With only 5 days until the release of my next book, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, I thought it was time to talk a little about my brave ghost warrior, Jessica Backman. This is her third book and it’s strange how life is starting to imitate art, years after art was created to imitate life.
It all started with my very first book, FOREST OF SHADOWS. When I wrote FOS, my two girls were toddlers. My oldest was just about the same age as Jessica in the book, 6. Naturally, characteristic traits of both girls were woven into the fiber of Jessica – curious, precocious, at times braves, other times unsure and afraid. My wife and I back then talked about having 4 kids, all girls if possible. Jessica had long been a frontrunner on our list of baby names. When my wife’s sister had a baby and named her Jessica, even before she knew I was writing about a little girl with the same name, well, it kind of seemed as if this little character had come to life and joined the family. I ended FOS on a pretty definitive note and thought, that’s that. Ain’t it cool that we now have an actual little Jessica in the family?
The book was done, years later it was published and I suddenly couldn’t stop thinking about Jessica. What would become of a little girl who’d seen so much? Where was she now? How would she look? How does she hide her scars? (and I was quietly happy that my niece Jessica had led a normal, uneventful life) When my editor asked me for my next project, I said I was going to write one where Jessica was the main character. I moved the story ahead 13 years so she was now 19, smart, witty, foul mouthed and following in her deceased father’s ghost (or as she says, EB) hunting footsteps. A person could go two ways after experiencing what she had in Alaska. They could never think or speak of the supernatural again, or they could press on, armed with the feeling that lightning never strikes twice. In SINISTER ENTITY, Jessica is pretty much a know-it-all badass with proof that there’s a whole new life after death and she isn’t afraid to chase down its secrets. And like all teens, she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does. Staring into the abyss without hesitation, something glares right back and it rocks her.
When I wrote SE, I had one girl in her teens and the other right behind her. My youngest was starting to gain an interest in the paranormal, just like Jessica. Both were unafraid of ghosts, mainly because we live with one. I don’t presume to know what it behind the unofficial fifth member of our family, but he’s here, just the same. As Jessica grew, so did they, and their personalities had started to meld.
With more tales to tell, I’ve brought Jessica back in ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN. Now in her early 20’s, she’s scared of herself and for the first time is afraid of both the worlds of the living and the dead. A grown woman now, she can’t just plow forward without thinking of the consequences. Once youth is lost, there is no getting it back. With that loss comes the flowering of fear.
And with age comes the complications of relationships with family, friends and for Jessica, a man. I see those girl-boy complications all the times with my girls. It makes me glad I’m not single!
In a strange way, Jessica has become a third daughter to us – albeit one who doesn’t need new clothes every season or leaves dirty dishes all around the house. She’s growing right along with my kids, though a little faster. I may have to slow her down so they call catch up. The best and most complicated parts of Jessica come from my own girls. And I do see them adopting some of her traits, even though they haven’t read the books (saving that for a couple of years from now). It’s fascinating to witness, and an honor to write. These 3 particular books have been the most personal to me. Art always intersects with life in some fashion. I’m excited to see where the family goes next.
Once again, Thanksgiving ruled. Great company, tons of food and my Seahawks won. Now, today is a day of rest for the Shea clan. I plan to do a lot of reading and work a tad on my novella.
For all you readers out there, today is a very special day for you. Samhain Publishing is having a huge Black Friday weekend sale, starting right now. Every single book in the store, print and ebook, is 30% off until Monday night.
So, if you’ve been on the fence about diving into the deep end of the horror pool, now’s your chance to take that leap.
You can catch up on any of my books you’ve missed for less than a cup of coffee. Here are the sweet deals waiting for you. Happy reading!
Hell Hole – ebook now $3.85, print $11.20
The Waiting – ebook now $2.45
Sinister Entity – ebook now $3.85, print $10.50
Swamp Monster Massacre – ebook now $2.45
Evil Eternal – ebook now $3.85, print $9.80
Forest of Shadows – ebook now $3.85, print $10.50
Great news. I was just informed that Forest of Shadows, the book that started it all, will be made into an audiobook! It will be available in 2015 – no definite date set yet. For you ghost fanatics out there, this is where the legend of ghost hunter Jessica Backman begins – a tale about her father staring into the abyss, searching for truths better left unsaid. This led to Sinister Entity and next year’s Island of the Forbidden.
I wish I could be the one to select who does the narration. Here are my top choices :
- Christopher Walken
- William Shatner
- Jef Bridges
- The Aflac duck
Who would you like to hear narrate the book?
If audio’s not your thing but you want to stock up on some spooky reading for Halloween, here’s what Forest of Shadows has in store for you –
The dead still hate!
John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.
Want to help me haunt the world?
