About a year ago, my darling Hellions, I posted an article about Norman Prentiss’s latest work, a unique on-the-road kinda tale called ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER. Since then, the book has garnered high praise and is in contention for a coveted Bram Stoker award.
I described the book as “An absolutely beautiful book that seamlessly combines love and monsters. One of the most truly unique and unforgettable reads I’ve ever come across.”
Well, I’ve dragged Norman back for an interview and I strongly encourage all of you to pick up a copy. It’s only $1.00 on Kindle now, so run, don’t walk!
Odd Adventures With Your Other Father is one of the most poignant novels, horror or otherwise, I’ve read in a long time. What was the inspiration behind this unique, touching story?
First, thanks for the nice words about the book’s emotional stuff. It’s been hard to pitch to my usual horror readers, since the supernatural elements/adventures are essentially wrapped around a coming-of-age tale, and the whole book essentially comprises an unconventional love story. But the quirky structure of the book, and its strange mixture of themes/genres, is a big part of what energized me as I was writing it.
I’d had the idea for the book for quite a while. Ten or so years ago, I made notes for a story called “Union,” that essentially played off of the only supernatural element in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, when Jane telepathically hears Rochester’s agonized cry for her help. Jane and Rochester have such a close connection, that they can read each others’ minds from a distance. I wanted to write about a similar telepathic connection, and came up with the idea that a gay couple, growing up in the 80s, might develop a mild supernatural ability to compensate for the isolation they might feel during a more repressed era. The idea was that one member of the couple gets kidnapped, but could project gruesome images that helped his partner locate him. The idea sat in the back of my mind for a while, and eventually developed into some other adventures I had for the couple. Then, as I was structuring the tales into the Odd Adventures novel, I realized I needed an origin story, of a sorts… so “Bread Crumbs,” the first adventure in the book, is a fully realized version of my earlier “Union” notes.
As I was reading it, I was hoping it was a veiled autobiography. I know that sounds crazy, but I love the concept of hidden wonders on a cross country road trip. How much fact, if any, is there in the fiction?
That actually doesn’t sound crazy at all, and is exactly how I think about the novel! My first book, the novella Invisible Fences, is largely a fictionalized autobiography of my childhood. Odd Adventures with your Other Father, to me, is autobiographical with respect to my adult life — with a horror and fantasy overlay, of course. The main characters, Jack and Shawn, each contain characteristics borrowed from me and my partner of 30+ years, with Jack being a more adventurous, more confident version of myself. The best parts of Shawn reflect my real-life husband. As for the fantasy/horror elements…here’s the thing: growing up gay in the 70s and 80s was always a surreal experience, to some extent — reading in code, finding queer themes embedded in mainstream books; looking at ideas of marriage and family that you’re afraid would never apply to you. So, to represent that time with any truth, to show how it really felt, fantasy elements were essential. And monsters, too.
How would you categorize the book? Horror is by and large dominated by stories centering around straight white males. What is your hope for the future of horror?
I call it a Horror/Fantasy/LGBT road-trip adventure with a coming-of-age frame tale. That’s not much help to book marketers who want a single category, however. For me it’s mostly horror, since that’s my sensibility…and when I describe it that way, it allows the love/family elements to sneak up on readers, which I kinda don’t mind.
As for horror often centering around straight white males — I’ll admit I’ve written my share of those myself, ha! When I first conceived the Other Father stories, I think it would have been a harder sell with horror audiences. But from the response I’ve been getting, it seems like things are more open: very positive reactions from horror readers, and also encouraging comments from people who have said things like “This isn’t the kind of book I’d normally pick up, but I enjoyed it.” Maybe the LGBT content has actually helped the book, by making it stand out a bit.
What horror movie and book would you say is the Norman Prentiss spirit animal?
I’ll just say the 1931 King Kong in the movie category. As a kid, I was fascinated by the stop-motion animation of Kong and the dinosaurs…and I even allude to Kong and stop-motion in one of the adventures, “The Manikin’s Revenge.” As a writer, I like the slow build of the 1931 movie, which probably had a subconscious influence on how I construct stories: setting up the atmosphere, referring to an off-screen monster as the tension builds, then letting the monster or ghost or whatever break into the story at the right moment.
As for books as spirit animals… I’d say anything by Douglas Clegg or T.M. Wright; Straub’s Ghost Story for its complex structure and commentary on storytelling; and add in a collection of M. R. James stories.
I know you’re a teacher as well as a writer. If you could be in any other profession, what would it be?
My favorite job, actually, is part-time teacher. I love teaching, but I always over-prepare, so it’s better for me to have a reduced class load. That leaves time for my editing gig at Cemetery Dance (for their eBooks), and my writing.
What’s your dream city to visit and why?
