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Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

Infernal

Looking into the mirror, my eyes were bloodshot. Of course they were bloodshot, what did I expect having only slept four hours in the last three days? It was getting to be a pattern and it was starting to take a toll on me. My fluff of a ragdoll cat, Jekyll, stopped midway through weaving himself around my ankles and looked up lovingly at me—his soft mew broke my trance.

“I’m coming Jekyll, you’ve got to let me brush my teeth!” My toothbrush hung lazily in my mouth and I found it difficult to keep from drooling on my clean pajama top—thank god I was single. I caught my eyes again in the mirror before I turned the hot water handle, rinsed off my toothbrush, and spit. There was blood in the sink again, Jesus—was I falling apart? My toothbrush made a hollow clunk as it hit the bottom of the toothbrush holder. When I opened the medicine cabinet, I was greeted by the same rainbow of pill bottles that was waiting for me every night. I emptied Tuesday’s compartment into my hand and tossed the array of antidepressants, vitamins, and sleeping pills back with a handful of water that I splashed up from the spigot. Here I was thinking that these were supposed to make me feel better, but the last few days had proven they weren’t working.

The water splashed down on Jekyll—that was when he let out a pitiful cry and jetted out of the bathroom. I sighed, it was laborious and made my back creak; my shoulders stung with the pain of exhaustion. For a moment, I could have sworn I caught a whiff of smoke, but it was gone as soon as it had appeared. I hastily closed the medicine cabinet, but as the mirror swung closed with a snap, I looked back up at my reflection and my eyes succumbed to my exhaustion. It lived on my face as the puffy purpling bags under my eyes—a desperation for sleep, filled the void within me. When I finally opened my eyes again, I caught a glimpse of something over my shoulder in the mirror, I felt myself start, but before I could even think I had spun around to face—nothing. Just empty space. It felt like the entirety of the Kentucky Derby was stampeding across my chest, the wind was knocked clean out of me. There wasn’t anything there. You’re seeing things, Lorna. Dr. Mason said hallucinations were a possible side effect. Calm down.

I shuffled out of the bathroom and flicked the light switch off behind me. Just seeing things. My feet scuffed the floor in my outrageously fluffy panda slippers and I flopped down into the tangled mass of plush blankets and nest of pillows I had made for myself. Jekyll made his usual rounds after hopping up on the bed, being sure to step down with what seemed the weight of a small child on my stomach before he settled contentedly between my ankles and I drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

It couldn’t have been more than a few hours later when I jerked awake, my tangled hair at the back of my neck soaked in sweat. I had been startled awake by a loud crash that had come from my bathroom. I yelled out at Jekyll, with what I’m sure was more than a few choice swear words, but he stood up at my feet, stretched, and answered me with a trill. My breath caught uncomfortably in my chest and it churned relentlessly with the loud thud of my accelerated pulse. My eyes burned with exhaustion as I made a feeble attempt to see through the inky blackness of my room. I still hadn’t let out that breath. It didn’t feel safe to, not yet.

“Hello?” I heard how shaky my voice was as it came out of me. Yes, Lorna—the killer stalking around your house is totally going to answer you and tell you that they’re there. I reached over to my bedside lamp—CLICKwhatCLICK, CLICKwhy isn’t my lamp turning on? Rummaging through my nightstand drawer revealed a dusty flashlight, prayer aided it being brought back to life despite the likelihood of corroded batteries. If I was going to be murdered in my own home, I would rather see it coming. My bare feet met the cold laminate flooring, a shudder ran through my body, and I felt around for my slippers. My spotlight was fixed on the open bathroom door and I felt as if my eyes were bulging right out of my skull. Any moment, I was sure that I would see someone dashing from the shadows and persistent nausea met that paranoia with gusto.

By the time I had padded silently over to the bathroom door, I felt silly—the emptiness glared back at me like an innocuous April Fool’s joke. I don’t know what I had expected to be there, or what I would have done if there had been something there, for that matter. My exasperation gave me a false confidence and I was just about to turn to go back to bed when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the shower curtain rustle and heard the rings clatter against the tension rod. If I had known how to juggle, I might have caught the flashlight as it leaped out of my hand. I rolled my eyes at my apprehension and snatched the flashlight off of the floor. You’re way too high strung for your own good. It had to be the meds playing tricks on me. None of this was happening; no doubt, waking up in the morning would have me feeling foolish.

