Movie Review – A Boy & His Dog (1975)

Starring Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Ron Feinberg, and Jason Robards. Directed by L.Q. Jones. Based on a short story by Harlan Ellison.

This little blast from the past was brought to my attention by my husband. He’d seen it before and thought I’d enjoy it so we sat down with a huge bowl of popcorn and off we went into the post-Apocalyptic world and the journey of well, a boy and his dog.

It’s 2024 and mankind has managed to remain alive, though far from civilized, following World War IV. Women seem to be at a premium because young Vic (Don Johnson) is horny as hell, but luckily for him his mind-reading, psychic talking dog, Blood, can sniff out a female from miles around. The two bicker constantly (mentally, of course) and no one but Vic can hear Blood advising, warning, and generally annoying Vic. All Vic wants to do is get laid. All Blood wants is to be fed. Despite their squabbles, they are a team and survive for and because of each other.

Eventually, Blood sniffs out a fine, ripe female for Vic at what passes for a town in 2024 and Vic is just about to make his move when danger befalls them all. A group of raiders descends on the place along with what are called Screamers. We never see these so-called Screamers, we just know they apparently glow green, scream, and kill everything in their path. After surviving the attack, Vic and Blood are ready to move on while the girl (Quilla) wants to return home to a place known as the Down Under. (No, it’s not Australia – but apparently a vast world located deep underground.) In order to escape from Vic (who wants to keep her around for sex) Quilla bashes him on the head, but Vic will not be so easily put off. He insists on perusing her and it is at the entry to the Down Under that he and Blood part ways. Blood keeps warning him that it’s a bad, bad, bad idea to go down there and agrees to wait for Vic to return, at least for a little while.

The boy really should have listened to his dog.

This movie is so 1975! It has a very Mad Max meets Fallout feel to it. There aren’t any special effects to speak of, just a weird bit of post-Apocalyptic shoot ‘em up fun about one young man’s struggles to get laid in a world gone to hell and a heaping helping a justice served in the end. This was a fun film that I really enjoyed. Not mind-blowing but certainly worth a watch if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path.

Raven Rating: 3 Caws.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!

 

Movie Review – Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978)

Starring: Bette Davis, David Ackroyd, Rosanna Arquette, and Joanna Miles. Directed by Leo Penn

With a job he abhors, a marriage on the rocks, and an asthmatic daughter who must pay protection money to a gang so she can make it safely to and from her piano lessons, Nick Constantine has had enough of life in the Big Apple.  When his wife suddenly inherits a small fortune from her father, the family decides a trip to the country will do them all a world of good.

They soon stumble upon the small farming community of Cornwall Coombe, Connecticut. By the looks of it, the inhabitants live in a world that bears a striking resemblance to that of the Amish or the original Puritans who settled the area back in the 1600s. They are dressed in old style clothing and are plowing and planting the fields for corn using horses and good old-fashioned elbow grease. Nick, his wife Beth, and daughter Kate are immediately charmed by everything and everyone in the Coombe and before they know it, they have left New York City behind to start a life that they hope will heal all their family’s wounds and woes.

Guided by The Widow (Bette Davis), the Constantine’s have a lot to learn about the Coombe and its traditions, known as The Ways. Everyone lives and everything is done according to The Ways. If you don’t follow, obey, and respect The Ways, you’ll quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble. Beth and Kate happily fall into the Coombe’s lifestyle. Nick, not so much. His curiosity leads him down a maze of strange and increasingly disturbing stories about the Coombe’s history. The closer the community draws to the greatest festival of all, known as Harvest Home, and the more Nick puts his nose where it doesn’t belong, the weirder and darker things become.

Based on the novel “Harvest Home” by Thomas Tryon, The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, appeared on the small screen in 1978 as a two-part mini-series. For my young and impressionable brain, it became an instant and unforgettable hit. Forty years later, I still adore it. This is the sort of suspense and intrigue I love in a movie. Deep back stories, characters I can relate to, villains that don’t seem so bad at first, layers of mystery that build one atop the others and an conclusion that gathers it all together in a bundle of satisfaction so amazing it almost makes me want to lean back and have a cigarette after … and I don’t even smoke.

Despite the poor visual quality of the version I found free on YouTube, I can’t recommend this one enough.

Raven Rating: 5 out of 5 caws!

