Samhain and I want to make your Friday the 13th the creepiest ever. From now until March 15th, my first two ghost novels, FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY are only 99 cents everywhere ebooks are sold. If you’re new to my madness and just read ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, this is the perfect chance to catch up on where Jessica Backman’s obsession with the dead began. You’ll think twice before visiting a haunted house, learn what an EB is and why it’s sometimes best to let the dead rest in peace…or turmoil. So fire up your Kindles and Nooks and iPads before time runs out on the best offer Samhain has ever made!
The dead still hate!
Something dreadful happened in the remote Alaskan cabin. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.
“With Forest of Shadows, Hunter Shea combines ancient evil, old school horror and modern style. Highly recommended!” — Jonathan Mayberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot and Ruin and The Dragon Factory.
“Forest of Shadows is a frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” —Night Owl Reviews
How can you escape the ghost of yourself?
The Leigh family is terrified. They’ve been haunted by the ghostly image of their young daughter, Selena. But how can that be, when Selena is alive and well, and as frightened as her parents? With nowhere else to turn, the Leighs place their hopes in Jessica Backman, who has dedicated her life to investigating paranormal activity. Accompanied by a new partner who claims to be able to speak to the dead, Jessica will soon encounter an entity that scares even her. And a terror far worse than she imagined.
You know I can’t have a book release without the Monster Men discussing it over beers and peanuts (both off camera, of course). Get the inside scoop on Island of the Forbidden and how it relates to Sinister Entity and Forest of Shadows. When I wrote this one, I added a bunch of horror movie references. Jack and I discuss a few of the horror clues peppered throughout the book.
You’ll find that the little island I’ve created is no safe place for the likes of Gilligan and the Skipper. If you like a good ghost story with teeth, this is it.
Note on the set my favorite Christmas present – actual drive-in movie speakers! I have a dream of building a working mini drive-in in my yard some day. All will be welcome to watch classic flicks under the stars.
It’s a cold and windy day here in the northeast. With the wind, it’s been below zero for a few days. A perfect day to just sit and write and look at the ice and snow outside my window. I’m working on a new cryptid novel right now. The manuscript and I are in the honeymoon phase where everything is peaches and cream. That should end in a week or so, then it’s on to the real work in this relationship. I love my muse, but we don’t always see eye to eye.
What have you all been doing to stay warm? And for those of you who live in warm weather, when can we come visit?
I had the honor and privilege of reading an advance copy of Russell James’s latest foray into the world of magic and dark terror, Dreamwalker. I absolutely loved it and think it’s his best to date. It’s finally out and ready to be devoured by hungry horror readers. Here, in the Magic Man’s own words, is how the fiction became stark fact…
This time around, my novel creeped me out.
When I wrote Dreamwalker, I wanted to set it in a location that emphasized the duality that the
main character, Pete Holm, lives in. I’d read about Atlantic City and how the promise of casinos hadn’t
created the promised city-wide rejuvenation. Atlantic Avenue divided the city, separating the glitter of the
high-rise hotels from the poverty of the rundown residential areas. The location seemed perfect.
I’d never been to Atlantic City, or Philadelphia, another location in the book. But MapQuest is
amazing, and I used grids of the streets to flesh out my fantasy versions. Pete takes a bus, so I Googled
the bus station locations and schedules just to make sure such places existed.
After the second draft of the story was completed, I had a free weekend in Maryland and decided
to visit these places I’d so casually created based on a few thin facts. I headed to Atlantic City, hoping I
could work in some real-life observations to the story.
I drove through the city and went into shock. Locations I’d created in my mind’s eye were here in
real life, almost doorframe for doorframe. The restaurant Pete works in, the rundown homes, the decaying
basketball court. It didn’t feel like I was exploring someplace new, it felt like I was returning to
In the late afternoon, I drove to Philadelphia, taking the same route my character takes when he
tries to find the identity of the girlfriend in his dreams. In the city, I followed my invented route to her
fictional hospice. There was no hospice, but there was a doctor’s office with an entrance that looked just
as I’d imagined the hospice’s did. It gave me chills.
