Tag Archive | dark inspiration

An Interview With Horror Master Russell James


I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of my favorite guys in the horror biz, Russell James. I’ve been hooked on his writing ever since I read his debut novel, Dark Inspiration. And lucky me, I get to hang out with the guy at horror cons! He has a lot going on this year, publishing enough fresh terror to keep his fans satisfied.  

Your latest tale of terror, Dark Vengeance, was just released through Samhain Horror in March. What are readers in store for this time around?

Laura and Teresa, the heroes from DARK INSPIRATION, are back. A coven of witches has taken up residence in their small town in Tennessee. The coven’s plan is to resurrect an Aztec demon that really has it in for the male of the species. They need to perform a human sacrifice to make the demon’s transformation complete, and they will need to use children.

Laura and Teresa are the only ones with the clues a bout what evil is to come, but their experiences in DARK INSPIRATION were too much for their relationship to bear, and they’ve moved apart. They have to pull theirrelationship back together in time to save the children, includingTeresa’s son.

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Your debut book. Dark Inspiration, just blew me away. I knewthat I was in great company with the new line of horror authors that Samhain had gathered. What made you decide to write the follow up, Dark Vengeance, and can we expect another in the ongoing saga?

I had readers of Dark Inspiration ask for more stories about Laura and Teresa, so I got to thinking about the effects on them from what they endured in the first book. I wanted that impact to follow through, toaffect them in the second story, not have it like sitcom episode where everything starts fresh. The new character in this book, who ends up being named Dawn, really intrigues me. We may hear more about her.

 

You also have a novella, Blood Red Roses coming out on May 6th (the day before my birthday in case anyone wants to buy me a cake). Tell us a little about it.

This novella is one of four that won the Gothic Horror Contest with Samhain. Mine is set on a cotton plantation during the Civil War. An orphan is sold there to work in the stable under an evil overseer, and uncovers a series of slave killings. The more he investigates it, the deeper and darker the story gets, until he finds himself a victim. I read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe ahead of time and tried to put a bit of his style into it to make it feel period-correct.

I’ve found a common theme with horror authors in that so many were inspired to pursue the genre by those 70s staples, In Search Of and Kolchak The Night Stalker. What are your favorite episodes of each?

In Search Of was just excellent. The episode explaining the Nazca drawings, the enormous etchings on the plains that can only be seen from above, made me convinced to this day we were visited by aliens. Kolchack? Was there a bad episode? Loved that show. And if anyone says Twilight Zone had no impact on them, they are lying.

You’ve also been self-publishing short story collections and collaborating with other writers. Tell us about those collections and where people can find them?

I started a critique group with five other writers after we finished a Gotham Writing class. All of them have since gone on to be professionally published or to win writing awards, including several Honorable Mentions in Writers of the Future contests. We decided to self-publish a collection of time travel stories called OUT of TIME, and donate the royalties to Doctors Without Borders. It has sold over 5000 copies and generated a nice stream of checks for DWB. I think that having five other good writers deliver some no-holds-barred criticism forced all of us to write better, and it shows in the end product. It is even a hot seller in Great Britain for some reason.

We also just put out a fairy tale collection called In A LAND FAR AWAY, also supporting Doctors Without Borders.

In the horror realm, I have two collections of short stories, TALES FROM BEYOND and DEEPER INTO DARKNESS. I wanted to give readers an easy way to sample my style before they bought a novel. Both of these have done very well.

All of these collections are at Amazon, and listed on my Amazon author page.

As one of the privileged few to get an early look at your next novel, Dreamwalker, I’ve come to think of you as the Samhain Magic Man (cue the Heart soundtrack). You definitely have a deep interest in all things magical and mystical. What attracts you to magic?

 

It does appear I have a subconscious pull to power drawn from the supernatural. In DREAMWALKER, the characters use voodoo to access that power. That was some seriously creepy research that convinced me voodoo taps into something truly dark and powerful. In Haiti, voodoo was illegal at one point. Most governments don’t ban something that isn’t a real and present danger. If you ever want to get your family to second guess you, start checking voodoo books out of the library.

