Dreadful Tales Book Club – September 2014 Edition

BotM Sept 2014

I’m not even going to play with you this month – books about Exorcisms and any religious horror happenings scare the all of the fluids out of me. I love them, but they don’t love me. They hate me. They keep me up at night and whisper sickly sweet nothings in my ear… about my eventual evisceration…

Enter Jonathan Janz – one of the new breed of authors who is making waves in the genre today, and the man who brings old-school scares with a splatterpunk flair. (Am I rhyming too much here?)

With Exorcist Road, Janz ushers in a new era of thrills and violence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the old school paperback days. I would gladly stand this novella alongside lurid horror gems like Ketchum’s Off Season for its shock factor; the unbridled aggression of Laymon’s One Rainy Night; and the sexually charged nastiness of Tessier’s Rapture.

Here’s the synopsis:

Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?

Chicago is gripped by terror. “The Sweet Sixteen Killer” is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.

A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.

But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn’t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.

You can pick up a copy at Samhain, on Amazon, and discuss it here and at The Mortuary.

- C

Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz

I’ve long been a fan of the Horror Western but for my money few writers manage to write them convincingly. When I discovered that Jonathan Janz’s next novel was a horror novel set in 1880s New Mexico I had high hopes for a wild ride and I was not to be disappointed.

Dust Devils is at its heart a story of revenge and redemption, its protagonist Cody Wilson is a young man who has married a wanton woman and ostracised himself from his own family into the bargain. After allowing a savage band of vampires who travel New Mexico masquerading as itinerant actors to seduce and slaughter his wife he saddles up in search of revenge, but he also has a few inner demons with which he needs to battle. Catching up with the vampires it isn’t long before the hunter becomes the hunted and joined by a young boy who is the soul survivor of another of the vampire’s rapacious attacks a desperate pursuit ensues. Seeking succour in the small town of Mesquite he finds himself trapped by the brutish and evil men who run the town, the clock is ticking and Adam Price’s feral gang of travelling vampires will soon descend upon Mesquite bringing hell along with them.

Dust Devils is a tense and riveting tale which reaches a ferocious and breathtaking crescendo in the towns saloon where all hell breaks loose. Janz’s vampires are thankfully not the simpering lovelorn creatures we have seen plague horror literature of late; instead they are relentlessly vicious and monstrously carnal. As with Janz’s other novels this fantastic story is grounded by wonderfully drawn characters and it is almost a shame to see even some of the evil ones ripped to bloody shreds.

First and foremost a traditional Western Dust Devils is also a gripping horror story suffused with terror and no holds barred bloody action. With this novel Jonathan Janz lets fly with both barrels blazing.

With its publication imminent I thought I would ask Jonathan a few questions about his novel.

DARK MARK: Why a Western? I felt a love of the genre shone through in the novel but what were your inspirations for the tale?

JONATHAN JANZ: That’s wonderful to hear! I’ve always enjoyed western films, but it wasn’t until about a decade ago that I got into western novels. Now I love them. I think what attracts me—and many people—to westerns is the lawlessness of the environment. Strangely, I think it’s similar to people’s attraction to the zombie subgenre. Essentially, both genres beg the question, “What happens when all threat of punishment is erased?” Outlaws thrived in the Old West because there was very little law to thwart them. Many people turned a blind eye to their crimes. Others joined them in victimizing innocent people. But just as there will always be people who choose the easy route, or even the despicable one, there will be good men and women who will do what’s right because that’s the kind of people they are. Because western stories plumb the depths of humanity, the heroes who rise up to stand against evil shine all the brighter. We like zombie apocalypse stories because we want to see who will loot and pillage and victimize in the absence of authority, but we also watch these stories to witness the revelation of the good within our hearts. So too do the best westerns distil good and evil and dramatize them in the most unflinching way. My inspirations for the novel were the works of Elmore Leonard, Cormac McCarthy, and Larry McMurtry, as well as the films of Clint Eastwood and the recent 3:10 to Yuma. For example, in Leonard’s Last Stand at Saber River, the protagonist has many opportunities to choose the easy way out. But he knows that in doing so he’d be compromising his beliefs, setting a bad example for his sons, and disappointing his wife. The protagonist of my novel grapples with some of the same issues, and I hope I do that internal conflict justice.

