September 30, 2014

Infernal Inspirations: a guest post by G.R. Wilson, author of "Right Behind You"

Hello literary world! My name is G.R. Wilson, and I try to minimize how much I write about myself in third person. I'm a relatively new author: I used to write short stories frequently in elementary school, and then for whatever reason just sort of stopped as I got older. In college a couple years ago I started again, and ended up publishing my first book, Right Behind You: Tales of the Spooky and Strange in Fall 2013. This month, my short story The Tale of Patchy Jack was featured in Michael K. Silva's The Nightmare Engine, Issue 7.

Right Behind You is a scary story anthology, and I wrote with the Young Adult demographic (around ages 13 and up) in mind, though I venture that people much older than that enjoy it. My goal was to write some stories that would be good for campfire reading, some better suited to solitary late-night reading, and some suited for both.

In my Horror writing, (and Horror is my specialty genre for right now,) I'm inspired by many things: my own dreads and phobias, ghost stories I heard as a kid, history, technology. I'm confident that this wide range of inspiration shows in my book, where the stories feature everything from a Borg-like, hive-mind computer, to Lovecraftian tentacle beasts, to deranged doctors, to a wereskunk. And, good old-fashioned traditional ghosts, too.

The way I wrote Right Behind You was this: a couple years ago as I said, when I began writing again after a decade long hiatus, I quickly jumped to writing Horror. It's always just been a genre (among others) that's excited my imagination, and, I used to have nasty nightmares as a kid, so I think writing and talking about Horror has been a form of “taking control” for me. Anyway, I wrote one scary story, then another, then another, and then I had many short scary stories, I took some good ones, edited them, and self-published them into a book. My friend helped me edit, and another friend did the cover art, for which I'm very grateful.

When I'm not writing about giant neon hybrid spider/wasps and ancient Cambodian dragons, (look for my next book this October 1st by the way; Paranoia: More Dark Tales from the Mind of G.R. Wilson) I like to ride horses, collect and play war board games, run, and spend time with my bad-ass and supportive girlfriend. A few of my favorite fiction writers include Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Ayn Rand, and Mark Twain.

My official website is You can find all kinds of information, excerpts, and news there. Most importantly: you can sign up for my free twice-a-month newsletter there, in which I give out free scary stories, news on my upcoming projects, and recommendations of other good Horror media I come across. Subscribers will get a special offer regarding my second book, Paranoia, another Horror anthology, which I aim towards an older demographic.

Anyway, thanks for allowing me to introduce myself and my work to you. If you're in the mood for scary stories you can read in a single sitting, and you like variety, please consider checking out the excerpts and reviews of my book. And, sign up for my newsletter: you get a free story just for signing up!

Best regards,

G.R. Wilson

September 29, 2014

We Need to Talk About Simon: a review of Angela Slatter's "Home and Hearth"

Home and Hearth
by Angela Slatter
Spectral Press (2014)
31 pages

The 11th in Spectral Press' chapbook series brings another high-caliber piece of emotional terror.

A mother's love and loyalty are tested when Caroline welcomes her disgraced son, Simon, home. And for as much as Angela Slatter should be commended for presenting a conflicted parent in a discordant house, it is the way in which the story--namely the back story--is revealed in such a short span of pages.

Without getting into the details of why Simon was away and why Caroline is so trepidacious about his return, the story brought up memories of We Need to Talk About Kevin. But where that book leaves no room for doubt regarding the fact the narrator's son committed a horrible atrocity, Home and Hearth highlights the ceaseless guilt and torment of a woman struggling with protecting a son that just might not be the angel she believes--she needs--him to be.

Angela has another fine outing through Spectral Press, with a tale in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, which you will find a review for soon. I'm pretty sure I will need to read more of her work, because she's got the chops, that's for sure.

September 26, 2014

Keeping It Unreal: a review of Donna Augustine's "The Keepers"

The Keepers
by Donna Augustine
Strong Hold Publishing (2013)
Audible version: Donna Augustine (2014)
291 pages (6 hrs. 7 min.)

Magic and gambling. What could go wrong?

When it comes to Donna Augustine's Keepers, a lot.

It starts with a young waitress in a Vegas casino. Jo is doing her thing, paying her way through college, just living the life. And then it all gets sent right into the proverbial Twilight Zone when she sees a werewolf in the casino. From there it is like all bets are off as far as what genre elements will be introduced.

Werewolves, faeries, aliens, secret portals, alchemy, oh my. There are moments in the novel where things feel a bit muddled, like the story is still trying to find its footing, but Jo is presented as a pretty relatable and easy-to-root-for protagonist. She's a little brusk at times, but she's young and just now coming into her own as a "Keeper", a protector of portals that connect our world with others featuring a menagerie of "alien" species. And while there is the hunky boss who happens to be a werewolf and also happens to put a hit on her, Jo doesn't go all swoony or damsel through the story. She's a self-saving princess ... actually a self-saving alchemist.

Anyway, the blend of fantasy and sci-fi elements is handled nicely without bogging itself down or dissecting too much of the nitty gritty of the world building. It works really hard to keep the story moving forward. It's good, but really serves as primer for the greater story, as things definitely become smoother and more engaging in the second book of the series, which I should be reviewing soon. A lot of the familiar coming together to make something that feels very unique.

