My Writer’s Book Bag

Oh, how these summer days and nights are passing by all too quickly here in the Finger Lakes. The college students are not only swarming the campuses, but totally disregarding any lessons taught to them on how to safely cross a street. It’s still been plenty hot and humid with many a thunderstorm tossed in for good measure, but fall is approaching all too fast. This past weekend saw the annual carnival, parade, and fireworks come to my little town. Yes, those old-fashioned things still exist around these parts.

We’ve got a TON of things to do around the house before the first snows start to fly. In between some roof and foundation repairs, plugging a hole to keep out the damn starlings come next spring, and with any luck at all, getting our deck sealed, I’m hoping to find more time to read. LOL. Yeah, right!

The list is short this month as I’ve been buried in a very deep hole of editing my own stuff, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of really good books!

ShadowFabric_MarkCassellFirst up, The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell. I’ve been stalking Mark on Twitter for a very long time and was finally able to gather up enough pennies to order his first book in the Shadow Fabric mythos awhile back. I’ll be posting a more detailed review at all the usual places (including here) in the very near future. In a nutshell, loved it! It’s been a while since I’ve been so eager to get back to reading as I was with this book. It starts out with a bang, well, more like an um, I guess you’d call it a squish and slurp? Whatever the sound of someone getting stabbed with a magical dagger and then sucked into the darkness is. I’m really looking forward to getting my eyeballs on more of Mark’s work and learning more about the incredible world he’s created surrounding the Shadow Fabric.

77ShadowStreetKoontzI’m still making my way through my first Dean Koontz (audio)book. Yes, I know, I know. I’ve been told many, many times over the years that I’d like Dean Koontz stuff by those that know me well, but for whatever reason, I never picked up anything by him before. Wow. There will be more Koontz to come on this list, I’m sure. I’ve started out with 77 Shadow Street. It seems August is Shadow Month! Just realized that. The Pendelton Hotel stands at 77 Shadow Street and undergoes some sort of paranormal time-warp every thirty-eight years. Part horror, part paranormal, part sci-fi, part Apocalyptic-disaster, filled with giant larva-like creatures, ghosts, murderers, alien assaults and body snatching, I am fully invested in this story. The narration of this book is absolutely amazing, too! Whoever this guy is, I hope he got paid well. Every character, and there are a lot of them; men, women, children, and those creatures\beings\entities that haunt the place, each has a very different and distinct voice.

And, that’s it! Just the two. There are three books sitting here on the corner of my desk waiting their turn to be read. Oddly – two of them are science fiction – a genre I usually avoid like the plague.

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea

June
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (audiobook)
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson (audiobook)
Beyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

July
(Almost) Average Anthology by Jason J. Nugent
Moment of Darkness by Jason J. Nugent
The Whistlers by Amity Argo (audiobook)
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (audiobook)
Luellen & Lucy by Dee DeTarsio

August
The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell
77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz (audiobook)

Author Interview – Lorelei Buckley

This month I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Paranormal Romance author Lorelei Buckley. Oooh — spooky and sexy all at the same time!

  1. Some writers come to writing later in life, almost accidentally, while others seem to have wanted it for as long as they can remember. How did your journey as a writer begin?

LoreleiBuckleyMy writing journey started in grade school with poetry. Well actually my writing journey began with love letters to Donnie Osmond. For most of fifth grade, a classmate named Sondra paid me ten bucks per sugary heartfelt-letter addressed to her future husband, Mr. Osmond. It was mutually beneficial. I believe she received some sort of fan club VIP article, and I made a little cash and gained the confidence to enter and win a poetry contest. That’s when the idea of being a writer formulated.

  1. Some people swear by an outline, while others do something I’ve learned to call organic writing, in that many times throughout the writing process they aren’t 100% sure what’s going to happen next. Would you tell us a little bit about your process?

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I generally write a pre-manuscript synopsis. So, I’ll have the bones, but the meat comes as I’m writing. For instance, in Direct Strike I knew Zoey was going to be struck by lightning and end up with a kind of supernatural side-effect. But the details didn’t come forward until I was knee deep in the story. I tend to backtrack quite a bit as I learn more about the plot, character, etc. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but it works for me.