DM: I thought Cody Wilson’s relationship with his father had a ring of truth to it, was it based upon that of an actual father and son?

JJ: I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. That relationship might just be the most important one in the entire book. I grew up without a father in the house (at least, until my mom remarried when I was in junior high). A father was something I always longed for, and I felt that void acutely throughout my childhood. I often chose television dads who seemed kind hearted to become my imaginary fathers. They’d take me camping, play catch with me, and generally spend time with me. I think the father in Dust Devils, though he’s not perfect, is the kind of dad I wanted to have and the kind of father I want to be. Now, thankfully, I have a son of my own (as well as two wonderful daughters), and I get to experience all the things I missed out on as a child.

DM: The vampires are rapacious and brutally nasty was this a conscious effort to make vampires scary again? Is there a beast within the mild mannered horror writer that must find release?

JJ: Hah! You’d have to ask my wife about the “beast within the mild-mannered horror writer” part, since she knows me better than I know myself. I’m very happy you found the vampires to be brutal and nasty. I certainly wanted them to be frightening. I don’t hate any book or movie, necessarily, but I know there have been depictions of vampires as angsty, less-than-monstrous creatures. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a vampire who can be seductive—in fact, I think that can be a good thing. But for me, there needs to be that other side. That duality. It’s the darkness that makes the seductive side more frightening. I thought Chris Sarandon did a great job in the original Fright Night of capturing both the allure of the vampire and the viciousness of its true nature. His character (Jerry Dandridge) was one of the inspirations for Price, my lead vampire in Dust Devils. Having said that, the bestial, ravening creature hiding behind the human mask is my favorite aspect of the vampire. 30 Days of Night is a film that I thought did a great job of showing how frightening and inexorable vampires could be. So, for me, the best vampires feature a combination of intelligence, seductiveness, ferociousness, and sadism. I hope my vampires exhibit those traits in Dust Devils.

DM: I thought the book would make a great movie, which of your novels if any would you like to see on the silver screen?

JJ: Thank you! I’m biased, obviously, but I think it would make a great movie, too. I think my most recent two Samhain Horror releases—Savage Species and Dust Devils—would make excellent movies. Both would require moderate budgets, but I don’t think they’d be difficult to adapt into screenplay form. One of the tests I present myself as a writer is the Movie Scene Test. Essentially, I go scene by scene through my stories and make things as visual as possible. If the scene isn’t immediate enough to be imagined on film, I either cut it or rework it until I can see it playing out on screen. Even if a scene is a flashback or a dream sequence (though I rarely do those), it needs to contain action, dialogue that crackles, or some other magnetism that makes it unspool like a feature film. I’m not saying I accomplish that every time, but it’s something of which I’m always cognizant. My other novels would also play well on film, particularly The Darkest Lullaby, which wouldn’t need a robust budget. That one could be a small, independent picture. The Sorrows and House of Skin would be great movies, but the screenplays would be very tricky due to the Gothic format of the books. My superhero novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows would be a blast on screen, but it (like The Sorrows) would require a ton of money. Obviously, I’m a total unknown to Hollywood, so I won’t hold my breath for those to be adapted. In reading back through my answer to this question, I realized my words could be interpreted as being self-aggrandizing. I didn’t mean them to be. I just love movies and want my stories to be easy to visualize.

DM: What can we expect next? Can I hope for a sequel to Savage Species for example?

JJ: I’m really excited about the prospect of writing the sequel to Savage Species, but I’ll likely have to wait until, at the earliest, the summer of 2015 to write it. This year I’ll have Dust Devils in February and Castle of Sorrows (the sequel to The Sorrows) in July. There’s also something else coming in July that—to my knowledge—has never been done before, but I’m not allowed to talk about it until the contracts have been signed. But it’ll be a pretty awesome thing. I’m working on my seventh Samhain novel now (to be published in January 2015); I also have two really big and awesome projects to write and complete this spring and summer. So…it’s a busy time, but it’s the best kind of busy. I’m just thankful that people want to read my stuff, and I hope my readership continues to grow in 2014. I’m also thankful for places like Dreadful Tales, which is a place that champions horror and helps make the genre stronger.

