Just a quickie post today. To celebrate the release of my book, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDDEN, I’m hosting a Q&A session at my Facebook fan page. Pour your favorite cocktail and join the fun. Here are the deets :
When : Tuesday, January 6th
Time : 8 – 9pm EST
Where : Facebook
As the Fonz would say, be there or be square. Or did he say up your nose with a rubber hose? Hmmmm.
Okay, I’m off to steam clean the carpet and take the kids to the mall. Ah, the glamorous life of the horror writer.
Greetings from sunny New York where the crime rises with the humidity in July. Fear not for me. I’m safe in my air conditioned lair, my killer cat always on the lookout for dangerous interlopers.
It’s been a wild month and a half with 2 books coming out one after the other. THE MONTAUK MONSTER is flying off the shelves and devouring the beach read competition. I’ll be talking all things Montauk and monsters up in Maine a week from now. I have a signing at Bridgton Books (Bridgton is a town Stephen King once lived in and penned some great books) on Friday, July 25th from 1-3pm.
I’ll also be at the North Bridgton Library to talk writing and have a fun Q&A on Tuesday, July 22 at 7pm. I’ll make sure I have all of my books on hand.
OK, now let’s get down to HELL HOLE. I wrote this western/horror for my father last year because he was such a fan of westerns. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could read the finished product, but I sense he has his copy up there in the great beyond. HELL HOLE is just one of several horror westerns that Samhain will be publishing this year, along with Jonathan Janz’s excellent western vampire, DUST DEVIL’S. It’s strange how we all decided to head out west at the same time without talking amongst ourselves about it.
Mine is a little different because it’s set in Wyoming in 1905, a couple of decades after the real wild west’s heyday. But it does have an old cowboy, Rough Riders, Teddy Roosevelt, a creepy abandoned mine, black-eyed kids, ghosts, wild men, Djinn and a hell of a lot more. And I’d be remiss if I left out a half-Mexican beauty named Selma. To whet your whistle, I’ve posted a little excerpt below. Take a gander and make the trip to Hecla, Wyoming with me, where things are never what they seem. Info on getting your own copy is on the BOOKS tab.
It didn’t take long to circumnavigate the hills, even taking it as slow as we did. By noon, it felt like the sun was sitting on the brim of my Stetson. We were about to call it a day when Selma pulled up her horse and barked, “Look over here! What is that?”
Peering down, I saw a footprint of some kind. It was made by someone that had been barefoot because you could make out all the toes. Odd thing about it was that there were only four toes.
And it was big. Longer and wider than any foot I’d ever seen.
“There’s another one over here,” Teta said.
About seven feet to the north of the first track was another. All told, we found six of them, though only two were deep enough to retain any kind of definition.
“Que demonios?” Teta said, whistling as he walked around them. “I never saw a foot that damn big.”
I jumped off my horse and bent down to get a closer look.
“Awfully wide,” I said.
“You can see there’s a right foot and a left foot,” Selma said, pointing to the nearest set.
“And only four toes on each,” Teta added.
“Let me see something, try to gauge the size.” I put my boot next to the footprint. It was bigger than mine by a good five or six inches, and I wore a size twelve.
Selma said, “Maybe it’s an old footprint. Time in the elements just wore it enough so it looks bigger than it is.”
Tracing my fingers in and around the best print, I shook my head. “Nope. This one’s fresh. Couple of days old at the most. The ground up here is too dry to keep a print for long, even one that’s as deep as this. Had to have been someone awfully heavy to make it.”
“How do you know that?” she asked.
“He did this for a living, long time ago, back before you were born,” Teta said with a wry smile.
“Then you think it’s real?”
“The print is,” I replied. “Can’t tell you about the person that made it. Hard to imagine a man big enough to leave a print like that. Maybe he was wearing some weird kind of boot. Could be ceremonial for one of the local tribes. Not every Indian is on a rez. I hear there are still Cheyenne and Crow about.”
