know how to use it.

Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, Bentley Little, Ray Garton, and Joe R. Lansdale are writers I make sure to read everything they put out. As well as Wrath James White, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and so many more. I could keep naming more and more and more and…. more. And those are just SOME of the horror writers I like to read.

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

I know I can’t, but it would have been an amazing experience to write with Laymon. The things I could learn working on a single page with such an impeccable writer as he was would stay with me for a lifetime.

I’ve been blessed to collaborate with a few authors and I’ve loved it. It’d be a blessing to work with Wrath James White. I think we could create something that would make some heads spin.

And of course, I’d love to finally work with Ronald Malfi. We’ve talked about it quite a few times, but it hasn’t happened yet. I have a feeling that it will at some point in the future, though.

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?

One of the many great things about horror is there is so many layers to it. Take a subject like werewolves and give it to a roomful of writers. You won’t get the same story back. It will be completely different, told from different perspectives and styles. There may be similarities in tone or even theme, but the voice telling these stories will be fresh each time and the formula they use to tell it will be unique and their own. I think there are still many layers to horror that haven’t even been tapped into yet. I can’t say if there is anything that I want to read that hasn’t been written because there is so much out there I haven’t read. But there are things I haven’t explored yet, in my own writing. There are heights I’ve yet to climb and I’m excited and a little anxious to give them a try. They’re calling out to me late at night, in a nebulous voice like a siren seductively beckoning toward the rocks.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a couple different things, finishing some stuff up and starting on something new. Now that we have a baby, and I write on that ‘whenever-I-can’ schedule, I’m trying to get caught back up. I just sent JACKPOT 2 over to a co-writer. I’m thrilled to see where this story goes in the sequel. My horror-western is almost ready to send out to my pre-readers. I have a new book I’m working on for DarkFuse, and another book to finish that needs to be turned into Sinister Grin Press this summer. I’ve been approached by a few publishers to contribute to anthologies later in the year as well. I have a lot to write and I’m excited to see where these stories take me.

Thank you so much for having me on. I enjoyed my time here and hope to do it again sometime in the future.

LINKS

Kristopher Rufty Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase Desolation: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or from your favorite bookstore!

Desolation tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Desolation! – #Desolation #RuftyRevenge #winterreads #HookofaBook

Desolation Synopsis

There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.

Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle.

On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him.

Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.

Praise for Kristopher Rufty

“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” – Jeff Strand

A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show

“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” – Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller

“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” – Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow

“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” – Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal

About Kristopher Rufty

krist

Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, the Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents and many more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He is the writer and director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.

Find Krist online at his blog or on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com

Link for audio book giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI5/?

Link for print/e-book giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjMw/?

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/?

 

 

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

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

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 have Samhain Horror author Glenn Rolfe on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of his delightfully creepy alien novella Boom Town (review). Glenn talks about his writing, punk rock, being a part of the Samhain Horror family, his upcoming releases and a ton of other cool stuff! Also, if you happened to miss it the first time around, Glenn was kind enough to share a brand new story titled “The Astronauts” last week that you definitely don’t want to miss!

A huge thanks to Glenn 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!

Glenn Author Photo

Hey Glenn! Before we get started, I just wanted to thank you for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf!

Glad to be here, man. Thanks you so much for having me.

You write songs and act as the front man for a punk rock band called The Never Nudes. How did you first get involved in punk rock bands?

I started playing and singing in bands back in 1997. That band was called The Skin Flutes (we were a 3-piece). We started off with original tunes right off the bat. We did two albums which you can still find on bandcamp for free! https://theskinflutes.bandcamp.com/

I’ve been in and out of bands ever since. The Never Nudes came along a couple of years ago after I started writing. We’ve actually just called it quits. Lack of time and arranging schedules is too hard.

It was all fun, man. I used to sing Green Day and Rancid tunes all the time. One of my friends heard me and said I should sing in his band. That was the start.

The punk rock community has a long history of Do-it-yourself ethics and there are a lot of parallels with how that could be influential to a writer. Has that carried into your work as an author and what lessons have you learned from it?

Oh yeah. 100%. We used to walk through the crowds selling cassette tapes that we manufactured in my crappy apartment. Spray painted t-shirts, too. You learned to push your art. It’s never easy to walk up to someone who has no idea who the hell you are and ask them to buy your work for $3. Who knew I’d be doing that very same thing with my eBooks 17 years later! But yeah, I developed the tough skin needed to keep alive in this business. And a cool book cover can be as effective as a great album cover. Then there’s the whole word of mouth, grass-roots movement that bands and authors have to do at the start. There are a lot of things the correlate between the two.

