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.
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Check out Brian’s blogs:
I’m always happy to hand over my blog and chain to a truly gifted writer, Brian Moreland, who is not only one of my favorite horror writers, but also one of my favorite people in this crazy ass world. Do yourself a favor and pick up everything the man’s ever written. They are treasures to be added to any collection. Before you do, take Brian’s hand as he leads you through The Season Of The Witch…
They come from mythology, folklore and fairytales and go by names such as crone, conjurer, necromancer and witch. Male witches are called warlocks and wizards, although the archetypal figure is predominately depicted as an ugly old woman–the hag. Some live as hermits in hovels in dark forests. Others gather in secret places and form covens. They operate in the realms of magic and have the power to cast spells and charm us. They can tell our fortunes or curse us with the evil eye. Old, wicked, beautiful, seductive–witches of all forms have enchanted our stories since the dawn of storytelling.
In Norse mythology there were the Norns, three immortal women who controlled the fates of gods and men. In Greek mythology, the Graeae were three old crones who shared a single eye. The hero Perseus met these witches on his way to fight the snake-headed gorgon, Medusa. These ancient myths most likely inspired Shakespeare to include three “weird sisters” in Macbeth. Even King Arthur of Camelot had his dealing with witches. One of his greatest enemies was an evil and powerful sorceress, Morgan Le Fay. King Arthur also took counsel from a wizard named Merlin.
As a child I remember witches from bedtime stories and movies like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and my all-time-favorite: the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. In stories, there are good witches who operate in the light–like Oz’s Good Witch of the North–and evil ones who practice black magic, such as the Old Witch in Snow White.
As I got older and started writing historical horror novels, I discovered that history is rich with stories about real witches. In Pagan times, witches honored the sun and moon, the winter solstice and the coming of spring. We owe our holiday of Halloween to the Celtic pagans who celebrated the festival of Samhain on October 31st at the end of the harvest season.
Witches are even warned about in the Bible in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and Exodus 22:18. Scriptures like “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” gave religious people a reason to believe that all practitioners of magick were evil. In Europe and America from the 1400s through the 1700s, righteous men went on witch hunts and burned men and women at the stake.
These fears of the terrifying witch inspired several horror movies in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Films like Season of the Witch (1972), The Wicker Man (1975), Eyes of Fire (1983), Warlock (1991), The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Lords of Salem (2012) are just a few that come to mind. For the past decade or so, vampires and zombies have dominated books, movies, and TV, but there are signs witches are coming back into the spotlight.
Already in the first half of 2013, there have been a number of witch movies to hit the theaters. Beautiful Creatures, based on the YA novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is about a family of witches living in a small town in South Carolina and the secrets they keep. In Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the brother and sister from the famous Brothers Grimm fairytale are all grown up and now hunt evil witches, which are depicted as monstrous hags.
This is also the year that Hollywood did a remake of one of my favorite horror movies of all time, The Evil Dead. It opens with a witch performing a ceremony and involves five friends finding a demon book that’s filled with witchcraft and evil spirits. I counted 13 new witch movies that will release later this year and next, including two that I find intriguing: The Last Witch Hunter and Lords of Magic.
I don’t know if it’s happenstance or if something mystical is at play with all these witches making their way into current books and movies, but last year I wrote my own witch stories: The Girl from the Blood Coven and The Witching House. Both will release as ebooks this summer through Samhain Publishing. As a horror fiction writer, I like to combine history and legends with scary supernatural stories, as I did in my first two books, Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist. While both of those stories deal with mysticism and evil forces, it is my next two stories that allowed me to have fun creating my own legend about a coven witches living in the backwoods of East Texas.
My first story, The Girl from the Blood Coven, is a short story prelude to The Witching House. It’s the year 1972. Sheriff Travis Keagan is enjoying a beer at the local roadhouse, when a blood-soaked girl enters the bar. Terrified and trembling, Abigail Blackwood claims her entire family was massacred at the hippy commune in the woods. Sheriff Keagan knows that Abigail’s “family” is a coven of witches that inhabit the Blevins house. They’ve been rumored to be practicing blood sacrifices and black magic. When the sheriff and his deputies investigate the alleged murders, they discover what happened at the Blevins house is more horrific than they ever imagined.