Just then, another calamitous crash came from down the hall and any renewed spirit I had gathered drained from me altogether. My knuckles must have turned white due to my vice-grip on the flashlight. Get it together Lorna. My other hand felt for the baseball bat that I had stashed behind my bedroom door. My palms were so sweaty that it felt as if they had been slicked with butter; suffice it to say, it made gripping the bat with any security quite difficult. After abandoning the flashlight on the dresser, I hefted the baseball bat over my shoulder and peeked out of my bedroom around the corner. Without the benefit of the flashlight in my hand, I struggled to see through the darkness of the hallway, but I had decided that if there was someone in my home they were going to get a fight.

I stepped down the hallway in silent trepidation, the clatter of drawers opening, closing, then opening again, and then a cacophony of silverware clattering to the floor. Each step brought me closer to the sinister orange glow that bathed the walls with flickering shadows. Another step and a sudden crash of my metal barstools caused me to jump so high I could have sworn my head brushed the ceiling. Paralyzed in fear, I grasped the baseball bat tightly to my chest and pressed myself against the wall, as if trying to make myself smaller. Go, Lorna, just go! I forced myself off of the wall and gripped the bat with new conviction, a surge of adrenaline propelled me forward and into the kitchen.

What I saw myself come face to face with was enough to elicit the kind of scream that clawed its way out from my gut. A figure of a man being devoured in flames stood hunched amid the destruction and spreading fire in my kitchen—wherever the flames danced upon his skin, the flesh hung off of him in charred strips. His black eyeless sockets turned to me, but my eyes were fixated on his twisted features, where the fire had melted his face it sagged off his jaw and exposed the charred bone beneath. I clutched the bat feebly as he rose to stand upright and began to slowly amble toward me.

My feet carried me backward, mirroring his footsteps and I saw that each step revealed scorched floorboards; I continued stepping back, unblinking, the heat dried my eyes, they began to burn. I heard a hiss at my feet but stumbled over Jekyll before I could register he was even there. The man lunged toward me and in a knee-jerk reaction, I swung the bat off of my shoulder with as much force as I could muster. I was stunned to find it only caught air on its way through the man’s form and adopted a fast-burning flame. The baseball bat burned like a torch as it sunk into the drywall on the other side of the figure. The flames spread up as if fed by gasoline and rage and before I knew it they blanketed the ceiling above me.

The man was unfazed by my assault, his arms still reached for me. Without hesitation, I scooped up a growling Jekyll and scrambled clumsily back through my bedroom door and slammed it behind me. He was squirming violently in my arms, his fearful anticipation brought his claws down hard into my shoulder, but I held him tighter as I witnessed that same orange glow filter in under the gap of my door. Shit, shit, shit… Smoke rose from under the door, flames soon followed and I felt the sharp edge of my bedside table bite the back of my bare thigh.

Fire consumed my door as if it was comprised of nitrate film—what the fuck—I couldn’t open my window fast enough and doing so while holding on to my wrathful ragdoll was practically impossible. He spit angrily at the combusting monstrosity that stepped through the curtain of fire that used to be my door. Fuck this. I gave my window a good shove and it let out a loud whine. Jekyll was the first through, but before I could follow an excruciating pain shot through my leg—and then I fell and everything went black.

When I came to, I was laying on my back and could feel the hard chill of the sidewalk beneath me. I could hear someone call, “she’s awake,” but I could only see blackness and the outlines of two people above me.

“Miss—,” I heard a deep husky voice and I knew it was addressing me, but I didn’t know how to make my body respond to it. “Miss—Jones?” Another figure appeared above me, and they all slowly came into focus. A police officer was addressing me abreast the two EMTs who then disappeared from my view—when I tried to sit up, they jumped to help me, and the dull ache in the back of my head became more pronounced.

Ten minutes went by and my eyes were still dry from being overwhelmed with smoke. I mindlessly clutched my singed and shaken blackened mop of a cat, his claws clung tentatively to the blanket I had draped over my shoulders. I was surprised they had found him at all. The cold curb bit at my exposed legs, but the heat radiating from the blaze behind me reminded me that I much preferred the cold at this very instant. I could hear as my roof cracked and caved in under the burden of the fast-moving fire. The insurance company is never going to believe this… I’m so screwed.

“Are you alright to speak with me now, Miss Jones?” The police officer was back to ask his questions. He probably thinks I did this myself. I blinked repeatedly until I was able to break my gaze away from the darkness across the street. When I finally was able to look up at him, I saw he was looking at me as if I were an escaped mental patient—the 911 operator had sent everything but the kitchen sink after a neighbor had called to report a scream and smoke coming from my home. I’ll have to find out who it was so I can thank them.

