Tag Archives: novellas

Interview with the Interesting Catherine Cavendish on Writing Gothic Literature

Welcome Cat, my friend, to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Our readers are sure to be delighted today as GOTHIC seems to be a hot topic in reading and writing these days on my site. Since your newest creation just released, called Linden Manor and part of a Samhain Horror Gothic novella series, you are in fine position to talk on the subject!


We are very happy to have you here with us! What has it been like to publish this work with Samhain, reaching us over yonder in the U.S. while you sit in Wales enjoying all kinds of historical goodness?

Cat: Samhain was on my publishing radar for a long time. I was just waiting for the right opportunity and when Don D’Auria (Executive Editor) announced the Gothic Anthology competition, it was like manna from heaven for me. It’s one of my absolute favourite horror genres and both our countries have such strong Gothic traditions, so it’s perfect for me.

Erin: I love gothic literature too, as you know! I am thirsting for more to be written and was so happy to hear Samhain take on publishing some. It was freezing in Ohio for so long, now today it feels 80. I won’t complain, but I will be drinking iced tea, with ice cubes….or how is the weather in Wales? How about I take a quick trip and we can take a walk around some old ruins. Do you drink hot tea or what is your drinking pleasure?

Cat: We’ve had some gorgeous spring days. Where I am – in North East Wales – we’ve been sheltered from most of the really awful weather this winter. I know it’s been terrible in parts of the USA, and in parts of Britain, whole communities have been flooded out.

As for old ruins…well, around here, on the border with England, we have a lot of castles. They were built by King Edward I in response to the uppity Welsh who would insist on mounting uprisings and trying to gain freedom and independence from England. Today, the political party Plaid Cymru has much the same agenda – although they don’t tend to mount uprisings!

Around four miles from where I am now is Rhuddlan Castle built on Edward’s instructions in 1277, but not completed until 1282, at the same time Flint Castle nearby was also being built for the same purpose.

Flint Castle Aerial North Castles Historic Sites

Flint Castle Aerial North Castles Historic Sites

Before we set off, I think a cup of Earl Grey tea, with a slice of lemon, will get us in the right mood.

Erin: I can’t ever pass up Earl Grey, it’s one of my favorites! Where are we going to head on our walk? Let’s get started and I’ll chat away with you while we explore.

Cat: I’d like to take you somewhere with a really creepy atmosphere. It’s not far from here, in a small town called Ruthin and it is the former gaol. A number of ghosts regularly linger there including prisoner John Jones who escaped twice – once in 1879 and then in 1913 when he was shot and died soon afterwards. Now he doesn’t seem able to leave.

Ruthin Gaol - condemned prisoner

Ruthin Gaol – condemned prisoner

William Kerr, Ruthin’s cruel and infamous Gaoler from 1871-1892, used to beat and starve prisoners as well as infuriate them by jangling his keys outside their cells. One day he simply disappeared, having left the Gaol on a perfectly normal day. No one knows what happened to him but his jangling keys and incessant banging on cell doors can still be heard today.

Then there’s William Hughes who was the last man to be hanged in the Gaol. He murdered his wife and on the 17th February 1903, six people watched him die for it. But he has never left…

Ruthin Gaol

Ruthin Gaol

Erin: Sounds lovely, well maybe not lovely, maybe a little spooky…ahaha…but I am game. As long as he doesn’t try to take me prisoner, so watch my back!! Now on to the questions….

Q: You just published your novella, Linden Manor, with Samhain Horror Publishing. Can you explain that process some and about how four novellas will be later published into one print anthology?

A: Samhain held their first Gothic Horror Anthology Competition last year. The rules were simple – it had to be Gothic, full of atmosphere, shadows, darkness and scares. There was a maximum word length 25,000-30,000 words and any combination of demons, ghosts and spooks of any kind could be used. I immediately set to work and that same day the germ of an idea which developed into Linden Manor was born.

My good friend, fellow horror writer and writing coach, Julia Kavan, helped me hone the story and I sent it off in good time for the September 15th deadline. When the email arrived from Don, saying, ‘Welcome to the Samhain family,’ my squeals of delight echoed off the walls and probably half way down the road!