Dreamwalker is about a college student who enters an alternate reality when he dreams. Did I
enter some alternate subconscious reality when I invented the locations for my book? I don’t know. If I
could, it would sure make writing the next novel is much easier.
Dreamwalker is the sixth novel that Russell James has published with Samhain Horror under legendary horror editor Don D’Auria!
Two realities. One hope.
What if you lived in two worlds, and could die in either? Pete Holm can. He is a dreamwalker, able to travel to the realm of dreams, including the devastated world of Twin Moon City, where an evil voodoo spirit holds living souls in terror with his army of the walking dead.
In the waking world, drug lord Jean St. Croix knows only the power of the dreamwalker can stop him, so St. Croix vows Pete must die.
Pete is the only hope to rescue the lost souls in Twin Moon City…unless St. Croix kills him first. Can anyone survive when two realities collide?
Barnes and Noble:
- Open reviewer giveaway: Anyone who reviews Dreamwalker on Amazon and one other site like GoodReads, etc. and sends Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, their links to email@example.com will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card. This contest ends on Feb. 28, 2015.
- Rafflecoper giveaway for two copies of Russell’s previous books. Two winners will each win one of two books, Black Magic and Dark Inspiration. US only, no international shipping. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway, you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Praise for Russell R. James
“James has a talent for combining action-packed vignettes into a powerful, fast-paced whole.”
—Library Journal on Black Magic
(Five Stars, A Night Owl Top Pick) “I loved the story so much that I’m eagerly waiting to read more from him. He carefully and very intricately wove his storyline to have elements of mystery and suspense throughout. I now have a new favorite book I’ll read over and over again.”
—Night Owl Reviews on Dark Inspiration
“The book had me at the edge of my seat. The writing is so vivid I even jumped a few times. If you’re a fan of the genre, love ghosts and are drawn to the supernatural, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book!”
—Long and Short Reviews on Dark Inspiration
Russell R. James, Biography
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.
After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, Q Island, releases in 2015.
His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”
Visit his website at www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.
He and his wife share their home in sunny Florida with two cats.
To find out more about Russell R. James, please visit his Website or follow him on Facebook! Join him on Twitter, @RRJames14. Also, feel free to drop him at a line at email@example.com.
It’s been almost 2 years since Jessica Backman’s last foray into the world of the unknown, but she’s finally back. ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN has been officially released. Jessica is in her early twenties now and completely disenfranchised with the entire concept of ghost hunting. Knowing that she draws the dead to her, empowering those with less than noble intentions, she’s distanced herself from her family, friends and uber psychic, Eddie Home. Instead of running to the dead, she’s now running from them.
Eddie is now a shell of his former self. The power surge he had to employ to save Jessica and the family they were helping in SINISTER ENTITY has left him drained. He’s plagued by the cries of the dead, unable to help them.
Despite their weakness, Eddie and Jessica are both drawn to haunted Ormsby Island off the South Carolina coast. There’s an old mansion there and a secret so taboo, so terrifying, the world has done its best to wipe it from its collective memory. To save the living, they must face their deepest fears.
Early reviews have been great!
“When I’m ready to reconsider my views of the afterlife, of the nature and motivations of individuals, of the meanings of life and purpose, I look to Hunter Shea. He brings to the early 21st century the kind of thought-provoking literary horror that Ambrose Bierce gave to the 19th century.” Mallory Heart Reviews
“Island of the Forbidden” is the ultimate haunted house story. There are all of the elements for an explosive story in which everything goes wrong. And in “Island of the Forbidden,” everything goes wrong.” Examiner.com
“The story is a non-stop rush from the first chapter to the satisfying, terrifying end. This is 2015’s first must-read for the horror fan.” Russell James, author of Dark Vengeance and Dreamwalker
“Island of the Forbidden has it all, ghosts, an evil presence, psychics, creepy dead children, an old haunted house, the list goes on. I couldn’t put it down!” – Scarlet’s Web reviews
If ghost stories are you thing, I wrote this book just for you. This isn’t your momma’s ghost tale. Oh no.
