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An Interview With Ron Malfi About His Latest Horror Masterpiece, LITTLE GIRLS

I know it’s only August, but I’m locking in my vote for best horror novel of the year – Ron Malfi‘s haunting tale, LITTLE GIRLS. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen (that number increases when I’m not frothing at the mouth) that if they read one scary book in 2015, this is the one.

The fact that Ron and I are authorly blood brothers, sharing two publishers, should actually work against this. I know the dude. He’s a Tasmanian Devil of nuttiness and talent. Sometimes, the more you know someone, the harder it is to be sucked into their story, separating the man or woman from the tale of terror. Not so with Little Girls. From the first chapter, I knew I was walking wondrous paths carved out by writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King. It’s that good.

You can follow his blog tour by visiting Hook of a Book publicity. Erin has put together a hell of a tour.

So, as a special treat for me and you, I wrestled Ron to the ground long enough to ask him a few questions about his book, process and future plans. Pick up Little Girls right after reading the interview and you can thank me later. And if you see Ron at a con, don’t be alarmed when he shouts at you to buy a book or move on. :)


First, Little Girls was wonderful. As I was reading it, I was constantly reminded of books like Ghost Story, The Haunting of Hill House and Bag o Bones. What were your inspirations when it came time to sit down and write the book. Did you grow up next door to a demented girl?
You’re on the right track. Foremost in my mind was Straub’s novel JULIA, plus some of the other more paced, atmospheric horror books from around that time–Blatty’s THE EXORCIST, Levin’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, books like that. I’ve always loved the feel of those novels, they come across so natural and domestic and simple yet with this pulsing vein of pure horror running through them. Alas, I did not grow up next to a demented girl when I was younger, but the house around which the story is centered is based loosely on one in my current neighborhood, a spectacular brick structure set off one of the main roads and veiled behind trees, complete with the belvedere on the roof, just like in the novel.
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What’s the elevator pitch for Little Girls? 
Young girl next door befriends Laurie’s daughter, and the girl is the spitting image of a child who used to torment Laurie when she was younger…a girl who died tragically.
In this day and age, it’s all about being loud and fast and grabbing the reader by the throat, which makes what you’ve done with Little Girls and The Floating Staircase so admirable. What we call quiet horror today was just called damn good story telling not so long ago. Do you find it more difficult to craft a tale and build tension in a ‘quiet horror’ novel? Were there moments when you were tempted to throw in a little madness? 
Each story lives in its own world. I’m not against a more frenetic pace, to spill copious amounts of blood across the page–my novels SNOW and THE NARROWS have some pretty nasty little scenes–but other stories just don’t insist on that style, that treatment. LITTLE GIRLS is perhaps the “quietest” novel I’ve written to date, and I think, given the subject matter and the tone I was going for, it needed to be. For the most part, reader reviews of the novel have been very good, but there are always a handful of readers who will bemoan the slower pace of the novel, or perhaps not understand what I wanted to do with it. I’ll be the first to admit it–if you’re looking for blood and guts, over-the-top supernatural horror, scenes that will make you squirm and jump in your seat, this is not the book for you. You are not my audience for this book, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m going for the long-term chilling effect, not the jump scare, in other words. Yet ironically, I think this is the darkest novel I’ve ever written, and the revelations at the end of the book, at least to me, are more gut-wrenching than anything gory or supernatural. It’s a quiet novel but it’s a terrible novel in its revelations, something that, in the hands of the right reader, will leave you with more than just a slight sense of discomfort.
When Ron Malfi sits down to write, what do we see in his corner of the house? Is there cigar smoke trailing to the ceiling, whiskey on ice, Madonna playing quietly in the background, dancing elves on the shelves? 
Ha!  You know, my process has changed over the years, particularly after I’ve had kids. Used to be I’d wear my lucky “writing shirt,” sip Dewar’s scotch on ice, and listen to Springsteen on the CD player. I’d write like that for hours, coming up for air only when I was hungry or had to use the bathroom. Now, I lean more toward mugs of coffee instead of scotch, Dave Brubeck or Elmo Hope on the CD player instead of Springsteen (or maybe no music at all, depending on my mood). The walls of my writing office is lined, floor to ceiling, with books, so it’s fairly inspirational to glance up and look around and find yourself surrounded by countless brilliant authors.
How many publishers are you currently working with and what’s coming next? I ask because you and I share a couple and it would be nice to see if we could hit them all before we hang up our laptops.  
At the moment, I’m under contract with Kensington for three books, the first of which is LITTLE GIRLS. Those are my only contractual obligations at this point. I’d had my eyes on Kensington for quite a while, and when I finished LITTLE GIRLS, I knew it would be a good book for them. They’ve got a strong horror and thriller line–as you know, having published a couple of books with them yourself–and I wanted to test out my work with them. I discussed this with my agent and she put me through to an editor there, who read the book and loved it. As for other current publishers, I work with Cemetery Dance, who publishes my limited hardcover editions–DECEMBER PARK was just released from CD in a stunning leather-bound edition and they’ll be releasing the limited edition of LITTLE GIRLS, too. I work with a handful of foreign publishers for the translations, too. I’ve published several novellas with DarkFuse, and will probably continue to do so in the future. I’m not under any specific contract with them, and will send Shane (the publisher) novellas from time to time, whenever I feel I’ve written something worthy of publication. There’s less pressure to produce that way, which means the stuff that I’m getting published through DarkFuse is, at least in my eyes, of high quality. As for what’s coming next, 2016 will see the publication of my novel THE NIGHT PARADE. It’s an end-of-the-world novel, which is something I never actively set out to write or ever thought I would, but at its heart, it’s really about the relationship between a father and his young daughter, who are on the run from the government for mysterious reasons. I’m very excited about it.