  1. You write in a somewhat specialized genre, Paranormal Romance. Which one really got you started, the paranormal aspect or the romance side of things? What, or who, inspired you to go in that direction?

I was definitely drawn to the paranormal elements. I’ve always had interest in dream work, psychic phenomenons, the spirit world, mysticism, etc. – Since childhood. Initially I wanted to be a horror writer. I penned a few short stories, but then I had a dream about a couple who moved into a haunted house. They were just married and despite the shadows slithering up and down the walls, they were madly in love. And the love they had for each other helped them overcome their fear. I woke up feeling warm and fuzzy and with the desire to explore paranormal romance. The dream inspired my first published novel.

  1. Would you be able to provide my readers with a tiny teaser for you current work in progress?

I’m working on a couple of things. One is a horror screenplay ironically titled: The  Paranormals, and the other is the long awaited next book in the Midnight Road series titled: Blue Moon House. Each story takes place in the same town, and one thing binds the characters, but they’re stand alone books. Readers aren’t left hanging at the end of any of the Midnight Road novellas.

Here’s an unedited snippet from Chapter One of Blue Moon House:

“We’ve got to be close.” Sophia’s Subaru headlamps cut through the pitch-black night. Fixated on the road ahead, she gripped the steering wheel. At a glance to her right, Danny’s face glowed in the hue of his cell phone. Her muscles contracted. She could hardly stand to breathe the same air as him.
“Long drive. Airplanes are awesome,” he said.
He knew she had a fear of flying. Dick. She exhaled. She wondered if somewhere deep beneath grueling daily arguments, she still loved him. Not likely. A year ago she would have died for Danny. Twelve months later she wanted to murder him. No, she reminded herself, she wanted to kill the marriage. No, she corrected herself, she truly wanted to kill Danny.

  1. In addition to being psychic, your character Scarlett is what I’d call a sort of New Age Kitchen Witch. As a writer myself, I know some characters have a lot of me in them. Is that the case for you with Scarlett or is there another character you more closely identify with?

Yes, I can relate to Scarlett, somewhat. In fact her iron skillet-Epsom salt method to exterminate negative/uninvited energy was a family recipe. But she’s much mousier than me.

  1. Can you fill us in on your latest release and what will be available next? Where can perf5.000x8.000.inddfolks find out more about you, your work, and purchase your books?

Next up will be Blue Moon House. Currently, Medium Crossing and Midnight Road: Lighthouse can be purchased on Amazon. Direct Strike is available on Amazon and Kensingtonbooks.com. For updates and social media links, go to: loreleibuckley.com

Thanks so much, Lorelei. It was great getting to know a little bit more about you and your work! Folks – if you’d like to delve a bit deeper into your paranormal romantic side, be sure and visit Lorelei’s website!

Feeling Panicked! YIKES!

After weeks of stalking, and under threats of being subjected to the constant drone of baseball playing fruit flies, XTina has finally broken me down and I’ve agreed to join her and James Longmore on The Panic Room Radio Show this THURSDAY, AUG. 10th at 9:30 CST. I’ll be blathering on about my latest release “No Rest For The Wicked”, doing a reading from the same, and possibly answering ten of the Eleven Questions. What other terrors will I have to endure? There’s only one way to find out! Tune in and have a listen!

The Panic Room Radio Show

The Horrors That Grew Me – Ghostly Encounters

I’m not sure how old I was when my grandmother told me the story about the time she saw a ghost at a friend’s house. I couldn’t have been a teenager yet. This was the same grandmother who bought and taught me how to work an Ouija board, instead of the getting me the vampire books I’d picked out, for my 13th birthday. Pretty awesome, grandma, huh?

Now, before someone gets all up in arms about the DANGER!DANGER!DANGER! of using an Ouija board, I was then and am now, fully aware of what some people say and truly believe. 99% of my experiences have been positive. Maybe it’s because I always approached it in a positive, respectful, and empowering way. I didn’t go in full of fear or anger or anything that might draw in the negative. I honestly don’t know. As for all the talk I’ve heard about demons and all that. Meh. Angry human spirits, absolutely. Demons? No. Maybe that’s something that was instilled in me by my grandmother during those early lessons.

