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SLEEP, SAVANNAH, SLEEP

Alistair Cross

The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace

Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own – and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings.

When she goes missing, secrets begin to surface, and Jason becomes ensnared in a dangerous web that leads to murder. But who has the answers that will prove his innocence? The jealous husband who’s hell-bent on destroying him? The local sheriff with an incriminating secret? The blind old woman in the house next door who seems to watch him from the windows? Or perhaps the answers lie in the haunting visions and dreams that have recently begun to consume him.

Or maybe, Savannah herself is trying to tell him that things aren’t always as they seem – and that sometimes, the dead don’t rest in peace.

Alistair’s debut novel, The Crimson Corset, was an immediate bestseller, earning praise from such authors as Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series, and vampire-lit veteran, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Alistair also writes with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and together they have released several bestsellers, including Mother, The Cliffhouse Haunting, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest. 

Together, Thorne & Cross also host the popular radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has included such guests as Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels; world-wide bestseller, V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman); Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series, True Blood; Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series; #1 New York Times bestseller, Kim Harrison; Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser: 2, 3, and 4; Mick Garris, film director of Hocus Pocus, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Stephen King’s The Stand; and New York Times bestsellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.  

You can visit Alistair Cross’ website at www.alistaircross.com

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Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross

About the Author

Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

The Pace of War

Isobel Mitton Author Interview

Isobel Mitton Author Interview

Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War is the second book in the Across The Realm series that continues the overall story yet is able to stand on it’s own. What direction did you take in this novel that you felt was different from the first book?

In the first book I was introducing my story and how the war that my series is based on came to be. I was giving background information and introducing the main characters. I was also describing this Earth of the 27th century. I knew then that I would write the consequent books in the series based on each territory of the North. There is a book for each one coming.

When Two Tribes go to War is based on the war front of The Arab Territories. That gave me a chance to develop the Arab Territories, show my readers their way of life and their belief systems. I wanted that unique feel of the Middle East.

I created new characters and a new story for the North. I kept my Southern characters intact from book 1. I didn’t use all the Southern characters because I split them up. In each book in the series, four or five of my Southern characters will get center stage. The series gives me a chance to develop them so that the reader gets to know them better.

I would say that When Two tribes go to War goes straight into action and stays there. There is no need for background information because the first book, Across the Realm Life Always Finds a Way had already dealt with that. I could increase the pace of war without being encumbered with explanations. I loved that.

You have a fantastic ability to create three dimensional characters. What was your favorite character to write for and why?

I love all my characters. In fact, I am very protective of them all. But, Khadija stood out for me. She came to me very softly. (I totally believe my characters introduce themselves to me.) She was meek and didn’t have a story to tell for a while. And then she rose and shared with me her past, her present, her strengths and her weaknesses. I fell in love. She lives in a very masculine world and was a child bride whose husband raped her. But, she retained love and compassion despite her hardships and in the war she found her strength.  She was a surprise to me. I had not expected her to develop that way.

What science fiction novels or writers do you feel most influenced you?

I am going to make you laugh at me and admit that I have never read a single scifi novel. Ever. I am however a trekkie to the day I die and I have all of Battlestar Galactica in every way that I could store it. I am a scifi movie or cartoon or comic junkie. Anything scifi and I am there.

My greatest influence in writing. Stephen King. He weaves a world and characters that blow my mind. I read everything he writes and I watch every Stephen King based movie. The shocker is that I don’t like horror stories. His books keep me awake at night, absolutely frightened out of my mind. And that is why I am a fan! That is amazing writing. When I grow up, I want to write like him.

Besides Stephen King, I will have to hand the baton to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. That trilogy blew my mind. I like to think though that the authors who influenced me the most were British Author Enid Blyton of the Famous Five series and William Shakespeare.

Where does book 3 in the Across the Realm series take readers?

Book three, The Land of the Forefathers takes readers to the war front of Asia! The Asian territories get a spotlight. The themes are slavery, heredity and so much more. I must warn my readers that this is a dark story. It is very dark.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Website

Isobel Mitton seamlessly weaves in love, humor, betrayal, loyalty and brutality in a new fantasy novel that stands uniquely on its own. This is one of her best new science fiction books. Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a reflection from the future that hits close to home as the reader comes to realize that this future world is not so different from our own. There are many fiction books on sale. However this is one of the best science fiction books because it has action, adventure, fantasy, diversity, technology, and more. 