The Aliens Are Here! Interview with BOOM TOWN Author Glenn Rolfe1

It’s time to put on your tin foil hats and settle down in the bunker. Today, for your listening and viewing pleasure, the Monster Men interview Samhain author Glenn Rolfe to talk about his latest release, Boom Town. Glenn is a horror author in Maine (I think there’s some other guy up there who does stuff like that) and a real up-and-comer. Now first, check out the interview :

Here’s what Boom Town is about :

Terror from below!

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

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

Now, this is why I love my job. I got an advanced copy of Boom Town from Glenn. I’m not sure if he was fully aware of my alien invasion obsession. So little did he know, I was already hooked by the premise, big time. Boom Town is set in a small, out of the way town, so you immediately get that sense of isolation, which always amps up the creep factor. Most of the main characters are kids in their teens, so folks who grew up loving It can rejoice.

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Glenn wastes no time diving right in. I will say that this isn’t your typical alien invasion tale. There are no grays or reptilians skulking around, probing anuses and trying to gain world domination. Think of this more as The Blob on steroids. Snappy prose and non-stop action make this a real fun read. Take me to your leader, if that leader is Glenn Rolfe!

Alien Abduction Ain’t For The Weak

Why do I love alien stories so much? I swear I was abducted years ago. I do have a missing time moment from the late 80s. Can’t remember if I’d had too much to drink at the time.

Anyway, I recently came across Robert Dunn’s alien abduction novel, Behind the Darkness, and wanted to jump up and cheer. Finally, an alien novel that gave me the action and chills I’ve always wanted. Robert was kind enough to answer my fan boy questions. If aliens are your thing, buy this book now!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for all things alien. Your book, Behind the Darkness, is an alien abduction thriller that literally creeped me out. Please tell everyone a little about the book.

Behind The Darkness was imagined as Night of the Living dead with aliens rather than zombies. It grew quite a bit beyond that but I think that core, survivors trapped in a house by something unknowable but relentless and dangerous, is still there. Beyond that there was a love of the possibilities of alien abduction stories but a dissatisfaction with the ones I read. I didn’t want psychology, I wanted action. I hope I struck a balance between the alien terrors of the unknown controlling a life
and the survivor story of resistance against impossible odds. By the way, I am so proud that you said it creeped you out. That was exactly the kind of vibe I wanted to give and I always appreciate hearing that it works for someone.

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The ending leaves things open for a sequel. Is there one in the works?