September 25, 2014

Chasing Tale [9/25/14]: Amazon's Skinny Kindles and Fat Wallets

Chasing Tale is a recurring look at the most recent books added to my bookshelves, both physical and digital.

Have you seen the new Kindles? The Kindle Voyage weighs in at a mere 6.4 ounces and a thickness of 0.3 inches. With specs like that, it should give the new iPhone 6 a run for its money. I just hope it's not as bendy as the new iPhone. Then again, I wonder how many people are tucking their ereaders in the pockets of their skinny jeans.

Anyway, new Kindles are snazzy and all, but I kind of wonder where the ceiling is at in terms of advancement for the technology. I mean, it's basic function is to read ebooks. How advanced do they need to be?

Okay, the intuitive screen dimmer is kind of neat, but at the end of the day I don't feel like I'll be missing out using my basic Kindle. I know, I'm a real caveman like that. The new basic Kindle gets a touchscreen, too. Neat-o. I guess that's progress for the low-end market, but I muddle through with the buttons along the side of mine just fine.

If I didn't already own a Kindle, I'd be putting one at the top of my Christmas wish list this year though, that's for sure. What about you? Eager to get your hands on one of the gizmos?

And here's a new batch of books on my bookshelves, most directly from the Kindle Store to my basic, plain, nothin' fancy Kindle.

Blind God's Bluff by Richard Lee Byers - Richard celebrated his birthday earlier this week. Rather than send him a cake or a stripper-gram, I decided to buy a couple books. This one has been on my wish list for a while, but kind of fell off the radar. A cool-sounding urban fantasy with a down-on-his-luck hero. Groovy.

Unclean (Forgotten Realms: The Haunted Lands Book 1) by Richard Lee Byers - The other book I ordered was this one from the Forgotten Realms franchise, which I have zero familiarity with, but Richard recommended it as a gateway for new readers. Works for me and this first book of a trilogy looks spooky as heck.

Let's Get Digital (Updated 2nd Edition) by David Gaughran - I bought the original edition of this ebook a year or two ago, so when David released this updated edition he made it free for all of us who bought the first version. Hooray!

Werepig Fever by Gregory L. Hall - I managed to win a copy of this book after writing a dirty limerick for Tonia Brown. I didn't actually win the limerick contest, but my filthy mind deserved a prize nonetheless apparently. Cheers to the dirty mind, and to Greg for the signed copy.

Widowmakers edited by Peter Kahle - This is a monstrously huge anthology brought about to benefit James Newman, a talented author with mounting medical bills after he was hospitalized by a homicidal tree. Damn you, tree!

The V Wars issues #1-5 by Jonathan Maberry - I won a Goodreads giveaway and expected a graphic novel, but instead received the first five issues of the actual comic book. Hey, no complaints from me. It's Maberry, it's vampires, it's comics.

The Narrows by Ronald Malfi - Here's a novel from Samhain Horror about a small town hit by a flood that brings an old evil with it. Oh yeah, this sounds right up my alley.

The Savage Dead by Joe McKinney - Joe had his birthday this week, too. I have already bought quite a few of his books from the Kindle Store, but amazingly not from his line of zombie books. This one is a stand-alone, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Snow Angels by Barry Napier - Barry has a new novella set for release in October. I don't know a whole lot about it, but I do know that it has a great cover, and Barry is rock solid in the spooky happenings department, so I'm optimistic.

Wake Up, Time to Die by Chris Rhatigan - A new releases from BEAT to a PULP press. This showed up as a freebie when it first hit the Kindle Store, so I kinda lucked out there.

Out of Time by C.M. Saunders - Christian has a new novella out this fall. I had the chance to ask him a few questions about it, and you can check out that interview by clicking here.

MMA Now! by Brian Sobie & Adam Elliott Segal - I don't watch a whole lot of MMA, but I do tend to enjoy it when I do catch it on TV. This new book is kind of a primer for new initiates to the sport or casual fans like me. It's got some cool little spotlights on the big names in the octogon.

Bigfoot Tracks by Steve Vernon - A collection of 3 short stories from the hardest working horror writer in the Maritimes. And it was FREE when I downloaded it a couple days ago.

Slingers 3 & 4 by Matt Wallace - Speaking of free, this series came up as freebies last week on the Kindle Store. Since I had already won the first book and bought the second, I didn't hesitate snagging the third and fourth installments.

Drive by Mark West - I quite enjoyed Mark's novelettes, The Mill and What Gets Left Behind, so when I saw his novella here on sale this week for 99 cents, I marked it off my wish list. Bargain city.

September 24, 2014

Lore Out of Touch, I'm Out of Time: an interview with C.M. Saunders, author of "Out of Time"

C.M. Saunders is an author from the UK, Wales to be precise, with a penchant for dark fiction. He's been at this for a little while and it took me a bit to recognize the name, and then as I type this a day before publishing on the blog, it occurs to me that he and I both had short stories publishing in the anthology, Fading Light. He has a new novella out called Out of Time and I had the chance to ask him a few questions about it, horror in general, and the writing life. Enjoy!

Gef: Your new novella, Out of Time, came out this month. Care to tell us a bit about it?