One of the most exciting parts of this tale is its subtle exploration of larger current societal issues like racism; the fuzzy lines of ethics created by scientific advancement and the unwillingness to compromise with those we view as “different” in a futuristic landscape. This Science Fiction Space Adventure will not disappoint. 

Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a science fiction short story about complex relationships that endure trying times and experiences. Forbidden love, illegitimate pregnancy, strong childhood attachments, betrayal, abuse, and bastard kings reminiscent of the Game of Thrones, all complicated by the rules of a rigid society makes this latest instalment of the Across the Realm franchise difficult to put down.

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This Might Sound Horrible

Jason Hubbard Author Interview

Jason Hubbard Author Interview

The Taming of Adam follows a prickly teen named Adam. While he attends college studying black magic he goes out of control, gets arrested and is forced to face his shortcomings. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

This might sound horrible (probably because it is), but I’ve always been kind of interested in the school-shooter phenomenon, especially the Columbine incident. I wonder what those two young men went through and why they decided to do what they did. Did life truly not seem worth living?  Did counterculture somehow help them come to their decision?

By the time I wrote “The Taming of Adam,” I already did two novels, and I decided to try something unique and risky:

A story about a man who could become a school shooter.

It didn’t have to be an urban fantasy story, but fantasy is the genre I’m most interested in. Of course, Adam’s situation is very different from a typical real-world school shooting, but he is a very antisocial guy with sociopathic tendencies–someone who might think little of going on a carnage spree. The message of the book is that you can find friends even in unlikely places, and that it’s better to indulge in the love and care of friends and family than go at the world alone. It’s corny, yes, and I’m not sure it would reach a sociopath, but it might help more than hurt.

Are you a fan of the fantasy/paranormal genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?

I’ve read a lot of fantasy books over the last few years mostly thanks to my Kindle, which can get me obscure books right at home, but before I wrote ToA, I mostly read Stephen King books and a handful of fantasy books. The works of Stephen King were a great influence, as well as Harry Potter of course, but there’s also a bit of Star Trek in there, too. I love how fantasy and horror can make for very adventurous books that break the rules of reality to be fully realized. On the other hand, to be honest, I am a little disappointed to see so many fantasy stories rely on cliches such as “The Chosen One,” “The Great Holy Artifact,” and “The Prophecy That Gives Sufficient Motivation.”  These cliches can more or less cheapen a story and rob characters the chance to be endearing and relatable.

Adam starts out as an unlikable character. He’s a jerk to everyone, even his friends. What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Adam? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story?

Adam is a pretty sensitive guy who went bad due to a bit of a traumatic experience as a child. He wants to live in his own little world where nothing and no one can hurt him, and he keeps telling himself that not even his family is important to him. But when he makes his sister cry over a matter of his own making, he gives her a hug, realizing that he wouldn’t want to be treated as he had just treated her. Another pivotal moment is when he reveals his feelings about the opposite sex to Naomi. They’re feelings he’s always been aware of, yet this is the first time he’s put them into words to anyone. If Naomi simply got disgusted and called him names, Adam would have probably stayed the same and refused to open himself up any further. But just getting his feelings out and not getting a huge backlash gave him the opportunity to reconsider his position on life. I’m not sure if any of the other characters changed with the story, but I like to think Russell was pretty brave in talking to Adam, a guy who had just assaulted him, while other people would have advised against it.

This is part 1 of “The Taming of Adam” series. Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?

Parts 2 and 3 are now available for digital download. In Part 2, Adam attends a school in a new city.  He gets serious with a woman named Amy who gradually makes him a better person without him knowing it. But there are some people behind the scenes with a sinister agenda, and they happen to have some connection with Adam’s past. There’s another character named Ricky whose unique perspective helps to clarify things.

Part 3 is the most ambitious and epic installment of the series, involving gods and time travel, and it puts a new spin on the title “The Taming of Adam.” Can’t say much more without going into spoiler territory!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Meet Adam Taylor. He is a black mage: a magic-wielder who draws power from the essence of shadows. He is also a loner who prefers only his own company and dreams of power simply to make a living with it. He shuns and pushes away others, making him an extremely rude and antisocial miscreant. On the inside, though, he is a sensitive soul who doesn’t quite know the meaning of love and friendship.