“What was it you said was the cause of the blaze?”

“I—I’m not sure.” It wasn’t entirely a lie if I didn’t know what the hell I had just seen in my home, was it?

“What happened right before the blaze broke out?”

“Sleep, I was sleeping, my cat woke me up and I was headed to the kitchen.” I still wasn’t technically lying.

“The ambulance is going to take you to the hospital to treat you for smoke inhalation and those burns on your ankles.” I had already had enough strange eyes on me tonight, so the idea of being under the watchful eye of strangers made me shiver. Even though I knew I would soon be laying in a hospital bed with a nurse dressing my wounds, I started to feel sick. It was a deep, relentless, twisting anxiety that told me the burning man may have gone up in flames with my home, but that it wouldn’t be the last time I saw him.

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Indie Horror

Interview with “Wretch” Producer Matthew Dunehoo

WRETCH tells the story of a young man with psychic gifts who is lured into the occult practice of “Enceladism” in an effort to cure his partner’s cancer.  His journey takes many uncanny twists as Nat tries to navigate an increasingly toxic environment while battling his nagging demons and attempting to “awaken to his higher purpose.”  

First off tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into film making? 

I grew up loving music and movies and my dream was to be a musician and actor.  A nightmarish experience with a high school drama teacher altered the acting course but I continued playing in bands and went on several tours with a number of bands, recording and releasing albums.  After I moved to NYC in 2007 I found my way back into acting and writing for the stage.  When I moved back home to Kansas City in 2013, disillusioned with the business of acting in NYC and the cost of living,  I continued acting locally and saw there was a whole community of people who were into making films.  So I decided to try and adapt part of a full-length stage play I had been developing with a theater company I was a part of, into a short film screenplay.  That screenplay became my first short film called NO MARGRETTES, filmed in 2015.   

What was the inspiration for the movie? 

When a family member was sick with cancer, they were advised by a friend to think of the cancer as a “demon inside their body.”  I thought this was a really disturbing idea and it captured the darker side of my imagination.  That sentiment alone seemed to hit on so many themes that have been a focal point of my writing, be it music, scripts or otherwise.  Abuse of power and influence by those we trust, confrontations with the violent and eccentric behavior of others, and the self-abuse of addiction were major inspirations as well.  I also continue to struggle with clinical anxiety and depression disorders and they inform my work daily.

What has been the biggest challenge in getting the film done? 

Bearing the financial burden has been insane and panic-inducing.  The film was self-financed by credit cards, which were all opened through a “small business financing” entity, basically a group that specializes in getting money to people who can’t get it through more traditional means (small business loan, rich friends/family or who knows where) through a process of credit cleanup, then opening 5-10 credit cards on your behalf all on the same day.  The idea is that you’ve got 0% interest on usage for an introductory term, I guess theoretically by the time those terms expire your “business” is bringing in revenue.  The whole thing was done in a state of delusion.  I wanted to try to make the most “professional” film I could, so the hard work everyone put in could be represented well.  I imagined a number I would be “comfortable” going into debt with to get it done. I wanted to make sure everyone who contributed to the film was compensated as fairly as possible and of course that initial number just kept ballooning and ballooning with unforeseen expense after expense.  I suppose I could have made it a lot easier on myself and written a script with two actors, one location, etc.  But Wretch was the first feature I wanted to make and I’m extremely proud of what all the cast and crew made happen with what we had to get it done.

Is this your first film and do you have any advice for new filmmakers?

Wretch is my first feature film.  My experience feels like a specific sort of experience in that I did not go to film school, nor had I logged significant hours on film sets be they short films or features, prior to undertaking the production for Wretch.  I’d made five shorts but those were all loose exercises of making it up as you go.  I could maybe offer advise to a particular kind of first-time feature filmmaker, those who are “doing it on their own” outside of any kind of established studio or production company and with no extensive background in filmmaking.  My first thought on advice would be if you’re trying to make a feature film as writer/director/producer, I would suggest vetting your script as hard as you can, as widely as you can, and being open to hearing where people are finding its perceived faults and strengths.  It takes time to read a script so try to do something nice for anyone who does, at least a legit thank you letter.  Get people to read it who you don’t know, acquaintances of friends.  We organized a table read of an early draft of Wretch in 2017 and had an extensive feedback session afterwards which was really illuminating.  I’ve learned so much about what needs to be happening in a script for it to have a chance to actually work once the production is actually underway, I hope that I’ll be able to become a better screenwriter and filmmaker after my experiences with Wretch.  