You can order a copy of ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN (ebook or trade paperback) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Publishing and wherever books are sold. If you get it, give me a shout and let me know what you think of it.
We’re also kicking off a HUGE blog tour, thanks to Hook of a Book Media. Click on the graphic below to see all the stops. Special thanks to Tim Busbey for his graphics expertise. I’ll be giving away lots o books along the way!
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.
I first met Ira this past March at Horrorhound in Cincinnati. Everyone at the Samhain booth was very happy to meet him. What a super nice guy. You’d think horror writers were all trolls and serial killers. We’re actually normal. Now, don’t get me started on romance writers.
But I digress. Ira now has his own book out, The Things in the Darkness. Let’s kick things off with his fab 5 horror flix, a taste of the book and where to find it. Take it away Ira…
October is such a great time of year, which is why I chose to launch my book then. Though it came and went like a flash, I’m still enjoying fall. The leaves change color and drift to the ground. The sweltering heat of the summer is past yet the icy cold of the winter is yet to come. Best of all, it seems as if Halloween being at the end of the month makes it the unofficial national horror month and sometimes, for some of us, that carries over into November! Displays full of horror films can be found in every local store, in theaters, and creating a buzz or fond memories. I know many friends who are so busy, they put off the rest of their movie marathons till the start of November. So it seems appropriate, with October closing, and the month of Thanksgiving upon us, to look back at my five favorite horror movies. After all, I am thankful for them too! I happen to love horror films.
- Re-Animator – What is there not to love about this film? You have a story based on the work of one of the most influential horror writers to ever live, H.P. Lovecraft. You have the screenwriting and directing talent of Stuart Gordon at the helm. Amazing and versatile actor Jeffrey Combs gives the best performance of his career as the mad scientist, Herbert West. Rounding out the astounding cast is Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and David Gale each playing their roles to perfection. Last, but not certainly not least, is the musical talent of Richard Band, who has 87 composing credits to his name for a good reason. Oh, and we can’t forget the fact that this movie gives a whole new meaning to the term “getting head.”
- Night of the Living Dead – George Romero redefined an entire sub-genre and gave us a new creature to fear in the form of the living dead. Although Romero never once uses the word “zombie” throughout the entire film, he is now considered by most to be the Godfather of the modern zombie movie. Whether or not Romero intended on creating a new take on zombies, he did push every limit of what was acceptable on film in 1968. Watching the feasting zombie mob scene still kills my appetite to this day.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street – It’s hard to believe now that the man who once auditioned for the role of both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and was turned down for both would become one of the most iconic supernatural killers in cinema history. While the series may have gotten progressively cheesier as it went on and Robert Englund’s one-liners a little more absurd, the first stands as a masterpiece. It also holds a special place in my dark and twisted heart as one of the first horror movies that ever traumatized me. I still remember screaming and crying on my way back to my room at five-years-old after sneaking into the living room and watching Freddy Krueger drag a screaming and bleeding Tina across the ceiling.
- Candyman – Taking its cue from the legend of Bloody Mary, this is a movie that still sends shivers down my spine today. This movie was the perfect example of all of the elements of filmmaking coming together into one cohesive unit of greatness. I can’t think of a single actor that could have nailed the role of the Candyman like Tony Todd. Although Todd is a great actor, no role that he has played since will ever stand out more. Virginia Madsen stars in this film and watching her descent into belief of the urban legend she set out to study it genuinely scary in ways that no modern horror film manages. Next, whether it be the written word or screen horror, nobody has the skill and talent for terror like Clive Barker. This man brings images to life that portray some of the darkness things to ever see the light of day. Finally, and being a fan of many different composers, I don’t say this lightly, but Candyman may have one of the most simple, yet eerie scores that I have ever heard in a film. Philip Glass takes a great film and turns it into perfection with the score. Will you look in the mirror and say his name five times?
