I can’t even express how exciting it was to be featured on Jim Harold’s Cryptid Report. He has the world’s #1 paranormal podcast, featuring the brightest stars in the fields of the paranormal, UFOs and cryptozoology. And here I come, interloping on greatness. 🙂
We sat back and talked about The Jersey Devil. Is it real? Where did it come from? Where is it today? And what else is lurking in the dense, remote Pine Barrens? Click here to listen to the interview and find out…
And you can still grab a copy of The Jersey Devil for only 99 cents. Offer ends March 1st.
While I take a break to watch Mets Spring Training and continue my self-studies on ancient American archaeology, specifically the mound builders of North America, I’m handing this blog n’ chain over to author, Roland Yeomans. And talk about small worlds. His designer is Heather McCorkle, who is one of my favorite people in the Twitterverse! We are all 6 degrees of maple bacon. Roland’s latest book is a mix of horror and steampunk and history and everything in between. I can’t wait to read it.
OK Hellions, time for me to hit the textbooks. Roland, take the wheel…
“True horror is when men are free to become the monsters they have always wanted to be.”
– Samuel McCord
Roland Yeomans here on my “Don’t You Hate Book Tours?” Book Tour.
One of the worst war criminals was a home-grown one: General William Tecumseh Sherman of “Let’s Toast Marshmallows All Through Georgia” Fame.
It was his idea, by the way.
As he was drawing wagon-loads of civilian down roads suspected of containing mines, cannoning Atlanta homes sheltering crying women and children, and writing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that there was a whole class of people, men, women, and children, that needed to be killed in the South.
The lure of alternate history is to take the past and give it a twist. Steampunk filters the story through a Victorian H. G. Wells lens. Horror allows me to serve back terror to those who most deserve it.
Have you ever thought what might have been the fate of the White Man had Native American magic been real, had the White’s boogey-men been waiting for the carnage of the Civil War to give them an engraved invitation?
Imagine a world where aliens walk unsuspected among us, where global vampire kingdoms wage war against one another in secret, and one man with death in his veins tries to even the scales for those who cannot fight back.
Horror is more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains upstairs.
An atmosphere of unexplainable dread, of lurking unknown forces must be present. There must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain:a malign suspension of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the demons of unsuspected reality.
In The Not-So-Innocents Abroad, Samuel McCord, a man cursed with the blood of the Angel of Death, marries the woman of most people’s nightmares: the Empress of the Alien Race that has toyed with Man since he crawled from out of his caves.
But love seldom has good sense, much less good luck.
Now, McCord must struggle to see if there is an honorable way to be married to a monster.
He may not live long enough to find there is no such road.
The vampiric Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Empress Theodora of the Unholy Roman Empire are among the passengers of the honeymoon vessel of the no-longer human and the alien empress.
The insane Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, a crippled General Sherman, 11 year old Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious Greek physician Lucanus join many others on the honeymoon voyage of the first Air-Steamship, Xanadu.
The keening which General Sherman heard as the Angel of Death convened at the corrupt peace treaty at Ft. Laramie when the skies became blood, the stars reversed their course, and the dead rose:
Cost of Passage? Only $9.99. Come aboard for the adventure of a lifetime.
I first met Brian Moreland about 4 years ago when we were part of Samhain’s initial horror line. We became instant friends that will last well beyond Samhain. His first book with them, DEAD OF WINTER, just blew me away. He’s since published a host of other kick ass novels, like SHADOWS IN THE MIST, THE WITCHING HOUSE, THE DEVIL’S WOODS, and THE VAGRANTS. His latest novella, DARKNESS RISING, is just phenomenal. Easily the best novella of 2015!
We here at the Monster Men have been trying to get him on the show for a couple of years. Our insane schedules made it almost impossible. Thankfully, we finally got on the same page…or Skype in this case. I was a bit woozy, having lost some blood during my tattoo process, and filling the void with beer. But, we made it! Enjoy this special episode with one of the best horror writers today.
And check out Brian’s Amazon Page to pick up his books.
Like him on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland
Check out Brian’s blogs:
It’s time to put on your tin foil hats and settle down in the bunker. Today, for your listening and viewing pleasure, the Monster Men interview Samhain author Glenn Rolfe to talk about his latest release, Boom Town. Glenn is a horror author in Maine (I think there’s some other guy up there who does stuff like that) and a real up-and-comer. Now first, check out the interview :
Here’s what Boom Town is about :
Terror from below!