On May 6, 2014, the four winning novellas were published in ebook format as standalones. In October we will all amalgamate in the print anthology. With Russell James, Devin Govaere and J.G. Faherty, I am in some stunning company. The entire anthology is called What Waits In The Shadows and I think that sums our stories up perfectly!

Four gothic tales

Q: What was your inspiration for Linden Manor? Talk about how you formulated your ideas!

A: I sat back, closed my eyes and let my mind drift. An image of a large Gothic house, set in its own land and isolated from its neighbours floated into my mind, along with a spooky little rhyme, quoted at the beginning of the story. It begins, ‘Run and hide, far and wide. Run and hide from the Scottish bride’. Everything just stemmed from there. Almost immediately, I knew I had to set the story in a rural landscape that had been populated for thousands of years. That led me to one of my favourite locations, the leafy and richly historic county of Wiltshire (where Stonehenge and Avebury are located). The mysterious character of Isobel Warrender formed before my main character, Lesley. While Lesley’s name never changed, Isobel began ‘life’ as Cynthia. Then I decided it simply didn’t suit her!

Q: What makes Linden Manor fit the genre of gothic? So many people are asking and discussing the definition of gothic lately. What do you feel encompasses gothic? How does your novella fit that?

A: Gothic to me, most often, evokes an old, imposing spooky house with a history. The house may or may not be a character in itself because it has soaked up so much tragedy or horror over the centuries, not just from its own existence but from what has gone before. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, heavy with anticipation of something terrible to come. Nothing good is ever going to happen in such a house. It waits, it lurks, it harbours evil and may help it to thrive. It traps the innocent and unwary and sucks the lifeblood out of its victims. Here spirits walk, trapped in a timewarp, in a different dimension. Some may be seen, others not. Some are tragic, others deadly. Here demons thrive. Linden Manor is a house just like that.

Q: Do you think gothic literature is a new trend brought back by lovers of classic gothic of the past? Why do you think people are so interested in it?

A: I’m not convinced it ever went away. It’s a form of escapism – and let’s face it, we all need a bit of that. Some people escape into a nice, cozy murder mystery, others into a ‘happy ever after’ romance, but those of us with a love of being scared, thrilled, held in suspense, yet knowing no actual harm will come to us, love to lose ourselves in that dark atmosphere that epitomises gothic literature. It generates a delicious feeling of anticipation. We wonder, what waits in that shadow over there? There are also no guarantees that anyone will get out of this alive – or in one piece, either mentally or physically. It keeps us guessing right up to the last page – and even, sometimes beyond.

Q: What are some of the classic gothic literature that you can think of as examples? What are your favorites?

A: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Shirley Jackson’s the Haunting of Hill House and Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black spring to mind. Plus anything by M.R. James and Edgar Allan Poe. And let’s not forget Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and her sister, Emily’s Wuthering Heights.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Q: You also have a penchant for ghosts and the paranormal? Does this fit into your novella as well, even though gothic reads don’t always have to have ghosts?

A: Oh yes. I love a good, frightening ghost, don’t you? Beware of the Scottish Bride…

Q: This is your first published work with Samhain, but you’ve been a writer for much longer. What other works have you written? Are they all in a similar genre or do you write various types of works?

A: Miss Abigail’s Room is probably my most Gothic until Linden Manor. The Second Wife too has many Gothic elements, as has a short story of mine called In My Lady’s Chamber. Cold Revenge and The Demons of Cambian Street are paranormal horror and my new novel, coming out on July 1st – Saving Grace Devine – is a horror with a timeslip.


Q: Have any real stories in Wales ever intrigued you enough that you wrote any stories about them? Why or why not?

A: There is a rich literary tradition in Wales – although I have not lived here for very long, so am still on a learning curve. There are many haunted properties and stories, so I look forward to exploring those for the future.

Q: I hear you have a ghost lives near you or in your own home? What is that like??!