We’ve both had personal contacts with things beyond what we see as reality. There’s a whole different level out there we’ll someday understand.

What’s one thing you can tell people about yourself that you haven’t revealed in other interviews?

I went over twenty years without watching a horror movie. When I was about seven, my father took me to see Vincent Price in House of Wax in 3D. Between the 3D and the Technicolor melting faces, I was duck-down-in-the-seat terrified. Except for the 1930’s Universal classics, I didn’t see another horror movie until well into adulthood. Now they are a blast.

What was your path to publication like? If you could give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

I lucked out. I was in that Gotham writing class I mentioned and the teacher said Samhain had opened up a new horror line under the respected editor Don D’Auria. I’d had two short stories published and DARK INSPIRATION’s manuscript was sitting on my hard drive awaiting the slew of rejections that my prior three manuscripts garnered. I figured I might as well start my rejections with one of the best, so I sent it off. I literally dropped to my knees in shock when I got the acceptance email. I honestly still didn’t believe it until the books showed up at my doorstep.

Advice to new writers? Write, read, submit. Just keep going. Writing is a skill. Some are gifted at it, but it is still a skill everyone must master. A gifted swimmer still has to train to win an Olympic medal. And that’s what getting published is like, like winning an Olympic medal. The more you write, the better you get. And if you are going to quit when you get rejected, don’t bother trying. I have five published novels, and I get rejections all the time. That part won’t get better.

Your future is as bright as a supernova. What’s next for the Magic Man?

Before the end of the year, I’ll be in two more benefit anthologies, a space/sci-fi one called CENTAURI STATION, and a second time travel collection called STILL OUT OF TIME. In January next year DREAMWALKER releases from Samhain. I just finished a post-apocalyptic novel manuscript called Q ISLAND, and have a few other cards up my sleeve after that. Don’t blink. You’ll miss something.

 

Guest Post by Russell James : Horror in the Everglades!

Location. Location. Location. Real estate’s three most important considerations also apply to fiction. Horror writers need the right location for a creepy story.  Well, forget the abandoned house, the derelict cruise ship, clown college (shiver!) As Hunter Shea’s SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE and my new novel BLACK MAGIC demonstrate, head for the Everglades.

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Everglades National Park takes up the southern tip of Florida.  It’s a swampy savannah that stretches out flat as far as the eye can see.  It’s sometimes flooded, sometimes not, and dotted with islands of trees. There are good reasons (other than Skunk Apes) to put the Everglades high on the horror locale list:

1. Isolation. Though it’s just miles from Miami, cross the park border and there’s nothing and no one out there.  No cell service, no roads and once you trek a few miles in, no landmarks worth mentioning.  Expect to get lost moments after starting your hike. Especially in the dark.

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2. Scary creatures. I have an evil sorcerer in BLACK MAGIC to up the scare factor, but the Everglades has its own menagerie from Hell. Alligators, crocodiles, vultures, deadly cottonmouth snakes, literally tons of mosquitoes, plus stingrays, sharks and jellyfish where the ‘Glades meet Biscayne Bay. The last time I visited, I counted sixteen alligators and crocodiles sunning themselves at just one observation point. Who’d ever want to meander through that?  gator

Recently anacondas have taken up residence, after being released by moronic owners when they grew to adult size at over fifteen feet and 220 pounds. These constrictors eat anything and everything and have no natural predators.  In my novel I describe one eating a deer.  I did not make that up. There’s a picture on the NPS website if you don’t believe me.

In BLACK MAGIC, sorcerer Lyle Miller summons all of these creatures (and razor-toothed killer rabbits) to defend him as he tricks unwitting boys to help conjure a hurricane over south Florida. Read this non-tourist friendly Florida tale and you may cross the Everglades off your bucket list, if SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE didn’t already do that for you.  — Russell James

 

Hunter here. I highly suggest you grab a copy of Black Magic. Perfect summer reading! You can pick up a copy by clicking any of the links below:

Amazon     Samhain   Barnes& Noble

You can also tag along with Russell as he journeys into the dark and strange at his website.

