Tag Archive | horror

Behind the Scenes of The Waiting

You know I can’t release a book without having a very special episode of Monster Men (kinda like Blossom, she of Amy Farrah Fowler fame).

Jack and I talk about the inspiration behind the true ghost story and how it impacted my own life. If you haven’t picked up The Waiting yet, hopefully this will give you that last nudge.

High Noon with the Dust Devils – An Interview With Jonathan Janz

Jonathan Janz is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If you’ve never read his books, you might assume the mind behind the man is as unassuming as a Norman Rockwell painting. Thankfully, you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. This is a man who knows how to spin a twisted, pulse-pounding yarn. He’s been one busy dude since making his Samhain Horror debut a couple of years ago.

I’m both thrilled and honored to interview the man who conjures some of the finest books in the genre. His latest, Dust Devils, is a terrifying tale of Vampires in the old west. Grab a stake, crucifix and some garlic and read on, my children of the night….

 

Speaking as a fellow author who was writing his own western horror the same time as you, what made you decide to set Dust Devils in the old, wild west?

I think—at least at this point in my career—I view most stories through a pretty dark lens. So basically, since I was already a huge fan of western books and films, and I’d been reading a ton of westerns in the past few years, the seeds of the tale began to germinate as those two elements fused together (my dark lens and my western love). Like with most stories, the genesis of Dust Devils was very natural and organic; it was just sort of there in my mind. I wrote the first version of the opening scene maybe six years ago, and then I didn’t do anything with it. But as it is with the best ideas (I’ve heard Stephen King speak about this), the scene stuck with me. Eventually, the characters formed in my mind, and the tale was too powerful to ignore anymore. And Dust Devils was born.

dust devils

 

Knowing you, the vampires in Dust Devils don’t sparkle. How would you best describe your horrific creations and the new twist they give to vampire lore.

In their ferocity, they’re every bit as monstrous as the creatures in 30 Days of Night, so that’s a pretty decent starting place for a modern reader. But the best analogue to my vampires—in fact, the main inspiration for my vampires—is the original Fright Night movie. Chris Sarandon as the lead vampire Jerry Dandridge really terrified me as a child. But he was also the kind of guy you’d want to be friends with (if you didn’t know about his vampirism), or in the case of a woman, he was probably the kind of guy a woman would find attractive and seductive. And those two sides—the bestial and the seductive—weren’t at all mutually exclusive in that character. In fact, one kind of relied on the other for survival. Adam Price, my main vampire, isn’t exactly like Jerry Dandridge, but he’s pretty closely related to him, which shows how impactful Fright Night and Sarandon’s performance were on me.

Do you see western horror as an up-and-coming sub-genre, now that we’ve seemingly exhausted the whole zombie thing?

I do. I think horror can coalesce with the western as well as any other genre (including action and/or romance). In fact, I think the western works best when it’s an amalgam of all the aforementioned genres. The western is such an amazing kind of story, yet it’s really been marginalized for the better part of what, four decades? I think horror novels can help revive the western, and I think the western can help legitimize horror in the minds of many readers who tend to smirk or scoff at horror. But the fact is, in many ways, western stories and horror stories are kindred spirits. They’re both morality tales that stare unflinchingly into the abyss of man’s tendency to do evil, as well as man’s ability to behave nobly.

As for the second part of your question, I agree that zombies as a subgenre have been used a great deal in the past decade and that most of the traditional zombie treatments seem a bit tired at this point. But what I also see—and I’m really excited about this—is that zombies have begun to permeate the realms of horror previously uninfluenced by zombies. And this is a really good thing. I love zombie stories, but I’ve never written a zombie book. However, if you look at my last two novels—both Savage Species and Dust Devils—the creatures in both of those books are influenced by zombies and have zombie-like traits. In Savage Species, the “Children” are firmly entrenched in the tradition of the Wendigo, yet they can return from the dead and are hungry for human flesh. In Dust Devils, a crossbow plays a major role (a nod to Daryl Dixon/Norman Reedus in The Walking Dead), you have a cuckolded husband at the forefront (a Rick Grimes/Andrew Lincoln connection), and a father/son relationship that’s tested in a war with seemingly implacable foes (Rick and Carl vs. the zombies). So even though my novels aren’t zombie novels, they owe a huge debt to the zombie films, books, and television shows I’ve absorbed. Brian Keene’s The Rising is another huge part of what I’ve been doing and thinking. And in that one you have a powerful father-son bond at the heart of the story, just like the father-son bonds at the heart of Dust Devils.

