Tag Archive | Stephen King

Best Beach Read of 2019

Now that I’ve survived the move and am settling into the new lair, it’s time to get back to readin’ and writin’. To that end, I’m 50 pages into my next novel for Flame Tree Press, titled MISFITS. I just finished writing the latest chapter early this morning. Brutal stuff, believe me.

I also plowed through Stephen King’s DUMA KEY, which reminded me so much of Hemingway’s ISLANDS IN THE STREAM that I feel compelled to dig through boxes and find my battered copy.

But the book that I devoured like a starving man at a crab boil was CLAWS by Russell James and published by Severed Press, the king of monster adventure. I’m here to tell you that CLAWS is my definitive, best beach read of the summer!

claws

I mean, look at that cover. Remind you of anything? 🙂 CLAWS has all of the B movie, chomp-stomping action I want in a page turning yarn while I sit under the hot sun. Russell James has knocked it out of the park and deep into the Atlantic Ocean with this one. I can’t recommend it enough, though I am trying. As we colorfully say in my neighborhood, this is the motherfucking shit.

About the book : 

National Park Service Rangers Kathy West and Nathan Toland are the only ones stationed at Fort Jefferson, a restored Civil War fort sixty miles off Key West, Florida. Two overnight campers go missing, but before the rangers can investigate, shady Homeland Security agent Glen Larsson arrives to close the park due to a purportedly imminent red tide.

Things quickly escalate out of control when mercenaries arrive to back up Larsson and imprison the rangers. Larsson’s plan is to free a cast of giant crabs to overrun the park, and then Florida beyond.

It’s up to Kathy and Nathan to escape the fort, and then, with the help of an old Coast Guard vet and a scientist with inside knowledge of the plot, to save millions of innocents from rampaging giant crabs. But Larsson’s evil plan has been decades in the making, and the crabs seem indestructible. It will take courage, teamwork, and perhaps the ultimate sacrifice, to avert disaster.

Now stop wasting time reading blogs, liking Instagram pics and trying to find a one night stand on Tinder and buy Claws now! 

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The Jersey Devil Gets The Publishers Weekly Seal of Approval

As my British friends would say, I’m always gobsmacked when I see a review of one of my books in Publishers Weekly. I mean, isn’t that the magazine that reviews real books? Not books about monsters, unless Stephen King wrote it. (and on a side note, who else is dying for King to tackle a new monster?)

My first Pinnacle book, The Montauk Monster, was called one of the best reads of the summer by PW back in 2014. Well, it’s two years and another cryptid/monster book later. Here’s what they had to say about THE JERSEY DEVIL

Shea  delivers a tense and intriguing work of escalating tension splattered with a clever, extensive cast of bystanders turned victims.

Jersey Devil Cover

Fans will appreciate the call-outs to his other work, and fans of cryptid creatures are likely to revel in this love letter to a legendary menace.

I looked over on GoodReads, where all us rabid readers loiter about, and it’s getting lots of love from the folks who have gotten an early preview of the book.

The Jersey Devil officially comes out on August 30th. If you’d like me to appear for a signing near you, contact me at huntershea1@gmail.com or via comment here and I’ll see what I can do.

And just for gits and shiggles, I’ll give away a signed copy of The Montauk Monster to a random responder to this post.

Enjoy the summer while it lasts. Because darkness is coming, and there be monsters lurking within…

An Interview with DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET’S Adam Howe

You all may have heard of Adam Howe. He’s the dude who won Stephen King’s On Writing contest. Not only is he one hell of a writer (approved by the Pope of Terror himself), he’s also screamingly funny. It’s an honor to have him on the blog and chain for you Hellions to enjoy!


Your latest book, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, contains 3 novellas that got my motor humming the moment I read the synopsis. As a guy who wrote a novella about skunk apes, please tell me your inspiration for the tale, Damn Dirty Apes (and now I can’t get Charlton Heston’s voice out of my head).

I’d read about the ‘furry’ subculture – people cosplaying as animals – and the sub-subculture of ‘furry’ pornography. Who are we to judge, right?

