Tag Archives: horror

Writer’s Ramble: Alexander S. Brown

Today we welcome Alexander S. Brown, a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized.  Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press.  Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press.  His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.  His most current work is his short story collection The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out, published by Pro Se Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthology Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press, Reel Dark published by Seventh Star Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Brown is also the producer of, and actor, in the short film The Acquired Taste inspired by a story in his book Traumatized and directed by Chuck Jett.T

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1.    What was your first introduction to horror?
When I was five, my grandfather introduced me to the original “Night of the Living Dead”.  I remember being frightened, but I couldn’t look away.  I couldn’t believe the creativity I was seeing and how unsettling it was with its imagery, characters, and soundtrack.

2.    Has it stood the test of time, and yes or no, why?
It’s safe to say that “Night of the Living Dead” has stood the test of time.   I think the reason why, is because it’s groundbreaking with its presentation.  As an adult, the movie is much more than just a story about zombies surrounding an old farm house.  It focuses on many natural fears that one might have, such as the fear of society.  One could watch this movie and consider that the characters trapped inside are people who want to progress in life, the zombies represent the masses who do not want to see them progress.  One could also see this movie as a statement on racism, and truthfully, the statement is very blatant, however, George Romero said that the comment on racism was accidental.

3.    Who/what is your favorite monster and why?
The werewolf has always been my favorite creature, which is probably why I made “Syrenthia Falls” my first novel.  I think the werewolf is a symbol that most people can identify with, as it represents our inner rage and sexual repression.  It is animalistic in nature, forever changing, and is untamed.  I believe, at some point, these are all elements that everyone has struggled with from childhood to adulthood.

4.    Do you ever write something and freak yourself out?
There were a few stories in “Traumatized” that freaked me out.  The tales “From Midnight to One” and “It’s All True” gave me the willies when I wrote them.  Since then, I have tried to grow a thicker skin.

5.    How do you handle what some might consider the darker aspects of your psyche when writing dark, disturbing, or emotionally wrenching scenes/stories?
When I write, I’m writing from a character’s perspective, meaning they will do things that I wouldn’t consider healthy.  When creating an antagonist, I have no problem separating myself from what they would do and what I would do.

In our world, there is a great deal of evil.  To find inspiration to write about evil persons, I don’t have to look within myself to write about horror, all I have to do is turn on the television or access social media news feeds.  When writing of a subject that I feel is vital, I have to desensitize myself from that subject so I can hit the audience hard.

Also, there has to be balance.  When writing of something depraved or brutal, I have to step away and find something positive to equal out myself.   I’ve been asked before, “What would you not write about?” My answer is, I will write about anything, as long as it is necessary and isn’t utilized for simply shock value.

6.    Is there a genre outside of horror that you haven’t written in, but really want to?
I would like to write a drama. I have toyed around with a concept, but I haven’t completed anything. The subject that I want to write about is a personal one and each time I try to fictionalize it and hit hard, the story catches me in its emotions.

7.    What’s the most helpful piece of writing advice you were ever given?
I one time wrote Clive Barker, and he was gracious enough to write me back.  I still have the letter and I will probably frame it and hang it in my new library. He explained to me that I should learn my limits and break them. With each short story or novel that I write, I try to honor his advice.

If you enjoyed this interview and would like to find out more about Alexander S. Brown, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, or check out his blog.

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Writer’s Ramble: Phillip Duncan on writing horror

Today we welcome Phillip Drayer Duncan to discuss writing horror (Note: NOT the horror of the writing process, publishing, or marketing. Those are different beasts.). Phillip is the author of 4 novels and 14 short stories. He has work published with Yard Dog Press, Pro Se Productions, and Seventh Star Press. His work includes The Moonshine Wizard, Assassins Incorporated, The Warden, and others.

He was born in Eureka Springs, AR and has spent most of his life in the Ozarks. Along with reading and writing like a madman, his passions include kayakin’, canoein’, fishin’, and pretty much anything nerd related. More than anything, he enjoys spending time with his ridiculously awesome friends and his wonderful family. During the warm months he can be spotted on the river or around a campfire. During the cold months he can be found hermitting amongst piles of books and video games. You might also see him at a concert or attending a con. His earliest books were acted out with action figures and scribbled into notebooks. Today he uses a computer like a real grown up. His greatest dream in life is to become a Jedi, but since that hasn’t happened yet he focuses on writing.

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We begin our interview by strapping our victim to a chair and turning on our interrogation spotlight…..

1) What was your first moment in childhood where you experienced what some might see as horror?

Well, my very first memory is taking a nose dive off the bathroom counter. Not sure what I was doing up there to begin with, but my life might have been cut short if not for the fact my underwear caught on a drawer handle, leaving me dangling upside down. My mother quickly came to the rescue.