I spent my junior year of college in England, and really fell in love with Oxford. I’ve planned out two more books in the Other Father series, but they all take place in the U.S. You’re making me think, now, that I need to write a fourth book that takes place in England…
If you could write in any other genre, what would it be?
Definitely comedy. I’m often wary of mixing horror and comedy, but have tried my hand at it in a couple stories, including “The Albright Sextuplets,” and “The Man Who Could Not Be Bothered to Die” (a kind of zombie story in Blood Lite 3). When I was writing poetry, I tended to include a dark comic element. I’m currently writing a daily blog of flash fiction that frequently includes comic elements. It’s called “Excerpts from The Apocalypse-a-Day Desk Calendar,” with mini-stories triggered by holidays or “on this day” events. A lot of post-apocalyptic horror, obviously, but some is straight-up humor — check the inappropriate Jane Austen mash-up in the January 28th entry, for example. The blog’s available for free at: http://normanprentiss.com/category/apocalypse-a-day/
What are you currently working on and how can peeps follow your own odd adventures?
In addition to keeping up with the Apocalypse blog, I’m also revising a novel called Life in a Haunted House, which is about a young movie fan who gains access to the studio of his favorite low-budget director. When I officially announce the book, I’ll be releasing some fun tie-in novelizations of movies that get mentioned in the novel–my hope is to make these stories free-of-charge to folks who subscribe to my newsletter: visit www.normanprentiss.com, and click the Newsletter link. I’ve already given away two mini-collections of stories to my subscribers (In the Best Stories and Queer Panics), and my novella Invisible Fences has been free for a while at Barnes and Noble and Amazon US, so I’m really working hard to get my fiction into people’s ereaders! And by the way, since we’ve been talking about Odd Adventures with your Other Father…this is my most important and personal book, I definitely feel it’s my best work, and it’s discounted to only $1 for the whole month of February at Amazon US and Amazon Canada.
Author Robert Stava and I met 5 years ago at a writer’s group I cobbled together. The group lasted about a year, but I’m glad he and I have become good friends. He’s a renaissance kind of guy – writer, artist, musician, historian, martial artist. I wouldn’t bat an eye if he told me he’d climbed Everest while balancing the US budget.
Amazingly, both of us ended up having books published by Severed Press – all this done without the other knowing we were submitted manuscripts there. Great minds, great minds…
Robert’s premier book with Severed, NIGHTMARE FROM WORLD’S END, recently came out and it’s a doozy! Here’s my 10 cent review – “Move over Nessie and Champ, there’s a new kick ass lake monster in town! Nightmare from World’s End is a sharp, intelligent, witty and wild ride across the turbid waters of the Hudson River. Set in author Robert Stava’s mysterious Wyvern Falls, this is one monster tale not to be missed because you get not one, but TWO underwater leviathans duking it out. And God help the puny humans who dare not just go in the water, but even near it. The last act blew my mind. Treat yourself and grab a copy.“
So, let’s get to know Robert and this awesome book a little, shall we?
Please tell my Hellions what your latest book, Nightmare from World’s End, is all about and the sheer bat crap insanity that you somehow managed to tie together.
It’s a spin on the usual sea-monster tale, in this case not one but two that turn up in the Hudson River at an inopportune time – on the eve of a major Folk Festival at the local river town of Wyvern Falls. It mainly comes down to two people, an expat British detective named Easton and an American Indian Archeologist named Sarah Ramhorne to save the day. Along the way they get tangled up with a corrupt mayor, a failing Ancient Alien TV show host and some overzealous activists. For starters.
As far as how I tied it all together: truth is I pretty much winged it. Luckily it was one of those instances that just spun itself out in the right fashion without much thought or editing. I wish every story came out that easy!
I love the true history that you weave into your tales. This time, we got quite the education on American Indians in New York’s Westchester County. How did you go about researching everything?
It’s a MacGyver approach: a little this, some chewing gum there, a little masking tape here, etc. I grew up with books on the Wyandot & Iroquois (and knew several) but knew next to nothing about the Hudson River Indians outside some vague misinformation. Since moving up here to Ossining however, I took a keen interest and did everything from attending lectures at Croton Point given by the NY State Archeologist Association, going through artifacts in our Historical Society collection and reaching out to the descendants of the tribes that once lived here. They’re in Oklahoma now, btw. It’s a tragic story and they had a few choice things to say. Also, I put all the American Indian history books I used into the afterword of the novel. A lot of times it just about getting out and talking to people. That bizarre scene where Easton meets the American Indian vendor talking to him about Atlantis and lost technologies? That really happened to me at an Indian Pow-Wow I attended. You can’t make this stuff up.
It’s so awesome to have you as a publishing mate at Severed Press, the land of sea monsters! What made you decide to dip your toes in these brackish waters? And how did you come up with the monstrous Ossie? Any truth in the legend?