So my starting point for Damn Dirty Apes was the image of a bunch of rednecks making a ‘furry’ fuck flick in the backwoods when the leading man, wearing a ‘provocative’ baboon costume, is abducted as a mate by a randy skunk ape.

An overused trope, I know, but I hoped I could breathe fresh life into it.

From there, I imagined a misfit posse – including a ‘heroic’ strip club bouncer in the Jack Burton mould, a wannabe porn starlet, the porn shoot’s director (also the town drunk), and a self-proclaimed skunk ape hunter – embarking on safari to rescue their friend from the beast.

adam howe cover I saw the piece as a redneck Jaws; the style would be somewhere between 80s action/adventure and Looney Tunes. I chose a skunk ape as my ‘monster,’ as opposed to the more familiar Bigfoot or Sasquatch, because it fit my Southern redneck locale, and I felt that skunk apes had been woefully underused in creature fiction. Of course, I was soon to discover why this is.

While researching skunk apes, I stumbled across an article in the Fortean Times relating to notorious hominologist, the late Gerard Hauser, author of the seminal work, ‘Among the Skunk Apes of the North American South: One Man’s Journey of Self-Discovery,’ and Hauser’s doomed final expedition in the Arkansan sticks, in which a amateur cryptozoologist lost his life when he stepped into a hominid snare. In Hauser, I’d discovered a real-life Captain Ahab on whom to base my skunk ape hunter character, Jameson T. Salisbury.

On completing the story, I thought it might make a refreshing change from the norm to request an endorsement from a more unusual source than a fellow author, and contacted Mr. Lambert Pogue, General Secretary for the Society of the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape. Unfortunately, Mr. Pogue failed to see the humour in the story, and objected to my fictional skunk ape hunter, Jameson T. Salisbury, whom he recognized as a caricature of his late friend and colleague, Gerard Hauser. Mr. Pogue proceeded to rally a small army of cryptozoologists in the Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Skunk Ape fields – typically sworn enemies, as you know – who besieged my publisher with angry calls for my head, and demanded the book be embargoed. Fortunately, I was able to placate Mr. Pogue with a groveling apology and a modest donation to the S.P.N.A.S.A. The embargo was lifted, and Mr. Pogue even kindly provided the somewhat terse disclaimer that opens the story, Damn Dirty Apes.

As the author of Swamp Monster Massacre, I imagine you’ve had your own dealings with Mr. Pogue and the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape. Of course, I’ll understand if you don’t wish to discuss such matters on a public forum, and risk reigniting hostilities with them. I only wish I’d known you before making my damn-fool approach to the S.P.N.A.S.A. You could have warned me to leave well enough alone! I would strongly advise other authors to carefully consider the repercussions before writing skunk ape literature. To paraphrase Pet Sematary, “Sometimes ‘squatch is better.”

 

I have to ask, as a winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, how did it feel to get the gold ring? And since then, have you had any communication with our Overlord and Master?

I’ll give your American readers some background on this. To promote the release of On Writing, King’s UK publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, and The Guardian newspaper, ran a short story contest that was open to entrants worldwide, with the exception of the States. (I don’t know why you guys were excluded.) The brief was to write a ‘Stephen King-style’ short story, with the winning story to be chosen by King, and published in the first-edition paperback of On Writing. (The story has since been republished in the Kindle version.) The winner would also be granted an audience with The King. Not too shabby, right?

Now, this was way back around 2000, a rocky period in my life. I’d recently dropped out of university, my girlfriend had dumped me, I was out of work, and living back home with my folks – not a happy guy. I was seriously doubting my abilities as a writer, and for the first time, considered quitting.

Then I won the contest.

Like so many other genre writers, King’s voice was the first I really connected with, so for this Constant Reader, having my work validated by King – not to mention being published in his book, meeting the man – was beyond a dream come true; for me, it didn’t get any bigger or better. For the rest of my writing career, I might achieve more, but I’ll be hard pressed to top that moment, and the elation (and relief) I felt.