Does music play a big part in your writing? Do you have any artists you like to listen to while writing?

Music almost always plays into my writing. I can’t tell you how many times a random tune comes through my headphones and works itself into my story. Off the top of my head…I know Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is in the novel I’m working on now. It came on while I was in this scene and it just fit perfectly. I had to add it in.

And my first novella, Abram’s Bridge, pulls its name and inspiration from a Bruce Springsteen song.

How did you make the transition from a musician into writing fiction? What inspired you to finally go for it?

Well, punk rock isn’t what it used to be. People moved and I started a family. I lost my job in 2010 when the hotel I worked at closed. After a couple of months at home, I needed some sort of outlet. I had chicken-scratched a couple of horrible short stories in a notebook in the early 2000’s, but it wasn’t until I typed up something fresh during that jobless time that something sparked. I shared this short piece with some horror friends on Facebook and they wanted to know what happened next. They cheered me on until I had a sixty thousand word novel. I haven’t stopped since.

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

I was always being subjected to creepy movies from my older brother. He would use them to scare the piss out of me. The Howling, Maximum Overdrive, A Nightmare on Elm Street… something about that powerful, resonating emotion—that fear—stuck with me. It definitely got me into reading. The bass player from The Skin Flutes gave me Stephen King’s The Dark Half and I was hooked.

My favorite thing about horror is how much you can do with it. To me, with horror, you can do almost anything any other genre can do–love, mystery, fantasy, drama, heartbreak– plus you can scare the crap out of people. You can push every button the reader has.

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

I’m usually writing blogs or reviews during the week. I do the majority of my fiction writing on my two overnight shifts at the hotel I work at now. I get three or four hours to sit with my laptop and go. Making time during the week for fiction writing is freaking hard. I have three kiddos that like to keep my attention.

When I do write, I almost always have music playing in the background. And I will use certain bands to set the mood. Danzig gets a lot of play. Bruce, hair metal, and whatever comes across the old shuffle.

Samhain Horror is one of my favorite Horror publishers. How did you end up connecting with them to release your work?

I tracked down Don D’Auria. He was the mastermind behind the Leisure Books horror line. I found out he was brought on to handle duties for Samhain and just targeted him. He was the only guy I really wanted to work with. Those LB titles were instrumental in making me want to become a writer. Abram’s Bridge was my most refined piece and Don loved it enough to offer me a contract.

Samhain Horror authors seem to be pretty supportive of each other. How has this helped you as a writer?

I just tackled this in a guest post last week for fellow Samhain author, Tamara Jones [in] “We’re a Happy Family”. And it is so true. Everybody is here for each other. I was fortunate to connect with guys like Jonathan Janz, Russell James, and Ronald Malfi while I was still honing my craft. Hell, I’m still fine tuning this thing. But even before I was on the Samhain roster, these guys were giving me advice and rooting for me. I felt like getting that first contract validated their time and faith in me. That first round of welcomes moved me.

I try to return that faith and encouragement. I try to pay it forward. I think we all do. It is a pretty special group. I’m honored to be a part of it.

You have mentioned in other interviews that you don’t really outline or plot out your novels, but instead take a more spontaneous approach. What are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages to that approach?

The advantage is you are learning what happens as it happens. Hopefully that translates to the readers surprise of what happens next. How can the reader know what’s coming if I don’t?

On the flip flop, I’m driving blind and can run into dead ends. But since no one sees that, I am able to delete and try again. I’m not afraid to fail or crash and burn in a story. You can always go back and try again. I can usually tell when it feels off.

Your debut novel The Haunted Halls started out as a serial work on Jukepop. What was the experience like? Would you try this style again?

It was good and bad. It gave me The Haunted Halls, but it was difficult. You had to write a chapter, edit it, and throw it up live. Once it was live, you could not edit it. They have since changed that. My ugliest mistake that I could not get down—Chevy Mustang. Yep, I like to say it was an alternate universe, but writing while you’ve been awake all night sometimes causes brain cramps. That was my big one.

