Dark Hollow Road – The Back Cover

There are less than two weeks to go before Kindle pre-orders start for my latest and darkest novel yet, “Dark Hollow Road”. Now that you know all about the story’s creation from my 4 part UrbEx series, I thought I’d treat you all to a little teaser from the back cover.

A past filled with terror.

On Dark Hollow Road, Mary Alice Brown and her siblings know little more than poverty and abuse at the hands of their father. Getting rid of their tormentor seemed the answer to bringing joy back into their lives. But when that doesn’t work, Mary takes it upon herself to see that justice is served.

A present full of dread.

After an unusual visit from an elderly woman looking to borrow sugar, the theft of his coloring book, and complaints about other kids bothering him in the middle of the night, six-year-old Brandon Evenson, who lives within sight of the house on Dark Hollow Road, goes missing.

A future obsessed with revenge.

Desperate, Brandon’s parents seek answers from Lee Yagar, a local who’s warned people time and again of the dangers lurking at the old Brown place. But, Lee’s suggestion that Mary is involved in Brandon’s abduction makes little sense. Mary is presumed dead, as she’s not been seen in decades, but is she? And is the house truly as empty and abandoned as it appears to be?

 A psychological horror driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare.

A little after story here. As you know from reading the UrbEx series, I’ve done my fair share of urban spelunking, starting when I was just a kid. I don’t do it so much anymore, but that isn’t to say the desire to do so has left me. This past summer I had a chance to stop at the farmhouse my grandparents owned up until the late 1970s. This place is near and dear to my heart. Sadly is has fallen into decay. Weeds have grown up everywhere. The house appears unlived in. The barn itself has collapsed.

Given the chance, even for just a quick explore, I took it. I worked my way back to where the barn once stood and into the old milk house. I longed to take a souvenir from this place of such joyous childhood memories, but after so long I couldn’t tell what was from the time of my grandparents and what was more recent with any sort of real surety.

It was then I was reminded of Dark Hollow Road and the fate of those who take from that place what doesn’t belong to them. What if I took the wrong thing? It wasn’t worth the risk and I left empty-handed.  My work of fiction convinced even me not to cross that questionable line – imaginary or not.

The Wonderful Week of Writing

It’s been a rather satisfying week for this little Scribe.

It started with the cover reveal of Dark Hollow Road. I’m so excited about finally getting this book out there. It’s taken over two years, but now the wait is nearly over. The release date for both paperbacks and eBooks has been set for March 23. eBook pre-orders will be announced soon, too.

DarkHollowRoad_GraphicAd2

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Next came this amazing review by Isobel Blackthorne for my HellBound Books novel, “No Rest For The Wicked”.  I’m pretty speechless about this one. Thrilled is putting it mildly.

 

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Then this review appeared over on Goodreads for my most recent Barnesville Chronicle title, “The Witch’s Backbone Part 1: The Curse” by none other than fellow Horror writer, Hunter Shea.

 It’s moments like these that keep me writing on. They give me a level of hope that pulls me up from the dregs of self-doubt and pointlessness.

 

Over the weekend, I started work on my first run through of the first draft of Part 2 of The Witch’s Backbone, “The Murder”. It’s sat ignored for a month so I go in with somewhat fresh eyes, having forgotten certain scenes, inserting scenes I realize needed to take place later in the book, and discovering scenes that are completely missing from the printed version. Let’s hope that’s just some sort of printing snafu and that they are actually still intact when I get back into the electronic version to implement all these corrections, subtractions, and additions. The hope is to have this one released by September, but don’t quote me on that.

TerlinguaTX

Terlingua, Texas

 

We have a grand trip planned for Southwest Texas and a little ghost town called Terlingua in late October – early November. I’ve been thinking of doing a story based on this area of the country for several years now and am looking forward to doing some much-needed first hand research as well as enjoying what promises to be a once in a lifetime experience of celebrating Dia de los Muertos with the locals and visiting my husband’s cousin all wrapped up into one wonderful adventure. Can hardly wait to breathe in that delightful desert air again!

