Best Beach Read of 2019
Now that I’ve survived the move and am settling into the new lair, it’s time to get back to readin’ and writin’. To that end, I’m 50 pages into my next novel for Flame Tree Press, titled MISFITS. I just finished writing the latest chapter early this morning. Brutal stuff, believe me.
I also plowed through Stephen King’s DUMA KEY, which reminded me so much of Hemingway’s ISLANDS IN THE STREAM that I feel compelled to dig through boxes and find my battered copy.
But the book that I devoured like a starving man at a crab boil was CLAWS by Russell James and published by Severed Press, the king of monster adventure. I’m here to tell you that CLAWS is my definitive, best beach read of the summer!
I mean, look at that cover. Remind you of anything? 🙂 CLAWS has all of the B movie, chomp-stomping action I want in a page turning yarn while I sit under the hot sun. Russell James has knocked it out of the park and deep into the Atlantic Ocean with this one. I can’t recommend it enough, though I am trying. As we colorfully say in my neighborhood, this is the motherfucking shit.
About the book :
National Park Service Rangers Kathy West and Nathan Toland are the only ones stationed at Fort Jefferson, a restored Civil War fort sixty miles off Key West, Florida. Two overnight campers go missing, but before the rangers can investigate, shady Homeland Security agent Glen Larsson arrives to close the park due to a purportedly imminent red tide.
Things quickly escalate out of control when mercenaries arrive to back up Larsson and imprison the rangers. Larsson’s plan is to free a cast of giant crabs to overrun the park, and then Florida beyond.
It’s up to Kathy and Nathan to escape the fort, and then, with the help of an old Coast Guard vet and a scientist with inside knowledge of the plot, to save millions of innocents from rampaging giant crabs. But Larsson’s evil plan has been decades in the making, and the crabs seem indestructible. It will take courage, teamwork, and perhaps the ultimate sacrifice, to avert disaster.
Now stop wasting time reading blogs, liking Instagram pics and trying to find a one night stand on Tinder and buy Claws now!
Disturbing the Peace of Mind – Guest Post by JG Faherty
Like my wife, I’m sure you Hellions need a break from me from time to time. Put your hands together and give a warm welcome for author JG Faherty and by all means, pick up a copy of his latest book, Houses of the Unholy.
I thought long and hard about what to write for my guest post. And I decided rather than talk about what scares me, or why I wrote a certain book, or why does everyone love zombies (or vampires, or clown-faced killers), I would write about what I hope for from the things I write. Most horror writers will say they want to scare their readers, or entertain them, or perhaps maybe even make them think about this social or political issue. And that’s all true to a degree.
But for me, there’s something else.
What I like to write are stories that make you uncomfortable.
There are a lot of ways to do that. You can hit readers over the head with buckets of gore and you can sneak up behind them and give them a jump scare. Keep them at the edge of their seat with non-stop action or be so subtle they don’t even know they’re scared until later that night while they’re lying in bed with the lights off and still thinking about that certain scene in the story.
A lot of horror writers tend to stay within a specific sub-genre. Zombies. Splatter. Extreme. Weird. Vampires. Werewolves. Kaiju. Ghosts. Torture Porn. Suspense. You name it, there’s someone specializing in it. And that’s great. All of us have different tastes, and that shapes what we like to read and what writers like to write.
I’m a little different. I guess you could call me a throwback. I’ve never stayed within the lines of a certain sub-genre, or even a genre at all, unless you consider the broad descriptor of dark fiction. I primarily write horror, but sometimes it drifts into the areas of weird fiction, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. I’ve written about supernatural creatures, haunted houses, serial killers, and zombies.
