Samhain and I want to make your Friday the 13th the creepiest ever. From now until March 15th, my first two ghost novels, FOREST OF SHADOWS and SINISTER ENTITY are only 99 cents everywhere ebooks are sold. If you’re new to my madness and just read ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, this is the perfect chance to catch up on where Jessica Backman’s obsession with the dead began. You’ll think twice before visiting a haunted house, learn what an EB is and why it’s sometimes best to let the dead rest in peace…or turmoil. So fire up your Kindles and Nooks and iPads before time runs out on the best offer Samhain has ever made!
The dead still hate!
Something dreadful happened in the remote Alaskan cabin. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.
“With Forest of Shadows, Hunter Shea combines ancient evil, old school horror and modern style. Highly recommended!” — Jonathan Mayberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot and Ruin and The Dragon Factory.
“Forest of Shadows is a frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” —Night Owl Reviews
How can you escape the ghost of yourself?
The Leigh family is terrified. They’ve been haunted by the ghostly image of their young daughter, Selena. But how can that be, when Selena is alive and well, and as frightened as her parents? With nowhere else to turn, the Leighs place their hopes in Jessica Backman, who has dedicated her life to investigating paranormal activity. Accompanied by a new partner who claims to be able to speak to the dead, Jessica will soon encounter an entity that scares even her. And a terror far worse than she imagined.
I had the honor and privilege of reading an advance copy of Russell James’s latest foray into the world of magic and dark terror, Dreamwalker. I absolutely loved it and think it’s his best to date. It’s finally out and ready to be devoured by hungry horror readers. Here, in the Magic Man’s own words, is how the fiction became stark fact…
This time around, my novel creeped me out.
When I wrote Dreamwalker, I wanted to set it in a location that emphasized the duality that the
main character, Pete Holm, lives in. I’d read about Atlantic City and how the promise of casinos hadn’t
created the promised city-wide rejuvenation. Atlantic Avenue divided the city, separating the glitter of the
high-rise hotels from the poverty of the rundown residential areas. The location seemed perfect.
I’d never been to Atlantic City, or Philadelphia, another location in the book. But MapQuest is
amazing, and I used grids of the streets to flesh out my fantasy versions. Pete takes a bus, so I Googled
the bus station locations and schedules just to make sure such places existed.
After the second draft of the story was completed, I had a free weekend in Maryland and decided
to visit these places I’d so casually created based on a few thin facts. I headed to Atlantic City, hoping I
could work in some real-life observations to the story.
I drove through the city and went into shock. Locations I’d created in my mind’s eye were here in
real life, almost doorframe for doorframe. The restaurant Pete works in, the rundown homes, the decaying
basketball court. It didn’t feel like I was exploring someplace new, it felt like I was returning to
In the late afternoon, I drove to Philadelphia, taking the same route my character takes when he
tries to find the identity of the girlfriend in his dreams. In the city, I followed my invented route to her
fictional hospice. There was no hospice, but there was a doctor’s office with an entrance that looked just
as I’d imagined the hospice’s did. It gave me chills.
Dreamwalker is about a college student who enters an alternate reality when he dreams. Did I
enter some alternate subconscious reality when I invented the locations for my book? I don’t know. If I
could, it would sure make writing the next novel is much easier.
Dreamwalker is the sixth novel that Russell James has published with Samhain Horror under legendary horror editor Don D’Auria!
Two realities. One hope.
What if you lived in two worlds, and could die in either? Pete Holm can. He is a dreamwalker, able to travel to the realm of dreams, including the devastated world of Twin Moon City, where an evil voodoo spirit holds living souls in terror with his army of the walking dead.
In the waking world, drug lord Jean St. Croix knows only the power of the dreamwalker can stop him, so St. Croix vows Pete must die.
Pete is the only hope to rescue the lost souls in Twin Moon City…unless St. Croix kills him first. Can anyone survive when two realities collide?
Barnes and Noble:
- Open reviewer giveaway: Anyone who reviews Dreamwalker on Amazon and one other site like GoodReads, etc. and sends Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, their links to email@example.com will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card. This contest ends on Feb. 28, 2015.
- Rafflecoper giveaway for two copies of Russell’s previous books. Two winners will each win one of two books, Black Magic and Dark Inspiration. US only, no international shipping. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway, you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Praise for Russell R. James
“James has a talent for combining action-packed vignettes into a powerful, fast-paced whole.”
—Library Journal on Black Magic
(Five Stars, A Night Owl Top Pick) “I loved the story so much that I’m eagerly waiting to read more from him. He carefully and very intricately wove his storyline to have elements of mystery and suspense throughout. I now have a new favorite book I’ll read over and over again.”