C.M.: I would love to! Without giving too much away, it's the story of a jaded hack called Joe Dawson battling writer's block. He goes to extreme lengths to get his mojo back, and when he does he finds his past coming back to haunt him. At its core, it's a story about justice and retribution, but it mixes together lots of other elements, everything from time travel to black magic. It's very fast-paced. I manage to pack a lot into those 90-odd pages!

Gef: When not battling your own writer's block, what aspect of writing have you found to be the most challenging--as well as the most rewarding?

 C.M.: The commercial side can be very trying. There are so many people writing now. The self-publishing phenomena has leveled the playing field. Which, of course, is a good thing. You don't have to be a member of some exclusive club now to be a published writer. At the same time, you have to stand up tall if you are going to be noticed. The most rewarding part is interacting with the people who read my work. It's really an honour to have people invest so much time, money and effort in me. It's also a big responsibility, so I try to deliver every time.

Gef: Do you have any literary influences? Any favorite books that inspired you that you'd like to share?

C.M.: I'm a huge Stephen King fan. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the mechanics of writing should read his book 'On Writing.' On the fiction side, 'Salem's Lot, Duma Key, It, and the Stand should be on every reader's list. Elsewhere I like Joe Hill, Richard Laymon, Dean Koontz, Joe R. Lansdale, Chuck Palahniuk, Brett Easton Ellis. The list goes on. It's hard to nominate a favourite book. I try to read widely. Not just fiction, but also history, music, ancient mysteries, sport. The world is full of inspirational people and stories.

Gef: What was your biggest eye-opener when you got into writing professionally?

C.M.: I think the sheer hard graft involved. No career is easy, and to be any good at anything you have to put the hours in and pay your dues. It's been a long road for me. I started writing seriously when I was in my early twenties. I worked in a local factory for nine years, putting things in boxes, and absolutely hated it. I was looking for a way out, and had always had an interest in writing. English was the only thing I was ever any good at in school. I started having little bits and pieces published in different places, got a scholarship and went off to university to study journalism. When I left I turned freelance, but found it hard to make ends meet and had a bad case of wanderlust, so I went to teach English in China. I continued writing in my free time, and it was much easier because the pressure was off. A couple of years ago I landed a job in London at a men's lifestyle magazine called Nuts, which has since closed, but I was lucky in the fact that I was picked up by another publishing company. Now I write about sport in the day, and write fiction in my spare time. I couldn't be happier at the moment.

Gef: How do you find the current state of the horror genre and how do you see it further evolving in the years ahead?

C.M.: I think all forms of fiction are in a state of rude health at the moment. There used to be (and still is in some quarters) an element of competition within horror, where writers try to out-do each other in the gore stakes. Each to their own, but it's a bit of a cop-out, really. It's easy to use blood, guts, violence and sex to cover up the cracks in stories, or disguise their own shortcomings. It's harder to write a good, sound plot, with engaging, believable characters and a story that evolves and actually goes somewhere.

Gef: What other irons do you have in the fire, and where can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

C.M.: Earlier this year I put out a compilation of previously published short stories called X: A Collection of Horror. Volume II is on its way. In Out of Time the protagonist Joe Dawson is writing a series of adventure books called the Adventures of Joshua Wyrdd. Those books are actually real, though admittedly written by me not Joe, and will begin seeing the light next year. Hopefully. My first ever book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales has also been revised and updated, and should also be along some time in 2015.

Readers can follow me on Twitter, just in case I say something interesting:


And please stop by my blog!


X: A Collection of Horror

Out of Time

September 18, 2014

Out for Blood: an interview with Kira Peikoff, author of "No Time to Die"

About the author: KIRA PEIKOFF is a writer based in New York City. She graduated with high honors from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism, after four years of various reporting internships: covering street crime for The Daily News, writing about Capitol Hill for The Orange County Register in Washington, D.C., reporting on business and technology for Newsday, and researching feature stories for New York magazine. After completing her first book, Living Proof, Peikoff worked for several years in the editorial departments at two New York publishing houses, which gave her an invaluable inside look at the publishing process and the rapidly changing industry. Peikoff is working on her third thriller, freelancing for a variety of major media outlets, and attending Columbia University's Master of Science program in Bioethics.

About the novel: Someone is out for blood—Zoe Kincaid’s blood. She’s a 20-year-old trapped in the body of a 14-year-old girl and her DNA could hold the secret of immortality. Could it be the Columbia University researchers who see her as the key to fame and tenure? The shadowy figure, known only as Galileo, who is kidnapping the world’s best researchers? The Justice Department head who seems a little too intent on getting her alone? Or the maniac who just fed a leading scientist to his chimpanzees?

Zoe knows that unlocking the secrets of genome could save her beloved grandfather, a retired physician and former Olympian who grows frailer by the day. Can she trust the rogue physician whose secret lair hides discoveries that might just save her grandfather? Heart-pounding twists just keep coming in Kira Peikoff’s stunning biomedical thriller, NO TIME TO DIE (Kensington Publishing; August 26, 2014.)

Science has barely begun to unlock the secrets written in our DNA. Researchers are relentlessly hunting for the answers to chronic diseases, cancer, rare disorders and the biggest mystery of them all—aging—but at what cost? Bioethicist Peikoff asks the most troubling scientific question of our time in this taut thriller: when does medicine cross the line?

