The sordid rabble at Samhain are damned happy to call Brian Kirk our newest brother. His debut novel, WE ARE MONSTERS, has been the talk of the town. I’m saving it to read on my upcoming vacation so I can thoroughly lose myself within its pages. Brian and I are both monster lovers, but the monsters in his story are far more frightening than a pissed off Bigfoot or Chupacabra.
So let’s train that spotlight on Brian Kirk. The haunted stage is yours…
Hey, Hunter, thanks for having me on your site. I like the dark shadows and fresh scent of coagulated blood.
While your horror spans a wide spectrum, I know you have a special affinity for monsters, both real and supernatural. So that’s what I wanted to discuss here today if that’s okay with you.
Specifically, I wanted to talk about monsters of the human variety. I want to talk about us, and the worst of our kind.
Who are the most dangerous among us? The ones who commit the vilest and most barbaric acts?
Politicians, you say? Oh, you’re killing me!
Seriously, though. If I were to create a list (so saying as I proceed to create a list) of the most heinous of our kind, I’d include the following, in no particular order: pedophiles, serial killers, rapists, and cannibals.
These are the people you definitely don’t want living next door. But who are these people? How did they get this way? What turns an innocent toddler into a monster that feasts on human flesh?
It’s difficult to say. Some of it’s nature, some of it nurture. Some people are born with abnormal brains, while others have their minds altered through prolonged exposure to trauma or violent environments. One thing that may be safe to say is that no one grows up wanting to become one of these perverted, and violent predators. I don’t think anyone with a normal, healthy brain and upbringing consciously decides to begin engaging in these acts rather than, say… go to dental school.
It’s an innate calling, an urge. An irresistible compulsion that defiles our dream that we’re all basically good. That evil does not exist in this world. That we’re more than hairless monkeys born of violence and blood-thirst.
What do we think when we see violent and heinous acts? When deranged killers walk into elementary schools and gun down innocent children? Evil is what comes to mind, isn’t it? Insane.
But not insane like an illness. Insane like a demonic possession.
I wonder about that. Is insanity more like an evil possession, or more like a disease?
Some may say, “Who cares. What’s the difference? The acts are evil and should be punished.”
While I absolutely agree that people with irresistible pedophiliac urges cannot be allowed to roam freely in society, I wonder what should be done with them. What if, instead of being deviant predators, these people were otherwise normal human beings afflicted with a disease or deformity that could be corrected or cured? What if it was your brother who inexplicably had these urges, or your son?
Let’s say we could identify and diagnose the people with this disease before they ever acted upon its urge. Would we send them to prison? Would we kill them? Or would we quarantine them while we worked to develop a cure? The same way we would treat someone who inadvertently contracted small pox and was now a health hazard to the rest of humanity.
Heck if I know. I’m just intrigued by the question. I’ll tell you this, though. If the urge to harm others is, at times, caused by a “disease” or deformity of the brain, much like how the mutation of a cell can lead to cancer, it is by far one of the worst diseases that can afflict an individual. And its contagion is among the most damaging to society as a whole.
These are difficult questions involving an uncomfortable subject. They are questions that inspired the nature of my debut novel, We Are Monsters.
In We Are Monsters, a troubled, yet brilliant psychiatrist is working to develop a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.
This novel asks challenging questions. As the venerable review site, Ginger Nuts of Horror said, “Parts of the story are heartbreaking, parts will make you angry, and the whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”
But I believe they are questions worth asking. I hope you’ll check it out.
Thanks for having me, Hunter! Here’s my contact info in case anyone is interested in forming a virtual friendship.
Ok, I’ll admit that I added Jessica Biel to the title of this post because a) her last name rhymes with ‘deal’ and b) a friend and I were just talking about her in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake back in 2003 and how we liked the movie mostly because she was in it looking all kinds of fine.
I mean, yowza! Anyway, horror fanboy fantasies aside, I do have some pretty exciting news to share.
I can’t believe it slipped my mind to announce this earlier, but the ink on my latest contract with Samhain is more than dry. They’ll publish my new novella, I KILL IN PEACE, in early 2016. This one is a total departure from what I normally dabble in (ghosts and monsters) and can be brutal. Reading discretion is advised. Here’s the elevator pitch :
Killing can be habit forming, especially when the texts and voices in your head give their marching orders and your victims deserve it. Peter Blades can’t stop weaving a path of destruction, unsure if he’s gone insane or become the puppet of a higher power, speeding headlong to a terrifying end while the world goes mad around him.