I’d seen Apaches wear some peculiar stuff during their ceremonies. It wasn’t hard to imagine an Indian sporting something like this, though the depth of the impression bothered me. Could have been a man with someone on his shoulders.
“But why would someone do such a thing?”
“I’m just a white man. It’s hard for me to get into the head of an Indian. They have different dances and different ways of dressing for everything you can imagine. I’ve heard of some that believe in a wild man of the mountains. It’s kind of like some big, hairy bear that’s also part man. He’s said to be taller than any man, stronger than an angry bison and faster than a mountain lion.”
“Do you believe in it?”
Teta gave a quick laugh and I cut it off with a sharp look.
“No, I don’t. But they do. And when they believe hard in something, they do their damnedest to make themselves look like it. What this tells me is what I’ve thought all along. We have some rogue Indians out here keeping the white men away from their hills.”
The first cool breeze of the day whispered through the trees and shook the brittle leaves. It sounded like small bones rattling in a jug.
Teta instinctively placed his palm on the handle of his Colt. “Suddenly, I don’t like being here with so much cover.”
“Me neither. Let’s get back to camp. I have to rethink things.”
Selma was quick to mount. Her head swiveled from side to side, anticipating danger everywhere. Poor girl had no experience with things like this. I had a good mind to bring her back to her father myself in the morning.
We had only gotten a few feet from the tracks when a piercing howl erupted behind us. My insides went numb. All three horses reared.
I hoped to hell we didn’t get bucked.
Not with whatever was at our backs close enough to raise the hairs on our heads.
I first met Damien Walters Grintalis at the Horrorfind con in Gettysburg, PA last Labor Day weekend. I was immediately struck by her sharp wit and great sense of humor. We were at the Samhain author table and believe me, she could hold her own with the boys. I especially loved the 50’s era dresses she wore that made her stand out from the crowd. She was promoting her debut novel, Ink, months before it was scheduled for release.
Because her book is about a tattoo that takes on a sinister life of its own. she had made little temporary tattoos to hand out to promote the book. By the end of the weekend, a first time author was the most popular person at the booth. Remarkable. And her novel, Ink, is even more so.
I’m happily seeing more women getting recognized in the horror field, especially on the writing side. No need to dress skimpy and scream a lot when you’re creating a world of terror. This being Women in Horror month, I though it was appropos that I kick things off with Damien. But when you get down to it, man or woman, she’s an extremely talented writer.
It’s very apparent that Damien worked very hard on her craft before submitting for publication, which I think a lot of new writers kind of skip over. We’re all so eager to make our mark on the publishing world that we jump into marketing and promotion before making sure our manuscript is as tight as it can be.
I was very happy that she wanted to appear on the blog and chain and talk about her road to publication, upcoming work and most creative way to die.
To prepare myself for this interview, I read, or more accurately, devoured, your debut novel, Ink. I promise not to give away any spoilers, but I will say that it was one of the top 5 horror books I’ve read in the past few years. Would you care to tell everyone a little bit about the book? Jason, the main character, is fresh out of a bad marriage and he makes an impulsive decision to get a tattoo by a tattoo artist he meets in a bar. Can you say bad decision? Neither the tattoo artist nor the tattoo are what they seem and Jason ends up in a world of hurt.
Ink is truly one of the more original and inventive stories I’ve seen in a long time. Where did you get your inspiration? I was walking out of a tattoo shop and had a what-if moment. Then I had a picture in my head of a man with a strange walk. I wasn’t sure how he was connected to the story, but I knew he was. I tried to replicate his walk in my living room and after a few minutes, the reason for his odd walk and his connection to the story became very very clear.
Speaking of Ink, do you have any tattoos? I have a few myself and now I’m a little nervous when I feel an itch on my arms. Yes, I have six. It may be tempting fate, but I’m contemplating a griffin on my left arm.