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I imagine you like horror a bit. What are a few recommendations for films or novel? 

I grew up in a fairly strict religious household and as such was never allowed to watch horror movies.  Consequently, the neighbor girl who was a few years older than me and could watch whatever, used to tell me about the Nightmare on Elm Streets and the Friday the 13ths and then I would go home and have my own nightmares just based on what was in my imagination after listening to her recollections.  I’ve always been affected by the “horrific” moments in films that might not necessarily fall under the horror label but were by all means horror moments as far as I’m concerned, for example, I’ll never forget my mind being blown the first time I saw ED-209 wasting that business exec in Robocop, or for that matter watching the poor podling have its essence drained in the Dark Crystal.  I think there are elements of horror in all kinds of stuff, that’s what I’ve keyed into the most I guess.  I’m very wary of cliques and clubs and have never identified as being a “this or that type of person.”  I’m drawn to all kinds of things that speak to me for any number of reasons.  I will say that two films that I think were highly influential to me in visualizing the world of Wretch, for different reasons, were Altered States and Jacob’s Ladder, both films that affected me deeply when I first saw them and have stuck with me.

Where can we find and follow you on social media (please include links)?

The social media I’m most consistent with for Wretch is Instagram @wretchfilm. My production company is Elk’s Pride Pictures and on Instagram it’s @elkspridepictures but there you’re likely to find the occasional picture of some ice cream that I like whereas the Wretch inst as strictly business. 

When and where can we see the film? 

The film premieres online, Tuesday May 5th.  I’m directing everyone to www.wretchfilm.com. Right there on the front page are links to some of the online portals where it’s available to rent or purchase.  I want to say thank you in advance to everyone who gives us a shot and checks out our movie.  It’s a totally indie film, we did in across three weeks straight here in Kansas City, May 2018 with an amazing local crew making use of locations and resources that aren’t often featured in feature film productions because feature film productions are nuts!  

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Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Lifestyle

Interview with Award Winning Author and Teacher Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas is an award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Penguin Random House Alibi), as well as Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); and one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 150 stories published, his credits include The Best Horror of the Year (Volume Eleven), Cemetery Dance (twice), Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders (Bram Stoker winner), PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Shallow Creek, The Seven Deadliest, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad (numbers 2-4), PRISMS, Pantheon, and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub). He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, has received five Pushcart Prize nominations, and has been long-listed for Best Horror of the Year six times. He was also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. In his spare time he is a columnist at Lit Reactor. He was the Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press and Gamut Magazine. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

Christmas Horror Book Cover

PB: We talk to a fair amount of new writers – What tips would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started based on what you know now?
RT: Great question. I think one of the most important things to understand is your voice. So—what kind of stories are you trying to tell, what are your strengths (and weaknesses), and what excites you when you write? It’s the first assignment I give my students in my Short Story Mechanics class. You need to understand the genre (or genres) you write in, your influences, and contemporaries that are doing similar things. You learn by reading those authors, by finding “your people” and their audiences, as well as publications. It’s all connected. I started out writing more neo-noir and thrillers but then shifted into fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I still do both. The main difference between the new-weird speculative work I do and neo-noir is often realism vs. supernatural. As far as those weaknesses I just mentioned, study those voices that do it well—whether that’s setting, plot, character, or dialogue. Read, read, read. Read books and stories, read the “best of the year” anthologies, and then fill your head with images via film and tv, such as the amazing work at A24 Films these days. Take a few classes if you need to. I took quite a few, with authors I loved and respected (such as Jack Ketchum and Stephen Graham Jones) and THEN got my MFA. It all helps.

 PB: A lot of aspiring horror creators think about making the leap from day job to becoming a writer. In fact, I also transitioned from the corporate world and great salaries to chasing my passion for storytelling in multiple formats with puzzle box – Tell me a bit about the transition you went through as I imagine it was a difficult decision to make moving from a known career into the unknown world of writing and teaching fiction? Any advice there for others in this position?
RT: It’s very difficult. I spent 25 years in advertising as an art director and graphic designer, and woke up one day and realized I was very unhappy. If you want to make the shift, understand it takes years to do it right. You first have to find your voice (see my previous answer) and hone your craft. That alone may take 1-5 years. Write, practice, and publish. I encourage authors to write short stories until they figure out who they are, and what they are going to write. Once you start getting work published, push to get your stories into the BEST markets. Until you can start doing that, getting pro pay, and setting up a network and presence, I wouldn’t quit your day job. Once you get to that level, make sure you have a social media platform, and presence—that will all help to build your name, reputation, brand, etc. At that point, you probably want to write a book and find a small press or agent. I’ve published 150 stories, three novels, three collections, ran a press, and a magazine and I still teach and edit. I’d say my income is all related—all a part of the industry—but my actual stories and novels probably only account for half of my income. So be prepared to teach, to write a column, to edit, to do more. Very few can make six figures as an author. But man, it’s the most fulfilling work I do. And my teaching helps others, and I learn a lot in the process as well. I was reading those “best of the year” anthologies anyway, and it helps me too, but now I really pay attention. It’s all connected. 