Savage Species

 

If you were living in the wild west, do you see yourself as a white hat or black hat? Or would you be a shade of gray, like Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven? And what would be your cowboy name?

Clint Eastwood, absolutely. The white hats and black hats aren’t as interesting as the grays, because I think most of us, when you get down to it, are a bit gray. At least I am. Would I hurt an innocent person for any reason? No way. But would I bat an eyelash in defending my wife or my children? Would I be willing to fight fire with fire if need be? I’d like to think I would be. And I think many people would be as well. Now, that sounds good, but what about those situations in which there is no easy or obviously right path? Cody Wilson, my protagonist, finds himself in situations like that in Dust Devils. Does he kill a bad person to save himself even though the bad person might not really deserve to die? Does Cody save his new girlfriend or his stepmother? And how does he make that decision? Those are gray situations, and I think Cody responds the way I would to most of them. And he’s definitely a gray guy—good down deep, but certainly not perfect. Light gray, maybe. Oh, and my cowboy name would be Jack Wilson, just like the father in Dust Devils. I love the name Jack.

clint

What would be your top 3 western movies and western novels?

Ooooh, that’s a great one. Here we go (I only cheated a little)…

Novels: 1. Last Stand at Saber River, Elmore Leonard 2. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry 3. All the Pretty Horses/Cities of the Plain/Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy Movies: 1. 3:10 to Yuma (the remake) 2. The Outlaw Josey Wales 3. Unforgiven

OK, hypothetical, you’re called to a high noon shoot-out with a rogue cowboy vampire (who does some acting on the side). You have a holy water infused bullet with a crucifix carved on the side, so you know it will only take one shot to put him down. You see him an hour before the big event, his back turned to you. Do you draw on him and shoot him in the back?

If it means I’d save my wife or my kids? Absolutely. I guess that makes me a darker gray, but at least I’m honest. Now…if it would just be to save myself? Maybe. I mean, it would be tougher to live with, so I’d definitely have to pause and think. But in the end I think I’d still shoot him. Because he’s a vampire, and vampires kill. I’d be saving others, as well as myself, so I’d kill him and live with what guilt resulted.

Dust Devils is so unlike all of your previous books. Why don’t you tell everyone why they need to read it.

It is different, Hunter; you’re right about that. But maybe more than I ever have in a book, I show my heart in this one. I reveal some of my deeper fears, as well as some of my deepest longings. I mean, on the surface, the tale is a tense thriller with all the elements of great storytelling—strong dialogue, internal conflict, fierce action, life-or-death stakes, romance, friendship, and deep familial bonds. But it also contains a man with many regrets, a severed father-son relationship, a woman who’s been abused and who longs for something better. There’s a very powerful heart in this book that I think readers will respond to. But as I said earlier, there’s also a fast pace and an electricity that’ll sweep the reader along. The three major action set pieces in the story (the opening scene in the valley, the bloodbath in the saloon, and the final shootout/fight at the ranch) offer more action than you’ll find in almost any western I can think of. So I think it’s a crowd-pleaser that’ll stick with audiences long after they’ve read it.

What’s next for you, since I assume you never sleep.

 

Well, if all goes as planned, I’ll have both a novel (my first-ever sequel, Castle of Sorrows) and an unannounced novella coming this summer. In January of 2015, I’ll have The Nightmare Girl, a Joe R. Lansdale-influenced suspense/horror novel that delves into the ancient Irish fire myths. This summer I plan on writing at least two novels, but I can’t talk about those yet for various reasons—I mean, I can talk to you about them, Hunter, but I can’t talk publicly about them.

 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, my friend. You are without question one of my dearest friends in the business, and a writer whose work I love and deeply admire (even though it makes me jealous sometimes).

Your dudeness, you have nothing to be jealous about. :)

Horror-Paranormal Roundup for February

Ah, February. The month of love, thanks to Valentine’s Day. When I think of love, I think of the color red. And when I think of the color red, well, strange things come to mind.

The color red is seen quite often in werewolf movies. And sometimes, there is a bit of romance – think the shower scene in An American Werewolf in London. Scarily enough, it took the Monster Men 54 episodes before we dedicated an episode solely to the misunderstood werewolf. Click on the image below to watch the episode and transform yourselves…

MM werewolves

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, are you looking for something special for the horrorhound love of your life? The folks at Horror Novel Reviews have just the thing. I can only imagine what kind of love letters are between the pages of their latest release.

HNR Banner

What book do I plan to read this month that has me excited as a cracked-out roadrunner? Redheads, by Jonathan Moore. The praise for this novel has been loud and proud. Check it out.