Needless to say, this whole believing in ghosts thing has always existed in my life. I’ve never known what’s it’s like to not believe. Maybe that’s why I’ve had what might be considered an above-average amount of experiences with it. I can totally understand why others don’t feel this way and I’m fine with that. I’m not here to try and change anyone’s mind. I’m here to tell you some stories.

My first experience, that I can remember, happened at a friend’s house. You can read all about it over at Thomas Gunther’s website where I answered his question, “What Scared The Hell Out Of You?”.

Another incident happened while my first husband and I were exploring an abandoned brick house back in the late 1980s. We weren’t looking for ghosts at all, just wanted to check out this old place. While we were doing so, I heard what sounded like an old woman humming. The image of a woman sitting out on the front porch sitting in a rocking chair popped into my head. Just sitting there, humming to herself and rocking. It was a very peaceful, happy feeling.

While with a group of friends, again, exploring an empty house that was anything but empty, I walked into the dining room and it felt like my whole chest constricted and the air got very heavy and tight. As soon as I’d leave that room, the feeling would stop. Never saw or heard anything, but that sensation was enough for me to know something, or someone, was not happy about having their house invaded by strangers. I avoided that room as best I could during the rest of our visit.

In 1994, while looking for a house to buy, we found another old place. It had a For Sale sign out front so we stopped to see what we could see through the windows before calling the realtor. While standing at one corner of the property, I heard footsteps coming around from the other side. I assumed it was my husband so paid it no mind until I turned and looked. It wasn’t him. It was a woman dressed in an early 20th-century dress, white or some other light color, with her dark hair pulled up in a Gibson Girl-style. We made brief eye contact, she smiled just a little bit then was gone. It was that fast.

Although we ended up not getting that house, we did find one the following year that met all our criteria, including a resident ghost. Our first encounter with the man we’d later call Herman, happened only a month or so after moving in. It was late February or early March and we woke one morning to find the door between the kitchen and back room wide open. We thought nothing about it at the time. One or the other of us probably hadn’t closed it all the way. It was (and still is) a tricky door to get shut. The door was closed and checked that night and off we went to bed. The next morning, it was open again. Now we’re starting to wonder. That night the door was closed, locked, and tugged on to make extra sure it was completely latched and tight. Good to go, we headed upstairs to bed.

It wasn’t an hour later when we heard a click and a the familiar squeak of that kitchen door opening. In the darkness of the bedroom I said, “Did you hear that?” “Yeah.” “You going to go check?” “Nope.” Sure enough, the next morning the door was open yet again. It was creepy, but not overly scary for some reason. My husband went to the door and said, “Okay. We get it. We know you’re here and we’re okay with that. You are welcome to stay, but can you please stop opening this door?” Guess what? That door has NEVER opened on its own since and that was in 1995.

Other things have happened over the years. Electronics going on and off as they wish, the sound of the front door opening followed by footsteps through the dining room before continuing up the stairs, and various children’s toys rolling out of room where no child was present. During our first year at the house, a woman came to the door one Saturday afternoon.  Of course, the place was a mess. She said she’d heard someone had bought the place that had been empty for three years before we came along, and it was getting fixed up again. She told us she lived there in the 1970s and hadn’t been back since moving out in her late teens. As she reached the top of the stairs, she stopped and looked into the room we were using as a spare and said, “Oh… this is the room Daddy died in.” You guessed it, Daddy’s name was Herman.

So, there you have it, some of the ghostly encounters I’ve had that have certainly inspired me as a Horror writer and an overall lover of things that go bump in the night.