I wouldn’t do it again. It takes time and commitment. I wouldn’t be able to do that now. If you are just starting out though it’s a good way to learn how to make a story that pulls people along. I think that was the best thing that came out of the experience for me. If you are writing and posting one chapter at a time, you learn to make sure that that each chapter makes people have to read the next. That’s something I see as a common thread pointed out by the reviews of my work so far. People can’t put the story down. That was my A+ in Jukepop 101.

The Ice Queen is one of the most original antagonists I have come across in quite awhile! How did you get the idea for her abilities?

I work at a hotel. The idea came to me there. I thought of all the things that would make my skin crawl and gave those abilities to her. I’m sure there is movie and novel influences in there, too. But yeah, she was a lot of fun to work with. I had goose bumps at three thirty in the morning numerous times. That’s how I knew I was doing something right with her.

Abram’s Bridge originated as an idea for a ghost story for your writing group. Do you still participate in the same group and if so, how has it helped you with your writing?

The Tuesday Mayhem Society. Yeah, there a bunch of great people, friendly as hell and just as twisted! I still get with them some, but not as much. Again, it’s a matter of time. I just can’t get there.

While Abram’s Bridge definitely shares the same voice as your other works, it is a little bit different in terms of style. What was it like exploring a different side of your writing?

Fun. I have to thank Mercedes Yardley for that. I read her collection, Beautiful Sorrows, and was blown away by her style and the things she dared to do and places she went with her horror. Sweet Kate would not have been who she was if Mercedes hadn’t opened that door for me.

Ronald Malfi’s Floating Staircase made an impression on me that I think bled into Abram’s Bridge, as well. The obvious line is that they are both ghost story/mysteries, but the atmosphere Malfi created in his novel, I definitely tried to re-create that a bit in my novella.

Boom Town is based on actual reports of underground booms in Wisconsin. What is the scariest true alien encounter you have ever come across?

I always point to the abduction story of Travis Walton. Whether you believe it or not. The movie, Fire in the Sky, has the scariest scene ever for an alien flick. When Travis is having flashbacks to what the aliens did to him…that gets every time. It’s one of my nightmares.

I loved the portrayal of the alien presence as a mysterious ooze. What inspired you to take that route as opposed to relying on more traditional entities?

Ah, the ooze. In the first draft it was more like the ectoplasm in Ghostbusters 2. But that just didn’t feel right to me. I wanted an alien connection and I just didn’t have the balls to go for it. I thought, “I’m a horror writer, I can’t write science fiction…” But once I got over the fear and added the opening scene and then the closing scene, the rest of the story fell into place and worked like I wanted it to. I had it in me and didn’t even realize it.

You’re upcoming Samhain novel Blood and Rain has been in the works for some time in various forms. What has the process been like re-working that?

Oh my. Blood and Rain, the first draft, was the first novel I wrote, the one I showed a couple of Facebook friends. It was much more Laymon-esque in its original form, but way less well-written. I sent it to an editor. He fixed all of my horrible writing issues, but the story was still less than good. I tweaked it and shopped it a few times. It was rejected by three or four indie presses including Don and Samhain thankfully! Yes, I’m glad no one took it. After Samhain took Boom Town, Don asked me when I could deliver a novel. I love the characters and the main story in Blood and Rain and I wasn’t ready to give up on it. I called upon two of my most honest and well-read friends to help me re-shape the novel. My best friend, Ben, kicked my ass. He told me if something sucked, or asked why a character would do this? I ended up re-writing about 50-60 percent of the last version I had. I had Erin (Al-Mehairi) clean it up and sent it to Don. Mind you, did all of those major re-writes over a four-week period last summer. It was intense, but the results were perfect. And Don agreed.

What was your inspiration for Blood and Rain?

Well, like I said, my brother showed me The Howling. He showed me Silver Bullet. He always seemed keen to werewolves. That rubbed off on me. One of my favorite werewolf bits is actually the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. That scared the hell out of me as a kid. That was done by the same guy who did An American Werewolf in London. After writing a couple terrible short stories, I started this werewolf bit. It started growing past my comfort zone. I remember thinking, “this is a novel”. I stopped, but I kept that notebook. I saved this story. When I started writing for real in 2011, this is what I knew I had to write.