Q: NO TIME TO DIE focuses on a 20 year-old woman who stopped aging at 14 years-old – where did you get this idea?

A: A few years back, I saw a documentary on Discovery Health about a young woman who had inexplicably stopped aging. She was almost 20 years old but had stayed frozen as a toddler her whole life, baffling doctors and scientists alike. The case caught my attention because I've always been interested in medical mysteries, and like many people, I'm also fixated on the promise of eternal youth. Yet staying young forever, as welcome as it might be, could also be a curse. I decided to explore it further in a novel, but I didn't want my protagonist stuck as a toddler without much mental or emotional capacity.  So I decided to trap her in the worst possible page for maximum drama and frustration. What could be worse than 14?

Q: What is Syndrome X?

A: Syndrome X is the name researchers have given to this phenomenon of total stunted development. To date, at least 6 people have been identified.

Q: Why is our culture so interested in defying aging?

A: I think it probably derives from our collective fear of death. It's very painful to face down our own mortality and to grasp how temporary our lives are. Religion may provide people with some measure of comfort, but there remains no scientific consensus on an afterlife. So we're forced to accept that all we really have is the here and now. Defying aging would be the ultimate way to prolong our time and avoid oblivion.

Q: Do you think scientists will find a cure for aging?

A: Some leading researchers believe the end of aging is within reach--perhaps in the next century. One respected scientist, Aubrey de Gray, thinks that the first person who will live to age 1,000 is already alive now.

Q: What are some of the benefits of not aging?

A: On an individual level, endless time--time to spend with family and friends, time to pursue infinite knowledge, passions, careers, hobbies, etc. No longer having to worry about outliving your parents or grandparents. Knowing generations of your own descendants. Living in the prime of life without

Q: You’re studying Bioethics at Columbia University, how did you choose bioethics?

A: I've long been interested in the intersection of cutting-edge biology, politics, and philosophy. Specifically, in the ways that exciting new advancements stand to improve human health, but are also raising unprecedented moral dilemmas. Our very definitions of life and death are being challenged by the latest innovations. It's a thrilling field to study because it's constantly evolving, and no one has all the answers yet.

Q: Your book explores a secret network of scientists – why is it important to regulate what happens in science labs?

A: This is a controversial issue. On one side, you have people asserting that government regulation is necessary to protect vulnerable human subjects from exploitation by unethical researchers--which sadly happened a great deal in the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before notions of patient autonomy and informed consent were popularized. On the other side, you have researchers who now feel stifled by the layers of bureaucracy, like IRBs, ethics committees, and the FDA, that they need to bypass to carry out their studies. Many people, including me, are concerned that these protections have been taken too far and actually hurt more than they help, by holding back and even dis-incentivizing innovations that could save lives. In my book, the best and brightest researchers have become so frustrated with the slowness and inefficiency of the system that they form their own secret community to speed up progress. I think it's possible for a group of researchers to self-regulate and still treat human subjects 100% ethically.  

Q: How did you choose the thriller genre?

A: I feel into it by accident. When I started writing fiction, I gravitated toward stories with high stakes, increasing tension, cliffhanger chapters, and a fast pace. I didn't actually intend to write in any genre, but after I wrote my first book, I realized I'd written a thriller.

Q: NO TIME TO DIE – how was the book title chosen?

A: My wonderful late mentor, Michael Palmer, suggested the title to me when I told him I was stuck on a title. (Titles are impossible.) Everyone at the publishing house immediately liked it, so we went with it. It's extra meaningful because Michael died shortly after I turned in the final manuscript. It was one of the last novels he read.

Q: As a writer, how can you explore differently in your works of fiction vs. your non-fiction articles for publications?

A: The threshold for exactness is much looser in fiction. In non-fiction, I am careful to be extremely accurate in my reporting. Accuracy to a journalist is like steadiness to a surgeon. You're useless without it. (You won't accidentally kill anyone--one nice thing about being a writer--but you might damage someone's reputation by misrepresenting a source.) In fiction, there's greater freedom to stray without that kind of accountability. I try to stay as true-to-life still as I can, but I do have to stretch and imagine a lot, which makes it more fun and also a hundred times harder.

Q: NO TIME TO DIE offers some great surprises, twist and turns. Who are your biggest influences in the thrillers and suspense genre?

A: Michael Crichton, Michael Palmer, Lisa Unger, Gillian Flynn. If you want to get old-school, I would add O. Henry and one of my favorite books as a teen: The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Q: What do you hope readers will gain from reading NO TIME TO DIE?

A: First and foremost, that they will be transported on a thrilling and satisfying journey with characters they've become invested in. Then: that they'll possibly think about their own positions on the controversial subjects the book raises, and finally that they will be shocked by the big twist ending.

September 17, 2014

Kings and Killers: an interview with Kit Power, author of "Lifeline"

When I'm not throwing my own opinion on horror fiction out here into the ether, I'm creeping over to Gingernuts of Horror to see what those fine folks have to say. One such folk, Kit Power, has been carving out quite the niche for himself on that blog--and elsewhere. He has a new novella out this summer, and a novel in the works for later in the year. When he reached out to me with a review request, I hit him up for an interview. So here you go ...

