November 8, 2016

The Man on the Moon Hill: an interview with Anthony J. Rapino, author of "Greetings from Moon Hill"

BREATHE DEEP OF THE NIGHT.
Greetings from Moon Hill is a collection of darkly bizarre horror stories culled from the deranged mind of Anthony J. Rapino, author of Soundtrack to the End of the World.
Somewhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania, nestled between the forests and foothills of the Poconos, you’ll find the forgotten town of Moon Hill. It’s a surreal place of arcane magic and natural wonder, where a hint of autumn lingers in the air, the leaves are always turning, and the shadows grow long no matter the time of day. 
You might say Moon Hill is special, an eerie pocket of Americana frozen in time, filled with eccentric characters and deathly secrets that transcend reality. And like most small towns, it also has a dark side. 
This book is a roadmap to the lost town’s terrifying mysteries. Wander through the brush of Moon Hill State Forest and explore its otherworldly flora in “From Your Body They Rise.” Bear witness to the interdimensional war raging above Old Road in the novella, “Reality Engineers.” Conjure autumnal spirits with Handy Weber in “Halloween on the Hill,” sample the peculiar glowing ale brewed by Slow Ewan in “Struck by Golden Lightning,” and pay your respects with blood at the old Whistler place in “Just Once More, Little Sister.”
As you explore Moon Hill’s darkened corners, you will discover a town built upon a foundation of nightmares, proving once again that Anthony J. Rapino is not only a master storyteller, but also a dark architect of the imagination.
Welcome to Moon Hill. Your definition of weird is about to change.
Purchase from Amazon


Gef: When did Moon Hill first come into play through your writing?

Anthony: Shortly after waking up in the town. Let me explain. First of all, never mix absinthe, red bull, and kale puree. If you do, never drink five mugs of it. If you do, don’t eat fully-loaded nachos right before. If you do, don’t have tapioca pudding for dessert. And if you do, absolutely never do so while hitchhiking.

The aforementioned series of events led me to discover this out-of-the-way destination with which I’ve been obsessed. Once finding my way home, I immediately began work on the first of many “Moon Hill” stories. Initially I used it as a mere backdrop, but as time wore on, I realized Moon Hill held a kind of magic, and I very much wanted to know its origin.

Gef: Was this connected universe of stories something you had wanted to approach from the get-go or did it kind of sneak up on you?

Anthony: Yeah, it sneaked up on me like that plate of fully-loaded nachos. What started as a convenient setting for my stories slowly grew into a community of intertwining narratives. As I awaited the publication of my debut novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World, I decided to take those “Moon Hill” stories and compile what eventually became Welcome to Moon Hill.

I released that first collection when the notion of Moon Hill was still in its infancy, and the results were telling. Though
Welcome to Moon Hill garnered an abundance of positive reviews, the main complaint was the lack of interconnectivity.

When Todd Keisling of Precipice Books approached me about re-releasing
Welcome to Moon Hill, we knew we had a great opportunity to not only re-edit the stories, but in many cases rewrite, expand, and add on to the existing document.

The result is
Greetings from Moon Hill, a wholly immersive experience that leads the reader through a living, breathing town filled to the brim with eccentric characters and deathly secrets.

Gef: With some years now between now and when you first wrote many of these stories, how would you gauge your progression as a writer?

Anthony: It’s always interesting to look back. In many cases so much time has passed that I don’t remember having written the story, and it feels as though I’m rediscovering some part of me that has long ago grown or changed in some way. I think over time my writing style has become leaner, more descriptive, and less reliant on exposition. During the editing phase, Todd was invaluable in picking out areas where I could improve, usually with statements such as, “Drop kick this paragraph in the face and tighten it up, Rapino!”

He’s a true professional.

Gef: What was the biggest surprise or learning experience through the Kickstarter campaign?

Anthony: The biggest surprise was that there were enough people interested in visiting Moon Hill to get fully funded. I know that’s self-depreciating (and for the record, Todd never had any doubts), but crowdfunding is far from a sure thing, and I was on pins and needles the entire time.

As for the learning experience, I’ll be honest, Todd did most of the heavy lifting when it came to actually running the campaign. But what I did learn from him is that preparation is key, and to always play it safe when it comes to costs, because fees and shipping charges will sneak up on you and obliterate your goal. Luckily Todd did everything right, and I feel lucky to have had him in my corner.

Gef: Another of your big passions along with writing is sculpting, which came into play through the rewards portion of the Kickstarter. When did you first decide to take a stab at the sculpting and molding? And where did the inspiration come from?

Anthony: I first decided to start sculpting about two years ago when I got it into my head that I’d like to create my own Halloween props. I never got that far because I absolutely fell in love with the sculpting process and decided to instead focus on horror miniatures (magnets, busts, figures, etc). The inspiration is largely the same I have for writing, and that is the desire to create interesting and horrific things.

We always planned to tie my sculptures into the release of Greetings from Moon Hill. Part of our vision for the release was to expand the interactive universe of this dark, autumnal town as much as possible. So it seemed logical to create a map of the town and artifacts that come from it.