PB: One of your classes is writing a novel in 365 days, how many students have completed that and have any been published?
RT: We’ve only been doing this two years now, so the total number of students is 24. Two are done and actively shopping—Joseph Sale and Erik Bergstrom—and their novels are amazing. I expect them to get published. There are quite a few from the first year that are putting the final touches on their work, making a last pass, etc. This year’s class—all eight students are really doing well, and I expect them to finish on time, and start submitting next year. Hard to say how many out of the 24 will make it will publish, but I’d say at least half. Quite a few of my students who have gone from Short Story Mechanics to Contemporary Dark Fiction to my Advanced Creative Writing Workshop have published, gotten into pro markets, have gotten nominations, have won awards, have written novels, and landed agents. Really proud of them all.

burnt tongues book cover

PB: As a published writer, teacher, and entrepreneur do you feel that indie writers stand a chance in being successful vs finding a publisher? 
RT: Depends on what you want to do, but yes, it can work both ways. I find that quite a LOT of the best work is being done at smaller, indie presses. The big five (or whatever it is now) will certainly get you more money, into brick and mortar stores, and have teams of people to help you. Working with the editors at Alibi (a Penguin Random House imprint) was a TON of work, so many rounds of revisions, but I knew that Disintegration and Breaker were TIGHT when they came out. I felt so supported. When Breaker got a Thriller Award nomination I was floored. So yes, I’d actually encourage authors to connect with indie presses first, and then write that first book and publish short stories. It’s a great community, so many supportive people, and when you finally DO break out, you’ll have a lot of fans excited to pick up your work. It’s so rewarding.

PB: Finally, we’d love to hear a writer quick tip for creating suspense from you?
RT: Suspense it tricky. When I talk about it in terms of what a HORROR story is, this is what I say. There is the terror and then the horror. Think of it as the suspense, the hints, the clues, the anticipation—that’s the terror, the emotion you create before we see it. The horror is the actualization, the fulfillment of it, the dropping of the veil, the unfurling of the creature, the physical manifestation and consequences. I talk about it a lot in my column, which you can read here: https://litreactor.com/columns/storyville-using-terror-and-horror-to-tell-powerful-stories

 CD is a magazine, and the exact issue is not online yet no. They are BIG, circulation of 10,000. PRISMS is just starting to get a cover and all so they aren’t online yet either sadly. I did have a co-written story in Best Horror of the Year, Volume 11, which is out now. Had a few things in books last year as well—a novelette, “Ring of Fire” in The Seven Deadliest anthology, and a story, “The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation” in the Shallow Creek anthology. You can find links to those all here: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B0036EYNDC

PB: What can you tell me about the upcoming arctic horror novel? (one of my favorite settings!)
RT: I was just on Twitter saying it was The Thing if written by Jeff VanderMeer, set in New Crobuzon (Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville). It’s about a sin-eater, and the way that he protects his portal, set in a place much like Barrow, Alaska where it goes dark for 60-90 days. I’m still trying to figure it all out, but I want to approach it from a place and time that is outside of our current narrative, so it’s not 2020 Alaska, but based on a similar location, culture, and weather, of course. A friend of mine lives in the arctic and is giving me some great nuggets, just working on finding the right angle, so it can be original. I’m looking at several books for inspiration—Annihilation, Come Closer, All the Beautiful Sinners, and many short stories set in this climate.

PB: What inspired you to go artic with the next novel?
RT: I live in Chicago, so I’m familiar with the cold. Obviously not on the same level, but I felt I could tap into that sensation and reality. I wanted isolation, and was fascinated by the Barrow, Alaska darkness. What might flourish in the dark? What happens before and after the dark? And the idea of a sin-eater and a group of people holding the world together through their actions and sacrifices appealed to me.