In the summer of 1979, Eckert, Wisconsin, was the sight of the most unique UFO encounter in history. A young couple observed a saucer-like aircraft hovering over Hollers Hill. A blue beam blasted down from the center of the craft into the hill and caused the ground to rumble for miles.
Now, thirty years later, Eckert is experiencing nightly rumbles that stir up wild rumors and garner outside attention. The earthly tremors are being blamed on everything from earthquakes to underground earth dwellers. Two pre-teens discover a pipe out behind Packard’s Flea Market uprooted by the “booms” and come into contact with the powerful ooze bubbling from within. What begins as curiosity will end in an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.
Now, this is why I love my job. I got an advanced copy of Boom Town from Glenn. I’m not sure if he was fully aware of my alien invasion obsession. So little did he know, I was already hooked by the premise, big time. Boom Town is set in a small, out of the way town, so you immediately get that sense of isolation, which always amps up the creep factor. Most of the main characters are kids in their teens, so folks who grew up loving It can rejoice.
Glenn wastes no time diving right in. I will say that this isn’t your typical alien invasion tale. There are no grays or reptilians skulking around, probing anuses and trying to gain world domination. Think of this more as The Blob on steroids. Snappy prose and non-stop action make this a real fun read. Take me to your leader, if that leader is Glenn Rolfe!
I love being a horror writer. Sometimes, it afford little perks, like not only getting to know an awesome writer (and human being) like Kristopher Rufty, but also getting a sneak peek at his latest book.
The book in question this time is JAGGER, a tale about an enormous dog who goes from cuddly to bat crap crazy. When I was done, I actually said, “Cujo who?” out loud. This is one you’ll want to devour in one sitting.
Let me start off by saying I loved your new book, Jagger. Why don’t you tell folks what this nail biter is about?
Thank you so much! I’m happy you enjoyed it. Coming from you, that means a lot. I’m a huge fan of your work as well. Jagger is about a scumbag named Clayton who takes Amy Snider’s mastiff to use in some dogfights. His showpiece pit was killed in a fight and cost some very bad people a lot money. He knows if he doesn’t come up with something quick, he’ll suffer the same fate as others before him. But the problem is Jagger is a domesticated canine, and his size wouldn’t be the only thing that could keep him alive in the fights. So Clayton enlists the help of an old friend named Stan, a medical school graduate who’s turned to developing meth and experimental drugs in his basement for help. Stan has whipped up a special kind of steroid that he sells to beef farmers and they try it out on Jagger. It works. But the side-effects are disastrous. Jagger can no longer feel pain, and he suffers from violent outbursts, rage, and insanity. Take that, and add in an abusive dog trainer, Jagger becomes the Jason Voorhees of dogs. Once he breaks loose from his captors, he goes on a bloody killing spree as he tries to find his way home.
I wrote the first draft of this book in less than six weeks. In the revision process, I changed very little. Though it got a little intense writing certain scenes, I had a good time with this one. It was one of those books I couldn’t stay away from. Being a lover of nature-gone-wrong books and movies, I tried to incorporate some of that with some classic exploitation-style characters and situations. Hopefully I succeeded.
I know you’re a dog owner. Is there a particular dog you had that inspired Jagger?
I based a lot of Jagger’s traits and mannerisms before he goes mad on our dog, Thor. The personality, the huffing and puffing and sagging jowls that make propeller sounds, the unlimited supply of drool, the crawling into bed with you and nuzzling his wet nose into the nook of your neck—all of that came from Thor.
Jagger’s appearance was inspired by a dog I saw at the vet’s office one day. Sitting in the waiting area with Thor, I watched as he took pride in being the biggest dog around. Thor ways close to 135 pounds, so there aren’t many dogs bigger than him at any vet visit. On this day, that changed. A guy entered with this beast of a dog. He had thick brown and black fur, a scrunched up face that sort of resemble a Chow. Thor went to greet this dog and looked like a puppy standing next to its mother in this dog’s presence. I got to talking to with the owner and he told me his dog was a fuzzy mastiff, a form of bullmastiff but with longer hair. I found it slightly humorous how much the dog resembled Mick Jagger. On the way home that day, I kept thinking what would happen if that dog turned on its owner and the seeds for Jagger was planted.
