October is the month for all things horror, but since that is generally most (not all) of what I read, I like to focus on one specific sub-genre. This time around it’s vampires. I read Dracula last year. I recently finished, and reviewed, Twilight so that’s out of the way, thank God. So next up are two classics from the king and queen of horror literature: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.
The days have been cool and misty. Fall is my favorite time of year, and this year feels like an early one. I don’t miss those balmy September days. Summer is over (perhaps not officially) and so is summer reading. Done are those cheap romance and horror novels I love so (well, maybe not completely). I read a lot this summer. I meant to read Dune, but it’s still sitting on my shelf. Mostly I read silly Gothic romances. I bought a bulk lot of them on eBay. They are fun and mindless entertainment, but as the weather chills, I try to be more disciplined. It’s time to get back to my Gothic reading list. Next on my list is the Henry James classic The Turn of the Screw. I’ve seen The Innocents many times (it’s one of my favorites), but I never read the entire book cover to cover. It’s perfect reading for this time of year. After that, maybe some Hawthorne.
Besides doing a lot of reading, I’ve been writing a lot. Not only did I just self-publish my second novel, Black Magick: an Occult Thriller, I started two new stories. See them unfold in real time on Wattpad (strange name, but it’s my new favorite website). Wispy Hollow is based on a television pilot script I authored from a few years back. I shoved it in a folder and kind of forgot all about it until I was looking for projects to add to the site. The site and the stories I’m writing there are definitely geared toward the young adult audience.The second one is a twisted, Gothic tale inspired by My Cousin Rachel. It’s a
When Dudley Frank (Dud to everyone), a man thrice her age and the first friend she made when she moved to the city, offered Yvonne the keys to his summer home with a sympathetic pat on her hand, she accepted. They both agreed she needed a rest after what happened. Although she tried to keep it light when she told him over dinner that her broken engagement with Brent Harrington was a mutual decision (a bold-faced lie), she could tell by the way Dud’s eyes narrowed at the news that he was concerned, but also disappointed. He had come to regard them as a couple and was looking forward to helping Yvonne (parentless and without many friends) plan her wedding. As he signaled the waiter for the check, Dud reflected on how this remarkable creature sitting before him let slip through her manicured fingers the best catch in the city. He didn’t voice it, but the older man suspected he knew why. For all her stunning blond beauty, classic style, and good manners, there was something about the girl that was just off. Continue reading “Traci”→
It was my desire to escape the clinging neuroses of the dour Ms. Tyler that made me reach for a purgative in the form of a trashy 80’s horror novel I found at my local used book store. Enter The Dragon by William Schoell. Aside from the fact that the image appears more like an iguana than a creature whose rage burned hotter than the fires of Hell, but I do appreciate the scaly texture of the embossed 80’s era cover. The Dragon tells an enormous story that begins with a pre-historic prologue in New Mexico where a dragon monster, Ka Kuna, lives within the belly of an enormous desert mesa, El Lobo. Ka Kuna is no ordinary dragon, but a living-flesh computer that (feeds) off the energies of the human brain. Human sacrifice is part of the milieu–Cool!
Fast forward ten thousand plus years to where Eddie Drake, professional photographer and grieving widow, is convinced to join an old school chum, archeologist Lawrence Foster, on an excavation of….cue drum roll…the El Lobo mesa. Eager to put behind him the horror of his wife’s murder, Eddie takes the job despite his reservations about his egotistical friend who includes on the excavation team his bitter wife and his young mistress. The rest of the team is rounded out by a few cliché characters including the homely girl, the old man, and the black guy. As a reminder that 1989 was a more innocent time before the corrupting influence of political correctness (sarcasm intentional) racist and sexist language abounds (the characters not the author) . I must admit it took this reader back a bit; although nothing can offend a true horror fan. Continue reading “For Entertainment Purposes Only”→
A few months back I sent out a random tweet announcing I was looking for indie horror books to review and Steve Boseley (a nice English gent) sent me his collection of A Sinister Six: A Collection of Six Darkly Disturbing Stories. It took me awhile to get through them (not due to the quality of the stories, just the fact that I tend to read too many books at once ), but it allowed me to savor each one; some more than others, but that should be expected with an anthology.