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!

Movie Review – The Open House

The Open House (2018) – Netflix. Directed by Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote. Starring Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune

I went into this film completely blind. I didn’t watch the trailer. I’d only heard about it from another Horror movie fan in passing. Honestly, I don’t even remember what they said about it. I only remembered the title.  I had no idea whatsoever what it was going to be about and didn’t read a single review.

After the sudden death of his father, Logan and his mother, Naomi, move into Naomi’s sister’s vacation home in the mountains to get away from it all and try to rebuild their lives. The house is huge and gorgeous. Only problem, it’s also for sale. The Sunday after the mother and son move in, there is to be an open house. The realtor sends them off for the day and tells them in no uncertain terms to not return until after five o’clock. While they are away strangers come and go. Upon their return, the realtor’s assistant is still in the house doing a quick, last minute walk-thru. He hurries away as soon as he finds out they’re back.

Shortly after, the weirdness begins. Logan hears strange thudding sounds coming from the basement but finds nothing and no one down there when he investigates. The water heater, also in the basement, keeps shutting off. The two local people Naomi and Logan have met seem to have an unnatural interest in what’s happening at the house. One neighbor, Martha, appears to be lying about the death of her husband. Another is found prowling around the outside, peering into windows. What’s going on here? Who are these creepy people and what’s up with the water heater? Even when the police are called in they don’t seem too concerned or interested in what is obviously breaking and entering. They chalk it up to just some neighborhood kids having a bit of fun.

I had no hopes going into this beyond what anyone would hope for in a movie – to be satisfactorily entertained and I was to a degree. It’s far from the greatest things since sliced bread and the red herrings thrown in to keep the viewer off track on who is really causing all the problems were well done. Unfortunately, the viewer is never given a solid solution or explanation of the goings on. There seems to be a lot of backstory missing about the house, the neighbors, and maybe even the neighborhood in which is stands. We never find out much of anything and are just left with a wide open sore. You almost get the feeling that this is not a simple case of home invasion, but that the entire town is somehow in on it, but you’re never told why if that’s the case. The ending was full of one predictable cliché after another.

It’s wasn’t a TERRIBLE movie or what I feel to be a waste of 90 minutes, but it fell pretty flat when it comes to offering a satisfying resolution and stepping outside your standard Horror tropes.

Raven Rating: 2 Caws.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!

Author Interview – Jason Brant

  1. For me, writing has been a life-long passion. When did you first get the writing bug and what were some of the earliest stories you wrote about?

I never even considered writing fiction until I was 30. No shorts or abandoned novels or anything. I was miserable working a government job and I just up and quit one day. While sitting around my house, enjoying unemployment, I stumbled across JA Konrath’s blog and read up on self-publishing. A few weeks later, I was typing away every day. It sure beats working for the government.

Ash1-ebook-webThe first piece of fiction I ever worked on was a novella titled Echoes, which centered around a man who gained telepathic abilities from a traumatic brain injury. It sucked. But I published it anyway, because I didn’t realize how bad it was at the time. A year or two later, I took it down and rewrote it into a novel titled Ash which is now the most popular work I have.

The second story I attempted was my West of Hell series. I haven’t gone back to them since I finished them, so I can’t imagine they’re any good either. (Note from Pamela – I’ve read the first two books in the West of Hell series and really enjoyed them. Need to get Book 3 one of these days.)

 

  1. You frequently mention your Asher Benson series and it seems these books are the ones people are most familiar with, but what about your three standalone novels? Could you tell me a bit more about those?

The Gate is a sort of Lovecraftian story that pokes fun at ghost hunters. It was my first novel and a total blast to write. Monsters and douchebags. My kinda story.

The Dark is set in the same universe as The Gate, but isn’t a sequel. It revolves around a living darkness that descends upon the city of Aberdeen, MD. Anyone caught without a light source dies a horrible and nearly instantaneous death. This book is the one that kind of put me on the map for a lot of people and allowed me to pay my mortgage.

Aces High is a novel co-written with romance and fantasy author Elle Casey. She’s brilliant and a NYT bestselling author, so who knows why she agreed to write a book with me. I imagine she regrets that decision to this day. The book is very different from my other stuff and is more of a young adult novel than anything else. Elle is hilarious and her humor runs rampant throughout.

