Tag Archive | brian moreland

Your Horror-Paranormal Round Up for September

It’s been a tale of two summers here in New York. The first half felt like we were living on Mercury, and the second half was mild and sunny on the San Diego-ish side. I’m not a big fan of summer and I’m happy to see it go. Bring me colder, darker days and falling leaves and, most of all, let the true horror begin!

Here are a few things you should be looking out for to get in the mood.

Looking for a great Horror Con to attend? Why not try Rock & Shock in Worcester, MA (10/4-10/6), Spooky Empire in Orlando, FL (10/25-10/27) or, my favorite, Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, NJ (10/25-10/27). I’ll be at Chiller, as I am every year. Where else can you drink next to celebs, be surrounded by like minded maniacs, catch some indie movies, stock up on horror gear and have the time of your life?

I’m a big fan of the movie V/H/S (and the tapes as well. I must have watched hundreds of horror videos in the 80s when I should have been in school). I wasn’t convinced that they could catch lightning in a bottle twice with the sequel. I’m here to tell you I was dead wrong. V/H/S 2 is actually better than the first. The segments are tighter and creepier, especially “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” and the ultra gore-fest, “Safe Haven”. This sequel is a must see. I hope they get the band back together for a third.

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Speaking of sequels, one of my favorite paranormal TV shows, Ghost Mine, gets a second season starting September 4th. I know I’ll be writing more about this in the next month, but you really should check it out. If you never heard of the show, read my post about the first season so you’re ready to dive in to season two.

Often when I write, I have music going in the background. There are a couple of rules I have when it comes to writing music. First, it can’t have lyrics. Hearing other words screws with my head. Two, the music has to match the mood of the scene I’m writing. Naturally, I listen to a lot of soundtracks. I just picked up the soundtracks to Sinister and The Innkeepers. Both helped me finish my last book and will take me well into my next. Warning, Sinister, like the movie, will creep you the hell out! Both are excellent.

Sinister

Calling all squatchers! Yeah, that means you! Are you ready for the new Bigfoot flick, Willow Creek? Click the movie poster below to watch the trailer and get as amped as I am. I’ve heard nothing  but good things about this one by Bobcat Goldthwait. You all know I’m a sucker for sasquatch.

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Need something to read? I’m not going to sugar coat this one. I fucking loved Brian Moreland’s The Witching House. His latest novella reads as fast as an out of control freight train and has genuine scares. Read the description and tell me if you can resist.

Some houses should be left alone.

In 1972, twenty-five people were brutally murdered in one of the bloodiest massacres in Texas history. The mystery of who committed the killings remains unsolved.

Forty years later, Sarah Donovan is dating an exciting man, Dean Stratton. Sarah’s scared of just about everything—heights, tight places, the dark—but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean and another couple on an exploring adventure. The old abandoned Blevins House, the scene of the gruesome massacre, is rumored to be haunted.

The two couples are about to discover the mysterious house has been waiting all these years, craving fresh prey. And down in the cellar they will encounter a monstrous creature that hungers for more than just human flesh.

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Season Of The Witch – A Guest Post By Brian Moreland

I’m always happy to hand over my blog and chain to a truly gifted writer, Brian Moreland, who is not only one of my favorite horror writers, but also one of my favorite people in this crazy ass world. Do yourself a favor and pick up everything the man’s ever written. They are treasures to be added to any collection. Before you do, take Brian’s hand as he leads you through The Season Of The Witch…

They come from mythology, folklore and fairytales and go by names such as crone, conjurer, necromancer and witch. Male witches are called warlocks and wizards, although the archetypal figure is predominately depicted as an ugly old woman–the hag. Some live as hermits in hovels in dark forests. Others gather in secret places and form covens. They operate in the realms of magic and have the power to cast spells and charm us. They can tell our fortunes or curse us with the evil eye. Old, wicked, beautiful, seductive–witches of all forms have enchanted our stories since the dawn of storytelling.

In Norse mythology there were the Norns, three immortal women who controlled the fates of gods and men. In Greek mythology, the Graeae were three old crones who shared a single eye. The hero Perseus met these witches on his way to fight the snake-headed gorgon, Medusa. These ancient myths most likely inspired Shakespeare to include three “weird sisters” in Macbeth. Even King Arthur of Camelot had his dealing with witches. One of his greatest enemies was an evil and powerful sorceress, Morgan Le Fay. King Arthur also took counsel from a wizard named Merlin.