PB: What/who are some of your major influences?
RT: I grew up on Stephen King, then the beats in college, later getting into more indie work. My MFA was a big influence, literary dark horses, and then the new-weird movement. And then all of my contemporaries, the authors I’ve published. So while I love King, and Clive Barker, and Jack Ketchum, I also love the literary voices of Toni Morrison, Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Cormac McCarthy, and Haruki Murakami. The most recent authors that are a heavy influence of my work would probably be Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Hodge, Livia Llewellyn, Alyssa Wong, Brian Evenson, AC Wise, Usman Malik, Steve Toase, Kelly Robson, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters, and so many others. For films, I’ve really enjoyed what they’re doing at A24 Films, my top five being Hereditary, The Witch, Under the Skin, Ex Machina, and Enemy. 

PB: Anything else related to life or writing you care to share? 
RT: For the authors out there, figure out what you have, what authority, what experience, that nobody else has going for them. Maybe it’s where you grew up, your culture, your mythology, your job, or what you’ve seen. Weave that into the genres you love, and then swing for the fences—take chances, surprise your audience, be innovative while delivering what your promise, in a way that’s satisfying. There’s only one of YOU, so tell your stories with heart, and passion, and intensity. 

You can find Richard on twitter and at his personal site https://whatdoesnotkillme.com/

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Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Indie horror writers Women in Horror

Interview with Female Horror Author Kat Howard

End of the Sentence Cover
The End of the Sentence

How would you feel if you suddenly started receiving letters from someone you didn’t know? Personal letters, from someone who seemed to know more about you than you ever wanted to admit to yourself? The End of the Sentence (2014) delivers–it’s not only difficult to put down, (or stop listening to, if you opt to experience it as an audiobook) but it is also easily digestible and instantly gives the reader that desirable feeling of unease and fear.

With every turn of the page, we find ourselves more and more deeply immersed in the life of Malcolm Mays, a man whose life is falling apart as he moves into a foreclosed home in Ione, Oregon–what he doesn’t realize is that the original owner never left and doesn’t intend to. The end of his 117-year sentence is almost over…

Interview with Kat Howard

We found out that you’re not just a horror writer, but you have also explored the science fiction and fantasy genres, so what initially drew you to horror fiction?

I’ve always loved horror. Some of the first “grown up” books I read were by Stephen King, but even before that I loved stories that scared me. I like to write horror because sometimes that’s the genre that works best for what I have to say. Plus, it’s fun writing stories that might give people the shivers.

Can you tell me about how you and Maria Dahvana Headley decided to come together to co-write The End of the Sentence?

Maria’s a dear friend. We were guests at an annual convention (ConFusion) and made a comment about wanting to write something together in front of Bill Schafer, the head of Subterranean Press. He said he’d buy it, and we wrote a contract on his arm. (There was a much more official contract later.) It was honestly a joy of a project to write with her.

How did you come up with the idea of The End of the Sentence?

Maria had recently moved, and had been getting mistaken letters delivered to her address. Things kind of went from there.

Kat, we understand that this was your debut novella, how did it feel being named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014?

I literally fell out of my chair when I found out. I’m really proud of the work we did on this novella. It remains one of my favorite things that I’ve written, and so I’m always extremely happy to see it find readers. Seeing it recognized like that meant so much.

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone
A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

Is there anything new that you’ve published or are working on that you’d like to talk to us about?

As this is a horror venue, I have to say I was extremely pleased when my recent collection, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, was long-listed for the [Bram Stoker Award]. It didn’t make the final ballot, but just to see it recognized was a delight. I’m currently working on A Sleight of Shadows, the sequel to my novel An Unkindness of Magicians.

A lot of our fans are actually aspiring writers and artists, do you have any advice for them?

I always feel a little weird about giving advice, because I feel like I’m still figuring things out myself. But I think that one of the great (and yes, sometimes terrifying!) things about writing or art is that there are so many ways to come into the field. Don’t cut yourself off because you think you’re too old, or you should have gone to a different school, or that people have already done what you’re interested in. No one else can make what you will.

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Featured Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers

Interview with Horror Author Ezekiel Kincaid

Johnny Walker Ranger - Demon Slayer Book promo image

Tell me a bit about your background. I understand you were Pastor at one point in time?

Yes, I was in the ministry full-time for around twenty years. I served in churches across the
South in just about every position imaginable. I have three religion/theology degrees because
my passion has always been teaching and the intellectual side of things. My favorite areas of
study are supernatural and psychic phenomena, as well as the compatibility between the
Christian faith and evolution. I also enjoy philosophy. In fact, it was my faith which lead me into
horror writing. Both the Bible and horror deal with the supernatural, fear, survival, overcoming
terrible situations, and human depravity. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate
display of these themes. For me, writing horror was a natural cross over.