  1. Not only are you a writer, but you have several podcasts. How did Drinking With Jason, So Bad It’s Good, and most recently Final Guys come into being.

I initially started Drinking with Jason to meet other authors. Typically, I don’t do book signings or conventions, so I’m a bit on the outside when it comes to knowing others in the community. The podcast was a good way to spend an hour talking to my peers. Unfortunately, I don’t do the show as often as I should because scheduling artists for interviews is akin to herding cats.

So Bad It’s Good is just to express my love for bad movies. It’s an enormous amount of work with no return, but we have a blast doing it. It also suffers from painfully bad production quality, just like the movies we’re enjoying.

Final Guys is an idea I’ve had for a few years now, but finally decided to pounce on in 2017. I consume an enormous amount of horror and haven’t had an avenue to talk about it. Jack and Hunter suffer from the same horror obsession, which made them perfect for co-hosts. We have a lot of fun doing it and between the three of us, we’re able to curate a ton of movies, shows, and books which is hopefully useful to our listeners.

  1. Rumor has it you’re working on some new material. Can you give us a hint at what this is and when it might be ready for the public?

Devoured1-ebook-web I’m close to finishing the fourth book in my series, The Hunger. It’s actually the beginning of a new three-book arc that I’m hoping to finish by the end of the summer. After that, I have more to write in the Asher Benson series and have several ideas for standalone novels.

  1. Where can people find out more about all things Jason Brant?

www.authorjasonbrant.com is the best place. You can find my books and social media links there, along with my stupid side projects. And www.finalguys.com for the podcast and a bunch of horror movie and book reviews.

 

Bloody Good Horror Books Reviews “Dark Hollow Road”

About a month ago I sent a copy of “Dark Hollow Road” to Renier Palland of Bloody Good Horror Books seeking an honest, unbiased review. This morning, I was thrilled to see he’d posted one. This is probably the first review I’ve gotten from someone who has absolutely no personal investment in anything to do with me and I so appreciate his 100% honesty!

“Dark Hollow Road” by author Pamela Morris is a genre-specific paranormal tale with a substantial baseline. It features child abuse – not gratuitous – revenge, and redemption. The latter two elements can be misconstrued in most literary works, but Morris treats these literary elements with a gentile decadence, turning them into solid plot devices and powerful plot development. The novel, which is reminiscent of “The Blair Witch” in certain aspects, contains a deluge of paranormal and haunted house allusions. The antagonistic protagonist, Mary, reminded me of a neo-noir Carrie with similar, albeit completely different “powers”.

Morris feeds the reader a spoonful of youthful fear, i.e. Children become the go-to narrative in the novel. I’ll always refer to Stephen King’s “It” as the ultimate Jungian and totemic Freudian child horror story. Novelists have tried, and failed, to live up to the gratuitous and mind-numbingly terrifying world of “It”. It’s the magnum opus which most authors attempt to reach throughout their careers. Morris came close, but not close enough. “Dark Hollow Road” is imbued with so many paranormal and literary homages that it’s difficult to critique the novel as a stand-alone story. I found myself reminiscing about several works during the read-and-review process.

What does this mean exactly?

Firstly, it means that Morris is a masterful writer. Secondly, Morris tried her utmost best to create a familiar horror setting, yet failed at the finish line. And lastly, Morris delved into the psyches of childhood fears and childhood imaginations to create a slightly garden variety work of literature.

I wouldn’t go so far as to label it as unique or even fresh – Morris stepped into a genre-specific swamp throughout most of the novel. It’s as if she drew too much inspiration from too many areas, bundled it all together and created a horror author lovechild without knowing who the parents were. “Directionless” would be the best adjective to describe the novel.

As far as characterisation goes, Morris never misses a beat. Her characters are full, robust and weighty. This, combined with a good ear for dialogue, creates a gratifying novel with a terrifying amount of veracity. Morris knows her characters, and most importantly, they know her. Plot development, climax and denouement were all on par. Not excellent, but good enough to not be detrimental to the overall narrative. I would have liked to have seen more symbolism and perhaps a touch of social commentary. Horror novels are like measuring sticks for the societal psyche – it’s important to tell a story with enough social commentary to stop it from going blind and bland. Morris’ writing style and technique are similar to the above mentioned technicalities – good, but not great. I do believe that the novel required slightly more robust editing. It felt loose and frayed at the ends. With a proper, firm edit, “Dark Hollow Road” would have been a much stronger novel. The structuring was also off-kilter and there are quite a few set pieces that didn’t belong in the novel. It would have been more powerful without them.

