Tag Archive | Hunter Shea

The Honeys of Hammer Horror In Your Hands

OK, I realize that was a bit of a cheeky title, but it’s true! The Monster Men take a deep dive into a wonderful book about the vixens of Hammer. It’s the ultimate coffee table book for horror fans. We also give some reading recommendations to warm up your cold winter nights.

Crack open a beer, turn down the lights and step into the Monster’s Lair!

An Interview With Kristopher Rufty On His Dog Gone Bad Novel – JAGGER

I love being a horror writer. Sometimes, it afford little perks, like not only getting to know an awesome writer (and human being) like Kristopher Rufty, but also getting a sneak peek at his latest book.

The book in question this time is JAGGER, a tale about an enormous dog who goes from cuddly to bat crap crazy. When I was done, I actually said, “Cujo who?” out loud. This is one you’ll want to devour in one sitting.


Let me start off by saying I loved your new book, Jagger. Why don’t you tell folks what this nail biter is about?

Thank you so much! I’m happy you enjoyed it. Coming from you, that means a lot. I’m a huge fan of your work as well. Jagger is about a scumbag named Clayton who takes Amy Snider’s mastiff to use in some dogfights. His showpiece pit was killed in a fight and cost some very bad people a lot money. He knows if he doesn’t come up with something quick, he’ll suffer the same fate as others before him. But the problem is Jagger is a domesticated canine, and his size wouldn’t be the only thing that could keep him alive in the fights. So Clayton enlists the help of an old friend named Stan, a medical school graduate who’s turned to developing meth and experimental drugs in his basement for help. Stan has whipped up a special kind of steroid that he sells to beef farmers and they try it out on Jagger. It works. But the side-effects are disastrous. Jagger can no longer feel pain, and he suffers from violent outbursts, rage, and insanity. Take that, and add in an abusive dog trainer, Jagger becomes the Jason Voorhees of dogs. Once he breaks loose from his captors, he goes on a bloody killing spree as he tries to find his way home.

I wrote the first draft of this book in less than six weeks. In the revision process, I changed very little. Though it got a little intense writing certain scenes, I had a good time with this one. It was one of those books I couldn’t stay away from. Being a lover of nature-gone-wrong books and movies, I tried to incorporate some of that with some classic exploitation-style characters and situations. Hopefully I succeeded.

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I know you’re a dog owner. Is there a particular dog you had that inspired Jagger?

I based a lot of Jagger’s traits and mannerisms before he goes mad on our dog, Thor. The personality, the huffing and puffing and sagging jowls that make propeller sounds, the unlimited supply of drool, the crawling into bed with you and nuzzling his wet nose into the nook of your neck—all of that came from Thor.

Jagger’s appearance was inspired by a dog I saw at the vet’s office one day. Sitting in the waiting area with Thor, I watched as he took pride in being the biggest dog around. Thor ways close to 135 pounds, so there aren’t many dogs bigger than him at any vet visit. On this day, that changed. A guy entered with this beast of a dog. He had thick brown and black fur, a scrunched up face that sort of resemble a Chow. Thor went to greet this dog and looked like a puppy standing next to its mother in this dog’s presence. I got to talking to with the owner and he told me his dog was a fuzzy mastiff, a form of bullmastiff but with longer hair. I found it slightly humorous how much the dog resembled Mick Jagger. On the way home that day, I kept thinking what would happen if that dog turned on its owner and the seeds for Jagger was planted.

I read up about mastiffs. They’re very gentle in nature, loving, and overly affectionate. So I had to work a bit at coming up with something that might make such a tender animal turn violent.

You’re not just a horror writer, you’re a director, too. Which hat is more difficult to wear? Do you have any future movie making plans?

They can be difficult in their own ways. In movies, I have to be a leader of a team and it’s my duty to make sure the movie is made with this team the best way it possibly can be. I have budgets to adhere to, actors to instruct and care for, and a certain number of scenes have to be filmed on a particular day or I’ll get behind schedule and risk throwing a wrench into all the aforementioned duties. But when it’s over and filming has wrapped, I get to take my footage and cut it together into my creation. That is the best part, seeing the fruit of everyone’s labors. The stress and bad moods of filming become a distant memory as I watch what we worked so hard to accomplish in a finished form. It’s a wonderful feeling that makes the entire process a wonderful experience.