I read up about mastiffs. They’re very gentle in nature, loving, and overly affectionate. So I had to work a bit at coming up with something that might make such a tender animal turn violent.
You’re not just a horror writer, you’re a director, too. Which hat is more difficult to wear? Do you have any future movie making plans?
They can be difficult in their own ways. In movies, I have to be a leader of a team and it’s my duty to make sure the movie is made with this team the best way it possibly can be. I have budgets to adhere to, actors to instruct and care for, and a certain number of scenes have to be filmed on a particular day or I’ll get behind schedule and risk throwing a wrench into all the aforementioned duties. But when it’s over and filming has wrapped, I get to take my footage and cut it together into my creation. That is the best part, seeing the fruit of everyone’s labors. The stress and bad moods of filming become a distant memory as I watch what we worked so hard to accomplish in a finished form. It’s a wonderful feeling that makes the entire process a wonderful experience.
Writing can bring its own stresses at times, but there is something therapeutic about writing stories that can’t be topped by film-making, at least not the kind of film-making I’m used to. Writing is magic, not only are you creating a world to play in, but there’s no budget sheets to worry about, nobody will throw a temper tantrum, nobody can get hurt (other than the characters) and you are completely limitless as to what you can do. It’s amazing. One of the greatest blessings I’ve been given is the chance to write stories.
For future movies, I wish I could say there are things lined up. I’ve been writing book after book, and haven’t had much time to pursue movies since we finished Rags (which will be released this year from Wild Eye Releasing). My dream was to be like Clive Barker—somebody who dabbles in both. And one day I hope that will happen again. But for now, I’m very happy with just writing fiction.
Some of my books have received interest from film-makers and producers. And I have a script that I wrote based on my novella Last One Alive. That movie might be my return to the director’s chair in the near future.
But nothing can take my love away from movies. The passion is still there, a burning sensation in my heart. I still watch all the movies I’ve loved since I was a kid on a regular basis. Roger Corman, H.G. Lewis, AIP classics, and the exploitation greats. Plus the splatter movies that set me on this path to begin with.
You’ve written quite a few books in just several years. How do you keep the writing wheels going?
I keep those wheels lubed! Seriously. There’s material all over that I can find influence in. Like with Jagger, the dog at the vet that day inspired an entire novel with the help of our dog Thor. My son inspired Proud Parents. My stepsister inspired Tracey in Oak Hollow. A close call at my old job inspired Angel Board. I’m sure this happens to you as well, something will just trigger your brain and these massive mortal shells start exploding ideas. Sometimes it can be a conversation you have with someone that just stays with you. My personal fears have inspired a good bit of my writing and still do. I just do a lot of people watching, read a lot of books, magazines, newspapers. I watch a lot of true crime and monster mysteries on TV. Material is everywhere. You know as well as I do that we never take a day off. Sure, we don’t sit down and write once in a while, but our gears are always cranking, always spinning possibilities for stories in our minds, even when we’re sleeping.
What’s one thing you’d like to check off your bucket list this year?
I want to finally read some of King’s The Dark Tower series. I know what you’re thinking, but please don’t beat me! I haven’t read any of those books yet.(We’re both in the same boat. They are some of the only King books I haven’t read!)
My wife swears they’re some of his best. I promised her I would read the first three this year. I’m actually about to start on The Gunslinger here soon and plan to read the following two this summer and fall. We have them all in both paperback and hardback, so they’re waiting on me and I’m excited to start.
I’m going to go opposite on this question – what’s your least favorite horror movie franchise and why?
Probably either the Paranormal Activity series or Zombie’s Halloween movies. I watched the first Paranormal and thought it was pretty well done, but the sequels were just mundane and repetitive. The fourth one was silly.
Zombie’s Halloween saga was just bad for all the wrong reasons. He did something you shouldn’t—tried to explain evil. It can’t be explained. That was what made Myers so scary in the first place. There was no method to his madness, no reason for it. Myers was just evil on two legs as Dr. Loomis stated in the original series. An unstoppable force that slaughtered anything in front of him without provocation, a wildfire that can’t be extinguished as it scorches everything in its wake. But I do give him credit for trying. He has a brass pair for tackling a classic character like Michael Myers and trying to make him his own.
Do you think you could beat Stephen King in an arm wrestling match?