I know from my own writing that characters are often drawn from the people who have touched my life in one way or another. Your characters are so reach, so vivid, I just know there are some real life folks in there. So, care to spill the beans on who Jason. Mitch, Shelley and even Sailor are? Jason is a construct of a few people I’ve known. I did not want to write about the big burly alpha male who fixes everything with a flex of his pecs. I wanted someone less confident. Someone breakable. Mitch, on the other hand, is strong and self-reliant. If anything, she’s the White Knight in the story. Jason’s father is based on my own, although the catchphrases he uses belong to my husband.
Sailor isn’t based on anyone I know, but a concept that evil can be anyone, anywhere. There is no one face, one look, for evil and a man in an expensive suit can be just as dangerous as a homeless man with wild hair and crazy eyes. (And no, I don’t believe all homeless men are dangerous, just that many people perceive to be.) Take Ted Bundy, for example. He was good looking, he was charming, but beneath the pleasant exterior, he was a monster.
After I read Ink, I said to myself, “where has Damien been hiding all these years?”. What was your road to publication like and how did you become a part of our Samhain family? I wrote Ink initially in 2009. It wasn’t my first novel, but it was the first one I felt confident about. When it was edited and pretty, I started to query agents. I had several offers of representation, which shocked me. Fast forward a handful of months and I heard about Don D’Auria joining Samhain. I talked to my then-agent, he sent Ink to Don, and a few months later we had an offer.
OK, your debut novel is out and on the Samhain topseller list. What new book or books are you working on and when can we expect to see them in print? My new novel, Paper Tigers, about a disfigured young woman and a haunted photo album, is still in the horror genre, but of a different sort than Ink. My agent and I have been going back and forth with revisions, trying to make it as shiny and sparkly (of the non-faux-vampire type) as possible. I have two other novels waiting in the wings for edits and in between the novels, I also write a lot of short fiction.
If aliens made themselves known to us and asked you to come with them to their planet, never to return to earth, would you accept the invitation and why or why not? No, I would not. My family, my life, is here.
Here’s a series of rapid fire questions: Favorite movie? Favorite food? Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry? Most creative way to die? Kittens or puppies? Alien. Soup. Tom & Jerry. Um…jumping into an active volcano? Puppies. Definitely puppies.
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog and chain. Please let everyone know where to find you and any parting words of wisdom.
You can find me online via my website: www.damienwaltersgrintalis.com , my blog: dwgrintalis.blogspot.com, or on Twitter @dwgrintalis. Parting words of wisdom? Never investigate strange noises while wearing only underwear, and always check behind the closed shower curtain.
So, have we piqued your interest? Trust me, even if you’re not a horror fan, Ink will captivate you. What’s your publication journey been like? And more importantly, what is your most creative way to take a dirt nap?
I’ve gotten to know Frazer Lee thanks to our being in the same horror fraternity, Samhain Tau Chi. He’s definitely on my “To Have A Beer With” list, but until we meet at some remote bar, I thought it would be a good idea to have a little chat with him about his amazing new book, The Lamplighters, horror in general, his deepest secrets (ok, maybe not deepest) and Halloween. So sit back, have a nice bottle of chianti and some fava beans and enjoy…
1. Your latest book, ‘The Lamplighters’, will be out with Samhain Publishing’s horror line this November. Can you tell us what a lamplighter exactly is and what drew you to make them the subject of your book?
‘The Lamplighters’ are essentially caretakers. In the world of my novel, these lucky young people are hired by a consortium of billionaires to look after their glamorous island homes. It’s a dream job because all they have to do is turn on a few lights (hence the name) and cook and clean in order for the rich employers to maintain their residency status (and tax breaks). If the concept of a lamplighter sounds far fetched, I assure you these people really exist in places such as Monaco where the super-rich go out to play. And while I was working on the novel, a news story broke about a contest looking for a caretaker to look after a lush tropical island, proving fact is often stranger than fiction! In essence the lamplighters formed the basis of the book because they embody that “be careful what you wish for” vibe – which is what The Lamplighters’ particular horror premise is all about.