As a child I remember witches from bedtime stories and movies like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and my all-time-favorite: the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. In stories, there are good witches who operate in the light–like Oz’s Good Witch of the North–and evil ones who practice black magic, such as the Old Witch in Snow White.

As I got older and started writing historical horror novels, I discovered that history is rich with stories about real witches. In Pagan times, witches honored the sun and moon, the winter solstice and the coming of spring. We owe our holiday of Halloween to the Celtic pagans who celebrated the festival of Samhain on October 31st at the end of the harvest season.

Witches are even warned about in the Bible in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and Exodus 22:18. Scriptures like “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” gave religious people a reason to believe that all practitioners of magick were evil. In Europe and America from the 1400s through the 1700s, righteous men went on witch hunts and burned men and women at the stake.

These fears of the terrifying witch inspired several horror movies in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Films like Season of the Witch (1972), The Wicker Man (1975), Eyes of Fire (1983), Warlock (1991), The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Lords of Salem (2012) are just a few that come to mind. For the past decade or so, vampires and zombies have dominated books, movies, and TV, but there are signs witches are coming back into the spotlight.

Already in the first half of 2013, there have been a number of witch movies to hit the theaters. Beautiful Creatures, based on the YA novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is about a family of witches living in a small town in South Carolina and the secrets they keep. In Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the brother and sister from the famous Brothers Grimm fairytale are all grown up and now hunt evil witches, which are depicted as monstrous hags.

This is also the year that Hollywood did a remake of one of my favorite horror movies of all time, The Evil Dead. It opens with a witch performing a ceremony and involves five friends finding a demon book that’s filled with witchcraft and evil spirits. I counted 13 new witch movies that will release later this year and next, including two that I find intriguing: The Last Witch Hunter and Lords of Magic.

I don’t know if it’s happenstance or if something mystical is at play with all these witches making their way into current books and movies, but last year I wrote my own witch stories: The Girl from the Blood Coven and The Witching House. Both will release as ebooks this summer through Samhain Publishing. As a horror fiction writer, I like to combine history and legends with scary supernatural stories, as I did in my first two books, Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist. While both of those stories deal with mysticism and evil forces, it is my next two stories that allowed me to have fun creating my own legend about a coven witches living in the backwoods of East Texas.

My first story, The Girl from the Blood Coven, is a short story prelude to The Witching House. It’s the year 1972. Sheriff Travis Keagan is enjoying a beer at the local roadhouse, when a blood-soaked girl enters the bar. Terrified and trembling, Abigail Blackwood claims her entire family was massacred at the hippy commune in the woods. Sheriff Keagan knows that Abigail’s “family” is a coven of witches that inhabit the Blevins house. They’ve been rumored to be practicing blood sacrifices and black magic. When the sheriff and his deputies investigate the alleged murders, they discover what happened at the Blevins house is more horrific than they ever imagined.

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My second story, The Witching House, is a novella that unravels the mystery of what happened to the Blevins Coven. It’s forty years after the massacre at the hippy commune. My main character is Sarah Donovan, a young woman recovering from a bad divorce and boring life. She recently started dating an exciting, adventurous man named Dean Stratton. Dean and his friends, Meg and Casey, are fearless thrill-seekers. They like to jump out of airplanes, go rock-climbing, white-water rafting, caving and do anything that offers an adrenaline rush.

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Sarah, on the other hand, is scared of just about everything–heights, tight places, the dark–but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean, Meg and Casey on an urban exploring adventure. There’s an abandoned house set far back in the woods, they say. The Old Blevins House has been boarded-up for forty years. And it’s rumored to be haunted. The two couples are going to break in and explore the mysterious house. Little do they know the Old Blevins House is cursed from black magic, and something in the cellar has been craving fresh prey to cross the house’s threshold.

Writing these two stories allowed me to research the long history of witches, from Biblical times, to Norse and Greek mythology, Celtic Paganism, the Christian witch hunts, as well as the modern-day practice of Wicca. In fact, Sarah Donovan’s grandmother is a Wiccan who practices light magic and becomes Sarah’s voice of reason as she is confronted by dark forces. I also studied the differences between White Magic and Black Magic, even combed through a 17th Century spell book for conjuring evil spirits. As with my other books, I have interwoven much of the historical facts that I learned into my stories to offer readers a richer reading experience. My short story, The Girl from the Blood Coven, releases July 2, 2013, as a free ebook, and my novella, The Witching House, releases August 6, 2013.

