About Pat Dreadful

Father of three. Impregnator of one. Pat lives in the backwoods of Pennsylvania where he splits his time between moonshining and moonlighting. He used to be the sole proprietor of a funky little site called Grade Z Horror but jumped at the chance to work with Meli and Colum. He was raised on King and Crichton but quickly found true salvation in the works of Ketchum and Laymon. When not selling plasma to afford those highly sought after Jeff Strand limited editions, Pat can be found sitting on his back porch with a pipe full of Perique and the sounds of summer coming through a beat up transistor radio. Simply put, he is a true ramblin’ boy of pleasure. The books that have shaped Pat’s warped lil’ ol’ mind have included Dweller by Jeff Strand, It by Stephen King, Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon, The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon and The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. Pat is always on the lookout for a good coming-of-age yarn so shoot your suggestions to PatDreadful@gmail.com You can also follow his unsavory exploits over at theblackwoodsbible.wordpress.com

News Briefs: HorrorFind, Jobs in Hell and Necon

HORRORFIND AUTHORS ANNOUNCED

As we mentioned yesterday, HorrorFind recently released the first wave of their author programming last week.  The annual con takes place in Gettysburg, PA and offers a nice mix of film legends, genre staples and up-and-coming authors.  If you haven’t bought tickets yet, I suggest you do.  Aside from this initial crop of very talented writer’s, I happen to know that there are one or two author additions that will make fans of the Dreadful Tales Book Club as happy as a pig in mud.  Here are the first literary guests:

Ronald Malfi

John Everson

Hunter Shea

David Bernstein

Brian Moreland

Russell James

Mick Ridgewell

Nicole Viachos

Check out the full Guest List here:

http://www.horrorfindweekend.com/celebrities.html

JOBS IN HELL RETURNS

Brian Keene has started his column, Jobs in Hell, up again.  This time it takes the form of a Tumblr page.  Jobs in Hell was the feature that was of the most humorous, scathing and honest features aimed at writers and fans, alike.

http://briankeene.tumblr.com/

ARE YOU GOING TO NECON?

The staff here at Dreadful Tales was really looking forward to attending Necon this year.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and we won’t be there but we are looking to live vicariously through you!  If you are attending and plan on taking pictures we would love to see them (especially if they involve Jeff Strand frolicking through the woods under a full moon) and post them on the site.  Feel free to tweet them to @GradeZHorror or shoot an email to PatDreadful[at]gmail[dot]com.

News: Brian Keene Has Something Very Mysterious On His Site

UPDATE: The poll is now closed!

Every morning I check all of my favorite literary sites to ensure that I am hip to all of the goings-on in the genre.  This morning, while visiting Brian Keene’s site, I noticed a very interesting poll.  Of course, this is pure speculation on my part but it appears as if Brian may be interested in starting his own convention which would be huge.  Currently there are a handful of conventions devoted to genre literature (which is mildly surprising given the abundance of shows dedicated to genre films) and even fewer conventions that are run by authors for the fans.

We have seen many genre lit conventions go under and others cut down on their literary guests.  Just take a look at how the guest list was handled for Horrorfind this year.  Sure, they have secured two of my favorite authors with Ronald Malfi and Hunter Shea but it wasn’t given the same treatment as past years.  Maybe there isn’t money to be made with genre authors or just maybe the perceived popularity isn’t there.  Who knows?  What I can say is that we need something big.  We need a gathering that attracts authors from all of our beloved genres- not just horror. I picture something like WHC mixed with BizarroCon and set in a punk rock club.  Sure, this may just be me dreaming but one can never be sure when Brian Keene is involved.

Now I have no idea what Brian has planned but if history is any indication, this will be a show unlike any other designed for the ultimate fan experience. I encourage everyone head on over to Brian’s site to vote and show him support in this endeavor.

RELATED:

Dreadful Tales interview with Brian Keene, Mary SanGiovanni and JF Gonzalez.

A Bad Day For Voodoo

We were lucky enough to have Jeff Strand…er, I mean Tyler Churchill stop by the site to give us a little insight regarding the fantastic new novel, A Bad Day For Voodoo. Keep your eyes on the site over the next few weeks as we plan on having plenty more Jeff Strand goodness and who knows, there might even be some free books in it for our lovely Dreadful Tales readers.  With that, I give you Tyler Churchill….