It is awesome – I had no idea when I submitted the manuscript! I was combing through stuff at my job one day and saw they were looking for submissions, and realized I already had a completed novel right up their alley. They accepted it pretty fast, which had me a little suspicious after so many rejections from other publishers. When I got the low-down from yourself I realized I had lucked out. Call it serendipity.
‘Ossie’ came from an off-hand remark my wife made one day while we were having lunch out by the river. I saw something out there – it might have been a cormorant – that reminded me of the classic 30s ‘Nessie” pic, so I snapped a zoom photo of it. When I showed it to my wife she replied, in that matter-of-fact way she has, “Oh, that’s ‘Ossie’!”. I’m sure an evil grin stole across my face as I then said “Yes, yes…of course it is…and I bet Ossie likes people – because they taste just like chicken!” That’s how my mind rolls.
I don’t know if there’s any truth to the legend, but who can rule anything out? There’s all kinds of species in the ocean we have no idea existed. Part of the inspiration behind ‘Typhon’ was this horrifying giant ‘sea bug’ – a 30” isopod -that was discovered a few years back that came up clinging to a submersible in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone thought it was a hoax. It wasn’t until 2013 that a giant squid was finally caught on film. I think there’s plenty of other things down there we know nothing about (shudder).
After this book, I don’t think you’re ever going to get a call to appear on Ancient Aliens. Which is not a bad thing. Do you watch the show? What do you think of the ancient astronaut theory?
Ha! Probably not. I loved that stuff as a kid, but it all falls apart under any kind of basic logical scrutiny. Most these guys are nuttier than a crate of pistachios. They only focus on what ‘evidence’ supports their conclusions and refuse to acknowledge any other possible explanations, which is hardly scientific. That said, I do believe alien life is out there and can testify to a UFO I witnessed as a kid. Also, while researching the non-fiction book I wrote on my uncle’s WWII experiences in the Southwest Pacific, I came across a folder of very unusual reports in the National Archives. It was a series of 5th Air Force eye-witness reports on UFO’s spotted from airplane observation posts in New Guinea in 1943-44, well before Roswell. Throughout my novel though, it’s all part of a running joke: the characters keep getting distracted by the hoaxes happening to one side while completely missing the very real phenomena occurring on the other. I suspect the truth about aliens is somewhat like that.
Stephen King has Castle Rock, you have Wyvern Falls. What the hell is up with that place? Why would anyone live there? It’s fascinating, but bad for your health.
It was originally inspired by ‘Twin Peaks’, actually! And obviously the many scenic towns up and down here along the Hudson. I was drawing up a helpful ‘50 things you should NEVER DO in Wyvern Falls’ user guide but haven’t completed to date. But there’s lots of reasons to live there – it’s a place where truly weird shit can happen, and isn’t there a part of all of us that longs for that affirmation? That there’s more to the world than 401k’s, vanishing retirement options and the dreariness of everything being logically explained by a bunch of people you dread hanging out with by the water cooler? Fear is the antidote to complacency. The supernatural is about faith in things beyond our comprehension. I’ve experienced both those things in varying amounts: Wyvern Falls is about a place where you can too.
Okay, I’m going to pepper you with some quick hits :
- Favorite band – The Who. Nobody attacks the drums like Keith Moon.
- Dream spot to write – My library – what could be more inspirational?
- Craziest celebrity encounter – I’ve had some pretty good ones over the years, especially living in NYC. One of the craziest though, was a conversation I got into with Lenny Kravitz at a party years back at the studio control room in the Edison Hotel (a famous midtown studio where Jazz greats like Charlie Parker recorded). He’d bought the place with an advertising partner. I was pretty blotto from the open bar when I ran into him and started running off about Cindy Blackman, whom I’d met a few times though my old drummer, Tedd. Kravitz was nothing at all what I’d imagined from his videos. He was like a shy, dysfunctional little kid. He stared at his toes the whole time we were talking, though he did tell me some interesting things I won’t repeat here. After about 15 minutes he awkwardly reached out, shook my hand and said “Hi. I’m Lenny!” I said, “Uh, hi, I’m Bob. Nice talking to you,” and left. I must have talked a good game though, as a few days later a marketing package showed up at my office from him and his partner, which included some of Kravitz’s demos. I still have it here somewhere.
- Favorite horror movie – Tie between ‘American Werewolf in London’ and ‘Dead Alive’ – both had me simultaneously freaked out and laughing my ass off. But the scariest movies I’ve ever watched was ‘Session 9’ and “Jacob’s Ladder”. Do not watch either at 3 a.m. Very bad idea.
- Beer of choice – Sapporo
Last but not least, what new delights do you have in store for your readers?