Witches and witchcraft have been a part of storytelling for centuries. At times they sink below the surface of human consciousness, as other monsters take the stage in books and movies. Some years it’s werewolves, mummies or Frankenstein. For the past several years, we’ve seen a countless number of vampires and zombies. While these monsters are still popular, you can rest assure that witches are back for another season of witchery.


Author Bio: Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels, Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist, are now available. His third novel, The Devil’s Woods, will release in December 2013. Brian livesAuthor Brian Moreland in Dallas, Texas where he is joyfully writing his next horror novel. Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianMoreland. Visit: http://www.brianmoreland.com/

For Veteran’s Day : War Hero Inspires WWII Thriller

Captain Dawson Moreland

To honor and remember all of our veterans on Veteran’s Day, I turned to fellow author and amazing guy Brian Moreland to talk about his family’s military past. The story is pretty amazing. It also was the spark that lit the flame for his novel, Shadows in the Mist. Our past shapes our future. You’ll find no better example than this. Brian, take it away…

Sometimes life has a mysterious way of imitating fiction. A prime example is my relationship with my grandfather, retired World War II pilot, Captain Dawson Moreland. When I was a boy, I used to visit my grandparents in West Texas at least twice a year. Behind their house, they had an outdoor cellar. It had a metal door that opened up to concrete stairs that led underground. The cellar was full of boxes, antiques, and furniture gathering dust. I loved exploring that cellar as a kid.

One day, I came across an army footlocker that my grandfather kept secured with a padlock. Curious, I took him down into the cellar and asked him what was inside the locker. “Just photos and documents from my war days,” he said. As a kid, I was a huge fan of war movies and my concept of World War II was based on what Hollywood had shown me: courageous men like John Wayne and George C. Scott (playing General Patton) being tough war heroes and feeling proud to be a soldier fighting in the war.

I had been thrilled to know that my grandfather had been one of those war heroes. I asked him to open the locker and let me see his war photos. His eyes clouded over. “Sorry, Brian, but I can never open that locker. There are just too many painful memories.” Like so many veterans of his generation, he never talked about the war. Growing up, all I knew was that he had been an Army pilot and flew airplanes. The rest of his story was left to my imagination. Who was this man who worked hard all his life, lived with high integrity, was the patriarch to my family, and said the blessing at every meal? What secret life had he experienced before I was born?

 My burning curiosity to know my grandfather’s secret life inspired me to write my WWII novel, Shadows in the Mist, a supernatural thriller set in Germany. It begins in present day. My main character, retired war hero Jack Chambers, has kept a dark secret from the Army for over sixty years. As nightmares of his platoon’s massacre begin to haunt him, he decides it’s time to reveal the truth. He gives his grandson, Sean, a German map and a war diary. “The map shows where my platoon was buried. The diary explains what really happened. Deliver these to General Mason Briggs at the U.S. Army base in Heidelberg, Germany.” Sean Chambers reads his grandfather’s diary and discovers in October 1944, Lt. Jack Chambers had been a part of a deadly top-secret mission where he and his platoon encountered a supernatural horror created by the Nazis.

Shadows in the Mist is both a war story inspired by my grandfather and a horror novel that explores the Nazis’ historical fascination with the Occult. It is based on true facts about Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the Waffen-SS, and his circle of Occultists who met secretly at the Wewelsburg Castle and practiced mystic rituals.

I was determined to create a platoon of misfits that people cared about. And for that to happen, Lieutenant Jack Chambers had to care about his men. So I made it his mission to do whatever it takes to get his men out of the Hürtgen Forest alive. They call themselves “the Lucky Seven” because as a unit they have survived so many combats together. They believe that they are charmed with some kind of strange luck. Two of them, Private Hoffer and Private Finch, are comic book writers. They believe that the Lucky Seven are invincible soldiers destined to be super heroes. They’ve all become superstitious. Each platoon member carries a good-luck charm and they do a ritual before every battle. Lieutenant Chambers believes his good luck comes from the silver watch his father gave him before he died. My grandfather gave me a silver pocket watch when I was young, and I cherished it.

