You all may have heard of Adam Howe. He’s the dude who won Stephen King’s On Writing contest. Not only is he one hell of a writer (approved by the Pope of Terror himself), he’s also screamingly funny. It’s an honor to have him on the blog and chain for you Hellions to enjoy!
Your latest book, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, contains 3 novellas that got my motor humming the moment I read the synopsis. As a guy who wrote a novella about skunk apes, please tell me your inspiration for the tale, Damn Dirty Apes (and now I can’t get Charlton Heston’s voice out of my head).
I’d read about the ‘furry’ subculture – people cosplaying as animals – and the sub-subculture of ‘furry’ pornography. Who are we to judge, right?
So my starting point for Damn Dirty Apes was the image of a bunch of rednecks making a ‘furry’ fuck flick in the backwoods when the leading man, wearing a ‘provocative’ baboon costume, is abducted as a mate by a randy skunk ape.
An overused trope, I know, but I hoped I could breathe fresh life into it.
From there, I imagined a misfit posse – including a ‘heroic’ strip club bouncer in the Jack Burton mould, a wannabe porn starlet, the porn shoot’s director (also the town drunk), and a self-proclaimed skunk ape hunter – embarking on safari to rescue their friend from the beast.
I saw the piece as a redneck Jaws; the style would be somewhere between 80s action/adventure and Looney Tunes. I chose a skunk ape as my ‘monster,’ as opposed to the more familiar Bigfoot or Sasquatch, because it fit my Southern redneck locale, and I felt that skunk apes had been woefully underused in creature fiction. Of course, I was soon to discover why this is.
While researching skunk apes, I stumbled across an article in the Fortean Times relating to notorious hominologist, the late Gerard Hauser, author of the seminal work, ‘Among the Skunk Apes of the North American South: One Man’s Journey of Self-Discovery,’ and Hauser’s doomed final expedition in the Arkansan sticks, in which a amateur cryptozoologist lost his life when he stepped into a hominid snare. In Hauser, I’d discovered a real-life Captain Ahab on whom to base my skunk ape hunter character, Jameson T. Salisbury.
On completing the story, I thought it might make a refreshing change from the norm to request an endorsement from a more unusual source than a fellow author, and contacted Mr. Lambert Pogue, General Secretary for the Society of the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape. Unfortunately, Mr. Pogue failed to see the humour in the story, and objected to my fictional skunk ape hunter, Jameson T. Salisbury, whom he recognized as a caricature of his late friend and colleague, Gerard Hauser. Mr. Pogue proceeded to rally a small army of cryptozoologists in the Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Skunk Ape fields – typically sworn enemies, as you know – who besieged my publisher with angry calls for my head, and demanded the book be embargoed. Fortunately, I was able to placate Mr. Pogue with a groveling apology and a modest donation to the S.P.N.A.S.A. The embargo was lifted, and Mr. Pogue even kindly provided the somewhat terse disclaimer that opens the story, Damn Dirty Apes.
As the author of Swamp Monster Massacre, I imagine you’ve had your own dealings with Mr. Pogue and the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape. Of course, I’ll understand if you don’t wish to discuss such matters on a public forum, and risk reigniting hostilities with them. I only wish I’d known you before making my damn-fool approach to the S.P.N.A.S.A. You could have warned me to leave well enough alone! I would strongly advise other authors to carefully consider the repercussions before writing skunk ape literature. To paraphrase Pet Sematary, “Sometimes ‘squatch is better.”
I have to ask, as a winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, how did it feel to get the gold ring? And since then, have you had any communication with our Overlord and Master?
I’ll give your American readers some background on this. To promote the release of On Writing, King’s UK publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, and The Guardian newspaper, ran a short story contest that was open to entrants worldwide, with the exception of the States. (I don’t know why you guys were excluded.) The brief was to write a ‘Stephen King-style’ short story, with the winning story to be chosen by King, and published in the first-edition paperback of On Writing. (The story has since been republished in the Kindle version.) The winner would also be granted an audience with The King. Not too shabby, right?
Now, this was way back around 2000, a rocky period in my life. I’d recently dropped out of university, my girlfriend had dumped me, I was out of work, and living back home with my folks – not a happy guy. I was seriously doubting my abilities as a writer, and for the first time, considered quitting.
Then I won the contest.
Like so many other genre writers, King’s voice was the first I really connected with, so for this Constant Reader, having my work validated by King – not to mention being published in his book, meeting the man – was beyond a dream come true; for me, it didn’t get any bigger or better. For the rest of my writing career, I might achieve more, but I’ll be hard pressed to top that moment, and the elation (and relief) I felt.