I get my kids howling at full moons. It is hilarious. Plus, look at my name– “Rolfe: The unusual English surname Rolfe derives ultimately from the Old Scandinavian and Germanic pre 5th century personal name “Hrodwulf“. This was composed of the elements “hrod“, meaning “renown”, and “wulf“, a wolf.” [Source: Wikipedia]

It seems it was only a matter of time.

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

Biggest impact: ‘Salem’s Lot. I kind of think Blood and Rain is my werewolf answer to ‘Salem’s Lot. I’m no Stephen King, but this is special.

For current writers out there…Ronald Malfi, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland, I loved Jonathan Maberry’s Pine Deep Trilogy. A couple of writers I just got into last year that I really dig would be Adam Cesare and Todd Keisling. I could fill this list with Samhain authors. If Don gives them the thumbs up, that’s good enough for me.

If you could choose any writer to collaborate with, who would you choose and why?

Outside of King, who I’m sure I could share any idea with and he would make it amazing. I think I’d love to do something with Ronald Malfi. I love his style so much. I think we could make something deep and beautiful.

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?

Personally, I like what’s out there now. I like the classics. I like seeing someone drip their DNA into a “tired” trope. It’s like music, man. There are only so many chords and chord progressions that work, ya know? It’s what the individual has inside of them that makes their take special.

What other works are you currently working on?

I have two novels close to finished: Becoming and Window. Then I have a new untitled novella underway and plan on putting out my second short fiction collection, The World Comes Down, in the first half of 2016.

Thanks for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf Glenn, I am definitely excited to read your upcoming works!

Thanks again, Rich. My pleasure.

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About Glenn Rolfe

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 ghost/mystery/thriller novella, ABRAM’S BRIDGE (Samhain Publishing, Jan. 2015) and his latest novella, a Horror/Sci-Fi mash-up, BOOM TOWN (Samhain Publishing). A full-length novel, BLOOD AND RAIN, will come out this Fall from Samhain Publishing and THINGS WE FEAR, a novella, is set to publish from Samhain in 2016.

His debut novel, THE HAUNTED HALLS (James Ward Kirk Publishing, 2014), is available now, as well as his short story collection, SLUSH (Alien Agenda Publishing, 2014).

Look for his punk rock band, The Never Nudes, on Amazon and Facebook.
Check out his website: www.glennrolfe.com

About Boom Town

BoomTown

Terror from below!

In the summer of 1979, Eckert, Wisconsin, was the sight of the most unique UFO encounter in history. A young couple observed a saucer-like aircraft hovering over Hollers Hill. A blue beam blasted down from the center of the craft into the hill and caused the ground to rumble for miles.

Now, thirty years later, Eckert is experiencing nightly rumbles that stir up wild rumors and garner outside attention. The earthly tremors are being blamed on everything from earthquakes to underground earth dwellers. Two pre-teens discover a pipe out behind Packard’s Flea Market uprooted by the “booms” and come into contact with the powerful ooze bubbling from within. What begins as curiosity will end in an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.

Reviews for Boom Town

“…Stephen King-lite. (Boom Town) is quick, punchy and goes places you may not see coming before the final page is swiped or turned.”Horror After Dark

“Boom Town is quick and entertaining read that harkens back to the 1980’s brand of small town (or intimate invasion) alien pieces. Like a readers digest version of Late Night Horror Television presentations (every region had one, for me it was “Fright Night Theatre”) of “Invaders From Mars”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Night of the Creeps” or “Xtro”Zachary, Mouths of Madness Podcast

Rolfe weaves a wonderful tale of big, bad things happening to a small, good town. A sure winner!Hunter Shea, author of Island of the Forbidden and The Montauk Monster

Add on GoodReads

Purchase Boom Town:

Amazon

Samhain Horror

Barnes and Noble

Today I am excited to welcome one of my all-time favorite horror writers, Hunter Shea, to The Horror Bookshelf for an interview to celebrate the release of his latest novel Island of the Forbidden (review). We talk about Monster Men, the books in the Jessica Backman series, cryptids, new releases and a lot of other cool stuff!  Also, if you have read any of the books, Hunter reveals how Island of the Forbidden almost took a much different path.

Be sure to enter the blog tour giveaway following the interview for a chance to win one signed copies of Hunter’s previous novels or an e-book! A huge thanks to Hunter for answering my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for inviting me to participate on this blog tour!

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Aside from being a huge fan of your books, I also am a pretty avid follower of your Youtube podcast Monster Men. You and Jack do an excellent job introducing viewers to cool new books, movies and other horror related stuff. How did the idea for the show come about and do you guys have anything special coming up this year?

