Wednesday, August 29, 2018

FERAL by Matt Serafini

Matt Serafini's FERAL is one of those rare books that makes you want to dig into more books like it–that's how great it is. I've read a couple of werewolf books, and this one is right up there with Stephen Graham Jones' MONGRELS. FERAL is Matt Serafini's debut novel, but it didn't feel like a debut (reprinted) at all. It's horror through and through. FERAL is one helluva guttural howl. FERAL sinks its fangs into your chest and doesn't let go until you turn the last page. If you are easily offended, then this book might not be for you. 

FERAL is like SALEM'S LOT with werewolves. There’s a thin line between animal and man. A line that’s about to be crossed. Fane, an alpha lycanthrope, moves to Greifsfield, Massachusetts where he wants to turn or feast on the entire population. Jack and Allen decide to spend the summer before their senior year of college out in Western Massachusetts. When they arrive in Greifsfield, MA, their vacation doesn't go as planned. 

Jack and Allen fall head over heels for a beautiful woman named Elizabeth. That's when things start getting very interesting. Their friendship is put to the test. Strange things begin happening around town. People start going missing. Jack and Allen's vacation gets very hairy. 

After reading this book, I can't even take the trash to the curbside in the dark anymore. I keep thinking a werewolf will jump out of the shadows and tear me to shreds. The vivid scenes come to life, making for a great reading experience. FERAL is filled with blood and guts. You can smell the fur and sex wafting from the pages. The fever-induced hallucinations are crazy AF. FERAL is old school horror. There's no romancing, just mauling. This book isn't for the faint of heart.

There isn't a dull moment in this book. Matt Serafini's writing style is great. FERAL reads quick and the action is non-stop. The ending is great. I will definitely be reading Matt Serafini's other work.  

Highly Recommend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Interview With Andy Cull

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like? 

I try to write every day, and for as long as I can each day. Sometimes that’s just a few hours, sometimes it’s 8 or 9 hours. It depends on the project and my state of mind. Sometimes I write nothing at all, and that’s okay. I see a lot of writing advice that says you need to achieve a certain amount of words each day. You don’t. You just need to get in front of your laptop and work.  The words will come in time.

Depending on how far into a project I am, I tend to do my email and Twitter in the morning, and then write in the afternoon and evening. Generally, the further in I am the less time I spend on anything else. So, if I’m quiet on Twitter, it probably means I’m in the thick of a plot.

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

I pace a lot and I eat a lot! The eating comes from when I gave up smoking. When I was in my twenties, I smoked two packs a day while I was writing. That was a tough habit to break. I couldn’t even look at my laptop for six months after I quit. Over time I substituted smoking for snacking. Now, I eat a lot of unsalted nuts, seeds and popcorn. It’s worked, because I’ve not had a cigarette in over ten years and I’m still writing.

The other thing I do when I’m writing, is to pace. I spend a lot of my writing day walking around my house. I do that because it helps me to think. I’m also a firm believer in reading all my work out loud. I feel, that if you’re tripping over your work as you read it, it’s very likely your readers are too. So, I’ll be doing that while I’m walking around. When I’m working on dialogue, I’ll talk all that through while I’m pacing. I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m completely mad, but I think it makes for believable dialogue. Also, if I get stuck, I’ll get up and walk about. I generally find a lap of my house is enough to get me back to business again.

CHHR: I smoked two packs a day in my late teens and early twenties. I quit cold turkey and quickly picked up the habit of sunflower seeds. It’s the habitual motion of taking that cigarette drag, and finger foods tend to do the trick.

Yeah, I definitely found that’s the case. Well done on quitting! I found it really tough going. So worth it though. I run 10k regularly now. There’s no way I could do that if I was still smoking.

CHHR: Do you like a good pen, pencil, or keyboard?

All of the above! When I’m at home I have my laptop. That’s seen me through the past ten or so stories that I’ve written. I’m pretty attached it to. But, when I’m on the road or away, I’ll often carry a journal which I make notes in. Whenever I start a new, large project I buy myself a new journal. I’ll fill that easily if I’m working on a novella or a novel. Most years, someone in my family will buy me a good pen for Christmas. I love that! Drafting with a good quality, weighty pen is a real pleasure.

CHHR: What type of journals and pens do you use?