There isn’t yet one in the works but I wanted the possibility there. There is a lot more that could happen with this story. That being said Behind The Darkness is a connected story. It takes place in the same world as my novel, The Dead Ground. Like a certain star writer sets horror stories in Maine and several mystery writers stake out locals like the desert southwest or Louisiana, I wanted to use my roots and develop a world in which the Missouri, Ozarks are the home of dark mysteries and terrors. I’m a redneck Lovecraft at heart, I guess. In The Dead Ground the characters are aware of strange events that had taken place a few miles away on the Duncan Ranch and dismissive of the idea of aliens even as they fight the undead and interdimensional tentacle monsters from caves filled with stars. Writing is fun isn’t it?

How did your fascination with aliens and the abduction phenomena start?

The stories really started becoming mainstream and coalescing around certain tropes in the early ’70’s when I was a kid reading everything weird and wonderful I could get my hands on. I had read about Barney and Betty Hill then saw the movie, The UFO Incident, based on their story. In 1985 I was approached by another writer who had a friend with a development deal for a movie but no idea beyond wanting to do something scary. That was when I started on this story in earnest but the flow for the film deal was going in the direction of undersea monsters. It had been ten years but people still wanted to do the next Jaws. I packed my ideas away and along came Whitley Strieber’s books about visitors. He never said alien but he added a layer to the idea of aliens and the mental terrors of abduction. I stewed some more.

You’re also a film producer. Which is harder, working in film or the lonely business of writing?

Writing definitely. There is no one to delegate to or lean on. When you are creating a filmed program any number of people can save you and probably will from the lighting guy that sets the kind of mood you didn’t know you needed with one well placed instrument to the editor or sound person that puts their stamp down and makes everything more. When I write novels or stories it is all on me. A good editor will improve things but it won’t even get that far if you haven’t done the heavy lifting already.

OK, I know I’m a freak who has watched just about every alien abduction movie ever made. Have you watched any yourself and which is your favorite?

I have probably seen them all too. It’s great living in the age of accessible media. I don’t have a favorite exactly because I always wanted more than any of them give. Details. Violence. Action. The movies are actually why I felt I had stewed enough and wrote my story. I wanted to take all those great elements, abduction, the aliens that had become an established even traditional monster, mutilations, hybridization, disbelieving, even hostile authorities, and make the best, scariest story I could.

Whitley Strieber’s book, Communion, seemed to start an industry. What are your thoughts on his work in the abduction vein? Is he in touch with ET, a higher plane, or delusional?

I’ve read that Strieber intentionally referred to Visitors to avoid defining them as aliens. He wanted to leave their origins open. Unfortunately, once an idea is out there we lose control of it and he ended up creating an entire alien mythos. As to the reality, I have issues. I am a narcoleptic. An aspect of that is vivid dreaming and a breakdown between the waking/dreaming state. It has happened many times that I have become aware but still under sleep paralysis. Both dreams and imaginings can become very real in those times and if you can’t move or speak the imaginings that come are rarely pleasant. So in my personal experience there are explanations for being under paralysis and feeling threatened by an evil presence. I tend to think that other people have reasonable explanations as well. That being said, I think Mr. Strieber has made our culture a little richer and provided a good living for himself.

Please let everyone know where to find you and your work and what’s coming up next.

Well of course you can find Behind The Darkness and The Dead Ground on Amazon and feel free to go in through my author’s page. http://www.amazon.com/Robert-E.-Dunn/…

By the way, Behind The Darkness just got it’s first review on Amazon, five stars from a top 500 reviewer. I’m happy about that.

Both of those books are published by the good folks at Severed Press. Everyone should check them out for great reads. http://www.severedpress.com/

I’ll let you in on a secret but just a hint- I have another book out and doing well under a pen name. The surprise, it’s a spicy romance. I challenge everyone to track me down. Coming up, there are two new horror novels. The Red Highway is an alternate history urban fantasy about an ancient god provoking the LA riots to cause the sacrifice of a child. The Harrowing is about a mercenary sent to hell to rescue an innocent. No one is innocent and the one lesson he learns is, never trust an angel. Red Highway is currently under requested publisher submission and Harrowing is making the rounds of some great agents.