2. What did you enjoy most about writing ‘The Lamplighters’?
I also work as a screenwriter/script doctor so I have to say I most enjoyed not having any budgetary constraints to deal with! If I wanted to include explosions, underwater sequences, multiple (expensive) locations and “visual FX” they could all go in to ‘The Lamplighters’ with no-one from production getting all hot-under-the-collar about it. (Laughs) Aside from that I really enjoyed getting to know Marla and The Skin Mechanic and all the other characters. I enjoyed the surprises and discoveries they sometimes threw my way as the story revealed itself through them.
3. The horror genre is new to Samhain. What drew you to them as a publisher and how has the experience been?
I first heard Samhain was branching out into horror via Brian Keene’s website, around the time I was finishing up work on editing the manuscript of ‘The Lamplighters’. Like you Hunter, I admired editor Don D’Auria from his work with Leisure/Dorchester. I’d submitted my full manuscript to Leisure on request after Don saw the synopsis and first three chapters. The shizzle then hit the fan over at Leisure, so I followed up with Don over at Samhain. I’m glad I did because a few weeks later I got a very flattering email from Don inviting me to publish with them. The experience has a been a pleasure, really, from having input into the cover design to working on the final text. It’s been bloody exciting to see the marketing around the new line with banners and flyers at events like Comic Con, and ads in Fangoria and Famous Monsters. There is a real buzz for the new line, with authors and horror fans alike Blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking about the titles. I also like the fact Samhain offers ebooks and paperbacks so people can choose depending on their preference. Likewise I think it’s a smart move for the line to offer some familiar names like Ramsey Campbell, who is one of my absolute faves, along with new blood like us guys. It’s an honor to be in such esteemed company and I’m excited to be part of the first wave of Samhain Horror authors.
4. The popularity of horror books comes and goes in waves, though the tsunami of bad horror films just keeps on smashing onto our shores. Where do you think horror literature stands today and what’s your prognosis for the future?
I kind of wish you hadn’t asked me this, because I feel a slight rant coming on! I don’t know, I think the good stuff bubbles to the surface regardless of any tidal waves of trash that poison our shores.
You mentioned bad horror films. Now, one thing that really gets my goat is that independent filmmakers are now jumping on the bandwagon and remaking existing movies. The studios – you expect them to churn out remakes because their business model is minimum risk/maximum return, after all. And if audiences didn’t pay to go see these things, they wouldn’t make them and spend millions marketing them – but they make gazillions of dollars back, so someone is out there watching them! True, a bona fide visionary filmmaker can bring something fresh, new and amazing to a remake (John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’) but visionaries like him are few and far between.
Indie-kids remaking horror classics? That sucks, really, because the low-to-no budget world is where the real IDEAS should be coming from. The indies should be the source of the studio remakes and the franchises of tomorrow, see? Homage is great and all, and nothing exists in a vacuum, every creation has its influences of course. But if you’re an independent filmmaker and if for whatever reason all you can dream up is homage and replication of someone else’s work, that just makes you a fucking hack in my book. I truly believe it is the duty – the DUTY – of indie horror filmmakers to at least try and create something original and brave. Sorry, I said this would be a rant! (Laughs)
Now, in the case of horror literature, I actually think the remake culture in horror cinema right now is positive for horror authors. Many folks are just exhausted seeing so many of their favorites being rehashed, exploited and toned down for a quick buck that they may turn to outlets like Samhain Horror to try something fresh. And there’s a crossover happening there between books and films. A couple of my recent film favorites, ‘Pontypool’ and ‘Let The Right One In’ were both sourced from fantastic novels, both very fresh takes on very established sub-genres. Who knows, maybe some of the new Samhain horror novels could be the new horror movies of tomorrow?
Popularity is cyclical, I agree, but the underlying fanbase for all things horror is certainly solid and loyal. And dare I say it, whatever your poison – insatiable.
5. You write and you direct films. Which gives you the greatest satisfaction? On a side note, what was it like to work with Pinhead (Doug Bradley for those of you who aren’t aware that Cenobites are not real)?