—Night Owl Reviews on Dark Inspiration
“The book had me at the edge of my seat. The writing is so vivid I even jumped a few times. If you’re a fan of the genre, love ghosts and are drawn to the supernatural, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book!”
—Long and Short Reviews on Dark Inspiration
Russell R. James, Biography
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.
After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, Q Island, releases in 2015.
His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”
Visit his website at www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.
He and his wife share their home in sunny Florida with two cats.
To find out more about Russell R. James, please visit his Website or follow him on Facebook! Join him on Twitter, @RRJames14. Also, feel free to drop him at a line at email@example.com.
As part of the ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN blog tour, there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway with 5 books up for grabs to the lucky winners who enter. Here are the details :
Enter to win one of five Hunter Shea books being given away! Two signed copies of Montauk Monster, one signed copy of Sinister Entity, and two e-books of choice of his titles are up for grabs! One book to each winner, given in order of random drawing. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter link. Must use valid email that winners can be contacted by. Print books are U.S. residents only. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Direct Link to Rafflecopter
In addition to that, I’m giving away 1 signed copy of ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN on my Facebook Fan Page. All you have to do is click the FB link and answer one simple question, which is really an opinion. Come join the fun toay and throughout the weekend. A winner will be announced next week on FB.
Thank you to everyone who has bought Island, given it a review, or taken part in the blog tour. It’s come out of the gate strong! Ghost power!
Here’s a first for me. My book, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, inspired a reader to write about her own haunting experience. Aniko Carmean is a writer of superb, speculative fiction. We’ve been cyber buds for several years now, supporting one another as we attempt to grow as writerly types. Anyone who appreciates fine, intelligent stories needs to check out her new lovechild, ODD SKY BOOKS. She’s crafting some of the finest tales you’ll find today.
What I didn’t know all these years was that Aniko had her own, hair raising brush with the unknown. Thankfully, she took the time to put it into chilling words and wants to share it with the class. I live in a haunted house and I even got goose bumps reading this.
So turn down the lights, charge your EMF meter and read on…
I’m a military brat, and when I was in high school, my father was stationed in Belgium. We lived off-base in a small village. Our three-hundred year old house was on the village’s grand place, directly across the street from the ancient church that had been bombed and rebuilt in at least one of the European wars to roll across that dismal, chill land. The only functional fireplace had an intricate carved bronze inlay, the attic was closed off by a heavy wooden door that predated my family’s immigration to the United States by centuries, and the kitchen’s exposed beams begged to be festooned with drying herbs. It looked old, not scary – in the daylight.
I am not like Jessica Backman in Hunter Shea’s novel Island of the Forbidden. I cannot banish what she calls energy beings (EB), and what I call ghosts, nor do I seek supernatural encounters. I can, however, see, hear, and feel ghosts. I discovered my ability when I lived for three years in a that house, the one in Belgium. More than twenty years have passed, but reading Island of the Forbidden awakened memories of my time in the haunted house. Aspects of Jessica’s encounters in the isolated Ormsby House are similar to my experiences in Belgium, and I thought it might be of interest to the ghost-hunters, skeptics, and the simply curious if I shared a little of what I remember.
Many haunted house stories describe unaccountable and unnaturally loud thudding sounds. Ormsby House in Shea’s Island responded to the intrusion of the visitors with thunderous house-rattling. Similar thudding greeted my sister and I on our first night in Belgium. Our room was on the top floor, just below the attic. The sounds started as a tapping somewhere at the far side of the attic, and grew to a sledgehammer thud as whatever was making the noise crossed the attic. When it was directly overhead, the noise was so loud I was certain the ceiling was going to break open and tumble death down upon us. My sister and I were crouched together on the mattress that didn’t yet have a bedstead, clutching hands and staring up at the ceiling. Then, as suddenly as it started, the banging stopped. I don’t believe either of us mentioned the possibility of a ghost – not then – but I don’t think we slept, either.
In Island of the Forbidden, a drop in temperature is an indicator of the presence of EBs. “Cold spots” are also a part of my experience in Belgium. The old house was drafty, and the attic itself was built such that it was open to the outdoors all along the eaves. It was never warm in the winter, but even in the summer, there were times that the cold in one area was palpably more frigid than the ambient temperature. This occurred mostly at night, when a layer of cold would hover above me as I tried to sleep. The cold carried the sensation of a presence. There is little that is more terrifying than intuiting something malevolent that is invisibly cloaked in cold.