Beyond that, I blog erratically at http://robertdunnauthor.blogspot.com/ You’ll find a fun story and the first chapter of The Dead Ground there. I tweet more regularly. Feel free to come say hi there, @WritingDead. Thanks again for the chance to share and connect with your readers.

Why You Shouldn’t Write Horror

Yes, that little piece of advice did come out of my mouth when I was on Jason Brant’s DRINKING WITH JASON. Jason’s a kick ass author as well who drives in the horror lane. He has a great concept for his show. He asked me what my favorite drink is at the moment, which for some reason has been Rolling Rock beer. We then sat down with a sixer and shot the shit for over an hour. During the show, we talk about our writing, movies, why The Shining is great as a book and a movie, true ghost stories and why Mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be horror writers. You don’t need Rolling Rock to enjoy the episode, but it can never hurt!

Jason also interviewed my Monster Men co-host, Jack Campisi. Check this out for sheer hilarity.

An Interview With Kristopher Rufty On His Dog Gone Bad Novel – JAGGER

I love being a horror writer. Sometimes, it afford little perks, like not only getting to know an awesome writer (and human being) like Kristopher Rufty, but also getting a sneak peek at his latest book.

The book in question this time is JAGGER, a tale about an enormous dog who goes from cuddly to bat crap crazy. When I was done, I actually said, “Cujo who?” out loud. This is one you’ll want to devour in one sitting.


Let me start off by saying I loved your new book, Jagger. Why don’t you tell folks what this nail biter is about?

Thank you so much! I’m happy you enjoyed it. Coming from you, that means a lot. I’m a huge fan of your work as well. Jagger is about a scumbag named Clayton who takes Amy Snider’s mastiff to use in some dogfights. His showpiece pit was killed in a fight and cost some very bad people a lot money. He knows if he doesn’t come up with something quick, he’ll suffer the same fate as others before him. But the problem is Jagger is a domesticated canine, and his size wouldn’t be the only thing that could keep him alive in the fights. So Clayton enlists the help of an old friend named Stan, a medical school graduate who’s turned to developing meth and experimental drugs in his basement for help. Stan has whipped up a special kind of steroid that he sells to beef farmers and they try it out on Jagger. It works. But the side-effects are disastrous. Jagger can no longer feel pain, and he suffers from violent outbursts, rage, and insanity. Take that, and add in an abusive dog trainer, Jagger becomes the Jason Voorhees of dogs. Once he breaks loose from his captors, he goes on a bloody killing spree as he tries to find his way home.

I wrote the first draft of this book in less than six weeks. In the revision process, I changed very little. Though it got a little intense writing certain scenes, I had a good time with this one. It was one of those books I couldn’t stay away from. Being a lover of nature-gone-wrong books and movies, I tried to incorporate some of that with some classic exploitation-style characters and situations. Hopefully I succeeded.

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I know you’re a dog owner. Is there a particular dog you had that inspired Jagger?

I based a lot of Jagger’s traits and mannerisms before he goes mad on our dog, Thor. The personality, the huffing and puffing and sagging jowls that make propeller sounds, the unlimited supply of drool, the crawling into bed with you and nuzzling his wet nose into the nook of your neck—all of that came from Thor.

Jagger’s appearance was inspired by a dog I saw at the vet’s office one day. Sitting in the waiting area with Thor, I watched as he took pride in being the biggest dog around. Thor ways close to 135 pounds, so there aren’t many dogs bigger than him at any vet visit. On this day, that changed. A guy entered with this beast of a dog. He had thick brown and black fur, a scrunched up face that sort of resemble a Chow. Thor went to greet this dog and looked like a puppy standing next to its mother in this dog’s presence. I got to talking to with the owner and he told me his dog was a fuzzy mastiff, a form of bullmastiff but with longer hair. I found it slightly humorous how much the dog resembled Mick Jagger. On the way home that day, I kept thinking what would happen if that dog turned on its owner and the seeds for Jagger was planted.

I read up about mastiffs. They’re very gentle in nature, loving, and overly affectionate. So I had to work a bit at coming up with something that might make such a tender animal turn violent.

You’re not just a horror writer, you’re a director, too. Which hat is more difficult to wear? Do you have any future movie making plans?