As a child, I discovered horror by reading Poe, Shelley, and Stoker. But I also devoured The Hardy Boys, Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Ray Bradbury. I watched all the classic Universal monster movies but I also never missed the reruns of the sci-fi classics from the 1950s: Them!, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, The Blob. As I got a little older, I learned many of the movies were made from books, so I read the books, too. In my teens, I discovered gore. Faces of Death, I Spit on Your Grave, Motel Hell, Evil Dead, and so many others. In college, I read every horror novel and short story anthology to hit the bookstores, from King and Koontz and Straub to Garton, Skipp, Spector, and McCammon. I went back and ‘discovered’ the authors I’d missed as a kid. Manly Wade Wellman, Karl Edward Wagner. And I also still read sci fi (Alan Dean Foster, James Bliss, Heinlein, etc.).
Over time, as a reader, I came to know what I liked and what I didn’t. When I got to my thirties, I no longer cared for splatter or torture porn. I preferred books that had complex plots, that ratcheted up the suspense chapter after chapter, that sent shivers up your spine because you didn’t know what was going to happen next.
And, when I started writing, I stayed true to that form.
It’s easy to go for the gross out, for the quick disembowelment, the body tossed in the wood chipper. Something like that might make you flinch, or gag. But for me, that kind of scene never stayed with you, and often it ended up more silly than scary.
I wanted to write things that make people keep the lights on at night, not laugh about how someone’s intestines got used to hang their mother.
So I’ve always stuck to the plan that I have no plan. If the story in my head calls for no blood, then there’s no blood. If it calls for buckets, then there are buckets. As long as it’s necessary for the plot. I veer away from the gratuitous, the unnecessary. When it comes to gore, a little can go a long way. I won’t skip on the zombie eating its victim’s organs, I just won’t spend 3 pages describing it. A few sentences ought to suffice, and then let the readers’ imaginations do the rest.
With all that in mind, when it came time to do my latest collection of short stories, Houses of the Unholy, I wanted it to run the gamut from violent to comic, from supernatural to all-too-real, and from straight horror to those places in between genres.
Most of my stories do tend to be ‘classic’ horror; there’s something supernatural, somewhere. It might be the major point of the story or a subplot, but it’s there. Beyond that, I like to think there’s something for everyone here, whatever you happen to enjoy.
I hope that, like the younger me, you’ll read broadly, and maybe discover something new. Something that sends a shiver up your spine and keeps you awake at night.
Something that disturbs your peace of mind.
A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award® (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and he is the author of 6 novels, 9 novellas, and more than 60 short stories. His latest collection, Houses of the Unholy, is available now, and it includes a new novella, December Soul. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out in August of 2019. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 1950s, 60, 70s, and 80s, which explains a lot. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/jgfaherty, http://www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, http://www.jgfaherty.com, and http://jgfaherty-blog.blogspot.com/
A Little Arachnaphobia With Horror Master Russell James
My new novel Curse of the Viper King is Grant Coleman’s latest adventure fighting (or maybe just surviving) giant monsters. In this story, he and a crew of loggers in the Amazon have to fight off giant spiders, among other things.
Spiders are naturally creepy. Furry, but not cute. Way too many legs. Fangs. We may love Spider-man, but we don’t love spiders, man. Fearing them even has its own name, arachnophobia. There’s no specific phobia for most other animals.
I didn’t have to spin too much fiction to come up with the spiders in this book. I just scaled up the real thing. They were scary enough.
Ground spiders are a set of species that do not spin conventional webs. They build web-lined burrows and shoot balls of immobilizing webbing at their prey. They have fewer, but much larger silk producing glands. So while most spiders are passive predators, waiting for prey to blunder into a web, ground spiders are active hunters, finding and felling prey.
And they are good at it. They are able to shoot silk with enough accuracy to hit legs and mouths of prey much larger than themselves. And this silk is sticky. The glue can withstand shear stresses that are more than 750 times what artificial glues can handle. Getting hit with this stuff is worse than being wrapped in a blanket of super glue.
And if that’s not chilling enough, the spider doesn’t eat the prey. It just sucks out all the fluid leaving a desiccated corpse behind. Do not volunteer to clean up after one of their dinner parties.