The malfunction of electronics is another common hallmark of a haunting. There are plenty of high-tech hijinks in Island, and the characters struggle against an onslaught of cameras on the fritz, drained batteries, and power outages. When I was in Belgium, I recall only one peculiar electronic malfunction, but remember that my experience predates smartphones, iPads, and itty-bitty digital cameras, so there were fewer electronics for an EB to afflict. What I did have was a voice-activated tape recorder(!), which I put in the attic. I hoped to capture some of the strange noises that my family had heard up there and share them with my friends. I expected to record footsteps that seemed to walk into a non-existent distance, or the sound of shattering glass, or even – and best! – the voices of men speaking in French as they played cards. What I got was a creepy amalgam of disturbances, starting with the sound of footsteps and low, male voices. The recorder captured the scuffing of the instrument being shoved across the floor, and then a long stretch of silence. Minutes passed, and then came a series of violent bangs, as if the recorder were being stomped or bashed with something. Indeed, when I retrieved the instrument, it was halfway across the room from where I left it. After the first time I listened to the tape, the cassette player seized; it would not open to let me take out the tape, nor would it play the tape, even with new batteries. Years later, after we moved back to the States, the cassette player did work again, but unfortunately the tape itself was damaged.
In haunting stories, the visual sighting of ghosts is the pièce de résistance. Island of the Forbidden is full of apparitions which present themselves in gory detail to the characters sensitive to seeing them. I am not gifted like Jessica’s compatriot Eddie, and the ghosts in Belgium never showed me their faces. One ghost appeared only at night. A maternal, safe feeling flowed from her presence, which manifested as a fuzzy mass of white light. I slept deeply and peacefully on the nights she hovered at the far side of my room. There were other shapes, though, that were defined by an absence of light. In my most terrifying incident, I was wrapped in my towel and walking to my room after showering in the creepy bath where I never felt like I was alone. It was winter, and already pitch black outside. As I passed my sister’s room, I saw her sitting on the edge of her bed, in the dark. I asked her if everything was okay, but she didn’t answer. Water dripped from the ends of my hair, icy cold, and a realization hit me: the person on the bed was far too large to be my sister. As if sensing my understanding, the shadow stood. The shape was that of a man, and laugh if you will, but he wore a stove pipe hat. I couldn’t see any features, just the cut of his clearly old-fashioned garb, and that hat. I was frozen, gripping my towel around myself, staring. He extended a hand to me and I did the only sensible thing; I turned on the hall light. He disappeared, and even when I was brave enough to shut of the light again, he was gone.
As a result of my experiences in that house, I am a discerning aficionado of all haunting stories. Island of the Forbidden makes it onto my approved list of haunted house tales, and joins the likes of Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and James’s The Turn of the Screw. Hunter Shea gives his EBs backstory and reason, which makes for an engaging read, especially when combined with the authenticity of the supernatural events in the story. If you want to revisit your own haunting, or have never experienced ghosts and want to know what it feels like, I recommend reading Island of the Forbidden.
Aniko Carmean is a speculative fiction author living in Austin, Texas. She loves ancho-chocolate milkshakes, October, and dogs. You can read her stories for free by visiting Odd Sky Books and signing up to become a member of the Odd Literati.
You can follow the Island of the Forbidden blog tour by clicking the image below. It will also take you to a Rafflecopter link where I’m giving away 5 books! Enter to win.
I can’t believe Thanksgiving is going to be here next week. I thought time flew once you had kids. It doubles in speed when you have books coming out!
My next novel with Samhain, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, will be published January 5th, 2015. That’ll give me a few days to shake off my New Years hangover.
My publicist, Erin Al Mehairi with Hook of a Book Media, is busy putting together what I’m sure will be a comprehensive blog tour for the book. I wanted to give the readers and reviewers an early crack at getting a copy of the book in exchange for a review. So, if you have a review blog/website or do a lot of reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads, please contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if she can get you on the reviewer list. Of course, I’m happy to hear from you as well. My editors keep me chained to my desk in a dark sub-basement.
So, what’s this new book all about?
Sometimes, the dead are best left in peace.
Jessica Backman has been called to help a strange family living on a haunted island in Charleston Harbor. Ormsby Island was the site of a brutal massacre two decades ago, and now the mysterious Harper family needs someone to exorcise the ghosts that still call it home. The phantoms of over one hundred children cannot rest.
But something far more insidious is living on the island. When the living and the dead guard their true intentions, how can Jessica discover just what sort of evil lurks on Ormsby Island? And why is Jessica the only one who can plumb its dark depths?
If you’re ready for a ghost story like nothing you’ve ever read before, contact us. Nightmares and sleepless nights come free of charge.
Great news. I was just informed that Forest of Shadows, the book that started it all, will be made into an audiobook! It will be available in 2015 – no definite date set yet. For you ghost fanatics out there, this is where the legend of ghost hunter Jessica Backman begins – a tale about her father staring into the abyss, searching for truths better left unsaid. This led to Sinister Entity and next year’s Island of the Forbidden.
I wish I could be the one to select who does the narration. Here are my top choices :
- Christopher Walken
- William Shatner
- Jef Bridges
- The Aflac duck
Who would you like to hear narrate the book?