Of course, I was young and dumb enough to believe I’d ‘arrived.’ Which wasn’t the case. It was many years before I was published again. But I’ve never thought about quitting again, no matter how times I’ve been kicked in the heart by this writing lark. Looking back, I think ‘someone’ was looking out for me; that I won the contest just to keep me in The Game; a guardian angel who knew that, one day, I would reward the world with a skunk ape noir novella. You’re welcome.
I haven’t seen or spoken to King since. When I met him, he did give me his contact details, but can you believe it, I lost ‘em! Probably just as well. Within a few years of getting my ‘break,’ I developed a drinking problem that quickly spiraled down into full-blown alcoholism. Chances are I’d have embarrassed myself by writing a heartfelt ‘Dear Steve’ letter. I’m happy to say I’ve got my shit together now. It’d be great to speak to him again, if only to let him know he picked a good horse, and that I’m doing OK.
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb assuming you’re a B-movie fan. What are some of your favorites? And what movie script do you wish you’d written?
I’m a film fiend in general, but yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for late 20th century B-movies. Not that cynical Sharknado shit churned out today by the likes of SyFy and the Asylum. My go-to periods are 70s crime, 80s action, 70s/80s horror. I like to think I write B-movie plots with A-list intentions. Steven Spielberg once said, after making Duel and Jaws, he was worried about being typed as a director of “truck and shark” pictures. I’d be happy to be typed as a “truck and shark” writer. (I’ve yet to write my truck and shark books; maybe I’ll just combine the two, SHARK TRUCKER, write it on a cocktail napkin and sell it to SyFy.)
It’s hard to pick a favourite screenplay. Screenplays are an ever-evolving medium, and the text rarely matches what makes it to the screen. As much as Jaws is one of my favourite films, for instance, it ain’t my favourite script. In my early teens, I reviewed scripts for a UK-based mail order company supplying produced screenplays to colleges, writers, film geeks and the like. The first screenwriter I really connected with was Shane Black, who penned Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and a whole other bunch of B-classics. He’s one of the rare few screenwriters whose text often DOES make it intact to the screen. Black remains a big influence on my style. I also dig David Webb Peoples’s work, especially Unforgiven. If you can find it, you should check out his 1987 draft for the unproduced Sgt. Rock movie that Joel Silver had lined up for Schwarzenegger. Would’ve made a helluva movie.
It’d be cool to be able to say, “I wrote Roadhouse.” You could carve the line “A polar bear fell on me” on my headstone.
Say you were banned from writing horror. What genre would you hop over to and why? And remember, Bigfoot erotica is on the table.
Who’s to say I don’t already write Bigfoot erotica under a pseudonym? Clearly you’ve never read my 50 Shades of ‘Squatch series? If I was banned from writing horror – and it’s definitely possible, the horror community seems unusually prickly and conformist right now – I guess I’d just sidestep into crime. A life of crime, I mean; pays better than writing. I don’t consider myself strictly a horror writer. Or even a crime writer, for that matter. The writer whose philosophy I most admire is the Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale. Joe resists genre labels and categorizes himself as a writer of ‘Lansdale’ fiction. That’s my aim: To write my own stuff and be my own man, and hope that readers join me on the ride.
As you were working to get the ol’ writing career started, what’s the one piece of advice you wish you’d ignored?
I never had a mentor, so any writing advice came from reading interviews with writers I admired, and of course, On Writing, which is the writers’ bible.
After winning the contest, I landed an agent and embarked on a ‘career’ as a screenwriter, with so-so success – I had a few original features optioned, scraped a few bucks rewriting/doctoring/butchering other writers’ work, but nothing I wrote ever made it to the screen. The agent was forever pushing me to follow market trends, which is impossible; by the time you’ve written to trend, the market’s moved on. As the screenwriter William Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything.”
When I met Stephen King, and told him I planned to be a screenwriter, he made a jack-off gesture, and advised me to “write a fucking novel.” That was advice I should have taken. I’m still yet to write my fucking novel – I really dig the novella format – but I’m working on it.
What’s coming up next and what is the best way for folks to follow you and your wild imagination?
I’m putting the finishing touches to Tijuana Donkey Showdown, the sequel to Damn Dirty Apes, which continues the misadventures (prolongs the misery) of my boxer turned bouncer and hapless hero, Reggie Levine. No skunk apes in this one – lesson learned, I’m not fucking with the S.P.N.A.S.A. again – although (spoiler alert!) the chupacabra makes an appearance, as does Nicolas Cage, in an explosive cameo.
I’m also collaborating on a horror/crime project with Adam Cesare, which we’re pitching as Michael Mann’s Public Enemies meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. Hopefully we can have that one ready to rock early next year.
Beyond that, my partner and I are expecting our first child in July so I’ll be off the grid for a while. Assuming I survive the experience, and don’t reinvent myself as a children’s author, I’ll be back in ’17 with some new twisted shit.