Redheads72lg

A killer far worse than insane.

Chris Wilcox has been searching for years, so he knows a few things about his wife’s killer. Cheryl Wilcox wasn’t the first. All the victims were redheads. All eaten alive and left within a mile of the ocean. The trail of death crosses the globe and spans decades.

The cold trail catches fire when Chris and two other survivors find a trace of the killer’s DNA. By hiring a cutting-edge lab to sequence it, they make a terrifying discovery. The killer is far more dangerous than they ever guessed. And now they’re being hunted by their own prey.

If you’re looking for a pretty damn good ghost story, with a dash of gothic romance, you have to watch The Awakening. Somehow this had slipped under my radar. I stumbled upon it while perusing Netflix on-demand. Truly one of the better, creepier ghost movies I’ve seen in a long while.

The Awakening

2013 : Don’t Let The Door Hit You Where The Good Lord Split You

As you can most likely ascertain from the title of this post, 2013 was not my favorite year. In a word, it was a disaster. And so I bid it a not-so-fond farewell, not with a top 10 list or bullet points of resolutions. I have only one resolution for 2014 : to never live through 2013 again. Now there’s one that can’t help but come to fruition.

2014 will be better. The people that have passed from our lives can’t do it a second time. Family members that have been seriously ill are on the mend. I have several books coming out that will keep me exceedingly busy and happy that I’m still living a dream that floated into my fevered brain decades ago.

I have my Narragansett beer, Patron tequila and Nat Sherman cigars waiting to help me usher in the new year.

So, what am I looking forward to?

In April, my novella, The Waiting, a ghost story based on actual events, is sure to make you rethink life and death and the unknown places in between.

The Waiting

Over the summer, my very first western horror, Hell Hole, will take you to a deserted, haunted mining town in Wyoming at the turn of the 20th Century. From aging cowboys to Teddy Roosevelt, wild men to black-eyed kids, hell on earth has never been so much…well, fun!

HellHole

I have another major book announcement to make, but that will come very soon in the new year.

Through all of the tumult, writing and entertaining you, the reader, has been the one thing that’s kept me sane. Despite everything, I managed to write 3 full length novels in 2013, along with my first short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, which is doing exceedingly well despite my typical writer’s neuroses that nothing is ever good enough. I can tell you from experience that writing is better (and cheaper) than therapy.

At the Monster Men podcast dungeon, we’re going to branch into remote interviews with writers, directors, paranormal groups and anyone that tickles our monster bone. In fact, our test run, an interview with Anthony Ventarola (you remember the guy who went with us to the haunted Union Cemtery?) about this season’s The Walking Dead, can be seen right here. Lots more to come.

My wife and I plan to renew our vows, 22 years after the first go around with a priest who was three sheets to the wind and a DJ who drank himself unconscious before the reception ended. Good times.

Basically, 2014 will be a re-start,  a shedding of the skin, even though I hate snakes more than Indiana Jones.

And what better way to move on while still looking back than with a great HuffPost article about the year in Bigfoot. Things will be squatcherific, for sure.

Notes on a Saturday Morning

Saturday morning, an hour or so before I start ticking things off my weekend chore list. Since my father passed away, I make it a point to work on my mother’s house every week cleaning things out, doing repairs, and now, raking never ending piles of leaves. Then it’s on to do the shopping, getting the oil changed in the old Jeep and working on my house. Somewhere in there I hope to get some work in on my new book, the sequel to Sinister Entity.

I’ve written about my wife and her health struggles over the past two years. Thankfully, we’ve just about conquered the hanta-like virus that she caught, but discovered she also has lupus. It flared up pretty bad this fall, so she’s back on radiation to beat it back. Looks like she’ll stay on it until the end of the year. Add to that my youngest daughter who’s had mono since September and I’m basically living in a hospital ward. Thank God my oldest daughter is like her dad and can run around with me getting everything done.

I’m very fortunate to have a passion like writing in my life to help keep me sane when things have gone haywire. And I’m very grateful for everyone who has come along with me on this crazy ass journey. 2014 will be a better year. I’ll have 3 novels out next year and plan to attend a number of cons to mix and mingle with my peeps.

One of the bright spots of 2013 has been the success of my twisted little Bigfoot novella, Swamp Monster Massacre. The ebook continues to gain new fans, and I recently learned that the audiobook is a bestseller on The Audio Bookshop. It’s a pretty big honor to be listed beside great writers like Ron Malfi and Tim Lebbon. I love the narration – a dry, good old southern boy, just like the main character, Rooster Murphy. 25% of all royalties from the book will go to the Lupus Foundation of America, so you’ll not only get a fun audiobook, but you’ll also support a great cause to fight a terrible disease.