When I’m writing, I love to direct. And when I’m directing, I love to write. (Laughs) Both keep me on my tippy-toes in different ways and neither ever fully satisfies me as there’s always something more to learn, always somewhere further to go. That’s, I guess, what keeps me doing both. Of late the balance has tipped more in the favor of writing, but writing is one helluva enjoyable way to scratch a living so I am not complaining! On that side note of yours, it has been a real pleasure to work with Doug Bradley. He is a true professional and good friend who brought so much to the film projects we worked on together. We keep regular contact and I’d work with him again in a (hellbound) heartbeat.
6. Why does it appear so difficult to get great horror books to translate into great horror movies?
I believe it only ever works if an adaptation is just that – a truly adapted work. Because the mechanics of novels and movies are so vastly different a movie of a book can only really succeed to my mind if it stops trying to be a book and just focuses on being a movie already! Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ is a great example – while not to everyone’s taste (including it seems, the author’s!), it is an adaptation of the novel into film form in the truest sense. The Shining is a novel by a visionary writer and The Shining is also a film by a visionary filmmaker – ‘and never the twain shall meet’. Be honest, how many movie adaptations have you watched and thought to yourself, “they could’ve cut that part” or “they could’ve shown that in a visual way rather than telling it in reams of dialogue lifted straight from the book”? Adaptation is far more bloody difficult than many people seem to perceive it to be, it’s a fine art. Add to that the complexity of fans of the book wanting the movie version to be word-for-word what they saw in their head when they were reading it – it’s never gonna happen. In my experience, take 10 different filmmakers reading the same source material, screenplay, whatever, and you’d get 10 very different movies as an end result. The trouble is, if we’re already fans of a book we’re ‘making the movie’ in our heads at least as we read it – so our expectations of any subsequent movie version are rarely, if ever, going to be met. And interestingly, the translation of movie screenplays into movie novelizations can be just as difficult a task, although the inclusion of “8 pages of color photos from the film” can sweeten the pill somewhat!
7. What’s one secret you could reveal about yourself that would surprise people the most?
To those who know of my enthusiasm for splatter and gore, it may surprise them to learn I have been a vegetarian for 21 years (although I started eating fish again a couple of years ago so I guess that makes me pescatarian now). Anyone who REALLY knows me will not be in the least bit surprised to know I prefer the taste of human flesh… (Winks)
8. As many people will know, Samhain Publishing is named for the ancient tradition that became every horrorhead’s favorite festival of Halloween. What would make for your best ever Samhain celebration?
Oh Halloween is my favorite time of year, hands down. Best ever celebration would be the same thing I enjoy doing every year… Carve some pumpkins with the family, cook up and devour a batch of pumpkin soup and some tasty ‘dead man’s fingers’. And then, when the little monsters are tucked up in bed, kick back and watch John Carpenter’s classic ‘Halloween’. Aside from that, maybe a game of ‘wake the dead’ at the Horror Stars’ Cemetery in which Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance and other dear departed f(r)iends wake up and come out to play for just one more night… A happy Samhain for one and all!
And the hits, or in this case, interviews, keep on coming. I did some interviews for a couple of blogs and one magazine that have posted over the past couple of days.
- Author Paul D. Dail came up with some unique questions that were a blast to answer. You get to find out a little known fact about me and the name of one of my all time favorite books.
- Super dude, Jonathan Janz, sat down to talk to me about Forest of Shadows, scary books and the Monster Men.
- For a special treat, Ravenous Montser Magazine interviewed me and fellow Samhain authors, W.D. Gagliani and Brian Moreland. Super in-depth and a must read for any horror fans.
For those of you who haven’t signed up to my Facebook Fan Page, I post a way easy, sometimes fun contest on Saturdays. Signed magazines, gift certificates, shirts and all kinds of goodies are given away every week. Like the page and join in the fun!
Monster Man Jack and I hopped to the theater so we could check out Paranormal Activity on opening weekend. Here’s our quick review in the parking lot. You may be surprised by what we say.
For more paranormal fun, click here.
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