I like a pen with some weight to it. I like it to feel substantial when I’m writing. I prefer black ink over blue. I’m a leftie, and so it has to be a pen with a quick drying ink otherwise I’m likely to smudge it. Signing books is an amazing privilege, but I also get quite stressed out doing it as I’m always really worried I’ll smudge the dedication.

CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?

That’s a tough one. I enjoy both, but there’s definitely a more immediate sense of achievement when you’re writing a short or a novella. When I was working in film, you’d often get commissioned to write a script that would end up not getting greenlit. That’s the nature of film making. Hundreds of projects end up on production company shelves and, for various reasons, never see the light of day. It took nine years, from writing The Possession of David O’Reilly to its release in 2010. So, after ten years of working in film, I do have a leaning towards writing novellas and shorts because it’s fantastic to see something complete and in print quickly. That said, stories tend to be as long as they want to be. At last count, I had 29 stories on my planning board, ranging from flash fiction through to novels, feature scripts and even a documentary. In time, I’d like to write all those stories, so, I guess the answer is that I really enjoy all writing.

CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?

I live in Melbourne, Victoria. The horror scene’s pretty great here. Since moving from London six years ago, I’ve joined the AHWA (Australasian Horror Writer’s Association) and made a lot of friends who also write horror. There’s a real pool of talent here and it’s been fantastic to meet and work with some incredible writers since I arrived here.

CHHR: Care to name a few of the writers? Maybe I can read and review some of their work.

Sure, Steve Dillon, Deborah Sheldon, Noel Osualdini, Matthew R. Davis, Greg Chapman, Rebecca Fraser. I could definitely go on.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

Unless I’m writing flash fiction, I always use an outline. I’m a real plotter! I love plotting storylines, seeing every twist and turn develop. I don’t start writing until I know where my story is going from beginning to end. That’s not to say I don’t go off on tangents when I’m writing, but I really believe that if you’re going to have a tightly plotted story, you need to be able to see that plot before you start writing.

I have a longboard in my office, that I cover in sheets of A4. I’ll start on the left (at the beginning of the story) and I’ll work across, scene by scene, until I either reach the end or run out of paper. It’s not until I’ve developed all the details on that board that I start writing.

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

I published my first short story, ‘The Trade’, in part, because I didn’t think anyone else would. I didn’t submit it anywhere. I had no confidence that it might be published or sell. So, I put it out there myself. I’d come off the back of a long period of working in film. It had been a pretty bruising time, and I knew I wanted a change. I’d had the idea for ‘The Trade’ rolling around inside my head for a couple of years and it was great to finally pin it down on paper. It changed the way I wrote because the reception to ‘The Trade’ gave me the confidence to produce and publish more stories. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

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

I like a mystery to unravel. I love atmosphere. And I love to be creeped out. Not grossed out, though.

CHHR: I like books that unravel a little at a time and atmospheric slow burners tend to interest me. I love creepy stories!

CHHR: Let’s talk about BONES. How has it been received?

The reception to ‘Bones’ has been really fantastic. Releasing a new story is always a pretty nerve-wracking time, but this was my first paperback release, and so it was a huge occasion for me. I think most writers can more easily imagine everyone hating their work than loving it. I’m really pleased to say that hasn’t been the case. It’s been amazing to see copies of ‘Bones’ being read around the world. The horror community has been hugely supportive and I’m really grateful for that. It’s been a great couple of months.  

CHHR: How did the collection come about?

After the release of ‘Knock and You Will See Me’ I felt I had enough stories to justify releasing a paperback collection. I did a limited run of my story ‘Hope and Walker’ earlier in 2017 (as a competition prize) but I didn’t want to take the leap to releasing a paperback for sale until I felt I had something which would be value for money for readers. It’s really important to me that, if you’re paying for one of my books, you feel you’ve gotten value for the money you’ve paid.

‘Bones’ is my first paperback release, and the first in a series of collections I’d like to publish. I called it ‘Bones’ partly because I’m thinking of it as the skeleton, it’s the foundation I’m planning to pack more horror stories onto in the future. I’m already working on three new stories I’d like to have in my next collection. 
CHHR: Did You Forget About Me? is one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read. Did it scare you while you were writing it?