Of course, I was young and dumb enough to believe I’d ‘arrived.’ Which wasn’t the case. It was many years before I was published again. But I’ve never thought about quitting again, no matter how times I’ve been kicked in the heart by this writing lark. Looking back, I think ‘someone’ was looking out for me; that I won the contest just to keep me in The Game; a guardian angel who knew that, one day, I would reward the world with a skunk ape noir novella. You’re welcome.

I haven’t seen or spoken to King since. When I met him, he did give me his contact details, but can you believe it, I lost ‘em! Probably just as well. Within a few years of getting my ‘break,’ I developed a drinking problem that quickly spiraled down into full-blown alcoholism. Chances are I’d have embarrassed myself by writing a heartfelt ‘Dear Steve’ letter. I’m happy to say I’ve got my shit together now. It’d be great to speak to him again, if only to let him know he picked a good horse, and that I’m doing OK.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb assuming you’re a B-movie fan. What are some of your favorites? And what movie script do you wish you’d written?

I’m a film fiend in general, but yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for late 20th century B-movies. Not that cynical Sharknado shit churned out today by the likes of SyFy and the Asylum. My go-to periods are 70s crime, 80s action, 70s/80s horror. I like to think I write B-movie plots with A-list intentions. Steven Spielberg once said, after making Duel and Jaws, he was worried about being typed as a director of “truck and shark” pictures. I’d be happy to be typed as a “truck and shark” writer. (I’ve yet to write my truck and shark books; maybe I’ll just combine the two, SHARK TRUCKER, write it on a cocktail napkin and sell it to SyFy.)

It’s hard to pick a favourite screenplay. Screenplays are an ever-evolving medium, and the text rarely matches what makes it to the screen. As much as Jaws is one of my favourite films, for instance, it ain’t my favourite script. In my early teens, I reviewed scripts for a UK-based mail order company supplying produced screenplays to colleges, writers, film geeks and the like. The first screenwriter I really connected with was Shane Black, who penned Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and a whole other bunch of B-classics. He’s one of the rare few screenwriters whose text often DOES make it intact to the screen. Black remains a big influence on my style. I also dig David Webb Peoples’s work, especially Unforgiven. If you can find it, you should check out his 1987 draft for the unproduced Sgt. Rock movie that Joel Silver had lined up for Schwarzenegger. Would’ve made a helluva movie.

It’d be cool to be able to say, “I wrote Roadhouse.” You could carve the line “A polar bear fell on me” on my headstone.

 

Say you were banned from writing horror. What genre would you hop over to and why? And remember, Bigfoot erotica is on the table.

Who’s to say I don’t already write Bigfoot erotica under a pseudonym? Clearly you’ve never read my 50 Shades of ‘Squatch series? If I was banned from writing horror – and it’s definitely possible, the horror community seems unusually prickly and conformist right now – I guess I’d just sidestep into crime. A life of crime, I mean; pays better than writing. I don’t consider myself strictly a horror writer. Or even a crime writer, for that matter. The writer whose philosophy I most admire is the Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale. Joe resists genre labels and categorizes himself as a writer of ‘Lansdale’ fiction. That’s my aim: To write my own stuff and be my own man, and hope that readers join me on the ride.

 

As you were working to get the ol’ writing career started, what’s the one piece of advice you wish you’d ignored?

I never had a mentor, so any writing advice came from reading interviews with writers I admired, and of course, On Writing, which is the writers’ bible.

After winning the contest, I landed an agent and embarked on a ‘career’ as a screenwriter, with so-so success – I had a few original features optioned, scraped a few bucks rewriting/doctoring/butchering other writers’ work, but nothing I wrote ever made it to the screen. The agent was forever pushing me to follow market trends, which is impossible; by the time you’ve written to trend, the market’s moved on. As the screenwriter William Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything.”

When I met Stephen King, and told him I planned to be a screenwriter, he made a jack-off gesture, and advised me to “write a fucking novel.” That was advice I should have taken. I’m still yet to write my fucking novel – I really dig the novella format – but I’m working on it.

 

What’s coming up next and what is the best way for folks to follow you and your wild imagination?

