Interview with Horror Author Gavin Gardiner

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what got you started in horror writing.

The truth is, I took to the writing game quite late. Although a life-long lover of horror, the idea to try my hand at writing my own novel didn’t come until I hit 30, and was the result of endless evenings dissecting the genre with my friend and horror analyst Ewan Rayner. Our conversations eventually led me to wondering whether the expanded understanding I’d developed from these challenging chats could translate into my own story. 

In the three years it took to complete For Rye and find a publisher, I also wrote a novella, several short stories, and a bunch of non-fiction pieces, all of which have also been published in print and online. It’s funny how such an impulsive undertaking, born mostly of curiosity, can end up taking your life in a whole new direction. Guess I’ve got Ewan to thank (or blame) for that. 

Horror Author Gavin Gardiner

The story is set in a town called Millbury Peak. Can you tell me a bit about the town you created?  

Millbury Peak is indeed my own invention. The most interesting kind of horror to me is that which festers behind closed doors, kept unseen behind a façade of normality. My mum summed up this kind of horror perfectly with two words: seems normal. I believe this brand of suspense resonates with us because there is an unspoken demand that we all go about our daily lives as functioning members of society, and to varying degrees bury our own writhing horrors within us. We must all seem normal

Anyway, I had the feeling that a small country town would be the perfect setting for this high-standing, respected family whose lives are, in actuality, a living hell behind closed doors. The husband and father of the family, Thomas Wakefield, is the adored town vicar. He also happens to be the cause of the hell his family must endure. 

Geographically, Millbury Peak effectively ‘replaces’ the town of Newark-on-Trent in the East Midlands, with the River Trent being overwritten by my fictional River Crove. The story opens in the city of Stonemount (again, made up) which replaces Nottingham, and I also created an island in the Outer Hebrides called Neo-Thorrach which features in the story. As you can see, I’m somewhat carving out my own fictional world within our own world. I’m afraid the reason for this is, at this time, strictly confidential. 

The book sounds like a crossover between murder, psychological horror, and maybe the supernatural. Can you expand on that and give us some background on where that came from? 

A crossover between murder and psychological horror is a great description! There are two mission statements about my work that I plan on sticking to for all my fiction. One of those is that my work will never be supernatural, and the other…well, that will be revealed in my next book. 

Regarding my avoiding the supernatural: I want to make it clear that I have a deep love for supernatural horror. The Blair Witch Project is my all-time favourite horror (and perhaps film) and so it’s not that I lack an appreciation for it. 

The decision to base everything I write in our own reality – on stuff that could happen – originates from my fascination with the human mind. Although the supernatural opens up exciting possibilities for a writer, where there are no limits to the things you can conjure up, I believe that no monster can be as terrifying as a monstrous human mind. This is probably why true crime has had such a resurgence and is so overwhelmingly popular at the moment: people are most disturbed by that which could be living next door, or the thought that even their own loved ones could become something truly horrifying. 

Taking my work in this direction also compliments another interest of mine, which is moral complexity. This is something I feel had been lacking in horror for some years, and is somewhat becoming more prevalent, but not to the degree I want to explore it. When you read one of my books, there’s every chance the ‘goodie’ and ‘baddie’, in the traditional sense, will flip by the end of the story. I’ve thought a lot about our designations of good and evil – our insistence on drawing a line between us and them; our denial that the most despicable humans are not a different species, but in fact just a series of arbitrary conditions away from being you, me, or any of the cherished faces smiling warmly over the Christmas dinner table – and I have great interest in my work exploring not only what it takes to make a human monster, but also how slippery the spectrum of good and evil really is. Dealing solely with people, not ghosts or goblins, will allow me dig perversely deep into this theme. 

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?

Full disclosure: I’m a new writer! I only started my novel three years ago, but have worked my butt off in that time. I’ve remained mindful every step of the way as to what lessons I’ve had to learn, and have plans to start a YouTube series detailing these very lessons. 

The list is endless, but if I could go back and give myself any advice, it would be that self-doubt is not only normal, but necessary. I really had a hard time with this, constantly doubting whether all my work was worth it, or whether the story was a waste of time. I still harbour massive doubts about every new writing project I take on, big or small, but I’ve come to the realisation that it’s that very same doubt that drives me to push my work as far as I can take it.  