Well, the next two novels in the Wyvern Falls series are written so we’ll see where those get to. I’m currently writing a second novel for Severed Press which is due out his year – it’s a visit to classic Crichton territory titled “The Lost World of Kharamu”, there’s a new short “The Witchering”, coming out in Dark Chapter Press’s “Edge of Darkness” anthology and I’m waiting to hear on 3 novellas that were rewritten for Sinister Grin Press a few months back. At least one, “The Invasion” is slated for a 2017 release from them, last I heard. Fingers crossed, just in case!
It’s kinda sad to write that headline. *sniff *
I have 2 final appearances for the year that will also be your last chance to pick up my signed Samhain books before they go out of print. First up, I’ll be at the Hudson Horror Show on Saturday, December 3rd at the Empire Hills Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY. It’s also the first event where I’ll have copies of my latest, Loch Ness Revenge. Even better, my daughter the baker will have specialty homemade cupcakes for sale as well. Get a book and a cupcake and enjoy the movie marathon.
Then, on Friday, December 9th, I get my bad Santa on along with authors Robert Stava, Time Meyer and Matt Manochio with our Horror for the Holidays event at Yonkers Brewing in Yonkers, NY. The festivities begin at 7pm and end when Santa’s sacks are empty. Yonkers Brewing makes some of the best beer in NY and they have an excellent restaurant. Come and ho-ho-ho along with us.
Happy Halloween, my Hellions! I have a little something to shiver your timbers on this most important day of the year.
I was blessed to have been sent a copy of a hell of a ghostly tale, No Rest For The Wicked, by Pamela Morris. After reading the first chapter, I quickly added it to my already packed Horrortober reading list. Let me tell you, this one sucked me right in and had me reading late into the night. I loved it so much, I immediately reached out to Pamela for an interview. Enjoy an interview with a horror author on the rise and her brush with an actual ghost, order the book, slip into your costumes and enjoy the night.
No Rest for the Wicked is one of the best ghost/haunted house books I’ve read in a while. Why don’t you give my readers the elevator pitch on what the book is about and your inspiration for writing it.
There’s always some sort of tragedy behind every ghost story, and with research we think we know what that story is. My take is that that’s not always true. Sometimes those restless spirits would rather those researchers stop poking around and leave matters alone. Some ghosts will go to great lengths to see that their secrets don’t get out. NRFTW reveals what those secrets are at Greenbrier Plantation, and not just through human investigation, but as told by the ghosts themselves.
A lot of things inspired this book. Mainly it was my life-long love of ghost stories and haunted houses, and the efforts of a friend of mine who wanted to write a ghost story from the perspective of the ghosts. When I asked him if he minded my nabbing the concept, he was completely cool with the idea. There may or may not have been literary revenge in there for a number of failed relationships in my past, too. Beau and Lucy aren’t new characters for me. They’ve been around for about ten years in my erotica titles. When I started considering a ghost story, they seemed the most likely culprits. They’ve had a love-hate relationship from day one. It was perfect for what I had in mind.
One of the things I liked most about the book is your ability to create very strong characters. I was totally invested in Eric and Grace’s relationship, which made what happened to them all the more intense. Are they based on anyone you know? I got a kind of newlywed feel about them, which seems appropriate considering you’re a newlywed. There’s some damn good sexy time in those pages!
I wrote the first three chapters of the book almost a full year before I met my new husband Jim, who, oddly enough, turned out to be A LOT like how I described Eric. As the story went on, I found myself adding small traits of my then-boyfriend to Eric, including his total disbelief in ghosts. Some of the dialogue between Grace and Eric is lifted from real conversations Jim and I have had. I guess you could say Grace is a bit like me in that she’s a total believer in ghosts and all gung-ho about living in a haunted house until the sh*t hits the fan, so to speak. As for the sexy bits, well, I considered those a lot. How much did I want to put in? I didn’t want this to be another erotica, but I needed to show the shift in dynamics between Grace and Eric. Their genuine love for each other and their intimate life seemed the best route to take.
Another standout in the book is how much attention you give the spirits living in the old Greenbrier Plantation. They have fully formed lives in the afterlife, complete with secrets and fears and aspirations. You don’t see that very often. What made you decide to make your ghosts such fully fleshed, so to speak, characters?
The story of a haunted house is the story of its ghosts, not just the living people trying to find them. Without the ghosts, there is no story. Beau and Lucy have been ‘flesh and blood’ people to me for ten years. It wasn’t hard to turn them into ghosts knowing their history together. Creating secrets, fears, and aspirations for Beau as a spirit, given the type of person he was in life, was pretty easy. Lucy had always been a challenge to Beau while they were living, so why not carry that over to the extreme in the afterlife? With them so fully fleshed out, I had to give Sadie as much depth and meaning as I could. She is, after all, the catalyst behind a lot of what happened as far as them becoming ghosts.