Grand things are in the works, dear readers and I’m really looking forward to sharing them all with you as they unfold.

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road – Part 4

In the previous posts about the creation of my upcoming Psychological Horror Dark Hollow Road, we’ve done a whole lot of spelunking. Apart from a small building located creek side in Salado, Texas that I wandered into back in 2013, my urban exploration days are pretty much over. The desire to continue the hobby is still strong. I’m just not so brave and nimble as I was back then. But, how does all that exploring old, and sometimes empty, houses back in the late 80’s translate into writing a Horror novel in the early 2000s? Therein lies the dark and mysterious magic, dear reader, a magic that even we authors struggle to understand.

All those experiences aside, the case for Dark Hollow Road began with the title. It literally flew past the right corner of my eye, barely seen, quickly read, and instantly understood for what it was to be. If you Google Dark Hollow Road, you’re going to find a whole mess of them. From Oregon to North Carolina, Pennsylvania to Texas, and who knows how many others betwixt and beyond; Dark Hollow Roads seem to run rampant.  The one I spotted was in Pennsylvania which boasts no fewer than six of them.  My exact words the moment I saw it were, “If that’s not the title of a Horror novel, I don’t know what is.” For that reason alone rural PA became my setting.

But, what would this story be about? I had absolutely no idea, none.  For a good six months, that would remain the case. It was just a title and a vague setting, no characters, no nothing really. With other projects keeping me busy, I didn’t dwell on it. I knew the people involved in the telling of this dark tale would speak up when they were good and ready to do so. Stories and their titles flow in and out of my head all the time; this wasn’t anything new. Or so I thought at the time.

Despite my actual spelunking days being a thing of the past, I still love to seek out and stop to look at the empty places that are local to me. I don’t go inside anymore, but I do try to take some atmospheric pictures from the outside at least. One such house is located only a few miles north of my home. It’s highly visible and there’s no place to park and hide your car. In fact, the roadside along the front of the place is marked with No Trespassing and No Parking signs galore. The safest option would be to park at the nearby church, cross the stream, and cut through the cornfield, which I’m really not so keen on doing.  For all the years I’ve known of this place, since I moved to the area in 1995, I’ve never known it to be occupied.  The memories and experiences of other houses we’ve already discussed came to mind, adding a layer to the story. We have a road. We have a house. We need some people.

The first whispers of characters arrived as I passed by my husband’s (then boyfriend) car and looked at the sticker I’d seen hundreds of times before in his back window. It said Brown House. It was a band he sang and played for in Texas. A gear clicked into place. The last known people to live in my fictional house on Dark Hollow Road were the Browns, but I still didn’t know anything about them.  What had happened that they would seemingly leave their house behind? Was the place haunted? That seemed too cliché to me, besides, I was already in the midst of writing a ghost story with “No Rest For The Wicked” and didn’t want to repeat that theme so soon.  No, there had to be something different about the Brown house and those that had once lived there, but what?

One summer night as I sat alone by a twiddling campfire in my back yard, a man appeared. He was old and grizzled. He was no stranger to hard work and it showed on his large, calloused hands and weather-worn face thick with wrinkles. Somehow I knew his name was Lee Yagar. He came out of the darkness of my imagination, studied me sitting there for a moment and remarked, “I know what happened at the Brown house.”  When I asked him, he refused to say anything further. He was there and gone, tingling my spine and twisting my mind to know more. He wasn’t going to talk or make things easy for me. He was going to be a tight-lipped, cranky, pain in the ass – not just to me, but to those who desperately needed his help. I went to bed that night thinking and thinking, trying to will Lee Yagar back so he’d tell me his story. But, it wasn’t his story to tell.