Gef: For you, where does the strength in the horror genre lie?

Kit: Well, firstly I think horror is a far broader church than most other people do. I think a lot of the works that get labelled as crime thrillers or psychological thrillers are really horror stories without ghosts. Jim Thompson is a good example of what I'm talking about here - the original ending of The Getaway is as dark a thing as you're ever likely to read. And James Ellroy does similar things. So there's the huge diversity of the genre, that's definitely a draw. Beyond that, in entertainment, we crave conflict, drama - books about people just bimbling along living happy productive lives... do those even exist? I've read a lot of books and I never read that story, because it's boring.I don't think many genres push that premise as hard as horror. Joss Whedon has described what he does as 'creating characters you really care about, then melting them' and King has said similar things. I think the strength of the horror genre is how hard it allows us as writers to push people, both within the story and the reader. I write primarily not to make people think but to make them feel. I've written in genres other than horror, but that's why almost all of my fiction is dark in some way, and why horror keeps drawing me back.

Gef: So you and James Newman spent the summer reminiscing about Stephen King's IT. One thing I noticed was James fawning over Doctor Sleep, which I thought was good and all, but "best thing he'd written in 20 years"? Really?

Kit: Heh. Well, first let me say James is a gent, and a very talented author whose skills I admire and whose company and expertise on this project I've been grateful for. That said, I've yet to read Doctor Sleep, so I can't confirm or refute his claim there. I can say I thought Under The Dome was one of the best things King has ever written full stop, and that's apparently a far more minority viewpoint within King fandom, so what the hell do I know? I think James was making a wider point about a return to supernatural horror, which I gather is his preference for King's work, but you'd have to ask him directly. Which you should, because he's a great guy and really good conversationalist about horror. :)

Gef: What's been the big draw to Stephen King for you, and what is or are his tentpole stories in your view?

Kit: The draw is just I think he's one of the best novelists working in the language, irrespective of genre. He is not just a massive influence for me in terms of style and prose, but he's one of the main reasons I write at all - I read a lot of his big works when I was probably slightly too young, and it just imprinted upon me. And reading 'On Writing' led directly to my abandonment of the pursuit of PS3 trophies and the firing up of my netbook word processor to get serious about creative writing. I mean, is he perfect? No, but neither is anyone. But I find him to be a stunning writer of people and situations.

As to tentpole works, well obviously IT is seminal for me, probably my personal favorite (maybe my all time favorite book, certainly the one I've read the most). The villain/monster is glorious, of course, but those kids, and the realisation of childhood - that stuff is untouchable, IMO. so for me, IT is the full package. After that, I'd say Pet Semetary is as dark as it gets, The Stand - I don't care for the ending, but the collapse is amazing, and again the characters really shine through for me, good and bad. Misery is fucking superb, and proof positive you don't need supernatural monsters to scare the living crap out of people. I personally love 'The Ledge' from I think Skeleton Crew, a perfectly constructed short story. The Shining. I thought Gerald's Game was bold as hell. Needful Things - God, that's hysterical, so darkly amusing, love it (thought I'm kind of annoyed whenever Castle Rock shows up in subsequent work - like, dude, you blew it up). Fair Extension from Full Dark, No Stars is gloriously bleak, and yeah, I'm the one who loved Under The Dome, sue me.

Gef: And how out of line is James Newman is for overlooking Cell? I liked Cell.

Kit: Heh. Cell was okay, but it's no Under The Dome... :D

Gef: Your novella, Lifeline, came out this summer. Care to give a bit of the ol' behind the scenes on what brought about a story about a man abducted by a psycho that wants to torture him to death?

Kit: Well, primarily I was taking King's advice to write about what scares you. Beyond that, it was a writing challenge, honestly - is torture pron still torture porn if it's seen from the victims POV? Could I write sustained physical horror like that without either grossing myself out or becoming boring? Beyond the opening premise, I had basically no idea what was going to happen in the story - it was a total leap in the dark, just to see what would happen. Gloriously, what happened was the 'victim', Frank, began to assert himself as a character, at which point, the whole thing pretty well flew.

When it comes to dealing a character who is clearly deranged, what pitfalls do you find yourself trying to avoid while presenting the character?

There's a couple of things I was conscious I wanted to avoid - I didn't want the villain to be Lecter. I'm kind of done with charismatic super-intelligent sadists/Nietzschian supermen, at this point, for a number of reasons. Sociopaths aren't normally that bright or that interesting, to be blunt. I think the other thing I wanted to convey is that even the worst bad guy doesn't think of themselves as a villain, really. There's that line in one of Neil Gaiman's Death comics where Death says 'Nobody is scary on the inside'. I believe that. So those were the perimeters I'd set myself. Beyond that, I wanted the torturer to be as ordinary as possible, almost bland. He's just someone who does not have the moral impulse that stops most people from hurting other people - that check mechanism is just absent from his brain. And, you know, he's bored...

Gef: You're a bit of a metal fan. Does that genre of music blend well with horror, if so why? And if not, what genre of music do you feel does?