For folks in the US only, spread the word about my novel, Sinister Entity, as well as the companion story, The Graveyard Speaks, on Twitter, Facebook, you name it, and you can win a Prize Pack that includes signed copies of my first two books, Forest of Shadows, & Evil Eternal. Think of it as advancing literacy and a love of the paranormal.
Here’s how you do it. If you’re on Twitter, tweet the books with a link to them (Amazon, B&N or Samhain) with the hashtag #HunterShea. Promote them on other social media platforms and send me the link either on my FB fan page (link to it on the right) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once I see it, you’re in the drawing.
The reviews right out of the gate have been fantastic. “A skillful blend of supernatural terror and blood-chilling suspense; the result is an intriguing and unique tale that will leave your heart pounding in your chest long after the final page has been closed.” — Matthew Scott Baker, Shattered Ravings Reviews
“Sinister Entity is a great, chilling ghost story with a satisfying twist on the usual. Sinister Entity – for a good scare, but keep the lights on.” — Fresh Fiction Reviews
One winner will be announced Friday, April 19th. And knowing me, I’ll have some extra goodies to give out.
***Congratulations to Gem Blackthorn who won signed copies of Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal! Thank you to everyone who participated. — Hunter
DOPPELGANGER : a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart.
Today marks the official release of my 4th novel with Samhain Publishing’s horror line, Sinister Entity. For those of you who read my debut novel in 2011, Forest of Shadows, this book will have a few familiar characters. It picks up where things left off, only 13 years later (love that lucky 13). If you didn’t read FOS, no worries. Sinister Entity was written to be a standalone novel, kicking off what I hope will be a terrifying series that delves into the darker realms of the paranormal.
Now, what does this all have to do with doppelgangers? It turns out, quite a few notable people in history, from Percy Shelley to Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, have had encounters with doppelgangers…sometimes with disastrous results. Doppelganger is German for ‘double walker’. It’s literally a paranormal double of a living person. The whole phenomenon has fascinated me for years. So I did what all writers do; created my own doppelganger and had it take one on.
Normally on a release day, I’d post an excerpt from the book to get you hooked like the crack dealer I am. This time around, I can do you one better. I wrote a short story that introduces the main character of Sinister Entity during her investigation of a wailing, shadowy ghost that haunts a snow filled cemetery. It’s called The Graveyard Speaks and here’s the best part. It’s free! Download your copy and if you want more, come on over and face the evil spirits in Sinister Entity.
But wait, there’s more! My book is being released alongside my buddy Jonathan Janz’s awesome new novel, The Darket Lullaby. To celebrate, the simply amazing Erin from Hook of a Book reviews is hosting a FB author Q&A on April 2nd between 9 and 11pm ET. Email questions to her at email@example.com and she’ll post them on FB. Jonathan and I will do our best to amuse and if needed, frighten you. Nothing is out of bounds. Seriously. Click here to Like the page and join the party.
I’m not done. Call within the next 10 minutes and you’ll get 4 Shamwows for the price of 1. Wait. Scratch that. What I meant to say is that I’m also giving away a signed copy of Forest of Shadows to a random person who comments on this blog post. If you live outside the US, I’ll send you an e-version of the book.
So come on, grab your voice recorders and a change of underwear. We’re going on a sinister ghost hunt.
Grant is gone. Amy’s home with her beautiful baby girl. New folks are attempting to fill some big shoes. And that’s not all of the changes we’ve seen on Ghost Hunters this season.
We all knew things would never be the same when Grant rode off to start his own board game company. For a lot of us, they haven’t been the same since they shipped Kris Williams off to GHI, never to return. (And boy, has GHI gotten an unceremonious burial at sea. I’d love to know the back story on that show). For my money, the best season was when it was just Jay, Grant, Steve, Tango and Kris. It was the perfect team size and they just clicked.
Along with the personnel changes this season came a totally fresh design to the show. From ditching Mike Rowe as the narrator in favor of Jay – who does an admirable job, to creepier music, slicker editing and even some quick recreations of spirits walking the halls, Ghost Hunters has a completely new look and feel. The Monster Men went through all of the new moving parts in our latest podcast that you can watch below.
I will say that overall, I think the changes were long overdue and breathe some new life into the show. I would like to see them investigate more homes and actually try to help people. I don’t get a sense of urgency when they visit another abandoned asylum. If it’s haunted, who cares? Just steer clear and everyone’s happy. And let’s stop giving hotels and restaurants a boost in foot traffic because they were featured on the show.
Now, I know that a lot of you that come to this blog and chain watch the show. What are your thoughts on the changes so far? Who do you miss more, Grant or Amy? Who are your favorite teams? Is it Britt and KJ, Jason and Steve, Michelle and Tango? Or how about Maddie and Jay? Since my new book, Sinister Entity, is coming out in a few weeks, I’ll give away a free copy of my first book, Forest of Shadows (Sinister Entity is the sequel) to a random person who comments on this post.