Much to my surprise, a very sad and frightened eight-year-old girl stepped forward next. This was Mary Alice Brown. This was the person Lee Yagar did not want to talk about. This was who had last lived in the house on Dark Hollow Road, the sole survivor of some nightmarish life everyone wished they could forget.  Mary wanted to talk. It had been a long time coming for her. The first words she said to me were, “I was eight years old in 1948 the night Daddy Clay came into my room and pulled the blankets down for the first time. “

This would become the novel’s opening line and the first steps down a long dark, hollow road indeed. As Mary began to open up about her life, I sat and listened, typed and envisioned.  As the months went by and even as I also learned about her new neighbors, Samantha, Renee and their son, Brandon – it was clear this story truly belonged to Mary.

There are some who would believe that on that day we first drove past the original and very real Dark Hollow Road in rural Pennsylvania, that the restless spirit of Mary Alice Brown reached out and found me, knowing in her unique supernatural way that I was someone she could trust with her tale.  I would tell it without bias and that I was more than willing to share it with the rest of the world on her behalf.  It didn’t matter if it was being presented as a work of pure fiction. Maybe it was her hope that in the telling, she’d find some level of peace. I like to think I’ve brought her a little bit of that.

Is all of this merely the culmination of what’s been said in Parts 1-3 of this series mixed with an active imagination? Probably.  Or, could the inspirations for this and so many other novels really be the actual lives and souls of people who once were, or those living in some sort of alternate reality? I guess that’s possible. Maybe it’s some weird combination of the two.

The only thing for certain is that Dark Hollow Road was a story that desperately needed to be written down and shared. If it gives some poor, lost soul peace, that’s great.  If it creeps out my readers, keeps them up at night reading, and makes them think twice about what lurks in the darkest corners of a seemingly forgotten empty house, that’s even better. Thank you for joining me on this little walk in the paranormal darkness. I hope you’ll find Dark Hollow Road worthy of even more of your time once it’s released this coming spring.

Dark Hollow Road – Book Trailer

As progress is made with proof edits and eBook formatting on my forth coming Psychological Horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”, let me present you with the first trailer of this dark and disturbing tale.

BOOK TRAILER – DARK HOLLOW ROAD

Scheduled for release SPRING 2018.

I’ll also be posting the 4th and final entry in the UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road series very soon. Learn the personal experiences, stories, and adventures behind the book.

 

Cover Reveal – Dark Hollow Road

It’s been a long time coming and the end product is almost here. Today, I’m SUPER excited to share with you all the cover for my soon-to-be released psychological horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”.

DarkHollowRoad-FrontOnly_Halfsize

If you’ve been following along the past few months, you’ll know some of the things that inspired the writing of this book.  In case you’ve missed those blog posts, here are the links back to them.

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road Part 1
UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road Part 2
UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road Part 3

The fourth and final entry in this blog series will be posted in the very near future. This novel has taken me down a very strange and dark road, indeed. This isn’t Barnesville by any stretch of the imagination – although – if you’re a long-standing reader of my work and have been paying attention, you’ll know there is some sort of connection between this work and those.

More info to come on this one including a trailer and a reading by yours truly. Stay tuned and stay away from those old, abandoned houses … seriously.

Book Review – Rise of the Forgotten by Jason J. Nugent

The brothers, Eron and Timo (Nagi) are reunited only to be torn apart in the earliest stages of war. Eron desperately searches for his lost love, Mina while Nagi is going nearly mad looking for his wife and children. All while being hunted down by the evil ADF. Other members of Eron and Timo’s family emerge from the mayhem in the most unexpected of ways.
Having read the first book of this series, I was eager to dive into the second. I’m happy to report I found it even more delightful and engaging. Jason has rounded out his main characters very nicely in this book, giving them much more depth.
Rise of the Forgotten is a fast-paced read full of hope and despair, love, hate, suspense, death and some very unexpected twists. It’s probably the best work I’ve read by Jason so far. I am so looking forward to reading the third book in this series!