I finished writing Shadows in the Mist a few years ago and now it’s published. My grandfather read the book and told me it brought back a lot of memories for him. He suddenly began sharing his personal war stories with my family. I learned that while training to be a pilot in England he roomed with Norman Rockwell’s nephew “Rocky” and enjoyed riding bicycles around London with the other pilots. They called Captain Dawson Moreland by his nickname “Hank.” He flew C-47s and dropped paratroopers over Normandy during the D-Day invasion. Thirty years after that day I was a curious kid in the cellar with my grandfather, he finally pulled out his World War II photos and showed them to me.

My grandparents, Dawson and Alma Moreland

Dawson posing in front of his house before heading off to war

This is my grandfather’s first plane, nicknamed “Dabo” after my grandmother, whom he always called “Bo.” During the war, my grandfather got sick and spent a few days in a hospital in England. While he was grounded, another pilot flew “Dabo” into battle and got shot down. The Army found my grandfather’s parachute with “Moreland” on it and assumed he was dead, so they sent a letter to my grandmother telling her that Dawson had been killed in combat. When he found out the Army’s mistake, he sent a letter to Alma assuring that he was very much alive.

Captain Dawson Moreland (far right) standing with his crew

During the present-day portion of my novel, Jack Chambers’ grandson, Sean, flies to Germany. While riding in an airplane, Sean examines the mysterious war diary his grandfather had written. A photo of a platoon slides out. On the back is written “the Lucky Seven” and the names of each platoon member.

Lieutenant Jack Chambers

Master Sergeant John Mahoney

Sergeant Buck Parker

Corporal Duece Wilson

Pfc. Gabe Finch

Pfc. Rafe Hoffer

Pfc. Miguel Garcia

While writing and researching my novel, this fictitious platoon became like a “band of brothers” to me. My grandfather shared that in addition to being a pilot, he had done some routine field training. He showed me this photo of his unit. It looked identical to the photo I had imagined in Jack Chambers’ diary. When I counted seven soldiers in the photo, I got goosebumps.

My grandfather is standing in the center.

In my book, Jack Chambers’ war diary reveals where a secret Nazi relic is buried in a German graveyard. By strange coincidence, life began to imitate fiction in 2008 as a relic from my grandfather’s past resurfaced. Two months before his 90th birthday, he received a phone call that his long lost airplane “the Snafu Special” had been found in Sarajevo, Bosnia. A French soldier found the Douglas C-47 parked at an airbase. Riddled with bullet holes from the Bosnian war, the plane had been abandoned in a snowfield. Curators from a D-Day museum in Normandy identified “the Snafu Special,” because the C-47’s tail number was still intact.

The WWII relic might have been lost forever had it not been for a team of French enthusiasts who were determined to rescue the plane and return it to the battery museum in Merville, Normandy. Against all odds, the members of Team SNAFU, along with French and American diplomats, convinced the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina to donate the plane to France. French engineers then disassembled the Snafu, loaded it up on three trucks, and transported the plane all the way from Bosnia to Normandy. Once it arrived at the museum in Merville, the curators restored the aircraft to its original glory and veiled it for a ceremony on June 7th.

My grandfather, being one of only two surviving pilots to fly “the Snafu Special,” was invited to return to Normandy to be honored with his airplane. My family and I got to go with him.

For a week that I will never forget, we attended several events that featured him as the honored guest. We visited the Merville Battery Museum where his Douglas C-47 is on display. Above, I’m standing (left) with my father, Keith, and grandfather.

The French media treated Captain Dawson Moreland like a celebrity, snapping photo after photo. He did several interviews for the local news and a French documentary about his airplane. Everywhere we went my grandfather was thanked for helping liberate France from the Germans who occupied the beach towns of Normandy back in 1944.

Many of the local French people were brought to tears by his presence and asked for autographs. When I asked him how he felt about the French treating him like a hero, he said, “I was never welcomed anywhere as great as I am over here.”

Together we toured D-Day museums, saw the Normandy beaches, and walked through the fields of white crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. I could see that reflecting back on history was allowing my grandfather a chance to see the war from a new perspective. Surrounded by fields where paratroopers landed over sixty years ago, my grandfather began to open up and share his war stories. As a lead pilot in the 95th Squadron, he touched a part of history that involved missions in Africa, the Normandy invasion on D-Day, Operation Market-Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. He dropped off paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne, including the Easy Company depicted in Stephen Ambrose’s book and HBO series Band of Brothers. My grandfather’s squadron also dropped off the infamous Dirty Dozen and delivered supplies to General Patton and carried out POW’s.