My decision to write horror caused big waves in my circles. Few were supportive while most
didn’t understand. The issue many have is the content of my writing. They balk at the violence
and profanity at times. I have explained over and over again that in the Bible, we see the same
thing. These issues are a part of human existence and God knows this. He meets us where we
are, and the Bible does not shy away from presenting the harsh realities of what it means to be
human. Therefore, if I as a still ordained ministers and committed to my faith, want to be faithful
to the pattern of what I understand as inspired Scripture, why should I edit my content?
This is the big issue I have with Christian fiction and why I would never write it. It’s fake and
doesn’t face the grittiness of reality like the Bible does. It sacrifices the depths and complexity of
life for some made up, stringent moral code.


I think when people found out I was writing horror, they thought it would be like Little House on
the Prairie meets Casper. They were disappointed.

You have been writing about the paranormal and horror for a while now. What is your favorite bit
of paranormal lore from your area?


I grew up in the small town of Central, just outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Anyone who
keeps up with the paranormal and haunted places knows Louisiana is a hotbed of activity. In
Central, there’s a haunted road. It goes by the name Frenchtown and was known for its
ferocious curves. Toward the end of the wooded road, it opened up a little, and ahead of you
would appear a bridge. This bridge was a once functional railroad trestle. The foreboding, rusty
structure would glare down at you, covered in satanic graffiti. Near this bridge was where most
of the paranormal activity had been reported. But it’s not just about the bridge. Rumors of a
Satanic cult in the woods near the bridge, along with a witch who lived in the last house on the
left (yes, Wes Craven would be proud) are the prominent legends which once swirled around
this trestle. It was said that if you crossed under the bridge, the cult members would kidnap you
and drag you back to their lair. In the forest behind the bridge was where the rituals took place.
Some have even reported seeing dead cats hanging from underneath the trestle.
There are also many other phenomena reported about this site, too many to list here. I am
working on an article about it and going into detail about all the paranormal activity associated
with the place.

This has been so influential on me I have based an entire series of stories around it and am
developing them into novels. The collections of shorts are called The Tetromet Chronicles and are
forthcoming through Stitched Smile Publications. I have had several of these stories published
already through other horror publishers

Have you ever experienced anything paranormal yourself?


Yes. I don’t talk about it much because one thing I have found to be true—the person who
shouts about all of their paranormal experiences all the time and say they have them every day?
They are full of crap. With that said, let me relay some of my experiences with brevity.
One experience I will never forget is casting a demon out of a woman. It wasn’t anything like
The Exorcist, but her husband had to try and hold her down. I bound the demon in Jesus’ name
and the strength left. I was able to then cast the demons out. There were only two. I can’t even
imagine how bad it would have been if there were more.


Me and my buddy were also shot at by a Satanic cult when we stumbled upon their meeting
place late one night. This was in Louisiana and we had heard about the site and went to do a
cleansing. We didn’t think anyone would be there since it was 2 a.m. on a weeknight. Boy, were
we wrong.


I have also had an intense encounter with a ghost. She is the subject of one of my other
forthcoming novels called Theodosia.


I’ve had psychic experiences of remote viewing, clairvoyance, and telekinesis.

Johnny Walker Ranger has some pretty interesting combinations within the name. Tell me a bit
about this character and what inspired you to create him?


Ah, Johnny. My first fiction novel and the character I love so much. With all the serious stuff I
just laid on everyone, there is something else you need to know about me. I love sarcasm and
socially awkward humor. I am a HUGE Bruce Campbell fan and have been for decades. I was
the guy in high school telling people they needed to watch Bruce Campbell movies. Their
response? “Who is that?”


Yeah, you horror fans feel my pain.


Johnny is a Bruce Campbell tribute. It is taking us back to the days of VHS tapes and when we
could joke about things and not get so butt-hurt and offended. But yeah, it is a nod to Bruce, but
it is its own story and Johnny is his own character.


I came up with the story at a very low point in my life. Things with ministry went bad fast
because of jealous colleagues and pissed off people who wanted me to be a puppet pastor. I
was in a transitional period of my life and I needed something to make me laugh. So, I came up
with Johnny.


And the name?

I just came up with something I thought sounded like a drunk and pissed off redneck. Johnny
will always and forever be my favorite character I have come up with because he helped me
through such a dark time in my life. Even now, when things get bad, I go back to writing Johnny.
I am almost finished with Vol.2 and I have already started an anthology of stories written by
Johnny.

As a horror writer what have been some of the biggest challenges in releasing this story?