Four out of Five Ravens. 

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road – Part 3

When last we met, I was leaving the property of an old brick mansion once located just outside of Watkins Glen, NY, contemplating a 1990s adventure in Urban Exploration (UrbEx) or if you prefer Urban Spelunking. This particular trip left a lasting impression and raised several questions to which I still do not have answers. But, thanks to my overly-active imagination, I was able to make one up and use it as part of the creation of my upcoming novel Dark Hollow Road.

Spelunking is ‘the hobby or practice of exploring caves’. Urban Spelunkers commonly explore empty and abandoned homes, mansions, hospitals, factories, and the like regardless of No Trespassing signs. Though they are breaking the law, UrbEx-ers also have a certain code of respect for the places they enter. Unlike vandals, UrbEx-ers are there to document, not destroy or tag with spray paint. It’s considered a big no-no to take anything from the buildings or former homes. If you do touch something, you put it back where you found it. You leave with the experience, still photos, video, and nothing more no matter how tempting it may be.

And, oh man, were we tempted exceptionally hard one summer day in yet another grand home just north of Watkins Glen.

Unlike the previously mentioned brick house, this white, Greek Revival home was anything but empty. We found it during one of our many drives in the country, seeking out old cemeteries and abandoned homes to explore. This time, we had a few friends with us. Drawn curtains obscured our view from the outside. Someone tried the front door. Locked. A door on a smaller side wing, also at the front of the building, had a padlock on it, an open padlock. Bingo.

We were instantly awed and nearly speechless. The first room was filled with glass showcases and displays containing one antique item after another. Had we just walked into a museum or something? Though a bit on the dusty side, it was pristine and carefully laid out. There were even labels on many of the items stating their history.

After this room, we went into the main part of the house and became even further enthralled. It was as if we’d walked into the late 19th century. Here was a kitchen with a cast-iron cook stove and hand water pump at the sink. A prep table for cooking, glass jars filled with canned fruits and vegetables in the cupboards, cutting boards, and mixing bowls waited the cook to return any moment. The dining room table was set with white lace and china, crystal and silver. A buffet lacked only to be filled with steaming plates of food. We passed through a servant’s quarters where a pair of well-worn shoes had been placed beside a narrow bed with thin blankets. Upstairs, the owners sleeping chambers proved much more opulent. Clothes even hung in the closets. This was completely unbelievable and slightly insane.

During this surreal visit, that sixth sense of mine kicked in. Each time I walked through the dining room this almost overwhelming feeling of being watched would prickle the hairs on my arms. It was so strong that I could barely remain in that room. The room felt cold, heavy, and wet, making it hard to breath. I felt dizzy and disoriented and all around creeped out. I’m convinced we were being scrutinized by the ghostly inhabitants of the place as they made sure nothing was taken. What they would have done had anything been stolen, I don’t want to guess. Karma is freaking weird like that and I’m not taking the chance.

We stayed maybe twenty minutes before heading back out, undiscovered and as far as I know, empty handed. In the days that followed one of our number found out who the owner was – who verified that the building had once been a museum open to the public – confessed our visit, and told them about the padlock. The lock was quickly replaced and properly locked. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t have the respect or self-control we had that day.

Fast forward to 2011 and a new TV show called “Haunted Collector”. The creator, John Zaffis, is a paranormal investigator who collects items that he and others believe to be trigger objects for all manner of haunted activities. The premise is that any item can hold the memories and emotions (both good and bad) of its owners. It can be anything from a painting to a ring, an old, rusty toolbox or a gun possibly associated with a murder. Zaffis and his crew hunt these items down and theorize that by removing them from the property (with the permission of the current owner) they can end the paranormal activity.

It works for them, but what if the reality of the situation has the complete opposite effect and not on the home owner, but the person who took the item? I’ve heard many cases of people taking trinkets from places and finding themselves haunted or even possessed by the spirit who holds that seemingly useless item in very high regard. Is that a risk you, as an Urban Spelunker, are willing to take? Is that little chipped teacup or battered old postcard worth risking your life or sanity over?