I’m Tyler Churchill. Not too long ago I had this insane adventure, with car chases and body parts coming off and everything, which I wrote about in the book A Bad Day For Voodoo. It’s not my job to say that it’s the best book ever written, but I will say that if you don’t read it, the following conversation will definitely take place:

[You’re walking down the sidewalk, whistling the merry tune of your choice. Up ahead you see a friend.]

YOU: Hi, friend!

YOUR FRIEND: Hi, you! Crazy party last night, huh? I’ve never seen anybody eat that many pretzels without getting a drink of water!

YOU: And who brought the rhinoceros? I kept thinking “Whoa, somebody is gonna get tusked!” but nobody did, which is good because it would have been funny at the moment of impact, but not so funny once we got into the screaming and bleeding and ambulances.

YOUR FRIEND: Were you there for the ritual?

YOU: What ritual?

YOUR FRIEND: You’ll find out. [His or her expression darkens, and he/she gives you a wicked smile.] Oh, yes, you’ll find out.

YOU: Seriously, what ritual? There was a ritual? Where was I?

YOUR FRIEND: When the time is right, all will be revealed.

YOU: C’mon, tell me what the ritual was! You can’t just throw something like that out into the conversation and then not give answers! Tell me! I need resolution! Resolution!

YOUR FRIEND: I was just kidding. We were all sitting around playing Words With Friends on our phones. Somebody played “rhinoceros” on a triple-word score, which was pretty ironic. Actually, I played “rhino” first and they added “ceros.” So what did you think of A Bad Day For Voodoo?

YOU: That new book? I didn’t read it.

[Several onlookers gasp.]

YOUR FRIEND: Excuse me?

YOU: I said I haven’t read it.

YOUR FRIEND: You…you…you haven’t read A Bad Day For Voodoo?

YOU: No. That’s okay, isn’t it?

YOUR FRIEND: Okay? Okay? Don’t you understand what this means? It means that you’re not cool!

YOU: But that’s not possible! I do cool things all the time!

YOUR FRIEND: It doesn’t matter! This is the book that will define our generation! If you’re ever on a game show and the host says “For twenty thousand dollars, please give us the definition of your generation,” you could hold up A Bad Day For Voodoo and win the twenty thousand dollars!

YOU: But…but…but…but…but…but…but…I thought it was just a silly book!

[Your friend shakes his or her head and sighs.]

YOUR FRIEND: No. It is not.

SOME GUY WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE IN THE AREA AND IS EAVESDROPPING ON THE CONVERSATION: You really haven’t read A Bad Day For Voodoo? Wow. I heard that those people existed, but I never thought I’d see one outside of a zoo.

YOU: You don’t have to be a jerk about it.

YOUR FRIEND: Yes, he does.

YOU: Oh.

YOUR FRIEND: I never knew you were so uncool. It’s like our whole friendship was a lie.

YOU: You’re making too big of a deal out of this.

YOUR FRIEND: Do you see all of those weird-looking colorful waves that are coming out of people’s eyes?

YOU: Ack! Yes! What are those?

YOUR FRIEND: Those are waves of judgment. Everybody is judging you. This will follow you around for the rest of your life.

YOU: No! I don’t believe you!

[You get hit by a car.]

YOU: Ow! Ow!

YOUR FRIEND: That’s what happens when you don’t read A Bad Day For Voodoo. Bad luck follows you everywhere. Watch out for that circular saw blade.

YOU [quickly ducking]: Aaah! That circular saw blade almost took my head off!

YOUR FRIEND: And you’ll need your head to read A Bad Day For Voodoo! Do you understand now?

[A monkey jumps out of a tree and starts punching you in the neck.]

YOU: I understand! I understand!

YOUR FRIEND: Your coolness meter is running out quickly, but there is still time to replenish it! Run to a bookstore or an internet and buy A Bad Day For Voodoo! Hurry, before it’s too–

[The earth begins to crumble around your feet.]

YOUR FRIEND: Oh no! It’s too late! The world needed your coolness! It’s the only thing that kept us from being all dystopian and stuff!

[Zombies–fast or slow, your choice–show up and start eating people.]

PEOPLE CURRENTLY BEING EATEN [in unison]: Nooooooo!

YOU: What have I done? What have I–

[Suddenly you wake up screaming.]

YOU: It was all a dream! Only a terrible, terrible dream! In fact, the book A Bad Day For Voodoo doesn’t even really exist!

SOMEBODY (YOU’RE NOT SURE WHO): Yes, it does. It’s just not out yet. But it will be in June 2012. And you’d better buy it, or the next time you wake up screaming, Effie Trinket will be drawing your name for tribute.