Probably not. I’d be so distracted by being in his company that he’d use it to his advantage for the win. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed I’d lost until he’d left the room and I came down from my King-induced high.
Tell the world what’s coming next and where to find you and your books.
The Lurking Season just came out. It’s a sequel to The Lurkers. Jagger will be released in a couple weeks, with Bigfoot Beach following. The Vampire of Plainfield comes out this summer, and Desolation follows that. Thunderstorm Books are doing limited edition hardcovers of Bigfoot Beach and The Vampire of Plainfield, but they’ll also be available in e-book with a paperback following soon after.
My books can be found in a lot of the usual places, sometimes books stores too. I recently heard that some of my titles are in a few libraries, which I think is amazing. I love libraries and even now I get that same kind of nervous excitement whenever I’m scouring the shelves for something I haven’t read. It’s a feeling we should all get to experience as much as possible.
Thanks a lot, Hunter! I appreciate the chance to visit your blog. It’s always a fun time. Can’t wait to get together again and talk about writing, monsters, and horror movies.
You can follow Krist’s amazing journey at lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com . And if you crave some Jagger, click on the cover copy above.
OK, I’m jumping the gun here, bypassing Thanksgiving and diving right into Christmas. I have a very good reason. Author Matt Manochio’s new book, THE DARK SERVANT, has dropped just in time to savage the Christmas season. I sat down to talk with Matt (both at the bar at Chiller Theatre and back home) about his book, path to publication and lollipops. This is a book you definitely want to pick up. Anyone that introduces me to a new monster is one badass of a dude.
Ok, let’s set the table for this here sit-down. Your debut novel with Samhain, The Dark Servant, unleashes on the world on Novermber 4th. Tell us about the book.
Thanks Hunter! I’m guessing your readers have heard of Krampus, but for those who have not, Krampus, in European folklore, is a huge, hairy devil who serves as Saint Nicholas’s (yes, Santa Claus’s) dark half. Saint Nick rewards the good kids and farms out the bad ones to Krampus, who disciplines the brats in a myriad of horrible ways. I set my Krampus loose in northern New Jersey where he goes after a town’s hideous high school bullies—but there’s certainly more to it than that.
Where did you come up with the idea for the terrifying creature in The Dark Servant? The cover is absolutely amazing. Is it exactly how you pictured it in your mind?
I had never heard of Krampus until two years ago when my boss asked me if I knew of this monster. (He’d never heard of him either and knew I was into kooky pop culture stuff.) I was 37 at the time and couldn’t believe this thing slipped by me. It’s such a wonderful myth. And fortunately it’s been largely unexplored in American fiction. (Think about all the vampire, zombie and werewolf books that flood the market.) So while European storytelling created the legend of Krampus, I created my own walking, talking, irreverent version of the monster. And I couldn’t be happier with the results. As for the cover, I originally wanted the artist to show less of the monster. I wanted to give the creature its form or profile, if you will, but still allow for the reader to paint his or her own picture of Krampus—eyes, snout, fangs, etc. But don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the cover (Samhain has great artists working for them) and the staff absolutely took my input not just on what the monster looked like, but on background (spooky, wintery forest), and font style and color.
You and I had a very similar path to publishing. Let folks know the highs and lows you experienced and how perseverance and good storytelling wins in the end.
For those who don’t know, Hunter and I were victims of the Dorchester Publishing collapse. I wrote in depth about my struggle for Writer’s Digest. But in short, however fantastic you feel upon getting that first book deal, which I got (and saw vanish) in 2010, research the publisher. I had no idea Dorchester was on its last legs and doomed for bankruptcy. The company laid off my editor months after I signed the deal for a straight crime thriller. I stayed in touch with my editor, who landed at Samhain not long after Dorchester’s fall, and when I got the idea for The Dark Servant, he was the first person I contacted and he encouraged me to go for it. So if you make connections in this business, keep them! Remain on good terms. Also as important, I kept writing. I was literally down in the dumps for a day when I realized I wouldn’t be published with Dorchester, but that was it. One day in August 2010. After that I took the outlook that if my work could sell once, it could sell again. You must keep a positive attitude in this business.
What are some of your favorite horror books and movies?
- An American Werewolf in London
- John Carpentar’s The Thing
- ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
- Monster by Frank Perreti (not a favorite, but it heavily influenced me)
- Jurassic Park (ok, it’s not strictly horror, but it is among my favorites)
If you had to be chased down by Jason Voorhees or eaten by Jaws, which would you pick and why?