Jack and I used to work together and bonded over our passion for horror movies and books. When my first book was going to be published in 2011 (Forest of Shadows), we created Monster Men to help promote it. As you can see, it’s gone well beyond the scope of just promoting a single book. We’ve filmed close to 80 episodes now and have branched out into interviewing authors, cryptozoologists and even doing a ghost hunt in a cemetery. In 2015, we’re going to do much more interviews and get out in the field to show our viewers some truly spooky places.

Island of the Forbidden is the fourth story featuring Jessica Backman. Though they can be read as standalone works, did you ever imagine writing a series when you first wrote Forest of Shadows or did it happen organically?

This was never intended to be a series. When I ended Forest of Shadows, I did so pretty definitively. When Samhain asked for a third book, I got to thinking, what would become of a little girl who lived through what Jessica did in Alaska? How would that impact the course of her life? Sinister Entity was born from those questions. And from there, more questions arose. I mean, if someone can truly interact with the dead the way she and Eddie do, they’re not going to be normal, no matter how hard they try. I’m fascinated with the way our decisions alter the course of our lives. For me, as long as Jessica and Eddie have their abilities, I’m going to keep writing about them and watch them evolve.

Jessica is the only character that appears in all of the books, but Eddie’s story also plays a major role in Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden. How did you get the inspiration to incorporate a character like Eddie?

I was reading about a famous spiritualist, D.D. Home. He was the only psychic/spiritualist to have confounded the professional debunkers. I get the impression that if psychic powers are real, Home was our proof. Witnesses even watched him levitate out a multi-story window and float back in another. Accounts of what he was able to do will raise the hair on your arms. I started to think, what if these abilities are genetic? Would they wax and wane with each successive generation? Eddie in the books is a direct descendant of D.D. Home, a guy who just may be equal to the greatest spiritualist the world has ever seen. If he can communicate with the dead as easily as we do the living, imagine what would ensue if he somehow came into contact with Jessica, who unwittingly draws the dead to her and can banish them to a place neither of them can see? Talk about power couples, they’re it.

I know writers tend to become attached to their characters, so was it difficult for you to place Jessica and Eddie in dangerous situations?

Not at all. In fact, it’s fun. That’s when their true personalities come out. And I’m never sure what I’m going to do with them in the end. I realized midway through Island of the Forbidden that my subconscious was setting things up to kill Jessica. I had to pull back a bit and move the story a little to the left. Ormsby Island is a very dangerous place for people like Jessica and Eddie. They’re just two broken people surrounded by over 100 royally pissed off spirits. It was easy to imagine them being drawn under to a place of no return. But that would have been too easy. The power in the story is seeing how they face what is an unimaginable situation without buckling under.

Ormsby Island is a perfect setting for a ghost story. It has a dark history that has made it a legend among the locals in the novel and is completely cut off from the outside world. The description of the island and the house definitely gave me the chills! Was there any real world inspiration behind Ormsby Island?

When I set out to write the book, I wanted Jessica and Eddie to have put themselves in a kind of forced isolation – cutting themselves off from friends and family, even ignoring the pleading of the dead. For them at that moment, it seemed like the safe place to be. Now, let’s draw them to a location that is physically isolated. All possible lifelines are utterly cut off. If you’re like Jessica who likes to profess that she has no fear, that’s going to be thrown out the window in short order. Through that isolation comes a realization that you need to be a part of something larger than yourself – if you can survive.

What I like about the books in the series is that it shows a very realistic portrayal of how the events of the books would impact the characters. It seems like with each situation they find themselves in, Jessica and Eddie find themselves questioning their skills as well as themselves. Was that an important element for you while you were writing the books, to show that journey?

Exactly! That’s the impetus that compels me to write about them. The ghosts and hauntings are secondary. I want to explore the real impact interacting so closely with the dead can have on the living. I really don’t think it’s like the guys in a show like Ghost Adventures who seem to try to draw spirits into a bar brawl, then pick up and leave, moving on to the next haunted location as if nothing happened. To see beyond the veil has to rock you to your core. It would change you in an instant. From that point on, a conventional life is going to be pretty out of reach. Jessica and Eddie’s journey is what the whole series is about. The fact that I can add some scares along the way is gravy.