I’m putting the finishing touches to Tijuana Donkey Showdown, the sequel to Damn Dirty Apes, which continues the misadventures (prolongs the misery) of my boxer turned bouncer and hapless hero, Reggie Levine. No skunk apes in this one – lesson learned, I’m not fucking with the S.P.N.A.S.A. again – although (spoiler alert!) the chupacabra makes an appearance, as does Nicolas Cage, in an explosive cameo.

I’m also collaborating on a horror/crime project with Adam Cesare, which we’re pitching as Michael Mann’s Public Enemies meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. Hopefully we can have that one ready to rock early next year.

Beyond that, my partner and I are expecting our first child in July so I’ll be off the grid for a while. Assuming I survive the experience, and don’t reinvent myself as a children’s author, I’ll be back in ’17 with some new twisted shit.

Die Dog or Eat The Hatchet tour graphic


Follow along this tour with the hashtags: #DieDogorEattheHatchet #DieDog #AdamHowe #OnWriting #HookofaBook

Tune into all the stops on the tour at the publicity page: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/die-dog-or-eat-the-hatchetadam-howe-publicity-page/

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Synopsis

  • Publication Date: Nov. 2, 2015
  • Publisher: Comet Press
  • Publication Length: 250 pages

From Adam Howe, winner of Stephen King’s “On Writing” short story contest, comes three original novellas of hardboiled crime, graphic horror and pitch-black gallows humor.

DAMN DIRTY APES

Washed-up prizefighter Reggie Levine is eking a living as a strip club bouncer when he’s offered an unlikely shot at redemption. The Bigelow Skunk Ape – a mythical creature said to haunt the local woods – has kidnapped the high school football mascot, Boogaloo Baboon. Now it’s up to Reggie to lead a misfit posse including a plucky stripper, the town drunk, and legend-in-his-own-mind skunk ape hunter Jameson T. Salisbury. Their mission: Slay the beast and rescue their friend. But not everything is as it seems, and as our heroes venture deeper into the heart of darkness, they will discover worse things waiting in the woods than just the Bigelow Skunk Ape. The story the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape tried to ban; Damn Dirty Apes mixes Roadhouse with Jaws with Sons of Anarchy, to create a rollicking romp of 80s-style action/adventure, creature horror and pitch-black comedy.

DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET

Escaped mental patient Terrence Hingle, the butcher of five sorority sisters at the Kappa Pi Massacre, kidnaps timid diner waitress Tilly Mulvehill and bolts for the border. Forcing his hostage to drive him out of town, it’s just a question of time before Tilly becomes the next victim in Hingle’s latest killing spree. But when they stop for gas at a rural filling station operated by deranged twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Ritter, the tables are turned on Hingle, and for Tilly the night becomes a hellish cat-and-mouse ordeal of terror and depravity. The meat in a maniac sandwich, Tilly is forced against her nature to make a stand and fight for survival. Because sometimes the only choice you have is to do or die…to Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet.

GATOR BAIT

Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man’s wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin’ Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense.

Listen to this sample reading from the book over at YouTube from the folks at Manor House:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cKt_Y9CwO4

Biography

adamhowe.jpgAdam Howe writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. A British writer of fiction and screenplays, he lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the On Writing contest, and published in the paperback/Kindle editions of SK’s book; he was also granted an audience with The King, where they mostly discussed slow vs. fast zombies. His fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, The Horror Library, Mythic Delirium, Plan B Magazine, and One Buck Horror. He is the author of two collections, Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, plus the eBook single, Gator Bait. Future works include Tijuana Donkey ShowdownOne Tough Bastard, and a crime/horror collaboration with Adam Tribesmen Cesare.

Find him on Twitter at @Adam_G_Howe.