Kit: I feel like they do go together, yeah. Metal is fairly extreme music, and it's often lyrically about exploring the darker elements of human behavior and emotion. There's obvious parallels with horror there. And of course a lot of metal bands drape themselves in horror imagery, or at least they did when I was growing up - Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden and Megadeth with the mascot album covers, WASP (especially The Headless Children, which I've written about as a horror album). I feel like Slipknot continue to fly that flag with how they dress on stage and a lot of their videos (man, I hope the new album doesn't suck!). It's a pretty snug aesthetic fit, I'd say.

Gef: What other irons do you have in the fire and where can folks keep up with your antics?

Kit: After indulging in a bunch of displacement activities, I've finally gotten back to the edits on my novel, which I'm still hopeful will be out this year. I've got a short story called Wide Load appearing in the upcoming Issue #6 of Splatterpunk 'Zine, which I couldn't be prouder about - seriously, it's been illustrated and everything, how fucking cool is that?!? I've also got a short story in the very-soon-to-be-released James Newman Benefit Anthology, Widowmakers, which is a huge honor. The TOC reads like a who's-who of contemporary indy horror, and I keep expecting they'll notice I snuck in there and yank the story - so buy it quick! :D Seriously, every penny will got to helping out James' family financially following his recent horrific accident, and it's going to be a belter of a collection. My debut e-novella, 'The Loving Husband and the Faithful Wife (plus short story The Debt) is still available on Amazon via Black Beacon Books, and forms a thematic trilogy with Lifeline, so that's also worth checking out.

I've also got a monthly column on The Gingernuts Of Horror site - - where I ramble about the books, films, albums and events that shaped my love of dark fiction - I'm having a blast with this one, and getting really positive responses so far, which is encouraging. There's also the Amazon author page - - Facebook fan page - and occasionally updated blog - Oh, and the I-always-forget-to-plug-it mailing list - email kitpowerwriter[at]gmail[dot]com to get signed up for that - no more than a message a fortnight, no spam ever promise.

Oh, I also sing and write the lyrics for rumored death cult and semi-popular beat combo The Disciples Of Gonzo - . So there's that.

Gef: Thanks, Kit.

As for the rest of you, head on over to and enter for a chance to win a copy of Lifeline. The giveaway ends 2 weeks from now.

September 11, 2014

Chasing Tale [9/11/14]: Margaret Atwood and the Future Imperfect

You probably already know the deal, but if not here is a handy link. Don't want to click it? Fine. An artist has been afforded a plot of land in Oslo, Norway, upon which she has planted a thousand tree saplings. In one hundred years, the trees will be cut and turned into paper, upon which a series of original works by various authors will be printed for the very first time. The first author slated to submit an original manuscript is Margaret Atwood.


There are so many presumptions bundled with this project I don't even know where to begin. Let's stick with the authors. Margaret Atwood is a great writer, but is she going to be relevant in the year 2114? Awfully optimistic, and that goes for all of the authors to be announced with this project.

I try to imagine how we, you and me in this century, would react to news that a vault has just been opened and the works of authors from a century ago will soon be published for the very first time. And published in the manner that was in fashion a century ago. Sounds neat, right? Although, like me, you probably have a certain level of expectation as to who those authors will be. Names like Walt Whitman, James Joyce, or even H.G. Wells might spring to mind. But what if the artist who set this whole thing up in 1914 had other ideas?

As an aside, I'd also like to mention that 1914 was one of the rare years in which no one was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Not one.

What if the hypothetical trove of books from 1914 was penned by famous authors of the time that just aren't as universally beloved as they were back then? I don't hear the names Anatole France or Elinor Glyn bandied about that often. But I'm not a historian or member of the literati, so my ignorance must be excused. I just can't help but wonder who, if anyone in 2114, will care to hear news that there is about to be a brand new Margaret Atwood novel published?

The reactions may range from "Who was Margaret Atwood?" to "What is a book?" to "Oh my god, why are you cutting down those trees? We have so few left!"

Anyway, I'm much more concerned with books that are being published now. Like these that have recently found their way onto my bookshelves.

The Codebreakers: Beta by Colin F. Barnes - This used to be called Assembly Code, the second book in Colin's Techxorcist trilogy, but I guess it's had a little touch-up done in the presentation department. Oh well, I'm sure the quality has only improved.

The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher - While on Goodreads, this novel came up as a recommendation for my weird western shelf. For a couple of bucks, I thought I would add it to the proverbial pile. It certainly has some good reviews behind it.

Fistful of Reefer by David Mark Brown - This weird western caught my eye with its snazzy cover and title. It's only a couple bucks on Kindle, but I managed to find it free on Kobo. Yee-hah!

Girl of Great Price by Milo James Fowler - Here's an advance review copy for a new one from Milo that's due out at the start of October.

Operation: Ice Bat edited by Brian Keene - This is an anthology set up to benefit someone. I forget who, quite honestly. I assume, given the slug-like pace of healthcare reform in America, an author is in dire straits with medical bills. There are certainly enough who could use every bit of help they can get. And I get a book, so hurray.

Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas - Here's a releae from DarkFuse, one that cuaght my eye when it first came out, but I kind of let it slip under the radar. I saw it only three bucks or so on the Kindle Store, so I figured I'd scoop it up.