In addition to that, we lived way out in the middle of nowhere in southern Arkansas. I remember we had an old barn beside the house. There was a creepy mannequin in the barn made out of chicken wire and who knows what else. It was terrifying. In an attempt to keep my brother and I from wandering into the copperhead infested barn on our own, our parents told us that the mannequin was the bogeyman and if we went in the barn it would kidnap us. We didn’t go into the barn.

And there were copperheads everywhere.

My mom still has pictures of ones they killed. Seemed like they were an everyday occurrence, everywhere except the backyard. It was the only safe place for us to play. But the reason the backyard was safe was because there was a giant king snake that lived under the house and roamed the backyard. It was quite friendly and would let me play with it as a toddler. But because it was there, the copperheads stayed away from the area directly behind the house. My mom would joke that it was my first babysitter.

Also, from the same toddler time period, I got to hold my first gun, which was a rather large revolver. Somehow I managed to pull the hammer back and then pulled the trigger. Of course it wasn’t loaded or anything, but I was holding it up against my chest so when the hammer came down it grabbed a hold of my tender child flesh. I can still remember the look of my chest skin twisted into the hammer, and I can remember clearly the black and yellow oil mixed with the blood. I still have the scar today.

2) Have you used it in your writing?

I don’t know that I’ve ever used those specifically in my writing, but certainly each of those things played some role in shaping my imagination. Now, that’s it’s been brought up, I probably will find a way to fit them in somewhere. I like to draw from real life experiences because much of the time they’re more horrifying or hilarious than what I can think up.

3) Do you prefer gore, psychological or a merging of the two? 

Probably more of a combination of the two. When I’m writing ‘scary’ things I don’t know if it usually would fall under the common concepts of horror, but is more creep factor. Everyone once in a while I come up with an idea that creeps me out, and if it creeps me out, then there’s a good chance it will creep out the reader. For example, my clowns in the Moonshine Wizard, people love them. I still I can’t believe I wrote them. But in order to create something super creepy, I find that the psychological and gore factors kind of have to walk hand in hand. The clowns are scary because they mutilate and eat people. They are terrifying because our beloved character is helpless to their will, and they’re funny, and oddly friendly, and their insanely evil leader is in the form of a small child.

 4) What pacing do you find works better, a slow build of tension or a bam/keep hitting them with more approach?

 I tend to lean toward a fast pace, and that’s one of the things that my fans seem to appreciate. But, I still try to build tension as the scenes fly by. Having tension gives the fast pace a solid ground to build on.

5) Do you have any colors or symbols that you like to drop into your stories as foreshadowing?

Actually, in the last novel I wrote, there is the mention of a colored object which is a big clue for what’s going to happen later, but I don’t want to go into too much detail. One of the things I’ve been toying with lately is carrying some things between universes. Again, without going into detail and giving it away, there’s a symbol which plays a key role in one of my novels, which inevitably will show up in other unrelated novels, maybe as a quick cameo, or it may play an integral role in the story. There’s at least one character I’ve also been doing this with. Over time, people who read my work will run across this character in different universes and will have the leg up to recognize them. This is all assuming that my publishers don’t catch on and make me stop torturing my readers.

If you’d like to find out more about, please visit PhillipDrayerDuncan.com or check out his Facebook page. If you like what you’ve read, and want a creepy read, check out his books on Amazon!

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Tag, You’re it!: Blog Hop

So, my writer friend, Jeremy Hicks, tagged me in a blog hop.

jhAfter nearly dying at birth, Jeremy Hicks gave up his ghost during the sorrowful autumn of his twelfth year. The outsider that occupied his body from that point onward did the best it could to imitate him. However, this being’s bizarre sense of humor and inability to fully mimic human emotions kept it an outsider. After many unhappy years of trying to assimilate to this plane of existence and its daily doldrums, he turned to the cadre of demons in his life for other options. He teamed up with one of them inhabiting a ginger known as Barry Hayes and together they turned their nightmares into fiction. The writing team of Hicks & Hayes created an original horror-fantasy environment (Faltyr™;), wrote a screenplay (The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers) to introduce it, and then adapted it into a novelization of the same name. As a result, their first novel was published by Dark Oak Press in August 2013. Jeremy co-owns Broke Guys Productions and served as Associate Producer on the independent horror film, “Curse of the Rougarou.” He is also a poet and short story writer

Meander over to his page or blog to check him out and see his answers to the questions below.

So, here’s how this blog hop thing works. I get tagged and answer the listed questions. In turn, I chase down three authors and they get to answer those questions as well. It’s an interesting way to discover new writers and books.

