Tag Archives: horror novels

Guest Article: Rachel Rebecca – The Ghost Who Haunted Me by Catherine Cavendish #promotehorror #hauntings #TheDarkestVeil

Hey all! Today we have a familiar face in writer friend Catherine Cavendish, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors. I love when Cat stops by with her guest articles – she has many times over the years here. A couple years ago I read her novel The Darkest Veil as an editor hoping to acquire for an indie press I was working for, but unfortunately, as with several manuscripts, I couldn’t get a chance to receive answers as the press was delaying all things. I’d have LOVED to work on and publish this book – I love it! I WAS able to acquire and serve as her editor on a short story for the anthology I co-edited, Haunted are These Houses, and it was a pleasure. Maybe one day I’ll get to work with Cat again!

Long story short, it’s a great book, as most all of Cat’s books, and I’m so glad that Crossroads Press picked it up to publish for her! It’s available now and I highly recommend it if you like gothic, haunting reads as I do. Check out this spine tingling article about the ghost who attached to her and then pick up The Darkest Veil!

Rachel Rebecca – The Ghost Who Haunted Me
by Catherine Cavendish, author of The Darkest Veil

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She attached herself to me – and that really is the only way I can describe the ‘latched on’ feeling that would swarm over me whenever I sensed she was around. I heard her name variously as ‘Rachel’ or ‘Rebecca’ until I became convinced that she possessed both those names, so Rachel Rebecca she became.

The year was 1973 and I was living in a small flat in Leeds. Not much more than a bedsit really, in a converted Victorian terraced house. Four other girls lived in the building, so why Rachel should choose to attach herself to me is a mystery I have never solved.

At first, she was a movement out of the corner of my eye that I couldn’t quite grab hold of. Then silly little things like tin openers, a hairbrush and spoons would disappear. I lived alone. No-one had a key to my flat and none of these items would reappear. It was as if some black hole had opened up and swallowed them. Now and again, the pre-remote control TV would change channel – on one occasion flicking through each of the three available stations before settling back on the original one.

Needless to say, I told no one.

Then I was promoted at work. Time to find a larger apartment and leave Rachel Rebecca behind. Or so I thought.

“Who’s that little girl?” my new boyfriend asked, three weeks after I’d moved into my lovely, shiny new flat.

I nearly dropped the bottle of Chianti I was pouring.

“What little girl?”

“The one over there, by the door. She’s smiling at you. Looks to me like she wants to play.”

pic 2 - credit Equinox Paranormal

Photo Credit: Equinox Paranormal

As if on cue, a small drinks mat slid off the table, which was easily within reach of where John had said she was standing.

I set the bottle carefully down on the sideboard. “Can you describe her?”

“She’s about ten or eleven, with long dark hair, in ringlets, and looks like she stepped off one of those Victorian Christmas cards.”

I took a deep breath. “Is her name Rachel? Did she follow me here from Mexborough Close?”

John shook his head. “Sorry, she faded out as you were talking.”

After that, things began to disappear out of drawers and off the mantelpiece, just as they had in my previous flat. Only this time, I heard girlish laughter when I knew there was no one around. I would feel a strong presence standing next to me in the kitchen and, when I turned to see who it was, a breeze fluttered my hair as if someone had rushed past me.

My relationship with John didn’t last the course and, in any case, he only ever saw her on that one occasion, so he couldn’t help with any more information.

Gradually things quieted down. Sometimes weeks would go by and nothing happened. Then I moved again. This time away from Leeds. But Rachel came with me.

I went to a service at the local Spiritualist Church, and the guest speaker connected with me. She described the little girl exactly as John had. She told me that children who pass over into the spirit world continue to behave as earthly children and this little girl was no different. She was mischievous and I must talk to her and tell her to behave. Then, with no prompting from me, the speaker said she heard the names ‘Rachel’ and ‘Rebecca’.

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A few months later, I was watching my new TV, with its remote control next to me. Suddenly its red function light started flickering – something it would only do if a key was depressed. The volume started to rise.

“Stop it, Rachel! That’s very naughty. You are not to play with the remote control, do you understand?” It was the first – and only – time I spoke to her. The remote switched to ‘mute’.

Weeks of silence drifted into months. I moved to another city. This time Rachel didn’t follow me and I have neither heard nor experienced her since. I’ve often wondered where, and why, she went.

My new novella, The Darkest Veil, draws on the locations of my first encounters with Rachel Rebecca although there the similarity ends.

Eventually, I moved to a haunted building with a very different ghost but that, as they say, is a whole other story…

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We are the Thirteen and we are one

 4 Yarborough Drive looked like any other late 19th century English townhouse. Alice Lorrimer feels safe and welcomed there, but soon discovers all is not as it appears to be. One of her housemates flees the house in terror. Another disappears and never returns. Then there are the sounds of a woman wailing, strange shadows and mists, and the appearance of the long-dead Josiah Underwood who founded a coven there many years earlier. The house is infested with his evil, and Alice and her friends are about to discover who the Thirteen really are.

When death’s darkest veil draws over you, then shall shadows weep

The Darkest Veil is available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Catherine Cavendish, Biography –

pic 5 (2)Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. In addition to The Darkest Veil, Cat’s novels include The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

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Filed under Guest Posts, women in horror

Hooked on Covers: Check out New Gothic Cover for The Ruin of Delicate Things by Beverley Lee #coverart #gothic #promotehorror

Beverley Lee is a lovely UK author I met on Twitter. She is such a joy to fellow authors and readers alike. Her books, I hear, are just the right amount of dark horror that leave gothic ripples and I can’t wait to dive into them. I spotted her new cover reveal for her next upcoming novel and I had to share. It’s beautiful!

Meanwhile, I found out the first book in her Gabriel Davenport series is on sale for. 99c this month and so you’ll find that info below too.

What do you think of her new cover? Are you excited for gothic reads in 2020?

The Ruin of Delicate Things, Coming 2020

 

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About –

“Loss leaves a hole large enough for anything to crawl into.”

Barrington Hall is a place of dark and twisted secrets. Something Dan Morgan is all too aware of. But it’s not until a heartbreaking loss brings him back to the cottage where he spent his childhood summers, that he realises the true horror of how far Barrington Hall will go to make him remember.

Scheduled for release early 2020.

Beverley Lee, Biography –

Resized author photoFrom as far back as she can remember, Beverley Lee has always been held captive by the written word. Her earliest memories are of books and how they made her feel. She spent most of her formative years with her nose between the pages, or at the local library, devouring books, and losing herself in the worlds of fantasy and adventure. She was that child who would always try to find Narnia at the back of any available wardrobe. Even now the smell of paper in a bookshop makes her feel like she is eight again.

Her writing journey began at the age of seven, when she created terrible, but enthusiastically written, cliché ridden pony stories, complete with illustrations, for her long suffering teacher. But she can’t remember a time when she didn’t make up stories in her head, even when there was no chance to write them down.

The closest thing to magic that she knows is creating characters and new worlds that never existed before. She loves the way the images and voices take form, and the way they take on a life of their own as the words spill out. Beverley is very much drawn to
the darker side of fiction and the shadowy place between light and darkness where nothing is quite as it seems. She loves flawed characters – they have a depth and a tantalising wealth of possibility.

Inspiration comes in many forms – a snippet of conversation, a stranger on the street, a song lyric fleetingly heard. Life is inspiration. The very best story is the one you have to tell.

She is a people watcher, a dreamer, a lover of nature and simple things. She collects feathers, picks up seashells and likes to run her fingers over old stone. There’s history there. Stories just waiting to be discovered.

The best way to grow is to support other people and she is passionate about helping other writers as they begin their journey.

Beverley’s Website

Beverley’s first book in her Gabriel series is on sale now in digital for .99 cents!

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The Making of Gabriel Davenport, Synopsis –

Something is waiting for its time to rise.

Beth and Stu Davenport moved to the sleepy English village of Meadowford Bridge to give their young son, Gabriel, an idyllic childhood. But one night a hidden, ancient darkness shatters their dream and changes their lives forever.

Years later, Gabriel searches for answers about his mysterious past. His life unravels as he discovers that the people he loves and trusts harbour sinister secrets. As the line blurs between shadow and light; and he becomes the prize in a deadly nocturnal game, Gabriel must confront the unrelenting evil that destroyed his family all those years ago.

His choice: place his trust in a master vampire, or give himself to the malignant darkness.

Is there a lesser of two evils— and how do you choose?

SALE!

The e-book is on offer for all of October 2019 at 99c/99p, and is available from Amazon and all other major retailers.

The Making of Gabriel Davenport – Kindle

Book 2 Read Universal Link to Retailers:

https://books2read.com/u/4jKKQ2

In a nutshell, the Gabriel Davenport series is about a boy hunted by darkness, thrown into a world of buried secrets and terrifying new realities. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s about love and loyalty, and the courage to face impossible situations with your head held high. It’s about who you call family, whether that be human or vampire, and what you will sacrifice to save them.

It has vampires and demons, witches and ghosts, mythology and creatures raised from the dead, but it will make you question everything you thought you knew about them.

It’s a banquet of horror and darkest fantasy, all wrapped up in a black ribbon, and waiting on your doorstep 😉

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Stay tuned for updates on The Ruin of Delicate Things in the future!

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Filed under Book Announcements, Cover Reveals

Interview: Sonora Taylor Open Up About Themes in Novel Without Condition #WIHMX #HookonWiHM

Hi Sonora, and welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you’ve joined me, and I look forward to talking to you today. I know we are both “foodies” and so if you brought some Duck Donuts or some Georgetown Cupcakes from D.C., I’ll make the enchiladas for lunch. It’s freezing here so let’s whip out the coffee with something a bit stronger, like rum or Kahlua, or I bet you even know something better because you are always giving me tips about the good stuff…?

Sonora: Thanks for having me over! I did indeed bring some donuts, but – not to be that local – I thought you might enjoy these cupcakes from Baked and Wired a little bit more. I also brought pupusas, and yes, load me up on some rum and coffee (though I take no responsibility for what I start saying after a couple drinks).

Erin: I had Georgetown Cupcakes a month ago when I was in D.C.(yummy!), but my son actually recommended we go to Baked and Wired next time – which sounds divine!!A girl after my own heart with the rum and coffee. And pupusas! We’re in trouble.

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Pupusas for lunch – we are doing this in person next time! For now, we’ll imagine. Thanks for the photo Sonora! Pupusas with tamale, rice, beans, and spicy slaw from El Rinconcito in D.C. Photo by Sonora Taylor.