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion

Scarecrow_Cover_MFor nearly two-hundred years the sleepy, little town of Barnesville has kept a secret, several in fact. Had it not been for the gruesome death of Peter Wakeley, those secrets may have remained hidden another two centuries. Detective Sergeant Simon Michaels and his assistant, Angela Jennings, are two of the first on the scene. Angie grew up in Barnesville and almost immediately suspects that not all is as it appears to be. Without the help of police, who rule the death an accident, Angie takes it upon herself to investigate.The more she digs into the victim’s life and the role his family played in the founding of the town, the more bizarre things become. The town historian and librarian, a good friend of Angie’s mother and a self-proclaimed witch, is reluctant to discuss matters until after the passing of the Scarecrow Moon.Vivid and gruesome dreams and uncanny hunches begin to plague Angie until eventually she must face one of her deepest fears to unravel the mystery, break the spell, and reveal the dark secrets of the Scarecrow Moon; secrets laced with blood, witchcraft, and at least one scarecrow that refuses to stay where it should. – Available in paperback & eBook : SECRETS OF THE SCARECROW MOON

shadows_coverThere’s no mistake about it, someone murdered the village funeral director. One person even steps forward to take the blame, but what was done to the body would be impossible for them to have done unless they had help. Soon others become suspect as the true nature of the victim steps out of the darkness to reveal a not-so-amiable member of the small town in Upstate New York. But whose hatred ran so deep as to bludgeon the man and stuff him into a coffin to die? Was it his son who wants nothing more than to bring the family business out of the 19th century? Was it his wife or maybe the owner of the funeral home across town who is struggling to make ends meet? Or was it the deed of a malevolent shadow figure seen lurking outside the funeral home the morning Dan’s body was found? Lies, confessions, and long-held secrets mix with the fine art of witchcraft, as the local police and a nearby coven of witches both struggle to bring a killer to justice. But how do you capture a murderer who seems to be made of shadows that fades into obscurity every time the light of truth draws near?
Available in paperback & eBook : THAT’S WHAT SHADOWS ARE MADE OF

nrftwEvery ghost has a story. Not all of them want it told. From beyond the grave, a murderous wife seeks to complete her revenge on those who betrayed her in life; a powerless domestic still fears for her immortal soul while trying to scare off anyone who comes too close; and the former plantation master – a sadistic doctor who puts more faith in the teachings of de Sade than the Bible – battle amongst themselves and with the living to reveal or keep hidden the dark secrets that prevent any of them from resting in peace. When Eric and Grace McLaughlin purchase Greenbrier Plantation, their dreams are just as big as those who have tried to tame the place before them. But, the doctor has learned a thing or two over his many years in the afterlife, is putting those new skills to the test, and will go to great lengths in order to gain the upper hand. While Grace digs into the death-filled history of her new home, Eric soon becomes a pawn of the doctor’s unsavory desires and rapidly growing power, and is hell-bent on stopping her. Enter the Winchester Society of Paranormal Research; could the solution lie within the humble ranks of this group of investigators? It seems unlikely, but the crew is eager to try. Is there any force powerful enough to put to rest the wickedness that demands complete control, not just over its ghostly adversaries, but the body and soul of Eric McLaughlin?
Available in paperback & eBook : NO REST FOR THE WICKED

My Writer’s Book Bag

It’s been hot and steamy up here in the Finger Lakes Region of New York the past month. Rain, rain, and more rain. Then a few hot & muggy days before, you got it, more rain. It’s putting quite the damper on getting some things done around this old house that desperately need doing! I have been able to get some reading done, though.

We ended last month wallowing through the swamps of the Southern United States with Bigfoot and all his relations thanks to Lyle Blackburn’s Beyond Boggy Creek. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend to any and all who have even a passing interest in this cryptid. Lyle does an amazing job. My only complaint was there weren’t enough pictures. He mentions pictures that allegedly show the creature, but only shares them with us a few times.

momentsOnce I was done getting down with the various Swamp Apes, I made my way through two very short books of short stories by Jason J. Nugent, (Almost) Average Anthology – which btw, isn’t actually an anthology, but a collection – and Moments of Darkness. Both books contain some pretty creepy tales that Jason should be proud of. There were others I didn’t quite ‘get’, but hey … I’ve found that holds true in a lot of short stories even by the most famous of authors. Jason’s first novel has been steadily working its way up my To-Be-Read Pile and I enjoyed his short stories well enough to be looking forward to that.

