Thursday, February 15, 2018

Splish, Slash, Takin' A Bloodbath by Mark Allan Gunnells, Renee Miller, and Eddie Generous

Splish, Slash, Takin' a Bloodbath is incredible! The cover art is dope and the 18 terrifying tales are top-shelf. This anthology has it all! I'm talking slashers, final girls, predators, cannibals, perverts, and plenty more. Each story brings something to the table. The stories are balanced and arranged well. I kept telling myself just one more story. Just one more. Before I knew it, I finished the anthology. Since there are 18 stories, I'm going to pick a few of my favorites to talk about. 

First up is First Time by Mark Allan Gunnells. It is about a couple who are going all the way for the first time. Great story! It's one of my favorite flash fiction pieces of all time. 

Free Day is written by Renee Miller. is by far the most disturbing short stories that I've read in a while. I had to close my Kindle after reading this story. I immediately turned the light on and tried watching a comedy. I still couldn't get the images out of my mind. This one really scared the hell out of me!

The Killer's Mask by Mark Allan Gunnells is a great take on slashers. It's about Liz Boden. It's so good!

Devil's Trail by Renee Miller is scary! It's about raving mad cannibalistic country bumpkins. Need I say more? 

Final Girl Math is an excellent slasher story! This looks at the lone female survivor and what she goes through after the bloodbath. 

Renee Miller delivers a deranged tale with Mama. It is so good!

All the stories in this anthology are great! The anthology is organized perfectly. Unnerving Magazine has been delivering some great books, but this anthology is one of the best yet. If you haven't read these three authors, then you should remedy that immediately.  

Highly Recommend!

5/5 stars!

FOREST UNDERGROUND by Lydian Faust

Lydian Faust delivers a damn fine debut novella with Forest Underground. It's a dark and disturbing fairy tale of terror! The story is told through memory and recollection during an extreme fringe therapy session. During the session, Luna (the patient) recounts her visits to Grandma's house. 

Two backgrounds are explored in this novella–Luna and Dr. Sizemore. The tale unfolds beautifully with Luna's past in the first half and Dr. Sizemore's childhood in the latter half. I like how Faust uses different POVs to tell this story. Although the stories are separate, Lydian Faust does an excellent job interweaving the two stories and delivering an epic conclusion. 

Going into this story, I didn't know much about the premise of the story. The cover intrigued me, so I picked this one up and it didn't disappoint. It is money well spent. Forest Underground is written well, almost poetically. It felt like a veteran writer created this psychological horror. Lydian Faust has a bright future ahead of her. I look forward to reading her future work. Forest Underground is a modern-day Grimm Fairy Tale! Not going to lie, it's that good.

Highly Recommend!

4.5/5 stars! 



Monday, February 12, 2018

Interview With Mike Thorn



CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

MT: I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. My ambitions have changed a lot throughout my life, but I remember saying as early as grade three that I wanted to be a writer. I finished my first novel when I was about nine or ten. It was a very bad, very shameless rip-off of J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?

MT: I’m still figuring that out. When I’m working on a novel, I prefer to write at least 1000 words a day, depending on my day job’s busyness. These days, I usually write for about an hour in the evenings. If I could stay home in the mornings, I would prefer writing before noon; but since I work weekdays, post-dinner sessions will do for now. I take weekends off.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?

MT: I wish I could honestly say “yes,” that I like to flay myself while blaring recordings of Gregorian chants, or that I drink Sunny D from the mouth of a human skull between paragraphs or something. But the truth is that nothing exciting comes to mind—I usually play music on my headphones (something really heavy or really soft, depending on the project), sit at my desk and tap away on my laptop.

CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?

MT: I enjoy both processes for different reasons. As an adult, I’ve only completed one full-length novel, and I found the editing process extremely long and laborious. For my next novel, I think I’ll go in with a clearer sense of direction from the outset. When it comes to short fiction, there’s less risk in my usual M.O., which is generally to improvise and follow my instincts and then go about the more surgical re-structuring after the first draft is complete.

CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?

MT: In terms of horror writers who live in Calgary, I can think of a couple off the top of my head: Sarah L. Johnson, who wrote Suicide Stitch and a story in Unnerving’s recent Hardened Hearts anthology, and Craig DiLouie (I think he still lives here, anyway). I really love the Night Terrors Film Society, which is a small group that runs local horror film screenings.
 
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

MT: I always go in with some sense of direction, but I’ve never outlined anything. For me, it feels natural to go with the flow, but I think that will change when I start writing my next novel.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?

MT: Creepy Campfires (for Grownups) was my first paid publication—they bought a story called “Long Man.” That piece had a much different structure and focus in its initial form, as an excerpt of an abandoned larger project. When I first wrote the piece, the title creature was a kind of foil for the narrator, a ghost undergoing a murder investigation. The anthology’s editor took a strong interest in the Long Man character, and wanted me to write something that more clearly depicted his backstory. So, in a very direct way, my first story publication encouraged me to rethink my process.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?