Thank you! That’s awesome to hear! I try to write about the things that scare me, in the hope that those things will scare my readers too. It’s brilliant to hear when that’s worked. I’ve definitely had times when I’ve creeped myself out at night while I’ve been working. I’ll put extra lights on, and I’ve found myself listening to all the little noises the house makes as it cools. Of course, every creak and crack is the sound of an approaching monster, or serial murderer, when it’s 2 a.m. and you’re writing about something that scares you. I joke that I’m really good at seeing the worse possible case scenario in any given situation. That’s great for writing horror but not so good for my nerves at times.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

I’m doing something a bit different at the moment. I generally write one story and then move to the next. At present, I’m writing on three different projects. Two of those are novellas and one is a shorter piece. I’m hoping to have one of those novellas, a horror adventure called ‘Black Above, Black Below’ out by the end of the year. I’m also working up to beginning my second novel. I already have a couple of plots I’m chewing over for that one. 

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?

I can’t read while I’m working on a project, and I write a lot of the time, so working through my TBR pile is very slow going. That doesn’t stop me from buying books I want to read though. I’m currently rereading Stephen King’s ‘Night Shift’ and ‘Cujo’. I’m also reading M.R. Tapia’s ‘Sugar Skulls’, Joe Lansdale’s ‘Savage Season’ and ‘Dead Is Dead, But Not Always’ by Eddie Generous. On the TBR after those are ‘Mongrels’ (Stephen Graham Jones) and a return to ‘Salem’s Lot’.

CHHR: Mongrels is superb, Sugar Skulls is fantastic, and Dead Is Dead, But Not Always is a terrific collection. You can’t go wrong with any of those. 

CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?

‘Bone White’ by Ronald Malfi. I loved that book.

CHHR: Me too! It’s the perfect winter horror story.

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

Scooby Doo. I know the answer would really be “a dog”, but that dog is Scooby Doo.

CHHR: What’s your favorite Scooby Doo crossover episode?

That’s a tough one! I’m a bit of a purist. I love the older Scooby episodes where the monsters weren’t real. I am interested in checking out that Scooby/Supernatural episode though. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun.

CHHR: What is your favorite beer?

At the moment, it’s an APA called The Bastard Son. I like a hoppy IPA.

CHHR: I’ll have to look that one up!

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

Stephen King. It’d definitely be Stephen King. I grew up reading and loving his work. He’s undoubtedly influenced me, as well as a whole generation of horror writers. He’s an icon of my favourite genre. Yeah, that would be amazing.

Author Bio:

I'm a writer and director. I wrote and directed In The Dark ( and The Possession Of David O'Reilly (UK title : The Torment).

My first novel, Remains, is due for release in 2018. 

I welcome feedback and love to hear from people who have seen my movies and read my stories. Feel free to get in touch with me on andy at


Monday, August 27, 2018

THE TOY THIEF by D.W. Gillespie

Ever wonder where all your childhood toys got off to? Look no further than this book, it has the answers you seek. This is a spine-chillingly creepy story about two young siblings and their toys. From the cover to the writing, THE TOY THIEF lives up to the hype. 

Jack is nine years old and lives with her father and her brother Andy. The two are total opposites. Her mother passed away during childbirth. The story opens on a sleepover with nine-year-old Jack and her close friend. While putting on a pretend show, the two girls leave a video camera running, and when Jack replays the tape the next day, she sees her friend's toy being snatched off the end table and out the back door by a swift, nearly unseen hand. That's when Jack goes digging for answers. She finds more than she bargained for. 

THE TOY THIEF is an unnerving tale that stays fresh with the disjointed or unconnected narrative of Jack. The storyline is intense, making for one helluva emotional read. Family bonds and loyalty are tested. D.W. Gillespie rips out your heart and stomps it into the ground. This book wrecked me. I haven't bawled over a book in a long time, but this one made me ugly cry. 

The vivid scenes take me back to my childhood. The pages melt away and I was right there with Jack and Andy. D.W. Gillespie's writing makes for a quick read. I dig his writing style. The story starts out strong and ends on a high note. 

THE TOY THIEF is creepy. The dread sinks in early and you have a feeling something horrifying is about to happen. That incredible ending slays. I will be reading this one again. THE TOY THIEF has the nostalgia and empathy. It carries a lot of weight, too. 