Gene London, meanwhile, is a famous attorney who has a knack for defending difficult cases. He is also a government lobbyist who speaks to lawmakers on behalf of corporations (a normally legal profession as long as he doesn’t give lawmakers luxurious gifts … which he regularly does). Lately, he’s been seeing a mysterious person whom he calls “the lady in the mirror.” This lady claims she is trapped in another dimension, and she says that if London finds a way to free her, she will be his forevermore.

Little did Adam know, on the day he did something foolish and horrific, that he was setting himself on a course to a meeting with the dastardly Gene London … and setting in motion a series of events that will change him for better or worse.

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Wolves Among Sheep

Wolves Among Sheep4 Stars

There is madness in the world that few can ever understand. What drives a person to get out of bed in the morning or take a life in the evening is different for every person. Steven Pajak carefully crafts a story for us that involve mindless torture; endless agony and that special breed of mental instability psychological thrillers enjoy so much. While Wolves Among Sheep is meant to be a book introducing Jack Monroe, a United States Deputy Marshal, it really focuses on the relationship between Jack’s brother Michael and unstable, disgruntled former employee Robert Elliott Lang. As readers we are roped into a fascinating situation where a single man seeks to completely destroy the life of another for reasons only he could possibly understand. With heart in throat and eyes glued to the page readers will want to desperately know the why and crumble when it’s finally revealed.

Pajak knows his craft well and is very good at describing the slow, torturous break down between Robert and Michael. Michael has the things that Robert wants and is seen to be the one who has denied our antagonist all that could have been his. Robert desperately needs help and the signs pointing to his devolution have been visible for a long time. Perhaps it’s because he’s just another name in the email directory or because he’s that difficult, creepy guy that no one really wants to befriend but the fact remains that Robert does not get the help he needs. Instead, he gets a target: a person whose life he can work towards crumbling as carefully as possible. We know quite early on in the tale that Robert is a man who is not below putting dead rats in cars and forwarding incriminating emails in order to destroy a relationship. We know all of this but the hypnotic destruction pulls the attention and causes us to question what we read.

If there were to be any areas where Pajak could improve it would be simple editing. There are a few spelling mistakes and words that are potentially mistyped. This is not Pajak’s first time at the rodeo so he knows how to write a good story. That is what makes the minute, yet noticeable, editorial issues stand out even more. Unless you’re extremely particular about these sorts of things they will not ruin the story for you, but they will be obvious.

Wolves Among Sheep takes its readers on a dangerously slippery trail. There are aspects of Robert’s behavior that seem almost normal; those small little tics that are easily over looked. While Jack is instrumental in hunting down Robert after he has successfully destroyed any semblance of a ‘normal’ life for Michael, the story truly revolves around our protagonist and antagonist. The tale would not be the same if Jack were not in it, however, so it is important to note that his existence is necessary to reach the conclusion Pajak came to.

Readers who enjoy a good psychological thriller along the lines of Dean Koontz and Stephen King will not be disappointed with the creepy tale Steven Pajak offers for consumption.

Pages: 220 | ASIN: B01LYY5ZJ1

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What If The Heroes Were Just Some Schmucks

Tim  Owens Author Interview

Tim Owens Author Interview

The Hobbymen follows Geoff and Book who are Amateur Monster Biologists that are out to separate truth from fairytale no matter how bizarre it may be. Where did the idea for ‘Amateur Monster Biologists’ come from?

It was born out of boredom. After consuming media for over 25 years, I had become bored with the same stories popping up. I was bored with prophecies and characters destined to save the world. I was bored with all these rules about monsters that were in place for no reason other than tradition. I was bored with something as silly as a werewolf being treated with dignity and respect. So I thought, “What if all these myths were only half the story? What if the heroes were actually just some schmucks who had no idea what they were doing? Why don’t we take all the folklore to the stupidest conclusion we can find?” Because I don’t take myself too seriously and thought it was high time modern fantasy reflected that mindset. Also they’re biologists rather than hunters because hunting becomes a game of “find monster, kill monster” and having it be research is not only more fun, it opens a lot more possibility for exploring different aspects of the world they live in.

There is a lot of witty banter and sarcasm being thrown around by the characters. Did you have fun writing this novel?

I really did, sometimes more than I expected. Large portions of the book were sort of mentally written in my head as I was driving or just going throughout my day, but some scenes were completely unplanned and ended up being the most fun by just having the characters bounce off each other. The worst part was always coming up with a bit that got me really excited and it wouldn’t show up for another 3 chapters. I always had to slow myself down and make sure each chapter was worthwhile, even if I wasn’t as excited about it initially.