Dust Devils will be published on February 4, 2014 by Samhain Publishing and will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or direct from the publishers here as well as from where all good books are sold.

- Dark Mark

Violet Eyes by John Everson

The theme of nature attacking has long been a staple of horror literature and the idea that often seemingly innocuous creatures may become ravenously lethal nightmares has been used countless times but Bram Stoker Award winning author John Everson shows with his novel Violet Eyes that the theme still has legs.

A hideous abomination lies in wait on the island of Sheila Key, but it’s contained by geography until hapless tourists explore the idyll and discover unspeakable terror and death.

Moving forwards Rachel Riordan and her ten year old son Eric relocate to the isolated Florida town Passanaette to flee an abusive ex-husband and begin a new life together. Their new neighbour Billy is a survivor of the attack on Sheila Key and has brought back with him a virulent new species which is unleashed upon the unsuspecting town. Before long family pets begin to go missing and a swarm of biting flies and viciously aggressive spiders descend upon the burg. These creatures are hideous and insidious by design and by the time Passanaette wakes up to the peril it may be already be too late…

Everson has created a wonderfully nasty creature with a lifecycle and feeding habits that are voracious and terrifying all of which he describes with unflinching glee. This novel will cause even the hardened fan of horror literature to be filled with skin crawling dread but the real strength of this tale is the believable characters whose actions and motivation ring true. It is the human element which sells a story of this nature and no amount of wonderfully described horror and gruesome slaughter mean much unless the characters are well drawn. Thankfully Everson has crafted a convincing cast and environment upon which he unleashes a truly abhorrent plague.

Evoking old school horror from the 80’s and 90’s Everson’s novel is also refreshingly creative and suffused throughout with palpable dread and gruesome carnage which will have hardcore horror fans squirming and arachnophobes looking for a chair to stand on assuming they survive the first chapter.

Trailer Review – And The Night Growled Back, by Aaron Dries

I like Aaron Dries work, and was specifically drawn to it due to his book trailers as mentioned in my review for The Fallen Boys. It turns out he has made them himself. This is my second prerequisite for a horror fiction trailer I want to review. The first is that they be good, so here we are!

This one begins innocuously enough. I like the mix of the brooding voice-over, highway shots and live action. By the time the tension and mystery build, the soundscape warps. Some may be turned off by the high pitch tone used, but I love this. Nothing says terror like your hearing giving out, no? It’s at just about that point that this trailer rears up and snaps at you – literally!

Anyone out there looking to release a book trailer can learn a lot from these reviews. And remember, there is a larger life for these videos outside of YouTube. They are far more fun to share than a static image. They make great entries to horror and Halloween film festivals. With a little added audio, most can do well as radio spots and the like. So, to not keep you waiting, here is some conversation with horror author Aaron Dries about the trailer for And The Night Growled Back.

Typicallydia: I want to ask about the technical side. What camera did you use?

Aaron Dries: No grade A camera in use here, sadly. My book trailer budget was miniscule—which is a polite way of saying absolutely bloody nothing—so the bulk of this  production was shot on my partner’s DSLR with an HD video capture function. The one problem is that it’s so lightweight. Lightweight cameras are great if you’ve got a tripod but can be problematic because they capture every shake of your hand. And no, I didn’t have a tripod. The camera had no image stability feature. I actually had more dolly/tracking shots in my shotlist, but my arm just wasn’t steady enough. Not a gliding THE SHINING-esque push in to be found in any of my footage. Oh, and let’s not forget that I didn’t have any dolly tracks laid out or anything. The interior shots were all done in my one bedroom Canberra (Australia) loft. So I cleared away my coffee table and rolled up my shag rug so I had the open floorboards to work on; then I sat on my wheel-based swivel chair and had my partner push me around, back and forth, front-ways and sideways. I’m glad we’re on the third floor of our apartment building. The people on the street would have thought us insane otherwise. But then again, maybe we are.