Follow along this tour with the hashtags: #DieDogorEattheHatchet #DieDog #AdamHowe #OnWriting #HookofaBook
Tune into all the stops on the tour at the publicity page: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/die-dog-or-eat-the-hatchetadam-howe-publicity-page/
Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Synopsis
- Publication Date: Nov. 2, 2015
- Publisher: Comet Press
- Publication Length: 250 pages
From Adam Howe, winner of Stephen King’s “On Writing” short story contest, comes three original novellas of hardboiled crime, graphic horror and pitch-black gallows humor.
DAMN DIRTY APES
Washed-up prizefighter Reggie Levine is eking a living as a strip club bouncer when he’s offered an unlikely shot at redemption. The Bigelow Skunk Ape – a mythical creature said to haunt the local woods – has kidnapped the high school football mascot, Boogaloo Baboon. Now it’s up to Reggie to lead a misfit posse including a plucky stripper, the town drunk, and legend-in-his-own-mind skunk ape hunter Jameson T. Salisbury. Their mission: Slay the beast and rescue their friend. But not everything is as it seems, and as our heroes venture deeper into the heart of darkness, they will discover worse things waiting in the woods than just the Bigelow Skunk Ape. The story the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape tried to ban; Damn Dirty Apes mixes Roadhouse with Jaws with Sons of Anarchy, to create a rollicking romp of 80s-style action/adventure, creature horror and pitch-black comedy.
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET
Escaped mental patient Terrence Hingle, the butcher of five sorority sisters at the Kappa Pi Massacre, kidnaps timid diner waitress Tilly Mulvehill and bolts for the border. Forcing his hostage to drive him out of town, it’s just a question of time before Tilly becomes the next victim in Hingle’s latest killing spree. But when they stop for gas at a rural filling station operated by deranged twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Ritter, the tables are turned on Hingle, and for Tilly the night becomes a hellish cat-and-mouse ordeal of terror and depravity. The meat in a maniac sandwich, Tilly is forced against her nature to make a stand and fight for survival. Because sometimes the only choice you have is to do or die…to Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet.
Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man’s wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin’ Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense.
Listen to this sample reading from the book over at YouTube from the folks at Manor House:
Adam Howe writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. A British writer of fiction and screenplays, he lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the On Writing contest, and published in the paperback/Kindle editions of SK’s book; he was also granted an audience with The King, where they mostly discussed slow vs. fast zombies. His fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, The Horror Library, Mythic Delirium, Plan B Magazine, and One Buck Horror. He is the author of two collections, Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, plus the eBook single, Gator Bait. Future works include Tijuana Donkey Showdown, One Tough Bastard, and a crime/horror collaboration with Adam Tribesmen Cesare.
Find him on Twitter at @Adam_G_Howe.
Praise for Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet
“It’s an explicit, hard-hitting, twisted funhouse ride into pulpish horror wrapped loosely in a tattered skein of irreverent, jet black humor. In short, it’s a freakin’ blast.” –Walt Hicks, author of Dirge of the Forgotten
“With Die Dog Or Eat the Hatchet, Adam Howe hasn’t written one of my favorite books of the year, he’s actually written three of my favorites. Stories that are tight, toned, and genre-confounding. Horror fans and crime fans are going to come to blows over who gets to claim Howe as one of their own, but they’re both going to be wrong because Howe’s his own thing.” – Adam Cesare, author of Tribesmen and Mercy House
“The recipe for Adam Howe’s DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is: Two parts Joe Lansdale, One part Justified, and a heavy dose of WTF. The result is a swampy cocktail darker than any backwoods hayride, stronger than the meanest Sasquatch, and crazier than anything you’ll find chicken-fried at your local state fair.”—Eryk Pruitt, author of Hashtag and Dirtbags
“Adam Howe proves with the three stories in this book that he can basically write anything. And write it very well indeed. To summarise: A three novella collection that you absolutely must have in your collection. I give this one the highest possible recommendation that I can.” -Nev, Confessions of a Reviewer
“Adam Howe’s “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet,” is equal parts terror and fun, his dark comedic voice dances through each of the works in this collection to create engaging stories filled with bars, dames, rabid dogs, and an ape with one hell of a right hook.”(Nathan Crazybear/Splatterpunk Zine)
“Once again this author has sucked me into the darkness of his stories and unleashed the twisted, disgusting and stomach churning madness that I come to expect. In fact, I would have been very disappointed if this book was not even more mind-blowing than Black Cat Mojo. And he did not disappoint. Hats off to Mr Howe for creating this magnificent novella of pure horror. I would definitely recommend this to readers of horror and make sure you buckle up as you will be in for the most twisted ride of your life!” -Crime Book Junkie
“I’m pretty certain that whatever genre you like to read, be it pulp, noir, horror, anything really, you will find something to enjoy here. It’s fast paced, action packed and brilliantly written. Comet Press has got a diamond on their hands! 5 stars” -Adrian Shotbolt
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Want to Feature Adam Howe?