Jason Voorhees hands down. Jason could at least end my misery quickly. Did you see how much agony Quint was in when Jaws got ahold of him?
What’s your biggest fear? Have you tried to conquer it and failed, or do you just accept it for what it is?
This is a hard question to answer. If you’re talking phobias, I hate heights and don’t think I can ever conquer that fear. If you’re talking real-world every-day fears, it’s rather bland but important nonetheless: being able to provide for my family and hopefully putting my son through college. He’s 3 now, but they grow up quickly, and I’m terrified to think of what college tuition will cost in 15 years.
Do you have a favorite space to write? What’s the strangest place you’ve found yourself writing?
My favorite writing spot is sitting cross-legged on my bed. I don’t have a desk. Strangest place I’ve ever written something? I was a journalist once upon a time, and in 2008 I wrote an article for USA Today on my Blackberry about an AC/DC concert during the concert. (Go to my website if you’d like to read it. I linked to it.)
If you had to guess, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? (and you can’t say three, because that cartoon cheated!)
At least 100, especially if you work all angles of the pop. Just a guess.
Which do you think is better, the original The Thing from Another World, or John Carpenter’s The Thing?
John Carpenter’s The Thing, and not just because of the special effects, which were groundbreaking at the time. It was a well-cast movie, too. But the biggest reason I like it is because Carpenter’s version was more faithful to John Campbell’s short story, on which the movie is based.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’m waiting to hear back from my editor on revisions I made to a second book. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we can sign a deal. I don’t want to say too much about it other than it’s a supernatural Western set in South Carolina during Reconstruction. I’ve got an idea for another book that I intend to start after this publicity tour dies down in mid-December. I’m taking off the last two weeks of the year and cannot wait to dive into writing (which I’m finding less and less time to do—toddlers have a way of sapping up your time).
December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.
The Dark Servant, Synopsis
Santa’s not the only one coming to town …
It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.
“The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!” — Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author
“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!” — Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor
“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.” — Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper
“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!” — David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series
“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” — Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days
“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.” — Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss
“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.” — Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities
“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.” — John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes
“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.” — Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown
“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.” — Jon McGoran, author of Drift
Matt Manochio, Biography
|Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)
Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).
Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.
The Monster Men sucked Keith Rommel right back into our madness to kick off our series of interviews that will be posted through (and probably past) the Halloween season.
Now, you all know his first book, The Cursed Man, is being made into a movie (well, you do if you watched our previous interview with Keith). Aside from that, he’s released 2 more books this year – The Lurking Man & Among the People, and has big, big plans for the future. There’s also an invitation for a future project that, if it happens, you can all say you were there when the seed was planted!
Watch on, little brothers and sisters and remember to turn the lights off…
I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of my favorite guys in the horror biz, Russell James. I’ve been hooked on his writing ever since I read his debut novel, Dark Inspiration. And lucky me, I get to hang out with the guy at horror cons! He has a lot going on this year, publishing enough fresh terror to keep his fans satisfied.
Your latest tale of terror, Dark Vengeance, was just released through Samhain Horror in March. What are readers in store for this time around?
Laura and Teresa, the heroes from DARK INSPIRATION, are back. A coven of witches has taken up residence in their small town in Tennessee. The coven’s plan is to resurrect an Aztec demon that really has it in for the male of the species. They need to perform a human sacrifice to make the demon’s transformation complete, and they will need to use children.
Laura and Teresa are the only ones with the clues a bout what evil is to come, but their experiences in DARK INSPIRATION were too much for their relationship to bear, and they’ve moved apart. They have to pull theirrelationship back together in time to save the children, includingTeresa’s son.
Your debut book. Dark Inspiration, just blew me away. I knewthat I was in great company with the new line of horror authors that Samhain had gathered. What made you decide to write the follow up, Dark Vengeance, and can we expect another in the ongoing saga?
I had readers of Dark Inspiration ask for more stories about Laura and Teresa, so I got to thinking about the effects on them from what they endured in the first book. I wanted that impact to follow through, toaffect them in the second story, not have it like sitcom episode where everything starts fresh. The new character in this book, who ends up being named Dawn, really intrigues me. We may hear more about her.