My grandfather’s Douglas C-47, “the Snafu Special,” is a historical relic that brought together diplomats from France, Bosnia, Herzegovina, the United Kingdom, and the United States, among them the U.S. Ambassador to France. On June 7th, the Merville Battery Museum unveiled “The Snafu Special” as a new exhibit and honored my grandfather in a historical ceremony. My eyes whelped with tears as I watched him climb up into the plane and wave back to the hundreds of people applauding him. Below, you can watch a 7-minute clip from a documentary I made of my grandfather’s ceremony.

YouTube : Unveiling the Snafu Special

After we returned home, I asked him what it was like seeing his plane after all these years, he said, “It was good to sit in the cockpit again.” My grandfather earned seven medals. He would never call himself a hero. To him, he was a pilot just doing his job.

In my novel, Jack Chambers misses his platoon who vanished mysteriously over sixty years ago. His grandson reads the war diary and learns his secret past. Like life imitating fiction, my grandfather finally shared his stories after sixty years of silence, and I finally got to know the secret history of the man and war hero I had always looked up to.

To honor my grandfather, I dedicated Shadows in the Mist to him. One of my most cherished moments is when the novel released and my grandfather joined me for my first book signing and autographed books alongside me. As of Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2012, he is alive and well at age 94.

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Author Bio: Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels, Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist, are now available. His third novel, The Devil’s Woods, will release in 2013. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online and join his mailing list at http://www.brianmoreland.com/

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

Twitter: @BrianMoreland

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

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

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

Horror Reading List for Halloween

It’s Terrortober and I have the books you should be reading right here. Now, those of you following me on Twitter know that every day I post what horror movie I’ve watched with a rating and the hashtag, Terrortober. To add to the fun, the Monster Men have put together an episode dedicated to a plethora of great books available at Samhain Horror.

Also, I’ve been posting chapters of a new gothic horror story called MERCY. You can read chapter one here and chapter two here. Chapter three will be posted on my blog on Halloween.

OK, grab a pen and paper and get ready for your mandatory reading list. This will count for 75% of your grade!

 

Notes from the Underworld : Horrorfind 2012

I think the best way to talk about this past Horrorfind Weekend is to roll with the random thoughts and pictures. So, here’s what’s dripping out of the old brain pan, 24 hours after we departed our little horror shangri-la.

Attendance wasn’t as, shall we say, robust as it has been in the past. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot going on. This was my first time at Horrorfind as a guest. I was at the Samhain horror table with 7 other talented authors. All of them were as nice as can be (not evil, devil worshipping sex maniacs like people think horror writers are) and it made me realize I’m in some stellar company. Big time twisted love to Brian Moreland, Ron Malfi, Mick Ridgewell, John Everson, Damien Walters Grintalis, David Bernstein and Russell James. You don’t need to be a psychic to know the future of horror is right here at Samhain.

From L to R : Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland, John Everson, Damien Walters Grintalis and David Bernstein

And I can’t forget the Samhain staff, including Don (our amazing editor), Dawn and Jacob, he of the mighty kilt (though he is wearing jeans in this pic)!

As the fates would have it, my hotel room was right next to actress Meg Foster’s (the actress with the amazing crystal blue eyes of They Live fame, not to mention about 100 other movies and TV shows). We got to talking about ghosts and meditation, hugged, and even exchanged a copy of Forest of Shadows for a signed picture. She’s a fascinating, caring woman. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and tell the teenage me that I would one day meet her and hand her my book that she said would be her plane read. Teen Hunter would have said, “Yeah right, hammer. Keep dreaming.”

I was in the bar with author Norman Prentiss and saw an old dude walk by. I said, “That guy looks like Rob Halford.” Norman corrected me. “That’s Pinhead!”

I watched Dee Wallace hold court one night, sitting with a few other celebs while a ring of onlookers gaped at them. Dee and the gang were just having some drinks, but it was like they were on a little stage. Not wanting to be part of the rubberneckers, I trained my attention on the scraggly guy singing karaoke tunes from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Disturbing.

Actress Kim Darby (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, True Grit) was also near my room and I happily led her down to show her where the celebrity room was. She’s a kind and seemingly fragile woman. For some reason, I kept checking on her to make sure she was having a good time.

We met the cast of Pet Sematary, with the exception of Fred Gwynne, of course.