If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Adam Howe, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a lover of all things cryptid, I’m naturally fascinated by the strange and mysterious Chupacabra. Is it an unknown animal, alien, government experiment gone wrong?
Well, to help us all out, I’ve turned to one of my buds, Raegan Butcher, who has just written an excellent monster novel, FURY OF THE CHUPACABRAS. To write the book, he dove into the deep end of the chupacabra pool.I can’t think of anyone better to teach us a thing or two about the dreaded goat sucker! So lock your doors and windows, settle in to a comfy chair and read on if you dare…
What is it?
The name, coined by Puerto Rican comedian Silverio Perez, means “goatsucker” in Spanish, and comes from the animal’s reported habit of drinking the blood of livestock—especially goats. The first reports of this mysterious creature came from Puerto Rico in 1995 when eight sheep were discovered dead, with three puncture wounds in the chest, and completely drained of blood. At first, a Satanic cult was suspected, but soon the first eyewitness reports appeared, which described a creature – some sort of lizard-like beast, about the size of a small bear, with sharp, glowing quills on its back and large, round eyes. The beast was said to be able to hop like a kangaroo, suck blood like a bat, and was reported to emit a strange, piercing cry.
As a youngster growing up in the 1970s, I was enthralled by the numerous Bigfoot sightings that occurred in my home state of Washington and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. The idea that some unknown animal could be lurking on the edge of civilization tickled my imagination in all the right ways. Because of my love of horror and sci fi, I have always been fascinated by monsters, and the chupacabra sounded right up my alley. Doing a bit of research, I discovered some cases from the past that were eerily similar to the infamous goatsucker.
In New Orleans there is a popular lover’s lane known as “Grunch Road”, named as such after several reports of a lizard-like beast haunting the vicinity and frightening horny teenagers appeared in the local press in the 1940s and ‘50s. And then there is a case which sounds almost exactly like a chupacabra: the dreaded “Vampire of Moca”. This unknown fiend kicked off its killing spree in February 1975, in Barrio Rocha, a sector of the town of Moca, in Puerto Rico, where it took the lives of a number of animals in a grisly manner never seen before. Fifteen cows, three goats, two geese and a pig were found dead with bizarre perforations on their hides. Autopsies showed that the animals had been bled dry, as if consumed by some predator. After six months, and the deaths of over 150 farm animals, the mysterious “Vampire of Moca” vanished into history and obscurity.
Or did it?
Almost exactly twenty years later, the chupacabra appeared, and the Puerto Rican press once again began to report sightings of a strange beast that preyed upon livestock. Some people on the island believe that chupacabras are a genetic bio-experiment which escaped from a secret laboratory (The US military has had a large presence across Puerto Rico since the 1930’s, with bases on the island used as Research and Development facilities for a number of classified projects). Others speculate that the creature is an escaped pet of alien visitors that wandered off while its master was visiting Earth. How’s that for a far-out theory? The chupacabra does have a slight resemblance to the Grey aliens, which could mean that they are somehow genetically related, a wonderfully tantalizing theory.
For reasons too complicated to explain here (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21972578-stone-hotel ) I ended up in prison from June 1996 to March 2003 for armed robbery (yeah, I was a crazy sumbitch, back then). As you might imagine, I had a lot of time on my hands. I was already a writer when I went down, so I tried to use my excess of time wisely and write as much as I could during those seven years. I’d always wanted to write something about the chupacabra, as they seemed heaven sent, as far as “rule of cool” goes: some kind of lizard monster that drinks blood? As a creature-feature fan from earliest childhood, I was all over it.
But I couldn’t get a handle on how to shape the story. At first I thought of that great old British sci-fi movie Island Of Terror, and I remembered the first scene with the constable finding a body with its bones sucked out. Maybe I could set my chupacabra story on a small island off the coast of Mexico…first scene would be some guy finding his livestock drained of blood…and we go from there? Hmmm. I put the idea in the back of my mind and went on with my life, such as it was.
Years passed. Then, one day in 2002, while I was walking the yard with another inmate (who, for legal reasons, shall remain nameless) it all clicked into place. This nameless inmate was telling me a story of almost getting busted at the Mexican border with a car full of illegal weapons and the anecdote was told with such flair that I immediately saw it as a scene in my chupacabra book. Two brothers, Americans, one of them an ex-soldier (as was the nameless inmate) smuggling guns into Mexico, and they get attacked by chupacabras. Story starts out with the tense scene at the border and we go from there. I wrote it as a screenplay first and, like I always do, I finished it, put it away, forgot about it, and moved on to the next thing.