You also have a novella, Blood Red Roses coming out on May 6th (the day before my birthday in case anyone wants to buy me a cake). Tell us a little about it.
This novella is one of four that won the Gothic Horror Contest with Samhain. Mine is set on a cotton plantation during the Civil War. An orphan is sold there to work in the stable under an evil overseer, and uncovers a series of slave killings. The more he investigates it, the deeper and darker the story gets, until he finds himself a victim. I read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe ahead of time and tried to put a bit of his style into it to make it feel period-correct.
I’ve found a common theme with horror authors in that so many were inspired to pursue the genre by those 70s staples, In Search Of and Kolchak The Night Stalker. What are your favorite episodes of each?
In Search Of was just excellent. The episode explaining the Nazca drawings, the enormous etchings on the plains that can only be seen from above, made me convinced to this day we were visited by aliens. Kolchack? Was there a bad episode? Loved that show. And if anyone says Twilight Zone had no impact on them, they are lying.
You’ve also been self-publishing short story collections and collaborating with other writers. Tell us about those collections and where people can find them?
I started a critique group with five other writers after we finished a Gotham Writing class. All of them have since gone on to be professionally published or to win writing awards, including several Honorable Mentions in Writers of the Future contests. We decided to self-publish a collection of time travel stories called OUT of TIME, and donate the royalties to Doctors Without Borders. It has sold over 5000 copies and generated a nice stream of checks for DWB. I think that having five other good writers deliver some no-holds-barred criticism forced all of us to write better, and it shows in the end product. It is even a hot seller in Great Britain for some reason.
We also just put out a fairy tale collection called In A LAND FAR AWAY, also supporting Doctors Without Borders.
In the horror realm, I have two collections of short stories, TALES FROM BEYOND and DEEPER INTO DARKNESS. I wanted to give readers an easy way to sample my style before they bought a novel. Both of these have done very well.
All of these collections are at Amazon, and listed on my Amazon author page.
As one of the privileged few to get an early look at your next novel, Dreamwalker, I’ve come to think of you as the Samhain Magic Man (cue the Heart soundtrack). You definitely have a deep interest in all things magical and mystical. What attracts you to magic?
It does appear I have a subconscious pull to power drawn from the supernatural. In DREAMWALKER, the characters use voodoo to access that power. That was some seriously creepy research that convinced me voodoo taps into something truly dark and powerful. In Haiti, voodoo was illegal at one point. Most governments don’t ban something that isn’t a real and present danger. If you ever want to get your family to second guess you, start checking voodoo books out of the library.
We’ve both had personal contacts with things beyond what we see as reality. There’s a whole different level out there we’ll someday understand.
What’s one thing you can tell people about yourself that you haven’t revealed in other interviews?
I went over twenty years without watching a horror movie. When I was about seven, my father took me to see Vincent Price in House of Wax in 3D. Between the 3D and the Technicolor melting faces, I was duck-down-in-the-seat terrified. Except for the 1930’s Universal classics, I didn’t see another horror movie until well into adulthood. Now they are a blast.
What was your path to publication like? If you could give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
I lucked out. I was in that Gotham writing class I mentioned and the teacher said Samhain had opened up a new horror line under the respected editor Don D’Auria. I’d had two short stories published and DARK INSPIRATION’s manuscript was sitting on my hard drive awaiting the slew of rejections that my prior three manuscripts garnered. I figured I might as well start my rejections with one of the best, so I sent it off. I literally dropped to my knees in shock when I got the acceptance email. I honestly still didn’t believe it until the books showed up at my doorstep.
Advice to new writers? Write, read, submit. Just keep going. Writing is a skill. Some are gifted at it, but it is still a skill everyone must master. A gifted swimmer still has to train to win an Olympic medal. And that’s what getting published is like, like winning an Olympic medal. The more you write, the better you get. And if you are going to quit when you get rejected, don’t bother trying. I have five published novels, and I get rejections all the time. That part won’t get better.
Your future is as bright as a supernova. What’s next for the Magic Man?
Before the end of the year, I’ll be in two more benefit anthologies, a space/sci-fi one called CENTAURI STATION, and a second time travel collection called STILL OUT OF TIME. In January next year DREAMWALKER releases from Samhain. I just finished a post-apocalyptic novel manuscript called Q ISLAND, and have a few other cards up my sleeve after that. Don’t blink. You’ll miss something.