I used a secondary camera for the ‘highway’ shots, an old Bloggie cam, which is USB powered and is about the size of a small TV remote. We’ll get to how I used this one later…

TL: What sort of lighting was needed? I know how important good light is…

AD: For all of these interior shots, the only lighting I had available was that I could source from around my apartment. I accumulated every lamp and torch I could find and strategically placed them around the limited space, just out of shot. I bounced light off the walls to give the background some definition and to try to cast some shadows over the actor’s faces, where appropriate (especially at the dining table). I used a floor lamp to light their faces, and angled the lamp shade in a particular direction to diffuse the brightness. I would alternate which ceiling lights I’d use depending on which direction I was shooting in, but this was often problematic, as it let too much light into the scene, breaking the mood. Lighting, for the record, was the hardest part of the shoot. You can have a good camera, or a really simple one, and shoot something that looks great—but if it’s not lit well, you might as well have shot your masterpiece in a shoebox. Lighting is critical. It was a challenge, but it worked. Eventually.

TL: Where is that highway, and was the lighting there a challenge as well?

AD: That highway was actually just a road, which kind of looked like an eerie and abandoned highway when shot from a low angle. I tried shooting on an actual highway, but there was too much traffic—highways are well lit, too. I didn’t want that. I only wanted the glare off the tarmac and the blare of the dividing lines, really. I was really going for a David Lynchian LOST HIGHWAY kind of thing. I just wasn’t going to get that on your average Australian highway… So these exterior shots were taken on Mount Ainsle in Canberra, about a five minute drive from my apartment. I waited until the middle of the night so there wouldn’t be any other cars and did it all in one shot.

To capture this image, which to me was crucial (I even considered just using this one shot, unbroken and complete, without any of the interior inserts, just a voice over), I took my little Bloogie cam and used electrical tape to fasten it to the number plate of my car! In order to do this, I had to set the camera to record first and then attach it, crossing my fingers as I did so. I then got back in my car and … sped and swerved up that mountain and then down again. I’m sure if the police had seen me I would have been pulled over for sure. I wasn’t terribly proud, but I was careful. The only real danger up there was all the wildlife bounding about. At one point a Kangaroo leapt out in front of me.

[That, right there, is why I like interviewing Aaron Dries]

So I drove, and the whole time I was praying to the low-budget filmmaking gods out there, “please-please-please don’t let the sticky tape break, please don’t let the camera hit the ground and shatter into a million pieces. After all, the damn thing doesn’t even belong to me. It’s my partner’s as well! I took it without permission because there’s no way I’d get the green light if I’d actually said what I planned to use it for!” (I mean, who would?)

As for the lighting, I knew that the majority of the shot would be in shadow. The night was pitch black. By putting my blinders on I knew I was guaranteed to get the road glare, if nothing else. And that was enough. My problem was focus! This is a low-fi camera we’re talking about here, with no manual focus feature. I just had to luck it. There was also no way of checking the footage until after I’d gone up and then back down the mountain. I pulled over, jumped out of the car and pretty much screamed Hallelujah when I saw that a) the camera was there in place, and b) the footage was useable. Eureka! David Lynch, eat your heart out. In post-production I desaturated the shots and put a slight blue/green filter on it. All of the camera shake was digitally simulated in Final Cut Pro.

TL: There is a wonderful growl at the end… where did you collect that sound?

AD: It’s a good growl, don’t you think? So monstrous and evil sounding… Sorry to disappoint you kind folks out there, but this noise isn’t the roar of some Australian creature in the outback, which I coincidentally captured whilst going up Mount Ainslie. Nope… It’s me. I did multiple takes, ran the sound at 50% speed and overdubbed the tracks. I dropped a couple of audio filters on it, thus upping the bass. I cranked the sound so it would really blare. Done. Easy as pie—only cheaper than your average pie.