Johnny is not for everyone. We had an editor bail because she kept getting triggered by the
story. We also had to fire a cover artist because he couldn’t come through and give us a
finished product. He got mad and went to social media and slandered me and Stitched Smile
Publications. He really focused on me because I was a pastor and am an outspoken Christian.
He went on and on for weeks and it finally died down. But still, he won’t let it go. He bought a
copy of the book and gave it a one star review on Amazon…but at least he bought the book!


What was your favorite scene in the book to write and what did you enjoy most about it?


Without a doubt, the Bootcamp chapter. It is towards the end of the book and Johnny is training
people in his church on how to kill demons. Here are some of the highlights.

The next few moments were beautiful. There’s nothing more melodic than the
sound of someone huffing when they get kicked in the nuts. As I perused the rows, I
came across a kid who looked to be about fifteen. Real nerdy looking fella; coke bottle
glasses, button up shirt, and skinny jeans. Blood gushed from his mouth, and he was
crying. I got in his face and went all-out Gunnery Sergeant Hartman on him.
“What in the fuck is this? Are those tears, private?”
He sniffed. “N-n-n-no, sir.”
“It’s not? Well shit on me and call me Commodious. Ladies and gentlemen, we
have a freak of nature here who can make it rain from his eyes. Is that rain coming from
your eyes, private?”
“N-n-n-no, sir.”
“Well then what the hell is it? It damn sure can’t be tears, ‘cause you just told me
it wasn’t. And I know for damn sure you aren’t fucking stupid enough to lie to me. So
what are they, private?”
He dried up real quick, but I kept at him.
“Listen here, el nerdo. If you are crying here, do you know what’s gonna happen
to you when you’re in war? Well, I’ll tell ya. You’re gonna piss yourself like a neutered
dog and run home to your Xbox and action figures. Now, if I catch you crying again, I
will body slam you to the ground and pee on you! Understood?”
“Y-y-y-yes, s-s-sir, D-d-demon S-slayer s-s-sir.” He sniffled a few more times
then got back into ready position.
“Good. Carry on, private.”

A few rows over, a fat dude who looked like Newman from Seinfeld raised his hand and
called for me.
“What do you want, Newman clone?”
“You can’t be serious? You really want us to electrocute each other?”
I marched double time and got in his face. “Serious? Serious?! Do you wanna know what
serious is, Newman? Serious is rescuing your pure virgin bride-to-be from becoming a sacrifice
to Satan. Serious is picking Toby brains out her hair before you make out with her. Serious is
fighting an angel cause he done pissed you off. Serious? You damn better believe I’m serious.
Ask me if I’m fucking serious again. Go ahead, Newman, I double damn dog dare you. You ever
ask me that again, I’ll shove that stun gun so far up your ass, when I turn it on, it’ll shave your
face, got it?”
Newman started to mutter.
“I can’t understand you, lard ass. Get your tongue outta the jar of Crisco and talk to me.”
“Sir, yes, sir, Demon Slayer sir.”
“Ya damn right! Now get to shocking, you pew-sitting, casserole-eating, toe-tapping
shittards!”

You must be a pretty big horror fan yourself, can you give us some movie and book recommendations?


I am. I am going avoid suggesting the big names in horror because most of us have seen the
movie or read the book. Before I give my suggestions, I will say The Exorcist and Legion by
William Peter Blatty are my favorite horror novels.


For reading I recommend the following:


Mine, by Robert McCammon. Best opening chapter of any book I have ever read.
Out Are The Lights, by Richard Laymon
Mark Of The Werewolf, by Jeffery Sackett
The Hunger Moon, by Ramsey Campbell
Night Warriors, by Graham Masterton
Hobgoblin, by John Coyne
Light Source, by Bari Wood
The Revelation, by Bentley Little

Again with movies, I will give some that are not mainstream


The Abomination, 1986
Galaxy of Terror, 1981The Nest, 1988
The Kindred, 1987
The Boogens, 1981
Witchboard, 1986
House II: The Second Story, 1987
The Beast Within, 1982
The Brain, 1988


Where can we find and stalk.. I mean follow you online?


Twitter: @EzekielKincaid
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ezekethefreak/
Website: https://ezekielkincaid.wordpress.com/


Where can we get your latest book and other works?
My books and other anthologies I have been published in can be found on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=ezekiel+kinciad&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
Free reading can be found on Stitched Smile’s WordPress site
https://stitchedsmilepublications.wordpress.com/
And Horror Bound
https://www.horrorbound.net/?author=5de80c37c09a8973f9c333cf