Tag Archive | shadows in the mist

An Interview With Horror Master, Brian Moreland

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 VAGRANTSHis 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.

Follow him on Twitter @BrianMoreland

Like him on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland

Check out Brian’s blogs:

http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

http://www.brianmoreland.wordpress.com

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Season Of The Witch – A Guest Post By Brian Moreland

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.

Girl From the Blood Coven150

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.

WitchingHouse-The72lg

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 livesAuthor Brian Moreland in Dallas, Texas where he is joyfully writing his next horror novel. Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianMoreland. Visit: http://www.brianmoreland.com/

For Veteran’s Day : War Hero Inspires WWII Thriller

Captain Dawson Moreland

To honor and remember all of our veterans on Veteran’s Day, I turned to fellow author and amazing guy Brian Moreland to talk about his family’s military past. The story is pretty amazing. It also was the spark that lit the flame for his novel, Shadows in the Mist. Our past shapes our future. You’ll find no better example than this. Brian, take it away…

Sometimes life has a mysterious way of imitating fiction. A prime example is my relationship with my grandfather, retired World War II pilot, Captain Dawson Moreland. When I was a boy, I used to visit my grandparents in West Texas at least twice a year. Behind their house, they had an outdoor cellar. It had a metal door that opened up to concrete stairs that led underground. The cellar was full of boxes, antiques, and furniture gathering dust. I loved exploring that cellar as a kid.

One day, I came across an army footlocker that my grandfather kept secured with a padlock. Curious, I took him down into the cellar and asked him what was inside the locker. “Just photos and documents from my war days,” he said. As a kid, I was a huge fan of war movies and my concept of World War II was based on what Hollywood had shown me: courageous men like John Wayne and George C. Scott (playing General Patton) being tough war heroes and feeling proud to be a soldier fighting in the war.

I had been thrilled to know that my grandfather had been one of those war heroes. I asked him to open the locker and let me see his war photos. His eyes clouded over. “Sorry, Brian, but I can never open that locker. There are just too many painful memories.” Like so many veterans of his generation, he never talked about the war. Growing up, all I knew was that he had been an Army pilot and flew airplanes. The rest of his story was left to my imagination. Who was this man who worked hard all his life, lived with high integrity, was the patriarch to my family, and said the blessing at every meal? What secret life had he experienced before I was born?

 My burning curiosity to know my grandfather’s secret life inspired me to write my WWII novel, Shadows in the Mist, a supernatural thriller set in Germany. It begins in present day. My main character, retired war hero Jack Chambers, has kept a dark secret from the Army for over sixty years. As nightmares of his platoon’s massacre begin to haunt him, he decides it’s time to reveal the truth. He gives his grandson, Sean, a German map and a war diary. “The map shows where my platoon was buried. The diary explains what really happened. Deliver these to General Mason Briggs at the U.S. Army base in Heidelberg, Germany.” Sean Chambers reads his grandfather’s diary and discovers in October 1944, Lt. Jack Chambers had been a part of a deadly top-secret mission where he and his platoon encountered a supernatural horror created by the Nazis.

Shadows in the Mist is both a war story inspired by my grandfather and a horror novel that explores the Nazis’ historical fascination with the Occult. It is based on true facts about Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the Waffen-SS, and his circle of Occultists who met secretly at the Wewelsburg Castle and practiced mystic rituals.

I was determined to create a platoon of misfits that people cared about. And for that to happen, Lieutenant Jack Chambers had to care about his men. So I made it his mission to do whatever it takes to get his men out of the Hürtgen Forest alive. They call themselves “the Lucky Seven” because as a unit they have survived so many combats together. They believe that they are charmed with some kind of strange luck. Two of them, Private Hoffer and Private Finch, are comic book writers. They believe that the Lucky Seven are invincible soldiers destined to be super heroes. They’ve all become superstitious. Each platoon member carries a good-luck charm and they do a ritual before every battle. Lieutenant Chambers believes his good luck comes from the silver watch his father gave him before he died. My grandfather gave me a silver pocket watch when I was young, and I cherished it.

I finished writing Shadows in the Mist a few years ago and now it’s published. My grandfather read the book and told me it brought back a lot of memories for him. He suddenly began sharing his personal war stories with my family. I learned that while training to be a pilot in England he roomed with Norman Rockwell’s nephew “Rocky” and enjoyed riding bicycles around London with the other pilots. They called Captain Dawson Moreland by his nickname “Hank.” He flew C-47s and dropped paratroopers over Normandy during the D-Day invasion. Thirty years after that day I was a curious kid in the cellar with my grandfather, he finally pulled out his World War II photos and showed them to me.

My grandparents, Dawson and Alma Moreland

Dawson posing in front of his house before heading off to war

This is my grandfather’s first plane, nicknamed “Dabo” after my grandmother, whom he always called “Bo.” During the war, my grandfather got sick and spent a few days in a hospital in England. While he was grounded, another pilot flew “Dabo” into battle and got shot down. The Army found my grandfather’s parachute with “Moreland” on it and assumed he was dead, so they sent a letter to my grandmother telling her that Dawson had been killed in combat. When he found out the Army’s mistake, he sent a letter to Alma assuring that he was very much alive.