Let’s settle in at the table and watch the snow pile up around us while we warm our bellies with food and spirits and our mind with conversation. Let’s get started! I recently had the pleasure of reading your first horror novel (though I know you’ve written shorter horror works) called Without Condition, which features a young, female serial killer as the lead. Can you tell the readers about it in your own words?

Sonora: Absolutely. The elevator pitch version is that Without Condition is about a serial killer navigating through her first relationship. In a bit more detail, it’s about a young woman named Cara Vineyard who lives with her mother on a former pumpkin farm in rural North Carolina. She works at a brewery during the day and drives her truck at night. Sometimes on those drives, she’ll pick men up – which usually means those men will die. Her life gets complicated, though, when she meets and falls for a man named Jackson. As they grow closer, Cara isn’t sure he’ll feel the same way about her if he discovers all of her secrets.

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Erin: Readers can read my review of Without Condition HERE. Your story deals with a lot of themes, one of them being children who come of age into adults holding onto the feelings they had from being ignored, bullied, or isolated in their formative years from fellow students or sometimes family. Why did you decide to use this topic as your propellant for revenge?

Sonora: It was a motivation for Cara that made sense to me, and something that I think many of us deal with in varying capacities. I think we sometimes take for granted the sticking power of bad experiences in childhood, especially things like bullying, name-calling, or being dismissed by teachers. It’s often ignored unless it gets physical, or else not taken care of until it’s too late and already well-settled in. In Cara’s case, it’s so settled in that, when she doesn’t have those external sources of bullying or anger, she still feels their effects and hears them as if they’re still happening.

I wanted Cara’s back story to both be realistic and not rooted in what we usually see with fictional women who kill. Two of the most tired tropes I see for women doing bad things are either revenge for being raped or assaulted (is it still considered fridging if it applies to motivating the woman?), or else vengeance on behalf of a child or partner. I won’t lie, when I was doing research on female serial killers for the book, I was actually a bit disappointed to see that one of the most common motivations was assisting their boyfriends or husbands. Don’t know what that says about me!

But in all seriousness, I felt like the bullying and Cara’s inability to let go were realistic motivators that readers would recognize; and while I don’t think it’s an excuse for Cara’s killing, it’s an explanation that, for some readers, may be scarily close to home.

Erin: Another theme presents about parenting in broken homes, children who don’t know their fathers, and abandonment issues that young people sometimes deal with – how did you form your character’s personality to identify with these themes and why? Do you feel your protagonist’s lack of father turned her against men?

Sonora: I looked at it mostly as how Cara grew up being used to loneliness, worrying that the people she cares about may disappear, and the quiet urge for something a little bit more than what she knows – all of which play some part in how she turned out, both for better and for worse. The male family figures in her life were both like fathers and yet they disappeared early on. She doesn’t remember her great uncle, but she still gets the sense that he’s missing. She remembers her great uncle’s friend Terry a lot more because he played the role of a father figure and friend, then disappeared.

Men in Cara’s life seem to provide her with calmer, more stable relationships; but their ends are more of a disruption to her than what she encounters with women. Her friends in school are mostly boys, and it’s when boys start gossiping about her that she becomes both angry and hurt; while girls picking on her was more of a constant prickle (much like her relationship with her mother).

I think Cara’s actions against men are based more on feeling betrayed by the men she’s known and loved than from her lack of father. Cara wants to know who her father is, but because she’s never known him and Delores never talks about him, he’s not really a missing figure to her the way Terry is. I also can’t say Cara would’ve turned out differently if her father were around. Even if in some alternate universe where her father was in her life – be it in the same house or just with frequent visitation – he would’ve floated in and out of her life and not been as close to her as Cara is with her mother. Neither Cara’s desire to wander nor her love of driving come from Delores.

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Illustration for Without Condition. Artwork by Doug Puller.

 

Erin: From your protagonist’s mother to her boyfriend, themes of unconditional love abound in this story, even sometimes when to a reader it shouldn’t. What ideas were you hoping to bring to the table about love as your implemented this into your book?

Sonora: I wanted to explore the idea of what it means to love someone unconditionally even when they’re doing things they shouldn’t be doing, namely with parental love and romantic love. Whenever I hear about a serial killer, there’s almost always someone that still loves them even when their crimes are laid out. Mothers defend their children who are on trial, women write letters or stand by their men when accused, etc. I’m both appalled and fascinated by this, and while Without Condition isn’t a direct response to that, it was certainly influenced by that.

I also thought it’d be interesting to explore that from the perspective of the person receiving that love, and what unconditional love means to them. Cara is not entirely devoid of feelings, and though she’s put up a shield to keep herself from feeling vulnerable, she still wants things like friendship (granted on her terms), approval, and love. What I found interesting about her as I wrote, though, is that she doesn’t really crave or strive for those things with friends and family, but she does with Jackson. This in turn scares her not just because of what she has to hide, but because she’s not used to feeling this way around another person. Falling in love is a unique experience from other relationships, and in a dark way, I found it kind of fun to examine that fear so many of us have when falling in love, but through the eyes of someone who actually has something terrible to hide.

Erin: In part of my review back to you I said that the book was like if King’s Carrie had gone on to become a serial killer and lived a backwoods country life. That initially went back to the being bullied in high school theme, but talk about revenge and why you decided to make your novel revolve around it?

Sonora: In certain lights, revenge can be seen as the result of not being able to let go. The book explores Cara’s inability – both voluntary and involuntary – to let go of the grievances she’s accumulated over the years. It gets to the point where her anger is so much a part of her that, when the sources of her anger disappear or leave her alone, she feels lost. Her response, then, is to almost relish it when she’s provoked or angry again. It’s both sad and dangerous, especially for the people she chooses to take that anger out on. She sees her victims as a means to an end, and it’s an ending that doesn’t ever seem to really come – much like the mental torment she feels from her experiences in school.

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From Sonora: A collection of beer I picked up on my last trip to Asheville. Papa’s Secret Brewing – the company Without Condition protagonist Cara works for – is fictional, but North Carolina’s beer scene is thriving. Photo by Sonora Taylor.

Erin: Speaking of backwoods country life, your novel takes place in a small, rural town of North Carolina. How do you describe what it’s like there both visually and within the personalities of the people? Why do you feel your protagonist didn’t fit in?

Sonora: Leslie, a fictional town in North Carolina, is on the outskirts of the outskirts of Raleigh. It’s not entirely farmland – there are small strip malls and a few restaurants that one would consider the downtown area – but the places of business tend to be off the side of the main road and surrounded by trees; and while everyone doesn’t know everyone else, most everyone knows of most everyone else. As such, while Cara and her mother aren’t incredibly active members of the community, Cara was known when she showed up for the first day of school – and unfortunately, she was known mostly by vicious rumors about her mother that were the result of Delores coming to live in Leslie when she was single, seventeen, and pregnant.

Because Cara spent most of her formative years on Vineyard Farm with her mother and Terry, she doesn’t really know how to respond to new people saying mean things to her right away. And because she’s used to being alone, it’s easier for her to retreat and give up on trying to make friends than to try and win over people. I think that, combined with her being blunt and acerbic, all make it harder for her to fit in. Her default is distrust, and in such a small and quiet town, it’s hard to escape what the few people there think of you – especially when what they think has taken permanent residence in your mind.

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Cox Mountain trail, which is outside of Chapel Hill and Durham in North Carolina (and about 90 minutes from  my protagonist Cara’s hometown of Leslie). Photo by Sonora Taylor.

Erin: Your protagonist’s mother was also an interesting supporting character. How did you create her personality and what would her back story be like? Have you thought of writing a prequel using the mother’s life?

Sonora: I haven’t thought of a writing a prequel, but that would be interesting! Delores was often a tough nut to crack because, as you’ll see in the book, she doesn’t like to talk about herself or her past. It was actually pretty challenging to write her scenes with Cara because she’d usually either clam up or go on offense. I can see where Cara got her tendency to give up on people rather than dealing with their shit. As damaging as that is for both Cara and Delores, I do feel sorry for Delores. As she alludes to in the book, she didn’t feel loved in her family home. She lived with both her parents and three brothers, and the nicest thing she got from any of them was indifference. Her uncle Leo was the only relative who treated her like family, so she saw Vineyard Farm as a sanctuary from everything she hated about her home. I think Delores assumed that Cara would feel the same way about Vineyard Farm, and thus, would never want to leave the farm or her. But Cara isn’t Delores.

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Mountaintop view of Chimney Rock, North Carolina; which is outside of Asheville (and about an hour or so from Without Condition character Jackson’s hometown of Pinesboro). Photo by Sonora Taylor.

Erin: The femme fatale in literature is almost supernatural, though your character is only into murder and doesn’t have powers. How fun was it to spin the serial killer motif into a modern-day femme fatale that no one would expect? What were your challenges in creating her? What did you feel your successes were while writing it?

Sonora: It was challenging to write a serial killer anti-heroine that felt so little remorse for what she does. Usually when you see a killer protagonist, they’re conflicted about what they do. They see killing as something they’re forced to do, something that’s just a job, something they do to pay a debt, etc. This does not apply to Cara. To her, killing is as natural a way to blow off steam as driving her truck, smoking, or taking a few deep breaths. I kept her this way because honestly, I found the absurdity of this, of her kills taking the same spot in her mind as making a mental note to buy cigarettes, to be darkly funny. But, I also found this made for a scarier narrative. She doesn’t care that she’s killing people beyond basic things like hoping the cops don’t find the bodies. She doesn’t even begin to care until she meets Jackson, and even then, it’s in the context of worrying she’ll lose him, not because of any sudden moral awakening.

This also presented a challenge, though, in asking both myself and readers to care about Cara for the duration of the narrative despite this lack of remorse. I wanted to do this, but without creating so much sympathy that it seemed what she’s doing is okay, or romanticizing serial killers or anything like that. I wanted understanding for what motivates her to kill, and I wanted her to be interesting in the context of her actions being scary, being unsettling, and being the result of failings around her as well as her own shortcomings. I think I was successful in that, but ultimately, it’s all in how readers read it – and every reader is different!

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Truck outside of dairy farm in Orange County, N.C., much like Cara drives, even though she lives on a pumpkin farm. Photo by Sonora Taylor.

 
Erin: I have to say I didn’t really “like” Cara at all, but understood her and felt she was in complete development at the same time.

