My Editor, My Main Man, Don D’Auria
I’m a reformed editor stalker. At least that’s what the state shrink has declared in my case.
Actually, following the career of my dream editor, Don D’Auria, turned out to be a pretty smart career move. When I talk to people about writing and getting published, I encourage this kind of behavior. And if you want to be a horror writer, Don is the man you should make a point to follow.
When I was a wanna be writer and tried and true reader, I hoovered horror novels like they were dust bunnies. The 80’s was an absolute horror boom, with tons of great and oodles of bad books, all waiting for my little eyeballs. Things slowed down a bit in the early 90’s. Finding books by authors other than King, Koontz, Barker and Saul was like searching for the holy grail or my last shaker of salt.
And then came Don (you can sing that to the theme from Maude). The first time I spotted a Leisure paperback in the horror section of my local bookstore (yes, there were still shelves dedicated to horror in the mid-90’s), I fell in love. In the front, or back, of all these wonderful books, I saw a common denominator – they all thanked their editor, this mythical dude named Don D’Auria. I wondered, who is this guy who’s bringing me great works by writers like Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Tim Lebbon, Sephera Giron, Hugh B. Cave, Douglas Clegg, Graham Masterson, John Everson, Bryan Smith, Tim Waggoner and so many more? Talk about an eye for talent! As far as I was concerned, Don had an almost supernatural ability to find the brightest and the best, the old and the new.
When I set out to write my own horror novel, I did so with the express intention to write it for Don and Don only. I sent it to him at Leisure and waited…for years. Eventually, he offered me a contract with Leisure. Alas, the company imploded as I was signing, so I waited (while standing on the ledge of a tall building) until Don moved to Samhain, where he took me along for the ride. It’s been beyond my wildest expectations ever since.
I remember the first time I met Don face to face at a Horrorfind convention. The Samhain authors were making their con debut at a booth right where attendees checked in. Man, was I nervous. I was expecting this imposing Max Perkins character to come waltzing in. I did a lot of dry swallowing waiting for him to show. Turns out, he was one of the most down to earth, unassuming guys I’d ever met. I still couldn’t shake my fan boy apprehension during that con. He was the guy who rescued me from the slush pile. I owed him my entire budding career!
We discovered that we lived close to one another during that con, and made it a point to meet for drinks one night. That was many nights and martinis/beers ago. Don isn’t just my editor. He’s a true friend, a brother from another mother who grew up on Chiller Theatre and Famous Monsters Magazine. We’re two kids who get to play on the same field as the greats who shaped our passion. Sometimes, while we’re talking about Vincent Price movies or getting Barbara Crampton’s autograph, I feel like I have to pinch myself. How many people get to work with their dream editor? And of those, how many can call that person a true friend? I’m one lucky bastard.
As Samhain turns 10 this month, I want to thank Don for all he’s done for not just me, but all the lost boys and girls of the horror line. To show my undying thanks, I even tattooed their logo on my arm. Don’s portrait is next! 🙂
It’s finally here….just a few days until the unholy feast of Samhain! We have hundreds of goodie bags ready for the little ghouls and witches that come by the house. Pumpkin beer is in hand and in the fridge. My costume is set – the big bad wolf from the movie, You’re Next. I bought the mask off the guy who wore it in the film. Pretty sweet, if I do say so myself.
As part of the #Horrortober fun, I’ve been sticking to my pledge to watch at least 1 horror movie a day. As of the 28th, I have over 40 movies under my belt. The rest of this week is devoted to the classics – Halloween, Halloween 2, Friday the 13th Part 6, The Funhouse and The Haunting. Now, you may ask, why Friday the 13th Part 6? To me, this is when the franchise took a crazy turn and became a nightmarishly fun event. When I saw it in the 80s in the theater, they oversold the seats. A pretty girl asked me if she could sit on my lap and we were making out 5 minutes after Jason was resurrected. The rest of the time was spent yelling and howling and having a blast. You can never duplicate the vibe of those 80s movies at home.