WhistlersAs I did last month, and as I’ll likely be doing again next month, I also enjoyed a couple of audiobooks as I sat at my desk at work, slaving away over more piles of books. I just can’t escape them! For July I treated myself to two very awesome tales of terror. The first was The Whistlers by Amity Argo over on the No Sleep Podcast. Wow. Creepy-deepy, my friends! Very, very creepy! It’s wonderfully narrated and just over two hours long and you can find it here: https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/episodes/s5/5×25

willowsMy second audio story for the month was The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. This was a Chilling Tales for Dark Nights presentation. They do a wonderful job over there and I highly recommend you give them and No Sleep Podcast a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN_bbDrW7_M  I’ll be heading over to one or the other soon to find more spooky things to give a listen.

luellen My final completed book for the month of July, Luellen & Lucy by Dee DeTarsio, was bought on a whim. Historic Romance is NOT my genre of choice, but hey … it’s set 12 years after the US Civil War, a period in American History that I am keenly interested in, the cover had the same lady on it that one of my erotica’s does, and one of the main character’s is named Lucy, again, as in three of my erotica’s and my most recent release, “No Rest For The Wicked”. Not thrilled with it, was I. You can find my review over on Amazon if you really want to know more. Let’s just say here that I read it as fast as I could just to get it over with. I’m not one to stop reading a book I don’t like. I will always do my best to see it to the bitter and confusing end – as was the case here.

And oh, the joy … when I was done and could move on to my current book in hand, Mark Cassell’s The Shadow Fabric. Back to the Horror, baby! And I have to say, so far, so very good! I’ll get into more details next month after I’ve finished!

So, there you have it! Hope you all are having a wonderful summer and reading some good books of your own!

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea

June
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (audiobook)
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson (audiobook)
Beyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

July
(Almost) Average Anthology by Jason J. Nugent
Moment of Darkness by Jason J. Nugent
The Whistlers by Amity Argo (audiobook)
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (audiobook)
Luellen & Lucy by Dee DeTarsio

Author Interview – Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason

Welcome to July’s Author Interview. This month we’re in for twice the fun with twin sisters, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, also known as The Sisters of Slaughter. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

  1. Every writer has a story on how it all began for them. When did each of you first begin to realize you shared a knack for story telling? And what made you decide to write together instead of separately?

We wanted to become storytellers before we even realized what writers actually do. Before we learned to read and write we loved using our imaginations and our dad used to tell everyone scary stories around campfires while we were on family vacations and that magic really stuck with us. We started writing stories when we were eight years old and the need to write never went away. We didn’t start trying to get published until we were turning thirty. We figured we needed to try, it was time to cast aside the self-doubt and go for it.

  1. There’s a set of twins in the town I live in that everyone agrees are a bit on the creepy side. They always dress exactly the same and you never see one without the other. As twins, why do you think other people find twins so unusual apart from the obvious? Have you had any experiences that you would define as a ‘twin thing’, such as the much talked about Secret Twin Language or something akin to mind-reading?

Being a twin is like being born with a best friend. We did have a twin language when we were babies. We would jibber jabber to each other and understand what one another was saying even when no one else did. We’ve often showed up for family gatherings wearing outfits nearly identical even though we never planned it and so on. Twins really do have a deep bond that goes beyond anything, our motto is “from the womb to the tomb.” That’s how much we love each other.

  1. In my experience, writers are also avid readers. It’s easy to assume you both enjoy reading dark fantasy and horror, but what genre or other types of books do you enjoy that your fans might be surprised about?

Our favorite genres are horror and dark fantasy but we’ve always read regular fantasy as well and we cut our teeth on Roald Dahl and Gary Paulsen. Books like “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien changed the way we saw storytellers when we were younger and Cormac McCarthy is one of our favorites. It’s important to read everything you possibly can, it expands the imagination and your capacity as a writer.

  1. I’ve tried a few times to write with others and it was always an epic fail. I don’t like other people telling my characters what to do, I guess. What is your process for writing together and who comes up with the ideas? Is it pretty much 50/50 or do you feel one of you is stronger in some areas than other? Is one person stronger with characters and dialogue and the other more into plot twists and describing locations and moods?