It seems Valentine’s week was the perfect week to release this book. Did you plan that? Haha! Should men buy this for their girlfriends? I’m just kidding. Did you do fun plans for promotion? I think that you should give away a free knife with each order by a woman. 😉

Sonora: I did plan that! I admit I was feeling a little mischievous by planning to promote it as “perfect for Valentine’s Day,” though really, Cara and Jackson’s relationship is pretty romantic. Plus, the book has some pretty hot sex in it, if I say so myself. There’s one scene in there that was so steamy, I started singing “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On” to myself, ha ha.  I also consider it to be both horror and romance (with coming-of-age for good measure), since romantic love is the driving force for a lot of the things both Cara and Jackson go through.

Men should totally buy this for their girlfriends, or boyfriends. Women should buy it for their boyfriends or girlfriends. Everyone should buy it for everyone. Buy my book! (Okay Erin, you may want to cut me off from the rum-and-coffees).

I think a free knife would be too expensive – er, I mean, too dangerous to give out. But maybe I’ll send some paperback copies in a shoebox. Maybe as a Mother’s Day promotion. Heh heh.

Erin: As a mom, I am not sure how I feel about that promotion!! haha!

I know you also had a short story in the anthology from 2018 called Quoth the Raven, which was stories in homage to Edgar Allan Poe. What is the name of it and what’s it about? Did it model any Poe story? I was excited to see this anthology make the preliminary ballot for the Stoker Award!

Sonora: My story is called “Hearts are Just ‘Likes.’” It’s about an Instagram influencer who thrives on being seen online, but must reconcile that with having to hide the fact that she’s murdered her boyfriend. It’s a modern version of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” I like that story because all of the horror is inside the narrator’s paranoid mind, and most of that paranoia comes from the fear of being seen. Social media has created almost a new form of paranoia, a willing placement of ourselves into Foucault’s panopticon where we feel we must perform our lives in the context of having it be presentable to whoever’s watching us online. I thought that was a perfect state of mind to explore for a modern retelling of a Poe classic.

Quoth the Raven was actually my first acceptance ever. I was so thrilled, not just for the acceptance, but because I adore Poe and was really happy to be included in such a fun and unique tribute to him.

I too was excited to see Quoth the Raven on the preliminary ballot, and not just because I’m in the anthology. It’s a wonderful collection – I was so impressed with all of the stories. Strictly as a reader, I highly recommend it!

Quoth the Raven

Erin: I love “Tell-Tale Heart!” One of the stories in my own collection had inspiration slightly from it. Of course I love Poe. Your story sounds amazing – and that’s so true, about the online world.

What is your favorite Edgar Allan Poe short story of all time and why?

Sonora: “Hop Frog,” because it’s the only Poe story that scared me so much that I almost couldn’t sleep after I read it. It’s actually very hard for a book to scare me. Audio and visuals are more effective, and even then, it doesn’t really linger unless it’s a combination of immediate scares and chilling moods. So, when text manages to scare me, it holds a special place in my heart. The ending of “Hop Frog,” (*spoiler alert*) where the protagonist commits a murder right in front of everyone and they have no idea … hoo, I got the willies just remembering it, and I haven’t read the story in almost 20 years.

Erin: What were some of your favorite books you read in 2018 overall (can be any genre!) and what are some by women in horror?

Sonora: My favorite book I read in 2018 was Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee. It’s about two sisters, one of whom is bipolar. The story is told from many points of view: the sister with bipolar disorder, the sister who is also her caregiver, and two of the afflicted sister’s boyfriends. It did a really good job showing the toll of mental illness on the person afflicted, the caregiver, and the people who love them; but without malice or lack of dignity. I highly recommend it.

Everything Here is Beautiful

I also loved Educated by Tara Westover. We read it for my office’s book club. At first, we were all kind of reluctant (we go by PBS’s book club recommendations so we always have an objective third party choosing the book), but most of us ended up being floored by the book. Westover has an amazing talent for writing about the horrors of her upbringing without writing them as horror. She doesn’t tell you how to feel or, really, how she feels beyond what she felt in that moment.

I also enjoyed Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith. It elegantly weaves points-of-view and time periods to tell a story about new love and lost love, all with beautiful prose.

I did read some women in horror too! I read Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado early in the year. I liked the collection a lot, and find her writing and ideas to be fascinating. My favorite story in the collection was “Inventories.” I also enjoyed My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite; and The Vegetarian by Han Kang.

Erin: Just coming in recently to the horror genre, how do you feel in regard to the treatment or level of support of women in horror, both from women and men both, since it’s women in horror month? What is positive and what can everyone do better?

Sonora: I feel like it’s getting better for sure, but there is still a sense of “Oh yeah, her too” when it comes to thinking about women in horror. A lot of times when people are asked about favorite and/or great horror writers, people will automatically list men – King, Barker, etc. – and then pause and think before adding women (I admit I’ve been guilty of this too). It’s unfortunately the product of a culture that promotes white, straight, cisgendered men as the default or universal; with all others as their own genre. My gender isn’t a genre. What I write is a genre (and many genres at that).

But on a positive note, it’s definitely better; especially online and in the independent scene. I’ve loved being introduced to so many talented women horror authors online that I never would’ve found on my own: Christa Carmen, Loren Rhoads, Tiffany Michelle Brown, Larissa Glasser, and you, Erin; just to name a few! I also see both women and men promoting each other online, which is nice.

One thing I think everyone can do better is reading more women and people of color. I feel really disheartened when I scroll through Goodreads and I see friends reading man after man, or white man after white man, or white man after white woman … you get the gist. Expand! There are so many voices out there in every genre, and with the access that the Internet, independent publishing, and self-publishing have all provided to reading so many more voices, we have a great opportunity to do so.

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Erin: Happy to have met you too, thank you! I look forward to checking out some of your past short story collections. What writing plans do you have for 2019? What are your goals to make that happen?

Sonora: I’m planning to release another short story collection, a longer one than my last two. I’ve written some longer pieces and I’ve also written a lot of flash over the past year. Right now, the collection is called Little Paranoias: Stories. I have three works-in-progress left for the collection, and I want to finish them by May so I have time to read over everything one more time before sending them all to my editor in June.

Once that’s out for edits, I’ll either work on some more short fiction or, hopefully, get cracking on my next novel. I have some ideas that are percolating, but I’m not going to start it until my short stories are done.

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The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Photo by Sonora Taylor.

Erin: I know you like to travel, see sites, and have fun in the world from going to NYC and Hershey Park this year to a past trip to Prince Edward Island. What is your top choice to travel to that was/is the home and/or museum of a famous author? Why?

Sonora: I had to rack my brain about this a bit because I don’t usually pick travel destinations based on writers! But in thinking about it … I’d actually love to visit Omaha, Nebraska; home of Rainbow Rowell. I like reading her descriptions of the downtown area. I also want to visit because one of my favorite chefs, Isa Chandra Moscowitz, has a restaurant there called Modern Love.

If you don’t mind me sharing a quick aside – this past summer, my husband and I went to Dublin. We visited the Writer’s Museum, and they have a first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, along with notes and other books by him. I completely fangirled in the museum (quietly, of course). James Joyce who? I’m here for Dracula!

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From Sonora: The first edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker. I might’ve squealed a little bit when I saw it – it’s one of my favorite books! Photo by Sonora Taylor

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Bram Stoker Display at the Writer’s Museum in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Sonora Taylor.

Erin: That’s amazing! I’m looking forward to visiting the Poe Museum in Baltimore!

What favorite foods and/or drinks make you write, and which makes you go into a coma? Haha!

Sonora: I don’t eat when I write, which my stomach hates, ha ha. I wrote a good portion of Without Condition before work in the morning, so I always had breakfast after writing – and I specifically craved whole wheat toast with Earth Balance and Trader Joe’s pink grapefruit marmalade on writing days. Just thinking about that breakfast makes me think I should be writing the book!

I usually just drink water when I write. I don’t follow the Hemingway rule of “write drunk, edit sober,” mostly because I’m getting old and being drunk means falling asleep. I have found that re-reading my work while buzzed makes me less of a harsh critic, so maybe that should be reversed?

Baked macaroni and cheese puts me into a coma, but a delicious, melty, bread crumb-topped coma; so it’s worth it. I make a delicious pumpkin macaroni and cheese in the fall.

Erin: Ugh! First of all, there is no Trader Joe’s near me, but next time there is I’m getting that marmalade. Also, mac and cheese for the high five! I had that last night haha! But adding pumpkin…mmm…I’ll have to try that this Fall.

Tell us where everyone can connect with you at below. I enjoyed first getting to know you doing the monthly Ladies in Horror Photo Prompt Challenge. I think so many more ladies should do that – it keeps the writing flow going! If you want to share any of your links from that, feel free to do so below too.

Sonora: I love the prompt challenge too! It’s great for creativity, as getting a picture prompt each month challenges me and gets me out of my comfort zone. It’s also a great way to discover new authors every month. You can find my collected stories so far right here.

I’m also all over the place online, though I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram. Give me a follow, especially if, in addition to writing and books, you like hockey, beer, and/or jokes.

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Goodreads

Erin: I think you forgot food and travel, which are things that drew me to you outside of our writing interests!

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Sonora looking out over the water at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Photo provided by Sonora Taylor.

Thank you SO much for coming over and hanging out with me. I think this lunch is in the coma category, not the energy for writing one. Let’s sit back and hang out with another cup of coffee. I look forward to seeing where your writing takes you in the future!

Sonora: Thank you for having me! This was all delicious, both the food and the conversation. I’ll definitely take another cup of coffee, though maybe I’ll skip the rum on this one.

Erin: Never enough rum, Sonora!

About Without Condition

Without-Condition-CoverCara Vineyard lives a quiet life in rural North Carolina. She works for an emerging brewery, drives her truck late at night, and lives with her mother on a former pumpkin farm. Her mother is proud of her and keeps a wall displaying all of Cara’s accomplishments.

Cara isn’t so much proud as she is bored. She’s revitalized when she meets Jackson Price, a pharmacist in Raleigh. Every day they spend together, she falls for him a little more — which in turn makes her life more complicated. When Cara goes on her late-night drives, she often picks up men. Those men tend to die. And when Cara comes back to the farm, she brings a memento for her mother to add to her wall of accomplishments.

Cara’s mother loves her no matter what. But she doesn’t know if Jackson will feel the same — and she doesn’t want to find out.