If audio’s not your thing but you want to stock up on some spooky reading for Halloween, here’s what Forest of Shadows has in store for you –
The dead still hate!
John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.
An Interview with Thriller Writer Keith Rommel on The Cursed Man Movie and Latest Novel in Thanatology Series
Keith Rommel is one of the hottest talents in horror and suspense today. Take a peek inside his unique mind…
Set to be released this fall, The Cursed Man novel is being filmed for the big screen. This thriller features Alister’s relationship with Death and the impending doom that has settled in around him, and is sure to leave you with feelings of discomfort and shock. Whether you are a fan of Keith Rommel’s work or new to the series, his new film and most recent release are sure to spark your interest. The Cursed Man is the first installment of the Thanatology Series and is followed by TheLurking Man and The Sinful Man, which is set to come out this May. We got the chance to pick Keith’s brain about the series’ success in an interview and are excited for this year’s releases! Check out the interview and photos below for more about the series.
Sunbury Press: What type of reaction are you hoping for when readers…
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Ah, February. The month of love, thanks to Valentine’s Day. When I think of love, I think of the color red. And when I think of the color red, well, strange things come to mind.
The color red is seen quite often in werewolf movies. And sometimes, there is a bit of romance – think the shower scene in An American Werewolf in London. Scarily enough, it took the Monster Men 54 episodes before we dedicated an episode solely to the misunderstood werewolf. Click on the image below to watch the episode and transform yourselves…
Speaking of Valentine’s Day, are you looking for something special for the horrorhound love of your life? The folks at Horror Novel Reviews have just the thing. I can only imagine what kind of love letters are between the pages of their latest release.
What book do I plan to read this month that has me excited as a cracked-out roadrunner? Redheads, by Jonathan Moore. The praise for this novel has been loud and proud. Check it out.
A killer far worse than insane.
Chris Wilcox has been searching for years, so he knows a few things about his wife’s killer. Cheryl Wilcox wasn’t the first. All the victims were redheads. All eaten alive and left within a mile of the ocean. The trail of death crosses the globe and spans decades.
The cold trail catches fire when Chris and two other survivors find a trace of the killer’s DNA. By hiring a cutting-edge lab to sequence it, they make a terrifying discovery. The killer is far more dangerous than they ever guessed. And now they’re being hunted by their own prey.
If you’re looking for a pretty damn good ghost story, with a dash of gothic romance, you have to watch The Awakening. Somehow this had slipped under my radar. I stumbled upon it while perusing Netflix on-demand. Truly one of the better, creepier ghost movies I’ve seen in a long while.
As you can most likely ascertain from the title of this post, 2013 was not my favorite year. In a word, it was a disaster. And so I bid it a not-so-fond farewell, not with a top 10 list or bullet points of resolutions. I have only one resolution for 2014 : to never live through 2013 again. Now there’s one that can’t help but come to fruition.
2014 will be better. The people that have passed from our lives can’t do it a second time. Family members that have been seriously ill are on the mend. I have several books coming out that will keep me exceedingly busy and happy that I’m still living a dream that floated into my fevered brain decades ago.
I have my Narragansett beer, Patron tequila and Nat Sherman cigars waiting to help me usher in the new year.
So, what am I looking forward to?
In April, my novella, The Waiting, a ghost story based on actual events, is sure to make you rethink life and death and the unknown places in between.
Over the summer, my very first western horror, Hell Hole, will take you to a deserted, haunted mining town in Wyoming at the turn of the 20th Century. From aging cowboys to Teddy Roosevelt, wild men to black-eyed kids, hell on earth has never been so much…well, fun!
I have another major book announcement to make, but that will come very soon in the new year.
Through all of the tumult, writing and entertaining you, the reader, has been the one thing that’s kept me sane. Despite everything, I managed to write 3 full length novels in 2013, along with my first short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, which is doing exceedingly well despite my typical writer’s neuroses that nothing is ever good enough. I can tell you from experience that writing is better (and cheaper) than therapy.
At the Monster Men podcast dungeon, we’re going to branch into remote interviews with writers, directors, paranormal groups and anyone that tickles our monster bone. In fact, our test run, an interview with Anthony Ventarola (you remember the guy who went with us to the haunted Union Cemtery?) about this season’s The Walking Dead, can be seen right here. Lots more to come.
My wife and I plan to renew our vows, 22 years after the first go around with a priest who was three sheets to the wind and a DJ who drank himself unconscious before the reception ended. Good times.
Basically, 2014 will be a re-start, a shedding of the skin, even though I hate snakes more than Indiana Jones.
And what better way to move on while still looking back than with a great HuffPost article about the year in Bigfoot. Things will be squatcherific, for sure.