All of the sound was done by me, including the score. Not that I can play any instruments, mind you. There’s an out of tune piano at my work (I work in a nursing home), so I went into the room on my lunch break and recorded myself just striking random keys. At home, I changed the footage into MP3 files. I imported the audio clip into Final Cut Pro, dropped the speed a little and played the sequence backwards. The wind sounds and the scratchy record effect were sourced from a generic sound-effects CD that I borrowed from my local library. These worked a treat. Finally, I asked my friend, Leigh, who has a wonderfully laconic voice, to do the narration.

TL: So, you mention a tiny budget of $25. What was that spent on?

AD: The number one expenditure for the entire trailer was the monster at the end. I really wanted to find a bear mask, or something wolfish. But I couldn’t find a single mask that fit that description in all of Canberra. I considered sourcing something via Ebay, but everything was so overpriced. Remember, sadly, we don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia (please let that change, and soon!), so there isn’t the huge market for these kind of novelties like there is overseas, especially mid-year. I went to a costume shop wedged between two XXX adult stores on the outskirts of the city (go figure) and found a zombie mask that I thought would work. Not because it looked like a bear or wolf (I’m not that lucky), but it had these great teeth on it. I also knew it was something I could operate with my hand. I knew the shot I wanted, and I knew that the monster would only be seen for a moment. All I needed was the suggestion of jaws. I also bought a kid’s ‘tiger snout’ (which goes over your nose and is attached with elastic). I went home, widened the zombie’s jaws with a pair of scissors and stitched the snout to the zombie’s nose, thus extending the face. I masked the stitches by cutting off the zombie’s hair and sticking it to the divide with chewing gum!

I remember looking at it and thinking to myself, “there’s no way on earth that this is going to work.” Turns out it did. I knew if this bastard mask was shot from the exact right angle, with the exact right amount of camera shake, it’d at least look threatening. In the end, this composition ended up being my ‘money shot’. So, in the end, I guess getting that mask from the little store between the two XXX adult stores was … well … apt.

The rest of my grand expenditures went towards buying the electrical tape used to fasten my camera to my number plate, and towards a small packet of sewing needles that I got at the local dollar store (for, you guess it, a whole buck), so I could stitch the mask together.

So here’s the budget.

Mask: $17.00
Tiger snout: $3.00
Tape: $3.95
Sewing needles: $1.00

TL: Two bottles of wine were also listed in the budget. Did it cost more than $25 and, most importantly, what kind of wine?

AD: The wine! To thank my wonderful actors (my friends Beth and Harrison, who are very good sports, indeed), my partner and I cooked dinner for them (Malaysian red curry, rice and vegetables—from ingredients all in our pantry) I dusted off two bottles of wines that I found under my staircase. I thought a couple of drinks would ease their nerves. We cracked open a bottle of Shiraz (from the Barossa Valley) and Semillon (from the Hunter Valley, my old stomping grounds) and they were delicious. We didn’t overdo it, though. We shot this book trailer on a Wednesday night. A school night. Hardcore, right? Yep, that’s how I roll.

***

(Before I could get to additional questions about making trailers, Dries beat me to the punch. You can tell he is as passionate about film as he is about writing. There is little I can add to his perfect addendum with tips on making a good short video.)

AD: There are a lot of book trailers out there. 99% of them are god awful. That’s not to say they haven’t been made with love, and often exorbitant amounts of money (and for many of us authors, anything more than a hundred bucks can—and usually is—be considered very expensive). There are many things you can do to make your trailer better, without breaking the budget.

Here are some helpful tips.