My second story, The Witching House, is a novella that unravels the mystery of what happened to the Blevins Coven. It’s forty years after the massacre at the hippy commune. My main character is Sarah Donovan, a young woman recovering from a bad divorce and boring life. She recently started dating an exciting, adventurous man named Dean Stratton. Dean and his friends, Meg and Casey, are fearless thrill-seekers. They like to jump out of airplanes, go rock-climbing, white-water rafting, caving and do anything that offers an adrenaline rush.
Sarah, on the other hand, is scared of just about everything–heights, tight places, the dark–but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean, Meg and Casey on an urban exploring adventure. There’s an abandoned house set far back in the woods, they say. The Old Blevins House has been boarded-up for forty years. And it’s rumored to be haunted. The two couples are going to break in and explore the mysterious house. Little do they know the Old Blevins House is cursed from black magic, and something in the cellar has been craving fresh prey to cross the house’s threshold.
Writing these two stories allowed me to research the long history of witches, from Biblical times, to Norse and Greek mythology, Celtic Paganism, the Christian witch hunts, as well as the modern-day practice of Wicca. In fact, Sarah Donovan’s grandmother is a Wiccan who practices light magic and becomes Sarah’s voice of reason as she is confronted by dark forces. I also studied the differences between White Magic and Black Magic, even combed through a 17th Century spell book for conjuring evil spirits. As with my other books, I have interwoven much of the historical facts that I learned into my stories to offer readers a richer reading experience. My short story, The Girl from the Blood Coven, releases July 2, 2013, as a free ebook, and my novella, The Witching House, releases August 6, 2013.
Witches and witchcraft have been a part of storytelling for centuries. At times they sink below the surface of human consciousness, as other monsters take the stage in books and movies. Some years it’s werewolves, mummies or Frankenstein. For the past several years, we’ve seen a countless number of vampires and zombies. While these monsters are still popular, you can rest assure that witches are back for another season of witchery.
Author Bio: Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels, Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist, are now available. His third novel, The Devil’s Woods, will release in December 2013. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is joyfully writing his next horror novel. Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianMoreland. Visit: http://www.brianmoreland.com/
Another crazy week, but lots of good stuff to share. Aside from promoting Forest of Shadows like a door to door Bible salesman, I have been busy actually writing. I finished the first draft of a story for an anthology with Toys in the Attic as the theme. Going to start working on a couple of flash fiction pieces for another antho. Aaaaand, I’m ready to start the finishing touches on my first horror novel for kids. Ah, so many young minds to corrupt.
First up, I was interviewed on Jim Harold’s Campfire Tales podcast. It will be part of episode 87 where I talk about the phantom boy who may have come around to heal my ailing wife.
And now for the fun stuff. The Monster Men Halloween episode is here! We talk about our ghosts from Halloweens past (specifically my embarrassing little drummer boy costume), and give you tips on what to read, watch and do to make the season the best ever. So, without further ado, I give you The Monster Men. And why the bucket hat, Hunter? It’s to honor the character Dale from The Walking Dead. New season starts tonight, so get to your TV as soon as you’re done watching The Monster Men! And then come back and like our brand spanking new Facebook fan page.
Brian Moreland is a damn good author with a damn good book out through Samhain Publishing’s new horror line. The book is called Dead of Winter and I was so curious about the man behind the book that I had to find him and pick his brain. Enjoy the pickins!
1. Your latest book, ‘Dead of Winter”, will be out with Samhain Publishing’s horror line this October. It’s set in the dead of winter in Ontario in the 1870’s at Fort Pendleton. Tell us a little about the book and the amount of research that went into making it so historically authentic.