In Curse of the Viper King, Professor Grant Coleman and activist Janaina Silva are lost in the Amazon. They come across a logging team and hope they can hitch a ride home through them. But workers discover the remains of a giant snake that send them into a superstitious panic. Then that night, giant spiders arrive. The survivors of the attack find that their only hope for salvation lies in the lost Aztec temple of the infamous Viper King. But they have to get there and back alive.
So as your read about Grant’s harrowing exploits among the spiders, don’t give my imagination all the credit. This spider-induced terror plays out every day all over the world, just on a much smaller scale. Just be glad you aren’t a quarter-inch tall.
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching late night horror. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida. After flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales, including paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker, and Q Island. His Grant Coleman adventure series covers Cavern of the Damned, Monsters in the Clouds, and Curse of the Viper King. His wife reads his work, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”
Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com, follow on Twitter @RRJames14, or say hi at email@example.com.
Entering the LOST WORLD OF KHARAMU
For starters, I’d really like to thank Hunter for inviting me here to be a guest on his blog and talk about my own recent take on dinosaurs, “The Lost World of Kharamu”. We both tackle horror from different directions, so it’s kind of amusing we’ve crossed paths this summer at an intersection marked by giant man-eating lizards.
For me, this is my first venture into the sci-fi arena – traditional, old-school horror stories are my usual dish – but truth be told, I’ve always been fascinated by dinosaurs. My earliest figurines were those hard-wax dino figures they used to sell in mall parking lots back in the day, the ones that used to melt in the sun if you forgot and left them out on the back porch (like I did). From there I went on to an ill-conceived attempt to build a dino-diorama, signing out every dinosaur book in our local library and Saturday afternoon features like “Lost World”, “The Land That Time Forgot”, and so on, movies that were pretty much over-the-top schmaltzy kid’s stuff. But I didn’t take them that seriously.
Until, that is, “Jurassic Park” showed up in the theaters.
Spielberg’s block-buster was a game changer. No stop-action Harryhausen figurines here – from the moment those thundering creatures appeared on that huge IMAX movie screen, those suckers looked terrifyingly real. The first time that T. rex roared, my knuckles went white on the arm rest and that scene where Jeff Goldblum is being chased? I still cringe. Michael Crichton’s book were no less amazing because the science behind them all seem plausible.
So, when it came time for me to cook up my take on the genre, the obvious question was: What on earth could I possible add to this?
Drawing from my experiences traveling in England, India, China and southeast Asia seemed like a good place to begin. Along with a whole bucketload of ‘what ifs?’. “The Lost World of Kharamu” takes its main character, renegade paleontologist Dr. Grant Taylan, on a rollercoaster ride from the Hudson Valley to the Natural History Museum in London, Mumbai India, and ultimately to a remote island in the South Pacific where a Chinese tech corporation is having the beta trial run of its ultimate cosplay themed vacation park. This ‘Lost World’, however, has its own special perks: a place where the ultra-rich not only get to play out their 1950s Universal monster-movie fantasies, but fight and kill real dinosaurs in the bargain.
Along with Australian dino-expert Audrey Adams and Indian Systemologist Roma Banaji, Taylan has to outsmart Russian black-market fossil traffickers, a relentless bunch of Vietnamese commandoes with a contract on his head, a psychotic ex-girlfriend, a Texas billionaire with a John Wayne complex and of course, dinosaurs. Not just the traditional sauropods and Tyrannosaurs we know and love, but also the swift, brilliantly-feathered Zhenyuanlong and the terrifying Utahraptor.
“The Lost World of Kharamu” is really intended as a throwback to adventure story-telling, with more of an adult twist and plenty of black humor. Don’t look for a Disney-theme here. If that interests you, I’ll be giving away two ebook copies free to random drawn responses to this blog, on Hunter’s discretion.
Thanks again, and as Mr. Romero said: stay afraid!
Catherine Cavendish and her Fiendish Boggart!