What are you working on?

My dissertation. It’ll be long, boring, and even I won’t want to read it. Yay science! What am I putting off to get that little thing called a PhD? I was hopping around among three works in progress: book 3 of Crossroads of Fate series, book 2 of Guardian series, and a stand alone science-fiction/fantasy novel, “Riding Time”.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I completely ignore genre lines and use whatever makes my story work. This often causes editors to scratch their head in puzzlement as they try to figure out exactly what genre they should put it in.

Why do you write what you do?

I want to have my cake and eat it too. Why can’t I have fantasy in a science fiction or science fiction elements in a fantasy story? Why can’t they both have romance? Why can’t there be intrigue and politics, and action? When I said as much to my sister years back, she laughed and said I’d probably have to write it. So, I did. By the time I finished that first draft, I was addicted to the process of creating characters and worlds. There’s nothing quite like it.

How does your writing process work?
  1. Random idea pops into my head at worst possible moment.
  2. Obsessively think about idea until a character emerges from the mists of my brain.
  3. With a vague plot outline rattling in the attic of my mind, I sit down to write… in between barking dogs, complaining kids, work, cooking, cleaning, etc. It comes in fits and starts.
  4. I’ve learned to keep editing to a minimum on the first draft.– Get the story down.
  5. 1 or 2 rounds of edits for plot, have a beta reader give me feedback, export to Word and do another round for spelling, formatting, etc. and address any issues beta readers bring up.
  6. Send to publisher where the merry-go-round of edits begins again.

While I rarely write a formal outline, I do come up with one in a way in my head. Sometimes, with a particularly tricky work, I will actually jot out plot points, conflict and motivations. For me, that stuff has to be done in old school pen and paper. There’s just something about that process that requires me writing long hand. When I type a story, it’s already in my head. I’m merely transcribing it onto the page.

If you’d like to see what this miraculous process produces, check out any of the following:

Reaper COverDaughter of Destiny Cover AMAZONcoverNow, for the fun part, I get to tag three authors and y’all can check them out next week.

First: Jimmy Gillentine, quite possibly the world’s biggest Godzilla fan.

JimmySecond: Ethan Nahte’

Ethan NahteThird: A. Christopher Drown

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In the immortal words of Porky Pig, th-th-that’s all folks!

Extra, Extra!

The following short story was originally published last year by Midnight Screaming, (Vol 3 #4). It is an original fictional work.  All names, places, events, and characters are mine and protected under US copyright law.

Hunted

H.C. Playa

            Marie clung to the reins as her stallion’s hooves pounded the ground. Lightning streaked across the sky in brilliant blue arcs, heralding thunder that shouted her failure.  Her beloved thought of only her and the baby. He refused to hold her about her waist, afraid of hurting the baby. His clasp on her hips grew weaker with each beat of her heart. She tried to pray for the courage William showed, but regret clouded her mind. She knew evil monsters existed. She could have warded their home, but she feared discovery. Now, because of her, William was dying.

Each jarring stride of her stallion firmed her resolution. If they survived this night, never again would fear of the Church’s Inquisition keep her from following her heart. Nothing they threatened compared to the soul searing pain in her heart at the thought of losing William.

Rain fell in cold fat droplets carried beneath her cloak by the wind, stealing her warmth. Her hands grew numb, forcing her to glance down every few moments to make sure she still held the reins. Foam glistened at the horse’s mouth, but she spurred him on nonetheless.

A light grew in the distance. Home. The monster that ripped into her beloved’s throat and feasted on his blood could not harm them within those walls. The castle stood on hallowed grounds, protected by wards layered and strengthened through generations. William might yet live.

Please, God, pray they not denieth mine entrance.

A second echo of hooves carried on the wind. The monster gained on her, unremarkable given his powers to call the elements and spur his horse to unnatural speeds. Marie leaned forward so the stallion could jump a fallen tree. Branches grabbed at her skirts and scratched her face, and when the horse cleared the tree his hooves hit the ground hard enough to rattle her clenched jaw. The landing wrenched William’s weak grip from around her. She jerked the reins and twisted her body, but she could do nothing to prevent his fall.

“William!” she shrieked.

Heedless of the danger to herself or the child she carried within her, Marie jumped from the horse and ran back to where her husband lay crumpled in the mud. She turned him over, certain he was dead, and then wept with relief when his hand clasped hers.

He tried to speak, but choked on blood that gurgled past his lips.

She touched her hand to his mouth. “No, my love, dost not speakest.” She whistled. The stallion, his sides heaving, walked over with reluctant steps.