I was recently asked in another interview which part of the writing process I find the hardest. I answered (rather awkwardly) that they should all be as hard as each other. If any part of writing a book feels ‘easy’, or is a bit of a ‘break’ from the rest of the process, then you’re not working hard enough. It goes without saying that everyone is allowed to create something just for the fun of it and put that creation out there, but I always advise new writers to remain mindful of their objective. If that objective is to create something that’s going to truly grab a reader by the lapels and shake them, stay with them, and not let go, then they have to take a long, honest look at the effort they’re putting in and evaluate whether it’s enough to meet that objective. 

So embrace the self-doubt, make it work for you, and never forget to push yourself and your work to the limits of your creativity and endurance. Greatness isn’t born out of nothing. Bleed for your work. 

What/who are some of your major influences? 

In terms of literature, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein shattered my perceptions of what a novel could achieve. Also, I doubt I’d ever have written a book had Jeff Long’s criminally underrated and not-spoken-about-enough The Descent (nothing to do with the brilliant film) didn’t exist. 

I was deep into movies before literature, and my list of cinematic influences is wildly expansive. I think it’s important for a writer to seek inspiration from as many mediums as possible, and I’ve found films to be a useful way of expanding my storytelling palette. Absorb enough films, and you need only close your eyes during the writing of a difficult scene to see how a cinematographer or director or lighting technician might handle its execution. 

We live in a fortunate time when we have a positively bloating wealth of cinema and literature to look back on, and I’d urge writers of every genre to gorge on it all, and find ways to channel it into their own work. 

Where can we get this book after release?  

My debut horror novel, For Rye, will be available from April 9th through most major outlets such as Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, and Foyles, and you can also pre-order it now. Visit my website to whet your palate and see if you’re up to the horrors to come: 

What are you working on next?  

I’m currently knee-deep in the planning of my next novel, Witchcraft on Rücken Ridge, a folk horror set up a mountain full of caves, cults, and cannibals. As for how the ‘witchcraft’ element ties into my previously-detailed mission statement of ‘no supernatural stuff’, you’ll just have to wait and see… 

For Rye Horror Book cover

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Interview with Horror Author Marie Batiste

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what got you into writing supernatural detective horror? 

Well, I have loved all things supernatural since I was in elementary school. I remember checking out R.L. Stine books from the library every week, first Goosebumps and then Fear Street.  Reading has always been an escape for me and the creepier the story the better.  This is why I write what I write. People say you write what you love to read. I love mysteries, I love the supernatural and I love horror. So naturally when I sit down to write that’s what my mind steers towards. 

You have detectives, undead, necromancer, spirits, and a living sculpture all tied together. What inspired that and did it take a lot of research to get all the pieces to come together? 

I would love to say that this was all planned from the beginning, but it wasn’t.  Honestly, I just added the things that I like, and what I thought would be cool and make sense. Introducing magic and the supernatural into the real world can be tricky.  I didn’t want it to be too cliché and I didn’t want it to be too out there.  I wanted the magical creatures to have a role in this world that fits their nature. Vampires need blood so them being a blood analyst in the Medical Examiner’s office makes sense. Necromancers deal with death magic so working in the Medical Examiner’s office makes sense. When possible, they resurrect victims so the detectives can interview them.  Using water dragons as ferries make sense.

What I had to research were serial killers and different types of magical and mythical creatures. While my serial killer has some magic, he doesn’t use it when he murders his victims. He does this by torturing them and then removing their eyes while they are still alive and then their organs. I researched different serial killers and tried to understand why they did what they did. Or what could make a person decide that the only true joy in life is killing people. I still don’t have any kind of understanding of what would make a person do it but this research did give me some insight into my character and his friends. I am not a budding serial killer, I just wanted to point that out. 

I also had to research poaching. I figured if some people find joy in poaching rhinos and elephants then those same people would probably find the same joy in poaching unicorns, firebirds, and other mythical creatures. I wanted to show that just because our world has magic now doesn’t mean that everything is magical.

Is the second book the finale or do we have more in store here?

The second book, which is much darker than the first, is not the end.  I have ideas for several more in the series and it is only going to get darker.

Last Thing You See Book Cover - Horror Author Marie Batiste

What has been the biggest challenge in writing this story?

I would say the biggest challenge was writing from the killer’s point of view. He also has serial killer friends.  Being in their heads was particularly draining but it was also a little fun. I don’t know what that says about me, but it was.  I think writing dark characters can be both challenging and interesting. Their attitudes towards what they do were by far the creepiest part of the book for me.

You’ve published a few books now, any advice for new horror writers? 

