Hello and happy summer, Hellions!
First, does anyone remember the 80s Bauhaus classic, Bela Lugosi’s Dead? It’s one of my favorites from back in they da, at the time a perfect marriage of my two passions, horror and new wave music. Man, I miss new wave. Never did go for the Flock of Seagulls look, though.
We just got word this past week that after months of reshuffling things, Samhain is back on its feet. Soon, they’ll be opening to new submissions as well. That’s good news, not just for the authors who have books with Samhain, but maybe more importantly for those who love to read horror. As a man who devours scary books like they’re Tic Tacs, the more places I can find them, the better.
It’s especially good because some amazing books that had been acquired before things went sideways are coming out now , including works by the legendary RICHARD LAYMON and the wildly popular BORDERLANDS anthology, edited by Thomas and Olivia Monteleone. This is top notch stuff. I repeat – TOP NOTCH.
Samhain will always have a special place in my cold, black heart. They not only gave me my big break, but linked me with another legend, editor Don D’Auria. Everything I have now is thanks to Samhain. And now I’m thinking of writing the next Jessica Backman/Eddie Home book for Samhain. So many more stories with those two, it’ll be nice to keep them all in one place.
So yes, you can still get superb books by what I call The New Class – authors like JONATHAN JANZ, BRIAN MORELAND, RON MALFI, TIM WAGGONER, KRISTOPHER RUFTY, FRAZIER LEE, RUSSELL JAMES, DAVID BERNSTEIN, AARON DRIES, GLENN ROLFE and so many more, I could write names for the next hour.
Samhain has risen from the…well, not the grave, but the gurney? Works for me. Celebrate by buying a book or two!
I grew up spending half my waking hours in comic book stores (and old time stationery stores that sold comics and Mad Magazine).
I’m crossing another item off my bucket list this Saturday, June 11th at the Spider’s Web, the best comic book store in Westchester, NY. It’s located at 887 Yonkers, Ave, Yonkers, NY, right across the street from Empire City Casino. Here’s a bit of trivia, the proverbial poop hits the fan in my book, Tortures of the Damned, right at that very spot. So come see me, buy a book (all of my books will be on hand) and see where the end of Yonkers began. I’ll be in a nice tent right outside the store, working on my tan.
I’m a pretty lucky guy. Kristopher Rufty is not only my friend, he’s also one of my favorite authors. We share a publisher and an agent, so he can’t shake me even if he wants to. Last year, he floored me with Jagger and Bigfoot Beach. He’s already kicking off 2016 with a new book from Samhain, Desolation. The cover it flipping awesome, and I know the contents will be even better.
Today I hand the wheel over to Krist as he takes you on Desolation’s journey. Ever wondered where writers get their ideas? Well, Hellions, read on. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post. He’s giving away the store. Man, I gotta up my giveaway game.
Highway to Desolation
Desolation has been around for ten years. That’s a long time for an idea to be brewing. But when it was first conceived, it was meant to be my first attempt at writing a novel, but then it was changed into a script that I thought could be shot for a very low budget during a very short shooting schedule. I still think so, actually.
The original idea came to me in a dream. Is that laughter I hear? I’m being serious! In this dream I had way back in 2006, I was watching a movie. The scene that was transpiring on my dream screen was the opening: a man trapped in a car, his injured wife bleeding profusely beside him. He kicks his way out of the car, wanting to find his son. A strange man appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to help him search. As they look, the DVD begins skipping. I didn’t get to see what happened, for the movie jumped ahead several scenes to show me an intruder invading somebody’s home, armed with a crowbar, and using the tool to bash heads. I tried to figure out who was in the home, who the intruder was, and was becoming increasingly frustrated because I had no idea what was going on.
Then I woke up.
It was just after three in the morning, and I was now wide awake. I smoked cigarettes back then and snuck outside to have one. It was the middle of winter, and I was standing on our porch, shivering as I replayed those scenes over and over in my head. I wondered what had caused the accident at the beginning, and why, obviously later in the dream movie, was somebody invading someone’s home.