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Guest Post by Brian Fatah Steele

by Brian Fatah Steele

Cosmic Horror can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and a clear definition is sometimes hard to hammer out. Most casual readers immediately conjure up the name H.P. Lovecraft and his tales of tentacles in Providence. Cosmic Horror, however, can be far richer and nuanced than that.

Cosmic Horror has its link with Weird Horror, but there is a distinction. Weird is unnerving and unknown, straying into the surreal but not far enough to be Bizzaro. While Cosmic has those unknown elements, it comes more from a sense of nihilism, from an uncaring universe that we have been born into where monstrous and/or powerful forces are at play that we cannot hope to ever possibly understand. This is also what sets it apart from Supernatural Horror in most cases, as there are clearly delineated aspects of “good and evil.” Also, Supernatural tends to less celestial in nature. That is not to say Cosmic is Sci-Fi Horror, although the two sub-genres have been known to blend, too. Ultimately, anything can be an amalgamation at the whims of the author’s imagination.

Along with Lovecraft, we have such classic writers as Robert W. Chambers, William Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and Robert Block. They helped to form what we know of today as Cosmic Horror. Decades later, it would be names like Brian Lumley, Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Mary SanGiovonni, and Ramsey Campbell. It has now evolved into something broader, yet sharper.

We are babbling little hunks of animated meat, utterly insignificant in the greater scheme of the universe. There are immensely powerful entities out there in the deeper dark that we would look upon as gods, that are far beyond our limited comprehension. Enslave us, destroy us, devour us, the best we can hope for is mind-shredding insanity before it comes. We could already be victims of a galactic manipulation and not even know it.

This is the horror of Cosmic Horror. As I detailed in my novel There is Darkness in Every Room, “there is no escape, there is no hope, there is no tomorrow.” Humanity had been subjugated for millennia and the knowledge of that didn’t change anything. In my forthcoming collection, Your Arms Around Entropy, I explore more precise themes. The fear that we have no control over our own destinies, that the afterlife is just as chaotic as life, that we could be used to satisfy the whims of a greater intelligence, and that behind a malleable reality waits something absolutely terrifying.

It doesn’t always have to be pessimism and madness. Cosmic Horror is a vibe, one easily turned into a pastiche. You can make it humorous or adventurous or even romantic. As long as that sense of oppression permeates, as long as that dread of Greater Things stays ever-present. That’s what makes the best Cosmic Horror, not the monsters. Although monsters are good, too.

A final note – If anyone is interested in learning more about Cosmic Horror, I urge you to listen to Mary SanGiovonni’s podcast “Cosmic Shenanigans” on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and elsewhere. Her knowledge on the horror industry and its history is truly illuminating.

Brian Fatah Steele has been writing various types of dark fiction for over ten years, from horror to urban fantasy and science fiction. Growing up hooked on comic books and monster movies, his work gravitates towards anything imaginative and dynamic. Steele originally went to school for fine arts but finds himself far more fulfilled now by storytelling. 

His work has appeared in such places as 4POCALYPSE, BLOOD TYPE, WHITE FACE DEATH, 4RCHETYPES, DEATH'S REALM, THE IDOLATERS OF CTHULHU, PAYING THE FERRYMAN, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated DARK VISIONS, VOL.1. His own titles include the urban fantasy novel IN BLEED COUNTRY, the post-mythic novella collection FURTHER THAN FATE, and the dark sci-fi collection BRUTAL STARLIGHT.

Steele lives in Ohio with a few cats and survives on a diet of coffee and cigarettes. He spends his time still dabbling in visual art, vowing to fix up his house, acting as a part-time chaos entity, spending too many hours watching television, and probably working on his next writing project.

Ray Bradbury On Writing and Reading

Saturday, August 25, 2018

WE SOLD OUR SOULS by Grady Hendrix

WE SOLD OUR SOULS is one helluva guitar solo. Grady Hendrix brings the heavy metal to the horror masses. I really enjoyed PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, so I figured I'd give this one a read. It's a compelling page-turner. 

The story centers around a heavy metal band from the 1990s called Dürt Würk. The band was about to hit it big, but the lead singer Terry Hunt went solo. He rocketed to stardom as Koffin, while his former bandmates got mundane jobs. Two decades later, former Dürt Würk guitarist Kris Pulaski uncovers a disturbing secret from her past. Terry Hunt's success may have come at the price of his former bandmates. The title tells you everything you need to know, or does it? 