September 8, 2014

The Kill Stays In the Picture: a review of Adam Cesare's "The First One You Expect"

The First One You Expect
by Adam Cesare
Broken River Books (2014)
77 pages
ASIN: B00I6Q5780

You'll occasionally hear one of your male friends complain about his crazy ex-girlfriend. I know I have. Well, it's safe to say that no matter how crazy those gals were, they got nothin' on Anna.

Okay, technically Anna is Tony's new production assistant, but let's not get bogged down in details, all right?

Ya see, Tony is an independent filmmaker, a connoisseur of super-underground, micro-budget, hyper-violent horror movies. As such, he's kind of catering to a niche market. A niche market that's barely heard of him, but that changes when Anna comes on board to help him with the online fundraiser. The fans love her. But as Tony's latest project picks up steam, things get weird. Like, oh my god I hired a psycho kind of weird.

Adam's offering of this psycho-thriller crackles with tension. I'm tempted to call it a roller coaster ride of horror, but it's more like poor Tony fell out of the proverbial tree house of horror and hit every branch on the way down. Despite the supremely bad choices Tony makes, his desire for recognition and validation outweighing instincts of self-preservation, Adam makes him sympathetic to a point, and as for Anna ... well, there is a certain attractive quality to her hidden under all that cray cray.

September 5, 2014

To Die For Love Story: a review of Jeff Strand's "Kumquat"

by Jeff Strand
published in 2014
265 pages

I can't help it. I see that title and I think tropical porn. I am an odd duck like that, but so is Jeff Strand. Don't believe me? Just read one of his horror novels. This isn't one of those, however.

No, Kumquat defies classification, although if it were a film it would slip snugly into the romantic comedy genre. And if I'm looking for a writer that can bring the comedy, it's Jeff Strand. Dangrous Dan compared it to The Garden State starring Zach Braff. What a horrible thing to say, as there was nary a trace of comedy in that movie.

Todd, a nothin'-happenin' fella with a love of movies, goes to a pretty sad film festival only to have the time of his life when he meets the gal of his dreams, Amy. Too bad she has an inoperable aneurysm just waiting to go off inside her skull at any moment. Well, heck. They hit it off anyway, and before Todd knows it, he's ditching work, blowing off his under-achieving/hyper-sensitive roommate, and driving his jalopy with Amy riding shotgun from Florida all the way to Rhode Island. Just to try a hot dog.

The silliness of the book's premise is not lost on the author or its characters. There is as much quirkiness as there is charm,  aided by Jeff's gatling-gun style of one-liners and punchlines. But at its heart, the book reveals a very sweet, very simple relationship between two people with little to lose but still very anxious about taking some momentous first steps.

It's impressive to see Jeff Strand's range from horror to YA thrillers to rom-com, but I am kind of psyched to hear he'll be coming back to horror with a sequel to Wolf Hunt. I can't help it.

September 3, 2014

Chasing Tale [9/3/14]: The Curious Case of Patrick McLaw

For a few days there, it seemed like Patrick McLaw, a school teacher in Maryland, had been hauled off by law enforcement and thrown in the loony bin for the unwholesome activity of self-publishing a sci-fi novel. At least that is what local reporters in Cambridge, Maryland had led the public to believe. The wording of this report was bewildering.

It was only days later through the efforts of the The Atlantic and the L.A. Times did any real answers come about, though those answers didn't do a lot to dissuade concerns about the swiftness and severity of response levied upon Patrick McLaw.

As it stands, a celebrated and beloved teacher was involuntarily sent for an emergency psychiatric evaluation after submitting a four-page letter to his employers. A letter in which he does not actually threaten anyone at all, but instead supposedly laments the end of a romantic relationship and complains about his mother. For that, he was suspended and banned from school property, his home raided by police, and schools searched with K-9 units for explosive devices and firearms (of which none where found). While the D.A. tries to diminish how much McLaw's self-published novel about a school shooting set in the 30th century spurred such an extreme reaction from law enforcement, the D.A. admitted that the book did actually influence the response. 

But while authorities insist McLaw is not under arrest and no criminal charges are currently pending, pertinent details about this incident, including whether or not Patrick McLaw is still being held against his will in a mental facility, are still being kept from the press.

I am relieved to know Patrick McLaw was not incarcerated solely for writing a work of fiction, as that sounded just too Orwellian to be believed, but I am still troubled by the lack of transparency from authorities and the complicity of local journalists, and how innocuous details of McLaw's life are being not-so-subtly used to paint him in a negative light.

I am very interested to hear what McLaw has to say, if anything, when he is afforded an opportunity to do so.

In the meantime, I will entertain myself with some genre fiction, which would likely land all of these authors in a straight-jacket if they lived in Cambridge, Maryland.

Revenant Road by Michael Boatman - I first found out Boatman wrote horror from the now defunct Pod of Horror some years back. Wasn't until last week that I finally got around to buying one of his books to put on my to-be-read pile. Kind of a monster hunter vibe too. Neat.

Duke City Split by Max Austin - A new pen name for Steve Brewer that seems to be paying off, as the sequel to this hard-boiled crime novel already has a sequel just months after this novel's release.

The Deep by Nick Cutter - The Troop was a super-creepy horror novel, so I can only imagine what Cutter has up his sleeves when he delves into the deep blue sea.

The Buried Children by Daniel Farcas - This one showed up out of the blue in my inbox last week. Looks like it's a take on true events in eastern Europe. Might be worth checking out.