  • Don’t put over-dramatic stock music in your trailer. This only ends up making your cheap visuals look cheaper. Scale it all back. Make your music complementary to your images, not dominant. Go for minimalism. Also, all stock music has been heard before. It diminishes the effect. You’re better off just having atmospheric sounds and narration.
  • If you’re going to have any text in your video, choose it well. Make sure it’s appropriate for the material you’re advertising. Don’t use a font that looks like it was written by a fifteen year old girl daydreaming about her first school crush when your content is about blood-and-guts murder. It just doesn’t work. I see this all the time. Keep it simple. Less is always more.
  • Don’t have an amazing camera to shoot your trailer on, as was the case with me? That’s okay. Shoot it on your phone. Shoot it on anything. But whatever you do, light your compositions well. Anything less than really good lighting will make your trailer look as cheap as it really is. But lights don’t need to be something you hire. You can go a long way with lamps and headlights.
  • Don’t have professional actors to work with? That’s totally fine! Use your friends … Just don’t get them to deliver any lines. Getting your friends to pose on camera is very different from having them read a script poorly on camera. Just get them to look in the right direction and create the drama out of the film techniques you’re employing — and you should employ them. Get a book on simple filmic techniques, or model your setups after sequences in the movies you like. Hell, Youtube how to shoot basic conversations.
  • Don’t make your book trailer too long and don’t give too much away. I’ve seen five minute long trailers. I usually turn off about 3 minutes in. Two minutes max, unless it’s really good. Like, really REALLY good.
  • Get creative. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
  • You can download free editing software online, or you can dish out the $200 to buy a copy of the new Final Cut Pro. There’s iMovie, there’s all sorts of stuff out there… But whatever you use, remember this: just because there are effects and transitions in the toolbox doesn’t mean you have to put them all in your book trailer. So, no star wipes, scrolling text, or any of those other awful 3D simulators. If you do, watch out. The night really will growl back at you.
  • When it comes to editing, you want your finished product to look as much like film as possible. You’ll never reach this height, trust me. But you CAN get closer by doing the following: desaturate your footage, increase the grain and color-grade every shot. Make the blacks look really black. Contrast is good. Contrast looks like money has been spent on lighting. And yes, I know it’s cheating, but changing everything to widescreen instantly makes everything look more cinematic. But if you’re going to do this, make sure you allow extra space above and below every shot when you’re filming live, otherwise you’ll end up with chopped off heads when you go to edit. And not the ‘good kind’ of chopped off heads.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. So what are you waiting for? Get filming now! In the immortal lines of the Wicked Witch of the West, “Fly my pretties. Fly!”

*end transmission*

So.

There we have it. I certainly hope I can find more scary book trailers out there with authors willing to share the production experience with Dreadful Tales. Huge thanks to Aaron for giving us a front-seat view of his project. You can pick up this short story, And The Night Growled Back, at Samhain for $2.50 while you wait for him to wrap up his next novel. I’ll be writing up a review on this in the near future too!

Dreadful Tales Book Club – October 2013 Edition

Thanks to my Darkness, Mark Brown a.k.a. Dark Mark for the lovely banner

Thanks to my Darkness, Mark Brown a.k.a. Dark Mark for the lovely banner

Happy October, my wonderfully spooky lil Dreadites! I’m sure for all of you, as for all of us here at Dreadful Tales, October is simply the best month of the year. Suddenly, we’re no longer the weirdos. Every man, woman, and child is obsessed with monsters and any marketing exec worth his weight in cufflinks is catering to our every desire. Today is the first day of this blessed month and already I’m drunk off the fumes of pumpkin spiced lattes and candy corn…. Perhaps drunk on a bit of witches brew too.

Because this month is the greatest of all the months, we hope to keep our dreadful cyber pages jam packed with book reviews and whatever other spooky treats we can come up with.  To kick off the month, I have our October Book of the Month announcement.

Whether it’s a book that has collected dust on the shelves for far too long, a celebrated classic that never quite made it into the to-read pile, or a favorite author’s latest release, every Book of the Month is worth getting excited about. Still, I have to say that October’s title has me particularly pumped. So pumped in fact, that I must abandon September’s book Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, despite being an oft favorite among King fans and a title that I have neglected since I can remember. I’ll level with ya, I didn’t even break page 100. Nothing against the King, but work, family, and all that good life stuff has wreaked some serious havoc on my reading time. Normally, I would just keep chugging along, at a snails pace if I have to, until I finish every last word of the book I’m reading. But, after a vicious Dreadful Tales board meeting in which hair was pulled, flesh was clawed, and relationships were damaged beyond repair, the October Book of the Month was chosen!