Kris Pulaski must find answers. She hits the open road, reconnects with her bandmates, and confronts the man who destroyed her life. Grady Hendrix takes you from Pennsylvania to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival. Some of the scenes are vividly brutal. Kris Pulaski is a top-notch hero. She kicks so much ass!

I like the author's writing style. WE SOLD OUR SOULS reads quick and the story flows smoothly. The feel-good ending wasn't what I was expecting, but it does leave hope, which is a good thing. I was expecting something darker, but it was still good. I felt like I kind of heard and read this story somewhere else before. It felt like a familiar story. 

Overall, this story is enjoyable. If I'm being honest, I finished it rather quickly. The cover art caught my eye, but what kept me reading is Kris Pulaski, the female protagonist. She made the book better. I was right there with her the entire journey. I was cheering for her to kick some ass and she does. She is intelligent, strong, and she can handle her business. 

I love books and stories based on/around music, especially rock and roll and heavy metal. It makes for a great read. WE SOLD OUR SOULS is heavy metal turned up to 11. You should give this one a read.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018


John Everson has created one of my top ten books of all time. THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is a cauldron filled with devilry and witchery–all my favorite things. It's a love story at its core, but on the surface, it's a blood-curdling tale of utter mayhem and savagery. I loved every minute of this book. 2018 has seen several great books, but this one is a definite must read for all fans of horror. 

John Everson tips his hat to Suspiria and A Nightmare On Elm Street. The author shows his knowledge of horror, but he doesn't fall into the old tropes. He brings something new to the haunted house table. John Everson makes you feel something for each of the characters. I haven't been this invested in a set of characters since reading IT. I connected with all of them in some way. 

Mike Kostner turns the abandoned old house near the abandoned old Bachelor's Grove Cemetery into a haunted house attraction. Two ladies, Katie and Emery, help Mike with the haunted house. They hire set designers (Argento and Lucio) and makeup artists (Jeanie and June). Halloween will never be the same again. It turns out, the old house didn't need any help being haunted. 

The blood will spray and the bodies will hit the floor. The past comes crashing into the present. I've never seen so many different types of horror in one book, but John Everson pulls it off nicely. I felt like I was walking through the haunted house with the characters. I caught myself trying to wipe the blood off my glasses. There's so much blood and guts. I couldn't stop smiling as I turned the pages. 

You don't just read this book, you experience it. The scenes jump off the page. John Everson grabs you by the collar and doesn't let go. There isn't a dull moment in this book. The dialogue is excellent. The descriptions are everything. The setting is superb. I would totally live in that house. John Everson's writing style is great. He reads quick, just the way I like it. THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY would make a great film. I would love to see all the rooms come to life in the haunted house. 

When you read a great horror story, the world fades away and you become part of the story. That's what happened with THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. I had a blast reading this one. If I'm being honest, I want to read it again and I never want to read books twice. I will definitely be reading more from this author. 

I can't say enough about THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. Give this one a go, and let me know what you think. 


5/5 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, August 20, 2018

Music Monday: "Dream Warriors" by Dokken

I hope everyone is having a great Monday. The first of the week can be terrible. I live for the weekends, but I've learned to embrace Monday. I figured I would start doing a music video every Monday. I hope you dig my first choice. Enjoy and kick some ass this week. 



Tim Waggoner brings something new to the table with THE MOUTH OF THE DARK. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it before. If you are looking for a slump buster to get you out of your reading rut, then this is the book for you. There's a lot that takes place within this book. Tim Waggoner has created a world that I would like to come back to sooner rather than later. 

A father (Jayce) is searching for his daughter (Emory). You know what they say, the first 48 hours are the most crucial. Jayce stumbles upon a hidden world called Shadow that exists alongside our own reality. Pretty cool, huh? This world is bizarre in so many ways. Jayce is guided by a mysterious woman named Nicola. Within Shadow, you have crazed killers, dog-eaters, homicidal sex toys, and the Harvest Man (a very cool character). 