I love handing the reins over to master horror author Catherine Cavendish because she brings it every single time! This is one you won’t want to miss. Okay, Cat, time to scare the hellions…
Beware the Fiendish Boggart
Boggarts. Devilish little creatures found in deep, dark woods in parts of the North of England. Their sole rajson d’etre appears to be to frighten, maim and kill humans – whom they call ‘forkypeds’.
It seems that while other, more southerly, folk cultures had their ‘house elfs’ who took care of things, homes and humans, the hardy northern folk were surrounded by much darker forces. Almost every home, it seemed, had its own boggart, out to cause mayhem and serious damage.
So what – or who – is a boggart?
In Northumbria, there is a tradition that helpful spirits such as ‘silkies’ could turn bad, and when they did, they became boggarts. In Lancashire, boggarts were mostly evil to begin with. They were said to live outdoors, in holes in the ground, lurking there to trip the unwary, or in marshes, where they would suck unfortunate travellers underground. They would abduct children, kill and eat animals, creep into a house at night and place a cold, clammy hand over the sleeping inhabitants, spreading sickness with their touch.
One famous legend tells of the infamous Grizlehurst Boggart who made his first appearance (in print at least) in 1861, when an elderly Lancashire couple related his story. He was they said, buried at a crossroads nearby, under an ash tree, together with a cockerel. Yet, even though he was buried, he still caused much trouble. They said a farmer’s wife, known to them, had experienced doors banging in her house one evening. She heard raucous laughter, saw three candles burning, with a blue light which illuminated a grotesque figure with cloven hooves and flaming red eyes, as he leaped and danced around. The following morning, she found many tracks of cloven hooves outside her farmhouse.
The couple also maintained that their own horse had been unhitched inexplicably, and their cart overturned, on more than one occasion.
Then there is the infamous boggart of Boggart Hole Clough – yes he even had a place named after him! He lived in a hole outside until one particularly cold winter when he decided to move into a nearby farmhouse. There, he proceeded to cause all kinds of mischief and malicious mayhem. He snatched the food from the children at table, dashing their bowls to the ground. He would tug curtains, and attack the children while they slept. Eventually, so harassed were the farmer and his family that they decided to move out. Unfortunately, that did no good. Once a boggart has made his home with you, he will travel with you. You’re stuck with him for life. When this became clear, the farmer and his family moved back into their old house. Naturally the boggart came too, but for some reason was never so malicious again.
|Boggart Hole Clough – geograph. org.uk|
It seems though that not all boggarts start out evil. I’ve mentioned the Northumbria ‘silkies’, but another tale – this time from Barcroft Hall, in Cliviger, near Burnley in Lancashire – tells of a boggart who started out as a helpful housekeeper. Very much on the lines of a house elf. The farmer’s wife would find all her chores done, laundry washed and ironed, floors swept. The farmer himself was grateful for the help he got bringing in the sheep on a snowy winter evening. He heard the creature’s voice, but never saw it. He was determined to rectify that and made a small hole in the ceiling of the room where the boggart performed most of his household tasks. Sure enough, his patience was rewarded by the sight of a small, wizened, barefoot old man who began to sweep the floor.
Surely his feet must be cold against the stone floor. The farmer thought so anyway and decided to make him a pair of tiny clogs and left them out for him. His son saw him pick them up and heard him call out:
“New clogs, new wood,
T’hob Thurs will ne’er again do any good!”
From then on, the era of good works was over. The boggart began to hound and hurt his family. The animals got sick, the farmer’s prize bull was somehow transported to the farmhouse roof. Household items were smashed indiscriminately. Things got so bad that this family, too, felt forced to flee. But the boggart had other ideas. “Wait there while I fetch me clogs and I’ll come with thee.”
And this is why you should never give a gift to a boggart – for they cannot harm you unless, and until, you do.
Also, never be tempted to give a boggart a name. If you do, then be prepared for the full force of the boggart’s malice to be visited upon you.