Gef: We're just coming off the best time of year, that being Halloween, and with 80s nostalgia being in full swing the last while too, how would you compare your experiences as a kid compared to as a grownup for All Hallow's Eve, because through your YouTube channel alone you seem like you want to wring as much fun out of this season as possible?

Anthony: Nostalgia is all about reliving or revisiting memories you had as a child or young adult. Often because those memories are happy ones, and it’s comforting to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of the past to shield from the cold bite of winter’s present.

I find it incredibly important to remember that so I don’t fall victim to avoidance. In that way, I love to embrace Halloween traditions from my childhood (carving pumpkins, watching
Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, roasting pumpkin seeds) while allowing new traditions to form (going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, exploring new haunted houses, trekking through the woods on an autumn hike).

If I let myself indulge too deeply in pure nostalgia, what I find is that Halloween would never live up to the ones of my childhood. But by opening myself to new experiences within the framework of nostalgia, Halloween is a bright light shining in the darkness, opening the gateway to the holidays.

Gef: Now you're the kind of writer that seems as comfortable approaching a story from a Bradburian mindset as you are from a Barker-esque mindset. Do you have a personal preference in your style of horror, whether in writing or film or whatnot?

Anthony: I don’t have a preference. I could joke that I just do what the voices tell me to, but that’d piss them off, and I hate getting on their bad side. I don’t outline, draw up character sketches, or otherwise prepare for my writing sessions. In that way, each story is a journey of discovery for me, and they become what they become. As a fan of all types of horror, it seems only natural that my stories and novels would vary in execution. If I had to choose a preference—speaking in subgenre terms—I like dark comedy. So if there’s anything that plays through most of what I write, it’s that light side of the dark. I try to find the humor in the malicious, whether absurd or not. If you’re not sure how evisceration can be humorous, you haven’t read my work.

Gef: If you could do a crossover story, kinda like Alien/Predator or Magnum P.I./Jessica Fletcher, with Moon Hill and another horror-themed universe, which would it be? Castle Rock? Nightvale? The Whedonverse?

Anthony: Oh wow, I actually think a Moon Hill/Whedonverse story would be hysterical. I suppose the easy answer is Castle Rock, and probably the truest answer as well. However, in realistic terms, you may eventually see a Moon Hill/Monochrome crossover. For those who are unaware, the Monochrome is Todd Keisling’s sandbox, and one you should really visit.

Gef: What do you see happening next for Moon Hill, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Anthony: The next time you visit Moon Hill will be in my novel The Shadows of Flies, of which there is an excerpt in Greetings from Moon Hill. This novel has been a long time in the making, and will hopefully be completed in 2017. I’m hugely excited for this novel and feel it will be the fullest treatment of the Moon Hill mythology to date, and perhaps the last.

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, my website, and my Storenvy page.

Thanks so much for having me over, Gef.   

ANTHONY J. RAPINO is a horror writer and sculptor. He’s also a teacher, and somehow that makes more sense than it should. He spends his days among people and things that demand shaping: Words, clay, or minds, it amounts to the same job. Though the minds are a hard sell, you can find his fiction and sculptures online. Discover more at AnthonyJRapino.com,
Tony’s Facebook Page (Candy Corn Apocalypse), Tony’s Twitter (@anthonyjrapino),

Praise for Greetings from Moon Hill/Rapino

“Anthony Rapino's collection Greetings from Moon Hill is his best work so far. Don't miss these fascinating and scary stories from a master of the craft.” --Kate Jonez, Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of Ceremony of Flies and Candy House
“Anthony Rapino’s work is uniquely infused with horror and a type of childlike innocence that makes the darkness that much darker. Greetings from Moon Hill invites you to a place that is both tragic and extraordinary. Once you enter, you’ll never be allowed to leave.” – Mercedes M. Yardley, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Little Dead Red and Pretty Little Dead Girls
Greetings from Moon Hill […] displays Rapino’s range, which is vast and varied, yet unique, and always dark as well as entertaining. With effortless grace and ease, and weaved like a seasoned professional, this collection proves that Rapino’s career is destined to be a long and fruitful one. I cannot think of a higher compliment.” – Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky
“A master at the art of tale-spinning, Anthony Rapino infuses a sense of creeping dread that immediatelyentrances and bewilders. To enter his world is to become unsettlingly accustomed to those tales that exist in the shadows." Mary Rajotte, Bloody Bookish
“Want thrilling, scary, moody stories that put you on edge and play with your emotions? Well if you're looking for that and you're looking for an experience rather than just entertainment, one author comes immediately to my mind and that author is Anthony Rapino.” -- Benjamin Kane Ethridge, award winning author of Black & Orange and Divine Scream
“In Greetings from Moon Hill, Anthony Rapino is at times a sorcerer, and other times a madman. His work is both that of a puppeteer and a sadist. He tends to detail much like a chef, as he parses imagery throughout his work morsel by morsel, which we ravenously consume, until we realize that with his fiction, actually it is us that are being consumed.” – Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbags and Hashtag


Want to feature this book/author?
If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature Greetings from Moon Hill or Anthony J. Rapino in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com. Thanks!
Precipice Books
Precipice Books is a small press specializing in horror and speculative fiction, delivering a unique premium experience to readers across a variety of mediums. Find more on their website.
Precipice Books Twitter: @precipice_books



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