Flash forward ten years. I was now a free man, with a few poetry books under my belt, (http://www.amazon.com/Raegan-Butcher/e/B00BO6QI3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1) and I wanted to work on my prose skills. I rummaged around in my papers and found the chupacabra script. I had such fun turning it into the novella Attack of the Chupacabras (included in the book Fury of the Chupacabras) http://necropublications.com/collections/raegan-butcher/products/fury-of-the-chupacabras-by-raegan-butcher-trade-paperback that I ended up writing four novels and creating a whole series, which I’ve dubbed the Chupacabra Chronicles. The books started out as simple survival-horror situations but they quickly became a series of action-conspiracy-monster-mystery-adventure-sci-fi-horror books. The Chupacabra Chronicles were written purely for fun. My goal was to keep the reader turning the pages, surprise them, make them gasp; keep them entertained by the developing story. I tried to fill the series with everything I like: action, tension, suspense, dark humor, and all of the most outlandish sci fi and conspiracy tropes I could come up with during my many hours of research on the internet.
I am grateful that Necro is crazy enough to publish these chupacabra books, one volume in the continuing saga of the chupacabra chronicles every six months for the next two years, with perhaps more after that. I had an absolute blast writing them. Now the pleasure is all yours. Have fun.
It’s no secret that one of my favorite horror writers is Catherine Cavendish. I’m very happy to not only announce that she has a new book, but a fantastic blog post to go with it. OK Hellions, show your support – read the article and buy the book! Keep horror alive (or at the very least, undead)!
My new novel – The Devil’s Serenade – mostly takes place in an imposing Gothic style mansion built by Victorian industrialist Nathaniel Hargest. When Maddie Chambers inherits it from her Aunt Charlotte, she soon discovers she has acquired far more than mere bricks and mortar. From the strange appearance of tree roots growing in the cellar to the manifestations, noises and a nostalgic wartime song played again and again, Maddie’s fears grow and intensify. What is going on here – and who, or what, is seemingly hell-bent on driving her insane?
Of course, my novel is just that – fiction. But, in real life, there have been numerous reports of houses cursed or possessed by demons. Sometimes these emanate from the ground on which the house was built. Other times, the builder of the house has somehow managed to impart his – or her – evil into the fabric of the place so that it becomes irrevocably woven into the walls.
Appearances can certainly be deceptive too. Take Renvyle House Hotel, situated in the glorious wilderness of Connemara in Ireland. The surrounding scenery is stunning and yet, amid all this beauty, lie tales of ghouls, ghosts and such an array of phenomena that this has to be one of the most haunted areas of Ireland.
In 1883, a family by the name of Blake first opened Renvyle as a country house. Many famous people stayed there – Winston Churchill being just one. Then, in 1917, a Dublin surgeon and poet, Dr. Oliver St John Gogarty – bought the house.
By this time, the house was gaining something of a reputation for the mysterious hauntings experienced by guests and servants alike. In particular, one of the upstairs rooms proved especially troublesome and servants refused to stay in there. They reported a dark and disturbing presence and, on one occasion, something pushed a large, heavy chest against the door.
Gogarty himself wasn’t immune. Late one night, the sound of footsteps outside his room woke him up. He lit a candle, opened the door and stepped out into the dark corridor. Suddenly, with no apparent breeze to cause it, the flame was extinguished. At the same time, a wave of exhaustion spread over Gogarty. His arms and legs felt heavy, as if he had been exercising hard. He was never able to explain this.
The Irish poet, W.B. Yeats stayed there with his wife, a renowned medium called Georgie. The three of them decided to hold a seance during which Georgie Yeats used automatic writing to attempt to communicate with any spirits present in the house. Their efforts met with success and a spirit pronounced itself unhappy with having people stay at the house. Georgie Yeats asked the spirit to reveal itself and she described what she saw. Over by the fireplace, in a misty vapour, stood a red-haired boy, according to the medium. He was pale and wore an anguished expression.
W.B. Yeats reported more unusual and inexplicable occurrences during his time at Renvyle. He said he saw sheets being pulled off beds by unseen hands. Other guests were dragged from their slumbers. Doors opened by themselves and terrible groans echoed through the house. Female guests were terrified when they saw faces watching them as they undressed.
Renvyle House has seen its fair share of violence and turmoil and was destroyed by the IRA in the 1920s. It was then rebuilt and is now a four star luxury, family-run hotel. It has won awards and is noted for the high standards of its hospitality and cuisine. It appears though that the spirits have stayed fixed to the land and have transferred themselves into the current hotel. Guests still report their sheets being tugged and female guests have caught glimpses of a man’s face watching them in the mirror as they apply their make-up. Maybe this is the spirit of a man who allegedly took his own life by strangling himself with his own bare hands. Quite a feat in itself!