I do think that Morris is a splendid author with natural control over her characters and their stories. It doesn’t always pan out while one writes the novel, nor does it float to the surface during editing. Sometimes, just sometimes, a novel can contain too much for its own good. Although this might not have been Morris’ best work, there’s definitely room for improvement. She could easily surpass Nicole Cushing if she focuses more on the directness of her novel and uses an iron fist during the editing process.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Overall, I’m happy with this and he makes some great points about hitting the editing process a little harder. It’s very difficult to edit properly when I’m at a place in my career where I don’t have access to a professional and experienced editor. Maybe some day soon that will happen. Of course, there are aspects I don’t agree with either – my writing isn’t about symbolism or making social commentary, for example. I’m just telling a story. May the reader take from it what they will. But, you know what? 4 out of 5 stars is NOTHING to sneeze at and I think that’s something to be pretty damn proud of.

Main Street, Barnesville.

If you grew up in a small town, you know how boring it can get. You also know that everyone knows everyone else’s business … or do they? Barnesville is one such town, but the secrets there are centuries old – secrets that generations of witches have guarded well. The Barnesville Chronicles walks you down Main Street amongst the shadow figures that haunt, stalk, possess, manipulate and murder anyone who dares get too close to its dark and bloody past.

SOTSM_Barnesville_frontYour first stop should be the public library where librarian and town historian, Nell Miller, will be happy to help you. She’d love for you to visit the museum upstairs, too. Just, mind the old scarecrow guarding the top of the stairs. He’s part of a rare collection of memorabilia that pertains to the town’s first settlers and the Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon.

TWSRMA_FrontOnlyAfter that you might find it of interest to head a few miles south into North Valley where they are dealing with the death of their beloved funeral director, Dan Walden. Everyone loved Dan and his wife Carol – okay, maybe not everyone loved Dan so much because someone gave him a mighty whack to the head and stuffed him in a display coffin to die.  Angela Jennings, the daughter of one of Nell Miller’s best friends, is part of the police team trying to figure out just who the someone was. It seems like your normal murder case until an ethereal shadow figures starts cropping up all over town and visiting some of the fine folks in Barnesville, too. Who, or what is this dark and shifting form? Find out in That’s What Shadows Are Made Of.

TWB_Barnesville_FrontEvery small town has its local stories and legends. Barnesville is no exception. Back in the 1850s an old woman believed to have been a witch, cast a curse upon anyone and everyone who dared pay the site of her death a visit at night, a narrow section of road and its ravine that, over the years, became known as The Witch’s Backbone. If you see her and meet her gaze, you’re a goner. Back in 1980 a bored group of kids from the nearby farming community of Meyer’s Knob thought it would be a great idea to investigate this urban legend a bit closer. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

As the years pass, the reports continue to trickle in, expanding on what has become known as The Barnesville Chronicles. As of this posting there are at least two more diabolical secrets that the locals would really prefer you turn a blind eye and deaf ear to. They don’t need that kind of publicity. They like things quiet and they prefer the dark side of the history books remain shut.

I promise you, I’m doing my investigative best to dig up these stories and bring them into the light of day. Maybe I should head on over there myself and poke around that little library of theirs. I hear that Nell Miller woman is some sort of witch.

 

 

Movie Review – Hereditary (2018)

Directed by Ari Aster. Staring Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, and Gabriel Byrne.

With all the ranting and raving I’d heard about this movie from so many different directions, I figured this has got to be awesome. Super scary, people leaving their lights on, afraid to look in the shadows, the whole nine yards.

So, to celebrate my Hubby’s birthday, he wanted to go see this movie. Of course, it’s not playing anywhere near us anymore, so the next logical choice was to hop on the motorcycle and make a whole day of it by riding to a theater 115 mile away. We decided to catch the first available show at 11:15 so headed out at 7am to give us plenty of time to stop for breakfast and get to the theater before it got too ungodly hot outside.

Four hours later with snacks and cold drinks in hand, we settled into comfy chairs and were prepared to be scared.