Mr. Boseley’s collection is definitely in the realm of quiet horror, which I always find more satisfyingly frightening than the genre’s riotous little brother splatterpunk. The word sinister with its snaky sibilance is a good title for what transpires within these tales. The stories, like the author’s mostly milquetoast male protagonists, creep up on you slowly, lulling the reader into a comfortable world of banal middle-class normality and mundane complaints of everyday life until–with the deft flick of a pen–sad little flats and row homes transform into blood-soaked charnel houses. Cool!
I’ve never been good at tooting my own horn; in fact, I suck at it. But I have to share how pleased I am to see positive reviews for my horror novel Unmasked. The development of this book has had a long history. Inspired by my youth spent reading trashy horror novels and watching TV Movies of the Weeks which were frequently occult themed, I decided to write a screenplay using a summer camp setting. I put a twist on the usual teenage slasher set-up by casting middle-aged characters with a gay protagonist at the helm. And speaking of twists, my novel has quite a few, and the fact that they’ve worked (so far) on my readers brings me (a sick) joy. I play with a lot of classic horror tropes: a Gothic mansion, a mad scientist, a whodunit, a glamorous villain, and spatters of sex and gore. To me, successful horror is the thrill of the Cyclone at Coney Island. I know what’s coming, but I want to ride it again and again.
I’m not what anyone would call a sensitive guy as the many girls who’ve slapped my face have told me (in so many words); But if I had known when I woke up this morning that by the end of the day I’d be fleeing for my life through a blizzard I’d have broken down and cried like I’m doing right now. At nineteen I’m too young to die. I have a life to live, many women to conquer, and I’d like to graduate and tell my Dad that I’m sorry my senior year in high school was such a shit-show. I know he’s still really pissed about that.
The flakes are huge, but I can still make out that farmhouse with the green siding up ahead. I hope the snow will cover up what I’m leaving behind me: deep footprints with a trail of blood between each one.
It’s finished! It’s done! It’s on Amazon! Hurrah! Open the champagne! Does all that red wine I drank while I was writing it count?
There is no celebration. I don’t throw a party, and no one surprises me with one. Cue violins…
After much, much work, the damn thing is done. I finally hold the printed copy in my hand. There is a feeling of accomplishment, but also terror. I open it to a random page and notice that one sentence is missing a the. Even though I’ve been over it with a fine-tooth comb about twenty times, I’m sure there are more embarrassing errors. But then I’ve found similar ones in every Donna Tartt novel I’ve read. That thought comforts me, a little.
I send a copy to my mother. I warn her about the explicit content. She says she’s curious to see what’s really going on inside my mind. A few days later she says it’s a good idea I used a pen name. I shyly drop a copy off at my local bookstore. I meet a writer who tells me all about her book. I listen politely and forget all about mine. I run into a neighbor who tells me another neighbor has also written a book. It seems I’m surrounded by writers. You need to push yourself my husband tells me as we walk away. I’m quiet for the rest of the stroll, thinking about this friend of a friend who sent me a copy of his book to read and how I ended up blocking him because he became so aggressively persistent. Nothing is more annoying than the ABC (Always Be Closing) personality. To me, anyway. Perhaps that’s part of my resistance. Continue reading “I wrote a novel. Now what?”→
Continuing with my Gothic Literature Reading Challenge (no particular order) I reread Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, chowing it down in a few days. I enjoyed my Franklin Press leather bound edition (trying to collect all of the Gothic volumes). Good lit deserves quality bindings.
This is one of those books I wish I could go back in time and read cold, although it’s a testament to Levin’s great skill that a story I know every nuance of can still keep me turning pages till dawn.
In his 1981 book on horror, Danse Macabre, Stephen King praises Levin as a one of the great plotters. He is the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel. And it’s true. Every revelation is supported by the hidden, and often overt, character motivations. Guy, an inspiring actor played to sleazy brilliance by John Cassavetes in the film, admits he’s a great bullshit artist and liar (brags about it in fact) on the first few pages of the book as the newlyweds try to get out of their lease so they can move into the Bramford, a fictitious Gothic apartment house along Central Park. Can’t say he didn’t warn you. Minnie Castevet, the nosy neighbor, says as much about herself when she declares I’m selfish as the day is long. She ain’t lying. You can’t trust anyone of these damn witches. Poor, naive Rosemary, carrying a time bomb in her belly during the hottest summer in New York history (a metaphor for Hell I assume) realizes this all too late. Continue reading “Rosemary’s Baby”→