Whatever the cause of the phenomena, Renvyle House Hotel certainly seems to have absorbed more than merely the beauty of its surroundings. Beneath the surface, supernatural forces appear to continue their work…
Now, to give you a taste of The Devil’s Serenade, here’s the blurb:
Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.
She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.
As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.
Here’s an extract:
A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer.
The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.
I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.
I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner. Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.
I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.
You can find The Devil’s Serenade here:
And other online retailers
About the author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Other titles include: The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, Dark Avenging Angel, The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, Cold Revenge and In My Lady’s Chamber.
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For my moolah, Norman Prentiss is one of the best writers out there in Author Land. And I don’t just mean the horror genre. He’s publishing his latest book via the Kindle Scout, a path I know plenty of people are interested in. Check out why and how it all works. And then hop over to the KS page, read his excerpt and vote!
I’ve got a new book that I’m very proud of, ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER, and it’s currently on view at Amazon as part of the Kindle Scout program: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/31CCF08HMHST3
Kindle Scout is unusual, because it allows readers to preview a book that’s not yet selected for publication. Authors supply a cover image, description and bio., and a 5,000 word excerpt, and then reader “nominations” help the book garner attention from Amazon. The program begins as a kind of popularity contest, measuring web traffic over a period of 30 days to gauge reader interest and a book’s marketability; however, the ultimate decision lies with Amazon (high-traffic books have been rejected; average-traffic books have gotten a contract).
Now that I’m posting a book at Kindle Scout, a few folks are asking me why I didn’t work with the horror specialty press, where I’ve had previous success (Cemetery Dance, Dark Fuse, PS Publishing, and Thunderstorm). Why go the Kindle Scout route for this one?
Well, I’ve been shopping this book around, and have gotten a lot of very positive feedback–but one of the key comments was that it fit too many categories. It’s kind of a “queer pulp roadtrip adventure,” with horror and fantasy elements. As an added wrinkle, the adult-themed adventures are surrounded by a frame tale that’s kind of YA in style: a coming-of-age story as a daughter attempts to understand her fathers’ past. On one level I think it’s my most mainstream book, likely to appeal to people outside horror because of its social themes and, ultimately, the emotional content of the book’s overall effect. At the same time, it might be, to repeat a word in the title, too ODD for mainstream. Writing it (I realize now), I was aiming for something like a “cult-movie” type of readership.
How does a book like this find its audience? One strategy, I guess, would be to publish it modestly and hope people find it eventually (maybe in a few years…or even decades, when I might not around to know it!). But if the book doesn’t fit the usual categories, then an unusual or new-fangled path to publication might be exactly the right way to go.
Another important factor in my decision is that ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER is different from my other stories, to the point where I briefly considered publishing it under a pseudonym. It’s maybe a little sexier, even a little more fun (pulp instead of literary in places) than my other work. The queer themes set this book apart from some of my other fiction, as well–the adventures explore homophobia in a supernatural context. Ultimately, though, the book is still ME, and I want my name on the cover. So instead of the pseudonym route, I thought a different publishing path could help distinguish this book (and the two following titles I’ve planned for the series) from things like INVISIBLE FENCES, my Dr. Sibley stories, or THE FLESHLESS MAN.
No matter what path this book follows to publication, I think my horror fans will dig ODD ADVENTURES WITH YOUR OTHER FATHER. It’s definitely got some chills and unsettling scenes, and monsters all the way through. And I’m hoping a lot of new readers find me through the Kindle Scout campaign.
In the meantime, please consider giving me a boost by checking out the excerpt from this book at Kindle Scout (https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/31CCF08HMHST3), and nominate it if you find it worthy. I’m happy with the excerpt, and can promise that the whole book has a lot more surprises in store. And if Amazon chooses to publish it, they’ll provide a free advance copy of the full eBook to folks who nominated it!
I’m a pretty lucky guy. Kristopher Rufty is not only my friend, he’s also one of my favorite authors. We share a publisher and an agent, so he can’t shake me even if he wants to. Last year, he floored me with Jagger and Bigfoot Beach. He’s already kicking off 2016 with a new book from Samhain, Desolation. The cover it flipping awesome, and I know the contents will be even better.
Today I hand the wheel over to Krist as he takes you on Desolation’s journey. Ever wondered where writers get their ideas? Well, Hellions, read on. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post. He’s giving away the store. Man, I gotta up my giveaway game.
Highway to Desolation
Desolation has been around for ten years. That’s a long time for an idea to be brewing. But when it was first conceived, it was meant to be my first attempt at writing a novel, but then it was changed into a script that I thought could be shot for a very low budget during a very short shooting schedule. I still think so, actually.