My favorite attendee was this little guy who walked around in dress pants and dress shirt, wearing a lucha libre mask and sometimes carrying a brain on a stick. Over 3 days, he never once took that mask off.

I also met a pretty cool guy who hand crafted an entire Ghost Busters costume. It was impressive to say the least.

I rode the elevtor with Count Gore De Vol and we talked about what we had for dinner the previous night. The Count had yogurt for those keeping track. Wonder if it was blood flavored?

During my slot in the author reading room, I showed a Monster Men best -of episode and talked about ghosts. That was fun and I kept people awake, which is always a good sign.

For lunch one day, I had a hot dog that looked like a cooked baby arm. Not by intention. As someone said to me, a hot dog that big had to be filled with lots of snouts and assholes.

My wife bought me a skull for my writing area. Here I am showing my appreciation.

On the last night, all of the Samhainers went out to dinner in Gettysburg. It’s amazing to see how all of the history has been put aside so they can stress the paranormal. The sidewalks were even painted with little ghosts. Ghosts sell. We did see a bunch of Civil War re-enactors having dinner outside an old tent. Keeping to tradition, they munched on McDonald’s.

Oh yeah, and I was signing copies of Evil Eternal and Forest of Shadows. Great weekend. I have 4 days to prepare for Horrorhound in Indy. Wonder what I’ll see there?

Beware the terror of Evil Eternal!

Monster Men Halloween, Campfire Tales & More Ghoulish Fun

Another crazy week, but lots of good stuff to share. Aside from promoting Forest of Shadows like a door to door Bible salesman, I have been busy actually writing. I finished the first draft of a story for an anthology with Toys in the Attic as the theme. Going to start working on a couple of flash fiction pieces for another antho. Aaaaand, I’m ready to start the finishing touches on my first horror novel for kids. Ah, so many young minds to corrupt.

First up, I was interviewed on Jim Harold’s Campfire Tales podcast. It will be part of episode 87 where I talk about the phantom boy who may have come around to heal my ailing wife.

Next is an interview awesome author Brian Moreland did with me on his great blog. While you’re at it, check out his book, Dead of Winter. Great, spooky reading.

And now for the fun stuff. The Monster Men Halloween episode is here! We talk about our ghosts from Halloweens past (specifically my embarrassing little drummer boy costume), and give you tips on what to read, watch and do to make the season the best ever. So, without further ado, I give you The Monster Men. And why the bucket hat, Hunter? It’s to honor the character Dale from The Walking Dead. New season starts tonight, so get to your TV as soon as you’re done watching The Monster Men!  And then come back and like our brand spanking new Facebook fan page.

 

Q&A With Author Brian Moreland

Brian Moreland is a damn good author with a damn good book out through Samhain Publishing’s new horror line. The book is called Dead of Winter and I was so curious about the man behind the book that I had to find him and pick his brain.  Enjoy the pickins!

1. Your latest book, ‘Dead of Winter”, will be out with Samhain Publishing’s horror line this October. It’s set in the dead of winter in Ontario in the 1870’s at Fort Pendleton. Tell us a little about the book and the amount of research that went into making it so historically authentic.

My latest horror novel is a historical story based partly on true events and an old Algonquin Indian legend that still haunts the Great Lakes tribes to this day. It’s also a detective mystery and even has a couple of love triangles thrown in for fun. The story takes place near the end of the 19th Century at an isolated fur-trading fort deep in the Ontario wilderness. The main character is Inspector Tom Hatcher, a troubled detective from Montreal who had recently captured an infamous serial killer, Gustav Meraux, known as the Cannery Cannibal. Gustav is Jack-the-the-Ripper meets Hannibal Lecter. Even though the cannibal is behind bars, Tom is still haunted from the case, so he decides to move himself and his rebellious teenage son out to the wilderness. At the beginning of the story, Tom has taken a job at Fort Pendleton to solve a case of strange murders that are happening to the fur traders that involve another cannibal, one more savage than Gustav Meraux. Some predator in the woods surrounding the fort is attacking colonists and spreading a gruesome plague—the victims turn into ravenous cannibals with an unending hunger for human flesh. In Tom’s search for answers, he discovers that the Jesuits know something about this plague. My second main character is Father Xavier, an exorcist from Montreal who is ordered by the Vatican to travel to Ontario to help Tom battle the killer causing the outbreak.

2. The story, though fantastical, seems, in other ways, so real. How much is based on fact? Were there any actual odd occurrences at Fort Pendleton at that time?