Our writing process is natural to us because we’ve done it since we were little girls. Writing with other people might not be so easy because we know each other better than anyone in the world. We share the mutual vision of what we want to achieve. It sounds strange but we’re like one person split in two. We don’t fight over pieces of the story, we compromise and work together always. We start by sharing our ideas for stories, whichever ideas and decide which one we’re going to write then we outline it and split up the work equally. One of us works on a couple chapters before handing it over to the other. We always read each chunk of work out loud to be certain it’s something we both enjoy. A lot of it is handwritten first and then typed up, that is our first draft. While typing if something needs to be elaborated on or taken out we discuss the change and proceed. That’s how we’ve always done it, except as kids we only had handwritten books with illustrations.

  1. I see you have new novel coming out with Bloodshot Books this summer. What’s the elevator pitch for “Those Who Follow” and do you have an official release date yet?

those-who-follow-kindle-cover “Those Who Follow” is a sequel to a short story we wrote for a benefit anthology called “Widowmakers”. The pitch is a young woman goes up against a serial killer who takes his prey to another dimension to torture and kill them to try to rescue a sister she never knew she had.

  1. Where can readers find Michelle and Melissa hanging out on the internet and how can we get a hold of your books?

We are on Facebook and Twitter if anyone wants to follow along in our shenanigans. There’s definitely more news on the writing front for us so please stay tuned.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sistersofhorror/?fref=mentions
Twitter:@fiendbooks
Sinister Grin Press: http://sinistergrinpress.com/authors/michelle-garza-melissa-lason/

In addition to “Those Who Follow”, the sisters’ first novel MAYAN BLUE was one of the five Bram Stoker Awards nominees this year in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

 

New Release – No Rest For The Wicked

Every ghost has a story. Not all of them want it told.

HellBound Books Publishing and I are happy to announce the re-release of my haunted house tale, “No Rest For The Wicked“.

Initially released as a self-published title back in August 2016, NRFTW has gone through a few minor changes (let’s call them improvements) and been given a brand spanking new cover. All 452 pages of this paranormal battle between the living and the dead (and the dead and the dead, too) can be yours for $16 paperback. eBook version is coming out very soon, too.

From beyond the grave, a murderous wife seeks to complete her revenge on those who betrayed her in life; a powerless domestic still fears for her immortal soul while trying to scare off anyone who comes too close; and the former plantation master – a sadistic doctor who puts more faith in the teachings of de Sade than the Bible – battle amongst themselves and with the living to reveal or keep hidden the dark secrets that prevent any of them from resting in peace.

When Eric and Grace McLaughlin purchase Greenbrier Plantation, their dreams are just as big as those who have tried to tame the place before them. But, the doctor has learned a thing or two over his many years in the afterlife, is putting those new skills to the test, and will go to great lengths in order to gain the upper hand. While Grace digs into the death-filled history of her new home, Eric soon becomes a pawn of the doctor’s unsavory desires and rapidly growing power, and is hell-bent on stopping her. Enter the

Winchester Society of Paranormal Research; could the solution lie within the humble ranks of this group of investigators? It seems unlikely, but the crew is eager to try. Is there any force powerful enough to put to rest the wickedness that demands complete control, not just over its ghostly adversaries, but the body and soul of Eric McLaughlin?

“If you’re looking for a chilling ghost story filled with mystery and escalating tension, look no further. No Rest for the Wicked is the real deal – an expansive, unfolding riddle between the living and the dead.” Hunter Shea – author of “Tortures of the Damned” & “We Are Always Watching”

Get your copy of NO REST FOR THE WICKED at Amazon for a wicked summertime read.

new logo transp back Visit HellBound Book Publishing for even more dark and gruesome reads!