MT: My favorite horror stories usually seem to have a sense of real respect for the genre. Otherwise, I would say a good horror story requires the same ingredients as any good story—distinct voice, sincerity, intelligence and an author’s personal perspective.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

MT: I’m doing early research for a novel, and I’m about midway through a new short story that seems suspiciously non-genre to me.

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?

MT: Too many books to name! I’m currently reading Stephen King’s Just After Sunset and René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. In terms of horror fiction, some of the titles I would like to get to this year are Kristi DeMeester’s Everything That’s Underneath, Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep, Gwendolyn Kiste’s Pretty Marys All in a Row, Tiffany Scandal’s There’s No Happy Ending, S.P. Miskowski’s Knock Knock, John C. Foster’s Dead Men and Paul Michael Anderson’s Bones Are Made to be Broken… but the list is endless, honestly. I want to read everything! There are so many wonderful books being published in the horror genre alone, but I like to read a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction.

CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?

MT: Last year I read Jeffrey S. Victor’s Satanic Panic, which was a pretty disturbing social-psychological study of rumor panics. It’s all about the systematic exploitation of ignorance and fear, which we can currently see playing out in contemporary political contexts (consider the election of a fearmongering idiot like Donald Trump as one obvious example).

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

MT: I’ve always loved rabbits, but I wouldn’t call them my spirit animal because the term has such a culturally specific meaning.

CHHR: What is your favorite beer?

MT: As long as it’s dark and/or hoppy, I’m usually happy, but I don’t drink very often.

CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?


MT: I think James Joyce would make great beer-drinking company.



Synopsis: 
In the bleak landscape of Darkest Hours, people make decisions that lead them into extreme scenarios – sometimes bizarre, often horrific, always unexpected. Between this book’s covers you will find academics in distress; monsters abused by people; people terrorized by demons; ghostly reminiscences; resurrected trauma; and occult filmmaking. Ranging from satirical to dreadful, these stories share a distinct voice: urgent, sardonic, brutal, but always empathetic.

Praise for Darkest Hours:
"In these sharply compelling stories Mike Thorn intertwines the bizarre and the quotidian to form seamless chronicles of personal disaster. The protagonist may not know the precise nature of the catastrophe heading his way, but you get the feeling he's been anticipating something bad—and inexorable—for a long time. This rueful wisdom, a product of youthful disappointment and early trauma, informs each tale as it winds its way toward a natural yet surprising conclusion. The element of surprise is a tribute to Thorn's ingenuity; the assuredness of his prose is due to his extensive knowledge of the horror genre. Perfectly paced from the first sentence, these stories grab you by the collar with the urgency of mortal danger. Highly recommended." 
-- S.P. Miskowski, author of Strange is the Night

"Everyone has their own mythology. Most people, however, don’t recognize it as such. Mike Thorn gets it. His fiction seems to blur distinctions between horror and noir, between science fiction and fantasy. Between dream and reality. They’re all here. Demons. Monsters. Big ones, little ones. (Sometimes the things done to them are worse than the things they do.) When you first encounter Thorn’s writing, a number of qualities impress themselves: the macabre intelligence (brutal really), the chilling wit, the naturalness of the dialogue. Plus there’s the skill and style of the prose. It may all play out like a nightmare, but a terrible logic remains inherent. His characters make bad choices, and it’s those decisions that bring on calamity. At once, the reader recognizes this. Mike Thorn is inescapable, and he understands that most terrifying variety of monsters, the hidden ones, the inner ones. They’re on display here. Savor the experience." 
-- Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Willy

"Darkest Hours is for readers wishing to take a thrilling walk on the dark side. Mike Thorn has delivered a promising debut with this collection showing off his commitment to stories of nuance, heart, and of course… darkness." 
-- Daniel Braum, author of The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales

"I've long been a fan of authors who can create a style and allow it to be as important as the story itself. Mike Thorn is a prime example of an author who builds off the baseline mechanics of prose on his own terms, and in the process writes witty and honest, dark literary stories, as is the case with Darkest Hours. Mike Thorn's debut story collection is not to be missed by those who enjoy an academic intellect with a potent flair for fiction." 
-- Dustin LaValley, author of A Soundless Dawn

"Fast, fun and full of fear, Darkest Hours turns on a dime from a laugh to a scream. Terrifying and sly, Mike Thorn writes with refreshing originality and hides fangs behind a smile." 
-- John C. Foster, author of Mister White


Bio:
Mike Thorn resides in Canada. Mike is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Dark Moon DigestBehind the Mask - Tales from the Id and Straylight Literary Arts Magazine. His criticism has been featured recently in MUBI Notebook and The Film Stage, and he co-authors the horror-themed series "Devious Dialogues" with A.M. Stanley for Vague Visages.

INDIE HORROR PUBLISHERS

Several people have recently asked me about independent horror publications and authors. They wanted to know how they could help authors and publishers stay afloat. They wanted to know what publishers they should look into. The following is a list of independent horror publications in no particular order. If you dig these publications as much as I do, then support them. You can support them by buying their books and merch, reviewing their books, telling friends about their books. If I'm missing a publication I apologize in advance. Feel free to comment below so I can add them. Thanks again for visiting my blog. 





















Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Guest Post by S.J. Budd





The Top Female Horror Writers You Need to be Reading by S.J.Budd

To celebrate the ninth WiHM here’s my lowdown on the top female horror writers that I really admire. It’s so great to see so many women doing well in a genre that is dominated with men, but us women really do have a voice here as represented by these amazing women.

Shirley Jackson











Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) was an American author she is mostly known for her two novels, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House which have become horror classics. She also wrote six collections of short stories. Authors such as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Sarah Walters and Joanne Harris claimed to have been heavily influenced by her writing.

Dame Daphne Du Maurier












Daphne Du Maurier (1907- 1987) is more often thought of as a romance novelist, but have you read Jamaica Inn and Rebecca?

Angela Slatter

















Angela Slatter (1967 - ) is the author of the absolutely fantastic Of Sorrow and Such which is one of my favourite stories ever. She is the author of two novels, Vigil and Corpselight and has produced six collections of short stories.
http://www.angelaslatter.com/


Gwendolyn Kiste














Gwendolyn Kiste is well known in the horror community for her short stories but more recently she has written, All Pretty Marys in a Row, as well as releasing her debut short story collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, which has earned her first Bram Stoker nomination. Her first novel, The Rust Maidens, her first novel will be released in 2018 by Trepidatio publishing.
http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/about.htm

Kristi DeMeester














Since 2010 Kristi DeMeester’s short fiction has been appearing in all the prestigious horror magazines such as Black Static, Apex, Shimmer, Lamplight, The Dark as well as Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year volume 9. So far she has released her debut short story collection, Everything That’s Underneath and her debut novel, Beneath is forthcoming.
https://www.kristidemeester.com/

Damien Angelica Walters














Damien Angelica Walters is the author of two short story collections, Cry Your Way Home and Sing Me Your Scars and her first novel, Paper Tigers. She has twice been nominated for a Bram Stoker award. I’m currently reading Cry Your Way Home and its marvellous!

About S.J.Budd
S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Aphotic Realm, Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction.
Twitter @sjbuddj
Her debut collection of short stories, Spells and Persuasions, is out now on Amazon.




Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Guest Post by Somer Canon




Eat Me! Actually, Don’t
By Somer Canon

            I think a lot of us horror writers have hang ups that we revisit often in our writing. Dean Koontz has his golden retrievers, Stephen King has his kids with psychic powers, and I have cannibalism. Now, I don’t flatter myself into thinking that I’m at all in equal standing with Koontz and King, but I do see it in other writers that I admire. It’s often a personal thing. I won’t speak to the other writers out there, but I can say that my “thing” with cannibalism is just that it’s something that I find to be really, very disturbing. Yeah, yeah, join the group, I know. Society as a whole finds cannibalism and the cooking of human remains to be abhorrent, even in the form of an idea. And yet, it fascinates me even while I feel my skin crawling.

            This past summer, I went to lunch with a couple of other writers and while in the restaurant, someone made an offhand remark about eating a face and the rest of us joined in, pondering how one would go about preparing a face so that it would be most palatable. This was all done with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but we noticed that there was a family sitting at the table next to ours looking thoroughly horrified. We had some good ideas, though. Faces are tricky as a meat source, and we ultimately decided that it would be better as a starter than as an entrée.

            I’m a horror writer but first and foremost, always and forever, I am a horror fan. I like being grossed out, scared, horrified, and repulsed. I love when I read a book that gets so under my skin that I have to close it and walk away for a while. I love watching a movie that gets to me to the point that I’ve got a pillow over my face or I’m sitting still, stunned to immobility. I think because of this, it only makes sense that cannibalism is a recurring thing in my works. The very act of detailing how one would cook a human body and how the butchering process would go gives me a thrill. As I’m writing about marinades and aromatics that would best suit the taste of human flesh, you can bet that my face is vacillating between a mischievous grin and a downturned mouth, thoroughly grossed-out.

            I could try to be interesting and not be so engrossed in such a sensational topic. A quick search of cannibalism on Google yields countless results, and not just second-hand accounts. There are lots of links to articles with titles making it clear that the author had spent time among cannibals. Then there are the articles that cash in even more on the sensationalism. Someone got high on bath salts and ate their nephew’s face, a guy in New Orleans had some sort of spiritual breakdown and boiled his girlfriend’s head, and a serial killer had a freezer full of body parts. It can really capture the imagination. I mean, Hannibal Lecter is one of the most terrifying characters in fiction and yet many, not just me, are completely fascinated with him. There’s an art to the preparation of his victims. His aberrations are beyond a backyard barbecue of the neighbors or a pot of landlady soup. They’re amazing and execrable at once. In my fascination with the topic of cannibalism, I can only hope to reach that perfect place, interesting and repugnant.


            I’m not done cooking and eating people in my fictional works. I’ve half-joked in the past about writing a cannibal’s cookbook. It’s my thing. My golden retriever, my spontaneous psychic power. Hopefully I can continue doing so for years to come and maybe, just maybe, I’ll hit a sweet spot that has people cringing and second-guessing their own dinners.