Welcome to rural Pennsylvania and the Brown resident, the only house on this side of Dark Hollow Road. Since the flood of ’72 and the washing out of the bridge, Dark Hollow Road has been a dead end. No one lives there, or so it seems. The yard is a tangle of overgrown weeds. The front porch is unstable and rotting away from decades of neglect. Cardboard has been tacked over the windows from the inside on the ground floor and the window frames are nailed tight to the sills. Should you find your way inside, save for an old cast-iron cook stove and a few items of no real value or consequence, you’d find nothing but a quiet emptiness.

And yet – there’s something, isn’t there? Something not quite right. Something not quite sane. Something not quite dead. How much do you value that trinket now?

Dark Hollow Road – a disturbing psychological horror driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare. Due for release March 2018 from Ardent Creations.

Author Interview – Mark Cassell

UK author, Mark Cassell is the best-selling author of The Shadow Fabric, a novel so rich with dark mythos he couldn’t keep it contained in one book. From page one, I was sucked right in, thankfully not by the actual Shadow Fabric. I haven’t read a book so fast in a very long time and am eager to learn more about the world Mark’s created as well as the writer himself.

1.Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Mark. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started as a writer? Was it childhood dream or something you fell into more recently?

I blame my English teacher, Mr. Brown – Damn, that was way back in 1991. He told me I had more potential than just the class jester, so I wrote a werewolf story titled “Moons of Blood” and gave that to him. At first he accused me of plagiarism, but when he saw my scribbled notes he soon believed it was my work.

2.Every writer I know is also a big reader. What books were you reading as a young man that got you started down this dark road of horror? Which author’s influenced you the most to become a writer yourself

It was James Herbert and his magnificent novel, Magic Cottage that started it all. From there, Clive Barker and Brian Lumley massively inspired me. And I guess you can’t be a horror writer without reading at least one novel by Stephen King. These days, I don’t read as much as I’d like, though when I do I may occasionally pick these guys up again. Back to my roots, you know?

 

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Hell Cat of the Holt: http://mybook.to/Holt

3.As I mentioned earlier, I just loved The Shadow Fabric. There’s got to be a mountain of research behind this whole series. What was the inspiration behind the story and mythos and how fleshed out was your research before you started to actually write it?

 

The Shadow Fabric as a title came to me in 1992 and it remained precisely that until 2013 when I figured I was big and ugly enough to start taking this writing game seriously.

As far as the research goes, I began jotting down all the typical horror tropes we’ve come to drown in. Anything to do with demonology and witchcraft, I set about turning it all on its head. I never intended to rewrite history, it just happened. It took hours of head scratching, planning and plotting.

Though I must say, I am shocked and humbled at how well received the Shadow Fabric mythos has become. And it’s still unravelling.

4.You haven’t limited yourself to strictly horror, either. You’ve also done a book of Sci-Fi short stories. Tell me a little bit about Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill. Can fans of this genre look forward to anything more substantial from you in the future?

The guys from Future Chronicles are keen for me to pick this up again so one day there will be more. It was through their cosplayers that Chaos Halo became a thing. Maybe there’s a novel there somewhere.

 

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In the Company of False Gods: http://mybook.to/companyof

5. You’re most recent release, In The Company Of False Gods, looks very intriguing. You’ve dubbed it Lovecraftian Steampunk Horror. Would you explain more about what that actually means and could you give us the elevator pitch for this latest title?

 

Inspired by HP Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors, In the Company of False Gods is a novelette set in an alternate Victorian era. The story follows wheelchair-bound Attacus whose clockwork creation runs amok and leads him to the threshold between worlds.

6. Thanks for taking part, Mark. Where are all the best places to find out more about you and your work?

 

My website is the best place to visit: www.markcassell.co.uk

Thanks for having me!