The third and final act involves twin ghost hunters who help Grace and Eric, along with historian Sully. I get the feeling you may have done some ghost hunting yourself. Or was the way they conducted their investigation solely inspired by the ghost hunting shows on TV? Aaaand, which of those shows is your favorite and which one makes you roll your eyes?
My best friend since 4th Grade grew up in a haunted house and we had some very weird experiences there. One of my grandmothers was interested in Spiritualism, so I guess you could say I grew up knowing of and believing in the Spirit World. I used to be a devoted follower of all the ghost hunting shows. “Ghost Hunters” is probably my favorite (Hunter’s note – GH was must see TV for me for the first 7 years of the show. Never, ever missed an episode). I’ve never investigated as you see them doing on TV, but I have been involved in séances and Ouija board sessions, and taken my camera into supposedly haunted, or at the very least very spooky, locations. I have some pictures of great interest, too. The attitude that WhiSPeR takes in the book is based a lot on a paranormal research group based very close to where I live. They do a weekly podcast type program and some of the things they’ve discussed about what’s actually involved in being a ghost investigator made its way into the book. As for the one that makes my eyes roll, it has to be “Ghost Adventures”. Zac just cracks me up too much to take him seriously.
If you were given the opportunity to live in a haunted location for a year, say the Myrtles Plantation, would you do it, or do you prefer to view ghosts from afar?
Hell, yes! Where do I sign up? Villisca Axe Murder House? I’m there. The Stanley Hotel, yes, please! (Hunter again – I might skip Villisca!)
Have you ever experienced something that folks would consider supernatural?
Yes. I once saw full-body apparition in broad daylight. And, as I mentioned earlier, my best friend since grade school grew up in a haunted house and things were definitely going on there. I’ve heard things at other locations like what sounded like an old woman humming and I’ve taken a few pictures that appear to have images of ghosts in them. In fact, the house I’ve been living in since 1995 is haunted, just ask my ex-husband and my kids! We’ve all experienced something and on several occasions, two people heard the same thing… twice. The current husband, like Eric, remains skeptical.
What will you be doing this Halloween? Any favorite movies or books that you revisit this time of the year?
When my kids were young we would go full out decorating the house. It was built in 1886, so old and big and spooky. We’d select a theme then invite a couple friends over to help us traumatize the children who dared visit. We’ve done a Psycho Circus with evil clowns. We’ve done vampires and zombies. My living room was once transformed into a funeral parlor, my dining room was occupied by a witchy-gypsy type fortune teller and there was a crazy, blood-covered girl sitting on the kitchen floor rocking her doll one year. All kinds of weirdness. A teenage girl run screaming from the house once. Good times. We’d get close to 100 Trick-or-Treaters every year back then. Lately, that’s slowed down A LOT! Last year I got twelve. I still decorate, but not like we used to. I’ll put the TV on Chiller or SyFy that night, whichever offers the better movie, and hand out candy. This weekend I plan on watching my favorite horror movie, the original version of “The Haunting” (Hunter for the last time – The Haunting is my favorite ghost movie!) and maybe some good old “Dracula AD 1972” with Christopher Lee.
What’s coming up next and where can people go to learn more about you and your wonderful books?
I just wrapped up the second draft of my novel “Dark Hollow Road” about a month ago. It scares me to think where this thing came from out of my psyche. There are two storylines going on. The odd-numbered chapters start in rural Pennsylvania in 1948 as a first person narrative. Mary Alice Brown, then eight years old, is describing her life with three younger siblings and a father that grows abusive after the death of his wife. The even-numbered chapters are contemporary and focus around six-year-old Brandon Evenson. Brandon lives within sight of the now abandoned house Mary Brown grew up in. Freaky things start to happen, and no one in town can verify what happened to Mary other than she hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s. Some say she’s dead. Some say she moved to Scranton to be with family. Some would rather you just not ask so many questions.
ABOUT PAMELA MORRIS
Folks can find me at my website www.pamelamorrisbooks.com as well as on Twitter @pamelamorris65.
I post a lot over on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PamelaMorrisBooks/ and all my books are available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Or, you can walk into any bookstore and have a copy ordered. And no, I did not write the Sex Games title that’s going to come up when you do an author search at either site.
Born in New Mexico, but raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, Pamela prefers a quiet, rural life to that of the city. She has always loved mysteries and the macabre. Combining the two in her own writing, along with her love for historic research and genealogy, came naturally. Hours spent watching ‘Monster Movie Matinee’, ‘Twilight Zone’, ‘Night Stalker’, a myriad of Hammer Films, and devouring one Stephen King book after another probably helped, too. Outside of her work as a novelist, Pamela has written several historic articles for the Tioga County Courier, an Owego, NY newspaper and was a US Civil War reenactor for close to ten years. She has also written for The Good Men Project, an online magazine whose focus is on all manner of men’s issues.