Jonathan Janz is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If you’ve never read his books, you might assume the mind behind the man is as unassuming as a Norman Rockwell painting. Thankfully, you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. This is a man who knows how to spin a twisted, pulse-pounding yarn. He’s been one busy dude since making his Samhain Horror debut a couple of years ago.
I’m both thrilled and honored to interview the man who conjures some of the finest books in the genre. His latest, Dust Devils, is a terrifying tale of Vampires in the old west. Grab a stake, crucifix and some garlic and read on, my children of the night….
Speaking as a fellow author who was writing his own western horror the same time as you, what made you decide to set Dust Devils in the old, wild west?
I think—at least at this point in my career—I view most stories through a pretty dark lens. So basically, since I was already a huge fan of western books and films, and I’d been reading a ton of westerns in the past few years, the seeds of the tale began to germinate as those two elements fused together (my dark lens and my western love). Like with most stories, the genesis of Dust Devils was very natural and organic; it was just sort of there in my mind. I wrote the first version of the opening scene maybe six years ago, and then I didn’t do anything with it. But as it is with the best ideas (I’ve heard Stephen King speak about this), the scene stuck with me. Eventually, the characters formed in my mind, and the tale was too powerful to ignore anymore. And Dust Devils was born.
Knowing you, the vampires in Dust Devils don’t sparkle. How would you best describe your horrific creations and the new twist they give to vampire lore.
In their ferocity, they’re every bit as monstrous as the creatures in 30 Days of Night, so that’s a pretty decent starting place for a modern reader. But the best analogue to my vampires—in fact, the main inspiration for my vampires—is the original Fright Night movie. Chris Sarandon as the lead vampire Jerry Dandridge really terrified me as a child. But he was also the kind of guy you’d want to be friends with (if you didn’t know about his vampirism), or in the case of a woman, he was probably the kind of guy a woman would find attractive and seductive. And those two sides—the bestial and the seductive—weren’t at all mutually exclusive in that character. In fact, one kind of relied on the other for survival. Adam Price, my main vampire, isn’t exactly like Jerry Dandridge, but he’s pretty closely related to him, which shows how impactful Fright Night and Sarandon’s performance were on me.
Do you see western horror as an up-and-coming sub-genre, now that we’ve seemingly exhausted the whole zombie thing?
I do. I think horror can coalesce with the western as well as any other genre (including action and/or romance). In fact, I think the western works best when it’s an amalgam of all the aforementioned genres. The western is such an amazing kind of story, yet it’s really been marginalized for the better part of what, four decades? I think horror novels can help revive the western, and I think the western can help legitimize horror in the minds of many readers who tend to smirk or scoff at horror. But the fact is, in many ways, western stories and horror stories are kindred spirits. They’re both morality tales that stare unflinchingly into the abyss of man’s tendency to do evil, as well as man’s ability to behave nobly.
As for the second part of your question, I agree that zombies as a subgenre have been used a great deal in the past decade and that most of the traditional zombie treatments seem a bit tired at this point. But what I also see—and I’m really excited about this—is that zombies have begun to permeate the realms of horror previously uninfluenced by zombies. And this is a really good thing. I love zombie stories, but I’ve never written a zombie book. However, if you look at my last two novels—both Savage Species and Dust Devils—the creatures in both of those books are influenced by zombies and have zombie-like traits. In Savage Species, the “Children” are firmly entrenched in the tradition of the Wendigo, yet they can return from the dead and are hungry for human flesh. In Dust Devils, a crossbow plays a major role (a nod to Daryl Dixon/Norman Reedus in The Walking Dead), you have a cuckolded husband at the forefront (a Rick Grimes/Andrew Lincoln connection), and a father/son relationship that’s tested in a war with seemingly implacable foes (Rick and Carl vs. the zombies). So even though my novels aren’t zombie novels, they owe a huge debt to the zombie films, books, and television shows I’ve absorbed. Brian Keene’s The Rising is another huge part of what I’ve been doing and thinking. And in that one you have a powerful father-son bond at the heart of the story, just like the father-son bonds at the heart of Dust Devils.
If you were living in the wild west, do you see yourself as a white hat or black hat? Or would you be a shade of gray, like Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven? And what would be your cowboy name?