A: She’s benevolent. Fortunately. The building in which our apartment is located is at least 250 years old, so you would expect it to have seen a fair amount of activity over the years. It would appear that our ghost is probably a lady called Miss Edwards who owned a haberdashery shop on the premises in the early part of the 20th century. She switches on lights and there was a spooky incident involving the washing machine once, which seemed to be her trying to get our attention. My husband has heard footsteps upstairs, when no one but him was there, and he has also heard her voice. I get a little shiver up my spine when things happen, but as long as my cat doesn’t get scared, neither do I!

Q: Is it difficult to find a ghosts “voice” when writing a novel? How do you put yourself into their shoes, so to speak (even if they don’t wear shoes!!)?

A: I create a backstory for the ghost just as I would a living character. Very little of that will appear in the story, but it will have everything to do with their actions, appearance and motivation for haunting.

Q: What kinds of methods do you use or details to create ominous and foreboding scenes?

A: I vary the length of sentences. Short. Choppy. Phrases rather than whole sentences, when I want to raise the tension. I describe what I see, taking care to use descriptive verbs wherever possible without resorting to overuse of adjectives or adverbs. And I describe what I see in my head. It’s a dark place at times!

Q: What else do you have upcoming in the way of any released books? You mentioned you have a new book coming from Samhain Horror, a full novel, in July?

A: Saving Grace Devine on July 1st. Yes, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll read you the blurb, which should give you a basic flavour of the story:

Can the living help the dead…and at what cost? 

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.


Q: Do you feel that women in the horror genre have had a harder time getting published or noticed than men? Now or in the past? If so, are things gradually getting better? How hard do women need to fight to be noticed?

A: I think there are some excellent female horror authors – Susan Hill, I’ve already mentioned, although she is more accurately a multi-genre author, as was Daphne Du Maurier. Anne Rice is another major influence. There does seem to be an increasing number of excellent new voices in horror, who happen to be female. Julia Kavan, Lisa Morton, Sèphera Girón…the list grows.

Then, of course, the winning novellas in Samhain’s competition comprised two female authors and two male. I think that the success of authors such as Stephanie Meyer may possibly have led to some expectation that a woman will tend towards the ‘sparkly vampire’ type of paranormal, but there are plenty of us shouting our horror corner these days. The Horror Writers’ Association, and publishers such as Samhain really help. As they say, ‘It’s all about the story’. Write one that ticks all the boxes and it doesn’t matter which sex you are (at least, that’s my experience).

Q: What words of advice do you have for other writers? What have you found works best for you in terms of plotting your story or finding time to write?

A: First of all, it may be a cliché, but a writer writes. Only by practice do we get better. And read. Your genre, yes, but anything and everything – if it’s well written, or even if it isn’t. Analyze what works and what doesn’t, then apply the lessons learned to your own writing. Get a mentor/coach/fellow writer in your chosen genre who has the experience and can be trusted to give you honest, constructive feedback. Don’t be precious about those paragraphs/pages you slaved over. If they don’t work, out they come! I am not a great plotter and I use my regular walks down by the river as valuable thinking time. I also carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas, words, phrases that I might use, wherever I might be at the time. If you try and find time to write, you never will. You have to make time, and that usually means doing less of something else, be it housework or watching TV. It’s all about prioritizing. If you work full time, you’ll need to claw back time on your days off, write in your lunchtimes if you have them. Grab an hour at night before you go to bed. Whatever works for you. But do it!

Q: Do you have any more books in process at the moment? If so, tell us about them. What do you plan to write in the future?

A: I have one tentatively called Jane, Avenged. It’s about to undergo a second draft and, is taking shape. Then I also have an idea borne out of a nightmare (much as Saving Grace Devine was). No title yet for this one, but it involves a small, locked up house in a wood…

Q: What do you feel have been your biggest challenges as a writer and on the flip side, your biggest success?

A: My biggest challenge to date has undoubtedly been finding an active, well respected publisher of horror. My greatest success was finding one – and winning the competition!

Q: What are some places you’d enjoy traveling to? Any you’ve been to? And any you’d like to try to see one day?