YOU: Then I shall mark my calendar, or better yet, pre-order a copy of A Bad Day For Voodoo right now!

See? You may think I made all of that up, but I assure you that my only concern is for the safety of the world. And even if you don’t care about the world, you should read about the time that my history teacher Mr. Click falsely accused me of cheating on a test, and my friend Adam got a voodoo doll of him, and I jabbed it with a pin during class, and things went wrong, wrong, wrong!

My girlfriend Kelley, who is smarter than both of us combined, also got caught up in the whole thing, and you will not believe the kind of stuff that happened. It’s crazy! I mean, we ran into this one family who…well, you don’t want spoilers, but it was one messed-up family.

Oh, the book is my completely true story, but the publisher put the name “Jeff Strand” on the cover, because of some sort of ransom demand. Just ignore that.

Okay, so, you know what to do, right? Awesome. See you in June.

The Haunted by Bentley Little

It seems that once an author achieves any type of success in this genre, there are a group of “critics” who are quick to knock them down.  The critical attacks cite everything from their lack of literary prowess to the narcissistic love of their own style.  Hell, there are people who begrudge authors because they feel that certain authors have already enjoyed enough success, as if we are only allowed a set amount of praise and celebration.  When it comes to Bentley Little, this crowd loves to say that Little does not know how to properly close a story.  Well, Little’s new haunted house story, cleverly titled THE HAUNTED, is out and as the old internet meme goes “haters gonna hate”.

From Amazon:

The Perry family’s new house is perfect-except for the weird behavior of the neighbors, and that odd smell coming from a dark corner in the basement. Pity no one warned the family about the house. Now it’s too late. Because the darkness at the bottom of the basement stairs is rising.

THE HAUNTED is absolutely heartbreaking in its dissection familial relationships.  Don’t be mistaken, this is a haunted house tale but it is also a study of the power and beauty of family and sacrifice.  The Perry’s have had their fair share of pain in their past but have moved on and established themselves as a “normal” family.  Of course, the Perry’s have to endure the struggles that most families face when they have two teenage children, financial uncertainty and disapproving in-laws but they meet these obstacles and work through them. That is why the actual haunting seems so frightening.  Little creates rich characters that the reader can relate to and when we see them tormented, it hurts just a little bit more.  As evidenced by his book titles, this is what Little does best.  He creates characters and worlds that are eerily similar to the places his readers call “home”, then he incorporates chilling elements spawned from the mundane to throw our precious lives into a tailspin.

The story is slightly flawed as certain plotlines are never fully hashed out and often end up going nowhere, making the middle of the novel slightly frustrating.  There were elements of the story that were incorporated out of convenience instead of necessity.  For example, a local teacher who specializes in local history is brought into the story for no other reason than to create a bridge to flashbacks of the town.  His story was never fully resolved and to say that his character was one-dimensional still wouldn’t begin to describe how flat he was.  These complaints are trivial but they certainly detracted from the overall experience and are uncommon in Little’s work.

The fact that THE HAUNTED is so frightening makes it easy to forget about minor flaws.  Little crafted an ancient evil that had me waking up at night, hearing things creaking about the house.  Little uses modern technology like cell phones and computers, mixing in the classic haunting staples to create a truly inventive tale.  By having the Perry family receive lewd text messages and faces appearing on computer screens, Little walked a very fine line between silly and scary but I am happy to report that there is nothing lighthearted here.  The terror is cranked up at an agonizing pace until the reader is too frightened to keep reading but too engaged to put the book down.  It leaves the reader with a special reading experience that when firing on all cylinders, Little does better than anyone in the genre.

Now, it is time to talk about the ending.  As I said in the intro, there are a lot of people who love to hate Little’s endings.  As you may have guessed, I don’t really share that opinion.  For years the same thing has been said about King, yet I’ve never experienced it myself. The initial buzz surrounding THE HAUNTED was more of the same.  As usual, I thought Little wrapped the story up beautifully.  I am not too much of man to admit that I wept openly as I worked through the final chapters of the story.  Little often takes a more human approach to his endings and THE HAUNTED was no different.  Despite a book full of supernatural evil, Bentley is able to find powerful ending in the normal, not the supernatural.  The personal take on the ending was Little at his most literary as his prose achieved maximum emotional impact.

THE HAUNTED isn’t Little’s best but it is far from his worst.  The characters are very strong and the story is a solid haunted house tale that will frighten and titillate exactly where it should.  Little’s pacing is fast as ever which makes THE HAUNTED one of the quickest, most entertaining books you’re likely to encounter this year.