While I take a break to watch Mets Spring Training and continue my self-studies on ancient American archaeology, specifically the mound builders of North America, I’m handing this blog n’ chain over to author, Roland Yeomans. And talk about small worlds. His designer is Heather McCorkle, who is one of my favorite people in the Twitterverse! We are all 6 degrees of maple bacon. Roland’s latest book is a mix of horror and steampunk and history and everything in between. I can’t wait to read it.
OK Hellions, time for me to hit the textbooks. Roland, take the wheel…
“True horror is when men are free to become the monsters they have always wanted to be.”
– Samuel McCord
Roland Yeomans here on my “Don’t You Hate Book Tours?” Book Tour.
One of the worst war criminals was a home-grown one: General William Tecumseh Sherman of “Let’s Toast Marshmallows All Through Georgia” Fame.
It was his idea, by the way.
As he was drawing wagon-loads of civilian down roads suspected of containing mines, cannoning Atlanta homes sheltering crying women and children, and writing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that there was a whole class of people, men, women, and children, that needed to be killed in the South.
The lure of alternate history is to take the past and give it a twist. Steampunk filters the story through a Victorian H. G. Wells lens. Horror allows me to serve back terror to those who most deserve it.
Have you ever thought what might have been the fate of the White Man had Native American magic been real, had the White’s boogey-men been waiting for the carnage of the Civil War to give them an engraved invitation?
Imagine a world where aliens walk unsuspected among us, where global vampire kingdoms wage war against one another in secret, and one man with death in his veins tries to even the scales for those who cannot fight back.
Horror is more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains upstairs.
An atmosphere of unexplainable dread, of lurking unknown forces must be present. There must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain:a malign suspension of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the demons of unsuspected reality.
In The Not-So-Innocents Abroad, Samuel McCord, a man cursed with the blood of the Angel of Death, marries the woman of most people’s nightmares: the Empress of the Alien Race that has toyed with Man since he crawled from out of his caves.
But love seldom has good sense, much less good luck.
Now, McCord must struggle to see if there is an honorable way to be married to a monster.
He may not live long enough to find there is no such road.
The vampiric Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Empress Theodora of the Unholy Roman Empire are among the passengers of the honeymoon vessel of the no-longer human and the alien empress.
The insane Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, a crippled General Sherman, 11 year old Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious Greek physician Lucanus join many others on the honeymoon voyage of the first Air-Steamship, Xanadu.
The keening which General Sherman heard as the Angel of Death convened at the corrupt peace treaty at Ft. Laramie when the skies became blood, the stars reversed their course, and the dead rose:
Cost of Passage? Only $9.99. Come aboard for the adventure of a lifetime.
I know that post-apocalypse fiction and movies are all the rage now, but when you think about it, this is really nothing new. Ever since crackpots have held up signs proclaiming THE END IS NEAR, human beings have been both intrigued and terrified by the concept of a complete upheaval of our world. In modern culture, just look at the success of books and movies like On the Beach, The Stand, The Day After, Testament, Miracle Mile, Swan Song and the slew of zombie fare we’ve been inundated with. Whether it’s by the hands of a returned Christ, nuclear annihilation, undead hordes or pandemic, witnessing the downfall of all we have built and seeing how the few will survive is more addicting than reality TV (and fare more fulfilling).
Of course, when we read or watch these scenarios, we always imagine ourselves as managing to scramble out from under the rubble. I mean, what’s the point if I don’t carry on? I’m smart. I’m crafty. I can turn a blind eye to establishes mores in order to survive. So why not me?
When I was a wee one, I saw the original Dawn of the Dead at the movies. (Too late to call social services on my dad!) I came out of there obsessed – not with zombies – but wondering what I would do when the world went to shit. I made lists of stores I would go to in order to gather supplies. First stop was the sports store by me where I would load up on rifles, bow and arrows and other gear to make me a force to be reckoned with. Food and water would come later. Everywhere I went, I pictured how I would fortify that location so I turn it into a safe haven.
I’m an adult now – at least that’s what it says on my license – and I still think about these things. Except now I have to make plans that include my family. Hell, I’m so obsessed with it, I wrote a book about it, Tortures of the Damned.
Why does this attract us? Is it because an apocalypse presents a cleaning of the slate, a total do-over, a chance to ‘be a real man’ and not a pencil pushing geek who stops at traffic lights and pays his taxes? Yeah, I think that’s part of it.
We’re not far removed from being pioneers, settlers, survivors. I think a part of us still craves the adventure. So we fantasize about the end times, testing ourselves against impossible odds. We want to see if we measure up to the generations before us that seemed to know how to do everything, whereas we can’t even tell you how anything we use every day really works.