Before I had finished smoking the cigarette, the entire premise had come together: A man, horribly wronged by another man. This man who caused so much harm is not a bad man. He’s a good person at heart, though he’s made many mistakes and this wrong is something that is felt not only by him, or the other man, but by their families. I wanted it clear that Grant is not evil; he’s not vindictive, though he’s used to getting his way. He’s just a guy, somebody that messed up. But I also wanted it be clear that Dennis is also a good person, driven to deplorable actions by Grant’s mistake.
That premise has stuck with me for a long time. In the original script, I wrote it as a straightforward exploitation-style horror movie. At one point, David Hess (of Last House on the Left fame) had agreed to play Grant and possibly write the music, with Trent Haaga set to play Dennis. The script floated around for years, with many people being attached on as actors, producers, composers, and FX artists.
It came back to me in 2013 for the last time. I decided to just put it in the drawer and leave it be.
A year or so later, I told my agent about the idea. She liked it a lot and told me not to forget about it. I didn’t. With the idea fresh in my brain again, I reread the script, cringing a bit. I still really liked the premise, but not the execution. I thought, If I were to rewrite this, I think this needs to be changed, and this, and this…”
Then another idea hit. I remembered after my father passed away, somebody suggested I write him letters. Just take a blank notebook and write him a letter every day until I felt I didn’t need to do that anymore. They said it would help me in my grieving. I tried. I hated it. It seemed to make me hurt worse, knowing he’d never read them.
And I stopped writing them.
But the idea I had was this: What if Dennis is writing letters to his deceased wife and as we read them, we see his mental wall chipping away a piece at a time. While this is happening, Grant is off trying to take his already crumbled existence, and plaster it all back together. Then the two worlds collide and complete chaos happens.
I had to write the book.
Took ten years, but I finally wrote the novel that I had originally hoped would have been my debut. I’m glad I did not try to write this book all those years ago. And even with the years of disappointment from the movie not being made, I’m very relieved it wasn’t. Had it been, this book would have never been written.
ISBN: 978-1-619233-09-6 Trade Paperback (List: $15.95)
There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.
Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle. On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him. Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.
Biography, Kristopher Rufty
Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, The Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents, and more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He has also written and directed the independent horror films Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.
Praise for Kristopher Rufty
“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” –Jeff Strand
“A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show
“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” –Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller
“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” –Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow
“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” –Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal
Barnes & Noble
We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Link for audio book giveaway:
Link for print/e-book giveaway:
Howdy there, Hunter’s Hellions! I figured I had to call you all something. I think Hellions fits.
Looking back, I managed to read over 80 books last year. Any time I can get in over 75 books, I’m happy. I’m envious of folks who can speed read books yet still retain everything. I’m no tortoise, but I’m no hare, either.
Coming up with a top 10 horror books list was no easy task because I read so many damn good books. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting a clunker from a mile off, so if I sit down to read a book, it’s usually good.
Now, some of these books didn’t come out in 2015. All that matters is that I read them in 2015. I’m hoping this can help you discover some titles you might have missed over the past couple of years. So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite horror reads of last year (in no particular order, because I was fracturing my brain trying to do it), plus some honorable mentions…
10. THE HAUNTED by Bentley Little
Little has always been one of my favorite authors. He takes all of the everyday insanity we’ve surrounded ourselves with in America and injects it with pure evil. The Haunted is one of the best he’s written in years.
The Perry family’s new house is perfect-except for the weird behavior of the neighbors, and that odd smell coming from a dark corner in the basement. Pity no one warned the family about the house. Now it’s too late. Because the darkness at the bottom of the basement stairs is rising.
9. VIDEO NIGHT by Adam Cesare
Oh man, this book reminded me of all the great horror flicks of the 80s. Adam is one of the best new writers out there, and Video Night is a great place to start!