I’ve kept you waiting long enough, so without further adieu (assuming you didn’t catch it in the banner) - the October Book of the Month is John Everson’s Violet Eyes! John Everson holds a special place on my bookshelves because he was my first taste of modern horror fiction. Several years before Dreadful Tales, Colum sent me 3 modern horror fiction titles, one of which was John Everson’s The 13th. While it sounds hyperbolic, that book changed the course of everything for me. It was horror pulp like I had only experienced in late night B movies. Everson gave me boobs, blood, and beasts. He offered just the right mix of eroticism and gore and it is a delicate balance I’ve loved in his work ever since. I’m sure the sex and blood is rampant in his latest novel Violet Eyes as well, but what I’m most excited about is the sci-fi element. Everson is no stranger to the supernatural, but a straight up sci-fi novel about murderous spiders!? Everson was born to write this! Just take a gander at this synopsis:

The small town near the Everglades was supposed to offer Rachel and her son a fresh start. Instead it offered the start of a nightmare, when an unknown breed of flies migrated through the area, leaving painful bites in their wake. The media warned people to stay inside until the swarm passed. But the flies didn’t leave. And then the radios and TVs went silent.

 

That’s when the spiders came. Spiders that could spin a deadly web large enough to engulf an entire house overnight. Spiders that left stripped bones behind as they multiplied. Spiders that, like the flies, sought hungrily for tender flesh… through Violet Eyes.

I am thrilled to read Violet Eyes with you all, some Everson virgins, some long time fans. While King’s classic vampire tale can wait, my heart will not rest at the promise of a sci-fi pulp yarn spun (haha!) by my favorite, ever romantic, erotic horror author John Everson.

Hopefully my rambling did not scare you off. Please join all us crazies here to discuss John Everson’s Violet Eyes throughout the month of October. Pick up a copy of the book here and for more about Everson and his work visit his website here.

-Meli

The Fallen Boys by Aaron Dries

Like most new authors, Aaron Dries has held many jobs. My own list is almost as interesting as his; pizza boy, retail clerk, kitchen hand, aged care worker… stuff like that. He is also a video director and illustrator which sold me on his talents before, during, and after reading his second novel, The Fallen Boys.

Unlike most new authors, he was picked up by genre-fan-favorite Samhain Horror with no more than one published short story under his belt. After entering what would become his first novel in the Leisure Books / Rue Morgue/ Chizine Publications “Fresh Blood” contest, and winning the competition, House of Sighs was released by Samhain Horror in 2011.

Those in the know, know why the swap from Leisure to Samhain went down, so we don’t need to have a recent-history lesson here. Suffice it to say, this new Australian author was basically shot out of a cannon and survived to write another book. Continue reading

Merry Axemas from Meli!

christmas tales wallpaper

Merry Axemas! Well, perhaps I’m jumping the gun a bit, but I’m definitely in the Christmas spirit. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. In fact, I think I like it even more than (gasp) Halloween. It’s not just the shiny objects, sparkles, lights, cute little animals in Santa hats, and all the sweets people bring to work that I love; it’s the chance to reconnect with friends and family I haven’t seen all year. Of course, along with all the warm hot chocolate (or more likely eggnog) and cookies comes stress. For those who will be traveling like me, you have the headache of navigating through potentially dangerous weather conditions. Then there is the most nerve-racking part of the whole damn holiday, shopping! What the hell do you get for the mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa that have everything? What about your football loving brother-in-law? Do you get him gear marked by the logo of his favorite team, again? Or some cologne since he kinda smells funny? Well, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that. What I can do is tip you off to some lil’ goodies you can treat yourself to that will help eliminate some of that shopping stress. Isn’t rewarding yourself for navigating through crowds of evil shoppers to make your family and friends happy part of the fun of Christmas shopping anyway?

I’m going to break this out into a few different categories. While a horror fan is a horror fan, we are complicated people so I tried to include something nice (and maybe even something naughty) for everyone. Enjoy! Continue reading