On the Monster Men, we recently talked about our apocalyptic obsession with author Russell James, whose latest book, Q Island, tears apart Long Island, NY in a very unique way. The start of the end is possibly the most original way to date, and most frighteningly, is being played out right now in real life. Kinda gives me the shivers.
Living so close to New York City, I have to prepare for the worst. We here know it’s a matter of when, not if. The hope is that it’s nothing like people like me and Russell and many other have written.
But I’ll be loaded for bear, just in case.
I first met Brian Moreland about 4 years ago when we were part of Samhain’s initial horror line. We became instant friends that will last well beyond Samhain. His first book with them, DEAD OF WINTER, just blew me away. He’s since published a host of other kick ass novels, like SHADOWS IN THE MIST, THE WITCHING HOUSE, THE DEVIL’S WOODS, and THE VAGRANTS. His latest novella, DARKNESS RISING, is just phenomenal. Easily the best novella of 2015!
We here at the Monster Men have been trying to get him on the show for a couple of years. Our insane schedules made it almost impossible. Thankfully, we finally got on the same page…or Skype in this case. I was a bit woozy, having lost some blood during my tattoo process, and filling the void with beer. But, we made it! Enjoy this special episode with one of the best horror writers today.
And check out Brian’s Amazon Page to pick up his books.
Like him on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland
Check out Brian’s blogs:
I know it’s only August, but I’m locking in my vote for best horror novel of the year – Ron Malfi‘s haunting tale, LITTLE GIRLS. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen (that number increases when I’m not frothing at the mouth) that if they read one scary book in 2015, this is the one.
The fact that Ron and I are authorly blood brothers, sharing two publishers, should actually work against this. I know the dude. He’s a Tasmanian Devil of nuttiness and talent. Sometimes, the more you know someone, the harder it is to be sucked into their story, separating the man or woman from the tale of terror. Not so with Little Girls. From the first chapter, I knew I was walking wondrous paths carved out by writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King. It’s that good.
You can follow his blog tour by visiting Hook of a Book publicity. Erin has put together a hell of a tour.
So, as a special treat for me and you, I wrestled Ron to the ground long enough to ask him a few questions about his book, process and future plans. Pick up Little Girls right after reading the interview and you can thank me later. And if you see Ron at a con, don’t be alarmed when he shouts at you to buy a book or move on. 🙂
It’s time to put on your tin foil hats and settle down in the bunker. Today, for your listening and viewing pleasure, the Monster Men interview Samhain author Glenn Rolfe to talk about his latest release, Boom Town. Glenn is a horror author in Maine (I think there’s some other guy up there who does stuff like that) and a real up-and-comer. Now first, check out the interview :
Here’s what Boom Town is about :
Terror from below!
In the summer of 1979, Eckert, Wisconsin, was the sight of the most unique UFO encounter in history. A young couple observed a saucer-like aircraft hovering over Hollers Hill. A blue beam blasted down from the center of the craft into the hill and caused the ground to rumble for miles.
Now, thirty years later, Eckert is experiencing nightly rumbles that stir up wild rumors and garner outside attention. The earthly tremors are being blamed on everything from earthquakes to underground earth dwellers. Two pre-teens discover a pipe out behind Packard’s Flea Market uprooted by the “booms” and come into contact with the powerful ooze bubbling from within. What begins as curiosity will end in an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.
Now, this is why I love my job. I got an advanced copy of Boom Town from Glenn. I’m not sure if he was fully aware of my alien invasion obsession. So little did he know, I was already hooked by the premise, big time. Boom Town is set in a small, out of the way town, so you immediately get that sense of isolation, which always amps up the creep factor. Most of the main characters are kids in their teens, so folks who grew up loving It can rejoice.
Glenn wastes no time diving right in. I will say that this isn’t your typical alien invasion tale. There are no grays or reptilians skulking around, probing anuses and trying to gain world domination. Think of this more as The Blob on steroids. Snappy prose and non-stop action make this a real fun read. Take me to your leader, if that leader is Glenn Rolfe!
Why do I love alien stories so much? I swear I was abducted years ago. I do have a missing time moment from the late 80s. Can’t remember if I’d had too much to drink at the time.
Anyway, I recently came across Robert Dunn’s alien abduction novel, Behind the Darkness, and wanted to jump up and cheer. Finally, an alien novel that gave me the action and chills I’ve always wanted. Robert was kind enough to answer my fan boy questions. If aliens are your thing, buy this book now!
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for all things alien. Your book, Behind the Darkness, is an alien abduction thriller that literally creeped me out. Please tell everyone a little about the book.
Behind The Darkness was imagined as Night of the Living dead with aliens rather than zombies. It grew quite a bit beyond that but I think that core, survivors trapped in a house by something unknowable but relentless and dangerous, is still there. Beyond that there was a love of the possibilities of alien abduction stories but a dissatisfaction with the ones I read. I didn’t want psychology, I wanted action. I hope I struck a balance between the alien terrors of the unknown controlling a life
and the survivor story of resistance against impossible odds. By the way, I am so proud that you said it creeped you out. That was exactly the kind of vibe I wanted to give and I always appreciate hearing that it works for someone.