Liliana is a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing a loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico. How did her character develop as you were writing?

Very slow and difficult. That’s what happens when the basis for your character started as “nun that beats things with a bat”. Having her be the audience surrogate in the beginning helped because it gave me a couple chapters for her to breathe before I really needed to know what she was about. I had a good handle on her about half way through the book, and made sure to go back and make sure she was consistent throughout. A lot of things for her sort of fell into place. Her cohorts were each at opposite ends of the spectrum, so she became a mixture of short-tempered and goofy to balance it out.  She needed to be strong and independent, yet still function as a part of a team.  My biggest focus was always to make sure her actions and dialogue came from herself as a character, and not as “the girl of the group” or “stock archetype #15”. I think a lot of the time she was the hardest to write just because she is somehow the least extreme in terms of her personality.

What were some books or movies that you think were your main sources of inspiration?

I tend to take inspiration from many places, which probably comes across as a cop out answer. The real answer is I grew up watching horror movies, reading Stephen King and Poe, and watching a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. The latter, for any unaware, essentially aired old B-movies and made fun of them. As a kid I loved the concept and my family ended up doing it on our own for any movie we watched. So unwittingly the concept for a book where monsters and myths are handled with a heaping dose of self-awareness and eye rolling was planted fairly early in my mind. But in terms of writing I tend to find inspiration through a lot of the classics. Like I think Catch-22 is an amazing tool in teaching about how to create the tone of a scene or how Dickens made sure to utilize his prose to make mundane events a joy to read.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

I am currently finishing up on a short story in the Hobbymen universe titled “Truth, Dare, Scissors” which is going to be released sometime before October. It’s the second short story I’ve written with these characters, the first being “Interview with a Vampire Named Bob” which acts as a prequel to the book. I am currently working on a sequel as well. What can I say, I enjoy these characters and I’m too lazy to come up with new ones for now. The next full novel is too far away to estimate, but I will definitely be finishing it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The HobbymenSister Liliana has not been having the best of days. Between running away from the convent and then being thrown into a desolate prison, she has started to lose hope of having a fun Wednesday. That is until she meets two strange men with a rather peculiar hobby: Amateur Monster Biology. From ancient monsters to urban legends, Geoff and Book are out to separate truth from fairytale, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that truth may be. And as they have found, there is truth in everything. Soon Liliana is caught in a whirlwind of adventure as they show her a side of the world she never thought existed, filled with fantastic creatures hiding in plain sight. But just as it seems her life is finally turning around, the group get a foreboding message from an unexpected, sinister source. Are the three of them in over their heads this time? Yes…the answer is yes.

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American Flowers

American Flowers4 StarsThis novel follows Chris, a drug addicted young man who is trying to find his way. After meeting Allie, a young lady who has her own set of problems, and getting her started on the needle herself, things go south quickly. He quickly finds himself on the wanted list of the police, his supplier, and Allie’s relatives. The plot quickens and keeps the reader entertained as Chris struggles to come to terms with his past and find a way out of the mess he has created.

The novel has a dedication to Stephen King at the beginning, which influenced my reading of the rest of the text. The descriptions of the characters and the gritty diction is King-esque. The author creates a believable world with characters that act just like one might expect when under the influence. While the world and characters are believable and relatable, they do fall flat in a couple of areas.

First, Allie and her naiveté lead to some questionable choices on her part. As an example, she chooses to trust and follow Chris on his downward spiral even though she had known him for less than a week and had never done anything more than marijuana before the events of the novel. The author provides her background, which some would indicate as an influence on her choices, but it is still too much self-destruction for this reader to find believable.

Second, the plot is just a little too predictable, and a little too gritty for my taste. Chris’ choices are too simplistic in the first third of the book, leaving the reader to easily decipher how those choices are going to play a role later in the story. This is especially true of Jesse James, a character who only appears for a couple of pages before the plot moves itself forward. The middle of the book gets violent and shows just how far Chris had fallen since the events of his past had derailed his life. This reader won’t post any spoilers, but Chris’ choices are extreme and the text is not for the faint of heart.

The final third, though, is fantastic. To see how the author deals with his characters and their pasts is just beautiful. I won’t say anything more, no spoilers!