I have two different series. One (Rachel Dixon series) is new and the other (Moon Investigations) I am republishing.  I find it hard to advise anyone on `writing because writing is one of those things that changes with every book. Also, what works for one person may not work for another. My one piece of advice is to finish. Whatever you are writing finish it. It might be crap and if it is the first draft it will be crap, but you need to finish it. You can fix it when you’re done.  Also, if you want to write in the horror genre then you should read in that genre and not just the popular horror. Read popular horror, obscure horror, good horror, and bad.  If you don’t read in the genre you want to write, then you aren’t going to be very good at it and you probably won’t finish it. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself.

You must be a horror fan? What are some of your recommended readings and movies? 

In horror, there is something for everyone depending on what you like. If you like comedy, Ash vs The Evil Dead and Shaun of the Dead is something you’ll like. The Haunting of Hill House is amazing and the book by Shirley Jackson is something every horror writer should read.  I loved every movie based on the case files of the Warrens which include: Insidious, The Conjuring, and Annabelle. If you love zombies, iZombie is funny, and the zombies eat brains in interesting ways. Dawn of the Dead is a good one along with my favorite 28 Days Later.  American Horror Story, Supernatural, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have a really good story and character arcs that may inspire you to write something new.

-Where can we get the first book and where and when can we get this second in the series? 

The first book, The Last Thing You See is available on Amazon. It will be available on other platforms in July. The second book One by One is basically about a murder circus and a house infused with magic and blood lust. More of the serial killers are introduced and it is much darker than the first book. It will be available on October 30th, 2020.

Finally, where can we find and follow you? 

I can be found on Instagram @mariebatisteauthor or my website

Thank you for doing this. I have gotten a few ideas from going through your site so thank you.


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Introducing Necropit – Barbarians, Demons, and Another Dimension.

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Necropit is an original, beautifully drawn comic book. You can find issue one and soon other issues at

First off tell me a bit about yourself, who are you?

I write and illustrate the Lords of the Necropit comic zine. It chronicles a barbarian’s attempt to escape from an extra-dimensional fighting pit run by necromancer-demons. As for me, I love horror VHS tapes, old off-brand toys, unsuccessful video game systems, things like that. I’m into flea markets and thrift stores. I post about the comic book on Instagram @necropit. I also have a store at

Original art by Necropit

What inspired you to start creating Necropit?

I love old school RPGs and one of the things I really love about them is the art. Often the art was amateurish but had a cool earnest charm to it.  Check out WTF, Traveller Art!? for some extreme examples. But it’s not just in RPGs – you see it in heavy metal, which has a visual element that is sort of parallel to RPGs. You’ve got the cover of the first Slayer album – a lot of old thrash. Sometimes there’s power in someone just doing the best they can despite their limitations. So over time you have this really great stuff that’s made of these illustrations and it creates a certain vibe that I really like.  I wanted to take that feeling and push it as far as I could take it.

What has been the biggest challenge creating your own story and world? 

The biggest challenge was just putting it out there. You create this stuff and you don’t know if people will like it. The story and world are things that have been bouncing around my head for a long time so they weren’t the biggest hurdle. Just deciding it was time to make something for other people to see was the biggest challenge.

What’s next now that the first comic is out? 

Original art by Necropit

Issue 2 is done and I’m going to be printing it soon.  I held off for a bit because of the Corona Virus but it seems like shipping out these small parcels isn’t going to be a problem. So look for that by mid-April. I’m going to have a comic strip in the upcoming third issue of Lurker magazine,( which is a really cool publication that covers heavy metal, dungeon synth and tabletop gaming.I’m also writing and illustrating an RPG zine that’s a short standalone adventure.  This coronavirus has really screwed up my creative rhythm and my ability to logistically get anything done so it might take a while for that to come out. I have demon medallions up on my site that I cast in resin. I really want to take my characters in that direction – making action figures out of them. I came up with the idea for a comic at the same time as I did a toy line. That’s why it’s called Lords of the Necropit, as a kind of shoutout to Masters of the Universe. I like the 5.5 inch He Man toys. Especially the ones made by other companies like Remco and Sungold. A lot of cool artists are making toys in that vein, and I think they’re a really fun way to get your characters out into the world in a really satisfying way. I’ve really just been amazed at the response to the action figures and medallions that I’ve made – I never really imagined anyone would want to buy them, but they’ve sold. It’s just cool to see other people appreciating what you’re putting out there. 

What inspired your art style? 