The ending leaves things open for a sequel. Is there one in the works?
There isn’t yet one in the works but I wanted the possibility there. There is a lot more that could happen with this story. That being said Behind The Darkness is a connected story. It takes place in the same world as my novel, The Dead Ground. Like a certain star writer sets horror stories in Maine and several mystery writers stake out locals like the desert southwest or Louisiana, I wanted to use my roots and develop a world in which the Missouri, Ozarks are the home of dark mysteries and terrors. I’m a redneck Lovecraft at heart, I guess. In The Dead Ground the characters are aware of strange events that had taken place a few miles away on the Duncan Ranch and dismissive of the idea of aliens even as they fight the undead and interdimensional tentacle monsters from caves filled with stars. Writing is fun isn’t it?
How did your fascination with aliens and the abduction phenomena start?
The stories really started becoming mainstream and coalescing around certain tropes in the early ’70’s when I was a kid reading everything weird and wonderful I could get my hands on. I had read about Barney and Betty Hill then saw the movie, The UFO Incident, based on their story. In 1985 I was approached by another writer who had a friend with a development deal for a movie but no idea beyond wanting to do something scary. That was when I started on this story in earnest but the flow for the film deal was going in the direction of undersea monsters. It had been ten years but people still wanted to do the next Jaws. I packed my ideas away and along came Whitley Strieber’s books about visitors. He never said alien but he added a layer to the idea of aliens and the mental terrors of abduction. I stewed some more.
You’re also a film producer. Which is harder, working in film or the lonely business of writing?
Writing definitely. There is no one to delegate to or lean on. When you are creating a filmed program any number of people can save you and probably will from the lighting guy that sets the kind of mood you didn’t know you needed with one well placed instrument to the editor or sound person that puts their stamp down and makes everything more. When I write novels or stories it is all on me. A good editor will improve things but it won’t even get that far if you haven’t done the heavy lifting already.
OK, I know I’m a freak who has watched just about every alien abduction movie ever made. Have you watched any yourself and which is your favorite?
I have probably seen them all too. It’s great living in the age of accessible media. I don’t have a favorite exactly because I always wanted more than any of them give. Details. Violence. Action. The movies are actually why I felt I had stewed enough and wrote my story. I wanted to take all those great elements, abduction, the aliens that had become an established even traditional monster, mutilations, hybridization, disbelieving, even hostile authorities, and make the best, scariest story I could.
Whitley Strieber’s book, Communion, seemed to start an industry. What are your thoughts on his work in the abduction vein? Is he in touch with ET, a higher plane, or delusional?
I’ve read that Strieber intentionally referred to Visitors to avoid defining them as aliens. He wanted to leave their origins open. Unfortunately, once an idea is out there we lose control of it and he ended up creating an entire alien mythos. As to the reality, I have issues. I am a narcoleptic. An aspect of that is vivid dreaming and a breakdown between the waking/dreaming state. It has happened many times that I have become aware but still under sleep paralysis. Both dreams and imaginings can become very real in those times and if you can’t move or speak the imaginings that come are rarely pleasant. So in my personal experience there are explanations for being under paralysis and feeling threatened by an evil presence. I tend to think that other people have reasonable explanations as well. That being said, I think Mr. Strieber has made our culture a little richer and provided a good living for himself.
Please let everyone know where to find you and your work and what’s coming up next.
Well of course you can find Behind The Darkness and The Dead Ground on Amazon and feel free to go in through my author’s page. http://www.amazon.com/Robert-E.-Dunn/…
By the way, Behind The Darkness just got it’s first review on Amazon, five stars from a top 500 reviewer. I’m happy about that.
Both of those books are published by the good folks at Severed Press. Everyone should check them out for great reads. http://www.severedpress.com/
I’ll let you in on a secret but just a hint- I have another book out and doing well under a pen name. The surprise, it’s a spicy romance. I challenge everyone to track me down. Coming up, there are two new horror novels. The Red Highway is an alternate history urban fantasy about an ancient god provoking the LA riots to cause the sacrifice of a child. The Harrowing is about a mercenary sent to hell to rescue an innocent. No one is innocent and the one lesson he learns is, never trust an angel. Red Highway is currently under requested publisher submission and Harrowing is making the rounds of some great agents.
Beyond that, I blog erratically at http://robertdunnauthor.blogspot.com/ You’ll find a fun story and the first chapter of The Dead Ground there. I tweet more regularly. Feel free to come say hi there, @WritingDead. Thanks again for the chance to share and connect with your readers.
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