The Horrors The Grew Me – Roddy McDowall

Actors like Robert Englund who played Freddie Kruger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s Misery and her various creepy roles in the American Horror Story series, Vincent Price or Lon Chaney, and Linda Blair in her unforgettable performance as the possessed Regan McNeil in The Exorcist, are well known for their roles or series of roles in classic horror movies. Someone that most people don’t think of as being a horror actor, however, is British actor, Roddy McDowall.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t totally in love with Roddy McDowall, nor do I remember the first of his films I saw. All I really knew is that save for one, who is still my bestie to this day, most of my friends had no idea who he was other than the guy who played Cornelius in The Planet of the Apes movies. He also played Galen in the TV series, by the way. But, oh, he did so very much more than that. As a fan of horror and thrillers from a very young age, his work within those genres is what I was most drawn to. For the sake of brevity and the purpose of this blog series, that is also where my focus will be.

HeartDark The earliest film of his that I’ve seen is based on the Joseph Conrad book of the same name, Heart of Darkness written in 1899. The film was presented by Playhouse 90, a television show that ran from 1956-1961, in 1958 and starred Roddy as the lead character of Charles Marlow alongside a man whose name is nearly synonymous with Horror, Boris Karloff, as Mr. Kurtz. Eartha Kitt did an amazing job as The Queen. Though not technically labeled a horror film, Heart of Darkness does, as the name suggests, delve into the very dark corners of man’s psyche and the corruption of the soul when given a taste of power.

Roddy made numerous appearances in popular paranormal or unexplained-themed television programs as well. McDowall starred in a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone titled People Are Alike All Over, as well as appearing on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1964 in episodes The Gentleman Caller and See The Monkey Dance. In 1980 and 1981 episodes of Fantasy Island, Roddy played the ultimate entity of horror and evil, the very devil himself, Mephistopheles.

My all-time favorite, however, was his role as Jeremy Evans in another Rod Serling NightGalleryseries, Night Gallery, which first aired in 1969. In this first episode of the first season titled The Cemetery, McDowall plays a heartless and greedy nephew who’s chomping at the bit to get at the inheritance. In fact, Jeremy flawlessly orchestrates the uncle’s death and quickly steps in as heir apparent before his uncle’s body has even begun to cool. All is well and good until Jeremy realizes one of the painting his uncle did years before is different. It’s a view of the family cemetery located near the house. Suddenly, there’s a freshly dug grave in the painting that wasn’t there before and Jeremy is convinced he’s hearing footsteps from beyond the grave.

Roddy also starred as comic-book villain The Bookworm in the Batman series in 1966 and was the voice of The Mad Hatter in the Batman cartoon series. Not exactly horror, but another example of the actor’s versatility as playing the bad guy. In 1964 Roddy appeared as Martin Ashely, a murderous gardener, in Shock Treatment and had the leading role as Arthur Primm in the creature-feature IT! (1967). Both of which I have already reviewed.

HellHouse One of my all-time favorite Roddy McDowall movies is The Legend of Hell House (1973) based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson. Here Roddy plays the role of physical medium Benjamin Franklin Fischer, the sole survivor of a previous group of investigators into the house of Emeric Belasco, a sexual deviant of Satanic proportions. Fischer and three others are hired by millionaire William Deutche, the home’s current owner, to investigate the house and prove or disprove life after death. Known as Hell House, the Belasco home got its name from the various perversions that took place there during Emeric’s lifetime and lays claim to the title as most haunted house in the world. Amazing, amazing movie!

You can’t discuss the subject of horror movies and Roddy McDowall without mentioning his portrayal of vampire slayer, Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985) and Fright Night II (1988). In all honesty, the world probably could have done without the sequel, but the first movie is another huge favorite of mine. I mentioned it last month when I discussed that other horror that grew me, vampires. If you missed that post, here’s a quick link back to it – The Horrors That Grew Me – Vampires.

DeadWinter In 1987 the movie Dead of Winter came out. It starred Mary Steenburgen as Katie McGovern, a struggling actress who answers an ad placed for open-call auditions. When Katie walks into the room, the man conducting the interviews, Mr. Murray played by McDowall, pays her little mind until he looks up. She’s hired instantly. The role will involve Katie traveling with Murray to an isolated location where she will study the role and replace another actress who suffered a nervous breakdown some time earlier. Katie was hired because of her striking resemblance to this other woman, Julie Rose. However, there’s a lot more to all this than just replacing a fellow actress. A lose remake of the 1945 film My Name Is Julia Rose, Dead of Winter takes some remarkably dark twists and turns, not the least of which involves Katie finding a notebook full of Polaroids of Julie’s corpse!