Writing can bring its own stresses at times, but there is something therapeutic about writing stories that can’t be topped by film-making, at least not the kind of film-making I’m used to. Writing is magic, not only are you creating a world to play in, but there’s no budget sheets to worry about, nobody will throw a temper tantrum, nobody can get hurt (other than the characters) and you are completely limitless as to what you can do. It’s amazing. One of the greatest blessings I’ve been given is the chance to write stories.

For future movies, I wish I could say there are things lined up. I’ve been writing book after book, and haven’t had much time to pursue movies since we finished Rags (which will be released this year from Wild Eye Releasing). My dream was to be like Clive Barker—somebody who dabbles in both. And one day I hope that will happen again. But for now, I’m very happy with just writing fiction.

Some of my books have received interest from film-makers and producers. And I have a script that I wrote based on my novella Last One Alive. That movie might be my return to the director’s chair in the near future.

But nothing can take my love away from movies. The passion is still there, a burning sensation in my heart. I still watch all the movies I’ve loved since I was a kid on a regular basis. Roger Corman, H.G. Lewis, AIP classics, and the exploitation greats. Plus the splatter movies that set me on this path to begin with.

You’ve written quite a few books in just several years. How do you keep the writing wheels going?

I keep those wheels lubed! Seriously. There’s material all over that I can find influence in. Like with Jagger, the dog at the vet that day inspired an entire novel with the help of our dog Thor. My son inspired Proud Parents. My stepsister inspired Tracey in Oak Hollow. A close call at my old job inspired Angel Board. I’m sure this happens to you as well, something will just trigger your brain and these massive mortal shells start exploding ideas. Sometimes it can be a conversation you have with someone that just stays with you. My personal fears have inspired a good bit of my writing and still do. I just do a lot of people watching, read a lot of books, magazines, newspapers. I watch a lot of true crime and monster mysteries on TV. Material is everywhere. You know as well as I do that we never take a day off. Sure, we don’t sit down and write once in a while, but our gears are always cranking, always spinning possibilities for stories in our minds, even when we’re sleeping.

What’s one thing you’d like to check off your bucket list this year?

I want to finally read some of King’s The Dark Tower series. I know what you’re thinking, but please don’t beat me! I haven’t read any of those books yet.(We’re both in the same boat. They are some of the only King books I haven’t read!)

My wife swears they’re some of his best. I promised her I would read the first three this year. I’m actually about to start on The Gunslinger here soon and plan to read the following two this summer and fall. We have them all in both paperback and hardback, so they’re waiting on me and I’m excited to start.

I’m going to go opposite on this question – what’s your least favorite horror movie franchise and why?

Probably either the Paranormal Activity series or Zombie’s Halloween movies. I watched the first Paranormal and thought it was pretty well done, but the sequels were just mundane and repetitive. The fourth one was silly.

Zombie’s Halloween saga was just bad for all the wrong reasons. He did something you shouldn’t—tried to explain evil. It can’t be explained. That was what made Myers so scary in the first place. There was no method to his madness, no reason for it. Myers was just evil on two legs as Dr. Loomis stated in the original series. An unstoppable force that slaughtered anything in front of him without provocation, a wildfire that can’t be extinguished as it scorches everything in its wake. But I do give him credit for trying. He has a brass pair for tackling a classic character like Michael Myers and trying to make him his own.

Do you think you could beat Stephen King in an arm wrestling match?

Probably not. I’d be so distracted by being in his company that he’d use it to his advantage for the win. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed I’d lost until he’d left the room and I came down from my King-induced high.

Tell the world what’s coming next and where to find you and your books.

The Lurking Season just came out. It’s a sequel to The Lurkers. Jagger will be released in a couple weeks, with Bigfoot Beach following. The Vampire of Plainfield comes out this summer, and Desolation follows that. Thunderstorm Books are doing limited edition hardcovers of Bigfoot Beach and The Vampire of Plainfield, but they’ll also be available in e-book with a paperback following soon after.

My books can be found in a lot of the usual places, sometimes books stores too. I recently heard that some of my titles are in a few libraries, which I think is amazing. I love libraries and even now I get that same kind of nervous excitement whenever I’m scouring the shelves for something I haven’t read. It’s a feeling we should all get to experience as much as possible.

Thanks a lot, Hunter! I appreciate the chance to visit your blog. It’s always a fun time. Can’t wait to get together again and talk about writing, monsters, and horror movies.

You can follow Krist’s amazing journey at lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com . And if you crave some Jagger, click on the cover copy above.

A Video Preview of Island of the Forbidden

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?

