Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Malfi’

I am a bit late with my 2016 list as the first month of 2017 is just about over, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2016 was a slow year for The Horror Bookshelf and I didn’t hit any of my goals that I made this time last year, but it was for a happy reason! The last few months of 2016 were some of the happiest in my life as my wife and I had our first child. The blog has slowed down considerably, but I do not plan on closing The Horror Bookshelf. I fell a bit behind, but I plan on starting 2017 off catching up on some reviews I owe and then hopefully getting back into a normal routine. I have met so many great people through this blog and it would take forever to name everyone, but I want to thank all of my friends, authors, and readers for sticking with me and offering me encouragement and support. My main goal for this site has always been to have fun, interact with other horror fans, and give back to the authors whose art has inspired me and helped me through some rough patches. That goal remains the same and I hope I can continue the blog for many more years.

Being that I fell a bit behind, some of the books featured here haven’t had their full reviews run yet, but they are on the way. I still want to recognize the authors and their works for helping make 2016 an incredible year for this horror fan. Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2016. I decided to go with a Top 15 for novels, a Top 10 for novellas and a Top 5 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

Novels

1. Ronald Malfi The Night Parade 

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2. John C. Foster Mister White 

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3. Kristopher Rufty Desolation 

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4. Jonathan Janz Children of the Dark

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5. Justin Cronin The City of Mirrors

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6. Damien Angelica Walters Paper Tigers

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7. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason Mayan Blue

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8. D. Alexander Ward Beneath Ash & Bone

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9. Hunter Shea The Jersey Devil

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10. Joe Hill The Fireman

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11. Kristin Dearborn Stolen Away

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12. Robert E. Dunn A Living Grave

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13. Stephen Kozeniewski Hunter of the Dead

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14. Joe Schwartz Stabco

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15. John Quick Consequences

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Novellas

1. Adam Howe Tijuana Donkey Showdown

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2. Glenn Rolfe Chasing Ghosts

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3. Josh Malerman A House At The Bottom of a Lake

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4. Mark Matthews All Smoke Rises

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5. Robert E. Dunn Motorman

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6. John F.D. Taff The Desolated Orchard

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7. Kristin Dearborn Woman in White

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9. David Bernstein Blue Demon

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10. Lucas Mangum Mania

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Anthologies and Collections

1. I Can Taste The Blood

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2. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories

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3. Richard Thomas Tribulations

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4. Brian Moreland Blood Sacrifices

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5. Glenn Rolfe Out of Range

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nightparade

BOOK INFO

Length: 384 Pages

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: July 26, 2016

Review copy provided as part of The Night Parade Blog Tour

The Night Parade opens in the thick of the action, with David Arlen and his 8-year-old daughter Ellie on the run from authorities. A disease known as Wanderer’s Folly is sweeping across the globe, killing millions of the people in the worst outbreak in recent memory. He is consumed with fear about what he may need to do to keep his daughter safe and it has been at least 2 days since he has slept. All they have with them is some extra food and clothes, $600 and some games. He also has a gun with 2 boxes of ammo, but he has never shot one before and doesn’t know if he will even be able to use it on someone should it come to that. David and Ellie are racing across the country, trying to survive and elude the people who are after them both. David is keeping secrets from his daughter about why they are on the run and what really happened to her mother. As they journey across the United States, David and Ellie will be faced with horrifying challenges that will put their relationship to the ultimate test.

The Night Parade is a novel that made a lasting, emotional impression on me and as is the case with most of Malfi’s work, his characters and the way he handles their personalities is large reason for that. The Night Parade is meant for any reader, but as a soon-to-be father, the characters of David and Ellie are the ones I gravitated towards the most. Malfi does an excellent job bringing readers into their family dynamic and getting to know them is part of what makes this novel great.

I am about to have a daughter of my own and I couldn’t help but connect with David. Sure, he makes plenty of mistakes along the way, but I can relate to his desire to protect his little girl at all costs. It is the small moments that occur throughout the novel that really show these characters personalities and makes the characters come to life. While David and Ellie are on the run, David is often overcome with doubt about his plans to keep them safe and to keep people from recognizing them. That doubt is very realistic. Most post-apocalyptic novels feature ordinary people who adapt to their environment with ease, mastering the art of stealth and survival almost instantly. As much as we would all like to think that is how we would react in an apocalyptic scenario, the truth is most of us would probably be like David. David has some good ideas on how to stay safe, but it is clear he is an amateur in situations like these and he is often filled with doubt and fueled by adrenaline.“I learned that when you become a parent, you become a secondary character in the story of your own life.” That one simple line struck a chord in me and really sums up David’s character pretty accurately. He is always putting his daughter first, consequences be damned.