In Lancashire and Yorkshire, there are many place names associated with boggarts. In addition to Boggart Hole Clough, you can find Boggart Bridge in Burnley – another Boggart Bridge can be found in Ogden, near Halifax (West Yorkshire). Then there’s Bee Hole Boggart. Burnley also boasts Sweet Clough Boggart and Barcroft Boggart. Rochdale has Clegg Hall Boggart, and Matlock boasts Standbark Boggart. Roads on a council estate in Leeds are prefixed with Boggart. In fact the estate itself is called Boggart Hill.
Boggarts answer to only one master. Owd Hob – the archetypal devil with cloven hoofs, forked tail and horns.
How can you protect yourself from a boggart invasion? The best method is to place a horseshoe over your front door and a pile of salt outside your bedroom.
And just be careful when you’re walking over the moors and marshland of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The majestic, bleak beauty of the Pennines hides many mysteries – and there may just be a boggart or two lurking, unseen, ready to pounce.
There are plenty of sinister goings-on – and a terrifying some demon – in my novella, The Devil Inside Her. This is what to expect:
When nightmares become dreams, someone must die
Haunted by the death of her husband and only child, Elinor Gentry’s recurring nightmares have left her exhausted. She’s crippled by debt, and only the remnants of her former life surround her, things she can’t bear to sell, and wouldn’t make much profit from if she did. Then, for no apparent reason, the nightmares transform into pleasant dreams. Dreams that lead her to take back control of her life.
A string of horrific and unexplained suicides–and an unnerving discovery about Elinor herself—lead her best friend to seek help from the one person who has seen all this before, and things begin to spiral out of control. Hazel Messinger knows that Elinor’s newly found wellbeing is not what it seems, and Hazel’s not about to let the demon inside remain there permanently.
You can buy The Devil Inside Her here;
About the author
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.
Her novellas, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.
She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
Catherine Cavendish – WAKING THE ANCIENTS
Spinner of terrifying tales of ghosts and restless spirits, Catherine Cavendish has a new book of creeping dread for fans old and new. Today, I let her haunt my blog with a little something she calls, THE PEDLAR AND THE DEVIL….
I have set a large part of Waking the Ancients in Vienna, Austria where many ghosts and restless spirits walk among the verdant parks and lavish palaces. But Austrian ghosts do not confine themselves to their nation’s imperial capital. They can be found in towns, cities, villages and the depths of the countryside all over this beautiful land.
In the beautiful mountainous region of Tyrol, many legends and myths abound. One curious one involves a spectral game of bowls.
A pedlar became lost on the side of the mountain as darkness fell. Disorientated, he kept going until he came to the ancient ruined castle of Starkenberg. There, exhausted, he decided to take shelter for the night and laid down to sleep in the remains of a great hall. He slept for some hours, waking to hear the clock of a nearby village strike midnight. To his astonishment, as the last chime echoed across the rocks, twelve ghostly figures, clad in full armour, manifested in the room and proceeded to play a game of bowls – only they used skulls instead of balls.
As luck would have it, the pedlar was quite a bowls player himself. In fact he was the champion of his village. Also, being made of sterner stuff, he offered to play each of the spirits in turn. He was quite surprised when his challenge was accepted. One by one he defeated them all and quite expected to be met with anger as a result. Quite the reverse. To his astonishment, the spectral army congratulated him and gave whoops of joy. They told him that now he had beaten them, they could be released from purgatory. As soon as they said this, they vanished, leaving the pedlar alone. He looked all around, trying to discover where they had gone but to no avail. Then, ten more ghostly knights appeared, each through a different door which they locked carefully behind them. They brought the keys to the pedlar and gave them to him saying he must now determine which was the right key for each door.
All the keys and all the doors were identical – or appeared to be. The pedlar accepted the challenge and it took him quite a while but he successfully accomplished the task and the ten ghostly figures thanked him profusely, assuring him that his actions had also released them from purgatory, before they too vanished.