Try it, you’ll like it. Trust me. I’m not just a horror writer, I’m also the president of the horror nerds society. ;)

You can get the audiobook by clicking on the cover

You can get the audiobook by clicking on the cover

A Very Sinister Entity

With the Halloween season creeping up on us like Jason with a new hockey mask, it’s time to start getting our scare on. I figured I’d kick things off with an excerpt from my terrifying ghost novel, Sinister Entity. Read on, but keep the light switch nearby and make sure to keep your foot tucked in the covers. Oh, and don’t fear going to the bathroom in the dead of night…too much.

Let me know what you think of the excerpt (or the book) and I’ll give away a free signed copy to a random person who posts a comment.

———————————————————————–

The small bathroom was just off the kitchen and was her father’s sanctuary. A magazine basket filled with well-thumbed copies of Sports Illustrated and Newsweek sat between the toilet and sink. She took a moment to lean against the sink and calm her nerves. Even if Jessica and Eddie somehow managed to make everything go away, she wasn’t sure she could ever spend another night in this house.

Being scared or anxious always made her have to pee, and she was surprised she had lasted this long without letting off the mounting pressure on her bladder. She unbuttoned her shorts and pulled them down with her panties.

“Oh my God that feels good.”

It felt as if she hadn’t gone to the bathroom in weeks and the stream came out in a never-ending rush.

As she went to pick up a Newsweek, the light suddenly went out, immersing her in total darkness. The bathroom had no window, so she didn’t even have the weak glow of twilight to see by. SinisterEntity_v3

There was a soft tap on the tile floor, and she gasped when air in the cramped room changed, becoming icy and thick. It was like trying to draw a breath through a cold, wet towel. Her heartbeat burst into high gear until she could hear the pounding of its overworked valves in her ears.

She bent down to pull up her shorts and shrieked when a pair of arctic hands clutched her wrists, pinning them to her sides.

She barely managed to cry out, “No!”

The rest of her words were cut off. She was being suffocated. Something blocked her nose and mouth and she struggled to draw a breath while the cold, invisible hands moved to her thighs, slowly creeping inward.

Cooking Up Halloween Scares At The Asylum

Just in time for the Halloween season, my first short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, has been set loose on an unsuspecting world. To kick things off, I’m running a special from now until Halloween. You can get a copy of Asylum Scrawls for only 99 cents. After the ghosts and goblins have their fill of candy and egging houses, the price goes to $1.99 (still a bargain if you ask me). With fantastic cover art by Mike Chella and a creepy bonus story by my mentor, Norm Hendricks, it’s sure to make you question what’s real and what’s not.

As an added bonus, if you download a copy before Halloween and let me know through this old blog and chain, the FB fan page or Twitter, you’re also eligible to win a copy of any of my novels. You can’t beat that with a stick, or chainsaw, or hot poker, or machete. I’ll be giving away books all through the Horrortober season. That’s right, all treats, no tricks.

AsylumScrawls Cover

So, what’s cooking in the asylum?

  • In PHANTOM FEELING, meet Hank, a recent amputee living in his parents’ attic. His childhood toys are coming out to spell secret messages to him – or is he losing his grip on his sanity?
  • THE FACELESS GIRL follows two couples at a famous movie star’s mountain mansion. The master bedroom holds a terrifying secret – an apparition that will not leave.
  • The last place you want to be is strapped to the pummel stone in STONED. Poor Kitty’s wasted her life on the stone, but things are about to take an unexpected and deadly turn.
  • What happens when your religious zealot wife tells you about her special COMMANDMENT ELEVEN? You watch your life fall to pieces, bit by agonizing bit.
  • Ready for a true gothic nightmare? MERCY starts with a demonic possession and only gets worse in the old manse beset by evil.
  • FOUL BALL is a throwback to the 70′s during the Summer of Sam in New York. When a Wiffle ball rolls down the sewer, 6 boys devise a plan to save it from the muck and slime. Some things are better off lost
  • In a special bonus story by Norm Hendricks, a child killer confined to a prison cell waits for the call of the PIPER. Truly haunting.

Help me get this bad boy to number one! To order your copy from Amazon, click here.

3rd Annual Monster Men Halloween Episode Lives

It’s a grand day here in the Monster Men dungeon. The Halloween season is in full swing and we’re feeding the Samhain beast with movies, books, TV shows and more.

This year, we have a couple of surprises, eat some Halloween treats, talk with our mouths full and behave like the monsters we are.