Praise for Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet

“It’s an explicit, hard-hitting, twisted funhouse ride into pulpish horror wrapped loosely in a tattered skein of irreverent, jet black humor. In short, it’s a freakin’ blast.” –Walt Hicks, author of Dirge of the Forgotten

“With Die Dog Or Eat the Hatchet, Adam Howe hasn’t written one of my favorite books of the year, he’s actually written three of my favorites. Stories that are tight, toned, and genre-confounding. Horror fans and crime fans are going to come to blows over who gets to claim Howe as one of their own, but they’re both going to be wrong because Howe’s his own thing.” – Adam Cesare, author of Tribesmen and Mercy House

“The recipe for Adam Howe’s DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is: Two parts Joe Lansdale, One part Justified, and a heavy dose of WTF. The result is a swampy cocktail darker than any backwoods hayride, stronger than the meanest Sasquatch, and crazier than anything you’ll find chicken-fried at your local state fair.”—Eryk Pruitt, author of Hashtag and Dirtbags

“Adam Howe proves with the three stories in this book that he can basically write anything. And write it very well indeed. To summarise: A three novella collection that you absolutely must have in your collection. I give this one the highest possible recommendation that I can.” -Nev, Confessions of a Reviewer

“Adam Howe’s “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet,” is equal parts terror and fun, his dark comedic voice dances through each of the works in this collection to create engaging stories filled with bars, dames, rabid dogs, and an ape with one hell of a right hook.”(Nathan Crazybear/Splatterpunk Zine)

“Once again this author has sucked me into the darkness of his stories and unleashed the twisted, disgusting and stomach churning madness that I come to expect. In fact, I would have been very disappointed if this book was not even more mind-blowing than Black Cat Mojo. And he did not disappoint. Hats off to Mr Howe for creating this magnificent novella of pure horror. I would definitely recommend this to readers of horror and make sure you buckle up as you will be in for the most twisted ride of your life!” -Crime Book Junkie

“I’m pretty certain that whatever genre you like to read, be it pulp, noir, horror, anything really, you will find something to enjoy here. It’s fast paced, action packed and brilliantly written. Comet Press has got a diamond on their hands! 5 stars” -Adrian Shotbolt

Purchase Links

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

 

Want to Feature Adam Howe?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Adam Howe, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

 

Top 10 Horror Reads of 2015

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

the hauntedLittle 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

video nightOh 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

darkness risingHands 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

Little GirlsThis 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 borderThe 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

mr mercedesI 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

Cover designLansdale 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

Lords of TwilightYou 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

jaggerCujo 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.


 

  1. THE HUNGER SERIES by Jason Brant

brantI 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!

 

 

 

 

HELL HOLE Excerpt : What Lies Beneath

Greetings from sunny New York where the crime rises with the humidity in July. Fear not for me. I’m safe in my air conditioned lair, my killer cat always on the lookout for dangerous interlopers.

It’s been a wild month and a half with 2 books coming out one after the other. THE MONTAUK MONSTER is flying off the shelves and devouring the beach read competition. I’ll be talking all things Montauk and monsters up in Maine a week from now. I have a signing at Bridgton Books (Bridgton is a town Stephen King once lived in and penned some great books) on Friday, July 25th from 1-3pm.

I’ll also be at the North Bridgton Library to talk writing and have a fun Q&A on Tuesday, July 22 at 7pm. I’ll make sure I have all of my books on hand.

OK, now let’s get down to HELL HOLE. I wrote this western/horror for my father last year because he was such a fan of westerns. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could read the finished product, but I sense he has his copy up there in the great beyond. HELL HOLE is just one of several horror westerns that Samhain will be publishing this year, along with Jonathan Janz’s excellent western vampire, DUST DEVIL’S. It’s strange how we all decided to head out west at the same time without talking amongst ourselves about it.

HellHole

 

Mine is a little different because it’s set in Wyoming in 1905, a couple of decades after the real wild west’s heyday. But it does have an old cowboy, Rough Riders, Teddy Roosevelt, a creepy abandoned mine, black-eyed kids, ghosts, wild men, Djinn and a hell of a lot more. And I’d be remiss if I left out a half-Mexican beauty named Selma. To whet your whistle, I’ve posted a little excerpt below. Take a gander and make the trip to Hecla, Wyoming with me, where things are never what they seem. Info on getting your own copy is on the BOOKS tab.