Things were all going a bit too well up to now and the pedlar was feeling delighted with himself. His confidence knew no bounds.
But then the devil himself appeared, in a foul temper. He castigated the pedlar for robbing him of twenty two souls and declared that his soul must be forfeit instead. The brave (or exceptionally foolhardy) pedlar argued and declared he would play the devil one game of bowls to decide whether his soul should be forever damned and belong to Lucifer, or whether he should be allowed to go free.
Once again, the pedlar triumphed and beat his evil counterpart soundly. As soon as the first cock crowed in the morning, the devil launched himself into the air with scorching sulfur breath that burned the grass where he had been. He took off, his massive wings beating the air, leaving the pedlar triumphant.
Needless to say, the pedlar told anyone who was prepared to listen about his extraordinary night on the mountain. No one believed him of course, until they too trekked up to the castle…and saw the burned and withered grass, exactly as the pedlar had described it.
Waking the Ancients
Legacy In Death
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.
And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .
You can find Waking the Ancients here:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
Horror vs. Terror with Pamela Morris
Horror vs. Terror: A Gothic Battle of the Sexes!
When Hunter first asked me to write a post for him to put up on his blog, I was thrilled, then terrified! Having read a lot of his work and knowing how well-versed he is in all things horror movie and book-related, what could I write about the subject that would interest him as well as his fans? While recently reading his novel We Are Always Watching, I began to compare it to one of my own upcoming novels. Both take place in rural Pennsylvania with the focus on an old, run down farmhouse and some pretty strange, slightly insane, people. The similarities end there. I couldn’t help but wonder if some of that is due to the fact that we are different genders.
Not long ago I was reading about the life and works of Ann Radcliffe. Ann was a pioneer when it comes to the Gothic novel, predating Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker by a hundred years. (Her premier Gothic novel, Mysteries of Udolpho, was published in 1794.) During my studies, I learned that in the late 18th century there was a distinction between the terms Horror and Terror, especially when being applied to literature. Horror was considered more to do with emotions and setting a frightening mood and atmosphere, while creating a growing tension. It was much more subtle and mysterious. Terror, on the other hand, ran more along the lines of physical displays of the grotesque and graphic depictions of torture, murder, and death. Women, like Radcliffe, tended to writer Horror and Ann was generally praised for her unique approach and is given credit for popularizing the Gothic genre, especially among women readers.
Men wrote things more along the lines of Terror. In 1796, Matthew Gregory Lewis released “The Monk”. It was considered quite scandalous, where “… scenes of grotesquery and horror abound”. It was said that Lewis “… had devoted the first fruits of his mind to the propagation of evil” and that he was “… a reckless defiler of the public mind.” Over the years the Horror of Radcliffe has blended with the Terror of Lewis and has become almost exclusively known as Horror. (As an aside, “The Monk” and Radcliffe’s “Mysteries of Udolpho” are also classified as Romance. As far as the Romance genre back in those early days, it was barely considered literature and was denied the prestigious label of being an actual ‘novel’.)
As a Horror fan, it all makes perfect sense to me. My favorite types of movies and books are of the Horror genre, as defined above, or what I’d label as psychological thrillers or psychological horror. In my yet-to-be released novel Dark Hollow Road, I took on the latter without even knowing that such a sub-genre existed. When I discovered the definition of Psychological Horror, I laughed. Wiki says this about it, “…a subgenre of horror and psychological fiction that relies on mental, emotional and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle readers, viewers, or players. The subgenre frequently overlaps with the related subgenre of psychological thriller, and it often uses mystery elements and characters with unstable, unreliable, or disturbed psychological states to enhance the suspense, drama, action and horror of the setting and plot and to provide an overall unpleasant, unsettling, or distressing atmosphere.” This is the type of atmosphere I tried to create with my ghost story, No Rest For The Wicked, also. Two of the ghosts are unstable and psychologically disturbed and they are definitely creating an unsettled atmosphere for the living who are trying to deal with them.