I’ve always been into underground comics, Rat Fink, gross out toys like Mad Balls.  Maybe six years ago I started drawing a lot and following other artists on Tumblr and I got into a bunch of weirdo artists. Sean Aaberg definitely comes to mind. More recently I started really appreciating the heavy blacks and the stark white contrast of death metal album covers. I got really inspired by the board game Cave Evil.  All that sort of sloshed around in my mind and turned into Necropit. It was really cool because the Emperors of Eternal, the publishers of Cave Evil, actually asked to carry the comic in their store . It should be available there soon. That was really cool.

Original art by Necropit

I bet you are also into horror yourself. What are your go to horror movies and comics?

I’m all over the place when it comes to horror. I love 80s horror. Alien’s Deadly Spawn is one of my favorites because the creature design is so rad. I love the Sleepaway Camp movies, Killer Klowns, Critters – a lot of stuff with great practical effects from that era. The only recent horror movie to blow me away was Midsommar. As for comics, I’ve been away from comics for a long time. I used to love EC comics, Mad Magazine, Groo, Ninja Turtles, Ralph Snart, 


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Introducing Stephen Brown, Author of – “Pray Cathal” and “Kill The Wolf”

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Puzzle Box Horror’s first interview with dynamic writer Stephen Brown. From existential space horror to musical werewolf movies we are pleased to introduce Stephen Brown.

First, tell me a bit about yourself and what got you into writing, is Pray Cathal your first novel?

I am from the North East of England and live with my wife and three daughters. I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My mother bought me a typewriter for my 8th birthday and I began putting the ghost stories my sisters told me onto paper.  When they ran out I started making my own.. Hopefully, I have improved since then. My interest in horror was something also shared with my Father who let me pick films from the local video store.  This is how I saw the likes of the Evil Dead, The Thing and more obscure films like C.H.U.D and Xtro. Pray Cathal is my first novel.  I am currently writing a sequel as well as working on a couple of unrelated projects. 

Author Stephen Brown's Pray Cathal Book Cover

Pray Cathal has some interesting crossovers in it from outer space to seemingly zombified earth. What inspired that?

It’s more about the big questions like why and how we are here, it tackles religion and our perception of humanity. Basically saying we had everything wrong and are about to be punished for not figuring anything out. Where we are more flesh than soul our overseers are more soul than flesh so once they infect the soul within, what people become is more twisted than zombies,  it transforms people into manifestations of their darkest desires.  So fueled by greed and hunger that they want nothing more than to infect the rest of the world. It was inspired by my own beliefs that if we could just admit we don’t know why we’re here or how then we could start to move on as a species.

What were some of the biggest challenges writing Pray Cathal?

As it neared completion the computer I was writing it on crashed and the disk became unreadable.  I holed up in the bedroom for weeks with a word processor (bought by my Wife’s Grandparents) trying to write as much from memory as I could.  Overall I think it benefited from it but there was a time there when I wanted to tear every hair out of my head. Other than that I had a number of endings but think I chose the best one.

Where can I get Pray Cathal?

It’s available in hard copy and digital from Amazon

Tell me about “‘Kill The Wolf” which is a musical werewolf slasher movie? How did this combination come to be?

The main character came first.  I really liked the idea of a singer held back by his own curse. With all the ability to be a star but under the shadow of what he is.

“‘Kill The Wolf” has it all – conspiracy, mystery, werewolves, and cults – Is this a plot you developed alone or are you working with the producers of the movie?

The plot was developed while trying to come up with something we could do ourselves. Trying to use the people around us and the limited resource we have and still make something we would all want to see.

In “Kill The Wolf” will there be singing mixed into the action? If so who is writing the score and songs? Are you collaborating on lyrics?

The singer keeps the beast at bay with song, music literally taming the savage beast.  He sings to stop himself changing so the music is often the calm before the storm or the soundtrack to reign it in.I have written the songs for it and came up with the melodies but have someone else doing the music. Heavily influenced by Nick Cave, Tom Waits and the Tindersticks.  He needs poking with a stick every now and then but it should all come together.  Obviously in the present climate everything is a bit up in the air..

I’m going to guess you are a horror fan so hit me with your recent recommendations for horror films to watch and anything you think is worth reading right now?

Of the new horror films I’ve seen I really Liked Vivarium,  The Platform, and The Color out of space.  When I get time to read I’ve been enjoying the Crossed graphic novels and “If it Bleeds” by Stephen King.  I just finished the “Boatman’s Daughter” by Andy Davidson which I would definitely recommend and “Here in the Poison Garden” by Colin Mulhern which is also a great read.

Thanks for your time. Where can we find and follow you on the internets?

I can be found on Twitter as @sevrin73.


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