The scenes jump from the page as Jayce tries to track down Emory. I can't unsee some of the stuff in this book. If you are squeamish, then this book may not be right for you. Tim Waggoner covers a lot of ground in this book. You feel like you are right there with Jayce as he is thrust into different scenarios and discovers new things. Tim Waggoner does a great job with Jayce's character development and by the end of the book, you pretty much know him.  

The plot slows down at certain points in the book, but for me, that doesn't take away from the story. I feel like you need the awesome details of Shadow. I'm sure I can find my way around Shadow now. 

THE MOUTH OF THE DARK plays on every parent's worst fear, which is losing your child. But that isn't the only horrors that lurk in this book. The hair-raising scenes are everything. There are unimaginable horrors and so much depravity in this book. The pages are filled with debauchery and disturbing behavior. 

With that being said, I've read Tim Waggoner before and I'll read him again. His writing style is great. His stories are always fresh and inventive. 


4/5 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, August 13, 2018

CREATURE by Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea does it yet again. The man is a writing machine, pumping out great tales left and right. He has already perfected the art of the novella. This was my first time reading one of his novel-length stories. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed at all. 

CREATURE is a slow burner that's packed with several scares. There are books that satisfy the horror hunger that dwells within us all. CREATURE is one of those books. It has an old-school vibe, but it delivers a modern fright for the ages. More importantly, the book felt real, like Hunter Shea had firsthand experience with some of the things that happen in the book. 

The character building is superb. I would love to spend more time with Kate and Andrew Woodson. Kate is in chronic pain, and she has numerous autoimmune diseases. Andrew is working for the medical benefits that help keep Kate alive. The Hudsons need a change of scenery, so Andrew rents a lake cottage in Maine. All seems well until it isn't. 

The atmosphere and foreboding will keep you on the edge of your seat. Hunter Shea paints a scenery that you get lost in. You are right there with the Woodsons in the lake cottage. You feel and hear what they do. You can sense something bad is going to happen. 

The creature is everything. I'm talking its rock throwing and the aftermath it leaves behind. The creature tries luring the Woodsons out of the cottage with its screeches and other loud noises. I have goosebumps just thinking about it all. 

You know you've read a great book when you are smiling after you turn that last page. I don't know how Hunter Shea keeps churning out terrifying stories that feel original, but I want more. 


5/5 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


THE UNDERSIDE OF THE RAINBOW hits on all cylinders. There is a lot to think about with this collection of poems. First of all, I think it is incredible that B.E. Burkhead doesn't write his poems down until he remembers them verbally. He recites the poems over and over until he puts them on paper later. It is very Homeric, which is even more impressive. 

The poems are raw and vividly colored. B.E. Burkhead's poetry is packed with emotion and horror. Love, lust, and sadness pour from the poems. The poetry is naked and honest. As always, I have a few favorite poems that I would like to share with you.

For Alyssa

Black haired girl dancing 'round,
the winter farm without a sound
at her feet corpses bound
pick one up, look what's found:
Even as the season ends,
dead squirrels make such lovely friends. 

Never Last

I married a hooker named Charlotte,
in a silent ceremony on the pier
we spoke no words, our eyes said it all,
through the gags, the sobs and the tears.
Then they sent us on our honeymoon
and I confess we stayed where we went
at the bottom of Baltimore harbor
with our luggage of heavy cement
Now our eyes have been eaten by fish
and the flesh gone with years past
but I have to laugh at us here together,
for they swore it never would last. 

The cover caught my eye as I was window shopping on the Kindle store. I enjoyed all the poems in this collection. I think you guys will like this one, too.

Strongly Recommend!

5/5 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Interview With Cynthia Pelayo

CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.

My name is Cynthia Pelayo. My friends call me Cina. I’m a horror writer and horror poet.

I’ve written SANTA MUERTE (Post Mortem Press), THE MISSING (POST MORTEM PRESS), and POEMS OF MY NIGHT (Raw Dog Screaming Press). My short stories and poems have appeared in Horror Zine, Danse Macabre, Blood Moon Rising, and more.

I’m also an International Latino Book Award winning author and an Elgin Award nominee.

I have a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, am a former Chicago community news journalist, and live in Chicago with my family.