Purchase Without Condition on Amazon

Read the first chapter, “Dead End,” in Issue 42 of The Sirens Call

Shelve Without Condition on Goodreads

Sonora Taylor, Biography –

sonora-taylor-2Sonora Taylor I the author of The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes’,” was published in Camden Park Press’s Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Her work has also been published in The Sirens Call, a bi-monthly horror eZine; and Mercurial Stories, a weekly flash fiction literary journal. Her second novel, Without Condition, release February 12, 2019. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband.

Follow Sonora on Facebook | Follow Sonora on Twitter

Follow Sonora on Goodreads | Follow Sonora on Instagram

Contact Sonora

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, HookonWiHM, women in horror

Interview: Gwendolyn Kiste and I discuss The Rust Maidens, Cleveland, the ’80s, Body Horror, and Fairy Tales. #LOHF

Today I welcome Bram Stoker nominated Gwendolyn Kiste to talk about her new novel The Rust Maidens and our connection of place, Cleveland! Hi Gwendolyn, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you’ve finally arrived (and back in your original home of Ohio!) and could take a few minutes to chat with me. Obviously, it’s winter now, so let’s step in to my home and library and I’ll pour us some coffee, do you like cream and sugar like me, or how shall you take yours?

Let me know while I go and take the homemade mint chocolate brownies from the oven. It’s a recipe passed around especially for writers, of course!

Gwendolyn: Thank you so much for having me, Erin! Homemade brownies sound like a perfect way to start an interview! As for coffee, I always take mine plain, thank you!

coffee and brownies

Erin: Black it is! Let’s snuggle into my big comfy chairs, relax, and talk about your newest book, your first novel, which released recently from Trepidatio Publishing, called The Rust Maidens! Congratulations on becoming a novelist! For those not in the know, I’m going to post the synopsis quick right here!

The Rust Maidens Cover Final

The Rust Maidens –

Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why—except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.

Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens—and her own unwitting role in the transformations—before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.

I’m intrigued by you and your fabulous writing in any regard, but I was at first drawn in to wanting to read and discuss The Rust Maidens since it takes place near where I live, Cleveland, in 1980. I believe you are originally from Northern Ohio as well, so tell us about the novel and what about this location inspired your novel?

Gwendolyn: I love Ohio. Though I live in Pennsylvania now, I always say that I’m an Ohio girl at heart. It’s such a misunderstood state in some ways. There are people who think of it only as a Rust Belt state, others who consider it all cornfields, and some who think that it’s just boring, wide open spaces. It’s funny, because to varying degrees, all of those things are indeed true, but there’s more to Ohio than just those descriptions. In its own way, Ohio is a kind of misfit, and as a perennial misfit myself, I feel like it’s a place where I’ll always belong.  

Erin: How much of the Cleveland landscape is involved in it, or is it just a place and time?

Gwendolyn: The city of Cleveland is absolutely crucial to this particular story. It’s a character of its own, in a way. There’s such a rich and strange history of the city. Everything from Eliot Ness and Bessie, the Lake Monster, to the river catching on fire and the Rust Belt decay are in the DNA of Cleveland, lurking somewhere in there. As for the landscape itself, the book includes the steel mills, the lake, and several other landmarks that people from the area will recognize.

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Photo by Erin Al-Mehairi, summer 2018. View of Cuyahoga River from the park at Settler’s Landing. The river flows out into Lake Erie.

Erin: Why the year 1980? Does it have any significance? How much of this time period in the area did you have to research to make a period piece authentic?

Gwendolyn: Something I’ve often observed is that the first year in a new decade is always something of a liminal time. The decade hasn’t had a chance to really develop yet, which means that first year tends to look and feel a lot like the years that came immediately before. I initially noticed this while watching the show, Mad Men. The series starts in 1960, which at that point still feels very much like the 1950s. It’s not until the series moves forward several years that the events and trends we normally associate with the 1960s start coming into play. In this way, the first year in a decade seems to have a kind of identity crisis, and since identity as well as being stuck in between are so integral to the novel, that seemed like an ideal time to base the novel.

I had also just come off researching Cleveland in the late 1970s and early 1980s for my story, “Songs to Help You Cope When Your Mom Won’t Stop Haunting You and Your Friends.” I originally wanted to set that story in the late 1970s, but I also wanted to incorporate Pink Floyd’s “Mother” into the story because it reflected so much of what the main character was going through. That song, however, didn’t come out until late 1979, and since my story didn’t start until January, the earliest it could be set was in 1980. Hence, another reason for that year.

After doing all the research for that story, I didn’t want to let go of Cleveland in that era yet. That was when I decided to combine that time and place with another idea I’d long had for a novel about girls in some kind of strange metamorphosis. Once I hit on the idea of setting it in Cleveland, the concept came together very quickly, and I pitched it to Jess Landry at Trepidatio. Then we were off from there!  

Erin: What was the most significant piece of history you found about the Cleveland-area while researching? What about the most shocking? Without spoilers, did either of them make it into your novel?

Gwendolyn: One fascinating piece of history I found was that there was a series of storms that occurred the summer of 1980 when the novel takes place, including something that was called the More Trees Down Derecho. The name was coined because people said if the storms continued that there would be no more trees left to come down. And yes, perhaps that storm does indeed make it into the novel at one point.

Erin: Of course, you and I know we live(d) in the rust belt, and why. But can you give readers a better understand of it and how it affected your novel? How do you feel the rust belt has changed, and changed people, from 1980 to now?

Gwendolyn: It’s interesting, because I think in some ways, it’s changed, and in some ways, it’s exactly the same. I would still say that the city has never entirely recovered economically. But no matter what, somehow, Cleveland endures. It’s that journey through those past struggles into today that really define Cleveland as I see it and also the version of the city that appears in the novel. It’s still struggling but always fighting. That’s a story unto itself, and one that informed how it plays a part in The Rust Maidens.

Erin: Were any of your characters personalities affected by their environment(s)? Without spoilers, why and how?

 

Gwendolyn: The environment probably affects the characters in this novel more than anything else I’ve ever written. I always try to interweave the setting as much as possible in my work, but with The Rust Maidens, 1980s Cleveland is as much a character as the girls themselves. The decay and hopelessness that have permeated many areas of Ohio impact all the characters in the book, and that effect is ultimately reflected in the metamorphosis that serves as the centerpiece of the story.

Erin: I’m sure you chose the title, as per the summary for the book, since the main characters are trying to figure out why other girls they know are transforming into actual metal and glass. Why does body horror interest you? What was the compelling factor or theme that you might be trying to convey in this novel (you have a degree in psychology, so I am assuming you’ve planted this someone in the book!) in relation to that transformation?

Gwendolyn: Body horror works so well with themes of identity and belonging, which are topics I constantly explore in my fiction. In particular, when you’re young, you’re still trying to figure out who you are, and to have your own body turn against you at that point as happens in The Rust Maidens would only make that exploration of identity that much more horrifying. In this way, body horror becomes the physical manifestation of the changes we all go through at some point, only magnified through the horror genre’s lens.

The Rust Maidens Cover Final

Erin: I read somewhere you said that when approached about Daniele Serra doing your cover art for your book you agreed because you felt he could most capture the industrial feel your book included while also staying true to your whimsical side. In my opinion, he was pretty much spot on. You’ve had covers as very bright, black and white, and now muted. Do you feel that your writing style has changed as well? How has fairytale, folklore, and horror of Pretty Marys, and the emotional, heart-wrenching stories in And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, blended together or impacted The Rust Maidens?

Gwendolyn: When Jess Landry suggested Daniele Serra for the cover art, I was already familiar with his work, but of course, I looked again at his portfolio, and yes, I very much felt that his style has this incredible balance between the ephemeral and the whimsical along with a very strong edge that seemed like a perfect blend for the industrial landscape of Cleveland. The final cover is just so beautiful. I love it so much, and couldn’t imagine anything else on the cover of my first novel.  

As for my writing style, I do feel like each of the covers matches the tone of the book. There is the stark black and white of the collection, which mirrors its emotional arcs that are extreme at times. Pretty Marys has the lightest, most humorous tone, and the bright cover matches that, while also hinting at the darkness of the book too. Finally, the melancholy feel of The Rust Maidens is absolutely reflected in the muted colors of Daniele’s cover. I’ve said it elsewhere before, but I feel like one very fortunate author to have book covers that so perfectly encapsulate my work. It’s wonderful to be able to say that.

Erin: How does the content of The Rust Maidens differ from your debut collection and your novella? What makes it unique? For return readers, what does it offer that identifies it as another Kiste masterpiece?

Gwendolyn: Wow, Kiste masterpiece is putting a lot of pressure on it! Hopefully, that’s how at least a few readers will describe it, but we shall see!

So much of my work deals with coming of age as well as outsiders fighting to find a place in the world. Those elements are absolutely present in The Rust Maidens, so in that way, returning readers will be able to see the connection to my previous work. As for what makes it unique, I feel like I’ve put my own past and my blue collar and Ohio roots at the forefront in this story more than before. It’s truly so personal to me, and it’s even a little more on the melancholy side than much of my other work. So while it draws from my previous fiction, it’s certainly treading some new ground at the same time.  

Erin: Do you cross and flow between genres and sub-genres fairly easily? Do you like to describe yourself as a horror, fantasy, or literary author or just write what you feel and that works for the story? Maybe you don’t like labels at all?

Gwendolyn: I would call myself primarily a horror and dark fantasy author. Not all of my work falls strictly within the confines of horror, but almost all of my work, especially recently, could fall under the horror and dark fantasy labels, broadly defined. Those are the genres that feel most like home to me. That being said, I would love to see genre labels become something of the past, or at least that fiction isn’t so strictly relegated to one category or another. Many of my favorite stories as a reader don’t fall easily into any one genre, so I think there’s a lot to be said for stories being allowed to develop organically and not being shoehorned into something they’re not.

Erin: I first met you online when we shared a Table of Contents in the anthology Hardened Hearts from Unnerving. You created one of the most interesting pieces in the book, about someone who falls in love with a creature. I did a Rumpelstiltskin-esque piece murder mystery that took place in an orchard. Upon reading more of your work outside of Hardened Hearts though, I realized you must live and breathe fairy tales and legends as much as I do! How has your love of them worked into your other stories—whether in your novella, your short story collection, or any published standalone stories?

Gwendolyn: Fairy tales are interwoven throughout so much of my work. I’ve done a Snow White retelling with “All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray.” My novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, is all about the Marys of folklore: Resurrection Mary, Bloody Mary, Mari Lwyd, Mary Mack, and Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. Elsewhere in my fiction, I’ve played with the stories of Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid, and Baba Yaga as well. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve met too many fairy tales that don’t inspire me in some way! Because they’re so familiar from the get-go, you can use the reader’s preexisting knowledge of the tale and jump right into the heart of your story. Exposition can be the bane of writers, and in this way, crafting fairy tale retellings helps to bypass some of those problems. Plus, many of the stories we’ve grown up with were told in such ways as to emphasize a dubious moral. Reworking those ideas can feel at once familiar as well as very liberating.     