Annie Graham’s estranged, secretive, and controlling mother, Ellen, has passed away and quite frankly, Annie seems less than upset about it. Very soon after, Annie starts seeing what she believes to be her mother’s ghost. Her son, Peter, 17 and daughter, Charlie, 13, are also acting strangely and seeing their grandmother’s spirit. The only one seemingly immune to all of this is their father, Steve. Peter becomes plagued with nightmares and hallucinations. Charlie decapitates a dead bird for one of her strange little dolls – a foreshadowing of things to come.

Forced to take his sister to a high school party, Peter must later try and rush her to a hospital when she eats some cake with peanuts in it and goes into anaphylactic shock. Charlie opens the car window in an attempt to get some air, sticks her head out and BAM! is decapitated by a telephone pole. That moment, and her mother’s utter agony over the death of her daughter, was the most shocking and gut-wrenching part of the film for me.

The real insanity of the family comes full on after that, as little by little Annie begins to unravel the true, non-material legacy her mother has left behind. It’s bizarre and twisted and gruesome to say the least.

But, was it scary? Would I be keeping an eye on the shadows for weeks to come? Would I insist on sleeping with a light on? Would every waking moment find me haunted by images and thoughts of this alleged “…uncommonly unsettling horror film whose cold touch lingers long beyond the closing credits.” Would this “scariest movie of 2018” hunt me down even in my sleep?

Um, no. Not so much. And to rank it up there with The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby goes beyond the absurd.

I’m a big fan of weird stuff. I’ve dabbled in the occult since the day my grandmother decided I needed a Ouija board for my 13th birthday – yeah, you read that right. I’ve read hundreds of novels about vampires, witches, ghosts, demons, and all things that go bump in the night. I teethed on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Outer Limits. I grew up watching Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. I’ve read even more novels and non-fiction books about the subjects. I know what I find frightening and disturbing. Hereditary isn’t it.

It’s not even that I don’t ‘get’ what was going on in the third and final act. I get it. I know what old Gramma Ellen was all about. But, I was never scared. There wasn’t even a single jump scare. Actually, kids, I may have dozed off for a couple minutes at one point. Hubby wasn’t impressed either. He wondered if maybe it’s because neither of us are of the Christian persuasion. We both liked A Quiet Place better, even with its myriad of logic flaws. At least it had some real suspense and jump scares going on.

In fact, there were two far more frightening events that day than this movie. First, the very sudden, tire-squealing stop we had to make on the motorcycle and second the last half hour of the ride home through a cold and torrential thunder and lightning storm. Any idea how painful rain drops are on your bare arms and face at 50 mph?

2 out of 5 Ravens.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!

Author Interview – K.T. Katzmann

K.T. Katzmann, a fan of Lovecraft, Dr. Who, and Columbo, writes about monsters! How could I NOT want to delve deeper and find out more about this already interesting fellow author?!

Pamela: I’ve been writing for as long as I’ve been able to string letters into words and words into sentences. When did your writing bug bite and what was the first story you can remember creating?

K.T.Katzmann K.T.: An elementary school creative writing class gave me the infection, and by eight I was binding comic books out of printer paper and staples. Imagine really trashy derivative Goonies/Monster Squad pastiches. I tried writing prose, but my Mom would read them to her friends over the phone in silly voices, so I stopped for about half my life. I threw all my creative juices into role-playing games, which left no evidence behind with which my mom could embarrass me.

It was years later, at one of these sessions, that writing dug its claws in again. During one exceptionally, mind-bendingly boring game I found my mind searching for any form of entertainment possible. I’d been thinking of a fan fiction premise on and off that week, so I just started typing in the middle of the game.

I’m told I had a disquieting grin on my face the whole time.

By the end of the session, I’d written a full chapter. I learned how to post it online, made it big on a major fan blog, and attracted fans who taught me by critiquing my writing. I was eventually getting ready for my next fiction, laptop out in an IHOP, when I had a revelation.

I was preparing to write about two popular background characters who never even had speaking lines. I’d created their entire relationship and personalities in my head. I suddenly wondered: why the hell didn’t I start making up my own things and just publish it for real?

And, I swear, one day I’ll come out about my fan fiction account name. People are still posting comments about that last one needing an ending…

Murder with Monsters Pamela : I see you are a fan of Lovecraft as well as Dr. Who. Monster detectives seems a far cry from either of those. What inspired you to write “Murders With Monsters”?