My latest horror novel is a historical story based partly on true events and an old Algonquin Indian legend that still haunts the Great Lakes tribes to this day. It’s also a detective mystery and even has a couple of love triangles thrown in for fun. The story takes place near the end of the 19th Century at an isolated fur-trading fort deep in the Ontario wilderness. The main character is Inspector Tom Hatcher, a troubled detective from Montreal who had recently captured an infamous serial killer, Gustav Meraux, known as the Cannery Cannibal. Gustav is Jack-the-the-Ripper meets Hannibal Lecter. Even though the cannibal is behind bars, Tom is still haunted from the case, so he decides to move himself and his rebellious teenage son out to the wilderness. At the beginning of the story, Tom has taken a job at Fort Pendleton to solve a case of strange murders that are happening to the fur traders that involve another cannibal, one more savage than Gustav Meraux. Some predator in the woods surrounding the fort is attacking colonists and spreading a gruesome plague—the victims turn into ravenous cannibals with an unending hunger for human flesh. In Tom’s search for answers, he discovers that the Jesuits know something about this plague. My second main character is Father Xavier, an exorcist from Montreal who is ordered by the Vatican to travel to Ontario to help Tom battle the killer causing the outbreak.
2. The story, though fantastical, seems, in other ways, so real. How much is based on fact? Were there any actual odd occurrences at Fort Pendleton at that time?
While indeed a work of fiction, I wanted this book to feel real. Throughout the story I interweave several facts I pulled from history books and an interview I did with a descendent from a Canadian Ojibwa tribe. During my research, I came across some unexplained stories that the Ojibwa and Algonquin tribes all around the Great Lakes region, including Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, and Minnesota, feared a supernatural creature that lives in the woods and stalks people every winter. They migrated every year because of this superstition. This legend also spooked the white fur traders, like the Hudson’s Bay Company, who lived in isolated forts all across Canada and traded with the Indians. Fort Pendleton is a fictitious fort named after one my characters, a tycoon by the name of Master Avery Pendleton. When the mysterious killings start plaguing the colonists living within his fort, Pendleton hires Tom Hatcher to solve the case. Tom teams up with an Ojibwa tracker and shaman, Anika Moonblood. She doesn’t believe the killer is a man or animal, but something much more terrifying. In the book, everyone in the neighboring Ojibwa tribe is spooked by the stalker out in the woods.
As I researched this legendary evil spirit even deeper, I discovered an article about a real isolated fort in Quebec where all the colonists went crazy and turned cannibal. In the late 1700s, a Jesuit priest who visited this fort documented the case in his journal, describing the deranged colonists as possessed by the devil. This is all factual and documented by the Catholic Church. I also did extensive research on the history of frontier life in Canada in the 1800s. During the long winter months out in the wilderness, cannibalism became a way of survival for isolated villages that ran out of food. And sometimes soldiers would arrive at a fort to find that everyone was dead except one man, who survived by eating the others.
3. What did you enjoy most about writing ‘Dead of Winter’?
There are so many things. I had such a great time writing this one. My imagination was running wild at the time. I real love the cast of characters. While Tom is the protagonist, with Father Xavier being a second main character with his own story line, I also enjoyed writing the supporting characters, many of which have subplots that intertwine with Tom’s story. It’s a very complex book. I also enjoyed seeing the mystery unfold. When I write, I never know how a book is going to play out. I have a general idea that gets me started writing, but most of the time I’m trying to solve the riddle right alongside my detective. I also love writing scenes that have action and suspense and this novel has plenty of them. I wanted DEAD OF WINTER to be the scariest book that I could write, I didn’t hold back.