 While indeed a work of fiction, I wanted this book to feel real. Throughout the story I interweave several facts I pulled from history books and an interview I did with a descendent from a Canadian Ojibwa tribe. During my research, I came across some unexplained stories that the Ojibwa and Algonquin tribes all around the Great Lakes region, including Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, and Minnesota, feared a supernatural creature that lives in the woods and stalks people every winter. They migrated every year because of this superstition. This legend also spooked the white fur traders, like the Hudson’s Bay Company, who lived in isolated forts all across Canada and traded with the Indians. Fort Pendleton is a fictitious fort named after one my characters, a tycoon by the name of Master Avery Pendleton. When the mysterious killings start plaguing the colonists living within his fort, Pendleton hires Tom Hatcher to solve the case. Tom teams up with an Ojibwa tracker and shaman, Anika Moonblood. She doesn’t believe the killer is a man or animal, but something much more terrifying. In the book, everyone in the neighboring Ojibwa tribe is spooked by the stalker out in the woods.

As I researched this legendary evil spirit even deeper, I discovered an article about a real isolated fort in Quebec where all the colonists went crazy and turned cannibal. In the late 1700s, a Jesuit priest who visited this fort documented the case in his journal, describing the deranged colonists as possessed by the devil. This is all factual and documented by the Catholic Church. I also did extensive research on the history of frontier life in Canada in the 1800s. During the long winter months out in the wilderness, cannibalism became a way of survival for isolated villages that ran out of food. And sometimes soldiers would arrive at a fort to find that everyone was dead except one man, who survived by eating the others.

3. What did you enjoy most about writing ‘Dead of Winter’?

 There are so many things. I had such a great time writing this one. My imagination was running wild at the time. I real love the cast of characters. While Tom is the protagonist, with Father Xavier being a second main character with his own story line, I also enjoyed writing the supporting characters, many of which have subplots that intertwine with Tom’s story. It’s a very complex book. I also enjoyed seeing the mystery unfold. When I write, I never know how a book is going to play out. I have a general idea that gets me started writing, but most of the time I’m trying to solve the riddle right alongside my detective. I also love writing scenes that have action and suspense and this novel has plenty of them. I wanted DEAD OF WINTER to be the scariest book that I could write, I didn’t hold back.

4. The horror genre is new to Samhain. What drew you to them as a publisher and how has the experience been?

 My agent and I were trying to find a good fit for my new book. I had finished DEAD OF WINTER in November of 2009 and was eager to sell it to a publisher right away. That’s how I feel after finishing a novel. I just can’t wait to share it with readers. But in 2009, publishing houses were shuffling their editors like Vegas dealer shuffling cards. My agent was afraid my book would get bought up and then lost in the chaos, so she told me let’s wait it out. It was tough to do, but we held out from submitting my book for over a year. I’m glad we did, because was were ready and waiting for the right opportunity. And then in January of this year my agent told me that Leisure Books was dissolving their horror line and that their editor, Don D’Auria had moved over to Samhain Publishing to start up a brand new horror line called Samhain Horror. Don wanted to start the line in October 2011 and was looking for submissions. We submitted my book within about two weeks of Don starting his new job. My agent sold me on Don, saying he was a legend in the horror business. I hadn’t heard of him, but I did a little research and discovered that he had been the editor for many of my favorite authors—Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Ronald Malfi, and Jack Ketchum, to name a few. On his blog, Brian Keene wrote a post about how much he loved working with Don D’Auria. I flipped through a dozen books by Leisure authors and read the Acknowledgements. Again and again, I kept seeing Don’s name being praised, many describing him as the nicest editor to work with. That sold me, so I told my agent let’s submit DEAD OF WINTER to Don at Samhain. Less than 30 days later in February, my agent called back and said that Don loves my book and wants it to be one of the first books to release in October. I was so excited. My first novel I had to wait over a year to see my book in print. With Samhain, my novel released eight months after we concluded the book deal. And working with Don has been a dream. Like everyone says, he is the nicest guy and very diplomatic in his style of editing. He made some great suggestions on how to improve my novel while keeping most of the book in tact. With Don and Samhain, I definitely feel like I’ve found a home to publish my future books as well.

 5. Full time writers, especially in the horror genre, are few and far between. What do you do to pay the bills when you’re not tapping away at your keyboard? Do you envision leaving the 9-5 world behind in the future?