K.T.: I grew up loving detectives. I may have been the only nine-year old in my class devouring Murder, She Wrote and Columbo. My parents got a little worried when I got my hands on a Barbie Dreamhouse and immediately had Barbie throw Ken off the roof for the insurance money.

I also love monsters, including all the really obscure ones. Almost every urban fantasy book, however, translates into “That One Kind of Stuff is Real AND NOBODY KNOWS.” I started to wonder what life would be like if everything was real and everyone knew.

Laurel K. Hamilton set the last ball rolling. There’s a line in one of the Anita Blake books where the hero’s partner comments about a dragon being around. “That’s ridiculous,” she says. “Dragons were never native to the North American continent.”

That’s a brilliant line. And all that stuff was churning around one day when, in a role-playing game, my friend said I could make any type of character and design their entire world with no limitations.

Within five minutes, I had a Jewish vampire detective stuck for eternity with a horrible name and late teenage looks. Mildred Heavewater had sprang fully formed from my head as she appears on the pages now. Another five minutes, and I’d sketched out a world where Cthulhu could address the UN and the Jersey Devil was a reality show star.

Pamela: Many writers I’ve interviewed find they write best to a certain type of music and even create playlists for their current work in progress. Is this sort of thing true for you as well or are you more a “I need silence” kind of writer?

K.T.: I have ADHD, so I get distracted really easily. I can’t listen to Pandora or the radio; figuring out new lyrics distract me. Sometimes even familiar old lyrics get me; I start thinking up new interpretations of whatever the hell Ronnie James Dio is screaming about between the “Yeah” and the “Look Out!”

Instrumentals are great. They occupy the wandering part of my mind. There’s an experimental instrumental prog rock band called Ozric Tentacles, and they do wonders. Almost all of “Murder With Monsters” was written to their album “The Yum Yum Tree.” I’m listening to it as I type this.

Pamela: Beyond “Murders With Monsters”, what other publication have you been part of? Can we look forward to another novel soon?

K.T.: Sequel time! The second Night Shift Files mystery should be out by the end of the year. Mildred has to catch an inhuman spree killer of unknown species she put away decades ago. The only catch is, he’s somehow still sitting in an asylum as the bodies carved up to his old M.O. pile up! I get to flesh out different monster types in this one, like New York’s faerie population and the shoggoth refugees. Turns out shoggies are huge fans of Mr. Rogers. Who knew?

book 2  In the meantime, Mildred also appeared in the anthology “Candlesticks and Daggers,” where I experienced the joy of writing a Columbo episode with vampires as both the sleuth and the victim.

I’m also going to appear in “1816 – The Year Without a Summer,” an anthology of historic Cthulhu fiction. I’m gleefully cooking up one of the nastier things I’ve ever written. I even get to briefly rescue from obscurity a beastie from Lovecraft so unknown, my editor originally thought I’d made him up! Check out the Kickstarter campaign! 1816 – The Year Without A Summer

 

Pamela: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

K.T.: I tweet at @iwritemonsters about monster fandom, teaching in Florida, and geek parenthood. My as-yet irregularly updated website is www.iwritemonsters.com. It has a current list of all the anthologies I’ve appeared in, as well as essays like using “The Babadook” as grief therapy and reviews old 70’s Bigfoot shows.

Thanks so much K.T. for taking part! Learning more about you was great fun! Folks – be sure and check out K.T.s website, seek him out on Twitter, and heck, while you’re at it – buy a copy of his work!

A Penny For Your Thoughts

I will be the first one to tell you that I do not like Hollywood remakes of the classics. Don’t try and fix what isn’t broken. Stop it! Just stop it! I won’t get into any particular ones because that’s not really what this post is about. Suffice to say, with MILLIONS of amazing Indie authors out there, there’s plenty of material Hollywood could get a hold of to create something original.

It was with this extreme prejudice in mind that I sat myself down a few weeks back and started to watch Penny Dreadful on Netflix. (Yes, I know I’m woefully behind on a lot of things – Netflix is one of them.) Right off the bat I’m greeted with Mina Murray, one of the main female leads in the classic novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. Immediately after, Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his monster and Dorian Gray come waltzing into the story and I’m like, “Oh for Christ’s sake… seriously? Is that what this is about? How many frikken ways can these characters be ripped off and distorted in the feeblest way possible?”