Pretty-Marys-All-in-a-Row

Erin: Are there fairytales you’ve thought of writing as a re-telling in the future?

Gwendolyn: I would absolutely love to do something with the story of Bluebeard. I’ve been kicking around an idea for over a year of reworking that one, but I haven’t quite been able to click all the pieces into place yet. Hopefully something on that front will happen in the coming months, because it seems like it could be rife with possibilities.

Erin: I know you’ve listed some of my own writing inspirations such as Shirley Jackson, Kate Chopin, Sylvia Plath, and Ray Bradbury. How and why do you feel drawn to these authors (or any others you can list below if you wish) and how have they helped define your work or make you a better writer?

Gwendolyn: All of those authors you mentioned are so unafraid to put themselves and their raw emotions about life out there for the world to see. What’s also so captivating is how they each do it in radically different ways. Shirley Jackson explores the dark underbelly of a seemingly proper world, and she never flinches away from that. Kate Chopin pushed back against the boundaries of a very rigid society to interrogate what it means to be a woman and an outcast in a world that tells you that you don’t belong. Sylvia Plath was an emotional tour-de-force, but one that no matter how urgent and intense her writing became, she always seemed entirely in control of her razor-sharp prose and poetry. Ray Bradbury was never afraid to talk about what it’s like to be a kid and what it’s like to be afraid. He also never seemed to worry about becoming too sentimental or nostalgic; he allowed his own memories and love of childhood, carnivals, space, and coming-of-age to completely shine through in his work.

So I suppose with all that in mind, these authors inspire me to be braver in my work and to take chances by putting myself completely on the page every time I write. They show me that you can’t hold back, not if you want to create something that really affects people. Perhaps it will even be too much for some readers. That’s okay. It’s better to go all in than to write something that maybe doesn’t even make you feel something. When it comes to art, don’t play it safe. That’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from the writers I love.

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Erin: One of my other main interests is also the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, as you’ve also mentioned, as well as loving the Roaring Twenties. Have I told you how much I like you yet today? 😊 Are you considering writing a period piece in this vein and era? A collection of stories? And the most important question, would you every consider a collaboration? *wink*

Gwendolyn: I would absolutely love to write a story set in the 1920s; that would be too fabulous (or should I say, that would be the bee’s knees!). I love historical fiction that’s set in the twentieth century, in part because it feels modern enough to be accessible but old enough that it truly is part of our history at this point. I’ve already written a turn-of-the-century collaborative novella with Emily B. Cataneo called “In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire” (editor’s note: In Chiral Mad 4 anthology), and I also wrote a Dust Bowl vampire story way back in 2014 that appeared in History and Horror, Oh My! That one was a lot of fun to research and write, though I haven’t reread that story in years now. It was only my third published story, but it was one I was very proud of having pulled off. As for collaboration, I’ve already done one as mentioned above, so I certainly think lightening could strike twice with that! A definite possibility! 😊


Erin: Last year you published your novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, AND your collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, which went on to garner a Bram Stoker nomination in Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. First of all, how much did that help to validate your writing for you? Secondly, how hard was it to wait after that exhilaration for your novel, The Rust Maidens, to come out since it was almost a year later? Did you feel excited or added pressure?

Gwendolyn: I do have to say that 2017 was a very exciting year for my writing. To have two books come out in the same year and to have those be my very first books really was an amazing experience. The Stoker nomination just blew me away. It still feels like a dream that it even happened. I definitely had a great time with the releases of both And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row.

And Her Smile

That being said, it was nice to have almost a full year before the release of The Rust Maidens. It gave me some room to keep promoting the first two books and also to take a bit of a breather from the constant promotion cycle. I always worry that if an author releases too many titles too quickly, readers will just burn out. Even one book a year could be a lot. Releasing three books in about a year and a half is certainly intense. Still, it has been so exciting to see The Rust Maidens make its way into the world. A first novel is a truly wonderful and unique experience for an author. It’s great to be experiencing that right now. I’m trying to savor it, because I know it will all be over so fast.

Erin: What have you felt about the overall positive early response to The Rust Maidens (besides of course feeling wonderful). For instance, are they hitting the notes of what you wanted to convey via The Rust Maidens? Why and how do you feel your writing is impacting others besides your beautiful prose? Any themes people are particularly drawn to in this novel and/or in your other work?

Gwendolyn: I feel so very fortunate that the early response has been so positive. No matter how much you toil over a story, you never know what’s going to happen when you set it loose on the world.

Though it’s probably not super surprising for a writer to say this, The Rust Maidens is a very personal book for me, and I’d been so close to it for so long that by the end of the process, I was afraid that it had become too personal. That maybe I would be the only one that would be able to understand what I was trying to accomplish with the story. It’s been a very good feeling to see that readers have really connected to the novel.

A theme that I often come back to is coming of age as well as body horror. This novel combines both as we follow these girls who are undergoing this profound metamorphosis. Also, while it’s not there quite as much as in my other work, there is something of a fairy tale element in the novel. It’s more of a Gothic kind of fairy tale, but there is this rather mythic quality that I worked to interweave throughout the book, so I feel like that will be familiar to those who have read my other stories.

Erin: The Rust Maidens is also essentially a coming of age story, as you noted. Growing into a young adult in the 1980s is certainly different than now. What lessons do you think people in the 80s learned that those of us coming into our twenties in the 90s or 2000s haven’t and then what did we learn that those now aren’t?

Gwendolyn: One thing that always strikes me as a huge generational gap is technology. While obviously every generation can say that to some extent, with the internet, it’s become a very big shift. Those growing up in the 1980s wouldn’t have had the access to immediate knowledge and virtual connection with one another like we have now. That being said, today, we’re more likely to take that instant gratification for granted. We also often have more trouble today connecting in real-life with one another because we’ve become so accustomed to an online world, which can offer the illusion of social support but sometimes doesn’t always pan out the way we hope.  

postcard cleveland

’80s Postcard!

Erin: Do you like to read coming of age novels yourself? Any favorites? Any of them inspire you to try your hand at writing yours?

Gwendolyn: It’s been over twenty years now, but when I was much younger, I remember reading Stephen King’s The Body after seeing Stand by Me, the film adaptation of the story. I loved both versions so much, and there was something so haunting about them that it made me feel like adolescence might be somewhat ghostly and strange unto itself. That’s probably the first coming-of-age book I recall reading, but it’s certainly not the last. I also adore Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ray Bradbury can make coming of age look so haunted and enchanting as well.  

something wicked

Erin: So back to discovering how Cleveland fit in your novel…it feels different than any other city, at least to me. What are some only Cleveland-scene things you put into your novel?

Gwendolyn: I feel like the main thing about Cleveland that appears in the novel is the landscape. The lake, the river, the skyline with the former steel flame. I wanted the book to have a feel of a working class Ohio neighborhood, so some of the details are more general to any factory town in the Rust Belt. Of course, though, Lake Erie is definitely front and center. My own alma mater, Case Western Reserve, also gets a shout-out in the novel. There are certainly little details here and there that firmly place it in Cleveland, but at the same time, I hope that it’s accessible to those who have never been to the Midwest.  

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Photo by Erin Al-Mehairi, summer 2018 / Cleveland Skyline Against Lake Erie near Edgewater Beach

Erin: You live near Pittsburgh now, on an abandoned horse farm, which sounds like a story within itself, but what do you miss about home? What are some of your own personal favorite things about Cleveland and the surrounding areas?

Gwendolyn: Honestly, I just love Ohio in general. I adore the city skylines, the abandoned landscapes, the lakes, the rivers. Heck, I don’t even mind the endless cornfields. It’s certainly a place I will always consider home. Cleveland is wonderful specifically for how haunted it feels. The Flats are strange and fabulous, and in my teens and twenties, I saw so many great bands there. There’s Tower City downtown, which always seemed so nostalgic to me, just like the shopping spots you’d see in retro Christmas cards and ads. And since I went to Case Western, that holds a special place in my heart too.

tower city aug 2018

Photo by Erin Al-Mehairi. View of Tower City, lit up in Red, White, and Blue for Cleveland Indians that night. I was there for Shakespeare Festival!

 

Erin: The question everyone asks, but I really want to know. WHAT’S NEXT? What are you working on now or are looking forward to working on?

Gwendolyn: I’m finishing up some short fiction right now, and then I’ll be working for a bit on a new novelette. After that, I’ll be looking once again to outlining and drafting a new novel. I don’t want to discuss too many specifics, since I’m so superstitious about talking about a project before it’s fully formed, but I’m super excited about the new story ideas I’m working on. So stay tuned, I guess!

Erin: I really should close this interview before night falls. Thanks very much for patiently answering all my questions and congratulations on all your success! We have more to talk about another time, so I hope you’ll come back to the site. Also, I can’t wait to finally get to meet up for real coffee with you in the coming year!  😊

Gwendolyn: Thank you so much for having me, Erin! This has been so much fun talking with you!

Gwendolyn Kiste, Biography –

Gwendolyn Kiste HeadshotGwendolyn Kiste is the author of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, and her debut horror novel, The Rust Maidens. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, and LampLight, among other publications. A native of Ohio, she resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. You can find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.

Find Her on Social Media –

facebook.com/gwendolynkiste

twitter.com/gwendolynkiste

The Rust Maidens, Synopsis –

The Rust Maidens Cover FinalSomething’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why—except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.

Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens—and her own unwitting role in the transformations—before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.

Find it –

GoodReads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

Or ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you!

*BE SURE TO STOP BY THE HORROR TREE site for a follow-up interview I had with Gwendolyn, but this time focus more on the craft of writing since The Horror Tree is an author’s resource website!*

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Exclusive Creepy Excerpt of Teaser Chapter from Melika Lux’s Corcitura: a gothic vampire read!

Today, I have an EXCLUSIVE teaser chapter that accompanies Melika Dannese Lux’s gothic vampire novel, Corcitura, which we discussed HERE yesterday! It was interesting to learn about her inspiration for the book!

In this chapter, with some strategic editing as to not give any plot points away, she writes Madelaine’s POV in first person present tense, the first time she admits she has ever done so!  Melika stated, “Maddie’s narrative is also the only one to use this tense, which I think sets her apart from the guys’ narratives that book end hers.”