The original idea came to me in a dream. Is that laughter I hear? I’m being serious! In this dream I had way back in 2006, I was watching a movie. The scene that was transpiring on my dream screen was the opening: a man trapped in a car, his injured wife bleeding profusely beside him. He kicks his way out of the car, wanting to find his son. A strange man appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to help him search. As they look, the DVD begins skipping. I didn’t get to see what happened, for the movie jumped ahead several scenes to show me an intruder invading somebody’s home, armed with a crowbar, and using the tool to bash heads. I tried to figure out who was in the home, who the intruder was, and was becoming increasingly frustrated because I had no idea what was going on.
Then I woke up.
It was just after three in the morning, and I was now wide awake. I smoked cigarettes back then and snuck outside to have one. It was the middle of winter, and I was standing on our porch, shivering as I replayed those scenes over and over in my head. I wondered what had caused the accident at the beginning, and why, obviously later in the dream movie, was somebody invading someone’s home.
Before I had finished smoking the cigarette, the entire premise had come together: A man, horribly wronged by another man. This man who caused so much harm is not a bad man. He’s a good person at heart, though he’s made many mistakes and this wrong is something that is felt not only by him, or the other man, but by their families. I wanted it clear that Grant is not evil; he’s not vindictive, though he’s used to getting his way. He’s just a guy, somebody that messed up. But I also wanted it be clear that Dennis is also a good person, driven to deplorable actions by Grant’s mistake.
That premise has stuck with me for a long time. In the original script, I wrote it as a straightforward exploitation-style horror movie. At one point, David Hess (of Last House on the Left fame) had agreed to play Grant and possibly write the music, with Trent Haaga set to play Dennis. The script floated around for years, with many people being attached on as actors, producers, composers, and FX artists.
It came back to me in 2013 for the last time. I decided to just put it in the drawer and leave it be.
A year or so later, I told my agent about the idea. She liked it a lot and told me not to forget about it. I didn’t. With the idea fresh in my brain again, I reread the script, cringing a bit. I still really liked the premise, but not the execution. I thought, If I were to rewrite this, I think this needs to be changed, and this, and this…”
Then another idea hit. I remembered after my father passed away, somebody suggested I write him letters. Just take a blank notebook and write him a letter every day until I felt I didn’t need to do that anymore. They said it would help me in my grieving. I tried. I hated it. It seemed to make me hurt worse, knowing he’d never read them.
And I stopped writing them.
But the idea I had was this: What if Dennis is writing letters to his deceased wife and as we read them, we see his mental wall chipping away a piece at a time. While this is happening, Grant is off trying to take his already crumbled existence, and plaster it all back together. Then the two worlds collide and complete chaos happens.
I had to write the book.
Took ten years, but I finally wrote the novel that I had originally hoped would have been my debut. I’m glad I did not try to write this book all those years ago. And even with the years of disappointment from the movie not being made, I’m very relieved it wasn’t. Had it been, this book would have never been written.
ISBN: 978-1-619233-09-6 Trade Paperback (List: $15.95)
There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.
Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle. On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him. Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.
Biography, Kristopher Rufty
Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, The Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents, and more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He has also written and directed the independent horror films Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.
Praise for Kristopher Rufty
“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” –Jeff Strand
“A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show
“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” –Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller
“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” –Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow
“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” –Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal
Barnes & Noble
We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at email@example.com
Link for audio book giveaway:
Link for print/e-book giveaway:
Howdy there, Hunter’s Hellions! I figured I had to call you all something. I think Hellions fits.
Looking back, I managed to read over 80 books last year. Any time I can get in over 75 books, I’m happy. I’m envious of folks who can speed read books yet still retain everything. I’m no tortoise, but I’m no hare, either.
Coming up with a top 10 horror books list was no easy task because I read so many damn good books. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting a clunker from a mile off, so if I sit down to read a book, it’s usually good.
Now, some of these books didn’t come out in 2015. All that matters is that I read them in 2015. I’m hoping this can help you discover some titles you might have missed over the past couple of years. So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite horror reads of last year (in no particular order, because I was fracturing my brain trying to do it), plus some honorable mentions…
10. THE HAUNTED by Bentley Little
Little has always been one of my favorite authors. He takes all of the everyday insanity we’ve surrounded ourselves with in America and injects it with pure evil. The Haunted is one of the best he’s written in years.
The Perry family’s new house is perfect-except for the weird behavior of the neighbors, and that odd smell coming from a dark corner in the basement. Pity no one warned the family about the house. Now it’s too late. Because the darkness at the bottom of the basement stairs is rising.
9. VIDEO NIGHT by Adam Cesare
Oh man, this book reminded me of all the great horror flicks of the 80s. Adam is one of the best new writers out there, and Video Night is a great place to start!
Who knows more about fighting a monster invasion than a group of teenage horror fans?
Billy Rile is smart, adept at Nintendo and has a killer Hi-Fi setup. Life is good. But he has no idea that an alien life form has infected his town, a creature that overtakes and transforms its host.
8. DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
Hands down the best novella of 2015. Brian Moreland always kicks ass…and I mean always. This is now my favorite of his books. Tender yet terrifying.
t’s all fun and games until…Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him.
7. LITTLE GIRLS by Ron Malfi
This is classic horror in the vein of Peter Straub and Stephen King at their best. This is sure to go down as a classic. I know it’s one I’ll read again and again. I was extra proud to be his Kensington Publishing brother in 2015.
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die.
6. THE BORDER by Robert McCammon
The master returns to the genre that he defined! It doesn’t get any better than that. I’ve long said McCammon is the best who ever scribbled a tale of terror. The man hasn’t lost a step.
World Fantasy award-winning, bestselling author Robert McCammon makes a triumphant return to the epic horror and apocalyptic tone reminiscent of his books Swan Song and Stinger in this gripping new novel, The Border, a saga of an Earth devastated by a war between two marauding alien civilizations.
But it is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger.
5. MR. MERCEDES & FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King
I got up to Maine a week after King was signing copies of Finders Keepers. My timing sucks. The first 2 books of his trilogy are as different from one another as they are engaging. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out!
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
4. PRISONER 489 by Joe R Lansdale
Lansdale should be a household name. Every book he writes is gold. Prisoner 489 is a terrific novella that centers around one of my favorite horror tropes. I won’t spoil it for you. Get the book, now!
On an island with a prison for the most evil and powerful criminals in the world, a new prisoner is strapped to the electric chair for execution. After multiple surges of electricity and nearly knocking out power to the entire island, the prisoner is finally dead. The staff buries him in the prison graveyard with a simple marker baring three numbers: 489.
After the body is buried, a violent storm rocks the islands and a staff member goes missing. The crew rushes into the storm, searching for their lost comrade. They find that the burial site of prisoner 489 has been unearthed, and the body that was inside has gone missing.
3. LORDS OF TWILIGHT by Greg Gifune
You all know I’m a sucker for anything that deals with aliens. In fact, another alien book is part of the honorable mention crew. This is one of the most terrifying ones I’ve read in a while. Loved it.
Strange things are happening in the small, isolated town of Edgar, Maine. Mysterious lights dot the night skies. A local farmer is found dead at the summit of a hill with no evidence as to how his body got there. Livestock is disappearing, only to be discovered later, dead and mutilated with precision-like wounds. And despite the coming of an enormous winter storm, odd men identifying themselves simply as ‘federal agents’ have converged on Edgar in government vehicles as if in anticipation of some greater event.
2. JAGGER by Kristopher Rufty
Cujo on meth. That’s the best way I can describe this. Once again, Rufty populates his novel with sketchy characters doing terrible things. I couldn’t put it down.
Other than the trailer park left to her by her deceased daddy, Amy’s favorite treasure is Jagger, her 180-pound bull mastiff. One day while she is away, Clayton, her best friend’s scumbag boyfriend sneaks into her yard and takes the dog. His prize fighting pit bull was killed during its last match, costing a lot of bad people a lot of money. To make up for his dog’s losses, and to save his own life, Clayton enlists the help of a medical student dropout to turn Jagger into a killing machine by pumping him full of experimental drugs and muscle enhancers. Now Jagger is a monster, a beast that can’t feel pain, with an unquenchable thirst for blood. He quickly breaks out of his pen and starts making his way home, tearing apart anyone in his path on his way to the one he feels has betrayed him the most—Amy.
- THE HUNGER SERIES by Jason Brant
I ate this trilogy up like they were White Castle and I was fresh off a 2 day bender. This is a post apocalypse world bursting with beasties that would make the walkers in The Walking Dead shit themselves, if they had working colons. I highly recommend them. The books, not the shitting zombies.
Day One: A series of terrorist attacks spread a cloud of noxious gas over highly populated areas.
Day Two: Higher brain function erodes in those exposed to the gas. Their bodies begin to distort, faces distending, skin sallowing, teeth elongating.
Day Three: The infected disappear into the shadows, fleeing the harsh daylight which has begun to sear their flesh.
Day Four: The world is DEVOURED.
And now for the honorable mentions. All of them could easily have made my top 10. It was that close! Get these books as fast as you can.
Q ISLAND by Russell James (apocalyptic goodness!)
THE PENDLE CURSE by Catherine Caendish (witches & time travel – yes!)
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe (restored my faith in werewolf tales)
BEHIND THE DARKNESS by Robert Dunn (aliens done right – scary)
GOBLINS by David Bernstein (cryptids – what more can I say?)
OK, there you have it, my top 10 (really 15) horror tales for 2015. I could had added so many more, but I have to get out of the house.
Have you read any of the books I listed? What would make your top 10? What do you think I should be reading in 2016?
Keep flying the horror flag, my Hellions!