Overall, the novel is more than entertaining. Once the reader sees the mess that Chris created for himself and starts to see how his past is affecting his current situation, it makes for a thrilling, heart-wrenching read. Watching Chris and Allie try to battle their pasts while dealing with an ever more dangerous present causes the pages to turn faster and faster through all of the poor choices and self destruction to the conclusion. Personally, it was heartbreaking to watch Chris and Allie cling to each other as they attempted to find a way out of all of the wrong choices they had both made. Any reader who gives this story the time will not be disappointed.

Pages: 297 | ASIN: B0147NL0UE

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The Mansion’s Twins

The Mansion's Twins4 StarsRose Channing delivers a captivating fantasy novel filled with magic, friendship and discovery. The Mansion’s Twins is the story of Savannah and Ellie Senka, a pair of identical twins who lived in the real world in two different families and then brought together by a twist of Fate and magic inside the mansion of another world, where other gifted children were taught how to use good magic and the others gifts within themselves. For the both of them, they learned it was a whole new world inside this alternate universe for them to make things right and fight against the roots of evil.

For Savannah Senka, the oldest sibling in the Kali family, who wanted a break from reality and her father’s wrath. She ran into a girl named Ellie, who looked like her as her own mirror image. Together they bonded as friends and discovered a mirror cave that lead them inside the mansion of the dreamworld. That’s when they learned about their destiny as the Senka twins and made new friends inside the mansion. They discovered about their own magical gifts from June and Julian, the two leaders of the clan. While they made new friends inside their new home, they learned how it was up to them to go on their journey to fight against evil, learn their magical gifts from the legend of Claire and Dmitri, and to reset the balance in their world.

The mansion world was very idealistic with its own nuances inside the home with each specific room and places. For their type of kingdom, it was very special with the mirror world of psychic gifts and extraordinary magic that give it a hint of fantasy. The elders and the other characters had their own story on how they landed here to make it this home. Whether they were gifted or different, they were loved and wanted.

There is a lot of potential for this story to be carried on through several books in a series. I felt that there was a lot of telling rather than showing, but this was a fascinating novel with depth and intelligence. I would compare this novel to Stephen King’s “Firestarter” and V.C. Andrews’ books, because of the psychic theme. Rose is a gifted writer who built a whole new world within this magical tale that young adults would enjoy reading.

Pages: 428 | ISBN: 1500310298

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The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen | Podcast

The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen

The Hungry Monster was given the opportunity to interview JR Hamantaschen and Derek Sotak, the hosts of a horror podcast. We discuss the horror genre, how Queens NY is not the quietest place to record a podcast, and I find out where I can get a 5lb plate of artisanal nachos.

What inspired you guys to start a podcast about horror culture?

Derek: I had always wanted to do a podcast about weird movies, and separately always enjoyed the horror genre, so when one of my favorite authors asked me if I wanted to do a horror podcast I said “Yes Stephen King, more than anything.” That podcast never panned out because he was too busy, so later when JR came to me with the same idea I thought the second time would be the charm, and here we are today.

J.R. Well, I’ve written a couple of dark fiction collections now and have had my hand in editing some others. I felt a bit burned out on writing horror and have been pursuing other subjects, but still want to keep a toe in the genre, so to speak, and, honestly, see if I could rekindle my interest. Also, Derek’s a pretty cool guy and it was an excuse to hang out in some capacity.

How do you two know each other? How did you two meet?

Derek: I was reading JR long before I ever met him in person, becoming enraged upon reading his bio that he was so much younger than me and writing such excellent stuff. When years later we met at a convention it turned out that he was wasn’t so young anymore and a pretty radical dude in general, so I let my rage go. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a magical friendship to blossom.

J.R.: We met at the NecronomiCon Convention in 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. We were both separately friends with Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, and we all went out to lunch. Then the sparks flew. A couple handjobs later and here we are.

You are now 13 episodes into the podcast, what is one thing that you’ve learned about the podcast process that you never considered before?

Derek: Unfortunately a podcast is not as easy as pressing record and shooting the shit for an hour. As part of the Faustian bargain I made with JR at the crossroads at midnight under a full moon I do the tech side of the operation, which involves the editing, syncing, posting, website stuff, and all the other various jazz that a “real” podcast has interns do for them, which was all more than I bargained for. BTW, we will be announcing the Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen internship contest shortly, and Max Fun or Earwolf, we we are eagerly awaiting your call.