4. The horror genre is new to Samhain. What drew you to them as a publisher and how has the experience been?
My agent and I were trying to find a good fit for my new book. I had finished DEAD OF WINTER in November of 2009 and was eager to sell it to a publisher right away. That’s how I feel after finishing a novel. I just can’t wait to share it with readers. But in 2009, publishing houses were shuffling their editors like Vegas dealer shuffling cards. My agent was afraid my book would get bought up and then lost in the chaos, so she told me let’s wait it out. It was tough to do, but we held out from submitting my book for over a year. I’m glad we did, because was were ready and waiting for the right opportunity. And then in January of this year my agent told me that Leisure Books was dissolving their horror line and that their editor, Don D’Auria had moved over to Samhain Publishing to start up a brand new horror line called Samhain Horror. Don wanted to start the line in October 2011 and was looking for submissions. We submitted my book within about two weeks of Don starting his new job. My agent sold me on Don, saying he was a legend in the horror business. I hadn’t heard of him, but I did a little research and discovered that he had been the editor for many of my favorite authors—Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Ronald Malfi, and Jack Ketchum, to name a few. On his blog, Brian Keene wrote a post about how much he loved working with Don D’Auria. I flipped through a dozen books by Leisure authors and read the Acknowledgements. Again and again, I kept seeing Don’s name being praised, many describing him as the nicest editor to work with. That sold me, so I told my agent let’s submit DEAD OF WINTER to Don at Samhain. Less than 30 days later in February, my agent called back and said that Don loves my book and wants it to be one of the first books to release in October. I was so excited. My first novel I had to wait over a year to see my book in print. With Samhain, my novel released eight months after we concluded the book deal. And working with Don has been a dream. Like everyone says, he is the nicest guy and very diplomatic in his style of editing. He made some great suggestions on how to improve my novel while keeping most of the book in tact. With Don and Samhain, I definitely feel like I’ve found a home to publish my future books as well.
5. Full time writers, especially in the horror genre, are few and far between. What do you do to pay the bills when you’re not tapping away at your keyboard? Do you envision leaving the 9-5 world behind in the future?
It’s been over ten years since I had a typical 9-5 job, but I still have to work on client projects to pay the bills. I’ve been working as a freelance video editor for a handful of clients. I mostly edit documentaries, TV commercials, and corporate videos. For two straight years I got to travel with the USO and Tostitos to military bases in Baghdad, Iraq. We filmed the troops the playing a football game with celebrity football players. That was a cool experience. You can see photos from my trip at my blog (http://brianmoreland.blogspot.com/2010/01/traveling-to-iraq.html). In addition to video editing, I also have done some ghostwriting and edited and designed books for other authors. As I see more frequent financial success from my novels, I envision working fewer client projects and writing all these novels I have inside my head like caged beasts clawing to get out.
I’ve always loved monsters and the adrenaline rush from being scared. I grew up watching double-feature horror movies that aired on TV every Saturday. I collected monster toys and read lots of comic books. As I got into my teens, my reading turned to novels by Stephen King and other horror authors. I had an active imagination and, at age 19, I decided to try my hand writing and wrote my first horror novel. I discovered that creating my own fictitious worlds and characters was even more fun than watching movies or reading books. I can’t explain why I write horror, only that I write what I love to read. I just write and scary stuff happens.
7. You’re on a small boat fishing with Stephen King, Richard Matheson and Brian Keene. What do you ask each of them and who will be the best to share a beer with when the fish ain’t biting?
I would love to go fishing with such legendary authors. To Richard Matheson I was ask about how he came up with I Am Legend, one of my all-time favorite stories. Because I like to know how people achieve success, I’d ask how he got started on his path to being published and how he made a name for himself. This year I got to meet Brian Keene—a super nice guy by the way—and take one of his seminars. Sitting next to him at a conference table for four hours, I asked him all kinds of questions about the business and learned many of his success secrets. I would love to go fishing with Brian and just get to know him better as a person. With Stephen King, I would love to share a beer and as what his secrets are to being so prolific. I’ve read his book On Writing and that was the closest I’ve gotten to learning his secrets to being an author. But there’s something about hanging out and talking with someone in person that has a deeper impact. I’ve gotten to hang out with James Rollins and John Saul for greater lengths of time, and they both had a huge impact on how I approach my career as an author.
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?
First, I’d have to have a killer costume. Ever year I struggle on what to dress up as. Then it’s all about the party. I’d go with my girlfriend and a group of friends to some exotic place that throws a great Samhain celebration like the French Quarter in New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Two years ago I was living on Maui, and a group of us went to a beach town called Lahaina. They blocked off the main street for a mega Halloween party and every bar was packed. I saw some of the craziest costumes and a lot of risqué ones too, where people are half-naked. Now that was a party to remember. What I’m really looking forward to doing in the future is meeting up with fellow Samhain Horror authors at a horror convention and celebrating the success of our books.
Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. He loves hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and dancing. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://brianmoreland.com/ or on Twitter @BrianMoreland.
Brian’s Horror Fiction blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com
Coaching for Writers blog: http://www.coachingforwriters.blogspot.com
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