- Hellraiser – With my admiration for Clive Barker, it is no surprise that there are two films credited to this master of terror on my list. What amazes me most about Hellraiser is that it is one of the few films that really deviate from its source material, yet remains an amazing adaptation. Most people don’t realize that the stars of Hellraiser, the cenobites, had very little mention in the novella by Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart. In fact, Pinhead, performed with terrifying skill by Doug Bradley, was not even a named character in the original story. He was simply referred to as “lead cenobite.” This tale of human obsession and lust, about the thin boundaries between pleasure and pain is captivating from so many different perspectives. It is equal parts fear and gore without the slightest hint of failing. For me, no Halloween season is complete without at least one viewing of Hellraiser. Just how does Barker bring all of these elements together to make such an amazing viewing experience? Maybe that is a puzzle best left unsolved.
So what do you think? What are your favorite horror movies? What tales of terror completed your Halloween season? Which ones are you still trying to fit in watching? Let’s pull up a seat closely in the darkness and talk a little. After all, it’s not like there is anything in that darkness that can hurt us, right?
The Things in the Darkness, debut novel by Ira Gansler, October 2014
An accident puts Kevin Tremmel into a coma. Upon waking, he is not the same. Is it psychological trauma or something darker at work?
Until recently, Kevin Tremmel was at peace with his life. He had a wonderful family, a meaningful career, and his life is finally settling down. Everything seems to be going great – until the night he dies in a car accident.
When the doctors revive him, it’s evident that he’s not the same. Strange urges and images haunt his waking hours, and he finds himself fighting frightening new impulses. Has the trauma of the accident caused a mental illness — or has he brought some malevolent being back with him?
In order to save his sanity, his sense of self, and his family, Kevin must discover what force is at work on him and how to overcome it. It’s that, or give up all he loves and become a servant to the things in the darkness.
“Terrifying and engaging, impossible to put down.” Henrique Couto, Writer/Director of Babysitter Massacre and Director of Haunted House on Sorority Row and Scarewaves.
“Creepy, contemporary riffs on Lovecraftian themes!” John Oak Dalton, Screenwriter – Among Us, Haunted House on Sorority Row, and Scarewaves.
Author Ira Gansler, Biography:
Ira M. Gansler is the father of three girls whom he adores and hopes to one day mold into fellow horror fans! He has been married to his fantastic, supportive wife for almost twelve years. Ira focuses on honing his writing craft through fiction, blogging, and screenwriting. He was one of the writers for the film Scarewaves, having written the screenplay for the “Office Case” segment.
Ira has been an avid horror fan since the time at age five when he ran screaming back to his bed after having witnessed the scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street where Freddy was dragging a bloody and dying Tina across the ceiling. Since then, he has embraced all types of horror. The Shining, anything by H.P. Lovecraft, and the original Night of the Living Dead will always hold a special place in his twisted heart. He prays that when the zombie apocalypse does come that it consists of slow zombies and that the Elder Gods show mercy on us all.
You can follow Ira M. Gansler on his blog, The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void at http://ragecircus.blogspot.com, on twitter @RageCircusBlog, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ragecircusblogger. Ira also writes reviews and conducts interviews for the From Dusk Till Con Network at www.fromdusktillcon.com.
Enter to win one of two great prizes during the #DarknessEmerges Tour. Ira is giving away a GRAND PRIZE of a signed print copy of his book, The Things in the Darkness, plus a signed copy of his “Office Case” segment from the movie, Scarewaves. As a second prize, he’s giving away another signed print copy! Enter to win through the Rafflecopter below. Enter now until Dec. 1, 2014. This is a tour wide giveaway, and open to U.S. Residents only due to shipping. If you want to enter from outside the U.S., and you can, but if you win, you’ll receive an e-book.
Giveaway for Reviewers!
Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Things in the Darkness on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Ira Gansler) at firstname.lastname@example.org, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card.