They can be difficult in their own ways. In movies, I have to be a leader of a team and it’s my duty to make sure the movie is made with this team the best way it possibly can be. I have budgets to adhere to, actors to instruct and care for, and a certain number of scenes have to be filmed on a particular day or I’ll get behind schedule and risk throwing a wrench into all the aforementioned duties. But when it’s over and filming has wrapped, I get to take my footage and cut it together into my creation. That is the best part, seeing the fruit of everyone’s labors. The stress and bad moods of filming become a distant memory as I watch what we worked so hard to accomplish in a finished form. It’s a wonderful feeling that makes the entire process a wonderful experience.

Writing can bring its own stresses at times, but there is something therapeutic about writing stories that can’t be topped by film-making, at least not the kind of film-making I’m used to. Writing is magic, not only are you creating a world to play in, but there’s no budget sheets to worry about, nobody will throw a temper tantrum, nobody can get hurt (other than the characters) and you are completely limitless as to what you can do. It’s amazing. One of the greatest blessings I’ve been given is the chance to write stories.

For future movies, I wish I could say there are things lined up. I’ve been writing book after book, and haven’t had much time to pursue movies since we finished Rags (which will be released this year from Wild Eye Releasing). My dream was to be like Clive Barker—somebody who dabbles in both. And one day I hope that will happen again. But for now, I’m very happy with just writing fiction.

Some of my books have received interest from film-makers and producers. And I have a script that I wrote based on my novella Last One Alive. That movie might be my return to the director’s chair in the near future.

But nothing can take my love away from movies. The passion is still there, a burning sensation in my heart. I still watch all the movies I’ve loved since I was a kid on a regular basis. Roger Corman, H.G. Lewis, AIP classics, and the exploitation greats. Plus the splatter movies that set me on this path to begin with.

You’ve written quite a few books in just several years. How do you keep the writing wheels going?

I keep those wheels lubed! Seriously. There’s material all over that I can find influence in. Like with Jagger, the dog at the vet that day inspired an entire novel with the help of our dog Thor. My son inspired Proud Parents. My stepsister inspired Tracey in Oak Hollow. A close call at my old job inspired Angel Board. I’m sure this happens to you as well, something will just trigger your brain and these massive mortal shells start exploding ideas. Sometimes it can be a conversation you have with someone that just stays with you. My personal fears have inspired a good bit of my writing and still do. I just do a lot of people watching, read a lot of books, magazines, newspapers. I watch a lot of true crime and monster mysteries on TV. Material is everywhere. You know as well as I do that we never take a day off. Sure, we don’t sit down and write once in a while, but our gears are always cranking, always spinning possibilities for stories in our minds, even when we’re sleeping.

What’s one thing you’d like to check off your bucket list this year?

I want to finally read some of King’s The Dark Tower series. I know what you’re thinking, but please don’t beat me! I haven’t read any of those books yet.(We’re both in the same boat. They are some of the only King books I haven’t read!)

My wife swears they’re some of his best. I promised her I would read the first three this year. I’m actually about to start on The Gunslinger here soon and plan to read the following two this summer and fall. We have them all in both paperback and hardback, so they’re waiting on me and I’m excited to start.

I’m going to go opposite on this question – what’s your least favorite horror movie franchise and why?

Probably either the Paranormal Activity series or Zombie’s Halloween movies. I watched the first Paranormal and thought it was pretty well done, but the sequels were just mundane and repetitive. The fourth one was silly.

Zombie’s Halloween saga was just bad for all the wrong reasons. He did something you shouldn’t—tried to explain evil. It can’t be explained. That was what made Myers so scary in the first place. There was no method to his madness, no reason for it. Myers was just evil on two legs as Dr. Loomis stated in the original series. An unstoppable force that slaughtered anything in front of him without provocation, a wildfire that can’t be extinguished as it scorches everything in its wake. But I do give him credit for trying. He has a brass pair for tackling a classic character like Michael Myers and trying to make him his own.

Do you think you could beat Stephen King in an arm wrestling match?

Probably not. I’d be so distracted by being in his company that he’d use it to his advantage for the win. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed I’d lost until he’d left the room and I came down from my King-induced high.