“Mine parents’ castle is nigh, William.” She urged him to stand, but he squeezed her hand and gave the smallest shake of his head. She read his eyes as his hand slipped from hers. His breath rattled once more and then fell still. She buried her face in William’s surcoat as grief ripped sobs from her.

A shadow flew over her, casting her into momentary inky oblivion as it blocked out the moonlight which managed to shine through the storm. “Mordecai,” Marie thought. She never trusted the beauty of his sculpted face, the perfect long black hair, or his ostentatious clothing. Evil unmasked itself tonight.

She sucked in a deep breath, found her calm center, and placed a farewell kiss upon lips painted in black blood. She rose to face William’s murderer.

“How touching,” Mordecai sneered as he dismounted. He whispered a command and the rain ceased. “Now ye wilt obey and come to me.”

Marie did not let his gaze capture hers. Instead, she looked beyond him. The light of her ancestral home mocked her, but the gentle kick of the child in her womb gave her courage. The vampire was not the only one with power.

She closed her eyes and spread her arms, letting her spirit seek the magic in her soul. She felt Mordecai’s approach, but erected a sphere of pure white light.

“Mother goddess hearest mine prayer,

An woman wronged, an woman in despair…”

The vampire hissed and stepped back as if burned. “Ye darest defy me!” he growled.

She continued, ignoring his shrieked curses which rose in crescendo like a tortured cat.

“Bringest thine power;

Bringest thine care.

Rightest wrong, healest despair.

Justice riseth, justice reigneth.

With thine power, justice bringeth.”

She repeated the chant, as the creature’s power pressed in on hers, pounded, sought entrance past the light, and then stopped in the midst of the third repetition. The last word of her protection spell twisted into a scream as something grasped her ankle.  She looked down. William’s corpse stared at her with glassy vacant eyes. She wrenched her leg from its grasp, falling backward. The impact knocked the wind out of her, but she scrambled to put as much distance between herself and the abomination as she could.

The thing that had been her husband struggled to rise; its arms and legs not quite working in tandem. She suspected her spell, although not quite complete, held enough strength to diminish the vampire’s control.

As she scuttled backward her back hit the fallen log. A branch swayed above her head. Keeping her eye on the corpse as it gained enough balance to rise to one knee; she reached above her head and using all her weight snapped off the branch at its base. She stood and swung the heavy branch with all of her might, striking the corpse in the head, knocking it to the ground. With a wild cry she thrust the branch downward into the exposed chest, staking it through the heart.

Beyond the sphere of protection, Mordecai bellowed in outrage and what Marie prayed was pain.

Thunder rumbled in her ears, but after a moment she discerned the steady pounding of hooves approaching at a fast gallop.

“Ye shalt regret thine choice all thine life,” Mordecai hissed.

Marie stared at the face of her beloved and her mind fractured as Mordecai’s evil enfolded her.

“I suffer thee to live an reap thine reward.” His voice carried on the wind, stealing the light from her soul as it ensconced her in a prison of darkness.

She fell to her knees, her strength gone and her spirit shrinking with every word that whispered on the wind.

“Henceforth all daughters of thine bloodline shall suffer loss as thee hast. Ne shalt love abide without death.”

A banshee wail rent the night air, but the part of Marie that knew the cry came from her could not rise from the abyss of despair.

 

 

Just around the corner

Fall creeps in with little pounces and playful peek-a-boo days. You blink, and much like my little black kitten, it disappears and you wonder if you imagined the cool winds and crisp air while humidity wraps you up in a sauna of ninety degree heat. Yesterday I ran the A/C in the car. Today I’m wearing a sweater. I glance at the calendar and realize September is marching along at a brisk pace. I already have Halloween costume requests from Miss Drama. She wants to be a wolf.I wonder if she’ll change her mind when she finds out wolves do not accessorize.

Perhaps it’s the season, or the weather, or maybe the fact that the last two books I read were horror, a genre I rarely read. No matter the cause, I have the urge to write something dark and eerie. I’m far more often the type for happy endings, rainbows, and sunshine, but not always. As I’ve gotten a bit older, I find I have an inner goth that enjoys escapades into the dark and deadly realm. Seeing as how I am sane and not inclined to pursue a life of crime, daredevil activities, and have yet to stumble upon a vampire (sparkly or otherwise), my excursions are of the literary variety. Horror or dark fiction on the screen, unless it’s along the lines of a Hitchcock movie, usually does not appeal to me. I enjoy the way a book allows you free reign to create the monsters versus the blood and gore Hollywood prefers to sell.

I have a story brewing in my mental cauldron and wish to pose a question. Do you prefer horror which ends on a hideous mournful note, or the kind where the hero plunges through ghastly circumstances, but takes out the monster*?

*Monster- whatever nemesis, real or imagined that the hero comes into conflict with.