Have a go at reading this amazingly creepy read! If you like it, head down for the information on Corcitura and order in time for Halloween reading. It’s a historically gothic vampire read that is unique and cunning.

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Melika is also graciously giving away an e-copy of Corcitura to one winner and you have a week to sign-up! Just use the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win!  Ends Sunday, Oct. 26, 2013.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK~

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/OTg4YjQzMDA1MjEzZWRlNTcyNmZkNjQyMzFkYjE2OjM=/

With further ado, here is the exclusive extra chapter, enjoy and share! And we love comments!

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Belododia’s Belfry

My husband is gone. I cannot find him anywhere. When I went to sleep last night, he was by my side, but now, as the first rays of dawn break through the window, I know for certain he is gone. His side of the bed is cold—as cold as if he has not slept there at all. The door is bolted. There is no trace of him.

I have ransacked this room, torn it apart, and still it is as if he never set foot here, never even existed. I feel a heaviness in my limbs this morning, though I suppose it could just be the baby within me. When I look in the cup from which I drank my tea last night, I notice a residue, a filmy white liquid on the bottom. I dip in my finger and put it to my lips, tasting something sickly sweet.

I know I have been drugged.

I must go out into this desolate house; I must leave the safety of this chamber that begins to feel more and more like a tomb. I must find answers. Yet I am afraid, terrified even, of what will happen if the master of this place finds me alone. I have a mission; I know that, now that my husband is gone. My heart aches to admit it. I pray he is still alive, but if he is alive in a different form, will he still be the man I love? Can he even love in that state? I cannot think of these things now or I will go mad.

The only one I can count on is myself. I do not trust Stefan’s so-called wife nor that son of hers who bears an uncanny resemblance to my husband. And though it pains me to admit it, I cannot trust Luc, least of all Luc, though he swears he will be able to bring Zigmund back.

I walk toward the door and reach for the handle. I breathe in deeply, steeling myself. Father did not raise a coward. Mother would not allow me to fear the dark. How could I fear the dark when I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life? I’ve always been drawn to things that make other women scream.

I press down on the handle and step out into the corridor. I don’t know what I am expecting to see, maybe a bevy of vampires rushing down the hallway, but there is nothing. Darkness, silence—the corridor is empty.

I am nearly at the bottom of the steps when something calls to me. I know it is not his voice. Eric said only those who were marked can hear him in their minds. Still, whose voice could it be?

The voice draws me back up the staircase, leading me on, its soft, wordless timbre guiding me toward I don’t know what. Finally, it ceases. I feel somehow bereft, even more alone without it, until I see where it has led me.

I am standing before the door leading up to the turret above our room. I noticed the turret the night we first arrived. How could I not? There is something dark about it, something mysterious, something unknown that frightens me. I have tried to convince myself I did not see a figure flitting up there that first night, but I cannot deny what I saw. Was it Leonora? Or something else? I have never ventured there on my own, but now I have no choice. The pull is too insistent.

I push open the door and once more the voice starts to call. I cannot make out what it says. All I know is that I must go to it, must answer its summons.

The steps are narrow and made of stones so ancient I am afraid they will crumble if I put too much weight on them. There is no light in here, no air. I feel choked and am thankful when I finally emerge onto the balcony. Tendrils of morning fog wisp through the railing, which is decaying, I notice with alarm. I dare not go near it. One false move and over I will go, which I’m sure will make the master of the house very pleased, since he has me marked for death already.

“Such a fine morning, my dear, is it not?”

I have tried my hardest to avoid him, yet he has found me regardless of my efforts. That voice was his, I am sure of it now, so why am I still hearing it if its owner is in my presence?

The breath catches in my throat as I look into his eyes. His dark-rimmed pupils are larger than I remember, the rest of his eyes so colorless as to be nearly white.

“It’s a bit chilly,” I say. He seems amused by this. His eyes crinkle at the edges and he buttons his coat, though I know it is just an act for my benefit. He has no pulse. How could he be cold?

“You know much, my dear, but what do you really know about vampires?”

His question startles me. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from betraying my fears to this creature. “Naught but what I’ve read in Polidori and Le Fanu,” I answer. I remember the ashes of Carmilla and the terror in Eric’s eyes when he saw me holding the book. All I know of vampires, I have learned from a handful of novels, but what good does fiction do me when I have a damned soul staring me in the face?

“Ah, yes, but those are fairy tales,” he says, waving his hand dismissively. “Pure fantasy.” He pauses near a waterspout carved into a devil’s head. It is meant to portray a gargoyle, but I have never seen one so ugly and diabolical-looking, even by grotesque standards. I shiver, but not because I am cold.

“What do you know about…real vampires?”

“Not enough to kill them.” The boldness of my words surprises me, but he does not flinch. “What have you done with my husband?” I have spoken before I can stop myself, but then I realize I don’t want to stop myself. Something has changed in the air between us. I’m no longer as afraid as I was.

“I haven’t the faintest idea. Was he not with you this morning? I should think you would know his whereabouts better than me. Or is there already strain in your too-brief marriage? Does he not want a child so soon?”

“Of course he wants…” I cut off the words, biting my tongue in the process. His eyes are gleaming, his lips parted in anticipation. He is staring at me as though he wants to devour me…me and the child he already knows I carry. “I beg your pardon, Mr. Belododia…”

“Stefan.” The name slithers off his tongue.

Stefan,” I say with effort. “I expected Eric to be with you at the bedside of Greydanus. I must say the boy is doing remarkably well, considering that he was supposedly at death’s door, hence our presence here.”

“Ah, yes, my son…”

“Your son, who shares so many characteristics with my husband.”

The words make me sick to say. I fear them too much, fear the implications, though Eric claimed he’d never known Leonora in that way.

I feel as though my words have erected a barrier between us—more of a barrier than there already was. He reaches out and brushes the leaves off the railing. I see his shoulders tense, his whole body becoming rigid. I take a step toward the railing and stare down at what he’s looking at so intently.

A small, brownish-grey wolf prances about the frozen pond. Something about that wolf strikes me as familiar. I lean against the railing, causing bits of gravel to slip through the spindles. The wolf must have exceptional hearing. That small sound has alerted him to our presence.

The wolf ceases his wild gamboling and stares up at us. I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. The wolf’s eyes are so radiant, glowing almost, yet black as night. Idiotically, I reach out my hand as if I could stroke the wolf’s fur from such a great distance. I stare dumbly at the wolf, until I am jerked back to reality by the feel of a vise closing around my wrist. I cry out as I look down at my arm.

Stefan’s ice-cold hand encircles my wrist, crushing it. “Do not be attracted to things you don’t understand,” he hisses. Is he talking of himself? I can soundly disabuse him of this notion in a matter of seconds. I am not attracted to him, though I do not understand him any more than that wolf down below.

He releases my wrist. There is a blue mark discoloring my skin where his hand used to be. I rub it fiercely, trying to instill some warmth, but it is no use. I wonder if I am now marked, too.

He seems to have forgotten me. He is still staring at the wolf. There are worry lines between his brows, and his mouth is drawn down at the edges into a scowl. “It appears we still have a wolf infestation. If you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to. I hope to see you again for dinner?”

“Yes, of course,” I say abstractedly, watching the wolf run off into the forest.

“I wish you good hunting today, my dear.” Before I can snatch it away, he takes my hand in his and kisses it. Ice shoots through my body and weakens my knees. I feel as though I have been kissed by death.

I am alone once more, on this the highest peak of the château. A chill wind lashes through the trees, sending snowflakes fluttering to the ground. Dark strands of my hair whip across my face, obscuring my vision, but not completely, not enough so that I am no longer incapable of watching Stefan…

…watching Stefan watching me. He is not alone, standing now at the edge of the forest. There is a woman at his side. She is not the woman I expected to see, the woman I mistrust. This woman’s beauty terrifies me, mainly because it is so perfect, so inhuman. Her lustrous blonde hair flows freely down her back. She turns, and I can see her eyes—green and glowing and brutal. Her lips are redder than blood and her skin as pale as the snow she treads upon. I know she sees me, but whether he tells her not to acknowledge my presence or she decides to ignore me of her own accord is a mystery. Her eyes remain fixed on the wolf tracks at her feet.

He takes her hand and guides her toward the trees, and I am left with a memory of her face. I know I have seen her before.

Something slithers beneath my feet. I look down, expecting to see a snake or some other creature. Instead, there is nothing but a rose. A dead rose, its petals black and brittle. Affixed to the stem, threaded through a frayed black ribbon, is a small band of gold.

My husband’s wedding ring.

This is all the impetus I need. I am down the staircase and making for the stables in an instant. I feel panic in my chest, but I damp it down. Hysteria will do me no good now. This is a clue. I know it is, though it is meant as a taunt. In my heart, I feel he is alive.

I must find Professor Fertig’s book.

_______________________________________

Corcitura Blurb~

Final Corcitura Cover 9-29-12Corcitura.  Some call it hybrid, others half-blood, mongrel, beast.  They are all names for the same thing:  vampire—the created progeny of the half-wolf, half-vampire, barb-tongued Grecian Vrykolakas, and the suave but equally vicious Russian Upyr.  Corcitura:  this is what happens when a man is attacked by two vampires of differing species.  He becomes an entirely new breed—ruthless, deadly, unstoppable…almost.

London, 1888:  Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, best friends since childhood, have finally succeeded in convincing their parents to send them on a Grand Tour of the Continent.  It will be the adventure of a lifetime for the two eighteen-year-old Englishmen, but almost from the moment they set foot on French soil, Eric senses a change in Stefan, a change that is intensified when they cross paths with the enigmatic Vladec Salei and his traveling companions:  Leonora Bianchetti, a woman who fascinates Eric for reasons he does not understand, and the bewitching Augustin and Sorina Boroi—siblings, opera impresarios, and wielders of an alarming power that nearly drives Eric mad.

Unable to resist the pull of their new friends, Eric and Stefan walk into a trap that has been waiting to be sprung for more than five hundred years—and Stefan is the catalyst.  Terrified by the transformation his friend is undergoing, Eric knows he must get Stefan away from Vladec Salei and Constantinos, the rabid, blood-crazed Vrykolakas, before Stefan is changed beyond recognition.  But after witnessing a horrific scene in a shadowed courtyard in Eastern Europe, Eric’s worst fears are confirmed.

Six years removed from the terror he experienced at the hands of Salei and Constantinos, Eric finally believes he has escaped his past.  But once marked, forever marked, as he painfully begins to understand.  He has kept company with vampires, and now they have returned to claim him for their own.