More about Mark:

Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in numerous reputable anthologies and zines. His best-selling debut novel The Shadow Fabric is closely followed by the popular short story collection Sinister Stitches and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit. The novella Hell Cat of the Holt further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.

The dystopian sci-fi short story collection, Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill, is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers. His latest release, In the Company of False Gods, is a Lovecraftian steampunk horror story about one man who had no idea his creation would take him to the threshold between worlds.

Mark’s work has been compared with British horror authors such as James Herbert, Clive Barker, Dennis Wheatley, and Brian Lumley. Also, his influences spread over to the US where he admits to having been first inspired by Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, and H P Lovecraft.

Top Ten Reads of 2017

Thanks to GoodReads, I now have a quick and easy way to keep track of my reading accomplishments. For 2017, I set my goal at 24 books. I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I lean more in the direction of thicker tomes, 300-400 pages and I did manage to get a few of those in. However, I must thank those authors who write on the shorter end of the stick for helping me make that 24 book goal.

Of those 24, I’ve selected ten that have left the best impressions. The only order here is the order in which I read them, earliest to most recent. Maybe one or more will strike your fancy and make it to your To-Read list for 2018.

TheWillowsThe Willows by Algernon Blackwood. Published in1907, The Willows was one of H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite reads. It’s a truly creepy tale of two friends who take an intentionally wrong turn while on a boat trip down the Danube, despite the warnings of the locals. Something bizarre and malevolent dwells within the willows along the shoreline, enticing one member of the party to a near-suicide. This being, or collection of beings, it’s never quite clear what’s out there, continually stalk and threaten the travelers. It seems the willows harbor another life form, of this world, the next, or perhaps from the stars. Whatever it is, or wherever it comes from, you’d be much wiser to follow the right path than in the steps of this stories two main characters.

 

 

SinisterEntity_SheaSinister Entity by Hunter Shea : Even at the tender age of eighteen, paranormal investigator Jessica Backman has seen and experienced more than her fair share of things that go bump in the night. She’s always worked alone, until a series of emails arrives from Eddie Homes, a total stranger. Who is this clown and how has he learned so much about her? Jessica has always been very careful about keeping her privacy, but Eddie knows things he absolutely should not know. When Eddie tells Jessica that her dad sent him, she takes notice. Jessica’s father died horrifically when she was only six, and boy does Dad have a job for her and Eddie to do! Sinister Entity is the prequel to the first Hunter Shea book I ever read, Island of the Forbidden. After reading this I’m just itching to get the first book of the series, Forest of Shadows.

 

DATTOML digital coverDreaming at the Top of My Lungs by Israel Finn : There’s always a touch of envy in me for people who can pull off a successful short story. In a mere 112 pages, Israel Finn managed to keep me engaged and amused for the past couple weeks. As with any collection or anthology by even the most famous of writers, there are some stories that are better than others. There were a few in here that I didn’t quite get or felt that were lacking, but the vast majority I thoroughly enjoyed and enough so that I’d easily consider picking up more work from this up and coming author.

 

 

 

Boggy_BlackburnBeyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn : A must read for anyone interested in Bigfoot, specifically those associated with the southern United States. Blackburn gives us numerous examples from Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. (I may have missed some). Be that as it may, I was amazed there were so many sightings in all of these states. I had no idea! And not just from a hundred years ago, but within the past five years.

 

 

 

 

ShadowFabricThe Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell : On the second day of his new job, Leo is witness to a murder. His boss, Victor, stabs his own brother, Stanley, with a mysterious dagger known as the Witchblade. But Stanley suffers from no normal stab wound. Instead he is drawn into what appears to be a black piece of fabric and is consumed. The Shadow Fabric is an action-packed and fast-paced run through the underbelly of a realm of darkness, insanity, and a secret mythos that all but the very few are aware of. Leo took my hand, gripped it tight, and yanked me along through it all right along with him. His fears became my fears. His desire to find the answers, were mine. The feelings of betrayal and hopelessness that he felt made me cling to each page, urging him to continue to fight and find the truth.