Check out the little contest we threw in to win copies of my books. We didn’t make it easy, but a true horror hound will get it. Good luck!

Book Review : The Cursed Man – by Keith Rommel

I was recently at Monster Mania Con cruising through the vendor tables, checking out celebs and attending a screening of Frankenhooker when I ran into author Keith Rommel. His booth was tucked away between a couple of others selling tons of horror merch. Now, I’m a huge reader, so when I see books at a horror con, I’m all in. (On a side note, it’s depressing to watch people pay $40 for an autograph of Screech or a dude who played a Jawa, then walk past author tables like they have the plague. The best horror isn’t on screen, it’s in a book!!!)

I digress. At first, maybe because I’d had a few cocktails, his name and book, The Cursed Man, didn’t register. Once we got to talking, we realized we’d both spoken to each other through various social media over the past year. Small world. Keith was kind enough to give me a copy of his book, which is now going to be a major motion picture. Let me tell you, I read it in one day and it was time well spent.

The Cursed Man

Here’s the official description of this amazing book:

      Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him.  A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.
      With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment.
      But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings.  When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.

As a reader, I’m always on the lookout for fresh, original ideas. The Cursed Man is all that, a bag of chips and a bottle of grape Nehi. Writing like this is as delicious and hard to find as the favored beverage of my youth.

The Cursed Man is tight, suspenseful and at times, downright terrifying. Death follows Alister Kunkle like a loving shadow. The book flashes between the past and present with perfect transitional timing. The twists and turns in Alister’s story left me dizzy. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen next, to the point where I just sat back and let Rommel take me on a joy ride to hell and back. He does an excellent job sucking us into the mind of a tortured man, to the point where neither he nor the reader can discern what is real and what is fantasy. I don’t want to say too much or give away any spoilers. This book is too special.

The Cursed Man is part one of the Thanatology Series. Rest assured, I’m picking up a copy of the second book, The Lurking Man, right after I finish this post. I’m not saying this just because I met the author. I was truly blown away and can see why Hollywood snapped it up. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You can thank me later.

Picking Up Where The Monsters Left Off

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know summer is all about being on the beach, seeing how often you can pee in public pools, barbecuing as a valid excuse to drink and clinking Mountain Dew cans while you and your bud ride off into the sunset on  your jet skis.

Well, summer’s dead. Long live the fall!

It’s high time I clued you all in to the Monster Men episodes you missed while you were out and about having lost weekends and connecting with nature. I can’t believe we’re almost at 50 episodes! The fact that our 50th will be out in October, a monster’s time to shine, is pure dumb luck.

Here we are before we sold that damn dirty ape to the ghost of Ricardo Montalban

Here we are before we sold that damn dirty ape to the ghost of Ricardo Montalban

So, starting with the most recent to where we last left off when our stalwart heroes were at the mercy of Ming, here’s your chance to get all caught up before the HUGE October festivities. Help us get more sets of eyes on these episodes. Share them on all social media platforms, subscribe to the show and help spread the word. Click on the episode #s to view. If we can triple the views for each in the next couple of weeks, I’ll have some signed book and ebook giveaways to help get your Halloween started properly.

Episode 47 : Paranormal TV. All I have to say in this one is hail Bates Motel! Damn that was a great show, and a total shock to us both. We also dissect Hannibal, the second season of American Horror Story and a host of other shows. This one’s chock full of Vera Farmiga and Gillian Anderson – and that’s a good thing.

Episode 46 : Summer’s Hottest Flicks. At this point, you’ll have to wait for these movies to come out on video, but I’m sure it won’t be a long one. We break down the surprise smash hit, The Conjuring (Vera Farmiga again!), World War Z (no holds barred review on that one), Pacific Rim and a too cool indie zombie movie called The Battery. I saw Pacific Rim after we filmed this and the 10 year old in me fell in love.

Episode 45 : Comic Book Movies. The title says it all. In here, we have Iron Man, The Avengers, Batman, Man of Steel, you name it. This episode is dedicated to my father who passed away this June. He was the one who got me addicted to comics when I was a kid, and I could never thank him enough.

Episode 44 : Welcome to Monster Men…AAAARRRRGGGGHHH! For shits and giggles, we put together a montage of all of our openings. Watch us go from terrified squares to mental patients in no time at all.

Please, remember to tell everyone you know about the podcast. Unlike so many others out there, we’re not asking for money or reviews. We just want to spread the holy gospel of horror to as many people as we can. It only takes a click or two. We thank  you for all your support these past 2 years and hope to do this for many, many more.

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