Guest Author Glenn Rolfe Finds His Inspiration

Glenn Rolfe is the newest addition to the Samhain horror roster and further proof that Samhain is publishing the best new talent around. His book, Abram’s Bridge, comes from a very special place. Read on to discover where…


Abram’s Bridge is my first piece with Samhain Publishing. I wrote it in the fall of 2013 when my writing group, Tuesday Mayhem Society, decided we should each write up a ghost story for the next meeting. I went home and sat down with my notebook. Nothing happened. I knew I wanted to write something really good. I wanted to impress the group, ya know? So, I threw on my headphones and found some Bruce. Bruce Springsteen’s album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, always has a way of getting my mind set right. I’ve listened to the title track a thousand times, but this time, I heard something in it that I’d never noticed before. There’s a line that says, “tell her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge, and tell her there’s a darkness on the edge of town…” I said, “Whoa…”

I started scribbling.

I set Bruce on repeat and moved to my laptop. The story started to fall from wherever we writers reach to and I just went with it. It felt like real magic. It felt somehow special. Every free moment I got over the next few days, I jumped back in. I couldn’t wait to get back to my computer, to these characters, to their story. I had to know what was going to happen next. Somewhere along the way it became more than a simple ghost story. It outgrew the short story parameters I had originally set it in. I missed my writing group’s meeting and our self-imposed deadline. Something scary happened. A mystery developed and I stopped. I’m normally a pretty fearless writer. I let my characters live and breathe and do whatever the hell they want. I let my stories turn whichever way the like, but I had never written a mystery. Regardless, I knew that’s the way this story wanted to go. So, after an evening of staring at the blinking cursor, I said to hell with it. I reached back in and the rest of the story poured out.

AbramsBridgeWhen I finished, I knew I had something.

Bruce Springsteen, to me, has always been the most inspiring figure in the arts. Listening to his songs, his stories behind those songs and those albums, his reason for creating his art…it’s always moved me, motivated me. Abram’s Bridge is the first piece I thought actually had a touch of the Boss’s magic attached to it. If I’d never sold this story, it would still be special to me. Luckily, Don from Samhain enjoyed it as much as I did, and here we are.

I hope you’ll download a copy of this novella. I hope you’ll take a couple of hours and meet Lil’ Ron Sawyer and Sweet Kate, the girl out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge. I hope you’ll fall into their story and feel the magic like I did. There is darkness, but that’s often where we find our way to the light.

Cheers!

-Glenn

Best Horror Movies Of 2014 – Monster Men Style

As you all know, I posted my top 13 horror movie list a month back. My Monster Men brother Jack did his own list, with some flix I didn’t see or stupidly forgot to add to my own list. In this episode, we mash the two together and wax poetic about the cream of last year’s (children of the corn) crop. Since very few horror movies have come out so far in 2015, this gives you a chance to catch up on what you missed before we get inundated with fresh meat. Let me know what some of your favorites, and least favorites, were in 2014.

After we filmed this episode, we sat down to watch a classic of our youth, Without Warning. Gotta love any movie with Jack Palance and Martin (nobody gives 2 fucks for Bela!) Landau trying to out-ham the other. It was waaaay slower than I remembered, but still had a few creepy moments. This was mandatory late night viewing when I was a kid.

 

Deep Discount on ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN and all Samhain Books

I just saw this on the back cover of Horrorhound Magazine’s issue #51 and their website. Both contain coupon codes where you’ll get 30% off any Samhain horror ebook. That means you can get a copy of my latest, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, for less than $4. That’s cheaper than a Big Mac in these parts, and I can assure you my book is better for your heart and cholesterol. You can use that same discount on last year’s #1 horror novel of the year, HELL HOLE, my true ghost novella, THE WAITING or the prequel to ISLAND, SINISTER ENTITY.

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This goes for other great titles that just came out by authors like Russell James (DREAMWALKER), Jonathan Janz (THE NIGHTMARE GIRL) and Glenn Rolfe (ABRAM’S BRIDGE) as well as upcoming books by Kristopher Rufty (THE LURKING SEASON), Catherine Cavendish (THE PENDLE CURSE ) and Sean Munger (DOPPELGANGER).

So, here are the codes you can use : HHP1501 or FMW1501. Take those codes to samhainhorror.com and pick up all your winter reading. Nothing beats a spooky book on a cold, blustery night.

If You Love #Bigfoot, Please Support The International Cryptozoology Museum

It’s the heart of winter here in the north east, judging by the snow and preponderance of heavy jackets and wool hats. One of my favorite places in the world is the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. Let me tell you about Maine in winter. It’s cold. I mean spit freezing before it hits the floor kind of cold. Portland is right by the Atlantic Ocean. Brrrrr.