 

It didn’t take long to circumnavigate the hills, even taking it as slow as we did. By noon, it felt like the sun was sitting on the brim of my Stetson. We were about to call it a day when Selma pulled up her horse and barked, “Look over here! What is that?”

Peering down, I saw a footprint of some kind. It was made by someone that had been barefoot because you could make out all the toes. Odd thing about it was that there were only four toes.

And it was big. Longer and wider than any foot I’d ever seen.

“There’s another one over here,” Teta said.

About seven feet to the north of the first track was another. All told, we found six of them, though only two were deep enough to retain any kind of definition.

Que demonios?” Teta said, whistling as he walked around them. “I never saw a foot that damn big.”

I jumped off my horse and bent down to get a closer look.

“Awfully wide,” I said.

“You can see there’s a right foot and a left foot,” Selma said, pointing to the nearest set.

“And only four toes on each,” Teta added.

“Let me see something, try to gauge the size.” I put my boot next to the footprint. It was bigger than mine by a good five or six inches, and I wore a size twelve.

Selma said, “Maybe it’s an old footprint. Time in the elements just wore it enough so it looks bigger than it is.”

Tracing my fingers in and around the best print, I shook my head. “Nope. This one’s fresh. Couple of days old at the most. The ground up here is too dry to keep a print for long, even one that’s as deep as this. Had to have been someone awfully heavy to make it.”

“How do you know that?” she asked.

“He did this for a living, long time ago, back before you were born,” Teta said with a wry smile.

“Then you think it’s real?”

“The print is,” I replied. “Can’t tell you about the person that made it. Hard to imagine a man big enough to leave a print like that. Maybe he was wearing some weird kind of boot. Could be ceremonial for one of the local tribes. Not every Indian is on a rez. I hear there are still Cheyenne and Crow about.”

I’d seen Apaches wear some peculiar stuff during their ceremonies. It wasn’t hard to imagine an Indian sporting something like this, though the depth of the impression bothered me. Could have been a man with someone on his shoulders.

“But why would someone do such a thing?”

“I’m just a white man. It’s hard for me to get into the head of an Indian. They have different dances and different ways of dressing for everything you can imagine. I’ve heard of some that believe in a wild man of the mountains. It’s kind of like some big, hairy bear that’s also part man. He’s said to be taller than any man, stronger than an angry bison and faster than a mountain lion.”

“Do you believe in it?”

Teta gave a quick laugh and I cut it off with a sharp look.

“No, I don’t. But they do. And when they believe hard in something, they do their damnedest to make themselves look like it. What this tells me is what I’ve thought all along. We have some rogue Indians out here keeping the white men away from their hills.”

The first cool breeze of the day whispered through the trees and shook the brittle leaves. It sounded like small bones rattling in a jug.

Teta instinctively placed his palm on the handle of his Colt. “Suddenly, I don’t like being here with so much cover.”

“Me neither. Let’s get back to camp. I have to rethink things.”

Selma was quick to mount. Her head swiveled from side to side, anticipating danger everywhere. Poor girl had no experience with things like this. I had a good mind to bring her back to her father myself in the morning.

We had only gotten a few feet from the tracks when a piercing howl erupted behind us. My insides went numb. All three horses reared.

I hoped to hell we didn’t get bucked.

Not with whatever was at our backs close enough to raise the hairs on our heads.

Travelogue of a Novel

So often, writers give advice on how to write (or not write) a book. It’s high-time someone gave a glimpse into where to bang those keys for your next novel.

The answer is simple – you can write anywhere! There’s no need to wait until you have that perfect ‘study’ with the mahogany desk, shelves lined with important books, bay window overlooking Mother Nature in all her glory. If you want to write, if the words just have to come out of you like that little guy from Alien, you’ll write anywhere you can. SinisterEntity_v3

My latest novel, Sinister Entity, was written all over the place. In a year’s time, I worked on it everywhere from New York, to Pennsylvania and Maine. I worked mornings, afternoons, nights, basically any time I could steal away to purge the story from my mind.