On October 3, 1998 Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall died of cancer at the age of 70. I was devastated and heartbroken. Maybe he wasn’t a heart throb actor to the rest of the world, but for me, he was a huge and deeply loved part of my childhood. He was the one and only actor I ever wrote to requesting from, and later receiving, an autographed picture of. That picture is now safely tucked away with other important papers like my marriage license and property survey, in a locked, fireproof box. It’s simply that precious to me.

To end on a light note, I can’t help but share this wonderful video put together by fellow Roddy McDowall fan, Melanie Hall called Roddy Gets His Sexy On. Again, not horror at all, but a wonderful tribute to a man who acted and smiled his way into my Horror-loving heart.

The Day I Wore Fangs

I seem normal enough on the surface. I don’t have crazy or colorful hair. I don’t dress in any shocking manner. The only piercings I have are in my ears and the few tattoos I have aren’t seen all that often. Yup, just a normal, everyday kind of gal …until you start asking around, that is.

If you were to approach some of my childhood friends, mainly from my high school days, you’d get the inkling that maybe this normal thing is all an act. Or maybe I’ve just outgrown the black fingernails, eyeliner, and lipstick. Maybe dressing all in black every day, muttering in Latin, and sitting in the corner of the school cafeteria at lunchtime alone with my nose buried in some sort of occult-themed novel or research book was all just a fad; something I’ve grown out of as my mother so fervently prayed I would.

Or maybe in my dotage, I’ve just toned those things down a bit, just a bit. I still have my moments, like the day I wore fangs.

It was about ten years ago, making me about forty years old at the time.

Ever since I first began watching all those vampire movies, I’ve wanted a pair of realistic-looking fangs. I wondered how Hollywood did it. I considered talking to my dentist about it, but never did. Even if had dental insurance, I’m pretty sure they’d not cover something like that. I attempted to craft my own numerous times, adapting those cheap plastic things, buying different sorts every October hoping against hope that at last I’d found The Ones! I even tried to make some out of wax, but nothing had that real look I was striving for.

And then, the internet and online shopping happened. I found a site that looked promising, vampfang.com , but I didn’t get my hopes up too high. I’d been disappointed before. $30 seemed an awful lot for fake fangs, but my primal urges screamed out for satisfaction. I ordered them. They arrived in a little coffin-shaped case. I remained skeptical.

One day while I was home alone, I decided it was time to put that $30 to the test. The results? Amazing! I couldn’t have been happier! Not only did these fangs look real, they allowed me to drink (no, not blood – I’m not QUITE that off) as long as I was mindful and to eat, though somewhat awkwardly.

The following July, I bought them in October, I decided to step up my game. I was no longer satisfied to just wear them around the house and yard. It was time to go public and what better way than to just pop them in on a Friday morning after brushing my teeth while getting ready for work?

I don’t work with the public much, but I do have a few office mates. My goal was to just act natural and go about my day, not to flash the fangs at everyone I met or spoke to. Let’s see who notices! There’ not a lot of chit-chat in my office, but my boss did eventually take note. She rolled her eyes and laughed. “Only you, Pam,” she said. “Only you.” By the end of the day, half a dozen people were aware I was in vampire mode.

It being the Friday after payday, it was also grocery day! Directly after work I headed over to one of the bigger grocery stores in town. No one noticed as I picked out my fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, milk, butter, and eggs. I was paid no mind at the check-out as I unloaded the cart and helped bag things up. And then the cashier, a young man in his early-mid-20s, told me my total and glanced up. I gave him a slight smile as I opened my check book. There was a flicker of surprise in his eyes. His mouth dropped open for a fraction of a second, then he looked away and refused to make further eye contact.

A few minutes later, I pushed my packed cart out of the store and towards my car, wondering about the conversation that likely arose from the lad’s encounter with the normal-looking lady with fangs who had just exited the building.

I did this several more times, but the first time was the sweetest and most memorable. Now I just need to get some of those weird-colored contact lenses …maybe something along the lines of lizard eyes.