Needless to say, Portland is not a big tourist destination in January and February. Sure, plenty of interior parts of Maine get a ton of visitors because of all the skiing. In Portland, there are no slopes. Just cool joints to eat and frozen water.

crypto headerThe Cryptozoology Museum is owned and operated by Loren Coleman, the man I call the godfather of modern cryptozoology. I wrote an article about meeting him at the museum in the summer of 2013 that you can read by clicking here. If you’re a fan of Bigfoot, The Jersey Devil, Mothman, sea serpents, The Dover Demon and a host of other strange and unusual beasties, this place was designed just for you.

Winter months are lean months in Portland, which is why Loren needs your support. Please visit their website and either make a donation, in any amount, or purchase something from their gift shop. Every dollar goes to keep the museum running. There is no other place like it on earth. I went and bought a Bigfoot action figure and signed copy of Fate Magazine today. This way, Loren and I are both happy.

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Squatch above soon to be on the Monster Men set!

Guest Post With Russell James – Déjà vu Writing

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.

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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
someplace familiar.

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!

Dreamwalker Synopsis

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?

Purchase Links

GoodReads:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23563310-dreamwalker

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Dreamwalker-Russell-James-ebook/dp/B00P15GV98

Samhain Horror:

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5295/dreamwalker

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreamwalker-russell-james/1120666682?ean=9781619227682

Dreamwalker tour logo

Giveaways

  • 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 hookofabook@hotmail.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 hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Direct Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b16/?

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 rrj@russellrjames.com.

Russell Photo

A Chance To Win Some #Free Books!

As part of the ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN blog tour, there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway with 5 books up for grabs to the lucky winners who enter. Here are the details :

Enter to win one of five Hunter Shea books being given away! Two signed copies of Montauk Monster, one signed copy of Sinister Entity, and two e-books of choice of his titles are up for grabs! One book to each winner, given in order of random drawing. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter link. Must use valid email that winners can be contacted by. Print books are U.S. residents only. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Direct Link to Rafflecopter

In addition to that, I’m giving away 1 signed copy of ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN on my Facebook Fan Page. All you have to do is click the FB link and answer one simple question, which is really an opinion. Come join the fun toay and throughout the weekend. A winner will be announced next week on FB.

Thank you to everyone who has bought Island, given it a review, or taken part in the blog tour. It’s come out of the gate strong! Ghost power!

A True Haunting in Belgium

Here’s a first for me. My book, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, inspired a reader to write about her own haunting experience. Aniko Carmean is a writer of superb, speculative fiction. We’ve been cyber buds for several years now, supporting one another as we attempt to grow as writerly types. Anyone who appreciates fine, intelligent stories needs to check out her new lovechild, ODD SKY BOOKS. She’s crafting some of the finest tales you’ll find today.

What I didn’t know all these years was that Aniko had her own, hair raising brush with the unknown. Thankfully, she took the time to put it into chilling words and wants to share it with the class. I live in a haunted house and I even got goose bumps reading this.

So turn down the lights, charge your EMF meter and read on…


I’m a military brat, and when I was in high school, my father was stationed in Belgium. We lived off-base in a small village. Our three-hundred year old house was on the village’s  grand place, directly across the street from the ancient church that had been bombed and rebuilt in at least one of the European wars to roll across that dismal, chill land. The only functional fireplace had an intricate carved bronze inlay, the attic was closed off by a heavy wooden door that predated my family’s immigration to the United States by centuries, and the kitchen’s exposed beams begged to be festooned with drying herbs. It looked old, not scary – in the daylight.

I am not like Jessica Backman in Hunter Shea’s novel Island of the Forbidden. I cannot banish what she calls energy beings (EB), and what I call ghosts, nor do I seek supernatural encounters. I can, however, see, hear, and feel ghosts. I discovered my ability when I lived for three years in a that house, the one in Belgium. More than twenty years have passed, but reading Island of the Forbidden awakened memories of my time in the haunted house. Aspects of Jessica’s encounters in the isolated Ormsby House are similar to my experiences in Belgium, and I thought it might be of interest to the ghost-hunters, skeptics, and the simply curious if I shared a little of what I remember.