Who knows more about fighting a monster invasion than a group of teenage horror fans?
Billy Rile is smart, adept at Nintendo and has a killer Hi-Fi setup. Life is good. But he has no idea that an alien life form has infected his town, a creature that overtakes and transforms its host.
8. DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
Hands down the best novella of 2015. Brian Moreland always kicks ass…and I mean always. This is now my favorite of his books. Tender yet terrifying.
t’s all fun and games until…Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him.
7. LITTLE GIRLS by Ron Malfi
This is classic horror in the vein of Peter Straub and Stephen King at their best. This is sure to go down as a classic. I know it’s one I’ll read again and again. I was extra proud to be his Kensington Publishing brother in 2015.
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die.
6. THE BORDER by Robert McCammon
The master returns to the genre that he defined! It doesn’t get any better than that. I’ve long said McCammon is the best who ever scribbled a tale of terror. The man hasn’t lost a step.
World Fantasy award-winning, bestselling author Robert McCammon makes a triumphant return to the epic horror and apocalyptic tone reminiscent of his books Swan Song and Stinger in this gripping new novel, The Border, a saga of an Earth devastated by a war between two marauding alien civilizations.
But it is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger.
5. MR. MERCEDES & FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King
I got up to Maine a week after King was signing copies of Finders Keepers. My timing sucks. The first 2 books of his trilogy are as different from one another as they are engaging. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out!
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
4. PRISONER 489 by Joe R Lansdale
Lansdale should be a household name. Every book he writes is gold. Prisoner 489 is a terrific novella that centers around one of my favorite horror tropes. I won’t spoil it for you. Get the book, now!
On an island with a prison for the most evil and powerful criminals in the world, a new prisoner is strapped to the electric chair for execution. After multiple surges of electricity and nearly knocking out power to the entire island, the prisoner is finally dead. The staff buries him in the prison graveyard with a simple marker baring three numbers: 489.
After the body is buried, a violent storm rocks the islands and a staff member goes missing. The crew rushes into the storm, searching for their lost comrade. They find that the burial site of prisoner 489 has been unearthed, and the body that was inside has gone missing.
3. LORDS OF TWILIGHT by Greg Gifune
You all know I’m a sucker for anything that deals with aliens. In fact, another alien book is part of the honorable mention crew. This is one of the most terrifying ones I’ve read in a while. Loved it.
Strange things are happening in the small, isolated town of Edgar, Maine. Mysterious lights dot the night skies. A local farmer is found dead at the summit of a hill with no evidence as to how his body got there. Livestock is disappearing, only to be discovered later, dead and mutilated with precision-like wounds. And despite the coming of an enormous winter storm, odd men identifying themselves simply as ‘federal agents’ have converged on Edgar in government vehicles as if in anticipation of some greater event.
2. JAGGER by Kristopher Rufty
Cujo on meth. That’s the best way I can describe this. Once again, Rufty populates his novel with sketchy characters doing terrible things. I couldn’t put it down.
Other than the trailer park left to her by her deceased daddy, Amy’s favorite treasure is Jagger, her 180-pound bull mastiff. One day while she is away, Clayton, her best friend’s scumbag boyfriend sneaks into her yard and takes the dog. His prize fighting pit bull was killed during its last match, costing a lot of bad people a lot of money. To make up for his dog’s losses, and to save his own life, Clayton enlists the help of a medical student dropout to turn Jagger into a killing machine by pumping him full of experimental drugs and muscle enhancers. Now Jagger is a monster, a beast that can’t feel pain, with an unquenchable thirst for blood. He quickly breaks out of his pen and starts making his way home, tearing apart anyone in his path on his way to the one he feels has betrayed him the most—Amy.
- THE HUNGER SERIES by Jason Brant
I ate this trilogy up like they were White Castle and I was fresh off a 2 day bender. This is a post apocalypse world bursting with beasties that would make the walkers in The Walking Dead shit themselves, if they had working colons. I highly recommend them. The books, not the shitting zombies.