 

 

Interview with Author Russell James

The great thing about being part of the new Samhain Horror family has been meeting some of the new and seasoned authors that they have brought together. Russell James is one of those cool dudes in a loose mood. He has a chilling new novel out, Dark Inspiration. If you want to read a book that will actually make you sleep with the light on, look no further. This is classic horror at its best. Russell was nice enough to sit down for an interview with yours truly. Enjoy!

1. Your novel, Dark Inspiration, is right in my personal sweet spot. It
has a haunted house, creepy old cemetery and sinister secrets. Tell us a
little more about the book, especially something that will put chill down
our spines!

Doug and Laura Lock try to fulfill many couples’ fantasy.  They quit their
jobs and move to a country dream house and hope to re-fire their personal
and professional lives.  But Doug finds a hidden attic full of some creepy
taxidermy left by a deceased former resident and starts doing some twisted
experimentation.  You experience Doug’s personal descent from inside his
head, and it’s not pretty.  His plans for his wife are…well, you’ve got to
read it.

Laura is influenced by the spirits of two twin girls and Doug encounters
the spirit of their uncle.  Neither of them shares their experiences with
the other and so start living parallel, secret lives.  When the lives
finally intersect, it goes off the rails.  Way off.  Honestly, the two of
them could have used some paranormal advice from John Backman from your
Forest of Shadows.

2. What was the aha moment in your life when you decided you wanted to
become a writer?

I remember having a short story published in a junior high literary
journal and thought that was the coolest thing ever.  But the idea of
seriously writing and having other people want to read it was so daunting
a task, I never considered trying.

I would tell my wife stories I thought up when we went on long drives in
the car.  She kept bugging me to write them down.  Tired of my lame
excuses not to, and knowing I worshipped at the paperback altar of Stephen
King, she bought me his On Writing for Christmas a few years ago.  Reading
that made me realize that I could write something, if I applied myself.

3. Every writer has a special journey to publication. How did you come
about having your book published by Samhain?

Again, credit goes to the wife.  The next Christmas after On Writing
arrived, she got me an online writing course at Gotham Writer’s Workshop.
Two short stories I worked on there ended up getting published.

Nice start, but several unsold novel manuscripts later, success wasn’t
knocking.  I took an advanced Gotham class to see what I skills I was
missing.  During that class, the instructor alerted us that Samhain was
having the equivalent of open auditions for horror books.  I had Dark
Inspiration fresh off a tour of publisher and agent rejections, so I sent
it in.  In a million-to-one-shot, Don D’Auria bought it.

Trust me, I wake up every morning thankful for the stroke of luck that got
me here today.

4. What book have you read that really scared you and made you want to
sleep with the light on?

I really like reading collections of true ghost stories.  A personal
experience when I was kid made me a true believer.
There are times I’ll read about an event and both arms go to goose pimples
and my heart skips a beat.  That’s the good stuff.

5. OK, suppose you had to hire a monster as a contract killer. Out of
Jason, Michael Meyers, Freddie and Pinhead, who would you choose and why?

I have to send Freddy Krueger.  He can kill someone in their dreams
without a trace.  Plus in his free time I can have him Edward Scissorhands
my backyard shrubbery.

6. In three sentences or less, describe what you’re currently working on.

I have a short story coming out in December on a podcast called Tales of
Old. It’s historical fiction about a World War I fighter pilot.  So you
can read it on the website or download and listen to it.

The next novel is called Sacrifice and will be out sometime in 2012.  A
group of kids destroy an evil demon in 1980, but thirty years later find
out they may not have finished the job.  They return home to confront the
demon, their own aging, their past mistakes.  The demon isn’t going to go
quietly, and this time has friends.

Visit Russell James’s website to learn more and order a copy for the holidays!

And if you want even more reasons to be afraid of the dark, check out Forest of Shadows.

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