 

 

TheSelectionThe Selection by Jason J. Nugent : A coming-of-age story taken to its most basic level, survive! Every eighteen-year-old boy has to go through it. Most will not make it. Not long ago Eron’s brother Timo entered The Selection. The last thing Eron remembers is the sound of his older brother’s screams. Now, Eron must face whatever awaits him and he’s understandably terrified. It was a little slow at the beginning, but once the greater action began, I really got involved with the characters and was cheering for Eron every step of the way. Jason has done a great job creating another world, environment, and belief system that is part of, yet so far apart from Earth, that it’s unrecognizable.

 

 

 

77ShadowStreetKoontz77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz : The first of several books that feature the Pendleton Hotel, 77 Shadow Street was my first voyage into the writings of Dean Koontz. I know! Don’t judge! There’s something very wrong going on at the hotel and for those that call the place home, it’s a matter of life and death. An entity that calls itself The One is dedicated to destroying those it deems unworthy and saving those that share its apparent lack of respect for the foolish, overly-sensitive and emotional human race. Your average Joe is a waste of this things time. All must be destroyed or assimilated. This process has been going on for generations and each cycle results in a series of gruesome deaths. What is The One? An alien intelligence? A powerful demon? An over-zealous, future computer that believes itself to be God? All of the above? Whatever it is, Koontz captured it perfectly. I can’t recommend this book enough.

 

watchingWe Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea : After being hit by very hard times, fourteen-year-old West Ridley and his parents are forced to move in with his ornery grandfather, Abraham. As if living with the grumpy and less-than-hygienic old man isn’t bad enough, the old family farmhouse is falling to rot and ruin and Grandpa couldn’t care less. In fact, he seems to intentionally want to drive them out with insults and rage. But, the family has no other place to go and no money to get there if they did. Buttermilk Creek, Pennsylvania is the bottom of the barrel, isolated, creepy, and filled with more terror than even the Horror-loving West can take. We Are Always Watching is loosely based on real events that Shea has taken and run with, twisting them into his own horrible version of a nightmare, as he does with all his work. Family secrets begin to leech to the surface and the more West finds out, the more he comes to realize he and his family need to get the hell out of Grampa Abraham’s house! Like, NOW!

 

Shattering-the-LeyShattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier : I was first introduced to Joshua Palmatier’s work about ten years ago through the Throne of Amenkor series and I really loved them. He has a marvelous way of combining Fantasy and Science Fiction, two genre’s I’m usually not all that into, but Josh may make a convert out of me yet. Shattering the Ley is no exception to the amazing work Palmatier does. He creates a myriad of characters that you quickly grow to either love or hate and his visual descriptions easily draw you into the world of his creations. A wonderful, engaging read and I am super eager to get into the next book in the series!

 

 

 

GehennaGehenna & Tartarus by Jason Brant : Alright, technically two books, but you just can’t have one without the other! This Zombie Western series is gory, thrilling, and laugh out loud funny all at the same time. Who could ask for more? Gehenna was my introduction to Jason Brant’s work and I couldn’t be happier. I love a good zombie movie, but in all honestly, these West of Hell books are the first zombie BOOKS I’ve read and am thoroughly enjoying. Tartarus picks up right where Gehenna ends. Both are super fast-paced and well-written. I only bought the first two and am now chomping at the bit to get my hands on the third.

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road – Part 2

Urban Exploration, also known as UrbEx or Urban Spelunking (spelunking being ‘the hobby or practice of exploring caves’) takes its practitioners into the realms of man-made structures, most commonly empty and abandoned homes, mansions, hospitals, factories, and the like. No Trespassing signs don’t seem to mean much to the dedicated UrbEx-er. In fact, to some that’s as good as a welcome mat, even if one has to enter these sometimes dangerous structures at night under the cloak of darkness.