Clint Eastwood, absolutely. The white hats and black hats aren’t as interesting as the grays, because I think most of us, when you get down to it, are a bit gray. At least I am. Would I hurt an innocent person for any reason? No way. But would I bat an eyelash in defending my wife or my children? Would I be willing to fight fire with fire if need be? I’d like to think I would be. And I think many people would be as well. Now, that sounds good, but what about those situations in which there is no easy or obviously right path? Cody Wilson, my protagonist, finds himself in situations like that in Dust Devils. Does he kill a bad person to save himself even though the bad person might not really deserve to die? Does Cody save his new girlfriend or his stepmother? And how does he make that decision? Those are gray situations, and I think Cody responds the way I would to most of them. And he’s definitely a gray guy—good down deep, but certainly not perfect. Light gray, maybe. Oh, and my cowboy name would be Jack Wilson, just like the father in Dust Devils. I love the name Jack.
What would be your top 3 western movies and western novels?
Ooooh, that’s a great one. Here we go (I only cheated a little)…
Novels: 1. Last Stand at Saber River, Elmore Leonard 2. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry 3. All the Pretty Horses/Cities of the Plain/Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy Movies: 1. 3:10 to Yuma (the remake) 2. The Outlaw Josey Wales 3. Unforgiven
OK, hypothetical, you’re called to a high noon shoot-out with a rogue cowboy vampire (who does some acting on the side). You have a holy water infused bullet with a crucifix carved on the side, so you know it will only take one shot to put him down. You see him an hour before the big event, his back turned to you. Do you draw on him and shoot him in the back?
If it means I’d save my wife or my kids? Absolutely. I guess that makes me a darker gray, but at least I’m honest. Now…if it would just be to save myself? Maybe. I mean, it would be tougher to live with, so I’d definitely have to pause and think. But in the end I think I’d still shoot him. Because he’s a vampire, and vampires kill. I’d be saving others, as well as myself, so I’d kill him and live with what guilt resulted.
Dust Devils is so unlike all of your previous books. Why don’t you tell everyone why they need to read it.
It is different, Hunter; you’re right about that. But maybe more than I ever have in a book, I show my heart in this one. I reveal some of my deeper fears, as well as some of my deepest longings. I mean, on the surface, the tale is a tense thriller with all the elements of great storytelling—strong dialogue, internal conflict, fierce action, life-or-death stakes, romance, friendship, and deep familial bonds. But it also contains a man with many regrets, a severed father-son relationship, a woman who’s been abused and who longs for something better. There’s a very powerful heart in this book that I think readers will respond to. But as I said earlier, there’s also a fast pace and an electricity that’ll sweep the reader along. The three major action set pieces in the story (the opening scene in the valley, the bloodbath in the saloon, and the final shootout/fight at the ranch) offer more action than you’ll find in almost any western I can think of. So I think it’s a crowd-pleaser that’ll stick with audiences long after they’ve read it.
What’s next for you, since I assume you never sleep.
Well, if all goes as planned, I’ll have both a novel (my first-ever sequel, Castle of Sorrows) and an unannounced novella coming this summer. In January of 2015, I’ll have The Nightmare Girl, a Joe R. Lansdale-influenced suspense/horror novel that delves into the ancient Irish fire myths. This summer I plan on writing at least two novels, but I can’t talk about those yet for various reasons—I mean, I can talk to you about them, Hunter, but I can’t talk publicly about them.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, my friend. You are without question one of my dearest friends in the business, and a writer whose work I love and deeply admire (even though it makes me jealous sometimes).
Your dudeness, you have nothing to be jealous about. 🙂
I’ve been an avid listener of Jeff Rutherford’s Reading and Writing Podcast for quite a while. One of my goals when I was just getting my first book deal was to be a guest on his show. I’m happy to check that off my bucket list.
Jeff has interviewed some of the best authors out there, like James Lee Burke, Joe R. Lansdale, Nate Kenyon and Jonathan Mayberry.
In our interview, I read from the first chapter of Sinister Entity, explain why I write about ghosts and why, out of all things paranormal, this particular phenomenon has the ability to terrify people right to their core. And I get a chance to thank Brian Keene and Jack Ketchum for saving my sanity a couple of years ago. Oh, and we talk a little Monster Men, too.
You can click here to listen to the interview or download the podcast on iTunes. Definitely the best interview I’ve been a part of to date and I hope I get a chance to be on the show again.
Follow Hunter on Twitter!
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