And of course, I’ve plowed through my reading list. So many great books out there begging to be made into movies.
I wanted to do something new this year, so I took my kids on a nighttime tour of the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It was pretty incredible. You get to walk through 2 miles of dark passageways by lantern, stopping at famous tombs and mausoleums. I hadn’t realized they filmed the original Dark Shadows movie there, along with a Ramones video for Pet Sematary. Oh, and there’s that whole Headless Horseman legend as well. The best part was when we were at the back of the tour pack and I told my girls to turn around. You couldn’t see 5 feet behind us, the darkness was so complete. I whispered, “Anything could be back there.” That got us all walking a little faster.
Went to the Chiller Theatre con this weekend. Wow. Saw so many cool folks and spent way more than I had planned. I’ll have a separate post on that soon.
Last but not least, I’m just a few days away from finishing the first draft of my new cryptid novel. I’ll reveal who the monster is in the coming months.
To help get you in the mood, the Monster Men present our 3rd annual Halloween episode. Turn down the lights, grab a beer and crucifix, and enjoy!
Your Horror-Paranormal Round Up for September
It’s been a tale of two summers here in New York. The first half felt like we were living on Mercury, and the second half was mild and sunny on the San Diego-ish side. I’m not a big fan of summer and I’m happy to see it go. Bring me colder, darker days and falling leaves and, most of all, let the true horror begin!
Here are a few things you should be looking out for to get in the mood.
Looking for a great Horror Con to attend? Why not try Rock & Shock in Worcester, MA (10/4-10/6), Spooky Empire in Orlando, FL (10/25-10/27) or, my favorite, Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, NJ (10/25-10/27). I’ll be at Chiller, as I am every year. Where else can you drink next to celebs, be surrounded by like minded maniacs, catch some indie movies, stock up on horror gear and have the time of your life?
I’m a big fan of the movie V/H/S (and the tapes as well. I must have watched hundreds of horror videos in the 80s when I should have been in school). I wasn’t convinced that they could catch lightning in a bottle twice with the sequel. I’m here to tell you I was dead wrong. V/H/S 2 is actually better than the first. The segments are tighter and creepier, especially “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” and the ultra gore-fest, “Safe Haven”. This sequel is a must see. I hope they get the band back together for a third.
Speaking of sequels, one of my favorite paranormal TV shows, Ghost Mine, gets a second season starting September 4th. I know I’ll be writing more about this in the next month, but you really should check it out. If you never heard of the show, read my post about the first season so you’re ready to dive in to season two.
Often when I write, I have music going in the background. There are a couple of rules I have when it comes to writing music. First, it can’t have lyrics. Hearing other words screws with my head. Two, the music has to match the mood of the scene I’m writing. Naturally, I listen to a lot of soundtracks. I just picked up the soundtracks to Sinister and The Innkeepers. Both helped me finish my last book and will take me well into my next. Warning, Sinister, like the movie, will creep you the hell out! Both are excellent.
Calling all squatchers! Yeah, that means you! Are you ready for the new Bigfoot flick, Willow Creek? Click the movie poster below to watch the trailer and get as amped as I am. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one by Bobcat Goldthwait. You all know I’m a sucker for sasquatch.
Need something to read? I’m not going to sugar coat this one. I fucking loved Brian Moreland’s The Witching House. His latest novella reads as fast as an out of control freight train and has genuine scares. Read the description and tell me if you can resist.
Some houses should be left alone.
In 1972, twenty-five people were brutally murdered in one of the bloodiest massacres in Texas history. The mystery of who committed the killings remains unsolved.
Forty years later, Sarah Donovan is dating an exciting man, Dean Stratton. Sarah’s scared of just about everything—heights, tight places, the dark—but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean and another couple on an exploring adventure. The old abandoned Blevins House, the scene of the gruesome massacre, is rumored to be haunted.
The two couples are about to discover the mysterious house has been waiting all these years, craving fresh prey. And down in the cellar they will encounter a monstrous creature that hungers for more than just human flesh.