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’ve watched every episode since the start and I’ll be there until the end.
My editor at Samhain Publishing sent over the cover art for my upcoming story, THE GRAVEYARD SPEAKS, scheduled to be released April 2nd in tandem with my next novel, SINISTER ENTITY. I wanted to give you all a sneak peek at the cover.
In the parlance of my youth, I’m diggin’ it. THE GRAVEYARD SPEAKS is a 40 page short story that bridges the gap between FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY. It occurs 13 years after FOS in a dark, snow-encrusted graveyard. The dead are very much alive and even the caretakers avoid a certain section of the sprawling cemetery. This isn’t your typical ghost hunting adventure, I assure you.
I highly suggest you read it before diving into SINISTER ENTITY. You’ll get a cool insight into the events leading up to the novel. The best part is that it’s going to be FREE (at least at the start). So hop on over to Samhain and add the story and the book to your wish list. They haven’t loaded the cover art yet, but you can still easily find it.
It’s been a very strange week here in NY & CT where I live and work. We’re all trying to get in the holiday spirit, but the unthinkable events at Sandy Hook Elementary are never far from our thoughts. I had to write a blog of my publisher’s website on Monday. Hardest thing I ever had to write. You can read it here.
I NEED to be Santa today, in a small way, to help get me in the mood. So, I picked the winners from my previous Christmas post. Here are the winners and the booty you each get. Please email your address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can send everything out.
And the winners are:
- Jason Darrick : signed copy of Evil Eternal
- Kimmie : signed copy of Forest of Shadows
- Marinda Hatcher-Grindstaff : Swamp Monster Massacre T Shirt
- Erin (from Hook of a Book) : signed copy of Forest of Shadows
- Joe Pinto : signed copy of Evil Eternal
- Jennifer Mathis : e-copy of Swamp Monster Massacre
- Robert Stava : e-copy of Swamp Montser Massacre
- Paul Dail : e-copy of Swamp Monster Massacre
Now, if any of you who won signed books prefers e-books, let me know and I can easily accomodate. I never know what folks prefer.
Merry Christmas to all of you and a happy, healthy and wealthy New Year! And please spread the Christmas love by sharing the Monster Men Christmas episode with everyone you meet. :)
Ho, Ho Aaarrrrgggghh! ‘Tis the season of twinkling lights, the scent of pine, spiked egg nogg and paper cuts from wrapping presents. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy the Christmas season and make it a point to tell everyone ‘Merry Christmas’ as opposed to a non-committal, limp-wristed ‘Happy Holidays’. After I write this post, I’ll be on my way to putting up the lights around the house and ddoing a little shopping for the family.
Since I’ll be a very busy little beaver this month, I figured I’d post something that will remain relevant for the entire holiday season AND give away a bunch of stuff that you can put under the tree. Stick with me as I bounce around like a reindeer after 10 shots of tequila.
First, The Monster Men just put together our very first Christmas episode. We give our top 10 list of the baddest villains in Christmas special history. See how it matches up against yours!
In my house, we have a tradition of watching at least 1 Christmas special/movie a night from December 1st until Christmas Eve. Needless to say, we own a ton of Christmas DVDs and video tapes. I’m sure you all watch the standards like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Here’s a cartoon you may not have even heard of but should definitely become part of your viewing rotation.
My all time favorite Christmas cartoon is A Wish for Wings that Work, starring Opus and Bill the Cat (of Bloom County fame – the second best comic strip of all time, next to Calvin and Hobbes). All poor Opus wants for Christmas is the ability to fly. But his smelly sidekick Bill, he of the tater tot brains, accidently thwarts him at every turn. This is one the parents will love even more than the kids.
Now, on the MUCH more adult side, thanks to my Monster Brother, Jack, the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia : A Very Sunny Christmas has not only scarred me, but become an instant classic in my twisted home. If you’ve ever wanted to see Danny Devito naked or watch a man chew a mall Santa’s throat out while asking him he he effed his mom, this is a can’t miss!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, even though I write horror for a living, I do have a romantic side (or else I’d be a very lonely horror writer). For my money, hands down, the best Christmas movie ever made is Love Actually. Yes, it’s a movie about several interconnected love stories, but isn’t that what Christmas is realy all about? If you doubt the greatness of this movie, read the opening lines, then watch it.
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.
Now, on to the presents! I want to thank all of you for sticking with me over the past year by giving you some gifts. All you need to do is drop in a comment (and hopefully share this on Twitter, FB, etc). I’ll be giving away the following:
- A Swamp Monster Massacre T shirt!
- 2 signed copies & 1 digital copy of Forest of Shadows
- 2 signed copies & 1 digital copy of Evil Eternal
- 2 digital copies of Swamp Monster Massacre
- Loads of custom bookmarks
I’ll pick random winners on December 17th and send them out so you have them in time for Christmas.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!