As a teen living in a small town surrounded by rural farmlands, UrbEx didn’t come into play very often. If an empty place did happen to crop up, chances were it was in pretty close proximity to another house and the person who lived there probably knew you, your siblings, your parents, and your grandparents. It wasn’t a chance many were willing to take. Getting grounded from what little there actually was to do around town was not a punishment we took lightly.

However, once you or your friends earned yourself a driver’s license and access to a car, more opportunities to explore begin to arrive. I was a late bloomer when it comes to driving. I didn’t get my license until I was nineteen. My own car didn’t come into the picture until I was twenty-two and permanently moved out of my childhood home.

DSCF3599For the next five to ten years, urban spelunking took on a whole new thrill. We, meaning the man I would marry in 1989, didn’t have a lot of extra money so our sources of weekend entertainments were limited. Luckily, we both loved to search for and explore abandoned houses. Looking back I am surprised at how many we actually found. There were dozens! Many times we could do little more than peek into the windows. We’d never break locks, doors, or windows to gain access. When we could get in, the first order of business was to make sure the floors weren’t so rotted away we’d find ourselves crashing through them into the unknown darkness below. Once in, we’d start photographing our finds, and I’m somewhat ashamed to say, taking a small memento from the place if something appealed.

Some dwellings had little to offer beyond a dead bird that had gotten trapped inside who knows how long ago. Others would show signs of some sort of occupation going on, squatters, a hangout for partying teens, drug users, maybe the place a homeless person called home. In one instance, we walked into a fully furnished, museum-quality mansion that blew our minds. There was also that little psychic-ghost hunting part of us that hoped to feel or see something paranormal in every dwelling we made our way into. This actually happened twice that I can recall.

DSCF3601At one location, a massive two-story brick home only a few miles outside of Watkins Glen, NY, was nestled quite a ways back from the road with the driveway barely passable. It was nearly impossible to even see in the summer unless you knew exactly where and when to look as you drove by. The leafless trees of winter offered a much better view of the place from the road. Our visit took place on a hot summer day, pulling the car in as far as we dared to keep it out of sight. We went in through an already open back door by way of some sort of garage full of empty plastic milk jugs. The ceilings in this place were at least ten feet high and the original woodwork around the doors and windows intact. There was evidence of an occasional occupant, small piles of empty beer and soda cans, filled ashtrays, a battered sofa and some ragged chairs with crumbled clothes nearby, the burnt out nubs of candles. When you see things like this, you really start to pay close attention to the sounds around you.

As we headed out and began walking around the outside, a soft sound drifted by on the warm breeze. It only happened once, but it sent a strange little shiver down my spine. It was the sound of a woman humming; just two notes, a bit like “yoo-hoo” only gently hummed and nearby. The image of an elderly, heavy-set woman sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch snapping beans, popped into my head. Real or imagined? Spirit or something much more of this world? I don’t know.

It does give one pause, though. If the spirits of the dead are lingering in and nearby these abandoned places, that do they make of UrbEx-ers with their cameras and flashlights. Do they see us as we might see them, wisps of sounds and motions? Or are we as solid to them as we are each other? Do they resent our intrusion and consider us trespassers and thieves? This incident and the questions it raised have stuck with me for close to thirty years now and would eventually contribute to the writing of my psychological horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”.

There’s a house on Dark Hollow Road that by all appearances is unoccupied, just like the one mentioned above. The locals say the last time anyone lived there was back in the late 1970s. The doors are all locked. The windows on the first floor are nailed shut and covered from the inside. To date three children have gone missing in its proximity. The house contains a past filled with terror, a present full of dread, and a future obsessed with revenge.

Stay tuned for further posts about my UrbEx adventures and how those experiences led to the creation of “Dark Hollow Road” – a story driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare. Heading your way Spring 2018.