Eddie and Jessica both have a very unique approach to how they handle the situations they encounter in the books. How do you think their strengths benefit each other?

They’re the embodiment of yin and yang. Their personalities clash, but that’s good. Jessica is brash, impetuous, defiant, wielding powers that she has no control over. Eddie in introspective, reticent, but braver than he thinks he is. He knows every nook and cranny of his abilities, thanks to his stint with the Rhine Research Center (an actual psychical research facility near Duke University). Alone, each will eventually step into something they can’t get out of. Together, by feeding off one another, they can succeed against impossible odds. They need each other more than they care to admit.

A few of your books feature cryptids (The Montauk Monster, Swamp Monster Massacre) and you talk about your interest in them quite a bit. What is your favorite, least recognized cryptid? How did your interest in cryptids and the paranormal begin?

I find myself becoming more and more entranced by the world of cryptozoology. I’ve always been a huge monster fan – hence the Monster Men – but imagine if some of those monsters are real? And living close by? I get goosebumps just thinking about it. One of my favorites has become The Dover Demon, so much so that I wrote a book about it that will come out in the fall of 2015. Is it an alien or an earthbound creature? The veracity of the witnesses is what makes it so intriguing. I owe huge thanks to Loren Coleman, cryptozoologist and owner of the International Cryptozoology Museum, for getting me hooked on The Dover Demon. It’s a really strange and chilling creature. We’re talking about what people today would call a gray alien years before it became an iconic image.

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

On weekdays, I try to get in an hour or so a night, after work and dinner and hanging out with the family. On weekends, like right now when I’m answering your awesome questions, I’ll get a few hours in in the morning. The key is to just keep moving forward. You’re not always going to hit the goal you set for the day, but that’s all right. If I get in 250 words instead of 1,000, so be it. I know I’m going to have another day down the line where my fingers are flying over the keyboard.

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

My father used to watch horror and scifi movies with me when I was a kid barely tall enough to turn the knob on a door. We watched all of the Universal monster movies, then the nuclear powered beasts of the 50s, and the straight up terrifying tales of the 70s. The odd thing was, I wasn’t scared. I loved watching them! Then he introduced me to this little known guy (at the time) called Stephen King and that was it. Stick in the fork, I was done. Horror hasn’t left my side since I was about 5. I’m a little jaded now, and it takes a lot to freak me out, but man, when something does, it’s like the greatest high ever. The movie Sinister did that to me most recently. It’s harder with books, I think, because I know how the sausage is made.

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

Stephen King’s Night Shift was my first ever horror read, and I can honestly say it shaped who I was to become. To me, that is the perfect short story collection. There are so many modern horror writers doing amazing work, and some of them don’t get the recognition they deserve. Here are some of my favorites: Tim Lebbon, Brian Keene, Jonathan Janz, Jack Ketchum, Brian Moreland, Joe Lansdale, Mary SanGiovanni, David Bernstein, Keith Rommel, Nick Cutter. I could go on and on. Hollywood, wake up! You want to make great movies? Read a book by one of these guys, and lady.

If you could choose any writer to collaborate with, who would you choose and why?

I’ve talked to Jonathan Janz about writing something together. We just need the time. I think we have a similar style and definitely have a lot of the same passions. Most importantly, we get along and really like and respect one another. Without that, I don’t think it’s possible to collaborate. We could create something truly dark and disturbing together. I’ve also been talking to Keith Rommel about a joint project. He’s just a great guy and such an intuitive writer. I’d create the monsters and he’d dive into the psyche of our characters.

What other stories are you currently working on?

I’m working on a new cryptid novel for Pinnacle. If all goes well, it should come out in 2016. I’m also putting the touches on a very nasty little novella for Samhain. Once summer hits, I have an idea for a Bigfoot book that’s never been explored before. I can’t wait to start that. I’m also contemplating self publishing a middle grade horror series. The first book is already written and I’m going to talk to a close friend about doing some illustrations. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf Hunter, I am definitely excited to read your other releases this year!

Thank you so much for having me and for your wonderful reviews of my books!

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Giveaway

Enter to win one of five Hunter Shea books being given away! Two signed copies of Montauk Monster, one signed copy of Sinister Entity, and two e-books of choice of his titles are up for grabs! One book to each winner, given in order of random drawing. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter link. Must use valid email that winners can be contacted by. Print books are U.S. residents only. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Any questions, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b17/?