Day One: A series of terrorist attacks spread a cloud of noxious gas over highly populated areas.
Day Two: Higher brain function erodes in those exposed to the gas. Their bodies begin to distort, faces distending, skin sallowing, teeth elongating.
Day Three: The infected disappear into the shadows, fleeing the harsh daylight which has begun to sear their flesh.
Day Four: The world is DEVOURED.
And now for the honorable mentions. All of them could easily have made my top 10. It was that close! Get these books as fast as you can.
Q ISLAND by Russell James (apocalyptic goodness!)
THE PENDLE CURSE by Catherine Caendish (witches & time travel – yes!)
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe (restored my faith in werewolf tales)
BEHIND THE DARKNESS by Robert Dunn (aliens done right – scary)
GOBLINS by David Bernstein (cryptids – what more can I say?)
OK, there you have it, my top 10 (really 15) horror tales for 2015. I could had added so many more, but I have to get out of the house.
Have you read any of the books I listed? What would make your top 10? What do you think I should be reading in 2016?
Keep flying the horror flag, my Hellions!
As always, I start my Horrortober reading in mid September so I can get to as many dark delicacies as possible. For those of you new to my Horrortober, it’s essentially my total immersion in all things horror from now until Halloween. During this special time, I only read horror and watch at least one horror movie a day.
Yes, there are a lot of Samhain books on here or books by authors who have published with Samhain. What can I say, they’re putting out some of the best new horror around, just like the good old days at Leisure. And yes, I have two, count ’em, two books on the list called The Deep. It’s an ambitious list this time around, but I think I’m up to the task. And of course there will be short stories, mags like Horrorhound, Rue Morgue, Fangoria and more. I’m buckling in as I write.
So, if you’re looking for some great spooky reading, come along with me…
BIGFOOT BEACH by Kristopher Rufty
A bizarre, brutal murder. A missing woman. And a giant footprint in the sand. Now, the dying beach community known as Seashell Cove finally has a hook to attract the tourists—a Bigfoot on the beach! As the summer season winds down, the tourists go home and the town begins preparing for the colder months.
Soon, more strange footprints are found, other mysterious sightings are reported. Then the deaths begin. Could there really be a Bigfoot running loose in Seashell Cove?
A tracker with a personal agenda, the local sheriff, a hero whose fifteen minutes of fame expired a long time ago, and a female reporter looking for a scoop will team up to find out for sure.
DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
It’s all fun and games until…
Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise.
THE DEEP by Nick Cutter
TRIBESMAN by Adam Cesare
Thirty years ago, cynical sleazeball director Tito Bronze took a tiny cast and crew to a desolate island. His goal: to exploit the local tribes, spray some guts around, cash in on the gore-spattered 80s Italian cannibal craze.
But the pissed-off spirits of the island had other ideas. And before long, guts were squirting behind the scenes, as well. While the camera kept rolling…
TRIBESMEN is Adam Cesare’s blistering tribute to Cannibal Holocaust and Lucio Fulci: a no-bullshit glimpse into grindhouse filmmaking, stuffed inside a rocket of tropical non-stop mayhem.
WE ARE MONSTERS by Brian Kirk
The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.
He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe
The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.
Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.
Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend?
One night can—and will—change everything.
DARK AVENGING ANGEL by Catherine Cavendish
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.
Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.
When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.
THE DEEP by Michaelbrent Collings
A woman searching for a sister lost at sea. A man bent on finding lost treasure. A mother who has lost all hope. A maniac who believes all life exists for his pleasure. The man who would keep them all safe.Together, they will all seek below the waves for treasures long buried, and riches beyond belief. But those treasures hide something. Something ancient, something dark. A creature that exists only to feed on those that would enter into its realm. A creature… of The Deep.
THE RED HIGHWAY by Robert E. Dunn