Guess what, I’m almost to the end of Season 2 and LOVING IT! Nobody is more surprised than I am, believe you me. The writers of this program have really done an amazing job at breathing new life into these old classic characters. For me, it’s because they aren’t retelling the old tales, but making new plots, scenarios, and relationships between them that fit so well with the existing concept of the characters in question. The monsters suddenly aren’t really monsters. They are people with feelings and struggles and you want them to come out on top – well – more or less. A repugnant and powerful evil lurks at every corner, but the face of that darkness changes. You might think someone is all goodness and light in the beginning, but that could change when you find out exactly who and what they are behind the mask each and every one of them wears.

The atmosphere and settings are both seedy and sumptuous, beautiful and horrific. The acting is spot on. There is enough blood and gore to please those into splatter films and a generous helping of eroticism for those who like some of that with their Horror.

Enjoying this series and glad I pushed my way through the initial urge to shut it off and find something else as soon as I realized what I was getting myself into. I was wrong.

Penny Dreadful is a well-made original take on the classic Horror movie characters I grew up loving.

Well done, Netflix.

Author Interview – Stephen Helmes

For some authors, being a writer was something they felt they were born wanting to do. For others, it was a certain event in their lives that made them want to write. What is your Genesis story? When did the writing bug hit you and what was the first story you wrote”?

The writing bug hit me for the first time in 1981, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Halloween II had just hit the theaters and I went to see it. It was an instant hit with me, but I could not stand the thought of the movie ending, not then, not that way. I bought a new 40-sheet notebook and a pack of Bic pens and started writing Halloween III. That’s right John Carpenter. It’s time to move over.
I took up where the movie left off, Michael Myers chasing Laurie Strode deeper into the hospital. Before I knew it, the notebook was full. I had totally zoned out for a couple of days. That was the first time I’d ever had my mind leave my body, so to speak.

The writings in that notebook are gone forever. I have no idea what happened to it and I can’t remember anything I wrote in it. I’m sure that if I found that story today it would make a good script for an Abbott and Costello film.

Helms_NightlyVisitsIt took twenty years before that writing bug returned, and this time, I hung on for the ride. It came to me in a nightmare back in 2001. I shot straight up in sweat soaked sheets, eyes darting around the darkness until I realized that I was safe in my own room. This was the worst and best nightmare I’d ever had, and being a horror lover, I couldn’t risk going back to sleep and allowing those horrific images to escape my mind in a fog of dreamy forgetfulness. It was 4:30am. I got up, went to my computer and begin typing it all out in full detail while it was still fresh in my mind.

After reading through my draft of the nightmare the next day, I realized that this dream was scarier than most of the stuff I had been seeing in most of the recent films. The notion hit me to create a foundation of characters and a plot to pull the broken images together.

Once the writing started, the words flowed like a river. I based the plot and characters around the band I was playing with, and the story took off. It took me a few weeks to complete the story. It was my first original piece. I titled it Glasswalker.

After Glasswalker, I was hooked. I immediately started writing Little Red Socks, The Witches’ Post, then another, and another. These are the stories that you will find within the covers of my first book, Nightly Visits.

You run a page on Facebook called “Author’s Bus Depot”. Can you tell us a little more about what the page is about and what gave you the idea for it?

Author’s Bus Depot is a group designed to help indie authors to promote their books without the high cost of hiring a mainstream promotion company to do it for them.

When I released my first book, I had stars in my eyes. The book was available around the globe, so of course there would be sells. There would be so many sells I would be a big-time author within a year. Well, it didn’t take very long for reality to show me otherwise. New authors need help pushing their books to the public, and unfortunately, promoting doesn’t come cheap. So what do you do if you don’t have a stack of money to invest in promoting your book?

Facebook is the first free means. Place your book on your timeline so all your family and friends can see that you have published a book. You will sell a few copies, but then what? Your friends who are interested have already bought your book, and now you are back at the drawing board. How do you get out there where the numbers are, those people who would love your book if they only knew it existed? How do you introduce yourself as an author when you are trapped behind a wall of open palms, promising you the world, but at a cost you can’t afford to pay?