A: We’re going to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum very soon. I’ve always wanted to go there as I love history – the older the better! Visiting the ancient palaces of Egypt was an amazing experience. I also love taking holidays to interesting prehistoric sites in Orkney and Wiltshire. Still on my ‘bucket’ list is St. Petersburg as I have a fascination for the last Tsar and his family.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

Q: How can readers connect to you, Cat?

A: I can be found on my website: www.catherinecavendish.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

Erin: Thank you SO MUCH for having me over to chat. You’ve worn me out with the tour. We’ll have to do this again and next time, we’ll bring a thermos of tea! Best wishes with your novella and upcoming works and please stop by again soon. Thanks so much for being such an amazing supporter of Hook of a Book!

Cat: Thank you so much for letting me haunt your blog today, Erin. I’ve really enjoyed it. Ooh, and Miss Edwards just said, “Bore da” (Welsh for “Good morning”).

Linden Manor, Synopsis~

LindenManorHave you ever been so scared your soul left your body? 

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.


SAMHAIN PUBLISHING (get for $2.45 for limited time!)

Saving Grace Devine, Synopsis~
Available July 1, 2014

SavingGraceDevine72lgCan the living help the dead…and at what cost?

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.

Saving Grace Devine will be published on July 1st and is available for pre-order now at:

Samhain Publishing







Catherine Cavendish, Biography~

Catherine CavendishHello, my name’s Catherine Cavendish and I write (mainly) paranormal horror fiction.

I am delighted to announce that I am joint winner of the first annual Samhain Horror Anthology Competition with my new Gothic horror novella, LINDEN MANOR.This will be followed by my novel SAVING GRACE DEVINE in the summer, also to be published by Samhain Horror.


I live with a longsuffering husband and mildly eccentric tortoiseshell cat in North Wales. Our home is in a building dating back to the mid 18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

Check out my website at: www.catherinecavendish.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish



Filed under Q and A with Authors

A Conspiracy Thriller to Shake Humanity? Announcing Work Coming from Tim Busbey and a Reader Contest

My partner, Tim Busbey, has been a writer, editor, and copy editor veteran for many years. Now, he is on the edge of completing his first novel, novella, and short story (all which tie-in together) in his conspiracy thriller series!! I am very happy to announce this news on my own site today!

So what is his book about?

He doesn’t want to give away too much about it because there are lots of twists and turns and mysteries and conspiracies. But, according to Tim, it involves genetics, religion, covert agencies, the origins of man and much more.

More? That’s a mind-blowing amount of suspense already! Sounds good…

 It is set in a variety of locales, ranging from India to Cuba to Columbus, Ohio and more. Here’s a synopsis:

It involves a reporter who discovers a centuries-old secret that could shake the foundations of all of the world’s governments and religions. But is it the truth or simply part of a conspiracy? Dark forces try to keep him from uncovering the truth before they can unleash their master plan.

Tim says on his own blog at http://www.timbusbey.wordpress.com :  “But that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is an epic story with a large cast of characters. The story I am telling is sure to be controversial. But I am not writing it simply to stir up controversy. I am writing it because it is the story that I have been given to tell.”

fourth pic for tim's novel

If anyone happened to read his earlier versions in process, much of that content remains in what will be the finished product. However, he’s copy edited for clarity and story elements. Once he realized there was more back story than one novel could handle, and keep up its fast pace, he decided to break out parts of the book and create a short story and a novella which will serve as introductions to some of the characters and ideas associated with the main book.

AND YOU COULD UNLOCK THIS SHORT STORY!! He’s going to give away the short story to anyone who helps spread the word about his novel on Pinterest or Facebook!!

Please support and like his FACEBOOK Author Page at the link..he’s got his novel contest and updates on novel progress, but also lots of writer links and tips, international news and discussion, and he announces free thrillers from other well-known authors.



and if you’d like to join his profile on Facebook too:


Pinterest and Facebook Contest~

He will post one picture a week for eight weeks, we are in week four now. Each picture is a clue or somehow related to the story. The first picture appears to be a DNA helix. But is there more to it than that? At the end of the eight weeks, everyone who has re-pinned all eight pictures (you can pin at any time or all at one) on Pinterest, or commented on all contest photos on the Facebook page, will unlock the short story for free as a special thanks for your help. To receive your free short story, please email me a link (tbuzz50@hotmail.com) to the board where you re-pinned my posts after the eight weeks are finished. It’s that easy.