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity, Hell Hole and Island of the Forbidden, which are all published by Samhain Horror.

The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster was published by Kensington/Pinnacle. His second Kensington novel, Tortures of the Damned, will be published later this year.

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 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.

Raves for Hunter Shea

Forest of Shadows

“A frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” —Night Owl Reviews

Sinister Entity

“This is the real deal. The fear is palpable. Horror novels don’t get much better than this.” —Literal Remains

“. . .Culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages!” —Horror Novel Reviews

Evil Eternal

“Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant. . .a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare.” –Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows

Swamp Monster Massacre

“If you’re craving an old-school creature-feature that has excessive gore. . .B-horror movie fans rejoice, Hunter Shea is here to bring you the ultimate tale of terror!” —Horror Novel Reviews

Today I am happy to have Samhain Horror author Russell James on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview following the release of his stellar new novel Dreamwalker (review). Also, be sure to enter the blog tour giveaway following the interview for a chance to win one of Russell’s previous novels! A huge thanks to Russell for answering my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for inviting me to participate on this blog tour!

writer's stop1

I have read in other interviews that you got your start in writing through joining a writing class. Do you still belong to a literary group and if so how has that helped you in your writing career?

I am still a member of the Minnows Literary Group and it has been a great experience. We give each other feedback on novels and short stories we send out for submission, and we collaborate on sci-fi benefit anthologies. Our latest anthology STILL OUT OF TIME has been in the Amazon Top 25 Anthology list since it came out and has earned a nice sum for Doctors Without Borders.

Our group works for several reasons. The first is that it is honest. If something doesn’t flow for one of us, we will talk about it, politely, professionally. The second is that the group is diverse. We are a stock broker, a Broadway musician, a homesteader, a legal assistant, a tech writer for a Fortune 50 company, and a full time writer. We live in two countries, and in locations as dissimilar as New York City and rural Idaho. Everyone adds a different perspective during feedback. I embrace the recommendations that hit home, and even the ones that don’t force me to mentally defend my writing decisions. I’ll admit losing a few of those internal arguments.

All my teammates there have given me excellent writing coaching, and I do consider us a team.
All of your novels have been published through Samhain Horror, which is one of my favorite publishers. How did you end up joining Samhain?

During a writing class, the instructor mentioned that Samhain had an open call for horror novels with a new top-notch editor, Don D’Auria. I had just finished a fourth novel manuscript that had yet to make the rounds for agent and publisher rejections. I thought “Well, might as well get rejected by one of the best.” So I sent DARK INSPIRATION off. The note came that it was accepted and I literally fell to my knees, breathless. Since then, the excellent thing about Samhain is the feeling of family from the organization and other authors. Don is excellent to work with and I’m happy to always send the next novel manuscript there first.
One of the things that I loved about Dreamwalker is that even though there are elements of interacting with dreams, parallel worlds and evil spirits, the story still feels realistic because Pete also faces very real danger in the real world. Was it challenging to blend the two elements together?

Creating Dreamwalker was like writing half the book as a straight up thriller, even though both realities intersect and impact each other. When Pete is in Twin Moon City, my imagination could run wild with zombies driving Jeeps and spirits spinning nightmares in a castle. But once Pete reawakens in Atlantic City, I had to switch mental gears and be sure everything was grounded and believable. Locations had to ring true to life, drug lord Jean St. Croix had be threatening without becoming cartoonish and outsized. It was work, but I really enjoyed the detail of setting up the parallel worlds.

I loved the world building that takes place in the novel, particularly the dream realm of Twin Moon City. What was the inspiration behind the depiction of this city in the dream world? Was it difficult fleshing out the details to create such a vivid world or did it just come naturally?

I wish I knew where Twin Moon City came from so I could go back to that well for more future inspiration. I think that place is cool. To read about. Being stuck there would be hell. Some of the feel for the place came from watching newsreels from Europe just after World War II, where whole cities were devastated. People were still cleaning up that mess in the 1950’s. The more time I spent in Twin Moon City in my head, the more details came about. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so that’s how things go in my process.

While Dreamwalker ends on a pretty definitive note, there are elements of the story that seem like they could expand into future books. Do you have any plans to continue Pete’s story and/or other people who may share similar gifts?