I’m not very interested in watching Terror and what I would equate with Modern-day slasher films full of random acts of mindless gore and buckets of blood, intestine-eating cannibals, exploding heads and the like. Once in a while, sure, I can really get into all of that and have found that I love one particular “Terror” writer when he’s taking on the many cryptids of the world. But for the most part, I’ll pass on that sort of thing – especially when it comes to a movie. Films like Saw, Candyman, & Scream aren’t my overall cup of tea.
I’ll toss in something gruesome every now and then for good measure into my writing, like, “Flies swarmed over the body of Sarah’s decomposing child, neatly cradled in the arms of the scarecrow.” or “The strings of coagulating blood had stretched from under the flattened portion of his brother’s skull, down to the blacktop, then snapped and dripped and oozed some more.” My goal is not to gross my readers out, at least not too much. A quote over on Goodreads states, “Horror writers shouldn’t play nice. Disturb & unnerve your reader. Make them uncomfortable, but not so much they stop reading.” The last thing I want for someone to do while reading one of my stories is to stop reading. Plus, I have no interest in writing what I wouldn’t enjoy reading myself. I’ll leave the Terror to those who enjoy it.
All this is not to say there aren’t some fine lady authors out there writing gruesome and bloody tales of terror or men who know how to be subtle and slowly heighten the suspense. But, is there a difference in what men and women enjoy more when it comes to Horror vs. Terror?
Who would you say wins this Gothic Battle of the Sexes? Do you want that slow, creeping horror that sneaks up on you and leaves you psychologically damaged for a time, or something more along the lines of images so terror-filled, gruesome and gut-wrenching you have to stop reading or reach for the puke bucket?
Guest Post by Author Catherine Cavendish – THE VIENNESE WAY OF DEATH!
We’re going to shake off our Horrortober hangover with a post from one of the best horror writers on both sides of the Atlantic. I first ‘met’ Catherine Cavendish when we were both writing for Samhain. Now we’re together again at Kensington Books. The poor woman can’t shake me. She has a new, terrifying novel out that I can’t wait to dig into. Until then, let’s take a tour of a funeral museum in beautiful Vienna. Take it away, Cat!
“Only in Vienna…”
If I had a penny for every time I have heard that expression, I would be living in splendour right now.
My latest novel – Wrath of the Ancients – is largely set in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital and surely one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world. Its streets team with culture and its proud residents are almost fiercely protective of their enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and endlessly fascinating home, where everyone from Strauss to Klimt and Freud lived and worked.
Vienna is home to well over a hundred museums. It seems there is a museum for almost anything – Chimney Sweeps, Boy Scouts, Tobacco, Trams, Undertakers, Contraception and Abortion… the list goes on and on. And that’s in addition to the wealth of art and history museums on a grand scale. One of the quirkiest – and the first of its kind anywhere in the world – is the Funeral Museum which has been relocated from the centre of Vienna to its new home in the Zentralfriedhof – Vienna’s main cemetery on the outskirts of the city.
When you enter, you are plunged into a dark, funereal atmosphere where the history of funerals and of the main funeral directors’ company in Vienna – Bestattung Wien – in particular is laid out in all its pomp and ceremony. The Viennese have always had something of a fascination with death and the quest to achieve a Schöne Leich (Literally ‘beautiful corpse’) is a passion. Most frequently that means creating the most lavish of funerals. This was especially the case in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when it seemed people vied with each other to create the most over-the-top ceremony.
Bestattung Wien pride themselves on being able to create the most unusual and individually designed funerals. So successful are they that people even come from abroad in order to have their unique vision executed. Funeral tourism! The company handles some 20,000 funerals a year, in Vienna and the surrounding area. Anything from traditional limousines, to horse-drawn vehicles, coffins made by their own coffin makers and pretty much anything your heart desires can be arranged – at a price of course. The museum features insignia, ceremonial uniforms, lanterns, a full size horse-drawn hearse containing a coffin (but minus the horses, of course!)
