(Thomas is the author of the novel Twitch and I think you’ll find his beginnings are very similar to many of the horror hounds out there.)
Even before I had my first taste of Chiller Theater, I read horror comics and magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland. So, I can say I’ve always been drawn to the macabre.
At seven years old, I first watched “Chilly Billy” Bill Cardille onPittsburgh’s channel eleven’s Chiller Theater. I don’t recall the name of the movie, but I can tell you the movie surrounded astronauts marooned on Mars and when each one died, the remaining astronauts buried them and the dead person would rise and attack. Someday I’ll find out the name of the movie and I’ll re-watch. I suspect the film won’t have the same effect and will be considered cheesy by today’s standards. I won’t care and simply view with fond reminiscence.
Regardless, with my father snoring on the couch and me sitting in the dark watching fear, it was the night I became a true horror junkie.
Although that specific night offered clear weather and the reception, unbeknownst to me, was better than typical, I set my sites for watching again the following week. All of a sudden, Chiller Theater had become, with the first viewing, one of my all-time favorite television shows. Coincidently, along with Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and most Hammer Films featuring Peter Cushing and/or Christopher Lee, I would be hard pressed to choose just one.
But the following week’s planned horror viewing extravaganza was not to be when I learned how lucky I had been to watch the previous week’s episode. For where we lived (one hour southwest of Pittsburgh) and in a valley, the top of the house antenna had a rough time tuning in the distant channels and in cloudy weather, the channel offered a little more than shadowed snow. I may have been disappointed, but I wasn’t deterred…for I had a solution.
My Aunt Sandy and Uncle Dave lived eight miles up the road, on top of a hill, and their reception was exceptional. So, I started spending my Saturday nights with them. They always allowed and even joined me in watching the usually ghoulish films, at least until they fell fast asleep on the couch and in the chair respectively. Typically, I would make it through the first feature and just barely into the second before joining them in slumber on my spread out across the floor blanket. Of course, I always woke up with the sun in my eyes, angry at myself for missing the second feature and would secretly vow to remain awake the following week.
And so, for some time following, this routine became my Saturday night norm. Eventually though, after being fortunate enough to have a portable black and white television in my bedroom, I learned tin foil makes a wonderful adjustable antenna and I started watching alone in the darkness of my room, surrounded by miscellaneous monster magazines and various horror based plastic models I had started to build.
I wasn’t yet a writer, but the seeds were firmly planted.
Twitch is available for download at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble dot com for only 99 cents. Want to win a free copy of TWITCH (digital) along with a signed photo? Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate you read this on https://huntershea.com/. If you are the winner, I will request your mailing address for sending the signed photo. And, rest assured, I will not use it for anything else…I promise.
This month’s inspiration comes from author Shaun Jeffrey. He’s been publishing short stories and novels for years, and his latest novel is now a movie!
So, without further ado, the following page is Shaun’s stage…
The old adage goes ‘Write about what you know’, but in the case of monsters and serial killers, that’s easier said than done. Now, although monsters are figments of the imagination, serial killers are rea – but how can you write about killing people if you’ve never done it? This was my problem when I wrote The Kult. OK, aside from risking imprisonment and actually going out and killing people, which I’m not going to admit to in public, you have to make shit up. You have to let your imagination run riot.
When I started writing the novel, I set out to write something that I’d like to read, but sadly, at first it didn’t work out that way, and the novel I wrote was nothing like the novel that was published.
The story started out about a group of mutated individuals seeking revenge for the continual harassment they suffered at the hands of others. I finished the novel, landed an agent and then waited for it to sell. And I waited, and I waited. But nothing happened. A publisher expressed an interest, but then nothing came of it. So in the cold light of day, I reviewed what I had written and realised that I didn’t like it at all. To cut a long story short, the agent and I parted company, but I knew there was something in the novel that I liked, so I went over it again, and realised that there was another story there, a much better story that needed telling. So I rewrote it, and as I did so, the story flowed. It was as though it had been there all along, but I had tried to shape it into what I wanted it to be, rather than letting the story be what it wanted to be. Once I had finished, I was much happier about the whole thing and the new novel was nothing like the original apart from containing a few of the same characters. Next thing, I knew I had sold it to a small press publisher (who has sadly since gone bankrupt, but the book is available in various ebook formats) and then, before long, the book was optioned for film. Shooting finished last year and the first trailer has just gone online.
So it’s not always about what inspired you to write the story as much as it is about the story wanting to be written, and that’s something you have little or no control over. Of course when you’re writing about a subject that you know little about, such as when I wrote, The Kult, you have to research. My study involved reading about heinous crimes and the mindset of killers so I could ‘walk in their shoes’ so to speak. Because of course I’d never really kill anyone, unlike the characters in my novel …
For more info, please check out www.shaunjeffrey.com
One thing every single writer is asked time and time again is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I was recently at a talk given by R.L. Stine, and he said he’s always wanted to respond, “I don’t know, where do you get yours?”
Inspiration can come from anywhere. From a childhood event, to something you see on the news and even a mispronounced word (which sparked a short story of mine that has been published quite a few times). I want to peel back the skullcap of horror writers and take a peek inside their creative process for all to see. I’m going to kick off this series with author Lynn Hones and the childhood vacation that was the golem-esque clay for one of her novels.
So without further ado, the following page is Lynn’s stage…
My horror ebook, Laugh in the Dark, started this way. Back in the late 1960’s it wasn’t unusual for Dad to call out to my mom that we were taking a road trip. Keep in mind this was way back before seat belts were mandatory and the posted speed limit was 70 miles per hour. There were six kids and one Volkswagen Bug. Growing up in Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border, the usual response uttered under our breath was, “Dear God, not Gettysburg…again.”
He’d light a cig and smiled, “Nope, we’re going to Conneaut Lake Park.”
Now he was talking. We’d happily jump into that tiny car with big smiles dreaming of Devil’s Den with the infamous Wall of Gum. I made a mental note to have the mandatory wad of gum to stick on the wall as the cart went up the first hill.
Mom, depending on the year, was pregnant and holding a baby in the front seat, with the rest of us crammed into the back and the “puke bucket,” along with a random kid or two, stuffed in what we called “the well” in the way back.
Once there, us kids, green from Mom and Dad’s ciggy smoke filling the car, would jump out and run for the Conneaut Hotel. Old and spooky, built on Lake Conneaut, it was a fantastic place with long, uneven hallways and doorways with windows up top to let in the lake breezes. No televisions, radios, phones or air conditioning, it was right next door to the small park. We loved to hear the old-timers tell us about the young and beautiful bride, Elizabeth, who died in a fire there on her wedding day, and haunted the hotel ever since, looking for her lover.
Dad would buy the tickets and we’d run through the park and ride to exhaustion. Back in our room, we’d sleep with one eye open waiting for Elizabeth to float through the wall.
Fast forward to 2011. I now bring my own kids there and run around with them like the skinny little, Converse wearing, gum chomping girl I used to be.
The best part, is that the hotel, built in the late 1890’s, is still operating and…there are still no phones, radios, televisions or air conditioning. And yes, the Wall of Gum is still there. The park is just hanging on however, financially and may be seeing its last days in this economy. If you get the chance, go. The lonely bride will remind you that although she died over sixty years ago, her spirit lingers, just as the spirit of the old park lingers in the memories of anyone lucky enough to have visited it back in the day or as recently as last year.
For further information check out this website, http://www.clphotelconneaut.com/history.html, or go to my own website, www.lynnhones.com and look for my page, A Haunted Hotel. I’d love to hear from anyone who has been there and their memories.
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