My sister has always been my first reader and editor, and I think this one may have scarred her for life.
I’m also thrilled to announce that I’m writing a sea monster novella for a brand new publisher (for me, anyway), Severed Press. I’m really excited to work with them because these ladies and gents know their monsters. The title of my book will be THEY RISE. I can’t give much away at this point, but I’m looking to meld Jaws with Swamp Monster Massacre. Strap in for this one! There’s no release date set yet, but I believe it will come out in 2016.
Believe it or not, there’s one more to announce, but I can’t just yet. Let’s just say the book is already written and it involves a cryptid on the loose. More on that very soon.
And that’s all the news that’s not fit to print. 2016 is going to be a veeery busy year.
On a totally different note, I’m wondering if I’m the only horror author with tickets to see Shania Twain on her farewell tour.
Gearing up for a crazy summer with two, count ’em, two releases – TORTURES OF THE DAMNED on July 28 and THE DOVER DEMON on September 1. Nothing like trying to cram all your fun into a small window of time.
I just got a delivery of bookmarks for both books and I’m happy to sign and send them to anyone who would like them. Thanks to Jerry Mulcahy for being my master designer. If you want the bookmarks, just send a self addressed, stamped envelope to : Hunter Shea, PO Box 232, Yonkers, NY 10710. I’ll sign those puppies and mail them right out.
Yes, I’m diving back into the cryptid pool this September, this time training my sights on The Dover Demon, a bizarre creature spotted in a small Massachusetts town in the late 70s. The cover art was done by Kelly Martin and she knocked it out of the park. Pretty damn creepy.
I’d heard a little bit about this alien-looking creature, but didn’t get a true education on the legend until I met Loren Coleman on a trip to his International Cryptozoology Museum. In fact, the book is dedicated to Loren, who urged me to make the demon the star of my next show. And let me tell you right here, there’s more to this story, both the true accounts and my twisted take on them, than what you may think looking at the cover. This little cryptid defies classification. Gray aliens can kiss this beastie’s ass.
So, what’s it all about Alfie?
The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.
In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence, their lives forever changed. Decades later, the town of Dover is hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is more than they could have believed, and deadly. These creatures are not alone, and their desires cannot be stopped. Can Sam and his reunited friends battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that human history has been shaped by their secretive presence?
I know we have a whole summer between now and its release, but I had to share this cover. And if you’re in the Portland, Maine area on vacation, stop by the Cryptozoology Museum to check out the Dover Demon display. I promise, there will be no probing.
I have to admit, my fascination with witches has extended to Witchy-Poo from Bugs Bunny, Hocus Pocus and the TV show, Charmed, mostly because it had Alyssa Milano.
When it came to witches in horror fiction, I hadn’t even dipped my toes in the water until I read Brian Moreland’s THE WITCHING HOUSE, which was so good, I knew in an instant I was hooked on a sub genre. It came just in time, because I was getting pretty damn bored with vampires and zombies.
So imagine my delight when I found out that fellow Samhainer, Catherine Cavendish, came out with her own witch’s brew of horror, THE PENDLE CURSE. It only took two pages for me to realize I was in the capable hands of someone who is at the top of their game, and with that, I settled in for one of the best novels of this very young year.
Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.
Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there.
But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.
As someone who has a chronically ill wife, my biggest fear is losing her. So right away, I’m completely sympathetic to Laura, a woman trying to cope with the loss of her husband. There’s a little touch of a ghost story here, too, just enough to make you wonder what’s coming next and to feel her pain and curiosity about the strange things happening in her home.
Cavendish expertly takes us on a ride between past and present as Laura is cast under the spell of the Pendle Curse. A simple trip to get away from things and heal turns into an absolute nightmare. She does a fantastic job creating what could have been cookie cutter characters into fully fleshed out human beings with strengths and faults that make you love them one minute and hate them the next. I literally had no idea what was going to happen, and for someone who knows how the sausage is made, this is high praise indeed.
Now, the witches in The Pendle Curse aren’t sporting warts or riding around on brooms, but they are terrifying in their own right. And there’s a little something extra within these pages for fans of classic VC Andrews yarns. I’m not giving away any spoilers, because you have to get the book and read it yourself.
Catherine Cavendish is now on my top 10 list. I give it 5 out of 5 brooms!