Time of Death: Induction by Shana Festa - I'm listening to the audiobook version of this one via Audible. Nothing like putting on the ol' earbuds and peddle while stationary bike while someone else tries to outrun zombies.

Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis - I'm in the middle of Gustainis' Occult Crimes Unit trilogy, but I found myself drawn to this series too, so I bought the first book of a more hard-boiled urban fantasy trilogy.

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison - Speaking of urban fantasy, this first book in Harrison's series showed up as a freebie on the Kindle store recently and I figured I'd roll the dice on it. The gals at I Smell Sheep approve of it, anyway.
Everything Theory: Blood Routes by Barry Napier - This is the second book in Barry's Everything Theory series. I haven't read the first book yet, but Barry has a knack for spooky things and I don't doubt these books will provide that and a bit more.

Lifetime by Kit Power - This one is a novella that was sent my way, and it looks like a claustrophobic little thriller. Kit's been doing some interesting stuff over at Ginger Nuts of Horror and I have an interview coming up with him soon.

Fight Card: Swamp Walloper by Jack Tunney - Here's another audiobook from Audible, this one a pulpy slobberknocker from the Fight Card series. This time around the Jack Tunney pen name is helmed by Paul Bishop.

All Due Respect #2/#3 by various authors - How about some gritty crime fiction in short story form? I picked up two issues of this periodical, which sports quite a few names I've heard of, plus some new names I look forward to checking out.

September 1, 2014

An Excerpt of Matthew W. Harrill's "Hellbounce"

Hellbounceby Matthew W. Harrill 

Demons don’t always hide in the dark.


As a psychologist in a prison hospital, Eva Ross had always dealt with her share of sinners. The corrupt, the insane, their minds were all hers to unlock. But when those around her, those she trusted with her life start to exhibit the same characteristics, she is forced to turn to a stranger, a man whose name she is incapable of even remembering, for sanctuary. 

Follow Eva as she crosses continents to unlock the answers, and her eventual destiny.


Harold Fronhouse was a short man, not far over five feet in height. He sat secured in a straightjacket, and strapped to a wheelchair. He wore no mask. As Eva and Jenny entered the room, he watched, unblinking. As Jenny sat down, he gazed at her with the eyes of a predator. “Nice.”
Eva glanced at Jenny, who watched Harold the way a small child watched a stranger, not taking her eyes off him. She was uncomfortable.
“Harold. How are you today?”
“Hungry,” came the reply, although Fronhouse still had not taken his eyes off Jenny. This was going bad quickly.
“Well I see from your records you don’t appear to have had much problem with your meals.”
Fronhouse eyed Jenny up and down once more, and then turned his head to Eva. “Unsatisfied.” His eyes widened slightly and he fidgeted.
“Nothing changes then,” agreed Eva, motioning Jenny to take notes, more to give her something to do than for the need. “Harold likes to play games,” Eva lectured. “One-word answers can go on for days if he feels like it. It’s a shame. He is such a conversationalist. But I know what you love to talk about, don’t I?” Eva spoke as she would to a pet.
In response, Fronhouse grinned, the vacuous smile of one not in possession of all their mental faculties. “The bomb.”
Eva leaned forward, a conspirator to his cause. “Yes the bomb. Why don’t you tell us the story of the bomb.”
Fronhouse trembled with excitement, and looked at Eva as if seeking to please a master. “I was young, not more than a child. We lived in a farmhouse in the hills. My parents used to have parties. The sorts of parties where you put your car keys in a jar and the wife left with whoever owned the keys she pulled out. They loved that sort of thing. It gave them excitement.
"Over time, my mother pulled the same keys repeatedly. My father grew suspicious.” Fronhouse cackled to himself at some perceived vision.
“He took me with him once and showed me my mother and her lover through a window in the house. He was behind her. They were naked. She was moaning.” Fronhouse again watched Jenny as he said this, evidently gauging the impact of his words. Jenny had dropped her pad and pen in her lap, just staring.
Fronhouse, restless now, fidgeted more. “My father took me home and told me he was going to make my mother pay for this, and he wanted my help. We built a bomb, and fitted it under her car.” He turned his head to one side and growled: “Yes, I can feel it, too.”


Hellbounce is the first book of the ARC chronicles and was recently released by Heart Powered Publishing. Since then, the novel has gained exceptional reviews from people across the web:

“This book caught me in the opening and never let up.” -ruffy, Amazon review

“Wow. This guy has talent. Serious talent. . . . [Hellbounce] pulls you in, mangles your emotions and pushes your senses to the brink, and when you're done, you need a drink and a good night's rest. With the lights on.” -P. Palmer, Amazon review

"Hold on to your seats and take a ride to hell and back. A prison hospital psychologist spends a romantic night with a man she simply cannot remember. When you think her life could not be any more complicated, all hell breaks loose and she finds herself on a mission unlike any other." - Claudia, Goodreads review 

"This is not a genre I would generally read, in fact it's a genre I dislike. . . . However . . . I was hooked from the first few pages and I haven't devoured a book this quickly in long time. . . . I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy." - Sean Groom, Goodreads Review

Where to Get it:

Learn more about Hellbounce, read other reviews, or purchase it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.