Book trailer~

http://youtu.be/xStibsfjBvo

Amazon.com Buy Links~

Kindle Editionhttp://www.amazon.com/Corcitura-ebook/dp/B009JKUWKK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1380726601

Paperback Edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Corcitura-Melika-Dannese-Lux/dp/0615722091/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380726601&sr=8-1&keywords=melika+dannese+lux

Amazon UK Buy Links~

Paperback Edition: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corcitura-Melika-Dannese-Lux/dp/0615722091/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1381946506&sr=8-1

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corcitura-Melika-Dannese-Lux-ebook/dp/B009JKUWKK/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1381946506&sr=8-1

Author Bio, Melika Dannese Lux~

Melika LuxI have been an author since the age of fourteen and write Young/New Adult historical romance, suspense, supernatural/paranormal thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, novellas—you name it, I write it! I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

Social Media Links~

 I’m very active on social media, so please feel free to connect with me on any or all of the following sites:

My Web Site: http://booksinmybelfry.com/  

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BooksInMyBelfry

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/950456.Melika_Dannese_Lux

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/booksinmybelfry/boards/

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Details for You to Attend a Virtual Book Celebration for Brian Moreland and Kristopher Rufty

You’re most likely strolling through Facebook in the evening right? Posting your favorite book, cartoon, and chatting with friends in between watching a cool show or settling down for the evening? We’ve got a fun VIRTUAL party you can drop by for as well to help congratulate and celebrate horror authors Brian Moreland and Kristopher Rufty’s newest releases! We’ve got some prize packs you can enter to win, courtesy of Samhain Horror and the two authors.

DETAILS ABOUT PARTY:

The virtual party sponsored by Hook of a Book (www.facebook.com/HookofaBook) page takes place on the actual wall of the Facebook page (not on the invite wall if you have a FB invite) from 9 to 11 p.m. EST, on Tuesday, Aug. 6.  Attendees are able to ask Brian Moreland and Kristopher Rufty any questions they want by PRE-ASKING or asking during the party via an email submission which will then be posted by the moderator to the Hook of a Book wall. Attendees can see questions answered and be able to comment.  These two authors are so personable and interesting so you won’t want to miss the action.

ABOUT THE BOOKS

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Brian Moreland has released a short story prequel called The Girl from the Blood Coven that you can download FREE now! Click Here for Kindle/Kindle App download:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CI3WCEO.  The novella is called The Witching House, also in e-book, and is available to read Tuesday:  http://www.amazon.com/kindle-store/dp/B00CJ96E78.

OakHollow

Kristopher Rufty’s Oak Hollow is a full-length novel that will also be available to read in e-format or paperback on Tuesday, click here for Kindle/Kindle app download:  http://www.amazon.com/Oak-Hollow-ebook/dp/B00B4QJK82

You can also order books from the info detailed in the notes section on the Facebook page during or anytime after the party (30% off at Samhain link there for a limited time) or enter the giveaways. We’re giving away several prize packages that include book copies! All that ask questions will have a chance to win or you can email to enter! Those who ask questions get extra entry points! Or just hang out and have conversation in the comments.

HOW TO ASK QUESTIONS:

Please pre-ask questions using email listed below or Erin will also take limited questions during the party which will go in a queue to be asked in order received.  Email Erin at to hookofabook@hotmail.com (subject: Brian or Kristopher question). Again, emailing a question enters you or you can email just to enter to win.

The night of the event you can also inbox message Erin Al-Mehairi on the Hook of a Book Facebook page (below) if you can’t email and it will go into the queue.

Please, NO attendees should post questions to the wall of the party just because it gets too confusing. If questions appear on the wall, Erin will put in to the queue and then re-post the question as a status. Authors won’t answer those, but will wait for them to be re-posted and then answer. However, you can post to the wall to say congratulations and authors can comment on that too.

REFRESH YOUR BROWSER!

Please remember that refreshing your browser is very important to see all questions and answers ongoing during the event. Also remember to be patient. The moderator, Erin, is constantly working in the background and will be taking your emails, inbox messages, posting questions, and monitoring the party all at once.

You can RSVP or see more about the event here:

https://www.facebook.com/HookofaBook?ref=hl#!/events/211105749048244/

You also have to “like” the Hook of a Book page here: www.facebook.com/HookofaBook

About Hook of Book Facebook Page~

Like the Hook of a Book Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook!  We post reviews and interviews from this site there, but it also gives us the opportunity to talk books with you more, feature upcoming covers and releases, post free or discounted books, discuss literature, and showcase books we have on list to review. We’ll talk about the book, publishing and writing industry.  We’ll probably also talk grammar tips and ask lots of questions, as well as post interesting historical articles, art, photos, and other things we find intriguing.

Authors Brian Moreland and Kristopher Rufty~

You can view some recent guest posts by Brian Moreland on Hook of a Book HERE (click on HERE), Also HERE, and HERE, complete with The Girl from the Blood Coven review, book(s) information and biography. Review of The Witching House to appear on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

See my review of Kristopher Rufty’s Oak Hollow by clicking HERE, complete with book information and biography.

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Does Romance Matter in Horror? See What Author Jonathan Janz Has to Say, Plus Info on New Savage Species Serial

Samhain Publishing: Horror is blazing new trails for themselves by serializing their first original novel, Savage Species.  In five installments, with new installments coming every two weeks, you’ll get a terrifying read that will propel you to the next. An introduction to Savage Species is amazingly awaiting you, as the first section, Night Terrors, is being offered absolutely free (over 100 pages of awesome reading), no strings attached….just nightmares! 

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You can find out how to get it below, but first I have an interesting guest post by the author Savage Species, the wonderful Jonathan Janz. He’s talking about how he intertwines romance with his horror and doesn’t feel a bit bad about it! But don’t let that fool you.

Oh, and enjoy all the wonderful covers for each installment sprinkled around the post! Which one is your favorite?

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Why Romance Matters in Horror
by Jonathan Janz, Author

As of today I’ve completed six novels (five of which are published or will be published within eight months or so; the other is a bloody suspense tale I’ll revisit someday), and I have three more partially completed novels.

 And in all nine of those books, there exists a strong romantic element.

Naw, I’m not saying the stories are weepy, sappy sob-fests. But I am saying that romantic love is an integral part of every single one of my novels.

So what does that say about me? That I’m a hopeless romantic or a secret Nicholas Sparks wannabe?

 Nope. It simply says that I’m a human being. And that love matters.

In my brand-new novel Savage Species there are terrible events. Ask Erin. She’s read the first installment (Night Terrors) and can testify to the brutality of the story. There is more violence in this novel than in any of my others, and that’s saying a lot. It’s not that I twirled my non-existent mustache and laughed maniacally and sat down before the keyboard with the intent to graphically dispatch as many innocent victims as I could. Nor was I able to edit the book without cringing a good many times at the monstrous events it contained. But the story is the boss, and if the story calls for violence, I’m going to deliver it. If my characters do and say terrible things, I’m going to record those as faithfully as I can.

 And if they fall in love, you can bet I’ll write about that too.

 Children,TheThere are two love stories in Savage Species, both of which were a pleasure to write. One involves a young newspaper photographer named Jessie and his attraction to (or obsession with) a reporter named Emma. Jesse is in his twenties, which means he’s still stupid (Men, I am often reminded, are idiots until they’re thirty), and because he’s stupid, he focuses on her radiant looks and her killer body a bit too much. But because he’s a good guy down deep, we forgive him his salaciousness. Or at least some readers will. The main thing is, Jesse comes to understand just how special Emma is, and…well, since I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll just say he grows, which is awfully important in a character.

 The other love story is the more mature of the two, and not just because the two potential lovers in question are older. Charly (pronounced like the cartoon character with the squiggly shirt) Florence seems to have a great life. She’s married to an ultra-successful women’s basketball coach. She has three healthy children. She and her husband have just built a luxury home in the country. She is beautiful and smart. And by all appearances, Charly has it all.

 Except she doesn’t. Her husband is actually the opposite of what he appears. He’s selfish. He’s aloof. He’s a serial philanderer. But even more disturbingly, there are sinister regions in his mind, shadowy realms so dark that even he is unaware of them. But as events transpire, those dark places are revealed, and Charly’s life is thrown into disarray.

 Enter Sam Bledsoe. One of my favorite characters ever, Sam is the man who built Charly’s new house, and even before the novel begins, they each harbor a secret crush on each other. Charly knows she married badly, and Sam threw away his first chance at a family. In one another each sees a second chance, and for Sam especially, a redemption.

So what does all this have to do with my point?

Everything.

DarkZone-HJesse’s growing love for Emma makes him into a better person. The interaction between Sam and Charly brings out the best of both of them, which is one of the very greatest by-products of love. And these two relationships speak to one of the ironies about horror. The perception is that the genre is all about how many heads a writer can lop off or how many limbs he or she can sever. But the truth about horror is that it often focuses on how love can persevere in the worst of circumstances, how it can heal those who’ve seen and been through horrible things. How it can triumph even in death.

 Yes, I think I’ll always write about love as well as exploding viscera. For me, the subjects go hand in hand.

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Savage Species Synopsis~

Arena,The-HPeaceful Valley is about to become a slaughterhouse!

Jesse thinks he’s caught a break when he, the girl of his dreams, and her friend are assigned by their newspaper to cover the opening weekend of the Peaceful Valley Nature Preserve, a sprawling, isolated state park. But the construction of the park has stirred an evil that has lain dormant for nearly a century, and the three young people—as well as every man, woman, and child unlucky enough to be attending the grand opening—are about to encounter the most horrific creatures to ever walk the earth. A species so ferocious that Peaceful Valley is about to be plunged into a nightmare of bloodshed and damnation.

 The first installment of Jonathan Janz’s new—and Samhain Horror’s first-ever—serial novel will be released for FREE! You can download the first installment of my new serial novel (Savage Species: Night Terrors) FOR FREE right here….

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Night-Terrors-Savage-Species-ebook/dp/B00BETA0MO/ref=la_B008IIP7J0_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1370199103&sr=1-5

OR

Samhain Horror

Author Jonathan Janz, Biography~

doorwayJonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Brian Keene, one of the most famous award winning authors in the genre of horror,  named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.” 

The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, “reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story” and it was nominated for the Darrell Award this year, which recognizes the best published Midsouth regional science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and won first runner-up.