I started in the corner of my bedroom I call my office. Here is where I’m surrounded by all my stuff, the things that make me comfortable, my reference materials, signed pics of Elvira, yadda yadda yadda.

Home office

About a dozen chapters in, we went with my family to our annual trip to the Poconos. I woke up early every day to write downstairs in the living room and kitchen (which had a great view of the sunrise, by the way).

shawnee

Then it was back to the home office. Before we knew it, summer hit and it was time to go camping, our my family’s version of camping that involves a cabin with cable TV, a full kitchen and shower. Again, I mostly worked mornings on the porch, smelling the surrounding forest and flicking dew drops and strange bugs from the screen.

Jellystone 2

That was a special year because we took 2 vacations. The second was to my home away from home and favorite place in the world, Maine. I wrote all times of the day, either on the back porch or by the lake. It’s especially cool and inspiring to write a horror novel in the very same town where Stephen King penned a few of his own.

Maine porch

Now all I had was the last fourth of the book to go. And after so many tranquil locations, where did I end up? My cramped kitchen, of course. Not sure why it is, but I seem to write best there. Go figure.

Kitchen

I also did some writing in an airport during a four hour flight delay and made quite a few trips to the library to tap out a few hundred words here and there. The thing is, I wrote wherever I was at the time. I didn’t have time to wait for the perfect moment or place. I simply wrote.

Now go out there and create!

Getting off the Island : Writing Life Rafts

When it comes to writing, we often feel like we’re on a desert island. Some days, we’d love to run into Gilligan just to have someone to talk to. We chose this path, and we have to go it alone (cue The Hulk walking away music).

Yes, writing is a solo endeavor, but you can get a helping hand from time to time. A lot of people don’t know where to turn. Here are a few reference materials that will not only walk alongside you, but also help you get to your destination. Being a horror writer, I’m going to come at this from that genre’s angle, but this is really for everyone.

Inspiration/Self Help

There are so many writing self-help books out there, you can spend a lifetime reading them and never getting any actual writing done. In my 20 years of writing, I’ve found two books have helped me more than any others. The first, naturally, is Stephen Kings On Writing. There’s no magic here, just good homespun advice that you a put into practice right away, The second is Errnest Hemingway on Writing. The man changed the way people read and write. Learn at his feet.

On_Writing

Writing References

I know that every english teacher will tell you Strunk and White is a necessity. I have my copy sitting on my shelf, but it has enough dust on it to choke a horse. I much prefer Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words. Not only will he teach you the difference between affect and effect, but he’ll amuse you as he guides you along.

Bill Bryson

Submitting Your Work

For my money, there’s really only on place to go, and that’s the Writer’s Market. I prefer the online version to the biblically sized print because it stays current and won’t strain your arm. Here you’ll find agents, publishers, magazines and guidelines for submission.

For a horror writer, you can also join the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) and persuse all of the genre specific materials they have on archive.

Marketing Your Work

And you thought all you had to do was write! 🙂 Marketing and promotion are a large chunk of every writer’s life. Learn how to do it best by picking up any of Kristen Lamb’s books, We Are Not Alone : The Guide to Social Media or Are You There Blog? : It’s Me, Writer. I’ve read more books on the subject than I can recall. These 2 short books are all you need. She gives tips that work the moment you put them in place. Great stuff.

Knowing Your Genre

I know I’ve said this a million times, but you can’t expect to be a writer if you don’t read…a lot. So if you’re a horror writer like me, you need to read as much as you can get your hands on. Know what works, what sells, where the genre is going, where it’s been. I know there are a lot of Leisure horror fans that were crestfallen, like me, when they went under. The good news is that a lot of those writers are putting out books with my publisher, Samhain, because that’s where editor superstar Don D’Auria has set up shop. But make sure you read in other genres as well. Being well rounded only makes you a better writer.

See, short and sweet. No need to be bogged down with books and organizations to follow, but at least you know there’s help out there. We don’t need Professor to get off the island from time to time.

What are some of your favorite writing themed books? What’s worked best for you?

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