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

I remember in second grade being asked what I wanted to be and I said “artist” as a general catch all. I knew I wanted to make things, create things, and as time went on I really enjoyed writing and said I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school. I wrote essays back then, winning some city-wide contests for my high school, and in undergrad I majored in Journalism at Columbia College Chicago. I was too scared to major directly in fiction. I think a lot of people steered me away from it, and being so young, and a first generation college student I took their advice.

I later went on to get a Masters in Science in Integrated Marketing, the MFA in Writing, and am working now on a PhD in Business Psychology. I’m not only a writer, but a writer with a day job in research.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like? 

I have two small children, a full-time job, a home to keep in order, a couple of dogs…so honestly whenever I can. I write in my phone, iPad, on a laptop, notebook, whatever for little beats at a time and then when I have a large chunk of time – usually super late evenings – I compile what I have written.

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

I can’t write with any sound, music, nothing. Which is why the bulk of my writing really takes place after everyone has fallen asleep. My most productive writing times are usually between midnight and 3am. I know, that’s sad. Which is why I try to get as many small pieces written so when I’m going to write late night I can commit to those hours, suffer the lack of sleep the next day but it will be worth it.

CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?

I honestly really enjoy short stories. I wrote mostly short stories for a long time. I like the quick satisfaction one gets with short stories, and sometimes I feel like writing a short story is harder. You don’t have much time to compel your reader. I’ve read a lot of Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, J.D. Salinger, Joyce Carol Oates, etc., because they know the mechanics of a powerful short story.

CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?

Chicago, and the Chicago area, is home to a lot of horror writers, both indie and published widely. I won’t name them here since I want to respect their privacy, but it’s a great town. Unfortunately, everyone is really busy so I don’t see people as much as I like, but that’s what social media is for.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

I try to outline. I’ve purchased and read so many books on the writing craft, and outlining and I just can’t. I don’t formally outline, but I do like to have a general idea of where the work is going, but sometimes I wake up and the work tells me it’s going in an entirely different direction.

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

Traditional publishing is so hard. I’ve been querying literary agents since around 2012 with various novels. My short stories and novels and poems have been published by independent presses – who have published amazing horror writers and amazing stories.

I’m starting to query agents again for a new novel I completed. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to query, how to write a synopsis, and the overall business formalities in publishing.

Unfortunately, publishing has changed my writing process in that I’ve become too self-conscious when I start writing wondering where I’m going to place this work. It’s something I’m trying to break out of so that I can get back to writing the story I want to tell.

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

Oh man. I love this question, and I feel like I could teach a class on this. There are various genres of horror so I suppose it really depends what genre we are looking at.

For the sake of brevity, let’s break down horror into 3 categories – and not everyone will agree, but this is my quick break:
Paranormal (ghosts, superstition, supernatural, etc):
            What makes a great paranormal story for me is setting and atmosphere. I like ghost stories to be subtle, and not so overt.

Monsters (Frankenstein, Vampires, Werewolves, etc.,):
            If you can make me identify with the monster on some level you have me. Why is a monster a monster? Is there a line where they have humanity?

The Thing (Zombies, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Aliens):
            There is no reasoning with “The Thing.” A zombie is a shell, determined to just satisfy itself. You cannot reason with an alien – an alien has its own rules. Of course, there’s a thin line between a monster and what I would consider a “thing.” To me what makes a good “Thing” is something completely set on a path of destruction.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a novella, drafting a new novel and writing a few more short stories.

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?

            The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor
            KIN, Kealan Patrick Burke
            The Changeling, Victor LaValle
            Baby Teeth, Zoje Stage

CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?

Honestly? The Exorcist. I don’t scare easily, but that one I had to walk away from for a bit.

CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?

The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty

CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?

It’s a tie between:
            Carnival of Souls (1962)
            Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?

If it’s that odd moment where I do want music in the background it’ll have to be something dark and instrumental. Stranger Things has a good sound track to write to.
I’m a 90s girl, so favorite album is going to have to go to Nirvana, Nevermind (1991).

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

The crow. I have Hugin and Munin tattooed across my entire back.

CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
If it’s a Pilsner I’m happy.

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

Stephen King because he seems like he’ll tell you whatever like it is. I don’t think he’ll bullshit you. He’ll be blunt and honest, and I would just love to know his thoughts on horror and publishing today.
Follow me on Twitter at: @cinapelayo