Author’s bus Depot uses the Facebook timeline to promote, not only your book, but also all of our books, not only for your personal friends and following, but all of our friends and followings combined together. We are simply sharing our timelines with each other so that rather than only having your small private group to offer your book to, you have all of our followings to offer to as well. Author’s Bus Depot is designed to get your book seen by thousands of people across Facebook without having to spend one cent on a promotion company.

I understand you are also a musician. Tell us a little bit about the music you love to play and are there any songs or bands that inspire or help you while you’re in author mode?

Glasswalker, a story from Nightly Visits, was based all around my band, House of Flies. Things that have happened over our years together, venues that we’ve played, and even the members, though their names have been changed to protect my skin, much of that story is true. Each character in Glasswalker is characterized after a musician that is either in the band, or has been in our band in the past. The things they say and do as a band, are things that we’ve said and done.

As for the music I enjoy playing, that depends on the audience in front of me. If I am with our band, House of Flies, Hard Rock is my favorite to play, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc. There are no rules in Hard Rock. You do what you want, when you feel like doing it. I love looking out and seeing our crowd having a good time. When their blood starts flowing, it makes our adrenaline start pumping, and when they getting into it, screaming and jumping to the music, the top of our heads go, BOOM! Then it’s game on! No one knows what’s going to happen after that. There is nothing like doing a great show and waking the next morning with your ears still ringing and a hangover from Hell. And the best part about that is that I don’t drink!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a pure head-banger, no, not at all. I am an all-around lover of the art. I listen to anything and everything: heavy, soft, good dance beat or no beat at all. If it makes me feel good, then it must be good. Give me an acoustic and a small audience that loves to sing along and I will go on for hours playing classics from artists like America, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Nash, Bob Seger, Sammy Johns, and the list goes on forever. Music always has been, is, and always will be in my soul.

You have two books under your belt already. Could you tell us a little bit about Nightly Visits and 12 to 6 and if you have any other works in progress you’d like to share info on.?

Nightly Visits was my first release, and the second, From 12 to 6 (More Nightly Visits) is the sequel).

Helms_12to6 Both of these books are loaded with short stories and novellas, each one coming from a completely different direction from the last. The thing about the Nightly Visits series is that most of the ideas come from dreams, which is where the title, Nightly Visits, comes from. Because the stories in these books are dream-based, they go where they want to go, do what they want to do, and show you what they want you to see. All I do is sit and watch these characters interact in my head, and write it all down. I didn’t create most of the stories in my book. The characters did it for me. I am the writer, but they are the authors. I am not the pilot. I’m just the plane that takes you into these worlds of the imagination. When I am writing these stories, I can’t wait to get to the end so I can see what happens.
You can expect a lot more from me in the near future.

At the moment, I am working on two new projects. My editor and friend, Lisa Binion and I are teaming up for my first full-length novel, which has not been titled yet. The foundation is complete and the story is well under way, however, the release date is still too far away to predict.

As for the other project, you guessed it. Nightly Visits III (The Trail of Dreams) is coming. I am planning to release it late in the year or perhaps early next year, depending on the characters. They are the ones in charge. It’s going to be a wild ride, so keep an eye out for that.

Where can people learn more about Stephen Helmes and how can we get a hold of your books?

At the moment, I have no actual website, but you can find me on Facebook at the following link… https://tinyurl.com/StephenH-Author Drop in and say hello.

You can find both of the Nightly Visits books at Amazon.

Nightly Visits – myBook.to/NightlyVisits

From 12 to 6 (More Nightly Visits) – myBook.to/From-12-To-6

If you would like to get a taste of From 12 To 6 (More Nightly Visits) you can read two of the stories in their entirety by clicking the links below.

The Longest Day in the World: https://tinyurl.com/LngDayWrld

Ashlyn came to me in a dream Christmas Eve 2013. She wanted me to tell her story. I woke on Christmas morning with this little girl in my head and tears in my eyes. This little girl won my heart that night, and I couldn’t wait to get this story started so I could share her with all of you.

Spots: https://tinyurl.com/ztotnss

Jacob is only one of many who suffer from Mysophobia, (fear of germs) and those around him will never truly understand why he is so obsessive with cleaning his apartment and staying closed up inside. But they don’t see what Jacob sees. The germs are not only everywhere, on everything, and transferred by everybody. They are actually coming to get him!