J.R.: This might be the height of spoiled laziness, but fitting in two movies per week or reading a book in a week and trying to think of interesting commentary or insights is harder than I thought it would be. Also, one thing I never noticed before is that it seems a lot of other podcasts pick out or select things that they already know they might like, whereas we don’t, so there’s a decent chance we will dislike what we are commenting on and rag on it. Also, I live in Queens, New York, and it seems the ambulances, taxis and people who hang out on my block must have advanced notice of when I’m recording so they all gather in full force to be as loud as fucking possible. One time while we were recording there was literally a goddamn whistling noise coming out of my pipes. So editing those sounds out has been a challenge (and by that, I mean a challenge for Derek, since he’s the tech guy).

What is your favorite decade for the horror genre?

Derek: The 80’s. I think a lot of the stepping stones for horror these days was laid then, along with the greatest wave of horror movie icons since the Universal Monsters. All my initial horror reading forays in the early 90’s were of books from then as well; King, Koontz, etc, and those are as solid a foundation to get yourself into the genre as you could ask for.

J.R. I don’t really know the answer to that. I’m inclined to say the 70s or 80s for horror movies, but there are enough things I’ve liked over a large enough expanse of time that I can’t commit myself to a decade. Maybe even in the 1920s, when Lovecraft was writing the Call of Cthulhu and a lot of “weird fiction” was of high literary merit.

A question for both of you: XBOX One or PS4?

Derek: PS4, but I grew up in a PS family so I might be biased. I’m not sure if for the most part it matters anymore rather than for a few games, and realistically a good PC is probably the best and most versatile game playing platform out there. It is a lot harder to sit on your couch and kick back with your keyboard and mouse rather than a controller though. I will always gives props to the Virtual Boy though.

J.R.: I was a Nintendo fanboy growing up, so I lived in denial about how superior the PS2 was compared to the Gamecube. I eventually got a PS2 and realized the error of my ways. I currently have an XBOX One that I bought on the advice of a friend, but if I were being honest with myself I should have gotten a PS4. Graphics are marginally better, there are more Japanese RPGs, some exclusives I want to play, and the controller is better.

Do you enjoy horror movies that are more campy slashers or thought provoking mind benders?

Derek: A campy slasher will always have it’s place in my heart, and on my TV if I’m in the mood for something I don’t need to really pay attention to. If I have the time for sitting down and giving something my full attention though, I’ll go for the provoking mind bender any day.

J.R.: I’d like to say thought provoking mind better, but in reality, the campy slasher is more of a safe bet in terms of enjoyment. If we were talking fiction, then of course the mind bender, but movies are a visual medium and there’s more room for error in a visual medium with something that – such as a nuanced, interior, contemplative work – might be better suited for fiction.

I find that horror is different in different cultures. For example, Japanese horror, I find, focuses more on psychological horror and poltergeists. What is your favorite horror culture and why?

Derek: I really like the whole Coffin Joe series and ultra weird and violent horror movies that came out of Brazil in the 60’s. Extremely subversive for the time in Brazil and 10 times that compared to what was going on in America at the same time. Even today if they would be considered a bit much for American audiences.

J.R.: that’s a good question, one that I don’t know if I have any answer to. Unlike Derek and his nacho-loving ways, I don’t know much about horror from Mexico, Central or South America.

Derek, your the author of The Field Guide to Nachos. If you were to create a bucket list of nachos to eat before you die, what would be on the top of the list?

Derek: The two best nachos I’ve ever had are the Big Foot’s Nachos Ur Way pulled pork nachos at Bigfoot Food and Spirits in the Seattle-Tacoma airport (I almost missed my plane getting those, but it would have been worth it) and Mount Nacheesmo at Tios in Ann Arbor Michigan. Mount Nacheesmo is the largest order of commercially available nachos in the US coming in at 5lbs, and while a lot of places would just throw together a bunch of cheap ingredients and try to pass that off, Tios artfully crafts an order that is delicious as you eat it, and while you munch on the leftovers for the next few days. Plus, if you can eat it all in an hour there you get a shirt and your picture up on the wall which is one of the greatest glories one can achieve in this life.

J.R. you’re the author of, You Shall Never Know Security. What do you find appealing about short stories?

J.R.: I suppose I write mainly short stories, though I’ve been working more on novellas recently. My second collection, “With a Voice that is Often Still Confused but is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer,’ is largely novellas. I write short stories because I think that’s the idealized form for horror and dark fiction. I don’t really need many horror novels, and most of the ones I have seem padded, or would have worked better as shorter pieces. Also, realistically, when I am pressed for time with my day job and side jobs, so short fiction has just been more realistic and manageable. I want to get in and get out.