In a more modern vein, there is a display cabinet featuring a number of items including a small box with a tiny blue diamond. Yes, this is someone’s ashes, turned into an imitation diamond. The relative could, if they wanted, have this mounted into a piece of jewellery so they could wear their loved one around their neck, on their wrist, finger or even in a brooch worn over their heart. All this is on display at the museum, providing a unique insight into the Viennese way of death.
You will also see death masks, and a picture showing the specially designed Sitzsarg or ‘sitting-up’ coffin, based on a painting by Rene Magritte. Only one of these was ever made and it used to be on show but apparently not anymore.
Also on display are reminders that medical science was not always as accurate as it is today when determining whether a person was actually dead. In the first half of the 19th century, there was a widespread fear of being buried alive so a piece of string was attached to the deceased’s finger before burial. This string led into the cemetery warden’s office so that, in the event the ‘corpse’ woke up, they would ring the bell. Sadly, this led to a great many false alarms. Decomposition, shifting earth, release of gases after death all lead to changes in the position of the body sufficient to make the bell ring. Eventually the wardens got so fed up, they ceased the practice of attaching the warning bells, but you can see them here.
Even today, if you are still concerned that you might wake up after being buried, you can specify another option to ensure this could never happen by stating in your Will that, once your death has been pronounced, a thin stiletto-like knife should be used to pierce your heart. Now there can be no mistake. In the museum, one such stiletto is displayed in all its glory, on purple velvet in a glass case. Chilling. That will cost you 300 Euros.
In the so-called Age of Enlightenment, in the 18th century, Emperor Josef II saw fit to ban all cemeteries from the centre of Vienna and introduced the ‘reusable’ coffin. This contained a retractable hatch at the bottom. The body was placed in it, lowered, and the hatch released. The corpse, wrapped only in a sack would then fall into the grave. The coffin could then be used again and again. Needless to say, this did not agree with the Viennese way of death, the ‘beautiful corpse’ and all the pomp and ceremony and was abandoned.
The museum also features a section dedicated to the burials of six famous people from the modern era– some of whom may be less familiar to non-Austrians although Falco (Rock me Amadeus) is well-remembered, as is Curd Jürgens the actor who played a Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me.
The Viennese dark sense of humour is also evident in the museum’s gift shop where it is possible to buy coffin shaped USB memory sticks and cigarette cases bearing the words, Rauchen sichert Arbeitsplätze (‘smoking secures jobs’).
As I said at the beginning, “Only in Vienna…”
Destiny In Death
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Wrath Of The Ancients
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
Celebrate Alien Covenant with Black Site : A Short Story of SciFi Terror
Alien has been and will always be one of my favorite scifi AND horror movies. Whenever a new installment comes around, I get in a genre-blending mood. (And yes, I did like Prometheus…it appealed to the wannabe archaeologist in me)
Not too long ago, author Michael Patrick Hicks asked me to read his latest short story, Black Site. Like a glass of 25 year old scotch, it hit the spot and made me all warm inside. I was more than happy to provide the cover blurb : “A sharp crackling exploration of man’s hubris and science gone wrong. This is Frankenstein for the new millennium.”
The cover is phenomenal. It reminds me of a lot of the incredible covers for Alan Dean Foster in the 80s, who coincidentally did the novelization for Alien. I have to ask Michael if that’s just a happy coincidence.
About the story…
For fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Alien comes a new work of cosmic terror!
Inside an abandoned mining station, in the depths of space, a team of scientists are seeking to unravel the secrets of humanity’s origin. Using cutting-edge genetic cloning experiments, their discoveries take them down an unimaginable and frightening path as their latest creation proves to be far more than they had bargained for.
All this for only 99 cents! Click here to get your copy today and remember, in your living room, everyone can hear you scream.