It’s been over ten years since I had a typical 9-5 job, but I still have to work on client projects to pay the bills. I’ve been working as a freelance video editor for a handful of clients. I mostly edit documentaries, TV commercials, and corporate videos. For two straight years I got to travel with the USO and Tostitos to military bases in Baghdad, Iraq. We filmed the troops the playing a football game with celebrity football players. That was a cool experience. You can see photos from my trip at my blog (http://brianmoreland.blogspot.com/2010/01/traveling-to-iraq.html). In addition to video editing, I also have done some ghostwriting and edited and designed books for other authors. As I see more frequent financial success from my novels, I envision working fewer client projects and writing all these novels I have inside my head like caged beasts clawing to get out.

 6. What made you want to become a writer, and why horror?

 I’ve always loved monsters and the adrenaline rush from being scared. I grew up watching double-feature horror movies that aired on TV every Saturday. I collected monster toys and read lots of comic books. As I got into my teens, my reading turned to novels by Stephen King and other horror authors. I had an active imagination and, at age 19, I decided to try my hand writing and wrote my first horror novel. I discovered that creating my own fictitious worlds and characters was even more fun than watching movies or reading books. I can’t explain why I write horror, only that I write what I love to read. I just write and scary stuff happens.

7. You’re on a small boat fishing with Stephen King, Richard Matheson and Brian Keene. What do you ask each of them and who will be the best to share a beer with when the fish ain’t biting?

I would love to go fishing with such legendary authors. To Richard Matheson I was ask about how he came up with I Am Legend, one of my all-time favorite stories. Because I like to know how people achieve success, I’d ask how he got started on his path to being published and how he made a name for himself. This year I got to meet Brian Keene—a super nice guy by the way—and take one of his seminars. Sitting next to him at a conference table for four hours, I asked him all kinds of questions about the business and learned many of his success secrets. I would love to go fishing with Brian and just get to know him better as a person. With Stephen King, I would love to share a beer and as what his secrets are to being so prolific. I’ve read his book On Writing and that was the closest I’ve gotten to learning his secrets to being an author. But there’s something about hanging out and talking with someone in person that has a deeper impact. I’ve gotten to hang out with James Rollins and John Saul for greater lengths of time, and they both had a huge impact on how I approach my career as an author.

8. As many people will know, Samhain Publishing is named for the ancient tradition that became every horrorhead’s favorite festival of Halloween. What would make for your best ever Samhain celebration?

First, I’d have to have a killer costume. Ever year I struggle on what to dress up as. Then it’s all about the party. I’d go with my girlfriend and a group of friends to some exotic place that throws a great Samhain celebration like the French Quarter in New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Two years ago I was living on Maui, and a group of us went to a beach town called Lahaina. They blocked off the main street for a mega Halloween party and every bar was packed. I saw some of the craziest costumes and a lot of risqué ones too, where people are half-naked. Now that was a party to remember. What I’m really looking forward to doing in the future is meeting up with fellow Samhain Horror authors at a horror convention and celebrating the success of our books.


Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. He loves hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and dancing. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://brianmoreland.com/ or on Twitter @BrianMoreland.

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

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

The Seismic Shift in Publishing

As a  New Yorker posting an article the day after our little tremor, I couldn’t resist the title. Below is a blog by writer Brian Moreland on the state of bookstores and publishing. I couldn’t agree with him more…

Farewell to Borders; Hello, e-Publishing, By Brian Moreland

 My favorite local book store, Borders, where I used to love to hang out and buy books, has recently closed its doors, as are all the Borders stores across America. Today, I discovered another local independent book store, Legacy Books, which did a lot for the community of authors and book lovers here in Dallas, Texas, also shut its doors forever. Before that, I had witnessed other smaller Mom-&-Pop book stores close, because they couldn’t compete with the bigger chains. In the world of books and book sellers, as Bob Dylan once sang, “the times they are a-changin’.”What’s causing this change? Online book stores like Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Booksamillion.com have changed the way readers buy books. And more and more readers are buying e-books over paperback and hardbacks.

“According to the Association of American Publishers (AARP), sales figures for the first half of 2011…paperback sales dipped nearly 18% and hardback sales fell 23% compared to the same period the previous year.”

On the contrary, e-book sales are up 160% from this time a year ago. Every publishing professional I’ve talked to sees ebooks as the future for books.

*To read the rest of Brian’s article, please click here.
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