What are the subjects for upcoming episodes. Are there any that you’re really excited about?

Derek: Our culturally mandated Christmas episode is going to be something really special, but you won’t be able to experience that for some months yet. OR WILL YOU? No. No you won’t, but there are a bunch of pretty cool ones coming up as well.

J.R.: I enjoyed our nostalgia episodes, which we recorded but hasn’t been released yet. We both picked two horror movies we enjoyed as kids and re-watched them with our jaundiced, cynical eyes. I chose Demon Knight and Scream, and Derek chose Evil Dead II and Dead Alive. Surprisingly, we still both liked our selections.

Join marginally popular dark fiction author J.R. Hamantaschen and Derek Sotak as they discuss the world of horror in a light-hearted, frivolous and irreverent way. Expect horror fiction, horror movies, horror culture, and interviews / hang-out sessions with authors and creators in the field.

Listen to The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen podcast available every Wednesday of the month streaming on their website thehorrorofnachosandhamantaschen.com or on:

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Overwhelmed by the Darkness

Mark TulliusTwisted Reunion is a collection of short horror stories. Did you know that you were going to publish them all in a collection or was that a decision made later?

I have always been a fan of short stories, with Stephen King’s collections at the top of my list. I was amazed by how much story he could tell in so few pages, how much I could care about a character. When I began writing, short stories were where I started, finding some success in selling (and giving) them to small magazines. My focus shifted to producing novels, but every once in a while I would allow myself a treat and knock out another story. Once I realized I had enough for a full collection, I began the daunting, yet enjoyable, process of rewriting all the stories, making sure they were something I’d be proud of.

One of my favorite stories is Woodshop Math. What is your favorite story from the collection?

I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed “Woodshop.” That story was a lot of fun to write, a little nod to Stephen King’s Carrie. One of the stories that always puts a smile on my face is “Surviving the Holidays,” but if I had to pick one I’d say “Book of Revelation.” Being so heavily influenced and inspired by King, I really enjoyed writing this homage that has “The Stand,” one of my favorite books, as a sort of character.

Why write horror stories? Why not write about rainbows and sunshine?

I must confess I’m no longer much of a fan of reading or watching horror. Most of the time, I’m a fun-loving, stay-at-home dad who likes to keep things peaceful and playful. But I do have my dark side, the part of my brain that won’t turn off, dirty and disturbing, usually best left unsaid. Writing these short stories satisfies that voice, and helps me deal with fears of death, disease, and all that fun stuff we pretend won’t ever happen to us or our loved ones. I’ve tried writing about rainbows and sunshine, but these stories always take a little turn, like in “Every Precious Second.” I love bringing cute little puppies, darling little boys, and sweet old ladies into my stories, but I have a very hard time keeping them alive. Perhaps we need to be overwhelmed by the darkness before we can truly appreciate the light.

Are there any stories that you left out of the collection for any reason; maybe because they were a little too twisted?

There were quite a few stories that didn’t make the cut for Twisted. Some were strong enough but too similar in subject matter while others were just too tame. And there were a couple that will never see the light of day because they are just too brutal, like “Bound to Suffer,” which incorporated Viagra, a naked man, rope to bind him to the bottom of a truck’s lift gate, and a very angry husband. This one was too painful to make it through.

Your book, 25 Perfect Days, was named IndieReader’s Best Indie Books of 2013, you have a sociology degree from Brown University, and you competed in Mixed Martial Arts. This creates the perfect recipe for you to write a book like Unlocking the Cage. What is that book about and what was your inspiration for writing it?

When I found myself fighting after college, I was often asked why I was doing it. I was never able to come up with an honest answer, so I decided to go on quite a journey, traveling to 25 states and talking with over 400 fighters, attempting to discover who they are and why they fight. Although I often struggled with having to give up so much of my time to the project because it took away from my fiction, it was by far the best thing I’ve ever done. Self-reflection, becoming physical, pushing limits, and learning new skills, has me more motivated and inspired than ever before. I can’t wait to present these powerful stories to the public and show them what MMA fighters are all about.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

This collection is composed of all the stories in Each Dawn I Die, Every One’s Lethal, and Repackaged Presents, plus two bonus stories.

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