Captain Dawson Moreland (far right) standing with his crew

During the present-day portion of my novel, Jack Chambers’ grandson, Sean, flies to Germany. While riding in an airplane, Sean examines the mysterious war diary his grandfather had written. A photo of a platoon slides out. On the back is written “the Lucky Seven” and the names of each platoon member.

Lieutenant Jack Chambers

Master Sergeant John Mahoney

Sergeant Buck Parker

Corporal Duece Wilson

Pfc. Gabe Finch

Pfc. Rafe Hoffer

Pfc. Miguel Garcia

While writing and researching my novel, this fictitious platoon became like a “band of brothers” to me. My grandfather shared that in addition to being a pilot, he had done some routine field training. He showed me this photo of his unit. It looked identical to the photo I had imagined in Jack Chambers’ diary. When I counted seven soldiers in the photo, I got goosebumps.

My grandfather is standing in the center.

In my book, Jack Chambers’ war diary reveals where a secret Nazi relic is buried in a German graveyard. By strange coincidence, life began to imitate fiction in 2008 as a relic from my grandfather’s past resurfaced. Two months before his 90th birthday, he received a phone call that his long lost airplane “the Snafu Special” had been found in Sarajevo, Bosnia. A French soldier found the Douglas C-47 parked at an airbase. Riddled with bullet holes from the Bosnian war, the plane had been abandoned in a snowfield. Curators from a D-Day museum in Normandy identified “the Snafu Special,” because the C-47’s tail number was still intact.

The WWII relic might have been lost forever had it not been for a team of French enthusiasts who were determined to rescue the plane and return it to the battery museum in Merville, Normandy. Against all odds, the members of Team SNAFU, along with French and American diplomats, convinced the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina to donate the plane to France. French engineers then disassembled the Snafu, loaded it up on three trucks, and transported the plane all the way from Bosnia to Normandy. Once it arrived at the museum in Merville, the curators restored the aircraft to its original glory and veiled it for a ceremony on June 7th.

My grandfather, being one of only two surviving pilots to fly “the Snafu Special,” was invited to return to Normandy to be honored with his airplane. My family and I got to go with him.

For a week that I will never forget, we attended several events that featured him as the honored guest. We visited the Merville Battery Museum where his Douglas C-47 is on display. Above, I’m standing (left) with my father, Keith, and grandfather.

The French media treated Captain Dawson Moreland like a celebrity, snapping photo after photo. He did several interviews for the local news and a French documentary about his airplane. Everywhere we went my grandfather was thanked for helping liberate France from the Germans who occupied the beach towns of Normandy back in 1944.

Many of the local French people were brought to tears by his presence and asked for autographs. When I asked him how he felt about the French treating him like a hero, he said, “I was never welcomed anywhere as great as I am over here.”

Together we toured D-Day museums, saw the Normandy beaches, and walked through the fields of white crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. I could see that reflecting back on history was allowing my grandfather a chance to see the war from a new perspective. Surrounded by fields where paratroopers landed over sixty years ago, my grandfather began to open up and share his war stories. As a lead pilot in the 95th Squadron, he touched a part of history that involved missions in Africa, the Normandy invasion on D-Day, Operation Market-Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. He dropped off paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne, including the Easy Company depicted in Stephen Ambrose’s book and HBO series Band of Brothers. My grandfather’s squadron also dropped off the infamous Dirty Dozen and delivered supplies to General Patton and carried out POW’s.

My grandfather’s Douglas C-47, “the Snafu Special,” is a historical relic that brought together diplomats from France, Bosnia, Herzegovina, the United Kingdom, and the United States, among them the U.S. Ambassador to France. On June 7th, the Merville Battery Museum unveiled “The Snafu Special” as a new exhibit and honored my grandfather in a historical ceremony. My eyes whelped with tears as I watched him climb up into the plane and wave back to the hundreds of people applauding him. Below, you can watch a 7-minute clip from a documentary I made of my grandfather’s ceremony.

YouTube : Unveiling the Snafu Special

After we returned home, I asked him what it was like seeing his plane after all these years, he said, “It was good to sit in the cockpit again.” My grandfather earned seven medals. He would never call himself a hero. To him, he was a pilot just doing his job.

In my novel, Jack Chambers misses his platoon who vanished mysteriously over sixty years ago. His grandson reads the war diary and learns his secret past. Like life imitating fiction, my grandfather finally shared his stories after sixty years of silence, and I finally got to know the secret history of the man and war hero I had always looked up to.

To honor my grandfather, I dedicated Shadows in the Mist to him. One of my most cherished moments is when the novel released and my grandfather joined me for my first book signing and autographed books alongside me. As of Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2012, he is alive and well at age 94.

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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 2013. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online and join his mailing list at http://www.brianmoreland.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland

Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1150022.Brian_Moreland

Brian’s Horror Fiction blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

Coaching for Writers blog:  http://www.coachingforwriters.blogspot.com

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