Tell the world what’s coming next and where to find you and your books.

The Lurking Season just came out. It’s a sequel to The Lurkers. Jagger will be released in a couple weeks, with Bigfoot Beach following. The Vampire of Plainfield comes out this summer, and Desolation follows that. Thunderstorm Books are doing limited edition hardcovers of Bigfoot Beach and The Vampire of Plainfield, but they’ll also be available in e-book with a paperback following soon after.

My books can be found in a lot of the usual places, sometimes books stores too. I recently heard that some of my titles are in a few libraries, which I think is amazing. I love libraries and even now I get that same kind of nervous excitement whenever I’m scouring the shelves for something I haven’t read. It’s a feeling we should all get to experience as much as possible.

Thanks a lot, Hunter! I appreciate the chance to visit your blog. It’s always a fun time. Can’t wait to get together again and talk about writing, monsters, and horror movies.

You can follow Krist’s amazing journey at lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com . And if you crave some Jagger, click on the cover copy above.

Guest Author Glenn Rolfe Finds His Inspiration

Glenn Rolfe is the newest addition to the Samhain horror roster and further proof that Samhain is publishing the best new talent around. His book, Abram’s Bridge, comes from a very special place. Read on to discover where…


Abram’s Bridge is my first piece with Samhain Publishing. I wrote it in the fall of 2013 when my writing group, Tuesday Mayhem Society, decided we should each write up a ghost story for the next meeting. I went home and sat down with my notebook. Nothing happened. I knew I wanted to write something really good. I wanted to impress the group, ya know? So, I threw on my headphones and found some Bruce. Bruce Springsteen’s album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, always has a way of getting my mind set right. I’ve listened to the title track a thousand times, but this time, I heard something in it that I’d never noticed before. There’s a line that says, “tell her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge, and tell her there’s a darkness on the edge of town…” I said, “Whoa…”

I started scribbling.

I set Bruce on repeat and moved to my laptop. The story started to fall from wherever we writers reach to and I just went with it. It felt like real magic. It felt somehow special. Every free moment I got over the next few days, I jumped back in. I couldn’t wait to get back to my computer, to these characters, to their story. I had to know what was going to happen next. Somewhere along the way it became more than a simple ghost story. It outgrew the short story parameters I had originally set it in. I missed my writing group’s meeting and our self-imposed deadline. Something scary happened. A mystery developed and I stopped. I’m normally a pretty fearless writer. I let my characters live and breathe and do whatever the hell they want. I let my stories turn whichever way the like, but I had never written a mystery. Regardless, I knew that’s the way this story wanted to go. So, after an evening of staring at the blinking cursor, I said to hell with it. I reached back in and the rest of the story poured out.

AbramsBridgeWhen I finished, I knew I had something.

Bruce Springsteen, to me, has always been the most inspiring figure in the arts. Listening to his songs, his stories behind those songs and those albums, his reason for creating his art…it’s always moved me, motivated me. Abram’s Bridge is the first piece I thought actually had a touch of the Boss’s magic attached to it. If I’d never sold this story, it would still be special to me. Luckily, Don from Samhain enjoyed it as much as I did, and here we are.

I hope you’ll download a copy of this novella. I hope you’ll take a couple of hours and meet Lil’ Ron Sawyer and Sweet Kate, the girl out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge. I hope you’ll fall into their story and feel the magic like I did. There is darkness, but that’s often where we find our way to the light.

Cheers!

-Glenn

Merry Deadly Christmas – An Interview with Author Matt Manochio

OK, I’m jumping the gun here, bypassing Thanksgiving and diving right into Christmas. I have a very good reason. Author Matt Manochio’s new book, THE DARK SERVANT, has dropped just in time to savage the Christmas season. I sat down to talk with Matt (both at the bar at Chiller Theatre and back home) about his book, path to publication and lollipops. This is a book you definitely want to pick up. Anyone that introduces me to a new monster is one badass of a dude.


Ok, let’s set the table for this here sit-down. Your debut novel with Samhain, The Dark Servant, unleashes on the world on Novermber 4th. Tell us about the book.