Many haunted house stories describe unaccountable and unnaturally loud thudding sounds. Ormsby House in Shea’s Island responded to the intrusion of the visitors with thunderous house-rattling. Similar thudding greeted my sister and I on our first night in Belgium. Our room was on the top floor, just below the attic. The sounds started as a tapping somewhere at the far side of the attic, and grew to a sledgehammer thud as whatever was making the noise crossed the attic. When it was directly overhead, the noise was so loud I was certain the ceiling was going to break open and tumble death down upon us. My sister and I were crouched together on the mattress that didn’t yet have a bedstead, clutching hands and staring up at the ceiling. Then, as suddenly as it started, the banging stopped. I don’t believe either of us mentioned the possibility of a ghost – not then – but I don’t think we slept, either.

In Island of the Forbidden, a drop in temperature is an indicator of the presence of EBs.  “Cold spots” are also a part of my experience in Belgium. The old house was drafty, and the attic itself was built such that it was open to the outdoors all along the eaves. It was never warm in the winter, but even in the summer, there were times that the cold in one area was palpably more frigid than the ambient temperature. This occurred mostly at night, when a layer of cold would hover above me as I tried to sleep. The cold carried the sensation of a presence. There is little that is more terrifying than intuiting something malevolent that is invisibly cloaked in cold.

The malfunction of electronics is another common hallmark of a haunting. There are plenty of high-tech hijinks in Island, and the characters struggle against an onslaught of cameras on the fritz, drained batteries, and power outages. When I was in Belgium, I recall only one peculiar electronic malfunction, but remember that my experience predates smartphones, iPads, and  itty-bitty digital cameras, so there were fewer electronics for an EB to afflict. What I did have was a voice-activated tape recorder(!), which I put in the attic. I hoped to capture some of the strange noises that my family had heard up there and share them with my friends. I expected to record footsteps that seemed to walk into a non-existent distance, or the sound of shattering glass, or even – and best! – the voices of men speaking in French as they played cards. What I got was a creepy amalgam of disturbances, starting with the sound of footsteps and low, male voices. The recorder captured the scuffing of the instrument being shoved across the floor, and then a long stretch of silence. Minutes passed, and then came a series of violent bangs, as if the recorder were being stomped or bashed with something. Indeed, when I retrieved the instrument, it was halfway across the room from where I left it. After the first time I listened to the tape, the cassette player seized; it would not open to let me take out the tape, nor would it play the tape, even with new batteries. Years later, after we moved back to the States, the cassette player did work again, but unfortunately the tape itself was damaged.

dryad

In haunting stories, the visual sighting of ghosts is the pièce de résistance. Island of the Forbidden is full of apparitions which present themselves in gory detail to the characters sensitive to seeing them. I am not gifted like Jessica’s compatriot Eddie, and the ghosts in Belgium never showed me their faces. One ghost appeared only at night. A maternal, safe feeling flowed from her presence, which manifested as a fuzzy mass of white light. I slept deeply and peacefully on the nights she hovered at the far side of my room. There were other shapes, though, that were defined by an absence of light. In my most terrifying incident, I was wrapped in my towel and walking to my room after showering in the creepy bath where I never felt like I was alone. It was winter, and already pitch black outside. As I passed my sister’s room, I saw her sitting on the edge of her bed, in the dark. I asked her if everything was okay, but she didn’t answer. Water dripped from the ends of my hair, icy cold, and a realization hit me: the person on the bed was far too large to be my sister. As if sensing my understanding, the shadow stood. The shape was that of a man, and laugh if you will, but he wore a stove pipe hat. I couldn’t see any features, just the cut of his clearly old-fashioned garb, and that hat. I was frozen, gripping my towel around myself, staring. He extended a hand to me and I did the only sensible thing; I turned on the hall light. He disappeared, and even when I was brave enough to shut of the light again, he was gone.

As a result of my experiences in that house, I am a discerning aficionado of all haunting stories. Island of the Forbidden makes it onto my approved list of haunted house tales, and joins the likes of Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and James’s The Turn of the Screw. Hunter Shea gives his EBs backstory and reason, which makes for an engaging read, especially when combined with the authenticity of the supernatural events in the story. If you want to revisit your own haunting, or have never experienced ghosts and want to know what it feels like, I recommend reading Island of the Forbidden.


Aniko Carmean is a speculative fiction author living in Austin, Texas. She loves ancho-chocolate milkshakes, October, and dogs. You can read her stories for free by visiting Odd Sky Books and signing up to become a member of the Odd Literati.


You can follow the Island of the Forbidden blog tour by clicking the image below. It will also take you to a Rafflecopter link where I’m giving away 5 books! Enter to win.

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