Samhain Horror published his third novel, The Darkest Lullaby, in March 2013. His fourth novel, the serialized, action-packed survival horror thriller called Savage Species, releases June 4, 2013. His fifth novel, a vampire western called Dust Devils, will be released in February 2014. He has also written three novellas (The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories. He’s currently writing his sequel to The Sorrows.

His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at http://www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

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Download your free first installment of Night Terrors yet? What are you waiting for?

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Filed under Feature Articles, Guest Posts, Uncategorized

The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi: A 5-Star Haunting Psychological Adventure

I’ve been on a wonderful streak lately of having the pleasure of reading some amazing authors who are blazing the trails of publishing today across many genres. I know reading them makes me a better writer myself and I strive to showcase here only the best literature available today.

Last weekend I read The Mourning House  by Ronald Malifi (published by Delirium Books, an imprint of DarkFuse). Since then I’ve been savoring it, even kicking around the idea of re-reading it, because I know it will be even better a second time.  It’s taken me a week to find the right words for my review. It’s THAT good. It’s more than good. This long fiction novella is phenomenal!!  (review continued after synopsis)

The Mourning House

The Mourning House, Synopsis~

Devastated by tragedy, Dr. Sam Hatch is a shadow of his former self. He travels the by roads of America, running away from a past he cannot escape. There is no salvation for him.

And then he sees the house. Like a siren, it calls to him. Yet the house is not what it appears to be. Is it a blessing, a gift…or a curse?

Review continued~

It’s really no wonder that it made the preliminary ballot for the 2012 Bram Stoker Award (announced Jan 2013 by HWA). Even though it didn’t recently make the final five voting list as a nominee, it certainly deserves to be honored for its hauntingly poetic prose.  The Mourning House is literary excellence.  Ronald Malfi is by far one of the best writers across most major categories.

In regards to his December 2012 release of The Mourning House, in no way did I feel that I was left wanting more or that I had even read a novella. It was so superbly structured from character development, to plot, to twists, to emotional connection, to allegory that I felt I had absorbed an entire full-length novel in one sitting. Time evaporated as I read it and I remained awake the entire night brooding over it. 

His nuances within the text that came from the protagonist’s mind, or maybe it was our own mind?….or the house’s banter….I’m not sure, but it’s been playing nonsense in my head since.  It’s wriggled into my brain with its lingering madness. Its subtle haunting seeps into my thoughts. Now, I’m sure I’ll read it again. And I urge you to read it, and then again.

When you read The Mourning House, and I recommend you do, think beyond just the highest plane of the story and the plot of the protagonist. Think about if there are any lessons for life Malfi is referring to. Any allegorical levels. Any emotional dance it tips taps within your head. I promise afterwards you’ll not return the same.

Malfi’s mainstream-style of dark, suspenseful, and eerie fiction will appeal to anybody whose a lover of fine fiction. With novels under his pen to boast about, such as the Gold IPPY awarded and Bram Stoker nominated Floating Staircase, this kudos adorned author is one of the best in the field and The Mourning House is no exception to a long list of must-read works. It’s horror, but to make the distinction, it’s the haunting kind reminiscent for me of eerie Twilight Zone episodes or even Alfred Hitchcock. It’s psychological writing in its best form, with an antiquated feel.

Malfi recently re-released The Fall of Never this week with Samhain Publishing/Horror and will re-release Cradle Lake with Medallion Press in June. He’s releasing December Park in March of 2014 with Medallion Press. I really can’t wait to read everything and anything I can get my hands on by Ronald Malfi.

And I have an interview coming up with him too where I can drain more of his brain power….

Praise For The Mourning House from Publisher’s Weekly~

“Lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia, flawless pacing, and a plot that unfolds into a quietly shattering climax. Fans of literary horror will enjoy this compelling, haunting story.” —Publishers Weekly

The Mourning HouseThe Mourning House Details~

  • File Size: 231 KB
  • Print Length: 69 pages
  • Publisher: Delirium Books (December 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Purchase it for download here:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Mourning-House-ebook/dp/B00ANW13U6%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAI4TO6S3PL2YRT2YA%26tag%3Ddarkfuseshop-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB00ANW13U6

Ronald Malfi, Biography~

Ron_MalfiRonald Malfi is the award-winning author of several horror novels, mysteries, and thrillers. In 2009, his crime drama Shamrock Alley won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery Floating Staircase was nominated by the Horror Writers Association for best novel; the book also won a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel. Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. He currently lives along the Chesapeake Bay with his wife and daughter, where he is at work on his next book. He can be reached online at www.ronmalfi.com.

Malfi is pictured in his most recent author photo with his super sized smile, but….

But this is my FAVORITE~

Malfi 2

 

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Terror Lurks in the German Woods: Guest Post by the Amazing Horror Author Brian Moreland

Hi, Erin, thanks so much for having me back as a guest on your blog. Today, I’m sharing some background of my novel, Shadows in the Mist, a historical horror thriller that explores the dark side of World War II and the Nazis’ fascination with the Occult.

The main characters are U.S. infantry soldiers: Lt. Jack Chambers and his ragtag platoon known as “the Lucky Seven.” During the first weeks of October 1944, Lt. Chambers and his platoon have been fighting the German army tooth-and-nail in the bloody Hürtgen Forest that borders Belgium and Germany. All Lt. Chambers wants to do is get his few surviving men out of the war in one piece and return to London to find the English Red Cross nurse he fell in love with. But Fate has a different agenda for the Lucky Seven, and especially Jack Chambers who has ties to a top-secret war he didn’t even know was taking place.

The Lucky Seven are chosen to lead a rogue commando team behind German lines. The mission: infiltrate a Nazi weapons camp. As Lt. Chambers and his men venture into the thick and foggy woods, they discover something evil is hunting them and it won’t rest until every soldier is dead.

To make this novel as compelling and authentic as I could, I interviewed WWII veteran soldiers, both American and German, who fought in the famous Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. I traveled across Germany with historians and personally walked the battlefields, graveyards, and toured a private museum. You can see the photos here.

273_Shadows_Master_Front_cover_for_Samhain300Shadows in the Mist weaves together war-time adventure, horror, and historical facts based on my research of the Nazis and the Occult. The Indiana Jones movies Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade depicted the Nazis on quests for the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. There is plenty of evidence the Nazis went on such quests in search of mystical ways to gain more world power. In fact, they formed an entire division called the Ahnenerbe-SS. While the supernatural mystery I have created is a work of fiction, the inspiration behind it is terrifyingly real. Had the Nazis used their research to pull this off, we might have had a different outcome to the war.

I hope you enjoy reading Shadows in the Mist as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it. You can read a sample of the book at www.BrianMoreland.wordpress.com 

All the best,

Brian Moreland

GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Because Brian is the nicest horror writer I’ve even met (though most are pretty nice and normal people), he’s doing a giveaway that you DON’T WANT TO MISS!!

He’s giving away a free e-book copy of SHADOWS IN THE MIST and also a FREE SIGNED PAPERBACK COPY OF SHADOWS IN THE MIST!!

What an amazing deal. Try to win it for yourself or have him sign it to whom you’d like and you can give it as a Holiday gift!

Details:

*Signed paperback mailed to U.S. only.
*Must leave a comment after the post with email or
email me to hookofabook@hotmail.com with entries completed.
*Must enter to win by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 12th.
*One entry for comment/leaving email.
*Email used for communication with winner.
*Will be randomly drawn on Dec. 13 and notified.

EXTRA ENTRIES:

+1 additional entry each (you can any you wish, one or all) for; just email which ones you did to me for credit.:

Follow my blog

Following @ErinAlMehairi on Twitter

Following @BrianMoreland on Twitter

Following Brian on Facebook (see below)

Liking Brian’s books on Amazon.

Author Bio, Brian Moreland~

368_Facebook_author

Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels, Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist, are now available. His upcoming novella, The Witching House, will release August 2013, and novel The Devil’s Woods will release December 2013. He loves hiking, kayaking, watching sports, dancing, and eating cookies. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://www.brianmoreland.com/

 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland

Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1150022.Brian_Moreland

Brian’s Horror Fiction blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

Coaching for Writers blog:  http://www.coachingforwriters.blogspot.com

You can purchase Shadows in the Mist at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Mist-Brian-Moreland/dp/1619210665/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1354766751&sr=8-2&keywords=brian+moreland, Samhain Publishing: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/shadows-mist-p-6933.html, and many other places nationwide.

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Ever Watched a Movie Audition Clip? See an author’s book characters come to life!

How often do you hear of a small press writer gaining the attention of a movie producer? These days it doesn’t seem to happen often, but I can imagine it’s so exciting for authors to see their ideas and imagination put into visual format!

 I bet most of you haven’t ever seen an audition piece for actors portraying characters from novels either.  Wouldn’t it be exciting as a reader and viewer to watch pieces of the production process?

 Today, I am enthusiastic to be able to share with you below  audition scenes from the psychological suspense novel The Cursed Man, by Keith Rommel.

 In the first clip, Dr. Anna Lee is questioning a grounds keeper that works at SunnySide Capable Care Mental Institution. There is a belief the patient she has come to care for is cursed. His curse is believed to be that the entity of Death has taken a liking to him and kills anyone that speaks to him within the book’s time span of twenty-four hours.

 The second clip is an audition piece of an actor trying out for the role of Alister. The scene shown is of Alister as a young man as he confronts Death about killing his family and then he attempting to escape Death’s preferential treatment the only way he knows how…

 Dr. Anna Lee audition: https://vimeo.com/54497720

 Alister audition: https://vimeo.com/54265755

About The Cursed Man~

book image TCMAlister Kunkle believes death is in love with him. A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.  With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment.

But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings. When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.

The Cursed Man is book one in the Thanatology Series.  The Lurking Man, second in the series (yet also can be read as a stand-alone), is currently also available for purchase.

BIO, Author Keith Rommel

Keith Rommel PhotoKeith Rommel is a native of Long Island, New York and currently lives with his family in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Rommel is a retail manager and has enjoyed collecting comic books since he was a child (a hobby inspired by a teacher in grade school to help overcome a reading comprehension disability).

Rommel is the author of two books in his Thanatology series entitled The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man. The Cursed Man is currently being considered as a feature film. He enjoys offering his experiences to other authors, writing several articles about writing and publishing, and is currently fast at work on the third novel in the Thanatology series which is scheduled for a summer 2013 release. 

He also has several other novels in the works. Besides writing, he also enjoys watching the New York Giants, scary stories, and spending time with family.

For more information on Rommel, or his writing, go to http://keithrommel.weebly.com.

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