While I connected to David the most, I think Ellie is the most interesting character in The Night Parade by far. Ellie is intelligent and often asks David probing questions while they are on the run that proves she doesn’t necessarily believe everything her father is telling her. Ellie may only be 9-years-old, but she is incredibly brave and resourceful. No matter what horrors she faces, she never seems frozen by fear and sometimes her actions are the only reason they get out of danger. There are quite a few moments in The Night Parade where it may seem like some of the things she does seem unrealistic given her age, but once you learn more about Ellie, it makes perfect sense.  She also serves as a moral compass to some degree. When David breaks into an abandoned store, she scolds him for breaking and entering. When he tries to joke that there is no cops, she says that it still doesn’t make it right. She also is constantly questioning her father’s choices, asking him why they made that choice and asking how it is different from what other people do. It really makes you question what you would do in that situation. I really wish I could talk more about what makes Ellie such a great character, but that would ruin the journey for readers. Trust me though, once you get to know Ellie, you’ll love her.

While they are great characters on their own, the strength of these characters comes from the great portrayal of their relationship. David is trying his best to keep her safe, but Ellie is often mad when she feels like David is treating her like a little kid. As the novel progresses, we see David struggle with the fact that his little girl is growing up and Ellie begins asserting her independence. While you would think David would be the one primarily taking care of Ellie, they form more of a partnership. There are moments where David relies on his daughter, like when he is inspired by Ellie’s childhood quirk of lining toys up in front of the door. David remembers that memory and sets up mace and lighters in front of the door like an alarm system. There are also scenes where they are faced with real horrors and danger, and David uses jokes to try to take Ellie’s mind off of the craziness going on around them.

I also really liked David’s brother, Tim. Tim is the type of person who was born to survive these situations. He has always been paranoid over government surveillance, so he stopped carrying a cell so the NSA couldn’t track him. He also loved living off the grid, so he was able to cultivate the skills to be self-reliant well before the outbreak occurred. Tim is bursting with personality and has the ability to crack a good joke. Where as he was portrayed as kind of an oddball earlier in the novel, he is a really interesting character. He is entrepreneurial even in the face of the apocalypse and runs all kinds of businesses, including making his own moonshine. He is also super smart, using a childhood memory as a code between him and David. He is a pragmatist, but he does hold out hope for optimism.

I also thought it was interesting that Malfi takes a look at how society may react to such a horrific disease outbreak. In the aftermath of the outbreak, cult-like groups begin popping up all over the country. The most well-known group is the “Worlders”. They believe the Folly is a biological version of the biblical flood, a way to wipe the slate clean and start over. They are one of the more widely known groups and are frightening in their methodology, but they are far from the only group out there. I thought the addition of these groups was a nice touch because it makes the events surrounding the Wanderer’s Folly outbreak more realistic. It only makes sense that people would band together to form groups to help cope with the new reality they are faced with and in some cases, use to exploit their agendas.

While the characters of this book are what really connected with me, I was impressed with Malfi’s catalyst for the apocalypse. Wanderer’s Folly is a devastating disease that is unlike anything scientists have ever seen before. One of David’s co-workers likened it to The Black Death, where there are no answers or ways to stop it because no one has ever seen anything quite like it. No one is sure where it came from or how it is contracted. All scientists really know is that it poisons, attacks and ultimately kills the brain. Due to how widespread it was, it was initially thought to be airborne, but that was later proven to be a myth. Others thought it was already in the human body, just waiting for a trigger to set it off. It has a varied incubation period and people who have the disease could last for hours or weeks.

What makes Wanderer’s Folly so interesting isn’t that it is incredibly lethal or the effects it has on people (though those are important components to the story), but rather the fact that it is believable. It seems like Malfi did a lot of medical research in order to make Wanderer’s Folly a believable illness that will chill readers because it sounds like a supercharged version of a real-life disease that already affects millions of people worldwide.