I wasn’t planning on it, but a few ideas have surfaced. Pete and Rayna’s story could certainly have another chapter. And if Cauquemere had his parallel realm, there may certainly be others. We’ll see if a lot of people want to read more.

How did you get inspired to use voodoo as a central element in Dreamwalker?

I had the idea of making dreaming important in the story, and started doing some research on dream mythology. The story of the petraloa spirit Cauquemere and his delivery of nightmares fit right onto what I had in mind, and voodoo joined the cast of characters.

In your afterword, you mention that you did a lot of research regarding voodoo while writing Dreamwalker. What was it like delving into that world?

Scary as hell. Imagined horror, like vampires, werewolves, space aliens, those are all fictional exercises. I can write those with a bit of detachment. Real life supernatural stuff, like Ouija boards, ghosts and hauntings, and I’ll toss documented demonic possession in there, those things set my hair on end. Voodoo did that big time. For Haiti to legally ban it gives it a legitimacy that tarot cards and séances just don’t have. I believe that voodoo reaches over into a darker plane of our world, as other practices do. It concerned me enough that while all the voodoo practices described in the book are documentedin my research, I altered bits to keep the book from being a how-to manual. I don’t want that on my conscience.

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

My favorite writing day is to get up a few hours after most people go to bed, exercise, and then start writing before the sun even comes up. I quit for lunch, do something physical for a while, then do a few more hours in the afternoon. That is an excellent 3000+ word day. What do I usually get? An hour or two before or after the day job each day.

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

I grew up reading King and Koontz and Serling and Matheson, so that pretty much pigeon-holed me into an appreciation of the horror genre. There is something alluring about exploring the darker side of humanity, and existence in general, through fiction. I love that moment when a chill races up your spine.

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

Recently I had a story make a big impact. I had an idea for an apocalyptic novel where Long Island, NY becomes a quarantine zone for a resurrected virus that turns people into psychopathic killers. Part way onto that, the whole world-building process seemed too overwhelming, and I shelved it. Later, I read Joe McKinney’s excellent QUARANTINE about cops solving a murder in plague-ridden, quarantined San Antonio. I’m no Joe McKinney, but it showed me how that kind of world-building could be done. So I dusted off the file and went back to work. The finished product, Q ISLAND comes out in June.

If you could choose any writer to collaborate with, who would you choose and why?

I’ve done two kinds of collaborations. The first was around a theme. I was one of four winners in Samhain Horror’s Gothic-themed novella contest. JG Faherty, Devon Govaere, Catherine Cavendish and I all had novellas published in one book called WHAT WAITS IN THE SHADOWS. We all worked together a lot after that on cross promotion.

The second kind of collaboration is much more direct. Janet Guy, Kelly Horn, Teresa Robeson, Paul Siluch and Belinda Whitney are my critique group members who create the short story benefit anthologies. Each author in the collection heavily critiques the work of the other five, and I respect all of them so much. All the short stories in those collections certainly were enhanced through suggestions by those great folks. Our first collection OUT OF TIME has sold strong for two years and earned thousands for Doctors Without Borders, so that testifies to the quality the cooperative effort delivers.

I think a novel would be tough to collaborate on. I’m a seat-of-the pants writer, so I don’t fully know where the story is going while I’m writing it. I think I’d torture another writer putting him through that.

What other stories are you currently working on?

I have a manuscript about Satan trying to find a lost portal to Hell that had been hidden by 18th century witches. He puts a town under siege to find it. One couple might be able to stop him, but Satan had a corrupt police chief and some dedicated mercenaries on his side. There also seems to be a few problems with the town’s pets turning killer. Another family classic in the making.

I’ll also be in another benefit sci-fi anthology RETURN TO CENTAURI STATION in June and time travel collection FOREVER OUT OF TIME in December.

Thanks for answering my questions Russell and I am definitely looking forward to your next book!

Dreamwalker tour logo

 Giveaway

1. Open reviewer giveaway: Anyone who reviews Dreamwalker on Amazon and one other site like GoodReads, etc. and sends Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, their links to hookofabook@hotmail.com will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card. This contest ends on Feb. 28, 2015.

2. Rafflecoper giveaway for two copies of Russell’s previous books. Two winners will each win one of two books, Black Magic and Dark Inspiration. US only, no international shipping. 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 Feb. 28, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b16/?

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 two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, Q Island, releases in 2015.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”

Visit his website at www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

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.