Thanks Hunter! I’m guessing your readers have heard of Krampus, but for those who have not, Krampus, in European folklore, is a huge, hairy devil who serves as Saint Nicholas’s (yes, Santa Claus’s) dark half. Saint Nick rewards the good kids and farms out the bad ones to Krampus, who disciplines the brats in a myriad of horrible ways. I set my Krampus loose in northern New Jersey where he goes after a town’s hideous high school bullies—but there’s certainly more to it than that.DarkServant_The_v4

 

Where did you come up with the idea for the terrifying creature in The Dark Servant? The cover is absolutely amazing. Is it exactly how you pictured it in your mind?

I had never heard of Krampus until two years ago when my boss asked me if I knew of this monster. (He’d never heard of him either and knew I was into kooky pop culture stuff.) I was 37 at the time and couldn’t believe this thing slipped by me. It’s such a wonderful myth. And fortunately it’s been largely unexplored in American fiction. (Think about all the vampire, zombie and werewolf books that flood the market.) So while European storytelling created the legend of Krampus, I created my own walking, talking, irreverent version of the monster. And I couldn’t be happier with the results. As for the cover, I originally wanted the artist to show less of the monster. I wanted to give the creature its form or profile, if you will, but still allow for the reader to paint his or her own picture of Krampus—eyes, snout, fangs, etc. But don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the cover (Samhain has great artists working for them) and the staff absolutely took my input not just on what the monster looked like, but on background (spooky, wintery forest), and font style and color.

You and I had a very similar path to publishing. Let folks know the highs and lows you experienced and how perseverance and good storytelling wins in the end.

For those who don’t know, Hunter and I were victims of the Dorchester Publishing collapse. I wrote in depth about my struggle for Writer’s Digest. But in short, however fantastic you feel upon getting that first book deal, which I got (and saw vanish) in 2010, research the publisher. I had no idea Dorchester was on its last legs and doomed for bankruptcy. The company laid off my editor months after I signed the deal for a straight crime thriller. I stayed in touch with my editor, who landed at Samhain not long after Dorchester’s fall, and when I got the idea for The Dark Servant, he was the first person I contacted and he encouraged me to go for it. So if you make connections in this business, keep them! Remain on good terms. Also as important, I kept writing. I was literally down in the dumps for a day when I realized I wouldn’t be published with Dorchester, but that was it. One day in August 2010. After that I took the outlook that if my work could sell once, it could sell again. You must keep a positive attitude in this business.

What are some of your favorite horror books and movies?

Movies:

  1. An American Werewolf in London
  2. John Carpentar’s The Thing
  3. Halloween

Books:

  1. ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
  2. Monster by Frank Perreti (not a favorite, but it heavily influenced me)
  3. Jurassic Park (ok, it’s not strictly horror, but it is among my favorites)

If you had to be chased down by Jason Voorhees or eaten by Jaws, which would you pick and why?

Jason Voorhees hands down. Jason could at least end my misery quickly. Did you see how much agony Quint was in when Jaws got ahold of him?

 

What’s your biggest fear? Have you tried to conquer it and failed, or do you just accept it for what it is?

This is a hard question to answer. If you’re talking phobias, I hate heights and don’t think I can ever conquer that fear. If you’re talking real-world every-day fears, it’s rather bland but important nonetheless: being able to provide for my family and hopefully putting my son through college. He’s 3 now, but they grow up quickly, and I’m terrified to think of what college tuition will cost in 15 years.

 

Do you have a favorite space to write? What’s the strangest place you’ve found yourself writing?

My favorite writing spot is sitting cross-legged on my bed. I don’t have a desk. Strangest place I’ve ever written something? I was a journalist once upon a time, and in 2008 I wrote an article for USA Today on my Blackberry about an AC/DC concert during the concert. (Go to my website if you’d like to read it. I linked to it.)
If you had to guess, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? (and you can’t say three, because that cartoon cheated!)

At least 100, especially if you work all angles of the pop. Just a guess.
Which do you think is better, the original The Thing from Another World, or John Carpenter’s The Thing?