The reaction to the disease is also very realistic.  People wear those cheap carpenter masks over their mouth after it was initially suggested that the disease was airborne. Though it was quickly proven that they were useless, people still clung to the hope they provided. People also wore them as a status symbol almost to show they were free of the disease, a sort of xenophobic reaction that caused divides among people. That attitude let people to be suspicious of even the most minor, ever day things.

I really liked Malfi’s use of setting. There are some lines that Malfi uses to describe his setting that are so simple, and yet beautiful in how striking they are. Take this one for instance, “He could smell gasoline and could hear the buzzing cadence of insects in the surrounding trees”. Trying to pick out all of the great settings in The Night Parade could be a review by itself, but I loved Tim’s compound. There are “No trespassing” signs everywhere, the windows are all shuttered, and there are antenna’s all over the roof. Basically, it is exactly what you would imagine a conspiracy theorists house to look like.

The Night Parade is a post-apocalyptic novel and while you may have preconceptions about what the world is like, I really liked the way that Malfi approached it. It wasn’t complete devastation with the world turning into nothing but one indistinguishable swath of wasteland, it was a gradual change. The events take place over the course of about two years. Over that time, there is chaos and paranoia, but the world Malfi envisions in The Night Parade is halfway between normal and the sort of apocalyptic scenario you would imagine. The grid hasn’t collapsed and people still go about their lives, it’s just that they are so debilitated by paranoia. They are staying in a motel in a rural downtown area and most of the shops were closed. There is great description here about blackened windows, weeds bursting from cracks in the sidewalks. However in the midst of all that disrepair and seeming desolate stretch of town, there is a convenience store that is still open, despite the fact all of the stuff inside seems old and mismatched.

David and Ellie also spend some time in a town long thought to be abandoned called Goodwin. However, you can’t always believe what you read as Goodwin isn’t as empty as it appears. When they first arrive, they see signs with biblical messages and crosses erected all over the shoulder leading into town.

The Night Parade has an interesting structure in that it alternates between flashbacks showing the origins of the disease and the present. As the main narrative progresses, so does the “flashback” story line. Any time there are alternating timelines, I feel like that is a risky choice because it can confuse the reader. However, Malfi pulls it off with ease. Each narrative is engaging and it helps keep the novel from hitting too many lulls. By relegating the outbreak largely to the flashback chapters, it allows Malfi to dive in right to the action and the mystery it cultivates hooks readers and makes them want to learn more. Also, rather than have everything result from one devastating incident, the outbreak of Wanderer’s Folly is slowly revealed over the period of two years until it finally merges with the “present day” story line. There is also a lot of foreshadowing that goes on and that attention to detail and nuanced storytelling is why Malfi is one of my favorite writers.

There are plenty of creepy scenes throughout The Night Parade, but they are more about building a feeling of dread than over the top scares or buckets worth of blood and guts. A majority of them come as a direct result of the Wanderer’s Folly, where Malfi takes situations that would otherwise seem harmless and mundane and warps it into something deeply unsettling. A prime example of that would be an early scene where David and his wife Kathy hear ice cream truck music in the dead of winter. That is the first time in my life I have ever been afraid of that recognizable jingle and once you read it, you will understand why. It is moments like that and the interactions David has with people afflicted with the disease that make the Wanderer’s Folly scarier than any supernatural being or monster. It inflicts a surreal element into everyday life and that sense of strangeness is downright frightening. Then there is the moment that David and Ellie meet Solomon. I still can’t get over that scene!

While The Night Parade is a post-apocalyptic novel with one of the creepiest, most devastating catalysts that I can remember,  it really boils down to one family’s fight for survival and to stay together at all costs. There are so many reasons that I could list for The Night Parade being one of my favorite novels of the year –  great characters, a brilliant disease that launches  the apocalypse, or some truly pulse-pounding scenes – but the main reason I loved this was its emotional impact. I mentioned why I was so drawn to David and my own personal situation that made this book standout for me, and that is a big part of it. But man, there is just no denying Malfi’s ability to get readers to emotionally invest in his characters. After riding across the country with David and Ellie, you get to know them intimately and there are numerous moments between them that just tug at the heartstrings. I’m not going to lie, there were quite a few times while I was reading this that I got a bit misty-eyed. That almost never happens, whether it is a book or a movie, but I’ll be damned if this book didn’t make me tear up a bit. This story is scary, but it has a ton of heart. I really can’t praise this one enough, and if you enjoyed Josh Malerman’s Bird Box or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, you are going to love The Night Parade!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Ronald Malfi’s Official Website

Kensington Publishing Official Website

Purchase The Night Parade: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

The Night Parade tour graphic v2

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about The Night Parade! – #TheNightParade #WanderersFolly #apocalyptichorror

The Night Parade Synopsis

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .

They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.

After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.

Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .

Praise for Ronald Malfi

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting, the words, the ending. Color me impressed.” –Melissa Reads on The Night Parade

“The Night Parade has a creepy vibe and some genuinely terrifying moments. I even teared up a time or two. It’s everything I look for in a great read.” – Frank Errington on The Night Parade

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

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

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

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

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

About Ronald Malfi

Malfi headshot

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including The Night Parade, this summer’s 2016 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.

Want to feature this book/author?

If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature The Night Parade or Ronald Malfi in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com. Thanks!

I am a bit late with my 2015 as the first month of 2016 is rapidly coming to a close, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2015 was a great year here at The Horror Bookshelf. The blog celebrated its one year anniversary back in April, I made some great friends, I got to take part in SFSignal’s Mind Meld feature and I had the honor of premiering a brand new story from Glenn Rolfe.

I never really made a post for The Horror Bookshelf’s first anniversary, so I wanted to just take a minute and touch on a few things before getting to my list of favorite reads for the year. I started this blog as my way of giving back to the extremely talented writers who have created the books I enjoy reading and connecting with other horror fans. In that respect, I think the first year of The Horror Bookshelf was a huge success. I am so thankful for all of the writers and publishers who reached out to me and offered me review copies and words of encouragement along the way. Without you and the books you spend so much time crafting, The Horror Bookshelf would not exist. I also want to thank anyone who has ever taken the time to read any of my reviews, interviews or guest posts. There is no greater feeling as a reviewer than introducing someone to a potentially new favorite author or a great book and I hope that by visiting this site, you have found a few.

There are so many people to thank for helping this blog become what it is today, but I wanted to take a moment to thank a few special people who have shown me a humbling amount of support since the very beginning. A huge thank you to my friends and family, Tony and Sharon at Grey Matter Press, John F.D. Taff, David Spell, Mark Matthews, Dale Elster and Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. You have all offered me so much support and tons of encouragement when The Horror Bookshelf was getting off the ground and I will always be grateful for that. I also want to thank my beautiful wife for encouraging me to follow my dreams and for giving me that boost of confidence I need when I feel like I can’t possibly keep everything going.

I am not usually big on New Year’s Resolutions, but what the hell, I came up with some for The Horror Bookshelf anyway.

1. Read more in 2016 – This one is fairly vague and for anyone that runs a review site, it sounds borderline crazy. I read a ton of great novels in 2016, but one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t read that many novellas, short stories or anthologies this year. I hope to change that in 2016 and also to increase the amount of novels I read in a year.

2. Get more organized – I am notorious for my poor organizational habits, but I have already made some progress by using a planner (that my wife made me buy) to help me keep track of all my upcoming reviews, interviews and features. This may be the most mundane and boring resolution of the list, but it is an underrated part of keeping a review site going in my opinion.

3. Keeping the site updated more frequently – This may be the biggest challenge of them all. I am the only writer on The Horror Bookshelf and the amount of reviews I have going at any given time can be overwhelming, but I want to set a modest goal – starting in February – of posting at least once a week. Sort of on the same topic, if I owe you a review and have not posted it yet, I promise I haven’t forgotten! I appreciate every author that sends me a book for review and sometimes time gets away from me, but I promise I will get to them soon.

Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2015. I decided to go with a Top 10 for novels, a Top 5 for novellas and a Top 3 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

1 . Brian Kirk We Are Monsters (Samhain Horror)

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2. Richard Thomas Disintegration (Random House Alibi)

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3. Ronald Malfi Little Girls (Kensington)

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4. Ania Ahlborn Behind These Walls (Gallery Books)

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5. Hunter Shea Tortures of the Damned (Kensington/Pinnacle)

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6. Jonathan Janz Wolf Land (Samhain Horror)

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7. D. Alexander Ward Blood Savages (Necro Publications)

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8. Russell James Q Island (Samhain Horror)

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9. Glenn Rolfe Blood and Rain (Samhain Horror)

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10. Kristopher Rufty Jagger (Sinister Grin Press)

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Novellas

1. John F.D. Taff The Sunken Cathedral (Grey Matter Press)

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2. Kealan Patrick Burke Sour Candy (Self-published)

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3. Glenn Rolfe Abram’s Bridge (Samhain Horror)

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4. Adam Howe Gator Bait (Comet Press)

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5. Matt Manochio Twelfth Krampus Night (Samhain Horror)

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Anthologies and Collections

1. Savage Beasts (Grey Matter Press)

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2. Todd Keisling Ugly Little Things – Volume One (Precipice Books)

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3. Tony Knighton Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties (Crime Wave Press) 

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

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

WHAT’S IN A NAME,

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

by Ronald Malfi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading, you creeps.

###

Little Girls tour logo

About Little Girls

ronaldmalfiLG

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

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

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

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

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels

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

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

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

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

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

About Ronald Malfi

Malfi headshot

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

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

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


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

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

Giveaway

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

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

Today I am happy to 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/?

 

ronaldmalfiLG

BOOK INFO

Length: 384 Pages

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: June 30, 2015

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

Laurie Genarro and her family head back to her childhood home to handle her father’s estate after a tragic accident. Estranged from her father for years, she wasn’t around as his dementia progressively worsened and had no idea how bad things had gotten. As Laurie and her family take up residence in her childhood home, she can’t help but notice the unsettling remnants of her father’s troubled life – gouges line the floor, patches of carpeting pulled up from the carpet and windows that are curiously nailed shut. Laurie feels unsettled being in the house that is a constant reminder of childhood memories and the tragedies she thought she left buried in the past.

The longer she stays in the house, more memories are brought to the surface that only enhance Laurie’s growing paranoia and the strains in her marriage. It isn’t long before Laurie begins to experience strange things in the house. There are glimpses of a girl running through her yard and strange noises coming from the locked belvedere room, a place she was forbidden to enter as a child. Then there is her first meeting with Abigail, a ten-year-old girl from next door that befriends her daughter. She seems awfully familiar to Laurie because of her uncanny resemblance to her childhood friend Sadie, who died in a freak accident years ago. She writes it off as a mere coincidence, but future encounters lead Laurie to question her own sanity. Is this all in her mind – a result of marital stress and sadness – or is there something sinister about the girl next door and the room that was always forbidden?

Ronald Malfi immerses readers in the world he has created in Little Girls with richly detailed prose, life-like characters and vivid settings. I loved Malfi’s descriptions of Laurie’s childhood home and how he was able to give it a haunting personality that, in a way, makes it another character of the story. The home is a source of the memories and negative emotions that serve as a catalyst for Laurie’s growing paranoia and the strains in her marriage. There is also a sense of isolation surrounding the house that forces the family to confront not only their secrets, but those of Laurie’s father as well.

Malfi builds incredible levels of tension using the psychological impacts of the secrets lurking within the pages of Little Girls and by balancing the supernatural with the ordinary. It is the possibility of the supernatural that makes Laurie’s interactions with Abigail so incredibly creepy. While readers expecting an adrenaline-fueled haunting tale may not like the pacing of the novel, I felt it was brilliant and a perfect fit for this story. Malfi gives the reader just enough information to keep them hooked and challenges them to question any theories they develop with plenty of plot twists. I was so caught up in trying to solve the mystery swirling around the events of Little Girls with my own crazy theories, that Malfi was able to keep me guessing right up until the very last page about the truth behind everything that happened.

Weaving together the horror, mystery and psychological thriller genres, Malfi’s Little Girls is a complex and richly layered ghost story that slowly but surely creeps under your skin. I absolutely loved this genre-bending novel and not only would I recommend this to other horror fans, but fans of other genres as well.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about Ronald Malfi and his work and a chance to win a paperback copy of Little Girls! I am also excited to announce that in July I will be hosting an interview AND guest post for Ronald Malfi, so be sure to stop back in at The Horror Bookshelf!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Ronald Malfi’s Official Website

Kensington Publishing Official Website

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

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?

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

Malfi headshot

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/?