Please take a look and tell your friends. Here is his Pinterest and My Novel board is the one you want:  http://pinterest.com/pin/110056784616111015/

Tim Busbey, Biography~

TimA veteran newspaper journalist, he has spent the last five years working in marketing communications for a major small appliance manufacturer, an HR communications firm and one of the top law firms in Ohio (the latter two he currently works for).  He runs Addison’s Compass Public Relations with Erin Al-Mehairi, from which they offer writing, marketing and editing services to authors, businesses and individuals. He’s a soccer and softball coach and enjoys reading and collecting books.  He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1996 with a degree in journalism and a minor in economics.

Besides at Facebook above, follow the blog at www.timbusbey.wordpress.com or Tweet with him at @tbusbey.


Filed under Feature Articles

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



Filed under Book Reviews

Hunter Shea Talks about Writing on Swamp Monsters from His Kitchen!

On Monsters, Deadlines and Space

Guest Post By Author Hunter Shea
Giveaway of Swamp Monster Massacre after the post

 I’m such a silly bastard.

Way back when I started dabbling in writing (in a time before cell phones were common and Toni Braxton won the Grammy for best new artist), I had all these fanciful ideas about what a writer’s life would and should be. To write, one had to have a magical place to retire to, preferably a study with heaps of books, the smell of sweet pipe smoke, a view of a rolling green and utter silence and privacy. One book every couple of years seemed like a prodigious enough output. There would be lavish lunches with publishers and agents and my first book contract would set me financially for life.

Cut to many years later and as I’m signing my first bonafide book contract with a class-A publisher (Samhain Publishing), my editor (the best in the biz) asks when he can expect book number two. Oh boy. The second contract, signed a few months later, was followed by a request for book number three and…well, you get the point.

It was book number three, Swamp Monster Massacre, that completely changed my view of the writer’s life. My editor and I were emailing each other at midnight and he asked if I had a novella that I could send him for publication around Halloween, which was only 6 months away. I told him I could write a new one that would be more in line with my current ‘voice’.

                “Great!” he said. “I’ll need it in 3-4 weeks.”

                What the?

                Naturally, I said, “No problem. I’m on it.”

                “Can you tell me what the story will be?”

Somehow, despite my insomnia, I was quick on my feet and said, “How about a book about skunk apes (the Bigfoot of the southern swamps) who try to murder a criminal who crashes a hijacked airboat full of tourists in the Everglades?”

 I hit SEND and cringed. Thanks to a lifetime devoted to all things monstrous (God bless Leonard Nimoy and In Search Of,) coming up with a beast to write about was easy. Hell, I love Bigfoot…and the Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, you name it. I know more about them than my neighbors or even 90% of my family. Monsters are mystery and magic and everything that keeps my spirit young and wondering.

To my surprise and delight, he replied, “Sounds pretty cool. Have fun with it and shoot me over a first draft as soon as you can.”

Great! Now I had a concept. I only had to tap out 30,000 words and do about 5 revisions in less than a month. Cue the loud slap to my forehead with the palm of my hand.

It felt like Catholic high school all over again. I was just given a deadline that would make a grown man cry. Failure to meet it was not an option. So the very next day, I did some research on the Florida Everglades and started writing.

 Remember when I mentioned the dream study earlier? I do have a nice spot in my house where I do most of my writing, but for some reason, I could only keep up the pace in our very busy kitchen. Here’s where I wrote every line. Pure chaos!

Writing War Zone

Somewhere between the microwave and bottle of Gatorade, I lived in a balmy swamp filled with vengeful skunk apes. It made me think of Stephen King’s book, On Writing, where he talks about writing Carrie and Salem’s Lot in the laundry room of a trailer. Also, after his major accident in the late 90s, his wife set him up with a folding table outside the pantry so he could write again. He had a fan, some pencils and paper and his laptop. That’s it. And man, did he write.