Alaska Revisited: Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea

Yesterday I posted my interview with one of the brightest young talents in the genre, Hunter Shea.  I wanted to take today to repost my thoughts about his amazing haunted house story, Forest of Shadows.  I also wanted to provide some personal commentary on it as well.  Forest of Shadows renewed my love for the haunted house subgenre and immediately went back and re-read THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, HELL HOUSE and BAG OF BONES.  Hunter’s fine little tale also prompted me to finally tackle HOUSE OF LEAVES and had me giddy for Little’s THE HAUNTED.  I owe a ton to Hunter and FOREST OF SHADOWS because he breathed new life into a subgenre that I had all but forgotten.  With that said, I thought it might be fun to revisit my initial review of the book in hopes that others will be prompted to check the story out as well.  I’d also like to mention that Hunter has a new novel out, EVIL ETERNAL, that looks to be one of the most over-the-top, insanely fun releases of the year.  Check it out!

 

When I go to an amusement park the last thing I want to do is sit through some dopey stunt show or putz around an “educational” display.  Hell no, I want to get on the biggest and fastest  roller-coaster, ride it until blood is dripping from my eyes and then vomit all over anyone unlucky enough to be in my vicinity. That’s just the type of guy I am.  I feel the same way about my ghost stories.  Of course, I can appreciate a slow burn that concerns itself with atmosphere but what I really like are the supernatural tales that get in there and get dirty…..real quick.  I guess this is why I was so thoroughly satisfied with Hunter Shea’s newest novel, Forest of Shadows.

From Samhain Publishing:

The dead still hate!

John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.

Hunter Shea is absolutely ruthless.  The man writes with a passion and aggression that will leave you helpless in its grasp.  Shea keeps his eyes on the prize and everything else is secondary.  He wants you to cringe.  He wants your skin to crawl.  He wants to positively scare you out of your god-given wits.  Like I said, the man is ruthless.  I can appreciate Shea’s style.  He wants to tell a ghost story that doesn’t meander around with sweeping atmosphere and slow progression.  His version of a ghost story involves some evil-as-all-get-out ghosts, some local legend and a hefty heaping of heartache.  Throw in ample amounts of booze and you have the makings for one refreshingly original tale.

Above anything else, Forest of Shadows is a genuinely scary book.  Now that may sound a bit simple but after years of reading dreadful tales, it takes quite a bit to get my blood pumping.  The real highlight of Forest of Shadows is Hunter Shea’s ability to craft a tale that is so frantic with the pacing and yet, so subtle with the horror.  In fact, I was having so much fun with the story that I didn’t realize how effectively the story was haunting my subconscious.  It took a few restless nights and one incredibly vivid nightmare about whispering shadows and the floating visage of a young boy, before I realized how successful this book was at scaring the living daylights out of me. It had worked its way into my brain and nestled in there, coiled to spring at any given moment.  This book scared me in a way I haven’t been scared in a very long time.

This is all a testament to Hunter Shea’s talent as a writer. He takes a premise that could quite honestly, be considered hokey and works it so well that it seems believable.  Initially when I read the first pages that describe an amateur ghost-hunter who loses his wife and wins the lottery on the same day, I was a little skeptical.  Can you blame me?  This skepticism was completely unfounded as Shea sucked me into a world filled with ancient evil, teenage angst, heartbreak and a town with a very strange past.  That town is Shida and it just may be one of the most frightening places you’re libel to visit.

The Alaskan town of Shida makes for the perfect backdrop to this bone chilling tale.  Shea creates a spine numbing sense of isolation as he draws a vivid portrait of this wilderness town.  Hell, Shea almost seems so confident in his ability to remove Shida from reality that he will tease the reader by discussing Shida’s proximity to many major Alaskan parks and cities, all while the reader knows that there is no escape from the diabolical events that Shea has in store for us. Shida is as much the star of this story as any character, all while the reader comes to realize that the dark shadows that obscure the towns past are more frightening than anything that may be whispering to them from the Great Beyond.

This book has me extremely excited about Hunter Shea. I can respect an author who takes the ghost story and completely disregards its well worn conventions to create something truly original. He preaches from the Altar of Pulp- spewing a sermon filled with his own merciless interpretation of what this genre should be. I love seeing a newcomer just completely rip it and own the living daylights out his writing.  I expect some very big things from Hunter Shea in the very near future.