John Carpenter’s The Thing, and not just because of the special effects, which were groundbreaking at the time. It was a well-cast movie, too. But the biggest reason I like it is because Carpenter’s version was more faithful to John Campbell’s short story, on which the movie is based.

What’s coming up next for you?

I’m waiting to hear back from my editor on revisions I made to a second book. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we can sign a deal. I don’t want to say too much about it other than it’s a supernatural Western set in South Carolina during Reconstruction. I’ve got an idea for another book that I intend to start after this publicity tour dies down in mid-December. I’m taking off the last two weeks of the year and cannot wait to dive into writing (which I’m finding less and less time to do—toddlers have a way of sapping up your time).

About Krampus:

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

Matt tour graphic 1

 

The Dark Servant, Synopsis

Santa’s not the only one coming to town …

It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!” — Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!” — Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.” — Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!” — David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” — Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.” — Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.” — Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.” — John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.” — Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.” — Jon McGoran, author of Drift

Matt Manochio, Biography

MattHeadshot

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

The Best Pumpkin Beer For #Horrortober And Everything In Between

Sometimes as a Monster Man, you just have to bite the bullet for the greater good. Fall is here and the shelves are bursting with dozens of different seasonal pumpkin beers to choose from. Jack and I ponied up to the bar and did some taste tests to let you know what to run out and buy and what to avoid. Let me tell you, it was a way better experience than our monster wine taste test. Find out who rules #Horrortober!

Naturally, this is my favorite month, the time when I have all the irons in the fire and surround myself with all things horrific. I’m watching at least 1 horror movie a day and posting them on Twitter with the hashtag #Horrortober. I’m also posting some quick reviews on what I’m watching and reading over at The Monster Men blog.

Two of my books, SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE and THE MONTAUK MONSTER, were just named in Horror Novel Reviews 100 Scariest Books of All Time. If you’re a horror reader, check out the list and see how many you’ve got under your belt.

Speaking of Swampy, a review of the audiobook was just posted at Reading Between the Wines (my favorite way to read!). I think they dug it. I mean, who doesn’t love a good, murderous skunk ape tale?

Hell Hole

There’s a new review of my terror-filled western, HELL HOLE, over at the blog for Lindsey R. Loucks. We also did a fun, unique Q&A. Interviewers take note! She was truly original. I have a special I’ll be running for Hell Hole next week, so stay tuned.

Last but far from least, I was also happy to be on the return episode of POD OF HORROR, where we talked about The Montauk Monster and some of my upcoming projects. An awesome podcast that you should be checking out. Plus, they love Jonathan Janz, so they’re my kind of peeps.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you should be properly rewarded. For those living in the US, send me an email at huntershea1@gmail.com with the subject : 100 Scary Books. Let me know the scariest book you ever read. I’ll pick 2 people at random to win a signed copy of The Montauk Monster.

A Two-Part Interview with Horror Meister – Jonathan Janz

To say we here at Monster Men central have been working hard to have legend-in-the-making author Johnathan Janz on the show is putting it mildly. So we figured once we had our claws in him, we weren’t letting go until we had enough for two episodes! In part 1, we talk about his latest horror thriller, EXORCIST ROAD, as well as everything else in the Janz growing library. JJ is the goods and also one of the nicest guys in the biz. I have to admit, he’s my writer brother from another mother. Here’s a great chance to see and hear the man behind the tales of terror. I do believe this may be the first video interview with the man who likes to spin our nightmares.

 

In part 2, we focus on vampires, both in books and movies. His spring release, DUST DEVILS, is one of the best vampire books to mosey along the Ponderosa and naturally made us gravitate toward the bloodsuckers. We know how much you all dig your vamps. Enjoy!

Author Keith Rommel On His Latest Novel And Upcoming Movie

The Monster Men sucked Keith Rommel right back into our madness to kick off our series of interviews that will be posted through (and probably past) the Halloween season.

Now, you all know his first book, The Cursed Man, is being made into a movie (well, you do if you watched our previous interview with Keith). Aside from that, he’s released 2 more books this year – The Lurking Man &  Among the People, and has big, big plans for the future. There’s also an invitation for a future project that, if it happens, you can all say you were there when the seed was planted!

Watch on, little brothers and sisters and remember to turn the lights off…

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