I learned a lot about myself and the writing process thank to Swampy, and for that, I’ll always love the book. A deadline can be a very good thing. You don’t need to have the perfect conditions to write. Just the passion. And skunk apes make very good companions.

 A little about Swamp Monster Massacre:

swampmonstermassacreThe swamp belongs to them. Humans are only prey.

Deep in the overgrown swamps of Florida, where humans rarely dare to enter, lives a race of creatures long thought to be only the stuff of legend. They walk upright but are stronger, taller and more brutal than any man. And when a small boat of tourists, held captive by a fleeing criminal, accidentally kills one of the swamp dwellers’ young, the creatures are filled with a terrifyingly human emotion—a merciless lust for vengeance that will paint the trees red with blood.

Amazon : http://www.amazon.com/Swamp-Monster-Massacre-ebook/dp/B009AZ818O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358094581&sr=8-1&keywords=swamp+monster+massacre

Samhain : http://store.samhainpublishing.com/swamp-monster-massacre-p-7109.html

B&N : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/swamp-monster-massacre-hunter-shea/1113083308?ean=9781619213890


ONE lucky reader will win an electronic copy of Swamp Monster Massacre just by commenting below or on the Facebook link. You may also email me at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.  Of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts, but a comment is enough to enter. Anyone can enter, so don’t be shy. The contest will be open until Jan. 23 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The winner will be notified by email on Jan. 24. Please make sure to leave your email with me so I can contact you.

Hunter Shea, Biography~

hunter-headshotHunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal, Swamp Monster Massacre and the upcoming Sinister Entity. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the upcoming Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

STAY TUNED for more on my blog from Hunter Shea as we have an interview next week and discuss his upcoming novella The Graveyard Speaks and novel Sinister Entity!!  Both are set for April release. The Graveyard Speaks takes place between Forest of Shadows and is a prequel to Sinister Entity, the sequel to Forest of Shadows.


Filed under Guest Posts

Sara’s Smile Novella a Romantic Happy Read for a Day at the Lake

Sara’s Smile, a novella by the romance writer Sandra Bunino, was such a fun read. Having no idea at first that it was a novella, I began reading it one night when I couldn’t quite sleep thinking I’d just start on it. I couldn’t stop reading it (it was very good) and sure enough, I completed it before I knew it. I was looking for more to happen, like maybe a crisis or something.  But it was just a good happy ending, which was so refreshing. And here I am wishing and hoping to read more on this couple, because I wasn’t ready for it to end.

The characters were so engaging and well-drawn out even with it being such a short novella. It’s totally worth buying if you want a something romantic to read one day while your kids are building a sand castle at the lake. For anyone that had young love and dreams of one day being reunited, this read is about you. I am not wishing for that myself, but it still made my heart feel good to read about a little happiness and love when we are so surrounded by chaos in our lives. Sometimes our decisions lead us to bad choices and we misinterpret people or miscommunicate, but when it comes to love you’ve almost always got to lay your heart on the line for happiness to pay off, right?

I loved how the author features her main character as a restorer of older homes, as the author presents to us a “restored” love. Very light, romantic, soft and fun novella that anyone can enjoy.

Here is the Synopsis for Sara’s Smile:

As an architect who specializes in restorations, Sara Wiley is a genius at returning neglected structures to their former glory. But when it comes to her own life, she has no idea how to reclaim the ruins, which are all that remain of her first true love.

When the biggest opportunity of her career and a sexy contractor comes her way, she’s thrilled…until she learns that the client is the long-ago boy who captured her heart and continues to invade her dreams. Is it a bittersweet coincidence or might there be a chance, after all, for Sara to revisit the mistakes of her past and build the future she has wanted for so long?

Author Sandra Bunino, Bio

Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long stem red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.

These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family. She always looks forward to hearing from her readers and she may be contacted at sbunino@gmail.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@sandrabunino).

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Filed under Book Reviews